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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 3

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 2-5

II. THE COURTSHIP 1:2-3:5

Perhaps the outstanding characteristic of this first major section of the book is the sexual restraint that is evident during the courtship. This restraint contrasts with the sexual intimacy that characterizes the lovers after their wedding (Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1 and Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 8:4). Before marriage a couple should restrain their sexual desire rather than indulging it.

Some scholars believe that the Song is not a sequential narrative. [Note: Hess, p. 34.] Other writers have seen chronological progression in the experiences of the lovers in view. [Note: E.g., Delitzsch.]

B. The Growth of Love 1:12-3:5

If there is indeed a chronological progression in the telling of this love story, as seems likely, this section relates the development of the love that Solomon and his loved one experienced before their wedding.

Verses 1-4

The Shulammite’s nightmare 3:1-4

The Shulammite narrated an experience she had had "on her bed," namely, a dream (Song of Solomon 3:1). She dreamed she could not find Solomon even though she searched everywhere for him. After much distress, she did find him and then took him to the most secure and intimate place she knew: her mother’s bedroom. Her strong love for her beloved comes through in the recurring phrase "whom my soul loves" in each one of the four verses. Such fears are common during the courtship. Will the marriage finally take place? She dreams of consummation, but she wants the consummation to be proper.

Verses 1-5

3. The pain of separation 3:1-5

Another incident unfolds in this pericope (Song of Solomon 3:1-4) and concludes with the repetition of Solomon’s refrain (Song of Solomon 3:5).

Verse 5

The refrain repeated 3:5

Here the refrain marks the end of the section on the courtship (Song of Solomon 1:2 to Song of Solomon 3:5) as well as the Shulammite’s nightmare (Song of Solomon 3:1-4). Solomon and the Shulammite’s patience were about to receive the desired reward. Their marriage was now at hand.

III. THE WEDDING 3:6-5:1

Weddings in Israel took place in front of the local town elders, not the priests (e.g., Ruth 4:10-11). They transpired in homes, not in the tabernacle or temple (or synagogue, in later times). They were civil rather than religious ceremonies.

There were three parts to a wedding in the ancient Near East. First, the groom’s parents selected a bride for their son. This involved securing the permission of the bride’s parents and the approval of both the bride and the groom themselves. Though the parents of the young people arranged the marriage, they usually obtained the consent of both the bride and the groom. Second, on the wedding day the groom proceeded to the bride’s house accompanied by a group of his friends. He then escorted her to the site of the wedding ceremony, and finally took her to their new residence accompanied by their friends. Physical union consummated the marriage the night after the wedding ceremony took place. Third, the couple feasted with their friends-usually for seven days following the wedding ceremony. [Note: See Edwin M. Yamauchi, "Cultural Aspects of Marriage in the Ancient World," Bibliotheca Sacra 135:539 (July-September 1978):241-52.]

In the section before us (Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1), the writer mentioned the wedding procession (Song of Solomon 3:6-11) and the consummation (Song of Solomon 4:1 to Song of Solomon 5:1).

". . . the book is framed by an inclusio involving the ’brothers’ and the ’vineyard,’ and at the heart of the book is the wedding day, framed by two ’dream’ sections with noticeable parallels." [Note: Tanner, "The Message . . .," p. 152. See pages 152-57 for further discussion of the Song’s literary structure.]

Verse 6

The marriage procession of King (or Prince) Solomon would have been unusually splendid, as this description portrays.

"The pomp and beauty of this procession were wholly appropriate in light of the event’s significance. The Scriptures teach that marriage is one of the most important events in a person’s life. Therefore it is fitting that the union of a couple be commemorated in a special way. The current practice of couples casually living together apart from the bonds of marriage demonstrates how unfashionable genuine commitment to another person has become in contemporary society. This violates the sanctity of marriage and is contrary to God’s standards of purity." [Note: Deere, p. 1017.]

Verses 6-11

A. The Procession 3:6-11

Verses 7-8

The 60 warriors were Solomon’s chosen friends. Normally the groom’s friends accompanied him to the house of his prospective wife. These friends were very likely members of Solomon’s bodyguard. His example of providing protection for his bride is one that every new husband should follow. This might include a measure of financial security for her.

Verses 9-11

Solomon provided his bride with the best he could afford. This self-sacrificing attitude shows his genuine love for her. Solomon’s crown was a special one his mother Bathsheba gave him for this occasion. It evidently represented his joy as well as his royalty. This may have been a crowning that preceded Solomon’s coronation as king, since the high priest crowned him then (cf. 1 Kings 1:32-48; 2 Kings 11:11-20). [Note: Kinlaw, p. 1227.]

"Crowns, usually wreaths of flowers rather than royal crowns, were frequently worn by the nuptial couple in wedding festivities." [Note: Patterson, p. 65.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/song-of-solomon-3.html. 2012.
 
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