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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Song of Solomon

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8

Book Overview - Song of Solomon

by Gary H. Everett

STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett

THE SONG OF SOLOMON

January 2013Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme - How to Serve the Lord with All Our Heart

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Structural Theme - God Calls Mankind into Intimacy with Him Thru His Word (Heart)

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth:

for thy love is better than wine.

Song of Solomon 1:2

Imperative Theme- Loving God is Mature as We Abide in Christ & Labour in His Vineyard

My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come,

and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Song of Solomon 2:10-13

I am the vine, ye are the branches:

He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:

for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:5

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother,

and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32

Untitled

I found a little tree one day,

So tender and so wee;

I nourished it and cherished it

And called it my Love tree.

I watched that tree so soon to see

Had grown as tall as me.

And then I hear with my own ear

A rustling in the leaves,

A Song so dear

I heard it there

About the Birds and Bees.

(Flossie Powell Everett 1910-1987)

Where, O, Where Is A Man Of Prayer?

Where, O, where is a man of prayer?

He hasn't got time, for his house needs repair.

His mortgage is due, and his hopes in despair.

Where, O, where is a man of prayer?

Gary H. Everett

(26 July 1984)

INTRODUCTION TO THE SONG OF SOLOMON

Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

The Message of the Song of Solomon - King Solomon wrote three books that have been forever recorded in the Sacred Scriptures: Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , and the Song of Solomon. The themes of the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes emphasize our duties to fear of the Lord, but the theme of the Song of Solomon places emphasize upon our need to love God with all of our hearts. It is with the fear of the Lord that we began to serve the Lord by departing from evil and obeying His Word. As we mature in the Lord, we get to know Him and begin to love Him. This is why John the apostle, who was the beloved disciple, could say that perfect love, or mature love, casts out fear ( 1 John 4:18). As John grew to know the Lord, he grew in his love for Him, experiencing a love for God that took away His fears of the Heavenly Father. This spiritual message of mature love is woven into the Song of Songs.

1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

The Song of Solomon is a collection of poems making up a Hebrew ode. In its literal interpretation this poem reflects the intimacy of a man and a woman who are deeply in love with each other, popularly believed to be King Solomon and his Shulamite bride. Its poetry expresses the passion, beauty, power, agony and joy of a man and a woman who have fallen in love. In addition, the Song of Solomon serves allegorically to teach us about God's love for His people and how a child of God is to express his love towards Him. We often struggle in this life to love one another. We work at trying to love our enemies. However, God is asking us to lay down those efforts and begin to love Him first and foremost. In His presence comes the desired transformation in our relationships with others; for in the flesh our efforts are just in vain. The Song of Solomon is about a journey that we can take in order to fall in love with our God, and thus, learn to also love one another. It is a story of God drawing us to Him as He pours out His love upon us. It is in this overflow of God's love being poured into our hearts that we are able to love others.

Introductory Material- The introduction to the Song of Solomon will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 1] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

1] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).

HISTORICAL SETTING

"We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible."

(J. Hampton Keathley) 2]

2] J. Hampton Keathley, III, "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah," (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the Song of Solomon will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that Solomon was the primary author of the Song of Solomon , writing during his reign as king over Israel.

I. The Title

The opening verse of the Song of Solomon serves as its title, which is "The Song of Solomon , which is Solomon's." There are a number of ancient titles derived from the opening words of this sacred book.

A. The Ancient Jewish Title "The Song of Songs" - The Hebrew Bible has long entitled this work "Shir Hashirim" ( השיר שיר), which are the two opening words in the Hebrew text, and they literally mean, "the Song of Songs." Origen (A.D. c 185 - c 254) testifies to the use of this title by the ancient Jews until his day. 3] Jerome (A.D 342to 420) was familiar with this title as well. 4] The title ( השיר שיר) can be found in the standard work Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. 5]

3] Eusebius, the early Church historian, writes, "Farther on he says: ‘The twenty-two books of the Hebrews are the following… Ecclesiastes , Koelth; the Song of Songs (not, as some suppose, Songs of Songs), Sir Hassirim…" see Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6251-2, trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1890, 1905), 272-3.

4] Jerome says, "the Song of Solomon , which they denote by the title Sir Assirim." See Jerome, "Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: The Books of Samuel and Kings," trans. W. H. Freemantle, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol 6, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1893), 489-90.

5] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, eds. A. Alt, O. Eifelt, P. Kahle, and R. Kittle (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, c 1967-77).

B. The Modern English Title "The Song of Solomon ," "The Song of Solomon ," and "Canticles" - Today, English bibles use the title "The Song of Solomon ," "The Song of Solomon ," or "Canticles." This title finds it origin in the LXX, which gives the title of " ασμα" from the opening Greek words " ασμα ασματων," which means, "The song of songs…" The VgClem followed the LXX by giving it the Latin title "Canticum Canticorum Salomonis," from which we derive the English title "Canticles." John Gill says the title in the Syriac version is "the Wisdom of Wisdoms of the same Solomon." 6] Martin Luther gave it the German title "Das Hohelied Salomos," 7] which means, "The Chief, or Finest, of Songs of Solomon." 8] Most English translations today retain the title "Song of Songs." However, some modern versions have adopted the title " Song of Solomon ," and "Canticles."

6] John Gill, Song of Solomon , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005) "Introduction."

7] Martin Luther, Die Bibel, ober Die ganze Heilige Schrift des alten und neuen Testaments (New York: Herausgegen von der Americanischen Bibel Gesellschaft, 1841).

8] Cassell's German-English English-German Dictionary, ed. Harold T. Betteridge (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1978) 316, 394.

II. Historical Background

A. References to the Land of Palestine- As we endeavour to understand the historical background upon which the Song of Solomon was written, we immediately notice that the setting is within the land of Palestine during the time of a united kingdom of Israel. This would point to the period of King Solomon's reign. However, within the text there is a clear absence of any references to YHWH, the God of Israel. In fact, the book makes no use of the other Hebrew terms for God, the Lord or Jehovah. It makes no direct comments about the Jewish people, their Law, their customs, or their history. Apart from the mention of King Solomon and the names of several places within and around Palestine, such as Jerusalem, Zion, Heshbon, En Gedi and Tirzah, Gilead, Carmel, Lebanon and Mount Hermon, we would find it difficult to place the book within its historical setting. Yet, despite these characteristics, this book has always found an important place in the Sacred Writings of the Jews as well as the Christians.

III. Authorship

Both internal and external evidence strongly supports the view that the Song of Songs was authored in the tenth century B.C. by King Solomon.

A. Internal Evidence - The Song of Songs has been attributed to King Solomon primarily because its text identifies Solomon as the author both directly and indirectly. We can also recognize its similarity in vocabulary and syntax to other Solomonic writings.

1. The Text Has Direct References to King Solomon - The opening title of the Song of Songs credits this work to Solomon.

Song of Solomon 1:1, "The Song of Solomon , which is Solomon"s."

There are six other clear references to King Solomon within the text.

Song of Solomon 1:5, "I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon."

Song of Solomon 3:7, "Behold his bed, which is Solomon"s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel."

Song of Solomon 3:9, "King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon."

Song of Solomon 3:11, "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart."

Song of Solomon 8:11, "Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver."

Song of Solomon 8:12, "My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred."

2. The Text Has Indirect References to King Solomon - In addition to these seven direct references to King Song of Solomon , the book of Songs has many indirect references to him.

a. Three References to an Unnamed King Suggest Solomonic Authorship - The seven references to King Solomon within the text of Song's suggest that the three additional references to an unnamed king also refer to Solomon.

Song of Solomon 1:4, "Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee."

Song of Solomon 1:12, "While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof."

Song of Solomon 7:5, "Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries."

b. The Author's Familiarity with Nature Suggests Solomonic Authorship - The author's vivid descriptions of plants and animals reveal his insight into natural history and corresponds to the description of King Solomon found in 1 Kings 4:33 and Ecclesiastes 2:4-6. The agricultural prosperity described in these comments reflects a land that was united and prospering only during his reign, for the kingdom fell into disarray afterwards because many of its kings forsook the Lord.

1 Kings 4:33, "And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes."

c. The Author's Descriptions of Luxury Suggests Solomonic Authorship - The description of royal luxury, such as the Egyptian horses, and the king's traveling carriage, suggest Solomonic authorship. He refers to expensive imported goods, to silver, gold, purple and ivory, which reflect the mind of a king. One author says that it breathes the high and lofty spirit of King Solomon as recorded in the Scriptures ( 1 Kings 6-7, Ecclesiastes 2:4).

d. The Author's Geographical Descriptions of the Region in and around Palestine Suggests Solomonic Authorship - The many places that are referred to and described in the Songs suggests a united kingdom during the reign of King Solomon. The author describes locations both in the northern and southern kingdom, as well as places nearby, as if they were all a part of one, common political realm. In fact, the city of Tirzah, the first capital of the northern kingdom, would not have been referred to in a positive light had the kingdom been divided at the time of the book's writing. Thus, the author's geography suggests Solomonic authorship since he ruled in and around the nation of Israel during the time of a united kingdom.

3. The Song's Similarity to the Book of Ecclesiastes Suggests Solomonic Authorship - It is worth noting that the vocabulary and syntax of the Song of Solomon is similar to the book of Ecclesiastes , which is also credited to Solomon.

Note that there are no direct references to the Song of Solomon within the other sixty-five books of the Old and New Testaments.

B. External Evidence - There is external evidence to support Solomonic authorship of the Songs as well as internal evidence. We have the support of ancient Jewish and Church tradition as well as the testimony of its history of ancient canons and canons.

1. Jewish Tradition Considers it a Canonical Book Written by King Solomon - The long-standing tradition of the ancient Jews has always been to credit this work to King Solomon. The Jews have always received it as a divine oracle. 9] John Gill writes, "Their ancient book of Zohar asserts, that Solomon composed it ‘by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit;' as does also the Targum upon this book, and R. Solomon Jarchi, and R. Alben Ezra , in their prefaces to their commentaries upon it." 10] The Babylonian Talmud says that Hezekiah wrote the books of Isaiah ,, Proverbs ,, Song of Solomon , and Ecclesiastes. 11] W. J. Deane et al. tells us that some rabbis attributed it to Isaiah or Hezekiah, 12] but this simply means that it may have been compiled by them at a later date. 13]

9] The Talmud reads, "Our Rabbis taught: He who recites a verse of the Song of Songs and treats it as a [secular] air,and one who recites a verse at the banqueting tableunseasonably,brings evil upon the world." (Sanhedrin 101a) See Isidore Epstein, ed, "Contents of the Soncino Babylonian Talmud," [on-line]; accessed 27 October 2009; available from http://www.come-and-hear.com/shabbath/shabbath 30.html#PARTb; Internet.

10] John Gill, "Introduction," in Song of Solomon, in John Gill's Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005).

11] The Babylonian Talmud reads, "And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil'am , xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: "And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died." Samuel wrote his book, Judges , and Ruth. David wrote Psalm , with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah ,, Proverbs ,, Song of Solomon , and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel , the Twelve Prophets, Daniel , and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh's theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra's book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah." (Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra 15a) See Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.

12] The Babylonian Talmud reads, "King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah ,, Proverbs ,, Song of Solomon , and Ecclesiastes." (Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) See Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45-46.

13] W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, "Introduction to Ecclesiastes ," in Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001).

Because of this Jewish tradition of Solomonic authorship, its canonicity is well established. Thus, there are many references to the Song of Solomon in Jewish writings. David Malick tells us that the earliest reference to the Song of Songs is found in 2 Esdras 5:24-26; 2 Esdras 7:26 (A.D 70-130). However, some scholars are skeptical about this statement, with the view that any allusions to Songs in this book are too vague to reach a definite conclusion.

2 Esdras 5:24-25, "And of all lands of the whole world thou hast chosen thee one pit: and of all the flowers thereof one lily: 25 And of all the depths of the sea thou hast filled thee one river: and of all builded cities thou hast hallowed Sion unto thyself:" 14]

14] The Apocrypha: King James Version, 1995, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

2 Esdras 7:26, "Behold, the time shall come, that these tokens which I have told thee shall come to pass, and the bride shall appear, and she coming forth shall be seen, that now is withdrawn from the earth." 15]

15] The Apocrypha: King James Version, 1995, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

David Malick continues, "In A.D 90 the scholars of Jamnia debated the place of Song of Songs in the Hebrew canon, but Rabbi Akiba upheld its divine inspiration using allegorical interpretation as a means to justify its spiritual value." He goes on to say, "The Mishnah Ta"anith Song of Solomon 4:8 affirms that certain portions of Song of Songs were used in festival that were celebrated in the temple before A.D 70." 16]

16] David Malick, An Introduction to Song of Solomon , in Biblical Studies Foundation (Richardson, Texas: Biblical Studies Press, 1996) [on-line]; accessed 1September 2000; available from http://www.bible.org; Internet, 3.

Finally, it is interesting to note that the Alexandrian Jew named Philo made no reference to the Song of Solomon.

In addition, we find the Canticles placed in every ancient Hebrew Bible as well as the Greek Septuagint.

2. The Early Church Followed Jewish Tradition by Receiving the Book as Canonical With Solomonic Authority - The early Church fathers embraced the Jewish Old Testament canon into their sacred writings, along with their traditional authorships. John Gill says both Eusebius (Contra Marcellum, .c 2) and Athanasius (Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae 116.) 17] ascribe the Song of Songs to Solomon. 18] Thus, we find the Song of Songs in all of early church canons through the fourth century, at which time the entire Old and New Testament canons were solidified by the Church. For example, the Song of Songs is found listed in the canonical catalogues of Melito, 19] Origen, 20] Athanasius, 21] Cyril, 22] and other early Church fathers, canons and councils. The catalogue of the canonical books of Scripture established in the council of Laodicea (A.D 363/5) included it (Canon 59-60), 23] as well as the Apostolical Canons (late 4th c.) (Canon 85), 24] and the Constitutions of the Apostles (late 4th c.) (Canon 85). 25] The book of Songs became one of the more popular books to exegete and preach for many of the early Church fathers and medieval writers. 26]

17] The Synopsis of Sacred Scripture says, "…The Parables of Song of Solomon , beginning with ‘The Proverbs of Solomon son of David, who reigned in Israel, to know wisdom and instruction'; Ecclesiastes by the same author, which begins ‘The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king of Israel in Jerusalem: vanity of vanities ... all is vanity'; Song of Songs by the same author, which begins ‘The Song of Solomon , which is Solomon's: let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine…'" (PG 28, cols 284-93, 432) See Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae, trans. Michael D. Marlowe (c 2001-2009) [on-line]; accessed 12December 2009; available from http://www.bible-researcher.com/sss.html; Internet.

18] John Gill, "Introduction," in Song of Solomon, in John Gill's Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005).

19] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 426. See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1890, 1905), in in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

20] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 625. See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1890, 1905), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

21] Athanasius, Easter Letter No 39 [for A.D 367] 4. See Athanasius, Select Writings and Letters of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, trans. Archibald Roberts, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 4, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1892), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

22] Catechetical Lectures 435. See Cyril of Jerusalem, The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, trans. Edwin H. Gifford, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 7, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1894), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

23] The Seven Ecumenical Councils, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol 14, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, c 1900, 1916), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 158-159.

24] The Seven Ecumenical Councils, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol 14, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, c 1900, 1916), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 599.

25] Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VII: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D 325. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily and Liturgies, eds. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, c 1886, 1997), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 505.

26] See Hippolytus (PG 10), Origen (PG 13, 23), Athanasius (PG 27), Gregory of Nyssa (PG 44), Ambrose (PL 15), Theodore of Mopsuestia (PG 66), Cyril of Alexandria (PG 69), Theodoret (PG 81), Procopius of Gaza (PG 87), Flavius Cassiodorus (PG 70), Gregory the Great (PL 79), Justus Urgellensis (PL 67), Isidore Hispalensis (PL 83), Bede (PL 91), Walafrid Strabo (PL 113), Haymo of Halberstadt (PL 117), Angelomus Luxovensis (PL 115), Michael Psellos (PL 122), Anselm of Laon (PL 162), Bernard of Clairvaux (PL 183), Robert of Tumbalena (PL 150), Bruno Astensis (PL 164), Rupert of Deutz (PL 168), Honorius of Autun (PL 172), Guillelmus of Theodoricus (PL 180), Richard of St. Victor (PL 196), Gilbert Foliot (PL 202), Philippus Harvengius (PL 203), and others.

3. The Ancient Titles of the Book Credit it to King Solomon - The titles of this book in the ancient bibles credit it to King Solomon. For example, the VgClem followed the LXX by giving it the Latin title "Canticum Canticorum Salomonis," from which we derive the English title "Canticles." John Gill says the title in the Syriac version is "the Wisdom of Wisdoms of the same Solomon." 27] Martin Luther gave it the German title "Das Hohelied Salomos," 28] which means, "The Chief, or Finest, of Songs of Solomon." 29] Most English translations today retain the title "Song of Songs." However, some modern versions have adopted the title " Song of Solomon ," and "Canticles."

27] John Gill, Song of Solomon , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005) "Introduction."

28] Martin Luther, Die Bibel, ober Die ganze Heilige Schrift des alten und neuen Testaments (New York: Herausgegen von der Americanischen Bibel Gesellschaft, 1841).

29] Cassell's German-English English-German Dictionary, ed. Harold T. Betteridge (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1978) 316, 394.

None the less, there are arguments for a later dating of the Song of Songs. G. Currie Martin lists a number of arguments for a late date. 30]

30] Currie Martin, The Song of Solomon , in The Century Bible: A Modern Commentary, vol 7 (London: The Caxton Publishing Company), 287-9.

4. The Use of the Relative Pronoun - Martin argues that the form of the relative pronoun in the Songs reflects later Hebrew after the Exile, or to Hebrew that originated in northern Israel.

5. Words Identified as Non-Semitic - Martin argues that the book contains a number of words that are of later Persian, Aramaic and Greek origin. He believes the words "henna" ( Song of Solomon 1:14; Song of Solomon 4:13), "palanquin", "saffron", and "orchard" are all of later origin. Driver believes such "loan" words may have reached Solomon through his interactions with foreign nations, but Martin believes the former view is more likely.

6. The Book's Position in the Hebrew Canon - Martin believes the book's position in the Hebrew canon and the discussions on this matter support his view of a post-exilic authorship.

IV. Date

There are a number of words and phrases within the text of Songs that indicates a tenth century B.C. date of writing: (A) there is a reference to Tirzah, the early capital of the Northern Kingdom, (B) the overall description of the land of Palestine is beautiful, (C) the overall diction of the Hebrew language points to an early date of writing.

A. The Reference to Tirzah, the Early Capital of the Northern Kingdom - The city of Tirzah was the earliest capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. It preceded Shechem as the capital of the Northern Kingdom. It was used by Jeroboam immediately after the death of Solomon until the reign Omri, a period of about fifty years. It was in Tirzah that Jeroboam (the first king), Nadab his Song of Solomon , Baasha, Elah and Zimri reigned as kings ( 1 Kings 15:21; 1 Kings 15:33; 1 Kings 16:6; 1 Kings 16:8-9; 1 Kings 16:15). The reference to the beauty of Tirzah indicates an early date of the writing of the Song of Solomon. It would have been an unlikely place to praise after the division of the kingdom in 922 B.C.

B. The Overall Description of the Land of Palestine is Beautiful - The setting of the Song of Songs is the pastoral Middle East. The detailed descriptions of the places in and around Palestine as being beautiful suggests a time when the nation of Israel was at peace and prosperous. From Mount Carmel to the lush vineyards of Engedi, to the streams and cedars of Lebanon, to the fish pools in Heshbon and the gate of Bathrabbim, as we stand under the apple trees and eat its sweet fruit we see a land producing its fullness without the ravages of war and poor leadership that followed King Solomon. It contains a reference eighteen different types of plants and thirteen animals. This would indicate an early date of writing during the prosperous time of Solomon's reign.

C. The Overall Diction of the Hebrew Language Points to an Early Date of Writing - The overall evaluation of conservative scholars is to conclude that the diction of this poem is pure Hebrew with very little influence of other foreign languages. Although some have argued for a later date because of the inclusion of certain uncommon idioms and a few borrowed words, the argument supports an early date of writing more than a later date.

As to when in the life of Solomon it was written can only be speculated. Ancient Jews and Christians propose a variety of guesses as to which of his three writings were written first; Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , Song of Songs. We have a reference in Song of Solomon 1:5 to the "curtains of Song of Solomon ," which tells us the Temple was completed prior to the writing of this book. The majority suggest that the Song of Songs was written during his early reign.

V. Recipients

Universal Application - The three books that Solomon wrote, the book of Proverbs , Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon , are designed for all people everywhere, both Jews and Gentiles, so that they have a universal application. There are three primary recipients identified in God's Word: the Jews, the Gentiles and the Church ( 1 Corinthians 10:32). (1) The Jews- The Old Testament placed emphasis upon the Jews as the nation of Israel. (2) The Gentiles- The book of Daniel stands alone in the Old Testament in much the same way that the book of Revelation is unique to the New Testament. Both are apocalyptic in nature, using symbolic figures to prophesy of future events. Daniel takes us through the Times of the Gentiles when God divinely works in this group of people to carry out His divine plan of election and redemption. (3) The Church- The New Testament reveals God's plan of redemption as He works through the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under the New Covenant, God created a third group of people. He took the Jews and the Gentiles and made one new man in Christ called the Church. This was the mystery that was kept hidden under the old covenant and reveled only in the New Testament. The writings of Solomon stand unique in the Holy Scriptures in that all three people-groups serve as primary recipients. This is because King Solomon was a type and figure of Jesus Christ, who will reign as King of Kings over all the earth, beginning in the Millennial reign.

1 Corinthians 10:32, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:"

King Solomon was a king of kings. That Isaiah , his realm of dominion included other Gentile nations. Thus, in no place in these three books is the nation of Israel mentioned, nor a mention of the Jewish laws, rituals, feasts, ceremonies, sacrifices, the Sabbath day, or the tithe. There are also no prophetic passages about the coming of the Messiah. Nor are there any references to angels or Satan. It is clearly a Jewish writing that is designed for universal application for all ages and cultures. This is why both Jews and Christians have found comfort a clear application to their lives in these three books.

In 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 King Solomon prayed for the Gentiles who would come to the Temple in Jerusalem to call upon the name of the God of Israel. Such Gentiles would have heard and seen the great works of God and would come to receive His salvation and deliverance in their own lives. This shows that the Temple was to serve as a testimony to the nations of the earth that there was a God in heaven who could be approached. This prayer revealed that Solomon understood his office and ministry extended beyond the land of Israel and unto the nations. This would help explain why Solomon's writings of Proverbs , Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are not designated for the Jews alone, but address all mankind.

2 Chronicles 6:32-33, "Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name"s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name."

VI. Occasion

A careful study of the Scriptures reveals how the Lord revealed to King David that his son Solomon would be heir to the throne. As such, the king took his son aside and instilled within him a love for God and His Word. We see that God had previously spoken to King David about a son being born to him and that his name would be called "Solomon" ( 1 Chronicles 22:8-9). The birth and naming of Solomon took place in 2 Samuel 12:24-25. God also revealed to King David that Solomon was to succeed him on the throne ( 1 Chronicles 28:5-6). We also see evidence in Proverbs 4:3-4 that King David favored his son Solomon above his other sons. As he groomed Solomon for the kingship, his other sons appear to be raised without discipline and training. We read about the immorality in Amnon in raping his sister, about the murder and rebellion in Absalom, and insurrection and pride in Adonijah. Thus, we see how Solomon received correction in the smallest of areas, while his brothers remained without discipline in their sins. This was because King David gave Solomon special attention during his youth. As King David taught Solomon Wisdom of Solomon , he not only instilled within his son divine truths, but also the passion to seek God for divine Wisdom of Solomon , as Solomon must have seen his father seek the Lord passionately. Not only did Solomon inherit good behavior from these teachings, but he also inherited a yearning for wisdom. He would have sought the deepest meaning of the most noble of all the commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and strength." ( Deuteronomy 6:4-6) As king, Solomon's international exposure would have given him the opportunity to hear the wisdom of Egypt and of the East ( 1 Kings 4:30, Acts 7:22) and gather the collection of proverbs which we call "the words of the wise". Thus, Solomon"s upbringing would occasion the writing of the book of Proverbs. His role as king gave him the opportunity to explore the pursuits of pleasure, wealth and power, thus inspiring the book of Ecclesiastes. His relationships with his harem of wives would have occasioned him to explore the aspects of true love between a man and a woman, thus inspiring the Song of Solomon.

1 Chronicles 22:8-9, "But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Song of Solomon , and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days."

2 Samuel 12:24-25, "And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a Song of Solomon , and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him. And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD."

1 Chronicles 28:5-6, "And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy Song of Solomon , he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my Song of Solomon , and I will be his father."

Proverbs 4:3, "For I was my father"s Song of Solomon , tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live."

1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

Acts 7:22, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."

LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)

"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."

(Thomas Schreiner) 31]

31] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the early kingdom of Israel, the author of the Song of Solomon chose to write using the literary style of poetry and song. Thus, the Song of Solomon is assigned to the literary genre called "psalms."

The Song of Solomon has a number of issues regarding its literary style that distinguish it from the other books of the Holy Scriptures: (A) the book has only a few allusions in the Old Testament and no directly references in the New Testament, (B) its poetic imagery rings within every verse, (C) its vocabulary uses "Hapax Legomena" extensively, (D) the book shows unity, and (E) hermeneutical principles.

A. Its Uses in the Old and New Testaments - E. H. Plumpter tells us that "one or two allusions have been found in the Song to at least one older canonical book (Genesis); and a few references to Songs occur in books of later composition ( Proverbs ,, Isaiah , Hosea)." 32] Despite these few Old Testament allusions, there are no direct quotes of the Song of Solomon within the New Testament. However, some scholars have suggests that there are a number of allusions that can be found. For example, John Gill says, "there seem to be many allusions and references to various passages of this book in the New Testament; see # Matthew 9:13; Matthew 13:52; Matthew 21:38; Matthew 25:1, &c. John 3:8; John 3:29; John 6:44, 2 Corinthians 11:3 Ephesians 5:27 Colossians 2:17 Revelation 3:20; Revelation 19:7-8; compared with Song of Solomon 1:3-4; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 4:7; Song of Solomon 4:16; Song of Solomon 5:1-2; Song of Solomon 7:13; Song of Solomon 8:11-12." 33]

32] E. H. Plumpter, The Song of Solomon , in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D 1611), with an Explanation and Critical Commentary and a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Church, vol 4, ed. F. C. Cook (London: John Murray, 1873), 665.

33] John Gill, "Introduction," in Song of Solomon , in John Gill's Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005).

B. Its Poetic Imagery Rings Within Every Verse - The Song of Solomon is best characterized as a love Song of Solomon , written in the best of Hebrew poetry. The Song of Solomon is poetry in its finest. No other book of the Holy Bible draws such an array of allusions to nature and its beautiful imagery in the minds of the reader than does this book. Literally every line of this poem expresses such imagery, for this reflects the mind of someone who is in love. He cannot see the bad because his eyes are on the good all around him. When two people are in love they notice these lovely things around them. They travel together; they stop and smell the roses together, they enjoy each day and see the beauty of the day. I have an old photograph of my granddad and grandmother on their honeymoon. They are standing in the Florida Caverns State Park holding each other with excitement. This was perhaps the only scenic place to visit in the 1930's when they married. Yet, they found its beauty, although it was perhaps the only place in north Florida at the time designed for the public.

In a similar way that two people enjoy taking a honeymoon, this Song takes us on a journey to see the beauty of the land of Israel, places such as Jerusalem, Damascus, Tirzah, En Gedi, Carmel, Sharon, Gilead, Senir, and Heshbon. We visit places such as gardens, parks, fields, orchards, vineyards, mountainsides and valleys. We travel to see the beautiful, black tents of Kedar and the curtains of Song of Solomon , to the lush vineyards of Engedi, to leap upon the mountains of Bether, to behold the majesty of mounts Shenir and Hermon, to see the streams and cedars of Lebanon, to the fish pools in Heshbon and the gate of Bathrabbim. We stand under the apple trees and eat its sweet fruit. These were perhaps some of the loveliest sights in the land of Israel and its surrounding region. This Song causes us to smell the most fragrant of perfumes, the clusters of camphire, the sweet smelling myrrh and frankincense, and the mandrakes that give their smell. We smell the oils, saffron, nard, cinnamon, henna, and aloes. Within its verses we can taste the best wine. We see the beauties of nature, such as two young roes feeding among the lilies, the young hart among the mountains and the flock goats upon mount Gilead. We notice the figs, apples, lilies, pomegranates, raisins, wheat, brambles, nuts, cedar, palms, vines, doves, ravens, ewes, sheep, fawns, gazelles, goats, lions, and leopards. The whole earth is beautiful from the eyes of love. Note the following list of imagery from the Song of Songs:

as ointment poured forth ( Song of Solomon 1:3)

as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon ( Song of Solomon 1:5)

as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi ( Song of Solomon 1:14)

the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys ( Song of Solomon 1:2)

as the lily among thorns ( Song of Solomon 2:2)

As the apple tree among the trees of the wood ( Song of Solomon 2:3)

like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether ( Song of Solomon 2:17)

like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant ( Song of Solomon 3:6)

as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead ( Song of Solomon 4:1)

like a flock of sheep that are even shorn ( Song of Solomon 4:2)

like a thread of scarlet ( Song of Solomon 4:3)

like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks ( Song of Solomon 4:3)

like the tower of David builded for an armoury ( Song of Solomon 4:4)

like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies ( Song of Solomon 4:5)

look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon ( Song of Solomon 4:8)

as the honeycomb ( Song of Solomon 4:11)

an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits ( Song of Solomon 4:13)

a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon ( Song of Solomon 4:15)

with sweet smelling myrrh ( Song of Solomon 5:5)

as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers ( Song of Solomon 5:13)

as gold rings set with the beryl ( Song of Solomon 5:14)

as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires ( Song of Solomon 5:14)

as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold ( Song of Solomon 5:15)

as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars ( Song of Solomon 5:15)

fairest among women ( Song of Solomon 6:1)

as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners ( Song of Solomon 6:4)

as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead ( Song of Solomon 6:5)

as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins ( Song of Solomon 6:6)

As a piece of a pomegranate ( Song of Solomon 6:7)

fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners ( Song of Solomon 6:10)

fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners ( Song of Solomon 7:1)

like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor ( Song of Solomon 7:2)

like two young roes that are twins ( Song of Solomon 7:3)

as a tower of ivory ( Song of Solomon 7:4)

like the fish pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim ( Song of Solomon 7:4)

as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus ( Song of Solomon 7:4)

like Carmel ( Song of Solomon 7:5)

like purple ( Song of Solomon 7:5)

like to a palm tree ( Song of Solomon 7:7)

clusters of grapes ( Song of Solomon 7:7)

as clusters of the vine ( Song of Solomon 7:8)

like apples ( Song of Solomon 7:8)

like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly ( Song of Solomon 7:9)

the mandrakes give a smell ( Song of Solomon 7:13)

to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate ( Song of Solomon 8:2)

strong as death…cruel as the grave…coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame ( Song of Solomon 8:6)

like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices ( Song of Solomon 8:14)

We can see this same imagery in Psalm 45, 72and Isaiah 5:1-7. Perhaps these two psalms were used to inspire Solomon to write a more extensive song on the subject. Some scholars go so far as to suggest that Psalm 45 is a compendium, which is a brief composition of a much larger work, of the Song of Solomon.

C. Grammar and Syntax: Its Vocabulary Uses "Hapax Legomena" Extensively - Of the one hundred seventeen (117) verses in the Song of Solomon there are an amazing number of words that are rarely used in the Old Testament, many of them only once. Of the four hundred seventy (470) different Hebrew words used in this poem, fifty (50) of them are "hapax legomena." Thus, scholars question the exact meaning of many words in this book because they are used only once. The words that are frequently used give us a clear indication as to the theme and emphasis of the Song of Solomon.

a. "as, like" - Perhaps the most frequently used word in this book is the preposition "as" or "like," which is found in almost every verse. This is because the Song is made up of similes and metaphors to compare and describe the beautiful experience of love to events found in nature. Such word pictures are used in man's efforts to describe the infinite love of God in the natural realm. Paul the apostle attempts to describe God's love in Ephesians 3:17-19.

Ephesians 3:17-19, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

b. "beloved" - Of the key words in this Song of Solomon , one of the most frequently used words is the Hebrew "dowd" ( דֹּוד) (H 1730), which means, "a love-token, lover, friend, beloved." (Strong) This Hebrew word is used thirty-nine (39) times in the Song out of its sixty-one (61) uses in the Old Testament. It is a key word being found in the opening and closing verses of this Song ( Song of Solomon 1:2, Song of Solomon 8:14).

c. "love" - Another key word found in Songs is the Hebrew "ahabah" ( אַהֲבָה) (H 160), which means, "love." (Strong) The Enhanced Strong says this word is used forty (40) times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "love 40." It is found 11times in the Song of Solomon ( Song of Solomon 2:4-5; Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 3:10; Song of Solomon 5:8; Song of Solomon 7:6; Song of Solomon 8:4; Song of Solomon 8:6-7[twice]), with one of these uses as a substantive to refer to her lover ( Song of Solomon 7:6).

d. "beautiful" - Another key word found in Songs is the Hebrew "yapheh" ( יָפֶה) (H 3303), which means, "beautiful." (Strong) The Enhanced Strong says this word is used forty-one (41) times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "fair 21, beautiful 5, well 5, fairest 3, fair one 2, beauty 1, beautiful + 083892, beauty 1, comely 1, pleasant 1." It is used twelve (12) times alone in the book of the Song of Solomon.

D. Its Unity - Although the Song of Solomon may be divided into sections, it is one continuous story, rather than five separate poems as some suggest. This may be seen in the several facts.

a. The Same Characters- We see that the same characters appear throughout the book (The lover, the beloved and the daughters of Jerusalem).

b. Similar Figures of Speech - Also, similar figures of speech and poetic phrases are found throughout the book. For example, love more delightful than wine ( Song of Solomon 1:2; Song of Solomon 4:10), fragrant perfumes ( Song of Solomon 1:3; Song of Solomon 1:12; Song of Solomon 3:6; Song of Solomon 4:10), the beloved"s cheeks ( Song of Solomon 1:10; Song of Solomon 5:13), her eyes like doves ( Song of Solomon 1:15; Song of Solomon 4:1), her teeth like sheep ( Song of Solomon 4:2; Song of Solomon 6:6), her charge to the daughters of Jerusalem ( Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 8:4), the lover like a gazelle ( Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14), Lebanon ( Song of Solomon 3:9; Song of Solomon 4:8; Song of Solomon 4:11; Song of Solomon 4:15; Song of Solomon 7:4), and numerous references to nature.

c. A Logical Progression of Events- In addition, there is a logical progression of events that move throughout the book. David Malick suggests that "the book moves logically from the courtship ( Song of Solomon 1:2 to Song of Solomon 3:5) to the wedding night ( Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1) to the maturation in marriage ( Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 8:4)." 34]

34] David Malick, An Introduction to Song of Solomon , in Biblical Studies Foundation (Richardson, Texas: Biblical Studies Press, 1996) [on-line]; accessed 1September 2000; available from http://www.bible.org; Internet, 4.

E. Hermeneutical Principles for the Song of Solomon - There are at least four ways in which the Song of Solomon has been approached and interpreted throughout the course of history.

1. The Allegorical, or Spiritual, Approach - The most popular view of approaching the Song of Solomon throughout the past centuries is to view it as an allegorical love-poem to be interpreted as a story between God and His people.

a) The Jews- The Jews saw in the Song of Solomon an allegorical message of the relationship between God and His chosen people Israel. 35] Dennis Kinlaw says, "This is found from the earliest known Jewish interpreters such as Rabbi Aqiba (Tosephta Yad 24) in the first century to the interpretations found in the Targum (Ta`anith 48), 36] the Midrash, the great medieval commentators such as Saadia 882-941], Rashi 1040-1105], and Ibn Ezra 1092-1167], down to some present day orthodox scholarship." 37] The Jewish Zohar, believed by many to have been largely written in the early centuries after Christ, but having its first appearance in the thirteenth century, 38] took great liberties in its allegorical interpretation of God and His people Israel. 39] The Targum on Songs that appeared in the eighth century allegorizes it as a picture of the history of Israel from the Exodus to the coming of the Messiah." 40] KD say this is why the Jews became accustomed to reading the book of the Song of Solomon on the eighth day of the Feast of Passover, since the traditional Targum interpretation of this book teaches that it begins allegorically with the departure out of Egypt. 41] John Gill tells us that Jewish children were forbidden to read it at an early age because of its graphic and intimate content of love and marriage. 42] KD notes that Origen and Jerome say a Jew had to be thirty years of age before reading it. 43]

35] For example, the Talmud quotes from Song of Solomon , giving it an allegorical interpretation, "R. Abba said in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: When two scholars pay heed to each other in halachah, the Holy One, blessed be Hebrews , listens to their voice, as it is said, Thou that dwellest in the gardens, The companions hearken to thy voice: Cause me to hear it. But if they do not do thus, they cause the Shechinah to depart from Israel, as it is said, Flee, my beloved, and be thou like, etc. http://www.come-and-hear.com/shabbath/shabbath 63.html- 63a 33#63a 33R. Abba said in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: When two disciples form an assembly in halachah,http://www.come-and-hear.com/shabbath/shabbath 63.html- 63a 35#63a 35the Holy One, blessed be Hebrews , loves them, as it is said, and his banner over me was love.Said Raba: Providing they know the features of a subject;providing also that there is no greater [scholar] in the town from whom to learn." (Shabbath 63a). The Talmud also reads, "…for it is said: Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken for thy voice; cause me to hear it.The rest [of Leviathan] will be distributed and sold out in the markets of Jerusalem…" (Baba Bathra 75a) See Isidore Epstein, ed, "Contents of the Soncino Babylonian Talmud," [on-line]; accessed 27 October 2009; available from http://www.come-and-hear.com/shabbath/shabbath 30.html#PARTb; Internet.

36] The Babylonian Talmud reads, "Thus also is it written (alluding to that custom): ‘Go forth and look, O ye daughters of Zion, on King Song of Solomon , with the crown wherewith his mother bath crowned him on the day of his espousals, and on the day of the joy of his heart' [Solomon"s Song of Solomon , iii 11]. ‘The day of the espousals' refers to the day on which the Law was given, and ‘the day of the joy of his heart' was that when the building of the Temple was completed." (Babylonian Talmud, Tract Ta'anith 48) See Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol 8 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 80.

37] Dennis F. Kinlaw, "Introduction," in Song of Solomon , in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 5, ed. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001).

38] Joseph Jacobs and Isaac Broyd, "Zohar," in The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol 12, ed. Isidore Singer (New York: KTAV Publishing House, Inc, n.d.), 689-693.

39] The Zohar reads, "…At length Rabbi Simeon spake, and said: ‘As a lily amongst the thorns.' Song of Solomon 2:2 This word lily, what doth it mean and symbolize? It symbolizes the congregation of Israel," (The Lily). The Zohar also allegorizes Songs as a reference to the Story of Creation, saying, "Rabbi Simeon spake again: ‘The Flowers appear on the earth.' Song of Solomon 2:12 By flowers is signified the appearance of created beings on the earth…. Then the flowers appeared on that day. ‘The time of singing or of commingled voices and cries and noises is come,' indicates the fourth day of creation… ‘The voice of the turtle' refers to the fifth day, when it is written: ‘The waters brought forth abundantly, and etc,' for the generation of created beings." (The Lily) See Nuhro De Manhar, "The Sepher Ha-Zohar or The Book of Light," ed. H.W. Percival (New York, Theosophical Publishing Company, 1900-14), in in e-Sword, v 951 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2009).

40] The Targum on Song of Solomon 1:4 reads, "As the children of the House of Israel departed from Egypt, the "Schechina" (Divine Presence) of the Lord of the Universe, led the way before them, by day with the pillar of cloud, by night with the pillar of fire." The Targum on Song of Solomon 1:8 reads, "…they will be sustained in exile, until I send their King, Messiah, who will lead them gently to their Dwelling-Place, the Temple, which David and Song of Solomon , the shepherds of Israel, shall build for them." See Hermann Gollancz, ‘The Targum to the Song of Songs' (London: Luzac & Co, 1909), 11, 14-15, 16, 82; W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction to Song of Solomon"; C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Song of Solomon, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. James Martin, in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

41] C. F. Keil, and F. Delitzsch, "Introduction," in The Song of Solomon , in Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000).

42] John Gill, "Introduction," in Song of Solomon , in John Gill's Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005).

43] See Jerome in PL 23, Interpretatio Homiliarum Duarum Orgenis in Canticum Canticorum, cols 1175-1196. Keil, C. F, and F. Delitzsch. "Introduction," in The Song of Solomon , in Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

Also, the Talmud reads, "Rabha lectured: ‘It is written ( Song of Solomon , vii 2): "How beautiful are thy steps in sandals, O prince"s daughter.' This refers to the pilgrims on the festivals." (Hagiga 3) The Talmud reads, "He used to say the words: ‘Look not so at me, because I am somewhat black, because the sun hath looked fiercely at me' , i 6], refer to the counsellors of Judah, who relieved themselves of the yoke of the Holy One, blessed be Hebrews , and chose a human king to reign over them. ‘My mother"s children were angry with me' [ibid.] refers to Moses, who slew the Egyptian, as it is written [Ex. ii 11, 12]: "And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown up, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdensome labors.. .. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no one by." (Aboth 10) The Talmud reads, "…for it is stated ‘the flood,' and that means sweet water, as it is written , iv 15]: ‘A well of living waters, and flowing down from Lebanon.' The clouds of glory were above their heads, to protect them from the sun." (Aboth 12) See Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, ed. Isaac M. Wise (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), in e-Sword, v 951 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2009).

b) The Early Church- The early Church fathers also took an allegorical approach to the book of Song of Solomon , perhaps following the example set by their exegetical predecessors, the Jewish rabbis. However, the Church fathers interpreted it as the communion between Christ Jesus and His Church, or between Christ and an individual. The numerous exegetical remarks preserved by the Church fathers suggest that Songs was a popular book. Eusebius tells us that Hippolytus 44] and Origen 45] wrote commentaries on the Song of Songs. Hippolytus (170-236) provides the earliest fragment of allegorical comments on Songs (Migne, PG 10). Origen (A.D 185-254) followed him with a commentary and two homilies on Songs (Migne, PG 13,23). 46] Origen gave it an allegorical interpretation similar to tradition Jewish allegory, but revising it to symbolize Christ and the Church, which view became popular by subsequent writers in the early and medieval Church. During the Middle Ages its popularity is seen in the fact that Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) wrote eighty-six sermons on the first two chapters (Migne, PL 183), and Gilbert von Hoyland (A.D 1115-1180), who wrote fifty-eight discourses on this book (Migne, PL 184). Also note a commentary by Michael Psellus (A.D 1019-1078) (Migne PG 122). W. J. Dean et al. says that Thomas Aquinas and others of this period in history, even in the Jewish community, continued giving this book an allegorical approach. 47] During the Reformation the allegorical approach was questioned and Revelation -evaluated. The Reformers retracted to a more conservative approach in its allegorical interpretation, which view has been carried down until today by conservative Christian scholars, and is by far the most widespread method of interpretation for the Song of Solomon.

44] Eusebius writes, "At that time Hippolytus, besides many other treatises, wrote a work on the passover. He gives in this a chronological table, and presents a certain paschal canon of sixteen years, bringing the time down to the first year of the Emperor Alexander. Of his other writings the following have reached us: On the Hexaemeron, On the Works after the Hexaemeron, Against Marcion, On the Song of Songs, On Portions of Ezekiel , On the Passover, Against All the Heresies; and you can find many other works preserved by many." (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 622)

45] Eusebius writes, "About this time Origen prepared his Commentaries on Isaiah and on Ezekiel. Of the former there have come down to us thirty books, as far as the third part of Isaiah , to the vision of the beasts in the desert; on Ezekiel twenty-five books, which are all that he wrote on the whole prophet. Being at that time in Athens, he finished his work on Ezekiel and commenced his Commentaries on the Song of Songs, which he carried forward to the fifth book. After his return to Caesarea, he completed these also, ten books in number. But why should we give in this history an accurate catalogue of the man"s works, which would require a separate treatise? we have furnished this also in our narrative of the life of Pamphilus, a holy martyr of our own time. After showing how great the diligence of Pamphilus was in divine things, we give in that a catalogue of the library which he collected of the works of Origen and of other ecclesiastical writers, Whoever desires may learn readily from this which of Origen"s works have reached us. But we must proceed now with our history." (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 632)

46] W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction to Song of Solomon."

47] W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction to Song of Solomon."

2. The Natural, or Literal, Approach - Some scholars have dared to interpret this book from strictly a natural, or literal, perspective. Its message is that love, marriage and sex between a man and a woman is pure and holy. The book could then serve as an anthology of disconnected love songs. In his commentary on Song of Solomon , Theodore of Mopsuestia (A.D 350-428), a prolific writer and controversial figure during his lifetime, 48] was one of the early writers that took a literal and historical approach to its interpretation (Migne PG 66, Expositio in Canticum canticorum Colossians 699-700), a view that was disputed by others in the Church. 49] He was later excommunicated from the church at the Second Council in Constantinople in A.D 553. 50] The literal approach to Songs did not find popularity until the Reformation period. For example, Martin Luther believed Songs was written to glorify Solomon his kingdom. 51] Robert Lowth, the eighteenth-century Anglican bishop, took this approach further by suggesting that this story was the actual wedding song of Solomon and the daughter of Pharaoh as he takes his first Gentile bride. 52] The literal interpretation has found wide acceptance today alongside the allegorical approach.

48] "Theodorus," in A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature, eds. Henry Wace and William C. Piercy (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1911), 968.

49] W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction to Song of Solomon."

50] The Church wrote, "Let therefore the whole Catholic Church know that justly and irreproachably we have arrived at the conclusions contained in this our constitution. Wherefore we condemn and anathematize Theodore, formerly bishop of Mopsuestia, and his impious writings, together with all other heretics, who (as is manifest) have been condemned and anathematized by the four holy Synods aforesaid, and by the Catholic Church: also the writings of Theodoret which are opposed to the right faith, and are against the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril, and against the first Council of Ephesus, which were written by him in defence of Theodore and Nestorius." See The Seven Ecumenical Councils, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol 14, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, c 1900, 1916), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 322.

51] W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction to Song of Solomon."

52] Robert Lowth, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews , trans. G. Gregory (Andover, United Kingdom: The Codman Press, 1829), 258-9.

It is interesting to note how the views in Church history change. While many of the early Church fathers, such as Theodore of Mopsuestia, opposed those who took the literal approach to Song of Solomon , scholars during the period of the Reformation favored a literal interpretation, and opposed those who continued taking the allegorical approach. For example, Sebastian Castellio (A.D 1515-1563), who became an opponent of John Calvin, viewed the Song of Solomon with its literal approach as "an obscene, erotic poem, which should be stricken out of the canon." Castellio was banished in 1554by the ministers in Geneva for his numerous controversial views and confrontational behavior. 53]

53] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 8 "Modern Christianity: The Swiss Reformation," (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing Company, 1958), 624-625.

One popular approach today is to view the Song of Solomon as a two-layered message by combining both the literal and allegorical approach. The book does have a literal message of love between a man and a woman, perhaps Solomon and his wife, and the book carries a loftier message about the intimacy between Christ and the Church. However, several other views have emerged in modern times, but have found less popularity.

3. The Approach as a Drama- Thirdly, there has been the view that this book is to be interpreted as a drama between Solomon and a Shulamite maiden, whom he takes into his royal palace. This view, which David Malick says was first introduced by the Church in the third century A.D, 54] sees the text of the book as the conversations between these two characters. One modification of this view is called "the shepherd hypothesis," made popular by Georg Heinrich von Ewald (1826) and introduces a third individual, the shepherd lover, into the drama. 55] The AmpBible takes this approach by adding a third party to this love affair, portraying King Solomon attempting to intervene in a love affair between an unnamed shepherd lad and a Shulamite maiden. However, the view of the book being such a drama has held very little popularity among conservative scholars today, perhaps because the drama designed for acting was foreign to the ancient Jews. In fact, King Herod was the first to build a theatre in Palestine during the Roman times of the first century. Christians who take this approach must believe that this form of the drama has been hidden from the Jews for centuries and has only recently been revealed to Christian scholars.

54] David Malick, "An Introduction to the Song of Solomon ," (c 1996) [on-line]; accessed 30 November 2009; available from http://www.bible.org; Internet.

55] J. Paul Tanner, "The History of Interpretation of the Song of Solomon ," Bibliotheca Sacra 154: 613 (1997): 23-46; [journal on-line]; accessed 5 December 2009; available from http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_Song of Song of Solomon 1 _tanner.html; Internet.

4. The Approach as a Cultic, or Mythological Story- A fourth view has immerged by suggesting that the book of Songs is cultic and mythological, describing a king and a goddess of someone's imagination. David Malick explains how this view suggests that the Song of Solomon "is a Hebrew adaptation of the Mesopotamian fertility cult liturgy." This view says that the original references to foreign cultic gods were "forgotten or changed" by the Jews and adapted to their culture. 56] However, most scholars find it difficult to believe that the Jewish people would adopt a heathenistic-style of mythology into their sacred writings. Thus, the cultic approach is the least popular view taken among scholars today.

56] David Malick, "An Introduction to the Song of Solomon ," (c 1996) [on-line]; accessed 30 November 2009; available from http://www.bible.org; Internet.

My Conclusion- My observation on the proper method of interpreting the Song of Solomon is to agree with conservative scholars who take a two-fold approach. The literally interpretation of the book expresses the pursuit of human love and marriage in its purest and most intimate form. It very well could be a record of the historical event of King Solomon and his bride. Yet, the book clearly carries a spiritual meaning as well. Thus, a second and more important message that the Song of Solomon expresses is the relationship that God has with His people Israel. In other words, it serves as an allegory of Jehovah and His people Israel.

However, we must understand that the Church has been hidden in Old Testament prophecy from the beginning of the ages, so we are allowed to interpret this book as a figure of Christ and His Church as well as for the Jews, who were initially God's people. For Christ is simply God's clearest expression of His love for all of mankind. Watchman Nee takes this approach a step further by explaining that this book expresses the relationship between an individual and Christ, rather than the Church as a whole. 57] This view is taken because the Song of Solomon expresses an intimacy that many Christians do not take in their Christian journey. The Shulamite bride would represent the individual who goes on to full Christian growth and maturity to experience intimacy with God that few others have known.

57] Watchman Nee, Song of Songs (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: CLC Publications, c 1965, 2001), 12.

The Two-Fold Approach: Literal and Allegorical- We can also see this two-fold approach of interpretation in the other two writings of King Solomon. We know that each of the proverbs of Solomon can be interpreted with a practical application as well as a spiritual application. That Isaiah , each proverb has a practical lesson for us in this life as well as an eternal, spiritual, lesson in our relationship with Christ. In the same way, the Song of Solomon reflects both the practical pursuit of love that we experience in the natural here on earth as well as reflecting an individual's personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus. Perhaps the best way to summarize this two-fold approach is to quote G. Campbell Morgan:

"The songs should be treated then, first as simple and yet sublime songs of human affection. When they are thus understood, reverently the thoughts may be lifted into the higher value of setting forth the joys of the communion between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God, and ultimately between the Church and Christ." 58]

58] G. Campbell Morgan, Living Messages of the Books of the Bible (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912), book .

a) The Literal Message in the Song of Solomon - The two major characters in the Songs is King Solomon ( Song of Solomon 3:11; Song of Solomon 8:11-12) and a Shulamite woman ( Song of Solomon 6:13). We read in Song of Solomon 8:11 that "Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers." Thus, many scholars propose that the Shulamite woman was a young virgin of a family who was leasing some land from the king. Her family tended a vineyard as well as flocks. As the only daughter, her brothers left her to work in the vineyard, which caused her to be darkened by the sun. How they met can only be speculated. Perhaps she watched the king pass by in his royal parade one day and was moved by his majesty. When the king saw her, he fell in love and initiated his love to her and she responded back with passion. As their love grew, they express their passion towards one another in these five songs. Their love progressed into marriage and she was brought into his house as his wife. Yet, love is uncertain until proven genuine, no matter how much passion brings two people together. Thus, the plot develops into a lesson on the trials of covenant love.

b) The Allegorical Message in the Song of Solomon - Throughout the Song of Solomon the king is portrayed in all of his splendor and glory. There is no fault in him to be found. Thus, King Solomon is figurative of Christ Jesus our Lord seen in His triumphant resurrection and exaltation at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. King Solomon portrays Christ as the Bridegroom awaiting His bride. In contrast, King David, who slew Goliath and conquered heathen nations, would have appropriately represented Christ's earthly ministry as He triumphed over Satan at the Cross to set His people free. Solomon represents Christ Jesus in His fullness of glory, bringing peace and stability into the hearts and lives of those who fully trust in Him; for Solomon has entered into the fruits of his father's victories. The reign of King David would represent Christ's ministry at His first Coming, establishing the kingdom and defeating the enemy; and Solomon's reign would represent Christ at His Second Coming, bringing peace and ready to receive His bride, the Church, who is spotless and without blemish. The Song of Songs is the story of Christ seated at His throne in power and authority bringing peace, because the battle has already been won. Thus, His bride cannot be a young convert coming who is endeavoring to come into salvation through justification, but rather, a believer who already in Christ, but, is developing in maturity and love through the process of sanctification. In other words, spiritual message of the Song of Solomon commences with a relationship that has already begun, with a believer already on his Christian journey. Its message does not relate to the sinner, but to the saint. It does not speak on the subject of faith, but on love. It is a journey for those who have already been born again by the Spirit of God, and who now long for a fuller relationship with Christ.

In contrast to majestic description of the king in this book, the Shulamite lady is described as a "dark," but lovely maiden ( Song of Solomon 1:5). She does not represent royalty at all, as would the fair-skinned daughter of Pharaoh, but rather, a weatherworn maiden of the field. She is from a humble family who makes their living from a vineyard as well as tending sheep. She is the only daughter with brothers who place her in the fields to labour alongside them. She begins her journey as just one among many other young virgin who are pursuing the king's bedchamber, which is marriage ( Song of Solomon 1:3-4). This dark-skinned Shulamite represents the believer who is not without sin, but who is still beloved because he/she has been accepted in God's eyes through the redemptive work of Calvary. The maiden does not represent the nation of Israel or the Church as a whole, but rather, those individuals who desire to know the fullness of their life in Christ. Thus, the underlying theme emphasizes the experiences of one whose heart is pure and holy, who learns to totally depend upon his relationship and love towards God to find contentment and rest in this life.

In contrast, the Proverbs of Solomon take us on a journey of renewing our minds to serve the Lord with wise decisions, which also takes us to a place of rest. The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us how to yield our bodies in daily service to the Lord rather than in the vain pursuits of this world's pleasures. The banner that waves over the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes is entitled "The Fear of the Lord." However, the banner that waves over the journey into spiritual maturity is called "Christ's Love for Me," which waves throughout the Song of Songs.

THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."

(Andreas Ksenberger) 59]

59] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the Song of Solomon , an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the Song of Solomon for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VII. Purpose

Didactic - The primary purpose of wisdom literature is instructional, or didactic. The Song of Solomon serves a number of purposes in this regard.

A. (Literal Approach) It Extols Love, Marriage and Sex Between a Man and a Woman as a Gift From God - The Song of Solomon clearly extols the institution of marriage that God ordained in the Garden of Eden. It shows us that love and sex within the institution of marriage between a man and a woman is a gift from God. It shows us how true love looks with a married couple. It teaches us how to express our love to our spouse. Sex goes much deeper than procreation. It is the most intimate relationship that God created for humans to experience. It is God's will that we all experience this type of love and passion for our spouse. The Songs teaches us that the purpose of love is to find ultimate satisfaction and delight. We learn that love is the strongest force on earth.

B. (Figurative Approach) Its Expresses God's Intimate Relationship Between Himself and His People- The Song of Solomon reveals God's intimate love for His people, both the Jews and the Church. Throughout the Scriptures God describes His love for His people as a bride and groom, as a husband and a wife We find such symbolic language in the books of Isaiah ,, Jeremiah ,, Ezekiel , Hosea 2:19, the four Gospels (the Bridegroom), 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-32, and Revelation 19:6-9; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9; Revelation 22:17.

Hudson Taylor suggests the purpose of this book for the Church is to "deepen" a believer's union with Christ, and "make more constant" his abiding in Him. 60]

60] J. Hudson Taylor, Union and Communion (Edinburgh, Great Britain: R. & R. Clark, Ltd, c 1893, 1929) [on-line]; accessed 28 December 2008; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/taylor_jh/union.i.html; Internet, (notes on "The Title" to Songs), 7.

Thomas Constable summarizes these two purposes by saying, "Human life and spiritual life find their greatest fulfillment in the experience of mutual love." 61]

61] Thomas L. Constable, Not;es on Song of Solomon (Garland, Texas: Sonic Light, 2000) [on-line]; accessed 28 December 2008; available from http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes.htm; Internet, 7.

VIII. Thematic Scheme

Introduction- Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. 62] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader's response.

62] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).

The Three-fold Thematic Scheme of the Song of Solomon - The primary theme of the book of Songs is to teach us how to worship the Lord with all of our heart. We love God through our passion for fellowship with Him. The driving force within us to maintain constant fellowship with Him is the development of mature love, which is a supporting theme, or secondary theme, in this book, and upon which the book finds it structure. A third theme can be seen in the fact that divine wisdom always points us to Christ, and the crucified life of forsaking all and following Him.

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Song of Solomon - Poetry: How to Worship the Lord with all our Heart- Introduction- The central theme of the Holy Bible is God's plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God's divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." ( Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.

This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.

The Three-fold Theme of the Writings of Song of Solomon - The common underlying theme of the Hebrew poetry of the Scriptures is "How to Worship the Lord with all our Heart." Poetry is primarily written to express the mood of man's heart. When we read these books in the Old Testament, we are emotionally moved as we identify with the poet or psalmist. Although there are many poetic passages in the Scriptures, for the purposes of identifying thematic schemes, this division of the Old Testament includes Job ,, Psalm ,, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , and Lamentations , although scholars group this biblical genre differently. The first book of Hebrew poetry we encounter as we read through the Old Testament is the book of Job , which opens with an account of this man worshipping God at an altar of sacrifice ( Job 1:5). The Psalm of David show us how to worship the Lord during all seasons of life while the book of Job and Lamentations teaches us how to worship during the times of the greatest tragedies in life. As we journey through this life, we will have times of ecstasy when we are caught up in worship and we will have times of trials when we cry out to God for deliverance. However, most of our days are given to simple routines and decisions that determine our future well being. We must then look to the book of Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , and Songs for a pattern of how to worship the Lord with our hearts during such uneventful days.

The writings of Solomon provide three phases of man's spiritual journey in learning to love God with all his heart, while Job ,, Lamentations , and Psalm provide real life illustrations of people who have experienced these aspects of a devout life of faith in God. Although all three writings of Solomon emphasize man's relationship with God, it is important to note that each one places emphasis upon a different aspect of man's make-up. Scholars have proposed themes for the writings of Solomon since the time of the early Church fathers. Origen (A.D 185-254) recognized a three-fold aspect to the books of Solomon by saying Proverbs focused on morals and ethics, Ecclesiastes focused on the natural aspect of man's existence, and the Song of Songs focused on the divine, spiritual realm of man. He says:

"First, let us examine why it Isaiah , since the churches of God acknowledge three books written by Song of Solomon , that of them the book of Proverbs is put first, the one called Ecclesiastes second, and the book of Song of Songs has third place….We can give them the terms moral, natural and contemplative…The moral discipline is defined as the one by which as honorable manner of life is equipped and habits conducive to virtue are prepared. The natural discipline is defined as the consideration of each individual thing, according to which nothing in life happens contrary to nature, but each individual thing is assigned those uses for which it has been brought forth by the Creator. The contemplative discipline is defined as that by which we transcend visible things and contemplate something of divine and heavenly things and gaze at them with the mind alone, since they transcend corporeal appearance…" (PG 13, Colossians 74a-b) 63]

63] J. Robert Wright, ed, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament IX, ed. Thomas C. Oden (Downer Grover, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 278-288; Rowan A. Greer, trans, Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer and Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Rowan A, 1979), 231-232, 234.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (A.D 393-466) makes a similar three-fold evaluation of the writings of Song of Solomon , saying:

"It is also necessary to say by way of introduction that three works belong to Solomon: Proverbs , Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. Proverbs offers those interested moral benefits, while Ecclesiastes comments on the nature of visible realities and thoroughly explains the futility of the present life so that we may learn its transitory character, despise passing realities and long for the future as something lasting. The Song of Songs…brings out the mystical intercourse between the bride and the bridegroom, the result being that the whole of Solomon's work constitutes a king of ladder with three steps - moral, physical and mystical. That is to say, the person approaching a religious way of life must first purify the mind with good behavior, then strive to discern the futility of impermanent things and the transitory character of what seems pleasant, and then finally take wings and long for the bridegroom, who promises eternal goods. Hence this book is placed third, so the person treading this path comes to perfection." (Preface to Commentary on Song of Songs) (PG 81, cols 46d-47a) 64]

64] J. Robert Wright, ed, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament IX, ed. Thomas C. Oden (Downer Grover, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 288; Pauline Allen, et al, eds, Early Christian Studies (Strathfield, Australia: St. Paul's Publications, 2001), 232.

John Calvin (1509-1564) refers to the theme of the book of Psalm and the writings of Solomon in his argument to the epistle of James , saying:

"The writings of Solomon differ much from those of David, both as to matter and style. Solomon directs his view, chiefly, to form the external Prayer of Manasseh , and to deliver to us the precepts of political life: David constantly chooses the spiritual worship of God, peace of conscience, or the gracious promise of salvation, for his theme." (Argument to the Epistle of James) 65]

65] John Calvin, Calvin's Commentary on the Epistle of James: Newly Translated from the Original Latin (Aberdeen: J. Chalmers and Co, 1797), iii.

B. Secondary Theme (Supportive and Structural) - God Calls Mankind into Intimacy with Him Thru His Word (Heart) - Introduction- The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind's depravity and God's plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.

The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews ,, James , and 1Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God's Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.

The Apocalypse of John , though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.

The Secondary Themes of the Writings of Song of Solomon - Although all three writings of Solomon emphasize man's relationship with God, it is important to note that each one places emphasis upon a different aspect of man's make-up. (1) Proverbs and Job - The secondary theme of the book of Proverbs teaches us to make wise decisions in our life by pursuing God's wisdom. It is structured in a way that teaches us how to take our mental journey through this life. We begin this spiritual journey by responding to wisdom's call to learn of God's ways as the book of Proverbs reveals. It is by the fear of the Lord that we embark upon this initial phase of learning to love the Lord by understanding and following the path of divine wisdom. The story of Job serves as an excellent illustration of a man that feared God and walked in wisdom with his fellow men, and thus serves as an excellent illustration of the teachings of Proverbs. (2) Ecclesiastes and Lamentations - As we walk in Wisdom of Solomon , we soon perceive that God has a divine plan for our lives in the midst of the vanities of life, as taught in the book of Ecclesiastes. It is at this phase of our spiritual journey that we offer our bodies in obedience to God purpose and plan for our lives as we continue to fear the Lord, which is the secondary theme of Ecclesiastes. The writer of Lamentations teaches us about the results of fearing God and keeping His commandments, and thus serves as an excellent illustration of Ecclesiastes. (3) Song of Solomon and Psalm - We then come to the phase of our spiritual journey where we learn to enter into God's presence and partake of His intimacy, which is the secondary theme of Songs. The Song of Songs tells us about the intimacy and love that man can have in his relationship with God. It is structured in a way that teaches us how to take our spiritual journey through this life. The Song of Solomon teaches us to move from a level of fearing the Lord into the mature walk of loving God with all of our hearts. The Psalm of David teach us about a man that learned to love the Lord with all of his heart, and thus serves as an excellent illustration of the Songs of Solomon. Summary- Therefore, Proverbs emphasizes our minds, while Ecclesiastes emphasizes our strength, while the Song of Songs reveals to us how to worship the Lord with oneness of heart. In these three books, Solomon deals with the three-fold nature of man: his spirit, his mind and his body. These writings inspire us to commune with God in our hearts.

The Secondary Theme of the Song of Solomon - The secondary theme of the Song of Songs is that the love of God constantly draws us to Him for constant communion, which result in man producing great sacrifices of divine service. The secondary theme of the Song of Solomon supports its primary theme by revealing the way in which man loves God with all of his heart, which is by the love and grace and mercy of the Lord first being poured into His life. This theme is clearly reflected in Songs by the fact that the king often addresses the Shulamite directly with words of love and romance, while the Shulamite addresses the daughters of Jerusalem with words of love for the King. The king's words of affections toward his bride reflect the way God pours His love into us by His Word and indwelling Holy Spirit. When a person encounters the work of redemption on Calvary through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accepts God's forgiveness, the love of God is immediately poured forth into his heart through the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in the inner man of that new convert. It is this love that causes us to love Him back, and it is this love that continually draws us back to Him day by day.

The secondary theme gives the book its structure, or outline, as five separate songs. The plot of a narrative is what moves the story along. This second theme of Songs is the "engine" that drives the plot of these five songs. For example, in the first song ( Song of Solomon 1:5 to Song of Solomon 2:7) the Shulamite maiden expresses her awareness of his love for her in spite of her shortcomings. Its figurative interpretation may be understood to symbolize a person who becomes saved; yet, within the context of Song of Solomon , this person is described as someone who becomes aware of God's love for him. In the second song ( Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:6) we may figurative interpret this passage of Scripture to symbolize a believer's call to sanctify himself; yet, within the context of Song of Solomon , this person is described as someone who is called apart for communion with God. In the third song ( Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1) we may figuratively interpret this passage of Scripture to symbolize a believer's call to divine service is described as a bride who gives up her people and will and gives herself entirely to her new husband. In essence, God's love is continually being poured into our lives in order to move us towards our destiny

The Songs of Songs is understood literally as the story of a man and a woman who fall in love and learn to develop their love through the institution of marriage. However, it is also a reflection of a believer seeking an intimate relationship with Jesus. As natural men, our hearts flutter and beat swiftly when we meet someone that we are deeply in love with. This passion and desire for fellowship with God can also abide in our hearts.

The central focus of the Song of Solomon is the wedding chamber. The concept of marriage and the wedding has been held to be holy both by the ancient Jews as well as by the New Testament Church. The history of mankind opens with a wedding in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve ( Genesis 2:18-25), and it will be consummated with the Wedding Supper of the Lamb as He takes His bride, the Church ( Revelation 19:6-10). Marriage was the first institution created by God and was pronounced "good" ( Genesis 2) The Scriptures teach that physical love is holy and pure. Jesus confirms the sanctity of marriage ( Matthew 19:3-9). The author of Hebrews supports this view by saying, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled," ( Hebrews 13:4).

Just as the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are structured as a spiritual journey, so is the book of the Song of Solomon. Each of these journeys leads us into rest. Proverbs tells us that walking in wisdom leads into rest. The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that serving God and not mammon leads us into rest. The Song of Solomon teaches us that mature love leads us into rest. The woman begins by expressing her insecurities and therefore, lack of rest by saying, "Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me:" ( Song of Solomon 1:6) The book ends with her saying, "then was I in his eyes as one that found favour or ‘peace'." ( Song of Solomon 8:10) Thus, she reaches her destination, which is a pursuit of peace. She finds it by learning to love her husband with all of her heart.

C. Third Theme (Imperative) of the Song of Solomon - Loving God is Mature as We Abide in Christ & Labour in His Vineyard - Introduction- The third theme of each book of the Holy Scriptures is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one's Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God's children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Song of Solomon , and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.

The Third Imperative Theme of the Song of Solomon - The third theme of the Song of Solomon involves the response of the recipient to God's divine calling revealed in its primary and secondary themes. Since the writings of Solomon have a universal application, and not addressing the Jews, the Gentiles, or the New Testament Church in particular, there has been an effort for all three of these people groups to walk in the Wisdom of Solomon , and find a purpose in the midst of life's vanity, and express perfect love towards God and man. Unfortunately, because of the depraved nature of mankind, no one has fulfilled the calling of these three books, except the man Jesus Christ. In much the same way the Law revealed the Jew's need for a Redeemer, so do the Solomonic writings reveal all of mankind's need for redemption. Jesus walked in the wisdom revealed in Proverbs , fulfilled His destiny on Calvary in the midst of the vanities of Ecclesiastes , and love the Father with the perfect love of Songs. Only through Christ Jesus can the believer fulfill the third, underlying theme of the Solomonic writings.

We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son ( Romans 8:29). As believers we are to live a crucified life daily through obedience to the divine calling given in the Song of Solomon. In Songs this aspect of conforming to be like Jesus means that we abide in Christ so that we produce an abundance of fruit ( John 15:5). The place of true rest that God is calling every believer in Songs is found when he becomes willing to take upon himself the weight of love and sorrow for a lost and dying humanity. The metaphors of serving in the vineyard represent the believer's ministry of intercession and evangelism for God's people. However, this passion and labour must be an overflow of his communion with Christ, which is represented by the metaphors of the garden. This dual lifestyle of laboring in the vineyard of the Lord and retreating to a place of solitude and communion with God is seen in Adam's life prior to the Fall; for he tended the Garden and walked with God in the cool of the day. We see this sacrificial level of love and devotion towards God and His vineyard reflected in Paul's statements about "having had the sentence of death" in his life, and having the "the sufferings of Christ abounding in him," and "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body"s sake."

John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

Combining these three themes to see how they flow together in each of Solomon's writings, we see that the Song of Solomon reveals the most mature level of serving the Lord with all of one's heart. This person yields to God's love being poured into him by learning to abide in constant holy communion with the Lord. The outcome of this journey is the development of a person who overflows in the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.

D. Summary of the Three-fold Themes of the Writings of Song of Solomon - As a review, the foundational theme of Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , and Song of Solomon is how to serve the Lord with all our hearts. The secondary theme of this three-fold series of writings is what gives these books their structure:

1. Proverbs - Wisdom Calls Mankind to Understand His Ways (Mind)

2. Ecclesiastes - God Gives Mankind a Purpose in Life When We Serve Him (Body)

3. Song of Solomon - God Calls Mankind to Walk With Him in the Cool of the Day (Heart)

The third theme of this three-fold series of writings reveals the results of applying the book's message to our daily lives:

1. Proverbs - The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom. The virtuous woman is a reflection of a person walking in wisdom and the fear of God.

2. Ecclesiastes - Fear God and Keep His Commandments. The man who keeps God's commandments has a purpose and destiny in Christ.

3. Song of Solomon - Loving God is Mature as We Abide in Christ & Labour in His Vineyard. The man who abides in Christ and produces fruit that remains.

Combining these three themes to see how they flow together in each of Solomon's writings, we see that Proverbs teaches us to serve the Lord with all of our mind as the fear of the Lord moves us to wise choices above foolishness. The outcome of this journey is the development of a person who is strong in character, symbolized by the virtuous woman. This is illustrated in the story of Job. In Ecclesiastes the believer serves the Lord with all of his strength by obeying God's commandments because of his fear of the Lord. The outcome of this journey is the development of a person who walks in his purpose and destiny, rather than in the vanities of this world. This is illustrated in the book of Lamentations. The Song of Solomon reveals the most mature level of serving the Lord with all of one's heart. This person yields to God's love being poured into him by learning to abide in constant holy communion with the Lord. The outcome of this journey is the development of a person who overflows in the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. This is illustrated in the book of Psalm.

The themes of the books of the Holy Bible can be often found in the opening verses, and we now can easily see these three themes in opening passages of the writings of Solomon. Proverb's opening verses emphasize the need to make sound decisions through Wisdom of Solomon , instruction and understanding.

Proverbs 1:2, "To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;"

Ecclesiastes' opening verses emphasizes the vanity of human labour when one does not serve the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 1:3, "What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?"

Song of Songs emphasizes the intimacy of love that proceeds from man's heart.

Song of Solomon 1:2, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine."

Thus, it is easy to see why King Solomon would follow such a three-fold structure in his writings. Since Deuteronomy 6:4-5 was one of the more popular passages of Scripture for the children of Israel, it would make sense that Song of Solomon , in his quest for the meaning of life, would follow this three-fold approach in his analyze of what it meant to worship God. Although the book of Proverbs places emphasis upon serving the Lord by making wise decisions, a careful study of the book of Proverbs will reveal that this three-fold emphasis upon the spirit, soul and body is woven throughout the book.

In addition, the book of Job gives us an extension of the theme of Proverbs , as both of these books serve as wisdom literature, teaching us through poetry to serve the Lord with all our mind. The book of Lamentations gives us an extension of the theme of Ecclesiastes , as both of these books serve as poetic explanations for the vanities of life, teaching us through poetry to serve the Lord with all our strength. The book of Psalm gives an extension of the theme of Song of Solomon , as both of these books serve as poetry to edify the heart, teaching us through poetry to serve the Lord with all our heart. Finally, the redemptive message of the poetical books reveals that even when a man like Job walks in Wisdom of Solomon , he finds himself in need of a redeemer. Lamentations reveals a nation who has a divine destiny and purpose, yet the children of Israel find themselves in need of a redeemer. The psalms of David reveal that even when man is at his best intimacy with God, like David, he still finds himself in need of a redeemer.

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Figure 1 - Thematic Scheme of the Books of Poetry

IX. Literary Structure

The literary structure of the book of the Song of Solomon must follow the theme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.

The Song of Solomon clearly has a structure that can be outlined. This structure is designed to lead us on a journey, such we have in the book of Proverbs. As in all of Solomon's writings, this is a journey to find rest. The underlying theme of Canticles emphasizes the experiences of one whose heart is pure and holy, who learns to totally depend upon his relationship and love for God to find contentment in this life. In contrast, the Proverbs of Solomon take us on a journey of renewing our minds to serve the Lord with wise decisions, which also takes us to a place of rest. The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us how to yield our bodies in daily service to the Lord rather than in the vain pursuits of this world's pleasures. The banner that waves over the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes is entitled "The Fear of the Lord," but the banner that waves over the Song of Solomon is called "Christ's Love for Me." The Song is an individual's effort to experience that boundless love that proceeds from God. This is because we begin our Christian journey moved by the fear of the Lord, but true maturity learns to obey God, not out of fear, but because of our love and desire to please Him. For example, in his heavenly vision Rick Joyner is told, "Obedience in the fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom of Solomon , but the fullness of wisdom is to obey because of your love for God." 66] For example, when I was a child, I ate my vegetables out of fear of punishment from my parents if I did not eat them. Today, I eat vegetables because I have grown to love them because they are healthy and tasty.

66] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 61.

The Song of Solomon shows us the progressive phases that one encounters on this spiritual journey to Christian maturity. Song of Solomon 1:4 indicates that this journey is to the king's bed chamber, in much the same way as a couple falls in love and culminates this love in the marriage bed. Song of Solomon 1:7 indicates that this journey takes us to a place of rest when the Shulamite asks where the king's flocks rest at noon.

Song of Solomon 1:4, "Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee."

Song of Solomon 1:7, "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?"

In the end she finds this peace.

Song of Solomon 8:10, "I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour, or ‘peace'."

Some scholars break the Canticles into five separate poems, but as JFB notes, "The unity of subject throughout, and the recurrence of the same expressions (# Song of Solomon 2:6-7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 8:3-4; Song of Solomon 2:16; Song of Solomon 6:3; Song of Solomon 7:10; Song of Solomon 3:6; Song of Solomon 6:10; Song of Solomon 8:5) prove the unity of the poem." 67] Thus, we will view Canticles as a single Song of Solomon , as is stated in its opening verse.

67] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, The Song of Solomon , in A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), "Introduction."

In order to properly interpret this love story, it is best to summarize the characters, setting and plot, which are the primary elements that make up a story. In this summary, there are several important similes and metaphors listed below with their figurative interpretation of a Christian's relationship with Christ Jesus.

A. The Characters- There are two main characters in this love story, King Solomon and the Shulamite woman, who fall in love with each other. The two major characters are symbolized by some of the most graceful animal in nature, the king being symbolized as the deer and the woman as the dove.

1. The Deer- Of all the animals in the ancient Orient, the deer symbolized grace and beauty. In Song of Solomon 2:9 this word is clearly used metaphorically of the Lover, who figuratively represents Christ. The deer may symbolize Christ in Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14.

1a. Roe - Strong says the Hebrew word "roe" "tseb-ee'" ( צְבִי) (H 6643) means, "prominence; splendor (as conspicuous); also a gazelle (as beautiful)." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 39 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "roe 9, roebuck 5, glory 8, glorious 6, beautiful 1, beauty 1, goodly 1, pleasant 1." This Hebrew word is used 5 times in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 8:14).

1b. Hart - Strong says the Hebrew word "hart" "ah-yawl'" ( אַיָּל) (H 354) means, "a stag or male deer, a hart." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 11times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "hart(s)." This Hebrew word is used 3times in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14).

The fact that the deer is described as bouncing upon the mountains and hills suggests it symbolizes the resurrected Christ Jesus.

2. The Dove - The Lover calls the Shulamite a dove on three occasions ( Song of Solomon 2:14; Song of Solomon 5:2; Song of Solomon 6:9).

Dove - Strong says the Hebrew word "dove" "yownah" ( יוֹנָה) (H 3123) means, "dove." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 32times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "dove 21, pigeon 10, variant + 016861." It is used 6 times in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 1:15; Song of Solomon 2:14; Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 5:2; Song of Solomon 5:12; Song of Solomon 6:9). On three occasions it refers to the Shulamite, and on three occasions the lovers describe one another with dove's eyes.

The doves were known for their beauty and elegance ( Psalm 68:13), and for the freedom they had to fly away ( Psalm 55:6). The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus Christ at the time of His water baptism in the form of a dove ( Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). Perhaps the dove's eyes symbolize spiritual perception (Watchman Nee). 68] If this is the case, a dove would represent an individual who has been born again by the Spirit of God.

68] Watchman Nee, Song of Songs (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: CLC Publications, c 1965, 2001), 32.

There are other characters that appear briefly within the story of Songs. The daughters of Jerusalem ( Song of Solomon 1:5; Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 3:10-11; Song of Solomon 5:8; Song of Solomon 5:16; Song of Solomon 8:4), may represent the righteous ones. The watchmen of the city ( Song of Solomon 3:3; Song of Solomon 5:7), may represent those leaders who are set over the Church. The Shulamite refers to her mother and siblings ( Song of Solomon 1:6); to a little sister ( Song of Solomon 8:8), who may represent immature believers; to her lover's companions ( Song of Solomon 1:7). Her Lover refers to the shepherds ( Song of Solomon 1:8), and there is a reference to Solomon's sixty valiant men ( Song of Solomon 3:7), his queens, concubines and virgins ( Song of Solomon 6:8-9).

B. The Setting - There are several settings in the Song of Solomon.

1. The Garden ( Song of Solomon 4:12; Song of Solomon 4:15-16; Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 6:2; Song of Solomon 6:11; Song of Solomon 8:13) - A garden figuratively refers to a place of communion with God; for this was one of the reasons God planted the Garden of Eden, to have fellowship with man in the cool of the day. Frances Roberts writes, "Our time together is like a garden full of flowers, whereas the time you give to things is as a field full of stubble." 69]

69] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 13.

a) Garden - Strong says the Hebrew word "garden" "gan" ( גַּן) (H 1588) literally means, "a garden (as fenced)." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 42times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "garden 42." The word is used 8 times in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 4:12; Song of Solomon 4:15-16; Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 6:2; Song of Solomon 8:13).

b) Garden - Strong says the Hebrew word "garden" "ginnah" ( גַּנָּה) (H 1594) is another form for ( גַּן) (H 1588), which is used in Songs and it means, "a garden." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 4times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "garden 4." It is found one time in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 6:11).

Within the garden are spices and aromas. Some of those who have written books on their personal experiences in Heaven comment on its beautiful gardens and wondrous odors. These pleasant smells in the Songs may symbolize the heavenly realm, into which prayer and communion with God ushers one. Also in the garden are lilies, where the Lover feeds until the dawn. The Beloved is called a "lily of the valley" ( Song of Solomon 2:1) and "lily among thorns" ( Song of Solomon 2:2). Perhaps the lilies in the garden are figurative of those who are upright before the Lord.

c) Lily - Strong says the Hebrew word "lily" "shuwshan" ( שׁוּשַׁן) (H 7799) means, "a lily (from its whiteness), as a flower or [archaic] an ornament." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 15 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "lily 13, Shoshannim 2." However, its compound uses in Psalm 60 (Shushan-eduth) and Psalm 80 (Shoshannim-Eduth) can be included. It is found 8 times in Songs ( Song of Solomon 2:1-2; Song of Solomon 2:16; Song of Solomon 4:5; Song of Solomon 5:13; Song of Solomon 6:2-3; Song of Solomon 7:2). Lilies were used to adorn Solomon's Temple ( 1 Kings 7:19; 1 Kings 7:22; 1 Kings 7:26, 2 Chronicles 4:5). This word or its derivatives are used in the title of four psalms as "Shoshannim" ( Psalm 45, 60, 69, 80). Psalm 45 is a song of love, where a wedding processional is described. In Songs the Beloved is describes as "a lily of the valley," and "a lily among thorns" ( Song of Solomon 2:1-2). The Lover feeds among the lilies in the garden ( Song of Solomon 2:16; Song of Solomon 4:5; Song of Solomon 6:3), and gathers lilies ( Song of Solomon 5:13). Hosea describes the children of Israel as a lily, saying, "I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon." ( Hosea 14:5) Watchman Nee suggests that the lilies in Songs is symbolic of those who are upright before God. 70]

70] Watchman Nee, Song of Songs (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: CLC Publications, c 1965, 2001), 53.

2. The Vineyard ( Song of Solomon 1:6; Song of Solomon 1:14; Song of Solomon 2:15; Song of Solomon 7:12; Song of Solomon 8:11-12) - While a garden is a place of meditation and rest, a vineyard is a place of bearing fruit as a result of entering into rest and communion with God. Our life of walking in the Spirit and bearing fruit is simply the overflow of being filled with the Spirit while in communion with the Lord. The beloved's vineyard would figuratively represent a believer who has entered into his calling and ministry and is labouring for the Lord. The fruits of these vineyards would symbolize one's labours in faith under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Watchman Nee writes:

"The first reference is plural - vineyards, and it refers to works organized and arranged by the hand of man. The second reference is in the singular - vineyard, and this points to that work which the Lord Himself has arranged and assigned." 71]

71] Watchman Nee, Song of Songs (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: CLC Publications, c 1965, 2001), 24.

"Solomon had a vineyard, and he let it out to keepers. This vineyard of his represents the whole work of the Lord." 72]

72] Watchman Nee, Song of Songs (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: CLC Publications, c 1965, 2001), 153.

The seed of the Word of God is sown in God's vineyard, and it is watered with the tears of intercession. Frances Roberts writes:

"Lo, I say, the Word sown shall dry up like carelessly strewn seed if it be not watered with tears of intercession…I am calling My Spirit-filled believers to concerted and concentrated labor in this, the vineyard of prayer." 73]

73] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 20.

These vineyards are located in the countryside and valleys ( Song of Solomon 7:11). According to Isaiah 5:1-7 these vineyards had towers and hedges (or walls). The imagery of walls and towers is found in Songs ( Song of Solomon 4:4; Song of Solomon 7:4; Song of Solomon 8:9-10). These vineyards are figurative of God's people ( Isaiah 5:7).

a) Vineyard - Strong says the Hebrew word "vineyard" "korem" ( כָּרַם) (H 3754) means, "a garden, a vineyard." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 93times in the Old Testament, being used in the KJV as "vineyard 89, vines 3, vintage 1." This word is used 9 times in the book of Songs.

The Song of Songs refers to a garden nine times ( Song of Solomon 4:12; Song of Solomon 4:15-16; Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 6:2; Song of Solomon 6:11; Song of Solomon 8:13) and to a vineyard nine times ( Song of Solomon 1:6; Song of Solomon 1:14; Song of Solomon 2:15; Song of Solomon 7:12; Song of Solomon 8:11-12).

3. The Mountains and Hills ( Song of Solomon 2:8; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 4:8; Song of Solomon 8:14) - The mountains and hills represent the spiritual realm by which man can walk. The Song of Solomon describes the mountains metaphorically as "the mountains of Bether" ( Song of Solomon 2:17), "mount Gilead" ( Song of Solomon 4:1), "the mountain of myrrh" ( Song of Solomon 4:6), "the mountain of spices" ( Song of Solomon 8:14), "the mountains of the leopards" ( Song of Solomon 4:8). The hills are referred to as "the hill of frankincense" ( Song of Solomon 4:6). Watchman Nee says the phrase "the mountains of spices" refers to "the new millennial world of fragrance and beauty." 74] The mountains and hills seem to refer to the heavenly, spiritual realm of eternity that the believer partakes of in a limited measure along his earthly journey.

74] Watchman Nee, Song of Songs (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: CLC Publications, c 1965, 2001), 157.

a) Mountain - Strong says the Hebrew word "mountain" "har" ( הַר) (H 2022) means, "a mountain or range of hills." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 546 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "mountain 261, mount 224, hill 59, hill country 1, promotion 1." This word is used 5 times in the Song of Solomon ( Song of Solomon 2:8; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 8:14).

b) Mountain - Strong says the Hebrew word "mountain" "harar" ( הָרָר) (H 2042) means, "mountain, hill, mount." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 13times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "mountain 10, hill 2, mount 1." It is used one time in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 4:8).

c) Hill - Strong says the Hebrew word "hill" "gib`ah" ( גִּבְעָה) (H 1389) means, "a hillock, hill, little hill." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 69 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "hill 69." This word is used 2times in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 2:8; Song of Solomon 4:6).

4. The Wilderness ( Song of Solomon 3:6; Song of Solomon 8:5) - While the mountains and hills represent the spiritual realm by which man can walk, the wilderness represents the earthly realm. If we interpret the wilderness ( Song of Solomon 3:6, Song of Solomon 8:5) in light of the journey the children of Israel made in the wilderness, and its application in the epistle of Hebrews , we can say that it refers to this world with its vanity and depravity. On both occasions in Song of Solomon , the Beloved and Lover are travelling in the wilderness scenes.

We see the wilderness used metaphorically again in the book of Revelation ( Revelation 17:3).

Revelation 17:3, "So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns."

It is the place where the great whore of Babylon dwells.

a. Wilderness - Strong says the Hebrew word "wilderness" "midbar" ( מִדְבָּר) (H 4057) means, "a pasture, open field, desert, speech." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 271times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "wilderness 255, desert 13, south 1, speech 1, wilderness + 07761." This word is used 3times in the Song of Solomon ("wilderness" Song of Solomon 3:6; "speech" Song of Solomon 4:3; "wilderness" Song of Solomon 8:5). Within the context of Song of Solomon 3:6; Song of Solomon 8:5, it probably refers to the open plains that surround many cities in the land of Palestine, which was used as pasture for the flocks, with this same Hebrew word used in Isaiah 42:11 to describe the relationship between the city and its surrounding plain, "Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice." Zöckler suggests it is a reference to "the plain of Estraẽlon or Merj ibn'Amir, lying southward toward Shunem to Jezreel," through which a traveler coming from the capital must pass. 75] In Song of Solomon 4:3 it necessitates a figurative meaning, "the instrument of speech", since it comes from the primitive root ( דָּבַר) (H 1696), which means, "to speak"; hence, we can imagine a shepherd driving his sheep with his words across the pasture.

75] Otto Zckler, The Song of Solomon , trans. by W. Henry Green, in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1872), 128.

5. The King's Chambers ( Song of Solomon 1:4) - The king's chamber represents the innermost intimacy with which God has called His children.

6. The King's Table and Banquet House ( Song of Solomon 1:12; Song of Solomon 2:4) - The king's table represents the divine provision that God's provides for His children.

7. The Apple Tree ( Song of Solomon 2:3; Song of Solomon 8:5) - The apple tree symbolizes God's hand of divine and loving provision in the life of a child of God.

C. The Plot- The plot of this love story is about the phases that two people take as love between them matures into its intended purpose of marriage, which produces rest and fruitfulness. In other words, the divine institution of marriage is designed to create an environment of rest and fruitfulness in the lives of a couple and their children.

The Title ( Song of Solomon 1:1) - The opening verse of the Song of Solomon serves as its title, which is "The Song of Solomon , which is Solomon's."

Predestination: Introduction or Prologue (The Shulamite's Summary of True Love for the King) ( Song of Solomon 1:2-4) - All three of Solomon's writings open with an introduction, or prologue, which establishes the theme, or primary message, of the book. Song of Solomon 1:2-4 reveals the intimate relationship that the Shulamite has with her beloved, the king. There are different types of relationships in society. There is the love of parents for their children, or the love of friendship between two individuals, and there is the love of devotion as a servant. However, the most imitate type of love is that between a man and a woman within the institution of marriage. This is the type of love that is described in the opening verses of Songs.

Literal Interpretation- Although the king has chosen her, the Shulamite is describing her desire to be completely aroused and touched by the king's presence. The statement, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine," ( Song of Solomon 1:2) reflects her physical passions for his touch. The beloved longs for the touch of his tender lips. The second statement, "Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee," ( Song of Solomon 1:3) reflects her longing for the smell of his fragrance that reminds her of his name, the sweet thoughts and remembrances that this relationship brings to her mind (mental affection). The statement, "Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers," ( Song of Solomon 1:4 a,b) describes her desire to be drawn into his bed of the closest intimate intercourse, to give herself totally to him; for the king's bed chamber is where their hearts are bound (spiritual love). Within the setting of Song of Solomon , we can picture wine being served to the beloved ( Song of Solomon 1:2) within the chamber of the king ( Song of Solomon 1:3) and perfume being poured forth so that its sensual fragrance fills the room ( Song of Solomon 1:4). It was the ultimate romantic environment for this ancient world.

She wants to yield her body to Him ( Song of Solomon 1:2), her mind ( Song of Solomon 1:3) and her heart ( Song of Solomon 1:4), being entirely embraced in the security of his love. The statement, "We will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine…" ( Song of Solomon 1:4 c) means that her joy is found entirely in him, which she desires more than earthly pleasures. In summary, she describes a total commitment to her beloved: body, soul and spirit. The statement, "The upright love thee…" ( Song of Solomon 1:4 d) says this is the way God created love to exist between a man and a woman, and this is a metaphor of how the righteous are to love God ( Song of Solomon 1:4 d).

During the rest of the Songs the Shulamite will rehearse her journey through the stages of love that brought her to this place of intimacy described in the opening prologue. It is a journey that began at the banquet house, and culminates in the king's bedchamber, with her daily duties overseeing the vineyard assigned to her. However, the Shulamite woman will discover at the end of this Song ( Song of Solomon 8:6-7) that love and jealousy are the strongest forces within the human soul. No other emotion has the strength to move a person like the passions of love.

Figurative Interpretation - Figuratively speaking, Song of Solomon 1:2-4 serves as a description of how God has predestined mankind to love Him passionately from the heart, far above the things of this world. This passage of Scripture is a metaphor for total love towards God: spirit, soul and body.

A proposed interpretation is:

Literal Figurative

1. Kissing physical love Love for God's Word

2. Remembrances emotional love God's presence

3. King's chamber heart's abandonment Communion with Christ

The Courtship (Scene 1: The Shepherd's Flock and the King's Banquet House) (Justification) ( Song of Solomon 1:5 to Song of Solomon 2:7) - Literal Interpretation- Song of Solomon 1:5 to Song of Solomon 2:7 describes love's first passions within the courtship of King Solomon and the Shulamite maiden. There are two scenes in this first song. The setting for the first scene ( Song of Solomon 1:5-11) places the Shulamite in the fields of the shepherds. The second scene ( Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:7) finds her in the evening banquet hall and in nighttime rest. The king's palace is where King Solomon has taken a young Shulamite lady from a northern province of Israel, whom he intends on making his bride in much the same way that Esther was first brought to the royal palace by the king and prepared for one year before entering into his bed chamber. We know this because the passage refers to the king's table ( Song of Solomon 1:12) and banquet hall ( Song of Solomon 2:4).

Song of Solomon 1:5-7 - In Song of Solomon 1:5-6 the Shulamite begins by expressing her initial insecurities and embarrassment over her dark complexion. Her dark skin reveals that she has worked in the field, unlike the other fair maidens that the king could have chosen. These comments by the beloved express her feelings of inadequacies, symbolic of being tainted with sin. It shows that she has not entered into rest in her soul, and is not fully content and assured in her relationship with her beloved, and thus, she longs to find rest with her beloved ( Song of Solomon 1:7), which will not be found until Song of Solomon 8:10. She does not know that her destiny and service for the king will bring her back to the vineyards, but not her own vineyard, nor that of her brothers, where she was forced to labour under the sun; now she will work in the vineyards of the king ( Song of Solomon 8:12).

Song of Solomon 8:10, "I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour."

Song of Solomon 8:12, "My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Song of Solomon , must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred."

Song of Solomon 1:8-11 - In Song of Solomon 1:8-11 we have the first response of the Lover. She has asked for a special place with him in the shepherd's field ( Song of Solomon 1:7); for she did not want to be like the other veiled women who were unspoken for. He replies by telling her to go and feed by the tents of the shepherds ( Song of Solomon 1:8) while assuring her of his devoted love for her alone ( Song of Solomon 1:9-11). Note that this description of his beloved is relatively short compared to his later descriptions.

Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:7 - In Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:2 we see a series of communications exchanged between the two lovers as they speak words of love. As a result, the beloved falls more deeply in love and becomes "lovesick" ( Song of Solomon 2:3-5). She longs for his close embrace ( Song of Solomon 2:6) and warns other young virgins not to fall into this passion before its proper time ( Song of Solomon 2:7), because such passion is difficult to manage. At this point in love's journey she has not entered into rest.

Figurative Interpretation - Figuratively speaking, Song of Solomon 1:5 to Song of Solomon 2:7 can be interpreted allegorically as man first coming to Christ and accepting God's love for him. Its figurative interpretation may be understood to symbolize a person who becomes saved; however, within this love Song of Solomon , a person becomes aware of and accepts God's love for him.

The first scene ( Song of Solomon 1:5-11) reflects our labours of love for the Lord when we first come to Christ. The two statements, "feed thy kids beside the shepherds" tents," and "I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh"s chariots," ( Song of Solomon 1:8-9) both reflect service. Even new believers have ways to serve the Lord. I had a job when I rededicated my life to the Lord, so I immediately began to tithe. I was soon teaching Sunday school as an additional way of serving. The second scene ( Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:6) reflects our time of rest and communion with the Lord. We rest in an abundance of newly discovered blessings as babes in Christ.

Even while we are newly saved, and still behave somewhat like the world, our heart bears witness to God's redemptive love for us ( Song of Solomon 1:5-6). In these two verses of Scripture the Shulamite maiden expresses her awareness of his love for her in spite of her shortcomings. A new believer begins to seek direction in this spiritual journey, one that can be found by following the same journey the saints of old have walked ( Song of Solomon 1:7-8). He sees us in our greatest potential as a child who will endure discipline so that we can serve Him, as Pharaoh's decorated horses pulled the king's chariot ( Song of Solomon 1:9-11). He has set a table before us of wonderful blessings ( Song of Solomon 1:12). He has ordained for us to experience perfect rest ( Song of Solomon 1:13) and joy ( Song of Solomon 1:14) because of His great love for us ( Song of Solomon 1:15). He has set forth rest ( Song of Solomon 1:16) and protection ( Song of Solomon 1:17) for His children. We are seen by Him as the most lovely among the children of men ( Song of Solomon 2:1-2). His love overshadows us and overflows into our daily lives ( Song of Solomon 2:3-6). This is the way God expresses His love towards men during this season of their lives.

Although young believers have strong expressions of love and passion for God, they are untested by the fires and trials of life. Thus, they are still undependable for service in the Church. They even express the gifts of the Spirit. Yet, the seasoned pastor understands that they need time for passion to mature into wisdom through the discipline of trials before being given great responsibilities. Any parent knows how his children are full of passion. They are either laughing or crying. They pursue activities and fun and play with all of their energies. Yet, in all of their passion a child lacks wisdom to know how to manage their emotions. Their responds to their environment is often impulsive rather than thoughtful. So it is in the growth of believers in the Christian life.

Peace and contentment in the midst of trials are the signs of true Christian maturity. Paul the apostle expresses this contentment in his epistle to the Philippians ( Philippians 4:11). But first, we must go through a season of passion, as described in the first section of Songs.

Philippians 4:11, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I Amos , therewith to be content."

How does such passion arise in the heart of young, immature believers? I have seen it in both new converts as well as older Christians. Such passion is aroused by the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. For the new believer, it is the fresh, new experiences of God at work in their lives. They have tasted for the first time the joys of serving the Lord and they want more. For the older Christians who have never grown in the Lord, the Holy Spirit will often touch them by being slain in the Spirit, or healing their bodies to let them know that there is more to the Christian life than what they have experienced thus far. This touch from God stirs them up to pursue Him on a deeper level than they have done so before. Therefore, this position will not last long, for in the next song ( Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:5), the Shulamite is called out from her bed of rest into a place of separation and communion.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Scene 1 - The Shepherds & their flocks Song of Solomon 1:5-11

a) The Shulamite's Insecurity Song of Solomon 1:5-7

b) Solomon's Praise & Reassurance Song of Solomon 1:8-11

2. Scene 2 - The King's Banquet Table Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:7

a) The Shulamite's Response to the King Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:1

i) The Beloved Meditates upon Her Lover Song of Solomon 1:12-14

ii) The Shulamite's Response Song of Solomon 1:16 to Song of Solomon 2:1

b) The King's Love for His Beloved Song of Solomon 2:2

c) The King's Provision and Her Response Song of Solomon 2:3-7

The Engagement (Scene 2: The Shulamite's House) (Separation or Sanctification) ( Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:5) - The second song ( Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:5) reflects the season of engagement, or betrothal, that takes place in a relationship of growing love. In the African culture the wife brings her lover to her parent's home and introduces him. This event is called an introduction, and a man is free to take her to his home at any time afterwards. However, in the Middle Eastern culture this event is considered the betrothal that precedes the wedding. In the opening scene ( Song of Solomon 2:8-15) the Shulamite hears the voice of her beloved woos her and asking for her love. In Song of Solomon 2:16 to Song of Solomon 3:5 we have the Shulamite's response to her lover's call. She accepts ( Song of Solomon 2:16-17) and then experiences the pain that results from being separated from the person who is about to become her husband ( Song of Solomon 3:1-5). Love becomes so strong that it even becomes difficult to sleep at night. At this point in love's journey she has not entered into rest.

Figurative Interpretation - The second song opens with the Shulamite being wooed from her bed rest by her lover. Figuratively speaking, this song represents the call of the Lord for a believer to separate himself from the world and sanctify himself as one who is betrothed to Christ ( 2 Corinthians 11:2). Within the context of Song of Solomon , a believer's call to sanctification is described as someone who is called apart for communion with God. This time of separation is important for every believer. We see in the life of Moses that he stayed in the desert forty years before entering in to divine service. Paul the apostle spent three years in Arabia before serving the Lord. Queen Esther spend one year separating herself and preparing herself to be presented before the king and to serve him.

If a believer stays at the king's banqueting table and never grows in devotion the Lord, then his love will never be tested as genuine. For example, when David fled Jerusalem because of Absalom, many of his servants join in this rebellion. These servants had fed at the king's table for years; but their heart was not with the king. The rebellion served as a test of David's servants. Love must be tested, and this is what God is doing by calling us from our place of rest. He is testing our devotion to Him.

We find another example in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were feasting in God's blessings in the Garden. In order to test their love and devotion to Him, God gave them one commandment to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve yielded to their own fleshly desires and disobeyed God's command and failed the test of love.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Scene 1 - A Time of Courtship Song of Solomon 2:8-17

a) The Bridegroom's Call Song of Solomon 2:8-15

b) The Bride's Response Song of Solomon 2:16-17

2. Scene 2 - Love is Tested Song of Solomon 3:1-5

The Wedding (Scene 3: The Wedding Processional, Wedding Festival, and Wedding Chamber) (Communion, or Full Consecration to Christ [Divine Service]) ( Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1) - Many scholars see in Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1 the symbolism of the wedding ceremony between the bridegroom and the bride. We have the wedding procession described in Song of Solomon 3:6-11, followed by the wedding song of the bridegroom singing to the bride ( Song of Solomon 4:1-15), with the exchange of wedding vows in Song of Solomon 4:16 to Song of Solomon 5:1.

Figurative Interpretation - Figuratively speaking, this third song represents the phase in a believer's spiritual journey when he/she gives oneself entirely to God and receives a divine commission to serve Him. Within the context of Song of Solomon , a believer's call to divine service is described as a bride who gives up her people and will and gives herself entirely to her new husband. Just as a new bride to the king enters into her office and ministry as a queen over a nations, so do we now belong to Jesus, our will yielded to His plan and purpose for our lives in divine service.

A good example of this phase of loving God with all of our heart is seen in Acts 13, when Paul and Barnabas were sent on their first missionary journey, although Paul had been evangelizing the regions of Syria and Cilicia for over a decade. We see Anna, the prophetess, serving the Lord day and night in the Temple. She moved into this level of love when she entered the full-time ministry of prayer and intercession in the Temple. Another example is seen in the life of Abraham, when he left his family and went to the land of Canaan. Another example is seen in the life of Joseph when he was exalted over Egypt to serve that nation.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Scene 1- The Wedding Processional Song of Solomon 3:6-11

2. Scene 2 - The Wedding Ceremony Song of Solomon 4:1 to Song of Solomon 5:1

a) The Wedding Song Song of Solomon 4:1-15

i) The Bride's Beauty Song of Solomon 4:1-7

ii) The Request for Marriage Song of Solomon 4:8

iii) The Bridegroom's Love Song of Solomon 4:9-10

iv) The Bride's Purity Song of Solomon 4:11-15

b) The Wedding Vows Song of Solomon 4:16 to Song of Solomon 5:1

The Maturing Process (Scene 4: The Garden, and the Vineyards) (Maturing in Divine Service [Perseverance]) ( Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 8:4) - Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 8:4 describes the maturing process of marriage. The new bride has not yet entered into rest, for in Song of Solomon 5:2-8 she experiences the final test of true love in which she has to now learn to deny herself and serve her husband. Her love is tested again to prove her devotion to him ( Song of Solomon 5:2-8). The hardship and persecution that results from this test and her desire for him in the midst of this trial serves as a powerful testimony to the daughters of Jerusalem as they ask her why she loves him so dearly and why he is more special than other men ( Song of Solomon 5:9). She then describes her Lover in a way that others have not known, by describing his unique characteristics above all others ( Song of Solomon 5:10-16). This symbolizes the journey of every wife to learn about her husband and to admire his unique characteristics. Her testimony provokes these maidens to seek him with her ( Song of Solomon 6:1), and she tells them how they can find him as well, assuring them of the strong bond love that holds them together ( Song of Solomon 6:2-3).

In Song of Solomon 6:4-10 the husband expresses his love and admiration for the beauty and uniqueness of his wife. Her love has proven genuine. Just as the beloved emphasized her lover's uniqueness in Song of Solomon 5:9-16, so does he now express her uniqueness among women. In Song of Solomon 6:11-13 the Shulamite visits the vineyards for the first time since being brought from her native village to the King's palace ( Song of Solomon 6:11). This introduction to such a familiar setting seems to stir up a longing in her heart for her people and homeland ( Song of Solomon 6:12). Her people call her back ( Song of Solomon 6:13 a) and the king shows forth his jealousy for the first time with a mild rebuke to them ( Song of Solomon 6:13 b).

In Song of Solomon 7:1-13 we have a description of the husband and wife coming together in the intimacy of the marriage bed. The man is first aroused by her physical beauty and uses his words in foreplay ( Song of Solomon 7:1-5). He then moves into the act of intercourse ( Song of Solomon 7:6-9). The wife responds with words expressing her desire to always yield to him as long as he continues his devotion to her ( Song of Solomon 7:10 to Song of Solomon 8:4). This is the place of rest that the wife has been seeking in marriage, which is intimacy with her husband.

Figurative Interpretation - Figuratively speaking, this fourth song represents man's discipline to persevere in divine service. The intimacy of the marriage bed is where the wife finds rest as she yields herself totally to her husband. This is figurative of the believer yielding himself entirely to God's plan and purpose for humanity.

A good example of this phase of loving God with all of our heart is seen in the life of Kathryn Kuhlman in her later years of ministry, whose healing minister touched the world during 1960's and 70's. Her services were marked by the distinct presence of the Holy Spirit, being manifested by divine healings, people shaking and being slain with the Holy Spirit. She tells of the heavy price she paid to have this anointing, which involved leaving an unscriptural marriage with a man she dearly loved. She came to a place and time when she died to her own will and yielded totally to the will of God. Her "thorn in the flesh" was carrying the pain of walking away from an earthly love affair in order to be in God's perfect will. 76] She said, "Any of you ministers can have what I have if you'll only pay the price." She described the price that she paid as costing her everything. She said about a lifestyle of prayer, "If you find the power, you'll find heaven's treasure." 77] She refers to the day when she made a decision to divorce a man who has been previously married. She explains how on that day Katherine died. 78] Another good example is seen in the early years of Arthur Blessitt's call to take the cross around the world. In Central America a group of military police pulled him out of his mobile trailer and stood him up in front of a firing squad. Instead of pleading for his life, he reached into his trailer get these men some bibles. When he turned around to face the firing squad, everyone was on the ground. The power of God manifested and knocked everyone down. The point is that Arthur Blessitt no longer cared for his own life, but rather, his concern was to carry the testimony of Jesus Christ. 79]

76] Benny Hinn, The Anointing (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 63-4.

77] Kathryn Kuhlman, "I Believe in Miracles," on This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 28 January 2008), television program.

78] Kathryn Kuhlman, "I Believe in Miracles," on This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 28 January 2008), television program; Benny Hinn, The Anointing (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 63-4.

79] Arthur Blessitt, interviewed by Matthew Crouch, Behind the Scenes, on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 2008), television program.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Scene 1 - Love Is Tested Again Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 6:13

a) The Duties of Marriage Song of Solomon 5:2-8

b) Becoming Familiar with One Another Song of Solomon 5:9 to Song of Solomon 6:13

i) The Uniqueness of the Husband Song of Solomon 5:9-16

ii) The Beloved's Commitment to Her Husband Song of Solomon 6:1-3

iii) The Uniqueness of the Wife Song of Solomon 6:4-10

iv) The Wife's Desire to Return Home Song of Solomon 6:11-13

2. Scene 2 - The Intimacy of the Marriage Bed Song of Solomon 7:1 to Song of Solomon 8:4

a) The Man's Foreplay Song of Solomon 7:1-5

b) The Act of Intercourse Song of Solomon 7:6-9

c) The Woman's Response to His Intimacy Song of Solomon 7:10 to Song of Solomon 8:4

The Mature Marriage (Scene 5: The Vineyards and Gardens) (Bearing Fruit) ( Song of Solomon 8:5-14) - The fifth and final passage in Songs shows the woman at rest in her marriage because of the assurance of her husband's devotion, which took place in the intimacy of the marriage bed in the previous passage. Up until now, she has wanted to possess his undivided attention because she was not sure of his love. However, mature love does not possess and hold on too; rather, it gives and sets free. When she gives him the freedom to fulfill his calling and destiny through her life, she too finds rest. This is the place where the Lord wants to take every marriage; for it is only then that a couple can become fruitful and fulfill their destiny as one flesh. In fact, God's original purpose of marriage was to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth ( Genesis 1:27-28). This final passage reveals the fulfillment of that purpose as it describes Solomon with his numerous vineyards and gardens, one of which has been given to his bride. Song of Solomon 8:5-7 describes the king bringing his bride back to her homeland. We can imagine the emotions that tear at her heart as she finally returns to her place of birth. The love and emotions that were embedded within her heart during her childhood come forth in this passage. Because of the love the king has poured forth into the heart of her bride, she can now pour it forth upon her people. Her character of strength and endurance were shaped and mounded in the furnaces of fire and tribulation, a character that only love can create within the heart of one who dies to his own will. Song of Solomon 8:8-9 speaks of a little sister who is too young to become espoused. The sight of the vulnerability and immaturity of her beloved little sister make the Shulamite aware of her own growth and maturity ( Song of Solomon 8:10 a), a maturity and beauty that has positioned her in a place of favor with the king, because she realizes that only by the favor of the king was she chosen to come out of her village and grown to a place of maturity ( Song of Solomon 8:10 b). Song of Solomon 8:11-14 describes the wife in a position of absolute rest. She supports him in his pursuits of prosperity ( Song of Solomon 8:11-12), which symbolizes God's purpose and plan for his life that he was called to fulfill; and she expresses her abiding love and admiration for him ( Song of Solomon 8:13-14). This final passage reveals the fulfillment of that purpose as it describes Solomon with his numerous vineyards and gardens.

Figurative Interpretation - Figuratively, this fifth song represents the believer's ministry of intercession and evangelism for people as an overflow of his communion with Christ. His vineyard is the ministry of people to Christ. Now that she has found rest, she seeks this place of rest for those she loves. This is the place of true rest that God is calling every believer, when he is willing to take upon himself the weight of love and sorrow for a lost and dying humanity. It reflects a minister of the Gospel who sticks with a ministry that God called him to fulfill.

Illustration-We see this level of love and devotion reflected in Paul's statements about "having had the sentence of death" in his life, and having the "the sufferings of Christ abounding in him," and "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body"s sake."

2 Corinthians 1:9, "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:"

2 Corinthians 1:5, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."

Colossians 1:24, "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body"s sake, which is the church:"

Illustration- Another good example is found in Romans 9:1-3, where Paul reveals his heart and passion for his people Israel, who went to the Gentile nations trusting God to take care of his greatest desire, Israel's redemption. When God allowed Paul the apostle to carry this burden of pain and sorrow for a lost humanity, He gave Paul the most intimate access to His heart. God does not ask just any Christian to carry this burden. However, in the same way that a person does not share intimate pain publically, but rather, with only a few close friends that dearly love him, neither does God share His deepest emotions with everyone. He reserves it for those believers who have proved themselves to have a devout love for God and are willing to share His same concerns for humanity. Paul was willing to enter into God's sorrows for a lost humanity and carry this burden with God. Another example of mature love is seen in Jesus' statement to Peter in John 21:18, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." Peter's willingness to suffer and die as a martyr reflects this mature level of love for God. Mark Buntain's wife, Huldah, is now 86 years old. She and her husband have served as missionaries with Calcutta Mercy Ministries in Calcutta, India for fifty years. 80] Another good example is found in the life of Arthur Blessitt, who has carried the cross into every nation on earth. 81] His life is a life of peace and joy, while pursuing the will of God in his life.

80] Huldah Buntain, interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 2008), television program.

81] Arthur Blessitt, interviewed by Matthew Crouch, Behind the Scenes, on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 2008), television program.

Summary- In summary, the Shulamite found rest initially by following the path of the flocks and by dining at the king's banqueting table. This represents a believer's initial conversion and tasting of God's table of blessings ( Song of Solomon 1:5 to Song of Solomon 2:7). But this bed of rest soon faded away, and she began to search again for rest. Only now, she found rest by yielding to the call of separation and solitude in the clefts of the rocks ( Song of Solomon 2:8-17). This represents the early phase of Christian growth when God calls a child out of his worldly activities to a place of solitude. This period soon ended and she sought rest again, only this time to find Him in the midst of the city ( Song of Solomon 3:1-5). This represents the phase of Christian growth when a person learns to participate in Church life and learn its doctrine. Hudson Taylor notes that up to this point in time the Shulamite was the primary speaker. Now, the king is going to do most of the speaking, as the new bride learns to be quiet and yield herself to her husband. 82] The wedding ceremony symbolizes the phrase of Christian growth when a believer is set apart and anointed by the Spirit for divine service ( Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1). Although this gives a period of rest, she is soon called out of this place of rest, and begins to seek it again. This time she encounters hardships before realizing her rest is found by returning to the garden where He feeds among the lilies ( Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 6:3). It is in this search that her Lover beholds her beauty again ( Song of Solomon 6:4 to Song of Solomon 7:9). Her eyes now turn to her vineyard where she will give him her love ( Song of Solomon 7:10-13).

82] J. Hudson Taylor, Union and Communion (Edinburgh, Great Britain: R. & R. Clark, Ltd, c 1893, 1929) [on-line]; accessed 28 December 2008; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/taylor_jh/union.i.html; Internet, notes on Song of Solomon 3:6.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Scene 1 - The Shulamite's Homeland Song of Solomon 8:5-10

a) Mature Love Described Song of Solomon 8:5-7

b) The Little Sister Song of Solomon 8:8-9

c) The Shulamite's Maturity Song of Solomon 8:10

2. Scene 2 - The Place of Rest Song of Solomon 8:11-14

a) The Vineyard- The Husband's Prosperity Song of Solomon 8:11-12

b) The Garden- The Wife's Love & Admiration Song of Solomon 8:13-14

X. Outline of Book

The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the Song of Solomon: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the Song of Solomon. This journey through Songs will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians to abide in Christ and labour in His vineyard.

Here is a proposed outline that reflects the interpretation of the Song of Solomon as a love story between King Solomon and the Shulamite woman, but allows for the story to also reflect God's love for His people as well as Christ and the Church:

I. The Title— Song of Solomon 1:1

II. Prologue: Description of Mature Love— Song of Solomon 1:2-4

III. Acts 1 - The Courtship (Justification)— Song of Solomon 1:5 to Song of Solomon 2:7

1. Scene 1 - The Shepherds & their flocks— Song of Solomon 1:5-11

a) The Shulamite's Insecurity— Song of Solomon 1:5-7

b) Solomon's Praise & Reassurance— Song of Solomon 1:8-11

2. Scene 2 - The King's Banquet Table— Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:7

a) The Shulamite's Response to the King— Song of Solomon 1:12 to Song of Solomon 2:1

i) The Beloved Meditates upon Her Lover — Song of Solomon 1:12-14

ii) The Shulamite's Response — Song of Solomon 1:16 to Song of Solomon 2:1

b) The King's Love for His Beloved— Song of Solomon 2:2

c) The King's Provision and Her Response— Song of Solomon 2:3-7

IV. Acts 2 - The Engagement (Separation)— Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:5

1. Scene 1 - A Time of Courtship— Song of Solomon 2:8-17

a) The Bridegroom's Call— Song of Solomon 2:8-15

b) The Bride's Response — Song of Solomon 2:16-17

2. Scene 2 - Love is Tested— — Song of Solomon 3:1-5

V. Acts 3 - The Wedding (Infilling of Spirit)— Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1

1. Scene 1- The Wedding Processional— Song of Solomon 3:6-11

2. Scene 2 - The Wedding Ceremony— Song of Solomon 4:1 to Song of Solomon 5:1

a) The Wedding Song— Song of Solomon 4:1-15

i) The Bride's Beauty — — Song of Solomon 4:1-7

ii) The Request for Marriage— Song of Solomon 4:8

iii) The Bridegroom's Love— Song of Solomon 4:9-10

iv) The Bride's Purity— Song of Solomon 4:11-15

b) The Wedding Vows — Song of Solomon 4:16 to Song of Solomon 5:1

VI. Acts 4 - The Maturing Process (Discipline)— Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 8:4

1. Scene 1 - Love Is Tested Again— Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 6:13

a) The Duties of Marriage— — Song of Solomon 5:2-8

b) Becoming Familiar with One Another— Song of Solomon 5:9 to Song of Solomon 6:13

i) The Uniqueness of the Husband— Song of Solomon 5:9-16

ii) The Beloved's Commitment to Her Husband— Song of Solomon 6:1-3

iii) The Uniqueness of the Wife— Song of Solomon 6:4-10

iv) The Wife's Desire to Return Home— Song of Solomon 6:11-13

2. Scene 2 - The Intimacy of the Marriage Bed — Song of Solomon 7:1 to Song of Solomon 8:4

a) The Man's Foreplay— Song of Solomon 7:1-5

b) The Act of Intercourse— Song of Solomon 7:6-9

c) The Woman's Response to His Intimacy— Song of Solomon 7:10 to Song of Solomon 8:4

VII. Acts 5 - The Mature Marriage (Bearing Fruit)— Song of Solomon 8:5-14

1. Scene 1 - The Shulamite's Homeland— Song of Solomon 8:5-10

a) Mature Love Described— Song of Solomon 8:5-7

b) The Little Sister— Song of Solomon 8:8-9

c) The Shulamite's Maturity— Song of Solomon 8:10

2. Scene 2 - The Place of Rest — Song of Solomon 8:11-14

a) The Vineyard- The Husband's Prosperity— Song of Solomon 8:11-12

b) The Garden- The Wife's Love & Admiration— Song of Solomon 8:13-14

BIBLIOGRAPHY

COMMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adeney, W. F. Song of Solomon. In The Expositor's Bible, Eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM]. Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001.

Barnes, Albert. The Gospel According to Matthew. In Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Bickle, Mike. Song of Songs. Kansas City, Missouri: International House of Prayer, 1998.

Calvin, John. Calvin's Commentary on the Epistle of James: Newly Translated from the Original Latin. Aberdeen: J. Chalmers and Co, 1797.

Clarke, Adam. Canticles, or Song of Solomon. In Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Constable, Thomas L. Notes on Song of Solomon. Garland, Texas: Sonic Light, 2000. [on-line]. Accessed 28 December 2008. Available from http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes.htm; Internet.

Deane, W. J, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin. Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , Song of Solomon. In The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9. Eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001.

Exell, Joseph S, ed. Song of Solomon. In The Biblical Illustrator. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub. House, 1954. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM], Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2002.

Garrett, Duane. Song of Songs. In Word Biblical Commentary, vol 23B. Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Gill, John. Matthew. In John Gill's Expositor. In e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005.

Gill, John. Song of Solomon. In John Gill's Expositor. In e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005.

Hawkins, Ronald E. Song of Solomon. In The KJV Bible Commentary. Eds. Edward E. Hindson and Woodrow M. Kroll. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1994. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Henry, Matthew. Song of Solomon. In Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. The Song of Solomon. In A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. In e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005.

Keil, C. F, and F. Delitzsch. The Song of Songs. In Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Kinlaw, Dennis F. Song of Solomon. In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 5. Eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992. In Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM]. Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001.

MacDonald, William. The Song of Solomon. In Believer's Bible Commentary. Ed. Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1995. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

McGee, J. Vernon. The Song of Solomon. In Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Martin, Currie. The Song of Songs. In The Century Bible: A Modern Commentary, vol 7. London: The Caxton Publishing Company.

Metzger, Bruce M, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker, eds. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007.

Miller, Andrew. Meditations on the Song of Solomon. London: G. Morrish, c 1877. In Biblecenter.org. [on-line]. Accessed 29 December 2008. Available from http://www.biblecentre.org/commentaries/ Amos 26_Song of Song of Solomon 1to 5.htm#Canticles%204; Internet.

Morgan, G. Campbell. Living Messages of the Books of the Bible. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912.

Nee, Watchman. Song of Songs. Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: CLC Publications, c 1965, 2001.

Pfeiffer, Charles and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Song of Solomon. In The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Chicago: Moody Press, c 1962. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Plumpter, E. H. Proverbs. In The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D 1611), with an Explanation and Critical Commentary and a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Church, vol 4. Ed. F. C. Cook. London: John Murray, 1873.

Radmacher, Earl D, Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, eds. The Song of Solomon. In Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1999. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Taylor, J. Hudson. Union and Communion. Edinburgh, Great Britain: R. & R. Clark, Ltd, c 1893, 1929. [on-line]. Accessed 28 December 2008. Available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/taylor_jh/union.i.html; Internet.

Westwood, John. A Short Paraphrase of the Song of Solomon. London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co, 1848.

Wright, J. Robert, ed. Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , Song of Solomon. In Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament IX. Ed. Thomas C. Oden. Downer Grover, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Zckler, Otto. The Song of Solomon. Trans. W. Henry Green. In Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. Ed. Philip Schaff. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1872.

GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

III Maccabees. Trans. R. H. Charles. In The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 1. Ed. R. H. Charles. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913.

Allen, Pauline, et al, eds. Early Christian Studies. Strathfield, Australia: St. Paul's Publications, 2001.

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Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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