In looking back at our adventure through the Song of Songs, I’ve been thinking about some of the different ideas that people have about the book, many of which I mentioned before we got into the text, and some others that were suggested in comments. God’s view of perfect love and intimacy in Christian marriage is a popular one. God’s book of sex in marriage is another popular idea. Too dirty for the church; doesn’t belong in the Canon is an old traditional one.
There are more of course…
Now that we’ve all read through the book, what is actually contained in it?
What is actually in Song of Songs:
Lovers’ fantasies, dreams of romance, erotic imagery, verbal expressions of romantic passion, sexual innuendo, women treated as possessions, frustration.
What is not actually found in Song of Songs:
Betrothal, marriage, sex, physical union, physical proximity, passion fulfilled, anything dirty or pornographic.
Interesting, isn’t it? I might be wrong, but I almost have the impression that people write books about Song of Songs without ever reading the whole thing. If anything, it is almost a romantic tragedy along the lines of Romeo and Juliette.
Well, before we go much further, there are a couple factual details to clean up. First, you will recall that “She” was somehow promised to Solomon by her brothers, with the strong implication that there was a cash payment involved. So, was “She” to marry Solomon? Don’t answer too quickly!
Some commentators over the years maintain that this is the actual historical story of Solomon and one of his many wives, so maybe this could be true… except that Solomon can’t really be “He”. I will admit that if he was “He” it would be a tidy little package at the end. How could Solomon be both “He” and the impediment that keeps “She” and “He” from getting together? Maybe if he had multiple personality disorder.
Isn’t it possible that “She” could have been promised as a concubine in return for royal favor? That would explain why “He” spent so many of his lines talking about how “She” was so much more special than all other women… but this solution would give us a messy ending to say the least, and we can’t have that.
Here’s another possibility: Maybe “He” bought her from the king and they ran off and lived happily ever after in a beautiful castle in the Swiss Alps… yes, maybe there is a sequel that is lost to history.
What? That’s stupid?
OK, fine. We don’t know what happened because the story ends and leaves this hanging; maybe that’s on purpose. There is one thing we can be quite sure of, in my view: This story is not history; it is not telling of real people and their real historical lives. No sir, because it is written in a style of Hebrew poetics that is used to present allegory, not history, and that much we do know. That doesn’t mean that the author might not have based some or all of it on a real-life experience or personality, but the story itself has a deeper meaning than just relating historical facts.
When we began our adventure, we had a working theory that “She” represented God’s people and “He” represented God. Let’s just say, just for fun, that our working theory was correct. How does the story end?
Please share your thoughts… and I’ll give you mine in the next post.