Putting the Pieces Together

In the last post, I asked the question about how the story of Songs of Songs ends if “She” represents God’s people and “He” represents God, and I promised to give my thoughts on the question now… so here goes.

First, if “She” represents God’s people, then we have revealed for us a great longing for closeness to God, even an intimacy with God. Her continual yearning for her beloved (God) is demonstrated time and time again through the book, and yet there is always an edge to it: Where is he, when will he come to me, please beloved, COME TO ME!

He came to her in one of her dreams, the second one as I’m sure you recall. He knocked at her door and pleaded with her to let him in, but she hesitated, complaining that she wasn’t dressed. He reached out and finally she goes to the door, but by then he is gone; and so it so often is with the people of God who yearn for His presence and then hesitate when He comes to them.

“He” yearns for closeness with His people as well; He yearns with desire for intimacy with His people, and is responsive to their pleas, yet there seems to be an impediment; they never quite come together as one. King Solomon seems to come between the lovers, God and His people. This brings us to another question; if “He” represents God and “She” represents His people, then what is the role Solomon plays in the story?

An earthly king normally represents the power of this world in Scripture that is in an allegorical form, yet Solomon is one of the great characters of the Bible; we wouldn’t normally ascribe this role to him. Yet, that is clearly the role he is playing in the drama of this book. Recall the scene in the last chapter, where her brothers have made arrangements with Solomon for her when she comes of age, arrangements that cannot be broken and that are entirely against her will. We need to recognize the fact that back in the day, women were not viewed as independent people, but more like a man’s possession. Marriages were often, perhaps usually arranged early in the person’s life, and people did not usually marry for love. Of course, I must point out that as a rule, nobody asked their son’s permission either. If you doubt me on this, then I would suggest you take a look at the Old Testament histories and see how often people married for love, and should you find such cases, make a note of whether they are recorded as normal or quite noteworthy, and you will discover that in the few cases you can find, the man is either the king who can command such things without the woman’s consent, or they are portrayed as amazing and unusually wonderful.

Of course, it isn’t entirely clear that “She” has been promised, sold really, to the king as a wife, as a concubine or as another kind of servant; the text does not actually say.

God’s people want to find a way to undo what has been done on the earth, God does too, but as the story ends, they still remain apart in spite of their mutual yearning. Yet there is one slight hope left for the two lovers; “She” calls out to “He” and urges him to come to her…

Before I can move on, I want to briefly address the historical context in which this was written. Solomon was the second king of the house of David, who is generally considered to be a “type” of Christ. Solomon reigned at the very height of old Israel’s power and glory on this earth, and after he left the scene, things began to slide to eventual disaster. David was “a man after God’s own heart” yet it was David’s yearnings for closeness with God that are recorded in the Psalms, and when the time came, David was not permitted to build God’s Temple because of sin. Solomon built it instead. Solomon, unlike David, was considered to be the wisest of all men, and most likely understood as well as any man of old what would one day come in the Person of Christ, and so he would have understood better than anyone that it hadn’t come yet. Solomon examined everything under the sun through the microscope of his great wisdom, and as you will recall from our recently completed series through Ecclesiastes, that all was useless. Why was everything useless? Because Solomon knew better than anyone what would come, but had not yet come; thus what was in his day was useless. Is it any wonder then, that his great love story of the yearning for intimate relationship between Man and God should end as the Song ends, with an unbreakable impediment, and a hint of a game changing future?

In the next post, let’s see what came…

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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12 Responses to Putting the Pieces Together

  1. pipermac5 says:

    I think that Solomon is actually an incidental character in this story. The two principle characters are the young lady and her shepherd-boy lover. Their descriptions of each other are more akin to how a person would describe someone who is very much at home in the great outdoors. Her imagined banquet-hall and home are actually in the great outdoors among the tall pines and cedars.

    Even though Solomon appears in one of her dream sequences, she is only imagining that her beloved is a mighty king, with all the protection that his loyal soldiers provide. The “carriage” in SOS 3:7 is otherwise rendered as “litter” in the ESV, something akin to a sedan-chair, carried and surrounded by his personal security-detail.

    I don’t think that the Song ends with loose-ends, as some would suppose. SOS 8 isn’t the first place the lovers use “family” terms (sister/brother) for each other. In SOS 5:1, he calls her “my sister, my bride”. In SOS 8:5, the two lovers are seen together, able to finally be together in public. Their “vows” of love are found in SOS 8:6-7. In SOS 8:10, she affirms her maturity and right to make her own decisions, while rejecting her brother’s control and say in her decision. In SOS 8:12, even if Solomon has made a “bid” for her, she rejects that “bid” in favor of choosing her own mate.

    Her virginity is portrayed in SOS 4:12 “A garden locked…”. In SOS 4:16-17, she unlocks her garden and invites her lover to partake of its delight. SOS chapters 5, 6 and 7 all have images of lovemaking. When, among all these lovemaking scenes, does she surrenders her virginity and they consummate their relationship? SOS 7:11-13 is the final lovemaking scene before the SOS 8 “Epilogue”, so it may be when they finally consummated their relationship.

    My best-guesses as well.

    God bless!

    Steve

  2. Nora Marie says:

    You’re killing me with suspense… 😉 (Your analogies are thought provoking! Thanks!)

  3. Denine Taylor says:

    Thank you for this! It seems so much clearer to me now. I hope you don’t mind me throwing out some of my thought as I read this.
    It seems to me her nakedness and hesitating to answer the door maybe due to shame and pride. Like Adam and Eve when they hid themselves after sinning and becoming aware of their nakedness. When we come into the light, all our fault are laid bare(naked) thus the hesitation. Our pride then keeps many from coming into a place of repentance for we would have to admit to our faults.
    Second thing, being sold or already promised. Because we were born into sin, we are bound by it. Our family heritage so to speak being sold into it. The promise is the old covenant – that the wages of sin is death.
    Then, the lack of a conclusion kind of scared me. But now I think it is because each of us have a choice in our future. Will we be with Him or not. All the running around missing each other is Him drawing us or calling us to Him and our attempts to answer His call. There is no conclusion because it is up to each one of us as to how the story ends or begins, I suppose.

  4. vw1212 says:

    Beautiful and true. No time like God’s timing. vw

  5. Citizen Tom says:

    I think I am like Wally Fry. To some extent, I am more confused than when I started. That’s not your fault. I think there is some material in the Bible that is just not easily understood.

    The role of the brothers I have heard discussed before. The dialogue shifts between speakers, and most Bibles don’t label who is speaking, and I think that has confused lots of people? Why didn’t the original text say who was speaking?

  6. Pingback: DECIPHERING A LOVE STORY | Citizen Tom

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