The new NIV labels the speeches contained in this poem with the words “She” “Friends” and “He” and as they admit in their footnote, these are inferred from the grammatical construction of the Hebrew original and are debatable. You may recall that I have previously made reference to the fact that Song of Songs is very often written about in literary critiques, and I am happy to let others engage in that fascinating discussion; it really isn’t my strength or inclination. Thus, I am simply going to accept the designations of the NIV for the purposes of this adventure, for if the translators aren’t 100% right, they are right often enough for us to get God’s point from the book.
Note carefully verses 2-4: Here is a woman, an ancient woman at that, and how she is speaking to her man; she sure seems to know what she wants. Yes, she wants her man!
Speaking in such a manner would have been more than a little brazen back in the day, and some might say that it is a little bit “forward” even now. Yet as we continue through the chapter, it is clear that this woman has such a passion to be in her beloved’s presence that she will go to lengths to get there. She has been oppressed and used by her “mother’s sons” yet she yearns for her man’s presence and asks where he takes his flocks during the day, apparently so that she may join him there. (vv. 5 ff.)
“He” in spite of the curious comparison of verse 9, seems to be more than a little attracted to “She” as well, and desires to be with her.
If “She” represents God’s people and “He” represents God, we can see an interesting picture unfolding in this chapter. That God would have a people who, though they have been treated unjustly in this world, yearn to be in His presence with such a passion, reveals to us a relationship between God and His people that is much more than a Sunday morning affair. It reveals to us a people who are totally devoted to God, who will make sacrifices to enter His presence and who will do so even though they might not be following all of the cultural norms and protocols to get there. These are people who have God as their very “everything”. We also see a God who is waiting for His people to come into His presence, for He too is eager to move this relationship forward.
Does God have such a people?
Do we have such a God?
Let’s not try to answer these questions just yet; let’s meditate on them for a while…
And so the characters, these two lovers are introduced to us in chapter one. What will they do, where will their relationship take them? We will step into the next room when our adventure continues next time.