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 study of 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?