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THE SONG OF SONGS – Song of Solomon; Introduction; 1:1-4

Posted by Angella Diehl, Webmaster on September 13, 2017 under PM Bible Study |

PM Bible Study Group; August 9, 2017 from Song of Solomon; Introduction; 1:1-4

Theme: The song begins by declaring an expression of divine love at its fullest.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

Tonight, we being a study of one of the most remarkable books in the Old Testament—and at the same time, one of its most mysterious and misunderstood. Its name is taken from the first verse, “The song of songs, which is Solomon’s”; or as it can be translated, “The song of songs, concerning Solomon”. It is a work of poetry put to song, and attributed to Solomon—the son of David; the most glorious of Israel’s kings and the wisest man who ever lived.

It’s found in the section of the Old Testament that is typically designated “Wisdom Books”—five in number (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon). It is a book that Jewish people did not allow a young man to read until he was thirty years old—“lest he read into it mere human voluptuousness and misuse its beautiful phrases” (H.A. Ironside, Addresses on The Song of Solomon, pp. 21-22). Some who have viewed it superficially have wondered how such a book could end up in the Bible—given the fact that it speaks, in some portions, very explicitly of marital love. But it has a very important place in God’s word, and has been preserved for us by the Holy Spirit for our edification—if we will learn to handle it reverently.


Because this is a love song—indeed, as the title suggests, the greatest of all love songs ever written—there have been a variety of ways that interpreters have approached it. Of those ways of interpretation that treat the book respectfully and reverently, each has its legitimacy and value. We, in fact, get the most value out of this book when we approach it in a variety of legitimate ways.

1. We can, for example, use what we might call a romantic approach. In this view, the book is approached as as a beautiful piece of Hebrew poetry that exalts the beauties of marital love in a general sense. There are portions of it that truly thrill the heart; and it would not be wrong to approach it this way. But it would seem superficial to approach it in this way only; and such an approach alone would not explain why the Holy Spirit saw fit to include it in the Bible.

2. We can, in addition, view it through what we might call a natural approach. In this view, it would be treated as a piece of literal history that describes the romance of a genuine marital love between King Solomon and a woman known to us as the Shulamite (taken from 6:13; where she is described as coming from an unknown place called Shulam, which some have taken to be Salem—later Jerusalem). This treats the book respectfully as a piece of actual history—describing perhaps the only true relationship of love that Solomon had out of his (at the time of this story) “sixty queens and eighty concubines and virgins without number” (see 6:8-9). But still, this view alone does not fully explain its value to us.

3. We can, still further, use what we might call the typological approach to this book—viewing the love relationship between Solomon and the Shulamite as a ‘type’ (or symbolic figure) of something else. In this view, the love of Solomon for the Shulamite might be viewed as a type of God’s covenant love for His chosen people Israel (see Jeremiah 3:8; Hosea 2:7). And more, it might be viewed as a type of Jesus’ love for His Bride—the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). This would certainly help us understand why the Holy Spirit chose to preserve this book for us.

4. But one more view that we might use is what we could call the spiritual approach. In this view, we would see the love relationship between Solomon and the Shulamite as instructing us in the deep love that we, as individual believers, share together with our Lord and His love for us. Taking this approach cause us to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of Jesus’ love for us; and helps us to grow in our love for Him in response. As the Bible says, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

It seems unwise to treat this magnificent book with only one approach. Some who have treated it only as a work of romantic love have often ended up mistreating it and thus robbing it of its edifying value to our spirits. But others who have treated it only as a piece of spiritual symbolism have also mistreated it and robbed it of its historic objectivity. As we go along in this study, we’ll do our best to treat it in each of the above approaches as it makes sense to do so—and thus, we pray, get the greatest value of it to our souls. It is, after all, a work of poetry; and poetry has a power to reach us at a variety of levels.

It seems helpful to look at this book as a ‘photo album’ of the story of the love between Solomon and the Shulamite. Each division of this book has its own set of ‘snap-shots’—related in some way to the broad theme of the division in which it is found, but standing freely as its own unique ‘slice-of-life’ in their romance.


Every work of romance is based on a story. And the story behind this romance seems to have unfolded something like this:

There once was a young woman of Shulam (6:13). She was a country girl whose family worked upon a vineyard owned by King Solomon (8:12). It may be that her father had died along the way; and her brothers now operated the vineyard. It appears that they didn’t treat her very kindly; and they made her work so hard that she never really had a chance to take care of herself. She became dark from working in the sun (1:6; 8:8-9).

One day, a very prosperous shepherd came by. He was a remarkably handsome man who seemed like quite a catch. And the wonderful thing was that he became very much taken by this young, poor, hard-working farm girl. He looked ahead to a beauty in her that others could not see—a beauty that he would bring about and enhance in her. He was, you might say, very deeply in love with the woman that he had it in his heart to make her to be. A romance grew between them; and he promised that—one day—he would come and take her away. Finally that day came; and when he arrived with the wedding caravan, lo and behold—this handsome shepherd was none other than King Solomon himself! He took her to be his bride; and he glorified her and made her beautiful beyond all others.

This, by the way, is a picture of what the Lord Jesus has done for us. There was nothing in us that would be naturally beautiful to Him or that would necessarily attract Him to us. But He chose us in love by His grace, and drew us to Himself, and promised that—one day—He would come for us and take us to Himself as His bride. And when that happens, He will make us beautiful beyond measure—causing us to share in His own beauty and glory forever. It would be appropriate for us to see in the Song of Solomon the story of Jesus’ own love; because He has already told us that He is the focus of concern in all of the Scriptures (Luke 24:27), and that they testify of Him (John 5:39). We are the bride (Ephesians 5:30-31) who He loved by grace and has promised to glorify on the great day of the wedding feast (Revelation 19:8-9).


A rough outline of the book—or as we might say, the main “divisions” of this romantic “photo album”—might be as follows:


II. THE COURTSHIP (1:5-3:5).






And if we view this as a photo album, we might want to have some words written on the top of the cover—words that immediately summarize to anyone who might look into it what the album is all about. I suggest that the key verse to this book is one that is already well-known. It’s one of the most famous of the verses from this book; and it’s one that wonderfully expresses our Lord’s grace toward us:

He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love. (2:4).

* * * * * * * * * *

Let’s close our introduction to this book by getting into the actual beginning of it. Look at the first four verses. A photo album often has a single photo on the cover—one that captures the contents of that album and gives us summarizing glimpse of the story that is about to be unfolded to us in it. And these first four verses serve as that summarizing ‘glimpse’. It gives us …


The book begins with a formal introduction; telling us who the human author of this book clearly was—or under whose supervision it was written. “The song of songs, which is Solomon’s” (v. 1). We don’t really have any reason to doubt that this title is an accurate representation of the truth. Some have noted that Aaron is a type of Jesus as Priest, Moses as Prophet, and Solomon as King. And so, Solomon’s love for the Shulamite stands as a good representation of King Jesus’ condescending love toward us in making us His bride.

The song begins with an expression of love on the part of the Shulamite. In this ‘cover photo’, we’re given a glimpse ahead in the story; and she is presented as the happy bride of Solomon—overwhelmed and captivated by love for her husband (who, in verse 4, she calls ‘the king’):

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
For your love is better than wine.
Because of the fragrance of your good ointments,
Your name is ointment poured forth;
Therefore the virgins love you (vv. 2-3).

By the way; how do we know this is the Shulamite talking? You’ll often find in your Bible that there are ‘headlines’ inserted in the text that tell you who is speaking. But these are not in the actual text itself. They are the translators’ way of identifying the speaker based on three grammatical clues given to us by the Hebrew text: (1) the gender of the speaker (male, female or neuter), (2) the number of the speaker (singular or plural), and (3) the context in which the words are spoken. Different translations may come to different conclusions about who is saying what. But those clues are our best way of knowing who the speaker is.

And here, it’s as if this great love song begins with the conclusion of the matter—a full expression of deep love. The Shulamite bride is found to be relishing the love of her royal husband. She invites the intimacy of his kisses. She declares her delight in him and in his love—saying that it is better than wine. (‘Wine’ in the Bible is often associated with joy; but it also can make you a little dizzy. So can kisses.) She not only loves the sight of him and the feel of him, but she even loves the smell of him. When she lays on the pillow, she can smell his cologne. Even his name is as a fragrant oil poured out whenever it is spoken. She says, “Therefore the virgins love you”; and the ‘virgins’ here seems to be a reference to the young ‘maidens’ who also find him attractive.

This is a picture of love established—and of love declared. In this introductory picture, she has settled in to their love; and is as happy with him as she can be. What a picture of the satisfying love of Jesus—and of our draw toward Him! In fact, the bride—in this introductory cover photo—writes, as it were, a caption underneath:

Draw me away! (v. 4).

Other voices chime in. These appear to be the approving and supporting voices of ‘the virgins’ who also love the king. They are called “daughters of Jerusalem” in 3:5; and they express great approval and support of the woman’s royal husband: “We will run after you” (v. 4; the word “you” being in the male gender). Throughout this book, they seem to show up to either give their help to the bride in her love toward her husband, or affirm of that love, or cause her to think about that love in some way. This is my opinion only; but they often seem to me to play the role of the Holy Spirit in this love story—whose great service to us is to point our attention to our Husband Jesus, and who delights to assist us in our love for Him. The Holy Spirit shines the spotlight upon Jesus (John 16:14); and He takes great pleasure in preparing us as the bride of Christ (John 14:16, 26).

So then; in these first few verses, the bride expresses love settled and established. She says, “The king has brought me into his chambers”; and the virgins celebrate the joy of the king as a result: “We will remember your love more than wine.” The happy and content bride adds her ‘amen’ to the words of these daughters of Jerusalem before the king; and says, “Rightly do they love you.” There’s no jealousy in that. All should love the King. Oh, that they would love Him more! This almost sounds like what it says at the close of the Bible—in Revelation 22:17; “And the Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’”

* * * * * * * * * *

And so; there’s the cover of the photo album. The rest of this song simply tells us of how that love story—that we see so wonderfully celebrated in these first four verses—came to be. May its story of love become ours in our love for the Lord Jesus!

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