Old Testament Survey - Lesson 16

Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs

This lesson briefly describes existentialism as a philosophical movement in order to frame Ecclesiastes as an ancient type of existentialist literature. Existentialism tends to argue that this life is all there is. Ecclesiastes entertains these various perspectives in the first six chapters, which serve as a literary foil, before ending with a surprise for the reader—life does have meaning because there is a God who will judge our actions.

There is a storyline to the Song. A clue is found in the term Shulamite, which in Hebrew can be translated as Mrs. Solomon. So this is a story about Solomon marrying his wife. It conveys some of the challenges Solomon and his wife face in coming together in covenant marriage. The beginning of the book outlines their engagement. In the middle of the book they get married, and the end discusses their honeymoon. What we see in the Song is the biblical ideal of a monogamous marriage, which, ironically, Solomon failed to live up to.

Douglas Stuart
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 16
Watching Now
Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs

Poetry and Wisdom:  Ecclesiastes


I.  Existentialism

A.  Theistic Existentialism

B.  Dostoevsky and Nietzsche

C.  "Because of death, life is absurd."


II.  Summary

A.  Chapter 1

B.  Chapter 2

C.  Chapter 3

D.  Chapter 4

E.  Chapter 5

F.  Chapter 6

G.  Not Meaningless At All


III.  Foils.

A.  Tempting, misleading alternatives

B.  "If this life is all there is ..."

C.  Emptiness of life

D.  Argument for judgment and life after death


Poetry and Wisdom:  Song of Songs


I.  Romance is Essential


II.  Applying the Song of Songs

A.  True love is exclusive and faithful.

B.  True love is staying attracted to one person.

C.  True love is acting like the two of you are one flesh.

D.  True love leads to sex only in marriage.

E.  True love preserves romance in marriage.

F.  True love is both pure and permanent.


III.  Comparison to Modern Love Songs

  • The purpose of this overview of the Old Testament is to focus on the content of each of the Old Testament books, the historical events that give context to the books, and specific questions that help draw out the overarching principles contained in the Old Testament. There is also an emphasis on identifying ways to use this material that can help people in their daily lives.

  • Genesis narrates ten stories that describe origins or beginnings. These include the origin of the “heavens and earth,” and the origin of specific families that are significant in God’s dealings with Israel and the nations.

  • Themes from selected passages in Genesis about which there are interpretations that differ greatly. These include Genesis 2 regarding creation of women and their roles, Genesis 6 about the "Sons of God," and Genesis 9 about the "curse of Ham." Other themes are the story of Abraham, and God as a punisher of evil.

  • The three major themes in Exodus are Israel's deliverance from Egypt, establishment of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. Other themes are how name repetition in a sentence is significant throughout Scripture, and how humility in the Jewish culture affects the actions and responses of many biblical characters. Exodus contains both apodictic and casuistic laws. There are also paradigmatic laws which are designed to give broad guidance for specific situations that arise. The first part of Exodus is mostly stories, and the second part is mostly a record of the laws which are the basis for how they interact with God and other people.

  • In this lesson, the concept of a covenant is defined as a legal binding agreement between two parties. In the ancient world there were many covenants. There were covenants between individuals, and even between nations. For example, a superior ruling king would make a covenant with a lesser vassal king. Covenants in the ancient near east contained the following six elements.

  • Does God punish the grandchildren for what the grandparents have done? Some people read these passages (Exodus 20:5, 34:7) and assume that they mean God punishes grandchildren based on their grandparents' sins. Unfortunately, they misinterpret these texts because they fail to understand the phenomena of numerical parallelisms. The Hebrew language favors parallelism, so that numbers which are close to other numbers will often be put in parallel to exhibit literary balance.
  • The historical books--Joshua, Judges, and Ruth--are essential reading for understanding how the bible views the progress of history. These books help us understand what the basic stages are in the progress of God’s relations with humanity. There is development, and progress in history we can refer to as epochs. This lecture provides an overview of redemptive history and a summary of the book of Joshua.

  • When discussing violence in the Old Testament it is important to discuss the concept of Holy War. This lesson does not suggest that Christians are soldiers first and nothing else since Christians are also called to be peacemakers. However, this lesson does put forward the idea that God is fighting a holy war. That is, God is seeking to promote blessing for all people by eliminating evil everywhere. The final enemy is death itself, and God is resolute on destroying evil and death. Holy war is a complex set of ideas that should be interpreted in light of the entire corpus of scripture.

  • In this lesson the extent of the conquest is discussed to frame the book of Judges. The orienting data for the book of Judges helps explain how the book recounts the decline of the people of Israel. Finally, the Dueteronomic cycle which recurs in the book is explained and helps frame Israel’s history up to the time of the exile.

  • After the division of the kingdom, 40 kings reigned during this period of the divided monarchy. Only three Kings reigned during the united monarchy—Saul, David, and Solomon. We might be able to assume the time period of the united monarch to be something like 120 years with each of the three kings reigning forty years. But the term “forty” in Hebrew means something like the English expression “several dozen.” That’s why we see the idiomatic expression “forty” so often in Hebrew literature.

  • David is a man after God’s own heart. How is this possible when he made so many moral mistakes? Being after God’s own heart does not mean David is morally upright, but that he has unwavering faith in the one true God of Israel. That is unique to David in these narratives. The narratives are clear that both Saul and Solomon conjoined belief in the God of Israel with the worship of other gods. David, however, is never portrayed as worshipping other gods or setting up altars to Idols.

  • In this lesson several key elements from the lives of Saul, David and Solomon are briefly reviewed. The rejection of Saul as King is explained. The rebellions against David are highlighted. And the disobedience of Solomon is described. Although these three kings are imperfect, God keeps the Kingdom of Israel unified throughout their successive reigns.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart provides an overview of the ten types of Psalms found in Scripture, a few suggestions regarding preaching through the Psalms, and addresses how we are to interact with the hystoricizing statements within the Psalms.

  • This lesson provides an overview of the structure of Proverbs, which seems to be the most secular book of the bible. Proverbs is a book of wise memorable sayings collected by Solomon. These sayings are collected from various individuals in Israel and the Ancient Near East and serve to provide wisdom for how to live in the world.

  • There is a chiastic structure to the book of Job that begins with the prologue and ends with the epilogue. In a chiasm, the middle portion is a convenient hinge of the book, it is not necessarily the most important piece of textual material. The main question the book is asking is, where do you find wisdom? The answer is, wisdom is found in the LORD. Proverbs is monological wisdom, whereas Job is dialogical wisdom. People are debating back and forth throughout the book about the nature of wisdom.

  • This lesson briefly describes existentialism as a philosophical movement in order to frame Ecclesiastes as an ancient type of existentialist literature. Existentialism tends to argue that this life is all there is. Ecclesiastes entertains these various perspectives in the first six chapters, which serve as a literary foil, before ending with a surprise for the reader—life does have meaning because there is a God who will judge our actions.

    There is a storyline to the Song. A clue is found in the term Shulamite, which in Hebrew can be translated as Mrs. Solomon. So this is a story about Solomon marrying his wife. It conveys some of the challenges Solomon and his wife face in coming together in covenant marriage. The beginning of the book outlines their engagement. In the middle of the book they get married, and the end discusses their honeymoon. What we see in the Song is the biblical ideal of a monogamous marriage, which, ironically, Solomon failed to live up to.

  • While it is difficult to preach through the prophets it can be done well if some basic views are taken regarding the prophetic books in general.

  • This lesson provide an overview concerning three contemporaries Prophets during the period of the divided monarchy at the end of the 8 th Century BCE.

  • The passage discusses a period of time when great materials are produced, including the Book of Isaiah. The rise of the Assyrian Empire becomes a significant concern, as they expand their territory across various regions. Tiglath-Pileser III, also known as Pul, leads the Assyrians into the domain of Israel, Palestine, and Syria. The expansion is driven by economic considerations, as kings seek wealth for grand projects through tribute, tax, and tolls. The cycle of conquering and resistance repeats itself, impacting the Israelites. The passage also highlights the importance of 2 Kings, focusing on Elijah and Elisha, Jehu’s massacre of Baal worshippers, the kings of Judah, the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, and the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.

  • Historical context is vital when one moves to reading the prophets. After Solomon’s death in 931 BCE, the kingdom of Israel undergoes an extended period of civil war as rivaling leaders take control of the northern and southern regions of the kingdom. Unfortunately, this split eventually becomes permanent. In the north the kings reigned for short periods and when compared with the southern kingdom of Judah this shows a tremendous amount of upheaval. This may have to do with the fact that the north is never ruled by a descendant of David. In addition, the north fails to worship at the Jerusalem temple, and decides instead to worship idols.

  • In this lesson an overview is provided for the prophetical books of Isaiah, Micah, and Nahum.

  • An overview of the revival under King Josiah, the fall of King Josiah, and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.

  • Jeremiah begins his ministry in 627 BCE. This is five years before the great revival under Josiah in 622 BCE. So Jeremiah spans the time from the Assyrian domination to the invasion of Judah by Babylon. Unlike other prophets who predicted a short exile, Jeremiah preached a long, though not unending exile. Because of this Jeremiah was not popular with the government establishment of Jerusalem.

  • Dr. Stuart provides an overview of Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah and how they each relate to end times and God’s eternal reign.

  • Lamentations is a massive, huge, compound, complex lament that seeks to help God’s people see God’s goodness in the midst of tragedy.

  • Dr. Stuart provides a brief overview of Ezekiel, his difficult message of impending judgment on Jerusalem and his uplifting message of the hope to come.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart describes the characteristics of apocalyptic literature and gives an overview of the books of Daniel. Esther, and the latter half of Isaiah.

  • An overview of the background to the post-exilic books including the necessity of the temple and the role of the Persian empire in it’s rebuilding.

  • An overview of Haggai and Zechariah, the beginning of the rebuilding of the temple, the encouragement of God’s people to put the things of God first, God’s sovereignty, the need to be faithful, the nature of God’s covenant, and God’s promises being fulfilled.

  • A look at the latter days, the closing of the prophetic cannon, and the books of Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

Did you know that the Old Testament contains more than 2/3 of the text of the Bible? Did you realize that the Old Testament timeline covers thousands of years of history and tells us the stories of people whose lives still affect world events today? Are you familiar with the Old Testament prophets that describe in detail the characteristics of the Messiah and the events that happen when he comes, hundreds of years before they take place? Have you ever read the Old Testament books of poetry and wisdom literature that contain inspirational and instructional passages that we still use today to inspire, comfort and inform our lives during life events, and are ubiquitous in both classic and contemporary literary works?

In Dr. Stuart’s Old Testament Survey class, he guides you through each of the Old Testament books by giving you the historical background, major themes and insight into the stories, characters and teaching of the book. In the historical books, you will become familiar with Old Testament Names like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph and David. In the Old Testament prophets, Dr. Stuart will introduce you to the lives and messages of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and others. When you study the Old Testament books of wisdom literature, Dr. Stuart will give you insights into the teachings, structure and creativity in Proverbs, Psalms and other books in the Writings.

From the description of Creation in Genesis, to the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, the Old Testament contains stories and teachings that can inform, inspire and transform your life. Dr. Stuart’s years of training and his skill in communicating, provides you with this opportunity to study and learn from one of the best. Now it’s up to you!

You may download a syllabus for the class including the Course Outline by clicking on the link in the Downloads section. We do not have access to the notes or the 130 exam questions that he mentions in the lectures. The Syllabus is from the SemLink class that was originally offered online through Gordon-Conwell Seminary so you can see the class outline and suggested readings. The links are not active. If you want to participate in the assignments and tests and earn credit, you may contact Gordon-Conwell Seminary to find out if they still offer this class.

Thank you to Charles Campbell and Fellowship Bible Church for writing out the lecture notes. Note that they do not cover every lecture.

Recommended Books

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

Did you know that the Old Testament contains more than 2/3 of the text of the Bible? Did you realize that the Old Testament timeline covers thousands of years of history and...

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

I. Existentialism

Ecclesiastes is next in our rapid run through. I am going to start with something that may seem a little funny and that is a brief summary of Existentialism. It is because Ecclesiastes reflects the kind of outlook that you have in the philosophical stance called Existentialism. Existentialism says, in effect, that this life is all there is; there is no after life and there is no God. Does all Existentialism say that? No, there is also theistic existentialism of the kind represented by Kierkegaard.

A. Theistic Existentialism

But Kierkegaard himself, the melancholy Dane, says that we must live life as if there were no God because we do not get from Him a lot of direct guidance. He felt lonely and estranged from God and believed that was our real situation. Yes, God exists and He created everything, but He does not have a lot of methods by which we can reach Him and touch Him and know Him personally. You must live with a lot of doubt, a lot of uncertainty and so “You work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” He loved that verse from Paul and made it into what Paul did not mean by it. Paul said, “You be careful to stay with Christ. You be afraid that you do anything to jeopardize your salvation.” Kierkegaard took that to mean, “You have to figure out your salvation and you do it with fear and trembling because you never know.” There is a lot of uncertainty.

B. Dostoevsky and Nietzsche

Dostoevsky said it this way, “If God didn’t exist, everything would be permitted.” If there is no God, and there is no heaven and no life after death and so on, you could do anything you want; you just live. Nietzsche said, “God is dead.” He did not mean by that that there was a God who was alive. He meant we do not do philosophy anymore with God in mind. We are working out how to live, how to think, how to act without the presumption that God is the one who sets the value system.

C. "Because of death, life is absurd."

Existentialism in general says, “Because of death, life is absurd.” What does that mean? Think of it this way, you can say, “I’m going to live a great and wonderful life. I’m going to do everything, I’m going to be kind to people, I’m going to be good, I am never going to put bubblegum under anybody’s seat. I’m going to be the nicest person I can think of,” and go through life doing that. If you are really dead, you do not have any memory. You cannot say, “Now that I’m dead I’m satisfied that I lived a good life,” because if you are really dead, we are talking about death now where there is no afterlife, no conscious survival, you are just dead like an ant that gets stepped on, you do not think back because you cannot think at all. You do not have any memory, you do not exist. So if you lived a good life, the minute you are dead, to you it does not mean anything because nothing means anything to you. You are dead, you do not exist. You have no meaning, no sense, no feeling, no recollection, no nothing.

Suppose you live an evil life. You tripped little old ladies waiting to cross the street, you put bubblegum down people’s necks, you do everything, all kinds of evil. You plow into crowds with pickup trucks. When you are dead, it does not matter. You do not say, “Oh, what a lousy life I lived.” You do not think anything because you do not think, you do not remember, you are nothing. In the Existentialist system people say, “Wait a minute, once you are dead, life does not count at all, it is absurd, it is not meaningful.” Since all of us are going to die and will be, soon enough, in that state of nothingness; it does not matter how we live, life is simply absurd. You cannot say there is such a thing as a good life or a bad life. You can only say there is an authentic life. The one thing a true full-blown, committed Existentialist, will say, “You can live authentically,” that is, you can have some satisfaction now, at this moment, at this point of existence in doing what is authentic to you.” That gets variously defined. But they will not usually say what is right or what is wrong. They will say what is authentic. It is a purposeful use of a term to avoid making real value judgments. Ecclesiastes tends to say that.

II. Summary

Here is again a very rapid, zippy, kind of quick summary. Again and again Ecclesiastes says that things are meaningless.

A. Chapter 1

Things are meaningless, death makes life absurd, and wisdom yields only disappointment. What a thing to say in a wisdom book at the end of chapter one.

B. Chapter 2

Pleasures, projects, meaningless, wisdom, and folly. Death makes life and work meaningless.

C. Chapter 3.

It is fatalistic, it uses authentic living language. What happens happens. And, animals and humans are alike.

D. Chapter 4.

There is meaninglessness in oppression, envy, materialism success, career, anything like that.

E. Chapter 5

Authentic living, do it. It emphasizes trying to enjoy the time while you are young, that kind of language. Eat, drink and be merry sort of language. That is all ways of saying be authentic. There is no absolute, ultimate right or wrong. Political power or wealth are meaningless.

F. Chapter 6

Even divine blessing, wealth and long life are meaningless; they are futile. Both proverbial and speculative wisdom are futile. In other words, the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Job are useless.

G. Not Meaningless At All

Then all of a sudden you come to this at the end of the book, and I would argue that you come to this at the end of Ecclesiastes because the writer just does not want you to miss what is going on here, just to be sure nobody misunderstands what the writer has done. This is the very last chapter, 12, 13, and 14. “Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion. I’ve said everything I want to say, let me be sure you get this conclusion.” “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole purpose of man,” or whole duty of man, “for God will bring every deed into judgment including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil.” The choices do count. The idea then is that there is a judgment and everything will be judged. It is not meaningless at all.

III. Foils

So what has the writer done? The writer has given us what in literature we call a foil.

A. Tempting, misleading alternatives

A foil is a tempting, misleading alternative. In a murder mystery, you know a type of literature, a play, or a novel, there is a lot of foils built in. You are not supposed to know who did it in chapter two and just read along until they catch the person. You are supposed to wonder, “I wonder who did it.” You are supposed to suspect the nurse for a while and then maybe the butler and then maybe the maid for a while, then maybe the gardener, then maybe Mrs. Alfonzo from next door. You suspect all of these people and finally some brilliant person, usually the detective who gathers them in the living room, explains who really did it. You say, “Yeah I get it, I see who did it.” But those other people who did not do the murder were tempting, they have to be tempting, you have to consider them as a real possibility, and they have to be realistic in some way, but they are, in fact, the alternative to what the truth is. That is what Job’s comforters do. Everything Eliphaz says, Bildad says, Zophar and Elihu are all foil material. It is all foil. It sounds good, it is well-motivated. People might think this is great stuff. You can take it out of context and say, “Does that sound good to you?” and most people will say, “It sounds great to me.” So do many parts of Ecclesiastes. “How does that sound?” “It sounds deep, I like it, ‘A time to live and a time to die’, wow.” But really it is just fatalism; it is all just meaningless fatalism.

B. "If this life is all there is ..."

The purpose is to show you what life is like, what conclusions you come to if there is no God, who cares or is involved, and especially if this life is all there is. If this life is all there is, what Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz and Elihu say really has a lot of merit. If this life is all there is, the meaninglessness of the Existentialists has a lot of merit. What Ecclesiastes says up until the last two verses has a lot of merit. The great use of Ecclesiastes is to say to people, “Do you think this life is all there is? If so, read this. This is what you’ve got to look forward to; this is what level of meaning there is in your life.”

C. Emptiness of life

It really is a description of the emptiness that life is without a judgment and a life after death.

D. Argument for judgment and life after death

Ecclesiastes is a wonderful argument for the fact that there must be and will be a judgment and a life after death. That is its function. That is the nature of Ecclesiastes in Scripture and it is a wonderful book for that function. When you preach it and teach it, that is exactly the way to make it. Just keep examining all these ways that there is a kind of hopelessness, a kind of sad emptiness to life unless there will be a judgment and an afterlife, which then is the sort of thing that makes all of life have meaning. So when Jesus says, “Look, watch out. Every idol word you’ve spoken will be called into question at the judgment,” he is saying this life has meaning right down to the words you say. Everything in life is significant. It will be judged and evaluated on that final day. That is really the kind of thing that Ecclesiastes says as well.

Song of Songs

I. Romance is Essential (Starts at 11:43)

Last little bit is Song of Songs. I wish I had a nickel for every time I have had somebody in the office at church say to me the romance has disappeared from our marriage. When you are a pastor you do a lot of marriage counseling, and a lot of people will tell you that there is no more romance; there just is not any romance left in their life. A lot of people have romance in the artificial state of courtship until the time they get married. Then, all of a sudden, there the husband is, just sitting on the couch in his T-shirt and shorts with a bottle of beer watching wrestling. Romance is just gone.

II. Applying the Song of Songs

Here is what is going on in the Song of Songs. I think that this little summation is perhaps the simplest way that I can get across the kinds of points that are being made. There is a kind of a storyline to the Song of Songs. Basically, it is that Solomon is getting married. There is this person called the . In Hebrew, Shulamite means, in effect, Mrs. Solomon. She and he are getting married and there are all kinds of temptations to them. There are temptations for him to just not show up and pay attention to her. There are temptations where she is out and people are trying to dissuade her from finding him or she is worried about being able to find him. There are some dream sequences where, you know how you can dream that a car or a truck or a train is bearing down on you and you cannot move very fast and you cannot get out of the way? There are some of those types of things. He is knocking at the door of her house and she wants so to be in his arms and she just cannot make it to the door in time and when she gets there and opens it, he is gone. I think that in the middle of the book, roughly, they get married. Then I think the end of the book really describes their honeymoon. I have not proved it just be asserting it, but the commentary on the Song of Songs in a series called The New American Commentary written by our own Professor Garrett, does a good job of outlining the story progression. You will see in that book some details that are just a little bit different from the way I have said it here, but basically we are agreed that there is a story of courtship, marriage, and then honeymoon. Throughout everything romance is emphasizes. What do we have going on in our day? There are a lot of “sex therapists” and there are a lot of people thinking that happiness comes in a lot of sex. You know that. Most of you know that in the colleges you went to and the cultures that we are in, a lot of people are thinking, “That’s just great, that’s really smart.”

A. True love is exclusive and faithful.

What is incredible is this—almost every study that has ever been done that has looked at happiness in marriage has came up with the same conclusion and astoundingly so; the narrow, conservative, religious people, Catholic or Protestant or whatever, who are dead against adultery and dead against premarital sex and any extramarital sex, have the happiest sex life. They report incredibly that they are absolutely happy, “I’ve never had sex with anybody but this person here, and I’m just as happy about it as I can be.” That is the way they report it. The people who are having all the sex that they possibly can have usually report they are not really very happy; they are constantly looking for happiness and they are not finding it. What the Song says is that there is happiness in being exclusive and being faithful.

B. True love is staying attracted to one person

True love means that you stay attracted to one person. Sure, for short periods of time, of course it would be easy to let yourself be tempted to be more attracted to one person or another.

C. True love is acting like the two of you are one flesh

There is a lot of that in the Song, a lot of the way they work together.

D. True love leads to sex only in marriage

E. True love preserves romance in marriage

F. True love is pure and permanent

What is going on here is the story of just being together; how sharing activities, sharing values, and so on is what counts. There is nothing about sexual technique, there is nothing about sexual frequency; those things are not important. It is the romance that counts. In support of this, there are a lot of things in the Song that might seem kind of weird. You have descriptions about each other and they say things about each other that, to us, sound kind of funny. How can it be that people would use these sorts of comparisons? “Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn coming up from the washing, each one has a twin, not one of them is alone.” Gee, a double set of teeth, is that what this is? Is it braces, what is it? “Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon. Your mouth is level. Your temples behind your veil are like halves of a pomegranate. Your neck is like the tower of David,” that is a long neck, “built with elegance, on it hang a thousand shields; all of them shields of warriors.” What is this? Is it zits or something? I do not get it. So, we might say weird descriptions. In every case what is going on this—when I look at you I see what is special, what is dignified, what is grand, what is beautiful and compares to anything you would love to look at that is just delightful to see.

III. Comparison to Modern Love Songs

Here are some comparisons. I took some show tunes, you could find this in any kind of literature, but I happened to have access to the lyrics of some show tunes. Here is one, “You’re the top, you’re the Coliseum. / You’re the top, you’re the Louvre Museum,” and so on. “I’m a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop. / But if, baby, I’m the bottom, you’re the top! / You’re the cream in my coffee, you’re the salt in my stew. / You’re the starch in my collar, You’re the lace in my shoe,” people actually wrote these lyrics, “ You’re the sail of my love boat, you’re the captain and crew, / You will always be my necessity, I’d be lost without you.” Here is Tommy Dorsey, “You are perfection, you’re my idea. / Of angels singing the Ave Maria.” From R. Rodgers, “With a song in my heart, I behold your adorable face, / Just a song at the start, but it soon is a hymn to your grace. / When the music swells, I’m touching your hand.” That is the kind of thing you have in the Song. “It tells that you’re standing near, and / At the sound of your voice, heaven opens its portholes to me…”

This is the kind of thing going on. It really has many parallels in modern music and love songs and so on. It is a great thing for encouraging this sort of thing. When can you use the Song? You can use it in marriage counseling, you can use it in pre-marriage counseling. Have people read the Song and say to them, “Here is my assignment for next week, read the Song of Songs together, read it out loud, one to the other and get the point that you owe each other romance throughout life.” You may have to do some of the things that pastors have to do; teach men who are getting married that it is useful to bring their wives flowers. To men that does not seem useful. A chainsaw maybe, that might be useful. You cannot imagine, why would she want flowers? It is a total waste. You cut them and then they are dead. Teach them how to do romantic things; teach them how to be tender, how to be attentive, how to be kind, how to say when you come home dead tired, “It’s great to see you, how are things with you?” It is those things that have such power in a marriage and enormous significance. Women have a responsibility as well not to say, “Got any money?” as the first thing that they say when you arrive home. What we have got in the Song is a model of what it should be and written probably for one of his marriages. But the real value of it was lost on him, the value is for us who can, in fact, follow what is always the Biblical ideal, one husband, one wife and stay together. Here is a thing that puts Solomon in the picture and I think all the more powerfully, in effect it is saying, if only Solomon would do this, if only. He is the guy who should and he does not.