Lecture 22: Song of Songs
Course: Old Testament Survey
Lecture: Song of Songs
I. Romance is Essential
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.