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The Song of Songs

In I kings 4:32 we are told that Solomon spoke 3000 proverbs and wrote 1005 songs. This morning and next Sunday we are going to take a look at the Song of Songs- the preeminent song that Solomon wrote (as indicated by the repetition of the word "song").

INTRODUCTION

-Traditionally ascribed to Solomon
-Until about 100 years ago, as for the church, this book was predominantly interpreted as an allegory - as a descriptor of the excellencies of Christ and the love between Him and His people. This made it a very popular book to preach from. Some of the church fathers were known to have preached over 100 sermons from this book. Interestingly, in the last 100 years the majority of Christians have interpreted the book literally- as a love song celebrating marriage and sexual desire and activity within it's bounds. The result: Very few sermons from this book.
-My take is that this book is to be understood in a more literal fashion- as a love story. While this is my approach, there are a number of verses that do lead us to Christ- as is the case in every book of the Bible.
-As for reading the book, Origin and Jerome (2 church fathers) tell us that the Jews forbade it to be read until a person turned 30- figuring that only then would a person have the proper maturity to understand it.
-While some of the language of Song of Songs is a bit awkward and funny to read-- for who says of a woman today "Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing"; The Song of Songs is a book for us-- for in our messed up world it esteems and celebrates marriage and desire, teaching us the proper place for sexual activity and the basics for having a strong marriage. This we will explore together.

Some interesting features of the text

1. Of the 117 verses, the majority belong to the woman. In 69 verses (some of them overlapping into other verses) she is the speaker. In 10, her friends speak. In 42 of the verses (some of them overlapping into other verses) he speaks

2. A key saying in the book that appears 3 times is this: "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; 8:4

This saying is very important for us to understand for the message is this: Don't sexualize people. Don't awaken desire in a person -for once that "switch" is flipped it burns like a fire- and the only proper place for its heat is in marriage. There is a right time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3) Don't push your children towards marriage and relationships. Don't encourage your children to be sexually active outside of marriage. Let them develop slowly and naturally. Help them, coach them, pray for them, protect them

Great quote: "Like a fruit picked green or a flower plucked before it blossoms, out attempts to rush God's timing can spoil the beauty of His plan for our lives."

3. Throughout the book there are "friends" who speak on 10 occasions. There is also mention of brothers and of ones mothers. There is significance in this! When it comes courting and marriage the couple is not to view themselves as an island to themselves. We are in families and in a community- the church, the body of Christ. While as parents and friends we can't and shouldn't dictate who our children and friends marry (as long as the person is in LORD) there is still value to our input. One is also aware that sometimes our friends and family are wrong in there assessments to.

4. Song of Solomon has got some awesome and easily remembered verses -some which make us think of Christ

"I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys." 2:1 (she says of herself)

"Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love." 2:4

"My beloved is mine and I am his" 2:16; 6:3

Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession? 6:10

I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me 7:10

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one's house for love, it would be utterly scorned. 8:6-7


The basic plot of the Song of Songs

It seems from Songs of Songs 8:13 that the woman of the text is in a garden telling her trusted friends her story of how she came to be married to Solomon and of their marriage.

In telling her story she recounts

a. her background, -she a poor girl, living far out of city in the North in Lebanon in the mountains where lions and leopards were (4:8)
b. how they met and fell in love -she out working in the vineyards put out of the house by her callous brothers, Solomon, taking some time be personally involved in some shepherding work and not dressed in his royal garb sees her and falls for her. She seems him and she falls
c. of their marriage, chapter 3
d. of a problem they had in marriage that they overcame, -ch 5-- for some reason he's at the door, it's locked, she's not quick enough to the door and off he goes into the night. She follows- gets beat up by the city watchmen, but longs for him to come back
e. of the renewal of their love and how they stoked the fires of romance

READ chapter 1-2:7

SOME INITIAL THOUGHTS AND LESSONS from chapter 1 and the book as a whole

1. Marriage is a sacred institution created by God

-Though Solomon is not exactly a role model in terms of having 1 wife. This is the Bible's ideal and command. 1 man, 1 woman for life. Genesis 1-2.

Further: According to Ephesians 5:21-33 the marriage of a man and woman and their becoming one is reflective of the relationship of Christ and the church. This makes marriage sacred

If you not married and should be, do it, get it done, get off the fence, stop running away from commitment. Live as God commands. This is the path for blessing and the stability of the family

2. Marriage is the God ordained place for sexual activity

There is to be no "test driving" a person to see if you are compatible. These are not Christian thoughts. God's intention is that a husband and wife start out their married life in the bedroom as people who are naive and pure. They are then to spend the rest of their lives enjoying each other and learning how to be lovers and best friends of each other. As Hebrews 13:4 says; "The marriage bed is to be kept pure"

Further: Our text breathes of DESIRE- sexual desire (but in the most modest and poetic of ways). Desire for each other in marriage is good. This must be nurtured and developed. Point: Keep on dating. Keep on doing the little things that you did when you were courting (otherwise its false advertising). If you can afford it, get out of the house, go away for a night, go for coffee, etc

Further: We only to have eyes for each other (In Song of Songs 6:3 it says "I am my lover's and my lover is mine". Also see 7:10) This is hard in our culture because sexuality is thrown in our faces all the time, But we must take every thought captive, remember our vows, and commit to live pure lives- loving who we have, not loving who we don't have.


3. In marriage how we talk to and about our spouse is very important

In 1:15-16 both the man and the woman speak. He says; "How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!Your eyes are doves." She says; "How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming!"

Throughout the whole of the book and even through a period of conflict that they experienced (chapter 5), the language stays positive and not destructive.

In marriage and in any relationship, saying king and nice things to each other is important. While we might not always use the poetic language of the Song of Songs, the Bible has much to say on the tongue, it's power and how we are to use it to build each other up.

4. If you want to marry someone from a different part of the world- go for it!- as long as they are in Christ

"Dark am I, yet lovely" 1:5

Was she suntanned or naturally dark skinned?

Who can say for sure.

The point: It doesn't matter what tone of skin you have or what part of the world you were born in, if are looking to marry, marry a follower of Christ, (1 Corinthians 6:12-to the end of chapter 7)

Interesting fact: In the USA in 2010 8.4% of newly married couples were mixed. This continues to increase!


5. If you struggle with being romantic, read the Song of Solomon, take notes

In part the book is meant to be inspirational and instructive for married love and romance

Having trouble with your words? Not sure what to write in that Valentines day card or that birthday card that is for your spouse?


6. As "friends" to those who are married, we have an important role to play

We are to encourage love, faithfulness, kindness, forgiveness, marital intimacy. Yes of course- sometimes we will counsel a person who is in danger from their spouse to get to safety but otherwise ours is to be an encouraging supporting marriage celebrating role.

In Song of Songs 1:5 the friends say; "We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine."

In Song of Songs 1:8 the friends tell the girl how to find her love "If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.

In Song of Songs 5:1 the friends celebrate marital intimacy saying; "Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.

In Song of Songs 6:9 the friends invite the woman to tell them of his good qualities in the midst of conflict " How is your beloved better than others, most beautiful of women? How is your beloved better than others, that you so charge us?"


7. No surprise here: The Song of Songs takes us to Jesus

One example

"Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession" 6:10

Matthew 25:31 says of Jesus; "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne."

Mark 13:26 says of Christ; Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory"

Revelation 1:7 says of Christ; "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him--even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen"

Seek him while he may be found!

Turn and give your life to the One who loved us so much that he laid down his love for us.

John 3:16 says; "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."