Song of Solomon: Traditionally Literal or Allegorical?

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thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
Was Song of Solomon traditionally interpreted as a literal love poem between human lovers or allegorically as God's love for His bride the church? Or where both interpretations equal to early church father? Do you think it is wrong to preach sermons from both human and divine perspective?

Thanks!

For His Glory-
Matthew
 

Abeard

Puritan Board Freshman
Our Pastor just started preaching through this book last month!

I think its allegorical as a picture of Christ and His Church.

The first reason is that this book portrays the woman as unfaithful to her spouse but does not portray any faults of her Beloved. So, if you took it to be a literal portrayal between a man and his wife it wouldn't present what a biblical marriage should be.

Second, in chapter 6:1 "Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee." Why would a married woman want other woman to seek after her husband?

Robert Murray M'Cheyne say it best about this book: "There is no book in the Bible which affords a better test of the depth of a man's Christianity than the Song of Solomon. 1. If a man's religion be all in his head,--a well set form of doctrines, built like a mason-work, stone above stone,--but exercising no influence upon his heart, this book cannot but offend him; for there are no stiff statements of doctrine hereupon where his heartless religion may be built. 2. Or, if a man's religion be all in his fancy--if, like Pliable in Pilgrim's Progress, he be taken with the outward beauty of Christianity--if, like the seed sown upon the rocky ground, his religion is fixed only in the surface faculties of the mind, while the heart remains rocky and unmoved; though he will relish this book much more than the first man, still there is a mysterious breathing of intimate affection in it, which cannot but stumble and offend him. 3. But if a man's religion be heart religion--if he hath not only doctrines in his head, but love towards Jesus in his heart--if he hath not only heard but read of the Lord Jesus, but hath felt his need of him, and been brought to cleave unto him, as the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely, then this book will be inestimably precious to his soul; for it contains the tenderest breathings of a believer's heart towards the Saviour, and the tenderest breathings of the Saviour's heart again towards the believer."

This book has been by far my favourite since seeing Christ in it. When I saw it as just a love story between a man and a wife, I rarely read it and thought it inapplicable (before I was married). But now reading it through an allegorical lens, I have come to know more fully the depths of Christ's love.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
The love between a man and his wife is itself a picture of the love of Christ for his church (Eph. 5:32). So even if one looks at the Song as a husband/wife love story, it must also be about Christ and the church.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
How can it be a literal depiction of husband and wife? When was the last time your "dearly beloved" turned over and saw that you were not there and went into the streets looking for you, got beat up by the watchman, all the while you were looking at her through the key hole, and through the latticework in the back yard? Either way it is a poetic allegory no matter which way you look at it. Without exception our Puritan and Reformed forebears, not to mention Israel of Old, saw this as a picture of Jehovah's love for Israel, and ultimately Christ's love for His bride.
 
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Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
I never was able to read this book aloud to my children.

I wonder if I am more of a prude than is warranted. There is such thing as being too much of a prude, isn't there?

Should I not be able to cheerfully read Song of Songs aloud in a family setting?
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
Of course you can and must,Miss Marples, for not to do so Is to deny them the word of God.
For this book is an especial possession of the church. A portrait sent by our beloved from a far country,
of His beauty and glory, that it might awaken a response of desire and love in His bride the church.
It's an epic poem, a glorious duet of love between the King and His spouse. It is not to be taken literally
but spiritually. It is to the shame of the church that it is so neglected, for it is written particularly to her.
Sadly modern evangelicalism has relegated it to an illicit affair between Solomon and a shepherd girl.
or the amorous private conversations of Solomon to His wife the princess of Egypt. Others would use it as
the relationship that Solomon teaches should pertain between husband and wife, which I personally would refute.
Solomon has nothing to teach me about marriage, having 700 wives and 300 concubines! For that I go to Paul to
the Ephesians.
The book is prophetic, depicting the unsullied love of Christ for His beloved Church. A stance taken by Dr Owen,
Dr Sibbes, Dr Gill and Dr Hengstenberg. You must ask the same question as the Eunuch asked Phillip, " of whom
speaketh the prophet this? of himself , or of some other man?" Solomon wrote the book, but another speaks, a
greater than Solomon.
The title alerts us to the primacy of its content. Solomon wrote 1005 songs but it's the only extanct one because
It is the only one inspired. It is THE Song of Songs, built upon and an expansion of Ps 45, THE Song of Loves, which
David, his father wrote under inspiration. A Psalm which undoubtedly describes Christ and the Church. Solomon was reared
on that prophetic psalm and therefore looked for another preeminently above himself. He was also brought up to look
for the fulfilment of Genesis 49:10," the sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until
SHILOH come, and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." Shiloh being the name of the Messiah, meaning,PEACE.
Both Solomon and the Shulamith or Shulamite stem from the root word Shiloh. Solomon meaning the Prince of Peace, and Shulamite, the princess of Peace.
So he looked for another to come. As did Isaiah," his name shall be called the ---Prince of Peace." As did Micah,"this man
Shall be the Peace." And so Paul,"He is our Peace." This book teaches us the great love wherewith He loves us, and what
should our responses of love be to Him ,the altogether lovely one. To read it spiritually removes any thoughts of unfounded
or unseemly sensuality.
If you want an exercise, go to 1:14 and search why the Jewish Doctors believed this was the Messiah. Dig and you will get gold!
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I never was able to read this book aloud to my children.

I wonder if I am more of a prude than is warranted. There is such thing as being too much of a prude, isn't there?

Should I not be able to cheerfully read Song of Songs aloud in a family setting?

Based on their age and live experiences, kids will get more out of some Bible books than others. The Song is one that seems like it'd typically be more beneficial to older kids and adults than to young children.

I wonder this, though: If older kids and teens were routinely exposed to this Song, might it help overcome some of our culture's many confusions about romantic love? To know from an early age that romantic love is, deep down, actually about Christ and the church... well, that would provide a kid with a foundation for romantic love that would surely be immensely valuable.
 
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