Wisdom literature – the name sometimes given to the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs – needs to be read in the context of how God is redeeming Israel. These books, written by sages and poets, teach us how to become wise: There are really only two ways to live life, with God or against God; true wisdom is about how to live out relationship with God; and wisdom ultimately comes by a work of God, rather than our own intellect.
Chapter 4 appears to be set after the wedding. It describes the couple delighting in each other. Our culture’s twisted view of intimacy sees it revolving around nakedness. Instead, intimacy is really about togetherness, within the boundaries that God has set up for it.
Chapter 3 of Song of Songs has two parts: a scene of the woman frightened and seeking her beloved at night, and the arrival of King Solomon. Whether Solomon is the man in the song is debatable, but either way, the theme of safety and security ties both halves together. The woman leaves the safety of her bed to look for her beloved in town at night, a dangerous place, because she knows he gives her complete safety – the same kind of safety that Solomon’s sixty armed men give him.
Chapter 2 contains a love song where the woman expresses her desire to be married to her beloved. The issue of timing – waiting until marriage to share sexual intimacy – comes up here and throughout the book. But even within marriage, there are problems, described as “little foxes” in this chapter, which can rob a vineyard of its fruit, or a marriage of its joy.
Chapter 1 and the start of chapter 2 talk a lot about beauty. The woman in the song does not meet the cultural expectation of beauty, and has been mistreated by her brothers. But her beloved sees her as beautiful anyway, and his character and faithfulness make him more attractive to her. The passage ends with the common refrain of the song, not to awaken love before its time. While many churches either shy away from the topic of premarital sex, or use it to imply that sex is bad, this book takes neither approach. Because of how wonderful love and sex are, they should be protected within God’s design of marriage.
The book so nice we had to intro it twice. Looking at the first 4 verses of chapter one, and the role of purposeful relationship in the context of our understanding of the image of God.