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Is the “Bride” in the Song of Songs to be interpreted as an individual or as the whole body of Christ?

dees-mom-in-wedding-gown Before we look at verses in which the Bridegroom is describing the Bride, we need to consider if the Bride is an individual or the whole body of Christ.

Throughout Scripture, but you can see them all in the book of Ephesians, there are three analogies for the invisible true Church — all “B” words: Building; Body, and Bride. In each case, you can see that they are both individual and corporate. For example, together, we make up the Temple of God, and get each of us, individually, is to remember that our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Again, together we make up the body of Christ — and yet each part is valuable: the eye, the hand, the heart… Here again, the Bride of Christ is made up of individuals from every tribe and nation — and yet the Lord never wants us to forget that each one of us is valuable to Him. He knows our name, He sees us individually. And as Charles Spurgeon says — it is in the Song of Songs, that we truly see His heart for us. Because of the analogy of one man and one woman for life, in the Song of Songs, I am convinced the bride is to be seen as an individual — though elsewhere, as in Revelation, she is seen as corporate.

What are your thoughts? (And any guesses on who this beautiful bride is? It’s not me!)

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  1. It is your mother, Dee?

      1. Who could fit in that dress? It must be a size 2!

        The white wedding dress has a two-fold significance. It is a symbol of the wife’s purity in heart and life, and in reverence to God. It’s also a picture of the righteousness of Christ described in Revelation 19:7-8. Christ clothes his bride, the church, in his own righteousness as a garment of “fine linen, bright and clean.” I think He does the same in Song of Songs in that the love of the Lover to the Beloved is reflected back to Him as it finds its place in the Beloved and shines out of her. She expresses early in the song that she is dark-skinned and as such unattractive (‘do not look down on me, you fair city girls, just beause my complexion is so dark… see what {the hot sun} has done to me?”). It is the Lover’s love that she reflects that makes her so beautiful. He… his attention… his perception of her… his eyes and how he views her… are transformative to her. And she responds and lets her love flow to him.

        Am I reading too much into Song of Songs? I may be personalizing the book too much as this is what Jesus’ love for me has done to me. The power of His love of me has transformed me from the inside out and I find myself reflecting on the outside (my garment, my ‘wedding dress’) what has become true on the inside. I am beautiful because He sees me that way. I am whole and clean and loveable and loving and even radiant because I am responding to Him. Am I reading too much into it?


        1. “I’ve pondered instead why so many seem so fearful of seeing the analogy. I think they are seeing far too little”

          I’ve wondered about this too, and I too think that they are seeing far too little. I minister to women, lots of women. I talk to women, personally and deeply, often. And I hear their stories about themselves and their men.

          I find that people are afraid.. fearful of intimacy. It seems to me that fewer and fewer are experiencing any semblence of intimacy in their lives. We are a fast-paced, multi-tasking, production-oriented, over-stimulated with gadgets and info oriented society. We don’t really ‘do’ deep relationships any more. We don’t have intimate friendships with other women.. we are too busy.. we are too superficial.. we are too scared.. we haven’t seen it modeled so we don’t know how to do it well, or even do it at all. We even often don’t know how to have intimacy with our mates – we may have sex and center our lives around our work/our family/our church, but intimacy? Real time-consuming, heart-exposing, truth-telling, life-giving intimacy? It almost seems like a lost art these days. If we don’t have it in friendship or in marriage, how can we dare to try to have it in relationship with our God?

          I am currently leading a very large women’s group doing “Falling in Love with Jesus” (your older material). Many of the women are shying away from the material, and part of the reason is that they’ve never really let their hearts open to intimacy.. with anyone. Or their hearts have been hurt and they have slowly shut down and throb from the wounding that life often brings.

          To dare to conceive (let alone believe) that God can be a Lover to you, to your Life, and you can be His Beloved, in a very intimate, ‘knowing’ way is so foreign to many of these women, who simply do not see such a thing reflected anywhere in their ‘real’ life.

          There really is a shocking lack of intimacy in the lives of Christian husbands/wives if one were to look closely at the truth of how many live together.

          As to the outright critics of this material, Dee, or this view of relationship between Christ and His beloved? Hmmm, I would love to speak to their spouses and see if there is intimacy in the marriage. And I’m certainly not just talking about sex.

          My observation is that couples or singles who have, or who have had, intimacy in their lives have little problem with extending this ‘knowing’ into a relationship with their Savior and God.

          Just my observations…

  2. I too love the picture of the pure, beautiful (have you ever seen an ugly bride?) looking her very best, bride coming down the aisle in her picture perfect dress. This is how we will be seen when we meet Jesus face to face. It reminds me of the exhortation from either Nancy Lee DeMoss or Beth Moore that I heard a few years ago about how we are to be ready for that walk down the aisle. First of all, if we ask Him, Jesus will turn our filthy rags into pristine white clothing. No matter what our sin, he has paid the price for that sin. Praise God! Once we are given our new clothing we need to take care of them for our walk down the aisle. We do this by striving to walk in the Spirit continually, through prayer, repentance, reading His word, spending time with Him and listening to the Spirit’s leading. Not doing this would be like walking down the aisle in a wrinkled and torn wedding dress with unwashed and uncombed hair, a face smudged with dirt or in my case no make-up. I need to take the time to prepare for my walk down the aisle by keeping my new clothing clean and wrinkle free and always be prepared to meet my Savior as we don’t know the time or the hour when the wedding will be.

    1. I want to know what Calvin says… I want to hear the great quote. Tell us! And is this John Calvin?

  3. Thanks for calling us students because I am still learning and would want correction on anything I say. I have understood that according to Matthew, everyone is invited to the banquet. We must accept the invitation and wear the proper clothing, which is the righteousness of the saints according to Revelation. We can’t be righteous on our own. Galations 2:21 says “if righteousness were through the law (things we do or don’t do), then Christ died for no purpose”. We can only become righteous through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For our sake He (God) made Him(Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God.” Christ has become our substitute. So to me, the righteousness of the saints in Revelation must mean the righteousness of Christ that I have inherited through God’s saving grace. Again, please clarify any confusion I may have created.

  4. Interesting questions Dee! I don’t know that I have all the answers, but in your first question about the Song of Solomon and is the “bride” an individual or is he speaking of “the bride of Christ” corporately? My answer to that would be “yes” and “yes”. I think of it like this: God is no respecter of persons, but it does say, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Also, in John 14:21 (NLT), it says, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” It is like having a best friend and what makes a person a “best friend”? One of the things is that they draw near to you, they want to know you and it’s a reciprocal relationship. And God is far greater than us, for our capacity to love may be limited but His is not. I may not like everyone who comes to me and wants to be my best friend, but God is not like that. His heart is open to all. So, yes, I think it’s individual but not exclusive in that it would only pertain to one.

    I think your second question is interesting also, and I am not sure I have the answer to that also, but just some thoughts. I think when we are “saved” we are “washed”. But the “wedding garment” is the character of Christ in our lives. In Ephesians 4:21-24 (NKJ), it says, “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

    When I read in Matt. 22, about the man who was at the wedding without the “wedding” garments, I had a little problem reconciling the fact that he would be thrown out into outer darkness, but then I had the thought that perhaps he was not “washed” and therefore could not and did not have on the wedding garments.

  5. I will guess that it is your Mom as well. But I am cheating a bit.

    I believe it is corporate, but there is also an individual aspect to it…otherwise it would not be personal enough. From what I know of Jesus, he always relates to us on a personal level, in spite of what other, broader ramifications may be involved.

    Love and Blessings…

    James R.

      1. That is an excellent question!

        I have been living the answer to that question for the last five years. I have been “Falling in Love with Jesus” more and more as time goes on.

        The song “Dance with Me” performed by Robert Stearns and Joanne McFatter on “The River 5” CD is based on The Song of Solomon. When I listen to it, I actually find myself dancing with The Lord. The picture on the album cover shows The hand of The Lord coming down out of heaven, as he reaches out towards The Bride of Christ. The Lord is asking His Bride to dance.

        It is actually difficult to express the way the Lord interacts with me, but He makes His presence known to me and ministers to the deep deep part of my spirit. All I can do is cry, because of the way he injects His love into my soul.

        God Bless,

        James R.

    1. “I think if I were to write Falling in Love with Jesus again I might approach it differently — perhaps without Kathy’s journal and the song titles. I don’t know. It is a conundrum!”

      Absolutely not! If you are having this thought now, then I am grateful that you have already written this book and it is too late to unwrite it!

      To leave out Kathy’s journal entries or to amend the song titles would be, in my opinion, an error. Yes, they are striking and startling but that is precisely what we need. They hit us in the heart in that revelatory, ‘seeing myself’ kind of way. They awaken something in us… something long ago forgotten… some dream or hope that has died or been tucked safely away… some fear that love is too ‘wild’ and we tame it by only allowing just a little and no more; we try to control love… we repress our longing to be loved or to love with a sort of unself-consciousness because the love has taken us ‘out’ of ourselves and into something greater. We only allow ourselves a tidy love, a neat love, a well-groomed love, a well-measured love, a love that we can manage in some way. We are fearful of a love that exceeds our capacity… that takes us on some wild ride into some unknown… that challenges our limitations and screams against our restrictions and our self-protections.

      The inclusion of Kathy’s journal and her heart-cries is exactly what we need, as they blend with the reality of scripture and the reality of who God is and just exactly what He is offering to us in this way of intimate relationship with Him. It is we who have the problem, not the beautiful free sensuality of scripture (because I believe that is what Song of Song depicts – not so much sexuality as sensuality – the touch, the taste, the warmth of his breath, the sight, the smell, the evocative emotion). Why are we put-off by God touching our senses in an intimate way? Could it be because our culture and our lives have become to stultifyingly routinized and fast-paced that we have become out of touch with our own bodies? with our own spirits and souls? Is the problem with sensual scripture, or is the problem with how we live our lives today?

      Dee, we need awakening. We need to have our desire awakened again for Him and for each other. We need to not only know Him conceptually and cognitively but also experientially and yes, even sensually through our senses.

      Isn’t the deepest desire of a person to know and be known by at least one other person? Where did that desire come from? From God. He placed it within us. His desire is to know us and be known by us, personally and intimately, and not just corporately or congregationally or via our ‘tribe’. Why do we shy away from knowing Him personally and intimately as well, to be “naked and unashamed” before Him? Why do we run from a return to the garden? What might happen if we allowed him to come closer, and closer, and yet closer still? How might our lives change? How might we change? What are we afraid of?

      The women in my group are slowly being awakened. We are being changed as we dare to let Him into our hearts and lives in this newer, deeper way. I have many stories. I would love to correspond with you, Dee, if you’d wish that and particularly if you take the blog in another, less personal way. You have my email; I would love to have yours.


  6. Hi all! Wow, I was up early this morning, and decided to look on this blog and wow Alexandra – what an observation! It’s given me alot to think about! I think your observation is correct – sad but true. But for myself, I always like to think about – how can we make it different? It’s like seeing a problem – so what is the solution?

    I think you are correct when you say, that intimacy with other “brothers and sisters in Christ” (my words) can be life transforming, life changing!

    I was just thinking the other day of this woman who spoke into my life, words of help and healing and the reason she could is because we had this type of relationship. She modeled to me what it was to be a Christian and what that looked like. It was like Christ in the flesh. Her relationship with me drew me into a deeper relationship with Christ. It was like seeing Christ and who He was and who we were meant to be.

    Since then, I have been wounded also, even by this most beautiful friend. And it has made me wonder if you can trust anyone or even if you should? But one wounding doesn’t make the whole picture!

    I think of that verse that says, “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples – by the love you have for one another.” What did He mean by that? And what kind of love is He talking about?

    My observation as “North American” Christians is that we are pretty much about ourselves. We take care of our own, as we should, but we pretty much stop there. Occasionally, we give to the poor, help our neighbor – but how does this differ from the world? They take care of their own, give to the poor, help their neighbor – what is this radical love that Jesus was talking about? So radical it is, that people would notice that we his disciples because of it!

  7. Dear Dee,
    All week long I have had this song on my heart…and this dance…
    If you open both windows at the same time, but turn the music off to the dance site…and watch..and listen.
    It is as though Christ is singing over his bride while engaging her in dance.
    Beautiful. Absolutely breathtaking.
    Grace to you,