This week I read what I think is the best commentary I have read on The Song of Songs. (Thank you, Elizabeth.) Matthew Henry has a close edge — but this is amazing in part because it is contemporary, and she seems to avoid both the error of the ancients (seeing only Christ and the Church) and the error of the contemporaries (seeing only sex and marriage). I AM SO EXCITED TO SHARE THE TREASURES WITH YOU, MY DEAR SISTERS.
Ellen Davis asks, concerning The Song: “Is it the least Biblical book in the Bible, or the most?”
If indeed, as many modern preachers think, it is only about the beauty of romance and marriage, though that is a fine thing, it is probably the least Biblical book.
But if indeed it is about the love of Christ for His Bride, and her responsive love to Him, then it may be the most Biblical book. For the heart of Christianity is not programs or rules, but relationship — the most intimate and passionate relationship. It is what we are always in danger of forgetting.
In her introduction, Davis took my breath away with a perspective that makes so much sense and makes the whole Song fall together in a harmonious melody. Succinctly, she makes a strong case for The Song of Songs being a picture of Eden restored. She writes: “The Song is about repairing the damage done by the first disobedience in Eden, what Christian tradition calls “the Fall.”
CONSIDER THE THREE-FOLD RUPTURE:
1. BETWEEN THE WOMAN AND THE MAN
2. BETWEEN HUMANITY AND NATURE
3. BETWEEN GOD AND MAN
Could it be that The Song is about the reconciliation of all three?
1. THAT INSTEAD OF USING AND ABUSING ONE ANOTHER, A HUSBAND AND WIFE WOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER, SERVE ONE ANOTHER, AND TRULY BECOME ONE? WHAT IF THE MARRIAGE BED WAS INTENDED TO BE A PICTURE OF, NOT ONLY THE BEAUTY OF MARRIAGE AT ITS BEST, BUT OF THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST BECOMING ONE WITH HIS BRIDE?
2. THAT THE LAND, INSTEAD OF BEING WINTER, WOULD TURN TO SPRING, AND THAT INSTEAD OF BEING CURSED WITH WEEDS, WOULD BURST FORTH WITH GARDENS FILLED WITH LILIES, ROSES, AND VINES IN BLOSSOM? WHAT IF THE LAND BLOSSOMING WAS NOT ONLY A PICTURE OF THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH, BUT OF THE FRUITFULNESS OF A SOUL UNITED TO GOD?
3. THAT MAN, INSTEAD OF HIDING FROM GOD, RUNNING FROM THE LIGHT, WOULD RETURN TO WALKING WITH GOD, EXPERIENCING THE PRESENCE AND THE PASSION OF GOD? WHAT IF THIS PICTURE, THIS SONG OF SONGS, WAS THE CULMINATION OF ALL THREE PICTURES?
I have learned so much on this journey, and you have been a part of that. Those who were hesitant at the beginning have grown so much, and all of you have contributed significantly. Next week, Thanksgiving week, will be our last on The Song, for then we will be in Advent, always a special time on the blog.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday/Friday Bible Study
Ellen Davis writes that modern commentators adhere to a rigidly sexual interpretation of The Song. Their ancient counterparts, she says, erred in the opposite direction, saying the poem was a coded account of religious experience and every picture had to be decoded — the two breasts were, for example, the law and the prophets, or the Old and New Testaments. But might a holistic approach make more sense — that both are present and speak about one another? “Fundamental to both is a desire to transcend the self for intimacy with the other.”
In the same way, there is much interplay between the images of nature and the fruitfulness of a believer abiding in Christ. The woman’s body is often compared to a beautiful land. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, of sexuality and marriage, and of the possibility of intimacy between man and God, brings them all together in this Song of Songs.
2. Read Genesis 3:16.
A. The word “desire” in this passage can be translated either sexual desire or the desire to be in control (see Genesis 4:7) I believe that it is the latter, since sexual desire is a good gift and was present before the fall. If, you interpret desire to be “rule over”, how does this verse describe the changed and marred relationship between husband and wife?
B. Find a picture in The Song of Songs of this marred relationship restored — instead of using one another, they are adoring and serving one another. Quote it and explain why you chose it.
3. Read Genesis 3:17-18
A. What happened to the land as a result of the fall?
B. Find a picture in The Song of Songs of this effect of the fall reversed. Quote it and explain why you chose it.
4. Read Genesis 3:23-24
A. What happened to the intimacy between man and God in the garden as a result of the fall?
B. Find a picture, drawing from the relationship of the Shulammite maiden and the king, of a restored relationship that is like a restored relationship with God. Quote it and explain why you chose it.
5. Read Song of Songs 7:11-12 and describe the images of the land restores. As you meditate on this passage, what else do you see?
6. Read Song of Songs 8:5 and describe the image. What do you see that is relevant both to restoration in marriage and restoration between man and God?
7. Read Song of Songs 8:6-7. This is a famous passage, often used at weddings. How can you also see Christ and His Bride in it?
8. What is your take-a-way and why?