In Chapter 2 the Shulammite chose to stay
in the cleft of the rock instead of responding to her shepherd/king and going with him to higher places.
Though she thinks she can postpone responding,
suddenly he bounds off, for reasons unknown to her.
Now she experiences the time of “wilderness love.”
The wilderness is a gift from God to refine us until we realize how desperately we need Him.
On my bed at night
I sought him whom my soul loves,
I sought him but found him not.
Song of Songs 3:1
Ellen Davis writes:
In Biblical idiom, the bed signifies more than sleep and lovemaking. It is also a place of prayer where God is sought intently, and sometimes in great anxiety, and revelations are granted.
I will rise now and go about the city,
in the street and in the squares,
I will seek him whom my soul loves,
I sought him but found him not.
Song of Songs 3:2
The watchman found me
as they went about the city.
“Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and would not let him go…
Song of Songs 3:3-4a
When you’ve come so close to thinking you’ve lost the one your soul loves, and then he comes to you, you never want to let him go.
My earthly parallel:
My daughters Sally and Annie were with me where I was speaking in Indiana. It was there that Steve called to tell us he’d been diagnosed with advanced cancer. We drove through the rain and through our tears to get back to him in Nebraska. In “The God of All Comfort” I record the scene of our return:
The three of us rushed in, so eager to see him, hug him, hold him, have him be alive. He was lying down on the sofa but sat up with a smile, my ever cheerful man. Sally and I sat on either side, clinging. Annie fell at his feet, her arms around his legs, her body heaving with sobs, her silky dark hair spilling on his lap. He tells us that the Lord is with us, so no matter what, it will be all right.
When this earthly memory came to me, suddenly
I saw a spiritual parallel.
Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb.
Her shock, her grief. She just wanted to anoint His precious body.
See him again, even if just his body.
His body is gone. Stolen, she surmises.
She is weeping, pierced to the heart, confused.
Through her tear-filled eyes she sees
a “gardener” and pleads with him.
“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
“Mary,” speaks the voice of her beloved.
“Rabboni!” She gasps.
She must have clung to him, for he tells her she must let him go. She was the first to see Him, but many He loved are still in despair.
He tells her she must go and tell them:
“I am ascending to my Father and your Father,
to my God and Your God.”
It is helping me so much to test this study from my upcoming book with you. I so appreciated “Laura-Dancer’s” forthright declaration of her struggle with poetry. I saw her struggle when last week she thought our passage was a picture of “lovers playing games.” But Christ doesn’t play games, if indeed, He is at the heart of the Song, which I am convinced He is. James Hamilton likens The Song to an “impressionist painting.” When Vincent Van Gogh painted “Starry Night” he was attempting to penetrate your heart with the emotion that comes from gazing at the heavens, rather than taking a photograph that would be a literal representation.
The Song takes an earthly picture to help penetrate your heart with a spiritual reality. I am convinced the primary purpose of the Song is to penetrate your heart with the love of Christ for you so that you might, in response:
Ellen Davis looks at the four times the Shulammite
repeats the refrain:
“the one my soul loves,” and writes:
This awkward phrase…seems to be a deliberate and insistent echo of another biblical passage: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” That repeated echo of the weightiest verse in the Old Testament confirms — in my judgment, beyond reasonable doubt — that at one level of the poet’s meaning, the one who is loved and sought after so intently is God. The poet’s original hearers would make this association in the present passage more easily than we do, because they were familiar with biblical idiom.
THE LOVE HE LONGS FOR IS NOT JUST “HEAD” LOVE
WHERE WE NOD IN AGREEMENT TO A CREED,
BUT A PASSIONATE LOVE,
LOVING HIM WITH
ALL OUR HEART
AND ALL OUR SOUL
AND ALL OUR MIGHT.
LOVING HIM AS HE HAS LOVED US.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Can you think of a time when your heart felt broken because of a rift, but then, the great comfort of reconciliation? Or of a separation and then a great re-union?
MONDAY: SCENE ONE: LOST AND FOUND
Last week my heart leapt when Lizzy got the heart of the passage and then gave us this song. Prepare your heart with this:
2. Read Song of Songs 3:1-5
A. What is she doing in verse 1? What clues do you see that you should not interpret this literally but poetically?
B. Compare verse 1 to Psalm 6:6 and Psalm 63:6. What similarities to you see? What does this teach you?
C. Do you seek the Lord on your bed in the night? If so, how?
I’d like to share a comment from my husband’s journal that I shared in A Woman of Worship. He often prayed “on his bed,” was often awakened with a phone call, but then prayed. His prayer was not so much one of distress, but simply one of communing with the Lord during wakeful times.
When the distractions of my medical practice are over for the day, I reflect on how God’s lovingkindness flowed to me during the hours past. In the still hours of the night, I respond with praise to the Lord, And then, I respond with prayer, asking for help with the problems of the coming day, for grace, for forgiveness of my sins.
D. Find three repeated phrases in Song of Songs 3:1-3 and comment on what you think is the significance of each of them to your life.
E. What is the emotion of verse 3? Have you experienced this on an earthly level or a spiritual level? If so, share.
F. James Hamilton, in the sermon you will hear this week, presents the possibility that in chapter 2 that he was proposing marriage and she was not ready. (I don’t know if I agree but it is interesting and does make sense of repeating the thought of verse 5 here.) What do you think?
TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY: SCENE TWO: THE WEDDING
Song of Songs 3: 6-11 describe a royal wedding. There are great similarities to Psalm 45, which describes the royal wedding between Christ and His Bride, the purchased Church.
free usage from: http://www.fullofeyes.com: The day of his wedding, on the day his heart rejoicedThere are also great similarities, as the sermon will point out, between God leading His Bride, Israel, in Exodus, through the wilderness with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of clouds by day.
3. Read Song of Songs 3:6-11. Describe the scene of Solomon bringing his bride to the wedding. Find everything you can. What stands out to you and why?
4. What question is asked in verse 6 and how is it answered in verse 7?
5. How is the picture in verse 6 reminiscent of God leading his bride Israel through the wilderness? (See Exodus 13:21-22)
6. The pronoun in S. of S. 3:6 is feminine singular. How is she perfumed and what might this signify? (See Leviticus 6:15 and Romans 12:1)
7. Another royal wedding is described in Psalm 45, which Hebrews 1:8 quotes as being “about the Son.” The parallels between Psalm 45 and the Song convinced Jonathan Edwards that the Song pointed to Christ as well. Here are seven of the many parallels Edwards saw. See if you can discover them too:
- Psalm 45:1 and S. S. 1:1
- Psalm 45:2 and S. S. 5:10
- Psalm 45:3-5 and S. S. 3:7-8
- Psalm 45:7-8 and S. S. 3:5
- Psalm 45:10-11 and S. S. 4:7-8
- Psalm 45:14 and S.S. 3:11
- Psalm 45:15 and S.S. 3:11
To see more from Edwards, google Jonathan Edwards Song of Solomon or click here: Jonathan Edwards
8. Read Psalm 45:9-10. What parallel do you see with the Song, and what might the King be saying to you?
9. What follows the wedding is the wedding night.
A. He praises every part of her in 4:1-5. There are many Old
Testament allusions to historical events when God was with
His people See if you can find one.
B. What do you think is the meaning of 4:6? (He is speaking)
C. Since this is most likely when the marriage is consummated,
what might verse 12 mean?
D. Though this is very physical there are still two levels here, as
may become clearer next week. You can definitely see the
spiritual level in 4:16. What do you think this means?
James Hamilton – Song of Songs 3
9. What comments do you have?
10. What is your take-a-way and why?
9. What comments do you have?
I appreciate James Hamilton’s take on the Songs as I don’t think I would have seen the correlation of the Songs to God’s relationship with Israel. (Solomon coming in finest array, God coming in a pillar of cloud or fire; the myrrh and frankincense as it related to the Tabernacle, 60 men-the bride has nothing to fear, the reference to His mother and its connection to the phrase “seed of the woman”. I continue to gain understanding of this book as a call of Jesus for me and for the church to be His bride.
10. What is your take-a-way and why?
I was struck by James Hamilton’s admonition for the married and also the single. To wait and to hope. And for the married, to renew and refresh love for your spouse- timely as I found a 30 day respect challenge on Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth website. I am on Day 5 and it has really made me think deeply about how I am relating to my husband Richard.
Oops! Came back to add to my take-away, and I see that I must not have typed in my name or email before. Part of what I wrote was similar to what Bing wrote above. I do want to listen to the sermon and take a few notes this time! What has struck me all week: WHAT A CELEBRATION! We are the Bride of THE King — and he loves us more than we can comprehend. I’m also asking how to respond to my LONGING for HIM — and often that means “What should I do next?” But he isn’t calling me to DO a bunch of stuff. to “earn my keep” He is wooing me because HE LOVES ME.
Renee–your words here–spoke right to my heart and where I am,and this felt like words He wanted me to hear:” He isn’t calling me to DO a bunch of stuff. to “earn my keep” He is wooing me because HE LOVES ME” , this really blessed me tonight, thank you~
9. What comments do you have? I don’t have anything to add than has been said, but I also (like Laura) will say that this teaching made the chapter so much more clear. The whole picture of the processional with Solomon’s ‘tent’…..a likeness of the tabernacle and the meaning of him being a type of Christ; the Messiah really does come through with this teaching. I was struck by the details: ‘wood from Lebanon’ as the cedars of Lebanon with which the temple was made. The gold, silver and purple: the references to David’s warriors. (I think? I didn’t take notes)….all make the whole of the picture more clear.
10. What is your take-a-way and why? My take away for the week is to focus on the King. Focus on the One who said he’d come and did come; the One who invites me into His presence and lets me rest in His shade. His bride’s singular focus was on Him and she had one determined goal: to find Him whom her soul loved. I also want to remember the point Dee made in the introduction that the greatest commandment, ‘Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul and mind’ is demonstrated by the bride in this account. Her soul loved Him and she sought Him with all of her resources; ready to ‘take on’ the watchmen with her words and her passion, should they detain her from her search of Him. And when she found Him, she held Him and would not let go. I want to remember what it felt like to have that ‘first love’ when I first understood in a deeper way how much the King desired me.
and BING: I finally went back and read the story about the writer of ‘Oh Love that Wilt not Let Me Go”. WOW. That makes the whole song more powerful. THANKS for sharing that! If anyone missed it: here it is again:
Yes, this chapter was a highlight and the Hamilton sermon is so helpful for understanding. I have been studying the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy and the comparison to the Israelites coming out of Egypt is very helpful.
My takeaway is also that my focus is on Jesus and his love. He wants me to love him with all my heart and soul and mind. Though I become distracted at times, I am seeking him first and love the way this song brings so many symbols of the coming wedding of Christ and his bride, the church.
Hi all, I just wanted to pop in to say I am following along silently. Thank you all for your insights and wisdom!