Through the Bible in a Year: Song of Solomon 5-8

This Week’s Readings

Monday, June 18: Ecclesiastes 1-4
Tuesday, June 19: Ecclesiastes 5-8
Wednesday, June 20: Ecclesiastes 9-12
Thursday, June 21: Song of Solomon 1-4
Friday, June 22: Song of Solomon 5-8

Next week we will read the Gospel of John.

The overall year’s plan is here. That plan will change by one week again, as I’ve decided that going through the Gospel of John in a week is too fast. I’m going to do 3 chapters per day and take 7 days. We’ll fill in the rest of the week with Psalms and Proverbs, then return to our schedule the week after.

Song of Solomon 5

I forgot to point out yesterday that chapter 4 is the first time that the Shulammite is called bride (or spouse, KJV). I noticed the word in verse 1 of this chapter.

Commentaries I read said that they got married in chapter 4 (and 5). I had never caught that reading on my own. I didn’t read any explanations of how the commentator interpreted that, but I’m guessing it’s because of the use of bride and spouse in those chapters.

5:1 is the last use of the word bride, interestingly enough.

I’m going to borrow the comments of others for the rest of this chapter.

Clarke’s Commentary:

sleep, but my heart waketh – This is a new part; and some suppose that the fifth day’s solemnity begins here. Though I sleep, yet so impressed is may heart with the excellences of my beloved, that my imagination presents him to me in the most pleasing dreams throughout the night. I doubt whether the whole, from this verse to the end of the seventh, be not a dream: several parts of it bear this resemblance; and I confess there are some parts of it, such as her hesitating to rise, his sudden disappearance, etc., which would be of easier solution on this supposition. Or part of the transactions mentioned might be the effects of the dream she had, as rising up suddenly, and going out into the street, meeting with the watchmen, etc., before she was well awake. And her being in so much disorder and dishabille might have induced them to treat her as a suspiciovs person, or one of questionable character. (ref)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:

Christ and the church having feasted together at his invitation, she soon after fell asleep, as the disciples did after a repast with their Lord; yet not so fast asleep but that she was sensible of it; for this was not the dead sleep of sin, in which unconverted men are, and are insensible of; nor a judicial slumber some are given up unto, and perceive it not, yet a frame of spirit unbecoming saints, and displeasing to Christ; though consistent with grace, which at such a time is not, or very little, in exercise; they are slothful in duty, and backward to it. (ibid.)

Keil and Delitzsch:

To sleep while the heart wakes signifies to dream, for sleep and distinct consciousness cannot be coexistent; the movements of thought either remain in obscurity or are projected as dreams. … Shulamith thus dreams that her beloved seeks admission to her. (ibid.)

Once we get past the fact that all commentaries say she was dreaming, at least before she left the house and perhaps even leaving the house was dreamt, then the comments drift into speculation that you can do as well as they or I.

Verses 10 through 16 are remarkable praise, even though we don’t use terminology like that much. If you read it just as a love poem, it’s remarkable praise for the girl’s beloved (and now spouse). If you read it about Christ, then you are going to have to do some interpreting, but it is interpretation with good precedent in Scripture. In Revelation 1 Jesus is described in terms that are not far different from the sort of terms used here. In Daniel 10, Daniel sees an angel that glows and shares much of the color descriptions we see in Songs 5.

Song of Solomon 6

What I really like in this chapter is the praise of the queens and concubines that begins in verse 10. That praise is for the bride, the church.

Who is this that grows like the dawn,
As beautiful as the full moon,
As pure as the sun,
As awesome as an army with banners?

Now that’s the church! Growing like the dawn until we come to the fullness of day (Prov. 4:18). As beautiful as the full moon because like the full moon we are reflecting as much of the glory of the sun/Son as is possible. A full moon will light the night well enough even to drive, and it does it without any of its own light, just the reflected light of the sun. The church is as pure as the sun because it is the light of the Son that we reflect, not our own light.

The result, when the church is a full moon, is that it is as awesome as an army with banners!

Song of Solomon 7

Okay, here my thought is that the best spiritual lesson we can learn is that God is not embarrassed to talk about things we are embarrassed to talk about. This entire chapter is very sensual. Even the reference to mandrakes is a sensual reference, for mandrakes were considered an aphrodisiac. (In Genesis 30:14-16 & 22, it appears that Rachel saw mandrakes as a fertility herb rather than an aphrodisiac.)

In fact, the Hebrew word for mandrake means "love plant."

The writer of Hebrews tell us that "marriage is honorable and the bed undefiled." This passage really needs to be rated R, but I don’t think that ancient Israel, nor many societies at all, was as bashful as we are talking about sex and reproduction.

When we get to the prophets, you will find that God is very blunt in charging the nations of Israel and Judah with adultery and harlotry. Some of the rebukes from the prophets are quite graphic.

As a side note, Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, apparently believed some legends about mandrakes. In the Harry Potter series mandrakes scream so loudly when their roots are pulled out that it’s dangerous. Josephus, who wrote over 1900 years before J.K. Rowling, wrote:

A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear. (BibleStudyConnection.blogspot.com)

I’m bashful enough not to comment more on what the words of Song of Songs 7 say. They speak for themselves for those old enough to be reading them.

Song of Solomon 8

In verses 5-7, commentators don’t seem to be able to agree who’s talking. Keil and Delitzsch believe that Solomon is talking and is remembering stirring her to love under the apple tree. Most others believe that the Shulammite is talking, and she stirred him to love. They even compare this to Christ and the church, that the church in adoration stirs Christ to love.

I think this passage hails the virtue of "true love." It’s romantic, and it’s worth so much that if a man gave all his riches for it, then love would be despised. Love is priceless.

It is true that the ultimate love that matters is the love of God. The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. However, I don’t believe verses 5-7 are talking about those commands. I believe they are talking about love and marriage, and God has a very positive view of that love.

Do we need to keep that love under control?

We’ve already seen the Song say four times not to awaken love before its time. The next verses, 8-12, talk about not giving in to improper advances.

I had to read some commentaries to find this out, but the reference to a wall and a door in verse 9 concerns self-control. A "little sister" who is a wall is unmoved when seduction shows up. One who is a door is open to seduction.

The speakers, starting in verse 8, are her older brothers. If their sister is a wall, they will adorn her with silver. If she is a door, they will barricade her with planks of cedar. (Cedar was considered a very strong tree and very strong wood.)

A good lesson for today and the raising of our daughters. Adornment is for walls, not doors. I want to teach my daughter to be a wall, so that praise can be poured out on her. A door must be barricaded by others, older brothers and parents usually, since the girl is not fortifying her own defenses.

Verses 10 to 12 continue in the same vein. Solomon had a caretaker to bring a thousand shekels of silver for "the fruit of the vineyard." She refuses the thousand shekels and says she’ll keep her vineyard for herself, thank you.

That passage is one more indication that the beloved is not Solomon. (I found a web site today that interprets the Song of Solomon as a poem written by a woman in Solomon’s harem, one of his concubines, who resists his advances so that she can go to her shepherd lover.

The chapter, and the poem, end with a couple verses that I do think are allegorical. She steps back to the time when she was waiting for her beloved. She calls him to hurry. That is the state the church is in. We await our Beloved, and we cry, "Maranatha! Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus."

"Hurry, my Beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the Mountains of Spices."

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