Summary: God intends for love in marriage to be ongoing and growing.
Title: The Song of Songs
Text: Song of Songs 5:10-16; 7:1-9; 8:6
Truth: God intends for love in marriage to be ongoing and growing.
Shirley Winters was an American actress whose career spanned almost six decades. Winters died in 2006 at 85 years of age. She won two Academy Awards and was nominated twice more. Her resume’ included winning a Golden Globe and being nominated five times more. Her trophies include an Emmy. She first won acclaim when she joined the cast of Oklahoma. Shirley was rarely out of the news. Her four stormy marriages, her romances with famous stars, her forays into politics and feminism causes kept her name before the public. She claimed “conquests” of leading men which included William Holden, Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, Errol Flynn, and Marlon Brando. If you don’t know those men, just substitute the five leading men of today.
I watched an interview of her on a talk show as she was promoting her latest book. Of course, the talk show host wanted to gossip about her adulterous encounters with famous men like Marlon Brando and Sean Connery. They laughed their way through that part of the program as she made personal comments about these famous men. When they went to commercial break, I said to Carol that the problem was that they would fail to mention the dark side of the adulterous lifestyle.
The program came back on and quite by accident Shirley Winters made a statement about loneliness. The host asked, “Are you lonely?” “Yes, I am,” she said. “There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night and wish I weren’t alone.” Finally, someone told the truth. Her lifestyle is promoted as exciting and pleasurable. The truth is that it leaves people lonely.
In Genesis 2:18, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. After this, He fashioned Eve as the perfect partner for Adam. We were created for relationship with God and one another. If Shirley Winters had known the Song of Songs and lived it, she may have avoided much of her loneliness. Her Jewish roots would have pointed her to this God-inspired book.
Let’s do a survey of the book. Then I have two lessons to share with you about relationships.
Look at Song of Songs 1:1: “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.”
The Hebrew language doesn’t have modifiers like “very.” Words are repeated to emphasize a thought. Isaiah said of God that He is, “Holy, holy, holy.” He is very, very holy. Jesus is referred to as the King of kings. He is the Sovereign above all sovereigns. We know from I Kings 4:32 that Solomon wrote 1005 songs. This is the best of the lot. This song stayed on the top of the charts the longest. To use our terminology, it was the bestselling and most requested of all his songs.
The scholar’s debate over Solomon being the author. Maybe what is meant that is this song is in the fashion of Solomon’s wisdom literature. Regardless, it was recognized as inspired literature from Israel’s God.
The Song of Songs is a poem between lovers who are soon to be married and then are married. That’s about all the plot you can find to the book. Lately, I’m leaning toward the opinion that it is a collection of love poems. Regardless of its organization, it is an extended statement illustrating the wonder of human love as a gift from God.
Our world carries physical love to excess or perversion. The Christian community has tended to overreact and lean toward asceticism. Song of Songs strikes a wonderful balance of extoling and celebrating human love within God-given boundaries. Those boundaries are a heterosexual couple practicing sexual abstinence until married. Societies opinion may have changed but God’s opinion has not.
Around 100 A.D., a document was found of a Jewish rabbi interpreting this book as an analogy of God’s love for Israel. It’s read on the eighth day after Passover. We don’t know how the rabbis read the book before that time. The Early Church Father’s of the second and third century saw Song of Songs as an expression of Christ’s love for his church. The book is never used or quoted in the New Testament to support passages that speak of Christ as the bridegroom and the church as the bride. This is to say, I think the best way to interpret this book is the obvious way it is presented. God intends for love in marriage to be ongoing and growing. If a study of this book doesn’t kindle the fires of love and cultivate a more expressive love, then your wood is wet!
The language is vivid without being pornographic, intense without crossing the line into immorality, and personal without violating privacy. You’ll study one of those passages in Sunday School next Sunday. How’s that in promoting S.S. attendance!