Song of songs: Erotic poetry in the Bible, introduction


1:1 Solomon’s Most Excellent Love Song.
The Desire for Love The Beloved to Her Lover:
1:2 Oh, how I wish you would kiss me passionately!
For your lovemaking is more delightful than wine.
1:3 The fragrance of your colognes is delightful;
your name is like the finest perfume.
No wonder the young women adore you!
1:4 Draw me after you; let us hurry!
May the king bring me into his bedroom chambers!

The Maidens to the Lover:
We will rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine.

The Beloved to Her Lover:
How rightly the young women adore you!

(NET) (italicized parts are editorial additions)

I don’t know if this is foreshadowing, aspiration, or flashback, but it is intense. The intensity of it suggests experience. Can someone assume the exceptional lovemaking of another? She doesn’t compare his abilities to another man, but to wine.*

This love story starts with Beloved’s longing. She violates so many conservative Christian dating guides. It’s almost as if she is initiating. That rocks too many Calvinist typologies so this can not be a dating scene. She must be speaking from experience.

She doesn’t want a peck on the cheek. She is on fire for him and wants do some serious necking.

Attention husbands reading this. “Serious neckin’” is also known as foreplay. A wedding band no longer exempts you from these details. Intimacy occurs when the TV is turned off. Intimacy needs time. If the spark is lost in your marriage and assuming you are at least treating her as you want to be treated and you are not sure where to go from there, try some “neckin.’” Perhaps pouring a couple glasses of wine (quality grape juice if you are a Baptist or in recovery) wouldn’t hurt either. Try to smell nice too. Skip the baked beans for a couple days. Take a shower AFTER work. Wear deodorant and clean clothes and the cologne she bought you one Christmas (that was a hint).

Beloved is thrilled to be married to someone respected in public, with a name that is delightful to the ears. Solomon was exceptional and he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). He “loved” and was “loved” by many maidens. But she is The One singled out for permanence in the record of God’s communication to us.

God made sure in His story we read about love in a marriage. One that is passionate, erotic, stormy, complicated, messy, strained but never broken. Marriage is such a powerful contract. God initiates the mystery of marriage in Genesis 2 in the garden of Eden when he shows us how we come out of each other and together become “one flesh” (2:24). God returns to this metaphor in the New Testament when Paul compares the Church to a bride of Christ (Ephesians) and our entrance into heaven a wedding reception (Revelation) and Jesus himself compares himself to a groom who comes in the middle of the night (Luke). In a similar vein, Beloved can’t wait till Lover can take her away to his bedroom chamber. We get snippets into her history throughout this epic poem suggesting that her life wasn’t an easy one. Then we come to appreciate her solace in time with him. When strife enters the bedroom, and it does in a later chapter, that precious solace escapes until the hard work is put into restoration. When the metaphor of Christ’s return for us is applied though, I agree with Beloved so much. Life here can be good at times and awful at times and I can’t wait to go be with my Savior, where there will always be peace and every tear will be wiped away. (Come quickly Lord Jesus. Let your kingdom come and your will be done).

The choir makes an awkward statement. If these are from Solomon’s harem then you get grossed out. Are they competing with Beloved? Are they trying to drown out her voice? Will Solomon pay attention to Beloved? But like an advanced Judo fighter, she turns their attacks into a force on her behalf. She continues to adore her husband and is not swayed by the confusers. She keeps her jealousy in check as well as the competitors.

[FWIW: I enjoyed this brief summary of the book by David Malick at bible.org]

*Ah wine, it brings a flush to the face, warms the body, liberates the inhibited, and brings a smile to the drinker. Wine occurs as a metaphor seven times in this eight chapter book, twice in these first four verses. This is a wine drinking culture. As an aside, these metaphors don’t make much sense if they are only drinking grape juice. Alcohol abuse was an issue in Bible times, see Solomon’s Proverbs, but it’s only a thing that gets twisted in our broken world. Just as it is the love of money that’s the root of all evil and not money alone, so the abuse of alcohol is the root of all sorts of misery but not alcohol alone.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Dear 'Um',
I'd like to know how you know 'Beloved' is married to this chap she's so hot for? I've read the Book and I can't see that it's necessarily Soloman himself who is the subject. I'd always understood that the Song of Soloman was simply that; a song as told/written by him...

With all good wishes,
Catherine
jpu said…
Since I'm not writing a technical commentary, nor am I familiar enough to speak to these alternatives, I am comfortable with sticking somewhat to the traditional understanding. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.
God is good
jpu
Anonymous said…
Oh, JPU, I agree God is good. It's just when I read that Book of the Bible, I don't see any mention of marriage. Or that its subject is Soloman. So it sounds as if any 'traditional understanding' is simply an imposed interpretation...

With all good wishes,
Catherine
jpu said…
A couple clues found are the mention of Solomon by name and a large harem is also mentioned. Her interaction with the chorus, which i interpret to be the harem, indicates her eventual inclusion among them. but it's a poem about erotic and emotional love. of course as a Christian i will attempt to see it and live its lessons in the context of matrimony, but it's not a hill i feel compelled to die on.
God is good
jpu

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