Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you.
~Song of Songs 1:3
Notes to the Leader: The Song of Songs is a sensual love poem that is believed to be written by Solomon to his Shulammite bride. With this Scripture we will be able to compare Solomon’s most human relationship with his new bride to the relationship we have with our God. This is also a study about sex. If your group is young or uncomfortable with the subject, review this study and adapt the message to your purposes. You should plan on reading all of the Bible verses so no one in your group feels uncomfortable.
What is it about the relationship between loving and caring people that makes each other’s flaws harder and harder to notice over time?
- Love, caring relationships, and time draw people to notice the characteristics that were probably responsible for their initial attractions anyway. It is rarely one’s physical attributes that last over time. The joyful time spent together, the caring and tenderness shared together, the sacrifices made over time together create lasting relationships. These are the “Makeup” that covers the lines of time.
Read Genesis 1:26-28 to your group.
What was God’s first instruction to Adam and Eve after He created them of His own image?
- To multiply, to have children. Hence, God created one of the most powerful natural appetites of mankind, the sex drive.
When is love and sex good and when is it bad?
- When love and sexual relations happen within the boundaries (commands) created by God, it is good. However, with Adam’s and Eve’s fall into sin, shame, selfishness, lust, abuse, and the struggle for dominance entered the worldly picture. This opened the door for something good to be also something bad.
Section One: The Song of Solomon’Read Song of Songs 1:1 to your group.
The first two words in Hebrew are sir hassirim, an idiom meaning of all songs this is the best or most beautiful song. A sir song is a happy song and happy songs were often used for music at celebrations (Isaiah 30:29).
About the composer
It is generally believed that Solomon wrote this song. He wrote 1005 songs that are known (1 Kings 4:32). Psalms 72 and 127 are considered his great contributions along with the Song of Songs. It mentions that the composer lived in royal luxury (1:12, 3:6-11). The writing style also indicates that the had an extensive knowledge of botany and biology (he names 21 plants and 15 animals). The text was marked with both Persian and Greek words, indicative of someone with extensive international trade experiences. During the time of this songs writing, Solomon was believed to only have 60 wives and 80 concubines, those primarily inherited from his father. It is believed that this poem was written to his first and true love.
Understanding the Song
There are three possible methods for the interpretation of this song. They are:
- The Allegorical Method: A story that explores one subject under the guise of another, usually unconnected, subject.
- What might be an Allegorical approach to this song?
- An allegory of God’s covenantal relationship with Israel. Possibly a parable of the relationship between Christ and His church. However, there is nothing in the Song of Songs to support this method. The song appears to be a factual presentation of a relationship.
- What might be an Allegorical approach to this song?
- The Typological Method: In this method, the story is real, the events happened, but they are the “types” or patterns revealing spiritual realities beyond the obvious.
- Can you give an example of a Typological story?
- Read Romans 5:14. Adam is a type or “pattern of the one to come (Christ).” The story could, therefore, represent Solomon as the “type” of love of God for His people. However, no where else in Scripture is Solomon represented in this manner, that is, as a type of “Christ.”
- The Literal/Historical Method: This method takes it for what it appears to be, a poem celebrating the beauty of the emotional and sexual aspects of love between a husband and wife.
If we use the Literal/Historical Method to understand this song, what should our objectives be?
- To seek to discover what the writer originally intended to say and the context in which he said it.
If we accept this method, what will be one of our most difficult problems with interpretation of this Scripture?
- Many people have an unbiblical understanding of sex, seeing it as dirty or evil. Some may even believe that sex was the original sin, the apple that Adam and Eve ate of. This is not the correct view.
Why would it be wrong to ignore the parts of the Bible that place a strong emphasis on sex such as the Song of Songs?
- God considered sex “very good.” See Genesis 1:31.
What does the Bible tell us the reason for sex is?
- Procreation (Genesis 1:28)
- Enjoyment and bonding within marriage (Proverbs 5:15-19)
If we are to read and study this song (poem) in both a literal sense as well as an illustrative sense, that is illustrating the relationship between Christ and His Bride, what would be the main attribute of a relationship that we should look for if it is healthy?
- Passion, both in a marriage and in our walk with God.
Section Two: Thoughts on their Wedding Day
Read Song of Songs 1:2 to your group.
Imagine yourself in a room with these two people. What type of behavior would you expect to see?
- Unashamed passion between two people.
- Many people would find themselves most uncomfortable in a room watching two lovers embrace. How would we move this literal translation into a illustrative example of our own behavior with other Christians?
- These two people are not ashamed or bashful about their love. They are willing to display it anywhere. This should be the model for every Christian with regard to their own love of Christ. We should be willing to embrace Christ anywhere, without hesitation or shame, openly joyful about our relationship with Him.
What are some of the key words and how would you use them to further develop an illustration of our Christian behavior?
- Kiss: neshiqu in Hebrew, emphasizing a longing for physical affections. Repetition of the word indicates intensity, “smother me with kisses.” Christians should be physical about their faith.
- Love: dodim in Hebrew, lays emphasis on physical expressions of love; love as action, not merely emotions. Christians should express their love in action, not just words.
- Wine: yayin in Hebrew, stood for diluted wine. Two parts water and one part wine. “Strong drink” called sekar was dangerous (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35) This diluted wine was part of most celebrations, including weddings. Wine and joy are linked together as both gifts from God (Psalm 104:15). In the opinion of both the bride and groom, marital lovemaking will surpass wine as a source of joy.
- Perfume: normally referring to a fragrant oil or ointment, it is his name that is so attractive.
Read Song of Songs 1:3 to your group.
With respect to one’s name, what is it that we have lost over the generations with regard to the name?
- There was a time that one’s name reflected a person’s character, the whole person.
How does the character of a man impact the attractiveness of himself to a woman?
- If a man demonstrates outwardly that he cannot be trusted, he is of low integrity, it is difficult to find how a woman could be relaxed about their own relationship. Is he telling the truth? Has he been faithful?
What did the name “Solomon” reflect?
- Integrity, the purity and quality of high character, a man of God, someone who could be counted upon to keep his promises, someone who could be trusted to do the right thing.
Read Song of Songs 1:3-4 to your group. The bride is most attracted to the groom. Her reference to the “king” is not to the groom’s position but interpreted as to the esteem that she holds him in. The community’s approval of their lovemaking is important to a couple’s success and happiness in marriage.
What is missing when people elect to live together without the bonds of matrimony?
- This same community approval. Solomon seems to define that to have it is important in a marriage. When people live together without marriage, they cut themselves short of this most important approval.
Section Three: Picturing Christ and His Bride
Read Song of Songs 1:2 to your group again.
If we were to use the term “kiss” to illustrate a point concerning relationships, what might that point or points be?
- A kiss, as described here, is a symbol of genuine affections. It is part of a close and personal relationship (Read Luke 15:20).
How would you use this example to describe Christ’s relationship with us?
- To have a relationship with Christ is not a mechanical, cold process that exists without emotion. It is characterized by eagerness to be together.
How would you use the point of lovemaking being better than wine to illustrate how our love with Christ should be conducted?
- Our relationship with Christ is conducted on the most intimate basis possible. Christ places His Spirit in us. That is the ultimate in closeness (Romans 5:5).
It is also productive, that is, it produces spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Read Song of Songs 1:3 to your group again.
Using your imagination, how would you find an illustrative point comparing Christ to the fragrance of fine perfume?
- As the fragrance of perfume is the essence of the flower, so is Christ the essence of God. Christ emits God’s fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
Read Song of Songs 1:4 to your group.
Lastly, the bride longs for the chamber of her groom. What would your illustrative point be with regard to our own faith walk?
- The Song of Songs encourages us to become less inhibited in the expression of our love for the person to whom we have committed ourselves in marriage. The Christian life, too, is a love affair. First Christ loved us. In love, He gave His life for us and now gives Himself to us. We respond by loving Him. If we love Him, we demonstrate this by keeping His commandments (John 14:15-24; 15:9-12).
Bible Truth Being Taught
Romance between a husband and wife is a beautiful and holy thing in God’s eyes; it pictures the passionate relationship that exists between Himself and His ransomed people.
To purse the qualities of character that keep romance alive in marriage and stimulate holy passion in our relationship with the Lord.