This amazing and interesting book states at the very beginning that it is the ‘song of songs, which is Solomon’s’. This is one of the most difficult books in the Bible, and there are no quotations directly from this book in the New Testament. The book is written in Hebrew poetry and is known as a love poem or story between a bridegroom and his bride. It also shows us the restoration of a believer and his or her communion with Christ after repentance. The book of Ecclesiastes was also written by Solomon in a language of repentance after drifting away from God.
There is no doubt that the author is none other than king Solomon. We know from 1 Kings 4:32-33 that Solomon wrote 1,005 songs, so he was a very skilled songwriter, and he also knew about nature a lot. He used the wisdom that God gave him, as he had asked. We don’t know where the other songs are that he wrote, but this is the song of songs, the one song, which is 8 chapters long, is the one we have recorded in the Bible.
The Song of Songs is of a unique structure, as throughout the book the following people appear over and over again: the bridegroom, the bride, and the daughters of Jerusalem. Similar refrains are found at the beginning and end of certain paragraphs (chap. 2:7; 3:5; 8:4 and 3:6; 6:10; 8:5). The mention of Solomon’s name seven times would also be such a refrain.
This book tells us of the joy and communion we have with Christ, and the relationship between Christ (the Bridegroom) and the Church (the true believers, the bride) – 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-25; Revelation 19:7-9, 21:9). Christ in this book is the “chiefest among ten thousand” and the “all together lovely” One (Song 5:10, 16).
One may ask, who is this bride in the Song of Solomon? We know that towards the end of his life, Solomon accumulated 1,000 wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:3) and it seems that in this song of songs, he pays attention to one woman, a Shulamite (chapter 6:13). According to Hebrew tradition, this woman was a shepherd girl, and she was able to give Solomon the love, joy and satisfaction, which have been the thoughts of God from the beginning, to bring out the relationship between woman and man (Gen. 2:18-24). What is the purpose of this book? It illustrates the bridegroom as the Lord Jesus Christ, but how is the bride illustrated here? There are different opinions.
The first opinion is that the bride represents the Jewish remnant who will receive Christ as their Messiah when He comes to reign during the Millennium. Jesus Christ is the rightful King and will be received as their King during that time. Until He comes to reign, He is rejected as their rightful King. In this book, the content shows that the bride does not yet have a firm fellowship with the king but that she is longing for his communion and love. This will happen when He comes to reign on the earth as the King of Kings and of peace. The prophets of the Old Testament often referred to the children of Israel as the wife of Jehovah (Jeremiah. 31:32), which became unfaithful and therefore was rejected (compare Isaiah. 54:6-7; Jer. 3:1-5; Hosea. 1-3). As a result of the division of Israel after Solomon’s death two kingdoms arose – the southern part with Jerusalem and the northern part with Samaria as capital. These two kingdoms, which rose out of the maternal kingdom, are called “daughters of one mother” in Ez. 23 (compare Jer. 3:6-14). The Song of Songs mentions the mother (chap. 1:6; 3:4; 8:2) as well as the sister (chap. 8:8) of the bride.
The second opinion is that the bride represents the Church, all true believers who have accepted Christ as their Saviour after His resurrection, and also in the time of grace in which we live right now. The idea is that the bride in the song of songs is a gentile woman and comes into relationship with the bridegroom, as the Lord Jesus confirmed that He has another flock (John 10) outside of the nation of Israel.
However, there is a problem with the second opinion. The Church (all true believers in Christ) is seen right now in relationship with Christ in His rejection, even though God has highly exalted Him and He is risen, but is hidden from the eye of mankind. Only by faith the true believer can see Him glorified. The Church is also seen as the bride, but as the Lamb’s wife (Rev 19:7; 21:2-9). There is a firm relationship between the Church and Christ, which was God’s counsels from before the foundation of the world. Therefore, it can only be explained that the bride here is a type or the Jewish remnant who will enjoy their relationship with Christ as their King. The remnant is seen as the earthly bride, and earthly blessings are connected, but the Church is the heavenly bride, and heavenly and spiritual blessings are connected with the same Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is also a growing love of the bride toward her bridegroom in the song of songs and her relationship develops each time she knows more of him. Three stages of development are seen in this book:
1. My beloved is mine, and I am his; He feeds among the lilies (chap. 2:16)
2. I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feeds among the lilies (chap. 6:3)
3. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me (chap. 7:10)
One may ask, is there anything practical for us as believers today? Yes, of-course there is. As we read about the appreciation of the bride to her bridegroom, we can apply this in relation to Christ our Saviour and Lord. When we contemplate what He did for us and went into death and rose again, when we learn that it was His counsels with God from before the foundation of the world to bring a heavenly bride into eternal relationship with Him, we wonder in awe and appreciate Him more and more, and then our relationship with Christ develops deeper and deeper and we love Him more for what He brought us into. This song is a song of love, and our song, or songs to Him should not only be of praise, but of our response to His love for us, that we love Him more.
I will now attempt to divide the song of songs in a simple way, though it seems that it is hard to divide into sections. This book, which is one song, can be divided into six canticles:
- Chapter 1 – 2:7 brings before us the certainty, or assurance, of love.
- Chapter 2:8 – 3:5 presents the search, or the awakening of love.
- Chapter 3:6 – 5:1 sets out the communion, or fellowship of love.
- Chapter 5:2 – 6:9 brings before us the restoration of love.
- Chapter 6:10 – 8:4 describes the witness, or testimony of love.
- Chapter 8:5 – 14 (the end) shows the triumph, or perfection of love.
In concluding, love is the great theme of this song, and it is especially the love of the bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, to His people, whether it is His earthly people (the nation of Israel, or the remnant who will receive Him in the future), or His heavenly people (in applying this to us as Christians today).
Parts of this outline and the division is taken from a website www.biblecentre.org. The articles used are below, and freely available to read.