As you may have picked up, I have a bit of an unusual hobby. I love to read, study, reflect on, meditate on and pray with a most unlikely book of the Bible. The Song of Songs, avoided by many contemporary Bible teachers, has a rich history in both Jewish and Christian traditions. One of the most interesting things about this book is that there are different layers that all help us to grow. So just like other books in the Bible, Song of Songs is part of the scriptures of which the Apostle Paul says:
2 Timothy 3:16(NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
So, how are we to read this book of the Bible?
1. The Song is a clear demonstration of what God honouring sexual love is to look like.It’s a love poem with language of love and appreciation. Many husbands would do well to be instructed by Solomon on how to see and call out the beauty in their wives. It also helps in that it describes different seasons of love – early and immature, times of separation, seasons of disappointment and maturing to full partnership. Unfortunately, many modern Bible teachers stopped here. For me, the next layers are only valid because it speaks correctly about married love, but it also goes further.
2. The Song is a story with a deeper meaning. The big word to describe this is allegory – Jesus’ parables were allegories, and “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” (C.S. Lewis) is full of allegory. As a person reads the Song of Songs, they are invited to imagine that God is trying to entice his people to love him. Fear may lead to wisdom, but God is looking for people who’s whole hearts are for him. The theme of God loving people and wanting people to love Him is all through the Bible, but in this book, it’s the highest theme. Here are examples from other parts of scripture:
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Mark 10:21 (NIV)
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
John 15:9 (NIV)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
Ephesians 5:25 (NIV)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
3. Finally, I love to use The Song as a Prayer Book. If the book is about love, and the picture is of God’s love for me, then the language of Song of Songs can help me to talk to God in the love language of heaven. My friend Brian will often be in conversations with people who have all sorts of wonderings and ideas about God – it’s interesting to know what people think about God. Then, Brian can turn the conversation and ask the person what God thinks about them?
What does God think about you? Your answer to this question determines so much of your prayer language. Do you think he’s disappointed, frustrated, indifferent or distant? What if he’s so overwhelmed by your beauty that his knees go weak? What if he’s so tuned to the sound of your voice that he commands all of heaven to be silent when you speak? What if every glorious and powerful angel in heaven bows to you because they know that you are the favourite one of Almighty God?
And how do lovers of God pray? Here are two examples from the first chapter in the Song.
Song 1.2 – the young woman (bride) says:
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his [Word] —
for your love is more delightful than wine.”
My prayer – God, would your Word kiss my heart. I want to know you and know everything about you.
Did you notice that the lover walked into the room somewhere in the middle of that verse. God wants to meet us in Scripture.
Song 1.15 – The Groom speaking to the bride says:
“How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.”
My prayer – God, what do you see in me that you find beautiful? Tell me, what is it about me that you would say this?
Doves eyes are a poetic way of saying that you are faithful, single-minded and wholehearted for the One you see. It’s not your work, it’s your attention that makes you beautiful.
What is God thinking about you right now? What is the Bible saying that contradicts what you feel or believe?
Let me invite you to spend a few minutes listening and writing down what you hear.