The story of God’s incredible love for us is unmatched. It is the greatest love story ever told. But there are plenty of other great love stories in the Bible and they all have lessons for us. There is one that showed up on a few lists that surprised me- the story of King Solomon and his love for a country girl. Put aside any 21st-century assumptions you may have about this poetic book. Read about the holy love that waits for the right time (marriage) and the deeper meaning that is revealed about Christ and His church.
But first- a bit of background.
Who Was King Solomon?
Solomon was a wealthy and wise king of Israel who succeeded his father, King David. He possessed exceptional wisdom. He wrote Song of Songs, most of the book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and two Psalms.
Early in his reign, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 1 Kings 3:5
How would you answer that question? I probably would not have answered in the way Solomon did.
Showing incredible humility, Solomon asks for a “discerning heart to govern” God’s people, and the ability to “distinguish between right and wrong.” (1 Kings 3:9) God gave Solomon great wisdom and insight “as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” (1 Kings 4:29)
Song of Solomon Love Poem
Song of Songs is a series of seven poems describing Solomon’s love and marriage to a Shulamite girl. While there are plenty of metaphors for their intimacy, this is basically a love song!
It reflects upon their royal romance: from their first meeting, their engagement and wedding, the growth of their marriage, and their enduring, maturing love.
Song of Solomon Bride
We don’t know the bride’s name or much about her. We know she is a Shulamite; a country girl who worked outside in the vineyards (1:6) She is self-conscious of her tanned complexion, but Solomon loved her dark skin. He describes her as “fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars” (6:10)
The first words we read in this book are from the bride-to-be as she expresses her deep desire for the physical kisses and the touch of her fiancé. “Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.” (1:1)
As we see throughout this book, they associate love with the most pleasant of all tastes and smells. She even describes his name as “perfume poured out.” (1:3)
We read descriptive words like “my darling”, “my beautiful one” and hear that she is “faint with love” as she lies in his embrace. They look around and see the beauty and joy in all creation- the flowers, birds, trees and fragrant blossoms. Ahhhh, love.
“I Am His” Bible Verse
Perhaps you have heard the following words spoken at a wedding: “My beloved is mine and I am his.” (2:16) She utters this statement of their exclusive love three times.
There was no denying that these two were deeply in love.
Song of Songs Verses
Chapter Four is an intimate exchange of praise, love, and admiration for each other. The imagery is beautiful. While it is not the words we would use today, the essence is their communication of tender words to each other. (I’m assuming telling someone their hair is like a flock of goats and their teeth are as white as sheep were compliments… Maybe it was the way he said it? )
Whose marriage couldn’t use a bit more affirmations of love?
Song of Songs 5
But just as with any love, the bloom fades from time to time. It shows that even as love brings joy, our flawed nature brings relationship problems. Remembrances of their deep love reunite them.
Song of Songs 8
8: 6-7 reminds me of a vow renewal ceremony. It even has a “till death do us part” feel.
“Love is as strong as death”, she proclaims, and a mighty flame that “waters cannot quench“. She proclaims their love is priceless.
Song of Solomon Interpretation
Song of Solomon is a love song in praise of the joys of courtship and marriage. Children (especially sons) were highly favored in their culture, but there is never any mention of offspring or thoughts of them. It seems to be strictly centered on the love between these two.
Interestingly, we don’t see God’s name mentioned even once in this book! That alone makes it stand out as completely different from the rest of the Bible.
King Solomon Facts
While we read of this great love story of Solomon, it’s rather astounding and shocking to find out that he “loved many foreign women” even though God told the Israelites they may not intermarry with them.
“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods.” Deuteronomy 7:3-4a.
So much for Solomon’s great insight and wisdom! Even with the best God-given abilities, Solomon’s life shows it all comes down to personal choice in obeying God.
In fact, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (and possibly more?)!! 1 Kings 11:1-4
How did he acquire this harem?
It seems Solomon was busy in the political arena. It was customary for a lesser king to give his daughter in marriage to a greater king every time a new treaty was made. Apparently, he never turned one down!
So even Solomon, the smartest, most eloquent, wealthiest man and king, with an adoring wife, did not have the perfect marriage.
While Solomon’s case is extreme, we sadly see distortions and abuses in marriages today as well.
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Song of Solomon Message
So why is this book included in our Bible?
God inspired all Scripture, but a debate about this book’s purpose has existed in the church for a long time. Saadia, a medieval Jewish commentator describes it this way: “it is like a lock for which the key has been lost.”
We do know this was a story about real people and the real human love relationship they shared.
Song of Songs can be viewed as one of the great poetic love stories of the Bible.
God and Marriage
Song of Solomon may exist to affirm God’s stance on marriage.
God ordained the sanctity of marriage in Genesis 2:24: “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
Their love shows us that there is nothing impure about physical love in marriage. Quite the opposite, it shows us how God designed it to be. He intends that marital love be a normal part of his good creation.
There are also some allegories that have been extracted from this story that I find beautiful:
•Solomon, the Jewish King, took a Gentile bride and gave her a place among the chosen people of God. This foreshadows our Jewish King Jesus, who also takes a Gentile bride- his church (us).
•Just as marriage was meant to be a lasting covenant made between two people, God’s covenant with Israel was to last forever. He was to be their only God, their true love.
•When the bride expressed her dismay over her “darkness”, Solomon saw only great purity, light, and beauty. We come to Jesus with our sin and darkness, and His eyes only see us as pure and fair.
•A common interpretation in Jewish history is that the bridegroom represents God; the girl is the Jewish people.
•Christians see this story depicting the love between Christ and his people; his church, his bride.
The Church is the Bride of Christ
Ephesians 5: 25-27 NLT explains:
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
Paul later explains marriage and the relationship of Christ and the church:
This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. v32.
Jesus gave his life to pay a price for his people and he will come again- “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” Rev 19:7 NIV.
The Love of God
We cannot speak of great love, however, without remembering the most precious love of all- God’s love for us.
God shows himself to be faithful, loving and committed to his “bride”- all of us who believe in Jesus and accept his gift of salvation.
Take a few moments and reflect on your “bridegroom.”
How He has lavished you with His love in your life?
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1 NIV
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All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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