I Am My Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine…
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With the rise in internet dating, infidelity and divorce, it is clear that we are all seeking and looking for some version of what we think love is. Men have a need to be respected and women have the need to loved and cherished. Yet the human representations of love we so crave often fails and whether we are single or married, those in pursuit of life’s most precious gift often end up broken and hungry for healing. In my experience as an ardent “love-chaser”, I was left bruised and battered time and time again. Yet it was these disappointments and flagrant failures that led me to seek love and intimacy from a well that never runs dry. All this led me to seek Christ in The Song of Solomon and in this book I found the greatest love the world has ever known. I found a God who was vulnerable, touchable and affected by our love.
The Song of Solomon is one of the most widely speculated about book of the bible next to the book of Revelation. There is heavy use of imagery, symbolism and allusions to the sanctuary that make it very difficult to understand. The word play and poetic prose has turned it into one of the most challenging books to accurately unravel without some knowledge of Hebrew, word study and etymology. For this reason, the research that characterized this book was one in which each and every single word was extensively studied. Not only did we use the modern Hebrew script and the rules of biblical interpretation as a guide, but the unique part of this book is that we used the paleolithic Hebrew in order to find broader contexts for each word and its association to different parts of scripture.
We also included a full retranslation of The Song of Solomon using a style of paraphrasing that extrapolates the meanings of each word, brings in larger biblical context and expresses the overall thrust in common language.
For example, take a verse like, “I have compared you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.” Sng 1:9. This verse has little meaning to us in our modern context because we are so far removed from the events of the Exodus and from the familiar stories of God’s providence, which defined the Hebrew culture. Therefore, this book attempts to bring the reader back to ancient Israel by painting a verbal picture that gives context and stays as true to the overall tenor of the language as possible ending in a translation like this:
“Let Me give you an illustration of what I think of you. When I rescued Israel from the yoke of Egypt and delivered them from the scorching eye of Pharaoh, they were like a mare in heat, having many suitors in pursuit of them. They were like a mare in front of the stallions of Pharaoh’s chariots. With great vengeance He pursued My possession. He sought them in order to satisfy his carnal lust upon them. But unlike Pharaoh, I will pursue you for your good. I will bring you out from under the eye of Egypt and will give you a new name, a new purpose and will pursue you for your blessing more ardently than the chariots of Pharaoh pursued Israel.”
We have also included a weekly study guide located at the end of the book for the purpose of facilitating group studies. There is also a section called Imagery & Meanings as an overview to some of the symbolism used in The Song of Solomon in which we identify poetic terms, give definitions as well as provide a reference to other parts of scripture where this same word is used to support our conclusions.
So, now we arrive at the big question: Is The Song of Solomon a literal love story between Solomon and a woman named Shulamite or is it allegorical? This is a heated topic, but the language of the text is clear and once you have the correct tools to unearth the issues at hand, the answer is simple. Solomon was known for one major work—the building and dedication of the temple. Building the temple was the primary focus of his reign and era. Solomon was a type of the Prince of Peace, a representation of the “Shiloh” to come where “unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Genesis 49:10.
Therefore, Solomon wrote The Song of Solomon as a personification of the relationship between Christ and His people through the mediation of the temple. Temple language is replete throughout this story and here are a few examples from our Imagery & Meanings section:
Wine (Sng 1:2) = Reference to the blessings of the covenant (Deu 7:13), and daily offering in the sanctuary representing God’s constant provision (Exo 29:40).
Ointment (Sng 1:3) = Used for light, anointing & incense in sanctuary (Exo 25:6).
Chambers (Sng 1:4) = Inner chambers of the sanctuary & mercy seat (1 Ch 28:11).
Curtains of Solomon (Sng 1:5) = The inner and most elaborate of the covering of the sanctuary, which was “dark” on the outside, but “lovely” on the inside (Exo 26:1).
Shepherd’s Tent (Sng 1:8) = Allusion to the sanctuary (Psa 80:1).
Myrrh (Sng 1:13) = Used to “anoint” vessels as set apart for holy use (Exo 30:23).
Henna (Sng 1:14) = Word “atonement”. Her beloved is her atonement (Exo 30:12).
Lily of Valley (Sng 2:1) = Lilies were placed on top of sanctuary laver, “valley” represents the laver of introspection, the “deep”. (1 Ki 7:26; Pro 20:5).
Wilderness (Sng 3:6) = Mosaic sanctuary that came from “wilderness” (Lev 7:38).
Pillars of Smoke (Sng 3:6) = Signature of God’s divinity and covenant (Exo 19:18).
Solomon’s Bed (Sng 3:7) = Sanctuary of deliverance. (Amos 3:12).
Sixty Men (Sng 3:7) = Sixty pillars that circled the Mosaic sanctuary. (Exo 27:9-16).
Wood of Lebanon (Sng 3:9) = Cedar wood used to build temple. (1 Ki 6:15; 5:9).
The entire basis of this song has to do with “coverings” or “atonement”. The purpose of the sanctuary was to “cover” the sins of the people, to make atonement for transgression and to cover believers with the righteousness of Christ in order to make fallen humanity one with God. Yes, Solomon, does mean “peace”, but it also means a “garment”. “O Lord my God…who covers yourself with light as with a garment (Solomon).” Psalms 104:1-2. This story is about the Day of Coverings or the Day of Atonement and the restoration of all things. It is fallen man finding peace with God by being covered with the righteousness of Christ. This story is inundated with this theme, in which Solomon, on four different occasions extensively covers the Shulamite with a new identity, a new name, a new robe of righteousness (chapter 1,4,6,7).
The “Shulamite” is the feminine version of the name “Solomon” because she is a covering to him. The fact that she is called a “shulamite” is meant to highlight the intimacy of marriage and the vulnerability of the covenant between Christ and His bride. He is affected by our affections. The covenant or marriage that He has entered into with humanity is not only one in which He overs us with His righteousness, but He has humbled Himself to allow His nakedness to be covered by our faith and fidelity, giving man the ability to “put Him to an open shame” through transgression. Hebrews 6:6. The tender ties with which He has bound Himself is meant to inspire our obedience, knowing that He is brought joy by our love and is pained by our rejection.
It is also very clear throughout the story that the male counterpart is absolutely perfect. The one who is “dark” and rejects Him on two separate occasions is the female. This is clearly a representation of Christ and the church, not an example of chauvinism where one party does nothing wrong and the other is singularly and repeatedly at fault. The merciful attitude of Christ towards His offender and His continual vulnerability with the erring makes The Song of Solomon a great model for how to conduct ourselves in the bonds of marriage. But the primary focus of Solomon’s masterpiece is the relationship between Christ and His Church. All the books of the bible are a revelation of Christ and The Song of Solomon is no exception.
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