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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Song of Songs

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INTRODUCTION to the Song of Solomon

[sometimes referred to as ‘the Song of Songs']

 

Why Read the Song of Songs? The obvious answer is because it has been deemed by the Jewish Rabbis and the Early Church Fathers as part of the canon of scripture, but more than that it is unique in the Bible. It is purely a love song with no mention of God within it [like the book of Esther]. Why then, some might ask, has it been included in the canon of scripture? The early Rabbis considered it a very holy book, part of the ‘wisdom literature' of the Bible, much of which covers the experiences of daily life. The simplest answer, in line with this, is that

- sex and love are clearly part of God's design [see Gen 2:24] and if we consider this as inspired writing by Solomon,

- it must surely be to declare the message that a growing and developing love [see 2:7, 3:5 & 8:4 – the regular refrain, do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready” (various versions)] is part of God's design and not the casual hasty act of sex that many succumb to [usually linked to adultery or even rape in the Bible – 2 Sam 11:2-5, 2 Sam 13:1-]

- and that committed love (that's what all true love is) is good, part of God's design and wholesome.

 

Key Factors: Some things to be considered:

 

NIV Notes: The main male and female speakers (identified primarily on the basis of the gender of the relevant Hebrew forms) are indicated by the captions He and She respectively. The words of others are marked Friends. In some instances the divisions and their captions are debatable. For this reason different editions change the identification so your version may vary in this aspect from that which we have used.

 

Our Approach: For each chapter we will first provide a breakdown and help-notes etc. as usual, but because of the unusual nature of these pages we have also provided a ‘stage drama' to also seek to catch the possible sense of the chapter. We are also aware that many have sought to spiritualize this book but that has resulted in many different suggestions and so, rather than add to such speculation, we have completely refrained from doing this.

 

The Language: The language of comparison found here a) is most unlike anything young people today might express b) should be remembered is within Jewish poetry and so, we might say, is excessively ‘flowery' in comparison to our experience.

 

There are probably as many ideas about this Song as there are Commentators. In what follows

- we will be following the NIV notation of who is speaking – ‘He', ‘She', ‘the Friends' [or chorus]

- we simply seek to convey the sense and the notes, and especially the ‘drama', in no way are intended to be either a translation or even a paraphrase of the original. The text [blue] is the translation by the Bible scholars who we respect and would not change,

- we like many others have simply tried to catch the sense and yet, as on one hand we have written it as a drama and on the other as a simple study, we have [without referring the one to the other] come with different ideas and the truth is that there will be many others. It is not a poem for being dogmatic about; poets don't give us that right.

- we have, in the study, refrained from adding lots of additional notes or explanations that might well detract from what you the reader might see in it.

 

The ‘Drama': What follows in each chapter in the ‘drama' is purely a speculative approach to the poem or song, perhaps a way of thinking of it in a modern setting. Occasionally there will be poetic license, so please don't be too harsh about what you find if it doesn't match what you expect. There are many interpretations of this Song, this is just one. We don't ask you to necessarily agree with it, simply to enjoy it and understand something of the wonder of love and relationships. To keep within the proprietary nature of that day, we have been gentle with our interpretation at times. Were it that modern love could be more like this!

For the ‘drama', imagine if you will a stage that has a large back projection screen so that the scenery can change in a moment. In the background are a chorus, the “Friends”, who seem to speak out from time to time. Most of the action is by the girl and her man. The stage is empty except for the chorus in the background and the screen is blank. Now continue.

 

 

Contents:

 

Note: We have examined the breakdowns or outlines given in a number of different versions of the Bible and been left dissatisfied with all of them. It is, therefore, very tentatively that we wondered daring to suggest an outline but concluded that we are sure you could come up with an entirely different set of headings – which we might agree with! Hence we will not try to put titles to each of the eight chapters. Enjoy the Song from another land, another culture, in another age!

 

  

Continue to Songs 1