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As I promised – today we start in earnest.

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's. - Song of Songs 1:1

Song of Songs

At first glance, it seems as though we are looking at the title and author. Well—yes and no.

Check out the word pattern—Song of Songs. Does that remind you of anything? George Frederick Handel used John's words when he wrote his own Song of Songs, the Hallelujah Chorus—King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:6)

King of Kings—the high King of heaven

Lord of Lords—the one Master of all.

Clearly, 'Song of Songs' doesn't say good song. It's more—much more.

This Song isn't a good song and it's not a great song, it's the pinnacle of all songs.

Hey—even if it was Solomon’s best work—and he wrote 1005 songs, (1 Kings 4:32) it would be amazing. (I was impressed when I heard that Fanny Crosby of  “Blessed Assurance” fame wrote 80 hymns.)

NO—this is THE SONG of ALL SONGS. 

An interesting contrast here – just 7 verses before the Song of Songs in another of Solomon’s writings, Ecclesiastes, we have this pattern again:

"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "all is vanity!" - Ecclesiastes 12:8

…which is Solomon’s

So, who is Solomon? You can read up on him on your own. His story is the first 11 chapters of 1 Kings. For our purposes, here is what we need to know.

  • He was the third king of Israel.
  • He was the son of David (of giant killing fame) and Bathsheba (of roof bathing fame)
  • He ruled Israel in its best and most glorious days. He reigned for 40 years of peace and prosperity. Israel extended its borders without a day of war.
  • Oh, did I mention he had 300 wives and 700 concubines?
  • He amassed riches unequaled in history, the stuff of legends and Hollywood extravaganzas.
  • Perhaps most notably, he was given a greater measure of wisdom than any man before or since.

Even as a young man, when given the opportunity to ask the Lord for anything, he didn't choose long life, or riches, or even victory over his enemy. He asked the Lord for the ability to rule his people well—for wisdom.

It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.

God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words.

Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.

If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days." - 1 Kings 3:10-14 NASB

And so we embark upon a journey to discover the greatest song ever written by the wisest man who ever lived. Are you ready?

Come back next week and we will take a look at a Kiss that will rock your world.

Thanks so much for reading today.

Ben

photo credit: vlaaDnet via photo pin cc

One last bit of background before we jump into the verse by verse (mostly) look at the Song.

The Song is a short book as compared to other books like Genesis with its 50 chapters or Isaiah with its 66. It is made up of 8 chapters and a total of 117 verses. It would not be a difficult matter to memorize the entire song.

In this short song, there are 470 unique words used by the author.

  • 47 of these words (fully 10%) are not found anywhere else scripture.
  • 51 are used 5 times or less outside of the Song.
  • 45 are used 6 – 10 times.
  • 27 are used 11-20 times.

That leaves us with 300 common words.

Since this is an ancient language, many of these unique words are not found outside the Song either. For this reason, much of what we understand about this work must be derived by context and interpretation.

As striking as these unique words that fill the book, perhaps more strange is what is missing. There is no mention of God in the Song or any of the normal names for God.  But that is not all. It also does not contain any of the major religious words of the Old Testament, such as glory, mercy-seat, throne, ark, ram, ox, bull, altar, offering, evil, law, faithful, truth, atonement, sin, honor, bless, prophet, save and many more. This Song stands distinct from all other literature in the canon of scripture. This uniqueness tends to explain why there are so many different ways people look at this song, and why we need to keep from being too dogmatic about our approach to it.[i]

My Goals:

  • Each one who reads this blog will take the Song into their own prayer life.
  • We would identify ourselves in the Song.
  • We would each see and sense God’s passion for us.
  • We would each see God’s passion for every believer.
  • Each of us will take steps toward greater spiritual maturity. I would define this as, a passion for working with Christ in His ministry toward others.

Come back next week as we start in earnest to look at this wonderful Song of Songs.


[i] The Song of Solomon – an Introduction and Commentary – G. Lloyd Carr – Intervarsity Press – 1984 pp 41-42

BenHeadshotThanks for reading today.

Come back next week.

See you next week.

Ben

4

This beautiful 8 chapter love song known as the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs can be interpreted in various ways. Many of these approaches hold great value. No single point of view captures all that the Song has to offer. Since the song's writing about 3,000 years ago, there have been more commentaries written about the Song that any other book of the Bible save Romans. So there are a great number of ways to approach this book and they vary greatly.

It's as though the Song were a beautiful diamond cut by a master jeweler. Each time you look at this masterwork from a different angle, you discover a new facet of its beauty.

These many interpretations fall into two major categories.

Natural interpretation

The natural interpretation sees the song as an actual account based on a historical relationship. For instance:

  1. A Shulamite maiden and King Solomon (perhaps his first love)
  2. A Shulamite maiden, her shepherd lover and King Solomon–in this case, Solomon is the antagonist.

Allegorical interpretation

In the allegorical interpretation, the characters in the story are fictional representatives of real people and places. This is by far the more common way to interpret the song. The Allegorical comes in many flavors.

Hebrew commentators approach the Song in many ways. Here are a few of the more common views:

  1. God and the Messiah
  2. God and Israel
  3. Messiah and Israel
  4. Torah and Messiah
  5. Torah and Israel

Over the centuries, the Church created its own library of interpretations.

  1. God and the Church
  2. Jesus and the Corporate Church
  3. Jesus and Mary
  4. Jesus and the individual believer
  5. Jesus and a select group of believers – this can be dangerous, and even cultic.

There are some hybrid approaches as well suggesting that the Song contains actual accounts recorded for our example. Paul, of course, tells us that all the stories from the Old Testament also serve as examples for our lives.

My approach will be allegorical. I will assume the Shepherd King represents Jesus and the Shulamite depicts an individual believer.

As we approach scripture with allegory in mind, it is important to lay down a couple rules. It's a little dangerous to approach any scripture as allegory. It's important that we proceed with caution and hold on to some interpretive hand rails.

The first of these handrails is the red letters. Jesus' word's become the plumb line by which we measure all scripture. This will ensure we are not jumping into lines of thought that will lead us astray. Jesus says this:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me. (John 5:349 NASB)

This approach turns the table on us, men. How often have we smugly insisted that the women in our lives suffer the indignity of being called 'Sons of God?' In the Song of Songs we get to be the bride of Christ. (I hope you can tell my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.)

One other thing to note about this approach. While the Song is, for the most part, sequential, it is not entirely so. I have been born and raised in North America, and so I tend to think in timelines. But from what I have observed, much of Middle Eastern thought runs more like spokes and hubs. So there may be times when things seem a bit out of order, but stick with it. All will come together by the end of the Song.

It may take me some time, but if you dig into this little book, I promise you will get more out of it than you ever expected.

Come back next week and look with me at how unique this song is in so many ways.

Thanks for reading today.

See you next week.

Ben
photo credit: Tyler.Meyer via photo pin cc

 

This beautiful 8 chapter love song known as the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs can be interpreted in many ways. Many of these views hold great value. No single approach captures all that the Song has to offer. Since the song's writing about 3,000 years ago there have been more commentaries written about the Song that any other book of the Bible save Romans. So there are a great number of ways to approach this book and they vary greatly.
You might think of looking at a beautiful Jewel from a variety of angles, or on different backgrounds.

Here are a few possibilities.

Natural interpretation

An actual account based on a historical relationship. For instance:

  1. A Shulamite maiden and King Solomon (perhaps his first love)
  2. A Shulamite maiden, her shepherd lover and King Solomon (in this case Solomon is a villainous character.)

Allegorical interpretation

Here the characters in the story are fictional representatives of real persons and places. This is by far the more common way to interpret the song historically. The Allegorical view can be broken down further.

In Hebrew thought historically the Song has been approached in many ways:

  1. God and the Messiah
  2. God and Israel
  3. Messiah and Israel
  4. Torah and Messiah
  5. Torah and Israel

In the Church there have been various ways of looking at this as well.

  1. God and the Church
  2. Jesus and the Corporate Church
  3. Jesus and Mary
  4. Jesus and the individual believer
  5. Jesus and a select group of believes – this can be dangerous, and even cultic.

There are some hybrid approaches as well suggesting that the Song contains actual accounts that are written (as Paul says of all Old Testament stories) for our example that we may learn from them.

My approach will be allegorical. and I will assume the Shepherd King is Jesus and the Shulamite is every individual believer.

As we approach scripture with allegory in mind, it is important to lay down a couple rules. Much of the Bible is not intended as allegory, and it can be dangerous to go this way without some important hand rails to hold onto.

The first of these hand rails is the red letters. As you can read in the article "Why the Red Letters" Jesus' word's become the plumb line by which we compare all scripture to ensure we are not jumping into lines of thought that will lead us astray. Jesus says this:

You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me. (John 5:349 NASB)

My approach will be predominantly looking at the 4 option in the last set - Jesus and the individual believer.

All you women who are sick and tired of being called "sons of God" in the New Testament, take heart. All you men - get ready to learn to be a bride and wife!

One other thing to note about our approach, while the Song is for the most part sequential, it is not entirely so. I have been born and raised in North America, and so I tend to think in a linear way, but from what I have observed, much of Middle Eastern thought runs more like spokes and hubs. So there may be times when things seem a bit out of order, but stick with it. All will come together eventually.

It may take me some time, but if you dig into this little book, I promise you will get more out of it than you ever expected.

Come back next week and look with me at how unique this song is in so many ways.

Thanks for reading today. Come back next week. If this is your first SOS Saturday, check out the Why page for this theme above.

See you next week.

Ben
photo credit: Tyler.Meyer via photo pin cc

1

Today as we begin our look at the Song of all Songs, I want to introduce the cast of characters.

Before I jump in too far, I want to state that there are dozens of interpretation of this Song. We will explore some of them next week. I mention it here because some variations of interpretation can actually change the cast of characters.

Some believe that scripture can only have one interpretation. I'm not in that camp. I believe that many of the various interpretations have great value. God’s wisdom is so magnificence that we can glean much from looking at this wonderful jewel from many different perspectives.

I did pick one. I will refer to others from time to time, but for the most part, I'll be looking at it from this perspective.

Many translations and paraphrases have blocks of text marked with the speaker named. It might say “THE BELOVED” and “LOVER” the like. These are not in the original text and they vary from translation to translation. For the most part, we'll ignore these notations.

The Song is much like a play so most of the lines are in a character’s voice. The only thing we have to determine the speaker is the context. If the descriptions given use feminine adjectives and nouns we can assume it is the man speaking, or visa versa. There are some places where groups are speaking, and so based on the context we will make suggestions as to who is speaking in such places.

For the most part, there are 4 voices in the song.

The Shepherd King

The Maiden, referred to also as the Shulamite, or the Bride

Women of Jerusalem

Watchmen

These last 2 are groups. They act much like the chorus would in a Greek play. They take on the character of different people at different times. So the voices and attitudes here may shift from passage to passage.

There are some readers who split the Shepherd King into two characters, and this can be another valuable perspective. For my part, I am going to treat them as one man.

Next week I will break down the various interpretations, and you will see where we fit in the Song.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Come on back again soon.

Ben

1

Hi all,

About four years ago (September of 2012) I started a series on this blog that ran for three years. It was a verse by verse look at the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon.

Since that time, my readership has changed. I thought many of you who see my blog today might be unfamiliar with this wonderful Song.

I will be reposting, updating, polishing, and editing as I go. I hope this series blesses you and draws us all into a deeper intimacy with our Shepherd King, Jesus.

So - here we go.

Song of Songs Saturday--Here's Why

(originally posted 9/1/2012)

A few years back I spent a couple years studying the Song of Songs. Inspired by Mike Bickel’s 1998 twenty, 1-hour teachings, I took up his challenge to live in that Song for a while. He subsequently rerecorded the series in twenty-four, 45-minute sessions. There is a link below to Mike’s website where you can download the teachings and the notes that go with it. I would highly recommend throwing this on your iPod or mp3 player of choice and give it a listen. It will change the way you think about EVERYTHING!

I got my hands on a few other books and started living in the Song of Songs for both devotional and study time. I read a number of books with different approaches to the Song, and it started to flavor everything I did.

When I started in the Song, it did not seem terribly relevant. But in short order, I found that every conversation I had somehow related back to the Song. This came as a surprise to me.

You might ask, How does this relate to the Red Letters? As you will see, Jesus is the main character of the Song. At least that is the approach I will be taking. It is not by any means the only approach, but I like it best.

I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I did!

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgCome back next week and we'll get started.

See you then,

Ben

Here is the link to Mike Bickle's 2007 Twenty-four part series.

1

Here's one from Martin Smith called the Song of Solomon. I loved this video by Greg Fromholz. The story in the video is more like the prodigal son. I think you'll love it too.

Over the mountains
Over the sea
Here you come running my lover to me

When I feel the cold of winter
In this cloak of sadness, I need you
All the evil things that shake me
All the words that brake me, I need you

Over the mountains
Over the sea
Here you come running my lover to me

Do not hide me from your presence
Pull me from this shadows, I need you
Beauty wrap your arms around me
Sing your song of kindness, I need you

Over the mountains
Over the sea
Here you come running my lover to me

All through the valleys
Through the dark of night
Here you come running
To hold me till it's light

Over the mountains
Over the sea
Here you come running my lover to me

All through the valleys
Through the dark of night
Here you come running
To hold me till it's light

I'll come running
I'll come running
come running back to you

I'll come running
come running
come running back to you

I'll come running
come running
come running back to you

Over the mountains
Over the sea
Here you come running my lover to me

All through the valleys
Through the dark of night
Here you come running
To hold me till it's light

Come running
Come running
Come running back to you

Thanks to Christian Songs & Lyrics for the lyrics.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

Shine!

Ben


Hey - if you haven't checked out my book - Encounters With Jesus - take a look at this sample chapter. This book offers a fresh look at the life of Jesus through the eyes of the ones He touched. You'll love it.

You can order yours here.

3

Many Waters - SoS headerHurry, my beloved,
And be like a gazelle or a young stag
On the mountains of spices.

Song of Songs 8:14 NASB

The last word picture in the Song of Songs is of a gazelle or young stag running, jumping, even frolicking on a mountain of spices.

These last words belong to the Maiden and they are a call to her lover—her husband—her Shepherd King to come and be with her. The striking thing is, she want to be with Him in the adventure of life now.

Earlier in the Song, she was afraid to leave the secret place. She didn’t trust Him with her life. She didn’t trust herself—her ability to minister—to give to the body. She only wanted to be with her Love behind closed doors.

The church has grown comfortable behind its doors. The Christian has grown comfortable reading his Bible in the living room.

We think of the stodgy and scholarly as the mature Christians, but true mark of maturity is not time in study, it’s time in the field.

The mature Christian is the one with dirty hands. [Tweet This]

James said - I’ll show you my faith by my works. (See James 2:18)

Jesus said - He that does the will of God may judge my doctrine. (See John 7:17)

This mountain of spices is a picture of the Lord’s Church. Each individual believer is a unique blend of spices, a sweet savor to the Lord, with a unique mix of gifts and talents and temperament. The Lords desire and design is that we be one—blending our unique fragrances together into a mountain of spices.

And He is the gazelle, the young stag, moving about in His Church.

John the revelator saw Him walking among the seven golden candlesticks. It’s a picture of the Lord moving among His people, and they go into all the world. It the Lord—never leaving or forsaking us—as we fulfill His great command and great commission.

So the song ends with the fulfillment of the maidens deepest desires.

Draw me after you and let us run together! - Song of Songs 1:4 NASB

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks so much for coming by.

Have you stuck with me all the way through this wonderful Song of all Songs? I have really enjoyed digging through every picture together. These verses and themes color everything I think about, after living in this song for year.

Now that we have come to the end of the narrative, I would like to go back and pursue a few themes in a little more depth. So keep your eyes open and I’ll be back with more SoS Saturday posts.

Blessings,

Ben

1

Many Waters - SoS header

Come quickly, my beloved,

and be like a gazelle or a young stag
on the mountains of spices.

Song of Songs 8:14 International Standard Version

So ends the Song of all Songs. With the cry of the Bride for her Lover King to come quickly.

It’s not the last time we’ll hear this cry.

Paul, in the closing of his letter to the Church in Corinth uses the word, Maranatha, which means, ‘our Lord comes.’

And John, closes his wonderful Revealing of the Lord Jesus (Revelation) with a cry and a promise that ring with this same heart.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. ... He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. - Revelation 22:17, 20 NASB

Or as we have it in the KJV - “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

We sometimes get our feet stuck in the mud of this world, and forget whose we are and where we belong.

We go about our days thinking, tomorrow this, and next week that, next year something else, and when I retire…

James told us we should consider the Lord’s will in all our plans.

Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." - James 4:15 NASB

It’s not wrong to plan and dream for the future, but what of the day where our greatest dream is the sight of our Lord’s return, ushering in that for which the world yearns, and groans.

He’s coming back.

Does your heart yearn for that day?

Is your heart crying out with the Shulamite, “Come quickly, my Beloved.”

You see, I think He’s yearning to come.

I remember the waiting before I married my wonderful Corinne. For weeks before hand I would call her (there was no such thing as email and texting) from work. Right before I picked up the phone, I would plug the numbers into my calculator, and the greet her with “In only 2,056,320 seconds we’ll be Mr. And Mrs. Nelson.” She’d giggle. But I so wanted those weeks to pass. I wanted to hear those words, “man and wife.” I really wanted to hear those words, “You may kiss the bride.”

What do you think Jesus is like in heaven? Is He looking to the Father and asking, “Can I go now? Is she ready? How long? She’s calling me. Can I go?”

The Word tells us it will be soon. SOON. What does that mean?

I’m listening to the Chronicles of Narnia these days, and there’s a scene where Lucy, asks Aslan if she will ever see Him again, and He says, “soon.” Then she asks “How long is soon?” His answer is one of those wonderful C.S. Lewis ‘Ah Ha’s. He says “All time is soon to me.”

Does your heart long to see His return, regardless of the consequences?

I know the Spirit is calling for His quick return. It’s the Spirit in the bride that causes her to make herself ready and makes her heart cry out to Him, “Come quickly, my Beloved.”

Lord Jesus, I give you permission (like you need my permission) to thwart all my plans, even the good ones, and come back soon. You can mess with my theology, and come before, during or after tribulation, or millennium. You can mess with my endeavors on every side. Just come. Please come.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgYours,

Ben

Maranatha

1

vineyard with workers
photo credit: Winter pruning Granton Vineyard Tasmania via photopin (license)

Today we hear the voice of one who has spoken little in this Song of Songs, the narrator. For the most part the song is a dialog between Shepherd King and the Shulamite, with some soliloquy sprinkled in and a chorus giving us the color commentary. But here as we near the end, a neutral voice comes in to give us a statement of fact.

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers.
Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.

Song of Songs 8:11 NASB

Let’s break it down.

Solomon is the king, and we’ve considered him a type of Christ in the Song. He is our Shepherd King.

Baal-hammon literally translates as “lord (possessor) of abundance” or “lord of a multitude.” There is no such place mentioned anywhere in the rest of the Bible, nor has any reference been found elsewhere to such a place, so it might be better to look at it for its meaning than for its location.

This is my take: King Jesus has a fertile global vineyard.

Israel is known as God’s vineyard.

Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.

Isaiah 5:1-2 NASB

Jesus has a vineyard, and it’s the Church. We are His vineyard.

Next we see that He entrusted His vineyard to caretakers. Now he’s talking about you and me. You’ve been placed in His worldwide vineyard and set to tend to His fields—vines.

Perhaps your saying to yourself, I’m not a pastor. I’m no leader in the Church.

In God’s design for the Body of Christ, we are all in places of responsibility. You may not be a mouth in the body. You may not be in any “up-front” type position, but you are set in the body with a purpose.

Perhaps you’re not involved in a formal church at all. That’s fine too, but you still are called to be part of a community, and you have a role to play there.

One of the problems organized churches face is believers tend to become attenders. A sort of audience whose only role in church life is to fill the pew. There is no way this is God’s intention for His vineyard. The whole 80%-20% thing is anathema, a horrible deformity in the body. The idea that we expect four fifths of those who name the name of Christ to show up on Sunday (or Saturday night if it’s more convenient) and make their weekly (or monthly) appearance is insane.

I’m not saying they need to be busy doing church work. What I’m getting at is that each of us has a calling to be at work in the Lords fields—the world—scattering seed, turning soil, watering, maybe even spreading dung.

The kingdom of God has no place for attenders. It’s just not that kind of kingdom.

Let’s talk about the thousand shekels next week.

For now, let’s consider what part the Lord has equipped you for, in His vineyard. Who has He placed before you? Who are you encouraging to grow? Who are you drawing into the vineyard? Who are you training up in your role?

Lord, help me see clearly today, the work you have set before me. That mission You had in Your mind's eye when You spoke my name and placed me in my mother’s womb. I want to walk in all You have for me.

Thanks for coming by today.

Have a great Saturday.

Ben

1

Our maiden’s pursuit of the Shepherd King culminates in this:

Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace.

Song of Songs 8:10 NASB

Shalom

This word shows up 242 times in the Old Testament, and it’s way bigger than our word peace.

Here’s what you’ll find over at BlueLetterBible.org

Hebrew_Lexicon____H7965__NASB_

Charles Stock, pastor of Life Center in Harrisburg, PA, sums it up this way:

“Nothing missing, nothing broken.”

I love that!

In the Song this word only shows up one time.

Our dear Shulamite was looking for romance.

May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. - Song of Songs 1:2

She sought adventure.

Draw me after you and let us run together!

In the end, what she finds is peace.

Like may of us, in her youth, she thought she knew what she wanted. Her pursuit was not unwise. After all, the object of her love turned out to be the Prince of Peace. The adventure she ran after brought her to the place where she appeared to be an army with banners. She is the victorious bride—vanquisher (far more than a conqueror) of the realm. The life she was pursuing was so filled with adventure, she shied away at first. And still, when she set aside her fear and followed Him with all her heart—into the hills and mountains—out of the comfort of the quiet place—she found shalom—peace.

Her life is quite a contrast to my generation who cried out, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

In fact, just as Jesus promised in the Beatitudes,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be [completely] satisfied. - Matthew 5:6 NASB [AMP]

Some of us seek peace by shrinking back, by pulling away from conflict, by sitting on the sidelines.

Our maiden learned that the only way to find true peace is to follow Him—Jesus—with your whole heart—to go all in on life in the Spirit. There’s no other path to peace.

Ben NelsonJoin me—Let’s run after Him.

Blessings,

Ben

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