Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read:
Song of Songs 1-2 : The bride's longing for affection, and expressions of mutual love. Keep track of who is speaking (see Major Characters below).
Song of Songs 3: 7-11 : The bridal procession
Song of Songs 5: 2-8 : The bride's troubled dream
Orientation Song of Songs is book #22 of 39 in the Old Testament. It is considered a book of Poetry. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis This book has two levels: First, the account of a man's attraction and marriage to a poor country girl. Second, it can be read as God's love for his people, Israel; or Christ's love for the Church.
The bride and her brothers work in a country vineyard. She is an outdoor girl, her body tanned. She and her lover express their love and desire for each other in detail. The lover arrives in a grand procession and they are married. She moves into the palace. Soon she has a troubling dream - her lover is outside trying to get in, she cannot get the door open and finds him gone. Man and wife now praise each other's bodies, from head to foot. She and her husband visit her country home, to visit her brothers. Their love matures.
Major Characters the man, unnamed, but may be titled "Lover" or "King Solomon"
the woman, unnamed, may be titled "Beloved" or "The Girl"
the friends, other speakers, may be titled "Young Women of Jerusalem"
Major Events The wedding procession (3: 7-11)
Consummation of the marriage (4:16- 5:1)
The bride's nightmare dream (5: 2-7)
The bride brings her husband to her country home (7:11 - 8:5)
Discussion points Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter and accumulated 700 royal wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 7-11) - likely political alliances rather than relationships. This account of his marriage to a country girl was likely his only authentic relationship (Song 1:6).
If this is an allegory of God's love for us / Christ's love for the church, what do the various events represent?
Relevance The book shows the effort needed to build a marriage, and describes the stages of marriage: courtship, uniting, struggling in times of trouble, and maturity. Connections The Church is described as the bride of Christ in Matthew 9:15 and 25: 1-13; and Revelation 19. This is one of two Bible books which do not mention God at all (the other is Esther).
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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