In our study of Song Of Songs, we see a picture of the life that we are offered through the blood of Jesus Christ. As a whole, the book is a collection of five songs concerning love and we are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number five is associated with God's grace (gift). This first chapter contains the song of salvation which speaks of the establishment of a right relationship with our King. ** NOTE ** Throughout this book, translators have added captions (She, Friends, He) to aid in understanding the text but there is some debate about them and we are leaving them out so that the text can be read in the manner that it was written.
"Solomon's Song of Songs." NIV translation
Although there is some debate among scholars, this opening verse makes it clear that this book is written by King Solomon. We are reminded of the fact that Solomon was the wisest man that the world has ever seen. In his other writings (see Ecclesiastes), we see that he tried all the things of the world and came to the conclusion that the only thing that matters is our right relationship with God. We are also reminded of the fact that it was Solomon's love for women that would eventually lead to the division of the nation of Israel. We do not know the exact time when this book was written but it is quite possible that it was after Solomon learned of God's judgment on his family because of his forbidden marriage. In the Hebrew text, the title is "Solomon's Song of Songs" and, because of its nature, Israelites were not allowed to read this book until they reached the age of thirty and were ready for marriage. Throughout the Bible, the relationship between mankind and God is compared to the marriage relationship between a man and a woman as designed by God and recorded in Genesis 2. This book speaks of the ideal marriage between a man and a woman and uses it as a picture of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Why would God include this writing in the Bible? We are reminded of the fact that, in general, the Jewish people are a practical (physical) people and this writing puts the life of the righteous into a practical perspective (a way that they could easily relate to).
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth - for your love is more delightful than wine." NIV translation
The song of salvation begins with a young girl's call for a kiss from the man she has fell in love with. We are reminded of the fact that, at that time as well as in many areas of the world today, a kiss was a pledge of peace. Here, the kiss (peace) is described as being more satisfying than wine. The peace that is being referred to is a peace between God and mankind which is what is commonly called salvation. This peace is truly the most satisfying thing in the world.
"Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you!" NIV translation
The Hebrew word that is translated as perfume here is "shemen" and it literally means oil and usually describes olive oil. This oil reminds us of the anointing oil that was used in the temple and produced an aroma that was pleasing to God. The "young women" speaks of purity and the fact that the pure in heart (blameless) are the ones that are pleasing to God. We see that the name of Jesus Christ is what produces this aroma (makes us blameless) in our lives and the anointing (perfume) that we have is the Holy Spirit living in us.
"Take me away with you - let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers. We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. How right they are to adore you!" NIV translation
The Hebrew word "mashak" means "draw" and is translated here as "take me away" which speaks to the fact that it is only through the work of the Spirit calling us that we are able to receive salvation. The king taking the young girl into his chambers speaks of the close personal relationship that we have with God through the work of Jesus on the cross. We also see that one of the effects of this peace (salvation) is praise and we see that this effect extends to those around us as the young girl's "friends" join in the song. As Christians, we should ask ourselves if our life causes others to praise God.
"Dark am I, yet lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon." NIV translation
This young woman was deeply tanned which was not desirable for women of the time. She is compared to the tents of Kedar which were made from the skins of black sheep or goats. We are reminded of the fact that this same material was called sackcloth and was worn as a sign of repentance. Kedar was the second son of Ishmael and a nomadic tribe in the Arabian Desert. (Muslims identify Mohammed as a descendant of Ishmael through the line of Kedar.) Throughout the Bible, Kedar and the tents of Kedar were associated with being cutoff from the worship of the one true God (see Psalm 120:5).
"Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother's sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I had to neglect." NIV translation
The young girl explains that she had become dark from serving her family in the vineyards under the hot sun. Here, the vineyard is also used as a metaphor for the body of the girl. She is basically saying that she did not have time to take care of herself like a normal lady because she was kept busy serving her lazy brothers. This is a reminder to us that we cannot judge others by their outward appearance.
"Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?" NIV translation
The young lady basically asks the question of: How do I get to you? A veiled woman speaks of a prostitute wandering around the camps of the shepherds which is a picture of human efforts to achieve salvation. In our world today, it is common for people to chase after all sorts of things in an effort to get close to God but we are reminded that there is only one Way and that is through Jesus Christ.
"If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds." NIV translation
The friends of the young lady give her advice on how to find her king and that is to go out to the shepherds in the fields. This reminds us of the fact that shepherds were considered to be lowly workers at it was a smelly job but it is for the lowly (humble) people that Jesus came. This song of salvation can only be heard by those who are humble.
"I liken you, my darling, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariot horses. Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver." NIV translation
Egypt was known for their fine horses and, here, the king compares this young woman to a mare among them. Although most women would not want to be compared to a horse, this is a picture of her value to the king as ordinary people did not own a horse.
"While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My beloved is to me a sachet of myrhh resting between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi." NIV translation
We see from this passage that our spirit is fed through the presence of the King. En Gedi is an oasis located on the west side of the Dead Sea in the desert and the girl compares the king to the plants at that oasis in the desert.
"How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant. The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs." NIV translation
This is like a conversation between the king and this young girl that he has chosen. We see that he mentions the fact that her eyes are doves but what does that mean? Doves are symbols of peace and he sees the peace that is in her as it is reflected in her eyes. You get the picture of two lovers lying on a blanket under the trees and the joy that they share. They are both content with each other and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. That is a wonderful picture to end this song of salvation.