Focal Passages: Song of Solomon 1:2-4, 9-2:7
To observe that we live in a society that is suffering
greatly from sexual confusion, and also sexual misconduct, is not a novel
insight. A few minutes spent watching television; listening to any rock, pop,
or country music station; or perusing the corner-store magazine rack reveals
that we live in a sex-saturated culture. Unfortunately, the Christian response
to the sexual excess we see is to offer condemnation without providing
biblically sound guidance as to how one can have a healthy, active sex life.
The Song of Solomon offers us help in understanding sex in a
positive way. Although this book is often interpreted allegorically to
illustrate Christ’s love for the church, it is clearly written as a love poem
containing several segments. The book reveals the way men and women in love
should conduct themselves in attitudes and activities.
As the book begins, the young woman and young man have
already met and “fallen in love.” In verses 2-4, the girl voices her desire for
her betrothed’s affection. The girl speaks first, and there is a sense that she
is the major character in the poem. She seems to see herself as of equal
stature with her beloved. Much more of the text comes from her mouth and mind
than from his, though there is no failure on his part to declare his love and
admiration for her.
In verses 9-11, the young man thinks of his betrothed as a
person to cherish, comparing her to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.
Although this would probably not be received as a compliment
today, the Pharaoh’s horses were decorated to show off their beauty and
In 1:12-2:7, the love of the young man and his beloved
continues to intensify. The metaphors at the beginning of chapter two show that
the young man satisfies three needs of his betrothed: protection, intimacy, and
public identification as her beloved.
Perhaps the outstanding characteristic of this first major
section of the book is the sexual restraint that is evident during courtship.
The restraint contrasts with the sexual intimacy that characterizes the lovers
after their wedding (3:6-8:4).
Solomon, as author of the poem, offers a charge: “Do not
stir up or awaken love until it is ready!” In regard to matters of the heart,
patience is needed. Wait for love to blossom; don’t hurry it!