Song of Solomon is a really fun book of the Bible to talk about, because of its frank depiction of sex. For modern times, the content is pretty safe. There’s nothing too racy about the discussion of apple trees and gazelles. Throughout history, certain believers would refrain from reading this book to their children because of the lust that it could incite. However, the Jews loved the Song of Solomon, or as it can also be translated, The Song of Songs. They read this book out loud every year at Passover, calling it “The Holy of Holies.” I imagine that would spice up Christmas dinner - “kids, now we’re gonna read from the sex book.”
There are people who read this text as an allegory representing the love of God for His people. (slightly weird with all the breast talk.) From my study, it seems the best interpretation for this book is one that is very straightforward. I think the most convincing evidence for this interpretation comes from the repetition of a key phrase: Promise me O women of Jerusalem…do not awaken love until the time is right. (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4)
This passage is great advice to young couples: do not allow the feelings of passion to be stirred up until you can fulfill them by having sex as a married couple. However, is their evidence that the woman didn’t follow her own advice? Let’s take a look.
A Beautiful, Heartbreaking Story
Before I get into tricky interpretive waters, let’s set the stage: This book is a wonderful love story with a tragic, heart-breaking subtext. verse 2:16 says, “My lover is mine, and I am his.” This was always the purpose of this marriage, but it didn’t stay true for very long. Solomon would eventually add 699 women to the marriage. This adds a new dimension to the charge: do not awaken love until the time is right.
There is a scene in that occurs in chapter 3 in which the young man experiences a longing passion for her future husband. If you read this chronologically, it occurs before the marriage. Biblical commentators like John Macarthur point out that this passage is best interpreted as a dream. The passage says that the woman goes in search of her man in the middle of the night. After searching, she find him, and bring her back to her bed. We see this is not the marriage bed, because it occurs in her mother’s house. Is this a dream? Quite possibly. If its not a dream, it gives a new intensity to her advice to young women.
Could it be possible, that the young woman made the mistake of so many others. Could it be that she allowed a pre-marital sexual relationship to occur? Many professing Christians in long-term relationships will this to happen. Here is there reason: we’re on our way to marriage. They know it is all-the-way right, but they can’t see that it matters much. Here’s the only problem: rebellion always builds a pattern. What men and women don’t realize is that the amount that they allow themselves to compromise in sin before marriage will mirror the temptation to sin after marriage. If couples allow get sexual before marriage, the husband will continue to struggle with sexual compromise – he will just find a new object.
It’s quite possible that the woman was an innocent victim in this tragic non-fairy tale. She gave herself wholly to her husband, expecting the same in return. Whatever the reason, Solomon’s heart grew restless. And the Nation he lead ultimately paid the price.
From My Devotion - March 6, 2012