Song of Solomon: Symbolic Love Language for the Bride in Waiting
Who would have thought love could be defined in-depth by eight chapters in the Bible? The Song of Solomon, the key to intimacy with God, has become accustom to being largely neglected by the Church, what with its symbolic interpretation and imagery that has known to make any casual reader blush. Although the meaning behind Solomon’s song is much debated, we hold fast to the idea of the Bride and her response to the Bridegroom when brought to full maturity, which renders understanding of God’s true passion for humanity.
Brief Understanding of the Song of Solomon
There are three ways of interpreting the Song of Solomon: naturally, spiritually and allegorically. Naturally, there is a physical depiction of a genuine love story between King Solomon and his bride, the Shulamite maiden. It emphasizes biblical principles, honoring the beauty of love within marriage. There are two basic story lines when interpreting the Song as a natural love story:
- The first tells of a Shulamite maiden who was wooed by the handsome and wealthy King Solomon who progressively wins her heart as the storyline unfolds.
- The second is the story of a godly Shulamite maiden who deeply loves a poor shepherd in her hometown (Shunem). King Solomon passed through her town and noticed her working in a vineyard. He was struck by her extraordinary beauty. Thus, he sought to steal her heart away from the poor shepherd that she loved. She remained loyal to the poor shepherd in the midst of the temptations of King Solomon’s wealth and power.
The natural perspective has grown in popularity in the past 100 years with many great commentaries written, however, the most common interpretation since its inscription (approximately 3000 years ago) has been the spiritual aspect. Spiritually, this is a symbolic interpretation of the spiritual truths in our relationship with Jesus behind the natural love story. We study the Song to gain deeper understanding of our relationship with Jesus. There are three common approaches to this interpretation:
First, is the relationship between Jesus and the individual believer. Through this approach, we draw from the spiritual principles that aid us in our progression of holy passion, which is ultimately intimacy with God.
Second, is the relationship between Jesus and His corporate Church throughout history.
Third, is the relationship between God as the Bridegroom and ethnic Israel as His Bride (Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:16-20; Ezekiel 16:8-14, 20-21, 32, 38; Isaiah 54:5-6). This was the primary approach of the scribes in Old Testament times, and is with Jewish rabbis today. See Israel Mandate
|It is important to note that through scripture, Jesus is exalted in the Song. He spoke of Himself from all the Scriptures to the disciples on the Emmaus road. Jesus went through all thirty-nine books of the Old Testament to speak of Himself and He did this through the Spirit, who inspired all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) and to this day, exalts Jesus in all He does.He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. – John 16:14
The Spirit has a deep friendship with Jesus and a fierce loyalty to fill people with love for Jesus. They have been together from eternity past. Thus, it is inconceivable for the Spirit to inspire a book in the Bible without Jesus being the predominant theme.
Lastly, the allegorical (a literary form, where people or objects symbolically represent reality) interpretation, illustrates truth by making it easier to understand the spiritual backdrop. Being of natural minds, we are in need of grasping our spiritual role in eternity. Jesus knew this, and is why He spoke in allegories or parables to impart the call to His Bride. The three main characters in the Song of Solomon signify this call:
King Solomon: a picture of the triumphant resurrected Jesus Christ who is King of Kings.
Shulamite maiden: a picture of the Bride of Christ. She is introduced as a young maiden who grows up to become a Bride in mature partnership with King Jesus. The Shulamite is mentioned once by name (6:13). She lived in Shunam (north of Jezreel).
Daughters of Jerusalem: speak of sincere, yet spiritually immature believers. They look to the Shulamite for answers on how to grow close to the King. They are not an actual group that may be identified in history (they personify immature believers).
|The allegorical interpretation has been used differently throughout history. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10, Paul used an allegorical interpretation of the “muzzled ox” (Deuteronomy 25:4) to apply to the full-time workers in the Gospel receiving finances. Yet, the Alexandrians used allegory in a way that ignored its historical context and meaning. Consequently, allegorical interpretations are helpful if we only use them to illustrate truths that are clearly established throughout the New Testament.|
Theologically, all believers on Earth are betrothed (engaged) to Jesus. In Hebrew tradition, an engaged couple was legally married and needed to be divorced if they broke their engagement (2 Corinthians 11:2). The consummation of the marriage relationship occurs in the age to come (Revelation 19:7). The Bride of Christ is the entire Church from history that is filled with mature love. In the resurrection, the Spirit will bring God’s work to completion in the whole Church. In other words, every believer will experience a mature bridal relationship with Jesus.
To this end, this is truth that the Song of Solomon is not just describing an earthly lover’s fiery obsession-that quickly fades with the highs and lows of human emotion-but love, it is God. He is love. He is impassioned. He is jealous. As we search out the very nature of God we will be transformed by the revelation of who He is and the depths of love He has for us.
Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. – Song of Solomon 8:6