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Solomon's Canticle, a.k.a. Song

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Be advised my take on Song isn't a serious, seminary-grade Bible study. It's mostly just entertainment.

I suppose there are any number of ways to spiritualize Song, and they're probably all very useful. Nothing especially wrong with allegories; I mean, the apostle Paul allegorized an event from the Old Testament to illustrate his point in Gal 4:21-31, so I think it's probably okay.

But as for me, I'd much rather take this little book in the Old Testament prima facie, viz: as a romantic fantasy rather than some sort of mystical writing.

Now; according to 2Tim 3:15-17; all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

So then, how does Song fulfill that statement? Well; I think it's pretty obvious that Song is going to teach us the effect that true heart-felt romantic love has on people in relationships between normal men and normal women which, I can tell you from personal experience, is very beneficial for new Christians who grew up in dysfunctional homes and/or coming out of a religion that made them feel guilty about their thoughts and feelings for the opposite gender.

Buen Camino (pleasant journey)
Song 1:1 . . Solomon's song of songs.

Solomon penned quite a few songs; something like 1,005 (1Kings 4:32). Whether he wrote the music too or just the lyrics; I don't know; maybe. He was a very intelligent guy, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was a musician; nor even that he could carry a tune; but then he didn't have too. Solomon had a number of professional singers on the payroll. (Ecc 2:8)

"song of songs" suggests a colloquialism like Sadaam Hussein's "mother of all wars". In other words: this particular song may have represented Solomon's best work to date.

In a number of places throughout Song, speakers don't address anyone in particular. In point of fact, quite a bit of dialogue throughout Song is what's called soliloquy; defined by Webster's as a poem, discourse, or utterance of a character in a drama that has the form of a monologue, or gives the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflections. In other words: talking with and/or to one's self.

We will also be running across places where the soliloquy isn't vocal; rather, imagined; viz: thoughts.

The Juliet in this musical story is assumed to be a girl called Shulamite (Song 6:13), from the Hebrew word Shuwlammiyth (shoo-lam-meeth') which is apparently a pet name rather than a real name. It means peaceful; defined by Webster's as untroubled by conflict, agitation, or commotion, i.e. quiet, tranquil, and devoid of violence and force.

The "untroubled" aspect of her pet name caught my attention because it strongly suggests, at least to me anyway, that Song's Juliet didn't lose her composure under duress; in other words; she was unlikely to throw a hissy fit when things didn't go her way.

That's a fitting pet name for the girl because later on in Song, she's spoken of as a dove; a bird well-known the world over as having a gentle personality.

Personally I don't much care for the name Shulamite because it's not all that feminine, and it suggests an ethnic identity rather than a pet name; so from here on in I will be calling her Shulah.

» Solomon's Hebrew name Shelomoh (shel-o-mo') compliments Shula's; it means peaceful, which is pretty much the same meaning as hers. However, I don't really care for the sound of that name so I'll be referring to him as Shiloh from here on in. (cf. Gen 49:10)
Song 1:2a . . May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.

A lover's kiss doesn't always have to be mouth-to-mouth. For example kissing the hand used to be common courtesy in some parts of the world, same as greetings consisting of kissing on the cheek. However, I think we can safely assume that Shulah had an affectionate kiss in mind rather than courtesy. A kiss on the shoulder would suffice for that purpose. That kind of a kiss, though maybe not very passionate, is at least intimate.

Song 1:2b . . for your love is better than wine.

That phrase makes better sense when kept with the first half of the verse; which refers to kissing on the lips.

So; better in what way?

Alcohol, in just the right amount, can soothe people's nerves and improve their mood.

"He bringing forth food from the earth, wine that gladdens the heart of man" (Ps 104:14-15)

But given the choice, I think most of us would rather be with a lover than with a bottle because lovers, on the whole, make us feel much, much better than booze. A lover can make people feel better about themselves too whereas a bottle often makes drinkers feel a certain amount of self-loathing.

I cannot remember ever feeling like singing whenever I was drinking; but this one girl I was dating back in the day made me feel so good that I was constantly humming old love songs that I hadn't thought of in years. Pretty amazing.

"There are three things which are too wonderful for me; four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid." (Prov 30:18-19)
Song 1:3 . . Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, your name is like purified oil; therefore the maidens love you.

» I'm convinced that Song is just as much a fantasy as Mozart's Magic Flute. The reason being that in Ecc 7:28, Solomon complained that he was unable to find even one good woman among a thousand. In other words: in my estimation, Shulah was a daydream; viz: the kind of girl that Solomon always wished to meet, but never did. She was a girl who only existed in his imagination; and that's where she stayed.

Anyway, back to the guy. The Hebrew word for the "oils" actually describes something greasy, i.e. a paste or a cream or possibly a wax; or something with the consistency of honey. So apparently Shiloh's fragrance was produced by something smeared on rather than splashed on.

The words "purified oil" are from a Hebrew word that actually means "poured forth". Well; an open container of any strong-smelling chemical would eventually fill a whole room with its odor.

Shiloh's name-- i.e. his reputation --was like an open container of perfume in an enclosed room; in other words: everybody knew Shiloh just as Boaz was well-known to be a man of standing in Jerusalem (Ruth 2:1) and "therefore the maidens love you" likely means that Shiloh was a man that any girl would be proud to be seen with, i.e. he was very eligible; viz: a good catch.
Song 1:4a . .Take me away with you-- let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.

At this point in the Song, there's been no mention of a married relationship between the guy and the girl; but that doesn't mean that Shulah's thoughts are improper, rather, perfectly normal and to be fully expected. I pity a guy in love with a girl who has no interest in sleeping with him.

Song 1:4b . . We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. How right they are to adore you!

We mustn't forget that a man wrote this song, likely thinking himself it's main character, viz: the starring role; so of course he'd picture himself the most irresistible male on the block; and a king to boot. Well; I've seen for myself how girls react to celebrities.

Good Morning America often has musical groups performing outside in the street and one particular day it was Enrique Iglesia.

While Enrique was singing, security hoisted a young girl up on the stage and he began singing his song directly to her. She began choking up and fighting back tears, and then he got down on both knees right in front of her; all the while crooning a very emotional Latin love song and looking right up into her eyes.

And then something happened that was just overwhelming. The girl was wearing a tank top that went down only about mid ways leaving her tummy exposed so you could see her belly button. Enrique gently pressed the palm of his hand on her bare tummy while he was kneeling there singing and looking right up into her eyes. She really lost it then and just about died.

Do you think that girl would have hesitated to bear Enrique's children? I tell you she would have gladly endured quints for that man right then and there. And it's not just the cute celebrities that have that effect on young girls.

My son and I attended an Aerosmith concert back in 1998 and I was utterly astounded at the number of gorgeous buxom young girls crowding security in front of the stage trying to get Stephen Tyler's attention. I don't know how many of you out there have seen a mug shot of Stephen Tyler but I can assure you he looks more like the Witch of Endor than a rock star, but there he was, charming those girls right out of their better judgment.

So then, we shouldn't be surprised that Shulah said to herself: "Let the king bring me into his chambers." Young girls were thinking the very same thing about Elvis Presley back in the early days of his career.
Song 1:5 . . I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.

The Hebrew word for "black" is shachor (shaw-khore') which means dusky, defined by Webster's as somewhat dark in color, i.e. somewhere between light and dark; viz: tanned.

Quite a few people here in Oregon frequent tanning salons to darken their skin, while in southern California they bake themselves in sunlight. But apparently in Shulah's day, women didn't tan on purpose because it was considered unattractive.

The "tents of Kedar" is likely a reference to the portable goatskin shelters utilized by herdsmen in the field, while the "curtains of Solomon" is a reference to the beauty of woven tapestries hanging in his palace.

Shulah had probably never actually seen those tapestries for herself but everybody knew about Solomon's extreme wealth and his ostentatious manner of living.

So, Shulah's feminine attributes outweighed her complexion; and to tell the truth, very few of the men I've encountered during my 76 years on the third rock from the Sun care all that much about the color of a woman's face anyway. It's a very minor consideration; if it's considered at all.

Song 1:6 . . Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, for the sun has burned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me caretaker of the vineyards. But I have not taken care of my own vineyard.

Shulah's "own vineyard" no doubt refers to taking care of herself. Grape harvest in that land is sometime around July and September; so you can just imagine the damage done to Shulah's skin out there in the fields under a hot summer Sun.

When women "stare" at each other, it's usually for the purpose of evaluating their appearance; viz: the daughters of Jerusalem were nit-picking Shulah's appearance and likely making unkind remarks about it like when Joan Rivers was on Fashion Police; though for Joan it was all in fun, but I suspect the women in Jerusalem were catty; defined by Webster's as spiteful and malicious.
Song 1:7 . . 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?

A veiled woman following flocks in that day was sort of like the loose women that followed cow towns and mining camps in the olde American west, except that not all veiled women were involved in vice.

When Judah encountered Tamar at a rest stop along the highway, he mistook her for a qedeshah (ked-ay-shaw') which isn't your typical working girl, but rather a devotee raising money for an established religion (Gen 38:21) typically a pagan kind of religion centered upon the worship of a goddess like Ashtoreth (a.k.a. Astarte). So one might say that a qedeshah's services were for a worthy cause.

In those days, cult prostitutes had a measure of respect in their community, and it wasn't unusual for every woman in the community to be expected to take a turn at supporting their "church" in that manner; so cult prostitution wasn't really looked upon as a dirty business, rather, as a sacred obligation.

Still, Shulah wouldn't want it getting around that she was a cult hooker; and it would certainly look that way were she to shadow the flocks. Well; her love interest solved that problem by inviting her to move into camp.

Song 1:8 . . If you yourself do not know, most beautiful among women; go forth on the trail of the flock, and pasture your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.

That would not only provide Shulah a measure of security, but also protect her reputation because our Romeo no doubt solemnly charged his men to keep their pea-pickin' paws off her just as Boaz did in the book of Ruth. (Ruth 2:9)
Your comments are interesting -- God inspired the book to be written for His reasons. For all of us to read. That married love is perfectly okay. There's nothing wrong with it.

A side comment -- God apparently has no problem with men having many wives although he Did create only one man and a woman for that one man. They bore children together.

Ya know see women with more than one man, though. Women don't have harums of men.

And women with another woman and men with another man is putrid in God's eyes. Nothing good can possibly come from that.

And the women you're referring to were temple prostitutes. The god of fertility is who they were 'worshipping'.
This next section in the song appears to me a grandiose day dream wherein Shulah imagines herself utterly irresistible and gives herself quite a variety of compliments. I mean, just look at some of this language.

Song 1:9 . . I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh.

Well; I think we can safely assume that the horses pulling Pharaoh's chariot were well above the quality of your average nag-- the picture of equine health; blue ribbon stock; i.e. the best of the best.

Song 1:10 . .Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.

Those are an interesting compliments. It's stating, in so many words, that the earrings didn't enhance Shulamite's cheeks, nor the necklace her neck. In other words: the jewelry didn't improve Shulamite's appearance, no, she made the jewelry look better.

There's an old saying that goes something like this: Clothes make the man. Well; I propose a new saying: Women make the jewelry.

Song 1:11 . . We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver.

You know, it's one thing to walk into a jewelry store and select something from a display case, but quite another to special-order a piece.

I have to say something personal to the single guys out there.

When you finally get around to proposing to your best girl, for heaven's sake don't offer her your mother's ring. No, get one for your girl's very own. Hand-me-downs, regardless of their sentimental value, make no one feel special.

I inadvertently caught a clip of Kim Kardashian planning her wedding wherein she remarked "I want it to be all about me." Well; your marriage won't be all about your bride if you drag your mother into it. Just saying.
Song 1:12 . .While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance.

To be "at table" doesn't necessarily refer an item of furniture. The Hebrew word also suffices for just sitting around in a circle, e.g. a picnic. It appears to me that the herders mentioned in verse 8 were on a lunch break.

The Hebrew word for Shulah's perfume identifies an aromatic called nard; commonly translated spikenard. Whether the girl was actually wearing perfume is kind of hard to tell. She may have been imagining this: I mean, who takes care for their grooming while driving sheep and goats?

Song 1:13-14 . . My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts.

I'm not really sure how many guys would feel all that manly about themselves being thought of as a little bag of potpourri but at least he'd know that his best girl was happy with him resting his head in that area.

The Hebrew word for Shulah's myrrh shows up for the first time in the Bible at Ex 30:23 where it's a principal ingredient in the recipe for a special holy oil. Myrrh is an aromatic resin. Shulah was a farm girl; I doubt that she could afford any myrrh of her own;

Song 1:14 . . My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.

En Gedi first appears in the Bible as a community at Josh 16:52. Though kind of rocky, it was an attractive oasis due to its abundance of fresh water. The area is a nature preserve now.

I'm guessing that they valued a bouquet of Henna flowers in Shulah's day like we value red roses in ours.

Now we switch to the king's thoughts-- perhaps what Shulah would like him to be thinking.

Song 1:15 . . How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.

A humorous ladies' tank top I spied had words on it that said: "Tell me I'm beautiful, and buy me a donut."

There are girls who will never once in their entire lives have a guy tell them "Oh how beautiful you are". I'm guessing that Shulah may have been one of those girls.
Song 1:16 . . How handsome you are, my beloved, and so pleasant! Indeed, our couch is luxuriant.

The Hebrew word for "luxuriant" actually means verdant, defined by Webster's as green with growing plants; in other words: fertile; which is just the opposite of a land that's so arid, and its soil so bad, that nothing but scrub can grow there.

Wise city managers are careful to design tracts with parks in mind because they provide people a pleasant escape from the weary round of life.

Song 1:17 . .The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs.

That is make-believe at its best.

Beams and rafters are the primary structural members of a roof; which when viewed from indoors becomes the ceiling. Ceilings, no matter how ornate, are not what I would call comforting. They're impersonal, and they're cold, and after a while they become quite dull.

But when Shulah is with her lover, that same ceiling becomes to her a living forest, i.e. a private grove of oaks, elms, and maples replete with lots of shade, ferns, wildflowers, chirping birds, buzzing insects, chipmunks, foot paths, and a little brook. Shiloh's nearness makes all the difference. He changes Shulah's perspective of what would otherwise be the interior of a very insipid wooden box.
Song 2:1a . . I am a rose of Sharon

Apparently nobody really knows the species of flower meant by a rose in that passage. Some say it's the narcissus, and other say it's the saffron. Personally I prefer the saffron because of it's full bloom, and it's very blue color.

Song 2:1b . . a lily of the valleys.

Again, the species of flower is only a guess. The emphasis here is actually upon the color rather than the species, i.e. white. For that reason, I suspect that the rose and the lily are the self same flower because the narcissus is a white flower that looks very much like a lily.

I also suspect that the flower spoken of in that passage is a wild flower rather than a cultivated species; which no doubt speaks of Shulah's natural beauty. Some girls need quite a bit of make-up to look pretty and alluring, but she didn't. Shulah was quite a stand-out; though up till now, somehow gone unnoticed, marginalized, and underappreciated.

Song 2:2 . . Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.

That's quite a compliment. No doubt lots of girls in Jerusalem rivaled Shulah's beauty, but they might just as well have been concealing themselves with full burkas.

My love must be a kind of blind love,
I can't see anyone but you.
Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright,
I only have eyes for you.

The moon may be high,
But I can't see a thing in the sky.
I only have eyes for you.

I don't know if we're in a garden,
Or on a crowded avenue.
Maybe millions of people go by,
But they all disappear from view,
And I only have eyes for you.

(Harry Warren and Al Dubin)

That's one of the all-time great loves songs, recorded by The Flamingos in 1959.
Song 2:3a . . Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.

The Hebrew word for "apple" is somewhat vague. It's possibly a generic term that can pertain to any number of fruit-bearing trees, e.g. oranges, quince, citron, etc which are trees that produce fruits that not only taste good, but smell pretty good too when they're cut open.

Seeing as how Song is a fantasy rather than a fact, we could make Shulah's "apple" tree any species we want, including cherries, which produce not only tasty fruit, but also lovely blossoms too. The exact species isn't all that important. What really matters is the contrast.

Fruit trees produce food, while woodland trees as a rule don't produce any really useful nourishment; unless you're maybe a beaver, a chipmunk, or an insect.

Song 2:3b . . I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

The flesh of fruit is typically soft compared to nuts and seeds, which are usually hard.

Most guys would rather be thought of as an oak's acorn than a fruit. But an oak tree-- whose lumber is certainly far more sturdy than that of most fruit trees --isn't romantic. Oaks are brutish-- like oxen --and who really wants to snuggle with bovines except maybe a deranged dairy farmer.
Song 2:4a . . He brought me to the banqueting house,

The Hebrew word for "banquet" is yayin (yah'-yin) which refers to a fermented beverage; one containing alcohol.

Another of that's word's appearances is located in the book of Esther where she arranged a sort of special tea party for her potentate; only the tea in that case was wine.

Song 2:4b . . and his banner over me is love.

The largest use of banners is located in first ten chapter of the book of Numbers as flags hoisted aloft to indicate tribal rallying points.

The combination is a pretty cool metaphor. The banquet and the banner indicate that Shulah held a special place in her lover's heart.
Song 2:5a . . Stay me with flagons,

Webster's defines a flagon as a large usually metal or pottery vessel (as for wine) with handle and spout and often a lid and/or a large bulging short necked bottle, and/or the contents of a flagon

The Hebrew word must be difficult because not every version translates 'ashiyshah (ash-ee-shaw') as a container or the contents of a container. A number of versions translate that word as a cake of raisins; which actually makes better sense than wine because the purpose is to "stay me" which means to strengthen, prop up, and/or support. Well; alcohol usually does very little to strengthen people; especially pitchers of the stuff.

Song 2:5b . . comfort me with apples:

The Hebrew word for "apples" in that verse is the same as Song 2:3, where it's possibly a generic term that can pertain to any number of fruit-bearing trees, e.g. oranges, quince, citron, etc; which are trees that produce fruits that not only taste good, but smell pretty good too when they're cut open.

It appears that Shulah has been so focused upon this love interest of hers that she has neglected to eat and has now become aware that her body is weak and in need of nourishment.

Song 2:5c . . for I am faint with love.

That pretty much describes lovesickness, which Webster's defines as languishing with love; viz: Shulah's love for Shiloh was so passionate, and so distracting, that she had lost her appetite and wasn't eating right; thus, it was wearing her down.

Song 2:6 . . His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.

That could easily be construed as a picture of Shiloh gently assisting Shulah to lay down on a couch because she had become too faint to stand on her own for very long at a time.
And it Could be just as it's saying in Song 2:6 -- his hand under her head and his other hand caressing her body. A woman's love interest in supposed to be her husband.

There's really nothing wrong with marital love being talked about in Scripture -- God created it. Nice, sweet, romantic loving is a great way to bring children into the family.
And it Could be .....
Your comments are useful as I sincerely believe viewers are entitled to a second opinion.

The hardest part of commenting on Solomon's song is figuring out what he's saying in the first place. There are so many strange metaphors and weird colloquialisms; plus there's the ambiguity of ancient Hebrew to cope with. I'm just taking my best guesses, like most everyone else; and heaven only knows whether mine, yours, and/or theirs are out in left field.
Song 2:7 . .

I left the scripture for that passage blank because there is so much disagreement as how to translate the Hebrew into English. For myself, I prefer Rashi's version; which reads like this:

"I bind you under oath-- by the gazelles and the does --that you do not cause hatred nor disturb this love while it still pleases."

Some translations address that oath to the daughters of Jerusalem.

Song 2:7 seems to me a concern that rivals might make of themselves the proverbial fly in the ointment by trying to draw Shiloh's attention away from Shulah and thus spoil the happiness she's enjoying with the love of her life.
Well --the book of Song of Solomon Is part of inspired Scripture -- God saw fit to inspire it for a reason. Maybe it's to get people To thinking. Why we act and do what we Do.
Song 2:8-9a . . Listen! My lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.

Many years ago I was driving to a date with my best girl when I got a hankering to take a roundabout route through a valley that I had heard much about but never seen for myself.

It was a nice drive but had a very serious downside. My girl was expecting me and when I showed up late and told her where I'd been she said: "So you were in no hurry to get here?" Ouch!

Well; Shulah's dream guy could scarcely run fast enough to be with her. He was all go with throttle up like a Space Shuttle launch: the pedal to the metal. If Shiloh had an afterburner, he would've lit that off too and made a bee line straight for Shulah's door; no side trips.