I Now Pronounce You…

This book called Song of Songs, or in many Bibles “Song of Solomon,”  is quite different from a lot of books in the Old Testament.  Though the poetic style has been existent in some earlier books like Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, there hasn’t been any intimacy like this.  Through reading the text the first time through, a few questions came to mind regarding the purpose that this book has in the OT.  Just like many other books, there has to be a purpose for the people of Israel, right?  After all, most of the books we’ve read pertain directly to the Israelites, so this one should too.  While it seems like these intimate verses between a man and his wife do not have much to do with Israel as a whole, there are more ways of interpretation than just one. 

The first way that this text can be interpreted is probably the way most commonly perceived by the reader.  The literal interpretation of this text is that these are intimate poems written by Solomon and one of his wives.  This is the most common way to view this book, and the text supports it fully.  In most versions of the text it actually says “She” when the wife is speaking, and “He” when the husband, or Solomon, is speaking.  In this way, the book is interpreted by the protagonist using the writer to show the nation of Israel how important intimacy is in a marital relationship. This is logically backed by intimacy truthfully being a key role in any marriage.  Could this book simply be pointing out the importance of marital intimacy, or is there more to it?

The text can also be interpreted through an allegorical view.  This interpretation means that the book can be viewed as an allegory, or symbol, of the protagonist’s love for the people of Israel.  In any marriage, a covenant is made between the husband and the wife.  This covenant, or promise, between the two parties is based on their love to one another and the fact that they won’t leave or forsake each other.  This same type of covenant has been made by the protagonist to the nation of Israel.  He has promised them that he will never forsake them and he will always be there to help them along their journey.  Through this interpretation, the book was put in the OT to remind the Israelites just how important and intimate this relationship actually is.

Silhouette of man and stars sky. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Finally, these poems can be viewed from both of these interpretations at the same time.  Perhaps the protagonist is placing importance on the marital relationship and the relationship of he and his people in the same breath.  As mentioned earlier, intimacy is obviously important in a marital relationship.  As early as Genesis, the relationship between a man and a woman is present.  The protagonist shows the importance of this relationship by giving Adam a partner in Eve.  In Song of Solomon, the intimacy within the relationship is taken to a whole new level.  Just like this, it is clear that the relationship between the protagonist and his people was important way before this book.  It can be inferred that both of these relationships are held at equal importance in the eyes of the protagonist.  He wants them to know that intimacy between a man and wife is just as important as the intimacy between he and his people. 

These interesting songs definitely say a lot about relationships.  Throughout the Old Testament, we have seen the struggle in the relationship between the protagonist and the nation of Israel just like struggles in a marriage.  The most important part of any relationship is the intimacy and the covenant between the two.  In this book the protagonist sheds light on both relationships in a beautiful work of art.  Through various interpretations of this text, the implications for the nation of Israel are clear.

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