The Book of Song of Songs Bible Study Chapter 1 Part 1

We are going to look at Song of songs 1:1-6

v1: Song: This is a song. It is a type of play which is put to music, and the words which are sung tell a story. The Scripture is not presenting it as a historical event. (e.g. A parable, taught by Yeshua, was not a literal happening but we can learn from it.) Having had 700 wives (1 Kings 11:3) Solomon was not really acquainted with the Biblical model for marriage – one man and one woman together until death. Solomon desired this though. Solomon had numerous women, but this number was not satisfying to him – rather, he looked for that one right woman. 

The three main characters in this Song are:

  1. The woman who is called the Shulamite
  2. Solomon, the king
  3. A Shepherd

Solomon beheld the glorious and G-dly relationship between the Shulamite and her Shepherd husband. He thought that if he took the Shulamite for himself, he would experience the same kind of joy he saw in the relationship between her and the Shepherd. He did not think of her feelings and nor of those of her beloved. This is very similar to what David, his father, did when he took Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother -2 Sam 12:24) away from her husband – thinking that that would bring him joy (2 Sam 11).  

v2: (The Shulamite): Note: Poetry often speaks of things in a symbolic manner. By comparing love to wine (the first of many symbolic comparisons throughout this book) this verse sets the stage for us to interpret this song symbolically and not literally. Set on this foundation we therefore can conclude that “let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” should not be interpreted literally but symbolically. 

  • Kisses are related to kindness/love. 
  • Mouth is synonymous with words. Her desire is for him to speak kind and loving words to her. 
  • Love is being symbolised as wine. 
  • Wine, oftentimes, is synonymous with gladness, happiness, or joy. There is a very specific process that grapes must go through in order to make them into wine. It is a process that takes great patience and time. A good wine gets better with age and time. Building a G-dly marriage does not just happen but, here too, just like as with wine, there is a formula (process) or methodology that is required – a strong marriage needs to be based on Scriptural, G-dly, truth.

v3: Ointments: In those days oil was used as a perfume, a fragrance. 

  • The fragrance of your good ointments: She is not talking about his literal smell but is talking about the fragrance of his character, the essence of who he is. In those days (and even in Judaism today) there was a blessing for a good smell (Gen 8:21, Gen 27:27)
  • Name is synonymous with character (Prov 22:1, see also Eccl 7:1). Character is established by what a person does – their deeds. His deeds are like oil poured out – they are pleasing and acceptable to her.
  • Virgins: Righteous young women. They love him because of who he is, and because of what he does. He is the type of man that they want to marry. 

v4: Lead me away… we will run: Usually this expression implies that someone is not happy with where they are at. She is asking for a change. 

  • The king has brought me into his chambers: The Shulamite is in the palace, in the living quarters of the king (i.e. Solomon). She does not want to be in this place but wants to be taken away by her beloved to a different place. 

Note: This verse lays the foundation for the right way to interpret this song. 

  • We: Possibly the virgins (see verse 3)
  • Rejoice: The love that the Shepherd and the Shulamite share is a G-dly, good and upright love. Those who are righteous put their stamp of approval on this relationship. 

v5: I am dark (black): She calls herself black because she has skin that has been darkened by the sun. 3000 years ago, women of distinction, modesty or propriety would not go out and purposefully get a suntan.

  • Lovely: Comely. Suitable. She is like an oasis in the desert – she meets a need and satisfies. 
  • Daughters of Jerusalem: They are also primary characters in this song. The Shulamite communicates with them and teaches them.
  • Tents…curtains: They meet a need by providing privacy and protection to a household. They serve a purpose and accomplish their task. She is saying that she can accomplish what a wife should. She can serve the purpose of her spouse. Just as the curtains of Solomon were wonderful in his house so too can she fulfil her marital obligations wonderfully in hers. 

v6: Do not look upon me: In this context it means to not look down on her, judge her, because of her skin colour. It was not her objective to tan herself. The colour of her skin was beyond her control.

  • My mother’s sons: There appears to be a problem in the relationship between her and her brothers. She does not call them her brothers, but she distances herself from them in the way she refers to them (Much like in the parable of the prodigal son – the older son refers to his brother, when speaking to his father, as “this son of yours”- Luke 15:28-30). The Shulamite’s brothers looked down on her and did not see her as much of a woman, or as someone to be valued. They were like so many who look at things in an inappropriate way. Mans look to the outward, but G-d looks to the inward (1 Sam 16:7). 
  • They made me: She was made to work hard.
  • My own vineyard I have not kept: She was so busy doing the bidding of others that she had no time to tend to her own outward appearance.

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