Why is the Song of Solomon in the Bible, anyway?


The Song of Solomon gets a lot of "bad press." Are there spiritual lessons to be found in this book?


The Song of Solomon or Song of Songs has probably roused more confusion than any other book in the Hebrew Bible, similar to the New Testament’s complex Book of Revelation. Roland K. Harrison of the University of Toronto says the Song provides “almost unlimited ground for speculation.” The Bible’s usual piety, preachments and prayers are totally absent, nor is God even mentioned (except for 8:6 in some translations). Yet readings from the Song are chosen for Judaism’s Passover liturgy and Catholicism’s feast of Mary Magdalene.

Why was this book chosen for the Bible in the first place? Did King Solomon write it? Is it about him? And, most important, is this a book of erotic poetry, as it appears on the surface, or something totally different, an unusual expression of the spiritual love bond between God and believers?

Pioneer Protestant John Calvin said the Song was about physical love and saw nothing wrong with that.

But the notable 17th Century Protestant commentator Matthew Henry insisted on the spiritualized view and warned against reading the Song “with carnal minds.” Such interpretation carries danger of “death” and “poison,” he declared. “Therefore the Jewish doctors advised their young people not to read it till they were 30 years old” lest they kindle “the flames of lust.” (!!)

Such distaste for the erotic as inappropriate for holy Scripture typified official views through much of Jewish and Christian history. ...

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