Song of Solomon

These are all of the chapters of the book of Song of Solomon. Clicking on a chapter will show you the text of that chapter of Song of Solomon in the Bible (New International Version).

Bible opened to Song of Songs

Who Wrote the Book Song of Songs?

Most people think Song of Songs was written by King Solomon, the third king of Israel and builder of God’s first Temple of Jerusalem, as the very first verse identifies what follows as “Solomon’s Song of Songs.” Indeed, many Bible translations call the book “Song of Solomon,” though the naming of Solomon in the first verse could mean it was merely given to or written for Solomon, not authored by him. However, the mention of Tirzah as a “beautiful” city on par with Jerusalem (6:4), as well as the unusually poetic style of the book, leads some scholars to doubt it was written by Solomon or even in Solomon’s era. Some believe it was written much later, after Israel’s exile to Babylon.

Context and Background of Song of Songs

If the book was written by Solomon, it would have been sometime during his reign, between 970 and 931 B.C. The intended audience was the people of Israel. There are three main voices comprising the Song—a male singer (the king, or Solomon), a female singer (his love), and a female chorus—all lifting up in strong lyrical style the vast power and God-ordained beauty of romantic love and desire, particularly that which is mature and equally reciprocated. The title phrase itself means it is meant to be the greatest of songs, much like the Apostle Paul referred to God as the “King of kings” (1 Timothy 6:15).

With its lyrical, emotionally driven style and sensual language, people sometimes struggle to understand why Song of Songs is included in the Bible. Some wonder whether it is supposed to be a metaphor for Christ’s love for the church, confused by suggestive references to romantic desire. Indeed, Song of Songs is unique, unlike any other book in God’s Word, closer to Egyptian love poetry than prophecy, commands, or discipleship.

But a full reading of Song of Songs indicates it is a book of wisdom intent on portraying an idyllic relationship between a man and a woman, full of a love that both celebrates each other and celebrates the pleasurable gifts given to us by God.

Main Theme and Purpose of Song of Songs

Some attempt to interpret Song of Songs as though it is meant to represent God’s abiding love for His people. However, its lyrical language and sensual themes lead most scholars to believe it is a book of wisdom about what an ideal love union between a man and a woman looks like. Throughout Song of Songs, we are offered the sort of love union designed and ordained by God, filled with a pure and powerful sensuality, respect, appreciation, and adoration.

Song of Songs contains eight chapters all praising and giving voice to love. It begins with the woman wishing for the kiss of her man and ends with the acknowledgment that love is “as strong as death” (8:6), that its burning fire cannot be quenched even by the river, as she urges him to come away with her. Their love is both fulfilling and equivalently matched—she desires him, he desires her, and by the end we understand their joyful union will come to pass.

Throughout, both the man and woman use evocative and often precious language to describe their attraction to each other. He calls her “beautiful” and “darling” (1:15), his “lily among thorns” (2:2) and his “dove in the clefts of the rock” (2:14), while she calls him “handsome” and “beloved” (1:16), a “young stag on the rugged hills” (2:17).

As their desire strengthens, they become more confident in their expressions of adoration. Calling him “the one my heart loves” (3:1), she declares his arms are like rods of gold set with topaz and his body like polished ivory, while he celebrates her beauty with comparisons to lush pomegranates and flowing waterfalls, likening her legs to jewels and her hair to that of a royal tapestry.

As the song reaches its climax, he proclaims his intentions to “climb the palm tree” and “take hold of its fruit” (7:8), as she affirms in turn, “I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me” (7:10).

Theirs is a love in complete harmony, the sort of love the Lord Himself established in Genesis 2 when He crafted woman from a rib of the man that she be a helper suitable for him. Indeed, the man rejoiced at her creation, affirming, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23).

Song of Songs echoes those same themes, reflecting a love created by God and meant to complement and revel in each other and in the Lord.

What Can We Learn from Song of Songs Today?

Song of Songs offers much guidance for Christians today about how a Godly love union should be. With divorce rates, pornography, promiscuity, adultery, premarital sex, and more on the rise, people are often confused about the meaning of love and how to exist in a unified and happy marriage with few cultural role models.

Some Christians taught to resist temptations of the flesh while unmarried, believe they must continue to abstain from pleasure once married, that sexual intercourse is only for procreation. Others believe that as long as they are monogamous in action, it doesn’t matter whether or not they desire their spouse — or another.

But Song of Songs gives us an example of Godly love and marriage that so many of us need today. It portrays a man and a woman with desire only for each other, who clearly rejoice in that desire and accept it as holy, meaningful, beautiful, and right. They wait for each other, seek each other out, and wait—albeit sometimes impatiently—until the time is right for their union.

The female voice in the song seems to embody love with all of its ecstasy, urgency, passion, purity, and glory. Her voice also serves to advise other young people about the need to wait for maturity and reciprocity. As she urges first in 2:7 and again in 8:4, “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

Other Favorite Verses from Song of Songs

In addition to those above, some favorite verses from Song of Songs are as follows:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine” (Song 1:2).

“Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love” (Song 2:4).

“My beloved is mine and I am his” (Song 2:16a).

“Sixty queens there may be, and eighty concubines, and virgins beyond number; but my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her” (Song 6:8-9).

“I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house — she who has taught me” (Song 8:2a).

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (Song 8:6).

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned” (Song 8:7).

“But my own vineyard is mine to give” (Song 8:12a).

Sources

Encyclopedia of The Bible, Bible Gateway Plus

NIV Study Bible, Copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan.

NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Copyright © 2019 by Zondervan.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan.

New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters, Copyright © 2001.

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Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team. Learn more at http://jessicabrodie.com.