Some New Thoughts About The Song Of Solomon -- By: Sherwood Eliot Wirt

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 33:4 (Dec 1990)
Article: Some New Thoughts About The Song Of Solomon
Author: Sherwood Eliot Wirt

Some New Thoughts About The Song Of Solomon

Sherwood Eliot Wirt*

The most beautiful OT expressions of transport and delight are found not in the prophets but in the poets, more specifically in the “Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.” Here, embedded in the ancient Hebrew canon, is undoubtedly the most exquisite love poem ever written. Like another magnificent poem, the book of Job, it is hidden in the midst of OT books that recount the wars, massacres, assassinations, treacheries, invasions, sufferings and starvation of the Hebrew tribes and their neighbors, all of which are accompanied by dire predictions of judgment and wrath to come. There is divine grief, sorrow and anguish over sin throughout the OT. Such expressions fulfill a prophetic role and have an honored place in the oracles of God, but they never should blind us to the unparalleled beauty and ecstasy of other passages. Jesus was well acquainted with both.

The Song of Solomon is a love poem. It is primarily a beautiful exchange between two lovers. Until one has absorbed the Song verse by verse, in all its exotic flavor and mysterious references, one cannot fully appreciate it.

The Song of Solomon has been called the most obscure book in the Bible. Early Christian commentators (Origen and Jerome) quote a Jewish saying that no one should study the Song until he (or she) has reached thirty years of age. Goethe called it the most divine of all love songs. Franz Delitzsch says, “No other book of Scripture has been so much abused, by an unscientific spiritualizing, and an over-scientific unspiritual treatment, as this has.”1

The Song is not scientific at all. It is a joyous dialogue, a sunny interchange between a lover and his beloved, a bridegroom and his bride. It radiates expressions of warm affection, using the imagery of flowers and fruits, gardens and perfumes, wind and water, fields and mountains, spices and jewelry. While the transitions are not always easy to follow, the total effect is enchanting.

Today Christian and Jewish marriage counselors are using the Song of Solomon to break down barriers between couples—barriers that are keeping husbands and wives from fully expressing their love for each other.

Ever since the rabbis received it into the Bible, the Song of Solomon has been a subject of controversy. The language is so sensuous, and the role of

* Sherwood Wirt is editor emeritus of Decision magazine and resides in Poway, California. The following article is adapted from his new book, Jesus, Man of Joy, soon to be released by Here’s Life Publishers, San Bernardino, California.

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