Before we dive into the Song of Solomon, I want to start out with a couple of reminders for us. Many Christians tend to shy away from reading this book because of its content. However, if we take 2 Timothy 3:16 literally, then this is a part of the Scripture that is profitable for doctrine (teaching us what’s right), reproof (showing us where we are wrong), correction (helping us fix what’s wrong), and instruction in righteousness (how to keep it fixed). So, this book is supposed to show us four important ways we should view some aspect(s) of our lives.
I also want us to remember a basic principle of hermeneutics (how we study the Bible): Unless otherwise indicated, read the Bible literally. When Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is LIKE a king (Matthew 18:23) obviously that should not be read literally, but unless something in the passage tells you otherwise, read the Bible for what it is.
Many people try to read Song of Solomon allegorically, saying that this is a picture of Christ and the church (which we’ll get to later), or some other metaphor, but nothing in the passage gives us license to abandon a literal interpretation. The simplest way to read this is like you are watching a movie where you can hear a character’s thoughts, and what they are communicating in their head, but may or may not be saying out loud.
There are two characters whose thoughts we read in this book: Solomon and his wife. Chapters 1-3, 5, and 8 are Solomon’s wife, while chapters 4, 6, and 7 are from the King’s side. While there is much instruction to husbands and wives in the New Testament, this book contains practical, beneficial information on how to thrive in marriage. If you are not yet married, learning these truths before marriage can better prepare you for what may be to come. In today’s chapters, I think we see three ways in which a vibrant marriage is manifested.
First, there is an observance and appreciation for the physical appearance of the spouse. In many marriages, we as humans “get used” to each other and forget the things that attracted us to our spouse in the first place. Whether you’ve been married for 6 weeks or 60 years, that temptation can creep in. If you aren’t married, take note early: staying in love for a lifetime doesn’t happen naturally. It takes diligent effort in noticing the little things all along the way.
Second, we see an intense desire to be together. Note the imagery today especially surrounding 1:7 and 2:8. There is an excitement at the thought of spending time with one another. If you come home from work and dread being with your spouse, perhaps start with that first step. Remember what drew you together in the first place. She may have a few more wrinkles than she did then, or he may have put on a little weight, but, undoubtedly, you can remember some of those things that made you enjoy each other’s company in the first place.
Then, there is the desire to take care of one another. Three separate times, Solomon’s wife tells her maidens, “Don’t wake him up!” (2:7; 3:5; 8:4). Do you get bothered when your spouse is tired and wants a little more sleep (providing that it is appropriate, of course). We all have different needs physically. I served under a pastor at one point who would go to bed around 10 with his wife and read until midnight. He would sleep until 2, get up and study til 4, then go back to bed until 6. That’s right, just 4 hours of sleep each night! I don’t know about you, but I’m not built that way. Taking note of your spouse’s unique set of physical needs and whether by action – or by simply letting them rest – meeting those needs is one of the greatest things you can do for your mate. And lest you think you have it figured out…our bodies change over time, so your spouse’s needs will also change. That means that we need to be constantly growing in our knowledge of our spouse to know best how to serve and minister to them accordingly.
If we read this book as we would any other part of Scripture, with the intent to see what God wants to teach us, it will become much more of a beneficial part to our lives, instead of acting like our Bible only has 65 books.