Recently some friends and I were having a Facebook discussion about Bible stuff (almost always a mistake, unless you all EXACTLY agree on EVERYTHING) and I made a light-hearted comment about my surprise at the Song of Solomon being in the Bible (I actually really like it and think it a beautiful dramatic poem). A few friends pointed out they did not see what I saw, seeing the Song as being a poem about Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. I’m just gonna paste a few quotes from the Song I think kinda debunk this view.
“I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!”
The Girl (the object of Solomon’s pursuits) is describing how she is tanned from the field, and so considers herself unworthy as the love of royal king Solomon. She has kept the vineyards, but has been unable to tend her own beauty. I suppose one could spin this as being about how Jesus loves us despite our unloveliness but I think that’s stretching it.
“My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.”
Come on, guys. She’s talking about him resting his face between her breasts.
“I adjure you,[c] O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”
How is waiting and being careful not to stir up your lover’s desire about Jesus, guys?
This whole section is talking about how hot Solomon thinks his girl is. How is this about Jesus and the Church, again?
“A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed. Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense,myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices—a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow.”
His beloved is a locked garden–that is to say, he hasn’t gotten “access” yet. But he is hoping her “spices” will be “flowing.” *Wink wink nudge nudge.* She follows this with: “Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.” *Triple wink, folks.*
This is part of a dream sequence of the Girl: “My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved…”
Guys, this is some explicit stuff here. Without being too crass, let me explain: She dreams he lays his hand on her “latch” which makes her heart race. She sits up and her hands “dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. ” I don’t think I need to explain “I opened to my beloved.” What we have here is a case of Biblical erotica.
This is definitely not about how “hot” Jesus is to the Church. That would be weird.
“My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices,to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies”
Remember, she is that garden. He has “gone down” to “graze in the gardens.” Still not Jesus-y.
This verse is pretty explicit, because he is definitely not talking about her navel, you guys. Use your imagination and knowledge of anatomy.
“Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.”
She is a palm tree and her breasts are its fruit. He wants to climb her and lay hold of her “clusters.” NOT JESUS-Y, GUYS.
Look, I’m not trying to be vulgar. That’s one reason I’m glad Song is in the canon. We need healthy views of sexuality and this book has them. But we need not spin everything into an allegory of our relationship with Jesus. Our relationships with our spouses is important, too. But, I do not want to think Jesus is wanting to say any of this to me. Sorry.