SONG of SONGS

Agape Faithfulness includes Erotic Faithfulness

By Paul de Vries, PhD, pauldevries.com

 

 

One of the tragedies of modern thought and communication has been the deep false assumption that faithful relationships, expressing Biblical love, agape love, are not also fun, fulfilling, pleasurable, and erotic within a faithful marriage bond.  The great resource, the Biblical book Song of Songs, has only 117 verses, but it uses the ultimate love word “agape” in the Greek (or AHAV in the Hebrew) 18 times, with erotic aspects of faithful romantic love clearly included.  There are an additional 39 references to love in the Song of Songs, using other terms for love, for a total of 57 references to love in the 117 verses. 

 

This is an average of one reference to love for every two verses in this precious book in the Bible! 

 

Here we examine a literal translation of the Song of Songs in light of contemporary issues.  Tis literal translation was prepared by Dr. Calvin Seerveld, PhD, and is used here by his permission.

 

There is only one overt reference to the Lord in this greatest of all songs, in Song of Songs 8:6:

 

The passionate drive of love is as all consuming as the most terrible power!

Its flames are flashes of fire—a pure fire of the Lord!

 

CONSIDER:

 

*      We do know that unfaithfulness powerfully separates us from the people we love.

 

*      After all, even the anti-Scripture sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson had to admit that their research proved—completely contrary to their previous expectations—that the greatest and most reliable source of satisfying sexual pleasure is a committed, faithful, one-woman-one-man relationship.  (See their book, The Pleasure Bond, 1980.)

 

*      Reproduction is not the only primary purpose of human sexuality.  In this sexually focused book, there is no reference to or even implication of children.  Biblically there are three primary roles of human sexuality:

1.      relationship bonding – because both women and men are divine images.

2.      reproduction – being fruitful and multiplying as the Creator told the earliest humans.

3.      recreation – consuming shared pleasure within Godly marriages.

 

*      The Song of Songs is a powerful Biblical book that puts these and other themes into perspective.  To accomplish this, three characters are introduced: a beautiful Shulamite woman, a Shepherd who is her true lover, and Solomon who tries to woo her with tired phrases and promises that have worked with a thousand other women, but that fail to captivate the beautiful, black Shulamite.

 

*      Who is the Shulamite woman that so captivated Solomon’s attention for a brief period?  While there was also a Shunamite woman involved n the story of David, and we know where Shunam is, nobody knows where Shulam is.  Not only do we not have the heroine’s name, her defining origins are untraceable.  In common human terms, this beauty was “a nobody from nowhere.”  Nevertheless, this female image of God, this princes in God’s Kingdom, had the extraordinary courage to model true love in the presence of great temptation—and to embody wise sexuality as an enduring personal exemplar for all time. 

 

*      And who is the Shepherd Lover?  It could not have been Solomon, since he was never a shepherd.  Unlike his father—the shepherd who became an exemplary king—Solomon grew up in the lap of luxury.  Like the Shulamite, the Shepherd remains nameless, and from nowhere.  So this most famous love story does not depend on the greatness of family origins or other distinguishing marks.  Instead:

a.       The wise one-man-one-woman-one-God passionate relationship the exemplify stands on its own integrity, and is not dependent on any other certification.

b.      Without the names or even detailed character development, it is perhaps easier for us to identify—to place our own selves into the text and learn from this greatest song of Scripture.

 

*      Application: this Biblical “erotic-faithfulness” should be cultivated in

a.       Sex education—in homes, churches and schools

b.      Focus on “Pleasure bonds” of marriage

c.       We can transform the expectation that one must be unfaithful to be erotic.  After all, even the anti-Scripture sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson had to admit that their research proved—completely contrary to their expectations—that the greatest and most reliable source of satisfying sexual pleasure is a committed, faithful, one-woman-one-man relationship.  (see their The Pleasure Bond.)

 

*      Importance of the Song of Songs for the GOSPEL

a.       After the “Fall” to sin in Genesis 3 – we read about sexuality only for reproduction: such as “begat, begat, begat…” in the King James Version

b.      Now: self-giving, relationship and pleasure = a great preparation for Jesus and his life, teaching, ministry and extraordinary love for us.

c.       Redemption of sexuality: exploit the new term “Erotic-Faithfulness”

 

*      Paul de Vries’ note : This potent scripture passage depicts the vital Godly standard I call “erotic faithfulness”, of redeemed passion saved for marriage. Here faithful, devoted human sexuality is recognized as a great gift of God – even a “pure fire of the Lord” in all its terrible power. May the Word of God transform, guide, and liberate all of us. Praise the LORD!

 

 

><><><><><><><>< 

 

 

 

Song of Songs: Full Text of Literal Translation

 

Used by permission, selections are taken and edited from Calvin Seerveld’s literal translation of the Biblical Song of Songs, The Greatest Song,

©1967 and 1988, Toronto Tuppence Press, Toronto, Canada.

 

The Song opens with the young Shulamite woman taken unwillingly into Solomon’s harem.  The women are already cooing about Solomon, but the Shulamite is unhappy.  When Solomon comes in, he seems to praise her, but he is really talking about himself only.  Even as they have their first chat, her heart is still with her Shepherd Lover in the country, while Solomon talks about his grand buildings and the jewelry he will place on her—and compares her with his horse, mere livestock!

 

 

 

Song of Songs

 

Used by permission and edited from Calvin Seerveld’s literal translation of the Biblical Song of Songs, The Greatest Song, © 1967 and 1988, Toronto Tuppence Press. 

Notes: copyright © 2010 by Paul de Vries

 

The Song opens with the young Shulamite woman captured by Solomon’s scouts and taken unwillingly into his harem.  The women are already cooing about Solomon, but the Shulamite is unhappy.  When Solomon comes in, he seems to praise her, but he is really talking about himself only.  Even as they have their first chat, her heart is still with her Shepherd Lover in the country, while Solomon talks about his grand buildings and the jewelry he will place on her—and compares her with his horse, mere livestock!

 

The Song of Songs has a theme that is referenced at least four times—in 2:7; 3:5; 8:4 and 8:14.  The positive answer for what is real and natural is the climax 8:6.

 

Person

Text

Verses

 

Rhapsody I.   Song 1:1-2:7

 

Announcer

The Song of Songs, which is about Solomon

1:1

Chorus of veiled women

O! If he would only soak me with the

      Passionate kissings of his mouth!

1:2

Solo Voice

Your caresses are so much more intoxicating than wine.

 

Another

The aroma of your salves hangs sweet in the air . . .

1:3

Another

Your very name is soothing like oil poured (upon the body – Solomon)

 

Another

That is why young women fall in love with you.

 

Shulamite

(entering looking back)

Take me by the hand alone with you again – hurry! (my lover)

The King has brought me into his bedrooms!

1:4

Harem Chorus

We shall exult and celebrate it with you! Let us drink!

     “Your kisses are more intoxicating than wine” –

     Everyone who desires you is worthy, (O King!)                               

 

Shulamite

I am black; I am comely, daughters of Jerusalem,

      Dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the 

               Rich tapestries of Solomon!

Do not look at me because I am so dark,

          Burned brown by the sun.

My brothers were infuriated at me and

          Made me guard the gardens –

          my  own garden I have left unguarded . . .

Tell me aloud, my lover, where you are wandering

        Where shall you lie (in the grass) this noon?  

Why should I be a veiled woman in this

         Herd of your bedfellows?  

1:5

 

 

1:6

 

 

 

 

1:7

A Leading Harem Woman

If you do not know (anything) my most beautiful woman,

Get out and follow the shepherds;

       Feed your goats around the huts of the shepherds. 

1:8

Narrator

[The women withdraw as Solomon re-enters.]

 

Solomon

You remind me of my war horse in the chariot

        From Pharaoh, my lovely one.

How beautiful your cheeks will be (half-hidden) in plaited (hair)!

How beautiful your neck will be with a string of

         Red and green coral shells!

Chains of gold with ornaments of silver will be hammered out for you.

1:9

 

 

1:10

 

1:11

Shulamite

When the King was in his harem house, my source of

           Fragrance was spilling out of its sweetness:

My lover’s [head] lay between  my breasts like a

            little pouch of myrrh;

A cluster of henna blossoms was my lover to me,

         Found in the gardens of Engedi.

1:12

 

1:13

 

1:14

Solomon

Yes, you are well formed, my lovely one, very pleasantly formed,

And your eyes are as innocent as a dove . . . 

1:15

Shulamite

My lover is well formed! Even wonderfully formed;

        Our bed is a bed of fresh growing flowers –

1:16

Solomon

The beams of our houses are made of well cut cedar

        And the rafters are fashioned from Phoenician juniper trees.

1:17

Shulamite

(But) I am a wild flower from the Sharon plains,

         A delicate red lily from the plain country.

2:1

Solomon

Yes, you are like a lily, a lily next to – thistles

          That is what you are, my lovely one,

         Compared to the daughters (of Jerusalem).

2:2

Shulamite

(Reflecting almost to self; some harem women quickly return, listen.)

My lover is like an apple tree deep in the woods ,

An apple tree compared to other young men.

How I longed to sit in his shadow;

        His fruit was always so sweet in my mouth.

        He would lead me out to an arbor,

               And cover me there with his love.

Help me! Give me something to eat! Freshen me

        With – apples! For I am lovesick . . .

O, if his left hand were only under my head and

         his right arm holding me tight –

Daughters of Jerusalem! I plead with you – do you

         not know the gazelles and the hinds of the plain country? 

I plead with you,  Never try to arouse or excite a beloved! till the

           Love comes naturally.

2:3

 

2:4

 

 

 

2:5

 

2:6

 

 

2:7

Editorial note

This last line of the Shulamite in the first scene is the theme of the whole Song, a theme repeated three times (2:7, 3:5, 8:4—and then referenced in 8:14). 

 

 

Rhapsody II.   Song 2:8-3:5

 

Narrator

[It is morning; the Shulamite alone on a couch in a small room, is

suddenly attentive.]

2:8

Shulamite

The voice of my lover -? Is he coming?!

         Tripping along the mountains skipping over

        The hills like young deer or gazelles – so runs my lover.

There he is!

        Outside our walls, looking in at the windows

        Trying to peer through the shutters. He has answered     

        (my call)! My lover! – there he is singing to me.

2:8

 

2:9

 

 

2:10

Her Shepherd Lover

Arise beloved, my beautiful one, Come wander away

With me. The winter is past; the heavy rains

Gone; New flowers shoot forth from the earth, the

Turtle dove “coo” is heard. The fig tree colors its unripe fruit;

All vines are bursting with buds – O! the Fragrance.

Arise, beloved; my beautiful one,

Come wander away with me. In the clefts of the

Rock, In the lonely heights of the mountains, I

Always hoped to see you appear and strained to

Hear your singing, For your voice is sweet and

Countenance so lovely . . . Arise, beloved, my

Beautiful one, Come wander away with me . . .

 

2:11

 

 

 

2:14

Shulamite

          (responding with a ditty they used to sing together)

Catch the foxes. Catch the little foxes which

Ruin the grapes and gardens, For our vineyards are

Now in bloom. Catch the foxes. Catch the little foxes!

2:15

Narrator

[Rustle of harem women coming; awakened by her singing, curious to see what the matter is.]

 

Shulamite

My lover is mine, and I am his – He who delights in red lilies.

Turn away! My lover.

(Run) like the gazelles or a young deer to the

          sweet smelling mountains, till the day

          fade away and the shadows (of night) creep out . . .

2:16

 

2:17

Narrator

[Harem women surround her and the Shulamite explains the commotion

as the troubled waking from a dream; her lover has swiftly disappeared.]

 

Shulamite

During the night, while sleeping, I felt as if my lover were there.

I tried to reach – but could not grasp him.

        I will get up; (I said) I must embrace him.

Into the city, down the streets and alleys,

        I will pursue the love of my heart.

        I tried to catch him, but could not find him!

The watchmen who go about throughout the city discovered me.

Have you seen my lover? (I asked)

But scarcely had I passed them by then I found him

I clutched the lover of my heart and would not let

Him go, not till I had brought him to the home of

My mother, to the bedchamber where I was conceived.

 

Daughters of Jerusalem! I plead with you – do you

          Not know the gazelles and hinds of the plain country? 

I plead with you, Never try to arouse or excite a beloved –

          ‘Till the love come naturally.

Dream?

3:1

 

3:2

 

3:3

 

3:4

 

Fanciful dream?

 

 

 

3:5

 

3:5

Narrator

[The lights turn out and the performers leave in darkness; end of second rhapsody.]

 

 

Rhapsody III.   Song 3:6-4:7

 

Narrator

[The Shulamite, now veiled, disconsolately passing time with the

women in the harem confines; royal music in the distance.]

 

One of the Women (looking out a window)

What is that coming up out of the distant grass-

           lands surrounded by columns of smoke from

         torches, perfumed by burning myrrh and

         frankincense and all kinds of foreign spices?

3:6

Another

Look! It is the traveling couch of Solomon!

Sixty mighty men surround it, sixty of Israel’s heroes,

Each man gripping a sword, experienced in battle,

Each man with a sword on his thigh to keep away fear in the night.

3:7

 

3:8

Another

King Solomon has made this litter from Lebanon wood!

Its poles are made of silver! Its cloths of support are made of gold!

Its sitting place is purple-covered! Inside it is

      fitted out for – love making . . . !

3:9

 

3:10

Another Woman

Daughters of Jerusalem! Come out! Daughters of

         Zion! Come see King Solomon crowned with

        the crown his mother gave him on his wedding day.

3:11

Narrator

[The harem women run out to look; the Shulamite remains alone inside; the music

and bustle outside finally subside; Solomon enters the room admired by the harem

women who withdraw to the background when they see he means to talk to the Shulamite.]

 

Editorial note

Solomon tries to woo the Shulamite three times, but always using very similar words (4:1-5,

 6:4-7, 7:1-9a).  This is remarkable, since the book is so short, anyway!  Solomon found a few

 lines that worked on a thousand women, but this young woman is already in love and

 committed to someone else – and wealth, pleasure, and fine words do not change the Shulamite’s commitment to the Shepherd!   Here is his first attempt.

 

Solomon

Come here, my lovely one!

         You are pleasantly formed, very pleasantly formed.

         Your eyes are as innocent as a dove behind the veil.

Your hair (floats as gently) as a herd of goats

          wending its way down Mt. Gilead.

Your teeth (shine out) like a flock of sheep newly

         shorn coming up out of their watering place

         not one of which is barren, all of which will be bearing twins.

Your lips are like a red ribbon. Your mouth is so Pretty.

Your temples are like a piece of pomegranate

         (hidden) behind your veil.

Your neck (stands majestic) like a tower of David

         Built for battle, where a thousand shields

         Might be hung, all of them shields of heroes!

Your breasts are like two little fawns, twins of

         A gazelle, which fed among the lilies . . .

4:1

 

 

 

4:2

 

 

 

4:3

 

 

4:4

 

 

4:5

Shulamite

[INTERRUPTING] Till the day fade away and the shadows (of night) creep out!

4:6a

Solomon

I will wait in a mountain of myrrh and in hill of frankincense!

       All of you is very pleasantly formed, my lovely one,

       Not a blemish anywhere.

4:6b

4:7

Narrator

[The lights turn out; “connoisseur” King Solomon and the Shulamite

“country girl” leave in the darkness; end of the third rhapsody.]

 

 

Rhapsody IV.   Song 4:8-6:3

 

Narration

[Early evening has come; dozing fitfully the Shulamite maiden is alone in her room; she is dreaming; the melody of  “arise, beloved, my beautiful one” is heard at a distance; the Shulamite starts to awaken as the song comes nearer and the words audible. … MUSIC.]

 

Her Shepherd Lover

Come away with me from that Lebanon, my bride.

       Come away with me from that Lebanon. Come down

       From that in-accessible thicket of Amana [Truth]. Come

       Down from that snow-clad top of Mt. Shenir and

       Hermon. Come out of that den of lions! Come

       Out of those leopard caves!

4:8

 

 

Narrator

[Pause in the singing; the lover climbs and struggles and penetrates to

the level of the Shulamite’s window, nearer, but still at a distance;

they look at one another intently.]

 

Her Shepherd Lover

 

 

You make my heart beat hard, my bride, my sister.

       You make my heart beat stronger with just one

              Glance of your eyes, by a single movement of

               Your throat.

 

      How lovely is your love, my bride, my sister?

      How much more gently flowing is your love even

                 Than wine, and the odors of your oils are

                  Sweeter than the scent of any balsam.

 

      O, my bride! Your words fall soft like drops of

                   Honey, (as if) honey and milk lay under your

                   Tongue, and the smell of your clothes is as

                   Fragrant as the shrubs of Lebanon, a garden!

           

      A garden closed off, A well covered over,

            A fountain sealed tight - - is my bride to be.

      A paradise garden of pomegranate trees filled with

                  choice fruits – your virgin womb is this, (my beloved!)

 

       (You are an untouched garden) of blooming henna

                 bushes and spikenard plants, of calamus and

                 saffron flowers, of cinnamon and Indian aloe

                 trees, all kinds of incense trees, (with the

                 air full of) nard and myrrh and the very best spices –

 

        A garden! A spring of bubbling waters flowing

        Down from Mt. Lebanon.

 

4:9

 

 

 

 

4:10

 

 

 

 

4:11

 

 

 

4:12

 

Shulamite is

a virgin

4:13

 

 

4:14

 

 

 

 

4:15

Shulamite

Wake up, North Wind! Come here, South Wind! Blow

        Through my garden and waft its spicy odors that my

        Lover may come to his garden and taste its sweet

        Fruits. Ah ---!

4:16

Her Shepherd Lover

I come to my garden, my bride-to-be. I gather my

        Myrrh and spice. I taste of the honey in my honey

        Comb, And drink deep of the wine and the milk.

5:1

Narrator

[Interruption; commotion; the harem women come to deck the

Shulamite for the bridal night; flustered, she turns away from the

window in consternation.]

 

Her Shepherd Lover

Eat and drink, my friends! Get drunk with your love-makings!

 

Shulamite

I was asleep! But I was awake – the voice of my lover!?

                 Is he knocking?! Open the door for me, my be-

              Loved, my sister, my dove, my beautiful one!

             (Open the door for me, I thought I heard him say,)

              For my head is covered with dew, and my hair

              is damp with moisture of the night.

 

              But I have put off my clothes! ( I said ) –

              Oh! Should I put them back on again?!

              My feet are already washed! Shall I go out

              And get them dirty again?

My lover put his hand through the opening of the door . . .

My senses left me at his presence, I turned all dizzy inside.

 

I stood up to open the door to my lover.

And my hands were moist with myrrh, my fingers

         Were wet with myrrh on the grip of the lock.

I opened the door to my lover –

          But my lover had turned away! He was gone!

And I sought him without finding him! I called out

          To him, and he did not answer me!

 

The watchmen that go about the city saw me – They

          Grabbed me, beat me, horribly hurt me! and

           Took away my clothes – those watchmen of the (city) walls.

Daughters of Jerusalem! I plead with you – if you

           Should find my lover – but what could you

           Tell him!? – ( tell him) I am love sick . . .

5:2

dream again?

 

 

 

 

 

5:3

 

 

 

 

5:4

 

 

5:5

 

 

5:6

 

 

 

5:7

 

 

5:8

 

A Head Woman of the Harem

But what is your lover compared to (the line of)

                 David, most beautiful woman?

       What is your lover compared to (the line of)

                 David! That you should speak so insistently

                 (about him) to us?

5:9

 

Shulamite

My bronze and ruddy lover is one in a thousand!

        His head stands out like the finest gold, and his

             Shock black raven locks of hair shake all (around it).

        His (gentle) eyes look out as peaceful as a pair

               Of doves washing themselves in milk at the

                Edge of a running brook.

        His cheeks are a bed of perfume, a retreat of

                 Sweet-smelling herbs.

        His lips like red lilies trickle drops of myrrh.

        His arms (flash) like rolls of gold set with

                  Precious stones from Tarshish.

        His (hard flat) belly is an art work in ivory

                  Covered over (as it were) with white sapphires.

        His (sturdy) legs are marble pillars built on gold foundations.

        His appearance as a whole is more striking than

                   The greatest cedars of Mt. Lebanon

        His mouth – his kisses are a ravishing sweetness!

        All of him is altogether precious!

                   This is my lover! So is my man!

                   Daughters of Jerusalem!

5:10

5:11

 

5:12

 

 

5:13

 

 

5:14

 

 

 

5:15

 

 

5:16

Head Woman of the Harem

Where has your lover gone, most beautiful woman?

         To where has your lover turned away? So that we

                     May search for him with you.

6:1

Shulamite

  My lover has climbed up to his garden, to the

                          Spicy flower bed,

        To drink in the charm of the paradise, and to

                      Gather up the red lilies.

        I belong to my lover, And my lover belongs to me.

        He is the one, the only one, who shall gather in

        The red lilies. Ah - - - 

6:2

 

Exclusive and devoted!

 

6:3

Narrator

[The lights turn out to end the fourth rhapsody; the women dress the

Shulamite in the darkness.]

 

 

                                Rhapsody V.    Song 6:4 - 8:4

 

Narrator

[Solomon comes stately in to get the new bride; the harem women watch with fascination, and then withdraw a little way.]

 

Solomon

My!   You have been dressed well, my lovely one:

        You are as pleasantly clad as Tirzah, as beautiful

                   As Jerusalem – frighteningly impressive!

        [What is it?]  Do not look at me so! Your eyes disturb me . . !

        Your hair [floats as gently] as a herd of goats

                  Wending its way down Mt. Gilead.

        Your teeth are like a flock of  mother sheep coming

                  Up out of their watering place.

        - all soon to be bearing twins, not a one barren.

        Your temples are like a piece of pomegranate

                   [hidden] behind your veil.

6:4

 

 

6:5

 

 

6:6

 

 

6:7

Narrator

[Suddenly a ringing young voice penetrates clearly into the room from out

beyond the window; the Shulamite stands transfixed.]

 

Her Shepherd Lover

King Solomon has sixty queens, eighty concubines,

                   And a hoard  of young girls

       This one only is mine,  this innocent dove – my Beautiful One!

        This is the only daughter of her mother, her favorite child!

        Women have seen her and always marveled; even the

                  Queens and concubines have praised her --

6:8

Male 3rd person reference to Solomon (see also 8:11, 12)

6:9

 

Chorus of Harem Women

Who is that just visible out there? !

         [Who is that shining] down so red as the morning sky?

      Handsome as the moon, brilliant as the

          sun, majestic as the glowing planet in the sky?!

 

6:10

Narrator

[Solomon, irate, dispatches some guards to get the trespasser; the harem

women begin to rush out the room as Shulamite speaks to Solomon.]

 

Shulamite

[The other day] When I went down to the grove of walnut trees to see the budding flowers by the brook, to see  whether the vines had burst into        blossom and the pomegranates were abloom.  Before I knew it you  [O King]  had had me set fast in the royal traveling couch. [ I will away ! ! ]

6:11

 

6:12

Narrator

[She turns her back to Solomon, forlorn but determined.]

 

Harem Women

Turn around, turn around, oh Shulamite!

        Turn around, turn around, so we can see you !

6:13

Shulamite

What do you want to see in “the Shulamite” !

        The sword dance of the bride from Mahanaim?

 

Narrator

[At this outburst the women withdraw; the Shulamite breaks into crying; Solomon watches, but still determined to win her, begins again his advances.]  

 

Solomon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOOTNOTE

  How elegant is your walk in

                  those [new] shoes, “Royal Daughter” !

        The curve of your thighs is a womanly ornament

                Fashioned by the hand of a master artist.

        Your navel is like a little round cup and needs

                 To be filled full with spicy wine.

        Your belly is like a [shimmering] mound of wheat

                  Encircled by lilies.

        Your breasts are like two little fawns, twins of a Gazelle.

        Your [lovely] neck is a tower of ivory.

        Your eyes are [as deep as] the pools near Heshbon,

                  At the gates of that great city.

        Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks

                  Out toward Damascus.

        Your whole head is as stately as Mt. Carmel.

        Your [tantalizing] hanging locks of hair glisten

                  Dark – a king ! is caught in those tresses.

        How well formed, how pleasantly formed you are –

                  Beloved! – compared to the most delightfully enchanting things.

        Your flowing figure reminds me of a palm tree,

                  Your breasts are like clusters of dates –

        I said to myself, I will go climb the palm tree!

                 I will go grab hold of its date clusters

        Your breasts will roll over me like clusters of grapes;

        The breath of your nose will fill me like the

                  Smell of [ripe]  apples;

        Your kisses will flow like sweet wine …

 

 

 

A Footnote on Solomon

 

How could Solomon act so stupidly—and so demeaning of this woman—if he is also the wisest man?  The blunt fact is that someone can have great wisdom and still not use any of that substantial wisdom.  “Stupid is as stupid does,” is a wise observation of the mythical Forrest Gump, a retarded man, the hero in the movie named for him.  As a result of his very unwise addiction to sex, the summary of Solomon’s life is all the more tragic (I Kings 11:1-13) when we think of his potential.

 

The Biblical response to perverted sex—as in Solomon’s sex addiction and also the fertility cults surrounding the Jewish people at the time of the writing of the Song of Songs—similar in some ways to 21st century sexualized culture of rampant pornography, perversion and pollution of sex—is not a puritanical judgment or evasion of the sensitive questions, but instead:

1.      A celebration of God’s gifts of sex—honoring the Eternal Designer, Creator and Savior of human sexuality.

2.      A focus on sexual expression as the Lord directs in the commandments and good models of Scripture: committed one-woman-one-man-one-God relationships.

3.      A model the pure, devoted, exclusive passion that God himself enflames and contrast it with the twisted and impure that degrades and demeans.

4.      To honor God in his special central role, in the very center of enduring passion that expresses his powerful presence, “the pure fire of the Lord.” (8:6)

5.      To let the vibrant, living “parable” of intimate human passion model also our intimate, personal, passionate spiritual relationship with our Creator that our deepest selves desire.

 

7:1

 

 

 

7:2

 

 

 

7:3

 

7:4

 

 

 

7:5

 

 

7:6

 

 

7:7

 

7:8

 

[Note an “apple theme” – 2:3-6; 7:8,13; 8:5]

 

7:9a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOOTNOTE

 

 

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE

 

NOTE: At this moment the Shulamite (perhaps also hearing her Shepherd Lover outside) interrupts Solomon.  Other translators have a difficult time with this reference to “tired lips” or the “lips of those that sleep”  Literal translator Seerveld’s phrase “well-worn” lips captures some of what the Shulamite thought of Solomon, an opinion was shared by Godly leaders of Solomon’s time.

 

In their climactic reunion, the Shulamite and the Shepherd Lover sing some of the most memorable words of passionate love, such as “at our openings are the sweetest fruit.”  Other translations say something like “we keep the fresh fruit at the door,” but this misses the passionate meaning of the text.  Well, let us now return to the Shulamite’s abrupt interruption of Solomon’s rehearsed “passion,” her definitive rejection of his ‘love,’ and her restoration to her Shepherd Lover.

 

 

Narrator

[As he goes to raise her veil, the Shulamite, shamed at such language, righteously angry, breaks away, and cuts him off witheringly.]

 

Shulamite  {interrupting Solomon}

… wine flowing straight to the mouth of only my lover!

                       Not touching at all such well-worn lips!

        I belong to my lover! And only his passionate desire is for me!

7:9b

 

7:10

Narrator

[At this moment the guards enter with Her Shepherd Lover; and the harem women crowd in behind. Shulamite runs to her lover while Solomon leaves.]

 

Shulamite

      My lover!       Come! Let us go away, back to the open plain country!

      Let us go spend the nights among the henna blossoms.

      Let us go visit the gardens early, early in the morning, to see

             Whether the vines have burst into blossom,

             Whether the budding flowers have opened up,

             Whether the pomegranates have come to a bloom

        There I will give you my caresses:

              The apples of love bear a misting fragrance,

              And at our openings are the sweetest fruits –

        The old as well as new fruits I have kept safe,

               Save up for you, my lover!

        O! if you were only a brother that sucked the

                Breasts of my mother, I would cover you with

                Kisses here in public now that I have found

                You, and no one could think me immodest!

        O! if I could only lead you [immediately] to the

                Home of my mother who brought me up,

                [then] I would give you a tingling wine to drink,

                the freshly pressed-out wine of my pomegranates !

        O, if his left hand were only under my head and

        His right arm holding me tight – Ah ---

7:11

 

7:12

 

 

 

 

7:13

[powerful image]

 

 

8:1

 

 

 

8:2

 

 

 

8:3

Shulamite

Daughters of Jerusalem! I charge you - !

        Why did you try to arouse and excite a beloved

                   Before the love came naturally ?

8:4

 

Rhapsody VI   Song 8:5 – 14

 

Narrator

[The troubled brothers of the Shulamite stand about near one of the

vineyards which they had made her guard alone.]

 

The Eldest Brother

Who is that there coming up out of distant

        Grasslands, learning upon her lover!?

8:5

Narrator

[Shulamite and her lover pause at the far corner of the family orchard; in

Sight, but not in the hearing range of the brothers]

 

Her Shepherd Lover

It was under [that] apple tree I first woke you up

                 [to love, my beloved], [at home] there where

                 your mother gave you birth.

 

Narrator

[They move to the spot and take, or renew as it were their marriage vow,

facing one another.]

 

Her Lover

Hold me as a seal to your heart ;

8:6

Shulamite

Keep me as a signet ring upon your finger.

8:6

Her Lover

For love is as permanent as death,

 

Shulamite

And the passionate drive of love is as all consuming

        As the most terrible power !

 

Her Lover

Its flames are flashes of fire --

 

Shulamite

A pure fire of Lord God !  = shelhebeth-yah =יָהּ  = fire of Yahweh

 

Her Lover

Streams of water cannot put it out ;

8:7

Shulamite

Floods of water shall never quench the fire of love

 

Her Lover

If another man were to give all the treasures of

        His house for love?

 

Shulamite

He would be utterly despised !

 

Narrator

[The Shulamite and her lover move on to where her brothers are congregated.]

 

Shulamite

[Long ago my brothers said,] Our little sister

                  has no breasts,

        [But] what shall we do for our sister when the

                lovers begin to come?

       If she be modestly chaste, we shall set upon her

                 [head]  a crown of silver;

       But if she would dally with them all, we will

                 Barricade [the way] to her with planks of wood.

       My breasts are as towers! And I am a virgin, chaste.

       I am come now before them to await [their] blessing.

8:8

 

 

 

8:9

 

 

 

8:10

Her Lover

Solomon has a [huge] vineyard near Baal-Hamon and has

                    Placed others in charge to watch it- for its

                Fruits men must pay a thousand pieces of silver!

        The thousand are yours, [king] Solomon! And may

                  The watchmen [of your walls] have hundreds!

        My [single] vineyard here before me is for me alone.

        O! [beloved!] you  who are so at home in the lovely

                   Gardens, all the people here are waiting to

                    Hear your voice – let me hear it too !

8:11

Male 3rd person reference to Solomon (see also 6:8)

8:12

 

8:13

Shulamite

Like the gazelle or a young deer, Take me quickly

       Away my lover,  Out to the sweet-smelling mountains.

8:14

Narrator

[Her lover escorts the Shulamite; the lights turn off and the performers

leave in the darkness; end of the sixth and last rhapsody.]

 

 

 

Paul de Vries’ note : This potent scripture passage depicts the vital Godly standard I call “erotic faithfulness” of redeemed passion saved for marriage.  In the Song of Songs, faithful and devoted human sexuality is recognized as a great gift of God – even a “pure fire of the Lord”(8:6)  in all its tremendous, transforming power.  May all the Word of God transform, guide, and liberate all of us.  Praise the LORD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some key lessons from…

Song of Songs

Relevant for personal growth or for Church-based sex education programs

 

 

 

Ten Reflections on the Song

By Paul de Vries, PhD, New York Divinity School, 646-395-0008, phdevries@nydivinityschool.org

 

 

*    Lasting relationships are 3-way: one-God-one-man-one-woman.

a.     Genesis 1 – the God is imaged in both man and woman.

b.     Wedding ceremony reminds us of the 3-way bonding: “Whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder”

c.      SOS 8:6 – Passionate love itself is a gift from God.

 

 

*    Erotic passion is part of the special, Biblical, agape love [in Greek: agaph (agape); in Hebrew: בהא (ahav)]—deeply devoted sacrificial love referenced 35 times in this short book—It is a precious, extraordinary gift of the Lord God, our creator and savior—his “pure fire” (8:6).

 

 

*    Biblically speaking, reproduction is not the only primary purpose of human sexuality.  In this sexually focused book, there is no reference to or even implication of children.  Biblically there are three primary roles of human sexuality, two of which are celebrated here:

1)    relationship bonding = both female and male are divine images.

2)    “recreation” = enjoy the grace of consuming pleasure in committed relationship.

3)    reproduction = be fruitful and multiply. 

     Sin twisted all three—so that the fruit of reproduction is often the only reference to sexuality in the Hebrew Scriptures.  This book dramatically restores the first two.

 

 

*    The theme stated three times in this little book, Song of Songs: essentially it states that we should never “make love” – never pump it up, push it or fabricate it.  (2:7, 3:5, and 8:4)  Too much of 21st century sexuality is pumped up by pornography, dirty talk, abusive behavior and falsified affection.  The antidote is the “pure fire of the Lord” (8:6). This Biblical wisdom is intensely relevant today—but, tragically, most translators refuse to state this phrase literally.

 

 

*    How could Solomon be so stupid, if he is also the wisest man?  The blunt fact is that someone can have great wisdom and still not use any wisdom.  “Stupid is as stupid does,” is a wise observation of the mythical Forrest Gump, a retarded man, the hero in the movie named for him.  As a result of his very unwise addiction to sex, the summary of Solomon’s life is all the more tragic (I Kings 11:1-13) when we think of his potential.

 

 

*    Who is the Shulamite woman that so captivated Solomon’s attention for a brief period?  While there was also a Shunamite woman involved n the story of David, and we know where Shunam is, nobody knows where Shulam is.  Not only do we not have the heroine’s name, her defining origins are untraceable.  In normal human terms, this beauty was a nobody from nowhere.  Nevertheless, this female image of God, this princes in God’s Kingdom, had the extraordinary courage to model true love in the presence of great temptation—and to embody wise sexuality as an enduring exemplar for all time. 

 

 

*    And who is the Shepherd Lover?  It could not have been Solomon, since he was never a shepherd.  Unlike his father—the shepherd who became an exemplary king—Solomon grew up in the lap of luxury.  Like the Shulamite, the Shepherd remains nameless, and from nowhere.  So this most famous love story does not depend on the greatness of family origins or other distinguishing marks.  Instead:

a.     The wise one-man-one-woman-one-God passionate relationship the exemplify stands on its own integrity, and is not dependent on any other certification.

b.     Without the names or even detailed character development, it is perhaps easier for us to identify—to place our own selves into the text and learn from this greatest song of Scripture.

 

 

*    The Biblical response to perverted sex—as in the fertility cults surrounding the Jewish people at the time of the writing of the Song of Songs, similar in some ways to 21st century sexualized culture of rampant pornography, perversion and pollution of sex—is not puritanical judgment or evasion of the sensitive questions, but…

a.     Celebration of God’s gifts of sex—honoring the Eternal designer, creator and savior of human sex.

b.     Focus sexual expression as he directs in the commandments and models of Scripture: committed one-woman-one-man-one-God relationships.

c.      Model the pure passion and contrast it with the twisted and impure.

d.     Honor God in his special central role, in the center of enduring passion, “the pure fire of the Lord.” (8:6)

 

 

*    Application: this Biblical “erotic-faithfulness” should be cultivated in

a.     Sex education—in homes, churches and schools

b.     Focus on “Pleasure bonds” of marriage

c.      We can transform the expectation that one must be unfaithful to be erotic.  After all, even the anti-Scripture sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson had to admit that their research proved—completely contrary to their expectations—that the greatest and most reliable source of satisfying sexual pleasure is a committed, faithful, one-woman-one-man relationship.  (see their The Pleasure Bond.)

 

 

*    Importance of the Song of Songs for the GOSPEL

a.     After the “Fall” to sin in Genesis 3 – we read about sexuality only for reproduction: such as “begat, begat, begat…” in the King James Version

b.     Now: self-giving, relationship and pleasure = a great preparation for Jesus and his life, teaching, ministry and extraordinary love for us.

c.      Redemption of sexuality: we can create the new term “Erotic-Faithfulness”

 

 

 

A Note on Solomon

 

How could Solomon act so stupidly—and so demeaning of this woman—if he is also the wisest man?  The blunt fact is that someone can have great wisdom and still not use any of that substantial wisdom.  Stupid is as stupid does,” is a wise observation by the fictitious character Forrest Gump, a retarded man, the “hero” in the movie named for him.  As a result of his very unwise addiction to sex, the summary of Solomon’s life from the Lord’s point of view is all the more tragic (I Kings 11:1-13) when we think of his potential.

 

The Biblical response to perverted sex—as in Solomon’s sex addiction and also the fertility cults surrounding the Jewish people at the time of the writing of the Song of Songs—similar in some ways to 21st century sexualized culture of rampant pornography, perversion and pollution of sex—is not a puritanical judgment or evasion of the sensitive questions, but instead:

1.     A celebration of God’s gifts of sex—honoring the Eternal Designer, Creator and Savior of human sexuality.

2.     A focus on sexual expression as the Lord directs in the commandments and good models of Scripture: committed one-woman-one-man-one-God relationships.

3.     A model the pure, devoted, exclusive passion that God himself enflames and contrast it with the twisted and impure that degrades and demeans.

4.     To honor God in his special central role, in the very center of enduring passion that expresses his powerful presence, “the pure fire of the Lord.” (8:6)

5.     To let the vibrant, living “parable” of intimate human passion model also our intimate, personal, passionate spiritual relationship with our Creator that our deepest selves desire.

 

 

 

 

Overview notes: © Copyright 2018 Paul de Vries, Ph.D., all rights reserved,  New York Divinity School,  Church Station – Box 3277, New York, NY 10008   646-395-0008   phdevries@nydivinityschool.org,  pauldevries.com