Tag Archives: Song of Songs

Talks On The Song of Songs — Book Review

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Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), a French abbot and reformer, was a founder of the Cistercian monastic order.  He spent 18 years writing sermons which served as a commentary on the Song of Songs.  He died before completing an exposition of  the entire book. He only made it through the third verse of Chapter 3 in 86 sermons!  Bernard saw the bride in Song of Songs as a representative of both the individual soul and the entire Church;  The Bridegroom is, of course, Christ. The book became for him, an allegory of the spiritual life, and more personally his own life with God.

This book is not easy reading, and not for everyone.  The copy I have is edited and modernized by Bernard Bangley and is still slow going.  I used it as a devotional years ago, reading one small section carefully each day.   Here’s an excerpt from the very beginning:

You have studied, denied yourself, and meditated constantly for a long time.  I am sure you are prepared for a diet of solid spiritual food.  The Song of Songs is tasty bread.  Let’s break it and enjoy a substantial meal.

The Song of Songs is a book we don’t often study or spend time with.  You might give this book a try and find it well worth the effort.

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Song of Songs

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The first type of love listed on Michele’s “new month/new theme” post is eros, or passionate love.  When I think about eros in relationship to the Bible, the first thing that comes to my mind is “Song of Songs.”  On the surface it is a lyrical and intimate love poem, possibly intended as a wedding song. The bride and bridegroom address one another in mutual adoration:

“How beautiful you are, my darling!  O how beautiful!  Your eyes are doves.

How handsome you are, my lover! O how charming! And our bed is verdant.”  Song of Songs 1:15-16

At times it becomes unabashedly sensual:

“How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter.

Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman’s hands.

Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine.

Your waist is a mound of wheat, encircled by lilies.

Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.”  Song of Songs 7:1-3

There has been great debate about this book.  Why is it even included in the Scriptures?  God is never explicitly mentioned. Some consider it simply a literal story of married love.  If, however, we accept the teaching that “all Scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness”( 2 Timothy 3:16) then there must be a deeper meaning.

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Over the years Christians have seen “Song of Songs” as an allegory of God’s love for His people, Christ’s love for the church and the Christian’s love for the Lord.  Shouldn’t this love be passionate?  Isn’t it appropriate to describe it in terms of the most intimate of human relationships?  Shouldn’t we to know God personally, rather than just know about Him?  Could this be the answer to “why” God chose to include this erotic love poem in His Word?  That’s my guess, anyway.  What’s yours?