INTRODUCTION TO SEPTEMBER LESSONS: Long before Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages (words, time, gifts, service, and touch) from 1992, there was the Song of Songs (or literally, “The Finest Song”). It also is known as the Song of Solomon. This is sexual wisdom literature at its most holy eroticism. The book of romantic love poetry was placed in the Writings section of the Old Testament. It was written by Solomon or dedicated to him. It certainly is a strange book to be in the Bible unless God’s love for our souls is likened to the strong love between husband and wife. Students will learn of a woman’s love for her husband, the husband’s love for his wife, the watchful celebration of their love by the couple’s attendants, and the Lord of love whose love is the basis for all other loves.
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Unit: Song of Songs
Theme: Speaking of Love
Lesson Text: Song of Songs 1:1-4, 12-14; 2:1, 3-7, 16-17
Supplemental Texts: Colossians 3:18; Ephesians 5:22-33; Matthew 19:4-6
Aim: Wives pursue, admire, and delight in your husband and view yourself as his own.
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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_Sept3_2023.
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By Mark Scott
It is a bit dangerous today to generalize concerning the desires of men and women as it relates to marital love. Are these stereotypes taught, innate, or unique to certain cultures? From the textual selections in today’s lesson, it would seem that women desire to be desired. They evidently develop security and a sense of self-worth when they are valued and treasured. In these verses, Solomon’s wife (referred to as the Shulammite in 6:13) expressed several desires.
A key challenge to interpreting the Song of all Songs is determining who is speaking. Translations and commentaries that try to mark out who is speaking vary in their understanding. Since the chosen translation is the New International Version, we will follow its identifications.
She Desired Affection
Song of Songs 1:2-3
Kissing is not lovemaking, though it can lead to that. But kissing is affectionate, and she says it is better than wine. This display of affection certainly is made more pleasant when the two people smell good, and thus the fragrance (nard) is mentioned. Touch may be one of her love languages.
She Desired Intimacy
Song of Songs 1:4; 2:6-7
She also desired to be intimate with her husband, which has the propriety of being alone with him. She wanted her husband to whisk her away into his chambers (which may well be their place of intimacy). She longed for his left arm to be under her head, and his right arm to embrace her. In their book The Act of Marriage, Tim and Beverly LaHaye suggest that this is a “positional commentary” on intimacy. The woman called to the Daughters of Jerusalem (maybe the women attendants) and underlined it with some kind of animal oath (by the gazelles and by the does of the field)—indicating beauty and swiftness—to let intimacy have its full pleasure. In other words, “Don’t interrupt lovemaking until it has left her fully satisfied.”
She Desired to be Known by Her Husband
Song of Songs 1:12-14; 2:1, 4
Women are not hood ornaments. But they may well take some of their self-esteem from their husbands being known in the village, culture, or nation. In the king’s public setting (while he was at his table) she allowed her fragrance to waft over him. They no doubt exchanged looks, and even though they were in public, they were thinking of private moments. His fragrance was likened to a sachet (bundle) of myrrh, which she could smell when he put his head between her breasts as they lay down together. Maybe scent is a love language all its own. She also likened his scent to a cluster of henna blossoms from that crevice near the Dead Sea known as En Gedi (where Solomon’s father hid from King Saul). Sometimes secret nuances between a couple can occur during public moments.
When the king was entertaining guests in his banquet hall, the woman wanted to be known to everyone as his love (thus the phrase, “let his banner over me be love”). She was not content to be just a common flower (one of the other girls in the king’s harem). She was the rose of Sharon, a beautiful flower like that of a crocus that grow along the west coast of Israel near the Mediterranean Sea. The lily of the valleys were common flowers, but she wanted to be known by her husband as that special flower, or blossom.
She Desired Protection and Provision
Song of Songs 2:3, 5
An apple tree could be a messianic reference. Songs have been written in that regard. But an apple tree in a forest—to which she likened her beloved—would be odd. In other words, he would stand out among others. And saying she delighted to be in his shade probably is a reference to his protection of her.
Additionally, he would provide for her. She would need physical strength for lovemaking, so she desired raisins (probably raisin cakes of some kind, which remain a delicacy in the Ancient Near East). His protection of her and provision for her take her breath away (faint with love).
She Desired Attachment
Song of Songs 2:16-17
Perhaps more than anything, she just wanted to be “with” her husband. She belonged to him, and he belonged to her. When affection wanes, when intimacy is no longer possible, when being known “in the gates” is no longer necessary, and when all one’s needs are met, there still is the desire to be together. Even the prospect of such makes her heart beat faster. From morning (day break) until evening (shadows flee) the prospect of her husband coming to see her like a gazelle or a young stag gives her unspeakable joy.