Monday, January 5, 2009

Romance in the Bible?

Song of Solomon

A book of romance in the Bible? And steamy romance, at that! It’s definitely not a book that’s preached from often, especially in mixed company, but it’s in the Bible for a reason and can teach us a lot about romantic love.
According to my Geneva Study Bible notes, the traditional view is that King Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, is the author of this book and that it was written in the mid-tenth century. It’s an allegory of God’s love for Israel and the church. It’s part of the Wisdom literature of the Bible, which focuses on human relationships. The subject of Song of Solomon is marital love. It affirms the beauty of sexual love and celebrates the differences and relationship between the sexes. It reveals three qualities of love between a man and a woman: self-giving, desire, and commitment. These all reflect the greater love of God, our Creator.
Song of Solomon shows us love outside Eden, not free from sorrow, but still beautiful, and a reflection of God’s own love for us. Many portions of Scripture speak of the relationship between God and his people in terms of a marriage, i.e. Hosea, and Ephesians 5. It looks back to the gift of love in creation, and forward to the perfection of love in One greater than Solomon, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is written in verse, as love poetry. It is highly sensual. It deals more with emotions than rational ideas. It is an outpouring of the words and feelings of people who are experiencing human, sexual love. Sex was God’s idea, and it was a good one.
There is a similar format to a drama, with many characters and exchanges between them. It is written as a romantic fantasy between the Shulamite girl and her beloved shepherd.
A refrain is repeated three times, “Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”
Between expressions of longing and the consummation, there is a dream sequence, in which she imagines her wedding night, fears losing her lover, and imagines him as a King.
There is also the realism of desire, meddling relatives, and the struggle to establish a relationship in the face of separation and hostility.
Ultimately, though, it leaves the impression that love is beautiful, and can provide deep satisfaction and contentment.

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