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Song of Solomon -“God’s Gift of Love”

Chapters 3:6-4:16 – “The Great Wedding”

These passages deal with the wedding of Solomon.  The text functions on several levels.  First and foremost, it is a celebration of love and marriage.  There are two voices, the crowd (“daughters of Jerusalem”) and Solomon himself.  On another level this is symbolically Christ coming for his bride, the church.

  1. “The Coming of the King” 3:6-11

This section begins with an observation and a question.  The crowd (or essentially the chorus) sees someone coming up from the wilderness “like a column of smoke.” The figure is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense.  He comes with the mighty men of Israel armed with swords.

 He is an imposing figure complete with his crown and valuable jewels. This is his wedding day.  It is also “the day of the gladness of his heart.”  The marriage of a king throughout history has always been a special event.  That is certainly the case here.  The king comes to possess his bride, his beloved.  This is a scene of pageantry and royalty.  The “daughters of Zion” look on approvingly.

On an initial level this is a picture of the splendor and joy of marriage.  The king does not define the nature of marriage (as was the case in other nations).  The reality of marriage already exists.  It has been created and defined by God.  Its underlying motivation is that it is not good for someone to be alone (Gen. 2:18).  This is the principle which gives universal application to this text.  Not everyone is married.  Yet the theme that no one should be alone applies to us all.

The picture here of the wedding takes in far more than just the bride and the groom.    Everyone is involved. The larger symbol here is of community.  No one should be left alone.  We need to be in relationships whether those relationships are marital or that of family and friends. 

We cannot pass over the very human reality that is taking place here.  However, the church has seen much more than the marriage of Solomon in this context.  We can see in this passage multiple references not only to Christ but also to God the Father.  Consider the following:

  1. The king comes from the wilderness.  God forms his covenant with Israel in the wilderness (Hosea 11:1).
  2. Jesus at his birth receives gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matt. 2:11).  All three are mentioned here.
  3. The king comes like a “column of smoke.”  God emerges out of smoke on Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:18).
  4. Jesus will come as King of Kings.  Instead of “mighty men” he will be followed by the armies of heaven (Rev. 19:11-14).

So what is the point of all this?  This is to remind us of the promises of Christ that are all around us.  Based on this passage every time we attend a wedding we should be thinking of the return of Christ.  The marital symbolism of Christ’s second coming recurs throughout scripture (Matt. 25:1-12; II Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:2)

II. The Beauty of the Bride – 4:1-16

We now have an extensive description of the bride.  The imagery is more than a little overwhelming.  The speaker is clearly Solomon, the groom.  He praises his bride’s eyes, hair, teeth, lips, cheeks, neck, and breasts.  She is altogether beautiful.  There is not a flaw in her.  She is perfumed with spices.  She is a “well of living water.”

This description operates on two levels.  First of all, this is the perspective of total and complete human love.  When two people are in love they love every aspect of each other.  The physical descriptions here symbolize the character traits and personalities of the lovers.  They truly love everything about each other.  They don’t see the flaws.

Obviously over the course of time these flaws and failings will become more evident. Yet if their love is true that won’t change the relationship.  A critical aspect of an ongoing relationship is forgiveness.  In the words of the apostle Paul, we are to forgive one another as God in Christ forgave us (Eph. 4:32).

This now brings us to the second level of interpretation.  Using the imagery of the New Testament Christ is the Bridegroom and the church is the Bride.  The Bridegroom loves every aspect of the Bride.  This is how Christ loves us.  He doesn’t love us in some general way.  He loves every single thing about us.  In this sense he loves us beyond what any human lover could love.

This text speaks of the Bride being flawless (v. 7).  However, we know that we are far from flawless.  We have many failings.  Here though is the most amazing part.  Christ in his love for us makes us flawless.  In his death on the cross he takes away all our failings, all our imperfections, all our sins.  It is then not only that he, like a human lover, doesn’t see our flaws.  In reality he removes the flaws so then the church emerges as a heavenly bride free from spot or stain.  This then becomes a sustained metaphor for how much Christ not only loves us but sacrifices for us.  Paul will use this same imagery in Eph. 5:21-33.

We can never fully comprehend the depths of Christ’s love for us.

Questions for Us –

  1. Why is it so important that no one should be left alone (Gen. 2:18)?
  2. What does this passage teach us about the nature of love?
  3. How does our being the Bride of Christ encourage us?

Next Study – Song of Solomon Chapters 5-6

“Faint with Love”