Friday, October 20, 2006

Marriage or Messiah?

I'm rereading the Song of Solomon these days. Wow!? I'm curious to know whether or not you take the book literally or figuratively? Is the Song a picture of a steamy marriage relationship between a man and woman, or a picture of a believer's relationship with Christ? Or, both?

Tommy Nelson & Mark Driscoll have both testified of the church growth tool the Song of Solomon can be when you preach it as a picture of a human marriage.
  • Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me - SOS 2:6
  • You are alotogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you - SOS 4:7
  • His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved.. - SOS 5:16
  • Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle - SOS 7:3


JS said...

I'm gonna go with "steamy marriage relationship" for $500 Alex.

I went through this a while back and looked into several old commentaries on the book (i.e. Spurgeon, Gill, Henry & other puritans) and found that all viewed it as a picture of the relationship between believers and Christ. None of their interpretations were literal ones. Do you think it's because of the nature of the "subject matter"?

Someone else who looks at it literally is CJ Mahaney. Here's a link to a SOS Conference he did at Bible Church of Little Rock:

(You may have to type in Mahaney in the Speaker field)

I highly recommend it. It's definitely worth a download and listen. CJ also addresses the question about the interpretation.

And you thought Tommy Nelson was passionate about the subject. He ain't got nuthin' on CJ!

Kurt Strassner said...


Good question. There are DEFINITELY helpful portraits that we can and must use to help us see the beauty of Christ in SOS. That is, however, because Christ/church as bridegroom/bride is such a prevalent image in the NT...and NOT, (imho) because this book is meant to be purely allegorical.

The same is true of any and every OT book. They are all real, historical accounts of real people and God's dealings with them...and must ALWAYS be read in that context. However, if we read them only in that context--and fail to see both types of Christ and the salvation history that so clearly points to Him--we are misreading.

So, if I were to preach SOS...I'd preach clearly about human marriage, but I'd take every chance I got to show how human marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and the church. That way you get the allegory without being simply allegorical.

Maybe CJ Mahaney is even more convincing. Speaking on the Puritan's interpretation of the "pouch of aloes" between the beloved's breasts as Christ's coming between the Old and New Testaments, he quips: "I don't know about you, but when I read that verse, I am not thinking about the Old or New Testaments. I'm thinking about breasts!"

Jordan said...

Thanks to both of you guys! As I read the SOS I was regularly reminded of my college days when we would sing a chorus at our campus worship service, "I am my Beloved's and He is mine...His banner over me is love."

Then, I realized - during those same days - that could very well be a conversation between a man, namely Solomon, and a woman. If so, it is coming from the lips of a very horny (in a God-pleasing way) lady. Talk about not wanting to sing that worship song ever again! I can't help but picture Solomon's sexually-intoxicated grin every time I hear that song?!?

But, I then began to wonder, is there also some picture of Christ's love to me therein? Most Puritans say "yes" many moderns say "no." Kurt, I like your "both and" perspective...

am said...


am said...

Maybe not only Jesus but definitely Jesus.