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Song of Songs [6/15]; Behold the litter of Solomon

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posted on Jun, 30 2013 @ 05:05 PM
I’m still exploring the intended meaning of the Song of Songs.
The next passage I’m considering is the rest of the third chapter, ch.3 vv6-11.
(The translation being used is the RSV)

The first part of the poem has been describing the relationship between the Woman and her Loved One.
I’ve already proposed that this is the relationship between God and his people.

v6 This passage seems to bring a change of theme.
Something is coming up from the wilderness, and in the next verse the new arrival will be identified as King Solomon.
But why should Solomon be be coming in the form of a column of smoke, and why would he be arriving from the wilderness, in particular?
We will need to return to these questions.

vv7-8 As befits a king, Solomon is accompanied by Power.
This comes in the form of sixty well-armed “mighty men of Israel”.
This phrase, like the reference to Solomon himself, harks back to the time of the undivided kingdom.
The only observation I can make about the number is that David had a band of thirty mighty men (1 Chronicles ch.11)
Solomon’s bodyguard is twice as large. Evidently “one greater than David” is here.

vv9-10 As befits a king, Solomon is accompanied by Wealth, or perhaps by Glory.
He arrives in comfort and luxury, carried in a litter.
The litter is built of the fine woods of Lebanon and ornamented with gold and silver.
The inner furnishings are purple-dyed and embroidered.
The Hebrew suggests they were made with love, though that doesn’t appear in all the translations, and by the daughters of Jerusalem.

Returning to those first questions, we need to remember what else is known to have come from the wilderness.
In the first place, God’s people Israel came up from the wilderness in the time of Joshua.
This was the real beginning of their relationship with the land, celebrated in the second chapter

Along with God’s people, the Tabernacle came up from the wilderness.
Of course the Tabernacle was the lineal ancestor of Solomon’s Temple, which was built with the wood of Lebanon and gloriously decorated with gold and silver and purple.

Along with the Tabernacle, the Ark of Covenant came up from the wilderness.
And along with the Ark of the Covenant, God himself came up from the wilderness.

In the Exodus account, God was guiding his people through the wilderness in the form of “a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night” (Exodus ch.13 v23).
So when we see a column of smoke arriving from the wilderness, we should be understanding that as the continuation and conclusion of the Exodus journey.
The column is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, which were ingredients in the oil which sanctified the Tabernacle, and in the incense offered before the Lord (Exodus ch30 vv22-38).
This seems to confirm that the column represents the Lord in his holiness.

Then it is entirely appropriate that God should be accompanied by Power (vv7-8).
And also entirely appropriate that God should be accompanied by Glory (vv9-10).

But why should he then be masked under the name of Solomon?
There are three factors which make King Solomon a suitable symbol for God’s kingship.
If the Song was written in the period after the return from the Babylonian exile, as many scholars believe, then Solomon would be remembered as the ruler of the ideal kingdom from the period before the disaster.
As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the geographical references in this poem mark out the extent of the greater kingdom which was attributed to Solomon.
Secondly, his association with the Temple, where God was worshipped.
And finally, the meaning of his name, which relates to the word for “peace”, the ideal state which might be expected to prevail under God’s rule.

v11. Solomon is now displayed as a bridegroom.
It seems that the wedding has taken place previously.
For the daughters of Zion are to go and meet him, and see him in his wedding crown, the crown which he’s already received.

Some people believe that the purpose of the Song of Songs was to celebrate the wedding of the historic King Solomon.
So I’m tempted to ask- “Which one?”
Solomon is credited with seven hundred wives, and it’s not likely that any of these marriages was a love-match.

But if Solomon represents the Lord, then “the wedding of Solomon” represents the act which unites God with his people, making them husband and wife.
That’s where this passage connects with what the poem has already told us, about the relation between the Woman and the Loved One.

Then what do we make of the crowning of the bridegroom by his mother, a very obscure part of the ceremonial?
I think the key to understanding this event is to remember the name of Solomon’s mother.
Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba.
The name “Bathsheba” means “daughter of the oath”.
So Solomon’s wedding was sealed by “the daughter of the oath”.
That is to say, God’s marriage with his people has been sealed by his solemn oath, which we know as the oath of the Covenant.

So this passage seems to recall the arrival in the land of God and his people, the Woman and her Loved One, already bound by a solemn Covenant.

posted on Jun, 30 2013 @ 09:25 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Awesome points Disraeli! I always enjoy reading your writings and as far as I have seen, your theology is pretty spot on.

Sorry I don't have much to add. SOS tends to be the book that most Christians shy away from, except of course the pastors who wish to pervert it and show videos of themselves in bed with their spouse as an intro to their sermon. (Sorry, I actually witnessed this at a church a few years back and it still makes me so angry.)

I always took SOS as a love letter of sorts, but relating it the way you have makes perfect sense. Thanks for pushing my thinking on it. Mr. Dokie and I may have to study it next after we get done with Jeremiah.


posted on Jul, 1 2013 @ 04:39 PM
reply to post by OkieDokie

Thank you for those encouraging comments.

Yes, the difficulty for many Chistians is that the mediaeval Church went overboard in finding allegory in every line of the Bible, so the Protestant community has over-reacted by being reluctant to accept any allegory anywhere. As literal as possible, please.

But we're in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In later threads i shall be pointing out that this allegory is not unique, because Israel is treated allegorically in Ezekiel ch16 and ch23. I think attempts to find a human love-story in this poem, especially the "love-triangle" theory, cause more difficulties than they solve.

When I get to the end of the book, I shall be doing another Index thread.

posted on Jul, 1 2013 @ 06:03 PM
The previous threads in this series were;
Draw me after you
Tell me where you rest at noon
Feed me with raisins
Arise my love, my fair one
I will seek him

edit on 1-7-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 04:17 PM
My interest in the Song of Songs was originally inspired by the reading of the sermons of Bernard of Clairvaux.
Especially by his comments on the words “I am black, but beautiful”, as applied to the spiritual state of the church or the individual soul. The idea of being sinful and imperfect, but still beloved by God.
Knowing the history of the church, I was very conscious of its imperfections, so it all rang very true.
However, my own interpretation obviously strikes out a very different line from Bernard, in all sorts of different ways.
Nor is there space for me to take the devotional approach.
But I would argue that gaining a good sense of the writer’s conscious intentions would provide the most sure foundation of any approach, including the devotional.

posted on Jul, 3 2013 @ 05:12 PM
For information;
The next thread in this series will be "Your hair is like a flock of goats".
That is not a misprint.

posted on Sep, 11 2013 @ 01:17 PM
This whole series is now indexed at the following location;

The Unseen Husband

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