Back in April our North East Team Days were in Doncaster and we had the pleasure of looking at the Song with Mike Reeves, UCCF's Theological Advisor.
I thought it might be useful to collate some of the stuff we looked at over our 3 sessions, partly for my own benefit of really grappling with it, and for the benefit of you the reader because, as one of my friends would describe it, it's tasty!
(The edited audio of the session will appear in the 'Sermons and Talks' tab soon!)
Let's start with a quote from the Puritan Richard Sibbes"
This book is nothing else but a plain demonstration and setting forth of the love of Christ to His church, and of the love of the church to Christ
Not a familiar idea to our ear is it?
Now, whatever you think to Sibbes' statement don't stop reading just yet. I, with you I'd imagine, think there is more than that to it, but, Sibbes' view was the prevailing view all the way up to the 1800s.
This stems from the very true and helpful belief that the whole of the Bible is about Jesus and His church first and foremost. So The Song must be about Jesus and the church even if it has a secondary meaning of a human marriage, sex and love.
Let's think about who the man and woman in the song are:
Who is he?
He is described at King and Shepherd, which makes him sound Davidic. But it's not David, it's Solomon, we are told in chapter 3.
As we look at ch3v6 we see a pillar of smoke, very reminiscent of the exodus and on top of that he seems to be a priest. There are lots of allusions to the temple in ch3v6-11, reminders of the Ark of the covenant and the 60 posts plus silver and gold.
Following that, in ch8v5 we have a beautiful description of the exodus, with the people leaning on Jesus.
Surely only Christ is King, Shepherd and Priest, is he not?
Who is she?
She is like a vineyard which should make us think of Isaiah chapter 5 where the people of Israel are described in that way. She is clothed with jewels which you could also link to Ezekiel 16.
But the biggest echo seems to be to Psalm 45. The king seems to be marrying a Gentile, v10f is a wonderful gospel, marrying the Lord.
Christ leaves everything for us, we leave everything that is rotten and bad for Him.
In chapter 4v8-9 she is sister and bride, which is fine if that relationship is to Christ, but illegal under Jewish law if it is person to person. This is also wonderful if it the Bride that captures the heart of Christ. It means He is delighted with us and loves us, we are beautified by the Spirit for Him.
We get everything that is His, because we, as the church, are in a covenant of marriage with Him!
(This idea of the LORD being brother as well as Father is seen in 1 Kings 14 in the meanings of the names Abijah and Ahijah!)
Some food for thought I think! Chew it over! I certainly will be.