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The Old Testament book Song of Solomon has always bothered me. It’s not the sexual imagery or archaic metaphors. Those are beautiful, though not what we expect from the Bible.
I love the celebration of love and intimacy in marriage Song of Solomon, but knowing about the author has always diminished the meaning of the book in my mind. When reading Solomon’s words to Shulamite, I cannot forget that he eventually had 699 other wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-3). How can he be sincere in his love for this one?
My husband is preaching through the redemption story of the Bible. The good, but hard thing about such a sermon series is you must preach the “whole counsel of the Word” and cannot skip hard passages. So when he came to Song of Solomon, with a slightly red face he shared God’s Word related to sexual intimacy in marriage, then connected it directly to the New Testament.
Now, of course, Song of Solomon is not just about a man and a woman. Through the lens of Christ and the New Testament we know that this poetic book is also a picture of Christ and His bride, the church. That is why marriage and sex is such a big deal. It is supposed to show the world how Jesus loves and has an intimate relationship with His church.
Unfortunately, sin has marred the perfect picture that God originally intended, but through God’s grace Christian marriages, flawed as they are, can still give us a glimpse into how we relate to our eternal Husband.
When I think of Song of Solomon in the light of the relationship of a man and a woman, I must try to block out the knowledge of other women in Solomon’s life. Then I can begin to learn what God intend’s for me to learn about my marriage and how to better relate to my husband.
However, God showed me something about Song of Solomon recently in light of Christ and the church that gives more meaning to the book when considering Solomon’s many wives.
As a Christian, I am a part of the Bride of Christ, but only a part. God calls many to Himself. A whole multitude of every tribe, tongue, and nation awaits the coming of our Bridegroom (Revelation 5:9) And He always has room for more.
Solomon singled out Shulamite from among his many wives and concubines. As a man, he could not have pursued each one with this kind of passion. A woman in his life was fortunate to have him to herself once every couple of years. Surely with so many to choose from, there were others who more beautiful, more capable, more of what the world values. Still, Solomon wrote this book about one – Shulamite.
Jesus, our Bridegroom, however, has infinite love. He has many who are “better” than I am, yet He chose and still chooses to pursue me with loving passion. Jesus knows me intimately and desires to spend time alone with me.
Unlike Solomon, Jesus is able to love and provide for not only me, but each of His own fully, wholly, abundantly. Only when I consider Song of Solomon as a description of Christ and His Bride, does the many women of Solomon make sense. He love me. He loves you.
His love for others in no way diminishes His love for me.
Like the love of a parent, Christ’s love is not divided, but multiplied by adding more into His family.
Solomon’s many wives caused his heart to turn away from God, but perhaps God in his sovereignty intended to use Solomons many wives to show us more about His love. He can use even our sinfulness to show His goodness.
So the question is how will you and I respond?
Will we accept His love and pursue Him passionately in return?
Do we say of Christ, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine?”
Jesus is the lover of my soul. I hope He is yours as well. We can love and pursue him together. No jealously, no worry about favorites. Just basking in His infinite love.
Song of Solomon is written about an exclusive relationship between Solomon and Shulamite, but also is a love Song that is inclusive of the whole body of Christ.
So now when we read Song of Solomon, let’s celebrate God’s beautiful gift of intimacy in a grace filled marriage, but let’s also be enraptured with the love of our Bridegroom.
As Christians read the Song of Solomon, I want them to remember the exclusive love of Jesus is inclusive enough for all sinners who turn to Him.
*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.