It’s kind of funny because I submitted my post entitled “Pollen,” in which I used pollen and its affect on me as an allegory for suffering and its affect on the Christian. And how does the description of the post appear in the Carnival? “Over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, Rebecca LuElla Miller speaks of Pollen.”
Not surprising, I haven’t noticed a great surge of readers rushing to devour that post. Regardless, I recommend you check out the other articles in the Carnival. It’s a good way to find out what people outside our normal circles are saying about issues we’re interested in.
And now, what’s with the Song of Solomon?
A couple years ago I dubbed the book of Ecclesiastes as my least favorite book of the Bible, but I think I’m going to revise that. I no longer care for the Song of Solomon. Not that God has asked me if it’s OK to leave it in the Bible, and not that I doubt it too is part of Scripture and therefore will instruct in righteousness or reprove or correct or teach doctrine.
But here’s what I’m dealing with. For the longest time, I bought into the idea that this book was a metaphor of Christ with His Church. The New Testament refers to the Church, after all, as the Bride of Christ, so it seems plausible that the Song of Solomon, a love song between a bride and groom, would have an allegorical meaning.
Last year I abandoned that view. Quite frankly, a close reading makes it seem more likely that this is a song celebrating physical intimacy. You know, sex.
Am I horrified that the Bible has a book in it that isn’t about God but about a man-woman relationship? Not at all. Sex is God-given. Too often people forget, God told Adam and Eve to procreate (be fruitful and multiply) before they sinned. How about that for turning the notion that God is a grand kill-joy on its head? He not only designed sex to be pleasurable, He gave the command to go make babies.
So what’s wrong with the Song of Solomon celebrating physical intimacy, if in fact that’s the focus of the book? Nothing. Except apparently Solomon wrote it. About whom, I wonder? About himself and which of his 300 wives or 700 concubines? YUCK!
I’m sorry, but the luster is off this sweet love story in song.
Ah, but some people think Solomon wrote it, just not about himself. Well, OK, that is possible I suppose, but this groom, according to the text itself, was no monogamous lover either:
There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
And maidens without number;
But my dove, my perfect one, is unique:
She is her mother’s only daughter;
She is the pure child of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed,
The queens and the concubines also, and they praised her (6:8-9)
So I’m having a hard time appreciating this song. It seems a little like a moment from the Bachelor. This is what old Solomon (or whoever) sang to this girl, but what, oh what, might he have sung to the next woman he took to bed?
You see my problem?
So why is this book in the Bible? I can think of a couple reasons. It’s a reminder that sex isn’t sinful (in case anyone is still under the influence of Victorian mores on the subject).
It’s also a reminder of what went wrong in Solomon’s kingdom — his many wives led him away from God. The “many” part may have been an issue since God clearly commanded the kings not to amass wives or riches or horses. But specifically a number of Solomon’s wives were women from foreign countries, most likely part of some political alliance. He built them their own palaces and then temples for their gods.
He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.(1 Kings 11:3-8)
A sad, sad passage of Scripture.
The Song of Solomon, then, reminds me that no pleasure, no relationship, no matter how right it seems, can substitute for walking humbly before our God in obedience.
It’s an important lesson and I’m sure there are others in the Song of Solomon. But I’m an incurable romantic and would rather have a song written by a man who was faithful to one wife. That’s just me.