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WISDOM BOOKS: Song of Songs

“Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth
More delightful is your love than wine.”
Song of Songs 1:2-4

Just when you thought that the Bible only had dry, mind-numbing, super-pious, hard-to-understand, culturally archaic stories, Song of Songs comes along to change the way you might relate to God.

Song of Songs is a beautiful, lyrical passionate love story about two lovers. It weaves rough, woolen treads of red-hot sexual desire with silky, smooth, white-hot emotional textures. It may shock you to think that this kind of writing is in the Bible, but it is.

The author is unknown, the text similar to a set of Egyptian love songs, the time of the writing unknown. It becomes part of the Hebrew canon in 90AD after some controversy about whether the book should be included at all because of its erotic nature. The book also never mentions God. Yet scripture scholars continue to see God within the text. Hebrew scripture scholars state that the text is symbolic of God’s desire to achieve intimacy with Israel. Christian scholars believe that Song of Songs is a rich source of imagery, symbolism, and metaphors about the relationship of Jesus and the Church.

The story’s characters are a bride and a groom. Scholars say that the groom is probably King Solomon and the bride is one, yes one, of his intended brides and let me tell you, girlfriend has got it bad! She’s madly in love with him and the king chastises her because she is unaware of the power that her beauty has over him. (General Hospital has nothing on this soap opera!) Chapter 5 is particularly erotic and places the groom knocking at the bride’s bedroom door. Unfortunately, the groom gets a little “over-eager” and things happen a little prematurely. When the bride finally opens the door, he has left out of embarrassment. Scholars say that the point the author is trying to convey that we put up barriers to God’s love and God is over-eager to create an intimate union with all of us.

Because Hebrew culture had taboos that prohibited writing words that described genitalia, men’s sex organs were generally referred to as hands and feet (or the penis as a head) while women’s private parts were known as ripe, succulent fruit, or sweet meat. The book often mentions female genitalia as being “dripping with myrrh.” Orgasms were described as dripping like honey from a cone.

Read the Song of Songs. Cast God and yourself as the two lovers as you read. The love you share is the Holy Spirit who seeks to guide us back to God.

 
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