Song of Songs 3:6-11

The latter part of chapter 3 has Solomon rising up in a barren, loveless backdrop of imagery.  The NIV makes assumptions about Solomon and presents him as though he was approaching in majesty.  For example the first word in verse six can be translated as who or what.  Making the translation who implies a fragrant man and so a heroic lover might come into view.  However, if what is used we can see that the smoke is the fragrant smoke of sacrifices that have been offered on the bed of Solomon that follows.  Note that the bed is in the desert which is contrasted with the fertile lush imagery of the woman and her lover.  Note how the warriors are prepared for the terrors of the night.  This would imply that they are there to keep Solomon’s love conquests from escaping the bed rather than to protect Solomon.    Finally, verse 11 would be ironic.  Solomon must have had many weddings that his mother crowned him during.

The whole section is of male conquest of women.  Solomon represents those who, with wealth and opulance overwhelm a woman and drag her away from true love and intimacy.  Men today promice wealth and security rather than relationship.  Men today still wield power and trafiic sex-slaves across borders without intimacy.  Men who dominate women have the physical act of sex, but like Solomon it is barren, empty, and false.

Men need to treasure and nurture a woman.  The design has been one woman with one man, but men become greedy for lovers when they find intimacy difficult.  It is as though quantity will substitute for quality.

Song of Songs 3:6-11

 6 (N)What is that coming up from the wilderness
   like (O)columns of smoke,
perfumed with (P)myrrh and frankincense,
   with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?
7 Behold, it is the litter[a] of Solomon!
Around it are (Q)sixty (R)mighty men,
   some of the mighty men of Israel,
8 all of them wearing swords
   and expert in war,
each with his (S)sword at his thigh,
   against (T)terror by night.
9 King Solomon made himself a carriage[b]
   from the wood of Lebanon.
10 He made its posts of silver,
   its back of gold, its seat of purple;
its interior was inlaid with love
   by (U)the daughters of Jerusalem.
11 Go out, O (V)daughters of Zion,
   and look upon King Solomon,
with the crown with which his mother crowned him
   on (W)the day of his wedding,
   on the day of the gladness of his heart.

Questions

  1. Do you think Solomon is being praised of vilified as a lover in this passage?
  2. How is the metaphor of conquest developed by using images of sacrifice, and representing Solomon’s bed as a chariot/throne/altar?
  3. How is Solomon’s bed existing in a desert significant?
  4. How do we promote a vision of sexual conquest for males?
  5. Why are women showing signs of stress and anxiety in the modern trend of living together and men are loving it?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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