The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;
3 your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
therefore virgins love you.
4 Draw me after you; let us run.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
Marriage with Eros
Solomon married hundreds of women. He was a sweet-talker and a collector of women like some people collect stamps. This is not a critical report which comes from outside of the Bible, the Bible itself reports that Solomon married hundreds of women and had hundreds of concubines. Why would we turn to him for marital advice?
I agree with translators who do not think that the Song of Songs was written by Solomon or in praise of Solomon. I think that the phrase translated above to be read ‘Solomon’s’ is better translated ‘regarding Solomon.’ I believe the book can be read as a book about Solomon the villain who is the antithesis of all a father would want for his daughter as a prospective mate.
The context of the book is generally seen as a love poem written by Solomon in praise of his bride. However, I believe that it reads much better if it is a poem regarding the pure love of a shepherd and his wife despite the fact that Solomon has added her to his harem by force.
Also, Song of Songs is a very sexual book. It shows that the God who made sex heartily agrees when it is part of a marriage which is healthy. However, many Christians are at odds with eros. God, so they say is the God of a pure love called agape. He created humans so that they could have phileo, storge, and eros. However, he himself would never stoop so low as to participate in these lesser loves. However, upon studying Warfield and C.S. Lewis I have come to the conclusion that God loves in all ways. His practices are not equivalent to ours, but they represent all four loves not just one out of four.
These opening verses show a passion. It is a passion that consumes the soul and makes giddy like an alcoholic beverage. Although Pentecostals and Charismatics embrace passion, many denominations do not. Passion, it is thought, is associated with sinful lusts. Indeed when a person consumes another for their own gratification, it is sin. However, I would argue that abstaining from passion also falls short of God’s loving design for us. Jesus’ passionate desire for us is shown in his pursuit of us through the pain and the trials of the passion. Although this love is not sexual, I think that it represents a pure form of eros. Eros holds nothing back, it reveals everything. It abandons self. Without God a person becomes idolatrous when they abandon self. However, the Christian abandons self to God and the result is a love that lives for God but is vulnerable with others, too.
In the lines above I believe that Solomon has called his young victim to his chambers to use her as a sex toy. In contrast she is abandoned to her lover. At risk of punishment – even death – she calls to her lover to elope with her. Given the circumstances this passionate display is appropriate. Like those who married in WWII before their lover was shipped off to war, so the heroine promises everything to her true love before the abuser can take his prize.
Healthy marriage has passion. It surrenders self to the healthy desires that a body created by God can bring. Creative couples can be quite giddy with the plans for play that they can bring to their honeymoon and their bedroom. However, they can also share a passion for the creativity of the theatre, preaching, or sudoku. A shared passion pulls a couple out of their self focus. Although agape describes the fact that God loves in many ways, we must also think of him as having a passionate desire for us. Made in his image, we reflect his nature when we have a passionate desire to explore another person with respect and joy. We see this in Song of Songs. We can also allow us to see this in our marriages.
The word ‘erotic’ has become a dirty word for us. Fifty Shades of Gray and pornography make a mockery of the innocence that passion can maintain. Let us love with passion and abandon ourselves appropriately to the waves of love that would wash over us. Where passion is lost give us a path to follow. Let excitement and anticipation come into our lives when we dare to become emotionally whole.
- Who is the subject of the book Song of Songs (SoS)?
- What does the woman in the passage desire?
- How can love between a man and a woman be both passionate and pure?
- How do you think the case is built that SoS is not in praise of Solomon?
- In what ways do you express appropriate passion?