Song of Songs 1:1-4 Marriage with Eros

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;
    your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
    therefore virgins love you.
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.

Prayer

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.

Questions

  1. Who is the subject of the book Song of Songs (SoS)?
  2. What does the woman in the passage desire?
  3. How can love between a man and a woman be both passionate and pure?
  4. How do you think the case is built that SoS is not in praise of Solomon?
  5. In what ways do you express appropriate passion?

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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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17 Responses to Song of Songs 1:1-4 Marriage with Eros

  1. Maelynn says:

    2. Eve desires to her eyes to be opened so that she sees like God does.
    3. By living out what God’s Word says. They need to be committed and devoted to one another. They also must love one another as 1 Cor. 13 suggests. They also should enjoy life together and be hopeful for the future. God’s Word tells us that His joy is the basis of our strength from day to day.

  2. Christa says:

    1. Who is the subject of the book Song of Songs (SoS)? Solomon, from the viewpoint of one of his many wives
    2. What does the woman in the passage desire? Someone to join her in her passion and love
    3. How can love between a man and a woman be both passionate and pure? In the context of a loving marriage between a husband and a wife
    4. How do you think the case is built that SoS is not in praise of Solomon? There seems to be a change from the description of “you” to the “king”
    5. In what ways do you express appropriate passion? I am not sure how I express passion

  3. Maria T. says:

    1. Who is the subject of the book Song of Songs (SoS)? I have never thought about the possibility that it might be Solomon the villain. This post was extremely interesting to me because I have never heard of the idea that the lover in the passage might not be Solomon himself.
    2. What does the woman in the passage desire? She desires to express and receive passionate love from her lover.
    3. How can love between a man and a woman be both passionate and pure? When the love is outward focused instead of inward focused, desiring to build the other person up. For erotic passion, this must happen in the context of marriage. I believe it is possible for brothers and sisters to be passionately loving toward one another in purity, though this is expressed differently.
    4. How do you think the case is built that SoS is not in praise of Solomon? Because Solomon was not a faithful husband who loved one woman. Once I heard that this was Solomon’s first marriage, and the point was to see how far he had fallen. But I am inclined to agree that perhaps this Song of Songs is meant to express the love of someone else who loved purely. On the other hand, it is possible that Solomon wrote this. Even though he didn’t follow everything in Proverbs, he still wrote it.
    5. In what ways do you express appropriate passion? I become passionate in prayer for others. Often I am passionate in my love for my family, and sometimes my close friends. The expression of that is sometimes the words in conversation and sometimes with physical affection.

  4. Michael McCardle says:

    Who is the subject of the book Song of Songs (SoS)?
    Two lovers who have been torn apart by a greedy king.
    What does the woman in the passage desire?
    To be taken away from the kings chamber by her true lover so that hey may be together.
    How can love between a man and a woman be both passionate and pure?
    Christ showed passionate love by giving his all for us on the cross. I think that when we give another person all that we are in the way that we love, we create passion in the love relationship. I think that the greatest form of passionate love is pure. Sex is something that is meant to be shared with only one person (husband and wife). That kind of love is passionate and pure.
    How do you think the case is built that SoS is not in praise of Solomon?
    I have never thought of this, but now reading this passage I like the case. It makes sense now why the woman is always longing and looking to be out with her lover. I need to try read the book again with this context/frame of mind.
    In what ways do you express appropriate passion?
    I think that i express appropriate passion through dedication and commitment.

  5. Kimberly W. says:

    I’ve never heard of this view of SoS before. I’m not quite sure what to think of it. It makes sense. I find myself startled and taken aback by it; honestly a bit horrified. It changes the book. I would like to do some research about this view of SoS.

  6. Jung Kim says:

    I encourage the readers to read the following statements again, “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.” I wholeheartedly agree in awe that God’s love, or His practice of love for us is NOT equivalent to ours. This logically makes sense because we tend to fall apart when it comes to loving our neighbors or enemies as ourselves. Giving myself to God or abandoning myself to God is indeed hard. Yet, I am excited to love someone by becoming emotionally whole 🙂

  7. Andrew Moore says:

    Honestly, I am very confused by your unique view of Song of Songs. I think I may have heard of it before briefly, but I have never dug into the concept before. I am mainly confused as to how the theme of the poem can still be the same under a very different context. Also, where does the shepherd fit into the book and how does his presence change the meaning of the text?

  8. 1. I always assumed it was Solomon and a one of his lovers, but it could be otherwise. I would like time to study on the different viewpoints.
    2. She desires to express passionate love with her lover.
    3. While not all marriages have this kind of passionate and pure love, a factor is that it takes place in marriage between a man and a woman who sincerely love each other with a love that is God and others focused rather than on themselves.
    4. While I have not had time to study on the views, I always found it confusing to read because sometimes it seemed like Solomon did not fit all the descriptors in the passage. We know for sure he was unfaithful and it is impossible for that kind of pure and passionate love to be fully present in that unfaithfulness.

  9. Megumi says:

    2. To be with her lover
    3. To think that the two are incompatible, is, I believe, a misunderstanding of both, passion and purity. They were designed to go together.
    5. In what ways do you express appropriate passion?

    1 & 4 I am not familiar with the argument that was presented and do not think it prudent to discuss it without further study in this forum.

  10. Molly says:

    I would love to hear what your sources are for coming to your conclusion of this view of Song of Solomon. I have never heard of this interpretation.

  11. Christina W. says:

    I thought that this was an interesting post. I think that it brings a new perspective and a fresh look at passion and how God desires for us to experience passion.

  12. According to the post, Solomon is the main character of the passage. The woman wants an intimate connection with Solomon, her lover. Love between a man and woman can be both passionate and pure because God created marital relationships to be passionate. I can express passion in my relationship with my husband, friends, and family. I can be passionate through my prayers for others and through meeting the needs of others.

  13. Ok! So this makes so much more sense than reading Song of Solomon in a way that portrays this womanizer in a romantic and passionate (or dare I say, “loving”) man. I was always baffled that we put Solomon on a pedestal as the love guru just because he “collected” women.
    If we want to know true love it Eros form what better place to look for it than in a betrothed, young couple-who have never known another and who’s only desire is for each other. How sweet is a lovers “coming together” on their marriage bed.
    I can resonate with this young women, and I can see how her passion may also included fear, for she may be forced to do things she does not want to do with a man she has no love for (in any form).

  14. Emmy R says:

    Appropriate passion is an interesting phrase, two words that are not often found together. I believe our culture has ruined this view of passion, therefore having an appropriate version of it seems “far fetched.” I liked the part of the prayer that said, “where passion is lost, give us a path to follow.” May our lives set an example for appropriate passion, in a lost world.

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