14 January 2013

Song of Solomon 1:9 – 2:7

"Ah, you are beautiful, my love; ah, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Ah you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely. Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters are pine." (vv. 15-17)


The Song of Solomon is probably one of the more neglected books of the Bible - perhaps because it's not explicitly about God; perhaps because it seems to speak more of human experiences than of godly ones; or perhaps it's because we find some of its saucier sections a little, well, embarrassing.

It can be surprising (not to mention a little unsettling) to stumble across what appears to be the raunchy account of a love affair slap bang in the middle of a sacred religious text. But there it is and, as Christians, we should deal seriously and positively with any Scripture that our forefathers thought was valuable enough to make the final cut.

So why is it in the canon? Is it just to embarrass us? Well, the Song of Solomon is primarily a book about love, marriage and sexuality, and we would do the text (not to mention ourselves) a disservice if we pretend otherwise. Unless you consider yourself a world expert in these matters, perhaps there's something to be learned.

But more than that, the Song of Solomon is a God's-eye-view of what human sexuality is like and what it has the potential to be. As such, it can inspire us to seek and find a deeper experience and understanding of God and God's love for humanity. Sure, the closest it ever gets to mentioning God is a questionable reference in 8:6, but it is part of a wider collection of writings that speaks of God's massive world-changing involvement in human affairs (literally and metaphorically speaking). It is in this context that I hope we can explore the Song of Solomon together this week.

To Ponder

  • What kind of writings and themes do you expect to find in the Bible? What texts or themes have surprised you by their inclusion?
  • What might be learned about God from the stories of human love affairs? 

Bible notes author

Anna Drew

Anna Drew is Director of Communications for the Diocese of Canterbury. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Daily Service and Prayer for the Day and a freelance writer on faith issues.