Monday 30 March 2020

Bible Book:
Song of Solomon

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. (v. 1)

Song of Solomon 2:1-17 Monday 30 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 23


Spoiler alert – if you would rather not find out important plot points from The Grapes of Wrath, stop here!

The Song of Solomon defies definition. Some read it as an allegory for God’s relationship with the people of Israel, others as a metaphor for the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church. Some are surprised to find such a powerful depiction of sexual desire at the centre of the Bible. Many question just how much the book has to do with the king after whom it is named! And some choose to read it at face value, as a moving love story between a Shulamite woman and a shepherd, told (unusually) primarily in the woman’s voice.

In John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck draws on verse 1, in which the narrator describes herself as “a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys". Steinbeck names one of his characters ‘Rose of Sharon’ (or ‘Rosasharn’). For much of the novel, the pregnant Rosasharn seems delicate, like a lily. But in its final chapter, having lost her baby, Rosasharn prepares to breastfeed a grown man who, in the unforgiving conditions of the Dust Bowl era, is starving to death. Her delicate appearance, it turns out, has concealed a core of strength and self-giving love.

Looking ahead to the New Testament, 1 John 4:7 tells us that all love comes from God. The love of the Shulamite woman for her beloved. The love of God for God’s people. The love of Christ for his Church. The love of human beings who, in unthinkably challenging circumstances, give of themselves to help a stranger. Perhaps it is unnecessary to define exactly what kind of love we find in the Song of Solomon, given that all love flows from the same source.


To Ponder:

  • Imagine you were among those choosing which books to include in the Bible. What criteria would you use? Would you include the Song of Solomon? Why/why not?
  • Have you heard the Song of Solomon read aloud in church or quoted in sermons? How was it used?
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