Lausanne Free Church "believing all things written"

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Introducing The Song Of Solomon

The Song of Solomon is a neglected and misunderstood book, but it is part of the word of God and is there for our benefit. I believe that once you know how to interpret the book it will become one of your favourites.

We begin by asking five questions:

1. What is the Song of Solomon?

We are told in verse 1: The song of songs, which is Solomon’s. This book is a song. It is intended to lift our hearts in joy. This book is the Song of Songs. It is the highest of all songs. Why? Because of its theme. This is a song about God’s love for his people and his people’s love for their God. This is a song written by Solomon. Solomon was the great third king of Israel after Saul and David. He was a prolific writer composing 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. But this song was his grandest achievement, written about the grandest theme – love.

The greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” The effect of sin has been to destroy that love. The object of redemption is to restore that love. God’s word shows us that love is not only important, it is essential. God is love and 1 Corinthians 13 says without love we are nothing. Love is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit. On the basis that love for God is so important it should not surprise us that God gives in his Word a book devoted to developing such love. This is the Song of Solomon. Books in the Bible have different purposes. Proverbs show us how to put a wise head on young shoulders. Ecclesiastes shows us the emptiness of life without God. This book shows us how to love God.

2. What is the nature of the song?

Some think that this song is simply a historical record of Solomon’s love for a woman that he marries. The purpose therefore of the book is to extol human love. There are several problems with this view. First, Solomon’s life is not exactly a good example of married love - he ended up marrying 700 times! Second, the Lord Jesus assures us that we can find him in every Old Testament book. Where is Christ if this is just a story of human love? A better way is to see this book is that the events recorded did not actually take place. Instead this song is an allegory or a story which symbolises spiritual truths. On this basis we can see that the groom-to-be symbolises Christ and the bride-to-be represents his people. The striking similarity between Psalm 45 and Song of Solomon confirms this. In that Messianic psalm, Christ is pictured as a king and God’s people as his bride.

The picture of marriage is used throughout the Scriptures. In the Old Testament the Lord speaks of his chosen people being his bride. He speaks of them committing adultery when they go after other gods. In the New Testament the church is called the bride of Christ. In fact Paul goes further. We are told in Ephesians 5 that the husband and wife relationship was created as an image of the relationship between Christ and his church. So this song is an allegory.

3. What is the content of the song?

The song is about a couple who are betrothed to be married. Under Jewish marriage law the first stage of marriage is that the couple commit themselves to each other in a binding agreement. Later on the actual marriage takes place and the couple live together. Today we would say they were engaged, but the Jewish betrothal was much more binding than an engagement is today. The song is a drama with several acts. She lives in one place and he lives in another. We see visits and the times of separation. Most of the book is conversational, with both singing songs to praise the other. First the bride-to-be speaks then the groom-to-be speaks, with occasional comments from others.

Now there is a debate about whether in chapter 3 the couple get married and then live together. Nearly all the older writers such as Matthew Henry say no. Some modern authors such as Stuart Olyott say yes. What is clear is that no actual marriage is described. I take the view that the marriage does not take place in the Song. It is still in the future. The main reason is this. If we assume that the marriage takes place in chapter 3 then all that follows in the picture must relate to the church and Christ in the new heavens and new earth. It is only there that the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place. But this cannot be so. In chapter 5 we read of the bride’s love growing cold and of her not opening the door to her husband and in chapter 6 we read that the groom has gone away. This will never happen in heaven!

I think that all of this song takes place during the engagement period. This means that all of the song can help develop and grow our love for Christ here and now. As with Revelation this is a picture book and we need to look at the big picture. We must not read too much into each detail. Imagine each verse of this book to be a beautiful flower. My aim is to see the flower in all its beauty, not to pull the flower apart petal by petal.

4. Who are the singers of the song?

The man is named as Solomon and the woman is called the Shulamite. These two names both have the meaning of peace. They are as similar as the two names Cornelius and Cornelia or Paul and Paula. We could translate Solomon as the prince of peace and the Shulamite as the princess of peace. The similar names points to the fact that this is a picture. The Holy Spirit led Solomon to use imagery drawn from his court and his country and its courtship customs. Probably the Holy Spirit also led Solomon to draw on his own personal experiences of love but we need go no further than that. The Song of Songs is not about a real courtship and marriage.

5. What is the structure of the book?

It is very difficult to develop a structure and therefore it may be best not to attempt one. Truth is taught not by statements, but by illustrations. The writer uses image after image, picture after picture to illustrate love and the loveliness of Christ. Each facet is slightly different. Each view will add to the whole. My hope is that we will be dazzled by the glory of Christ. My aim as that we will understand more about Christ’s love for us and as a consequence our love for Christ will grow. In this first message we are just going to look at verses 2 to 4. The title of this first sermon is “Kiss me Lord”. It will be in three brief parts.

1. Your love

Verse 2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—For your love is better than wine. The bride to be speaks first and addresses her fiancé. She desires close communion pictured by being kissed on the mouth. Why? Because his love of the groom is best of all, even better than the finest wine. Permission to kiss the hand of a king was considered a high honour, but here the bride desires that the king will kiss her on the mouth! She desires the blessing that the man would only give to his closest and dearest relatives. All this pictures the desire of the true Christian. She desires to know that the Lord loves her and longs for tokens of that love.

There are of course many ways that God shows us love: such as daily provision of food, warmth and shelter, but these are common to all. The kisses of the Lord are something much more personal. They are for the individual Christian. The kisses of the Lord are nothing less that the blessings of salvation. A kiss signifies reconciliation.

Our Gospel duty is summed up by a kiss. We read in Psalm 2:12 “Kiss the Son least he be angry with you and you perish in the way.” We come to Christ and confess him as Lord. We bow down before him and take his hand, kissing it as a sign of reverence and acknowledgement of his kingship. The grace that we receive in the Gospel can also be summed up by a kiss: think of the parable of the Prodigal Son. What did the father do when the repenting son returned? He embraced and kissed him!

So all believers long for the kiss of the Lord Jesus, the sign that we are forgiven, received and accepted. The kisses of the mouth are therefore nothing less than assurance that we are saved.

How does the Lord communicate that to us? By his mouth, that is through his word. God’s word gives us the assurance that we are saved.

The first time that the Lord kissed me was a few minutes after I was saved. I read these words in Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Can you think of precious verses that assured you that God loves you and cares for you? They are the kisses of the Lord.

The pleasures that flow from God’s word are better than the best pleasures of the world. As we read the Scriptures we find many kisses of the Lord in verse after verse.

We read about God’s love to the world, we read about the pardon of sin, we read about being adopted into his family, we read about the help of the Holy Spirit, we read about the promise of God dwelling with us in the new heaven and new earth. All these are the kisses of the Lord.Do you want to know the kisses of the Lord? Then read his word. Then come and hear God’s word preached. Then sing God’s praise as we sing hymns based on his word. Is your spiritual life dry? Could it be because you are not reading and meditating on God’s word daily? Could it be because you are not giving priority to attending the means of grace? Let the Lord kiss you with his love as you read his word and hear God’s word preached.

2. Your name

Now as soon as the bride thinks of her husband to be she thinks of his sweet smelling fragrance: Verse 3 - Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Costly ointments were used in those times to refresh, heal wounds and to give pleasure. The bride to be says that the very name of her husband to be is like an ointment poured forth. As we read in Ecclesiastes “A good name is better than precious ointment”. She just had to hear the name “Solomon” and her heart sang for joy as she brought to mind the man she was to marry. When we really love Christ the mere mention of his name should stir a whole host of good thoughts and gratitude.

The various name of God stands for his attributes. Each of the names of God tells us something about his greatness. For instance in the Old Testament we have:

ELOHIM meaning “God”, a reference to God’s power and might.

ADONAI meaning “Lord”, a reference to the Lordship of God.

JEHOVAH-JIREH meaning “The Lord will provide”

JEHOVAH-SABBAOTH meaning “The Lord of Hosts”

But the name that is most precious to a believer is the name of Lord Jesus Christ. This is the name that is above all names. In Acts 4:12 we read “There is no other name given amongst men by which we must be saved.” Paul tells us that Jesus has a name above every name. As John Newton puts it:

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear. It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds and drives away his fear.

Christ should be to us like fragrant oil, so pure and so delightful. Think of his nature: As we think of his divinity we bow down in reverence. As we think of his humanity with are amazed at this compassion. Think of his actions. As we think of him dying on the cross to save us we thank him. As we think of him sitting next to the Father interceding for us we are so grateful to him. As we think of his guiding hand we bless him. How often do you meditate on your Saviour? How often do you thank the Lord for your salvation blessings? Let the fragrance of his love fill your heart!

In this verse we are told that the virgins also love him. Who are the virgins? They are the bridesmaids. They probably represent new believers who have just found the Saviour.Is it not true that new believers have an almost infectious love for the Lord? But all should love the Lord Jesus – new believers and old believers.

3. Draw me

Finally we read that the bride says in verse 4: “Draw me away!” and the virgins add “We will run after you.” What a fitting conclusion! Here is the need of the hour. It is a cry to the Lord to draw us nearer and nearer to him. As we meditate on all the Lord has done for us (his kisses) and as we meditate on the beauty of his name then the only natural reaction is to want to be near the Lord. But we cannot do this on our own so we cry out “Lord, draw me nearer:” When does the Lord draw near? When we worship, when we are in prayer. There is a beautiful circle of truth here. The more we contemplate our magnificent Saviour, the more we consider his great works, the closer he will be to us and the closer he is to us the more we will contemplate him and his works.

Let us draw near to the Lord in prayer. Let us ask the Lord to stir up our love for him. Let us ask Christ: “Kiss me Lord.”

Thank you for reading this message. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Quotations are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright Thomas Nelson Inc.

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