Song of Songs : Christian Community Bible
(Song of Solomon) Song of Songs
Introduction to the Song of Songs
The Song is a poem. It awakens our own experience, going straight to our heart since it is about the Lover and the Beloved. It is a poem about a love encounter. The author let this encounter happen as in a dream in order to unveil its mystery; the call of love comes from elsewhere. Search, meeting, flight are enchanting and are true inasmuch as they reveal a mystery: Someone else draws us. This explains the title of the book: The Song of Songs. In Hebrew, it is one of the forms of the superlative: The Song par excellence or The Sublime Song.
The Song is both the intuition and the experience of the search for the unique beyond every veil. He too is likewise fascinated searching for the one whom he has chosen – one who is all for him and irreplaceable, this discovery of Yahweh, the fierce God as the spouse, is not entirely new in the Bible. The prophets relied on their conjugal experience to speak about the covenant of God with his people (Hos 1:2). Rather, they used the words of human love to express their special relationship with God. One day, this relationship was to be offered to all Israel.
While he allows the dream of love to unfold, the author of the Song relives the hope of the chosen people. God’s beloved is Israel with its land. Just like the most fervent minority in Israel, the author-poet waits for the coming of the Beloved as Messiah-King and Spouse of the chosen community. This background of the Song explains the use of comparisons which would seem strange in the case of ordinary engaged couples, but which are in fact allusions to the past in Israel, to its Temple and its land.
We must admit that, in seeing the connections between the Song and the love songs of the Middle East, today many biblicists think that the Song was at first one of them and that an image of God’s love for his people was only seen there at a later time. This hypothesis may sound reasonable, but it just seems that way. Unfortunately, it leaves nothing but platitudes or incoherence, precisely where we suspect that the clues of the poem are to be found.
Therefore, we have to go back to what tradition has always discerned: in the Song, just as in the great prophets, although with different words, the experience of God-Love is what inspired the entire dream and what invited human images. The Song is not a song about human love which was put in the bible after having received a religious interpretation: Jewish tradition considered it to be the song of divine love from the beginning. The fact that God is not mentioned is intentional: he is present from beginning to end, but this One Alone at the same time Love and Lover is far different from the “God” of human religions.
At times, it is said rather cynically that love ends in marriage and that is what movies and television never cease to repeat whenever a decadent culture only acknowledges love when it promises what it will not fulfill. The song put at the center of longings the aspiration to true love: this always irradiates from God and, like himself, is faithful until death and beyond.
NOTE: excerpted from the introductory material for this book.