The significance of the book of Song of songs to Christians


Daily Devotion Saturday June 10, 2017

“My beloved is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills”

Song of songs 2:16-17

The Book of Song of songs or Song of Solomon is one that is seldom used by pastors and preachers in their homilies. I too haven’t preached a sermon from this book for the many years I have been preaching. This is partly because the book has never gained a unified interpretation by Bible scholars, it perhaps has as many interpretations as the students of the book. But what is the significance of this book to a believer? Why is this Song of songs part of the Christian Canons of Scripture? Although this book is barely used by preachers, it is very significant—it has a special place in the Bible and offers a handful of message to Christians and all mankind.

John Grill highly regards this book, he says that the book “is figurative and allegorical; expressing, in a variety of lively metaphors, the love, union, and communion, between Christ and his church.” Meanwhile Thomas Coke notes that the significance of the book to the Jews of that time, Christians and all the world in this way;

(1) To the Jews of that time it was a call to purity of life, for a return to those relations which God had ordained between man and woman. It was a protest against polygamy which had become almost universal. Indeed, they regarded it as setting forth the whole history of Israel. (2) To the Christian it sets forth in allegory, Christ and his church as Bridegroom and Bride and the fullness of love which unites the believer and his Saviour. (3) To all the world there is shown the purity and constancy of a woman’s love and devotion to her ideals. It furnishes ideal which, if properly held up, would cast out of human society all those monstrous practices that come from unworthy ideals.

As it is the view of many bible scholars, the book presents an image of Christ and the Church as the bridegroom and the bride respectfully. The New Testament puts the relationship between Christ and the Church as a marriage relationship. For example, Ephesians 5:25 states; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Again St. Paul shows how he longs to present the Corinthian church to one husband—Christ “I am jealousy for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as pure virgin to him” (II Corinthians 11:2).

In his 2004 Palm Sunday sermon titled Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, Past and Future John Piper said that Jesus came to this world to betroth to himself a bride;

So, on this Palm Sunday our focus is not simply on the fact that Jesus came 2,000 years ago as king and is coming again as King, but on the fact that the King of the universe came into the world to betroth to himself a bride at the price of his own blood, and that he will come a second time to marry his bride and take us into the infinitely beautiful chambers and gardens of his love and joy forever.

In the Song of songs, the bridegroom therefore stands for Christ and the bride for the Church. All those who are redeemed by the Lamb—the Lord Jesus belong to him and looking at Christ as the Bridegroom, they can confidently say; “My beloved [Christ] is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills” Song of songs 2:16-17.

Away from looking at this book as an imagery of the marriage relationship between Christ and the Church, the book also teaches us about God’s glorious design in marriage and sexuality. That sexuality was God’s idea and sex is God’s gift to all humanity.

Sex was not a concession to sinful mankind. It was a blessed provision and gift from God for humanity to enjoy. It is a gift of common grace… God designed sex to be enjoyed within the marriage context. The repeated admonition not to ‘stir up or awaken love until it pleases’ emphasises that there is a right and wrong time for sex (see Song 2:7; 3:5, 8:4). Scripture strongly forbids the improper use and context of sex. For example, sex outside marriage, or with someone other than one’s spouse, or with someone of the same sex are explicitly forbidden (Lev. 18:22; Prov. 5:20-23; 1 Corinthians 6:9) (ESV Global Study Bible).

The book of Song of songs is inspired by the Spirit of God and it is as useful to Christians as the other canonical books. For “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the [church] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16).

We should therefore be able to meaningfully read the book of Song of songs to our spiritual edification, for it has a very special significance in the Scripture. Rev. J

  • VIDEO: Watch the video for this devotion on YouTube here

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV). Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is a pastor in the Anglican Church of Uganda, Ma’di & West Nile Diocese. Julius served as an assistant Chaplain and lecturer at the Arua Campus of the Uganda Christin University. He is currently a candidate of Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues at Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet alias the Norwegian School of Theology, in Oslo, Norway. He is an author of the Popular Triumphing Over Odds . For pastoral assistance you can contact him here and you can also help to support this site and his ministry by donating here.

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