Song of Solomon 1:1-2:7
- Much of this passage consists of conversation. The Analysis provides one answer to the problems of how many characters are speaking and where the break occurs. What do you think is the basic situation?
- Can we learn anything from the different imagery used by the man (see 1:15-17; 2:2) and the woman to express their love and longing for one another? Does this suggest anything of the different qualities, or needs, of each?
- 1:12-14. Women wore small bags of myrrh suspended from the neck under their dress.
To the girl, her lover was as the costliest perfume.
- 2:1. The girl describes herself as an ordinary wild flower of the meadow.
- 2:3. The apple tree affords both shade and fruit.
- 2:4. ‘The banquet hall’: literally ‘house of wine’, signifying a place of delight.
- 2:7. A difficult verse. It seems to mean that love should awake or come to life of itself or in its own time, not by artificial stimulation and not before the loved one is pleased to respond.
Gazelles and does are noted for their timidity.
Song of Solomon 2:8-3:5
- What purpose do the various pictures from nature serve in revealing the quality of love?
- What characteristics of true love emerge in 2:16, 17 and 3:1-5?
- 2:10-12. An appeal to respond to the approach of love, like nature to the return of summer.
- 2:15. The enemies may be small- ‘little foxes’- but the mischief done may be great. If the blossom is spoiled, there will be no fruit.
- 2:17. A picture of evening, not of early morning The shadows flee away when the sun that cases them sets. The bride asked her lover to wait until the evening. When it came, she ‘looked for him but did not find him’ (3:1).
Song of Solomon 3:6-5:1
- What do you make of Solomon’s entrance here, and of his part in the whole of the Song? See also, e.g., 1:1, 12; 6:8, 9, 12; 7:1, 5; 8:11, 12.
- What do these frank expressions of a man’s physical delight in his bride teach us about the place of sexual attraction in love and marriage? What is the significance of the image of a private garden?
- Scripture uses marriage as a picture of God’s relationship to his people and Christ’s relationship to his church. See, e.g., Is. 62:4, 5; Eph. 5:21-33. Is there, therefore, a sense in which 4:8-15 illustrates this relationship? Cf. Pss. 147:10, 11; 149:4. Is our heart reserved for Christ alone?
- 3:7. ‘Carriage’: a couch covered by a canopy borne by four or more men.
- 4:4. The neck, decked with ornaments, is compared to a battlemented tower, hung with shields.
- 4:8. According to the three- character analysis, the bride hears the voice of her lover calling her to himself, and this verse may be taken as a poetic description of the dangers to which she is exposed in the palace.
Song of Solomon 5:2-6:3
- Is there any underlying reality in the disturbing dream of 5:2-7? Would we be right to see in this passage teaching about, e.g., the importance of response in love, or the likelihood of suffering if response is lacking?
- How far is the bride’s delight in, and praise of, her lover a feature also of our relationship to Christ? Do we meditate on him as our ‘lover’ and ‘friend’ (5:16)?
- 5:2. ‘I slept’: these words indicate that the bride is relating a dream.
- 5:4. The door was bolted on the inside (see verse 5).
- 5:10. ‘Outstanding among ten thousand’: literally, ‘marked out by a banner’, i.e., as outstanding among the rest as a standard bearer.
Song of Solomon 6:4-8:4
- In 2:16 the girl’s first thought was of her claim upon her lover. Now (6:3) she thinks first of his claim on her. In 7:10 her claim is not longer mentioned. Her concern is to satisfy him by giving herself. The importance of this for human marriage relation is clear. But can these stages in love apply to our relation to Christ? If so, how?
- 8:4. The warning is repeated here for the third time (see also 2:7; 3:5). Why do you think it was given, and with such emphasis?
- 6:4. ‘Tirzah’: the name (meaning ‘delight’) of a beautiful town, which later became the royal residence of the kings of northern Israel.
- 6:12, 13. A possible translation, in line with the three- character analysis, is ‘My soul has unwittingly brought me to the chariots of the companions of my prince’; i.e., she fell in with some of Solomon’s retinue. She fled, but they called her back and gazed upon her, as she put it, as if she were a company of dancers.
- 7:1-6. These verses may be part of the song composed by the women (6:9b, 10), or may be spoken by Solomon. In verses 7 and 8 he is certainly the speaker.
Song of Solomon 8:5-14
- What does this passage add to all we have already learnt of the nature of love? What attacks may true love have to face?
- What qualities are shown here to be characteristic of true love?
- 8:6. ‘Place me like a seal…’: in ancient times men carried their seal fastened to their chest or wrist for safe preservation. The girl desires to be held fast like that on the heart and arm of her lover.
- 8:8-10. The girl recalls her brothers’ earlier words. They had waited to see if she would be like a wall against temptation, or like an open door, allowing it in. Here she claims that she has shown herself to be a wall.
- 8:11, 12. Solomon appears to have offered her a vineyard of great wealth, but she turned it down in favour of the vineyard that was here in her lover.