Understanding The Bible
The Book Canticles, Song of Solomon, Song of Songs

Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

At this point, we shall reverse the order of the books in our Bible which were written by Solomon, so that we may study them in that order. (See Ecclesiastes notes for paragraph on Authorship and Time of Writing.)


Solomon (1:1), fairly early in his reign (contra small number in 6:8 with I Ki. 11:3, 1-13.)

Historical Background 1 Kings 4:29-32
Of the 1,005 songs which Solomon wrote, this is the only one God has pleased to preserve. It is therefore appropriately called "The SONG of Songs."

The Story Back of the Book
Although the book has been rightly used by the Jews and the Church as a book of personal devotion and spiritual application, nevertheless there must have been some occasion for it in the actual experience of Solomon. Such verses as 8:11 make impossible the idea that this is simply a group of love lyrics written from imagination. There is a definite historical experience back of these poems. What were those experiences?

Many suggestions have been offered as to what this historical story is. Two major ones deserve mention. The chief difficulty in interpreting or understanding the plot is due to the fact that we do not have here one consecutive series of poems, chronologically arranged. Failure to note this fact has led to may foolish and false ideas and misinterpretations. Obviously we cannot give the true spiritual interpretation, if we have a false conception of who is speaking and the occasion for so speaking. Therefore, before summarizing the two chief plots, under one or the other of which all the varied suggestions of what constitutes the story can be classified, we shall mention certain facts which must be taken into account, if the plot is to be harmonious with facts revealed in the book.

  1. There are two homes or settings:
    1. Jerusalem (the palace) and
    2. the vicinity of Lebanon (Baal-hamon), the bride's family home (8:11-12.)
  2. Solomon is elsewhere in Scripture, when used as a type, a type of Christ, the King in Millennial Rest. If he is the villain here, why so, and who then is the type of Christ?
  3. Is the woman in the story married? If so, to whom?
  4. We have to explain the intimate scenes. Are they pure married love or lust?
  5. Is the woman willing to be married or not (She is, 1:4)
  6. When did the marriage take place?
  7. What are the events leading up to the marriage? Explain the chariot scene in 3:6-11.
  8. We must explain the "lapses" in which the woman does not seem to be in proper relation with the one she loves.


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