(2) Method Of Interpretation.

(a) Type Of Literature.

Song of Songs is a JEWISH LOVE SONG. This means that in order to interpret the meaning of this book we need to understand two things...

 (i) The Jewish mind. 
 (ii) Jewish Songs / Poetry. 
(i) The Jewish Mind.

We need to look at the difference between the modern (western) mind and ancient Jewish thinking...

The Difference Between Jewish and Western Thought.
Dynamic Understanding.
What something or
someone DOES (functional).
Static Understanding.
What something or
someone IS (Descriptive)
Jewish thinking does not look at what something, someone IS (descriptive) but what something, someone DOES (functional). That is why we do not get much description of what biblical characters look like, but mostly it is about what they do (all but one (Luke) biblical writers were Jews).

Therefore, in looking at the things mentioned in Song of Songs we must ask, not what they look like, but what is their function, nature, quality etc. This will give us the correct interpretation.

 For example...how would you describe a pen ? How would a ancient Jew describe a pen ? Jewish thought goes, “I am not the pen...I cannot percieve what PEN is, therefore I must relate the PEN to me. How to use it ?” etc...

The Jewish mind looks at IMPRESSIONS rather than IMAGES.... see  Song of Songs Chapters 4 & 7 . The modern mind would see an UGLY WOMAN.....
Song 4:1-5 

1 Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove's eyes behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats, going down from Mount Gilead. 
2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing, every one of which bears twins, and none is barren among them. 
3 Your lips are like a strand of scarlet, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like a piece of pomegranate. 
4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an armory, on which hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. 
5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies. 

Song 7:3-5 
3 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. 
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. 
5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel, and the hair of your head is like purple; a king is held captive by your tresses. 

...the biblical mind would see the beautiful personality and heart of the woman.

(ii) Jewish Song /Poetry.

 As this is a poetic song we must interpret the ‘heart’ of the song, not simply taking it literally. As mentioned above, we should interpret the meaning of the things mentioned (plants , animals, buildings) according to their function. The rest of scripture must also be used to determine the interpretations of frequently mentioned things (eg.  Vine Vineyard is a frequently use symbol of God’s people/ the Church in scripture).

Where there is a place name etc. it is useful to look at the original meaning (eg.  Solomon = Prince of Peace).

(b) Levels Of Understanding.

As already mentioned, there are two basic levels of interpreting this Song....
LEVEL 1: Actual Wedded Love (Literal Interpretation) 

If we interpret the Song of Songs this way we see it speaks of the need for pure, maturing love in relationships leading up to marriage and in marriage itself. It shows us how the husband and wife can compliment each other and be an effective witness for God.

This material only touches on this level a few times in passing. There are many more excellent resources for studying this aspect in more detail. The main emphasis of this course is to reveal the prophetic nature of the Song of Solomon concerning, particularly, Christ's relationship with His Bride, the Church.
LEVEL 2: Love between God/Jesus and His people (Israel & the Church) 

This is the allegorical interpretation.  If we interpret this way we can see our relationship (as part of the Church) with Jesus. It speaks to us of the necessity of a devotional life, and through stages brings us to a revelation of Christ as ‘Lord of the Harvest’, or the ‘Master of the Multitudes.’ (Songs  8:11 Baal Hamon can be translated as either) - see  Matt 13:39.

This is in agreement with the whole of scripture which refers to God’s people as the Bride, and God (Jesus in N.T) as the Groom.

O.T: Isa 54:5,6; Jer 2:2; Ezek 16:8-14; Hos 2:16-20. 

 N.T:  2 Cor 11:2; Rev 19:7-9, 21:9. 

Ephesians 5:22-29 beautifully combines both these levels! 

This level has several layers! The Song is a prophetic portrayal of :




 We will be particularly focusing on LAYER 3, our individual relationship with Jesus and His wooing of us into the harvest fields. However, certain sections will particularly be looking at Christ's dealings with the Church as a whole (as that is the main thrust of the passage being dealt with).

God still has a special relationship with the natural Israel (the author does not hold to the belief that the Church has replaced Israel and become the Spiritual Israel) and they are very much on His heart, but this material will not look into this layer of interpretation.

(c) How The Song Is Divided.

The Song is divided into stages of love by a phrase that contains “I  charge You’” in all cases. Mostly the phrase will be something like “I  charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the  gazelles or the  does of the  field, do not  stir up nor  awaken  love until it pleases.”( 2:7; 3:5; 5:8; 8:4 - five stages of love.)

This phrase shows us that we cannot force someone into a deeper love relationship either on a human level , or with God. Each person has to go through each stage at the pace that love dictates! (Look at the words used for further insights).
The stages of love can be
called the following (see
to the right)....

Each stage denotes a particular 
quality of the love of the woman 
to the man - the higher the stage, 
the more mature the love. 

STAGE 1: ( 1:1-2:7) : Premature Love. 

 STAGE 2: ( 2:8-3:5) : Possessive Love. 

 STAGE 3: ( 3:6-5:8) : Painful Love. 

 STAGE 4: ( 5:9-8:4) : Powerful Love. 

 STAGE 5: ( 8:5-8:14): Perfecting Love. 

We see how the  Beloved (man) constantly draws the Lover (woman) out of her comfort zone into the mountains and fields (which speaks of her calling in this world).

Many Christians have seen this book as one of the greatest missionary challenges in the Bible. Hudson Taylor wrote that Song of Songs was ‘..the strength of my life and missionary endeavour.”



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