The Bride`s Reverie:
1 By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him but I found him not.
2 I will rise now, and go about the city
in the streets and in the broad ways
I will seek him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him but I found him not.
3 The watchmen that go about the city found me:
to whom I said, saw ye him who my soul loveth?
4 It was but a little that I passed from them,
but I found him whom my soul loveth:
I held him and would not let him go,
until I had brought him into my mother`s house,
and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
5 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
by the roes, and by the hinds of the field,
that ye stir not up, nor awake my love,
til he please.
~~ The Song of Solomon 3: 1-5 ~~
The Song of Songs is hidden within the midst of Old Testament books which recount the endless carnage and glorification of wars, massacres, assassinations, treacheries, invasions, sufferings, starvation, curses and the blood lust of divine retribution upon the unbelievers of the Hebrew tribes and their neighbours and enemies. Tucked away within the folds of the words of the prophets is perhaps the most exquisite love poem ever written: it is an exchange between two lovers which uses the imagery of flowers, fruits, gardens, perfumes, wind and water, landscape, spices and jewelry to convey the exotic love of two people for each other. It is a warm, sunny interlude of the joys of carnal pleasure between the glowering darkness of Old Testament blood and thunder and the torment of the wrath and divine judgement to come on the enemies of a god intent on instilling fear and obedience rather than universal love and peace.
So what is it doing here, seemingly nestling like a cuckoo in someone else`s nest, like a party gatecrasher no one can remember inviting? It is so sensuous and driven by sex, and the woman, Shulamith so obviously an equal to her lover, that it could only have been accepted into Jewish culture by viewing it as an allegory. It was decided that King Solomon was God, and the beloved Shulamith, was the people of Israel.
To be honest, putting all the philosophizing onto the back burner and looking at it from a purely literary perspective, I would like to think that the Song of Songs is just something that slipped through the cracks and made it into the final edition simply because someone, somewhere, probably not only saw it as a spot of light relief from all the fire and brimstone going down, but as a pure, unadulterated, erotic masterpiece.
In the hands of theologians down the centuries, it has become something more than just a great piece of erotic literature: Origen wrote twelve volumes to illuminate his allegorical interpretations; Bernard of Clairvaux preached some 86 sermons on the subject, and yet, when he died, he had barely scratched the surface of what he wanted to say.
Every line is a work of sublime beauty, but even so, there are parts of the whole which stand out as so spiritually inspiring as if God has taken one gently by the hand and filled one`s soul with His love…………..
I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys. (2:1)
He has taken me to the banquet hall,
and his banner over me is love. (2:4)
For me, the Song of Songs is simply a joyous celebration of sacred love between two people.
How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
Oh love, with your delights! (7:6)”
They are the words of a God of love and peace, not of war and retribution……..As it should be.