Lesson 1 of5
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Summary of Song of Songs

SUMMARY

The Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) is a unified collection of poetry on the theme of human love, following the relationship of a man and a woman from courtship and onward. This book has frequently been read as an allegory of God’s love for Israel (in Jewish communities) or of Christ’s love for the church and for individual believers (in Christian communities).

SO WHAT?

An allegorical reading of the Song has given it meaning for countless generations of Jews and Christians, which reminds us that the biblical texts function as living word in a variety of times, cultures, and unexpected ways. Still, the best reading today is the literal one, assuming that the book is what it appears to be: poetry celebrating human love and sexuality, which biblical faith regards as good gifts of God in creation. The Song takes unbridled delight in the bonds of love, even while recognizing the pains and turmoil they can bring along the way toward their fulfillment.

WHERE DO I FIND IT?

The Song of Songs is the twenty-third book of the Christian Old Testament. It is the last of the books characterized as the “Writings” and immediately precedes the biblical prophets, beginning with Isaiah.

WHO WROTE IT?

The Song is ascribed to Solomon the king, but, as with the Psalms and Proverbs, there is no way of verifying its authorship.

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

The language suggests to some that the final form of the Song of Songs was attained in the fourth or third century B.C.E. Other interpreters have argued, however, that the Song may, indeed, have originated during the Solomonic era.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The Song praises the glories and delights of love between a man and a woman, an element of God’s good creation.

HOW DO I READ IT?

The delights of love have always and everywhere found their highest expression in poetry, which is how the Song of Songs must be read. It uses language that is vivid, imaginative, unguarded, and ecstatic in its depiction of the most personal and intimate of human relationships. The book is best read as a euphoric expression of human experience, which in itself reflects the generous gifts of the Creator.

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