Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 20, “Song of Songs” pp. 339-354.
Lessing comments that marital intimacy is a central element of human life. It is also crucial to the message of Scrpture. Readers have also often questioned whether the depiction of marital intimacy in Song of Songs also reaches toward a description of God’s love (Lessing 2014, 339).
The text suggests that Song of Songs is Solomonic in its origin. However, it could well be that the work is dedicated to Solomon rather than being b him (Lessing 2014, 339). The evidence for dating is not conclusive. Lessing leaves the matter open to discussion, considering it speculative, at best (Lessing 2014, 341).
Some scholars see Song of Songs as an allegory of redemption (Lessing 2014, 342). Attempts at allegorical interpretation frequently fall short. There is no evidence for a clear interpretive key to the symbolism in the book (Lessing 2014, 343). Many interpreters take it at face value as a poetic account of marital bliss. Others focus on it as a dramatic work. The plot is certainly developed as a play (Lessing 2014, 344). Other scholars downplay the dramatic features and find an anthology suitable for celebrating a wedding. Others will tie it to the practice of a fertility cult (Lessing 2014, 345). Some will see it as an allegorical analogy, with marriage being parallel to God’s redeeming love for his people.
Lessing does note that plants and animals are used extensively as images in Song of songs (Lessing 2014, 346). The moves between rural and rgan settings are clear. In the city setting the two people are separated. When in the country, they find each other easily (Lessing 2014, 347).
Song of Songs also has many references to geography. In general, the places are under the rule of Solomon.
Lessing finds the structure very difficult to identify (Lessing 2014, 347). An outline given by Lessing is noted as “one possible organization” (Lessing 2014, 348).
Song of Songs has not always been considered part of the canon of Scripture (Lessing 2014, 348). Yet evidence of canonicity from an early date is strong.
Lessing finds a theological message in the repeated statement, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it desires” (Lessing 2014, 349). It may suggest that it is not appropriate to rush into various relationships (Lessing 2014, 350). Another idea is that God is the only one who truly creates and blesses marital love (Lessing 2014, 351). There is no clear passage pointing to Christ (Lessing 2014, 352). owever, the idea of Christ’s love as compared to marriage is clear in the Scripture. God calls people into a remarkably intimate relationship with himself.