the Fourth Week of Lent
Smith's Writings Smith's Writings
- Song of Solomon
by Hamilton Smith
The Song of Songs.
A Brief Exposition of the Song of Solomon
Canticle 1 .
Canticle 2 .
Canticle 3 .
Canticle 4 .
Canticle 5 .
Canticle 6 .
The following Exposition is reprinted from "Scripture Truth" (1918), with some slight revisions and additions. The text used is mainly that of the late J. N. Darby's "New Translation." Headings have been added to indicate the different speakers.
The Song of Songs.
1. The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.
Christ is the great theme of all Scripture, and, in its several parts, the Holy Spirit delights to set forth special aspects of Christ and His glories. Here, in the Song of Songs, His great object is to present the love of Christ for His people.
To set forth this love the Spirit of God has employed the bridal relationship as a figure. In a series of Canticles we have unfolded to us the love of an exalted Bridegroom for a bride of low degree, together with the varied experiences by which she is brought into full relationship with him, and the enjoyment of his love.
The Bridegroom is a king called Solomon or Shelomoh. The bride is a shepherdess called The Shulamite or Shulamith, - the feminine form of Shelomoh.
The song is mainly composed of a series of dialogues between the Bridegroom and the bride. There are other characters introduced, for instance the daughters of Jerusalem occasionally speak; also we have the city watchmen, the keepers of the walls, and the little sister, but these characters take little or no part in the dialogues. In the course of these dialogues we have, first, the unfolding of the infinite and unchanging love of the Bridegroom; second, the development and growth of the love of the bride, and how she is established in relationship with the Bridegroom, brought into the enjoyment of his love and raised from her lowly position to share the throne of the king - her exalted Bridegroom.
Few will question that in the Bridegroom we have a figure of Christ. Some may have more difficulty in the interpretation of the bride. Strictly, however, there can be little doubt that the bride is used as a figure of God's earthly people Israel (or more exactly the godly remnant of the Jews in a future day, who will represent Israel) and the experiences by which they will be finally established in relationship with their Messiah.
The Bridegroom and the bride are figures frequently used by the prophets to set forth this relationship. The prophet Isaiah, looking on to this time, can say, "As the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee" ( Isa_62:5 ). The Lord speaking through the prophet Hosea, and looking on to Israel's future restoration, touchingly says, "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness and speak to her heart," and then, her affections having been awakened, He can say to her, "I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord" ( Hos_2:14 ; Hos_2:19 ; Hos_2:20 ). In the Song of Songs it is these very wilderness experiences, wherein the Lord speaks to the heart of His people, that pass before us in figure.
While however the prophets are concerned mainly with the exercise of conscience by which the godly remnant of the Jews will be led to repentance for having rejected and crucified their Messiah, it is reserved for this one book - the Song of Songs - to present their exercise of heart, and the awakening of their affections by the unfolding of Christ's devoted love - the love which once they had spurned.
This interpretation requires for its acceptance some acquaintance with the future history of Israel as set forth in the Old and New Testament prophecies. Therein we learn that the Jews will go back to their land in unbelief, hoping thereby to find deliverance from oppression, and rest from persecution. In result they will find themselves in such trouble as never was since there was a nation, and never will be again. The northern powers will press upon them from without, and the Beast will oppress them within. Having rejected Christ, they will accept the rule of Antichrist, who, not regarding the God of his fathers, will set up "a god whom his fathers knew not." With the "abomination of desolation" standing in the holy place, they will fall into the grossest idolatry, their last state being worse than their first.
But in the midst of the apostate nation there will be a remnant with whom the Spirit of God will work. This remnant will be afflicted, hated of all nations for the sake of Christ's name which they confess, and many of their number killed. Because of these persecutions some will be offended, and the love of many will wax cold. But God will work on their behalf, and for their sakes the days of the great tribulation will be shortened.
Now it is this remnant that comes before us, under the figure of the bride, in the Song of Songs, and the way in which God, in the midst of all their sorrows, will speak to their hearts and awaken their affections.
But while such is the strict interpretation of the Song of Songs, this by no means hinders its application to the church - the heavenly bride - or to the individual believer. For in God's dealing with all His people there are principles in common. Speaking of the Canticles another has said, "Christ loves His assembly, He loves His earthly people, He loves the soul that He draws to Himself so that there is a moral application to ourselves which is very precious" (J.N.D.). It is this moral application to the individual believer that is mainly in view in the following exposition.
The Song can be divided into six Canticles, the subjects of which may be summarized as follows: -
Canticle 1 . ( Son_1:2-17 ; Son_2:1-7 ): The assurance of love.
Canticle 2 . ( Son_2:8-17 ; Son_3:1-5 ): The awakening of love.
Canticle 3 . ( Son_3:6-5:1 ): The communion of love.
Canticle 4 . ( Son_5:2-16 ; Son_6:1-12 ): The restoration of love.
Canticle 5 . ( Son_6:13-8:4 ): The witness of love.
Canticle 6 . ( Son_8:5-14 ): The triumph of love.
Thus, it will be seen, LOVE is the great theme of the Song of Songs - the love of Christ. Under the figures of the Bridegroom and the bride it speaks of all those sweet affections that Christ kindles in the hearts of His own. What more important than having the affections drawn out to Christ! We often mourn that there is little love among the Lord's people, but, alas, this tells a tale of little love to the Lord Himself. And if there is little love to the Lord, is it not because there is little appreciation of the Lord's love to us? The measure of our love to the Lord, is the measure in which we realize the Lord's love to us. Herein is the great value of the Song of Songs. It awakens our love by unfolding His love. There are other songs in Scripture, songs that celebrate creation, songs that speak of victory, and songs of praise and thanksgiving, but the theme of this song is LOVE - the love of Christ - and therefore is it called THE SONG OF SONGS.