Friday, February 10, 2006
Song of Songs: The Most Beautiful Song
One of the books of the Bible that is least read and least understood is “Song of Songs,” also known as “The Song of Solomon,” and “Canticles.” The title of the book in Hebrew is “Song of Songs.” In Hebrew, this expression is a superlative and literally means “the greatest song,” or “the most beautiful song.” The title indicates that this song was considered to be the finest and the noblest of all songs.
Scholars differ on issues of authorship and interpretation. The traditional view is that Solomon wrote the book in his younger age, probably to celebrate his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter or to a beautiful maiden identified as the Shulammite. Others believe the book is about Solomon, describing the struggles of a king (Solomon) at winning the love of a woman who was in love with another man, a shepherd.
The book has also been interpreted allegorically as a poem presenting the love of God for Israel or the love of Christ for the Church, using the symbolism of the bridegroom and the bride. Modern approaches interpret the book literally, as a collection of songs of love that demonstrate the deep and romantic love between a man and a woman.
In the past, Jewish interpreters refused to accept the literal interpretation of Song of Songs. The Mishna declared anathema anyone who treated these poems as a collection of secular songs. One of the reasons for this reluctance is the sensual and sexual connotation of the songs.
Even today, some people reject Song of Songs as the expression of the mutual love between a man and a woman. Song of Songs, when read and understood in the context of love, romance, and marriage teaches that intimate love between a man and a woman is not unnatural, but beautiful and desirable.
When correctly understood, Song of Songs reveals the secret intimacies between a man and a woman without becoming obscene. The language of Song of Songs and the imagery used to convey intimacy is too sensuous for the taste of many Christians today. This is evident in the reaction that many Christian retailers have demonstrated toward the release of a CD that puts Song of Songs to music.
The Original Love Song is a recording of Song of Songs following, for the most part, the biblical text as it appears in the New International Version (NIV). The CD includes the voices of a man and a woman portraying the lover and the beloved reciting the words of the book over a background soundtrack that is attractive and appealing.
The Original Love Song was created and produced by Guy Bickel, who also reads the words of the lover. The material was taken directly from the Old Testament: “Taken straight from the Old Testament, The Original Love Song brings the secret book of the Bible to life with its masterful blend of sensuous dialogue and musical imagery... tastefully weaving the Song of Solomon into a compelling theatrical style story with an enchanting, electro-symphonic score.”
Because the CD advertises itself as “sensual, passionate,” “irresistibly romantic,” “exquisitely tasteful,” and “a godly gift of intimacy,” the recording has received little attention among Christians and many Christian retailers have refused to carry the CD.
The CD also includes a guideline containing romantic rules and sensuous suggestions for husbands and wives, written by Dr. David Clarke, a Christian psychologist and author. Dr. Clark says: “Spiritual intimacy, bringing God into the marriage and into the bedroom, will ignite the flame of passion and keep it burning forever. Spiritually bonding with your mate will create a better, more passionate sex life, better than you could ever imagine.”
It is amazing that people are willing to read the Song of Solomon in the Bible but are not willing to listen to the same song on a CD. The Original Love Song is worth listening to because it is well done and well produced. I strongly recommend that you listen to this CD, buy a copy, and give it to a couple who truly appreciate the meaning of Christian marriage.
You can listen to a sample of the CD online by visiting The Original Love Song website. To know more about The Original Love Song, visit their web page at http://www.originallovesong.com/. To listen to a sample of one of the sensual songs in the CD click here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary