Verse 1 of the book tells us that King Solomon wrote Song of Songs, one of 1,005 that he wrote (1 Kings 4:32). The title ‘Song of Songs’ implies that it is the best of all his songs.
Structure of the book
Song of Songs is poetry about the love between a man and a woman, and does not say anything about the relationship between God and man. Christians, however, treat the love that the Song celebrates as an illustration of the love between Christ and the Church. Although it is difficult to analyse the contents of this book many Bible scholars have attempted to do so. One such analysis into a structure is given below:
- Introduction (1:1–6)
- Dialogue between the lovers (1:7–2:7)
- The woman recalls a visit from her lover (2:8–17)
- The woman addresses the daughters of Zion (3:1–5)
- Sighting a royal wedding procession (3:6–11)
- The man describes his lover’s beauty (4:1–5:1)
- The woman addresses the daughters of Jerusalem (5:2–6:4)
- The man describes his lover, who visits him (6:5–12)
- Observers describe the woman’s beauty (6:13–8:4)
- Appendix (8:5–14).
The woman’s expression of desire
It begins with the woman’s expression of desire for her lover and tells the “daughters of Jerusalem” that she is “black” because she had to work in the vineyards and got burned by the sun (1:5-6). This is followed by a dialogue between the lovers. (1:7-2:7). The woman again addresses the daughters of Jerusalem, describing her fervent and ultimately successful search for her lover through the night-time streets of the city. When she found him she took him almost by force into the chamber in which her mother conceived her. She reveals that this is a dream, seen on her bed at night, and ends by again warning the daughters of Jerusalem not to stir up love until it is ready. (2:8-3:5).
Royal wedding procession
The next section reports a royal wedding procession: Solomon is mentioned by name, and the daughters of Jerusalem are invited to come out and see the spectacle (3:6-11). In the following section, the man describes his lover’s beauty (4:1–5:1).
The woman tells the daughters of Jerusalem of another dream. She was in her chamber when her lover knocked. She was slow to open, and when she did, he was gone. She searched through the streets again, but this time she failed to find him and the sentinels, who had helped her before, now beat her. She asks the daughters of Jerusalem to help her find him, and describes his physical delights; then she admits that her lover is in his garden, safe from harm, and committed to her as she is to him (5:2-6:4). The man then describes his lover, who visits him (6:5–12). The people speak of the beauty of the woman. (6:13–8:4).
In conclusion the woman compares love to death: love is as relentless as these two, and cannot be quenched by any force. She summons her lover, using the language used before: he should come “like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountain of spices.”
Christ’s love for us led to His death. His love cannot be quenched by any force. How can we not respond to a love like that?