Song of Songs is commonly categorized as wisdom literature in the Bible. With the possible exception of Job, it is not like the other wisdom books, nor like any other book in the Bible.
It is easy to imagine Song of Songs as being the lines to a play that King Solomon wrote to both entertain and teach his people. As such, Song of Songs may be more akin to a modern-day screenplay than anything else.
There are three characters in this play, the beloved (the girl), the lover (the king), and the friends (think of them as the “chorus”).
Headings, indicating the three parts, are inserted in some versions to reflect the pronouns used in the original Hebrew text, though some of the delineations between speakers are not absolute.
The book can be read straight through as a narrative or the various speakers (lover, beloved, and friends) can be pulled out read individually to gain a better understanding of each character. In doing so,
- the lover mostly upholds and celebrates her beauty,
- the beloved mostly talks about her deep yearning for him and desire to be with him, and
- the words of the “friends” often provide a transition or information for the play.
In reading the words of the lover (the king), we can gain insight into God’s love for us and how he views us.
In focusing on the words of the beloved (the girl), we get a glimpse of what our response to God should rightly be.
Reading the Song of Songs with this perspective, gives me much to consider.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.