Is the Song of Songs a Messianic Book?

I think so, and I try to lay out the case in an essay that appears in this fall’s Westminster Theological Journal. Here’s a PDF of the essay:

The Messianic Music of the Song of Songs: A Non-Allegorical Interpretation,” WTJ 68 (2006) 331-45.

5 Comments

Filed under Bible and Theology

5 responses to “Is the Song of Songs a Messianic Book?

  1. One of the main difficulties to this reading is obviously the sexual langauge. Unless I’m mistaken, this would be the only place in the canon which used strong sexual overtones concerning the Messiah and those hoping in the Messiah. Even the language in Eze. 16, while strong, isn’t sexual. God is seen as a protecting figure, shielding the nakedness of Israel. The analogy of prostitution is certainly clear, but not in a Hosea kind of way where the prostitute is also the bride of the prophet.

    Obviously, sexual connotations could only be implied through filling out the analogy of the church being the bride of Christ in the NT.

    I’m all for seeing and looking for Messianic hope within all the books of the Bible, but its hard to ignore what seems to be most obvious in Song of Songs, an intense love between a man and woman.

  2. I think the statements in Hosea 2:19-20 point to an intimacy between Yahweh and his betrothed that is akin to what humans experience in the “act of marriage.” Thus, I agree with John Piper that sex is for Christ. God gave us sex so we would know what it is to know him. See Piper’s sermons on Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.

    Blessings!

    JMH

  3. Debbie Wimmers

    Isn’t Song Of Solomon used mostly in talking about pure marriage? like Tommy Nelson

  4. Hey Jim,

    Thanks for your work here. A paper on the Song of Songs was one of the last assignments I turned in for seminary last May. I wish I would have been able to read your paper back then!

    I am curious about one thing, though. I remember when I was reading commentaries for my paper, that several were of the opinion that when the historical King Solomon is mentioned in the Song, it is in a negative way. If this is the case, could it be that there is some recognition in the Song that the actual descendents of David had as yet failed to live up to the Messianic expectation?

  5. Kyle,

    Thanks for your note. Whether Solomon is a negative figure in the Song is disputed, and I would side with those who see him positively. That said, I think that all would agree that the hoped for Messiah was expected to succeed where Israel’s previous leaders failed.

    Great to hear from you!

    Jim

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