James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
SONG OF SOLOMON INTRODUCTION
Internal evidence confirms the voice of antiquity that Solomon wrote this book (see 1 Kings 4:32). As it is called the Song of Songs, the title carries the idea that it is the best of all his songs. Moreover, although it is not quoted in the New Testament, yet it always formed part of the Old as far as we have record, and was in the canon of sacred Scripture which Jesus and His apostles recognized as such.
When it was written is not known, but its imagery seems drawn from the marriage of Solomon either with Pharaoh’s daughter, or some native of Palestine espoused some years later of noble birth, though inferior to her husband. For the first idea compare 1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 7:8; 1 Kings 9:24, with Song of Solomon 1:9; Song of Solomon 6:12, and for the second, look at Song of Solomon 2:1; Song of Solomon 7:1; and Song of Solomon 1:6.
There are two characters who speak and act throughout Shelomoh, a masculine name, meaning “peaceful,” and Shulamith, a feminine form of the same name (see Song of Solomon 1:6; Song of Solomon 3:11; Song of Solomon 6:13; Song of Solomon 8:12). There is also a chorus of virgins, daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 5:8-9).
Towards the close two brothers of Shulamith appear (Song of Solomon 8:8-9). (See also Song of Solomon 1:6.) As in most Hebrew poetry, and indeed all ancient poems, there are no breaks to indicate change of scene or speakers, which is determined partly by the sense, but chiefly by the use of the original of the feminine and masculine pronouns.
The book is a description of wedded love; and yet, of course, it has a higher aim. It is noticeable that there is a sudden change from the singular to the plural in Song of Solomon 1:4, which seems to indicate in the judgment of Angus, that Shulamith must be taken collectively; a fact which, put with others gives credence to the idea that the story should be applied to the history of God’s chosen people and their relation to Him. Every reader of the Bible knows that the union of Jehovah with Israel, and that Christ and His church are presented under the same figure of marriage. (See such passages as Psalms 45; Isaiah 54:5-6; Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:14-23; Matthew 9:15; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:23-27, etc.)
Outline of the Book
1. Opening dialogue.
a. Shulamith speaks, Song of Solomon 1:2-6; then in dialogue with Shelomoh; b. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 1:7; c. Shelomoh, Song of Solomon 1:8-11; d. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 1:12-14; e. Shelomoh, Song of Solomon 1:15; f. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 1:16 to Song of Solomon 2:1; g. Shelomoh, Song of Solomon 2:2; h. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 2:3.
2. Shulamith now rests, sleeps and dreams (Shelomoh addressing the daughters of Jerusalem and charging them not to wake her, Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 2:4-6; 8-3:4).
3. The daughters of Jerusalem see a nuptial procession approaching, Song of Solomon 3:6-11.
4. Dialogue between Shelomoh and Shulamith.
a. Shelomoh speaks Song of Solomon 4:1-16 (as far as “flow out”); b. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 4:16; c. Shelomoh, Song of Solomon 5:1.
5. A night scene; Shulamith, seeking Shelomoh, meets and converses with the daughters of Jerusalem; a. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 5:2-8; b. daughters of Jerusalem, Song of Solomon 5-9; c. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 5:10-16; d. daughters of Jerusalem, Song of Solomon 6:1; e. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 6:2-3.
6. Morning scene; Shelomoh visits his garden early, and meets Shulamith; a. Shelomoh, Song of Solomon 6:4-10; b. Shulamith, Song of Solomon 6:11-12; c. the dialogue continuing to Song of Solomon 8:8.
7. The brothers of Shulamith are introduced; a. the brothers speak Song of Solomon 8:8-9; b. Shulamith answers them, Song of Solomon 8:10-12; c. Shelomoh speaks, Song of Solomon 8:13; d. Shulamith answers, closing the scene, Song of Solomon 8:14.