You may be surprised to hear that the majority view during the first 1600 years of Jewish and Christian interpretation was that the Song of Songs was not about human love, but divine love. This seems to be based upon an assumption that human sexual love is not an appropriate subject for Scripture and an unhealthy secular/sacred divide 6. Nevertheless, this desire to read the Song of Songs within the wider canon of Scripture is an important one because the whole Bible ultimately points to Jesus Christ.
Indeed, the apostle Paul himself describes human marriage in this way: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32).
In other words, the human love celebrated in this song finds its ultimate fulfilment in Christ’s love for the church. He is our true bridegroom (John 3:29). He is our perfect husband (2 Cor. 11:2). His kingdom is like a wedding feast (Revelation 19:7). He is the only one in whom all human longing and desire is satisfied.
In terms of who this Bible book is written for, please don’t think it is only for married couples. Certainly, there is an encouragement for spouses to keep the flames of sexual intimacy alive in their own marriage, with the repeated refrain “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” And so, an important question this book asks married couples is: How’s your love life? Do you need to turn the temperature up?
But this book is primarily written to the unmarried, in particular single young women: ‘the daughters of Jerusalem’,7 who are strongly warned to wait until the right time for sexual intimacy. Three times they are told ‘Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires’ (2:7b; 3:5; 8:4). Now, this is something we all have a role in: to teach our young people to resist the peer pressure and degrading of sex in society, but instead trust God’s good purposes for the joy and pleasure of sexual intimacy within the loving security of marriage.
Of course, we just saw in the previous section, the Song of Songs is not ultimately about human love, but divine love. And so whether you are single, celibate, divorced, widowed, married or unmarried – this book is for you. It is for everyone as we await the day we will see Jesus Christ face to face: the true lover of our souls.