"In all the world there is nothing to equal the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Scriptures are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies." This statement by a second-century rabbi contrasts sharply with the attitude of some Christians today, who apparently have little place for this book in their thinking or practice. They hardly ever quote it, read it, or reflect on it. Such extremes remind us that the book has sometimes been controversial. More than one scholar has called the Song of Songs the most difficult book to interpret in the Old Testament.
Gary Brady adopts the view that, when he wrote, the biblical author had in mind both a natural and a spiritual understanding, and that those who originally received the book as Scripture understood it both in terms of human love and intimacy and as a portrait of the loving relationship between God and his people. In our own day a study of this ancient book is crucially needed in both these areas.
Firstly, in this modern world of mass media, through advertising, cinema, television, and the World Wide Web, we are inundated with false images of love, sex, and marriage. We are bombarded with misleading ideas and, even if we are able to keep our minds pure, it is still very easy for inaccurate concepts to worm their way in and have their debilitating effect on us. All of us—single, married, divorced, widowed, young, old, male, female—need to be crystal clear on this vital subject.
Secondly, there is the vital issue of intimacy with Jesus Christ. One of the purposes of this commentary is to help us see how lovely the Lord Jesus is, how attractive, how appealing. The aim is for us to see again something of Christ's beauty and glory, his comeliness and splendor, and so to be drawn to him. The Song of Songs can be of tremendous help to us in this direction.
“Here is a clue to the full understanding of the Song. It speaks not only about the important matter of human love between a man and his bride, but also the mysterious intimacy that exists, and that is to be cultivated, between true believers and their Lord and Saviour, Christ. Surely it is the sort of thing that we find in the Song that Paul has in mind when he writes, for example, ‘I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him’ (2 Cor. 11:2).” (Page 19)
“Firstly, because in this modern world of mass media, through advertising, cinema, television and the World Wide Web, we are inundated with false images of love, sex and marriage.” (Page 19)
“references to Christ as the Bridegroom (Matt. 9:15; Luke 5:35; John 3:29; Rev. 19:7; 21:9; 22:17)” (Page 19)
“As a modern writer put it, ‘The first sexual thought in the universe was God’s, not man’s.’ Ryken also says that the Puritans rightly saw sex as a ‘natural or biological appetite’. Harry Stout says, ‘They were not prudes … For husband and wife sex was important, and Puritan families were routinely large. A spouse could be punished by the authorities for withholding sex from his or her partner.’” (Page 33)
“As such it sets forth a high standard for mutual love and encourages the celebration of love and beauty. However, as we understand the further dimension of God’s love, it becomes an intimate invitation into relationship with God, celebrating the goodness of love, the beauty of passion and the tenderness of God.’” (Page 18)