Commentary Recommendations for Song of Songs

Discussion in 'OT Wisdom Literature' started by Romans922, Dec 10, 2017.

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  1. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Needed: commentary recommendations for preaching through Song of Songs (Solomon). Not just exegetical but pastoral too.

    Also, if you are recommending, please state the interpretation of the author concerning SoS. Whether it is about Christ first and foremost OR about Marriage/Sex. Thanks.
     
  2. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    John Gill's extensive commentary is "about Christ first and foremost." The bride for Gill is the Church, not so much the individual Christian's relationship with Christ. He gives several to many possible interpretations of particular verses and then gives what he thinks is the most likely interpretation. As I recall, Gill doesn't ever apply the Song to "Marriage/Sex."

    His commentary, by God's grace, was instrumental in confirming for me a fuller assurance of my salvation that I had ever known before. I highly recommend it as one possible reference for your study.

    Months ago I posted a personal testimony of the power the Song of Songs on my own soul along with an excerpt from his commentary.
    https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/the-puritans-and-song-of-solomon.93873/#post-1145739
    (see message #6)
     
  3. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

  4. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I haven't read it yet, but Durham's is high on my 'to read' list. Also, I remember reading one by a puritan (not Henry) but I cannot remember which one.
     
  5. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I have started Durham on the Song and also highly recommend it. The relationship between the Beloved and the Shulamite is more personal than Gill's view of the Church as the Shulamite
     
  6. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I remember now. It was by John Cotton. It was weird.
     
  7. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Also, John Owen deals with SoS a great deal in Communion with God.
     
  8. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I listed to much of Dr. Ian Duguid's sermon series on Song of Songs and it is very good. So I imagine his commentary on it would be equally worthwhile.

    Song of Songs (Reformed Expository Commentaries) by Iain M. Duguid

    "Duguid expresses the intimate and complex nuances of real love. True love the way God intended the relationship between a bride and her bridegroom was meant to be. This then treatment extends itself to what Holy Scripture is meant to do; reveal the complex, inexplicable love that Christ has for the believer and the church." -- Here's a good summary of his position from a reviewer on Amazon.
     
  9. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I reject the either/or, even though it has been so bifurcated in most of exegetical history. Duguid does a good job in bridging the supposed gap between the "Christ and the church interpretation" and the "marriage/sex" interpretation, though he starts from the "marriage/sex" angle and works towards the christological interpretation. It seems clear to me that Ephesians 5 is the key to the Song of Songs.

    I don't understand why people on either side of the divide think that it is only about Christ and the church (or believer), and therefore it cannot be about marriage, or why, on the other side, some people believe that it is only about marriage and therefore cannot be about Christ, when Ephesians 5 patently suggests otherwise.
     
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  10. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Thanks for your opinion. Am I to take that as a pro-Duguid commentary recommendation?

    A simple “This commentary is what I recommend, why, and the view of the author” is sufficient. :)
     
  11. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I agree. I didn't mean to imply that I didn't.
     
  12. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Ed, I wasn't referring to you in particular.

    Andrew, yes, I would recommend Duguid.
     
  13. Pilgrim72

    Pilgrim72 Puritan Board Junior

    Sibbes is amazing on SoS, even though he only covers one chapter. I was richly blessed by these sermons. His teaching is about Christ and His bride. Just beautiful.
     
  14. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    One of my favorite Scripture passages is Song of Solomon 8.6-7. So expressively beautiful, and one of the great definitions of love.
     
  15. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

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  16. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones thought very highly of George Burrowes' "The Song of Solomon" Banner of Truth, 1958 which takes the allegorical view.
     
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  17. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I actually just bought the Puritan Paperback reprint of this book, entitled The Love of Christ, earlier today. Mike Reeves has a brief defence of the allegorical view in his foreword.
     
  18. TheologiaCrucis

    TheologiaCrucis Puritan Board Freshman

    Check out Christopher Mitchell's SoS commentary in the Concordia Commentary series. It is huge... About 1300 pages. Scholarly, but intended to be used in pastoral practice. Mitchell is a Lutheran (LCMS). Obviously, it will reflect that confession. 95% of it, though, should be compatible with a Reformed perspective.
     
  19. TheologiaCrucis

    TheologiaCrucis Puritan Board Freshman

    P.S. Mitchell views SoS in terms of Christ and his relationship with the church, ultimately. It is not about marriage and sex.
     
  20. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Durham answers this in his key. You arent the first to make such objections.
     
  21. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Are you referring to this?

    "For there is a Two-fold Literal Sense of Scripture. 1. Proper and Immediate, as where it's said, Solomon married Pharaoh's Daughter. The Second is Figurative and Mediate, as when it is said, Matth 22.2. A certain King made a Marriage to his Son, &c. Both have a literal meaning. The first Immediate, fulfilled in Solomon: The second is Mediate, setting out God's calling Jews and Gentiles unto Fellowship with His Son; and so that Parable is to be understood in a Spiritual Sense. Now we say, this Song (if we would take up its true sense and meaning) is not to be understood the first way, Properly and Immediately, but the second way, Figuratively and Mediately, as holding forth some Spiritual thing under borrowed expressions, which will further appear from these things.

    First, There can be no Edification in setting out Humane Love (amongst Parties properly understood) so largely and lively; and yet Edification must be the end of this Song, being a part of the Scripture; it must have therefore an higher meaning than the words at first will seem to bear.

    2. There can be no Parties mentioned, beside Christ and his Bride, to whom this Song can agree; nor can any proper meaning thereof be assigned, which can make it applicable to these Parties: and therefore it cannot be understood Properly, but figuratively, and that not of any other, but of Christ and Believers: To Solomon it cannot agree in its Application, nor to his Queen, yea, to no Man, if it be taken in a Proper sense: For, 1. These Commendations given to the Bridegroom, Chap. 5 to the Bride, Chap. 4.6,7. If properly understood, would be monstrous, blasphemous, and ridiculous; such as to have Teeth like a Flock of Sheep, an Head like Carmel, &c. and so in many other things. 2. Some things are attributed to this Solomon, who is the Subject of this Song, that were not within Solomon's reach, as that, his presence at the Table, Chap 1.12. Maketh her Spikenard to smell, which influence cannot proceed from one Man more than another, and Chap. 3.10. where it is said, He made a Chariot, and paved it with Love, which is no material thing, and so could be no Pavement in Solomon's Chariot. 3. That Solomon being the Penman of this Song, yet speaketh of Solomon in the second Person, Thou, O Solomon, Chap 8.12. makes it appear that some other was designed than himself; and many such like expressions that fill up the matter of this Song (such as Spices, Gardens, &c.) cannot be understood properly of these very things themselves, but of some other thing vailed under them; And so also, when she is called Terrible as an Army with Banners, it cannot be understood of Solomon's Queen, and applying it to the Church, we cannot understand it of any carnal terror, which the external aspect of the Church doth beget in Beholders.

    3. The Stile and Expressions will bear out more than any Humane Love, or any Humane Object, upon which Men set their love: We are sure, no such love would be proponed to Believers as a warranted pattern for their imitation, as if it would be commendable in them to be so much ravished and taken up, even with the most lovely Creature.

    4. Many things here are inconsistent with Humane Love, and that Modesty that is required in it (as the Hebrews themselves, apud Mercer, observe) as to propone him to others, to excite them to Love him, others undertaking to follow after him, her speaking to him in her Sleep, Chap. 5.2. Running in the Night through the Streets, and slighting him at the Door; which by no means can admit a Proper, Literal, Immediate Sense, but must needs aim at something Figurative. Besides, what reason can there be to plead a Proper Sense here, more than in other Figurative Scriptures of the same sort, as of these that speak of the Soul's Union with Christ, under the Similitude of a Marriage, and particularly that of Psal. 45. which is (as it were) a compend of this Song, and is looked upon by all as Figurative?"
     
  22. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    I think that I have adequately addressed these concerns in my commentary. Some of his objections are frankly silly: 2) sounds as if he completely fails to understand how metaphors work - how for example a woman's teeth might be compared to a flock of sheep. This is strange since the allegorical interpretation is built on a figurative understanding of language. To say the church is the bride of Christ is equally inconceivable to take literally - because it is a metaphor. He seems to miss the fact that the woman's description of running through the streets takes place in a dream sequence. What is more, Scripture certainly does exalt human love within marriage as an edifying topic - see Proverbs 5. His point 3) seems to fall foul of what Paul does with human marriage in Ephesians 5. And certainly the allegorical method as such does not prevent monstrous, ridiculous and blasphemous interpretations. Moreover, many of his concerns fall flat when wielded against the "both/and" approach. It is about Jesus and the church - just not only about Jesus and the church.

    The fact is that both the natural and spiritual interpretations have some advocates who indulge in wild excesses of imagination, while others are more restrained and responsible, interpreting the book in the light of Biblical theology. But it seems to me in the light of Ephesians 5 that if it is about Christ and the church, it must provide legitimate application of some kind to human marriage and if it is about human marriage it must speak to the relationship of Christ and the church. The only question is which is the primary referent, and which is secondary. And in the light of the entire book of Proverbs you can't pull the "It's only really special if it's about Jesus" card, as Durham tries to. Our Lord is not ashamed to instruct us about human relationships, especially the one most designed to show us him. This is precisely how it is about Jesus.
     
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  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    St Gregory of Nyssa, IN CANTICUM CANTICORUM.
     
  24. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior


    So because a Pauline letter uses actual marriage and metaphorical marriage in the same breath, it must mean the SOS does too? This seems like you’re inputting things “just because”.
     
  25. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    Paul doesn't just use "actual" marriage and metaphorical marriage in the same breath. Rather, he tells us that the actual marriage (between Christ and the church) is the reason for which metaphorical marriage (between a man and a woman) exists and that therefore because Christ loves the church and the church submits to Christ, there are some important lessons to be deduced for the everyday marriages of those to whom he writes in Ephesus. He even spells out what those lessons are...
     
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  26. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    That doesn’t answer me. Your comparison was with Eph. 5 and SOS. Paul writes differently than SOS.

    If you have quarrels with my words, address the bigger context first... then deal with my words.
     
  27. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    My point was simply that Paul in Ephesians 5 uses the relationship between Christ and the church as a teaching tool to instruct earthly husbands and wives how they should live. Thus there is an inherent Biblical plausibility that even if the Song were primarily about Christ and the church, it would still have something to say to earthly husbands and wives about their relationship.

    That doesn't mean that every lesson people might adduce from the Song about earthly relationships is appropriate, any more than all of the spiritual applications that preachers draw from the Song are appropriate. Sensitivity to the genre of the Song is important. In my view, the interpretive choices are whether its essential genre is wisdom literature, in the manner of Proverbs 5, in which case the primary application is to earthly marriage with a secondary (but crucially important) application to Christ and the church, or a more parabolic/allegorical genre, like the parable of the prodigal son, in which case the primary application would be to Christ and the church, but still with secondary application to human marriage. What does it mean for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church? If the Song really shows us how Christ has loved the church, there should be a rich vein of truth to mine there.

    Anyway, the proof of the interpretive approach is in how it actually works out in exegesis of specific passages; anyone who is interested in my approach can read more in my two commentaries on the Song.
     
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  28. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Dr. Duguid,

    Do you deal with the history of the interpretation of the Song in your commentary? If not, do have recommendations?
     
  29. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    Marvin Pope's commentary in the Anchor Bible series is the standard scholarly resource for the history of interpretation;Richard Hess's commentary updates it with a survey of more recent interpretation.
     
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