Song of Solomon Hermeneutic

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DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Jie-Huli
That is a possible interpretation, but I believe there are good reasons as well to believe the "Rose of Sharon" and the "Lily of the Valley" are indeed Christ.

As Dr. Masters has written in the book I mentioned above, "The rose of Sharon is the very best. It is delicate, picturing Christ coming in human flesh, and although it lives on the driest soil it possesses unparalleled splendour, picturing Christ, the perfect Man, living in a barren, sin-sick world . . . The lily of the valleys depicts the purity of Christ in His 'valley', which is His time of humiliation on the earth."

And John Gill wrote, "Christ may be said to be the lily of the valleys because of His wonderful humility and condescension in assuming our nature, suffering in our stead, and in His humbling Himself to the death of the cross for us. His whole life was one continuing sequence of humility. Christ on earth did not appear as the lofty cedar, but as the lowly lily, and though He is the high and lofty One in His divine nature, yet He condescends to dwell with such who are of a humble and contrite spirit".

I do not believe that all the old Puritan writers were just rushing to conclusions when they wrote that this was Christ speaking.

As to our interpretation of the entire book, Dr. Masters has written a number of arguments as to the central message of the book being the love of Christ and His Church (rather than a human courtship). I will not write them all out here, but I will share one which I think is an interesting one to ponder:

The original Hebrew name of the book is actually the "Song of Songs" (as it is translated in the Authorised Version), meaning the greatest and most beautiful song every composed. Which relationship is most worthy of such a title: the love of Christ and His Church, or human love?
With all due respect to Dr. Masters, he's not the sine qua non of biblical interpretation. Moreover, as my post indicates in its exegesis, I haven't jettisoned the common Puritan exegesis of this passage. I implemented it.

Blessings,
DTK
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Romans922
husband and wife, which is obviously --> Christ and Church. i.e. both
Was it obviously both before Ephesians 5 was written?

I do think it's both, but I think the primary emphasis is the husband/wife relationship.
 

Jie-Huli

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by DTK
With all due respect to Dr. Masters, he's not the sine qua non of biblical interpretation. Moreover, as my post indicates in its exegesis, I haven't jettisoned the common Puritan exegesis of this passage. I implemented it.

Blessings,
DTK
DTK, I did not mean to suggest you were "jettisoning" the Puritans, and indeed you gave a very thoughtful exegesis. I was mainly expressing reservation over your statement that "In our haste to find Christ Here and there in this book, some of us have tried to find Christ in every place, i.e., under every leaf, as it were, but He´s not the rose of Sharon." I think there are good exegetical reasons as well for the view that it is Christ speaking as the "rose of Sharon", and just offered a few quotes which explained the "humility" aspect of the statement as applying to Christ.

But at any rate, I agreed very much with your post earlier which said "It is both, but it is the analogy of Christ and the church that takes precedence in terms of the macrocosmic picture," and I believe we are in agreement.

But to those who believe the book is primarily about a human romantic relationship, I am still curious to know what you make of the book's original Hebrew title, the "Song of Songs"? I believe this title already gives a great hint as to its primary meaning.

Blessings,

Jie-Huli

[Edited on 6-23-2005 by Jie-Huli]
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
It might help to go back to the original intent of the book's composition. Why was it written? I believe (after a long study on the book itself) the SoS to be a eulogy written by Solomon about the Shulamite, his first love. Let that thought simmer a while. (Solomon then tries to rekindle that love with 300 wives and 700 concubines later. True love is hard to come by). Obviously, there are then aspects of the marriage relationship that are similar to Christ and the church, but as DTK said, Christ is not found under every leaf turned over in that sense. Exegetically, it would be a good idea to find out why the book was written in the frist place. Then, after that, to heed what Christ said in the sensus plenior.

John 5:39, "and it is they [The OT Scriptures] that bear witness about me"
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by webmaster
It might help to go back to the original intent of the book's composition. Why was it written? I believe (after a long study on the book itself) the SoS to be a eulogy written by Solomon about the Shulamite, his first love. Let that thought simmer a while. (Solomon then tries to rekindle that love with 300 wives and 700 concubines later. True love is hard to come by). Obviously, there are then aspects of the marriage relationship that are similar to Christ and the church, but as DTK said, Christ is not found under every leaf turned over in that sense. Exegetically, it would be a good idea to find out why the book was written in the frist place. Then, after that, to heed what Christ said in the sensus plenior.

John 5:39, "and it is they [The OT Scriptures] that bear witness about me"
:amen:

Thank you for hitting the nail on the head, Matt. We have to look at the primary authorial intent first. Then we proceed with further interpretation/application.

:up:
 

Robin

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by New wine skin
I recommend that any interested in this topic interact with Song of Solomon commentary by Tremper Longman. It will not end the debate, but you will be well informed by a reformed brother.

Word to ya! :book2:
:ditto:

Dr. Mark Futato is good, also....

Robin
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Originally posted by Robin
Originally posted by New wine skin
I recommend that any interested in this topic interact with Song of Solomon commentary by Tremper Longman. It will not end the debate, but you will be well informed by a reformed brother.

Word to ya! :book2:
:ditto:

Dr. Mark Futato is good, also....

Robin
Even if one disagrees with him, anythign Longman writes is worth reading. I just picked up his How to Read Genesis
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
Of course it refers to both, but the typological fulfillment of the OT as a whole is found in Christ. There is not one passage of the Hebrew Scriptures that do not in some way point to Christ's person and His redemptive work as regards the Church. I am often amazed by how many Reformed folk spout off this truth to Dispensationalists, making reference to passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Emmaus road in Luke's Gospel, etc. and then totally backpedal when it comes to applying this hermeneutic to the Song.

If we are agreed that Christ must be preached every time the minister mounts the pulpit (and I hope that we are), and that the entire Old Testament is valid for preaching (and it certainly is), then those who will not preach Christ and the Church from the Song are in a bit of an hermeneutical/homiletical bind!

Also, the "authorial intent" can be a diversion, although not always. If you want to see what I'm talking about just pick up a dozen commentaries on any OT book and you'll get the picture. We cannot look into the mind of any author in order to discern his intent as it may have been influenced by socio-political considerations, etc. (Matt avoided this by stressing the study of the book itself), we have only the text as given by the Holy Spirit. That being said, we also have a fuller understanding of the history of redemption than did the writers of the OT. Adam and Eve did not understand the full import of the protoevangelium in Gen. 3:15 in the same way as the apostle Paul. Likewise, many of the Psalmists would not have fully understood the typology of thier Psalms prior to the coming of the Christ, but we can. Should we therefore not also say that even given Solomon's original intent in writing this work we, as the New Covenant Church, can make these connections given our fuller revelation? And also preach them?

If you read Calvin's commentaries (and he did not write one on the SofS - but don't give me an "Ah Ha!" since he didn't write one on the non-poetic book of Judges that precedes it either :) ) he makes many statements of inference of this nature in the prophetic writings. Some of these statements would make the average reformed reader a bit uncomfortable (as they did me in times past), but the more I read these works, and those by Witsius and Vos, the more I am convinced that he had a far better grasp on biblical interpretation than most of us will attain to. And if you can apply this method to the Psalms and the Prophets, hold not thyself back from doing so with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!

(Author then ducks and runs to the trench, anticipating multiple barrages of anti-RH rhetoric :D )
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Archlute

If we are agreed that Christ must be preached every time the minister mounts the pulpit (and I hope that we are), and that the entire Old Testament is valid for preaching (and it certainly is), then those who will not preach Christ and the Church from the Song are in a bit of an hermeneutical/homiletical bind!
I think most of us on this board would probably agree with your statement. So who are you arguing against?

Many of us (including me) are not suggesting that we should "not preach Christ and the Church from the Song". I think we ALL agree that we should, to some extent.

The question is not the *presence* of that hermeneutic, but the *primacy* of it.

I do believe that the SoS is about both the marriage relationship, AND about Christ and the Church, so BOTH should be preached.

But that doesn't change the fact that the book is *primarily* about the marriage relationship.

I think we are only debating the *primacy* of one view over the other. But please correct me if I am wrong here.

In Christ,
Joseph
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
Joseph,

I believe that you understand me correctly, but we differ in where we place the primacy of the hermenuetic.

There are always two planes of understanding in Scripture, the human and the the Divine. If we are to grant that the human sphere of intent and understanding holds the primacy, then yes, the SofS would primarily be about the marriage relationship.

If, however, we affirm that the Divine perspective is overriding in our growing understanding of Scripture's meaning and center in Christ's redemptive work, then we must say that it is indeed the archetypal foundation of Christ and His Redeemed Bride that are the primary meaning, from the intratrinatarian perspective of the "pactum salutis", of any part of Scripture. This is not to say that the humanity of the Word is to be overidden, just placed in its properly supportive role.

I believe that the disciples on the road to Emmaus had this same difficulty. They were certainly familiar with the Scriptures, but they were looking at them from less than the primary angle. Christ had to properly expound to them the Divine intent in the OT wrotings.

BTW, sorry that I took so long in responding. I only have time to get to the computer every so often, which makes ongoing discussion a tad slow at times. Thanks for your patience.
 

New wine skin

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Archlute
Joseph,

I believe that you understand me correctly, but we differ in where we place the primacy of the hermenuetic.

There are always two planes of understanding in Scripture, the human and the the Divine. If we are to grant that the human sphere of intent and understanding holds the primacy, then yes, the SofS would primarily be about the marriage relationship.

If, however, we affirm that the Divine perspective is overriding in our growing understanding of Scripture's meaning and center in Christ's redemptive work, then we must say that it is indeed the archetypal foundation of Christ and His Redeemed Bride that are the primary meaning, from the intratrinatarian perspective of the "pactum salutis", of any part of Scripture. This is not to say that the humanity of the Word is to be overidden, just placed in its properly supportive role.
I am curious what you mean by "Always two planes of understanding?" On what basis do you make the claim of the "always" condition? is that an aboslute statement? Do you mean the way Van Til speaks of how we think God's thoughts after Him??? when you say "divine perspective" do you mean what God actually thinks as Archtype or just that everything is christocentric.... I dont mean to nitpick, but I am not following your logic and I am interested in learning more. I thank you for any clairification.
 

gwine

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by biblelighthouse


:amen:

Thank you for hitting the nail on the head, Matt. We have to look at the primary authorial intent first. Then we proceed with further interpretation/application.

:up:

Not to place a lot of emphasis on the Jewish leaders of long ago, does anyone have any sources or comments on what they had to say about the meaning of the book? It would be interesting to know if they saw a Messianic message in it.
 

Jie-Huli

Puritan Board Freshman
I just cannot understand how someone could recognise that the Song of Songs has a spiritual meaning concerning Christ and His Church, and yet believe that this meaning is not the principal meaning, but that the principal meaning is about human courtship. How can Christ possibly not be the principal focus of anything written which concerns Him? I just cannot understand the view that both meanings are there but that the "human" side is the primary; you might just as well say that various messianic prophecies which also had reference to immediate events in the Old Testament times were primarily about those immediate events and not about Christ.

While understanding what the human author meant to convey is important (and I see no real evidence that the human author meant primarily to convey a message about human courtship at any rate), surely God's purpose in inspiring the text is the main question. Prophets were inspired to record and foretell things they themselves did not fully understand at the time. The question is, what was God's purpose in putting this book in the canon?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I obtained a photocopy of John Cotton's Exposition of the Whole Book of Canticles, or Song of Solomon, Chapter 1 (1642). His exposition very much teaches the primacy of the Christ and his Church hermeneutic. It is very interesting reading.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I just read through the Song last week. I think if more Christian married men and women (committed to biblical authority) read this book on a regular basis, they would see the fruit of it in their spousal relationship, and in their mutual love to Christ. Its not a book that is meant to be grasped in one reading, or even in a dozen. It reveals its treasures over time. And what one finds on the "earthly" level can and should be taken "higher" with much profit. I think this is the "direction" it should be read, in order to maximize its utility. If you begin "above", you may "only" miss out on the "lesser" matters, but what a pity to be so deprived.
 

Preach

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've written a little devotional for married couples entitled: "Rated 'L' for Lovers". If anyone is interested I would be happy to mail you a copy, or perhaps send it out via email. You can u2u me.
"In Christ",
Bobby
 
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