THINK: As the title of the book implies, ancient Jews regarded the Song of Songs as the greatest wedding song - or series of songs - ever written. King Solomon is believed to be the author, as his name appears in the title verse (1:1) and six other places throughout the song (1:5; 3:7, 9,11; 8:11-12). He's also identified as the groom (the "lover"). Originally, the book may have been a series of poems between himself and his bride, describing the couple's love and celebrating the pleasures of a faithful and passionate marriage. The fact that this "Song" is included in the Bible reminds us that God intends for us to experience emotional and physical intimacy with our spouses.
RESPOND: What's the meaning and significance of the book's title, "Song of Songs"? (See 1:1 note.) What kind of work had the young bride done in the past (1:6-7), and what does this tell you about her? (See 1:6 note.) How would you describe how the young bride thought about her man? (See 1:13 and 1:14 notes.) What did he mean when he said, "Your eyes are doves" (1:15), and what does that indicate about the woman's character? (See 1:15 note.) Why does the woman compare herself to "a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys"? (See 2:1 note.) What does verse 5 seem to tell about the effect that love had on the woman? (See 2:5 note.) What did the woman mean when she told the others girls, "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires"? (See 2:7 note.) Why was the bride willing to wait for physical intimacy? What can happen as a result of being physically or sexually intimate before the appropriate time (after marriage)? (See 2:7 note.) What does 2:16 imply about the couple's love for each other, and how is this an example for all marriage relationships? (See 2:16 note.)
PRAY: Pray for the strength, discipline and devotion to remain sexually pure from now until marriage.
ACT: Avoid, adjust or remove from your life anything that could tempt you-or anyone around you - to compromise sexual purity in thoughts or actions. This includes staying away from or getting rid of anything that could provoke lustful or inappropriate imagination. Hang around friends that will encourage your choice to honor God in this way.
THINK: Some interpreters view the Song of Songs as a prophetic allegory (a writing style using symbols or figurative language to represent other things). They feel that it symbolically describes the love relationship between God and Israel, or between Christ and the church, His "bride" (Ephesians 5:25-28; Revelation 19:7-9). Since the New Testament - which is written for and about the church - never presents this view of the Song, nor even quotes from it, this interpretation is unlikely. However, several New Testament passages do use terms relating to a marriage relationship to describe Christ's love for the church (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 21:1-2, 9). For this reason, the Song may appropriately be used to illustrate the quality of love that exists between Christ and the church. It's an exclusive, committed and intensely personal love that leaves no room for unfaithfulness.
RESPOND: What does it mean that the woman looked for her man "all night long"? (See 3:1 note.) What event is described in 3:6-11? (See 3:6 and 3:11 notes.) Which of the descriptions in 4:1-7 don't seem flattering to you, and why do you think Solomon used the imagery he did to describe his bride's beauty? What does 4:7 tell you about how Solomon viewed his bride? (See 4:7 note.) How does 4:8 convey the extent of his love? (See 4:8 note.) Why does Solomon use the term "sister" (4:9-10) to describe his bride? (See 4:9 note.) What do the figures of speech in 4:12 indicate about the woman? (See 4:12 note.) How does this convey God's standard for both men and women prior to marriage? How did the woman feel when her groom was away, and what does this indicate about her love? (See 5:4 note.) How is the bride's description of the groom an example of how spouses should feel about one another? (See 5:16 note.) Why is it important for marriage partners to be more than lovers, but also close friends (5:16)? How can a couple's relationship before marriage affect the depth of their friendship after marriage?
PRAY: Pray for couples you know who are contemplating or planning marriage. Ask God to help them behave appropriately toward one another and for their plans to go as God intends.
ACT: Behave with dignity and respect - in thoughts and actions - toward all persons of the opposite sex. View them each as a creation of God and a gift for a pure purpose. Immediately deflect your attention to something else if your thoughts about anyone become sexually inappropriate.