Aimee Byrd

Inside the word. Outside the box.

During times of trial, many Christians rightly find comfort in the Psalms. I have been turning to the Song of Songs. It’s led me to read a lot of commentary and sermons on the Song as I have been studying it. The latest issue of Credo Magazine is out and I have a review published of Ellen Davis’s excellent commentary on the Song of Songs. Here’s a short intro. excerpt:

What do we do with the Song of Songs? Many scholars have differing interpretations on its writer, when it was written, and why it was written. Is it one, unified song or a compilation of songs? This book found right in the middle of our Bibles is thought by some to be the most secular book in Scripture and by others the most biblical of Old Testament texts. Although the Song has enjoyed much popularity in the past—many have even looked to the Song to help them interpret other parts of Scripture—today many avoid it. How often do you quote from the Song of Songs to encourage, exhort, or teach a brother or sister in the faith? This year, it was even parodied in the popular Babylon Bee featuring imaginary Valentine’s Day Sweetheart candies with messages such as “UR Breasts = Fawns” and “Hey, Tower Neck!” It’s funny because it really speaks to our awkwardness with handling the language in the Song.

There are many contributions published that teach from the Song of Songs. We have Bernard of Clairvaux and Gregory of Nyssa’s beautiful sermons, and later Charles Spurgeon’s sermons. We have the edition of The Church’s Bible, edited by Robert Wilken, which is a collection of highlights from early Christian and medieval commentators on the Song. Michael Fox analyzes the parallels between the Song and Ancient Egyptian love songs. Jill Munro has an excellent book studying the Song’s poetic language. David Dorsey published fascinating work on the “Literary Structuring of the Song of Songs.” And we have a plethora of commentaries on this superlative Song. As I am studying the Song, one of my favorite go-to commentaries is in Ellen F. Davis’s Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs (Westminster John Knox Press, 2000). It’s only 71 pages of commentary, but she unearths some of the richest treasures in the Song. I wish it were longer and yet I like how it provokes my own study to build upon it.

Read the rest here.

4 thoughts on “What Do We Do with the Song of Songs?

  1. janetlynnem says:

    Aimee, thanks for this taste of what to expect in your new book!


  2. Cynthia W. says:

    There’s a lot of food for thought here. I was particularly caught by the idea that the use of Solomon had theological meaning for the original author and readers, rather than being a simple point of fact.


  3. A prominent comp sexuality speaker seriously ruined the Song of Songs for me in her book. Comparing the Virgin bride to a smokin hot momma and stating that the brides nightmare of the watch keepers was a punishment for rejecting her husbands sexual advances. Same woman who stated that the “core of a mans masculinity is in his penis…the taking of his wife” and a “woman’s femininity is her ability to bear children”.

    I’m still trying to dismantle all of it. But Song of Songs still leaves a bad taste in my mouth from all this spiritual trauma.


    1. Cynthia W. says:

      My first reaction is to cringe and retch, too, but one can get something out of the allegories and the Temple and eschatological imagery, with effort.


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