Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament poetic book of Song of Solomon which was the third of three books written by Solomon the son of David and king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters one through eight of this Old Testament book. When you come to the Song of Solomon you will find the last of five poetic books which are located in the Old Testament. The poetic books of the Bible begin with the book of Job, continue with the Old Testament book of the Psalms, and then continues and concludes with three distinct books which were written by Solomon the son of David and king of Israel. It’s actually quite interesting to consider the progression of the poetic literature contained within the Old Testament, for when you read the book of Job you will find that it is a book centered around two distinct realities—namely, the suffering of man and the sovereignty of the living God within and over that suffering. You cannot read the Old Testament book of Job and not encounter the tremendous fact that it is a book that begins in the first two chapters with the suffering of Job which was inflicted upon him by Satan the adversary and accuser after he secured permission from the living and eternal God to do so. What’s so incredibly challenging and unique about the Old Testament book of Job is that the suffering of Job really only takes place in the first two chapters of the book. Upon reading this book you will find that the adversary and accuser entered into the presence of the LORD and secured permission from the LORD to inflict Job with great suffering, and that suffering was manifested within the first two chapters, and would conclude with Job asking his wife if he should not accept evil and bad from the LORD as well as good. The second chapter would find Job’s three friends hearing of all the evil that came upon Job, and coming unto him—ever man from his own place. These three friends made an appointment together to come and mourning with Job and comfort him. As they lifted up their eyes still afar off and knew not Job, nor recognized him, they lifted up their voice, they wept, they rent their mantles, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. What’s more, is that for seven days and seven nights no man spoke a single word to Job, for they saw that his grief was very great. The suffering of Job is found in the first two chapters of this Old Testament book, and yet much of this Old Testament book is centered upon the struggle, the conflict and the wrestling with suffering and the sovereignty of God in the midst of it. Chapters three through thirty-seven of this Old Testament book are a powerful dialogue between Job and his three friends, as they would attempt to explain away and rationalize his suffering according to sin, iniquity and evil within his life.
Coming unto the thirty-eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of Job you will find the LORD finally breaking the silence—a silence that would not prepare Job for the suffering he was about to experience, a silence that would not speak unto Job when the reports came to him concerning his possessions and children, a silence that would not come to him when he sat in the midst of dust and ashes upon the earth and sought relief with a broken potsherd, and a silence that would even be found and felt for seven days and seven nights when none of his friends dared speak any word unto him, and even silence throughout all the discussion, dialogue, and condemnation and judgment Job’s three friends hurled at him. It isn’t until chapter thirty-eight of this Old Testament book where we finally find the eternal and living God breaking that silence and speaking unto Job—and not only speaking unto Job, but also correcting his thinking, and bringing him to a place where he would humble himself, offer sacrifices before and unto the LORD, and would even pray for his three friends. It’s quite interesting and intriguing to think about and consider the fact that the poetic literature and language of Scripture doesn’t begin with worship, it doesn’t begin with praise, it doesn’t begin with prayer, it doesn’t begin with the courts of the LORD, it doesn’t begin with song, nor does it begin with joy and gladness. Upon studying the poetic literature and language you will find that instead of it beginning with joy and gladness, instead of it beginning with worship and praise, it begins with suffering. What’s more, is that it begins with a narrative of suffering that would be found within the earth before the days of Moses, and even before the days of Abraham. The suffering which is found in the Old Testament book of Job demonstrates and reveals the tremendous reality that suffering has been a universal struggle and conflict—almost from the time of the beginning, and not long after the fall of Adam and Eve and their sin and transgression before the LORD through partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
I am convinced that in order to truly understand the Song of Solomon it is necessary to begin with the Old Testament book of Job and truly examine the progression of language found within these chapters. It is absolutely necessary to begin with the Old Testament book of Job, for the language of poetry within the Scripture doesn’t begin with worship and praise, nor does it begin with prayer, but rather with the suffering of one man after Satan threw everything he had against him—first by stripping him of possessions, secondly by robbing him of his children, and third by striking his physical person with sore boils from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. The poetic narrative found within the Old Testament begins with suffering, and before we even get into the songs and prayers found within the book of Psalms we are first brought face to face with the suffering of man and the sovereignty of God in the midst of and over such suffering. In all reality, I would dare say that this is truly and absolutely necessary, for if you would seek to understand the language found within the book of the Psalms you must first come from having read the book of Job, for it’s through the book of Job you are brought face to face with the universal nature of suffering and the sovereignty of the LORD over it. You cannot read the Old Testament book of Psalms without encountering and coming face to face with the fact that from the days and time of Job through the times of David, Asaph, the sons of Korah, Moses, Solomon, and other authors suffering has been a universal struggle and conflict in the midst of the earth. Within the Old Testament book of Job we do not find any words of prayer, nor any songs of worship or praise, nor any crying out to the LORD from the lips and mouth of Job, and in all reality—the only thing we find within much of the Old Testament book of Job is the judgment, the condemnation and the accusation of Job’s three friends concerning known and/or unknown sin within his life. We do find Job worshipping once within the book after he received different reports concerning the loss of his possessions, as well as the loss of his children. Within the first and opening chapter of the book we find Job worshipping the LORD and declaring that the LORD gives and the LORD takes away, but blessed be the name of the LORD. Much of the book of Job, however, contains no prayer, no crying out to the LORD, no intercession—nothing we find within the Old Testament book of the Psalms. It is within the book of Psalms where we find that suffering continues to take place and be manifested in the midst of the earth, and manifests itself in different forms—from betrayal of friends, to enemies surrounding the people or man of God, to a host of other situations, conflicts, struggles and scenarios contained within the book.
What is so interesting and unique about the Old Testament book of Psalms is that not only does it demonstrate and reveal that suffering is universal, but it presents us with a powerful picture of something that can take place in the midst of suffering, something that can take place in the midst of affliction, and something that can take place in the midst of the various situations and circumstances we face—namely, crying out to the LORD, weeping and mourning before Him, praying and seeking the face of the LORD, and even worshipping, praising and singing before the LORD. The Old Testament book of Psalms, however, is not all about the continuation of suffering, for a great deal of the book contains powerful language of worship and praise before the LORD through songs, and through the musical instruments of the day. The Old Testament book of Psalms is a truly powerful picture of praise and worship before and unto the living and eternal God, and contains a number of psalms and songs which were written by men such as Asaph, David, Moses, Solomon, Asaph, and others. What’s more, is that there were even a number of psalms and songs which were written for and unto the sons of Korah—those who were directly descended from Korah who led an insurrection and rebellion against Moses in the wilderness, and who was swallowed up alive by the earth. The Old Testament book of the Psalms contains a great deal of songs and psalms of worship and praise before and unto the LORD, and it’s necessary to recognize and consider the fact that some of those psalms were designed to provide instruction unto those who read the words contained within them. I can’t help but think about the one-hundred and nineteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms, and how it is the longest chapter in all of Scripture, and its central them and focus is the Law of the LORD, and the instruction found therein for the people of God.
The poetic literature begins with the suffering of Job and the sovereignty of God in the midst of and over that suffering, and it would continue with the book of the Psalms which is in all reality a book centered upon worship and praise before and unto the throne of the living God. As you continue reading the poetic literature found within the Old Testament book of the Psalms you will find that the language found within the book of Proverbs was meant to teach, to instruct, to guard and to guide men in the wisdom and fear of the LORD. The entire Old Testament book of Proverbs is a book centered upon wisdom, and how wisdom introduces men to the government of heaven within the life of an individual—a government which not only guards, but also guides those who pursue and lay hold of it. The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon, and is essentially a book of wise sayings which were written by Solomon during the days of his reign as king over the nation of Israel. Essentially the book was written from a father unto his son in order that his son might pursue and lay hold of wisdom within this life. If the book of Job is a book about suffering and the sovereignty of God over suffering, and if the book of the Psalms is a book about worship and praise of the living God, then the book of Proverbs is a book that is centered upon wisdom—and not only wisdom, but also the fear of the LORD. It is within the first and opening verses of the book of Proverbs where we encounter the underlying purpose and function of the book—“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a Proverb, the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings” (Proverbs 1:1-6). With these words we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible purpose and function of the proverbs of Solomon, which were to instruct his son—quite honestly the next generation—in the wisdom and fear of the LORD. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of the central them and underlying reality of the book of Proverbs, which was to incite the next generation to pursue wisdom, to seek after her, and to lay hold of her with everything inside one’s heart, soul and mind.
As you come to the book of Ecclesiastes you will find yet another book written by Solomon the son of David and king of Israel—one that was written with eternity in mind. There is not a doubt in my mind that the book of Ecclesiastes is a book that was written by a man who looked over his life and began examining it in light of eternity and worth and value in heaven rather than the worth and value of things in this life. In all reality, one could clearly see that the book of Ecclesiastes was a book that was written by a man who had everything—wealth, possessions, fame, honor, and the like. Despite everything Solomon had, however, he found himself coming to the point within his life when he saw it all as vanity and vexation of spirit. Solomon had spent much of his life as king over the nation and kingdom of Israel pursuing everything his heart desired, and even he himself wrote that he did not hold himself back from that which would give him pleasure and delight. Eventually, however—despite the fact that he pursued everything his heart desired, and despite the fact that he did not keep himself from pursuing anything that would give him joy, delight, pleasure, and the like, he would find himself realizing that it was all vanity. Essentially, the book of Ecclesiastes is a book that was written with eternity and eternal values and worth in mind, for Solomon looked over his life, and looked over everything he had within and through the lens of eternal worth and eternal value. Solomon looked over his entire life and everything he had accumulated, and everything he had built, and he determined that it was all vanity, it was all worthless, and it all held little eternal value and worth. What is truly remarkable and astonishing about the book of Ecclesiastes is the fact that it was a book that describes how the LORD placed eternity within the hearts of men, and how that eternity can at a time when we are least expecting it invade into the realm of time and space, and can completely alter and transform our perspective on what is before us—what we have achieved, what we have accomplished, what we have built, and what we have done within our lives. The more I read and study the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes the more I am confronted with the fact that it was a book that was written from a man who was directly confronted with the futility and vanity of everything he pursued, and everything he built within his life. Solomon—the Preacher—wrote this book as a means of expressing his heart concerning the futility and vanity of everything he had built and accumulated in light of eternity and that which really matters. What’s more, is that this book was concluded with Solomon declaring that the chief and ultimate pursuit within one’s life is to fear the LORD and to keep His commandments. This—Solomon determined—was the chief and ultimate goal and ambition of man within this life.
With this in mind, it is truly interesting to think about and consider the fact that when you come to the Song of Solomon you will find a book that is unlike any of the others that are found within the poetic section of the Scripture. When you come to the Song of Solomon you will find a book that contains language—not of worship and praise, nor language of suffering and the sovereignty of God, but language of intimacy, romance, love and affection. The Song of Solomon is a book that was written by Solomon as a love song to his beloved, and to that one woman who truly had and held his heart within her hands. Upon reading the language found within this Old Testament book you will find that it is essentially two lovers singing of their love one to another, as Solomon would write and sing unto his beloved, and how his beloved would sing unto him. This is actually something quite interesting and intriguing to think about and consider—particularly when we think about worship in the house of God. More often than not we think of worship through the lens of being one-sided—through the lens of our singing before and unto the LORD, and through the lens of our expressing our love toward the LORD. What if, however, we have had a false view and perception of worship? What if throughout the years we have thought and perceived worship as being one-sided where we sing our songs and our praises before the LORD through our worship, and through our expression of love for the LORD, and yet there has been one key component that has been missing—namely and mainly the response of the LORD in worship. THE RESPONSE OF THE LORD IN WORSHIP! We tend to think of worship as being solely about our singing songs before and unto the LORD, and more often than not we are content with that reality in our church services, and yet I fear that there are very few congregations and assemblies that have in addition to their worship, and in addition to their expression of worship before the LORD the response of the LORD to their worship. Permit me to ask you a very pointed and powerful question concerning your own worship, and that question is simply—when you worship before the LORD, and when you sing your praises and your songs before and unto the LORD, do you you truly give Him time to respond? More often than not we treat prayer as a one-sided monologue before and in the presence of the LORD, and when we speak directly to God and expect Him to listen. Very rarely do we treat prayer as a conversation with the LORD when we speak to the LORD and the LORD responds to us. Ask Moses what his perception and his view of prayer is, and he would emphatically declare unto you that prayer is a conversation and dialogue between the LORD and man, for the LORD spoke to Moses as a friend would—face to face. If you read the Old Testament books of Exodus through Deuteronomy you will find that the LORD spoke unto Moses as a man would speak unto his friend—face to face. Moses would speak before and unto the LORD, and the LORD would respond unto him.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly remarkable and astonishing reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the underlying reality of what worship truly is. If prayer is a conversation and dialogue between God and man—a dialogue where God is given the opportunity to speak, to talk and to respond just as much as we are—then I am absolutely and completely convinced that worship is similar in nature to prayer. I am absolutely and completely convinced that worship is more than simply the bringing of our songs before and unto the living God, and simply singing those songs, and that is it. There are countless churches, congregations and assemblies where worship is nothing more than the singing of our songs before the LORD, and a quick transition to the rest of the agenda and program of the service. For many assemblies and congregations worship is nothing more than a one-sided experience where men and women sing songs which they are led in by a lead worshipper and musicians, and that’s it. For many assembles and congregations worship is nothing more than one-sided singing before and unto the LORD—and even that, singing the songs and worship of others. How much of our worship is not only singing songs, but also singing the songs which others have written before and unto the LORD? How much of our worship is truly personal within our hearts, within our spirits, and within our souls? How much of your worship is truly intimate and truly personal before and in the presence of the living God? This question is incredibly important, and is incredibly necessary when we think about and consider it, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that worship must needs be more than simply the singing of our songs before and unto the LORD. I fear that far too often we treat worship in an incorrect light and have an incorrect perspective of worship—one that should not by any means be manifested among us in our midst. We have treated worship simply as the singing of our songs before and in the presence of the LORD, and we allow the LORD absolutely no room, no time, and no space to respond. We sing our songs during the worship portion of the service, and we think that that is somehow good enough, and yet the truth of the matter is that I am convinced it is far less and far beneath what worship was meant to be. There is not a doubt in my mind that worship is more than simply the singing of our songs before and unto the LORD, and is also about the LORD responding unto us—perhaps even responding by singing His own love song to and unto us.
Permit me to ask a very pointed and straightforward question, and that is what would you do, and how would you respond if you began entering into your worship services, and instead of simply singing your worship songs and moving on to the next order of the service, you gave the LORD an opportunity to respond? What if during your worship services you sang a song of worship to the LORD, and once the song was finished you took time to wait upon the LORD and allow Him to respond to you? What if the next time you entered into the house of the LORD to worship before the LORD with songs you didn’t merely sing songs about the LORD, but sang songs to the LORD, and truly allowed and gave the LORD space to respond to you? I can’t help but think about what it would be like in the midst of our worship services if we sang one song before and unto the LORD—not a song about the LORD, but a song to the LORD—and then we paused and took time to listen for the voice of the LORD and allowed Him to respond. I can’t help but think about what our worship services would be like if we stopped and paused after every song and allowed the LORD to respond—respond by speaking unto us, or responding by even singing over and unto us. There is not a doubt in my mind that worship is more than simply our songs which are sung before and unto the LORD, for worship must needs be something that allows and gives space to the living and eternal God room to respond unto us. Growing up in the church, and having attended countless different churches throughout my life I have seen a number of worship services where it is nothing more than the singing of our songs before and unto the LORD, and once they are done we simply move on to the next order and portion of our service. I have been a part of a number of worship services where songs of worship and praise are sung, and perhaps the atmosphere is charged with the presence of the LORD in response to the worship, and yet the LORD isn’t given any room or any space to respond. All my life worship has been nothing more than the singing of our songs before and unto the LORD, and moving from one song to the next. Oh there might be some “Selah” moments in between the songs, but there is no real room or space that is given for the LORD to speak, and for the LORD to respond.
As I read the words which are found within the Song of Solomon I can’t help but think about the fact that it is not merely Solomon’s song alone, for it is also the song of his beloved. If you read the words which are found within this Old Testament book you will find that it is as much a song which Solomon sang unto his beloved as it was a song which his beloved sang unto him. The entire Song of Solomon is an expression of love between two individuals, as Solomon would express his love for this woman, and as she would express her love for and toward him. The Song of Solomon is not merely a one-sided expression of love, for it is an expression of love that is shared between two lovers who were passionately in love with each other. Solomon would express his love for and toward this woman, and in response this woman would express her love for and toward him. What’s more, is that much of this song is both Solomon and his beloved singing songs about what they loved about each other. You will find within this book Solomon expressing his love for and toward this woman, and singing of everything he loved about her. Solomon would sing of her beauty, and of his desire to ravish her with his love, affection, passion and desire. In response to this, Solomon’s beloved would sing about everything she loved about him, and would respond by singing of his worth, his value, and of her love and affection for and toward him. Essentially this Old Testament book is an exchange of love and affection between these two individuals, as one would sing of their love for the other, and that one would respond singing of their love for them. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that recognize and understand this, fo the Song of Solomon wasn’t merely a song that was sung by Solomon, but it was a song that was sung by Solomon and his beloved. Solomon’s beloved would play and would have just as much a part and role within this song and within this expression of love as Solomon would. We must realize and recognize that the Song of Solomon is a dual expression of love, and a dual expression of affection shared between Solomon and his beloved, as Solomon would begin singing unto her, and she would in turn respond by singing unto him. We cannot read this book solely with and solely from the perspective of Solomon singing a love song unto his beloved, for to do so would be to miss and lose sight of the awesome and powerful reality that it was a shared expression of love between these two lovers.
I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words and language that is found within the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon, and I find myself being confronted with the awesome and tremendous reality that just as much as the Song of Solomon is an expression of love shared between two lovers, so also should our worship be a shared expression of love between ourselves and the LORD. Worship is not simply a one-sided expression of love between us and the LORD, for there must be time and space given for the LORD to respond to us. Even as I write these words I find myself wondering what would happen in our worship services and in our worship experiences if we began giving the LORD to respond in the midst of them, and the LORD not only responded, but also responded by singing unto us. What would you do, and how would you respond if you entered into the house of the LORD, began singing before and worshipping the LORD, and in response to your singing and the songs you present to Him, the LORD responds by singing unto you? How absolutely and incredibly wonderful our worship services and experiences would be if we gave ourselves to singing of our love and affection before and unto the LORD, and we gave Him room to respond unto us. I cannot help but think about and consider the absolutely wonderful and beautiful reality of what worship would be like in the midst of our sanctuaries and houses of worship as we give the LORD an opportunity to respond to us. I am finding myself being incredibly challenged concerning worship, and engaging in worship where instead of singing songs about God, we sing sings to the LORD. Oh, please don’t get me wrong, for I don’t think there is anything wrong with singing songs about God. I do believe there is a place for songs which are sung about God, as those songs can help build and strengthen the faith of those men and women who are gathered together in the house of the LORD. I do believe there is a time and place for songs which are sung about God, for when we sing about God in the presence of others, we find their faith, their trust and their confidence strengthened. Even in the book of the Psalms you will find a number of psalms which were written as songs which were sang about the LORD. Oh, I can’t help but think about distinct psalms which immediately come to my mind—two which were psalms sung unto the LORD, and another that was sung about the LORD. Consider if you will the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the book of the Psalms, as well as the words which are found in the one-hundred and thirty-sixth and one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapters of the book of Psalms:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:1-6)
“O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising. Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secretly, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being in perfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: Depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? And am I not grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:1-24).
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: For his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: For His mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that by wisdom made the heavens; For his mercy endureth for ever. To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: the sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: the moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever: and brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever: with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him which divided the Red Sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever: and made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever: but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; for his mercy endureth for ever. To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever. And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever. Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever. And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever: and gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever: even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever: and hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 136:1-26).
The words which we find within these three chapters not only bring us face to face with songs which were sung unto the LORD, but songs which were sung about the LORD. The one-hundred and thirty-sixth chapter of the book of Psalms is a song that was sung about the LORD, and a song which called for a response from the people of God. The entire psalm is essentially a song of praise about the LORD and what the LORD has done in times past, and with each declaration in the midst of the psalm there is undoubtedly and expression before the LORD concerning His mercy, for the psalmist and people would emphatically declare that His mercy endures for ever. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely awesome reality, for while the one-hundred and thirty-sixth chapter of the book of Psalms is a song sung about the LORD, the one-hundred and thirty ninth chapter of the same book was a song that was sung before and unto the LORD. We must not quickly dismiss and lose sight of this awesome reality, for there is a place for singing about the LORD, and such songs about the LORD are indeed powerful tools and instruments in the sight and presence of others to help strengthen, build and establish their faith. There are, however, songs which are sung unto the LORD—songs which are sung directly to the LORD speaking of who He is. This is something we must understand and come face to face with when we consider the words found in the Song of Solomon, for the Song of Solomon wasn’t merely a song that was sang by Solomon unto his beloved, but it was a song that was shared in expression and affection between these two loves. A SHARED SONG OF LOVE! A SHARED SONG OF AFFECTION! A SHARED SONG OF DESIRE! A SHARED SONG OF PASSION! You cannot read the words which are found in this Old Testament poetic book and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that the words and language contained therein aren’t words which are expressed by and between both who are involved in this song. IN all reality, I would dare say that this song would be incomplete without and apart from the shared response of the beloved, as much as the response of Solomon. I can’t help but wonder what this Old Testament book would have been like if you take away the response of the Shulamite woman, and only had the words of Solomon. What would and what would this song be like if it was only the song which Solomon sang unto his beloved, and there wasn’t the shared response of the beloved in response to Solomon?
I have to admit that although the title of this book is The Song of Solomon, it is essentially a song that was sung and shared by Solomon and his beloved. This song was not simply his expression of love for his beloved, but it was also her expression of love to him. What makes this song a song is the joint expression of love, the joint expression of affection, the joint expression of delight, the joint expression of passion between these two lovers. What gives this song its context, and what gives this song is true meaning and value is the fact that it is a shared expression of love as Solomon would sing unto his beloved, and his beloved would sing unto him. What’s more, is that although the first verse of the opening chapter reads “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s,” verses two through seven are not words which Solomon sang unto this woman, but rather words which his beloved would sing unto him. Although this book bears the title “Song of Songs,” or “The Song of Solomon,” the opening verses of this book aren’t even the words of Solomon, but are the words of his beloved as she sang of her undying affection and love for and toward him. This Song of Solomon began with the undying affection of this woman for and toward Solomon as she could not hold back and contain her passion, her affection, her love, her desire and her delight in her lover. Consider if you will the words which are found in verses two through seven of this Old Testament book, as well as the words which are found in the latter verses of the chapter, which is Solomon’s response unto this woman:
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Because of the savour of thy goodointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will e glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee. I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keepers of the vineyards: but mine own vineyard have I not kept. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” (Song of Solomon 1:2-7).
“If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherd’s tents. I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breath. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-Geri. Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes. Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fire” (Song of Solomon 1:8-17).
The words which are found within the opening chapter of the Song of Solomon bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that this was not merely a song which Solomon sang unto his beloved, but it was an expression of love and affection which she would would sing unto him. Within this song you will find that it is not one-sided, but rather that it is a shared expression of joy, delight, desire, passion, affection and love. I fully realize and recognize that there might be some who are made uncomfortable with the language that is found within this book, and yet the truth of the matter is that intimacy can in fact cause people to feel uncomfortable. If we are being honest with ourselves, as well as with the LORD, we must admit that there are those—perhaps even us ourselves—who are entirely and altogether uncomfortable with intimacy. What’s more, is there are those who are uncomfortable with the language of intimacy, and the expression of intimacy, desire, delight and pleasure. The Song of Solomon is not one of the most widely known and read books found within the Scripture, for within its pages is the expression of love, the expression of desire, the expression of delight, and the expression of passion and affection between these two lovers. When and as we read the words which are found within this song we are brought face to face with a love song that was sung between two lovers—a love song that expressed undying love and affection between them. What’s more, is I am absolutely captivated by the descriptive language that is found within this Old Testament book, for you almost get the sense that these lovers did not have a single problem, nor did they have trouble expressing themselves in love and affection before and toward each other. The more you read the words which are found within this book the more you will come face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that neither Solomon nor his lover had any trouble expressing their love for and toward each other. Both Solomon and his love were very fluid with their words which were expressed to the other person, and they did not seem to lack anything that was shared between the two of them. Solomon had absolutely no trouble expressing himself before and unto this woman, and she in turn had absolutely no trouble expressing herself before and unto him.
As I sit here and read the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon, I am brought face to face with the awesome language that is found and contained within it—and not only the language that is contained within it, but also how descriptive the language truly was. You cannot read the words found within this passage of Scripture and not encounter the awesome reality that Solomon and his lover had no problem expressing their love for each other—and not only their love for each other, but also what they loved about the other person. The entire Song of Solomon is a wonderful and powerful expression of love and affection which was shared between these two lovers, and the words and language that is found within this book is a truly wonderful demonstration and expression of love between these two individuals. What’s more, is that what makes this particular song all the more powerful and captivating is when you think about the fact that it was written by one who loved many strange and foreign women. If you read the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings you will find that Solomon loved many strange and foreign women, and that in addition to the daughter of Pharaoh, he had seven-hundred wives and princesses, as well as three hundred concubines from the nations round about Israel. What’s more, is that Scripture reveals how Solomon clave to these women in love We dare not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the book of First Kings, for when considered and compared to the words found in the Song of Solomon we find Solomon expressing his undying love and affection for and toward one woman above all the others. Despite the fact that Solomon loved many strange and foreign women, there was one woman whom Solomon loved above them all, and there was one woman whom he truly had affection, desire and delight in. The Song of Solomon is a powerful expression of love between Solomon and this woman, as Solomon would speak of his love for this particular one who far surpassed all the others. With this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found and recorded in the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings beginning to read with and form the first and opening verse:
“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Phraoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomonw as old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusaollem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD had commanded. Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statures, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:1-13).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative to draw and call your attention to the awesome and incredible reality that the Song of Solomon wasn’t merely a book that contained a song that was sung by Solomon unto his love, but it was a book that contained a song that was sung by and between both individuals. What gives the Song of Solomon its great meaning, its great value and its great worth is the fact that it is more than a song sung by Solomon unto his beloved, but it was a song that was shared between these two loves. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and wonderful reality, for it brings us face to face with the awesome ability to encounter a response to love and a response to affection. I continue to be directly challenged with and by the fact that there are those who think and feel that worship is simply and is indeed our singing unto the LORD in His house and in His presence, and that is the end of the matter. We have been taught and trained to think that worship is simply about our response to the LORD through our worship, and yet we fail to realize and recognize that worship is just as much a conversation as prayer is. We dare not and must think that worship is any different than prayer, and that just as prayer is a dialogue between God and man, so also is worship a dialogue between God and man. I absolutely and completely believe that worship must needs be and include our singing songs unto the LORD, but it must also have at the very heart and foundation of it songs which are sung before and unto the LORD. What’s more, is that worship must needs allow room for the true and living God to respond to our worship and respond to our songs. We dare not enter into the worship services and think that it is solely our worship and our songs that are found within worship. Worship must be a joint expression shared between the people of God and God Himself, and there must be room within our worship for the LORD to respond to our worship. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder what would and what could happen in our worship if we took the opportunity to sing a song before and unto the LORD, and immediately after that song concluded and finished we gave and allowed Him time, room and space to respond. What would happen in our worship if instead of moving from one song to the next we actually sang a song and then allowed the LORD to respond to our worship. I fear that in many cases we do not allow the LORD to respond to our worship, and we treat as altogether one-sided. There is an inherent and tremendous danger in doing this, for worship has never been and must never be solely and simply about our singing unto the LORD and there being no room and space for the LORD to respond. Worship must needs be about our expression before the LORD, but it must also be about the LORD’s response to our worship—through the manifestation of His glory, through His consuming fire, and through His voice speaking directly unto us. I leave you with the words which are found in the fortieth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus, the fifth and seventh chapters of the book of Second Chronicles, and even the fourth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ:
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode therein, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-38).
“And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (Leviticus 9:22-24).
“It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORd had filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).
“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For He is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
“After this I looked, and, behold a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was at it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowds of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a fast as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thinks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created’ (Revelation 4:1-11).