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Should Pentecostals Interpret the Song of Songs Allegorically? by Brandon Biggs

The “vineyard” motif is another common descriptor of the female speaker. Also, it seems as though the vineyard motif is perhaps the best descriptor for the woman, for she describes herself as such in 1:6. Metaphorically, the fruit of the vine would be symbolic of the maturation and readiness of the woman to receive her beloved. In the third wasf section for the woman, her sexual maturation is likened to the grapes on the vine which are fully developed (7:8). As it relates to the overarching theme of romantic love, the wasf sections about the woman are a delightful picture of mature beauty, love, and infatuation.

b) Imagery of the Man

In the male wasf section, the Shulammite ascribes to her partner all the highest praise of physical beauty. The wasf poetry from the Ancient Near East (ANE) was almost entirely devoid of any male descriptions.8 Hence, this section is a remarkable picture of mutual adoration and love.

Everything that is glorious in the kingdom of nature, and, so far as her look extends, everything in the sphere of art, she appropriates, so as to present a picture of his external appearance. Whatever is precious, lovely, and grand, is all combined in the living beauty of his person. (Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on Song of Songs, 5:11)

The lover is compared to a noble gazelle or stag, and his limbs are compared to precious metals. Again, such descriptors of the male were quite rare in the ANE, thus signifying the importance of mutual romantic love within the Song.

2. The Seeking/Finding Motif

Two sections of intimate desire from the woman’s perspective are noted as they relate to the theme of both seeking and finding romantic love (3:1-5 and 5:2-8). In both of these sections, the woman seems to be laying in wait for her lover—a secret rendezvous. In romantic love, anticipation is both exciting and excruciating. Both of these elements are seen in these parallel passages. For example:

All night long on my bed

I looked for the one my heart loves;

I looked for him but did not find him. (3:1 NIV)

I slept but my heart was awake.

Listen! My lover is knocking. (5:2 NIV)

The Shulammite’s desire was so strong that she took the lover into her mother’s bedchamber (for secret lovemaking?) (3:4). Also, the intense need to find the lover resulted in the beating of the Shulammite by the town watchmen. No reason for such violent reaction is given, but one can surmise that it was “occasioned by her refusal to stop her frantic activity when challenged.”9 Such emotion can only be evoked by intense longing and romantic love. Carr suggests the following outline for the book which serves to unify the message of romantic love:

I. Anticipation (1:2-2:7)

II. Found, and Lost- and Found (2:8-3:5)

III. Consummation (3:6-5:1)

IV. Lost- and Found (5:2-8:4)

V. Affirmation (8:5-14)10

Thus, one can see the overall tension and exhilaration within the book as a whole, and the importance that the seek/find sections hold as it relates to the poetical crux of the Song—consummation (3:6-5:1).

B. The Danger of Romantic Love

“In spite of the predominant note of celebration, the Song also issues a warning about the danger of love, and not just illicit sex.”11 Love, according to the Song, is a powerful emotion that is capable of awesome, even dangerous, things. The Song presents a balanced sketch of the danger of romantic love throughout the text, thereby instructing the reader of the seriousness of romance. This is best illustrated by the theme of jealousy in 8:6-7.

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Category: Biblical Studies

About the Author: Brandon Biggs is a graduate student at a classical Pentecostal institute of higher learning and lives in Texas.

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