I have read several of your books that are available as eBooks and I have learned a lot from them. I look forward to the Christian Story Part 3.  I have just finished From Shadow to Reality and have a question. This book answered many questions in an area I didn’t know much about before so it was a great read.  How should we view Song of Songs? I don’t think you mention it at all in FSTR and I think I know why, considering the 3 rules setup in your book. Still, there seems to be some who try to use it as a kind of picture of Christ and the church etc. (Luther for example). Do you have any thoughts regarding Song of Songs? It would be great if you could elaborate a bit on that.


I have considered carefully the place that Song of Songs plays in the Bible canon. My conclusion is a rather simple one, and it is the obvious one, in my opinion. Song of Songs is an inspired biblical love story. It is a book written in praise of romantic love in a marriage between a man and a woman.  The reason this book does not get mention in my book From Shadow to Reality is similar to the reason that the Book of Proverbs does not get mention there.  The subject of Song of Songs, like the subject of Proverbs, does not lend it to being used by God for historical prophecy or for type, prefigure or foreshadowing of the Messiah. A list of practical advice for godly living does not provide much opportunity for prophecy. Neither does a poem in praise of the love between a man and a woman lend itself to prefigures and foreshadows of Christ.

You seem to be aware that throughout the history of the Christian Church many have proposed that Song of Songs is first and foremost an allegory for the kind of love that God has for us or that God wants us to have for him.  Proponents of this idea claim that this book is about spiritual, not physical love.   The great majority proposed this, for example in the Middle Ages, because they felt it would be a scandal for the Bible to have a book written in praise of the sexual relationship between a man and a woman.  I believe that this is because of an unhelpful “puritanical” attitude toward sex.  Even curing the Christian Reformation, nearly all commentators took this view (including Luther, Zwingli and Calvin).  From the time of Augustine onward, many Christian leaders gave the false view that sex was for procreation only and that to enjoy sex in a marriage was questionable at best and perhaps even sinful. They went so far as to prohibit influential leaders in the Church from getting married!  This view of sex could not possibly be farther from the truth, biblically.  God created sex, not just for procreation. He created sex as a means to help create a deep, intimate relationship between a man and a woman who have committed themselves to one another for life under God.

Besides, there are specific things said and described in Song of Songs which are rather obviously of a sexual nature and for which it would be a large stretch to make a metaphor for a spiritual relationship.  I will not go into the details here, but if you read the book you will probably find a few examples.  A general rule of biblical interpretation is that, in general, for any passage, the obvious interpretation is usually the correct one.  In the case of Song of Songs, the obvious interpretation is that this is about a man and a woman in love.

Are there analogies between the physical love between the man and the woman in Song of Songs, and can we apply this to our spiritual relationship with God or between Christ and the Church?  Certainly there are.  Can we use Song of Songs in this way?  I am sure that we can.  But this is not the principle intent of this beautiful poem.  For myself personally, it is not how I use this book when I study it.

John Oakes

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