Song of Songs

Book summary

Song of Songs is also known as The Song of Solomon or Canticles, and the Hebrew title literally means Solomon’s Song of Songs. It’s a beautiful poem that celebrates romantic and physical love in marriage, highlighting the diving origin of such love and demonstrating that human sexuality can be pure, wholesome and beautiful.

There are three characters:

  • The bride — usually referred to as She or Beloved

  • The bridegroom — usually referred to as He or Lover

  • Their friends — usually referred to as Friends

The colorful imagery, back-and-forth conversation, and lack of a strong sequential plot means it’s hard to agree on a structure, but it can be helpful to think of it as having three main parts: courtship between two lovers, the wedding procession and vows, and their maturing marriage.

Chapters 1:1 to 3:5 — Courtship of two lovers

Ch 1:2 to 2:7 — The bride longs for the bridegroom

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth —
for your love is more delightful than wine. (Song 1:2)

Ch 2:8 to 3:5 — The lovers seek and find each other

The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room of the one who conceived me. (Song 3:3-4)

Chapters 3:6 to 5:1 — Wedding procession and vows

How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goat
descending from the hills of Gilead. (Song 4:1)

Chapters 5:2 to 8 — The love of the married couple

Ch 5:2 to 6:3 — The bride fears losing the bridegroom

I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer. (Song 5:6)

Ch 6:4 to 8:4 — The beauty of the bride

You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
as lovely as Jerusalem,
as majestic as troops with banners. (Song 6:4)

Ch 8:5 to 8:14 — The ultimate beauty of love

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame. (Song 8:6)