The Old Testament book, “The Song of Solomon” is a real difficult book to preach. Most ancient commentators see this book as only metaphorical and the love descriptions of Solomon and his lover are figurative of the nature of Christ and his bride, the Church. John Owen, from a long time ago, says, “The whole Book of Canticles (Song of Solomon) is nothing but a mystical declaration of the mutual love between Christ and the church. And it is expressed by all such ways and means as may represent it intense, fervent, and exceeding all other love whatever; which none, I suppose, will deny, at least on the part of Christ. And a great part of it consists in such descriptions of the person of Christ and his love as may render him amiable and desirable unto our souls, even “altogether lovely.” 1 J. Vernon McGee says, “He is altogether lovely. Now the important question is this: Is He altogether lovely to you? Are you able to speak of Him with the enthusiasm the bride had for her bridegroom? We must know Christ intimately if we are to witness of Him. And we must love Him. When one comes to Christ it is not a business transaction. He is wonderful, and I do not think that we laud Him, glorify Him, lift Him up, worship Him, and bow before Him with thanksgiving enough. He is wonderful any way that you look at Him”2

More modern exegetical work on the book wants to see it more literal. It’s all about sex and young love. Arnold Fruchtenbaum entitles his commentary on Song of Solomon, “Biblical Lovemaking.” Rob Morgan concludes his comments on the Song of Solomon by writing, “Earlier generations viewed this book primarily as an analogy for Yahweh’s love for His bride, Israel; or Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. There are certainly lessons there, but the primary purpose of Song of Songs is to convey the pleasure God intends to bestow through His invention of love, marriage, and sex.” (Check out: Also, Larry Richards, in his “Teachers Commentary,” takes the book much more literal. Concluding his remarks on the literal nature of the sexual illusions in the Song of Solomon says, “Scripture, of course, forbids sex out of marriage, both adultery and premarital. It also forbids prostitution. A number of passages in the Law, but particularly Leviticus 18, define sexual limits. Yet when it comes to marriage, the biblical message is one of freedom rather than restriction. No passage in Old or New Testaments regulates sexual practices within marriage. Instead the Bible affirms the joys and values of human sexuality.”3

God is the creator of “male and female” and is very much pro-sex within the confines of marriage. Yet, if I’m to truly understand the book of Song of Solomon, I have to see it in light of Christ’s word to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He told them that the whole bible: the Law the Prophets and the Writings were about himself. Song of Solomon is one of the “writings” that Jesus was referring to. Thus, I cast my lot with the older commentators. Further, to see the Song of Solomon as a depiction of exclusive marital bliss misses the mark when we remember that no one in the Bible was less “exclusive” in marital relations than Solomon. Also, to understand all the descriptions of the physical body parts of both male and female throughout the book makes it no more then acceptable pornography. I think Exell has it right when he says, “I am not about to speak of Christ’s loveliness after the flesh, for now after the flesh know we Him no more. It is His moral and spiritual beauty, of which the spouse in the Song most sweetly says, ‘Yea, He is altogether lovely.’ The loveliness which the eye dotes on is mere varnish when compared with that which dwells in virtue and holiness; the worm will devour the loveliness of skin and flesh, but a lovely character will endure for ever.”4 As the text lays out various descriptions of the beloved, as seen through the eyes of the lover, one cannot help but see the beauty of Jesus in it all. O’Donnell says, “That’s the perfect picture of this text. Anyway you turn it, it points us to the cross, to Jesus who is ‘altogether lovely’ (Song 5:16, kjv )—lovely in his person, glory, majesty, resurrection, ascension, grace, power, wisdom, pardon, and in his selfless incarnation and death.”5

1 John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 157.

2 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Poetry (Ecclesiastes/Song of Solomon), electronic ed., vol. 21 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 174–175.

3 Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 356.

4 Joseph S. Exell, Ecclesiastes & The Song of Solomon, vol. 2, The Biblical Illustrator (New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d.), 124.

5Douglas Sean O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon: An Invitation to Intimacy, ed. R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 95–96.