The Song of Songs is one of the most peculiar and difficult books of the OT. The name of God appears just once in the whole book (chap. 8:6: Jah). The book is not mentioned in the NT at all. The expressive description of love between a man (Solomon) and a woman (Shulamite) has led many a scientist, especially in modern times, to very negative conclusions.
Some have doubted that Solomon should be the author and that the book should be an entire work. The question has even been asked whether the book ought to have a place in the canon of Holy Scriptures!
Yet these questions have never arisen with the Jews. It is true that the Talmud-tradition says Hezekiah is the author of the book (probably so because during his time many an old tradition from the first period of kings came to honour; compare 2 Chronicles 30:26; Proverbs 25:1).
But the place of the Song of Songs in the Hebrew canon of the AT has ever been in the third main part, that is the “writings” (Hebr. ketubim). Here the book belongs to the five scrolls (Hebr. megillot) for special feast days and is been read on the eighth day of the Passover.
The name “Song of Songs” is an absolute comparison in the Hebrew and means as much as the most beautiful song. The first verse already mentions Solomon as author. We find this mentioned seven times (chap. 1:1+5; 3:7+9+11; 8:11+12) and besides three times the title “King” (chap. 1:4+12; 7:6).
According to 1 Kings 4:32-33 Solomon wrote 1 ,005 songs and he had a deep knowledge of nature. Only this one song of Solomon has been preserved.
The song mentions 22 names of plants and 15 names of animals. As Solomon reigned from around 970 to 931 BC the time of writing would have to be set in the middle of the 10th century BC.
The expositors of the Song of Solomon have divers ways of thinking in ancient as well as in modern times. Some think the book is describing the king’s (Solomon’s) love for a poor shepherd girl; one version of this opinion says the girl was already promised to a shepherd and remained faithful to him in spite of the King’s urge. Others think the book is a collection of (up to thirty!) love- or wedding-poems.
Finally there are the some who think the origin is to be found in hymns of the Babylonian cult of Tammuz, which is idolatry.
This brings us to the question which purpose the Holy Spirit is pursuing in the book. There again we find a variety of thoughts. The Jews have always seen a description of Jehovah’s love for his people Israel.
The fathers of the church have interpreted it for Christ’s love for His church (or assembly, Greek: ekklesia) at the beginning of Christendom. A further explanation says the book contains songs wherein marital love is glorified.
It goes without saying that the book also contains teachings for the believer of today. It can therefore also be practically applied to the personal relationship of the individual believer to his Lord.