If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.
18 August. Song of Songs chapters 1 to 8 (entire book)
This book, also known as the Song of Solomon, has always intrigued readers of the Bible. Is it merely erotic poetry? Or is it intended as an allegory of something else? One interpretation is that the male lover and his female beloved represent respectively the Word of God and the divine Wisdom (or Holy Spirit), in which case this is about the loving nature of God himself as expressed in the relationships within what Christians call the Holy Trinity. Another version of this allegory is that the lover and beloved represent Christ and the Christian Church. Given that it is not at all certain that Jesus intended to form a new religion, that seems unlikely. Another view is that that the desire between the lovers represents the passion with which God seeks to bring individuals to himself, and with which the true believer in turn seeks intimacy with God. That makes more sense to me.
The refrain “do not arouse or awaken love until she so desires” can likewise be taken literally, as an understanding that feminine sexuality is more complex than the masculine equivalent, more in need of being wooed and seduced. Or, taking the allegorical view, it might mean that each of us has a “right time” in our lives at which we will respond to God’s loving call. To try and force religion on someone who is not ready for the divine love is like trying to seduce a girl who is not yet ready for a relationship with a man.
Whichever way you like to read it, it remains one of the most beautiful of love poems, a reminder that the human body is something to be celebrated and admired, and not to be ashamed of.