A SONG OF LOVEWhile the king was at his table,
my perfume spread its fragrance.
My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
resting between my breasts.
My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
from the vineyards of En Gedi.(vss 12-14)
Traditionally, the Song of Songs has been read as an allegory about the love between God and Israel or Jesus and the church. In fact, it is about the love of a man and a woman. Still, it is not only readers but also translators that seem to have trouble with this.
Take the words above as an example. A woman imagines her lover as a king overcome by the fragrance of her perfume. So why does the translation have the man sitting at his table? The Hebrew word can mean either table or couch. The woman and her lover are locked in an embrace, so does it not make more sense to picture the king (and his lover) on his couch?
The NIV offers a fine translation of the Song of Songs but like most others it is cautious about the sensual content of the song. If you have access to other translations you might like to read them alongside each other this week. As we read, I hope we might see this most remarkable book of the Bible for what it is, a love song (or a collection of love songs).
Prayer † Gracious God, may your blessing be on all who are in love, all who long for love and all who have lost love. Amen.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others. WARC has a small secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.