Monday, June 10, 2013

Song of Solomon -- Introduction

Here is the introduction I wrote for my Ugandan friends:

Song of Solomon: This book is a series of lyric poems on the theme of the love between men and women. It is a celebration of human love. The poems are difficult to analyze and are often interpreted allegorically. The Jews saw them as an allegory for the love of God for Israel and many Christians have interpreted Song of Solomon as an allegory for the love of Christ for his Bride, the Church. Originally these may be songs that were written to be sung during the traditional week long wedding feast where the Bride and Groom are crowned king and queen. The poems, as they stand, celebrate the beauty and wonder of human love. There is rather frank and open delight in physical attraction which reminds us that even human physical love is a good gift from God when used within the laws God has given.

Song of Solomon can be outlined as follows:

·         Song 1:1-11     Opening songs of man and woman telling of their love
·         Song 1:12-2:7 The lovers together
·         Song 2:8-17     The season for love
·         Song 3:1-5       Separation and reunion
·         Song 3:6-11     Solomon’s wedding procession
·         Song 4:1-12     The lover’s description of the maiden
·         Song 4:15-5:1  Sensitive metaphors
·         Song 5:2-8       The maiden’s dream song
·         Song 5:9-7:9    Descriptions of the beloved
·         Song 7:10-8:4  Love’s fulfillment
·         Song 8:5-7       Authentic love
·         Song 8:8-12     The little sister
·         Song 8:13-14   The lovers together

Vital Lesson: This poem is a celebration of human love and especially love between husband and wife. In Genesis we learn that “two become one” in the bond of marriage. The Song of Solomon reminds us that God celebrates this love and encourages us in it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ecclesiastes -- an Introduction

 We began Ecclesiastes this morning in our reading. Here is the brief introduction I wrote for my Ugandan friends.

Ecclesiastes is a unique form of wisdom literature. Its form and style stand in contrast to most of the Bible both in theology and in tone. The author observes life and draws logical conclusions. This observation is “life under the sun” as the author describes it. Life as humans live, without God, is futile, meaningless, purposeless and empty. It is a bleak picture. The book is historically attributed to Solomon but may have been written several centuries after Solomon’s time. It was written in Palestine and the author, if it was not Solomon, remains unknown. The title comes from the Hebrew for “the Preacher” or “the Speaker” and could be a pseudonym or even a proper name.

Ecclesiastes can be outlined as follows:

Ecclesiastes 1:1-6:12 – the emptiness of all endeavors
Ecclesiastes 7:1-12 – seven proverbs of relative value
Ecclesiastes 7:13-29 – On premature death
Ecclesiastes 8:1-9:6 – The king and subjects
Ecclesiastes 9:7-12 – the wise person’s counsel
Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 – the waste of wisdom
Ecclesiastes 10:1-20 – maxims derived from experience
Ecclesiastes 11:1-10 – admonitions
Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 – a description of old age and death
Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 – postscript

            A vital lesson from Ecclesiastes is to remember that “life under the sun” has very few and invariable conclusions. We live, we work, and eventually we die. The Christian lives with their eternal destiny in mind and therefore does not fall into the depression that the author of Ecclesiastes seems to have fallen into.