RP resources on the Song of Solomon

I’ve just come across a brief, forgotten commentary on the Song of Solomon by J. G. Vos. It’s contained in The Biblical Expositor: the living theme of the great book (Vol. II), edited by Carl F. Henry and published in 1960 (second edition). Other notable authors in this volume include R. Laird Harris (Psalms), Gleason Archer (Isaiah), E. J. Young (Zephaniah), G. W. Bromiley (Haggai) and Marten Woudstra (Zechariah).

Vos takes the view that: ‘The Song is not an allegory nor a type, though it has often been treated as one or the other. Rather, it is a parable of the divine love which is the background and source of all true human love…It is a remarkable fact that the Sonf of Solomon is nowhere quoted in the New Testament, though it was undoubtedly regarded as inspired, canonical Scripture in the time of Christ. The lack of reference to it in the New Testament is an objection to allegorical interpretations which find many details of Christian doctrine and experience in the Song. While interpreting it literally, we must certainly regard it as also a parable of the divine love which provides salvation for sinners and makes them the bride of Christ. In addition to leading us to a higher view of the beauty, purity and power of the love between man and woman in the sacred bond of marriage, it should stir us up to a higher appreciation of the divine love, and a deeper response of love on our part to the Lord Who first loved us’.

Another 20th century RP resource, this time from Ireland, is Hugh J. Blair’s ‘Preaching from the Song of Solomon’ in Reformed Theological Journal, iii (1987), pp 47-58.
He quotes John Murray as saying: ‘I cannot endorse the allegorical interpretation of the Song of Solomon. I think the vagaries of interpretation given in terms of the allegorical principle indicate that there are no well defined hermeneutical canons to guide us in determining the precise meaning and application if we adopt the allegorical view…However, I also think that in terms of biblical analogy the Song can be used to illustrate the relation of Christ to His church’.
Blair concludes: ‘The conclusion reached by our study is that preaching from the Song of Solomon will apply its message to the relationship of love between a man and a woman, and will go on from that to see that love as an analogy of the love of Christ for His people and theirs for Him’.

Back across the pond again, a 21st century assessment comes in Anthony Selvaggio’s – ‘Listening to the Song of Songs: a survey of the major interpretive issues’ in Reformed Theological Journal, xxiii (2007), pp 56-69. Selvaggio has also written What the Bible teaches about marriage, which is based on the Song.

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