I may be reading a lot more into this than the author intended. One, I am not a theologian and two, I am a romantic.
Feel Like a Third Wheel
Song of Songs is mostly the conversation between the Woman and the Man. A surface reading of the short book is like being the third wheel at an event and the two lovers, so madly in love, don’t even notice you are there.
The passage I highlight in this post fits that description to a tee, so accept this as another warning. Beginning at Chapter 1 and pretty much the whole book is this type of conversation, sometimes with the feel of one lover trying to out-compliment the other lover. It can also be pretty TMI (too much information) at times. It helps me to put myself in the place of the Woman and God is bragging on me and then I don’t feel like the third wheel.
Chapter 1, verse 9 through Chapter 2, verse 2 is what I want to look at in this post. My familiarity with the phrases “rose of Sharon” and “lily of the valley” is probably the reason I stopped with verse 2 for this post. Chapter 1:9 begins the compliment contest I referenced earlier. It doesn’t end at 2:2, but I did.
A Pause in the Cause
The New International Version (NIV) and the Message version (TMV) of the Bible in biblegateway.com have the conversation subtitled to help the reader know when the woman speaks or the man speaks or a third party speaks. They don’t always agree, but this one they agree on. Of course, that doesn’t explain why I stopped at 2:2, but it helps to explain, I hope.
Both the NIV and TMV have rose of Sharon and lily of the valley attributed to the Woman. My familiarity with the phrases are always attributed to Christ. At first, this messed with my interpretation of the whole book. If the whole book is about Christ and the body of believers in Christ, then the woman cannot call herself the rose of Sharon nor the lily of the valley. Christ is supposed to be the Man in my analogy. I nearly scrapped my whole series and used this post to apologize for my ignorance and forcing you to think about it in this erroneous way. Of course, I am too proud and stubborn to do that.
This pause in my cause encouraged research into theological and scholarly interpretations of the Song of Songs. This research reveals that Song of Songs is very controversial and a controversy at multiple levels that spans centuries and religious beliefs. The true author, to interpret the book literally or allegorically and if allegorically, who is the Man and who is the Woman are some of the debate surrounding this book. That is why I began the post with a warning. I don’t want to be deceitful. This blog is written by a man who admits to having made a mistake or two (or more).What you get with this blogger is a man falling in love with God because of the love and sacrifice of that God through his personification in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Flowers For Her Lover
The Song of Songs is allegorical to me. It does contain a very sensual and erotic description of love between two people. I am not trying to censor that nor do I want to. I like the allegory and I even utilize in the two novels I have written. The love interests in those novels symbolize for me and hopefully my readers, Christ and the Church, the body of believers in Christ.
I find no other passage in the Bible concerning the rose of Sharon or the lily of the valley being Christ. So, I am not discouraged from interpreting the Woman as the Church. I researched the symbolism of the flowers presented in Chapter 2, verses 1 and 2. To me, the type of flowers enhance my interpretation.
The NIV side note for rose of Sharon explains rose as of the crocus species and the lily probably is more akin to the lotus species. Now, not only am I not a theologian, but I also am not a botanist. So, again researching the difference is warranted. What I found is quite interesting and helpful for perpetuating my romanticizing of the passage.
A crocus originates from a bud. The bud is dormant under certain conditions and its life is dependent on other conditions. In the favorable conditions, it produces a beautiful flower like the rose of Sharon. There are some lilies which are of the crocus nature. I have some growing in my front yard. The crocus genus (genus makes me sound more botanist) is perennial.
In contrast, the lotus grows on the surface of marshes and creeks on the water. Many Eastern religions associate it with the divine and the eternal. To Hindus and Buddhists, the lotus flower represents restoration and creation and development of spiritual essence.
The NIV translates Song of Songs, Chapter 2, verses 1 and 2:
SHE: I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
HE: Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.
The Woman representing the sinful believer calls herself both a crocus and a lotus. Born from the ground and born from the Spirit because of her love and devotion to the King. He distinguishes her as the most beautiful among the others. Our love for God brings out our beauty more radiantly than we can on our own.
In the Message version, the Woman calls herself a wildflower and a lotus flower. I like that as well. On our own like some wildflowers, we can be beautiful and strong, but planted and nurtured by God, we can be so much more. Obviously, spiritually, we develop better with God’s Spirit, but I believe emotionally, physically, and mentally our lives are richer with God than without Him. I know without a doubt that is true for me
Money Can’t Buy You This Love
Dependency on God is not weakness. My hope is to show that our relationships, our faith and our lives are fuller with God than separate from Him. The Song of Songs helps us visualize how much God loves us and what our worship is to look like.
To me, life in the unseen spiritual realm is a romance. God wooing us and hopefully winning our love. But there are so many things wooing us today and most of them very appealing from a material stand point. The material is what we know and understand best- things that satisfy our immediate needs and wants.
Yet, there is a longing for spiritual and emotional satisfaction. We often fill that void with religion, philosophy, power and lust. Usually, this doesn’t stop after God has won our hearts over. The wooing of other things still tempts us – the things we are accustomed to and think we know and understand.
In my research, I learned that the Song of Songs is one of the most popular books of the Bible. It does have sex appeal. But I think it also shares a mutual love and devotion that we all long for -the one thing money, power and brilliance cannot purchase for us. We are right when we think there is such a relationship. My hope through a look at the allegory is to show that a loving relationship with God is that kind of relationship and it can make the rest of our lives fuller.
“Just An Old Fashioned Love Song” by Three Dog Night
“Love Song” by Hillsong
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.