In studying the sermons of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux on ‘Solomon’s Song of Songs,’ it has been like the unveiling of great treasures as the dimensions behind this biblical poetry have unfolded. What lies beyond each sentence and each word, far surpasses anything my imagination could conceive, and has left me captivated and reveling in the mystery of the fierce force of love that the inspirer of this book has for the subject to which it was written.
Below are some of the revelations that have captured me whilst on this journey into the interpretive depths of this book:
On the title of the book:
There are many psalms, hymns and spiritual songs recorded throughout the length of the bible written by numerous authors on varying points in the timeline. However, there is one song that stands out from the rest, and who’s author has been so bold as to award it with the title of “The Song of Songs.” Even before moving into the luscious substance of the book, we already know that it’s subject matter is that of highest importance and to be valued above all other ’songs.’ This is a book of mystery, a book who’s words and phrases can induce a state of spiritual intoxication within the reader, and a love story that has been exhaled from the mouth of the source of love itself. As Saint Bernard so states, this is not merely a song of the lips, a harmony of voices or the resounding of a melody, but it is the music of the heart and a harmony of wills. “It is a tune you will not hear in the streets, these notes do not sound where crowds assemble; only the singer hears it and the one to whom he sings - the lover and the beloved. It is preeminently a marriage song telling of chaste souls in loving embrace, of their wills in sweet concord, of the mutual exchange of the heart's affections. “
On Chapter 1:1 - “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth”
This book tells the intimate tale of a flourishing romance between two virgin souls: a bridegroom and his bride. In reality, it was written about King Solomon and the Shulamite woman who captured his heart, but in essence, it reveals the heart of the King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ towards us, his church and his beloved. A bride and bridegroom have been carefully selected to depict Jesus and his church for many symbolic reasons that give us further understanding of our relationship with him. “A man must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife,” and so Jesus, in leaving the Father and Spirit in heaven and coming to earth in the likeness of humanity, is much the same as a bridegroom coming for his bride. She, the beloved, then leaves the place of her birth, her native land and becomes one flesh with her husband. No longer separate entities, the two are joined together in perfect and inseparable union. They dwell together in the same house and feast at the same table. All he has belongs to her, and all she has belongs to him. So it is with us in relation to Christ. We have become flesh of his flesh, and in this place of union with the bridegroom King, we partake in the abundance of his house and dwell forever in his courts of luxury.
The bride is the first to open her mouth and sing out the desires of her heart. Her words are the first recorded, and the book begins with a request that she has of her beloved. She does not name him, for she presumes that what her heart could not for a moment forget or cease to desire, must be plain to those with whom she speaks. She presumes that they must surely know his name, for He is all she ever cares to speak about.
She is a bride, and she is a lover. One who seeks a reward is a worker. One who hungers for victory is a warrior. One who desires an inheritance is a son, but one who seeks a kiss a lover. She, certain that her beloved’s affections for her are true, does not attempt to seduce him or convince him of her worthiness to be loved, but out of the unquenchable overflow of her heart, she abruptly bursts into speech and boldly asks for a kiss.
The bride does not desire Moses or the prophets, for what proceeds from their mouth only leaves her feeling unfulfilled and in search of the one of whom they speak. She doesn’t lust after dreams or visions, revelations or doctrines, nor does she peruse angels or heavenly delights, for she knows that Jesus, her beloved, far surpasses the entire combination of these, and therefore she asks of him what she asks of no man or angel, that he would kiss her with the kisses of his mouth.
Now the kiss in itself is altogether a mystery. What is intriguing is that the bride does not merely ask him to kiss her, but she specifically asks to be kissed with the kisses of his mouth. A kiss is something that has it’s being in the coming together of the giver and the receiver. It is not something that is possessed entirely by one or the other, but as both draw close to each other, a kiss is formed. A kiss is something that unites two things together, in this case, God and man. A kiss is a symbol of both union and peace. Jesus, in his nature is representative of the kiss. He is an expression of the union between divinity and humanity, and he stood as the mediator and bond of peace between God and man. The mouth denotes The Word, which is God “In the beginning was the word, and the word was God.” In the same way, that which proceeds from the mouth of God, the very breath of God, symbolizes the nature of Holy Spirit. In the scriptures, when God breathed upon man, he was breathing his very spirit upon them. So here, in the bride’s request, we see the triune nature of God expressed.
The bride’s desire is union and intimacy in it’s deepest form. She also yearns to know her beloved. As she asks to be ‘kissed with the kisses,’ she knows that she will be filled with both the love and the intimate three-fold knowledge of her beloved. “No one knows the Father except the son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” because of this, the bride knows that if she is kissed with the kiss (which is Christ), she will receive the knowledge of the Father, for she knows that if he will reveal himself to anybody it will surely be her.
These are just a few of my revelations on the first verse of the Song of Solomon, and as I continue to delve deeper into this book, I will be posting more of the treasures I find.