Over the last few years I've been working my way through what Barry Webb calls the 'Five Festal Garments'. I've spent time in Esther and Ruth and Lamentations this week with members of my team.
Matthew Mason writes on the not sex, but church & Christ angle as does Daniel Newman, running with the Puritans and others, albeit with corresponding lessons on marriage (since marriage echoes Christ and the Church). Meanwhile Andrew Jones goes with it being about sex. Many other modern authors go the same way (CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll for example).
I sympathise with both and I'm not totally sure which way to go. Though I'm probably on my way back to the first from the second. Not least because I can't help but thinking that the modern angle is a reaction against over sexualised worship songs of the modern era (aka "Jesus is my boyfriend"). Also, it takes something significant to dismiss the Puritans.
I definitely want to study this book more and soon. To grow my love for the church? To grow my love for Christ?
Ros Clarke writes: The Song provokes a greater love for Christ, a deeper admiration for the land, a more passionate desire for the consummation of our marriage, a more confident assurance in our beloved status and a more patient endurance as we wait for our coming king. Perhaps if we understood this better, we might begin to see a resurgence in the pulpit popularity of this, the greatest of all songs.