Traditional wedding celebrations in the Middle East cast the bride and groom in the roles of a king and his queen. The festivities include love songs and also special songs that praise the physical beauty of the bride or the handsomeness of the groom. The custom has a long history and is reflected in the anthology of wedding songs we know as the Song of Songs. The individual songs may have been used repeatedly in marriage celebrations and eventually gathered together, just as the psalms were collected after years of use in worship. The title Solomon’s Song of Songs can be taken to mean that King Solomon, a renowned composer (see
1 Kings 4:29-34
), was the author of its songs. However, it could also be a reference to Solomon as the kind of glorious king the groom represents.
The songs are arranged to tell the courtship story of a man and woman, of their marriage (described as a royal wedding) and its consummation, and of the beginning of their new life together. After a short introduction the book presents six episodes, each typically ending with a reference to the friends of the man and woman. This may refer to others attending the wedding to join in the celebration. Together the songs celebrate the delights of married love and the beauty of the human body, using vivid imagery from the natural world to show that these things are part of the creation that God declared very good.