Inclusio in Song 6:4–13

I’ve dealt with the term “inclusio” in the past, for example in the following sermon in Ecclesiastes:

Heaven’s Cause
Awesome Worship
Introduction Oppressions are the world’s noise against the worship of God in Christian’s lives. People come to church oftentimes still reverencing the world instead of the Word. Without God’s Word, people are superstitious, consumeristic, and narcissistic. They are contributors to the noise that must be canceled out for there to be awesome worship. Aweso…
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The literary device is also heavily employed in 1 & 2 Kings. That is significant especially if Song of Solomon is post-exilic (meaning written like 1 & 2 Kings after the exiles for exiles to be able to return to the land differently and worship rightly and repentantly). The inclusio at hand is found clearly in the words in v.4 and v.10 “an army with banners.” These are bookends that determine the message intended by the text. Something has to be said, according to the author about the fearful presence of the bride. But all do not see it that way. Solomon almost trembles as this bride looks at her and says,

“Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me” (Song 6:5)

Yet the Shepherd-lover who speaks in 6:8–9 does not speak at all in terms of this fear. Fear like that is done away with in true holy love. The inclusio may extend further, or at least be explained in the retort by the bride when she says to the harem women who want her not to look away (But to turn back, or return). She retorts:

Why should you look upon the Shulammite as upon a dance before two armies? (v.13b emphasis mine)

Babylon the whores want to gaze at the church and call the church back to their ways, but the church will remain faithful from within, by the power of grace. The church will bear glory that is not fearsome to Christ our Shepherd, but lovely and pure. There is quite a difference between Solomon and Christ. Both view the same “dance” both they interpret the evidence differently.

Inclusio as a literary device steers the ship here to simply make us see the subject to be dealt with at hand—namely the perplexingly fearful view of the bride by Solomon. Some may wonder the difference between this and a chiasm. A chiasm is another literary device which has parallels on both sides leading to a center mountainous point or focus. The difference there is the center item of focus determines the meaning in poetry, whereas in the Inclusio, the bookends are show to hold the words together and demand we work with that idea from the outside in. Chiasm makes us work the words and ideas from the inside out. Solomon is certainly on the outside and he can’t really get into this idea of pure and holy love that is reserved for one man and one woman. The Song critiques him through and through by rebukes from both the Shepherd-lover as well as the bride herself. Her gaze terrifies him, but her gaze delights her true Shepherd-lover.