What Is the Song of Solomon?

I came across this quote today on the Song of Solomon that made me think about the difference between describing something in regards to what it is made of versus what it really is. And although I do not endorse the author from whom I am quoting in others of his books, I have found his book on pastoral care to be quite helpful.

In C . S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader there is a conversational exchange between the children Eustace and Lucy who have just landed on a remote island and met Ramandu, a dazzling personage of wisdom. Lucy has just asked Ramandu about himself

“"I am a star at rest, my daughter," answered Ramandu. . . . "In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas." "Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of."

Likewise the Song. It is made of liturgical fragments …wedding songs, love songs after the manner of the Arabic wasif, a rustic drama recounting the affairs of a youth with a country maiden — or whatever: these, though, are not what the Song is, but only what it is made of.1

So, what is Song of Solomon is the question. One must know that question before he can give an adequate answer, for many people go through life trying to find answers to life but they don’t even have the right questions! Here we have the question: What is Song of Solomon?

As Pastors it is easy to simply describe what the book is made up of and not really state what the book really is! So, here’s my attempt at saying what the Song of Solomon is.


Eugene Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work