In the Biblical Studies department at the seminary where I study, every book of the Bible was covered except one (at least when I took the classes). That one ignored book is also probably the least preached book from church pulpits. On account of its explicit imagery and contested interpretation, the Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs) is rarely read, studied, or even preached. My seminary professor on the Old Testament poetry and wisdom books (Job through Song of Solomon) skipped the book with the humble explanation that he simply was not ready yet to lecture on it. I suspect that the same reason is offered by many a preacher for not preaching/teaching the book to their church.
Mark Driscoll has stepped into this content vacuum and delivered a series of exceptional sermons on the Song of Solomon. Driscoll is pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, which by many accounts is one of the most secularized, pagan, least evangelized regions in America. While preaching The Peasant Princess sermon series, attendance at Mars Hill rose by more than 1000. While such a rise in church attendance would normally raise red flags of sensationalism, these sermons are an example of clear, biblical teaching on God’s will on sex, dating, marriage, family and friend relationships, masculinity, and femininity. If you’ve heard that Pastor Driscoll is to be avoided because he is associated with the emerging church, or that he has been called the “cussing pastor,” reserve your judgment until you listen to at least one of these sermons. You might find yourself downloading them all to hear the entire series. He is a lot of fun to listen to, and his brutally honest delivery makes me wonder if the prophets sounded something like him when confronting their culture.
Although I am overall enthusiastic about Driscoll’s interpretation of the Song of Solomon, I regret that he disregarded the typological and Christological aspects of the book. The Song of Solomon is everything that Driscoll says it is: a beautiful love song, a glimpse into a godly marriage, and a marriage blueprint for emulation. But it is also much more. While Driscoll seems to think otherwise, I submit that we don’t have to choose between a literal and a metaphorical/Christological reading of the book. Christian marriage is a metaphor for the marriage of the Lamb and his Bride the Church. The Apostle Paul teaches this in Eph 5:22-33. A Christ-centered reading of the Song of Solomon should not ignore the obvious meaning of the book at the literal level for the original audience of Israelites in the monarchy of Israel, but it cannot ignore the reading of the book as a picture of the love Christ has for the Church, and the love the Church (should) have for its heavenly groom that purchased her from the dead. Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke gives a good lecture on how he came to see the Song of Solomon with dual literal-Christological layers.
“The Peasant Princess” – a sermon series on the Song of Solomon by Pastor Mark Driscoll