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What are some common misunderstandings today about the Song of Songs?
The biggest problem is when interpreters fail to connect the Song of Songs to the rest of the Bible and treat it as though it is not informed by the Bible’s storyline, enriched by the Bible’s Symbols, and imbued with the Bible’s hope.
Disconnecting the Song from the Bible then leads to all kings of misuses, some of which are more harmful than others. It’s one thing to find it difficult to see how the Song links up with the rest of the Bible, it’s quite another to conclude that it doesn’t and then to read it as though it’s some kind of ancient sex-help guide, or as though it celebrates Solomon’s sin, or as though it’s an opportunity to play free-association and let the allegorical imagination spiritualize the text’s meaning out of all recognition.
You’ve said that your new commentary seeks to “vindicate the age-old Christian reading of the Song of Songs.” How would you describe this traditional view of the book?
The traditional view of the book for Jews was that it was an allegorical love story of the relationship between Yahweh and Israel, for Christians that it was about Christ and the Church. I try to show from valid exegesis and biblical theology that these impulses are going in the right direction.
How does the Song of Songs guide Christians in our marriages?
The Song of Songs is the closest we get in the Bible to a description of life in the Garden of Eden, under the blessing of God, in the presence of God, naked and unashamed. This vision is meant to inspire us with what life looks like when we fear God appropriately and live in his presence. It’s meant to give us hope that the King from David’s line has overcome every obstacle and will roll back every curse. It’s meant to give us his footsteps in which we can follow, imitating the example that typifies the one to come.
Poetry works on us at a different level than Paul’s epistles do. Paul’s letters speak to our mind, to our reason, logically convincing and explaining (not denying for a second that he can inspire the heart as well!). But Poetry has a way of working its way into our hearts and emotions, speaking to us in a visceral way, causing us to feel what we should, desire what we should, and love what we should.
We need Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5, and we need the poetic picture of the Song of Songs that Paul is expositing as he points to its fulfillment in Christ and the church.
How does the message ultimately point to Christ?
Paul says that marriage is about Christ and the church in Ephesians 5. I try to show how the covenant between Yahweh and Israel is evoked in the Song of Songs in such a way that it organically finds its culmination and fulfillment in the relationship between Christ and the Church. The details about how to get from point A at Mount Sinai, to point B in the Song of Songs, to the destination of point C at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, are in the book.
About James M. Hamilton Jr.:
James M. Hamilton Jr. is Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Preaching Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
Where to Buy:
Song of Songs is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:
Many people struggle with depression, even some very well-known Christians. This week, Zack Eswine, Senior Pastor of the Riverside Church in St Louis, Missouri, joined Janet Parshall on In the Market to tell the story of Charles Spurgeon and his battle with ‘the dark night of the soul.
CLICK HERE to listen to the interview.
About The Book:
Christians should have the answers, shouldn’t they? Depression affects many people both personally and through the ones we love. Here Zack Eswine draws from C.H Spurgeon, ‘the Prince of Preachers’ experience to encourage us. What Spurgeon found in his darkness can serve as a light in our own darkness. Zack Eskwine brings you here, not a self-help guide, rather ‘a handwritten note of one who wishes you well.’
Praise for Spurgeon’s Sorrows:
“…Spurgeon from early years to final days found dark distress ever hovering on the edges of his mind and sometimes launching an all out assault on his very being. How he managed all this, by the grace of God, both for himself and for others, drives both the gripping content and the riveting literary style of Zack Eswine in Spurgeon’s Sorrows.”
-Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“The river of life often flows through sloughs of despond. Charles Spurgeon knew that well… Ditto Zack Eswine in this unusual, refreshing, sensible book… Read it, and take it to heart.”
-David Powlison, CCEF Executive Director, Senior Editor, Journal of Biblical Counseling
About Zack Eswine:
Zack Eswine is the Senior Pastor at the Riverside Church, St Louis, Missouri. He previously served as Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Covenant Seminary, St Louis. He is also an accomplished musician and songwriter.
Connect with Zack on the web:
Where to Buy:
Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13
Upon all evidence for the gospel, it is but right that we believe on the name of the Son of God. Believers have eternal life in the covenant of the gospel. Then let us thankfully receive the record of Scripture. We must always abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain. The Lord Christ invites us to come to him in all circumstances, with our supplications and requests, notwithstanding the sin that besets us. Our prayers must always be offered in submission to the will of God. In some things they are speedily answered; in others they are granted in the best manner, though not as requested. We ought to pray for others, as well as for ourselves. There are sins that war against spiritual life in the soul, and the life above. We cannot pray that the sins of the impenitent and unbelieving should, while they are such, be forgiven them; or that mercy, which supposes the forgiveness of sins, should be granted to them, while they willfully continue such. But we may pray for their repentance, for their being enriched with faith in Christ, and thereupon for all other saving mercies. We should pray for others, as well as for ourselves, beseeching the Lord to pardon and recover the fallen, as well as to relieve the tempted and afflicted. And let us be truly thankful that no sin, of which any one truly repents, is unto death.
*Excerpted from Matthew Henry Daily Readings (Christian Heritage, 2009).
About Matthew Henry:
Matthew Henry (1662-1714) is highly-valued by contemporary preachers and Bible users. He was the son of a Puritan pastor who had been silenced by the government of the time. Although it was difficult to find suitable ministerial training, Matthew Henry eventually studied for the ministry. With government opposition relaxing, he became a Presbyterian pastor in Chester in 1687 and later in London from 1712. It is astonishing to note the amount of preaching and writing that he accomplished despite suffering from ill-health and knowing intense sorrow in his family life.
Where to Buy:
Matthew Henry Daily Readings by Randall J. Pederson (editor) is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:
We often hear the term “global orphan crisis” and statistics like “151 million orphans.” How does this description sometimes misrepresent the situation? What is the actual reality of the global orphan crisis?
What is the link between widows and orphans today? Why is it so important that we consider the two together?
Many Christians have responded to the biblical call to care for orphans with an urgent desire to “do something.” You argue, though, that sometimes “doing something” may be worse than doing nothing at all. What are some examples?
For the biblically-minded Christian who desperately wants to “do something” to help orphans, what is the appropriate starting point?
About Amanda Bennett:
Amanda Bennett is a lawyer living in in Kigali, Rwanda with her husband and son. She serves on the board of directors for Reeds of Hope, a non-profit serving vulnerable families and children in DRC.
About Sara Brinton:
Sara Brinton is a writer and social entrepreneur with a passion for reforming international adoption and orphan care. She lives in Austin, Texas with their four children, including daughter Gabrielle who was adopted from Uganda.
Connect with Sara:
Where to Buy:
In Defense of the Fatherless is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:10
The Christian is to proclaim and prosecute an irreconcilable war against his bosom sins; those sins which have lain nearest his heart, must now be trampled under his feet. So David, “I have kept myself from my iniquity” (Ps. 18:23). Now what courage and resolution does this require? You think Abraham was tried to purpose, when called to take his “son, his son Isaac, his only son whom he loved” (Gen 22:2), and offer him up with his own hands, and no other; yet what was that to this? Soul, take your lust, your only lust, which is the child of your dearest love, your Isaac, the sin which has caused the most joy and laughter, from which you have promised yourself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever you look to see my face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me; run the sacrificing knife of mortification into the very heart of it; and this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down—and all this now, before you have one embrace more from it. Truly this is a hard chapter, flesh and blood cannot bear this saying; our lust will not lie so patiently on the altar, as Isaac, or as a “Lamb that is brought to the slaughter which was dumb,” but will roar and shriek; yea, even shake and rend the heart with its hideous outcries. Who is able to express the conflicts, the wrestlings, and the convulsions of spirit the Christian feels, before he can bring his heart to this work? Or who can fully set forth the art, the rhetorical insinuations, with which such a lust will plead for itself?
About William Gurnall:
William Gurnall (1616-1679), a Church of England minister, was born in St. Margaret’s parish, King’s Lynn, Nor- folk. He entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in March 1632, and soon after earned both a B.A. and an M.A. He was made rector of Lavenham in Suffolk in 1644, but seems to have been curate before at Sudbury. At the Restoration he signed the declaration required by the Act of Uniformity (1662) and was ordained by Edward Reynolds, Bishop of Norwich. He was criticized for conforming in a 1665 tract, Covenant-Renouncers, Desperate Apostates. Gurnall’s chief work, which had a significant impact both in his lifetime and long afterwards is his The Christian in Compleat Armour (1655-1662). This massive work, originally published in three parts, was famous as a work of spiritual consolation and exhortation. Though its overarching theme was that of spiritual warfare, The Christian in Compleat Armor is a cornucopia of Christian divinity.
*Excerpted from Daily Readings – The Puritans (Christian Heritage, 2012).
Where to Buy:
Daily Readings – The Puritans by Randall Pederson (editor) is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below: