This is straight from the “Introduction Page” to your right in the side panel. This is just to fill space until I get the first post up on verse 1, coming shortly!
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Burkhart Bible Studies
My love affair with this book began a few year ago when I listened through Tim Lucas’ 10-part series on it with his church, Liquid Church in Basking Ridge, NJ. Shortly after that, I listened to Mike Bickle’s (of International House of Prayer) 20-part series on the book. I then about six months ago listened through Tommie Nelson’s famous series on the book.
Both Lucas and Nelson took a more literal-historical approach to the book, meaning that they approached it from the perspective that it fundamentally spoke to human relationships and talked about historical Solomon and a courtship he had with his favorite wife. At the time I listened to it, still wrestling with the last vestiges of teen angst within me, Lucas’ series was amazing. It gave solid principles for the way God has intended for human relationships to work. I would encourage anyone to listen through the podcast series. According to Lucas, much of his series was taken from Tommie Nelson’s series, but upon listening to Nelson’s, I found it lacking in many ways and not quite measuring up to the hype.
But when I listened to Mike Bickle’s series I was floored. I still view the time that I spent listening through it as one of the major milestone’s in my spiritual life. Though I have reservations about much that International House of Prayer does and preaches, this series blew me away. I spent almost all of it crying my eyes out as it softened me to the realities of the Gospel in ways I never knew could be. How this was done was by applying the allegorical-poetic approach to the book. This perspective says that though there are principles of human relationships present in the book, the book is fundamentally an allegory for the passionate love between Jesus Christ and the individual believer/corporate church.
I have found this latter perspective most fruitful and enduring in my reading of the book. This being the case, I will most likely approach most passages from the poetic angle. It’s not because the literal-historical approach is not absolutely valid – I think the Bible is big enough to hold both – it’s just that the allegorical approach is most in need of unpacking and explaining to others. The human relationship principles in the book are obvious enough given even a cursory reading, but I’ll pull some of those out for the reader of this blog whenever I can.
There is one last perspective on the book I wish to give the reader – the Israel-exilic approach. This is the approach taken by most “liberal” scholars and the view most frowned upon by fundamentalist evangelicals. Though I have only begun looking at this angle in he book, I have already found it opening up the book in newer, greater ways. This approach is the same as the earliest Hebrew scholars, and it says that the book is an allegory for God and His chosen people Israel in the time of the Babylonian exile. It’s an expression of love towards God in spite of being removed from the land He had given them. the reason fundamentalists don’t like this is that it says that (a) a “literal interpretation” is not meant for the book, (b) Solomon never wrote it, (c) it’s a purely fictitious account that a few Israelites hurting under the exile “came up with” to encourage fellow Israelites (conservatives would say that if this is purely fictitious but written as if it were historical, where else do we draw the line between history and fiction?) Personally, I see absolute validity in this perspective and I don’t see how any of the objections raised above could make the Bible any less the Word of God.
So, this is my version of an introduction to the book. We have touched on possible author, setting, date of writing, and interpretive issues. I hope this helps, but in the end, we could discuss these issues all day and never actually get to the true Revelation of God and sustenance for the believer. I hope you find this Bible Study beneficial and it softens your heart to the very real realities of the romance of the Gospel.
Charis kai shalom