Lesson 1

Solomon: The Shaping of a Bible Writer

(Introduction)
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  1. Introduction: This week we start a new quarter and a new book of the Bible: Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs, or Canticles). When I read this book I was reminded what high adventure it will be to teach this book. Let's jump in and join the adventure!


  2. A Worthy Book?


    1. Did you know there is controversy about Song of Solomon? Some of it is embarrassingly frank and graphic. There is a considerable amount of debate about this book. To quote one commentary, "What merit in a book that contains no suggestion of worship, no hint of social concern, no affirmation of faith in God, and indeed not even any mention of God (save the possible reference "the very flame of the Lord" in 8:6? What value in a book vaunting human affection, physical passion and erotic sexual love?" (Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, p. 456)


      1. Do you have any answer to that question? (God invented sex. We should not be surprised that He has a book that deals with relationships on a practical level.)


  3. Who Wrote the Book?


    1. Who do you think wrote the Song of Solomon? (The traditional view is that King Solomon wrote this book . That is the approach we will take. We will also approach the book from the view that this is a literal conversation between two lovers and not an allegory. )


    2. Who are the lovers discussed in Song of Solomon? (In general, we will view the book as a conversation between Solomon and his love. A very interesting alternative is to look at the book as a conversation between an older Solomon and the woman who rejects him because she is in love with a young shepherd boy.)


  4. King Solomon -- Born and Raised Among Sexual Sins.


    1. Read 1 Kings 11:1-3. Is King Solomon a good source for advice on the topic of love and marriage? (He apparently has lots of experience. This text says that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (and his "wives lead him astray.")


      1. Let's explore this angle a bit more. Who was Solomon's father? (King David)


      2. And who was his mother? ( 2 Samuel 12:24- Bathsheba.)


      3. Do you recall the story of how David and Bathsheba became married? (2 Samuel 11 records the sordid details.)


    2. Was Solomon David's first born (after the son who died?) (No. Amnon was David's oldest son. 2 Samuel 3:2)


      1. Do you know the story about Amnon? (The story is found in 2 Samuel 13. Amnon fell in love with Tamar - his half-sister - and the full sister of Absalom. Amnon raped Tamar and King David did not put him to death - probably because he did not feel he had the moral authority. Absalom, however, another of David's sons killed Anmon. Absalom fled and that ultimately led to his rebellion against King David and Absalom's death.)


    3. What do these additional facts cause you to conclude about Solomon as a source of advice on relationships? (We need to consider that God was speaking through Solomon. 1 Kings 3:12 reveals that God said this about Solomon: "I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.")


    4. Is it possible that Solomon is a better source of advice on relationships because of his sin and the sins of his family members? (If you add together Solomon's first hand experiences with sexual sins and God's blessing of wisdom to him, his difficult experiences no doubt made him a better teacher. In Romans 15:4 it says, "Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.")


    5. Is it typical that the Bible reports the sins of God's great leaders? (Yes. Jacob, Lot, Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon.)


      1. Why? (The answer goes back to Romans 15. It is encouraging to know that these people were not perfect. It teaches us to avoid these problems.)


  5. Solomon: Faithful and Unfaithful to God.


    1. Read 1 Kings 8:22-24. What do you think Solomon was like when he first became King? Was he faithful to God or not? ( The rest of this prayer, through 1 Kings 8: 53 is very impressive in terms of Solomon's statements of faithfulness to the Lord.)


    2. The subject of Song of Solomon is a Shulamitte woman (Song of Solomon 6:13) Was she was Solomon's first wife or only wife (for a while) or his wife at all? (Read Song of Solomon 3:11; 6:9; 1Kings 3: 1 and 11:1. It seems unlikely she was his wife at all. It appears that she was the love of his life--early in his life.)


    3. Why do you think Solomon took all of these other wives? (Read 1 Kings 3:1. He did it because that was what the world did. He did not depend upon God to work out alliances with other countries--he was doing it himself.)


    4. What do you think caused Solomon to turn away from God? (1 Kings 11: 3 says that his wives led him astray.)


      1. How do you think the wives led Solomon astray? (God gave him his wisdom ( 1 Kings 3:12; but Solomon started to separate from God because of these unbelieving wives. Solomon started to take the glory for himself, ie. 1 Kings 4:34 "Solomon's wisdom.")

    1. What effect do you think Solomon's later decision to marry all of these other wives had on his relationship to the Shulamitte woman? ( Perhaps Solomon wrote the songs later in life, after he learned from his sins and was thinking fondly of how things used to be with the Shulamitte woman.)


    2. Friend, have you made mistakes in area of marriage and sex? Solomon's story shows that these mistakes can be tools to teach us wisdom for future decisions.


  1. Next Week: "Textbook on relationships"


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Lessons on Song of Solomon

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