Why should women read Song of Songs?
Not every woman is physically beautiful, but all are created for relationship. One of the most glorious yet potentially devastating aspects of a woman’s experience—both physically and relationally—is her sexuality. In this sin filled world, everything good that God has created is under enemy attack. The self-image and ability of a woman to give and receive unconditional love according to divine design are prime targets. In stark contrast to the perverted messages about the purpose for the woman’s gift of female sexuality, Song of Songs celebrates God’s ideal for the expression of that sexuality—the way He created it to be enjoyed within the covenant relationship of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Within the context of the whole Bible, the Song’s positive portrayal of sexual intimacy affirms God’s intention for this gift and thereby implicitly rules out-of-bounds the abuses, extramarital pursuits, and substitutes for His good gifts. For women, reading the Song of Songs can provide an encouraging and challenging picture of God’s good design and, though bombarded with the world’s lures and lies, assure them of its truth.
Biblical Womanhood: Sexual Purity
Three images refer to the preservation of the woman’s virginity until marriage (4:12):
• a locked [Hb naʿal, “bolted shut, barred”] garden (Hb gan, “enclosed garden”), a place that has been
intentionally planted and cultivated;
• a locked garden (Hb gal, “spring”); and
• a sealed [Hb chatam, “locked” and so noted
with a seal] spring (Hb maʿyan, “fountain”;
metaphorically, the “source of greatest joy,
delight, pleasure,” Ps 87:7).
Having deliberately protected and excluded all others from the delights of her sexuality, the bride is able freely to invite her beloved to come to his garden, for in marriage it belongs exclusively to him. Choicest (Hb meged) denotes “something very precious or noble” (4:16; cp. 7:13).
Valuing and preserving virginity—by the woman herself as well as by her family and community—reflect
God’s design, and women who look forward to sex to be enjoyed exclusively in marriage and who carefully
guard their purity as an after-the-wedding gift to their husbands as well as a lifestyle of obedience to God should be held in esteem. Nevertheless, the ideal fulfillment of God’s intention as presented here and throughout the Song should be upheld without failing to recognize that God’s perfect love and grace are sufficient for every woman whose experience or past choices make that ideal impossible. In any case, God is in the business of redeeming, restoring, and healing what has been lost, broken, or stolen—including the goodness of His gift of sexuality.