The Old Testament book Song of Songs celebrates the joys of physical love between a husband and wife, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Daniel L. Akin argues in a new commentary.

Akin is co-author of the commentary along with David George Moore, who is founder and president of Two Cities Ministries. The volume, which is part of the Holman Old Testament Commentary series that is published by Broadman & Homan, also covers Ecclesiastes, which Moore handles.

Akin is dean of the school of theology at Southern Seminary. "The Song of Songs is an important part of the Bible because it displays the beauty of human love in freedom and spontaneity," Akin writes. "Its neglect has been the church's loss. At a time when
marriages are struggling more than ever to survive, its recovery and study would be a significant move forward.

"The speakers in this beautiful Song are dramatic and captivating throughout. The highly figurative phrases of the work have caused much disagreement concerning interpretation, but it is best to understand the Song as the dialogue between two lovers with all their feelings and emotions for each other."

Readers of the Song of Songs – which is also called Song of Solomon – must take interpretation of the book a step further, Akin said. While it applies to a love relationship between two persons, the message of Song of Songs also illustrates the love union between the believer and Christ in His redemption, Akin asserts.

Akin authored a book that was released earlier this year based on Song of Songs entitled, "God on Sex: The Creator's Ideas About Love, Intimacy, and Marriage" (Broadman & Holman). "God on Sex" is similar to the commentary in focus.

The commentary demonstrates how particular passages are directly applicable to the contemporary husband-wife relationship. For example, in applying Song of Songs 2:10-14, Akin poses a question to the husband: "Is he tender with his words?" Akin lists three things one might listen for in a potential lifelong spouse: praise, particulars and passion.

In the same passage, Akin unpacks the importance of husbands and wives carefully choosing their words while conversing with one another.

"How we say things can be as important as what we say," Akin writes. "A kind attitude and a tender tone will foster receptive ears on the other end. For the third time Shulammite referred to Solomon as her 'beloved,' her 'lover.' With gentleness and tenderness in his voice, he spoke and she listened."

In dealing with Song of Songs 3:6-11, Akin unfolds God's word on a Christian's wedding day. Contrary to the extravagance and man-centeredness of most modern weddings, Akin argues that the day is to be God-centered. A great wedding will be a celebration, should contain a promise of protection, a pledge of commitment and the approval of
others, he says.

Akin defines Christian marriage as "a divine covenant between God, a man, and a woman ... a time of celebration and commitment...the covenant is a binding commitment for life testified to by a public ceremony (Song of Songs 3:6-11) and a private consummation (4:1-5:1)."

Writes Akin, "Marriage, after all was [God's] idea. He has a pattern. He has a plan. Marriage can be different when we invite the holy Trinity to honor the wedding and direct the marriage. Our expectations, hopes, and dreams can and will be radically altered and transformed, and all for the better."

The commentary concludes with a teaching outline, an example of a marriage covenant and a number of discussion questions.


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