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God’s Word for You

Song of Solomon 1:4 Worship and praise

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, September 3, 2023

  The Bride
4 Carry me away with you—let’s run!
  Let the king bring me into his chambers.

There are five references to the king in the Song. Twice, a king is called “King Solomon” (3:9 and 3:11). Unless Solomon is meant to be portrayed as a villain, a rival lover, it is best not to take the other references to “king” in the Song as being to him. Instead, it seems as if the bride uses “the king” as her pet name or nickname for her husband, the way a girl might call her young husband her “Prince Charming.” We will talk about David’s son in chapter 3 in his context there, but he seems more like a rich uncle loaning the couple their wedding coach in that place rather than a bad guy riding up on his black horse to steal away the bride from her wedding to our hero.

Therefore the “king” here is the husband, and the bride is delighted with him. She wants to get home with him soon (“Let’s run!”) and to enter into his private chambers, which of course are her private chambers, too.

In the spiritual application of the Song, the church understands the value of worship. The Holy Spirit commands worship in the New Testament. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25). And what are the elements of worship? “Teach… one another” (the public reading of Scripture, the confession of common faith, and the sermon), “admonish one another” (the public confession of sins and the absolution), and the use of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). Also, worship includes prayer. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other” (James 5:16). Worship, then, entering the King’s chamber, is the instruction and encouragement of the people along with prayer and music. Worship is directed to the Lord, of course, but the instruction and confession points the hearts of God’s people more directly to the Lord, to praise him for his forgiveness. Otherwise, people get into the habit of praising God for his creation and his gifts, but not his salvation. The devil himself seeks to pervert the worship of the faithful toward the First and Third articles of the Creeds (the Father who creates and the Spirit who gives gifts) while obscuring the eyes of the faithful from the work of the Son, who saves. This is because the devil hates even the name of Jesus, and he does whatever he can to twist and wring the name of Jesus from our lips and from our hearts. We must never lose sight of the priority of the Second Article in our worship and preaching.

In our Confession (the Apology [explanation] of the Augsburg Confession), Dr. Melanchthon writes: “The holy Fathers (of the church)... observed these human rites (he means regular worship in churches) because they were profitable for good order, because they gave the people a set time to assemble, and because they helped instruct the common folk. For different seasons and various rites serve as reminders for the common folk.” Perhaps there are a few brilliant and supremely sanctified men and women in our fellowship who think along the same lines as Master Philip here, but I for one am delighted to regard myself honestly as one of those he calls “the common folk,” for I find that I benefit from the various seasons and the changing themes of the church year.

Worship, entering the King’s chamber, is also a rehearsal for our life in heaven, when we will worship and sing God’s praises with all the hosts of heaven. Whatever joys await us there, we will find when we arrive. There is no point in speculating too much about heavenly worship. Even the scenes that are on display in Revelation are visions for the sake of John and his readers with spiritual meaning apart from any potential order of service. Yet, if the bulletin or the worship leader says, “All the living and the twenty-four elders will fall down before the Lamb,” we will be happy to fall down before the Lamb.

Returning to the blessed state of human marriage, the Sons of Korah proclaim: “All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you.” (Psalm 45:13-14).

  Her friends
  We rejoice and we are happy for you!
  We praise your love more than we praise wine.
  How right the virgins are to love you!

Here some new speakers appear in the Song. This is a chorus made up of the bride’s friends. They appear here, at the end of chapter 3 (3:6-11), at the end of 5:1 (unless it is the husband speaking there), 5:9; 6:1; 6:10; 6:13; 7:2-16 (again, unless this is the husband speaking), and the beginning of 8:5. They are always a positive voice in the Song. In this way they remind us of our responsibility to keep the Sixth Commandment even with regard to other people’s marriages. We want marriages to work (“We are happy for you!”), since a marriage is a little, private illustration of God’s love for his church (“We praise your love more than we praise wine”). We want our children to understand the value of marriage just as we want them to learn the delightful privilege of being members of God’s holy church (“How right the virgins are to love you!”).

The psalmist teaches us:

“Young men and also young women, old people with young people. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted. His splendor is above the earth and the heavens. He has raised up a horn for his people—the praise of all his favored ones—for the children of Israel, the people close to him. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 148:12).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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