By Klaus Döring
US musician and author Ted Gioia argues in his excellent book Music: A Subversive History (2019): “At every stage in human history, music has been a catalyst for change, challenging conventions and conveying coded messages – or, not infrequently, delivering blunt, unambiguous ones. It has given voice to individuals and groups denied access to other platforms for expression. Pop music has often been dismissed as “lightweight” given its young audience, simple snappiness and mainstream status, but those elements are really where its strength is concealed. Pop songs don’t originate themes of mental wellbeing, equality, liberty, activism – but they do transmit them to the broadest platforms possible”.
Snap the radio on, zip to any station, and what are you likely to hear? Love songs. Songs of new love, songs of disappointed love, songs of grateful love, songs of crazy love. I still remember my time as a radio host in Davao City several years ago playing the Hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Nothing has changed. Times change, but through history the flow of love songs is a constant.
Plenty of people are surprised or even shocked to find an explicit love song in the bible – complete with erotic lyrics. But “Song of Songs” is exactly that. It shows no embarrassment about lovers. Consequently, intermittent attempts have been made to rule “Song of Songs” out of the bible. It’s like making it “for adults only”. Imagine, my dear reader, in 16th century Spain for instance, professor Fray Luis de Leon was dragged out of his classroom and taken to jail for four years. His crime? He translated “Song of Songs” into Spanish.
If you start reading “Song of Songs”, you will find out that this book conveys a very different atmosphere from most modern love songs and pop music. Since love songs are always popular, many people approach “Song of Songs” with great expectations. However, readers often find the book much different from what they had expected. One is the poetic imagery. Second: “Song of Songs” is hard to follow. One part doesn’t seem connected to the next.
Try to explore the “Song of Songs”. One thing is for sure. You’ll learn a lot about the love between God and His people.
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