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Reading Song of Songs more often in Church

By September 1, 2017 9 Comments

This Sunday night, around 6:10 PM central time, I will ascend the steps of the big boxy pulpit and begin to read from the Song of Songs. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!…We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine…” There’s a few people in the congregation who are concerned—children will be in attendance you know! I try to remind them that I’m reading from the bible, which they acknowledge… kind of. I’m sure they secretly wonder how this piece of quasi pornographic poetry made it in the canon. I’m guessing some would like to pretend it isn’t there, not because they’re prudes, they just don’t want to blush in church, and they’re nervous about what I’ll say. I promised to give the PG version. The text speaks for itself, though. Which makes me wonder how many baptisms we’ll have 9 months after the sermon series ends? I should keep track…

My family is nervous. Of course my wife is afraid that I’ll start telling stories about our sex life over the pulpit. My older kids are a bit uneasy as well. Probably because they’ve seen my wife and I hug and kiss. I think it’s good for kids to see their parents get frisky—I’ll admit, I enjoy embarrassing them. The easiest way for me to clear the room is to start hugging and kissing … they scatter quickly, muttering under their breath. They’re usually smiling the whole time, which means deep down they’re glad we still love each other. My youngest daughter doesn’t really care.

So why am I preaching on this text? More importantly, why am I suggesting that the church should preach on it more? Because we need to keep it real. We need to be reminded that we’re embodied souls that need to touch, kiss, and embrace another person. We need to be reminded that being made in the image of God includes our bodies, that God became a human being, and in doing so affirmed our human experience. One commentary I read suggested that maybe our capacity for desire is a reflection of God’s nature, so that deep meaningful covenantal relationships in which we are able to strip vulnerable and naked before our lover somehow, in some way, reflects God’s desire to be with us and for us in Jesus Christ.

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for your love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.”

Given the terrible tragedies our world has experienced lately—natural disaster, violence, war, terrorism—it’s good to be reminded that love is as strong as death. Maybe, just maybe, good ole biblical love making is just what our tired souls need to be reminded of God’s endless love, grace, and mercy.


Jason Lief

Jason Lief teaches Practical Theology at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. He served as editor of Reformed Journal for many years and was one of the original bloggers on the RJ blog. You can find more of his writing at


  • Fred Mueller says:

    Rabbi Akiba reportedly said this about the Son of Songs: “For all of eternity in its entirety is not as worthy as the day on which Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy, but Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”

  • Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell says:

    Preached thru SS several summers ago. There is a fourth grader running around the church, somewhat of a trailer, that his parents attribute to SS and the sermons!

    • jsonlief says:

      That is awesome! I’d love to hear those sermons sometime if you have them available. After I I finish preaching through it to see how we were similar / different. I can only hope that some kid will owe his/her being in the world to a sermon I preach…

  • Don Prange says:

    So God enjoys making love… and ‘God forbid,’ Jesus had a penis and his mother had a vagina…

  • James Hart Brumm says:

    We have spent so much of Christian history saying that the way to be like God is to deny our humanity. What do we do if Song of Songs is telling us that we are most like God when we embrace our humanity?

  • aboksu says:

    A portion of chapter 2 was one of the optional lectionary texts early in July. Of COU”RSE i chose it for reading at Tainan International Community Church, where the congregation is mostly between 20 and 30 years of age.

    I concluded with words from James M. Reese, O.S.F.S,, who writing about the Song in the Oxford Companion to the Bible, ended his own comments as follows, ” it is “a collection of related lyrics, loosely united, composed NOT to teach, but to touch, to please, and to delight.”

    No WONDER it’s nor often read in church!

    I enjoyed preaching that sermon, the entirety of which is at

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