People who have never read the Bible have no idea what a strange book, or collection of books, it is. Ecclesiastes is strange because the greatest king of Israel, world renowned for his wealth and wisdom spends the whole book saying it’s all meaningless, a chasing after the wind. In Song of Songs, by contrast, part of a book, the Bible, most consider prudish and hung up about sex, you have a celebration of sex verging on pornographic. It also celebrates romance, something many would consider a modern notion. God is not anti-sex! He created it, and us to enjoy it, in the proper context.
The book as been read in one of two ways over the centuries, either literally Solomon and his bride, or allegorically, about Christ and his church. I don’t see why it can’t be read both ways, and from what I’ve read most do see it more as both/and rather than either/or. It really has to be given that Paul introduces us to the metaphor of Christ and his bride, the Church. In Ephesians 5 we read of what Paul calls a profound mystery:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
It’s kind of astounding when you think about it. In Song of Songs we have a man and a woman obsessing over one another, infatuated, dripping with lust and desire, taking great delight in everything about the other. This, Paul is saying, is what Christ does for his Church, or his “called out ones” (ἐκκλησία). That would be us! We wretched sinners have become to him a bride, presented pure and clean, without stain or any blemish, completely holy and blameless. Profound mystery indeed, because it is incomprehensible. He loves us with as much passion as a lover and a beloved? The kind we see in this book? The only way we can buy into this is if we look to the cross, to Christ’s perfect obedience, and not at ourselves. We navel gaze, and we see filthy rags; we gaze upon him, we see perfect righteousness, on one in whom the Father is “well pleased.” And think about it. Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him.” That means us! His bride. Crazy.