The Holy Scriptures

Proverbs 1‑31; Ecclesiastes 1‑12; Song of Solomon 1‑8
Proverbs—Song of Solomon
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are the writings of King Solomon, the wisest of men. Though he received wisdom and understanding from God (heavenly wisdom for an earthly pathway—Proverbs), he also received riches and honor. At the end of his earthly pathway, Solomon reflects on his experiences and declares all is vanity (Eccl. 1:22Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)). His writings, however, conclude with the triumph of love: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” (Song of Sol. 8:55Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee. (Song of Solomon 8:5)).
Proverbs
Proverbs treats of this world and God’s government: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:77Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)). The book may be divided into four parts, with chapters 1-9 forming the first. Wisdom is seen, not as the faculty of man, but something he is to diligently seek. It is frequently personified. We see this very distinctly brought out in chapter 8, with Christ introduced in verse 22 as the wisdom of God.
Chapters 10-24 are the proverbs of Solomon. For the one that listens, they provide a path to follow. These are the proverbs according to the principles of the first nine chapters: “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein” (Prov. 22:1414The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein. (Proverbs 22:14)).
Chapters 25-29 form a supplement to what has gone before. “These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out” (Prov. 25:11These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out. (Proverbs 25:1)). In chapter 30 we have “the words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal” (Prov. 30:11The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal, (Proverbs 30:1)).
Chapter 31 concludes with the words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him (Prov. 31:11The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. (Proverbs 31:1)). The first nine verses consist of advice from a mother to her son the king, while the remaining verses present the “virtuous woman”: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:3030Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)).
Ecclesiastes
In understanding Ecclesiastes, it is important to see that the extent of the individual’s experience is under the sun, a phrase repeated twenty-nine times. There is recognition of God, but no revelation from Him. Whereas the name Jehovah—the name of covenant relationship—is characteristic of Proverbs, it is not once used in Ecclesiastes.
Its conclusions are truthful, yet often far from the truth, for they are the extent of man’s knowledge. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1919For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 3:19), for example.) Another has said this book is the “sigh of sighs.” Many seek the elusive goal of happiness in this materialistic world, only to discover that what little they find lasts a fleeting moment and cannot satisfy. Further, man finds that he is nothing but a decaying mortal; death is his inevitable end (Eccl. 12:17). All is “vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 1:1414I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)).
The book concludes where Proverbs begins: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:13-1413Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13‑14)). Man, however, knowing the judgments of God, has chosen to walk without regard for God (Rom. 1:3232Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:32)).
Job in his deep trial sought an answer to the question of human suffering. The Preacher through indulgence sought to know the answer to human happiness. Without divine revelation, man cannot deduce the answer to either. There is but One, whose glory is above the brightness of the sun, even Jesus, who alone can fill the heart and satisfy the deepest longings of the soul.
Song of Solomon
Of Solomon’s 1005 songs (1 Kings 4:3232And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. (1 Kings 4:32)), only one is to be found in the canon of Scripture. It is the Song of Songs, as the book so titles itself (Song of Sol. 1:11The song of songs, which is Solomon's. (Song of Solomon 1:1)). The song is a dialogue between the spouse and the King, though the daughters of Jerusalem may also be heard. The King without question is Christ, the One who will reign in Zion, but the spouse is not the church. Rather, it is the Jewish remnant, and the daughters of Jerusalem are the faithful of Israel.
The song is progressive. It records the drawing out and anticipation of the love between the spouse and the King. If the book is rightly applied, we can see principles in common with God’s dealing with each one of us. Christ loves His assembly, He loves His earthly people, and He loves the soul that He draws to Himself, so that there is a moral application to ourselves which is very precious.
A helpful aid in understanding this book is to mark the verses according to their speaker. The Concise Bible Dictionary contains such a summary. These divisions may be seen in the original Hebrew, a language inflected by gender.
The song may be divided into six sections: The Assurance of Love (ch. 1:2-2:7), The Awakening of Love (ch. 2:8-3:5), The Communion of Love (ch. 3:6-5:1), The Restoration of Love (ch. 5:2-6:12), The Witness of Love (ch. 6:13-8:4), and The Triumph of Love (ch. 8:5-8:14).
It is clear that all three books—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon—have a prophetic character. In them we have, respectively, Israel in covenant relationship, the covenant relationship broken, and, finally, restoration.
N. Simon