This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!
First of all, for those following along with the 66 in 52 challenge, I apologize this post is a week late. The best explanation I can give is: Life Happens. I’m sure you all understand that reality and part of living in the joy and blessing of God is giving people, including ourselves some grace. I knew that at some point in the year I wouldn’t be perfect about getting this up and that time came. 🙂 In any case, whether you read these books already (or are a little behind like me), I hope you enjoy some thoughts about Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon!
The Big Picture of Ecclesiastes and Song of Song of Solomon:
Solomon is typically credited as the author for both of these books and because of that are likely dated to somewhere around 971-931 B.C.
Along with Job and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes is considered part of the wisdom literature in Scripture. It includes some deep thoughts about the very existence of life itself. I love the way the She Reads Truth Bible describes this book and the benefit it can have in our lives:
“Ecclesiastes is a book that awakens us to our own mortality, begging us to seriously consider how we should live. It knocks away all the facades we use to disguise the fact that life is short and all our accomplishments will pass away. In this way, Ecclesiastes anticipates the NT teaching that only God’s grace, and not our zeal, saves us. … Ecclesiastes prompts us to do two simple but profound things: enjoy life and fear God.”
The Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs) is mainly a celebration of romantic love. While this song mostly describes the intimacy between two human beings, the passionate pursuit in which the woman is sought after, adored, and responds to her lover can lead us to long for the God who passionately pursues us!
A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:
Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.
- “The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
REFLECTION: Why do you think Solomon would say something like this? When have you experienced this to be true (or false)?
- “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
REFLECTION: What in life feels “not-yet-beautiful” right now? Where do you need God’s grace and patience to wait for the whole picture to come into view and make sense, to become beautiful? Where do you feel the longing for eternity planted deep within your heart?
- “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless-like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
REFLECTION: What are five things you’re thankful for today? Besides gratitude, what are some other ways you can keep focused enjoying the blessings you already instead of centering your heart on what you don’t have?
Song of Solomon:
- “I am my lover’s and he claims me as his own.” (Song of Solomon 7:10)
REFLECTION: For those of you who are married, what beauty have you found in sharing a name with your spouse? For those that aren’t married and perhaps wish to have the kind of connection described in this book, what comfort can be found the truth of God calling us as his own? How might the book be reassurance that desring this kind of love is good and beautiful, something truly to long after?
- “A huge torrent cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.” (Song of Solomon 8:7)
REFLECTION: What about love seems to make it truly above all else? In what ways do you feel created to love and be loved?
God’s Grace in Ecclesiastes:
At first glance, this book can seem kind of depressing. I didn’t count it up yet, but it sure says “Life is meaningless” enough times to make us wonder what life really is about anyway. However, if you pay careful attention, I think a more accurate understanding might be something like, “Life, as we’ve made it be, is meaningless.” The endless striving for fame, money, sex, etc. is meaningless. Life is meant to be enjoyed and certainly some of those things are enjoyable. We see Solomon, the richest and wisest man in the world who had everything he could ever want, discover that having a lot or even achieving a lot doesn’t bring lasting fulfillment. In the end He discovers this as of most importance: “So, remember your Creator…” (12:1). With that in view, the meaningless things fade away. I also found that sometimes God’s grace shows up in unexpected ways: “God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” (5:20) Perhaps that’s key… God longs for us to enjoy life and remember Him.
God’s Grace in Song of Solomon:
I think we could all agree that sexuality has gotten twisted by the fall. If you need any prove just open your phone or pick up a newspaper and count the stories about sexual abuse, misconduct, gender inequality and more. When we read a book like Song of Solomon it can seem a bit over the top or unrealistic. However, I think God wants this passionate picture in Scripture as a reminder of his original plan and design. These insights from Kelley Nikondeha shared in the Jesus Centered Bible seem to describe this better than I could:
“… What if Eve never bit into the fruit? What if Adam never took the next bite and shared in that sweetness that opened the door to shame? Where would we be with not temptation or forbidden fruit, no broken relationship or expulsion from Eden? Can you imagine a world without a curse?
One possible way to understand the wisdom of Song of Songs is to see it as an extravagant dreamscape that gives us a glimpse into Eden. If we had lived in this perpetual garden of delight we would have developed into different people, far freer to explore our intimate relationships without shame. In a curse-free garden, hierarchy and sexual domination never enter the picture. … Women initiate with ease, men reciprocate without threat, and we both practice an unashamed boldness as we share our body with our beloved. …
We wake east of Eden, outside the gates and burdened by the vestiges of the curse. But Jesus enters into this world and plants a new dream in our hearts–setting things right and restoring what’s broken in humanity and creation. … Song of Songs helps us to dream about a mighty wholeness and connectedness. It whets our appetite for a world saturated in love, a worthy description of Jesus’ redemptive mission.”
Some Other Resources:
- The Bible Project summary video of Ecclesiastes
- The Bible Project summary video of Song of Solomon
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for Ecclesiastes
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for Song of Solomon
- A great Bible study on the book of Song of Solomon to check out
- The 66 in 52 Schedule and Tracking Sheet
So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!