How to preach the steamy parts of the Song of Solomon

I have a general complaint about the way that some preachers approach preaching on the Song of Solomon. The content of the Song is sometimes cited as the Bible’s permission-slip to deliver salacious sermons about sex. I think this is wrong-headed. The Song of Solomon gives us a poetic depiction of the marital act that is cloaked in symbolic language. Should not preachers exhibit similar discretion when speaking about the marital act? Shouldn’t our speech about sex be more discreet and indirect than it is provocative and explicit? It seems to me that preachers would do well to explain what the Bible says using the same level of discretion that the Bible itself uses.

Jim Hamilton is preaching through the Song at Kenwood Baptist Church right now, and I think his sermon yesterday on Song of Solomon chapter 2 is a model of how it should be done. It’s a fantastic message on a portion of the text that is routinely regarded as one of the “steamier” sections of the book. Even when disagreeing with a popular interpretation of Song of Solomon 2:3, Jim makes no attempt to be more provocative than the text itself actually is.

Having said that, this sermon is helpful not only for how Jim speaks but also for what Jim speaks. The exposition and application are fantastic, and I commend it to you. You can download it here or listen below.

10 Responses to How to preach the steamy parts of the Song of Solomon

  1. Don Johnson August 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Here is a concern, what many translations do is euphemise the already euphemised Hebrew text of SoS. When something gets doubly euphemised, it is quite possible to not even be able to figure out what is going on (from the English translation). This is one of those parts of the Bible that is NOT for kids, it is adults only, at least if one is going to talk about what is there in the text.

    On the other hand, there are some who, as you say, use it as an excuse to be shocking in the pulpit, that may get attention, but is inappropriate.

    My take is one needs to be able to explain what the euphemisms refer to, but not in a salacious way.

    P.S. When the text has the male speaker refer to his bride as his sister, rather than a case of incest this is referring to him calling her his equal in terms of status and power; see the examples in Scripture where someone NOT a relative is called by terms of blood relation. This is also relevant to decode what Jesus meant when he said to call no one your father. He was NOT saying you cannot call your own father, father.

  2. sandra burk August 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    So, we can assume that Dr. Criswell’s “haul you off in a wheelbarrow” sermon is definitely over the edge?? 🙂

    • Denny Burk August 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

      LOL! No, he struck just the right balance!

  3. F.A. August 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    As long as when the Bible says it indiscreetly, preachers in their sermons do it to.

  4. F.A. August 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    *ahem, “preachers do it, too.”

  5. Alvin Mitchell August 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    F.A.
    I was under the impression full names were required on comments.
    Denny
    I believe you hit the nail on the head. Good article.

    • Denny Burk August 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

      Yeah, full names are required, but I know who F.A. is.

      Hint: His name starts with an “F-” and ends with an “-aimon Roberts.”

  6. F.A. August 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    Outed! Time to pick a new alias…..

  7. Dave Dunbar August 25, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    When we get to sensitive subjects in the Bible, we need to treat them rightly. Very sadly, it has become popular in recent years for churches to promote themselves by having and advertising sermons on topics that are designed to allure via prurient interest.

    We expect lewdness and coarseness from the world. That’s normal. But when it comes from the church, something is seriously wrong.

    My practice is to treat sensitive subjects – sensitively, as Scripture does. We use Bible words, not modern-day vulgarities. It’s not that we’re afraid to talk about this. I’m not. But we sure had better do it rightly, in a God-honoring way. When you read the Song of Solomon, just a wonderful and beautiful book, it is understandable, but veiled. That which God has created is not treated as lewd and crude, but a thing of magnificence, and it is poetically obscured, shrouded a bit in mystery, yet rejoiced in rightly.

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