Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – Meditations from Solomon’s three books
I am pleased to announce that my new book “Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – Meditations from Solomon’s three books” (170 pages – £10) is complete and is now with the printers and will be available from myself and Southend Christian Bookshop and, after I upload to Ingram, can be purchased online from the usual outlets, e.g. Amazon. I have been studying these books since a child but am continually humbled and astounded when I discover life transforming new light that has been shed. I am grateful for the contributions of many, over many years, to assist in my studies and in particular and practically, more recently, Una Campbell (proof reading) and Jim Holmes (cover design, type setting and logistics). It is my labour of love and writing project that has occupied me in 2021 following “Prophets of the Bible“. While I have been challenged concerning the idolatry of needing to feel useful, I am glad I can still contribute, the gifts, experience etc. the Lord has given me, to the Body of Christ worldwide, to help guide and encourage folk to study Solomon’s three books (of the Bible).
It was the author’s dream to study as many as he could find of the well over a thousand commentaries on the Song of Songs that have been produced in the three thousand years since the Song was written (many are available still in one form or another), and to study with a fine tooth comb every word meaning and that of the many images used, and then produce his “masterpiece”. It was not to be and now he is of an age when time is short and the drive to do so no longer exists. Yet the desire to share some of the riches he discovered en route does!
While Proverbs and Ecclesiastes did not grab in quite the same way (perhaps it should have) the same considerations could just as easily have applied, except for the fact there are far less diametrically opposed interpretations concerning the original text, compared with the Song. In mitigation though, Proverbs and especially Ecclesiastes struck me as books worth studying from an early age and I have been delving into them ever since. The challenge for the Bible student was not so much finding out about its interpretation, but rather its application, and while Solomon’s day and his outlook on the world may not be the same as today, the points he made remain pertinent and strangely resonate. It has been a refreshing discovery and including thoughts on these two other books of Solomon in this book turned out to be well worth the additional effort that was needed.
If one were to use one word to encapsulate what this book is meant to be about, then the word: “commentary” came to mind, although “reflections” also could fit the bill. Later, the penny dropped that what was needed was something to aid one’s daily devotions. Given all sorts, including non-believers, ponder different parts, doing something to cover the whole shebang may be a worthwhile activity.
What is presented tries to comment and reflects on nearly all the verses contained in Solomon’s three books (which in fairness are not all that long) and, while it probably leaves some stones unturned, there is an attempt to recognise when this happens and, when it does, to encourage readers to do their own stone turning. Then there is the question: do we make it a learned work, more concerned with forensic analysis, or one with a devotional leaning, more concerned with lifting human spirits up to heaven? Like a lot of what the author attempts, there is a bit of both involved but on reflection he concluded he can do better by focusing on the devotional, even if at the expense of good, old fashioned Bible exegesis.
A key point about devotionals is they should draw us closer to God and inspire and encourage readers to love and serve Him. This author realised early on it was not about him (even though using “author” as opposed to “I” is somewhat unwieldy). By way of compromise, while the three main sections of this book use the first person singular in the not the devotional subsections, when it comes to daily devotions (which is, after all, the central focus of this book) the first-person singular is avoided. Often, at least in the author’s experience, people who write devotionals fall into the trap (trap because it can turn people off) of resorting to personal anecdotes, pious platitudes and woolly sentimentality. He has tried to avoid doing so, helped by Solomon, who gives it to us straight, often taking us out of our comfort zones. We need encouragement but also need basic truth. The “trick” (excuse the term) is to find balance, while drawing us closer to God.
This brings us to another epiphany moment – how to discuss each of Solomon’s books in a month’s worth (31 days) of daily reflections, supported by sufficient preamble so readers know what is in store. One of the challenges is how to divide these three books up into 31 sections and cover as much ground as possible when doing so. Each reflection is kept to a single page, making succinctness an important pre-occupation, such that one could use these as part of one’s daily quiet times. A later good idea was to include a prayer with each devotion.
When asked, “What is more important: Prayer or Reading the Bible?”, C.H.Spurgeon answered: “What is more important: Breathing in or Breathing out?” – this author agrees and thus the prayer. He also recognised that if people were like him, they may well want to use it as a study aid that one might dip in and out of. It matters not; what matters is that readers get to study Solomon’s three books, with their unique and related messages, still relevant 3000 years on.
You can freely download the book here …