Clavis Cantici: or, a KEY of the SONG, Usefull for opening up thereof.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Song of Songs since Driscoll released his pornafied series of sermons (a long time ago now) and it’s about time I take a serious run at it.
How do you understand the S of S? Is it a literal courtship between a man and a women? Perhaps a love triangle between the King, the women and a shepherd? What are your reasons for believing it is literal? I lean toward the allegorical which seems to be the view held by a majority of church commentators.

To arrive at a better understanding of this book James Durham warns;

Watchfulness over ourselves, keeping our Heart with all keeping; and studying a tender frame of Spirit, that we may have a Conscience always void of offence towards God: Looseness all the Week will not be a frame for the Canticles. It is not the simple being of Grace, but the lively operation and exercise thereof, which prompts and disposes either to speak to purpose, or to hear of this with profit; He would grow in grace who would grow in knowledge here: Neither have others ground to expect that this secret of the Lord shall be with them, or that they shall be of a quick understanding, who fear him not: One may have Grace, and not a lively frame for this, except Grace be acting, and in exercise.

About the meaning, literal or allegorical?

“I grant that it hath a Literal meaning, But I say, that literal meaning is not immediate, and that which first looketh out, as in Historical Scriptures, or others which are not figurative, but that which is spiritually, and especially meant by these Allegorick and Figurative Speeches, is the Literal meaning of this Song: So that its Literal Sense is mediate, representing the meaning, not immediately from the Words, but mediately from the Scope, that is, the Intention of the Spirit, which is couched under the Figures and Allegories, here made use of: For, a Literal Sense (as it is defined by Rivet out of the School-men) is that which floweth from such a place of Scripture, as intended by the Spirit in the words, whether Properly or Figuratively used, and is to be gathered from the whole complex expression together, applied thereunto, as in the Exposition of Parables, Allegories, and Figurative Scriptures is clear; And it were as improper and absurd to deny a Figurative Sense (tho’ Literal) to these, as it were to fix Figurative Expositions upon plain Scriptures, which are properly to be taken.”

Durham, expecting some protest over the use of allegory, notes:

“For the First, there is a great difference betwixt an Allegorick Exposition of Scripture, and an Exposition of Allegorick Scripture: The first is that which many Fathers, and School-men fail in, that is, when they Allegorize plain Scriptures and Histories, seeking to draw out some secret meaning, other than appeareth in the words; and so will fasten many Senses upon one Scripture. This is indeed unsafe, and is justly reprovable; for, it maketh clear Scripture dark, and obtrudeth meanings on the words, never intended by the Spirit; As, suppose one speaking of Goliath’s Combat and David’s, should pass by the latter and expound Goliath to be the Flesh, or the Devil, and David to be the Spirit, or Christ: Such Expositions, may have some pleasantness, but often little solidity; and such, who most commonly thus interpret Scripture, often fall in errors. As guilty of this fault, Origen is generally complained of, tho’ more also be guilty, as might be cleared by many instances.”

I have my work cut out for me!

Yours in the Lord,




  1. John T. Jeffery · January 10, 2014

    Durham does well to point out the the facts that the literal meaning is not immediate, and that there is a difference between allegorical exposition, and the exposition of allegories. I have often been confronted with silence when I question those who emphasize certain figures and symbols in Scripture by merely asking, “A figure of what? A symbol of what?” Every figure of speech in Scripture, whether extended as in parables and allegories, or otherwise, is a figure connected to a literal reality. Ultimately he meaning of the figures of speech in Scripture is not figurative at all (or allegorical as the case may be), but literal. Hence all literal exposition insists on is the recognition both of the genuine figures of speech including allegory and symbols, and the literal meaning communicated in such linguistic devices.

    • jm · January 11, 2014

      A lot of meat in your post brother. If I understand you correctly you essentially agree with Durham?

      • John T. Jeffery · January 12, 2014

        If I understand him correctly, yes! 😉

    • jm · January 11, 2014

      Here’s a great quote, “The voluntary nature of Christ’s love reveals the romance in it.” Art Azurdia

      • John T. Jeffery · January 12, 2014

        I like Art. I got to hear him in person years ago in Pennsylvania.

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