I'm down in London at the moment staying with my friend Pete for some times of prayer and worship and hearing from God. We visited the Evangelical Library for the first proper time for me. It is absolute HEAVEN! Row upon row of dusty shelves with tomes of depth, glory and weight. They also have thousands of journals, periodicals and newspapers that one could just spend weeks in. So while Pete studied books for his sermon preparation I browsed and was thrilled to come across the Yale volumes of the Works of Jonathan Edwards. Although they didn't have my longed-for "Blank Bible" yet, they did have Volume 15, "Notes on Scripture".
What are the "Notes on Scripture"? They are a collection of 507 comments that Jonathan Edwards wrote throughout his life on various Scriptures that he studied in keeping with his Resolution to study the Scriptures daily and intently. The comments themselves are worthy of being published for they show an insight into Scripture that few have today and I am so grateful to Yale for making these historical documents available. I read about half the book while we were there and here are a few notes on Scriptures that stood out to me and opened the Word of God to me in glory.
(p92) - No. 147 - Solomon's Song. "The name by which Solomon calls this song confirms to me that it is more than an ordinary love song and that it was designed for a divine song and of divine authority for we read in 1 Kings 4:32 that Solomon's songs were "a thousand and five". This he called the "Song of Songs" (Canticles 1:1). That is the most excellent of his songs which seems very probable to me to be upon that account because it was a song of the most excellent subject, treating of the love, union and communion between Christ and His spouse of which marriage and conjugal love was but a shadow. These are the most excellent lovers and their love the most excellent love".
I am still reluctant to use the Song of Solomon in debate as I remain haunted by C H Spurgeon's description of debating this most beautiful of books as; "The invasion of the dove's nest of the Canticles with the eagle of debate". Yet C J Mahaney remains unanswered in his message to the Sex and Supremacy of God Conference. I don't think I could have found a better defence for my view of the true meaning of the book of Song of Solomon. Compare Jonathan Edwards argument with Mahaney's view;
"Solomon's topic was obviously sex ... Just look at all the sensual and erotic language in the book!"
I know whom I think I will stand with. Here is another note from Jonathan Edwards;
(p75) - No 86 - Canticles 1:5 - "The people of Kedar it seems used to live in tents, in more able habitations and lived by the feeding of sheep. Therefore the church is very fitly represented by these. It is agreeable to many other representations in Scripture where God's people are called His sheep and His flock, and Christ and His ministers are called shepherds. The church is also compared to a tabernacle or tents; it is fitly compared to moveable tents for here we are pilgrims and strangers and have no abiding place".
Where is there room in Mahaney's view of the Song of Songs for "moveable tents" and "sheep and shepherds"?
Can these be allocated into the picture of marriage? Would he see wives as sheep and husbands as shepherds? Is the tent the marriage home? I'm not quite sure.
Finally moving away from the Song of Solomon and the arguments there, I have one final note from Edwards to quote. Like many, I struggle sometimes with the Old Testament passages to understand them and profit from them for today. The book of Esther is no exception but this note brings awesome illumination into understanding and profiting from Esther!
(p60) - No. 46 - The Book of Esther: "It appears to me very probable that this book of Esther is a history, that it is a shadow of gospel things and times ... the great feast that Ahasureus made is the gospel feast. Vashti is sent for to this feast to appear before the king (1:11) so when the gospel feast was made more especially to the Jews that has hitherto been God's people ... Vashti though she was the king's own wife refused to come for she had a feast of her own. So the Jews though God's perculiar people refused to come to the glorious feast he made through their pride and vanity ... So it will be by the earnest prayer of the church that God's people will be delivered from Antichrist and God will extend the golden sceptre of His grace as the king to Esther (5:2)".
This volume 15 is actually cheaper than the "Blank Bible" and it is currently $80 from Yale. That is £40 in UK prices! Let's seek to reverse the trend somewhat and see some of these awesome volumes come over for our benefit in this country.