So, this ancient king had 1,000 wives?
So, how do you build a movie’s love story around a small, ancient, poetic book of only 117 verses tucked away in the Old Testament between Ecclesiastes and Isaiah?
A much-anticipated film, THE SONG, is scheduled for release September 26. It reimagines the Bible’s famed King Solomon as a music star dealing with fame, fortune, love and temptation in today’s America.
That was no easy task. The Song of Solomon – also called the book of Canticles – is perplexing. Not once did Solomon mention God, which is odd for a book included in scripture.
The book is also racy and downright sexy. A case can be made that buried in the poetry is some pretty graphic sexual imagery.
As a result, the Song of Solomon is easily passed by and frequently overlooked by Sunday school teachers. After all, Christian kids are bombarded with enough of that in today’s culture. Music, TV, movies and the internet are full of sex – so it makes a lot better sense for Bible classes to focus on Jesus’ miracles, Paul’s guidance to the early church or the faithfulness of such biblical giants as Noah, Sarah, Abraham, Josua, Deborah, David, Ruth, Daniel or Esther.
However, the filmmakers at City on a Hill Productions had an idea: why not build a movie around King Solomon’s romantic song? “Those who delve into this love story,” writes Lambert Dolphin, “often find – at every reading – subjectively fresh and meaningful insights into love, into relationships, into the Lord – and above all into his or her own person. An astonishing variety of interpretations is to be found among the published commentaries.”
The book’s first verse identifies Solomon as the author – Solomon, the son of King David and Bathsheba. He was not David’s first-born son and thus, was not the assumed heir to the throne. Instead, Solomon was chosen by God.
“The name Solomon is related to the Hebrew ‘shalom,’ meaning peace,” writes Dolphin. “Shalom means the kind of peace that comes from being in harmony with God and with one's fellow man, that is, Shalom implies wholeness.
According to the Bible's Second Book of Samuel, Solomon's other name was Jedidiah, meaning "Beloved of God." (2 Samuel 12:24, 25).
That might explain why one of the main characters in THE SONG is named Jed.
Like the film's Jed, Solomon was a talented songwriter. The Bible tells of his accession to the throne, his prayer to God for wisdom, his great wealth and his building of the temple. Especially remarkable is Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple and God's response.
"O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?"
What is even more remarkable is what follows in I Kings 3:5-15: “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."
1 Kings 4:29-34 tells us, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and largeness of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men and his fame was in all the nations round about. He also uttered three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom."
So, when did Solomon write his famous song? 1 Kings 11:1-4 tells us: "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, and Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, 'You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods'; Solomon clung to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father."
So, it should not be assumed that Solomon was a feisty young man when he wrote his romantic epic. The Bible indicates he was still enamored with feminine beauty when he was well into his older years.
We know that toward the end of his life, Solomon returned to close fellowship with the Almighty. Author Ray C. Stedman in The Things that Don't Work: Ecclesiastes writes that the book of Ecclesiastes records the elderly Solomon's conclusion that no aspect of life makes sense unless God is at the center of all we undertake.
The Book of Kings says that Solomon wrote 1,005 songs. Only this one survives. Maybe that’s a good enough reason to make a movie about it. After all, the Song of Solomon is a love song written by a man with 700 wives … 1,000 if you include the concubines.
He had to know something about love, life, women and romance.
And that sounds like a great movie.
THE SONG opens in theaters nationwide on September 26.