INTRODUCTION TO SONG OF SOLOMON 7
In this chapter Christ gives a fresh commendation of the beauty of his church, in a different order and method than before; beginning with her "feet", and so rising upwards to the "hair" of her head, and the roof of her mouth, Song of Solomon 7:1; And then the church asserts her interest in him, and his desire towards her, Song of Solomon 7:10; and invites him to go with her into the fields, villages, and vineyards, and offers various reasons, by which she urges him to comply with her invitation, Song of Solomon 7:11.
How beautiful are thy feet with shoes,.... It is no unusual thing to describe the comeliness of women by their feet, and the ornaments of them; so Hebe is described by Homer
the word used is thought by some
O Prince's daughter! the same with the King's daughter, Psalm 45:13; the daughter of the King of kings; for, being espoused to Christ, his Father is her Father, and his God her God: besides, she is born of him who is the Prince of the kings of the earth, 1 John 2:28; she is both a Prince's wife and a Prince's daughter. It may be rendered, "O noble", or "princely daughter"
the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman; a skilful artificer, a goldsmith or jeweller: the allusion seems to be to some ornaments about the knees or legs, wore by women in those times; see Isaiah 3:18; and this may serve to set off the lustre and beauty of the church's conversation. And since it seems not so decent to describe the parts themselves mentioned, the words may rather design the "femoralia", or garments, with which they were covered; and may signify the garments of salvations and robe of Christ's righteousness, whereby the church's members are covered, so that their nakedness is not seen; but with them are as richly adorned bridegroom and bride with their ornaments and which are not the bungling work of a creature, but of one that is God as well as man, and therefore called the righteousness of God. Some have thought that the girdle about the loins is meant, the thighs being put for the loins, Genesis 46:26; and so may intend the girdle of truth, mentioned along with the preparation of the Gospel of peace the feet are said to be shod with, Ephesians 6:14; and the metaphor of girding is used when a Gospel conversation is directed to, Luke 12:35. But it seems best by these "joints", or "turnings of the thighs"
Thy navel is like a round goblet,.... According to some, not the navel itself is meant; but a covering of it, a jewel or plate of gold in the shape of it; and because the word for "round", in the Chaldee language, signifies the "moon", and so Ben Melech interprets it, some have thought of the "round tire like the moon", Isaiah 3:18; though that was rather an ornament about the neck. Bishop Patrick is of opinion that it refers to "the clothing of wrought gold", Psalm 45:13; which had, on the part that covered the belly, a raised embossed work, resembling a heap or sheaves of wheat; about which was an embroidery of curious flowers, particularly lilies; and, in the midst of the whole, a fountain or conduit, running with several sorts of liquor, into a great bowl or basin: and Fortunatus Scacchus
which wanteth not liquor; meaning the large and never failing supplies of gifts and grace from Christ; so that they never want the liquor, the oil and wine of Gospel truths, to communicate to others, Zechariah 4:12. The word used signifies a "mixture", or a "mixed liquor"
thy belly is like a heap of wheat; which denotes the fruitfulness of the church in bringing souls to Christ, comparable to a pregnant woman; and whose fruit, young converts born in her, are compared to "a heap of wheat" for their number, choiceness, and solidity, being able to bear the fan of persecution: it was usual with the Jews to scatter wheat on the heads of married persons at their weddings, three times, saying, "increase and multiply"
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins. See Gill on Song of Solomon 4:5.
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory,.... Two things recommend the neck, erectness and whiteness; both are here expressed, the one by a "tower", the other by "ivory"; hence a fine beautiful neck is called an ivory one
thine eyes like the fish pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim; Heshbon was formerly the seat of Sihon, king of the Amorites, Numbers 22:26; of which Bathrabbim was one of its gates; so called, either because it led to Rabbath, a city near it, and mentioned with it, Jeremiah 49:3; or because of the great numbers that went in and out by it; for it may be rendered, "the daughter of many", or "of great ones"
thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus; a tower on that part of Mount Lebanon which faced Damascus, which lay in a plain, and so open to view, as well as exposed to winds; hence called, by Lucan
Thine head upon thee is like Carmel,.... Set with hair, thick and long, as Carmel with plants and trees. Now Christ is the church's Head in various senses; he is her federal and representative Head in eternity and time; her political Head, as a King to his subjects; an economical Head, as the husband to the wife, as parents to their children, and a master to servants; and, as such, may be compared to Carmel; for the multitude dependent on him, whom he represents, and is connected with under various relations; for his height, being higher than the kings of the earth, and all other heads; and for fruitfulness, all the fruits of the church, and of all true believers, coming from him. Some render the word, "as crimson", or "scarlet"
and the hair of thine head like purple; purple coloured hair has been in great esteem. Of this colour was the hair of King Nysus, according to the fable
the king is held in the galleries; the same with the Head of the church, the King of Zion, and King of saints, whose kingdom is a spiritual and everlasting one: and by the "galleries" in which he is held may be meant the ordinances of the Gospel; where Christ and his people walk and converse together; where he discloses the secrets of his heart to them, leads them into a further acquaintance with his covenant, and the blessings and promises of it; and from whence they have delightful views of his person and fulness; see the King in his beauty, and behold the good land which is afar off: the same word as here is rendered "rafters", and by some "canals", in Song of Solomon 1:17; See Gill on Song of Solomon 1:17. Now Christ being said to be "held in these galleries" may signify his fixed habitation in his house and ordinances; where he has promised to dwell, and delights to be; and where he is as it were fastened to them, and hatred in them.
How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! These are the words of the King in the galleries, wondering at the church's beauty, it being incomparable and inexpressible, it could not be said well how great it was; and expressing the strength of his love to her, which was invariably the same as ever. Of the "fairness" of the church, and of this title, "love", see Song of Solomon 1:9; and here she is said also to be "pleasant" to him, as his spouse and bride, in whom he takes infinite delight and pleasure, loving her with a love of complacency and delight; and therefore adds, "for delights", which he had in her before the world was, Proverbs 8:31. She was all delight
This thy stature is like to a palm tree,.... Made up of the above parts commended, and others had in view, as appears from the relative "this". The word for "stature" properly signifies height, tallness, and erectness; and which were reckoned agreeable in women, as well as men; See Gill on 1 Samuel 9:2; hence methods are often made use of to make them look taller, as by their head dresses, their shoes, and by stretching out their necks, Isaiah 3:16; and the simile of a tree is not an improper one: and so Galatea is, for height and tallness, compared to an alder and to a plane tree
"of body straight, high, round, and slender
and fitly expresses a good shape and stature. The church's stature is no other than the "stature of the fulness of Christ", Ephesians 4:13; which will be attained unto when all the elect are gathered in, and every member joined to the body, and all filled with the gifts and graces of the spirit designed for them, and are grown up to a just proportion in the body; and in such a state Christ seems to view his church, and so commends her by this simile: saints are oftentimes compared to palm trees in Scripture on other accounts; see Psalm 92:12;
and thy breasts to clusters of grapes; on a vine which might be planted by and run up upon a palm tree, as Aben Ezra suggests: though rather clusters of dates, the fruit of the palm tree, are designed, since this fruit, as Pliny
I said, I will go up to the palm tree,.... Which is easy of ascent; having, in the bark of the trunk or body of the tree, rings like steps, whereby the eastern people climb it with incredible swiftness, as Pliny
"those that have seen how men get up into palm trees, in Arabia, Egypt, and other places, must needs understand what he says about climbing the Phalli, in the temple of Hierapolis in Syria, he is describing.'
By the "palm tree" may be meant the church militant, who yet gets the victory over all her enemies, of which the palm tree is an emblem; and Christ's "going up" to it is expressive of his right to it, and property in it, which he has by his Father's gift, his own purchase, and the power of his grace, and may go up to it when he pleases; also of his presence with his church, and of the delight he takes in her, viewing her stature, fruit, and flourishing circumstances;
I will take hold of the boughs thereof; either to crop them, the tops of them, which, of the first year's growth, are very tender and sweet, and may be eaten
now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine; round, full, soft, and succulent, like the berries of the vine tree, the grapes that grow in clusters on it; of these; see Gill on Song of Solomon 7:7;
and the smell of thy nose like apples; See Gill on Song of Solomon 7:4. Here it may denote the inward constitution and outward conduct of the church, which were sound and healthful; she had an inward principle of grace, from whence proceeded a savoury conduct, a savoury breath, a holy breathing after divine and spiritual things: or it may intend the things she had a savour of, as divine truths and excellent doctrines, comparable to "apples", Song of Solomon 2:5; and all spiritual and heavenly things, when they have the presence of Christ, and the quickening influences of his Spirit.
And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine,.... Which may intend, either her taste, as the word is rendered in Song of Solomon 2:3; by which she can distinguish good wine from bad, truth from error; or her breath, sweet and of a good smell, like the best wine; the breathings of her soul in prayer, which are sweet odours, perfumed with the incense of Christ's mediation; or rather her speech, the words of her mouth; the roof of the mouth being an instrument of speech; the same word is sometimes rendered "the mouth", Song of Solomon 5:16; and may denote both her speech in common conversation, which is warming, refreshing, comforting, and quickening; and in prayer and praise, which is well pleasing and delightful to Christ; and especially the Gospel preached by her ministers, comparable to the best wine for its antiquity, being an ancient Gospel; for its purity, unadulterated, and free from mixture, and as faithfully dispensed; its delight, flavour, and taste, to such who have their spiritual senses exercised; and for its cheering, refreshing, and strengthening nature, to drooping weary souls. It follows,
for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly; is received and taken down with all readiness, by those who have once tasted the sweetness and felt the power of it. Or, "that goeth to righteousnesses"
causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak; either such who are in the dead sleep of sin; who, when the Gospel comes with power, are quickened by it; and it produces in them humble confessions of sin; causes them to speak in praise of Christ, and his grace, and of the salvation which he has procured for lost sinners; it brings them to Zion, to declare what great things God has done for them: or else drowsy professors, in lifeless frames, and much gone back in religion; who, when aroused and quickened by the Gospel, and brought out of their lethargy, are ready to acknowledge their backslidings with shame; to speak meanly and modestly of themselves, and very highly of Christ and his grace, who has healed their backslidings, and still loves them freely; none more ready to exalt and magnify Christ, and speak in praise of what he has done for them. Some render the words, "causing the lips of ancient men to speak"
I am my beloved's,.... These are the words of the church, strongly expressing the assurance of faith she had of her union to Christ, and interest in him; which shows that "that" grace is attainable, and that there may be a continuation of the exercise of it; it may be expressed again and again, as it is by the church in this Song, Song of Solomon 2:16; and that the exercise of it often follows, upon the enjoyment of Christ's presence, as here, upon his going tap to the palm tree; and that this grace has no tendency to licentiousness, but excites to duty, and makes more careful in it, of which Song of Solomon 7:11 is a proof, "Come, let us go forth", &c. Moreover, these words may be considered as a modest acknowledgment of the church's, that all she were and had were Christ's, and came from him; all the beauty he had commended in her; all fruitfulness in grace, and strength in the exercise of it; her light and knowledge in divine truths; her zeal and courage to defend them; her upright stature, and holy walk and conversation, and every good thing else, were owing to his grace. And here she also makes a voluntary surrender of all to him again; as she received all from him, she devotes all to him:
and his desire is towards me; and only to her, as his spouse and bride: it was towards her from everlasting, when he asked her of his Father, and he gave her to him; and so it was in time, to procure her salvation; hence he became incarnate, and suffered and died in her stead: his desire is towards his people before conversion, waiting to be gracious to them; and, after conversion, to have their company, and their grace exercised on him, and to behold their beauty; nor will his desires be fully satisfied until he has got them all with him in glory. And this phrase not only signifies the conjugal relation of the church to Christ, he being her husband, and she his wife, the desire of his eyes, as a wife is called, Ezekiel 24:16; but takes in the whole care and concern of Christ for her, as her husband; who sympathizes with her under all her distresses; protects her from all dangers and enemies; and provides everything necessary for her, for time and eternity. Some render the words, "seeing his desire is towards me"
Come, my beloved,.... The word come is often used by Christ, and here by the church, in imitation of him; see Song of Solomon 2:10. This call is the call of the church upon Christ, to make good his promise, Song of Solomon 7:8; and is an earnest desire after the presence of Christ, and the manifestations of his love; which desire is increased the more it is enjoyed; and it shows the sense she had of her own insufficiency for the work she was going about: she knew that visiting the several congregations of the saints would be to little purpose, unless Christ was with her, and therefore she urges him to it; not that he was backward and unwilling to go with her, but he chooses to seem so, to make his people the more earnest for his presence, and to prize it the more when they have it; and it is pleasing to him to hear them ask for it. The endearing character, "my beloved", is used by the church, not only to express her affection for Christ, and faith of interest in him, but as an argument to engage him to go along with her. Her requests follow;
let us go forth into the field; from the city, where she had been in quest of Christ, and had now found him, Song of Solomon 5:7; into the country, for recreation and pleasure: the allusion may be to such who keep their country houses, to which they retire from the city, and take their walks in the fields, to see how the fruits grow, and enjoy the country air. The church is for going abroad into the fields; but then she would have Christ with her; walking in the fields yields no pleasure unless Christ is there; there is no recreation without him: the phrase expresses her desire of his presence everywhere, at home and abroad, in the city and the fields; and of her being with him alone, that she might tell him all her mind, and impart her love to him, which she could better do alone than in company it may also signify her desire to have the Gospel spread in the world, in the barren parts of it, which looked like uncultivated fields, the Gentile world; and so, in one of the Jewish Midrashes
let us lodge in the villages; which, though places of mean entertainment for food and lodging, yet, Christ being with her, were more eligible to her than the greatest affluence of good things without him; and, being places of retirement from the noise and hurry of the city, she chose them, that she might be free of the cares of life, and enjoy communion with Christ, which she would have continued; and therefore was desirous of "lodging", at least all night, as in Song of Solomon 1:13. Some
Let us get up early to the vineyards,.... After a night's lodging in the fields, or among the "Cyprus trees". By which "vineyards" may be meant particular churches, gathered according to Gospel order, and distinguished from the world, planted with fruitful vines, and fenced by almighty power: hither the church proposes to "get up early", very early in the morning; being willing to take the first and most seasonable opportunity of visiting the saints, to know their state and condition; and, that her visit might not be in vain, she is for taking Christ along with her;
let us see if the vine flourish; true believers in Christ; who, though weak and worthless in themselves, yet being ingrafted in Christ, the true vine, bring forth fruit, and become flourishing in grace and good works; of the flourishing or flowering of the vine; see Gill on Song of Solomon 2:13;
whether the tender grape appear; or when "the flower of the vine opens"
and the pomegranates bud forth; stronger believers, taller and more fruitful than the former; see Song of Solomon 4:13; the actings and exercise of whose grace are signified by "budding forth", in an open and visible manner: the church is concerned for the good and welfare of the saints of all ranks and sizes; of vines and pomegranates, as well as tender grapes; and of the budding of the one, as well as of the opening and flowering of the other. And seeing these ends proposed by her are the same with Christ's, Song of Solomon 6:11; she might conclude they would prevail upon him to go with her, particularly what follows:
there will I give thee my loves; in the fields, villages, and vineyards, when alone, and observing the state and condition of particular churches and saints; and having communion with Christ, the church might hope and expect to have her heart enlarged, and drawn forth in love to Christ more abundantly; and that she should be able to manifest it more largely to him, and give clearer and fuller proofs of it: and this she observes in order to gain her point, and get him to go along with her; knowing that her love, in the actings and exercise of it, was very acceptable to him, Song of Solomon 4:10; I see not why the word for "loves" may not be rendered "my lovely flowers"; as a word nearly the same, in Song of Solomon 7:13, is by some rendered, "these lovely flowers give a good smell", which seems to refer to the flowers here; such as were to be met with in plenty, in fields and vineyards, among vines and pomegranates, as lilies, violets, &c. and may be an allusion to lovers, who used to give to those they loved sweet smelling flowers
The mandrakes give a smell,.... Or, "those lovely flowers", as Junius and Tremellius, and Piscator, translate the words; even those the church proposed to give to her beloved, when in the fields Some take them to be violets; others, jessamine; others, more probably, lilies
and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits; in distinction from the mandrakes and flowers in the fields Genesis 30:14; and in allusion to a custom, in many countries, to garnish the posts of the door of newly married persons with branches of trees, and fruits, and flowers; and at other festivals, besides nuptial ones
new and old; denoting the plenty of grace and blessings of it, of old laid up in Christ, and from whom there are fresh supplies continually: or rather the doctrines of the Old and New Testament; which, for matter and substance, are the same; and with which the church, and particularly her faithful ministers, being furnished, bring forth out of their treasure things new and old, Matthew 13:52;
which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved; Christ, whom her soul loved; for though the above fruits, the blessings, promises, and doctrines of grace, which she laid up in her heart, mind, and memory, to bring forth and make use of at proper times and seasons, were for her own use and benefit, and of all believers, yet in all for the honour and glory of Christ, the author and donor of them. Respect may be had to a custom with lovers, to lay up fruits for those they love; at least such custom may be compared with this
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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