INTRODUCTION TO SONG OF SOLOMON 8
This chapter begins with an ardent wish of the church for a free and intimate converse with Christ; declaring what she would do to him, and for him, should she have such an interview with him, Song of Solomon 8:1; what familiarity should be between them, Song of Solomon 8:3; charging the daughters of Jerusalem not to give him any disturbance, Song of Solomon 8:4. Upon which they inquire who she was that was in such a posture they saw her in, Song of Solomon 8:5; when the church, instead of giving them an answer, says some things concerning her beloved, on whom they saw her leaning; and makes some requests to him for more nearness to him, and manifestations of his love to her; urged from the strength her love and affections to him, which was invincible, Song of Solomon 8:6. Next follows a speech of the church about her little sister; expressing a concern for her, and what she would do to her and with her, Song of Solomon 8:8; and the answer of the little sister, declaring what she, was, and what she enjoyed, Song of Solomon 8:10; then the words of the church again, concerning her husband's vineyard; the place, keepers, and profit of it, Song of Solomon 8:11. And the chapter, and with it the Song, is concluded with a request of Christ to the church, that he might hear her voice, Song of Solomon 8:13; and with a petition of hers to him, that he would come quickly to her, Song of Solomon 8:14.
O that thou wert as my brother,.... Or, "who will give thee as a brother to me?"
that sucked the breasts of my mother; which may denote the truth and reality of Christ's incarnation, being a sucking infant: and the near relation of Christ to his people, being a brother by the mother's side, reckoned the nearest, and their affection to each other the strongest: by her "mother" may be meant Jerusalem above, the mother of us all; and, by her "breasts", the ordinances, of which Christ, as man, partook when on earth, and now may be said to suck, as formed in the hearts of his people;
when I should find thee without; or, "in the street"
I would kiss thee; not only with a kiss of approbation, Proverbs 24:16; but of love and affection, of faith and confidence, of homage and subjection, of worship and adoration; see Psalm 2:12; this is an usage with relations and friends, brothers and sisters, at meeting; hence Heunischius refers this to the time when the saints shall meet Christ in the clouds, who will be admitted to the nearest embraces of him, with unspeakable pleasure, and enjoy him to all eternity;
yea, I should not be despised; for taking such freedom with Christ, her brother. Or, "they would not despise me"
I would lead thee, and bring, thee into mother's house,.... The general assembly and church of the firstborn is mother to the church visible, to particular churches and believers, where they are born, educated, and brought up; for which they have a great affection, as persons usually have for the place of their nativity and education. And here the church desires to have Christ with her; either to consummate the marriage between them, Genesis 24:67; or to have the knowledge of him spread among her relations, those of her mother's house, who belonged to the election of grace; or to enjoy his presence there, with great delight and pleasure: the act of "leading" thither shows great familiarity with him, great love and respect for him, a hearty welcome to her mother's house; and was treating him becoming his majesty, great personages being led, Isaiah 60:11; all which is done by prayer, in the exercise of faith: and the act of "bringing" denotes on her part the strength of faith in prayer; and on his part great condescension; see Song of Solomon 3:4. Her end in all was, as follows,
who would instruct me; meaning her mother; the allusion may be to a grave and prudent woman, who, taking her newly married daughter apart, teaches her how to behave towards her husband, that she may have his affections, and live happily with him: the house of God is a school of instruction, where souls are taught the ways of Christ, the doctrines of the Gospel, and the duties of religion; nor are the greatest believers above instruction, and the means of it. Some render the words, "thou shalt", or "thou wouldest teach me"
I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate; or, "wine of my pomegranate"
His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. That is, when she should have the presence of Christ in her mother's house. Or the words are a petition that so it might be, "let his left hand", &c.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up,
nor awake my love, until he please. The phrase, "by the roes and by the hinds of the field", used in Song of Solomon 2:7; is here omitted; not as if the charge was less vehement and earnest here, for the form of expostulation seems rather to express more earnestness: for the words may be rendered, "why will ye", or "why should ye stir up, and why awake my love?"
(Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness?.... Which words are spoken by the daughters of Jerusalem, occasioned by her charge to them, by which they were excited to look more earnestly at her, whom Christ had indulged with so much nearness to him; at which they express their surprise, and describe her by her ascent "from the wilderness"; that is, of the world, out of which she was chosen and called; and from a state of nature, out of which she was brought; and was rising up in a state of grace to a state of glory; See Gill on Song of Solomon 3:6;
leaning upon her beloved); faith in Christ, whom her soul loved, and who loved her, is signified hereby; see Isaiah 50:10; which is the grace by which believers lean on the person of Christ, for acceptance with God; on his righteousness, for justification; on his fulness, for the supply of their wants; and trust in his blood for pardon and cleansing, The word is only used in this place, and is differently rendered: by some, "casting herself"
I raised thee up under the apple tree; not the words of Christ concerning the church, since the affixes are masculine; but what the church said concerning Christ, when leaning on his arm as she went along with him: so the words may be connected with the preceding, by supplying the word "saying", as Michaelis observes; relating a piece of former experience, how that when she was under the apple tree, sat under the shadow of it, Song of Solomon 2:3; that is, under the ordinances of the Gospel; where, having no sensible communion with Christ for some time, he being as it were asleep, she, by her earnest prayers and entreaties, awaked him, and raised him up, to take notice of her; whereby she enjoyed much nearness to him, and familiarity with him;
there thy mother brought thee forth, there she brought thee forth that bare thee; which may be said either concealing the Old Testament church, who conceived hope of the coming of Christ, waited for it, and was often like a woman in pain until he was brought forth, which at length was done, to the joy of those that looked for him; or of the New Testament church, hoping, looking, waiting for the second coming of Christ, in the exercise of faith and prayer, and is like a woman in travail, and will be until he makes his appearance; and both may be meant, the one by the former, the other by the latter phrase, and may be the reason of the repetition of it. It may be applied to the apostles of Christ, who travailed in birth, until Christ was brought forth into the Gentile world, through the preaching of the Gospel; and so to all Gospel ministers, who are in like case until Christ be formed in the souls of men; which is no other than the new birth, and is attended with pain like that of a woman in travail; and every regenerate person may be said, in this sense, to be Christ's mother, as well as his brother and sister, Matthew 12:50; and each of the above things are usually done under and by the means of the word and ordinances; which may be signified by the apple tree, or, however, the shadow of it.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm,.... These are still the words of the church, speaking to Christ as she walked along with him, as the affixes in the Hebrew text show; in which she desires to have a fixed abiding place in his heart; to continue firmly in his love, and to have further manifestations of it; to be always remembered and supported by him; to be ever on his mind, and constantly under his care and protection; and to have a full assurance of interest in his love, and in his power, which is the sealing work of his Spirit, Ephesians 1:13. The allusion seems to be to the high: priest, a type of Christ, who had the names of the children of Israel engraved on precious stones, and bore by him on his shoulders, and on his heart, for a memorial before the Lord continually; or to the names of persons, engraved on jewels, wore by lovers on their arms or breasts, or to their pictures put there; not to signets or seals wore on those parts, but to the names and images of persons impressed on them: the Ethiopians
for love is strong as death; that is, the love or the church to Christ, which caused her to make the above requests: death conquers all; against it there is no standing; such was the love of the church, it surmounted all difficulties that lay in the way of enjoying Christ; nothing could separate from it; she was conquered by it herself
jealousy is cruel as the grave: the jealousy she had of Christ's love to her which was her weakness; and yet it was very torturing and afflicting, though at the same time it showed the greatness of her love to Christ: or "envy", that is of wicked men, she was the object of, which exceeds cruel wrath and outrageous anger, Proverbs 27:4; or rather her "zeal"
the coals thereof are coals of fire; which expresses the fervency of her love to Christ, and zeal for the honour of his name: which, though sometimes cold and languid, is rekindled, and becomes hot and flaming; and is, like fire, insatiable, one of the four things that say, "It is not enough", Proverbs 30:16;
which hath a most vehement flame; nothing is, nor, common with other writers
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it,.... The love of the church to Christ, which is inextinguishable and insuperable, by the many waters and floods of wicked and ungodly men; neither by their flattery and fair promises; nor by their cruel edicts, force and persecution; by neither can they withdraw the love of the saints from Christ, nor tempt them to desert his interest: nor by all the afflictions God is pleased to bring upon them; rather their love is increased thereby, which they consider as effects of the love, wisdom, and faithfulness of God, as designed for their good: nor even by their sins and corruptions; for though, through the aboundings of these, their love may wax cold, yet it never becomes extinct; it may be left, but not lost; its fervency may be abated, but that itself remains: nor by Satan's temptations, who sometimes comes in like a flood, threatening to carry all before him; but the Spirit lifts up a standard against him, and maintains his own work of faith and love, Isaiah 59:19; nor by the terrors of the law, and the apprehensions of divine wrath, they are sometimes pressed with, signified by waves and floods, Psalm 88:6; nor by all the hardships and difficulties, scoffs and reproaches, which attend believers in their Christian race; which are so far from alienating their affections from Christ, that they rather endear him the more unto them, and make heaven, and the enjoyment of him there, the more desirable;
if a man would give, all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned; it is true of the love of Christ to his people, as also what is said before; but is rather to be understood of the love of the church to Christ; which is a grace so valuable, as not to be purchased with money: if this, or any other grace, is to be bought, it is to be bought without money and without price; it is to be had freely of Christ; and, where possessed, will not be parted with for anything that may be offered; if a rich man's whole estate was offered for it, to a lover of Christ; yea, the riches of the Indies, or the vast treasures of the whole globe, on condition of his parting with him, and deserting his cause and interest, and dropping or neglecting his love to him, it would be treated by him with the, almost disdain and contempt; see Philippians 3:8. Now all this is used by the church as an argument to gain her request, "set me as a seal", &c. Song of Solomon 8:6; since my soul is all in flames of love to thee, which cannot be quenched by all I suffer on thy account; nor will be parted with for all that the world can give me. This love of the church reaches to Christ, and to all that belong to him, even to a little sister, as in Song of Solomon 8:8.
We have a little sister,.... Which seems to be the Gentile church, so called by the Jewish church; for as the church catholic, or universal, with respect to its parts, is called a mother, as often in this Song; so these parts, with respect to each other, as the Jewish and Gentile churches, may be called sisters; and the rather, as they belong to the same Father and family, are partakers of the same grace, and are of the same faith and religion as to the substance of them; and the object and nature of their worship the same, though as to circumstances different: and it may be observed that the Gentile church is not only sister to the Jewish church, but to Christ, and therefore she says, not I, but we, have such a sister; of which relation, see Song of Solomon 4:9; also that she stood in this relation to Christ and to the Jewish church before the coming of Christ, and before the Gospel was preached to her, and she was called and separated from the world; as elect Gentiles are also called the sheep of Christ, and children of God, before that time, John 10:16. This church is described as a "little sister", younger in age than the Jewish church, and in some respects less honourable, Romans 3:1; the same with the younger son and brother, in the parable of the prodigal; little in esteem among men, especially the Jews, Ephesians 2:11; little in stature, light, knowledge, and faith, at first conversion; and but few in number, particularly at first, and in comparison of the world: and so the church of Christ, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles, is called a little flock, Luke 12:32. As a further description of her, it is added,
and she hath no breasts: is not arrived to years of ripeness, nor marriageable; see Ezekiel 16:7; the time of her open espousal to Christ was not yet come: at this time she had no ministers nor ordinances, from whence she could have the sincere milk of the word, or share it with others; and it was some time after the Gospel came among the Gentiles before they had a settled ministry;
what shall we defer our sister? or, "what shall be done for her?" being moved with pity to her, in her forlorn and helpless condition, like a little infant, Ezekiel 16:4; and willing to do anything for her that lay in her power, though seeming at a loss to know what to do for her: the believing Jews were very assisting to the Gentiles, in carrying the Gospel among them at first; and in supplying them with ministers, and with money too, to carry on the interest of Christ among them. The Jewish church here is not forgetful of the chief and principal agent, Christ, and therefore says, what shall we do? she was willing to do what she could; but she knew all would be insignificant without Christ, his agency and blessing. The time she was concerned what should be done for her in is,
in the day when she shall be spoken for, or "with", or "unto"
If she be a wall,.... Built upon a sure foundation; and firmly established in her faith on Christ, and love to him; and is constant therein, and stands as a wall against the attacks of enemies
we will build upon her a palace of silver; though at first but as a side wall, yet should become a complete habitation, even a palace for Christ, the King of kings, and, being designed for so illustrious an inhabitant, should be a "silver" one, denoting its worth, value, and splendour; the builders of it are the church and her ministers; though Christ is the principal builder, Zechariah 6:12. Or, "a tower of silver"
and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar; if the door of the Gospel was opened among the Gentiles, it should be succeeded to the building a holy temple to the Lord; which should be not only ornamented, but so well fenced, that it should not be in the power of their enemies to deface and demolish it: or if the door of their hearts was opened, to receive Christ, and his glorious train of grace, they should be adorned and beautified with a larger measure of them; or if being come into a church state, and the door of it was set open to receive good men, and exclude bad men, this would be to their honour comfort and safety: or this phrase is expressive of the finishing of the building, the gate or door being set up; though it rather seems to intend the low and mean estate of the Gentile church at first, when there was but little appearance of a building, only a door set up; which afterwards grew up into a stately and magnificent palace, like that of Solomon's, built of cedar boards of the wood of Lebanon; which may denote her fragrancy, perpetuity, and incorruptibleness.
I am a wall,.... The words of the little sister, or Gentile church; either wishing she was what was supposed, and desiring to be in a well settled state, "O that I was a wall!" or as asserting
and my breasts like towers; round, plump, and high; signifying that she was now marriageable; and the time of her being presented as a chaste virgin to Christ, and of her open espousals to him, was now come: of ministers of the word, of the Scriptures, and of the ordinances of the Gospel, as signified by breasts; see Gill on Song of Solomon 4:5; which may be said to be "like towers": ministers of the word, because set for the defence of the Gospel; the Scriptures, because an armoury from whence saints are supplied with armour, to repel Satan's temptations, refute errors, and defend truth; and the ordinances of the Gospel, because they stand firm and immovable against all the efforts of men to subvert and abolish them; and these are peculiar to the Gentile church, under the Gospel dispensation;
then was I in his eyes as one that found favour; from the time that the Gentile church became a wall, firmly built on Christ, and was formed into a church state, and had a settled ministry and Gospel ordinances, she became acceptable to Christ, and was admitted to near communion with him; and not only her person, but her services, met with a favourable acceptance from him; and these privileges and blessings were the fruit of his love, layout, and good will, he bore to her; which before was secret and hidden, but now her breasts being fashioned, her time was a time of love, of the open love of Christ to her, and of her espousals to him: and when, as the words may be rendered, she was "as one that found peace"
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon,.... The little sister, or Gentile church, goes on to give an account of the success of the Gospel, the planting of churches, and the establishment of the interest of Christ in the Gentile world, together with the advantages that accrued to Christ from it; for not Solomon literally, but a greater than he, is here, Christ, the antitype of him, the Prince of peace; See Gill on Song of Solomon 3:7. By the "vineyard" is meant the church, especially under the New Testament dispensation; so called, because separated from the world by sovereign grace; planted with precious and fruitful plants, which Christ has a property in, by his Father's gift and his own purchase; and therefore receives of the fruit of it; takes delight and pleasure to walk in it; and takes care to keep it in order, and to protect and preserve it: this is said to be at Baalhamon; perhaps the same with Baalgad, the names signifying much the same, and where Solomon might have a vineyard, Joshua 11:17; the word signifies "the master", or "lord of a multitude"
he let out the vineyard unto keepers; to his apostles, and to ministers of the Gospel in succeeding times; and who have their employment in it; some to plant, others to water; some to prune, to reprove and correct for bad principles and practices, and others to support and uphold weak believers; and others to defend truth, and preserve the church from innovation in doctrine and worship: the "letting" it out to these agrees with the parables in Matthew 20:1; where there seems to be an allusion to this passage. Christ is the proprietor of the vineyard, and the principal vinedresser; yet he makes use of his ministers to take the care of it, watch and keep it in order; for which purpose he lets, or "gives"
everyone for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver; or shekels, amounting to about an hundred and fifty pounds; which shows the fruitfulness of the vineyard, that its produce should be worth so much; and the great usefulness of the Gospel ministry, in bringing souls to Christ; the fruit of his labour is as dear to him as pieces of silver, Luke 15:8. Christ's ministers are his rent gatherers, and the collectors of his fruit, John 15:16; and though they have different talents and success, yet, being honest and faithful, the meanest are reckoned to bring in the same as others, or what make for Christ's delight, pleasure, and glory; as will appear when the reckoning day comes, and an account will be given in, Matthew 25:19.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me,.... These are either the words of Christ, asserting and confirming his right and property in his vineyard, the church; and which he distinguishes from and prefers to all others; and which being said to be before him denotes his exact knowledge of every vine in it, not a plant escaping his watchful eye; his presence in it, his care of it, the delight and complacency he has therein: or else the words of the church, expressing her care, watchfulness, and diligence in the vineyard, and her concern for the welfare of the several vines and plants in it; see Song of Solomon 1:6; And certain it is that the next clause is spoken by her:
thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand; a thousand pieces or shekels of silver, as before: the church is willing Christ should have all he desires and demands, his whole due and full revenue of glory from his people; for he is meant, and not Solomon literally, as many Jewish writers
and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred; by which may be meant an honourable maintenance for themselves and families, and much esteem and respect among the people to whom they minister; this is the double honour in 1 Timothy 5:17. Christ has the greatest share, as in reason he should, being the proprietor of the vineyard, and having the chief care and oversight of it, and gives it its increase: however, faithful ministers have their reward, which lies greatly in the conversion of sinners, and edification of saints; for that is their joy, and crown of rejoicing; and in eternal happiness they shall enjoy hereafter, 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens,.... These are the words of Christ to the church, describing her by her habitation, and may be rendered, "O thou, inhabitress of the gardens"
the companions hearken to thy voice; meaning either the divine Persons, the Father and the Holy Ghost, as Piscator; the companions of Christ, of the same nature, perfections, and glory with him; who listen to what the church and true believers say to them and to one another, Malachi 3:16; or the angels, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra, the friends of Christ and his people, who hearken to the conversation of believers, in private and public; and especially to the Gospel, preached in the assembly of the saints, Ephesians 3:10; or rather the daughters of Jerusalem, who all along attend the bride in this Song, and are the virgins her companions, Psalm 45:14; and it is a title that belongs to all truly gracious souls, Psalm 122:8; who hearken to the voice of the church, to the Gospel, preached by her ministers; which is a joyful sound, and gives great delight and pleasure;
cause me to hear it; that is, her voice; so sweet and charming to him, as in Song of Solomon 2:14; her voice in prayer and praise; in speaking of him, his person, offices, and grace, to others, and confessing his name before men. Some render the words, "preach me"
Make haste, my beloved,.... These are the words of the church, to Christ, calling him her "beloved"; a title often used in this Song, see Song of Solomon 1:13; and is continued to the last; for Christ was still the object of her love; and she had now a comfortable sense of her interest in him, and claimed it; and makes use of this title, not only to distinguish him from others, but to obtain her request the more easily, that he would "make haste", and come; which may either be understood of his speedy coming in the flesh, and appearing on Mount Zion and in the temple, where the spicy and sweet smelling incense was offered; or of his spiritual presence, in his house and upon the mountains, and in all the assemblies of Zion, where the prayers and praises of the saints go up to God, as sweet odours, perfumed with the incense of Christ's mediation: or the petition may respect the first spread of the Gospel throughout the Gentile world; which, being like a box of ointment opened, would diffuse the savour of the knowledge of Christ everywhere: or rather it expresses the breathings of the New Testament church after the second coming of Christ, being the last petition of the church in this Song; and with which she closes it, as John does the Revelation, and with it the whole canon of Scripture in like manner, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus", that is, come quickly: and when the church says "make haste", she does not desire Christ to come before the appointed time, nor will he; his coming may and will be hastened indeed, yet in his own time; but it shows her eager and earnest desire after it, being as it were impatient for it. The word, may be rendered, "flee away"
and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices; where spices and aromatic plants grow, as on Lebanon: of Christ, compared to a roe or a young hart; see Gill on Song of Solomon 2:9. These creatures being remarkable for their swiftness
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany