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1. I am come into my garden, my sister, [my] spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Eat, O friends; drink, yea drink abundantly, beloved ones!
How gladly the Bridegroom responds to the invitation of the bride. And may we not say Christ delights to be constrained by His willing people? The Emmaus disciples "constrained Him, saying, Abide with us." And with what immediate grace the Lord responds, for we read "He went in to tarry with them." And having come into the garden, the King not only partakes of the fruits of the garden but He spreads the feast, for He can say, "Eat, O friends; drink, yea drink abundantly, beloved ones." We may spread our little feast for the Lord as in the home at Bethany, but how rich a feast He spreads for us. If He found delight in the midst of His own, yet it was His presence that filled their hearts with gladness, for we read, "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." Thus, again and again, as we journey on, He delights to come into His garden, set apart from this wilderness waste, and sup with us and we with Him, "until the day break and the shadows flee away." Then at last we shall sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb in His own home of heavenly glory, to go out no more.
Canticle 4 . Son_5:2-16-6:1-12 .
The Restoration of Love.
2. I slept; but my heart was awake.
The voice of my beloved! he knocketh:
The bridal feast is over; the King has departed to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense, until the day break and the shadows flee away. In the night of the Bridegroom's absence the love of the bride has waned, and she seeks her ease in her own home. How soon she passes from feasting in his presence to sleeping in his absence. In earlier times her love had weakened, but this was a more serious decline; before, she had rested in her home, now she sleeps. If, however, she sleeps, it is but a restless sleep - "I slept," she says, "but my heart was awake."
Alas, like the bride, again and again our love can grow cold even though we have known and enjoyed the love of Christ. How quickly, too, our hearts can change, like the disciples who pass from feasting in the upper room to sleeping in the garden. But such repose is only an uneasy sleep, for the heart that has tasted the love of Christ will ever he restless if it turns aside to seek its ease in this vain world. It has too much of Christ to enjoy the world and too much of the world to enjoy Christ. Sleeping but restless, describes the condition of such.
But the love of the Bridegroom never varies. The bride may sleep, but love gives him no rest until he has awakened her slumbering affections. And how true are the words of another: "Christ's heart is never wearied, it is as freshly set on the bride as when God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world."
2. Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, mine undefiled;
For my head is filled with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.
The bride may seek her rest, but not so the Bridegroom. He knocks at her door seeking admission. In love he appeals to her affections, seeking to restore the heart that has grown cold. His touching words, "Open to me," express the longing of his heart to fill her heart. He lavishes upon her every term of endearment, "My sister, my love, my dove, mine undefiled." He could have said, "Thy King, thy friend, thy beloved," but love takes another way more calculated to reach her heart. He reminds her of all that she is in his sight. Her waning love has not changed his thoughts of her. And then, as a final appeal to her heart he speaks of his sufferings on her behalf. He has faced the night, the cold, the darkness, and the dew, to awaken her love.
In all this mystic scene can we not see the way Christ takes to restore our wandering affections to the enjoyment of His love? In the night of His absence we may seek our ease in this poor world, but He loves us too well to let us rest apart from Him. Solemn indeed, if the Lord has to say to us, "Sleep on and take your rest." But if we wander, He follows with restoring grace, and knocks at our door. Alas that there could ever come a day that finds the door of our hearts closed and barred to Him, and that our Laodicean lukewarmness should compel Him to say, "Open to Me." How touching these words I What a sorrowful tale they tell of wandering affections, and empty, unsatisfied hearts; and yet, withal, how blessedly they speak of His unchanging love, and His longing to fill our hearts with Himself. It is as if He said, "You have turned to other objects and found no rest; your soul sleeps, but without rest; your heart waketh, but without satisfaction now open to ME."
But Christ will never force Himself upon the soul. He will not be an uninvited guest. He loves to be "constrained"; and so the word to the bride is "Open." The Bridegroom is waiting and willing to enter, but the bride must "open" the door of her heart. Do we complain of little love to Christ? Let us remember He is willing to fill our hearts if we will but "open" the door and let Him in. The latch is on our side of the door.
And what more calculated to arouse our slumbering affections than the realization that, in spite of all our wanderings, He loves us still; that He is still ready to say, "You are mine," "My sister, my love, my dove, mine undefiled."
But, further, how must it move the heart that has grown cold, to hear again of the sufferings that Christ has endured for our sakes. What a journey the Bridegroom of our souls has taken to win our hearts! What night of woe He went into; and in that night what dews of sorrow fell on Him to win our love. He broke His heart to win our hearts.
If our hearts have turned aside to other objects; if our love has grown cold, may we get a fresh view of the One who stands at our door and knocks, and may we listen to His pleading voice as He says: -
I want your heart's affections, "Open to Me."
1 love you: "My sister, my love, my dove, mine undefiled."
1 have suffered for you, "For my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night."
3. I have put off my tunic, how should I put it on?
I have washed my feet, how should I pollute them?
The bride, though not insensible to this touching appeal, knows not how to cast off her sloth. She finds it is easier to put off the tunic than put it on, easier to ungird the loins than to gird them up. To respond to this appeal calls for energy and sacrifice. Selfish ease has enfeebled the bride, and twice she asks, "How should I?" She has to learn, indeed, that, left to herself, she cannot throw off her lethargy. So, too, when affection for Christ grows cold and we, like the bride, settle down in our own things, we may, indeed, be interested and moved somewhat by some touching appeal, and yet know not how to cast off our spiritual langour. If, however, we cannot restore our souls, He can, and He does. "He restoreth my soul" is the experience of the Psalmist. And in the scene that follows we see the way love takes to work the restoration of our wandering affections, a way that may indeed be painful to the flesh but leads to a blessed end.
4. My beloved put in his hand by the hole [of the door];
And my bowels yearned for him.
Already he has spoken, but now the Bridegroom stretches forth his hand to the bride, and this silent appeal fills her with yearnings after the Bridegroom. Such also was failing Peter's experience when in the very moment of his denial the Lord "turned and looked" upon him. It was a look that, speaking more effectively than words, seemed to say, "You have denied Me, but I love you." And that look, like the Bridegroom's hand in our Canticle, began the work of restoration, for "Peter went out and wept bitterly." And do not our hearts burn within us when the Lord stretches out His hand towards us in our failures, that hand with the wound-marks that tell of His unchanging love?
5 I rose up to open to my beloved;
And my hands dropped with myrrh,
And my fingers with liquid myrrh,
Upon the handles of the lock.
6. I opened to my beloved;
But my beloved had withdrawn himself; he was gone:
My soul went forth when he spoke.
I sought him but I found him not;
I called him, but he gave me no answer.
This appeal has overcome the lethargy of the bride. She rises to open to her beloved. The door at which he had sought an entrance was redolent with his presence, but he himself had withdrawn. This, however, was the way love was taking to awaken her affections. If, when he drew near, the bride would not respond, he will now withdraw, but only to quicken her affections by his absence. And how effectual the way he takes. The bride is thoroughly aroused, "I rose up," "I opened to my beloved," "I sought him," "I called him," is the language of her heart. Every expression proclaims the renewed energy of her affections. But for the moment all in vain. He was gone, and he gave her no answer. The Beloved was at first the seeker; not finding any response from the bride, his love takes another way which turns the bride into the seeker, to find, in her turn, no response from the Bridegroom. Had then the love of the Bridegroom changed? Had he given up his bride? Ah no, it was not the love, but the manner of expressing the love, that had changed. The bride must learn that the communion of love is easily lost but only recovered through humbling experiences.
And after this same fashion love deals with the "slow hearts" of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They wandered, but the Lord followed, and so dealt, in restoring grace, with their affections that He turned their "slow hearts" into "burning hearts," and, having awakened their affections, He "vanished out of their sight." The One who sought them withdrew from them, and in so doing left behind Him two seekers after Him in place of two wanderers from Him. For that same hour of the night, they rose up and returned to Jerusalem. They sought the Lord, and they found the Lord; in the midst of His own.
The Lord loves to be sought after, and those that seek will not be disappointed, even though they may have to pass through painful experiences before their wandering hearts are restored to the enjoyment of the love of Christ. Such was the experience of the bride in her further search for the Bridegroom.
7. The watchmen that went about the city found me;
They smote me, they wounded me;
The keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
Loss of affection means the loss of the company of the Bridegroom. But further it exposes the bride to the dealings of the city watchmen, and the keepers of the walls.
The business of the watchmen is to keep order in the city. How comes it that they find the bride wandering in the city at night, without the Bridegroom? This is contrary to order and they rightly rebuke her. They "wounded" her, but "faithful are the wounds of a friend." Again the keepers of the walls have to protect the city from attacks of the enemy, and in following their calling must needs challenge all comers, to distinguish friends from foes. They are true to their work in their dealing with the bride. They must discover if she is really what she professes to be, and therefore they strip her of her veil. When we wander do we not expose ourselves to rebuke from those who watch for souls? It is often thus the Lord carries on His restoring work through the means of others. May we not say that Paul was doing watchman's work when he had that sharp contention with Barnabas in regard to John Mark? And again was he not doing the work of a keeper of the walls when he withstood Peter to the face and exposed his dissimulation; thus, as it were, taking away his veil. But painful as such experiences may be, they work recovery in the true soul. And so with the bride; the dealings of "the watchmen," and "the keepers," awakened in the bride deeper longings of heart after the Bridegroom - yearnings of heart that she cannot conceal from others.
8. I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem.
If ye find my beloved . . .
What will ye tell him?
-That I am sick of love.
Unable to contain the longings of her heart, the bride charges others, if they find her beloved, to tell him she is sick of love. She supposes that all would know to whom she refers. To those, however, to whom she appeals the Bridegroom is as one unknown.
The Daughters of Jerusalem.
9. What is thy beloved more than [another] beloved,
Thou fairest among women?
What is thy beloved more than [another] beloved,
That thou dost so charge us?
They have never known the intimacy of love with the Bridegroom, and cannot understand the affections that fill the heart of the bride. They ask, "What is thy Beloved more than another Beloved?" But this is only another step in the restoration of the bride. Her motives must be searched. Is her Beloved more to her than another? It hardly appeared so in the eyes of others. She had taken her ease without the Bridegroom, and when he knocked she could not even bestir herself to let him in.
Peter professed great love for the Lord when he said, "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I." But Peter evinced little love for the Lord when he slept in the garden, and no love for the Lord when he denied him in the palace. How seemly it is that in the way of his restoration Peter must be searched with the thrice repeated question, "Lovest thou Me."
The bride, in response to this searching question, proves the reality of her affection by pouring forth all that is in her heart concerning the Bridegroom.
10. My beloved is white and ruddy,
The chiefest among ten thousand.
11. His head is as the finest gold;
His locks are flowing, black as the raven;
12. His eyes are like doves by the water-brooks,
Washed with milk, fitly set;
13. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, raised beds of sweet plants;
His lips lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.
14. His hands, gold rings set with the chrysolite;
His belly is bright ivory, overlaid [with] sapphires;
16. His legs, pillars of marble, set upon bases of fine gold:
His bearing as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars;
16. His mouth is most sweet:
Yea, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, yea, this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.
This lovely description is but another step in the awakening of love, for as the bride unfolds the perfections of the Bridegroom to others, her heart, engaged with himself and his glories, is afresh stirred to its depths. To witness to others of the glories and perfections of Christ will most surely kindle afresh one's own affections for Christ.
This glorious imagery can alone apply to Christ. It is His perfections that pass before us. He alone is "white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand." Whatever others may be, He is the "chiefest": however many there may be, He is "the chiefest among ten thousand."
His divine majesty passes before us in the head as the most fine gold.
His locks are flowing and black, betokening the vigour of manhood. No white hair, no trace of age or decay will ever pass on Him. Where all grows old, He never grows old. His years shall never fail.
His eyes, as the eyes of doves, speak of His tender compassion. "Washed with milk" speaks of purity. "Thou art of purer eyes than to 'behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. "Fitly set "speaks of the perfection of His vision before whom "all things are naked and open."
The cheeks speak of beauty and attractiveness. The world saw no beauty in Christ, and smote Him on the cheek. Judas professed attraction to Christ but only to betray Him by kissing Him on the cheek. The believer, on the other hand, can delight in the beauty and attractiveness of Christ as a bed of fragrant herbs calls forth the admiration of the passer-by.
His lips are likened to lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. The lily may speak of purity and the sweet-smelling myrrh of grace. Isaiah had to confess he was a man of unclean lips, but the lips of Christ were pure; no guile was found in His mouth. And of Christ it could be said, "Grace is poured into Thy lips." As He passed through this world, words of grace were ever dropping from His lips like sweet-smelling myrrh.
His hands are likened to rings set with beryl. The ring is the emblem of authority ( Gen_41:42 ; Est_3:10 ), and the token of love ( Luk_15:22 ) Man expressed his hatred to Christ by nailing His hands of love to a cross, but the believer delights to recognise that all power is in the hands of Christ. but the hand that wields the power is moved by love.
His belly, or body, is likened to bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. The whiteness and smoothness of the ivory may indicate the perfection of Christ without blemish or spot, and the sapphires the preciousness of Christ. Peter presents this twofold view of Christ when in one place he speaks of Him as "without blemish and without spot" and in another writes, "Unto you, therefore, which believe He is precious" ( 1Pe_1:19 ; 1Pe_2:7 ).
His legs as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold, speak of the stability and strength of purpose that ever marked the Lord Jesus. The base of fine gold may indicate that all the steadfastness and strength of Christ had its foundation in divine righteousness.
His countenance or "bearing" signifies "not the face only but the entire aspect." It is likened to Lebanon, a figure which brings before us the excellence and dignity of Christ.
His mouth is most sweet. In the imagery of the song, it is the kiss rather than speech that is connected with "the mouth." This clause in the bride's glowing description would therefore serve to set forth the sweetness of the love of Christ.
"He is altogether lovely." In Christ we have a perfect object, One who is altogether lovely. Here the heart can rest with satisfaction. In Daniel's image the head was of fine gold, but the toes were of iron and day. Here the head of the Bridegroom is likened to fine gold, and the legs of marble are set upon bases of fine gold. In the Beloved there is no deterioration. His whole bearing is majestic, He is altogether lovely.
And having closed her description the bride can add, "This is my beloved and this is my friend." So too each of the redeemed can say of Christ, "He is my Beloved, He is my Friend" even while they unite to sing -
"Join all the glorious names
Of wisdom, love and power,
That mortals every knew,
That angels ever bore;
All are too mean to speak His worth,
Too mean to set the Saviour forth."
These files are public domain.
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 5". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12