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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 8

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-14

Son_8:1 . Oh that thou wert as my brother,

That sucked the breasts of my mother!

Should I find thee without, I would kiss thee;

And they would not despise me.

2. I would lead thee, bring thee into my mother's house;

Thou wouldest instruct me:

I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine,

Of the juice of my pomegranate.

3. His left hand would be under my head,

And his right arm embrace me.

The bride is not content with the secret expression of her love for the Bridegroom. She desires that all might know her love to the King. Oh that thou wert as my brother, she says, then indeed I could manifest my love before all without any impropriety: "Should I find thee without, I would kiss thee; and they would not despise me." To express our love to Christ in a world that has rejected Him will call down the hatred of the world; but the time is coming when without hindrance we can publicly witness our love to Christ without being despised.

4. I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, . . .

Why should ye stir up, or awaken love till it please.

The canticle closes with a charge to the daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb the happy communion of love.

Canticle 6 . Son_8:6-14 .

The Triumph of Love.

The Daughters of Jerusalem.

( Son_8:5 ).

Son_8:5 . Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness,

Leaning upon her beloved?

The previous canticle closed with the desire of the bride to express her love for the Bridegroom before all the world without being despised. In this canticle her desire is gratified. The bride is seen coming out of the wilderness leaning upon the arm of her Beloved, and the daughters of Jerusalem enquire, "Who is this?" In the fourth canticle the bride had sought and found the Bridegroom; in the fifth canticle she had he]d sweet and secret communion with him; but now, at last, she is displayed before the world in company with him, but in dependence upon him. Wilderness wanderings are left behind, the glory shines before her. Thus will it be with Israel, the earthly bride. Jehovah will allure her and bring her into the wilderness; there will He speak to her heart, and there, when restored, the Lord says, "I will betroth thee unto me for ever" ( Hos_2:14-23 ).

So too, when the wilderness journey of the church is past and the marriage of the Lamb is come, she will be displayed in association with Christ in glory, as a bride adorned for her husband, as we delight to sing:

"O day of wondrous promise!

The Bridegroom and the Bride

Are seen in glory ever;

And love is satisfied."

Nor is it otherwise that the Lord acts towards restored saints. We wander and fall, but grace brings us up out of our wanderings leaning upon Christ, just as the bride is seen "leaning upon her beloved." We fall, like Peter, through leaning upon our love to Christ, but in tender grace He lifts us up and brings us to lean upon His great love to us. This was the happy experience of John, of whom we read in Joh_18:23 , "There was leaning on Jesus' bosom, one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved." How slow we are in learning this lesson of dependence. Pride makes it hard to own our nothingness and His fulness, our weakness and His strength, and thus to find all our resources in Him. It was no easy task to learn as sinners that we must come bringing nothing to Christ, and we are equally slow as saints to learn that we must draw everything from Christ, according to the Lord's own words, "Without Me ye can do nothing." "Leaning" is weakness clinging to strength "leaning on Jesus' bosom" is leaning on the love of One in whom all fulness dwells.

The Bridegroom.


5. I awoke thee under the apple tree:

There thy mother brought thee forth;

There she brought thee forth (that) bore thee.

Brought to happy dependence on the Bridegroom's love, the bride is reminded that all the blessings that are hers, from the moment when she was brought forth in weakness, she owes to the Beloved. Never must we forget that we are debtors to grace for all we have and are. Whether it be a backsliding saint restored to communion and public service, or backsliding Israel restored to earthly glory, or a ruined and scattered church displayed in perfection in heavenly glory, all will owe their position to the sovereign grace of the Lord that awakened us, brought us forth out of our degradation and associated us with Himself.

The Bride.

( Son_8:6-8 ).

6. Set me as a seal upon thy heart,

As a seal upon thine arm;

Leaning upon her Beloved, realising the grace to which she owes her origin, and that never again can she rest in her love to the Beloved, she exclaims, "Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm." She does not doubt his love, but she realises that all her blessing depends upon his love, not hers. Therefore she seeks evermore a place in his affections, for ever to be upheld by his strong arm. He indeed has a place in her heart, but her confidence is that she has a place in his heart. So the restored soul delights to say of Christ, "My confidence is that my name is upon His heart - I have a place in His affections; my name is upon His arm - I have the protection and support of His strong arm." We can trust His heart, and His arm, though we cannot trust our own. We cannot exhaust the love of His heart, and we cannot limit the power of His arm.

6. For love is strong as death;

Jealousy is cruel as the grave:

The Bridegroom's love is the ground of the bride's confidence, as the love of Christ is the ground of our confidence. This is a love that has been proved, and found to be strong as death. Death holds men in its strong grip. Death makes sport of all man's puny strength. From the fall onwards men and death have been in mortal combat, but death has triumphed all along the lines, until at last love - love divine - went down into the dark valley and entered into combat with death. At the Cross love came into conflict with death and love triumphed. Death could not hold back the love of Christ; death could not vanquish the love of Christ. Death took away His life but death could not take away His love. Love prevailed, for love yielded to death in order that love might triumph over death. "Death stung itself to death when it killed Him."

Jealousy is cruel as the grave. How pitilessly cruel is the grave. It swallows up the young, the loved, the fairest, and the brightest. It knows no pity, and so jealousy would deal without pity against all that would come between the Bridegroom and His bride. Christ must be supreme: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of Me," and therefore the Lord can say, "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife and children, and sister, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." To "hate" has the sound of cruelty, but it is the cruelty of jealous love that brooks no rival. Almost universally men speak of jealousy in an evil sense, Scripture hardly ever so. It speaks even of a "godly jealousy." The Apostle can say of believers, "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy" for, says he, "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" ( 2Co_11:2 ). His love to Christ, and his love to the saints made him jealous lest anyone, or anything, should come between them and Christ. He had no pity for any who, by false doctrines, would beguile the saints from Christ. If an apostle or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel let him be accursed. This was the cruelty of jealous love.

Love strong as death, and jealousy cruel as the grave are found together. One is the outcome of the other. Love and jealousy may be found in measure in all men. But it is only love strong as death that calls forth jealousy cruel as the grave.

6. The flashes thereof are flashes of fire,

Flames of Jah.

There is heat and consuming fire in love. Do we not see a flash of this consuming fire in the love of the Lord, that could brook no dishonour to the Father, when He drove the money-changers from the Temple, so that the disciples remembered that it was written of Him, "The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up"? We see too the vehement flame of love carrying Paul through that marvellous life, spending and being spent for the saints, leaving home and ease, facing hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, perils, persecutions and death, constrained by the love of Christ. We see this holy zeal burning like a vehement flame in the long roll of martyrs and persecuted saints. The flame of love that glowed in their hearts triumphed over the flame of the faggots that burned their bodies.

7. Many waters cannot quench love,

Neither can the floods drown it:

Nothing can quench divine love. The Lord Jesus faced the "many waters," but they could not quench His love. He faced the "floods," but they could not drown His love. At the cross "the floods lifted up their voice," only to find that love divine is mightier than the noise of many waters. There the sorrows of death encompassed Him, and the floods of the ungodly made Him afraid, but they could not make Him yield up His love ( Psa_18:4 ). He could say, "The waters are come into my soul" ( Psa_69:1 ), but they could not drown the love that was in His heart. All the billows and waves of God passed over Him ( Jon_2:3 ), but His love never passed from Him. The "many waters" could not quench His love for His bride, and the floods could not drown it. His love has triumphed and His love abides. Well may we sing, "Unto Him that loves us, and has washed us from our sins in His own blood . . .; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever."

7. If a man gave all the substance of his house for love,

It would utterly be contemned.

Love cannot be bought. It is true Christ gave up, as it were, the "substance of His house "; He gave up kingdoms and thrones and crowns, but He gave more, He "gave Himself," and in giving Himself He proved His love, for "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." And in response to this great love He looks for love. Nothing but love from our hearts will satisfy the love of His heart. We may offer the labour of our hands, our silver and our gold, our works of charity and our bodies to be burned, but if there is no love it will be utterly contemned.

The love of Christ begets love. We love Him because He first loved us.

Such is the love wherewith we are loved.

A love that has given us a place in the heart of Christ.

A love that has put us under the shelter of his strong arm.

A love that is strong as death.

A love that is jealous with a godly jealousy.

A love that burns with a vehement flame.

A love that cannot be quenched, and

A love that cannot be bought.

8. We have a little sister,

And she hath no breasts:

What shall we do for our sister

In the day when she shall be spoken for?

Restored and happy in the love of the Bridegroom, the bride is free to think of the blessing of others. If, in the strict interpretation of the Song, the bride represents God's earthly people - the Jews - restored and brought into blessing under Christ, the "little sister" will probably represent Ephraim, or the ten tribes. They will, we know, be brought into blessing, but not through the experiences of the Jews in connection with Christ. Their affections for Christ will not have been developed by the exercises and experiences through which the Jew has passed and will yet pass. But the day of opportunity is coming for Ephraim - the day when she shall be spoken for. And what shall be done for her in that day?

The Bridegroom.


9. If she be a wall,

We will build upon her a turret of silver;

And if she be a door,

We will enclose her with boards of cedar.

Here we have the answer. When Israel is again established on a firm foundation like a wall, then will she be a monument of redeeming grace: "We will build upon her a turret of silver." When she becomes a door - when her heart is opened to Christ - she will come under His protection and care: "We will enclose her with boards of cedar."

While the strict interpretation points to Ephraim, can we not apply the principle to that large class who truly make a confession of Christ, and yet, like Ephraim, their affections for Christ have never been developed by the experiences through which they have passed. How many, alas, are like the '' little sister" of the Song! Their lives may be outwardly correct. No grave dereliction from the straight path can be laid to their door. They have never wandered like the bride; they have never been smitten by the watchmen of the city; their veils have never been torn from them by the keepers of the walls; they have been into no dark valley to learn their own hearts, and they have never climbed the mountain heights of Amanah or Hermon to learn the love that is in the heart of Christ. Their affections have not been developed by any deep experimental acquaintance with Christ. What shall be done for them? What they need is to become firmly established in their relations to Christ - to become a wall. And to have their hearts opened to Christ - to become a door. Then indeed they would become a witness of His redeeming grace to others, and their hearts an enclosure devoted to Christ.

The Bride.

( Son_8:10-12 ).

10. I am a was, and my breasts like towers;

Then was I in his eyes as one that findeth peace.

By grace the bride can say, "I am a wall." Established in her relationships to the Bridegroom, her affection is the secret of her strength and the measure of her witness before others. A tower is a place of security as well as a land-mark to others. The saint whose affections are drawn out to Christ is one indeed who has found peace in the eyes of Christ. Mary, whose affections brought her to rest at the feet of Christ, was one who, in His sight, had found peace, and a peace that He will not have disturbed. "Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her."

11. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon:

He let out the vineyard unto keepers;

Every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand silver-pieces.

The meaning of Baal-hamon is "Master of a multitude." The passage looks on to the time when Christ - the true Solomon - will reign over all the nations of the earth. The whole earth will become a fruitful vineyard. There will be kings of the earth - the keepers of the vineyard - and they will enjoy the fruits of the earth, but they will be subject to Christ. They will pay tribute. They will bring, as it were, a thousand silver-pieces.

12. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me:

Thou, Solomon, shalt have the thousand,

And the keepers of its fruit two hundred.

But the bride has her own vineyard. Restored Israel will have her special place, and she, too, will gladly own her subjection to Christ. But when she owns all to be His, others will get the blessing. If Solomon gets the thousand pieces of silver, others will get two hundred. Mary's box of ointment, very costly, was wholly expended upon Christ, but others also received a benefit, for "the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."

Thus at last the soul who has experienced the dark valleys and the mountain heights, city wanderings and garden delights, is brought to rest in the eternal love of Christ (ver. 5); in all its breadth, and length, and depth, and height (6, 7); to think of others (8, 9); to gladly own that Christ will have universal sway (10, 11); and in the meantime to hold every possession at His disposal (12). Such is the triumph of the love of Christ.

The Bridegroom.


13. Thou that dwellest in the gardens,

The companions hearken to thy voice;

Let me hear it.

The Bridegroom is heard for the last time. He delights to own what his love has accomplished. The wanderings of the bride are over: love has brought her to dwell in the gardens. How happy for us when drawn by the constraining love of Christ we find our portion outside this poor world in the company of His people - in the gardens of the Lord. Only from that happy place of fellowship can we bear a true witness to others. But the Lord is not content that others should hear our voice in the way of witness, He himself would fain hear our voice in the way of worship, and response to His voice. Immediately the bride responds:

The Bride.


14. Haste, my beloved,

And be thou like a gazelle or young hart

Upon the mountain of spices.

The reply of the bride expresses the longing of her heart for the Bridegroom. His desire is gratified, he hears her voice as she says, "Haste, my beloved," words that fall upon his ear with great delight, for they tell him that love has accomplished its work in the heart of the bride. A love fills her heart that will not be satisfied apart from him, that can only be gratified by his return. So in our day love has taken us in hand, patiently bears with us in all our wanderings, restores our souls, and revives our drooping affections, brings us into the company of Christ in the garden of the Lord, and there unfolds to us all the treasures of love, and tells us our Beloved is coming for us. And love has accomplished its work in our hearts, when in response to His word, "Surely I come quickly," He hears the voice of His people sending back the response:


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/song-of-solomon-8.html. 1832.
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