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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

The song of songs, which is Solomon's.

The Song of songs - the most excellent of all songs, Hebrew idiom (Deuteronomy 10:14). A foretaste on earth of the "new song" to be sung in glory (Revelation 5:9).

Solomon's - "King of Israel," or "Jerusalem," is not added, as in the opening of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes; not because Solomon had not yet ascended the throne (Moody Stuart), but because his personality is hid under that of Christ, the true Solomon (i:e., Prince of Peace). The earthly Solomon is not introduced, which would break the consistency of the allegory. Though the bride bears the chief part, the Song throughout is not her's, but that of her "Solomon." He animates her. He and she, the Head and the members, form but one Christ. Aaron prefigured Him as priest; Moses, as prophet; David, as a suffering king; Solomon, as the triumphant prince of peace. The camp in the wilderness represents the Church in the world; the peaceful reign of Solomon, after all enemies had been subdued, represents the Church in heaven, of which joy the Song gives a foretaste.

Verse 2

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

Let him - abruptly. She names him not, as is natural to one whose heart is full of some much-desired friend: so Mary Magdalene at the Sepulchre, as if everyone must know whom she means, the One chief object of her desire (Psalms 73:25; Matthew 13:44-46).

Kiss - the token of peace from the Prince of Peace (Luke 15:20); "our Peace" (Psalms 85:10; Colossians 1:21).

Of his mouth - marking the tenderest affection. For a king to permit his hands, or even garment, to be kissed, was counted a great honour; but that he should himself kiss another with his mouth is the greatest honour. God had in times past spoken by the mouth of His prophets, who hath declared the Church's betrothal; the bride now longs for contact with the sweet mouth of the Bridegroom Himself (Job 23:12; Luke 4:22). True of the Church before the first advent, longing for "the hope of Israel," "the desire of all nations." Also the awakened soul longing for the kiss of reconciliation: and further, the kiss that is the token of the marriage contract, and of friendship, such as Jesus vouchsafes to His friends in its highest manifestation (John 14:21).

Thy love - Hebrew, loves; namely, tokens of love, loving blandishments.

Wine - which makes glad "the heavy heart" of one ready to perish, so that he "remembers his misery no more." So, in a "better" sense, Christ's love (Habakkuk 3:17-18). He gives the same praise to the bride's love, with the emphatic addition, "How much" (Song of Solomon 4:10). Wine was created by His first miracle, and was the pledge given of His love at the last supper. The spiritual wine is His blood and His Spirit, the "new" and better wine of the kingdom, which we can never drink to "excess," as the other.

Verse 3

Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

Because of - rather, 'As regards lª- the savour of thy ointments, it is good' (Maurer). In Song of Solomon 4:10-11, the Bridegroom reciprocates the praise of the bride in similar terms.

Thy name - Christ's manifested character and office as the "Anointed" (Isaiah 9:6); as 'the savour of ointments' is the graces that surround His person. Ecclesiastes 7:1, in its fullest sense, applies to Him. Psalms 45:7-8. The holy anointing oil of the High Priest, which it was death for any one else to make (Exodus 30:23-38), implies the exclusive preciousness of Messiah's name as the only Saviour (Acts 4:12); so Mary brake the box of precious ointment over Him, appropriately, the broken box typifying His body, which, when broken, diffused all grace: compounded of various spices, etc. (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9), answering to His manifold fullness of divine grace, of sweet odour (Ephesians 5:2).

Poured - (Isaiah 53:12.)

Therefore - because of the manifestation of God's character in Christ (1 John 4:9; 1 John 4:19). So the penitent woman (Luke 7:37).

Virgins - the pure in heart (Revelation 14:4). Hebrew, halamoth, from a root to hide: cf., though the Hebrew is different, "thy hidden ones" (Psalms 83:3). The "ointment" of the Spirit "poured forth" produces the "love of Christ" (Romans 5:5).

Verse 4

Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

Draw me -

(1) The cry of ancient Israel for Messiah; e.g., Simeon Anna, etc.

(2) The cry of an awakened soul for the drawing of the Spirit, after it has gotten a glimpse of Christ's loveliness, and its own helplessness.

"Draw me" - The Father draws (John 6:44). The Son draws (Jeremiah 31:3; John 12:32). "Draw" here, and "Tell" (Song of Solomon 1:7), reverently qualify the word "kiss" (Song of Solomon 1:2).

Me, we - no believer desires to go to heaven alone (John 1:41; John 1:45). We are converted as individuals; we follow Christ as joined in a communion of saints. Individuality and community meet in the bride.

Run - her earnestness kindles as she prays (Isaiah 40:31).

After thee - not before (John 10:4).

King ... brought me into - (Psalms 45:14-15). He is the anointed Priest (Song of Solomon 1:3); King (Song of Solomon 1:4).

Chambers. Her prayer is answered even beyond her desires. Not only is she permitted to run after Him, but is brought into the inmost pavilion, where Eastern kings admitted none but the most Intimate friends, and did so by holding out the golden sceptre (Esther 4:11). The erection of the temple of Solomon was the first bringing of the bride into permanent, instead of migratory chambers of the King. Christ's body on earth was the next whereby believers are brought within the veil (Ephesians 2:6). Entrance into the closet for prayer is the first step. The earnest of the future bringing into heaven (John 14:3). His chambers are the bride's also (Isaiah 26:20). There are various chambers, plural (John 14:2).

Be glad and rejoice - inward and outward rejoicing.

In thee - (Isaiah 61:10.) Not in our spiritual frames (Psalms 30:6-7).

Remember - Hebrew, nazkiyraah (H2142); rather, commemorate with praises (Isaiah 63:7). The mere remembrance of spiritual joys is better than the present enjoyment of carnal ones (Psalms 4:6-7).

Upright - literally, rightnesses. Maurer translates, 'They rightly (i:e., with good reason), love thee.' Impersonally, 'Thou art rightly loved.' But the English version is better: abstract for concrete: Rightnesses, or those of uprightness and sincerity answer to "the virgins," Song of Solomon 1:3 (Psalms 58:1). So Nathanael (John 1:47); Peter (John 21:17).

Verse 5

I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

Black ... as the tents of Kedar - from the root kaadar, to be black (Psalms 120:5). She draws the image from the black goat-skins with which the Scenite Arabs ("Kedar" was in Arabia Petraea) cover their tents (contrasted with the splendid state tent in which the King was awaiting His bride, according to Eastern custom); typifying the darkness of man's natural state. To feel this, and yet also feel one's self in Jesus Christ ... Comely ... as the curtains of Solomon - marks the believer, (Romans 7:18, etc.) "I am chief:" so she says not merely, 'I was,' but "I am;" still black in herself, but comely through His comeliness put upon her.

Curtains - first, the hangings and veil in the temple of Solomon; then, also, the "fine linen which is the righteousness of saints," the white wedding garment provided by Jesus Christ (Isaiah 61:10; Matthew 22:11). Historically, the dark tents of Kedar represent the original state of Israel, a wandering tribe of the desert, until God put His comeliness on her: then, in the New Testament, the Gentiles who, though once dark, yet were among the earliest inquirers after Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:1-23) - namely, the wise men from the East.

Daughters of Jerusalem - professors, not primarily the bride, or "the virgins," yet not enemies; invited to Gospel blessings (Song of Solomon 3:10-11); so near to Jesus Christ as not to be unlikely to find Him (Song of Solomon 5:8); desirous to seek Him with her (Song of Solomon 6:1). In Song of Solomon 7:8-9, the bride's Beloved becomes their Beloved; not, however, of all of them. They are the pagan nations about to be brought into the Kingdom of God (Hengstenberg). (Song of Solomon 8:4; cf. Luke 23:27.)

Verse 6

Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

She feels as if her blackness was so great as to be gazed at by all.

Look not upon me (too closely: contrast Song of Solomon 2:14 ), because I (am black, because the sun - implying that Israel was scorched with God's anger, executed on her by the world-powers, because of her unfaithfulness before Messiah's coming. The blackness of Israel's countenance, by reason of her bondage in the brick-kilns of Egypt, is probably the primary point (Psalms 68:13). Compare subsequently the bondage in Babylon (Lamentations 4:8).

Mother's children - (Matthew 10:36). She is to forget "her own people and her fathers house" - i:e., the worldly connections of her unregenerate state (Psalms 45:10).

Were angry with me - they had maltreated her (Luke 15:15-16). Children of the same mother, but not the same father (Maurer.) (John 8:41-44.) Satan is the father of the ungodly; God is the Father of the godly. Eve is our common mother. "False brethren" (2 Corinthians 11:26). Those who profess to have the Church as their mother, but who have not God for their Father.

Keeper of the vineyards. Israel was reduced to bondage by the world-powers for her apostasy from her God. Since she did not keep the high trust of being the witness for God to the Gentiles, committed to her by God, God gave her over to the Gentile powers to be keeper of vineyards of a very different kind to them-namely, to bear their cruel yoke, instead of the Lord's blessed one. Vinedressing was a menial and laborious work (Isaiah 61:5). They made her a common keeper of vineyards, whereby the sun looked upon, i:e., burnt her: thus she did" not keep her own" vineyard, i:e., fair beauty. So the world and the soul (Matthew 16:26). The believer has to watch against the danger of neglecting self-discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27). So he will be able, instead of the self-reproach here, to say as Song of Solomon 8:12.

Verse 7

Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?

My soul loveth - more intense than "the virgins" and "the upright love thee" (Song of Solomon 1:3-4; Matthew 22:37). To carry out the design of the allegory, the royal encampment is here represented as moving from place to place, in search of green pastures, under the Shepherd King, (Psalms 23:1-6.) The bride, having first enjoyed communion with Him in the pavilion, is willing to follow Him into labours and dangers; arising from all-absorbing love (Luke 14:26); this distinguishes her from the formalist (John 10:27).

Feedest - tendest thy flock (Isaiah 40:11; Revelation 7:17). No single type expresses all the office of Jesus Christ; hence, arises the variety of diverse images used to portray the manifold aspects of Him; these would be quite incongruous if the song referred to the earthly Solomon. Her contact with Him is special. She hears His voice, and addresses none but Himself. Yet it is through a veil; she sees Him not (Job 23:8-9). If we would be fed, we must follow the Shepherd through the whole breadth of His Word, and not stay on one spot alone.

Makest ... to rest - distinct from "feedest:" periods of rest are vouchsafed after labour (Isaiah 4:6). Communion in private must go along with public following of Him.

As one that turneth aside, [ kª`oTªyaah (H5844)] - rather, one veiled - i:e., as a harlot-not His true bride (Genesis 38:15-16) (Gesenius); or as a mourner with covered head (2 Samuel 15:30) (Weiss); or as one unknown (Maurer). All imply estrangement from the Bridegroom.

Thy companions. She feels estranged even among Christ's true servants - "thy companions (Luke 22:28) - so long as she has not Himself present. The opposite spirit to 1 Corinthians 3:4.

Verse 8

If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.

If thou know not. She ought to have known (John 14:8-9). The confession of her ignorance and blackness leads Him to call her "fairest." Her jealousy of letting even "His companions" take the place of Himself (Song of Solomon 1:7) led her too far. He directs her to follow them, as they follow Him (Hebrews 6:12); to use ordinances and the ministry: where they are He is (Jeremiah 6:16). Indulging in isolation is not the way to find Him. It was thus, literally, that Zipporah found her bridegroom (Exodus 2:16). The bride unhesitatingly asks the watchmen afterward (Song of Solomon 3:3).

Feed thy kids - (John 21:15.) Christ is to be found in active ministrations as well as in prayer (Proverbs 11:15).

Shepherds' tents. "The shepherds" are ministers in the sanctuary (Psalms 84:1).

Verse 9

I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.

Horses in Pharaoh's chariots - celebrated for beauty, swiftness, and ardour, at the Red sea. These qualities, which seem to belong to the ungodly, really belong to the saint (Moody Stuart). The allusion may be to the horses brought at a high price by Solomon out of Egypt (2 Chronicles 1:16-17). So the bride is redeemed out of spiritual Egypt by the true Solomon, at an infinite price (Isaiah 51:1; 1 Peter 1:18-19). But the deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red sea accords with the allusion to the tabernacle (1:5; 3:6-7): it rightly is put at the beginning of the older Church's call. The ardour and beauty of the bride are the point of comparison (Song of Solomon 1:4, "run;" Song of Solomon 1:5, "comely"). Also, like Pharaoh's horses, she forms a great company (Revelation 19:7; Revelation 19:14). As Jesus Christ is both Shepherd and Conqueror, so believers are not only His sheep, but also, as a Church militant now, His chariots and horses (Song of Solomon 6:4). So Elijah and Elisha were (2 Kings 2:12).

Verse 10

Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.

Rows of jewels - (Ezekiel 16:11.) Olearius says, Persian ladies wear two or three rows of pearls round the head, beginning on the forehead, and descending down to the cheeks and under the chin, so that their faces seem to be set in pearls. The chains with which God adorns the newly espoused bride are God's ordinances (Proverbs 1:8-9). The hands are the instruments of action. The neck, or throat, the organ of speech. The torim ("rows of jewels") alludes to torah, "the law," as in Ezekiel 16:11, hedi, 'ornament,' alludes to heedah, a testimony.' Contrast Psalms 63:6, "Pride compasseth them about as a chain." The comparison to the horses (Song of Solomon 1:9) implies the vital energy of the bride; this verse, her added graces (1 Timothy 2:9).

Verse 11

We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. We - the Trinity implied by the Holy Spirit, whether it was so by the writer of the Song or not. 'The Jews acknowledged God as king, and Messiah as king, in interpreting the Song, but did not know that these two are one' (Leighton).

Make - not merely give.

Borders of gold, with studs (i:e., spots) of silver. Jesus Christ delights to give more "to him that hath." He crowns His own work in us (Isaiah 26:12). The "borders" here answer to "rows" (the same Hebrew term in Song of Solomon 1:10). But here the King seems to give the finish to her attire by adding a crown (borders, rows, or circles of gold studded with silver spots; cf. Esther 2:17). Both the royal and nuptial crown or chaplet. The Hebrew [ kalaah (H3618)] for "spouse" (Song of Solomon 4:8) is a perfected or crowned one. The crown is given at once, upon conversion, in title, but in sensible possession afterward (Ezekiel 16:12; Revelation 2:10).

Verse 12

While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

At his table. It is the presence of the Sun of Righteousness that draws out the believer's odours of grace. It was the sight of Him at table that caused the two women to bring forth their ointments for Him. Historically fulfilled, Matthew 2:11; spiritually, Revelation 3:20; and in church worship, Matthew 18:20; and at the Lord's Supper especially: for here public communion with Him at table amidst His friends is spoken of, as Song of Solomon 1:4 refers to private communion; primarily in the Israelite Church, and typically Exodus 24:9-11; the future perfect fulfillment, Revelation 19:9. The allegory supposes the King to have stopped in His movements, and to be seated with His friends on the divan. What grace, that a table should be prepared for us while still militant!

My spikenard - not boasting, but owning the Lord's grace to and in her. The spikenard is a lowly herb, the emblem of humility. She rejoices that He is well-pleased with her graces, His own work (Philippians 4:13; Philippians 4:18).

Verse 13

A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.

Bundle of myrrh - implying abundant preciousness. So the Greek for "precious" [ timee (G5092)], literally, preciousness, 1 Peter 2:7. Even a little myrrh was costly, much more a bundle. Sanctius takes it of a scent-box filled with liquid myrrh; the liquid obtained by incision gave the tree its chief value.

He - rather, it: it is the myrrh that lies in the bosom, as the cluster of camphire is in the vineyards (Song of Solomon 1:14). All night - an undivided heart (Ephesians 3:17: contrast Jeremiah 4:14; Ezekiel 16:15; Ezekiel 16:30). Yet, on account of the everlasting covenant, God restores the adulteress, (Ezekiel 16:60; Ezekiel 16:62; Hosea 2:2, etc.) The "night" is the whole present dispensation until the everlasting day dawns (Romans 13:12). Also, literally, night (Psalms 119:147); the night of affliction (Psalms 42:8).

Verse 14

My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.

Cluster - Jesus Christ is one, yet manifold in His graces.

Of camphire - or, cypress. The hennah is meant, whose odorous flowers grow in clusters, of a colour white and yellow softly blended: its bark is dark, the foliage light-green. Women deck their persons with them. The loveliness of Jesus Christ.

Vineyards - appropriate in respect to Him who is "the vine." The spikenard was for the banquet (Song of Solomon 1:12); the myrrh was in her bosom continually (Song of Solomon 1:13); the camphire is in the midst of natural beauties, which, though lovely, are eclipsed by the one cluster, Jesus Christ, pre-eminent above them all.

En-gedi - in South Palestine, near the Dead Sea, famed for aromatic shrubs.

Verse 15

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.

Fair - He discerns beauty in her who had said, "I am black," because of the everlasting covenant.

Doves' eyes - large and beautiful in the doves of Syria. The prominent features of her beauty: gentleness, innocent, and constant love, emblem of the Holy Spirit, who changes us to His own likeness (Matthew 3:16). Contrast the opposite kind of eyes (Matthew 20:15; 2 Peter 2:14).

Verse 16

Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. Reply of the Bride.

Thou art fair, my beloved. She presumes to call Him beloved, because He called her so first. Thou callest me "fair;" if I am so, it is not in myself, it is all from thee (Psalms 90:17); but thou art fair in thyself (Psalms 45:2).

Pleasant (Proverbs 3:17) - toward thy friends (2 Samuel 1:26).

Bed ... green - the couch of green grass on which the King and His bride sit to "rest at noon." Thus her prayer in Song of Solomon 1:7 is here granted. She finds Him, as she desired, in a green oasis in the desert, always found near waters in the East (Psalms 23:2; Isaiah 41:17-19). The scene is a kiosk, or summer-house. Historically, the literal resting of the Babe of Bethlehem and His parents on the green grass provided for cattle, (Luke 2:1-52.) Typically, the meeting of Moses and his destined bride, Zipporah, at the place of watering the flocks, in the beginning of the Old Testament Church's history. So in the "doves" (Song of Solomon 1:15) there may be an incidental allusion to the offering. So in Song of Solomon 1:17 the "cedar" and "fir" ceiling refers to the temple (1 Kings 5:6-10); type of the heavenly temple (Revelation 21:22).

Verse 17

The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

The beams of our house (are) cedar - (see note. Song of Solomon 1:16; but primarily the kiosk, Isaiah 11:10.) Cedar is pleasing to the eye and smell, hard, and never eaten by worms.

Fir - rather, cypress, which is hard, durable, and fragrant, of a reddish hue (Gesenius). The "rafters" are the cross beams; the carved ceiling. [The Kethibh is rachiyT, transposed for charit, from an Arabic root, carved. The Qeri' reads, rahiyT (H7351), the ceiling, with its interstices, or little square cavities formed by the crossing of the beams.] Contrasted with the shifting "tents" (Song of Solomon 1:5). His house is "our house" (Psalms 92:13; Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 3:6). Perfect oneness of Him and the bride (John 14:20; John 17:21). There is the shelter of a princely roof from the sun (Psalms 121:6), without the confinement of walls, and amidst rural beauties. The carved ceiling represents the wondrous excellencies of His divine nature.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/song-of-solomon-1.html. 1871-8.
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