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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 3

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

Verse 1

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

Song of Solomon 3:1-11

By night - literally, 'By nights.' Continuation of the losing for the dawn of Messiah (Psalms 130:6). The spiritual desertion here (Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 3:5). is not due to indifference, as in Song of Solomon 5:2-8. 'As nights and dews are better for flowers than a continual sun, so Christ's absence (at times) giveth sap to humility, and putteth an edge on hunger, and furnisheth a fair field to faith to put forth itself' (Rutherford). Center Song of Solomon 1:13; Psalms 30:6-7.

On ... bed - the secret of her failure. So Israel's estrangement from God through spiritual indolence (Isaiah 64:7).

I sought him - no want of sincerity, but of diligence, which she now makes up for by leaving her bed to seek Him (Psalms 22:2). Four times she calls Jesus "Christ Him whom my soul loveth," designating Him as absent: language of desire: 'He loved me,' would be language of present fruition (Revelation 1:5). In questioning the watchmen she does not even name Him, so full is her heart of Him. Having found Him at dawn (for throughout He is the morning), she charges the daughters not to abridge, by intrusion, the period of His stay. Compare as to the thoughtful seeking for Jesus Christ in the time of John the Baptist, in vain at first, but presently after successful (Luke 3:15-22).

I found him not - Oh for such honest dealings with ourselves! (Proverbs 25:14; Jude 1:12.) I found him not - Oh for such honest dealings with ourselves! (Proverbs 25:14; Jude 1:12.)

Verse 2

I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

I will rise now - wholly, awake for God (Luke 15:18-20; Ephesians 5:14). 'An honest resolution is often to (the doing of) duty like a needle that draws the thread after it' (Durham). Not a mere wish, that counts not the cost-to leave her easy bed, and wander in the dark night seeking Him (Proverbs 13:4; Matthew 21:30; Luke 14:27-33).

The city - Jerusalem, literally, (Matthew 3:5; John 1:19), and spiritually, the Church here (Hebrews 12:22), in glory (Revelation 21:2).

Broad ways - open spaces at the gates of Eastern cities, where the public assembled for business So the assemblies of worshippers (Proverbs 8:2-3; Hebrews 10:25). She had in her first awakening shrunk from them, seeking Jesus Christ alone; but she was desired to seek the footsteps of the flock (Song of Solomon 1:8); so now in her second trial she goes forth to them of herself. 'The more the soul grows in grace, and the less it leans on ordinances, the more it prizes and profits by them' (Moody Stuart).

Found him not - nothing short of Jesus Christ can satisfy her (Job 23:8-10; Psalms 63:1-2).

Verse 3

The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?

Watchmen - ministers (Isaiah 62:6; Jeremiah 6:17; Hebrews 13:17); fit persons to consult (Isaiah 21:11).

Found me - the general ministry of the Word 'finds' individually souls in quest of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:14); whereas formalists remain unaffected.

Verse 4

It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

(It was) but a little that I passed from them. Jesus Christ is generally "found" near the watchmen and means of grace; but they are not Himself: the star that points to Bethlehem is not the Sun that has risen there; she hastens past the guide-posts to the goal (Moody Stuart). Not even angels could satisfy Mary, instead of Jesus Christ (John 20:11-16).

Found him - (Matthew 13:44-46.)

I held him ... - willing to, be held; not willing, if not held (Revelation 3:11). 'As a little weeping child will bold its mother fast, not because it is stronger than she, but because her bowels constrain her not to leave it; so Jesus Christ, yearning over the believer, cannot go, because He will not' (Durham). In Song of Solomon 1:4 it is He who leads the bride into His chambers; here it is she who leads Him into her mother's. There are times when the grace of Jesus Christ seems to draw us to Him; and others when we with strong cries draw Him to us and ours. In the East one large apartment often serves for the whole family; so the bride here speaks of her mother's apartment and her own together. The mention of the 'mother' excludes impropriety, and imparts the idea of heavenly love, pure as a sister's, while ardent as a bride's; hence, the frequent title, 'my sister-spouse.' Our mother after the Spirit is the Church, the new Jerusalem (John 3:5-8); for her we ought to pray continually, also for the national Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6-7); also for the human family, which is our mother and kindred after the flesh: these our mother's children have evil treated us (Song of Solomon 1:6), but, like our Father; we are to return good for evil, and so bring Jesus Christ home to them.

Verse 5

I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

I charge you ... - so Song of Solomon 2:7; but there it was for the non-interruption of her own fellowship with Jesus Christ that she was anxious; here it is for the not grieving of the Holy Spirit on the part of the daughters of Jerusalem. Jealously avoid levity, heedlessness, and offences, which would mar the gracious work begun in others (Matthew 18:7; Acts 2:42-43).

Historically, the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth, typified by the tabernacle with the Shekinah-cloud in the wilderness, and the temple reared by Solomon.

Verse 6

Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant? New scene (Song of Solomon 3:6-11). The friends of the Bridegroom see a cortege approach: the palanquin and guard.

Who (is) this that cometh out - rather, up from; ascends from. The wilderness was lower than Jerusalem, physically and morally. The "who is this?" in Hebrew is feminine, and must refer to the Bride riding in the Bridegroom's palanquin.

Pillars of smoke - from the perfumes burned round Him and His bride. Image from Israel and the tabernacle (answering to "His bed" Song of Solomon 3:7) marching through the desert with the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night, and the pillars of smoke ascending from the altars of incense and of atonement; so Jesus Christ's righteousness, atonement, and ever-living intercession. Balsam, the last representative of patriarchism, was required to curse the Jewish Church, just as it afterward would not succumb to Christianity without a struggle; but he had to bless in language like that here. Angels, too, joyfully ask the same question, when Jesus Christ, with the tabernacle of His body (answering to His bed (Song of Solomon 3:7), John 1:14, "dwelt;" Greek, tabernacled, John 2:21) ascends into heaven (Psalms 24:8-10); also when they see His glorious Bride with Him (Revelation 7:13-17). Encouragement to her: amidst the darkest trials (Song of Solomon 3:1) she is still on the road to glory (Song of Solomon 3:11), in a palanquin "paved with love" (Song of Solomon 3:10). She is now in soul spiritually 'coming,' exhaling the sweet graces, faith, love, joy, peace, prayer, and praise. The fire is lighted within, the "smoke" is seen without (Acts 4:13). It is in the desert of trail (Song of Solomon 3:1-3) she gets them. She is the "merchant" buying from Jesus Christ without money or price. Just as myrrh and frankincense are got, not in Egypt, but in the Arabian sands, and, the mountains of Palestine. Hereafter she shall 'come' (Song of Solomon 3:6; Song of Solomon 3:11), in a glorified body too (Philippians 3:21). Historically, Jesus Christ returning from the wilderness full of the Holy Spirit. The wilderness expresses the barrenness and deadness of the unredeemed. The same, "who is this?" etc., as in Isaiah 63:1; Isaiah 63:5.

Verse 7

Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.

In Song of Solomon 3:6 time wilderness character of the Church is portrayed; in Song of Solomon 3:7-8, its militant aspect. In Song of Solomon 3:9-10, Jesus Christ is seen dwelling in believers, who are His "chariot" and "body." In Song of Solomon 3:11 the consummation in glory.

Bed - palanquin. His body, guarded by a definite number of angels, "three score," or sixty (Matthew 26:53), from the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), and continually (Luke 2:13; Acts 1:10-11); just as 600,000 of Israel guarded the Lords tabernacle (Numbers 2:17-32) - one for, every 10,000. In contrast to the 'bed of sloth' (Song of Solomon 3:1).

Valiant - (Joshua 5:13-14.) Angels guarding His tomb used like words (Mark 16:6).

Of Israel - true subjects, not mercenaries.

Verse 8

They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.

They all hold swords - not actually grasping them, but having them "girt on the thigh" ready for use, like their Lord. So believers, too, are guarded by angels (Hebrews 1:14), and they themselves need "every man" (Nehemiah 4:18) to be armed (Ephesians 6:12; Ephesians 6:17).

Expert in war - (2 Corinthians 2:11.)

Because of fear in the night. Arab marauders often turn a wedding into mourning by a night attack. So the bridal procession of saints in the night of this wilderness is the chief object of Satan's assault.

Verse 9

King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.

Made himself a chariot - more elaborately made than the "bed," or traveling litter (Song of Solomon 3:7) [ 'apiryown (H668)]: from a Hebrew root [paaraah], to elaborate (Ewald). So the temple of "cedar of Lebanon," as compared with the temporary tabernacle of shittim-wood. Jesus Christ's body is the antitype, 'made' by the Father for Him (Hebrews 10:5), the wood answering to His human nature, the gold His divine, the two being but one Christ.

Verse 10

He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.

Pillars - supporting the canopy at the four corners: curtains at the side protect the person within from the sun. Pillars with silver sockets supported the veil that enclosed the holy of holies: emblem of Jesus Christ's strength (1 Kings 7:21, margin) "Silver" is the emblem of His purity (Psalms 12:6); so the saints hereafter (Revelation 3:12).

The bottom - Hebrew, rephidah, the back, for, resting or reclining, [ anaklinaton, Septuagint] The 'reclinatorium' (Vulgate). So the floor, and the mercy-seat, the resting place of God (Psalms 132:14) in the temple, was gold (1 Kings 6:30). The propitiatory [ hilasteerion (G2435)] or mercy-seat; the lid of the ark between the cherubim especially was God's resting place or reclinatory (Psalms 80:1). "Bottom," implies the firm-based stability of the covenant. The "good," its excellence.

Covering - Hebrew, merkab (H4817). Mercer translates seat, as in Leviticus 15:9. Hereafter the saints shall share His seat (Revelation 3:21). But as "bottom" expresses seat, it is not likely it would be repeated. Rather, the Hebrew is used of the veil or curtain, as it were riding on the pillars from which it is suspended, as its chariot.

Purple - the veil of the holiest, partly purple, and the purple robe put on Jesus Christ, accord with the English version, "covering" (Exodus 26:31-32). The purple blood of our King Messiah is the covering which avails the Church for both justification and sanctification (Romans 6:3-4). "Purple," including scarlet and crimson, is the emblem of royalty, and of His blood; typified by the Passover lamb's blood, and the wine when the twelve sat or reclined at the Lord's table.

Paved with love - tesselated, like Mosaic pavement, with the various acts and promises of love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16), in contrast with the tables of stone in the "midst" of the ark, covered with the writings of stern command; this is all grace and love to believers, not only among the Jews, but also from the Gentiles, who thereby become the "daughters of Jerusalem." The Pavement on which Pilate set his judgment-seat in condemning Christ reminds us of the love wherewith through the Saviour's condemnation, the way is paved for our justification. The exterior silver and gold, cedar, purple, and guards, may deter, but when the bride enters within she rests in a pavement of love.

Verse 11

Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Go forth - (Matthew 25:6.)

Daughters of Zion. Fully to be accomplished at Christ's second coming. Earnests have been given already: first in the Israelite Church, latterly in the Christian Church, in every fresh manifestation of His glory and His love to His people.

Crown - nuptial (Ezekiel 16:8-12: the Hebrews wore costly crowns, or chaplets, at weddings) and kingly (Revelation 19:12). The crown of thorns was once His nuptial chaplet, His blood the wedding wine-cup. "His mother" that so crowned Him, is the human race, for He is "the Son of man," not merely the Son of Mary. The same mother reconciled to Him (Matthew 12:50), as the Church, travails in birth for souls, which she presents to Him as a crown (Revelation 4:10). Not being ashamed to call the children brethren (Hebrews 2:11-14), He calls their mother His mother (Psalms 22:9).

Behold - (2 Thessalonians 1:10.)

Day of his espousals - chiefly the final marriage, when the number of the elect shall be complete (Revelation 6:11). Gladness - (Psalms 45:15.) Moody Stuart observes as to this Canticle (Song of Solomon 3:6-11; Song of Solomon 4:1-16; Song of Solomon 5:1), the center of the book, these peculiarities:

(1) The Bridegroom takes the chief part, whereas elsewhere the Bride is the chief speaker;

(2) Elsewhere He is either "King" or "Solomon," here He is twice called "king Solomon." The bride is six times here called the "spouse," never so before or after; also "sister" four times; and, except in the first verse of the next Canticle, nowhere else;

(3) He and she are never separate: no absence, no complaint, which so abound elsewhere, occur in this Canticle.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/song-of-solomon-3.html. 1871-8.
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