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Son 6:1 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.
Ver. 1. Whither is thy beloved gone? &c. ] All Christ’s disciples are ζητητικοι , inquisitive after the "truth that is in Jesus," Eph 4:21 and are fellow helpers to it. 3Jn 1:8 There is also nescio quid divinum in auscultatione, as one well noteth; that is, a strange and strong energy or forcibleness in hearing, whether publicly or in private conference, Christ and his excellencies displayed and discoursed of. Let but his name, as an ointment, be poured out, and the virgins can do no less than love him. Son 1:3 These daughters of Jerusalem are, by hearing the Church describing her spouse, and painting him out in lively colours, fired up to a holy contention in godliness, and, might they but know where to have him, they would be at any pains to "partake of the benefit." 1Ti 6:2 They wondered at first why she should make such ado about Christ; but when they conversed a while with her, and had heard her speak with such affection and admiration, they are turned, and will now go seek him with her. God is pleased many times to water the holy meetings and conferences of his people with blessing, beyond expectation or belief. We should frame ourselves to an easy discourse of the "glory of Christ’s kingdom, and talk of his power." Psa 145:8-9 Our tongues in this argument should be "as the pen of a ready writer," Psa 45:1 that we may be able to speak oft to one another, with profit and power in the best thing. Mal 3:16 Little do we know what a deal of good may be done hereby. Mr Foxe, speaking of God’s little flock in the days of Henry VIII, saith: In such rarity of good books and want of teachers, this one thing I cannot but marvel and muse at, to note in the registers, and consider how the Word of God did multiply so exceedingly among them; for I find that one neighbour, resorting and conferring with another, eftsoons, with a few words of their first or second talk, did win and turn their minds to that wherein they desired to persuade them touching the truth of God’s Word and sacraments, &c. a In all ages such as were ordained to eternal life "believed"; Act 13:48 after that they had "heard the word of truth they believed, and were sealed." Eph 1:13 Contrariwise, reprobates either refuse to hear the Church preaching Christ, Joh 8:47 or else they hear and jeer - as Pilate, with his What is truth? - in mere mockery b Joh 18:38 hear and blaspheme, Act 13:45 or, at best, hear and admire, and that is all. They leave the Word where they found it, for anything they will practise. They think they do a great char to sit out a sermon, and then commend it. But wisdom’s children will not only "justify" her, Mat 11:19 but also "glorify" her. Act 13:48 They will "seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face evermore"; Psa 105:4 seek him in his holy temple; seek him in and with the Church, as here. They know that extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. The Church is "the pillar and ground of truth," 1Ti 3:15 inasmuch as, by her ministry, the authority, dignity, knowledge, virtue, and use of the truth of the gospel, is preserved in the world, and "held out," Php 2:16 as the hand holds forth the torch, or the watchtower the light, and so the haven to the weather beaten mariners.
That we may seek him with thee. ] For he is not like to seek long that seeks alone, there being a notable tie to constancy in the communion of saints. Surely, as sincerity is the life of religion, so society is the life of sincerity. The Philippians had no sooner received the gospel, but they were in fellowship, to a day. Php 1:5
a Acts and Mon., fol. 750.
b Irridentis vox, non interrogantis.
Son 6:2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
Ver. 2. My beloved is gone down into his garden. ] Now she can tell where Christ is, and inform others who before was to seek of him, and sought infor mation from others. Post tenebras lux is the Church’s motto. "Though I sit in darkness, the Lord shall give me light"; he will, with the temptation, give the issue - a way to get out of it, as the moon wades out of a cloud, as the seed gets up from under a clod. And see how forward she is to share; her friends shall know all that she can tell them. There is no envy in spiritual things, because they may be divided in solidum. in the whole. One may have as much as another, and all alike. Yea, God’s people know that the "manifestation of the Spirit is given them to profit withal," 1Co 12:7 and that it is not pouring out, but want of pouring out, that dries up the streams of grace, as that of off. 2Ki 4:6 What is meant by Christ’s garden? See Trapp on " Son 4:16 " He is said to go down to it, in allusion to the situation of Jerusalem, which was on a hill, their gardens being below in the fruitful valleys. Christ came down to his Church; he "descended into the lower parts of the earth"; that is, into his mother’s womb; Eph 4:9 Psa 139:15 yea, he "emptied himself" a of all his excellencies, and took upon him the form of a servant, yea, of an evil servant that was to be beaten. Yea, more, he "humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Php 2:9 Oh, humble Saviour, whither wilt thou descend? Facinus vincire civem Romanum. b It was much for the Son of God to be bound, more to be beaten, most of all to be slain. Quid dicam in crucem tolli, &c. Well might the apostle say, "He humbled himself"
To the beds of spices, ] i.e., To the particular churches, or to the companies of believers. These beds or rows of renewed souls, Christ, as a good gardener, treadeth out, soweth, planteth, watereth, fenceth, filleth with sundry gifts and graces.
To feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. ] Like as men go to their gardens, either to make merry, as we say, or to gather fruits. So Christ here, either to "eat his pleasant fruits," Son 4:16 his people’s holy performances, better to him than any Ambrosia, and then to "gather his lilies," to transplant them into heaven. Pascitnr Christus, quando suorum virtutes videt, saith one. Lilia decerpit, quando optimum quemque ex hac vita traducit: Christ "feedeth in the gardens," when he beholdeth the virtues of his people. He "gathereth lilies" when he translateth good souls into his kingdom above.
a εκενωσεν εαυτον , ex omni ad nihilum seipsum redegit. - Beza.
Son 6:3 I [am] my beloved’s, and my beloved [is] mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
Ver. 3. I am my beloved’s, &c.] Or, I am for my beloved, and he is for me; i.e., for me only. He resteth in his love, and I in mine. We will seek no further. And here her faith reviveth who in her late temptation and desertion was in a mist, and could not read her own graces, a See Trapp on " Son 2:16 " It reviveth, I say, and fetcheth out Christ, that had hid himself, as that brave woman did. Mar 7:24-25
a Flamma redardescit, quae modo nulla fuit. - Ovid.
Son 6:4 Thou [art] beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as [an army] with banners.
Ver. 4. Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah. ] A most neat and elegant city, where the kings of Israel kept their courts. A place of pleasure it was, as the very name imports; hence the Greeks translate it here good pleasure, a like as the Italians call a city of theirs Placenza. Of the Church’s exquisite beauty much hath been said before. Let it ever be remembered that all her beauty is but borrowed. Eze 16:14 Uxor fulget radiis mariti, as they say in the civil law. Isaac, when he was to marry Rebecca, sent her jewels aforehand, that, having them, she might be more lovely in his eye. So doth Christ the spirit of faith, and other graces, besides the imputation of his own perfect righteousness, that he may delight in his spouse. And albeit she had so discourteously dealt with him, as Son 5:3 and thereupon he had stepped aside for a while; yet that she might know that he was still the same, without shadow of change, and that he "hated putting away," Mal 2:16 meeting her again, he doth marvellously commend her, that is, his own graces in her, and all is as well as ever between them. Homo agnoscit, Deus ignoscit: it is but acknowledging the debt, and Christ will soon cross the book, and cancel the handwriting. Col 2:14 Quem poenitet peccasse, pene est innocens, - Repent, and the amends is made. "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." Jer 3:22
Comely as Jerusalem. ] That "city of the great king," great among the nations, and "princess among the provinces," Lam 1:1 the glory of the whole earth; Urbium totius Orientis clarissima, saith Pliny, b the most famous of all the cities of the East. Orbis totius lumen, as another calls it; yea, an earthly paradise, as Josephus, soli coelique fertilitate omnes civitates superans - a city compact together. Psa 122:3 The Church is all this in Christ’s esteem, and though the least, yet "not the least among the princes of Judah," as it is said of Bethlehem in a different respect. Mic 5:2 Mat 2:6
Terrible as an army with banners, ] i.e., Of invincible faith and spiritual courage: terrible also and full of majesty, either to draw hearts or to daunt them; as Nazianzen saith of Athanasius, that he was magnes et adamas, a lodestone in his sweet gentle drawing nature, and yet an adamant in his resolute stout carriage against those that were evil and erroneous. How terrible were the Israelites, encamped and bannered in the wilderness, unto the Moabites, Canaanites! &c. Exodus 15:14-16 Psa 48:5-6 And the like may be said of the Hussites in Bohemia, when all Germany were up in arms against them, and worsted by them; of the Britons under the conduct of Germanus, fighting against a mighty army of Pelagian Picts and Saxons in this kingdom, and prevailing only by the three times pronouncing the word Hallelujah. c Of the Protestants in France at the siege of Mountalban, where the people of God using daily humiliation, immediately before their sallying forth, sang a psalm, which when the enemy heard, they would so quake and tremble, crying, They come, they come, as though the wrath of God had been rushing out upon them. d God is both van and rear in the Church’s army. "The Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rereward." Isa 52:12 Even he that is "the great, the mighty, and the terrible God"; Neh 9:32 so that although, Loricatus incedat Satan, et cataphractus, as Luther hath it, Satan, muster up all his forces, tyrants, heretics, &c., that invade the Church and assault her on all sides, yet they shall find her invincible: Oppugnatur, sed non expugnatur. "Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel say, yet they have not prevailed against me." Psa 129:1-2 Populus Rom. saepe proelio victus, nunquam bello, saith Florus. The people of Rome lost many battles, but were never overcome in a set war; at the longrun they crushed all their enemies. So the Church. Nay, it may be truly affirmed of her, that she conquereth, even then, when she is conquered; as Christ overcame as well by patience as by power. So that more truly it may be written upon her gates, that is at this day upon the gates of Venice, Intacta manet, Let them remain intact, because it was never yet subdued by any enemy.
a ευδοκια .
b Lib. v. cap. 14.
c Dr. Ussher, De Britan. Eccles. Primord., 337.
d Spec. Belli Sac, 282.
Son 6:5 Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair [is] as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.
Ver. 5. Turn away thine eyes from me. ] Or, Turn thine eyes right upon me; so Son 6:13 he calls, "Return, return, O Shulamite"; and then the sense is, Look up unto me by faith. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Isaiah 45:22 ; Isaiah 31:1 ; Isa 42:18 But to keep to our translation. Christ had before confessed himself ravished with one of her eyes; and here he saith the same in effect. Stupenda sane dignatio, a wonderful condescension. We use to say, Majesty and love cannot meet or cohabit: a because love is the abasing of the soul to all services. But it is otherwise in Christ: majesty and love, even unto ravishment, meet in his holy heart. If the Church be sick of love toward him, he would she should know that he is overcome with love towards her, and that there is no love lost between them.
Thy hair is as a flock of goats, &c. ] Grazing upon, and gazing from Gilead - q.d., I like thee as well as ever I did, thy late relapse notwithstanding; for I find thee more humble, watchful, thankful for a Saviour, merciful to others, desirous of the state of perfection, &c. And as a limb once broke, and well set again, knits and grows stronger there than in any other place; so by thy late falling in some sort from me, I find thee more firmly fastened unto me. Thus God changeth, saith one, our griefly wounds into beauty spots, and maketh the horrible sting of Satan to be a pearl pin to pin upon us the long white robe of Christ, and to dress us with the garment of gladness. Son 4:1-6 And observe here an addition of some other parts described, and a more full description of some of the former: to show that his love was no whit diminished, but rather increased. Something it was surely that made Mr Foxe, the martyrologue say, that he got by his infirmities, and lost by his graces.
a Non bene conveniunt nec in una sede morantur, maiestas et amor.
Son 6:6 Thy teeth [are] as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and [there is] not one barren among them.
Ver. 6. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep, &c. ] See Song of Solomon 6:4-5 ; Song of Solomon 4:2 . See Trapp on " Son 6:4 " See Trapp on " Son 6:5 " See Trapp on " Son 4:2 "
Son 6:7 As a piece of a pomegranate [are] thy temples within thy locks.
Ver. 7. As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks. ] See Song of Solomon 6:4-5 ; Song of Solomon 4:2 . See Trapp on " Son 6:4 " See Trapp on " Son 6:5 " See Trapp on " Son 4:2 "
Son 6:8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.
Ver. 8. There are threescore queens, and fourscore, &c. ] Or as some read it, hypothetically, Be there sixty queens, and eighty concubines, which were secondary wives - usurary, the lawyers call them, that had right to the bed, but no rule in the family - and virgins, or waiting gentle women without number; although there be of other sorts never so many, yet "My dove," albeit but one, is an "only one," and beloved accordingly. see Jer 31:20 For the allegory here - some go one way to work, some another. Let there be never so great a number, saith one, of peoples and nations, of churches and assemblies, which challenge my name and love, and perhaps by their outward prosperities may seem to plead much interest in me, and much worth in themselves, yet "My dove," &c. Others think, that by "queens" are meant true believers; by "concubines," hypocrites and formal professors; and by "virgins," profane persons, that have not yet so much as a form of godliness. The first are the fewest, and the last are the greatest number. Lastly, There are those who make "queens," "concubines," and "virgins," to signify three different sorts or degrees of true Christians in the Catholic Church, which yet is but one. Some have made but small progress in piety; these are compared to "virgins," and are the far greater in number: Some are got further onward, and are of better proof; these are like "concubines," and do exceed the "queens" in number; quo enim perfectiores, eo pauciores. Some again are eminent and eximious Christians; these are queens, and have more close communion with Christ: and to this highest degree we must all aspire and endeavour, striving to perfection. Nature, art, grace, do all proceed from less perfect to more perfect. We read in Scripture of a Christian’s conception, Gal 4:19 birth, 1 Peter 1:23 ; 1Pe 2:2 childhood, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 1Jn 2:13 youth, or well grown age, Eph 4:13 old age. Act 21:16 Mnason was a gray-headed experienced Christian, a father. 1Jn 2:13 All must exact of themselves a daily growth, and be still bringing forth fruit in their old age, Psa 92:13-14 so shall the king take pleasure still in their beauty; so shall he one day set them upon his right hand, as place of dignity and safety, in gold of Ophir. Psalms 45:9 ; Psa 45:11
Son 6:9 My dove, my undefiled is [but] one; she [is] the [only] one of her mother, she [is] the choice [one] of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; [yea], the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
Ver. 9. My dove, mine undefiled is but one. ] For though all the afore named may be called spouses, yet they all make but one. "He that hath the bride (not brides) is the bridegroom," saith the Baptist. And this is "a great mystery," saith Paul, "but I speak concerning Christ and the Church," not churches. Eph 5:32 Una ecclesia, quia ex una fide, per unum Spiritum nascitur, saith Epiphanius. "Beware therefore of the concision" Php 3:2 - that is, of those that make divisions, and cut the Church in minutula frustula, as Augustine saith of the Donatists, into little pieces, and sucking congregations, making separations. a Peter himself was blamed for this, Gal 2:11-12 and others branded for profligate professors. "These are they that separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." Jdg 1:19 The primitive Christians were famous for their unity, animo animaque inter se miscebantur, saith Tertullian. The very heathens acknowledged that no people in the world did hold together, and love one another, so as Christians did. As the curtains of the tabernacles were joined by loops, so were they by love; and as the stones of the temple were so close cemented together, that they seemed to be all but one stone, so was it among them. Neither need we wonder, since Christ’s dove is but one; neither is there any such oneness or entireness anywhere as among the saints. Other societies are but as the clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image: they may cleave together, but not incorporated one into another.
She is the only one of her mother, ] i.e., Of the world, say some; of the flesh, say others: but they say best that expound it of Jerusalem, "that is above, the mother of us all." Gal 4:26 Epiphanius makes faith and religion the mother of the Church.
The daughters saw her, and blessed her, ] i.e., Called and counted her blessed above all other people. "Happy art thou, O Israel! Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord?" &c. Deu 33:29 And yet at that time they seemed to be nothing so happy as the Moabites, Edomites, &c., as being in a very unsettled condition in the wilderness. So David, What one nation in the earth is like thy people, like Israel? 2Sa 7:23 Oh "blessed is the people whose God is the Lord." Psa 144:15 Est Ecclesiae Scoticanae privilegium rarum prae multis in quo eius nomen apud caeteros fuit celebre, &c. b It is the singular privilege of the Church of Scotland, and they are deservedly famous for it, that for this fourscore years and upwards they have kept a unity, together with purity of doctrine, without heresy, or so much as schism. This "the daughters" - other Christian reformed churches - "have seen and blessed her; yea, the queens and concubines, and they praised her."
a Christi tunica est unica.
b Sic in Elogio Proefator. De Confess. in Princip. Syntag. Confess., p. 6.
Son 6:10 Who [is] she [that] looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, [and] terrible as [an army] with banners?
Ver. 10. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning. ] This is the commendation that the queens and concubines give her, and it is expressed by way of question, not because they doubted, but for that they admired her excellence. See the like in Psa 77:13 Micah 7:17 . First, The Church is compared to the "morning," which hath no full light, but mixed, so that light seems to strive with darkness. "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning." Isa 58:8 The Hebrew word a here used hath its name from blackness or dimness. Next, she is said to be "fair as the moon," which is called here Lebanah, ab albedine, from her whiteness or bright shining. In her full, the moon is a very beautiful and fair creature, and even in her eclipse, though she appear dark toward the earth, yet is she bright and radiant in that part which looketh toward heaven; so is the Church. The Papists would have this moon always in the full, and if she show but little light to us, or be eclipsed, they will not yield she is the moon. And yet, except in the eclipse, astronomers demonstrate that the moon hath at all times as much light as in the full; but oftentimes a great part of the bright side is turned to heaven, and a lesser part to the earth, and so the Church is ever conspicuous to God’s eye, though it appear not always so to us. The Church waxeth and waneth as the moon, nonnunquam etiam in deliquio est et aspici non potest; adeo exiguus humerus fidelium aliquando apparet. Elijah complained of his aloneness. Christ, when he came, scarce found faith upon the earth. Papists themselves yield that there, was but Mary and some few others that "looked for the consolation of Israel." "Christ came to his own, and his own received him not," Joh 1:11 he wondered at one good Nathanael, and sets him forth with an Ecce admirantis. "Behold an Israelite indeed." The mad multitude cried crucifige with one consent. The "whole world" went wondering after the beast. Rev 13:3-4 Of Luther it is said, Iste vir totius orbis impetum sustinuit, that he had all the world against him, as once Athanasius had. Latimer saw so few good in his time, that he thought the last day had been come. Our Saviour foretold that toward that day "the love of many should wax cold, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Mat 24:12-13 Lo, it is but a "he," a single man, a very few, that holdeth out, in comparison of the "many" apostates that fall from their own steadfastness. Here then falls to the ground that Popish and sottish mark of the true Church, universality and visibility. We deny not that the Church is a multitude of believers, and a catholic company, to the which we must join ourselves, but that she is always visible and aspectable, as a city on a hill, as the sun in heaven, can never be proven. As the moon, she hath her wanes and non-appearances, and when at the very brightest and broadest she may be muffled up and overcast with a cloud of persecution. Such was the paucity and obscurity of Christians in the Arian times, that Basil cries out, An ecclesias suas prorsus dereliquit Dominus? Hath the Lord utterly left his churches? &c. The ship of the Church was then almost overwhelmed saith Jerome. The Church was not then to be sought in tectis et exteriori pompa, in palaces and external pomp, but in dens, mines, and prisons, saith Hillary. God hath set the moon lowest in the heavens and nearest the earth, that it might daily put us in mind of the constance of the one and inconstance of the other, herself in some sort partaking of both.
Clear as the sun. ] As having put on Christ that Sun of righteousness. Gal 3:27 Malachi 4:1-6 : 2Ki 12:1 The sun is so glorious a creature that the heathens, over admiring it, deified it, and from the Hebrew word, Chammah, here used, called it Jupiter Hammon. The Greeks called it ηλιος , from gnelion, the most high God. Eudoxes said that he was made for no other purpose but to behold it, and that he could be content to be presently burnt up by the heat of the sun, so he might be admitted to come so near it as to learn the nature of it. Chrysostom b cannot but wonder, that whereas all fire naturally tends upwards, the sun should shoot down his rays to the earth, and send his light abroad all below him. Christ, "the Father of lights," Jam 1:17 doth the like for his spouses. And as the pearl, by the often beating of the sunbeams upon it, becomes radiant and orient as the sun itself, so doth the Church, and shall do much more when she shall "appear with him in glory." "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father." Mat 13:43 The sun in his strength, compared to them, shall be but as a clod of clay, or as those things that shine in the dark, but it is only from their rottenness. Three glimpses of this surpassing glory expected by the saints were seen: in Moses’s face when he came from the mount; in Christ’s transfiguration, when "his face did shine as the sun, his raiment was white and glistering, so as no fuller can white them"; Mat 17:2 Mar 9:3 Luk 9:29 and in St Stephen’s countenance when he stood before the council. It should suffice for the present that the Church looketh forth, or is looked for, so some render this text, at first, "as the morning," somewhat dark and duskish: she shall be "fair as the moon," at least in regard of sanctification; and for justification she is "clear as the sun," so that God seeth no sin in her, or if he do, yet, as the sun, he "blots out the thick cloud as well as the cloud," the thickest mist as well as the thinnest vapour. Isa 44:22 And therefore to the devil and his angels she must needs be "terrible as an army with banners"; because, as she marcheth under the banner of Christ’s mercy and love, Son 2:4 so "the weapons of her warfare are not carnal but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds," 2Co 10:4 and do strike as great a terror into her enemies as once Christ did into those ruffian soldiers that came to apprehend him, or as Basil did into Valens the emperor, that came to disturb him when he was in holy exercises. c See Trapp on " Son 6:4 "
a שׁחר .
b Hom. 8, Ad. Pop. Anti.
c Greg. Orat. de Laude Basil.
Son 6:11 I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, [and] to see whether the vine flourished, [and] the pomegranates budded.
Ver. 11. I went down into the garden of nuts. ] Or, Nutmegs. Tremellius and those that follow him render it the well dressed, or pruned gardens. These are the particular churches and various saints, Christ’s mystical and spiritual garden, that need much pruning and trimming. Of all possessions, Nulla maiorem operam requirit, saith Cato, none requireth so much pains to be taken with it as a garden or orchard. Grain comes up and grows alone, ripeneth and cometh to perfection, the husbandmen sleeping and waking, "he knows not how." Mar 4:27 But gardens must be dressed, trimmed, pruned, pared almost every day, or else all will be out of order. Christ, therefore, as a careful gardener, αιρει, καθαιρει , Putat, purgat, amputat, weeds, lops, prunes his garden. Joh 15:2 Be careful, therefore, saith a worthy divine: Christ walks in his garden, spies how many raw, unripe, undigested prayers, &c., hang on such a branch; what gum of pride, what leaves or luxuriant sprigs and rotten boughs there are, and with his pruning knife cuts and slashes where he sees things amiss, &c. Thus he. Neither may we think that Christ doth this or any of this in ill-will, but out of singular love and faithfulness to our souls, which else would soon be woefully overgrown with the weeds of wickedness, as a neglected garden. The wicked God never meddleth with, as I may so say, till he come with his axe to hew them down to the fire; because he finds them incorrigible. "Let him alone," Hos 4:17 saith God concerning Ephraim; and "why should ye be smitten any more, since ye revolt more and more?" Isa 1:5 They have a great deal of freedom for present, but the end is utter extirpation. Non surget hic afflictio Neh 1:9 they shall totally and finally be consumed at once.
To see the fruits of the valley. ] Green valley plants - that is, the humble spirits which "tremble at God’s word," and present him with the "first ripe fruits, which his soul desireth." Mic 7:1
And to see whether the vine flourished. ] These vines and pomegranates are the faithful, who are compared to these trees, for the plenty and sweetness of their fruits. Christ came to see whether the former were flowering, and the latter budding; to see if there were any hopes of ripe fruit in due time; for he liketh not those outlandish plants, that every year bud and blossom, but never bring any fruit to its perfection. No. When he hath done all that can be done for his vineyard, he looks for fruit. Isa 5:2 Mat 21:34 "For who," saith he, "planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof?" 1Co 9:7 Danda igitur est opera ut huius agricolae votis respondeamus. Answer Christ’s expectation, or else he will lay down his basket, and take up his axe. Luk 13:7
Son 6:12 Or ever I was aware, my soul made me [like] the chariots of Amminadib.
Ver. 12. Or ever I was aware, my soul, &c. ] Heb., I knew not. So Christ speaketh after the manner of men. And it is as if he should say, I could not conceive that my people were in so good a forwardness, as indeed I found them; for they have over and above answered mine expectation, being "full of goodness," as those believing Romans, Rom 15:14 "filled with all knowledge," and always abounding in the work of the Lord; from whom therefore they shall be sure to receive "a full reward." 2Jn 1:8 Or thus, "I know not," that is, I perceived not that the vines flourished, the pomegranates budded, that all was ripe and ready; therefore I withdrew myself for a season, O my spouse; and therein I dealt with thee no otherwise, than as good gardeners and vinedressers do, who coming (perhaps before the time of fruit) to look for fruit, and finding none, depart for present, till a more convenient season. But that thou mayest know my dear love and tender care of thy comfort, behold my haste to call thee to thy former feelings again. For dicto citius, I say more quickly, "my soul set me on the chariots of Amminadib," who may seem to be some famous chariot driver of Solomon’s, that could outdrive all the rest. There is another sense given of these words, and perhaps a better. For by some these are thonght to be the words of the Church confessing her ignorance. I knew not, Lord, saith she, that thou wast gone down into the garden to do those things. I thought rather that thou hadst departed in great anger against me for my negligence; and therefore I sought thee carefully, I made out after thee with all my might; my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib; Amor addidit alas, I drove furiously till I had found thee. I was like unto those two women in Zechariah, that "had wings, and wind in their wings." Zec 5:9 This was well; that missing her spouse, she followed so hard after him. "My soul cleaveth after thee," saith David, Psa 63:8 thereby showing his love, constance, and humility. But then that was not so well; that she so far mistook Christ, as to think that he went away from her in deep displeasure, and kept away from her, as loathing her company. Such hard conceits of Christ, and heavy conceits we are apt to have of ourselves, as if he had forsaken us, because we cannot presently find him, whenas he is only gone down in his garden to prune it, or to see how things thrive there, as if he had cast off the care of us; because, finding us too light, he "make us heavy (as there is need) with manifold temptations." 1Pe 1:6 We are therefore "judged of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world": 1Co 11:32 He leaves us on the other side the stile (as fathers sometimes do their children), and then helps us over when we cry. To say God hath cast us off, because he hath hid his face, is a fallacy fetched out of the devil’s topics. Non est argumentum aversi Dei quemadmodum diabolus interpretatur, sed potius paternae ipsius benevolentiae, saith learned Lavater. a It is not an argument of God’s wrath and displeasure, as the devil would make it, but rather of his fatherly love and affection; he hides his love, as Joseph did, out of increasement of love. And yet how apt are we to say in this case, with those malcontents in Malachi, In quo dilexisti nos? Wherein hast thou loved us? and with those Israelites in the wilderness, "Is God among us?" as if that could not be, and they athirst. Exo 17:7 "O my Lord," said Gideon, "If the Lord be with us, why then is all this evil befallen us?" Jdg 6:12 And, "Lord God," said Abraham, when he had received many gracious promises, "what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?" Gen 15:1-2 We see then how ready the best of us are to cast the helve after the hatchet, as they say; and, like little children, because we may not have what we would, sullenly to say, God loves us not, and we will not have what he thinks good to give unto us. "My soul refused comfort," saith he in Psalms 77:2 ; and "I said, My hope and my strength is perished from the Lord: remembering mine afflictions and my misery, the wormwood and the gall." Lam 3:18-19 This our folly and fault we must confess to Christ, as the Church here doth; and beseech him, by his Spirit, to teach us better things, that we may not mistake the cause of our calamities, and make them heavier than God meant them, by our frowardness and impatience. Pondus ipsa iactatione incommodius sit, saith Seneca.
a Lavat. in Prov. iii.
Son 6:13 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.
Ver. 13. Return, return, O Shulamite. ] The Church is so called from her peace and perfection with God in Christ. Brightman gathers from this word, that the Church of the Jews in special is meant (the Church in general being usually before signified by the daughters of Jerusalem), and applies it to the recalling of the Jews, according to Romans 11:25 , &c., which is yet to be fulfilled. Solomon’s wife, saith another, was after his name called the Shulamite, according to Isaiah 4:1 . And as Christ in this book is named Solomon, so the Church is called Shulamite, to show the communion that she hath with him; and therefore also the forming of the Hebrew word is rather passive than active. That which she is again and again called upon to do, is to return. It seems she had so posted apace after Christ (as on swift chariots, Son 6:12 ), that she had gone quite beyond him. He therefore, as it were by houting and shouting to her, calls her back. How easily we overshoot and run into extremes, may be seen in Peter, Joh 13:9 and the Galatians. Gal 4:9-10 It is best to hold the golden mean. Howbeit, as in falling forward, is nothing so much danger as backward; so he that is earnest in good, though he may overdo, and carry some things indiscreetly, yet is he far better than a lusk or apostate, especially if he afterwards return and discern, and hearken to better counsel. But some are so set upon it, that, like a man that is running a race, though you give them never so good advice, they will not stay to hear it. Of these the proverb is verified, "He that hasteth with his feet, sinneth" Pro 19:2 See Trapp on " Pro 19:2 "
That we may look upon thee. ] Or, Contemplate thee with complacence and delight. This is the speech of the bridegroom and his friends. The Church, though in her fright and grief for want of her beloved, though unveiled and evil entreated by the watchmen, &c., and so not so slightly as at some other times, yet wanted not that beauty that made her desirable; like as some faces appear most oriently beautiful when they are most instamped with sorrow, and as the sky is most clear after a storm.
What will ye see in the Shulamite? as it were the company of two armies. ] Ready to join battle, or maintaining civil war within her. For in the Christian conflict, the very same faculties are opposed; because in every faculty "the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other." Gal 5:17 These maintain civil broils within the Shulamite (as the two babes did in Rebecca’s womb), so that she cannot do what she would. And this the apostle spake by woeful experience, as appears from Romans 6:15 ; Romans 6:21 . Something lay at the fountain head, and stopped it. There is a continual contest with spiritual wickednesses about heavenly privileges a Eph 6:12 Put fire and water together, there is no quiet till one of them get the victory. So in sicknesses. Let a man have a strong disease and a strong body, he shall never have any rest as long as they both continue in their strength. When Christ was born, all Jerusalem was troubled. When Paul came to Ephesus, "there arose no small stir about that way"; Act 19:23 so when grace is wrought once, there is somewhat to do within, though till then all was jolly, quiet. When cold saltpetre and hot brimstone meet they make a great noise; so do the flesh and spirit in their skirmishes and encounters. Now these two duellers meet and fight in every faculty of the soul; as hot and cold do in lukewarm water; as light and darkness meet in the morning light; or as wine and water in a cup mixed with both. In the wicked one faculty may, and sometimes doth, oppose another; as sensual appetite may resist natural reason, &c. But in such as are sanctified, the understanding is against the understanding, the will against the will, &c., as the sick patient both wills and nills those physical slibber sauces. But Satan is not so "divided against himself." Luk 11:18 No more is the flesh. It is in the Shulamite only, and in every part of her, that this conflict is found which maketh her cry out with Rebecca sometimes, "If it be so, why am I thus?" and with Paul, "Wretched creature that I am!" &c.
a εν τοις επουρανιοις .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/