SONG OF SOLOMON CHAPTER 3
The church seeking Christ, Song of Solomon 3:1-3. Her great joy; she findeth him, Song of Solomon 3:4. Her charge to the daughters of Jerusalem not to awake her Beloved, Song of Solomon 3:5. The manner of Christ’s coming out of the wilderness, Song of Solomon 3:6. His bed, guard, and chariot, Song of Solomon 3:7-9. Its maker, matter, and furniture, Song of Solomon 3:10. An invitation of the faithful to the kingdom of glory, Song of Solomon 3:11.
By night on my bed; either,
1. In a time of tribulation, which is commonly signified by the night, and sometimes by a bed, as Revelation 2:22. Or,
2. When I expected to find him; for the husband who by his occasions is oft forced to be absent from his wife in the day time, but at night returns to her, and beds with her. Or,
3. When others compose themselves to rest and sleep, my thoughts were troubled and my affections were working towards him, and I was very desirous to enjoy him.
I sought him; I sought for Christ’s gracious and powerful presence, in and by the word, and prayer, and meditation. I sought him: this repetition notes her perseverance and unweariedness in seeking him.
But I found him not; for he had withdrawn himself and the manifestations of his love from me, either because I had not sought him diligently, or because I had abused his favour, or to try and exercise my faith, and patience, and love, and other graces.
I will rise now; I will immediately apply myself to seek him, without whom my bed can give me no rest nor comfort.
The city; the city of God, the church, in which Christ resides.
In the streets, and in the broad ways: not finding him in private prayer and meditation, I sought him in the places of public assemblies and ordinances; for the people frequently met together in the streets, not only for civil, but for religious ends, 2 Chronicles 32:6 Nehemiah 8:1,3,16 Pr 1:20,21 Lu 13:26.
I found him not; he saw fit still to delay the discoveries of his grace, partly, to chastise my former folly; partly, to try my sincerity and constancy; and partly, that he might be more welcome when he came to me.
The watchmen; the ministers of Christ, and rulers of the church, who are oft called watchmen, as Isaiah 62:6 Ezekiel 3:17, and elsewhere.
That go about the city, to prevent disorders and dangers by night.
Found me, whilst they walked round about the city, according to their duty.
To whom I said, without either fear or shame, as being transported and wholly swallowed up with love,
Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? she doth not name him, because she thought it needless, as supposing that a person of such transcendent excellency could not be unknown to men in that public capacity. Their answer is not mentioned, either because they gave her no answer, at least no satisfactory answer, or because by their silence she gathered that they were unable or unwilling to inform her; and being eager in the pursuit of her Beloved, she would not lose time in impertinent discourses with them.
I found him; Christ met me, and manifested his love to me, according to his promise made to those that seek him constantly and diligently, Proverbs 8:17 Matthew 7:7, &c.
I held him, and would not let him go, being taught by my late experience how doleful a thing it was to lose him, and how hard it was to find and recover him when he was lost.
Until I had brought him into my mother’s house, that there I might entertain and embrace him, and gain my mother’s consent, and so proceed to the consummation of the marriage. She saith her
mother’s rather than her father’s house, because the men and the women had several and separated apartments in the house. For the mystical meaning, which is the principal sense intended in this book, as the spouse here, and in many other places of this book, signifies particular believers, so her mother is the universal church, or the true Jerusalem, which hath its rise from above, which is the mother of us all, Galatians 4:26, in which Christ and believers are united, and have sweet communion together in holy ordinances, into which believers are said to bring Christ by faith and prayer, and the preparation of their hearts for him, whereby they invite and in some sort engage Christ to go with them into the public assemblies, and there to give them his loves, although otherwise it is Christ who properly brings believers into the church. But all particulars in allegorical scriptures are not to be strictly urged, as all learned interpreters agree, many being added only for the decency of the allegory.
Her that conceived me; Christ is as it were the father that begets, and the church the mother that conceiveth and bringeth forth, believers.
This verse is repeated from Song of Solomon 2:7, where it is explained. The spouse exhorts herself and all her fellow members to be very circumspect, lest by any unkind or provoking carriage they should give Christ any cause to depart from them. He is supposed to allude to the custom of awakening the bridegroom and bride by songs and musical instruments.
Who is this? the persons speaking seem to be the daughters of Jerusalem, who, upon occasion of the bride’s speech to them, make this reply; or the friends of the Bridegroom. The person spoken of is the spouse or bride.
That cometh out of the wilderness; from the country, which, in comparison of cities, is oft called a wilderness, as Isaiah 42:11 Luke 1:80 3:2, and elsewhere, from whence we little expected to see so beautiful and glorious a bride to come, such persons being usually bred in courts or noble cities. This phrase implies that believers were, and were to be, called out of the world, which for its barrenness, and disorder, and replenishment with wild beasts, may fitly be compared to a wilderness; and not only out of the Holy Land, which was as the garden of God, but also out of the Gentile world, which in prophetical writings is frequently described under the notion of a
wilderness, as Isaiah 35:1 43:19,20. Withal he seems to allude to the people of Israel, which to the wonder and astonishment of all those parts came up out of the wilderness into Canaan.
Pillars of smoke; to which the church may not unfitly be compared, partly for its excellent order and comely proportions; partly, for its direct and constant motion towards heaven; and partly, to imply that though she was really and inwardly glorious, yet she was outwardly obscure and despicable in the eyes of the world. Possibly the words may rendered thus, as with (which particle is very frequently understood, as hath been showed in divers foregoing texts)
pillars, or a pillar, (for the plural number is oft put for the singular,)
of smoke. And so the sense may be either,
1. Being conducted out of the wilderness as by a pillar of smoke going before them, as the Israelites were led through the wilderness to Canaan by a pillar of cloud and fire, Exodus 13:21,22. Or rather,
2. Attended with many prayers and praises, and other holy performances, which are perpetually ascending from her and offered by her unto God. So he alludes to those pillars of smoke which all the day long ascended from those numerous sacrifices which were offered in the temple, which also was a type of the prayers of the saints offered by Christ unto his Father, as may be gathered from Revelation 8:3-5. But this I only propose.
Perfumed: this doth not belong to the pillars, as appears by the difference of the numbers in the Hebrew words, the pillars being plural, and this word singular; but to the person, to wit, the spouse, who is said to be thus perfumed, partly, for her good name or renown, which is compared to perfumes, Ecclesiastes 7:1; partly, for her excellent virtues and religious services, which are pleasant and acceptable to God, and to angels, and to men; and partly, for the merits and graces of Christ, which are a sweet savour to God, Ephesians 5:2, and wherewith she is enriched and beautified.
Powders of the merchant; which are fetched by the merchants from Arabia, or other remote parts of the world, for the use of perfuming.
Behold his bed: these are the words either,
1. Of the bridemen, who spake Song of Solomon 3:6, and here continue their speech, and from the admiration of the bride proceed to the admiration of the Bridegroom. Or,
2. Of the spouse, who being admired by the bridemen, turns their eyes and thoughts to the Bridegroom, and directs them to the study of his excellencies, and intimates that all her comfort and safety is from him. The bed, the place of rest and conjugal converse, seems to denote the church, which is comely through Christ’s beauty, and safe by his protection, in which Christ is glorified, and believers enjoy sweet fellowship with him, both here in the church militant, and especially hereafter in the church triumphant.
Which is Solomon’s; which is the bed, not of an ordinary man, but of a great King, whom Solomon represents or typifies, and who is greater than Solomon. Nor is it hard to understand the Messias under the name of Solomon, his type and progenitor, seeing he is, upon the same reason, called David, Jeremiah 30:9 Ezekiel 34:23, and elsewhere, especially considering that this whole book is by the confession both of Jewish and Christian interpreters to be mystically understood.
Threescore, i.e. very many, the certain number being put for an uncertain, as is frequent.
The valiant of Israel; he alludes to Solomon’s guard, or watchmen, whereby he designs all those creatures, whether angels, princes, ministers, or others, whose ministry God useth for the protection of his church.
Hath his sword upon his thigh; is prepared and ready to fight, as this phrase notes, Exodus 32:27 Psalms 45:3. Because of fear in the night; to prevent those dangers and mischiefs which are most frequent and most dreadful in the night season.
The night may note either,
1. The time of tribulation, temptation, or desertion. Or,
2. The whole time of this life, which may well be called night, in respect of that ignorance, and error, and other kinds of darkness wherewith it is attended, as the future life is compared to a day, this life being the only time wherein such a guard is necessary.
A chariot, in which the royal Bridegroom and bride might ride together in state, as the manner was in the nuptial solemnities of such persons. By this chariot he seems to understand the word of Christ dispensed by his ministers in the church, whereby both Christ is exalted and rides triumphantly in the world, conquering his enemies, and subduing the world to the obedience of the gospel, and all believers are carried with safety and comfort through this present evil world, into those blessed mansions of heavenly glory.
Of the wood of Lebanon, i.e. of cedars, for which Lebanon was famous; which wood, being incorruptible, doth fitly signify the word of the gospel, which endureth forever, 1 Peter 1:25, and is called the everlasting gospel, Revelation 14:6, in opposition to the legal institutions, which were to continue only until the time of reformation, as we read Hebrews 9:10.
The pillars thereof; whereby the chariot is either supported or adorned; which may signify either,
1. Ministers, who are called pillars, Galatians 2:9, and that of silver, because they are, or should be, pure and precious, like silver. Or,
2. The firmness and certainty of Christ’s word, both of his doctrines and promises, which also are pure as silver, Psalms 12:6. Although there is no necessity that either this or the following particulars should be distinctly applied to several things in or about the gospel; but this in the general may suffice, that as all these particulars are added to show the perfection and beauty of the chariot, so they do imply that Christ’s word is every way amiable, and perfect, and able to make the man of God perfect. The bottom; either,
1. The couch or seat, which was made of or covered with cloth of gold. Or,
2. The under and lower part, which was at least covered with pure gold. Whereby he may seem to understand the foundation of the word and promises, which is either God’s covenant, or Christ’s mediation, in whom all the promises are yea and amen.
The covering; either,
1. The curtains, whereby persons in the chariot are covered or hid from the sight of the people. Or rather,
2. The uppermost part of it, either in the outside or the inside of it. Some render the word, the seat or seats. Of purple; which represents Christ’s blood, which is our propitiatory or covering to shelter us from God’s wrath.
The midst; the inward parts, especially those between the upper and lower parts, which have been already mentioned.
Paved, covered and adorned,
with love; with beautiful and lovely ornaments, such as curious embroidery, enriched with gold and precious stones; love being here put for lovely objects, as fear is oft put for terrible things, as hath been oft noted. Whereby we may understand the love of Christ to the sons of men, or his lovely life, and death, and resurrection, &c.; which is the most amiable part and matter of the word or gospel.
For the daughters of Jerusalem; for their delight and comfort, who are all concerned and bear a part in this marriage.
Go forth; the bride, to wit, the church, bids particular believers go forth to see this sight; whereby is implied that Christians must go out of the world, to wit, in affection, and out of themselves, by denying themselves, and putting off the old man, their corrupt nature, if they desire to see and enjoy Christ.
Daughters of Zion; the same with daughters of Jerusalem; for Zion and Jerusalem are ofttimes promiscuously used in Scripture.
Behold king Solomon; looking in and through him upon the Messias, who is the King of peace, and of whom Solomon was an illustrious type.
The crown wherewith his mother crowned him; which being applied to Solomon, may design either,
1. The crown royal, wherewith his mother, Bathsheba, is said to have crowned him, because Solomon was crowned by David’s order upon her suggestion, and by virtue of his promise confirmed by an oath to her, 1 Kings 1:16, &c. Or,
2. That garland or crown which was usually worn in nuptial solemnities, as may be gathered from Ezekiel 16:12, and is expressly affirmed by divers ancient writers. But being applied to Christ, it notes that honour and glory which was given to him, which though principally done by his Father, yet is here ascribed to his mother, i.e. to the universal church, or congregation of believers, which in respect of his humanity may be called his mother, partly because he was born in and of her, and one of her members, and therefore was subject to her institutions, whence she is represented as a woman in travail, bringing forth a man child, to wit, Christ, Revelation 12:1-5; and partly because in a spiritual sense she is said to conceive and bring forth Christ in particular believers, Galatians 4:19. And this mother may be said to crown Christ, both because it is the great design and business of the church to advance Christ’s honour in the world, and because she brings forth believers, whom Christ esteems as his crown and glory, as God calls them, Isaiah 62:3. In the day of his espousals; when the church is betrothed or married to him, Jeremiah 2:2 Hosea 2:19 2 Corinthians 11:2; which is done when the covenant is made or confirmed between them, or when faithful persons are converted and united to Christ, and more completely when they are received by Christ into his more full and immediate fellowship in the kingdom of glory.
In the day of the gladness of his heart; when he rejoineth over his bride, as the phrase is used, Isaiah 62:5. So this is the same thing expressed in other words. The conversion and salvation of sinners is the joy of Christ, as appears from Isaiah 53:11 Luke 15:32, and many other places of Scripture.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany