Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 3

Pett's Commentary on the BiblePett's Commentary

Verses 1-5


The Follow Up Visit By Her Beloved, And Her Subsequent Nightmare (Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:5 ).

In this section we now have described in vivid terms a picture of how the young maiden’s beloved seeks her out and calls her to come away with him into the countryside. The courtship is advancing and he is here not acting as a king but as a lover. And while she does not respond, for it would not have been seemly for a maiden of her quality to go off alone with her lover, she delights in the assurance it brings her of their love. However, that night the fact that she has had to gently rebuff him results in her having a nightmare that she has lost him, and so in her dream she commences a desperate journey to seek him out, which again ends with an adjuration to the daughters of Jerusalem not to awaken his love until it pleases.

Verse 5

“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the roe-deer, or by the hinds of the field, That you stir not up, nor awake my love, Until he please.”

Possibly still in her dream she now once again (compare Song of Solomon 2:7) calls on the young women of Jerusalem, in the name of those symbols of love, the roe-deer and the hinds, not to stir up or awaken her love, until he please. She is realizing how intense love is. She is now aware that it is a dangerous thing to love. It must not be entered into lightly. And she does not want to approach him and find that she is not welcome, nor to be caught up in something that she cannot cope with. She knows now what the demands of love will be, and she is ready to wait until his love comes to demand her.

Verses 6-8

‘Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, Like pillars of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, With all powders of the merchant? Behold, it is the litter of Solomon, Threescore mighty men are about it, Of the mighty men of Israel. They all handle the sword, And are expert in war, Every man has his sword on his thigh, Because of fear in the night.’

It is possible that we are to see this as general question which the singers and hearers are to answer themselves as they sing the song, although it could be the voices of the daughters of Jerusalem. Coming from the wilderness (compare Song of Solomon 8:5) the bride arrives at Jerusalem in splendid procession, borne by ‘the litter of Solomon’ and accompanied by King Solomon in his palanquin. The pillars of smoke represent the myrrh and frankincense being released as a sign of rejoicing. No expense is being spared to make the occasion memorable. The bride too is fully perfumed and prepared, for she is the king’s bride. And the litter is surrounded and guarded by the king’s friends, sixty mighty men of valor, all skilled swordsmen and experts in war, and fully armed against the danger of an attack by night. The sixty emphasizes the splendor of the marriage. It is twice the number of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8-39) and twice the number of friend’s of the bridegroom at Samson’s wedding (Judges 14:11).

The idea that God would establish His people in Zion/Jerusalem if they proved worthy is constant in the prophets. And for a long time it was the hope of Israel. But in the end they proved unworthy and the earthly Jerusalem was rejected (Matthew 23:38), and then the focus turned to the new bride (Matthew 21:43; and onto the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22).

What a change has now taken place for the bride. She is ‘perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant.’ She is saturated in the righteousness of Christ, and giving off a sweet savor of righteousness, for He has been made to her righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) while she has been made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). She has been endowed with all the beauty of His holiness. And she is carried in His litter, safe from the dangers of the night and guarded closely by the mightiest of the mighty men.

While this may certainly in one sense be seen as a preview of the marriage of the bride and the Lamb which will take place at the consummation (Revelation 19:7-9; Revelation 21:1-2), it also represents the experience of every Christian at the moment when they come to Christ (although some may not recognize it). For in that moment they are made His for ever, and made fit to be His bride (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:25-27). They are ‘perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant.’ They are raised with Christ and made to sit with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), in His litter. They are transported in splendor into the very heart of His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). They travel from thenceforward under the escort of a powerful armed guard (Hebrews 1:14 with 2 Kings 6:17). Those who are of the true Israel are achieving their destiny. The final marriage will be but the icing on the cake, incorporating the whole of the bride whose numbers have by then been made up. But we who are His are to see ourselves as married to Him even now (Romans 7:4), and so as having available to us all the riches of His grace (Ephesians 2:7) so that we might enjoy His blessings to the full (Ephesians 1:3).

Verses 6-11


The Loving Couple Are Married And The Marriage Is Consummated (Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1 ).

The young maiden need not have worried. Her beloved had not forgotten her. And soon the arrangements went forward for the wedding. In her love she had never really thought about the greatness and splendor of her beloved. But now it was brought home to her in its totality when a splendid litter arrived accompanied by the bridegroom and his friends, and she was taken in great splendor to Jerusalem, where they were met by the daughters of Jerusalem who had come out to greet them. It was the custom at ancient weddings for the bridegroom to collect the bride and take her to the wedding.

The BELOVED carries his bride in splendor to Jerusalem for their wedding.

Verses 9-10

‘King Solomon made himself a palanquin Of the wood of Lebanon. He made its pillars of silver, The bottom of it of gold, The seat of it of purple, The midst of it being paved with love, From the daughters of Jerusalem.’

Accompanying his bride is the bridegroom-king in his splendor. He is borne in a new palanquin made of the wood of Lebanon, with its pillars of silver and its bottom of gold. Its seat is purple, paved with love from the daughters of Jerusalem. That the pillars are of silver demonstrates that it was early on in Solomon’s reign, for later ‘silver counted for nothing in the days of Solomon’ (1 Kings 10:21). But silver is also the emblem of purity, and gold and purple of majesty and royalty. Yet the most important feature of all is that it is paved with love.

In this we see the majesty of our Lord as He accompanies us on our way, revealed in both glory and love, bearing us onwards towards the heavenly Jerusalem. The idea of Jesus as the bridegroom in this way was implied by John the Baptist (John 3:29) and confirmed by Jesus (Mark 2:19-20; Matthew 22:1-14). The idea is firmly based on Old Testament ideas (Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5).

Verse 11

“Go forth, O you daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon, With the crown with which his mother has crowned him, In the day of his espousals, And in the day of the gladness of his heart.”

The scene is awe-inspiring. The mighty Solomon arrives in great splendor from the wilderness accompanied by his bride in her litter, and the daughters of Jerusalem are summoned to go forth to meet him (compare Matthew 25:1-13), being called on to consider him, crowned with his garland crown which his mother Bathsheba had personally put on him on the day of his wedding, the day which has brought gladness to his heart. (Such wedding touches would be left to the womenfolk and, besides, his father was dead). Note how all the emphasis is on King Solomon and not on the bride. It is the benefits that he is receiving which are being emphasized. For he is the one who is all important.

The application is even more awesome as we have already seen above. For on the day when we are made one with Christ, we become a part of this great festivity. We enter into Christ and are from that day borne upon His litter and surrounded by His mighty men, awaiting the glorious wedding feast of the Lamb. How can our hearts not overflow with gladness at the thought? But we too also cry out that all may look at Him and not at ourselves. He is the One Who is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). And meanwhile in His case His Father crowns Him with the crown of rejoicing and love, a symbol of His joy in us. For that is the even more wonderful thought here, that it has especially brought gladness to His heart because He loves us so. There is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7), how much more then over all of them repenting. For it is the conversion of His whole elect that is in mind here, and their final presentation to Him.

The speech of the BRIDEGROOM at the wedding.

Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/song-of-solomon-3.html. 2013.
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