The Missing One Found
Chapter 3 Son
PROBABLY A DREAM RELATED BY SHULAMITE TO THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM
By night on my bed
I sought him whom my soul loveth;
I sought him, but I found him not.
I will rise now, and go about the city;
In the streets, and in the broadways thereof,
Will I seek him whom my soul loveth.
I sought him, but I found him not.
The watchmen that go about the city found me; to whom I said:
Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
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.
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.
This section probably the narration of a dream, given in a song by Shulamite in presence of the Daughters of Jerusalem or Ladies of the Court. ‘By night (Hebrew, ‘nights') on my bed,' &c. (So Dan ; Dan 4:13). ‘A dream cometh by the multitude of business;' and Shulamite's, from the occupation of her thoughts with the prospect of the approaching nuptials, and the preparations for them. Indicates how her waking thoughts were possessed by her Beloved, here again characterized by her as ‘he whom my soul loveth,' as already in Chap. Son 1:7; and reveals her great desire to enjoy his society, and her fear lest anything should occur to prevent it. From the passage, viewed in its spiritual aspect, observe—
1. Natural that believers, especially in the ardour of their first love, should have their thoughts much occupied with Christ, and that as a consequence He should be present to them even in their dreams. Their experience expressed by the prophet: ‘With my soul have I desired Thee in the night: yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early' (Isa ).
2. The believer's great desire, when it is well with his soul, for the presence and fellowship of the Saviour whom he loves; and his great concern not to lose it, or do anything that may occasion its loss.
3. Times when the believing soul is warranted and constrained to open up to others the treasures of her spiritual experience, and to narrate both her conflicts and her victories, her sorrows and her joys (Psa ).
4. The fellowship of Christ not always and uninterruptedly enjoyed by the believer in this world. Many causes of its interruption—a corrupt nature, a tempting devil, and a world lying in wickedness.
5. Dark seasons and dull frames no proof of a Christless state. Christ always present with a believer, but not always sensibly so. Our union with Christ not affected by our want of communion with Him. Our interest in His love not dependent on our feelings, but on His faithfulness.
6. A precious mercy to be aroused to seek an absent Christ.
7. The mark of a living and loving soul, not to be satisfied with an absent Saviour.
8. Seeking Christ to be diligent and earnest, in order to be successful. The soul to stir itself up to take hold of God when He appears to be absent (Isa ). Christ not always readily found when missed. Not readily found in order to increase our earnestness in seeking, and our carefulness in retaining Him. A missing Christ makes prized ordinances.
9. Suitable means to be employed and inquiry made, in order to find a missing Christ. The part of a true pastor to direct inquiring souls. That direction to be sought and found both in private conference and in attendance on the public ordinances of God's house (Joh ; Psa 27:4). The likeliest place to find the missing Jesus was in His Father's house (Luk 2:46). ‘Christ to be found in the streets and broad ways of the city, not in the blind by-ways outside of it.'—(Henry).
10. Ministers to know Christ themselves in order to direct others to Him. A Christless minister a poor guide to a Christ-seeking soul. Ministers expected by their people to be familiar with Christ, and with the exercises of those who are earnestly seeking Him.
11. Ministers to be accessible to their people, and to be diligent in their duty. ‘The watchmen that go about the city found me.'
12. Earnest and diligent search after Christ not long unsuccessful. ‘It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found Him,' &c. Christ not far from a faithful ministry and an earnestly seeking soul.
13. Means to be employed, but not rested in. ‘I passed from them.' The seeking soul to go beyond the minister. Means and ministers, like finger-posts, pointing to something beyond them. Ordinances only means. Angels unable to satisfy Mary at the empty sepulchre. The Bride hastens past the servant to the master.
14. Inexpressible joy in finding a missing and sought-for Saviour. ‘I found Him'—the language of exultation. Like Archimedes in the bath—‘I have found it, I have found it.' So Andrew and Philip in regard to the Messiah (Joh ; Joh 1:45). So the wise men rejoiced in the Star (Mat 2:10).
15. Care to be taken by those who have found Christ in order to retain Him. ‘I held him,' &c. The language—
(1) Of love and affection to the Saviour (Rth ).
(2) Fear and jealousy of losing Him.
(3) Earnest resolution to hold Him. Implies on Christ's part—
(1) An apparent inclination to depart (Gen ; Luk 24:28; Mar 6:48).
(2) Gracious condescension—the Almighty allowing Himself to be held by a creature.
16. Believers who find Christ, and enjoy His fellowship, to endeavour that others also may profit by it. ‘I brought him to my mother's house.' Both natural and spiritual kindred to be made partakers of the benefit. A proof that Jesus is dear to ourselves when we seek to make Him known to others. A family or congregation to be the better by any member of it that rejoices in a found Saviour. Only a present and enjoyed Christ the life of a Church or congregation.
17. Watchfulness, resolution, and care necessary, on the part of the believer, to avoid whatever may disturb his enjoyment of Christ's presence and fellowship; and on the part of the Church, to avoid whatever may grieve him away from its ordinances. ‘I charge you,' &c. Danger of disturbing a found and present Christ especially to be apprehended from the ‘daughters of Jerusalem.' The flesh Christ's greatest enemy, whether in the believer's own heart or in the Church or congregation.
18. Easy to provoke Christ to withdraw from the soul or the Church while He is visiting it. ‘By the roes and by the hinds of the field,'—the most timid creatures, and most easily disturbed and frightened away.
Observe from the whole passage in regard to
A Missing Saviour.
I. The PERSON who misses him. One who loves him. ‘I sought him whom my soul loveth.' The character of a believer and a regenerated soul that he loves Christ. He loves Him—
(1) Sincerely, with his ‘soul;' not in mere sentiment or profession.
(2) Ardently, with warmest affection; his ‘soul' loves Him. Christ loved with the ‘soul' the proof of a soul that loves Christ. Christ only loved by a new nature. The carnal mind enmity to God, and so to Christ. Love to Christ generated by the Holy Spirit's revelation of him to the soul in his preciousness as a Saviour. The soul that loves Christ most ready to miss Him, and most pained at losing Him. That only missed which has been prized and possessed. The condemnation and curse of men who have heard the Gospel that they do not love Christ (Joh ; 1Co 16:22).
II. The MEANS employed to find him.
(1) Diligent attendance on public ordinances: These ordinances the ‘streets and broadways' of the city of the great King. Christ to be found in these. ‘Wherever two or three are gathered together,' &c. (Mat ). ‘Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, &c. For whoso findeth me, findeth life,' &c. (Pro 8:34-35).
(2) Private inquiry of spiritual guides. Pastors and teachers appointed by Zion's King to direct anxious souls to Himself. ‘Remember them which have the rule (margin, are the guides) over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God,' &c. (Heb ; Heb 13:17).
(3) Searching the Scriptures. The written Word the standing direction of inspired guides. The voice of the watchmen of Zion heard in the Bible. The Scriptures testify of Christ. None long in finding Christ who search for Him in the ‘testimony of the Gospel.'
(4) Earnest prayer for divine light and guidance (Psa ). Shulamite turns from the watchmen to the King himself (Son 3:4).
III. The RESULT of the search. Christ found. ‘I found him whom my soul loveth.' Such success is
(1) certain. Promised by Him that cannot lie. ‘Then shall ye seek me and find me, when ye search for me with all your heart' (Jer ). ‘If thou criest after knowledge, &c. Then shalt thou find the knowledge of God' (Pro 2:3-5.
(2) Speedy. ‘It was but a little,' &c. ‘Before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear' (Isa ). ‘I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself, &c. My bowels are troubled for him.' (Jer 31:18-20).
IV. The IMPROVEMENT of the success. Threefold.
(1) A holding him fast, so as not again to lose Him. ‘I held Him, &c. That likely to be most carefully treasured and kept which has been once lost and found again. A believer not more known by finding Christ than by his care to keep Him when He is found. Care to be taken to retain a mercy as well as to obtain it. Care to retain Christ as precious in his sight as anxiety to obtain Him. And equally necessary. Enough in the world, the flesh, the devil, and the carnality of the ‘daughters of Jerusalem,' to render such care necessary.
(2) An endeavour to make others partakers of the blessing. Our mother's house to share the benefit of a found Christ. A living believer rejoicing in a found Christ, a blessing to a whole congregation. The found treasure not to be hid. ‘Many shall see it, and fear and trust in the Lord.' ‘Come and hear, All ye that fear God; and I will declare what he hath done for my soul' (Psa ; Psa 66:16). Our kindred not to be forgotten. ‘Go home to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee' (Mar 5:19).
(3). Watchfulness and resolution to guard against anything that might shorten Christ's fellowship and presence. I charge you,' &c. Spiritual blessings to be held with a vigilant eye and a resolute hand. A cooling of first love sufficient to grieve a loving Saviour, and to endanger the continuance of the ‘candlestick' (Rev ).
Son . Behold his bed which is Solomon's ‘His bed,' מִטָתוֹ (mittatho) from נָטָה (natah), to stretch or recline. Not the same word as in verse first, which properly expresses a place for lying down upon. The word here generally understood to denote a palanquin or litter. A bed of repose, especially used by the rich (Amo 6:4). Same as the ‘chariot' in verse ninth, where it is described as; now before the eyes of spectators. EWALD. A royal bridal chariot or palanquin, afterwards called a ‘chariot.' STUART. A travelling litter. FAUSSET. A portable bed. DELITZSCH. For the conveyance of the bride. HARMER. A palanquin of State large enough to convey both the Bride and Bridegroom. WILLIAMS. A common vehicle in which the great are carried throughout the East. COBBIN. The bed in which Solomon rests and is conveyed. HAHN. Only such a bed as the Bride used to be carried in from her father's house to that of her Bridegroom. WILLIAMS. A throne which, in the East, was in the form of a bed or couch. PATRICK. A palanquin, sedan, or portable vehicle, in which Kings in the East used to be carried when on a long journey; also a sort of pleasure couch, or sofa, on which they reposed by day when fatigued with business, or after a repast (Est 7:8; Gen 47:31). Sometimes also used instead of מִשְׁכָּב (mishcab), the bed used at night for sleeping on (2Sa 4:5; Psa 132:3). WEISS. ‘His bed;' as used by him alone. BROUGHTON. AS made by him. SANCTIUS. ‘Which is Solomon's' ( שֶׁלִּשְׁלֹמֹה shelli-shelomoh.) The relative שָׁ, with a suffix, gives an intensive signification. ZÖCKLER. His bed, namely, that of him who is Solomon—the bed of Solomon himself. MERCER. Solomon's own palanquin. WILLIAMS. A form of expression not elsewhere found in the O. T.; but proper here, as used by the common people. EWALD. Of the King whose name is Peace. RABBINS. The name of Solomon in the Song to be taken historically of King Solomon. GENEBRARD. The Bridegroom's palanquin and attendance Compared to that of Solomon. SANCTIUS. Describes the pomp of an earthly King, and probably Solomon's own royal state. BRIDE OF CHRIST. Though Solomon be named, a greater than Solomon is here. DR. CHALMERS. Solomon as the type of Messiah. MIDRASH. In the seventy-second Psalm, Solomon viewed as the Messiah. TARGUM, ABEN EZRA, KIMCHI, RASHI. Solomon's bed the Temple built by Solomon. TARGUM. The Tabernacle of the congregation and the Ark, which were carried in the wilderness. RASHI The Ark of the Covenant brought by David to Jerusalem. WEISS. The Scriptures. THEODORET. Christ Himself in which the soul rests. AMBROSE. The Church in which Christ rests. PHILO, GREGORY, BEDE. The Temple of His body. COTTON, BROUGHTON. His humanity or His Cross. APONIUS. The loving, devoted soul. GREGORY. The hearts of the elect. COCCEIUS, AINSWORTH. Historically, refers to Jesus returning from the wilderness, full of the Holy Ghost. M. STUART. His grave; His, as new. DAVIDSON.
Son . King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. ‘A chariot' אַפְרְיוֹן aphreyon, a palanquin, or portable bed; probably from פָרה ‘to be borne quickly.' GESENIUS. According to the Talmudists, a bed, or nuptial couch, from פָרָה ‘to be fruitful.' EWALD and DELITZSCH derive the word from פרח (Arabic فرج to cleave, labour, elaborate: the chariot elaborately made as a state coach; more so than the bed, or travelling litter, in Son 3:7. So FAUSSET. COCCEIUS supposes that the Greek word here used ( φορε͂ ιον) might have come from the Hebrew through the Phœnician. The Syriac renders the word a throne; WICLIFF, a chair; COVERDALE and MATTHEWS' Bible, a bedstead; CRANMER and BISHOPS', a palace: GENEVA, a chariot; DOUAI, a chariot or bed. PISCATOR: A couch. MONTANUS. A bridal bed. PAGNINUS: An edifice. MUNSTER: A palace. The FIGURINE: A canopy. VATABLUS: A tent. MERCER: A portable couch, in which the Bride was carried for display. BRIGHTMAN: A chariot, showing his Majesty before the multitude. JUNIUS and TREMELLIUS: A throne. PATRICK: An open chariot, with a bed or cushion. GILL: Used in the Mishna for a nuptial bed, or open chariot, in which the Bride was conveyed from her father's house to that of her husband. WILLIAMS: A palanquin of state, probably large enough to carry both the Bride and Bridegroom. GOOD: A bridal couch. M. STUART: A royal bridal chair, or palanquin, borne on men's shoulders. DEL RIO. The Latin name (ferculum), a conveyance used by the Romans for carrying the spoils or tokens of victory before the conqueror in a triumph; here something carried for show. HITZIG: A conveyance distinct from the מַטָּה, or bed, in Son 3:7; Solomon riding in that, while the Bride rode in this. ZÖCKLER: A portable couch, or litter; identical with the מַטָּה or bed, according to Rabbinical traditions and ancient versions, spacious enough to afford room for Solomon and Shulamite; though the former probably rode in a less showy vehicle by her side. Variously allegorized. TARGUM: The Temple. ABEN EZRA: The Holy of Holies. ALSHECH: The Tabernacle of witness. WEISS: The Throne-chamber, or Holy of Holies, with the Ark and the Cherubim, called ‘the chariot' (1Ch 18:1-17). M. STUART: Account agrees with the Tabernacle, more especially with the Holy of Holies and Ark of the Covenant, borne on the shoulders of the Levites, like an eastern palanquin. FAUSSET: The Temple as compared with the Tabernacle, typical of Christ's body. THEODORET: The Apostles who carried Christ's name to the Gentiles. RUPERT and MERCER: The Word of God. GREGORY, AMBROSE, &c.: The human nature of Christ. WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY and M. STUART: The person of Christ. GREGORY, DEL RIO, DAVIDSON: Christ's Church and people; the renewed believing soul in which He dwells. SANCTIUS, COCCEIUS, DURHAM: The work of the Covenant of Redemption. GILL, SCOTT: The Covenant of Grace. THRUPP: The Cross of Christ. WILLIAMS: The Gospel in its onward progress. HENGSTENBERG: The means by which Christ brings the nations into His kingdom CHALMERS: May relate to the glories of heaven, and of His own person.
The Marriage Procession
SCENE SECOND. Place: A street in Jerusalem, with a royal Litter, guarded by a company of soldiers, seen in the distance. Speakers: Citizens of Jerusalem.
CHAPTER Son . Son 3:6-8
Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness,
Like pillars of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all powders of the merchant?
Behold his bed, which is Solomon's:
Threescore valiant men are about it,
Of the valiant of Israel.
They all hold swords,
Being expert in war;
Every man hath his sword on his thigh,
Because of fear in the night.
King Solomon made himself a chariot
Of the wood of Lebanon;
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.
The question probably asked by one citizen or company of citizens, and answered by another in reference to the Bridal Palanquin and Procession seen advancing towards Jerusalem from the country. Marriage processions in the East accompany the Bride on her way from her own dwelling to the house of the Bridegroom or his father; the Bride herself being concealed by a curtained canopy, called the Huppah, borne by four men holding it by a pole at each corner. The procession, accompanied by parties of musicians, generally occupies three or four hours or more, moving slowly, and taking a circuitous route for the sake of display, while aromatics are frequently burnt in honour of the occasion. When the procession is at night, it is to accompany the Bridegroom—usually to and from some house of prayer—and is then illuminated by torches or burning cressets, and other lights fixed at the top of poles, and carried by men on their shoulders, the inhabitants of the place usually pressing out into the streets to enjoy the sight. The name of Solomon connected in the context with the title of King, a sufficient indication that it is the marriage of Solomon, the king of Israel, that forms the picture or emblem in the allegory. His anticipated espousals with Shulamite now about to take place. The procession attracts the notice of the citizens of Jerusalem, who are able to discern it at a distance, and make their remarks to one another. ‘Who (or what) is this,' &c.? The scene recalls the inquiry of the same citizens when Jesus, a few days before His crucifixion, made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, amid the acclamations of the multitude: ‘Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord' (Luk ). ‘All the city was moved, saying, Who is this? (Mat 21:10). The inquiry in the text, and the description in reply to it, applicable rather to the Bridal Couch, Litter, or Palanquin, including at the same time the party conveyed in it. Exhibits, under various aspects, the Church or believer, as the
Bride of Christ.
1. Coming up from the wilderness. Believers chosen out of the world. In it, but no longer of it. Like Israel, the typical and Old Testament Bride, coming up out of Egypt and the wilderness to Canaan. A wilderness between the Bride of Christ and her heavenly home. While others take up their abode in it, the Bride makes her way out of it. The mark of Christ's Bride that she seeks ‘a better country,' has her ‘conversation (or citizenship) in heaven,' and sets her ‘affections on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God' (Heb ; Php 3:20; Col 3:1).
2. Perfumed. Believers possessed of a two-fold perfume:
(1) The merits of the Bridegroom. Made accepted in the Beloved. Christ made to those who are in Him wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, as well as redemption (1Co ). Christ Himself the divine merchant, from whom the heavenly aromatics are to be obtained. ‘I counsel thee to buy of Me.' ‘Buy without money and without price.' The Lord well pleased ‘for His righteousness sake.' The ‘much incense' added to the prayers of believers by the Angel of the Covenant, who presents them to the Father (Rev 8:3). Believers wrapped in the perfumed garments of their Elder Brother, and so obtain the blessing (Gen 27:15; Gen 27:27).
(2) The graces of the Spirit. Those who are Christ's possess His Spirit. Have put on Christ. Receive out of His fulness grace for grace. Believers made fragrant both to God and man by the fruits of the Spirit produced in them—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, &c. (Gal, &c.). The works of faith and services of love performed by believers through the Holy Spirit in them, a sweet smelling savour to the Lord (Php 4:18). The spiritual perfume that anointed the King shed also upon His Bride (Psa 133:2).
3. On their way to the marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the home prepared for them by the Beloved. Like Shulamite, on their way to the nuptials to be celebrated in the New Jerusalem, when the Bridegroom comes ‘to be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe' (2Th ). The heavenly Bridegroom gone to prepare a place for His Bride in His Father's house, and in due time to come again, and receive her to himself (Joh 14:2). Believers at His coming caught up to ‘meet the Lord in the air,' and so are ‘for ever with the Lord' (1Th 4:17). The public reception and presentation of them to the Father, as His Bride, to be followed by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-9).
4. A spectacle and object of interest to angels and men. Into these things the angels desire to look. To principalities and powers in the heavenly places is made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God (1Pe ; Eph 3:10). Believers, living as such, the object of attention, if not of attraction, to the world around them. ‘They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.' The remark of the heathen in reference to the early believers: See how these Christians love one another! The people ‘magnified' the Pentecostal Church at Jerusalem, while unbelievers were afraid to ‘join themselves unto them' (Act 4:13). Believers made conspicuous by their heavenly deportment, as far as they possess the spirit of their Master, and live in His fellowship. Spiritually-minded Christians a marvel and a mystery to their fellow men. ‘Men wondered at.' Christian and Faithful passing through Vanity Fair, gazed and wondered at ‘as outlandish men.' Believers, as such, unlike the world in their principles, practice, spirit, views, experiences, hopes. The difference, that between the flesh and the spirit. Believers, as such, both unknown and misknown by the world (1Co 2:15; 1Jn 3:1). The Church of believers going up from the wilderness, compared to
‘Pillars of Smoke.'
1. Pillars or columns of smoke have an upward motion and tendency. Their direction towards heaven, whither they are constantly ascending. So believers, risen with Christ, seek the things that are above. The part of a believer to have his affections, desires, aims, hopes, &c., on things above. ‘Our conversation is in heaven. Their heart where their treasure is.
2. Such columns seen at a considerable distance. Believers a city set on a hill. Lights in the world. Men to be able to see their good works, so as thereby to glorify their Father in heaven. The world to be able to take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. ‘Epistles of Christ known and read of all men.' The heavenward aims and heavenly life of believers, that which makes them most observed by a world which only ‘minds earthly things.'
3. Yet the foundation of these pillars invisible. The smoke ascends from a fire which is unseen. In the Allegory, the smoke probably that ascending from the incense burned as the procession advanced. The source of a believer's spiritual and heavenly life hidden from the eyes of the world. That source Christ Himself, and the fire of His Spirit in the heart. ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' ‘Not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' ‘Your life is hid with Christ in God.' A hidden fire, kindled by the Holy Ghost, burns in the believer's heart. The smoke seen, but not its source.
4. Such pillars constant and continuous in their ascent. The believer's spiritual life and heavenward aim habitual and abiding. Not existing for a day or a month, but through life. The path of the just as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Pro ). The believer no mere Sabbath-day saint. The mark of a false heart to serve God on Sundays, and the world during the rest of the week. Believers not heavenly in the Church, and earthly in the ball-room. A man known not by what he is sometimes, and by fits and starts, but what he is habitually. A Christian discovered, not by temporary feelings or spasmodic acts, but by the even tenour of his way (Joh 8:31).
5. Yet their ascent not always uniform and undisturbed. The column of smoke always ascending, yet subject to agitation and disturbance from the wind. The spiritual life of a believer not always alike, either in appearance or experience. Subject to disturbing influences, both from within and without. Such influence, natural corruption; the daily trials and temptations of life; the unwearied efforts of an invisible enemy. The work of a believer's life to guard his spirit against these influences, and to preserve the heavenward tendency of his thoughts and affections, and the heavenly character of his temper and conduct.
Solomon's Bed or Bridal Palanquin.
‘Behold his bed, which is Solomon's, &c.
The ‘bed,' litter, sedan or palanquin, probably the same as the ‘chariot' described in the subsequent verses. Prepared by Solomon for himself; that is, for the conveyance of his Bride from her father or mother's house to his own, where the nuptials were to be celebrated; and perhaps for the conveyance of himself on the same occasion. Guarded, as became a royal marriage, by an escort of the king's select troops, to prevent either danger or disturbance by the way; especially as the journey required to be made, in part at least, during the night. May be viewed as emblematic of
The Covenant of Grace,
as administered both in the Old and New Testament dispensations; in the former, through a system of typical ordinances, including a typical priesthood and a typical tabernacle and temple, (these last perhaps specially referred to by the ‘bed' and ‘chariot,'—the same, and yet in some respects different,) accompanied with a succession of inspired prophets; in the latter, by means of spiritual ordinances and various gifts of the Spirit, with the ministration of divinely instituted office-bearers, some extraordinary and temporary, as apostles and prophets; others ordinary and permanent, as evangelists, pastors and teachers. The Covenant itself, in substance, that made with Abraham: ‘I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee.' Circumcision appointed to him and his natural male offspring, as the sign or token of the covenant; ‘a seal of the righteousness which he had by faith;' afterwards, in the New Testament Church, replaced by the simpler rite of Baptism. The Covenant made with David: ‘He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things; and sure' (2Sa ), offered to all in the Gospel: ‘Incline your ear and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David' (Isa 55:3). Proclaimed by Peter on and after Pentecost: ‘The promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call.' ‘Ye (Jews) are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed' (Act 2:39; Act 3:25). Called a New Covenant, as under a new administration, and especially as distinguished from that made with Israel as a people at Mount Sinai. Promised as a New Covenent by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:31, &c.). The promise applied by Paul to the time subsequent to the death and ascension of Christ (Heb 8:4-13). The covenant sealed by the blood or death of Jesus. The cup in the Lord's Supper, symbolical of that blood, called by Himself the ‘cup of the New Testament (or Covenant) in my blood'. Its special blessings,—divine teaching, pardon, adopt ion, and sanctification (Heb 8:10-12). Hence, called a better covenant, and established upon better promises than that made with Israel at Mount Sinai (Heb 8:6). Christ the Mediator and Surety of the Covenant (Heb 7:22; Heb 8:6; Heb 9:15; Heb 12:24). The covenant made with all who are saved, on their believing in Jesus and accepting the Gospel offer. Believers hence called ‘Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise' (Gal 3:29). Observe, in relation to the ‘bed' or ‘chariot'—
1. It was made by Solomon himself. ‘Solomon made himself a chariot.' Christ the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant ratified and its blessings procured by His atoning death. The Covenant offered by Him in the Gospel, and made by Him with all who believe and accept of it (Isa ). The whole of its administration in the New Testament dispensation, with its ordinances, offices, and gifts, directly from Him as the Church's Head (Eph 4:7-11; Mat 28:18-20; 1Co 11:23).
2. Made by Solomon for himself. ‘Made himself a chariot.' The special object of it the comfortable conveyance of his Bride to her future home. The covenant of grace devised by a Triune God, the Son as well as the Father and the Spirit, for the salvation of the Church, given to the Son as His Bride. The ordinances, gifts, and offices, for the gathering in, building up, and perfecting of the redeemed (Eph ; Eph 5:25-28). Christ's glory connected with the salvation of His Church (Joh 17:1-2).
3. Well guarded. The chariot, with the Bride in it, during its passage through the wilderness, accompanied by a chosen guard of military, well armed, and of dauntless courage, ‘because of fear in the night'. ‘The period of the Church's passage through this world to her heavenly home a time of ‘night'—of darkness, danger, and discomfort. Hence placed by her divine Lord under the escort of an angelic guard. ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.' Angels that excelinstrength,—‘ascending and descending upon the Son of man,'—sent forth ‘to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation' (Heb ; Joh 1:51). Hence the death of a persecuting Herod (Act 12:1-23). The Church placed also under the care of those to whom it is given to watch for their souls ‘as those that must give account' (Heb 13:17). Such set for the defence of the Gospel, that its truth may continue with the Church in its purity and integrity, and by the skilful use of the ‘sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,' to contend earnestly ‘for the faith once delivered unto the saints' (Php 1:17; Gal 2:5; Jude 1:3).
4. Worthy of its author and object. ‘Made of the wood of Lebanon'—cedar, both durable and fragrant. Its ‘pillars of silver,' supporting the canopy at its four corners. Its ‘bottom,'—seat for reclining on, or back for leaning against,—of gold. Its ‘covering' or hangings, of purple or scarlet. Its ‘midst,' or bottom, paved with love, for (or by) the daughters of Jerusalem,'—covered with a carpet, probably adorned with embroidered love-emblems and mottoes, the work of the hands of the Ladies of the Court.—The Covenant of Grace an ‘everlasting covenant.' The ordinances by which it is administered, for perpetual observance till the Lord's second appearing. His presence with His Church and servants in the administration of it, ‘even unto the end of the world.' The Lord's Supper to be observed until He Himself shall come. The ordinances of the Old Testament dispensation having a temporary design, superseded by those of the New, when that design had been accomplished. The tabernacle and temple with their furniture, distinguished, like the ‘chariot,' for their durable materials (including cedar), and the gold and silver of which they were composed; the veil of ‘blue, purple, scarlet, and fine-twined linen' (that of the temple also adorned with embroidered cherubims), and the covering of the tabernacle of ‘rams' skins dyed red,' overlaid with badgers' skins,—all figures of ‘good things to come,' of which divine ‘love' is the beginning, middle, and end (Joh ; Eph 5:25, &c.).
No journeying to heaven for sinful men but in this chariot of love. Every portion of the blood-bought Bride of Christ brought into it through the knowledge and belief of the truth which it is designed to proclaim. A place in it offered by Christ to every sinner through the voice of the Bride whom it conveys (Rev ). The chariot passes by wherever the Gospel is preached, with an invitation even to the chief of sinners to accept of Jesus as their Saviour, Bridegroom, and King, and to enter it as a portion of His Bride. Unspeakable blessing to have a place in this Bridal chariot of the King of Kings. Terrible consequences of slighting the invitation (Heb 2:3).
THE ROYAL MARRIAGE
CITIZENS, calling to the Women of Jerusalem
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.
The bridal procession now supposed to have entered the city, and to be either passing along the street, or to have arrived at the palace. The language sufficiently indicative that the royal marriage is now taking place in the poem, or about to do so. That marriage the point to which the previous events in the Song were preparatory steps. This verse, therefore, to be regarded as the central part of the poem. The king exhibited as already wearing the nuptial crown or chaplet, such a crown being worn in the East by the bridegroom as well as the bride, and usually placed on his head by his mother, if still surviving. The royal marriage naturally an object of special interest and attraction to the citizens, more particularly the king himself, its central figure.
The espousals of Israel's king with Shulamite a picture of the marriage of the Lord Jesus Christ with His Church at His second coming, when His Bride shall have ‘made herself ready' (Rev ). On that infinitely solemn and glorious day of the King's espousals, those who ‘have fallen asleep,' but whose already perfected spirits shall come with Him to be reunited to their raised and glorified bodies, as well as those who shall be ‘alive and remain to His coming,' being ‘in a moment' changed and glorified without tasting of death, shall be ‘caught up to meet the Lord in the air,' and to go with Him into the new Jerusalem to be presented to His Father and their Father, and to sit down together at the ‘Marriage Supper of the Lamb,' and so to be ‘for ever with the Lord' (1Th 4:14-17; 1Co 15:51-52; Rev 19:7-9). The most prominent figure in the whole transcendently glorious scene, and the object attracting the eyes of men and angels, will naturally be Christ Himself as
The Royal Bridegroom;
here exhibited under the name and title of one of his most distinguished Old Testament types, King Solomon. Observe—
1. Christ will appear at His second coming in the character of KING. His title exhibited ‘on His vesture, and on His thigh:' KING OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS. Never till then fully manifested in this character. The dignity claimed for Himself at Pilate's bar, but denied Him by His own subjects, or those who ought to have been such. His title virtually and practically denied by the world, and, to a great extent, by the professing Church, who say by their spirit and their lives: ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.' The scene indicated in the text faintly foreshadowed by the Saviour's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. (Mat ; Luk 19:38).
2. Christ will especially appear as KING SOLOMON. ‘Solomon' derived from a word denoting ‘peace.' His reign a reign of peace. The sword, always drawn in the reign of David his father, slept in its scabbard during that of Solomon. Jesus the Prince of Peace. Himself our peace. The ‘Man' who should be ‘the peace.' Has made peace by His blood. His birth celebrated by angels as inaugurating ‘peace on earth.' That peace, however, never fully enjoyed on and by the earth, till He ascends the Throne ‘at His appearing and His Kingdom.' Till then His Kingly character represented by David the ‘man of war,' rather than by Solomon the Peaceful. His followers now called to fight as ‘good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Only then called to sit down and feast as his Bride at the ‘Marriage Supper of the Lamb.'
3. Christ will appear at His second coming in the character of a ROYAL BRIDEGROOM Solomon's crown ‘wherewith his mother crowned him,' neither a political, nor a martial, but a nuptial crown. This crown put on his head not by priest or potentate, but by ‘his mother.' Worn by him not on a state occasion, or on a day of triumph, but on the day of his espousals. The period indicated, that of the public espousals of Christ with His saved Church on the day of His glorious appearing. That period, however, preceded by two secret and mystical espousals which may be blended with those public ones; namely, His crucifixion, when His human mother, in the person of the soldiers, placed on His head the crown of thorns; and the sinner's conversion to Christ and open avowal of Him as his Lord and King. His believing people presented unto Him at His coming as a chaste virgin, having been previously espoused to Him as their husband (2Co ). The time to which Paul looked forward as the goal of his hopes in connection with his labours in the Gospel (1Th 2:19). Every saved soul a flower in Christ's bridal chaplet; or rather a part of the Bride herself. Saved souls the crown of those who had been the instruments in their salvation; much more to Christ Himself, who redeemed and saved them. The crown, therefore, placed on His head by His spiritual mother, the Church in which He Himself was born; in joyful compensation for the crown of thorns with which His natural mother, or humanity, crowned Him in the day of His deep humiliation and sorrow. Every act of faith and love by believing souls, a step towards Christ's coronation. Before conversion, we put the crown on our own heads; after conversion, we put it on Christ's.
4. Christ's second appearing the ‘day of the gladness of His heart.' The day of the Bridegroom's greatest joy that on which He receives His Bride (Isa ). That day looked forward to by Christ in the midst of His sufferings as ‘the joy that was set before Him,' for which He willingly ‘endured the cross, despising the shame' (Heb 12:3). That day the climax of His joy. His loving heart rejoiced even in the day of His humiliation, when He found the lost sheep and laid it on His shoulders. Much more in the day of His exaltation, when He has all the sheep safely and for ever with Himself at home (Luk 15:5-6). The day when He presents to His Father all that had been given to Him to save, saying, ‘Here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me' (Heb 2:13). That day the joyous harvest after the seed-lime of sorrow and anguish He endured on earth. The compensating fruit of the pain He suffered, the tears He shed, and the blood He gave for the redemption of His Bride. To the joy of that day every single conversion now contributes; and accordingly, every faithful and loving effort put forth by His people for such conversion. The seed sown now in tears, then reaped in joy.
5. The day of Christ's appearing and espousals a day of intense interest to the Church and to the world. The daughters of Zion called to ‘go forth and behold King Solomon,' with his nuptial crown' in the day ‘of his espousals.' When Christ comes in the clouds as the Royal Bridegroom of His Church, ‘every eye shall see Him' (Rev ). The joy of all joys to behold Him on that day as our own Bridegroom (Isa 25:9). The sorrow of all sorrows to see Him as the Bridegroom whom we continued to despise and reject (Rev 6:14-17).
The day of Christ's public espousals and of ‘the gladness of His heart' fast hastening on. Eighteen centuries ago the Bridegroom left the promise with His expectant Bride: ‘Surely I come quickly' (Rev ). His parting word not yet fulfilled. The Bride not yet ready. The number of His elect not yet accomplished. The Gospel of the kingdom not yet preached for a witness to all nations. Yet the time may be near. The Gospel never so widely preached as now. In a short time all nations will have heard it. The last vessel of mercy probably ere long gathered in, when the Bride shall have made ‘herself ready.' A very short time and the cry may be heard, arousing a sleeping world and a slumbering Church: ‘Behold the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.'
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany