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Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary Preacher's Homiletical
Song of Solomon 4
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ phc/ song-of-solomon-4.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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Song of Solomon 4:6 : Until the day dawn, and the shadows flew away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense. ‘Until the day dawn’ (עַדשָׁיָּפוּחַ הַיּוֹם, adh shey-yaphuakh hay-yom), שֶׁיּפוּחַ, composed of שֶ, for אַשֶר, that, and יָפוּח from פוּחַ, to blow or breathe; literally, till the day breathe. According to some, before the cool of the day; a cooling breeze usually blowing at that time in the East. So EWALD, GESENIUS, ROSENMÜLLER, and most of the moderns. Reference to the easterly gale which frequently accompanies the approach of the sun to the horizon. PARKHURST, PERCY, A. CLARK, PURSY observed that a wind blows fresh both at the rising and setting of the sun. GILL. According to the earlier interpreters, the reference to the morning gale or dawn of day. A local beauty: in those hot countries the dawn of day is attended with a fine refreshing breeze much more grateful than the return of light itself. VATABLUS. Reference to the morning still preferred by some moderns. The refreshing breeze of dawn in the East, or air of life, which distinguishes morning from the death-like stillness of night. M. STUART, FAUSSET. ‘Breathe:’ a figurative expression for the reviving of the day after its apparent death. GOOD. Till the day breathe forth, i.e., light; may also refer to the blowing of the wind at the break of day. AINSWORTH. PISCATOR has: Till the day respire or refresh himself, i.e., the sun, after the labours of the day: Ancient versions and Fathers connect with the preceding ‘until evening,’ when having fed, they (i.e., the roes) return home. JUNIUS and DURHAM refer it to the day in which the marriage was to be consummated. According to DELITSCH and ZÖCKLER, the words spoken by Shulamite, as well as in chap. Song of Solomon 2:17. According to the former, the Bride modestly wishes to leave the hall for a more solitary place in the precincts of the palace, till evening shall bring her again into the King’s presence. So BARTH (Bible Manual): the Bride unable to bear herself so highly commended, and desiring to prepare herself for the Bridegroom. Others, probably more correctly, ascribe the words to the Bridegroom. So EWALD: Till the day declines (i.e., soon) would I enjoy thy beauty. GILL views the words as spoken by him in reply to the request of the Bride in chap. Song of Solomon 2:17. According to the author of the Threefold Mystery, he intimates the coming change—his withdrawal for a season—with, however, a word of hope. Allegorically: Till the evening of the world, when I will take thee to myself. PISCATOR. FROMONDI: I will go during the night of this present life. DURHAM: Till the day when the Bride shall be taken into immediate communion with the Bridegroom. FRY: Till the day of Christ’s second appearing. FAUSSET: Till the everlasting day: typically, God’s taking up his abode in the Temple till the day break of Messiah’s first appearing. MERCER and others: Day of the Gospel Dispensation, when the shadows of the law should pass away. GILL: The day of grace, and then the day of glory to elect souls.
‘I will get me to the mountains of myrrh,’ &c. According to some, the reference to certain localities. ZÖCKLER: Localities about the royal palace: solitary shady spots, perhaps beds of balsam (Song of Solomon 4:13). UMBREIT: The region of Shulamite’s home. HITZIG: Zion, as the seat of the Court. WILLIAMS: The Lebanon: the allusion to the fragrant groves of spices to be found in that country. A. CLARKE: Probably the mountains of Bether. COBBIN: The object to obtain perfumes for the Fair One. Others regard the language as figurative and denoting the Bride herself. GROTIUS: The breasts of the Bride, with allusion to the fragrant substances upon them. PERCY: The Bride compared to an entire heap of perfumes. EWALD: Shulamite’s beauty so compared, as inviting from its sweet perfume. Allegorically: The temple on Mount Moriah. TARGUM, RASHI, ABEN EZRA. Mount Moriah, where the oil was made out of pure myrrh: Mount Zion as a figure of the Church. HENGSTENBERG. Where Isaac was offered. Old Commentator. Where frankincense was offered on the altar of incense; the Lord promising to dwell in the Temple now dedicated to Him (2 Chronicles 7:12-15). WEISS, FAUSSET. Reference to the Temple and its prayers and services, where Jesus often brought the devotion of holy prayer. DEL RIO. Heaven. PISCATOR. The heavenly Jerusalem. JUNIUS. As the place of special holiness. SANCTIUS. The abode of martyrs and confessors. HONORIUS. The abode of angels, spoken of in the East as having bodies of perfume. HARMER. The mediatorial kingdom of Christ, where He presents to the Father the incense of His finished atonement. HAWKER, and the author of Three-fold Mystery. Refers to the crucifixion and death of Jesus. GREGORY. Christ went willingly to death: the mountain of myrrh His death, the hill of frankincense His resurrection and ascension. THEODORET. Christ’s mountain full of rich gifts, but only available for us by the bitterness of His death. DEL RIO. Historical reference to Calvary, and the embalming of the Lord’s body with the myrrh and aloes till His resurrection. M. STUART. The Bride or Church of Christ, even now lovely and precious in His eyes as the mountain of myrrh. PATRICK. The Church, where the graces of His people flow, and where their prayers are as incense. DURHAM. Where Christ takes up His abode till His second coming. GILL. The Church assembled under the Gospel ministry, where the name of Jesus, like frankincense, fills the hearts of His people with the savour of His presence. HAWKER (Notes).On the sweetly smelling sacrificial fragrance of the mountain of myrrh (his Bride) he will delight himself from morning till evening. HAHN. Souls whose fleshly lusts are mortified by the myrrh of repentance. FROMONDI. Reference to a life of prayer and contemplation. TIRINUS. As spoken by the Bride. The Church will flee for safety from her persecutors to the place prepared for her in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14). COCCEIUS. Will wait for the day, retiring for prayer and meditation. HAWKER. To the mountain of sacrifice and the hill of praise. DAVIDSON. The soul in great distress fleeing to Christ for refuge in prayer and meditation. AINSWORTH.
The Marriage Feast
CHAPTER Song of Solomon 4:1-16, TO Song of Solomon 5:1
SCENE FIRST. Place: Bridal Apartment in Solomon’s Palace. Speakers: The King and Shulamite
Expressing his Admiration of and Delight in his Bride
CHAP. Song of Solomon 4:1-7
Behold, thou art fair, my love;
Behold, thou art fair.
Thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks.
Thy hair is as a flock of goats,
That appear from Mount Gilead.
Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn;
Which come up from the washing;
Whereof every one beareth twins;
And none is barren among them.
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet;
And thy speech is comely.
Thy temples are like a piece of pomegranate,
Within thy locks (or, ‘behind thy veil’).
Thy neck is like the tower of David,
Builded for an armoury;
Whereon there hang a thousand bucklers,
All shields of mighty men.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes
That are twins,
Which feed among the lilies.
Until the day break,
And the shadows flee away,
I will get me to the mountain of myrrh,
And to the hill of frankincense.
Thou art all fair, my love;
There is no spot in thee.
Shulamite not now merely a betrothed, but a married wife. Hence in this chapter, for the first time, called by Solomon, ‘My spouse.’ Her veil removed in the bridal apartment, Solomon surveys her beauty, and contemplates her person with intense delight. Spiritually, the Church, or individual believer, still regarded as on earth, but in an advanced stage of experience as compared with that of the preceding chapters. Historically, the New Testament Church, or the Church after Pentecost, indicated; the crucifixion and death of Jesus, followed by His resurrection and ascension, being regarded as the nuptials. In reference to individual believers, the present part of the Allegory may be viewed as descriptive of the time when they have made the public and solemn profession of their acceptance of and self-dedication to Jesus, by sitting down at His table, and receiving that seal of the Covenant and pledge of His love.
The text, Solomon’s previous commendation of the Bride now repeated with considerable enlargement and particularity. Formerly, only her dove-like eyes commended and admired. Now all her features, as well as the upper parts of her person—her hair, neck, and breasts. Observe—
1. A growth of grace in believers. The path of the just as the shining light. Believers changed from glory to glory. Beautiful in Christ’s eyes here; much more so hereafter. Heaven the place of just men made perfect.
2. Periods of special advancement in the history of the Church and of individual believers. A great advance in holiness and grace in the Church of the New Testament after the day of Pentecost, as compared with that of the Old Testament. A similar advance to be experienced in the Millenial Church as compared with the Church in its present state. The light of the moon made to be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun as the light of seven days (Isaiah 30:26). A great increase of grace often visible in the case of a believer after a solemn and public dedication of himself to the Lord, and a sealing of the Covenant at the Lord’s Table. Believers frequently sensible of a considerable advance in grace, and of an elevation of their spiritual life to a higher level. Such elevations often preceded by painful trials, deep soul-exercises, and renewed conviction of sin. Much higher attainments in grace to be gained than are ordinarily arrived at. Such attainments to be earnestly desired and sought after. Provision made for them. ‘Open thy month wide, and I will fill it.’ ‘Be ye filled with the Spirit’ (Psalms 81:10; Ephesians 5:18).
3. The highest delight of Jesus in the spiritual beauty and perfection of His Church and people. ‘Forget thine own people and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty’ (Psalms 45:10). ‘The Lord in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save; He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:17). Christ’s joy fulfilled in the spiritual prosperity and perfection of His people. The description of the Bride’s beauty in the text a climax, indicative of the joy of the Bridegroom—his affection kindling as he contemplates the object of his love. Commences with: ‘Thou art fair;’ and ends with: ‘Thou art all fair; there is no spot in thee.’
4. The believer’s love, as expressed in the ‘eyes,’ her main attraction in the view of Christ. The Bride’s dove-like eyes the first feature described, and the only one previously mentioned. The eyes the expression of the soul, and especially of the tender emotions. Doves distinguished for their affection, especially to their mates. Hence, ‘doves’ ‘eyes’ particularly expressive of the affection of a loving Bride. The believer’s eyes such; as being meekly and lovingly directed to Christ as His Bridegroom.
5. The beauty and excellence of the believer in Christ’s eyes made up of a variety of particulars. Seven here mentioned, as perhaps indicative of the believer’s perfection. Not necessary exactly to fix the spiritual reference of each, though desirable to find the corresponding grace in the believer’s character. The various particulars that constitute the spiritual beauty and excellence of the believer scattered up and down in the Scriptures. Sometimes brought together in a cluster, as in the text. So in Galatians 5:22; 2 Peter 1:5; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:12. These particulars all seen combined in their perfection in the person of Christ Himself. The believer’s duty and interest to see that none of these features in the spiritual character are wanting or defective in him. Symmetry, proportion, and completeness necessary to the perfection of the Christian character.
6. The comparisons in the description not all equally obvious, though equally suitable. Their aptness more obvious and natural to an Oriental than a European reader. That aptness seen more in the general impression than in the particular resemblance. Beautiful and striking things in the person of a beloved one compared in the East by an ardent admirer, or by a writer of poetry, to other beautiful and striking things, where only a general or distinct resemblance might exist. The Bride’s breasts thus compared to ‘two twin fawns’ feeding among ‘lilies’ or in a flowery need; the prominent idea being probably that of love and conjugal enjoyment (Proverbs 5:19). Her fair neck, with its jewelled and golden ornaments, suggestive, in the eyes of Solomon, of the lofty marble ‘tower’ erected by his father David, with the glittering ‘shields’ of warriors suspended on its walls as indicative of the nation’s strength; thus conveying the idea of moral firmness, dignity, and purity in the Bride. Her black tresses—a prominent feature in Oriental female beauty—suggestive, to those accustomed to the pastoral scenes of Judæa, of ‘a flock of goats,’ with their long, dark, glossy hair, seen at a distance browsing on the mountain side; suggesting to us, however, the true ornament, not only of the female but of the Christian character in general—that ‘of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price’ (1 Peter 3:3). The Bride’s ‘lips’ compared to a ‘thread of scarlet,’ as, while beautiful in themselves, suggesting a still greater charm,—the sweetness and comeliness of her ‘speech,’ as expressive of a pure, affectionate, and intelligent soul, and rendering her a meet companion for an enlightened husband; a prominent feature in a spiritual believer being that his ‘speech’ is ‘with grace, seasoned with salt;’ able to ‘minister grace to the hearers;’ and that ‘no corrupt communication’ is allowed to proceed out of his mouth, but ‘that which is good to the use of edifying’ (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29) The whole presence of the Bride suggests to the admiring husband a ‘mountain of myrrh’ and a ‘hill of frankincense,’ where all is fragrant, sweet, and delightful: what the pure-minded and loving wife is to her husband, and what the Church and the believer’s soul is, or ought to be, to Christ.
7. Christ’s great enjoyment in the grace and fellowship of His believing people. The Bridegroom, after surveying and admiring Shulamite’s unveiled charms, with the delightful consciousness that she is now all his own, resolves, for her comfort as well as his own, duly to enjoy her society and love. ‘Till the dawn and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh,’ &c. The ‘mountain of myrrh’ to Jesus is not so much the ‘quiring Seraphim’ and the angels of light, as ‘his people, whom he has redeemed with his most precious blood,’ whether these be triumphant in heaven or still militant on earth. ‘This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it’ (Psalms 132:13-14). His place of enjoyment is among the ‘golden candlesticks,’ or Churches of the saints (Revelation 2:1).
8. Christ’s presence in and with His Church promised during the whole of her stay in this world. That period, one of night—of darkness, danger, and discomfort (Romans 13:12). His second coming to His Church, the dawning of a bright and never-ending day. Till then His presence promised both to believers individually and to their assemblies convened in His name. (John 14:23; Matthew 18:20). His promise to His servants and people in connection with the great commission: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world’ (Matthew 28:20). The words of the text those of Jesus at the Supper Table in the upper room at Jerusalem: ‘I will not leave you comfort-less; I will come to you’ (John 14:18), Specimens of the fulfilment of the promise given immediately after His resurrection (John 20:16-28; Luke 24:15-32; Acts 1:4).
9. The Church, both in its individual members and in its assemblies and ordinances, made a ‘mountain of myrrh and hill of frank-incense’ by the person of Jesus Himself. No fragrance or sweetness apart from Himself. ‘Thy name is as ointment poured forth.’ All His garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Ordinances themselves insipid without Christ. Believers ‘stale and unprofitable,’ but as they have Christ dwelling in them by His Spirit. Christ the ‘bundle of myrrh’ that sweetens both the believer’s spirit and the Church’s ordinances. The care and concern of Churches and believers to be constantly, by the presence of Jesus and His Spirit, a mountain of myrrh and hill of frankincense.
10. If the Church on earth is made by the presence of Jesus a ‘mountain of myrrh and a hill of frankincense, what shall heaven be?’
Song of Solomon 4:8. Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon; look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards
‘Come with me’ (תָּבוֹאִי אִתִּי tabhoi itti). אִתִּי sometimes read as the imperative of אָתָה ‘to come.’ So the SEPTUAGINT and VULGATE, followed by COVERDALE and LUTHER. Viewed by most as from אֵֽת ‘with’ and י ‘me.’ So the TARGUM, DIODATI and MARTIN. By others as denoting ‘to me.’ Solomon invites the Bride to his arms as a place of safety. PERCY, WILLIAMS, BOOTHROYD. EWALD strangely supposes the words put by Shulamite into her absent lover’s mouth. Bridegroom invites the spouse to come into more pleasant and secure places. PATRICK. To make an excursion with him to admire together the grand and beautiful scenery. DÖDERLEIN. To see the mountains mentioned, and to be crowned with their flowers. DEL RIO. Bride, after last meeting, had returned home, and, being a shepherdess, had been feeding her flocks as far as Lebanon, &c. “Bride of Christ.” Solomon meets his betrothed on the summits of Lebanon, and invites her to leave it along with him. M. STUART, DELITZSCH. Announces to her that her home should henceforth be with him in the royal palace. ZÖCKLER. ‘Lebanon’ (לְבָנוֹן from לָבַן laban, ‘to be white,’ the ‘white mountain, the Mont Blanc of Palestine’), the magnificent range of mountains, so-called, situated between Phœnicia and Syria, with a double line, called the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. Remarkable for the grandeur of its appearance, its silvery aspect, its fertility and beauty. The abode of wild beasts (2 Kings 14:9). A forest or wilderness in comparison with other places (Isaiah 29:17). Place of the Bride’s nativity and upbringing. SANCTIUS. Bride exhorted to leave her paternal abode with the Bridegroom. THEODORET. Solomon recalls her descent from a simple shepherd’s family in the mountain region of Northern Palestine. ZÖCKLER. The Bride’s seven-fold beauty the ground on which she comes down with the King from Lebanon and its mountain peaks, and from the haunts of lions and panthers, where she had dwelt on the other side of Lebanon. HAHN. Allegorically: The congregation of Israel invited to come to the Temple, and dwell with the Lord there. TARGUM. The divine presence promised to Israel when they should be carried captive from Lebanon, and should return thither. RASHI. From the Temple, or the city and land where it is situated. ROSENMÜLLER. Israel to leave the temporary sanctuary and follow the Bridegroom in the spiritual way of perfection, being assured of His presence with her in the path of suffering. WEISS; Lebanon the Temple from which Christ calls His people to remove (Zechariah 2:1, compare Matthew 21:13). M. STUART. The Church called to forsake idols, and to leave all and follow Christ, her Bridegroom; like Psalms 45:10. THEODORET, DAVIDSON. Called from the splendour of worldly glory. HONORIUS. From some situation of danger. BUSH. From false Churches and societies of wicked people, to walk with him in newness of life. AINSWORTH. The Church invited to heaven. PISCATOR.
‘My spouse.’ כַּלָּה (callah) a bride; according to GESENIUS, from כָּלל calal, to crown, ‘the crowned one;’ but according to others, from כָּלַל to perfect; a term of affection and esteem, used to express the relation of a son’s wife to his father and mother—a ‘perfect one.’ PARKHURST, WILLIAMS, SIMON. Never used with my. The Bride so called in direct relation to her husband’s parents rather than to the husband himself; equivalent to ‘daughter-in-law;’ the title being retained as long as her husband’s parents were living (Genesis 38:11; Genesis 38:16; Genesis 38:24; Ruth 1:6-8). FRY. More directly applied in reference to the Bridegroom or husband (1 Samuel 3:10): the idea of the word being completion, totality; a family being only complete upon a son’s marriage, and the prospect of issue in the male line; the Bride, or daughter-in-law, being the person through whom the name, honours, and inheritance were to be continued. ‘Three-fold mystery.’ Shulamite here, for the first time called the Bride: hitherto only ‘love’ or ‘friend; this section immediately following the consummation of the marriage. PERCY. So-called on account of the day being appointed for the marriage. JUNIUS.
‘Look from the top of Amana,’ &c תָּשׁוּרִי (tashuri) susceptible of two meanings—to ‘look’ and to set out on a journey.’ The latter preferred by ZÖCKLER and others as parallel with תָבוֹאִי. Thus understood by the SEPTUAGINT (διαλεύοῃ.) So LUTHER. The VULGATE: Thou shalt be crowned; either from שׁוּר to rule (SANCTIUS), or from אָשַׁר to be happy (DEL RIO). So CALMET: The Bridegroom promises to deck her with a crown, and make her his Bride. TARGUM: Thou shalt see persons coming i.e., with presents. So ROSEMULLER. GROTIUS: I will conduct thee through the most pleasant parts of my kingdom. COCCEIUS: Come and enter into possession: look forth on the inheritance. PERCY: She may now look down in security amidst any dangers of which she was apprehensive. FRY: The Bride, in passing from her home to her husband’s abode, would obtain from the heights of these mountains a gratifying prospect of the land of promise. DELITZSCH: Solomon would conduct her from one summit of Lebanon to another and give her to see and enjoy the prospect of his wide dominions. ‘Amana’ (אֲמָנָה), the name of a mountain in the north of Palestine. RASHI At present not precisely known: probably belonging to the same range of mountains in Antilibanus as Shenir and Hermon. WEISS. Not likely, as A. CLARKE, the mountains dividing Cilicia and Assyria. WILLIAMS: A mountain in Syria; the valley and the river called by the same name, Amana and Abana (2 Kings 5:12; Keri אמנה Amana). GESENIUS: The name of a river rising in Antilibanus and watering Damascus, and giving its name to that part of the Lebanon. According to later Jews, only the name of a river. EWALD: Amana, some part of Lebanon not far from Damascus, whence a small river of similar name had its rise, called Abana. MICHAELIS: Abana probably the river now called Fiji. ZÖCKLER: Amana, the peak lying farthest to the east and north-east of the Anlitibanus range. ‘Shenir’ (שְׁנִיר, better read שְׂנִיר Senir), the name of Mount Hermon with the Amonites (Deuteronomy 3:9); as Sirion (שִׂרְיוֹן) was with the Sidonians. In a stricter sense, a part of Hermon or Antilibanus lying to the north, and now called by the Arabs, Jebel Senir; Hermon being distinguished from Shenir both here and in 1 Chronicles 5:23. GESENIUS. Shenir the more northern, Hermon the more southern, of the principal peaks in the Hermon or Antilibanus range. ZÖCKLER. Sirion identical with Shenir, meaning a breastplate; referring probably to its glittering breastplate of ice. STANLEY. ‘Hermon’ (חֶרְמוֹן). A high mountain of Antilibanus covered with snow, now called Jebel Sheikh. Sometimes as here, and in 1 Chronicles 5:23, distinguished from Shenir, the common usage apparently fluctuating. Hermon consisted of more mountains than one (Psalms 42:7), these mountains being called also Zion (Deuteronomy 3:9; Deuteronomy 4:48). GESENIUS. The poet here only varies the names, because one meant the same as another to him. HITZIG, ZÖCKLER. Amana, Shenir, and Hermon, all different mountains of the Lebanon chain. COBBIN. The SEPTUAGINT, strangely translating the first name, Amana, has: ‘From the beginning of the faith.’ In the second clause, however: ‘From the top,’ &c.; as the VULGATE in both clauses. The passage thus allegorized. THEODORET: Shenir and Hermon the law or legal life. WEISS: Wild mountains of Israel’s captivity. DAVIDSON: The whole land of Gentile ESAU—the Gentile and estranged wilderness. PATRICK: From the horrid mountains, where thou wast exposed to the rage and cruelty of furious and troublesome men, look down and behold the goodly heritage I have purchased for thee. PISCATOR: Heaven to be beheld by faith. DURHAM: Elevate the heart to heaven; look, at least. FRY: The believer, like Moses on Pisgah, obtains a prospect of the promised rest. GILL: The Church called to look down and see how the Gospel was received by the nations: or, Christ’s call to His Church to leave the society of the wicked men of the world, and go along with Him (2 Corinthians 6:17; Revelation 18:4). ‘Lion’s dens and mountains of leopards.’ A poetical exaggeration of the mountains around Shunem, as if to be compared with Lebanon; alluding, in a general way, to the wild beasts and inhospitable character of the region of Shulamite’s home (Zechariah 2:3; Jeremiah 12:5; Deuteronomy 33:22). ZÖCKLER, Allegorically, the inhabitants of strong towns, who are strong as lions. TARGUM. Furious Jews and crafty Gentile philosophers. THEODORET. Malicious, cruel, and hypocritical men. JEROME, GREGORY. Heretics. PHILO, ANSELM. False brethren. HONORIUS. Persecuting tyrants. PISCATOR, DURHAM. Regions of idolatry, of which Egypt whence the Bride came (?) was one of the most remarkable HARMER. Babylonian lions and Chaldean panthers. WEISS. Savage, beastly, and idolatrous people. AINSWORTH. These mountains, thus beautiful but dangerous, put in contrast with the mountain of myrrh and hill of frankincense. BURROUGHS.
THE BRIDEGROOM’S INVITATION
(Song of Solomon 4:8)
Come with me from Lebanon,
My spouse, with me from Lebanon;
Look from the top of Amana,
From the top of Shenir and Hermon,
From the lions’ dens,
From the mountains of leopards.
The King intimates to his beloved that he has a better place of residence prepared for her than that which had hitherto been her home; that it was his desire that she should soon accompany him to it; and that in the meantime she should withdraw her affections from her former abode. Her previous home is represented as being in Mount Lebanon with its snow-capped heights, either really, or in a locality thus poetically named. Lebanon, in its higher regions, with its adjacent peaks of Amana, Shenir or Sirion, and Hermon, mentioned as a place both of danger and discomfort, notwithstanding the pleasant spots found in its valleys and lower slopes. The text the language of tenderest affection. For the first time Shulamite called by the King ‘my spouse.’ The marriage viewed as now having taken place. The Bridegroom’s earnest desire to have his Bride always with him. His care that she should be with him in a place of comfort and security. Wishes her to leave those cold bleak mountains, the haunts of the lion and the panther; but to do so with the aid and protection of his arm and the solace of his company.
The text may be viewed as corresponding with the words of Jesus at the Last Supper: ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you: and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). Observe, in reference to the Bridegroom’s.
Call from Lebanon,
I. The CALL itself. ‘Come with me,’ &c. To be viewed as a Call—
1. To leave the world in heart and affection. The world, in its present state of apostasy and rebellion, here represented by Lebanon and its snowy peaks. This the believer’s native home. The place where he is born and brought up. Christ’s Bride originally of the world as well as in it. ‘Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past’ (Ephesians 2:3; Titus 3:3). This world, in its present state, however, not to be the home of Christ’s Bride. A place prepared for her in His Father’s house. The world is to believers—
(1) A place of discomfort. Like Lebanon with its bleak and barren rocks, and its cold snowy heights. ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation.’
(2) A place of danger. Lebanon a place of lions’ dens. ‘Your adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ ‘My soul is among lions—the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows’ (1 Peter 5:8; Psalms 57:4).
(3) Yet a place not without attractions. Lebanon adorned with some of the loveliest spots in nature. The world, even in its fallen state, possessed of many attractions which might entangle the affections of Christ’s Bride—‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life’ (1 John 2:16). The call in the text, not to leave the world as to bodily presence, but in heart and affection. This, perhaps, indicated in the parallel clause: ‘Look from the top of Amana,’ &c. Withdraw your thoughts and affections from those rugged heights to your better home. ‘Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest.’ ‘Seek those things that are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.’ ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’ (Micah 2:10; Colossians 3:1-2; 1 John 2:15). The Bride to forget her own people and her father’s house (Psalms 45:11). Believers to look not at the things which are seen and temporal; but at those which are unseen and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). This world not be viewed as our home, but as an inn where we tarry for a night. Believers, while here, only strangers and pilgrims, journeying to their own country. Their home in the better land, the heavenly Canaan, the new Jerusalem, the city that hath foundations. Their language to be that of the pilgrim in reference to the cities which he passed on his way to Jerusalem—“very beautiful; but this is not Jerusalem.”
2. To leave it in life and practice. Believers not to be ‘conformed to this world, but transformed,’ by the renewing of their mind. Though in the world, not to be of it. ‘Be ye not, therefore, like unto them.’ Believers to be as strangers in this world in life and practice, as well as in heart and affection. Christian and Faithful represented as passing through Vanity Fair without buying any of its wares, or even so much as pricing them. Gazed at in the Fair as ‘outlandish men.’ Their only answer: ‘We buy the truth.’ Paul’s testimony, in the name of believers—‘Our conversation (life or citizenship) is in heaven.’ Believers to act and comport themselves in this world as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, to which they belong (Philippians 3:20).
3. To leave it as to its friendship and society. Too great a difference between believers and the men of the world to admit of cordial friendship and society. ‘We are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness’ (or ‘in the Wicked One’) (1 John 5:19). ‘How can two walk together except they be agreed?’ ‘Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath light with darkness? Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate’ (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). ‘The friendship of this world is enmity with God: whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God’ (James 4:4). The believer’s proper language: ‘I am a companion of all them that fear thee.’ ‘My goodness extendeth not unto thee; but unto the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.’ ‘I have not sat with vain persons: I have hated the congregation of evil doers, and will not sit with the wicked.’ ‘Depart from me, ye evil-doers, for I will keep the commandments of my God’ (Psalms 16:2; Psalms 26:4-5; Psalms 119:115). Men known by the company they keep. Peter and John, ‘being let go, went unto their own company.’ ‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another’ (Malachi 3:16; Acts 4:23).
The believer’s life a daily coming ‘from Lebanon.’ ‘If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’ Believers, being redeemed from this present evil world, to take heed lest they be ‘again entangled in the yoke of bondage.’ Need the daily prayer: ‘Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.’ Their standing caution: ‘Remember Lot’s wife.’
4. To leave the world at death. The comfort of believers that they have to leave this world, not merely in heart and affection, in life and practice, and in respect to its friendship and society, but also, in due time, in actual bodily presence. A better home provided for them. Their happiness in being where their Husband is. The death-call to them only their Bridegroom’s voice: ‘Arise, my Love, my Fair One, and come away.’ To the believer, the passage to the tomb no Dolorous Way. Sense sings a dirge at the grave; faith, a Hallelujah. A believer enters his sepulchre through pearly gates. Not deadly nightshade, but roses and lilies line the path to it. It is the last step in the journey home, or rather the actual arrival at it. The funeral bell may toll its slow and solemn strokes on earth, but cheerful peals are rung in heaven. The pardoned soul’s desire now granted: ‘I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. To me to die is gain.’ ‘I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord.’ ‘Now, Lord, lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.’
5. To leave the world at the Lord’s Second Coming. Till then, a part of the Bride always still in Lebanon. The bodies also of those whose spirits are with Christ in Paradise still in the earth. The final call to come from Lebanon given at last. ‘Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust,’ uttered by the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God. The Lord Himself descends from heaven with a shout that echoes through the mansions of the dead. They that sleep in Jesus, joining the living and now glorified saints, ascend to meet Him in the air. The Church’s blessed hope at last accomplished. The Bride’s last recorded prayer on earth now answered. The Bridegroom’s last loving promise now fulfilled—‘Surely I come quickly.’
II. The character of the JOURNEY. ‘Come with me from Lebanon.’ The journey from Lebanon and its snow-capped heights neither easy nor safe. Its rugged paths, steep precipices, and ferocious animals, sufficient to render the descent both painful and perilous to the bride. A picture of the believer’s passage from this world, the place of his nativity, to the home prepared for him in the Father’s house. Manifold temptations often mingling heaviness with our joy. Much tribulation the way to the kingdom. Persecution promised to all who will live godly in Christ Jesus. The world’s hatred in proportion to their faithfulness to their Master and to their character as the Bride of Christ. Their adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion, going about and seeking whom he may devour. Principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, leagued to obstruct or annoy their passage. A carnal mind and evil heart of unbelief still lingering within themselves. The flesh lusting against the spirit, and its lusts warring in their members. The flesh weak to what is good, even when the spirit is willing. Need for constant watchfulness and prayer. The foot easily slipping, and the consequence a bruising fall. Broken bones not unfrequent in the descent from Lebanon. Noah, David, and Peter, humbling examples. No easy matter to walk safely down the rugged steeps. Difficult so to keep ourselves that that Wicked One touch us not. Not easy to break with a world lying in wickedness, and to pass through it unscathed. Faithful made a victim in Vanity Fair, and Christian well high the same. Not easy to pass through pollution without being soiled; to travel through an enemy’s country without getting into trouble; or to walk among gins and pits without making a fall. Constant need for the prayer: ‘Hold thou me up, that my footsteps slip not. Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.’ Death, too, in the journey from Lebanon. A passage from which poor human nature instinctively recoils. To us an unknown and naturally a formidable road. Beset also with spiritual adversaries. Not unfrequently accompanied with acute and prolonged suffering. The taking down of the tabernacle not always a smooth or easy process. The presence of earthly friends often of little avail. The roughest and dreariest part of the passage, perhaps, to be travelled alone. Sometimes the pathway tracked with blood. Lies at times through torture, the scaffold, and the stake. The path at first too rugged even for a Cranmer. The prayer in the Burnal Service not entirely needless: ‘Suffer us not, in our last hour, for any pains of death to had from thee.’
III. The COMFORT and AID in the journey. Indicated in the two little words: ‘With me.’ These precious words repeated, to call special attention to what they imply, to confirm their truth, and to indicate their importance. An argument to induce compliance with the Call. The Bridegroom’s society preferable to the Bride beyond that of all others. Who would remain among lions and panthers when they can have the fellowship of the king? No great loss to leave the cold bleak heights of Lebanon to be with the heavenly Bridegroom. A twofold blessing implied in the words—
(1) The everlasting presence of Christ after the journey is over;
(2) His company and support all the way through. The descent from Lebanon made safe and comfortable to the Bride by the Bridegroom’s presence. Precious to believers to know that they are not called to leave the world, whether in heart and affection, or in life and practice, or in bodily presence, alone and unaided. The presence and aid of the Friend ‘that sticketh closer than a brother,’ promised in every trying, difficult, and dangerous passage of life, as well as in the last dark valley. ‘Fear not, for I am with thee.’ ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the floods, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest in the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.’ Hence the triumphant language of faith: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.’ ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me’ (Psalms 23:4; Psalms 27:1-2).
“The soul that on Jesus hath lean’d for repose,
He will not, he cannot desert to its foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
He’ll never, no never, no NEVER, forsake.”
The presence of Jesus with the believer in his descent ‘from Lebanon’ on the way to his future home—
(1) For comfort. The company of a friend a solace in a difficult and dangerous journey.
(2) For aid and protection. The Bridegroom’s arm employed to support and defend, as well as His voice to solace and cheer. ‘Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?’ The grace of Jesus sufficient for the most difficult duties, the strongest temptations, and the most painful trials. His strength made perfect in our weakness. Hence faith’s language: ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’
(3) For example. The Bridegroom has descended from Lebanon before us. Points us to His steps as He came down its difficult and rugged steeps. ‘He hath left us an example that we should walk in His steps.’ ‘Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.’ (1 Peter 2:21; Hebrews 12:2).
The promise indicated in the words ‘with me,’ applicable to the believer’s death, as well as his life. His presence with them also in that final, solemn, and untried journey. Joseph sent his servants and waggons to convey his father to Egypt. Jesus not only sends His angelic servants to fetch His Bride and escort her through the darksome valley, but comes Himself. Not only makes a passage for them through the dark swelling waters of death, but, like the Ark in Jordan is with them Himself in the passage. Seen by Stephen on the eve of martyrdom, no sitting as usual, but standing at the right hand of God, as if risen up to be with His faithful servant in the last great conflict, and to give him a loving welcome when it was over. The footsteps of Jesus seen also in that last dark passage. The Bridegroom Himself trod the pathway to the tomb. Encountered death in its most formidable aspect. Passed through the valley in excruciating pain, amid jeers of men and assaults from Satan, and in a bath of blood. Travelled the last hours of His life in loneliness, darkness, and desertion of soul. Has lain in the tomb a lifeless corpse before us. The grave made by His presence there a perfumed bed to all His followers.
Important questions: Have I Jesus with me for my comfort and aid in going through this world? Shall I have His presence in death? Have I heard and obeyed His call to come with Him now? Am I taking up my cross daily, and following Him? Have I given up the world, or am I still making it my home? We come to Christ as sinners, before we come with Him as saints. Have I done this? Reader, if not, lose no time; but do it now.
Song of Solomon 4:9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse: thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. ‘Thou hast ravished my heart’ (לִבַּבְתִּנִי libbabhtini, a verb formed from לִבֵּב libbebh, from the noun לבב lebhabh, a heart); ‘thou hast wounded or taken away my heart.’ GESENIUS. ‘Hast enchanted me, made me wholly thine own.’ ZÖCKLER, DELITZSCH. According to this view the Pril form of the verb has a privative signification like סִכֵּל (sikkel), to clear away stones; or שֵרֵשׁ (sheresh), to uproot, According to others לִבָּב, like the same in Syriac, denotes to give heart or encourage. So the niphal form of the verb in Job 11:12. נִלְבַב, to get a heart or wisdom. So GREGORY. COCCEIUS, EWALD, and others: Thou hast heartened, or emboldened me. WORDSWORTH and some Rabbins: Behearted me—coupled my heart to thine. SEPTUAGINT: Thou hast hearted us. SYMMACHUS: Hast emboldened me. VULGATE, followed by COVERDALE, MATTHEWS, GENEVA and DOUAI versions: Hast wounded my heart. CRANMER and BISHOP’S Bible: Hast bewitched my heart. LUTHER, MONTANUS, PISCATOR, MERCER: Hast taken away my heart. DIODATI and DUTCH Version: Hast robbed me of my heart. MARTIN: Hast ravished my heart. So JUNIUS and TREMELLIUS, PARKHURST, PERCY, GOOD, BOOTHROYD. MUNSTER: Hast fascinated my heart. TIRINUS and TIGURINE version: Hast taken possession of my heart. So PATRICK. ABEN EZRA: Hast taken away my heart KIMCHI: Hast wounded it with the arrow of thine eyes. RASHI: Hast drawn my heart to thee. TARGUM: Written on the tablet of my heart is thy love. AINSWORTH: Thou hast taken, pierced, wounded my heart, ravishing it with love and delight. DE WETTE: Hast robbed me of my heart. NOYES: Hast taken my heart captive. UMBREIT: Hast robbed me of courage. HAHN: Hast unhearted me. WEISS: Hast cherished, known, esteemed, and loved me. CLAY: The word not found elsewhere in the Bible in this form and sense: Christ’s love so unspeakable, new words to be coined to express it.—‘With one of thine eyes’: (בְּאַחַת מֵעֵיַנִיךְ be-akhadh me-enaik) ‘With one of the glances proceeding from thine eyes.’ ZÖCKLER, HENGSTENBERG. So JUNIUS, LE CLERC, PERCY, GOOD, &c.; supposing that something, as ראי, has either been dropped out of the text, or is to be understood after בְאַחַד. Masorites proposed reading באחת instead of באחד, עין being teminine. So the Keri and many MSS. EWALD: With a single one of thy glances. DELITZSCH: With one of thy looks. AINSWORTH: Even a side or profile view of her face charms him. So WILLIAMS. PARKHURST: The least glance I have of thee and of thy beauty. KENNICOTT: At once with thine eyes. So BOOTHROYD, COBBIN, HODGSON. RASHI: I would have loved thee with only one of thy charms. SANCTIUS: Perhaps one eye hidden by the veil or crown. Eastern women un-unveiled only one eye in conversation. TERTULLIAN, NIEBUHR, NOYES.—‘With one chain of thy neck’ (בְאַחַד עֲנָק מִצַּוְרֹוַיִךְ. be-akhadh’ anaq mits-tsavronaik). עֲנָק (anaq) a collar, from עָנַק, ‘to adorn or clothe the neck’ (Psalms 73:6). GESENIUS. With one chain of thy necklace; Shulamite’s neck looking so charmingly in it. ZÖCKLER. The word however only to be taken figuratively. PERCY. With one stone of thy necklace. EWALD. In Eastern descriptions, the dress and ornaments quite as much praised as the person: so in our own old ballads. “Bride of Christ.” PATRICK understands a ‘wreath of hair.’ So HITZIG: A ringlet or lock of the first hair hanging down on the neck. A. CLARKE thinks the reference to the play of the muscles of the neck. So GOOD and PERCY: With one turn of thy neck. BOOTHROYD: At once with the turning of thy neck. צַוְרוֹן (tsavron), a diminutive of endearment, from צַוָּאר (tsavvar); ‘thy tiny neck.’ GESENIUS, EWALD. The dual or plural used to indicate the hair hanging on both sides of the neck. AINSWORTH. SEPTUAGINT: With one ornament of thy neck. SYMMACHUS: With one necklace. AQUILA: One lock. VULGATE: One hair or ringlet. LUTHER: One of thy neckchains. DIODATI and MARTIN: One of the necklaces of thy neck. So MERCER, PAGNINUS, &c. MUNSTER: With one fillet.
‘My sister, my spouse.’ A bride also called ‘sister’ among the later Arabians: so soror applied to a mistress in Tibullus. GESENIUS. The designation of a certain relationship: the spouse now Solomon’s lawful wife, and next to him as a sister to a brother. ZÖCKLER. ‘My sister,’ a word of tenderness and endearment, used by husbands to their wives: so Tob. 7:16; Tob. 8:4; Tob. 8:7. PATRICK. Relations and kinspeople called by the Jews brethren and sisters. GILL. The Church Christ’s sister by His assumption of our nature; His spouse, by love and marriage-covenant. BEDE. The Church so called out of love, and in respect to regeneration and adoption (Hebrews 2:11). AINSWORTH. The Lord’s heart drawn by even one right thought directed towards Him. SANCTIUS. Christ easily and willingly overcome by His own. DURHAM. The Bride’s poverty of spirit looking forth behind the veil of her dove-like eyes, one of the two great features of her beauty that won the heart of the King; her humility of spirit the other. HAHN.
THE KING HAPPY IN HIS BRIDE
Song of Solomon 4:9-15
Thou hast ravished my heart,
My sister, my spouse;
Thou hast ravished my heart,
With one of thine eyes,
With one chain of thy neck.
How fair is thy love,
My sister, my spouse!
How much better is thy love than wine;
And the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
Thy lips, O my spouse,
Drop as the honeycomb;
Honey and milk are under thy tongue;
And the smell of thy garments
Is like the smell of Lebanon.
A garden enclosed
Is my sister, my spouse;
A spring shut up
A fountain sealed.
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates,
With pleasant fruits;
Camphire with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron,
Calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense;
Myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief spices.
A fountain of gardens,
A well of living waters,
And streams of Lebanon.
The climax of the King’s admiration of, and delight in, his Bride. Realization of the words of the forty-fifth Psalm, the Song of Loves: ‘So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty.’ The happy Bridegroom had already described the charms of his Bride; he now declares, in the language of impassioned affection, the effect which these produced upon him: ‘Thou hast ravished my heart.’ Literally ‘Thou hast hearted me.’ A new word coined to show the intensity of Christ’s love to and delight in His believing people. Christ’s heart in the possession of the loving believer. His love to His people that of the most ardent lover; yet calm, deep, and holy His Church His peculiar treasure. (Exodus 14:5). The King, in addressing his Bride, combines terms expressive of the nearest and tenderest relations, each supplementary to the other. ‘My sister, my spouse;’ or, ‘my sister spouse.’ Names of nearest kindred employed in the East as terms of affection. These combined terms immediately afterwards repeated by the King in order to indicate the reality of the relationship, the intensity of his affection, and his delight in employing the title. The believer not to forget that he belongs to Christ, both as his Brother and his Bridegroom. Is at once both the sister and the spouse of Jesus. His sister, as having the same Father and the same nature; Christ assuming the believer’s human nature and imparting to him His Divine one. His spouse, as now united in a marriage-bond with Himself, having been betrothed by Him in an everlasting covenant (Hosea 2:19; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Romans 7:4). In the believer the ardour of a spouse’s love combined with the purity of a sister’s. Typified in Eve, at once the sister and the spouse of Adam. The ardour of Christ’s love to His people grounded—
(1) On the relation in which they stand to Him as the Bride given Him by the Father.
(2) On the fact that, as His Bride, He has brought them from the bondage of sin, Satan, and the curse of a broken law, by the price of His own agony and blood.
(3) On the holy beauty which, as His blood-bought Bride, He imparts to them by the renewing and transforming grace of His Holy Spirit, more especially the beauty of their faith and love. What costs most, usually most beloved. The Shepherd rejoices most over the sheep which He had lost, but with much toil and trouble had found. A saved soul an addition to the happiness of heaven. The Saviour’s joy bound up in the sinner whom He saves. The grounds of the King’s admiration of and delight in his Bride, rapturously indicated by himself:—
1. Her beauty. More especially that of her ‘eyes’ and ‘neck,’ the one directed to himself in a tender affection, the other bowed in humility and self-surrender: ‘Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.’ One, as indicating the perfection of beauty and redundancy of charms beheld in the Bride. One believing penitent look of the sinner sufficient to secure the Saviour’s love. (Zechariah 12:12). Christ overcome by the look of the Syro-Phœnician woman and of the dying thief. The Bride’s eyes and neck contrasted with the wanton and adulterous eyes, and the stiff and stubborn neck of an impenitent world.
2. Her love. ‘How fair is thy love,’ &c. Literally ‘loves,’ as in chap. 1, Song of Solomon 4:4. Probably expressions and manifestations of love. The term and the comparison following formerly applied by the Bride to the King’s love; now returned to her with tender emphasis. The love of the loved one the sweetest enjoyment of the lover. The love of the saved soul the joy and reward of the Saviour. The faith and love of the forgiven woman in the Pharisee’s house, infinitely sweeter and more refreshing to Him than the wine on Simon’s table, and even the precious ointment with which she anointed His feet. His wine-cup on the cross the love of a pardoned sinner.
3. Her savoury spirit. ‘The smell of thine ointments is better than all spices.’ The fragrance of her spirit properly her own ointments. This sweeter to the king than all the ‘powders of the merchant’ with which she might perfume her person. ‘The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon,’ celebrated for its odoriferous trees (Hosea 14:5; Hosea 14:7). Her garments properly her spirit and deportment. ‘Be ye clothed with humility.’ ‘Put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercies.’ ‘Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Garments, in the East, often richly perfumed, especially on marriage and other festive occasions. So those of the King Himself (Psalms 45:8). The ‘ointments’ both of the King and of the Bride the graces of the Spirit, imparted first to Christ, without measure, then to His members, ‘according to the measure of the gift of Christ.’ The precious ointment poured on the head of Aaron runs down upon the beard, ‘even to the skirts of his garments’ (Psalms 133:2). The ‘smell’ of the Bride’s garments, the sweetness of the actings and exercises of those graces. The part of believers, as having Christ and His Spirit in them, to carry about with them a spiritual fragrance, sweet to Christ and profitable to men.
4. Her speech and conversation. ‘Thy lips, O my spouse drop as the honeycomb,’ &c. An enlarged repetition of the commendation already given,—‘Sweet is thy voice,’ ‘thy speech is comely.’ Shulamite’s speech the index of her soul. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ A wife’s sweet, savoury, enlightened conversation the delight of an intelligent husband. Especial attention paid by Christ to the speech of His people. ‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard’ (Malachi 3:17). Believers to be of circumcised lips as well as heart. Their lips touched with the live coal from off the altar (Isaiah 6:4). The poison of asps is changed for the honey and milk of the Holy Spirit. Honey and milk under the tongue, when the milk of God’s Word is in the heart. Christ’s Word dwelling richly in us shows itself in sweet and wholesome conversation. The sweetest honey gathered from the flowers of Holy Scripture. To have honey dropping from our lips, we must have the honeycomb in our heart. The honey first under the tongue, then on it. Meditation on the Word the best means for speech that shall minister pleasure to Christ and ‘grace to the hearers.’
5. On her general excellence and beneficial influence. This represented under four comparisons—
(1.) An Enclosed Garden. ‘A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse.’ A garden a place for pleasure. An Oriental garden a scene of special beauty. A garden enclosed indicative of—(i.) Its preciousness; (ii.) The care taken of it; (iii.) Its preservation for the owner’s exclusive enjoyment. The Church and each individual believer Christ’s enclosed pleasure-garden. ‘I will walk in them;’ not merely with them. His Church the object of His special care. ‘I, the Lord, will keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day’ (Isaiah 27:3). Believers set apart for His own enjoyment. ‘The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself’ (Psalms 4:3). The Church, as a garden, distinguished from the world. The world, apart from Christ’s Church, a moral desert. That Church enclosed for its safety and defence. Safe, though surrounded by wild beasts and raging enemies. God Himself a wall of fire round about her (Zechariah 2:5). Believers ‘kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.’
(2.) A locked-up Spring and a sealed Fountain. ‘A spring shut up, a fountain sealed.’ Such locked and sealed fountains frequently found in the East. The lock and seal indicate value, care, and exclusive use. The fountains thus kept from being dried up by the heat, defiled by animals, or employed by strangers. Springs and fountains especially valuable in the East. The special delight of Orientals during the heat of summer. Gardens and courts usually provided with them. The Church of living and loving souls a spring of delight to Christ, as He is to His people. ‘I will sup with him and he with me.’ The believer’s heart shut up to all but Christ. The Bride exclusively for her husband (Proverbs 5:15-18). Believers ‘holiness to the Lord.’ Their life hid with Christ in God. Sealed by the Holy Ghost to the day of redemption. The motto of the seal: ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His.’ Under the Old dispensation the fountain scaled in one nation; under the New, spread over all the world.
(3.) An Orchard of fruit trees and spices. ‘Thy plants are an orchard,’ &c., ‘with pleasant fruits,’ or ‘fruit of excellence,’ or ‘precious things’ (Deuteronomy 33:13-16). ‘Camphor,’ cypress, or henna (chap. Song of Solomon 1:14). ‘Calamus,’ or sweet cane (Jeremiah 6:20; Exodus 30:23). ‘Frankincense,’ employed in the composition of the holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:34). ‘Myrrh,’ distilling from an Arabian shrub, and hardening into a gum. ‘Aloes,’ a costly and sweet-smelling wood; connected with myrrh also in Psalms 45:9; Proverbs 7:17; John 19:39. Solomon, familiar with orchards, fruit trees, and spices (Ecclesiastes 2:5), saw in these only a picture of the excellencies found in his beloved Shulamite. Such Christ’s estimate of His Church. His Church to Him the antitype of Eden (Genesis 2:8-9). Believers ‘trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.’ Represented as olives and vines, palms and cedars, firs and myrtles. The Church collectively an orchard containing a variety of trees, and each believer one containing a rich variety of Christian graces (Galatians 5:22). All the fruits of the Spirit found in believers in a greater or less degree of development. Their duty to cultivate each, and to seek its maturity. To ‘abound in every good word and work’ (Colossians 1:9). To be ‘filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God.’ To abound in every grace (2 Corinthians 8:7). The object for which Christ gave himself for His Church (Ephesians 5:27; Titus 2:14. The Church and each believer to produce not only ‘fruits,’ but ‘spices.’ A believer’s life, spirit and conversation, to be not only pure, holy, and upright, but sweet and savoury. Believers to exhibit not merely what is sterling and excellent, but also what is lovely and attractive.
(4.) A Fountain sending forth refreshing and fertilizing streams. ‘A fountain of gardens’—by which gardens are watered, hence affording an abundant supply (Jeremiah 31:12; Isaiah 58:11). ‘A well of living waters’—always full and always flowing. ‘Streams from Lebanon’—such as those in the Zebdani Valley, or the ‘Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus,’ fed by the snows of Lebanon (Jeremiah 18:14). The Bride in one sense a ‘sealed fountain;’ in another a fountain sending forth its streams for the general benefit (Proverbs 5:15-16). The virtuous woman not only the confidence and joy of her husband, but kind to all, and the benefactor of the poor (Proverbs 31:11-12; Proverbs 31:20; Proverbs 31:26). The Church, while the delight of Christ, a blessing to others. Christ, the fountain of living waters, makes the believer a well of living water by being in him. The Holy Spirit in believers as a well of living water (John 4:14). Renders them a means of life, strength, and comfort to others. Believers not only recipients of the living water, but channels for the communication of it to their fellow men and fellow Christians (John 7:38). Made receivers in order to be givers. Receive the manifestation of the Spirit for the benefit of others (1 Corinthians 11:7). Believers to be refreshed by one another (Philemon 1:7; Philemon 1:20). To comfort and edify one another. One believer like Harlan Page, the means of life and blessing to a whole neighbourhood. The Church the means of spiritual verdure and fruitfulness to the world at large. Through Christian missions, the desert made to rejoice and blossom as the rose. Believers watered themselves while watering others, and in order that they may do so (Proverbs 11:25). ‘Living water’ indicative of (i.) the perpetuity; (ii.) the excellence; (iii.) the wholesomeness; (iv.) the exhaustless nature, of Christ’s grace. The voice or breath of prayer the first bubbling up of the ‘well of living water’ (Acts 9:11). Grace in a believer makes him as.
Streams from Lebanon.
The streams visible; their source hidden from human view. What is good, holy, and spiritually beneficial, communicated by Christ through His Spirit to the believer, and from the believer to the world. Grace in the Church exhibited as ‘streams.’ Indicative of—(i.) the fulness; (ii.) the freeness; (iii.) the liveliness; (iv.) the beauty; (v.) the abundance; (vi.) the refreshing nature—of Christ’s grace. The ‘streams from Lebanon’ in the Zebdani Valley, among the most beautiful things in nature, and making all beautiful in their neighbourhood. The most beautiful as well as the most beneficial things in Creation employed by Christ to set forth the excellence of His Church, and the grace which produces it.
Important questions suggested by the passage: Does Christ take delight in me and in what He sees in me? Is it my aim to afford joy to Him as my Saviour and Bridegroom? Are my feelings towards Him those of a bride towards her husband? Am I seeking to cultivate all the various fruits of the Spirit? And not only the fruits, but the ‘spices?’ Am I endeavouring, through the Spirit of Christ in me, to practice not only what is pure, and just, and honest, but also what is lovely, and of good report? Am I careful not only as to what I do, but the manner and spirit in doing it? Is my life useful to others, as ‘streams from Lebanon,’ beautifying and refreshing those I come in contact with? ‘Strike out of my heart, O God, a well of living water!’—Dr. Chalmers.
BRIDEGROOM’S PRAYER FOR HIS GARDEN
Song of Solomon 4:16
Awake, O north wind,
And come, thou south!
Blow upon my garden,
That the spices thereof may flow out.
The Bride still viewed by the Bridegroom as his garden. That garden one of spices as well as fruits. Her spirit and conversation sweet and refreshing to her husband. His desire that that sweetness may be fully exhibited in all their intercourse with each other. The fragrance of aromatic plants not always evolved alike. Some circumstances more favourable for its evolution than others. Its evolution chiefly dependent on the state of the atmosphere, and the kind and degree of wind flowing. Hence the Bridegroom’s wish poetically expressed: ‘Awake, O north wind,’ &c. The north wind, perhaps, thus called to depart and give place to the south wind, as more favourable for the emission of the fragrance. Possibly, however, the call equally to both, as both alike needful to that emission.
Not enough that gracious dispositions, or the fruits of the Spirit be implanted in a believer’s soul. These not to be latent and dormant, but to be drawn forth in lively exercise, so that Christ may be glorified and find pleasure. That exercise dependent, in some degree, on external circumstances, on the situation in which the believer may be placed, and even on his physical health. More especially, however, on the degree of divine influence which he may at any time enjoy. The breath of the spiritual wind as necessary for the lively exercise of the gracious affections, as that of the natural one for the exhalation of the fragrance of a bed of spices. The spiritual wind the Holy Spirit. The Spirit frequently in Scripture compared to a wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:2; Ezekiel 37:9). That Spirit the ‘spirit of love, power, and a sound mind.’ Hence essential to a believer’s spiritual prosperity, and to the gracious and beneficial influence he may exercise on the world. Equally important to personal happiness, domestic peace, and conjugal comfort. Especially necessary to Christ’s enjoyment of His Church, both collectively and individually. Hence, the text a call on the part of Christ for the gracious influence of the Spirit upon the Church and the believer’s soul. These again viewed as
The Garden of Christ.
The text presents to our notice—
I. The GARDEN itself. The Church and the believing soul is—
1. A Garden. It is so, as being—
(1) Reclaimed from the world. Originally the children of wrath, even as others. Separated by distinguishing grace. Chosen out of the world. Called out of darkness into marvellous light. ‘We are of God, but the whole world lieth in wickedness’ (1 John 5:19).
(2) Safely enclosed. Hedged round by divine protection. ‘Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.’ ‘A vineyard of red wine; I the Lord do keep it.’ ‘The Lord is thy keeper.’ ‘I will be a wall of fire round about her.’ ‘Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.’ ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’
(3) Carefully cultivated. A Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—engaged in its cultivation. ‘My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.’ ‘I will water it every moment.’ For its cultivation also, a number of human labourers, for various departments of work, employed in the garden. ‘He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.’
(4.) Planted with choice plants Every believer a tree of righteousness. The fruits of the Spirit produced in the garden: ‘Love, joy, peace, long-suffering,’ &c. The loveliest specimens of humanity found in Christ’s garden. Naturally, because sanctified and renewed humanity. ‘The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree; they shall grow as the cedar in Lebanon. They that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age. They shall be fat and flourishing’ (Psalms 92:12, &c).
(5.) Designed for the pleasure and enjoyment of the Master and his friends. The garden in the text, with its beds of spices and flowers a pleasure-garden. So the Church and a believer’s soul. ‘I will walk in them!’ ‘The Lord taketh pleasure in His people.’ The name given by Himself to the Church, ‘Hephzibah’—‘my delight is in her.’ ‘This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.’ The Lord in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save; He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
(6.) Kept clean and orderly. Weeds not suffered to grow or continue in it. ‘Lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envies (or grudges), and all evil speakings.’ ‘Purge out the old leaven.’ ‘Put off the old man, with his deeds, which are corrupt.’ ‘Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.’ ‘Ye also put off all these—anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, out of your mouth.’ ‘Looking diligently lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.’ ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God, hating the garment spotted by the flesh.’ Believers to keep themselves unspotted from the world. In the Church all things to be done ‘decently and in order’ (1 Corinthians 14:40).
2. Christ’s Garden. As being—
(1) Chosen and given to Him by the Father (Ephesians 1:3; John 10:30).
(2) Chosen by Himself for His own. ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.’
(3) Purchased by His blood. ‘He loved the Church, and gave himself for it.’ ‘The Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.’ The Church, like the rest of the world, originally under sentence of death through sin. That sentence removed by the substitution of Christ in their stead.
(4) Reclaimed by the Spirit. The Church not only redeemed by price, but separated by power. The Spirit given to Christ for that purpose. The instrumentality employed, the truth of the Gospel in the lips and lives of believers.
(5) Employed for His own use and pleasure. ‘This people have I formed for myself.’ Believers the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
II. The CALL. Observe—
1. The Called. The Call addressed to
The Holy Spirit as a Wind.
So John 3:8; Acts 2:2; Ezekiel 37:9. The Spirit so represented—
(1) From His invisibility (John 3:8).
(2) From His power. ‘A mighty rushing wind’ (Acts 2:2). Nothing able to resist the wind in Nature, or the Spirit in grace.
(3) From the universality of His operations. The wind blows everywhere, over the whole earth. The Holy Spirit’s operations confined to no land place, class, age, condition, or circumstances.
(4) From the mysterious character of His movements and operations. The general nature of the wind as air in motion, and the general principle of its movements, tolerably understood. But its local changes and varieties among the most difficult things in Nature to account for. Blown in every possible variety of direction. Sometimes changes from one direction to another entirely opposite. Sometimes from opposite directions at once. Sometimes in one form and degree, sometimes in another. Two winds here mentioned: the North and the South. The North wind cold to those in the Northern hemisphere, as from the region of ice about the Pole. In the East, a healthful and refreshing wind (Proverbs 25:3; Job 27:21-22). The South wind warm, as from the regions about the Equator, always greatly heated by the direct rays of the sun (Job 37:17). The effects of these opposite winds consequently of an opposite character. The tendency of the one to bind up and restrain; that of the other to loosen and disengage, the odours of aromatic plants. So the operations of the Holy Spirit various in their character and effects. Sometimes as a piercing North wind, convincing, reproving, awakening, disturbing, shaking. Sometimes as a soft and balmy South wind, melting, softening, soothing, comforting. Under His convincing operation, the multitude at Pentecost cried: Men and brethren, what shall we do? Under His comforting agency, they gladly received the word of reconciliation, and experienced peace (Acts 2:37; Acts 2:47). The dispensation of the Law, and its application to the individual conscience, one operation of the Holy Spirit; the dispensation of the Gospel, and its application to the heart, another. Both North and South wind necessary in the economy of Nature; and both the convincing and comforting operations of the Spirit needful for the Church and the individual soul. The first rather preparatory to the second. The warm and quieting South wind more suited for the evolution of the spices of the garden. So the fruits of the Spirit brought forth in the Church and in the believer rather under the Gospel than under the Law; under the still small voice of evangelical consolations, than under the whirlwind of legal terrors. Yet the latter often necessary to the former.
2. The Caller. Christ Himself. His constant concern and care about His Church’s spiritual prosperity. None so interested in its fruitfulness and beauty. Never forgetful of His Church’s interests. While on earth His constant prayer to His Father on its behalf. Still walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, as the High Priest of His Church, attending to their proper condition. Intercedes for His people at God’s right hand. Prays also on earth in the person of His members. The Holy Spirit given in answer to such prayer. The disciples waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father; but waited in prayer and supplication, for ten days. Their prayer the Call of Christ in them: ‘Awake, O North wind,’ &c. The Spirit only given in His fulness after Jesus had completed His work of atonement (Luke 12:49-50; John 7:39; John 16:7). The Spirit committed into His hands after His ascension into heaven. His added title then—He that hath the Seven Spirits of God (Revelation 3:1). As if to point to the words of the Song and to intimate their meaning, the Spirit’s descent on the Day of Pentecost like that of ‘a mighty rushing wind’ (Acts 2:2). Still continues the part of Christ to call for the Spirit to blow upon His garden, the Church, in answer to the fervent, believing prayers of his people. ‘Ask of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain: so shall the Lord make bright clouds (or lightnings), and give them showers of rain.’ ‘If men who are evil know how to give good gifts unto their children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? (Zechariah 10:1; Luke 11:13). The Church’s duty not only to pray for the Spirit, but to seek the removal of every hindrance to His effusion. ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, and prove me herewith; if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it’ (Malachi 3:10)
3. The Call itself. ‘Awake—come—blow.’ The Holy Spirit, though given, not always and alike in actual operation. Never entirely absent from the Church. Believers His permanent abode. May be present, however, in different degrees and in different ways. In the Old Testament dispensation, as a spirit of bondage; in the New, as a spirit of liberty. Through defective faith and careless walking, may still be a spirit of bondage. Hence different states of the Church and of individual believers. The Spirit given in the greatest measure yet known on and after Pentecost. Often greatly withheld from the Church’s unfaithfulness, unwatchfulness, and unprayerfulness. The candlestick in danger of being removed from its place. Churches and individual believers aroused at times to a sense of their need of the Spirit, and to earnest prayer for His gracious and powerful operation. This usually the first indication of the Spirit’s visitation. Earnest and persevering prayer for the Spirit’s effusion the token that that effusion will be bestowed. Such prayer either the call of the Bridegroom in the text or its happy precursor. Fervent prayer for spiritual blessing the voice of His Spirit in the believer’s heart (Romans 8:26-27).
III. The OBJECT of the Call. ‘That the spices thereof may flow out.’ Not enough that the spice-plants are there. The odours may be shut up in their cells and no fragrance be emitted. The pores to be opened and the odorous particles to be exhaled. Grace given to believers to be exercised and made sensible. Not enough that a Church exists, and that grace is in it. The Church to be in a spiritually lively state, and the grace of believers to be in lively exercise. Only thus may Christ enjoy the fellowship and works of the Churches. See his epistles to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:2). The Church at Laodicea in a condition only to be spued out of His mouth. Neither a church nor a believer to be satisfied with a lifeless and lukewarm state. Lukewarmness—a state between hot and cold—Christ’s greatest abhorrence. Yet too often the state of Churches and professors when enjoying rest and outward prosperity. The state most agreeable to the carnal mind. The duty and privilege of believers not only to have life, but to have it ‘more abundantly.’ A divine injunction: ‘Be ye filled with the Spirit.’ Churches and believers in a spiritual and lively condition such as Christ delights to dwell in, and such as He can employ for the conversion of others. The Spirit promised to the disciples, that they might be His witnesses to the end of the earth. David’s prayer and resolution: ‘Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit; then will I teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee’ (Psalms 51:12-13). A lively and spiritually prosperous state or the Church and of believers the result of the Spirit’s gracious operation, in obedience to the Call in the text. As the Holy Spirit blows, the Church’s odour flows. Hence His gracious and abundant effusion to be earnestly and perseveringly sought. ‘For this will I be inquired by the house of Israel to do it for them’ (Ezekiel 36:37). Believers to stir themselves up ‘to take hold of God and His gracious power. Their’s to awaken the arm of the Lord, to put on strength as in the days of old’ (Isaiah 51:9). His will that they should not keep silence, and should give Him no rest till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. ‘Concerning the work of my hands, command ye me.’ ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not’ (Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 62:6-7; James 4:2).
THE BRIDE’S DESIRE
Song of Solomon 4:16
Let my Beloved come into his garden
And eat his pleasant fruits.
The Bride reciprocates the Bridegroom’s love. ‘My love,’ answered with ‘My Beloved.’ Christ’s love to us the ground and occasion of ours to Him. The Bride’s desire one with her Husband’s. He admires and commends her as his garden. She invites him to the enjoyment of it. His desire that its spices should flow forth; here that he should come and eat its pleasant fruits. Believers made such for Christ’s enjoyment: their desire that He should have it. The Bride calls herself: ‘His garden.’ Believers no longer their own, but Christ’s. ‘Ye are bought with a price.’ Christ claims the Church as His garden: believers gladly respond to the claim. ‘One shall say: I am the Lord’s.’ ‘O Lord, I am Thy servant; thou hast loosed my bonds’ (Isaiah 44:5; Psalms 116:16). Christ’s presence in and with His Church the believer’s greatest desire. ‘Let my beloved come into his garden.’ His presence in His Church and with believers, not always alike. Times in the Lord’s earthly ministry when He hid Himself Such times still. ‘Thou art a God that hidest Thyself.’ ‘He hideth His face from the house of Jacob.’ Times when the Bride has to cry to her Husband: ‘Why hidest thou Thyself.’ Israel exhorted to keep their camp holy, lest the Lord who walked in the midst of it should see any unclean thing and turn away from them (Deuteronomy 23:14). Christ’s visit to and continuance with believers connected with their love and obedience. ‘He that hath My commandments and keepeth them,’ &c. (John 14:21) The Bride’s desire that nothing may hinder his presence and stay with her. The Church and the believer who desires Christ’s presence, to be careful to put away whatever is offensive to Him. His words to the lukewarm, self-satisfied, and self-righteous, yet poor, wretched, miserable, and blind, and naked Church at Laodicea: ‘Beloved, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me’ (Revelation 3:20). Christ’s condescension and love to His Church, that He finds His sweetest entertainment in it. Finds and eats ‘his pleasant fruits.’ ‘With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.’ Fellowship with loving and lively believers His greatest joy. The desire of such believers that He may find in them that joy. The believer, notwithstanding his own corruption, conscious that through grace there are with him pleasant fruits for Christ to eat. No part of faith to deny the Spirit’s work. ‘Know ye not that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ ‘The care of believers that Christ may have pleasant fruits in them, both in abundance and in good condition, for His own enjoyment. No pleasant fruits in the Church or a believer, out what are His, and the production of His own Spirit. ‘His pleasant fruits.’ The fruits in the garden Christ’s; the weeds and briars our own. The productions of grace in the soul, ‘pleasant fruits;’ those of unsanctified nature, sour crabs. Christ’s ‘pleasant fruits’ found only in His Church. Elsewhere, only ‘wild grapes.’ Pleasant fruit found only on the branches of the True Vine. The smallest service of believers rendered in faith and love, reckoned and enjoyed by Christ as ‘His pleasant fruits.’ Their believing prayers sweet incense to Him. Their thanksgivings and praises a well-pleasing sacrifice. Then gracious words recorded in His Book of remembrance. Their tears of godly sorrow put into His bottle. Observe—
1. Believers to be more concerned about Christ’s enjoyment than their own. Their desire to be rather that Christ may eat His pleasant fruits than that they themselves should.
2. Believers to consider that all that is theirs is His, and that what He accepts at their hands is best bestowed. Their honour and happiness that He can accept of anything they have, and can employ it for His own glory and pleasure.
3. Fruitfulness and love on the part of the Church most likely to secure Christ’s presence in it. To gain the Bridegroom’s presence the Bride must have her ‘pleasant fruits.’
4. The believer’s best time when Christ comes in to him, and eats with him his pleasant fruits. ‘I will sup with him and he with Me.’