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Song of Solomon 7:5 : The King is held in the galleries. ‘In the galleries.’ בָּרְהָטִים (ba-rehatim), plural of רַהַט, a gutter, rafter, gallery, a hair or ringlet; from רָהַט, an unused root, like the Aramaia רְהַט to run or flow. Here, according to most moderns, a ringlet or lock. A king is fettered in the locks EWALD, DE WETTE, DELITZSCH Her locks or curls viewed as nets or snares. ZÖCKLER. The king is held captive in the flowing ringlets. GOOD. Captivated by the locks. NOTES. According to other interpreters, the word is used in the sense of ‘galleries’ or ‘corridors,’ that run along the sides of a house, or pass from one chamber to another. Places to walk in. JUNIUS, PISCATOR. So the SEPTUAGINT: A king is bound in the galleries (παραδορομαις), DUTCH VERSION: The king is as bound on the galleries. MUNSTER: Bound to the galleries to contemplate thee. JUNIUS: Any king would thus be held in the galleries. According to others, the word here denotes beams or rafters. MERCER: Is bound as it were to the beams of the house to look at thee. VATABLUS: Bound to the beams of his own house for excessive love. Some connect the word מֶלֶךְ (melek), a king, with the last word in the preceding verse, ‘the purple of a king,’ or royal purple, and thus understand בָּרְהָטִים of the ‘gutters,’ or canals used by dyers for dying the purple. So the VULGATE. The purple of a king bound in the canals. WICKLIFF and DOUAI VERSION. Joined or tied to water-pipes. So ABEN EZRA, LEO JUDA, GOGUET, &c. Others, following the same construction, translate ‘plaits or folds.’ COVERDALE and MATTHEWS The purple of a king folden up in plaits. LUTHER. Bound in folds. DIODATI, giving the meaning of ‘rafters.’ Attached to scaffolds. HOUBIGANT. Royal purple hanging in a knot from the ceiling. FRY. Bound on the rafters: allusion to some rich canopy of state suspended from the roof of the palace. THRUPP. Like royal purple fixed among the wainscottings. SANCTIUS gives a different meaning to בָּרְהָטִים—gold or silver headbands. So MICHAELIS. As the king encircled with a straight turban. Thus allegorized: RASHI. The King—God himself—is bound by the love and obedience of His people. ABEN EZRA and ALSHECH. The King—Messiah—born, according to ancient Rabbies, on the day Jerusalem was destroyed. RUPERT: The Saviour’s passion, the more glorious the longer it was preceded by typical sacrifices. AINSWORTH and GILL. Christ the King abruptly breaks off in His description of the Church’s beauty, to discover to her His love and affection. DAVIDSON and WORDSWORTH. The Church’s King dispenses His grace through the appointed channels,—the ordinances of the Gospel, and the Scriptures of truth. HAHN. The love of the King and his people gained by the beauty of Shulamite’s humility and poverty of spirit.
SHULAMITE’S BEAUTY CONTEMPLATED AND ADMIRED
Chap. 7. Song of Solomon 7:1-7
How beautiful are thy feet with shoes,
O Prince’s daughter!
The joints of thy thighs are like jewels,
The work of the hands of a cunning workman.
Thy navel is like a round goblet,
That wanteth not liquor.
Thy belly is like a heap of wheat,
Set about with lilies.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory.
Thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon,
By the gate of Bathrabbim.
Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon,
That looketh towards Damascus.
Thy head upon thee is like Carmel,
And the hair of thy head like purple;
The King is held in the galleries.
How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!
This thy stature is like to a palm tree,
And thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
Shulamite, encouraged by his gracious call, now appears in the presence of the King. The King, probably accompanied by his female attendants, contemplates and admires with them her sweetness and beauty. The eye surveys her whole figure, including her ornaments and attire, which, as in the case of the shoes, can alone meet the view. These latter, however, admired and mentioned as tending to set off her beauty.
The title here given to Shulamite observable—‘Prince’s daughter.’ Probably not so originally, but—
(1) Through union with Solomon.
(2) As worthy to be such—her beauty, dignity and grace, such as to become a prince’s daughter, while her spirit and disposition were such as to suggest a royal extraction. The Church of Christ, and believers individually, fitly so called, as—
(1) Born of God, the King eternal (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 3:1).
(2). United to Christ, the ‘Prince of the Kings of the earth,’ as His Bride (Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:9).
(3) Princely in their rank and possessions—kings and priests unto God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, to inherit all things (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 21:7; Romans 8:17).
(4). Endowed with a princely spirit, disposition, and bearing (Isaiah 32:5-8; Psalms 37:21; 2 Samuel 24:22-23; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4). Believers raised by sovereign grace as beggars from the dung-hill to sit with princes, and to inherit the throne of glory (1 Samuel 2:8; Psalms 113:7).
In the contemplation of Shulamite by the the king and his attendants, and in the description of her loveliness and grace, her ‘feet,’ or rather steps, and the ‘shoes’ she wore, the first object noticed. Perhaps the attention first struck by her graceful and becoming gait as she ‘returned’ and approached the king. The shoes of Oriental females of rank always beautifully and richly ornamented. The feet thus adorned indicative of a princely condition. The ‘feet,’ or steps, suggestive of the believer’s walk and daily life. Practical holiness and devotion to the Lord’s service a great part of spiritual beauty. This especially noticed by the Lord Jesus. ‘Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.’ Indolence and sloth no part of a believer’s character. The ‘shoes’ of the believer the ‘preparation’ given him by ‘the Gospel of peace,’ for holy active service or patient enduring of the Master’s will. The feet to be ‘beautiful with shoes,’ in imitating the Bridegroom who ‘went about doing good,’ and, according to ability, publishing the glad tidings of peace (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15). Carrying the tidings of salvation to a perishing world, the work peculiarly committed to the Bride of Christ, and that in which great part of her beauty is seen. The distinction of the Pentecostal Church—they ‘went every where preaching the Lord Jesus’ (Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19-20; 2 John 1:7). The New Testament Church to be not merely evangelical, but evangelistic. Called not merely to hold, but to hold forth the Word of Life (Philippians 2:16). Her beauty not merely in holy walking, but in lowly working. The Church essentially a missionary institution, established by her Lord before He went up to heaven, and fitted for her work by the promised gift of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:20; Luke 24:46-49).
The order in the former descriptions of the Bride’s beauty here reversed. Commencing with the ‘feet,’ advances upwards. Perhaps the Church here especially exhibited as seen by men. The world can see the believer’s walk and judge of that. Men mark how ‘the Christian lives. His inward life ‘hid with Christ in God.’ The outward walk suggested also by the next object mentioned in the description. ‘The joints (or roundings) of thy thighs are like jewels,’ &c. The gait as well as appearance of the Bride’s figure still probably in view. The comparison to ‘jewels’ perhaps suggested by the eye falling on the Bride’s jewelled girdle. The description, as expressive of the life of the New Testament Church, verified in Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:32-37; Hebrews 10:32-36. That life the production of a Divine workman (Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 5:22). The Divine life of believers the result of the renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5).
In the description of this and the parts next named, as in the case of the feet, the dress that clothed them only visible, and the subjects only of the comparisons, namely: ‘the navel’ or girdle-clasp which covered it, and the belly or body with the breasts, described by the light coloured dress of golden tissue embroidered with white flowers—the ‘garments of wrought gold’ and the ‘raiment of needlework’ worn by the Bride (Psalms 45:13-14). The comparisons, like the mention of the parts themselves, more according to the style of Oriental than of modern European poetry. The parts now mentioned more especially connected with maternity, always highly esteemed in the East; and the comparisons chosen accordingly. The navel, or girdle-clasp, compared to a round goblet, replenished with wine; the breasts to two young beautiful gazelles—the emblems of love and beauty (Proverbs 5:19); and the body, or the robe which clothed it, to a heap of wheat surrounded, as is said to have been the custom at a harvest festivity, with lilies or other flowers. The Church, like Shulamite, to be ‘not only a beautiful Bride, but a fruitful mother.’ The New Testament or Gentile Church, the ‘barren woman made to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children’ (Psalms 113:9). To the free Jerusalem, which is above, and which is the mother of all believers, the Prophet, followed by the Apostle, cries: ‘Rejoice, O barren, thou that didst not bear; for more are the children of the desolate than of her which hath an husband’ (Isaiah 54:1; Galatians 4:26-27). That Church represented by such as Paul himself, when he says: ‘My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.’ ‘We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children (Galatians 4:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:7). The bodily parts, and the comparisons in the text, suggestive of a mother, not only bearing, but nourishing, her children. The goblet of wine, the lily-girdled heap of wheat, and the two fawn-like breasts, not unsuitable emblems of the nourishment which the Church, as a spiritual mother, extends to her children in the word and sacraments: the cup of blessing which she blesses, the bread which she breaks, and the pure milk of the Word, which she administers. A ‘heap of wheat set about with lilies,’ a suggestive emblem of what should be the character of
1. A ‘heap of wheat.’ Solid spiritual food, consisting of pure Scripture truth, the food God feeds His people with. ‘I should have fed thee with the finest of the wheat’ (Psalms 81:16). The spiritual ‘corn,’ which, under the New Testament, should ‘make the young men cheerful’ (Zechariah 9:17). The ‘truth as it is in Jesus’ the ‘bread that strengtheneth man’s heart,’ and makes it glad. ‘Thy words were found unto me, and I did eat them; and Thy word was the joy and rejoicing of my heart.’ The Word of God that by which the ‘young men’ are made strong, and are enabled to ‘overcome the wicked One’ (1 John 2:14). That ‘wheat’ Christ Himself in His person, offices, and work. Christ the ‘grain of wheat’ which, falling into the ground and dying, brings forth much fruit (John 12:24). The bread of life which came down from heaven, ‘of which if a man eat he shall live for ever.’ A discourse to feed the souls of the hearers, to be, not merely truth, but ‘the truth as it is in Jesus.’ To be a heap of wheat. Therefore to be well winnowed. The chaff of mere human fancies, speculations, or traditions, to be carefully excluded. ‘What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces’ (Jeremiah 23:28-29). The most useful discourses those that have most of Bible truth in Bible language. No words, for power and efficacy, ‘like the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth’ (1 Corinthians 2:13). Discourses not only to have the truth, but to have it in abundance. Not a handful, but a heap of wheat. Ministers to preach a full Christ—a Christ who is both Prophet, Priest, and King. Discourses to contain both doctrine, promise, and precept; the things to be believed, and the things to be done; the things done on God’s side, and the things to be done on ours. A fulness in Christ and the truth concerning Him that is inexhaustible. Discourses also to exhibit the truth in a connected, orderly, and methodical manner. A heap of wheat—compact and orderly, not mere loose and scattered grains. Divine evangelical truth a compact whole, with order, connection, and mutual dependence in its parts. Both law and Gospel, doctrine and duty, to have their proper place and proportion. Christ taught the people as they were able to hear it. The foundation to be laid in first principles, and so ‘to go on to perfection’ or higher truths (Hebrews 5:11-14; Hebrews 6:1). A natural and orderly arrangement in a discourse necessary as well to its retention as its apprehension.
2. ‘Set about with lilies.’ The heap of wheat surrounded with lilies in the way of ornament. The heap thus made more attractive. ‘Apples of gold’ to be served up in baskets of silver (Proverbs 25:11.) The wise preacher to ‘find out acceptable words,’ while ‘words of truth.’ Faithful discourses not necessarily devoid of ornament. Solidity in the matter to be connected with sweetness in the manner of delivering it. The ‘heap of wheat’ beautified and commended by the ‘lilies’ that surrounded it. Style as well as staple to be attended to. The lilies not to be eaten with the wheat, yet not therefore without their purpose. The wheat of solid and saving truth advantageously set forth with the lilies of metaphor and simile. Such lilies culled from the fields of God’s works as well as God’s Word. Gathered also from the words and works of men. Truth both commended and conveyed by apt illustration. Comparisons and illustrations often the window that admits the light. Illustrations drawn from all quarters—history, science, biography, external nature, common life. The discourses of the great Teacher full of them. The better able the preacher is to introduce them, the more likely he is to be useful. Yet the ‘lilies’ only to surround the wheat. To be ‘set about’ the heap, not mixed up with it. Truth, not metaphor or simile to be the staple. The garnishing not to be confounded with the food with which it is served. ‘Very fine, sir, very fine; but people cannot live upon flowers.’—Robert Hall. The truth to be the prominent and commanding object. Illustration and ornament to be only so far employed as may render the truth more attractive and effective. ‘Lilies’ not to take the place of the ‘wheat.’
The neck, eyes, and nose of the Bride next commended. The neck for its whiteness and erectness compared to a ‘tower of ivory.’ The eyes for their largeness and lustre, softness and serenity, compared to the two ponds in Heshbon, the Amorite capital, situated on each side of the gate of Bathrabbim. The nose, for its prominence and majesty, compared to ‘the tower of Lebanon that looketh towards Damascus,’ the active enemy of Israel, that had been taken by David, but recovered its liberty under Solomon (2 Samuel 8:6; 1 Kings 11:23-25). Without straining the allegory and the comparisons, we may view this part of the description as suggestive in relation to the New Testament Church of—
1. The believer’s purity of life and liberty of spirit, as indicated by Shulamite’s fair and erect ‘neck’ rising like a ‘tower of ivory.’ White unspotted ivory, a fit emblem of the life of one whom the grace of God teaches ‘to deny Himself to all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world’ (Titus 2:11-12). A neck like an ivory tower sufficiently suggestive of that ‘liberty wherewith Christ makes His people free’—a liberty from the yoke of bondage both in regard to sin and self-righteousness—a liberty not abused as a cloak of maliciousness, but proving itself by a self-denying love.
2. The believer’s calmness, intelligence, and heavenly-mindedness, in the presence of a noisy, anxious, and bustling world; as symbolized by Shulamite’s soft bright eyes, suggesting the placid pool, with its smooth, deep, transparent waters, reflecting the heavens and heavenly bodies on their unruffled bosom, on each side of the principal gate of Heshbon, with its hum of court and market, and its constant tramp of passengers. Believers taught of God not to be ‘conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of their mind’; to ‘look not at the things which are seen and temporal, but at those which are unseen and eternal’; to be ‘without carefulness,’ and to have their ‘conversation in heaven’; to learn of Him who was ‘meek and lowly in heart,’ and to be, at once, ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’
3. The believer’s boldness, vigilance, and decision, in the presence of a world that either persecutes or ensnares, and of the great adversary that goes about ‘like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.’ Symbolized by a ‘nose’ that suggested the tower of Lebanon, boldly confronting and keeping a vigilant watch upon the hostile city of Damascus. So the Council at Jerusalem marvelled at the boldness of Peter and John in their presence. Believers taught to watch and be steadfast in the faith; to be strong and to quit themselves like men; to be sober and vigilant, and not ignorant of Satan’s devices; to obey God rather than men, and to ‘esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.’
The description ends with the head, as it began with the feet. ‘Thine head upon thee is like Carmel,’ &c. Shulamite had commended her Beloved’s head as ‘being like the most fine gold.’ Hers, perhaps still wearing the marriage chaplet, now commended in turn, as resembling the majestic Carmel, towering up from the sea and the plain, and crowned with foliage and flowers. Her hair admired as resembling the richest purple, as well from its lustre as its deep, dark colour. Her Carmel-like head suggestive of the dignity of Christ’s Church, and the authority with which He invested her when He said: ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted, and whosesoever sins ye retain they are retained.’ The power of Christ exercised in His Church when acting in His name; and an authority given unto her by Him for edification, but not for destruction (1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 13:10). The ‘hair,’ given to the woman for a covering, and serving as her ornament and glory (1 Corinthians 11:15), suggestive of the precious fruits of the Spirit proceeding from Christ, and forming the true adornment of His Church—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, &c., the ‘fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the praise of God’ (Galatians 5:22; Philippians 1:11). The believer’s adorning not ‘the plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel; but that of the hidden man of the heart, which is not corruptible, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit’ (1 Peter 3:4).
The last clause in verse fifth apparently a parenthesis, expressing the admiration of the observer and the attractive power of Shulamite’s beauty. ‘The (or a) king is held [bound or captive] in the galleries’ (or ‘by the tresses’). No higher commendation of her charms than that a King—and such a King as Solomon!—was held captive by them. Suggestive of the spiritual beauty put upon the believer, in contemplating which the King of kings finds His delight. ‘Forget thine own people and thy father’s house, so shall the King desire thy beauty’ (Psalms 45:10-11). ‘He shall rejoice over thee with joy; He shall rest in His love.’ That beauty as great as a Three-One God can put upon a creature in order to fit that creature for a Bride to the incarnate Son, ‘who loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water through the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing’ (Ephesians 5:28). The clause equally expressive of the love of Christ, as of the Church’s beauty which He imparts to her. Infinite condescension and love on the part of Him who ‘humbleth Himself to behold the things that are done in heaven,’ that He is held bound, not by the beauty and dazzling glory of the Seraphim that never sinned, but by the imparted beauty of those whom He raised from the dunghill of degradation and sin, ‘to set them among princes, even the princes of His people’ (Psalms 113:5). Wonderful power of the believing sinner over the loving Saviour. ‘Drawn by His Church’s prayers, He is held by the Church’s praises.’
The contemplation of Shulamite’s beauty followed by an exclamation of admiration and delight. ‘How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for (or in) delights!’ The character of ‘fair and pleasant’ already ascribed by Shulamite to her Beloved (chap. Song of Solomon 1:16). This twofold character now applied by the King to herself. A mutual admiration and delight between Christ and His people. What He is in their eyes they are in His. Christ not only ‘fair’ in Himself, but ‘pleasant’ to His people. Believers not only made ‘fair’ in themselves, but ‘pleasant’ to Christ, Exhibited still further in the expression ‘for (or in) delights.’ An amazing fact, and expressive of inconceivable grace on the part of Christ,—that the Son of God and Lord of glory can and does find delight in His blood-bought Church, consisting of sinners raised from the dust and dunghill of spiritual filthiness and corruption. Yet such the case: ‘The King shall greatly desire thy beauty.’ ‘He shall rejoice over thee with joy: He shall rest in His love; He shall joy over thee with singing.’ ‘Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee. As a bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy Lord rejoice over thee’ (Isaiah 62:4-5; Zephaniah 3:17; Psalms 45:11). That delight in His saved people as—
(1) Made what they are by the Holy Spirit’s—grace, conformed to Christ’s own image;
(2) His own Bride, the gift of His Father, and espoused by Himself;
(3) His redeemed Bride, for whom He has paid the price of His own humiliation agony, shame, blood, and death. His delight in them now, in the midst of all their imperfections; what when they shall be presented to Himself hereafter, ‘a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing?’ Hence the duty of believers:
(1) To aim at perfect holiness. The holier a believer is, the greater is Christ’s delight in him.
(2) To be much in fellowship with Jesus. That fellowship the Saviour’s joy.
(3) To seek the conversion of others. Every converted soul an addition to the Bridegroom’s delight. The Bride composed of such souls.
(4) To endeavour to promote the sanctification of believers. Christ’s joy enhanced as their sanctification advances. An increase in their holiness is an increase in His joy.
As if unable sufficiently to admire the grace and beauty of his Bride, the king resumes his description with the comparison of her whole figure to a noble and beautiful palm tree, with its rich clusters of dates and its evergreen and elegant branches. This thy stature is like a palm tree, and thy breasts like clusters of grapes’ (or rather ‘dates’). The palm one of the most beautiful of trees. From its erectness and the general beauty of its aspect, its Hebrew name (Thamar, often given to women (Genesis 38:6; 2 Samuel 13:1; 2 Samuel 14:27). The figure of a palm tree frequent in the decoration of Solomon’s temple. At one time abundant in Palestine, and chosen as the emblem of the country. Now rarely to be met with. Judah sits desolate under her solitary palm tree. The palm tree, both from its beauty, its fruitfulness, and its character as an evergreen, an emblem of the righteous (Psalms 92:12). The comparison of Shulamite’s stature to a palm tree natural; the Bride being regarded—
(1) As a tall and elegant female.
(2) As the Church of Christ consisting of those who are both justified and sanctified in Christ Himself. Points suggested in the comparison of the Church and the individual believer to a
1. Its erectness. The palm straight and upright. Believers upright in their principles and conduct. Straightforward, as opposed to the wicked, whose ways are ‘crooked’ (Psalms 125:5; Proverbs 2:15). Free and joyous, as distinguished from the spirit of bondage and fear that causes the back to be ‘bowed down alway’ (Psalms 69:23; Romans 11:10).
2. Its regularity. The palm regular in its growth and figure, both in respect to stem and branches. The Apostle’s joy in beholding the Church’s order. The believer’s behaviour orderly. His spiritual growth regular. His piety to be symmetrical. Attention to be given to all the will of God, and to all the pattern shown in Christ himself.
3. Its fruitfuluess. The fruit of the palm tree both abundant and nutritious, growing in very large clusters near the stem. Believers, united to Christ as the Life, bear in greater or less abundance the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, &c. To be filled with the fruits of righteousness. To abound in every good word and work. Their fruit glorifying to God and profitable to men. Continues to be borne at all times and in all circumstances, even unto old age (Psalms 92:13-14).
4. Its perpetual greenness. The palm an evergreen. Always crowned with beautiful green feathery branches. True grace an evergreen. Inward spiritual life, which is Christ Himself, abiding. Discovers its beauty and freshness alike in prosperity and adversity; in health and sickness; in youth and old age.
5. Its elasticity and invincibleness. The fibre of the palm so elastic that no imposed weights can hinder its upward growth. Hence probably its brances used as tokens of victory and triumph. Nothing able to separate the believer from Christ, who is his life, or to prevent his spiritual growth and final perfection. In all things made more than a conqueror through Him who has loved him. All things made to work together for his spiritual and eternal good. The Church, like its type in Egypt,—‘the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew’ (Exodus 1:12). The blood of the martyrs the seed of the Church.
6. Its general beauty. The palm tree one of the most beautiful objects in the vegetable world. The highest beauty seen in true religion and those exhibiting it. Witnessed in its perfection in the Lord Jesus Christ. Seen, more or less, in all His members who are to be conformed to His image. A loving and consistent Christian the admiration of men.
The breasts of the Bride compared to clusters of dates, the fruit of the palm tree. The comparison natural from the dates growing in large clusters near the stem of the tree. The fruits of the Spirit found in believers sweet and refreshing to Christ. Of these fruits, love, symbolized by the breasts, the first in the inspired list (Galatians 5:22), and the most precious to the Saviour. The love of Mary, as shown by her anointing His feet with costly perfume, the subject of the highest encomium ever passed by the Saviour on any individual act: ‘Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. Verily, I say unto you, Wheresover this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her’ (Matthew 26:10-13). A similar act, done from similar feelings by another woman, as the expression of her love to Him who had so graciously forgiven her, rewarded with similar praise (Luke 7:37-46). No perfume so sweet, and no fruit so precious to the Saviour, as the ardent love of a forgiven sinner.
Song of Solomon 7:13. The mandrakes give a smell.
‘Mandrakes.’ הַדּוּדָיִם ha-dudhaim; plural of דוּדַי a love-apple, from דּוּד to love. So GESENIUS and others. ‘A mandragora (Atropa mandragora, Linnœus); a plant with large leaves, like the beet; its root like that of a turnip, divided in the lower part, and somewhat resembling the human form; employed in preparing love philtres, as having a soporific power, and thought to possess a virtue in matters of love, which is still ascribed to it in the East.’ A wild plant common in Palestine, especially in Galilee; of the same genus as the Belladonna, with small whitish blossoms, which, in May or June, become small yellow apples, with a strong and disagreeable odour; very early regarded as an artificial provocative of sensual love, not only in the East, but also by the Greeks and Romans, and still called by the Arabs tuffâh esh-shaitan, or Satan’s apples. ZÖCKLER, EWALD. According to others, a particular kind of melon called in the east, from its shape, chamama, or Woman’s breast, corresponding to the Hebrew name in the text. So CALMET and FRY. TAYLOR. Some lovely fruit or flower. DE WETTE. Some beautiful sweet—smelling plant. COBBIN. A kind of highly-flavoured melon. Some read דּוּרָאִים dudhaim, ‘baskets’ (as Jeremiah 24:1). So HAHN: Baskets full of all kinds of precious fruits. According to to the Talmudists: Violets or lilies. RASHI. The Jasmine. TARGUM. The Balsam. SEPTUAGINT and VULGATE Maudragora. LUTHER. Lilies. According to others, as Ludolf and Simon, the Indian Fig. Patrick and others needlessly object to the man drake, as having an offensive smell. ‘Give a smell,’—give forth their odour; therefore referring to the fruit, not the blossoms, nor the plant; and so looking forward to a more advanced season than in Song of Solomon 7:13, the fruit not being ripe till the wheat harvest’ (Genesis 30:14. ZÖCKLER.
Song of Solomon 7:9. And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. ‘For my beloved,’ לְדוֹדִי le-dhodhi. Understood by ABEN EZRA, SANCTIUS, and many moderns, as a sudden interruption by the Bride. So ROSENMÛLLER, DELITZSCH, NOYES, &c. Spoken by the Bride, who takes up the king’s words to continue the description, shewing that she fully responded to his love. ZÖCKLER. Viewed by many as spoken, like the preceding, by the virgin-attendants, one speaking in the name of the rest, or the whole choir considered as one person. M. STUART. The virgins viewed, like the Bride, as both one and many, and claiming the Bride’s beloved for their own. So MERCER, AINSWORTH, and others. DURHAM. ‘For my special friends;’ or as personating the Bride in an abrupt expression of her love to the Bridegroom. Some, like the SEPTUAGINT, connect the expression with הוֹלֵךְ (holech) ‘that goeth,’ and either translate ‘that goeth pleasantly,’ as PISCATOR, JUNIUS and TREMELLIUS, PERCY, and BOOTHROYD; or, ‘that goeth towards my beloved,’ or, ‘that goeth down for my beloved,’ as DE WETTE, HAHN, and others; or, ‘for my friends;’ or, ‘sent to those whom I love;’ as PATRICK and WILLIAMS. EWALD would put the word in brackets, as probably an error of the transcribers, but long before the Masorites, as only wanting in one of Kennico’s MSS. (715), and that, perhaps, by oversight. HOUBIGANT conjectures לחכי ‘to my palate,’ as the original word. GLASSIUS supposes it to be used euphonically for לְדוֹדִיס as chap. Song of Solomon 8:2; 2 Kings 11:19. SEPTUAGINT. That goeth to my beloved. VULGATE. Worthy of my beloved to drink. So WICKLIFFE and the DOUAI VERSION. LUTHER. That enters my beloved. MARTIN. In favour of my beloved DIODATI. Which goes to my friend. DUTCH VERSION. To my beloved ones.
‘That goeth down sweetly,’ הוֹלֵךְ לְדוֹדִי לְמֵישָׁרִים holech (le-dhodhì) lemesharim. Literally: ‘That goeth to or for my beloved, to or in straightness, or straightly.’ מֵישָׁרִים the plural of מֵישָׁר (mes’ar) straight; with the prefix לְ to or for,—straightly or directly. So GESENIUS and EWALD. Smoothly, or ‘according to evenness.’ ZÖCKLER and DE WETTE. Smoothly, that is, pleasantly. WEISS. That goeth to him directly and ultroneously, as entirely belonging to him. SANCTIUS. Some connect לְמֵישָׁרִים, not with הוֹלֵךְ but with לְדוֹדִי ‘those whom I love for their uprightness.’ So WILLIAMS. Or, ‘whom I love uprightly,’ i.e., from the heart. So RASHI. SEPTUAGINT: Going to my beloved straightly (εἰς εὐθύτητα). VULGATE, perhaps reading למשתים: Worthy for my beloved to drink. LUTHER. Which enters my beloved smoothly. DIODATI. Which goes directly to my friend. CRANMER and GENEVA BIBLE. Which goeth straight to my well-beloved. DUTCH. Which goeth right to my beloved ones. MONTANUS and MERCER. Carrying itself rightly. MUNSTER. Going by straight ways. PAGNINUS Going directly. JUNIUS and TREMELLIUS. Most rightly. COCCEIUS. Flowing to my beloved most smoothly. AINSWORTH. So delicious that it goes down glibly. FRY. Moving to my beloved as it ougut; indicating the Bride’s desire that her conversation should be agreeable to her husband. WEISS. Like the choice wine poured on the altar of burnt offering, which mounts directly to heaven. DAVIDSON supplies a copula, and translates: For my beloved, and for the upright ones. THEODORET, using the Septuagint: For direction to the souls that love thee.
‘Causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.’ דּוֹבֵב dobhebh, from דָּבַב to which the Tulmudists give the meaning of speaking; ‘making the lips of those who sleep to speak,’ i.e., in dreams. So MERCER, HENSTENBERG, DELITZSCH, &c. WILLIAMS. Causing to murmur. WEISS. To lisp. SANCTIUS. Inducing intoxication, and making the stammerers eloquent. PATRICK. Making men speak with the lips of the ancient, i.e. to utter excellent sayings. A. CLARKE. As wine causes the most backward to speak, so thy charms make the most taciturn eloquent in thy praise. FRY: Effervescing against the lips, &c. Others, however, give to דָּבַב the meaning of ‘to creep or flow over.’ So EWALD, GESENIUS, DE WETTE, &c. ‘Gliding over the lips of sleepers,’ that is, he who drinks is insensibly overtaken with sleep; the adjective being taken, as frequently, from the effect. ZÖCKLER, EWALD, NOYES. Flowing down. PERCY. ‘Those that are asleep.’ יְשֵׁנִים yeshenim, may be either ‘persons sleeping,’ or ‘old men;’ the former preferable, as from יָשִׁן to sleep, So GESENIUS and most. HAHN. Persons already sinking into slumber, as if, overcome by the sweetness of the wine, they were unable to remove the cup again from their lips. Some understand it figuratively of the dead. PATRICK. ‘Old men;’ those asleep or dead, or at the point of death. SEPTUAGINT, reading ושנים and שפתי: Reaching my lips and teeth. VULGATE. Suitable for the lips and teeth to ruminate. So WICKLIFF. BISHOP’S, and DOUAI VERSION. COVERDALE and MATTHEWS. The lips and teeth shall have their pleasure. CRANMER. Which bursteth forth from the lips of the ancient Elders. DUTCH, DIODATI, and MARTIN. Making the lips of the sleepers to speak. LUTHER. And speaks of what is afar off. MERCER. Awakening the slumbering senses, and refreshing the mind. VATABLUS. Who (viz., the friend who drinks it) speaks with the lips of them that sleep. CASTALIO: To my friend who (in consequence) babbles with sleeping lips. TARGUM abegorizing. As Elisha and Elijah raised the dead, and as Ezckiel prophesied, and awoke the dead in the valley of Dura RASHI. Even my fathers in the grave shall rejoice and give praise for their portion. RABBINS. Causing, by the Spirit, given in answer to the Church’s intercession, the lips of the nations who were asleep before to be opened, and to show forth the praises of the Lord. WEISS. Perhaps an allusion to the Israelites expecting silently the prayer made by the priests in the Temple, or by the leader in the synagogue, when the lips only moved: the daughters of Jerusalem thus intimating that, while the Church was requested to offer fervent prayer in their behalf, they would silently repeat it after her. AINSWORTH. Sinners awakened and quickened by the word preached (Ephesians 5:14); also others who from negligence tell asleep, and are enabled by this spiritual wine to speak (Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 57:19).
THE KING’S RESOLUTION AND ANTICIPATION
Song of Solomon 7:8-9
I said, I will go up to the palm tree:
I will take hold of the boughs thereof;
Now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine,
And the smell of thy nose like apples;
And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine,
(For my beloved),
That goeth down sweetly,
Causing the lips of them that are asleep to speak.
‘I said,’ indicative of the king’s purpose, whether secret or expressed, in regard to Shulamite. The purpose—first, to make her his Bride and then to enjoy her fellowship as such (Proverbs 5:18-19). Christ’s doings in regard to His Church the result of a Divine purpose. His delights, prospectively, with the children of men, before the foundation of the world (Proverbs 8:31). His purpose to give Himself for sinners, to unite them to Himself as His Bride, and then throughout eternity to rejoice in their fellowship and love. ‘Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with me where I am, that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me’ (John 17:24). ‘He loved the Church and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the Word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church.’ ‘He gave Himself for us that redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people.’ ‘This people have I formed for Myself’ (Ephesians 5:26; Titus 2:14; Isaiah 43:21). Having loved and given Himself for His Church, He will ‘rest’ and have delight ‘in His love’ (Zephaniah 3:17). Christ said, I will go up to the palm tree—
(1) In the everlasting covenant when He engaged to be the Redeemer of the world.
(2) When in the fulness of time He gave Himself for His Church, and ‘for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross despising the shame.’
(3) When He, according to His loving purpose, arrests the wanderer in his sins, and, as the good shepherd, lays the lost one ‘on his shoulders, and returns with it rejoicing.’
(4) When from time to time He lovingly manifests Himself to His saved one, comes in and sups with him and he with Him (Revelation 3:20).
(5) When at death He receives the believer to Himself, that where He is he may be also (John 14:2). Christ’s resolution that of enjoying the fruit of the travail of His soul, and of putting His people also in possession of it. In His love He provided the feast, and with His people He sits down to it. Planted the tree when He ascended the cross, and eats the fruit of it now that He has ascended the throne. The happiness of the believing soul to yield itself to Christ as the palm tree, for His enjoyment of the fruits of it.
Anticipation connected with resolution. ‘Now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine,’ &c. The loving fellowship of his beloved bride should be sweet and refreshing to him as the clusters of the vine, the fragrance of citrons, and the richest wine. A similar anticipation and desire already expressed on the part of the Bride in reference to her Beloved (chap. Song of Solomon 2:5). A mutual ‘comfort of love’ between Christ and His people. ‘My soul desired the first ripe fruit.’ ‘I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals.’ ‘I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness’ (Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 3:2; Micah 7:1). This joy experienced by Christ in the first love of the New Testament, as well as that of the Old Testament, Church. His delight found in His people in proportion as He finds in them the graces of His Spirit (Psalms 149:4; Jeremiah 9:24). In the finished work of the first creation, God ‘rested and was refreshed;’ much more in that of the second. The redeemed Church to be to Him ‘for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.’—The spiritual breath of the regenerate soul sweet and fragrant to Christ. ‘The smell (or fragrance) of thy nose (or breath) like apples (or citrons)’. Such breath the love and longing, the aspirations and expressions, the penitence and gratitude, the confessions and thanksgivings, the sighs and groans, the prayers and praises, of the new and spirit-born nature. ‘To this man will I look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at My word.’ ‘I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’ (Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 66:2). Marked contrast between the wholesome breath of a living soul and the noxious effluvium of a dead one. The fragrance of a humble and holy love breathed by a believer in proportion as he walks with Christ and posseses His spirit. The love and spiritual-mindedness of a pardoned soul the Saviour’s sweetest refreshment. Powerful motive to the cultivation of a holy, loving, and spiritual life.
The loving self-surrender of the Bride apparently indicated in the words, ‘for my beloved’ (Song of Solomon 7:9). Probably the words of the Bride interjected while the Bridegroom was speaking and comparing her love, and the expression of it, to the best wine. The Bride hastens to assure him that that wine should be entirely for himself. He who was so worthy of her love, and who possessed such claims to it, should alone possess it. As his happy and favoured Bride she would love him with an undivided love. The warm and devoted affection of our heart the best gift we can offer; and, through grace, freely given to Him who is most worthy of it, and has the best right to it. That affection desired and prized by Him whom angels delight to honour. Our highest happiness to be permitted and enabled to render it. ‘O, what am I, to love such a One, or to be loved by that high and lofty one! I think the angels may blush to look upon Him. Hell (as I now think), and all the pains in it, laid on me alone, would not put me from loving. Woe, woe is me; I have a lover, Christ, and yet I want love for Him. I have a lovely and desirable Lord, who is loveworthy, and who beggeth my love and heart, and I have nothing to give Him.’—S. Rutherford. ‘For my Beloved,’ the appropriate motto of a loving believer’s life. To be inscribed on all we are and have.
Perhaps an intimation, in the conclusion of the verse, of the effects of the believer’s love to Christ on others as well as himself. The wine to which the Bride’s love, and the expression of it (‘the roof of thy mouth’) is compared, said, according to our English version, to cause the lips of them that are asleep (Margin, ‘the ancient’) to speak. The language obscure, though indicating some property or effect of the wine spoken of, and so of that which is compared to it. Perhaps the reference to its stimulating as well as refreshing virtue. The influence which Christ condescends to allow His people’s love to have upon Himself already stated (chap. Song of Solomon 4:9; Song of Solomon 6:5). Its influence on the world, asleep in the snare of Satan and under the power of sin, to be found, indirectly, in the success attending the efforts, prompted by love to Christ and love to souls for His sake, to reclaim the wanderer and rescue the perishing, by conveying to them the glad tidings of His love. Love to Christ the highest and strongest motive impelling believers to self-denying endeavours on behalf of a perishing world. ‘Lord, thou knowest that I love Thee,’ naturally followed by—‘Feed my lambs; feed my sheep.’ ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.’ Silent lips constantly being opened, from devotedness to Jesus, in the praise of redeeming love.
SHULAMITE’S JOYFUL SELF-SURRENDER
Song of Solomon 7:10
I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is towards me.
With her love, Shulamite’s whole self is given to her Beloved. The heart given, all is given. The Believer’s language to Jesus: ‘I am thine; save me.’ ‘They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then to us.’ ‘The Bride’s language—
(1) That of joy. The believer’s surrender of himself to Jesus a joyful one. ‘O Lord, I am Thy servant, I am Thy servant; Thou hast loosed my bonds.’ ‘Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.’ The Apostles departed from the Council ‘rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame’ for the name of Jesus.
(2) Certainty. No mere hope or supposition. The matter placed beyond a doubt. Satan’s object, to lead the believer to question the reality of his surrender of himself to Jesus. Such self-surrender to be made certain by frequent repetition. This the third time Shulamite has made the declaration (Chron. Song of Solomon 2:16; Song of Solomon 6:3). So Peter declared a third time his love to Jesus. A matter of such importance not to be left in doubt. Desirable to be constantly renewing our self-dedication to the Lord. Much of our comfort and growth in grace connected with the assurance that we have truly surrendered ourselves to Jesus, and are His. Observe in regard to such—
I. Its OBJECT.
(1) For his sole possession. One shall say: ‘I am the Lord’s.’ ‘Ye are not your own.’
(2) For His pleasure and enjoyment. ‘For Thy pleasure all things are.’ Much more the Church whom He has redeemed to Himself. Christ’s unspeakable condescension that He finds His enjoyment in His Church.
(3) For His service. ‘I am Thy servant.’ Abigail, when consenting to be David’s wife, gave herself to be his handmaid to wash the feet of his servants. Mary’s language that of the believer: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord.’ Eve given to Adam to be an ‘help meet for him.’ Christ’s Church at once His Bride and His servants. Our honour to be made ‘fellow workers with Him’ in the salvation of others.
(4) For His free disposal. ‘Be it unto me according to Thy Word.’ ‘Let Him do with me as seemeth good in His sight.’ ‘Not my will, but Thine be done.’ Such self-surrender the soul of true religion. ‘Religion’ a binding ourselves over to the Lord. No man can serve two masters. Every man and woman either for Christ or for His adversary.
II. Its CHARACTER. Such surrender—
(1) A willing and cheerful one. ‘The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.’ ‘Not by constraint, but willingly.’ Christ’s people willing in the ‘day of His power.’
(2) A whole and entire one. No part kept back. Body, soul, and spirit given up. All we are and all we have. ‘Holiness to the Lord’ written on the bells of the horse-bridle. Every ‘pot’ holiness unto the Lord. ‘Not a hoof left behind’ for the enemy.
(3) A present and eternal one. Made now. Not put off till to-morrow. No deferring till a more convenient season. The surrender required now. Not to make it now is a refusal. Made now, it is made for ever. No taking back the gift. The sacrifice bound with the cords of a divine and undying love to the horns of the altar.
III. The GROUND of it. ‘His desire is towards me.’ The desire that of a husband to the wife of his choice. Similar language used of Eve in regard to her husband (Genesis 3:16). A man’s wife the desire of his eyes (Ezekiel 24:16; Ezekiel 24:18). The desire of Christ towards a sinner that of a Saviour and a Husband. His desire towards us the ground of ours towards Him. We love Him because He first loved us. ‘I am Thy servant; thou hast loosed my bonds.’ His desire towards the Church composed of perishing sinners, a desire—
(1) To save and bless it. ‘He loved the Church and gave Himself for it.’ His desire towards sinners brought Him from heaven, and then nailed Him to the Cross for their sake. His desire towards His redeemed such that He can withhold no good thing for them. His care and concern for His Church that of a husband for his wife. Bears with her infirmities, sympathizes with her sorrows, protects her from danger, comforts her in trouble, provides for her wants, prepares for her a home.
(2) To possess it as His own. ‘He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people.’ His desire, that they may both be ‘brought to Him, and kept in Him’ (John 10:16; John 17:11).
(3) To have it with Himself for ever. Is gone to heaven to prepare a place for them, that where He is, there they may be also. Hence His intercessory prayer: ‘Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am’ (John 14:3; John 17:24). Rises from His Throne of glory to meet and welcome the liberated spirit of His faithful servant (Acts 7:55).
Observe the individuality of the desire. ‘His desire is towards me.’ Faith’s triumph, and the soul’s comfort in that little word me. Every sinner that accepts of Jesus as a Saviour warranted to employ the language. True even of the sinner before he accepts the Saviour. His desire also towards the unsaved one; for, did He not come ‘to seek and to save that which was lost?
THE BRIDE’S PROPOSAL
Song of Solomon 7:11-13
Come, my beloved,
Let us go forth into the field;
Let us lodge in the villages.
Let us get up early to the vineyards;
Let us see if the vine flourish,
If the tender grapes appear,
And the pomegranates bud forth:
There will I give thee my loves.
The mandrakes give a smell,
And at our gates
Are all manner of pleasant fruits,
New and old,
Which I have laid up
For thee, O my beloved.
Shulamite speaks, in reply to the King, as having her heart on her native fields and vineyards—the rural scenes and employments in which she had been brought up. These more attractive to her pure and simple mind, with its genuine love of nature, than the splendour and ceremony of a court. Probably the wish also present, that her native locality might enjoy the benefit of her exaltation. But for all this, or whatever might be the object of her proposal, her Beloved must go along with her. Painful now any thought of separation from him. His presence and society her only earthly happiness and joy.
The Church of Christ and believers individually, happy as the Bride of the Son of God, look out in pity and in the bowels of their Lord, on the lands of the heathen, and a world lying in wickedness, to which they had themselves belonged. Thus the Church of Pentecost soon ‘went everywhere preaching the Word.’ This according to the will and commission of her Lord. ‘Go ye into all the world,’ &c. ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto Me in Judea and Samaria, even unto the uttermost ends of the earth.’ The apostles and disciples were to begin at Jerusalem, but not to stop there. Strictly, the resolution of the Church at Antioch, under the direction of the Holy Ghost, the first full verification of the text (Acts 13:1, &c.). Subsequently, a second made by the apostles, to visit the places among the heathen where they had preached the Gospel, and ‘to see how they did (Acts 15:36). Shulamite’s ‘come’ an echo of her Beloved’s (Chron. Song of Solomon 2:10-13). The Church, in time, responds to Christ’s Call, and pleads the fulfilment of His promise. The text suggestive of
The Church’s Calling.
That calling a Missionary one. The Church called to carry out the Mission of Christ into all the world. To be no longer the spring shut up, but streams flowing forth. Made the bearer of the glad tidings of a Saviour intended for all people. Christ is to be set up as an ensign in every land. That ensign to be carried and displayed by the Church (Isaiah 11:12; Psalms 60:4). The ‘day of good tidings’ to be shared in by a perishing world. The King’s commission to his servants, to go out into the hedges and highways, the streets and lanes of the city, to invite in the poor and needy, and even to compel them to come to the marriage feast. The Gospel to be preached in the ‘villages,’ as well as the large centres of population. But observe—
1. The Lord’s presence with the Church necessary for success in her efforts for the evangelization of the world. Shulamite’s language to the King that of the evangelistic Church pleading with Christ for His presence. ‘Come, my beloved, let us go forth,’ &c. Moses’ pleading with God to be that of the minister and missionary before going forth to deliver his message: ‘If Thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence.’ Preparation important; but Christ’s presence and power essential. Christ’s word to the faithful and thoughtful preacher that to Gideon as the Lord looked on him: ‘Go in this thy might: have not I sent thee?’ Christ’s promise to His sent servants: ‘Lo I am with you alway.’ The promise, however, to be pleaded in prayer, and laid hold of by faith. The resolve of the Apostles: ‘We will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.’
2. Christ’s presence necessary also for His servants’ strength and refreshment in the midst of their labours. Christ wont at times to take His disciples apart (Mark 6:31; John 18:2). Himself whole nights in prayer. The Gospel-fishermen’s nets to be mended in private, as well as managed in public. To teach others successfully, we need to be taught successively ourselves. The wheels of the Gospel chariot the better for frequent oiling. To be ‘endued with fresh power from on high,’ the preacher needs to ‘tarry’ awhile with the Master. The lamp shines more brightly in the pulpit after being trimmed in the closet. Christ’s presence lightens the preacher’s labour, and carries him over every difficulty. In labour or rest, the Master’s presence the faithful servant’s Paradise. Nature only lovely and delightful, when the Lord of Nature is with him.
3. Love to Christ to characterize every preacher of the Gospel. Shulamite’s language to the King: ‘Come, my Beloved.’ Love to Christ the source of ministerial devotedness, and the secret of ministerial success. The motto of the prince of preachers. ‘The love of Christ constraineth us.’ The charge: ‘Feed my lambs; feed my sheep,’ only given to Peter after the thrice-repeated declaration of his love to the Master. The preacher to labour as a portion of the Bride of Him whom he preaches, and as therefore having a personal interest in the work. ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.’
4. Promptness and diligence necessary in the Church’s discharge of her calling. ‘Let us get up early to the vineyards.’ The text of John Wesley’s last sermon, preached after a laborious ministry of above half a century,—‘The King’s business requireth haste.’ His own practice was to rise at four o’clock. The New Testament Church early and zealous in its labours for the evangelization of the world. The Apostle, some time before his death, speaks of the Gospel as having been preached ‘in all the world,’ and ‘to every creature under heaven’ (1 Chronicles 1:6; 1 Chronicles 1:6; Colossians 1:23). Need for promptness. Men dying at the rate of one every second. Thousands dying daily without Christ, and without even the knowledge of Him. Vast ‘fields’ open, and ‘white to the harvest.’
5. The Church to inquire carefully into the success of the Gospel and the spiritual state of the world, both at home and abroad. Ministers and missionaries not merely to preach and labour, but to look for results. The work the servant’s, and the success the Master’s. True, but success promised, and to be expected. God’s promise that His Word shall not return to him ‘void.’ Generally the faithful and prayerful labourer who expects most, the most successful. Fulfilment of divine promises in regard to the Church and the world to be believingly and earnestly looked for. All flesh to see the salvation of God. The knowledge of the Lord to cover the earth. Men to be blessed in Christ, and all nations to call Him blessed. Christ to inherit all nations. The people to be gathered to Shiloh. The idols to be utterly abolished.
6. The believer’s love to Christ to be displayed in his diligently carrying out the Saviour’s wish in regard to the evangelization of the world, and the conversion of sinners to himself. ‘There will I give thee my loves.’ The Church and believer’s warmest love to Christ found in connection with their most self-denying labours in making Him known to others. The believer then most acceptable to Christ, when caring most for the souls whom He bought with His blood. His ‘loves’ given best to his Lord when going in His bowels and in His steps after the sheep that was lost. ‘There,’—not on the couch of selfish care and indulgence, but in the place of labour and sacrifice, in the spirit and work of His Master, does He give Him his ‘loves.’
7. The Church’s aim to bring forth spiritual children to Christ. ‘The mandrakes give a smell.’ The mandrake a very strong smelling plant’ growing in Palestine. The fruit, gathered in wheat harvest or the month of May, and perhaps other parts of the plant, thought by the Orientals to favour conception (Genesis 30:14-16). The Church to be ‘a joyful mother of children.’ ‘Married’ to Christ that ‘she may bring forth fruit unto God’ (Romans 7:4). The part of faithful ministers and others to ‘travail in birth until Christ be formed’ in the souls of others. When Zion, in her ministers and members, travails, she brings forth her children (Isaiah 66:8). The preaching of the Gospel, accompanied by faith, love, and prayer, on the part both of preacher and people, the true means of the Church’s spiritual conception.
8. The result of the Church’s labours an abundance of spiritual fruit. ‘At (or over) our gates (or door, according to the practice in Eastern houses) are all manner of pleasant fruits.’ Such fruits the sample and foretaste of what was to come. The Church’s fruits an acceptable gift to Christ. ‘My soul desired the first ripe fruit.’ ‘I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit.’ The minister’s true ambition to have many souls to present to Jesus at His coming. ‘Here am I and the children whom thou hast given me.’ The most ‘pleasant fruits’ to Christ, the souls whom He has redeemed with His blood, sought out and brought to Him by His loving people. These fruits both ‘new and old.’ The Church’s converts from both Jews and Gentiles, those of the Old Covenant as well as the New, those that were ‘nigh,’ as well as those who had been ‘afar off.’ In the New Testament Church the graces of the age of the Law increased by those of that of the Gospel. ‘Instead of the fathers shall be the children.’ Believers not to be satisfied with first principles, but to go on unto perfection (Hebrews 6:1).
9. All the Church’s works to be begun and carried on for Christ. ‘Which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.’ Believers to do what they do ‘heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.’ Love to Christ to be the mainspring of the believer’s labours. The salvation of a soul to be dear, but the glory of Christ still dearer. The salvation of souls to be dearest because Christ’s glory is bound up with it. The strongest motive with a faithful and loving labourer, that Christ shall ‘see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.’ Love considers that best bestowed which is bestowed on its object. Mary’s precious ointment best employed in anointing her Saviour’s feet. All services now lovingly done for Christ to be one day called for, acknowledged, and rewarded. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany