O that thou wert as my brother,
That sucked the breasts of my mother!
When I should find thee without,
I would kiss thee,
Yea, I should not be despised.
I would lead thee,
And would bring thee unto my mother's house,
Who would (or thou wouldst) instruct me.
I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine,
Of the juice of my pomegranate.
His left hand should be under my head,
And his right hand should embrace me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
That ye stir not up,
Nor awaken my love,
Until he please.
Shulamite still addresses her Beloved, perhaps now already on the way to the fields, towards her mother's house. Expresses the wish that she could be as familiar with him even outside, as if he were her brother. She had desired his kisses; and now wishes she could becomingly repay them with her own. She could wish to have him with her in her mother's house, and be her instructor there; where on her side she would present him with the best of the beverages she possessed, as the fruit of her own labour in the vineyard. In language already employed in relation to the enjoyment of his fellowship and love (chap. Son ), she pictures to herself the joy she should thus experience, and the care she would take that nothing should disturb it. The whole the language of a loving wife, expressed according to Oriental manners, and in the style of Oriental poetry. Observe—
1. The renewed soul, brought to the realization of Christ's preciousness and love, and to the experience of the blessedness of being united to Him as His Bride, cannot be satisfied without the closest intimacy and unrestrained enjoyment of His fellowship. An intense longing after more of His fellowship and love, a mark of the heaven-born soul, and of the Bride of Christ. Unable to enjoy in this world as much of that communion with Christ as he desires, he looks forward with wistfulness to a better. ‘I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.' In heaven, believers see Him as He is; are fed by Him as His sheep, and led by Him to ‘fountains of living waters.' ‘Follow Him whithersoever He goeth.' Their happiness there not merely to enjoy Christ fully, but to express, without restraint of fear or shame, the ardour of their love and affection. ‘I would kiss thee.' Believers hindered in the present world, by causes both internal and external, from letting out their love on Christ as they would. The holy delight and satisfaction in doing so reserved for a better state. In reality, however, the language of the Bride realized in relation to Christ. The Bridegroom of the Church no longer as in the time of Old Testament saints, the mere infinite and absolute God—‘the King eternal, immortal, and invincible, dwelling in that light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen or can see.' The longing of the Old Testament Church fulfilled in the New. The Divine Bridegroom now our very ‘Brother'—seen with our eyes, looked upon and handled with our hands (1Jn ). John leaned on His bosom. Mary held Him by His feet. The woman that had been a sinner kissed His feet while she washed them with her tears. Probably the disciples were in the habit of kissing His cheek according to the custom of the time; though the only such kiss recorded, alas! is that of the man that betrayed Him. His message after His resurrection—‘Go and tell My brethren.' ‘Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise took part of the same' (Heb 2:11-14).
2. Christ still to be found ‘without.' Believers have still to go forth unto Him ‘without the camp.' Christ still to the world at large ‘a root out of a dry ground.' The world no nearer knowing Him now than when He sojourned on earth. The ‘reproach of Christ' to be experienced till He shall come again. Danger of being ‘ashamed' of Him ‘in this sinful and adulterous generation.' Christ also found ‘without' in His cause, and in the persons of those who are to be gathered to Him out of the world, both at home and abroad. ‘Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it unto me.' Christ, in the person of His redeemed, found by the Bride after Pentecost in Judea, Samaria, and the lands of the heathen, and brought by her unto her mother's house, the Church.
3. The desire of believers to have Christ brought into their mother's house.
(1) Into the Church at large, and especially that portion of it with which they are more immediately connected. ‘Christ to be taken by the believer from the closet into the sanctuary.' Well when believers not only find Christ in the Church, but take him there. Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us all: yet to every believer, in a narrower sense, some section of the visible Church, and some particular congregation or mission, his ‘mother's house,' in which he found Christ and was born again. ‘Of Zion it shall be said, This man and that man was born there.'
(2) The circle of their own kindred and relations. So Andrew found his brother Simon, and brought him to Jesus. Christ's direction to the restored Demoniac: ‘Go home to thy friends, and show them what great things God hath done for thee.' Salvation and blessing promised not only to believers themselves, but, conditionally, to their family (Psa ; Act 2:39). Hence households baptized with their believing head. Individual conversion to be followed by the conversion of the household. ‘The religion of the closet and of the sanctuary tried and confirmed by that of the family.' Parents saved for the sake of their children as well as for themselves. On the other hand, the salvation of the children often followed by that of the parents. Noah was not only to enter the ark, but his family with him. Rahab was not only to be saved in the destruction of Jericho, but her father and mother, brother and sisters, along with her. The happiest family that in which Christ is made an inmate. ‘No resting place to the Son of man sweeter than the bosom of a pious family.' Such the family at Bethany (Luk 10:38-42; Joh 11:1-2).
4. The privilege of believers to be under the continued teaching of Christ and His Church. ‘Who would (or thou wouldst) instruct me.' All needful instruction in the possession of Christ. Christ the prophet, as well as the Priest and King of His Church. The Great Teacher. Hid in Him are ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.' Natural that He should be the teacher of His Bride. Divine teaching promised to all the children of the true Jerusalem. ‘All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.' Christ, ‘the wisdom of God,' made ‘wisdom' to those who are in Him. Believers to grow in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour. Much always to be learned. Here we know but in part. Our privilege to have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, that we may know all things. Eye-salve given by Christ, that we may anoint our eyes and see. Spiritual instruction to be found in the Church, our ‘mother's house.' The Church furnished by her Head with the means for such instruction. Gifts of the Spirit bestowed for that purpose (Eph ; Rom 12:7). True pastors and teachers Christ's gift. Believers to teach and admonish one another. Our privilege always, with Mary, to sit at Jesus, feet and hear his words. The Scriptures given for our learning, that the man of God may be perfect. The great commission, not only to preach the Gospel, but to ‘teach' the Church's members (Mat 28:20). The Bridegroom's voice to His Bride: ‘Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart' (Mat 12:29). The most advanced believers the most earnest and humble learners. Believers never to be above ordinances, yet always to look above them to Christ. To be taught not by special revelation, but in connection with instituted means in their ‘mother's house.' Must find the truth in ordinances, or cease to attend them (Pro 19:27). Will not hear the voice of strangers, but ‘flee from them.' Believers after Pentecost ‘continued steadfastly in the doctrine of the Apostles,' who ‘daily in the temple and in every house, ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ' (Act 2:42; Act 10:42).
5. The believer's duty and delight, to make a return for Christ's love with whatever he has or is. ‘I would cause thee to drink,' &c. The inquiry natural: ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?' Believers constrained by the mercies of God in Christ to present their bodies to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom ). The love of Christ constraineth us, to live not to ourselves but ‘to Him who died for us' (2Co 5:10). Our love desired in return for His. ‘My son, give me thine heart.' Our love, manifested by obedience and self-denying service, His greatest refreshment and delight. ‘I have meat to eat which ye know not of.' Christ refreshed and fed in His members. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,' &c. ‘He that is taught in the word, to communicate unto Him that teacheth in all good things.' What is given to His servants who teach in His name, regarded as given to Himself. ‘He that receiveth you, receiveth Me' (Mat 10:40-42). Believers after Pentecost ‘sold their possessions, and brought the price and laid it down at the Apostle's feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need' (Act 2:45; Act 4:34-37).
6. Believers walking faithfully with Christ, warranted to expect the repetition of former enjoyment in His fellowship and love. ‘His left hand should be under my head,' &c. This happiness already, on a former occasion, enjoyed and recorded (chap. Son ). The delight once experienced in special communion with Christ, and the enjoyment of His manifested love, to be desired and expected by the believer in the course of his pilgrimage. That experience usually found in proportion to the desire after it, and in connection with faithfulness in following Christ, confessing Him before men, and seeking after the lost. Special communication of His love often Christ's loving reward for faithful, self-denying service. Yet an open door, and a hearty welcome will bring Him in to sup with us (Rev 3:20).
7. Care always needed by the believer to guard against disturbing influences while in the enjoyment of Christ's presence and love. ‘I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,' &c. The charge already given on two former occasions (chap. Son ; Son 3:5). Always needful so long as the believer is in this world. Seasons of spiritual rest and enjoyment to be cherished and improved to the utmost (Act 9:31). Care to be taken not to grieve or quench the Spirit (Eph 4:20; 1Th 5:19). Disturbing influences both within and without. Believers to keep the heart tender and watchful in entertaining a found Christ. No absolute freedom from interruption in the enjoyment of Christ till we see Him as He is.
Son . I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth; there the brought thee forth that bare thee.
‘I raised thee up,' עוֹרַרְתִּיךָ 'orarlicha, Pilel of עוּר to be awake; literally, I awaked thee out of sleep; according to many moderns, here applied to awakening the previously slumbering affections. So ZÖCKLER. I incited thee [to love]; discovering mine to thee, I obtained thine. GESENIUS. I inspired thee with love; properly, aroused thee. DE WETTE, BOOTHROYD. Excited thee to love. WILLIAMS. Wooed thee. PERCY, GOOD. FRY: Raised thee up; perhaps, resuscitated thee,—the Bride originally found by her husband an exposed infant (Eze ). The Masoretic pointing in our Hebrew Bibles probably in this case faulty, as determining the speaker to be the Bride instead of the Bridegroom, to whom the words appear much more naturally to belong, and to whom they are ascribed by all the Greek Fathers, and many of the Latins. ‘Under the apple-tree.' Under this apple-tree,—pointing to it; one immediately adjoining her mother's house, and probably shading one of the windows. ZÖCKLER. This apple-tree one among many other places recalling their first love-intercourse. DELITZSCH. Reminding her of their first interview. BOOTHROYD. Referring to the place of her birth. SANDERS. In the woods, as rustic and poor. SANCTIUS. Reminding her of her humble origin. FRY. Refers to the scene in chap. Son 2:3. WILLIAMS. SEPTUAGINT, and VULGATE: Under an apple-tree I awoke thee up ( ἑξηγειρα). COVERDALE and MATTHEWS: I am the same that awakened thee up among the apple-trees. EWALD prefers adhering to the Masoretic pointing, and understands by the apple-tree the place where the Bride sometimes awoke the Bridegroom when resting at mid-day, and which had seen him born.—‘There she brought thee forth that bare thee.' חִבְּלָתְךָ khibbelatheeha; Piel of חָבַל, to bend, twist; hence Piel, to bring forth with pain. So GESENIUS and most. There, where that apple-tree stands, or the dwelling shaded by it, she travailed with thee. ZÖCKLER. Others, however, understand the verb as From חָבַל to plight, as Exo 22:26; Deu 24:6; Deu 24:17; ‘pledged or contracted thee to me.' So HOUBIGANT, MICHAELIS, A. CLARKE, GOOD, BOOTHROYD, &c. DELITZSCH. Under the same tree, Shulamite received from her mother her life, from Solomon his love. WILLIAMS. Reference to the scene in chap. Son 2:3, where we may suppose the Bride's mother to have been present, and some ceremony here alluded to have taken place. PERCY. Bridegroom makes a solemn recapitulation of the contract they had entered into. SEPTUAGINT. There thy mother travailed with thee ( ὡδίνησέ σε). VULGATE, using a different reading: Was corrupted. Followed by the DOUAI version. COVERDALE. Bare thee. So LUTHER, DIODATI, MARTIN, and the DUTCH version. PAGNINUS. Conceived thee. PISCATOR, JUNIUS, and TREMELLIUS: Was in labour with thee. Allegorically:—WICKLIFFE. ‘The voice of Christ to the synagogue; of the holy cross. DOUAI. Christ redeemed the Gentiles at the foot of the cross. MATTHEWS. Voice of the Spouse before the spouseless. DEL RIO. Bridegroom relates that the beginning and increase of his love to his beloved had manifested itself under the apple-tree; reminding her of her original misery and poverty, in order to keep her from pride and elation. FROMONDI. I raised thee up when dead under the forbidden tree, by sprinkling thee with the blood of my cross; that as death reigned by one tree, he might be conquered by another. SANCTIUS. I raised thee up when abandoned by thy mother to perish (Eze 16:3-6). DAVIDSON. Raised thee up after the fall; or, by the preaching of the Gospel. WEISS. I, the risen Saviour, aroused thee under the apple or citron tree; the cross, where the sleeping Church was aroused; for example, John, Joseph, Nicodemus, the thief, &c. GILL. The apple-tree Christ Himself, or the ordinances of the Gospel. RASHI, following the Rabbinical pointing. The Bride seeks to stir up the love of her Beloved. COCCEIUS. The Bride arouses Christ by her prayers in time of trouble and persecution, as the disciples did in the storm. J. H. MICHAELIS. Arouses Him by earnest prayer to shew Himself more than formerly. AINSWORTH. Taking hold of the covenant of grace and the promises of life in Christ, the apple-tree of life and grace (chap. Son 2:3), she surred Him up by prayer for her help and comfort. GILL: Not finding Him in ordinances, she raised Him up by earnest prayer. FAUSSET: I excited thy comparsion to come and save me from my sin and misery under the apple-tree in Eden;—spoken by converted Israel as the type of the whole redeemed humanity. M. STUART: She reminds the king of his own outcast condition. HAHN: Pledges herself solemnly to the king for ever, and the king himself to her, in the cool shade of the apple-tree of the garden (chap. Son 6:11); in his home-land in Canaan, her misery out in the open field moved his loving heart to sympathy. According to AMBROSE and others: The synagogue the Church's mother, who brought forth the Church, by shedding the blood of Christ through which she is born again. THEODORET: The grace of the Holy Spirit in connection with baptism. HONORIUS: The flesh of Eve or human nature. DURHAM: Believers the mother of Christ, as bringing forth His image in the souls of men, and so giving Him a being in their heart. AINSWORTH: By the preaching of the Gospel, attended with labour, sorrow, and difficulty. J. H. MICHAELIS: By doing the Father's will, and conceiving in themselves the image of Christ by a true faith. MERCER: When fleeing to Him for refuge. M. STUART: Refers to the time of sorrow or birth—pangs that preceded Christ's resurrection from the dead. HAHN: With pain His people brought Him forth to themselves as their King.
Son . The coals thereof are coals of fire which hath a most vehement flame. ‘The coals thereof.' רְשָׁפֶיהָ reshapheha, plural of רֶשֶׁף resheph, a flame; from the unused root רָשַׁף to inflame or kindle. GESENIUS, ZÖCKLER. A blaze or flush of lightning. (Deu 32:24; Job 5:7; Hab 3:5) WEISS. EWALD derives rather from רשף to creep, creep forth; applied to the plague, and so the heat of the plague: hence, heat or flame in general. SEPTUAGINT: Its wings. VULGATE and AQUILA: Its lamps and torches. SYMMACHUS: its attacks. SYRIAC: Its sparks. LUTHER: Its flame or heat. DIODATI and MARTIN: Its burning coals. So the Rabbins, who make it like רֶצֶף retseph, a coal, and who are followed by PAGNINUS, MONTANUS, MERCER, PISCATOR, &c. MUNSTER has ‘torches.' AINSWORTH: Burning coals or darts of love that pierce and enflame the heart. So PATRICK: Darts of arrows. PERCI prefers ‘sparks.' SANCTIUS applies it to ‘jealousy', which tortures like fire.—‘Which hath a most vehement flame.' שַׁלְהֶבֶתיָה shalhebhethyah, from לֶהָבָה lehabhah, a ‘flame' with שׁ ‘which.' Another reading, the Recension of Ben Naphtali, divides it into two words, שַׁלהֶבֶת יָהּ, shalhebheth Yah, ‘the flame of Yah, or Jehovah.' EWALD thinks that probably both words were originally read, (‘its flames are the flames of Jehovah,') and that one of them dropped out; and remarks that יָה for יהוה was seldom used before Solomon's time, its use having risen when the name of Jehovah began to be added as a surname; and that it occurs only once in the Pentateuch (Exo 15:2). ZÖCKLER, who translates, a ‘blaze of Jehovah,' observes that this name of God is mentioned only in this passage of the Song, ‘the radiant apex in the developement of its doctrinal and ethical contents.' According to ZÖCKLER, the flame not natural, but kindled and sustained by God Himself; love, and jealousy, its intense synonym, appearing here like a brightly blazing fire, sending forth a multitude of sparks or flames into men's hearts. So DELITZSCH: A flame of Jehovah, as kindled by Him; hence unquenchable. PATRICK: ‘Fire of the flame of the Lord,' i.e., mighty and exceedingly scorching. SIMON derives the word from the Chaldee or Syriac שלהב to burn; the ש servile marking the Shaphal species (GREEN). PARKHURST derives it from של to loose, and להב a flame,—a dissolving fire WEISS, in like manner reading as one word, explains as ‘a stream, volume or torrent of flame, as Eze 20:47; a conflagration of flames (Job 15:30). PERCY: ‘A flame of Jah,'—which Jehovah kindles in the clouds,—a most vehement flame (Job 1:16). WILLIAMS refers the expression to the sacrificial flame, which, according to Jewish tradition, no rain could extinguish. The SEPTUAGINT has simply: ‘Its flames.' VULGATE: ‘And of flames,' connecting with ‘fire.' TARGUM: Like the coals of the fire of hell, which the Lord shall kindle at the last day. COVERDALE and MATTHEWS: A very flame of the Lord. GENEVA: A vehement flame. DUTCH: As a flame of the Lord. DIODATI: A very great flame. MARTIN: A very vehement flame. TIRGURINE: Which have been kindled by the flame of God. MERCER and MONTANUS: A flame of the Lord. JUNIUS and TREMELLIUS: A Divine flame. COCCEIUS: A flame of God,—bright and inextinguishable. PAGNINUS: A most vehement flame. GROTIUS: As a flame of God, i.e., a whole burnt-offering. VATABLUS: As the flame of Jab or God, i.e, most vehement. PISCATOR: Which Jehovah kindles; the genitive of Authorship. JUNIUS: The greatest flame, as being the Spirit's most powerful light, to endure for ever. AINSWORTH: The vehement consuming flame of the Lord; piercing and devouring lightning; the fire of His Spirit. PATRICK: Burning with a violent and inextinguishable heat; mightily moved by the Lord.
SCENS SECOND. Place: The Country in the neighbourhood of Shulamite's native home. Speakers: The King, Shulamite, and Country People.
CHAPTER 8 Son
SHULAMITE ADMIRED BY THE COUNTRY PEOPLE
Who is this
That cometh up out of the wilderness,
Leaning upon her beloved?
Shulamite's proposal to go forth into the country lovingly accepted by the King. The journey commenced, and now nearly completed. The happy pair now arrived at the neighbourhood of Shulamite's native home. Seen approaching, as she leans on her husband's arm. The Bride an object of admiration to the rustic inhabitants, who exclaim: ‘Who is this?' &c. Beautiful and instructive picture of the believer while in this world. True always; especially true in the Pentecostal or primitive age of the Church. Notice in regard to
The Believer's Posture.
I. The POSTURE itself. Two features—
1. ‘Coming up out of the wilderness.'
(1) ‘Coming.' The life of believers a journey, Like Moses to Hobab: ‘We are journeying to the place,' &c. Sinners not pardoned to sit still. Brought up out of the horrible pit, and our feet set upon the rock, our ‘goings' are established. The healed and pardoned paralytic takes up his couch and goes to his house. Believers have a home, and they go to it.
(2) Coining ‘up.' The journey of believers an upward one, Their home on high. The ‘heavenly Jerusalem;' the house with ‘many mansions;' the ‘better country, that is, an heavenly.' Their affections set on things above. Their journey an ascent. Their motto, Excelsior. Higher and higher. Progress heavenward characteristic of the believer. On the ladder, and ascending by it. Ascent often difficult and laborious. Descent easy, and requiring little effort. Salvation to be wrought out with fear and trembling. All diligence required to add to our faith, virtue, &c.
(3) Coming up ‘out of the wilderness.' The world in which the believer find himself, a wilderness. So Israel's journey to Canaan lay through a desert. A wilderness is—(i.) A place of hunger and thirst. (ii.) A place of thorns and briars. (iii.) A place of danger both for man and beast. The world unable to satisfy the wants and cravings of the soul. Full of trials and temptations. The place of the roaring lion, who seeks whom he may devour. An enemy's country. Believers, like others, once abiding in the wilderness. Willing to remain in it, though finding neither rest nor satisfaction. Aroused by a gracious voice: ‘Arise and depart ye; this is not your rest.' Made to see it to be a wilderness. Like the prodigal son, they see their misery, and think of a home. Taking Jesus as their Saviour, they set out for it. Their back now to the wilderness, and their face to heaven. In the world, but no longer of it.
2. ‘Leaning on her Beloved.' Implies—
(1) The company of her Beloved. Christ's presence promised to His people in their journey through the wilderness. ‘Fear not, for I am with thee.' ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' ‘I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' Hence their fearlessness. ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me' (Psa ).
(2) The support of her Beloved. Christ the ‘strength,' as well as ‘righteousness,' of His people. His promise: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee; My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Believers taught the ‘happy art' of depending on Christ for all things. ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.' Believers ‘lean' on Christ—(i.) for acceptance with God, through His perfect obedience. (ii.) For holiness and victory over sin, through the grace of His Spirit; (iii.) For protection and preservation, by His Almighty power. (iv.) For strength and grace for the performance of every duty, and the endurance of every trial. Constant supplies of grace needed and received out of Christ's fulness for the wilderness journey. Great part of heavenly wisdom to lean on Christ at every step, and at every turn of the road. The life of believers a life of faith and dependence on Christ. The part of faith to lay the whole weight of our salvation, and the burden of every duty and difficulty on the Beloved. Believers only go upward as they lean on Christ. Resting on Christ essential to progress in holiness. Spiritual growth marked by conscious weakness leaning on perfect strength. Hence Milton's paradox: ‘The omnipotence of human weakness.' Christ honoured and pleased by such dependence. To further it, He often removes from us every other support. Hence Paul's ‘thorn in the flesh.'
The believer's life therefore—
(1) A laborious one. An upward journey through a wilderness.
(2) A pleasant one. The company of the Beloved. Pleasant company makes pleasant travel.
(3) A safe one. An Almighty arm to lean upon.
II. The ENQUIRY. ‘Who is this?' The sight—
(1) A rare one. Far from common to see an individual going up from the wilderness, with his back to the world and his face to heaven, and especially as leaning on Jesus as his Beloved. The opposite of the character of the world. The sight everywhere met with is, worldliness, pride, and self-dependence.
(2) A beautiful and engaging one. Beautiful in itself, and beautiful in the eyes of God, angels, and all right-minded persons, to see an individual giving up sin and the world, and with Jesus as his Beloved and only trust, earnestly proceeding on his way to heaven. Believers most amiable when seen going up out of the wilderness leaning on their Beloved. Worldliness and pride the blight and bane of the Church. A proud and worldly-minded professor a stumbling-block to the world. A humble and heavenly walk attractive even in the eyes of ungodly men.
(3) An open and conspicuous one. Believer, going up from the wilderness leaning on Jesus, not able to be hid. A city set on a hill. The Master's will that they should be seen. ‘Let your light so shine before men,' &c. The object not that they should be admired, but that God their Father should be glorified. Believers to be ‘living Epistles of Christ, known and read of all men.' ‘He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.' Believers to be God's witnesses in a sinful world. Their holy and heavenly life to be His constant testimony. Men to take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. Made a ‘spectacle to the world' for God's glory and the world's good. The heathen's testimony to the early Church: ‘See how these Christians love one another.' Men to be drawn to Christ not merely by the preacher's lips, but by the believer's life.
To Shulamite, who enters with him, leaning on his arm.
I raised thee up under the apple tree:
There thy mother brought thee forth,
There she brought thee forth that bare thee.
One of the obscurest passages in the poem. Apart from Jewish pointing, nothing in the form of the words to indicate who is the speaker. That pointing, comparatively modern, makes the words to be addressed to the King, and thus to be spoken by Shulamite. More reason, however, with all the Greek Fathers, and many of the Latin ones, to regard the King himself as the speaker, and Shulamite the party addressed. Moved, perhaps, by the sight of a familiar object as they approach her mother's dwelling, he reminds his beloved of what took place there at an early period of their connection; points her to the apple or citron-tree growing near the house, which had witnessed his endeavours, under its pleasant shade, to gain her affections, and his subsequent happiness when he there received her as his betrothed at her mother's hand. ‘I raised thee up (or ‘excited thee' to love) under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth (rather ‘pledged thee' to me), there she brought thee forth (pledged thee) that ‘bare thee.' Observe—
1. First love and espousals between Christ and the believer never to be forgotten. Never forgotten on Christ's side. ‘I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals' (Jer ). Believer's first love greatly prized and fondly looked back upon by the Saviour. ‘I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love' (Rev 2:4). Believers, on their part, to cherish the remembrance of Christ's early gracious dealings with their soul, and of their early affection and surrender of themselves to Him.
2. Christ the first mover in the saving connection between a soul and Himself. ‘I raised thee up'—excited thee to love. ‘Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.' The first spark of love to Christ in the soul kindled by Christ Himself. ‘We love Him because He first loved us.' ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.' ‘I will betroth thee unto Me in lovingkindness and in mercies' (Hos ; Jer 31:3). The soul espoused by Christ first ‘raised up' by Him from spiritual death. ‘Raised up' from a state of degradation and misery. Raised as a ‘beggar from the dunghill, to inherit the throne of glory' (1Sa 2:8). ‘Raised up' from the deep spiritual sleep into which sin has cast mankind' (Eph 5:14). ‘Raised up,' finally, from the dejection and despondency common upon conviction of sin' (Act 2:37-38; Act 16:30-31).
3. Those places precious and memorable to the believer that are associated with his early love and espousals to Christ. The place of the altar where the Lord first appeared to Abraham in Canaan fondly remembered by him. Jacob reminded by the Lord Himself of the place where He first appeared to him as his covenant God. Those places of early love and communion afterwards gratefully visited. Their frequent remembrance profitable to the reviving and stimulating of love and devotedness to the Saviour.
4. Spiritual ordinances, in which Christ meets and espouses souls to Himself, fitly compared to an
(1) Because full of Christ, the True Apple Tree (chap. Son ).
(2) From the sweet refreshment afforded in them to quickened souls. The apple or citron tree distinguished for its refreshing fragrance.
(3) From the rich and reviving fruit enjoyed in connection with them. ‘Thy words were found unto me, and I did eat them; and Thy words were the joy and rejoicing of my heart.' ‘My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.'
(4) From the comfort and strength afforded in them in times of temptation and trial. The citron-tree remarkable for its shade. The Psalmist's experience: ‘One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple: for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion. Mine head shall be lifted up above mine enemies round about me' (Psa ).
5. The part of the Church of Christ not only to ‘bring forth,' but to ‘pledge' souls to Him as His Bride. The Church to be a mother of children, who, with herself and through her instrumentality, shall be espoused to Christ. Paul, as a minister of Christ, a representative of the Church when he says: ‘My little children, of whom I travail in birth, until Christ be formed in you.' ‘I have espoused you to one husband.' The Church never to forget her high calling, and never to be satisfied unless ‘pledging' souls to Christ as His Bride.
6. The divinely instituted ordinances of the Church, the means by which souls are ordinarily ‘brought forth' to a spiritual life and pledged to Christ as His Bride. ‘There thy mother brought thee forth' (pledged thee). The ordinances of the Church instituted by Christ Himself for this purpose (Eph ). ‘In Christ Jesus have I begotten you by the Gospel.' Paul and Barnabas at Iconium ‘so spake that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed' (Act 14:1).
THE BRIDE'S REQUEST
SHULAMITE, to the King
Set me as a seal upon thy heart,
As a seal upon thine arm:
For love is strong as death,
Jealousy is cruel as the grave:
The coals thereof are coals of fire,
Which hath a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
Neither can the floods drown it.
If a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
It would utterly be contemned.
Shulamite, still leaning on her Beloved, and taking occasion from the tender recollection he had just uttered, expresses on her side a desire indicative of the ardour and steadfastness of her affection. ‘Set me as a seal upon thine heart,' &c. As a plea for her request, she urges the nature of true love. ‘For love is strong as death, &c. Observe—
I. The REQUEST. ‘Set me as a seal,' &c. Seals well-known to have been used, as they still are, for ratifying and confirming covenants (Neh ; Jer 32:10; Jer 32:44; Rom 4:11). Used also for security (Deu 32:34; Job 14:17; Mat 27:66; Rom 15:28). May here allude to the practice of impressing marks upon the person with henna dye, or other material (Rev 7:3; Rev 14:1; Rev 20:3). Shulamite's desire to have her name or likeness stamped upon her Beloved's heart and arm; on his heart or breast as the seat of affection, and on his arm, where it might be constantly in view. The desire of every loving heart to be kept in affectionate remembrance by one who is the object of its love. Love must have love in return. A fear, however, that love might be diminished by distance, especially where it may have rivals. Love trembles at the thought of the proverb proving true: ‘Out of sight, out of mind.' The believer's strongest desire to be loved and affectionately remembered by his Saviour. ‘Lord, remember me,' a prayer both in the Old and New Testament (Psa 106:8; Luk 23:42). The believer conscious how unworthy he is of Christ's love, yet cannot live without an assurance of it. That assurance granted in the words of the inspired prophet: ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, she may forget; yet will I not forget thee. Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me' (Isa 49:14-16). Typical of this fact, the names of the twelve tribes were engraved on the High Priest's breast-plate and shoulder-pieces, and carried with him into the Holy of Holies before the Lord (Exo 28:6-30). The import of the request—
(1) Preciousness and dearness in the sight of the Beloved (Jer ; Hag 2:23).
(2) Nearness to, or rather oneness with, Him.
(3) An unchanging and permanent place in His affection.
(4) A constant remembrance by Him. Observe—
1. Present communion to be improved by importunate pleading.
2. Love evinces its reality and ardour by seeking greater nearness and unchanging steadfastness.
3. The believer's earnest desire and distinguished privilege to be cherished by Christ's heart, and supported by Christ's arm.
II. The PLEA. ‘For love is strong as death,' &c. The ardour and strength of Shulamite's affection, the reason of the desire to have an abiding place in that of her Beloved. Ardent love can only live on love. Conscious of the ardour and steadfastness of her own affection, she desires it to be reciprocal. Love which is not ardent and steadfast unworthy of the name. Hence Shulamite's descant on the
Nature of True Love.
1. Its strength and irresistibleness in the subject of it. ‘Strong as death.' Love no more to be resisted in its approaches than death. Shulamite under the power of it in regard to her Beloved. Unable to resist it, she must love and be loved in return, or die. Like death, love must have its object. So Christ gave up His own life in order to have the Church whom He loved (Joh ; Eph 5:25). Believers must have Christ, or die.
2. Its tenacity. ‘Jealousy is cruel as the grave.' Jealousy an intense, vehement love, that cannot brook a rival (Pro ). Same word rendered ‘zeal.' Is ‘cruel'—severe, unyielding, and tenacious, ‘as the grave.' Like the grave, love will not quit its hold but at the command of Omnipotence. Jealousy implies—
(1) Ardent affection;
(2) Fervent desire of enjoyment;
(3) Impatience of anything coming between love and its object;
(4) Grief for any apparent want of return. Such the case with Christ's love and the believer's. Jealousy of Christ's love a proof of the strength of our own. Love to Christ makes us jealous of all that would come betwixt Him and us. Christ's love to His people can endure no rival in theirs to Him. ‘I would thou wert either cold or hot.' Believers too apt unjustly to suspect Christ's love to them, while Christ has too much cause to be jealous of their love to Him.
3. Its ardour and intensity. The coals (or rather ‘flames') thereof are coals (flames) of fire, which hath a most vehement flame' (or, ‘a flame of Jah,' or Jehovah,—expressive either of its greatness, or its origin). The comparison common to all countries. The Song itself an exemplification of the text. True love not only intense, but painful and consuming, unless able to obtain its object. Believers not to be satisfied with a lukewarm love to Christ. Everything in Him to beget a fervent, burning love. Such a love sought by Him (Joh ; Rev 3:15). Christ infinitely lovely and infinitely loving. Conjugal love to be ardent, intense, and self-sacrificing: love to Christ to be still more so. Christ's own love of that nature. ‘The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up' ‘He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.' True, holy love, a ‘flame of Jehovah,' from its origin as well as its ardour. Especially true of love to Christ. No true love to Christ which has not been kindled by the Holy Ghost. A divine flame of love to Christ kindled in the breast of every believer.
‘There let it to Thy glory burn,
With inextinguishable blaze;
And, trembling to its source return,
In ardent love and forvent praise.'
The text the only passage in the Song apparently containing the divine name: ‘a flame of Jah.' This, if the correct translation, perhaps intended to afford the key to the whole book. The Song of Solomon not only a ‘Song of Loves,' but a Song of divine loves—of the love of Jehovah-Jesus to His Church, and the Church's love to Him, as kindled by the Holy Ghost.
4. Its unquenchableness. ‘Many waters cannot quench love,' &c. True love survives all discouragements, and even coolness on the part of its object. Superior to all suffering endured on account of it. The love of Shulamite and the King had stood both tests. To exhibit, under an allegory, the unquenchableness of the love between Christ and His Church, probably one great object of the poem. A leading feature in love or charity, as described by Paul, that it ‘suffereth long, beareth all things, endureth all things, and never faileth' (1Co ; 1Co 13:7-8). The unquenchableness of the believer's love to Christ exhibited by ‘the noble army of martyrs' (Rom 8:35-37; Rev 12:11). By Paul himself (Act 20:24; Act 21:13). By many among the Jews, in the persecutions by Antiochus Epiphanes (Dan 11:32-33). Love's unquenchableness exhibited in its perfection by the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 5:25; Joh 13:1). His love not drowned by the floods of suffering that men, or devils, or God Himself, as the righteous Judge dealing with the sinner's Surety, could pour upon it (Psa 69:1-2).
5. Its unpurchaseableness and preciousness. ‘If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.' Three ideas—
(1) Love cannot be purchased by money or external gifts. Too precious to be bought. Love will beget love, but money cannot buy it. ‘Money answereth all things;' but cannot purchase love. The poorest peasant possessed of a treasure which the wealth of a millionaire cannot buy. A man's body and labour may be purchased, but not his love. Kind words and acts may generate it. Self-denying devotedness may give a claim to it, and may win it. But no money can be accepted as its price. Riches may gain the hand, but not the heart. Shulamite's love, though that of a humble peasant, not won by Solomon's crown and kingdom, but by his excellence and love. Believer's love Christ not for what He has, but for what He is. God is loved not because He is the greatest, but because He is the best of beings. Christ's goodness rather than His gifts, wins the sinner's heart. His cross the ‘apple-tree' under which He gains the believer's love. Sinners drawn by the cords of a man and the bands of love (Hos ). ‘We love Him, because He first loved us.' Christ gave for the sinner's love, not the ‘substance of His house,' but the blood of His heart (Rev 1:5; Rev 5:9).
(2) Nothing can be given or accepted as a substitute for love. Solomon's whole kingdom despised by Shulamite if offered in the place of his love. The riches of the universe contemptible to a quickened soul as a substitute for Christ's love. Heaven itself, with all its glory, were it possible, without the love of heaven's King, but a poor gift to the soul that loves Him. Hell made heaven with the enjoyed love of Christ, and heaven no heaven without it. ‘In His favour is life.' ‘Thy loving kindness is better than life.' On the part of man, all his gifts, without love, contemptible. (1Co ). Love the pearl in the oyster-shell. The shell without the pearl contemptible.
(3) Love not to be detached by the gifts of another. True love superior to flattering promises as well as threatened penalties. Satan's bait only successful where love to Christ is nominal. The world able to withdraw Demas from his profession, but not John from his love. The believer not to be separated from the love of Christ by the height of prosperity, any more than by the depth of adversity. The believer's love, like Christ's own, superior to all enticements. His language, even at the stake, with a pardon offered for apostasy: ‘If you love my soul, away with it.' ‘None but Christ, none but Christ!' Love rejects with disdain the most flattering temptations to withdraw the soul from Christ. Esteems the reproach of Christ greater riches that the treasures of Egypt. Prefers a dungeon with Christ to a palace without Him.
This brief didactic discourse on the nature of true love, remarkable as here introduced into the Song. Apparently intended to give the key to the whole book. Remarkable also for its resemblance to Paul's discourse on the same subject in 1 Corinthians 13. The passage probably a prophetic intimation of that exhibition of Divine love to be made in the fulness of time, in the incarnation, suffering, and death of the Son of God, as the Bridegroom of His Church, and the Saviour of the world.
Son . If she be a wall, we well build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar. ‘If she be a wall.' חוֹמָה khomah, from the unused root חָמָה khamah, to surround, defend, protect; a wall. Spoken of a chaste damsel, difficult of access. GESENIUS and EWALD. Inaccessible, unwilling to receive suitors, or to be married. NOYES. Invincible; if she offers firm and successful opposition to all immoral enticements. DELITZSCH. Firm in her love against all wiles. MENOCHIUS. Conveys the idea of the firm resistance that checks the first advance of foes. HIRZEL. Spoken by the King: If she be able as a strong wall to resist all attacks of others; the sister's fortune will depend entirely on herself. HAHN. Spoken by Shulamite's brothers, careful for the honour and purity of their little sister; or by the Bridegroom: If she be fortified against all stratagems. SANCTIUS. PATRICK. According to others: A wall adapted to rear and support a family. WILLIAMS. Implies that nothing was materially defective. FRY. Allegorically; TARGUM: If she (Israel) be established as a wall among the nations. RASHI: If she is strong in her faith and religion, so as to be before the nations as a wall of brass. GREGORY: Able to resist adversaries. DEL RIO: If firm and steadfast in my love and worship against the wiles of suitors and attacks of the wanton,—in allusion to the last times. MERCER and CALVIN: If she remain firm in the faith, in the truth and in the worship of God. COCCEIUS: If she stand firm on the true foundation. DURHAM: If she be joined to Christ. GILL: Built on a sure foundation; well walled. AINSWORTH: Strong and well grounded in the truth. PATRICK: Faithful and constant. WEISS: Converted and built up as the first wall in the temple of God; or those of her who shall prove a wall.
‘We will build upon her a palace of silver.' טִירַת tirath, a tower, citadel, or palace; from the unused root טוּר (tur), to surround So GESENIUS. According to others, from טוּר properly צוּר to fasten, enclose. VATABLUS. טִירָה (tirah) a small but strong castle, tower, or bulwark. ZÖCKLER. A pinnacle or battlement crowning a wall. HITZIG, HEILIGSTADT. A palace. KIMCHI. Fair and goodly turrets. PATRICK. A fair and goodly building wont to be set on the walls of strong cities. AINSWORTH. A habitation. HENGSTENBERG. Splendid tokens of victory, marking the wall of proud fortresses. EWALD. SEPTUAGINT and VULGATE: Breastworks and bulwarks. LUTHER: Bulwarks. DUTCH BIBLE: Pinnacles. DIODATI and MARTIN: A palace. Figuratively: We will find for her an illustrious husband. GROTIUS, CALMET, A. CLARKE. Will provide for her a marriage. WILLIAMS. Will ask a high dowry for her. ROSENMÜLLER, DE WETTE. Bestow a handsome dowry on her future marriage PERCY. Give her an ample fortune. BOOTHROYD. Improve her appearance, and ornament her person. FRY. Treat her in the most dignified manner. HARMER. Build her up and that in full glory. THRUPP. Will accord to her the freedom and honour due to her virgin purity and steadfastness. DELITZSCH. She shall be enriched and honoured. COBBIN. Allegorically; TARGUM: We will surround her (Israel) as with borders of silver, so that the nations shall not be able to rule over her. RASHI: We will be to her a strong city and a crown of beauty; and we will build for her the holy city and the chosen house. THEODORET: Silver towers or bulwarks—words resplendent with reason (Psa ), whence we may assail the enemy. BEDE: Eloquent men converted to Christ and then employed as preachers of the Gospel. MERCER: We will add strength, and adorn her with gifts and graces. FROMONDI: Will strengthen her to resist adversaries. PISCATOR, AINSWORTH, DURHAM: We, i.e., the Trinity; or Christ and His people,—the former by His grace, the latter ministerially by the Word. COCCEIUS: We will endeavour that the Churches be adorned with a knowledge of the truth in its completeness and connection, and with a holiness corresponding to it. GILL. Will fortify her by ministers and ordinances; or, make her an habitation for God by His Spirit. CHALMERS: Let every good work in her be perfected: let us graft on her capabilities what may advance into a full-grown Christianity. WEISS: With her aid, we shall call in and build up the Gentiles on this first wall, this first Church built up in Jerusalem.
‘If she be a door.' דֶּלֶת (deleth), a door, from דָּלָה (dalah), to hang: figuratively, a damsel easy of access. So GESENIUS. A door whose sanctity any one may violate. EWALD. A door open to all. TIRINUS. Easily tempted and overcome,—a gate passable to all. SANCTIUS. If she gives way. BRIGHTMAN. Giving a ready reception to every suitor. NOYES. According to others: A door to keep safe what may be preserved in the house. THESDORET. If it be too weak or mean. PATRICK. In a low condition; only a door instead of a wall. GILL Allegorically; RASHI: If she (Israel) be open to seducers. ABEN EZRA: Liable to turn aside to other lovers. DEL RIO: Open to the Lord alone, and to His grace. FROMONDI: The Church a door into eternal life. MERCER: A wall the stronger and more confirmed believers; a door, the weaker and those not yet confirmed in the faith. WEISS: Those undecided and doubting,—moving to and fro on the hinges of unbelief. AINSWORTH: If she go forward in the faith and practice of the Gospel, built up, according to Nehemiah (chap. 3), with doors for the safeguard of the inhabitants. COCCEIUS, on the contrary: A door admitting uncertain opinions, by which the ungodly may creep into her communion. DURHAM: A door giving entrance to Christ by faith.
‘We will enclose her with boards of cedar.' נָצוּר natsur, from צוּר, to press, enclose, restrain. GESENIUS. EWALD adds: With the additional idea of making unhappy. Will block or stop up. DELITZSCH. With boards or planks put on the inside to prevent it from turning and opening. ZÖCKLER. A door open to every one must be fastened with boards nailed to it. EWALD. Figuratively: We will keep her in strict confinement, so that access to her shall be difficult. NOYES. Will keep her in. BRIGHTMAN. Will take means to restrain and prevent her (Hos ). ABEN EZRA. SANCTIUS. Her false freedom to be in that case limited. HAHN. We will so watch over that she shall be approachable to no seducer, and no courtier approachable to her. Will safely enclose her, so as not to be a mere thoroughfare. M. STUART. FAUSSET. According to others: We will render her firmer. MERCER. Fence her about. AINSWORTH. Further strengthen and adorn her. DURHAM. Provide for her in a manner suitable to her rank and circumstances. WILLIAMS. She shall be the graceful entrance to my favour and friendship. GOOD. Allegorically; THEODORET: We will give her rulers and pastors of the Church not liable to be corrupted. COCCEIUS: We will endeavour to fix and confirm her in doctrine and discipline. MERCER: Impart fresh grace to strengthen and adorn her. TIRINUS: The weak to he carefully strengthened, and occasion of falling removed. BRIGHTMAN: We will, by means of the civil magistrate, fortify and defend her against all toes, and make her to flourish. GILL: Will adorn her with grace here and glory hereafter. WEISS: Will plunge he into awful calamities (Isa 29:1; Isa 29:4).
Son . Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon. בַּעַלְהָמוֹן, from בַּעַל baal, a lord, or according to some, a place; and הָמוֹן (hamon), a multitude, from הָמה, to make a noise; ‘the lord or place of a multitude.' GESENIUS, from Jdt 8:3, thinks the place was in the Holy Land, and especially to be sought in Samaria. EWALD rather thinks it may be Hammon (Jos 19:28), in the tribe of Asher, in the most fruitful part of Palestine. ZOCKLER prefers the Belamon mentioned in Jdt 8:3, in the tribe of Issachur, a locality not very far from Shunem; and thinks it mentioned here by Shulamite as an instance, very near her home, of a royal property let out at a high rent, in order to illustrate by it her relation to the king, as well as to her brothers: ‘A vineyard became Solomon's,' i.e., he has it now,—not, he had it once. He thinks the name may have been derived from the Tyro-Egyptian god Ammon, who may have been worshipped there. MICHAELIS, after IKENIUS, thinks it another name for Baalbec. GILL: Perhaps Baalgad (Jos 11:17), in the valley of Lebanon. WEISS understands Jerusalem, a ‘place of tumult or confusion' at the time referred to. SANCTIUS understands the name as denoting ‘a place of many people,' i.e., desired by such to have a possession in it—a rich and fertile district, the place where the vineyard which was Shulamite's dowry lay—the same as Engedi. ABEN EZRA and GROTIUS think it a place not far from Jerusalem. The VULGATE reads: The Peaceable had a vineyard in her that has peoples. The ARABIC, WICKLIFF, and the DOUAI Version: In Jerusalem. Different views as to the reason of the introduction of the vineyard here. According to SANOTIUS, Shulamite means that she did not love her Bridegroom for the dowry he gave. The vineyard simply adduced by way of example. DELITZSCH, ZÖCKLER. Introduced for contrast with her own vineyard, namely, her beauty or person, for which she did not wish any pecuniary income. NOYES. Mentioned as an example of Solomon's riches, of which she may have heard; spoken only in the way of narrative, to be alterwards applied to herself. EWALD. A vineyard or estate of Salomon's, with which she compares one given to her by him for her residence. FRY. The vineyard which Shulamite had possessed in Baalhamon, but which now appertained to Solomon as the dowry she had brought him, and which she now wishes to be given to her younger sister. GOOD. The adult sister, as a newly-married bride, declares her estate, and the diligence with which she would cultivate it for the benefit of her Bridegroom, comparing it with Solomon's in the same neighbourhood. DEL RIO, MERCER, &c. Allegorically: WICKLIFE and MATTHEWS: The synagogue speaks of the Church. COCCEIUS: Solomon the type of Christ; Baalhamon the world, among which Christ has His Church. PISCATOR, &c.: The vineyard, the Church or congregation of the righteous. THEODORET: Men who apply themselves to religion and to Christ. According to MAIMONIDES and the RABBINS: The literal Solomon is here meant, and a comparison made between some literal vineyard and the Church of God. DEL RIO: The vineyard the Jewish Church, with which is compared the Gentile Church, composed both of Jews and Gentiles. GILL, DAVIDSON, &c.: Baalhamon the Gentile world. M. STUART: Jerusalem, or the land of Israel; spoken by the joint Church of Jew and Gentile, or by the little sister. HAHN: The heathen world a vineyard belonging to the king of Israel, in the land of unrest and dispeace. BRIGHTMAS: Christ compares Himself and His vineyard to Solomon and his: Solomon unable to look to his own vineyard, while Christ personally attends to His Church (Mat 18:20; Rev 2:1).
The Bride's Intercession for Her Little Sister
SCENE THIRD. Place: Shulamite's Mother's House in the Country. Speakers: The King and Shulamite.
We have a little sister,
And she hath no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister,
In the day when she shall be spoken for?
Now reposing with her beloved in her mother's house, Shulamite seeks lovingly to turn the visit to the advantage of a younger sister. The family being poor, she asks of her royal husband what they should do for her in the event of her being sought in marriage. ‘What shall we do for our sister?' &c. Observe—
1. Union and communion with the Saviour to be improved by the believer to the advantage of others, especially of his relations and friends. So Esther with Ahasuerus at the banquet of wine (Est .) Communion seasons, especially, to be improved as times of intercession.
2. The duty of believers to interest themselves in the welfare of others, and especially of those with whom they are more immediately connected. Believers not to be satisfied to enjoy Christ and heaven alone. One individual saved for the benefit of others as well as himself. The privilege and duty of believers to save others (Jas ; Jude 1:23). Souls saved and blessing bestowed on others, in answer to believer's prayers. ‘O that Ishmael may live before thee!' ‘I have given thee all them that sail with thee.' The nature of grace to desire that others may share our happiness. The effect of sin to render men selfish and indifferent to the welfare of their neighbour. Godlike and Christlike not only to be good but to ‘do good and to communicate.' Believers possessed of the Divine nature; and therefore, ‘look not on their own things, but on the things of others.' All men our brethren. A brother or a sister seen in every child of Adam, however poor and degraded. The ‘little sister' ever at our doors. Also found in China and Japan, in central Africa and New South Wales. More especially within the circle of our nearer kindred. Grace not to cancel, but to consecrate earthly relationships. Men ‘set in families' that one may take more special interest in the welfare of another. The happiness of one member to be made the happiness of the rest. Andrew ‘findeth his own brother Simon,' and ‘brought him to Jesus.' Noah was to enter the ark and bring his family with him. Lot was to take his kindred with him out of Sodom. Rahab's relatives to be saved with herself in the destruction of Jericho. A promise given to the believer concerning his house as well as himself. Hence whole households baptized at once. The language of Moses to his father-in-law to be that of believers to their kindred and fellow-men: ‘Come thou with us and we will do thee good' (Num 10:29). The new Testament Church to be Christ's witnesses and the bearers of His salvation to ‘Judæa and Samaria, and the uttermost ends of the earth' The picture in the text verified in the Church's intercessions for a perishing world, begun in the upper room at Jerusalem and continued to this day.
3. In caring and interceding for others, we do it for Christ's brethren as well as our own. ‘We have a little sister.' Marriage makes community of kindred. United to Christ, what is ours becomes His, as what is His becomes ours. Our brethren His brethren also, by virtue of His incarnation and a common nature. The poorest and most degraded, a ‘little sister' of Christ as well as of His people.
4. The young to have a special place in the care and intercession of the Church. The ‘little sister' not to be overlooked because little. None too little to be saved, or to need salvation. Children cared for by Christ, and to be cared for by His people. ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not.' The lambs gathered with His arm, and carried in His bosom. His first charge to the penitent Apostle: ‘Feed My lambs;' His second: ‘Feed My sheep.' The most healthy, prosperous, and useful Church, that where the shepherd looks well to the lambs. The Church's wisdom, as well as duty, to remember the ‘little sister' in her prayers and ministrations.
5. Times when, in the providence of God, nations and individuals are favoured with the gracious offers of a Saviour. ‘The day when she shall be spoken for,' or sued in marriage. Such a time contemplated by Shulamite as likely to occur, sooner or later, to her still ‘little' sister. The faithfully preached Gospel an offer of Christ as the sinner's Saviour and Husband. A demand made in it for the sinner's heart on the part of the heavenly Suitor. Every Gospel hearer wooed by the King of Glory to become His Bride. Every faithful minister, like John the Baptist, the friend of the Bridegroom, seeking to bring about a match between Christ and His hearers. The Gospel offer is the question put to Rebekah: Wilt thou go with this man? Paul's language to his converts: ‘I have espoused you to one husband' (2Co ). This offer made to all who hear the Gospel. The Gospel itself intended to be preached to all. Yet, in the providence of God, only reaches some. Time required for its promulgation. The harvest great; the labourers few. Labourers to be sent forth. Doors to be opened by Him who rules among men. The Church's duty to enter those doors as they are opened. That duty too slowly performed. The preacher directed in his mission by the Holy Ghost (Act 8:26-29; Act 13:2; Act 16:6-7). The Gospel preached with power is an ‘accepted time,' and ‘day of salvation' (2Co 6:2). Blessed when men know the day of their merciful visitation.
6. The Church not only to intercede with God on behalf of their fellow-men, but also to act as his fellow-workers for their salvation. ‘What shall we do for our sister in the day,' &c.? Shulamite's duty in relation to her ‘little sister' not completed when she had interceded for her; something to be done for her. Praying for others to be followed by doing for them. The Gospel not only to be taken or sent to them, but something to be done while it is so. The Gospel, when preached, to be accompanied with earnest, believing prayer for its success. The hearers of it, as opportunity is afforded, to be counselled to accept of its gracious offer. Believers to be on the watch for souls when the Gospel is pressed home on men's hearts. The value of the Inquiry Room. Believers to help the preacher by endeavouring lovingly to bring the hearer to decision. Impressions to be fostered. Young converts to be carefully and tenderly watched over by the Church. All, however, to be done only along with Jesus. ‘What shall we do?' &c. Poor work when even the believer goes to it alone.
THE ROYAL RESPONSE
If she be a wall,
We will build upon her a palace of silver;
If she be a door,
We will enclose her with boards of cedar.
The King graciously receives Shulamite's suit, and promises that, with her co-operation, he will take proper care of, and amply provide for her little sister, according as her circumstances and conduct may appear to require. ‘If she be a wall,' steadfastly resisting temptation, ‘we will build upon her a palace (or tower) of silver'—endow her with a rich and ample dowry. ‘If,' on the contrary, ‘she be a door'—open to all comers—‘we will enclose her with boards of cedar'—impose upon her due restraints, or bestow on her a dowry of much less value. Observe—
1. The Saviour never regardless of His people's intercessions on behalf of others, especially of their own kindred. ‘ASK Me of things to come concerning My sons; and concerning the work of My hands, command ye Me.' As for Ishmael, I have heard thee; behold, I have blessed him (Gen ; Isa 45:11).
2. Christ associates His people with Himself in blessing and saving those for whom they intercede. ‘We will build upon her,' &c. Believers to be ready to employ means, as well as to offer prayers. Abraham commended for ‘commanding his children and his household after him,' that the Lord might bring upon him that which He had ‘spoken of him'—the blessing He had promised (Gen ).
3. Prayer for others not answered in all cases alike. The answer given according to the circumstances of the case. Regard had to the requirements and behaviour of the party prayed for. Our comfort to know that prayer will be answered according to the judgment of infinite wisdom and goodness. Ishmael blessed in answer to Abraham's prayer, but not with the blessing of Isaac.
4. A principle in the Divine procedure, ‘to him that hath shall more be given, and he shall have abundance.' Gifts increased or withdrawn according to their improvement. ‘If she be a wall,' &c. A firm and stead fast ‘wall,' to be adorned with a ‘tower of silver': an open and yielding ‘door,' to be nailed up with ‘boards of cedar.'
5. Christ a liberal giver. ‘We will build upon her'—‘not any ordinary dwelling, but—a ‘palace;' not a palace of stone, but one of ‘silver.' ‘Able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.' ‘Able to make all grace abound toward us.' And as willing as He is able. Giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not. ‘Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?' ‘Ye are not straitened in us: but ye are straitened in your own bowels' (2Co ; Mic 2:7). No limit to the grace of Christ. Our privilege to receive ‘out of His fulness, and grace for grace,' and to be ‘filled with all the fulness of God.'
6. Prayer sometimes answered by affliction and chastening. ‘We will enclose her,' or nail her up. To be nailed up, though with ‘boards of cedar,' rather like a blow than a blessing. Yet, in the circumstances, the greatest boon. ‘By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us.' Restraints of divine Providence often our greatest blessing. Often a special mercy when the Lord ‘hedges up our way,' so that we ‘may not find our paths' (Hos ).
7. The work of grace in the heart, a ‘building,' ‘We will build upon her.' ‘Ye are God's building.' The foundation of that building Christ Himself, accepted and trusted in as the only and all-sufficient Saviour. Christ also, by His Holy Spirit, the Great Master-builder. ‘On this rock I will build My church.' Faithful ministers, and believers in general, according to their several gifts, subordinate builders and labourers. The building the joint work of Christ and His people: ‘We will build.' The building a glorious one—a palace of silver! rich, pure, and resplendent in glory. The residence of the King of Kings. ‘An habitation of God through the Spirit' (Eph ; 1Pe 2:5; Col 2:7; Jude 1:20.).
8. The duty of each, both before and after conversion, to seek grace to keep the heart and to resist temptation. Our interest in being a ‘wall' to resist, rather than a ‘door' to admit, the tempter. ‘Your adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist, steadfast in the faith.' Joseph a ‘wall,' and becomes governor of Egypt, to ‘save much people alive.' Dinah a ‘door,' and after filling a town with bloodshed and misery, goes down into forgetfulness, leaving behind her only a dishonoured name (Gen ). Steadfast adherence to Christ's truth in the face of persecution, kindly noticed and graciously rewarded by the Master (Rev 3:10).
9. The text realized in the Pentecostal Church. That Church a wall—
(1) Against the attacks and threatening of their adversaries (Act ; Act 5:27-33; Act 5:41-42; Act 6:9-15; Act 7:54-60). ‘Overcame by the word of their testimony, not loving their lives unto the death.' Enriched, in consequence, with all grace and spiritual gifts (Act 2:41-47; Act 4:33-37; Rom 15:14; 1Co 1:4-7; 2Co 8:1-2; Heb 10:32-34).
(2) Against the attempts of Judaizers to bring the Church under the bondage of the Mosaic law (Act ). Paul a ‘wall' throughout; Peter, at one time, in danger of becoming a ‘door' (Gal 2:4-5; Gal 2:11-14). A world of evil, introduced when afterwards the Church became a ‘door,' admitting corruptions from Judaism, Gentile Philosophy, and Pagan superstition. Attempts, however, made by faithful men from time to time to enclose and nail up the door. Notably in the Reformation of the sixteenth century, by Luther, Calvin, Knox, and others.
I am a wall,
And my breasts like towers?
Then was I in his eyes
As one that found favour.
The Bride reminded by the King's words of her own happiness in the preservation of her purity and the enjoyment of his love. Arrived at a chaste womanhood, she had been honoured, notwithstanding her poverty and obscurity, to become the spouse of the King. Observe—
1. An unspeakable mercy to be preserved, especially in the time of youth, from the allurements and temptations of an evil world. That mercy to be thankfully acknowledged.
2. The believer's duty to recognize the Lord's mercy in his preservation and spiritual growth. A mercy to be in a state of grace; an additional mercy to know that we are. A divine injunction to know ourselves. ‘Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobate?' The grace of assurance, however, commonly the result of faithful adherence to Christ, resistance to temptation, and growth in grace. ‘Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience (or proof); and experience, hope.'
3. Grace, a thing of progress and increase. ‘My breast like towers.' Not always so. Shulamite once like her ‘little sister,' with ‘no breasts.' The breasts also considerably grown since she began to have them. A world of difference between a man who is a true Christian and one who is not. But a great difference also between one true Christian and another. Some Christians only ‘babes in Christ;' others ‘full grown men.' Believers not to be satisfied with a low state of grace, but to go on to perfection. ‘Be no longer children, but men.' ‘Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.'
4. The part of believers to it helpful to others. Breasts given not for the use of the mother, but her infant. The Church to be a joyful mother of children. Each believer to be helpful in nourishing these children. ‘Able to admonish one another.' ‘Edify one another, even also ye do.' ‘Exhort one another daily while it is called to-day.' ‘Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.' ‘Feed my lambs,' an injunction not confined to Peter or to ministers. The body strengthened by ‘that which every joint supplieth.' ‘Let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification' (Rom ; Rom 15:14; Col 3:6; Heb 3:13).
5. Christ's pleasure in His faithful people. The soul most pleasing in Christ's eyes that has, in His strength, resisted and overcome temptation. ‘Then,' when I appeared as a wall, ‘I was in his eyes as one that found favour.' ‘Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee,' &c. (Rev ).
6. A man's greatest happiness to find favour in Christ's eyes. Recorded by Shulamite in relation to Solomon as her great happiness: ‘I was in his eyes as one that found favour' (or peace). If the favour of an earthly monarch may count for so much, what of the favour of the King of Kings? ‘In His favour is life.' Thy ‘loving-kindness is better than life.' ‘Many will entreat the favour of the prince' (Pro ). Alas! that so few should entreat the favour of Him who is the ‘Prince of the kings of the earth.' The day approaching when all men will see how little it matters in whose eyes we may find favour, if we have not the favour of Him who shall sit upon the ‘great white throne.' Happy for us that the poorest, humblest, and vilest may find favour in His eyes, not through any merits of our own, but by believing His Word, and heartily accepting the offer He makes of Himself in the Gospel. ‘Justified by faith, we have peace with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom we have access into this grace, wherein we stand' (Rom 5:1). True ‘peace' found in finding and accepting Christ, who is ‘our peace.' ‘Whoso findeth Me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord' (Pro 8:35).
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon:
He let out the vineyard unto keepers:
Every one for the fruit thereof
Was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
My vineyard, which is mine,
Is before me;
Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand,
And those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
Shulamite, intensely happy in the possession of her Beloved, gladly consecrates to him and to his service herself and her little all. She should be to him as his choice vineyard at Baalhamon,—perhaps a fictitious or poetical name, suited for the allegory, and denoting the ‘lord of noise,' or ‘possessor of a multitude.' As Solomon for his vineyard received a thousand pieces of silver as its rental, he should receive no less for what she brought him, while the keepers of the fruit should also receive suitable remuneration. She speaks of what she devoted to him as her own vineyard: ‘My vineyard which is mine.' The language peculiar and emphatic. Probably intended to indicate no mere piece of landed property which she possessed, and which she now made over to her husband; but rather that which, both in itself and to Solomon, was worth more than the widest domains that could have been presented to him,—HERSELF. The same figure already apparently employed by her in the beginning of the Song, when she confessed to the ladies of the Court: ‘They made me keeper of the vineyards, but mine own vineyard have I not kept' (Ch. Son ). This vineyard of her own person, she seems to say, she will no longer, as before, neglect; but would, for her husband's sake, cultivate it with all due attention, that she might be to him all that she could be, and, if possible, all that he could desire. ‘My vineyard, which is mine, is before me; (present to my thoughts, and the object of my attention and care); thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand' (or rather, ‘the thousand'—the full and ample revenue, as of the vineyard at Baalhamon). Those who should aid her in this self-cultivation should also receive a liberal remuneration: ‘The keepers thereof two hundred'—a fifth of the revenue.
In Solomon's ‘vineyard at Baalhamon' we may have a picture of the ‘Kingdom of God,' with its privileges and blessings, as committed originally to the favoured descendants of Abraham. The parallel to the passage may probably be found in the parable of the Vineyard (Mat ; Isa 5:1, &c.). The vineyard, in the Prophet, is ascribed to the ‘Beloved' (‘My Beloved,' namely, the Messiah), as here to Solomon, his type. Christ the Head of the Theocratic Kingdom in the Old Testament, as truly as He is head of the Church in the New. In His incarnation, ‘He came unto His own,' literally, ‘His own things,' His own kingdom or vineyard; ‘and His own (his own people, the form of the word being altered), received Him not' (Joh 1:11). The ‘vineyard' or kingdom, Christ's; as—
(1) It has been given Him by the Father.
(2) He has been constituted its Head and King.
(3) He has purchased its blessings with His blood. This vineyard at ‘Baalhamon;' the ‘Kingdom of God' being set busy up in the midst of the world with its multitudes, its noise and unrest. The kingdom at first set up among the descendants of Abraham thus separated from the nations for a special purpose, afterwards extended to all the nations of the earth (Mat ). The extension indicated in the change of Abraham's name, the added syllable being a modified form of the second part of the name in the text Baal-hamon. The transference of the kingdom or the ‘vineyard' from the Jews to the nations of the world probably indicated in this part of the allegory, in which Shulamite becomes the vineyard of Solomon instead of that at Baalhamon. From the whole, observe—
1. The part of a believer to consecrate himself and his all to Christ and His service. Such dedication on the part of the bride to her husband, understood in the case of earthly espousals. No less real in the case of the heavenly ones.
2. The believer himself individually, as well as the Church collectively, a ‘vineyard;' as reclaimed from the wilderness of the world, hedged in, cared for, cultivated by the Divine husbandman, and bringing forth precious fruit for its owner (Joh ; Isa 5:1, &c.).
3. Believers to make their own souls and those of their brethren the object of their special care and attention. ‘My vineyar which is mine, is before me.' Each has naturally his own soul to care for and attend to. But only a Cain asks: ‘Am I my brother's keeper?' Our own vineyard to be carefully looked after: ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence.' ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God.' ‘He that is of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.' Great part of ‘pure and undefiled religion,' to keep ourselves ‘unspotted from the world.' Believers to work out their own salvation ‘with fear and trembling.' Each to interest himself in the welfare of his brethren and of the Church at large (1Co ). ‘Look not every man on his own things, but also on the things of others.' ‘Seek not every man his own wealth,' or welfare. ‘Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.' ‘Exhort one another daily, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.' ‘Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.' ‘Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good unto edification' (Rom 15:2). The care required for our own and our neighbour's soul indicated in the expression—‘Is before me.' Denotes—
4. The aim of the believer's care over His own soul and that of others to be that Christ may be glorified, and God in Him, in an abundance of fruit. ‘Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand.' ‘Herein is My Father glorified,' that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.' ‘I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain' (Joh ; Joh 15:16). The fruit brought forth by believers the reward of Christ's suffering for their salvation (Isa 53:11). The ‘joy that was set before Him' in enduring ‘the cross.' That fruit the ‘fruits of the Spirit, being produced through His inward and spiritual agency. These fruits: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, or self-control (Gal 5:22). The spiritual benefit received through us by others, put down as ‘fruit' to our account (Rom 1:13).
5. Special keepers of the fruit of the vineyard appointed and to be recognized. ‘The keepers of the fruit thereof.' The care of these something over and above that which Shulamite herself should exercise over her vineyard. These appointed by her in conjunction with her husband, as her servants and helpers. The charge belonging to each believer in reference to his own soul and the souls of his brethren, neither to supersede nor be superseded by the special charge of others appointed for that specific purpose. These special ‘keepers' given and appointed by Christ Himself for the benefit of His Church. ‘He ascended up on high, and gave gifts: some, apostles; some prophets; some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints' (Eph ).The general title of these in the New Testament, elders or Presbyters; called also, from the nature of their charge, bishops or overseers, and deacons with a temporal charge (Act 14:23; Act 20:17; Act 20:28; 1Pe 5:14; Php 1:1). These given by Christ, but chosen by the believing people, guided by their knowledge of the gifts bestowed and formally appointed by those already in office (Act 6:2; Act 6:6; Act 14:23 (Greek); 1Ti 4:4; 1Ti 4:14). All these the Church's servants for Jesus's sake (2 Corinthians 4, 5; 1Co 3:21-22). The spiritual charge of these ‘keepers' indicated in such admonitions as these; ‘Take heed unto yourselves and unto the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.' ‘Feed the flock of God, which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.' ‘Remember them which have the rule (Margin, are the guides) over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.' ‘Obey them that have the rule over (Margin, guide) you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account' (Act 20:28; 1Pe 5:2-3; Heb 13:7; Heb 13:17).
6. Those occupied in the special charge of Christ's Church, or Vineyard, to receive suitable remuneration. ‘The keepers thereof, two hundred.' A portion of that remuneration here, in—
(1) The esteem and love of those to whom they minister (1Th ; 1Ti 5:17).
(2) A sufficient maintenance (1Co ; 1Ti 5:18). Their principal remuneration, if faithful, hereafter (1Pe 5:4; 2Ti 4:8; Dan 12:3). Christ a liberal paymaster. To work faithfully for Him is to do the best thing for ourselves, though not done with that object. When Christ receives His due among a people, His servants will not come short of theirs. Where the Master gets his ‘thousand,' the ‘keepers' will receive their ‘two hundred.'
THE BRIDEGROOM'S REQUEST
Thou that dwellest in the gardens,
The companions hearken to thy voice.
Cause me to hear it.
Business arrangements over, the Bridegroom appears to desire his Bride to gratify the expectant friends as well as himself, with one of her songs. A similar request had on another occasion been made and complied with (chap. Son ). Then only the Betrothed of Solomon; now, his married wife. Then, dwelling alone in the clefts of the rocks; now, a happy resident ‘of the gardens.' Observe—
1. The characteristic of New Testament believers, that they ‘dwell in the gardens.' ‘Gardens' indicative of separate congregations. The Church, as a whole, one large garden—the Church Catholic, as found scattered over the habitable globe. ‘One body, one faith, one baptism.' But this one garden of the Church universal divided into numerous lesser ‘gardens.' These also called Churches or congregations—a larger or smaller number of believers living in the same locality, and united together as the professed followers of Jesus for Divine worship, personal edification, and the furtherance of His kingdom. Believers dwell together in unity. Jerusalem a city compact together. Such assemblies, gardens; as—
(1) Separated from the wilderness of a world lying in wickedness.
(2) Under spiritual and Divine cultivation.
(3). Productive of the fruits of righteousness.
(4) Pleasant to God, angels, and renewed men. The part of believers to have their place in these assemblies, not as mere visitors, but as regular members. Believers introduced outwardly into these ‘gardens' by baptism; spiritually by regeneration and faith in Jesus. The visible bond and expression of their fellowship, the Lord's Supper, or ‘breaking of bread' in commemoration of His death. The delight as well as outward place of believers is in these ‘gardens.' ‘Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.' ‘How amiable are Thy tabernacles!' ‘All my springs are in thee' (Psa ; Psa 84:1; Psa 87:7). These ‘gardens' especially the place where the voice of the Bride is heard in praise, prayer, and public testimony. ‘Blessed are they who dwell in Thy house; they will be still praising Thee' (Psa 84:4; Psa 65:1-2). The Pentecostal Church exhibited as ‘dwelling in the gardens.' ‘They continued steadfastly in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking bread, and in prayers. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God' (Act 2:42; Act 2:46-47). Hence, the happiness of a believer's life. To ‘dwell in the gardens' a picture of enjoyment. Believers not always dwelling alone ‘in the clefts of the rock.' A new song put into their mouth, praise unto their God (Psa 40:3). These gardens, ‘Paradise Regained,' and a picture of the ‘Paradise of God.' Wisdom's ways pleasantness even in this life. Her children not dwellers in the desert, but ‘in the gardens.' ‘Instead of the thorn, shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the briar, the myrtle tree.' Believers blessed with a double heaven, one in the hand, and another in the hope. ‘The rebellious dwell in a dry land' (Psa 68:6).
2. The part of believers to ‘hearken' to the voice of the Bride. The companions hearken to Thy ‘voice.' The voice of the Church heard both in its members and its ministers. To be ‘hearkened to,' as uttered—
(1) In testimony and teaching.
(2) In counsel and admonition.
(3) In warning and reproof (Mat ; Mat 18:17). To be hearkened to with—
(1) With attention.
(2) With deference.
(3) With submission (1Pe ). Yet not with blindness and bondage. The voice of the Church to be distinguished from that of her Head. The Bride may err, but not the Bridegroom. Infallibility in the Bible but not elsewhere. ‘To the law and to the testimony.' The Bereans commended for ‘searching the Scriptures daily whether' the things spoken by the Apostles ‘were so' (Act 17:11). Even councils may err and have erred (Article XXI). Believers to try the spirits. To ‘prove all things.' Believers themselves, as part of the Bride, possessed of the anointing whereby to know all things. ‘Judge ye what I say.' ‘He that is spiritual judgeth all things' (1Co 2:15; 1Co 10:15; 1Th 5:21; 1Jn 2:20; 1Jn 4:1). Even Peter at one time to be blamed in his acting, and withstood by Paul to the face. ‘Subjection' not to be given to false teachers and corrupters of the truth, ‘no not for an hour.' ‘God accepteth no man's person' (Gal 2:6; Gal 2:11).
3. Believers to praise and pray in fellowship with each other. ‘The companions hearken to Thy voice.' Believers the ‘companions' both of Christ and one another. David's testimony: ‘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 am a companion of all them that fear Thee' (Psa ; Psa 119:63). ‘They that feared the Lord spake often one to another' (Mat 3:16). Praise comely every where; especially in ‘the congregation of saints' (Psa 149:1). A special promise made to united prayer (Mat 18:19-20). Believers not to forsake the assembling of themselves together for these purposes. An ill sign with a man when he ‘separates himself from the brethren (Jude 1:19; Heb 10:25).
4. The will of Christ that His people, amid all their occupations, should frequently address themselves to Him and to the Father in the language of praise and prayer. His repeated wish at the Last Supper, that His disciples should, after His departure, continually address Him or the Father in His name, in
His wilsl revealed through the apostles: ‘Pray without ceasing: in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you' (1Th ). The first business in which the disciples engaged after Christ's ascension accompanied with prayer, apparently addressed to Christ Himself (Acts 24, 25). Prayer seen to occupy a large place in the life of the Pentecostal Church, and of the Apostles themselves (Act 2:42; Act 6:4). The last utterance of the Bible, a prayer on the part of the Bride addressed to Jesus Himself (Rev 22:20). Blessed to speak of Christ; more blessed still to speak to Him. The voice of the Bride, however, to be heard not only in prayer, but in
The Sacrifice of praise to be offered to God through Christ continually, ‘the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name' (Heb ). Praise and thanksgiving to form a large portion of a believer's life. ‘In everything give thanks.' If so in the Old Testament, properly still more so in the New. David's life: ‘Seven times a day do I praise thee.' ‘At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee' (Psa 119:62; Psa 119:164). The New Song of the Redeemed in heaven learned and begun on earth. Believers have ‘harps' for their praises as well as ‘vials' for their prayers (Rev 5:8). The ‘praises of Israel' God's chosen dwelling place (Psa 22:3). Believer's fellowship with each other to consist largely in songs of praise (Eph 5:19). ‘One word of Christ before we part.'—Archbishop Usher. Praise to be connected with our warfare and service in the Lord's cause. Jehoshaphat's army sang praise before the battle, as certain of victory (2Ch 20:21; 2Ch 20:23). Paul and Silas not only ‘prayed,' but ‘sang praises' in the prison at Philippi. The ransomed of the Lord to return to Zion with songs (Isa 35:10). Christ our example in praise and thanksgiving (Luk 10:21). Sang a hymn with the disciples before going to Gethsemane. Sings praises in the midst of the Church (Heb 2:12).
Make haste, my beloved!
And be thou like to a roe,
Or to a young hart
Upon the mountains of spices!
At the request of her Beloved, Shulamite lifts up her voice in song. Her song resembling a former one (chapter Son ). Expressive of her delight in her beloved, and her desire for his constant society. ‘Make haste (or flee), my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart (in swiftness as in loveliness and love), upon the mountains of spices.' The sweetness of his presence and the joy of his coming transferred to the mountains over which he was to pass. The very mountains which his feet should touch made ‘mountains of spices' His abode, wherever it might be, made fragrant by his presence. Observe—
1. The believer's song to have Christ for its subject as well as its object. Isaiah's prelude to his song: ‘Now will I sing into my well beloved a song of my beloved' (Isa ). David's: ‘My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King' (Psa 45:1). The Psalms full of Christ. ‘Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs' (Col 3:16). The testimony of a heathen that the early Christians met together in the morning of the first day of the week and ‘sang a hymn to Christ as to God.' The Church's hymns naturally full of the Bridegroom.
2. The part of the believer to long for the presence of Christ. ‘Make haste, my beloved.' His spiritual and unseen presence desired here. Ordinances themselves barren and insipid if Christ be not in them. No pleasure to the loving believer if his ‘Beloved' be not there. ‘Thy presence makes my paradise.' His visible presence desired hereafter. Paul's desire to ‘depart and be with Christ.' Absent from the body, present with the Lord. Hence ‘to die is gain.' More especially His presence at His second appearing. That event the Church's ‘blessed hope.' The Bride expects not merely to go to heaven to Jesus, but for Jesus to come from heaven to her. ‘Our conversation is in heaven from whence we look for the Saviour' (Php ). His bodily return promised by the angels as He ascended into heaven. This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go up into heaven' (Act 2:10-11). Preached by Peter after Pentecost: ‘God shall send again Jesus' (Act 3:20). Promised by Jesus Himself after His ascension: ‘Behold I come quickly' (Rev 22:20). The subject of the Church's last recorded and inspired prayer: Even so come Lord Jesus.' This prayer of the beloved Disciple in the name of the Church apparently an echo of that of the Bride in the text. The same prayer concludes the Song of Solomon, and the Book of Revelation. Believers characterised as those who ‘look for' Christ, and who ‘love His appearing.' Old Testament saints looked and longed for His first Advent; those of the New for His second. Natural to long for the presence and return of those whom we love. To love Christ is to ‘love His appearing.' Christ's highest glory and the deliverance of creation bound up with it (2Th 1:10; 2Ti 4:1; Rom 8:17-21). His appearing the full redemption of His saints (Luk 21:28; Eph 1:14).
3. Christ's presence sweetens all. ‘Upon the mountain of spices.' His presence makes heaven, whether above or below the skies. Even rugged mountains converted by it into ‘mountains of spices.' Samuel Rutherford, in his banishment, dated his letters from ‘Christ's palace in Aberdeen.' The ‘Mount Zion' in heaven, all that it is to the redeemed, because Christ, the Lamb slain, is upon it (Rev ). His presence here, the first fruits; yonder, the full harvest. His presence hereafter to be followed by no parting. His coming, therefore, the sweetest and most joyous event to His waiting Church, who shall then, as a whole, ‘be for ever with the Lord.'
Blessed to conclude all our works and services, and to end each day of our lives and life itself, as Solomon concludes his Song, and John his Revelation, with the earnest and loving prayer, ‘Make haste, my beloved, and be like to a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices.' ‘Even so come, Lord Jesus! Amen.'
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent