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Tuesday, September 26th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 3

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


The church is here in a season of sharp exercises: seeking, but not immediately finding her Lord. She relates the conflicts she sustained in her pursuit and enquiry after Jesus. Having at length, found him, she rejoices in the discovery. The chapter closeth with an account of the King's glory.

Song of Solomon 3:1

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

We left the spouse of Christ in the close of the preceding chapter, in a very comfortable, and even rejoicing state; for she was sitting down under the confidence that she was her beloved's, and her beloved was her's. But we have a great change of circumstances in the opening of this chapter. Evidently Christ had withdrawn himself, and the church was sensible of it. A great instruction ariseth from hence, which all the followers of the Lord should be earnest to learn. When the Lord, at anytime hides his face from the house of Jacob, it is specially with a view to make his people know his value, and more earnestly to prize his presence; and, though he seemeth to withdraw and hide himself; yet, it is but to excite their greater desires after him. And I beg the Reader particularly to remark with me, that the church being made sensible of her Lord's departure, and determining to seek him, becomes at once a plain proof that there was no change in Jesus's love; for, by his grace, he was still working upon her heart to seek him. And I beg the Reader also to remark, that the church's going forth to seek Christ, was as plain a proof that dark seasons and dull frames do not altogether make dead the life of God in the soul. Jesus was still Him, whom her soul loved; though, if needs be, the soul is in heaviness through manifold temptations. Reader! though it be night often, when our souls are wanting fresh communion with Jesus, and we return from seeking after him without success, yet, it should support our minds during the trying hour, that Jesus's love, and our covenant interest in Christ, do not depend upon what we feel, but upon what Christ is. Read that precious scripture, for it is a sweet one; John 13:1 . Jesus having loved his own which are in the world, he loveth them unto the end.

Verse 2

I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

The streets and broad ways here spoken of, into which the church, resolves to go in quest of Jesus, I should apprehend mean the public Ordinances of worship in the Lord's house of prayer. She had sought him in private prayer by night on her bed; but this mode being unsuccessful, she hastens with greater diligence to seek him, whom her soul loved, among the assemblies of the faithful. Reader! everything is beautiful in due order. When we follow up the employments of the closet with public worship, and again close the duties of the church with retirement and prayer, these are sweet successions. Our Lord was eminent in both. He graced the synagogue with his presence by day, and the stars witnessed the privacy of his devotions, when in their circuit passing by, they beheld him spending whole nights in prayer to his Father. Matthew 14:23 . But we find the church, in this account given of her, alike unsuccessful in finding Jesus, in seeking him both in public and in private; for she found him not. Thus the Lord sometimes will exercise the faith of his people, and, no doubt, sometimes it is to show us, that however blessed the means of grace are, still they are but means. Nothing but Jesus himself can satisfy a seeking soul.

Verse 3

The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?

Very probably the watchmen here described, are meant for the ministers of the gospel of Christ; for so the Lord describes them as watchmen upon the walls of Zion. Isaiah 62:6 . And by their being said here to have found her, I apprehend is meant, that in their ministry, or preaching, they spoke to her case and circumstances. Perhaps there is nothing more common than this, in every church and congregation where the pure gospel is preached; for here the Holy Ghost will lead precious souls: and He, by his almighty power, makes his own blessed word effectual in the hearts of the people. The church seems to have been encouraged and comforted by the watchmen, so that she communicated her case to them, and put the earnest question; Saw ye him, whom my soul loveth? I might pause here, if, peradventure this Commentary were likely to fall under the eye of a minister of Jesus, just to remark how blessed the office, and how distinguished the honor of one of this description, to act in Christ's name, and to resemble his tenderness in guiding souls to Jesus. How needful to know Christ ourselves, that when poor burdened sinners would long to know him, we may, from our heart-felt acquaintance with him, be able to hold him forth; and like the star, which ministered to the wise men from the East, not only light souls to Jesus, but go before them, and go with them to Jesus, Matthew 2:9-10 .

Verse 4

It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

It is not said what answer the watchmen gave the church, or whether any; but this verse brings with it the relation of Jesus's love in manifesting himself to her. The Lord was hastening his own gracious purpose concerning her; and now having by the sweet, but secret inclinations, wrought by his Holy Spirit in her heart, to seek him privately, both by night on her bed, and by day on the public ordinances of his word; she tells us in this verse, that it was but a little space from leaving the church, before that she found him whom her soul loved; and now she determined never more to be separated from him. Thus the Ethiopian which came to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning from the temple as ignorant and uninformed as he came, but yet he found Christ in the desert. Acts 8:28-39 . Reader! do not fail to mark the many precious instructions which arise from hence, Jesus hath promised his presence with his people always, even to the end of the world. Matthew 28:20 . But he will teach his people at times the infinitely precious privilege of this: by showing that ordinances, though means, are not the end of religion: neither ministers, nor ordinances, nor means of grace, are in themselves anything - Jesus alone is the sole object to satisfy the soul; and, unless we have him, we have nothing. And when he hath hereby taught his people his preciousness; then, like the church, we shall greatly prize the invaluable mercy, and hold him fast by lively actings of faith upon his blood and righteousness, following him into his retirings, and wrestling with him in prayer, and praise, and love, and affection; until we have brought him into the chambers of the church, that blessed Jerusalem, which is the Mother of us all, which is above; to tell everyone of him, whom our soul loveth, and whose we are, and from whom we would never more part; but live upon him by faith here; and in glory hereafter. Reader, it will be one blessed testimony that Christ is dear to us, if we endeavour to recommend him to others. When Jesus called Matthew he made a great feast, and invited other publicans and sinners to sit down with Jesus. Luke 5:29 .

Verse 5

I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

Here is the same charge repeated by the church, as Chapter 2:7. to which I refer.

Verse 6

Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?

Various are the opinions of believers by whom these words are spoken. Some suppose that they are the answer of the daughters of Jerusalem, to whom the church, in the preceding verse, gave such a charge, like persons astonished at the change wrought upon the Church, compared to what they saw of her, when, as she described herself, she was black. Song of Solomon 1:6 . Some have supposed that they are the words of Christ, beholding his church with complacency, as comely in his comeliness. And some have thought that the words are from the Gentile world, wondering at the Jewish church in coming up out of Egypt. But let the words themselves be spoken by whom they may, there can be but little question but that the church is the object spoken of, as coming from the wilderness of the world in the strength and righteousness of Christ, the goodly merchantman. And there can be no difficulty in explaining the several expressions here made use of, with an eye to the church, and of every individual believer of the church in the present wilderness state: for as a wilderness is a barren, inhospitable, intricate; and dangerous place; so all these characters, and many more to the same effect, strikingly set off the situation of the Lord's people in their pilgrimage. And when a child of God is regenerated, hath felt the evil of sin, and is in pursuit of Christ, or having found him, is following him; such an one may truly be said to be coming up out of the wilderness. The pillars of smoke, like which the church is said to come, form no unapt representation of the bent of the heart being towards Christ, but yet having more smoke than flame. And the myrrh and frankincense with which she was perfumed, and the powders of the merchant, we may readily suppose, meant to refer to the graces and blessedness in Jesus. The influences of the Holy Ghost are more fragrant than all the spices of the East; and when kindled into an holy flame, communicating from Jesus, send forth a blessed perfume. Reader, we shall do well, before we dismiss this verse, to enquire how far our experience bears a correspondence to it. Are there any lookers-on upon us, who from our coming up from the wilderness thus adorned with Jesus and his righteousness, are led to say, Who is this that appears so rich a monument of sovereign grace and mercy?

Verse 7

Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.

Perhaps the church is the speaker here , who calls upon everyone to behold her Solomon, her Beloved, her Jedidiah; and to mark some striking circumstances concerning him. That by Solomon is meant the Lord Jesus Christ, I have already endeavoured to explain both in the Preface, and in the first chapter, to which therefore I refer, And as Solomon was eminently, on many accounts, a lively type of Christ, it is not to be wondered at that the name is so generally adopted. Solomon, in his kingly office, in his wisdom, riches, peaceable reign, and the extensiveness of his territory, figured some very strong features of Jesus. Psalms 72:0 which is entitled, A Psalm for Solomon, hath been universally accepted, as well by Jewish writers, as by Christians, as altogether prophetical of Christ. By the bed of Solomon, some have supposed meant the church of Christ, or the scriptures of Christ; and some have taken it for Christ himself. And the valiant men about it, perhaps mean either the watchmen on the walls of Zion, the ministers of the gospel; or angels which are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto them who are heirs of salvation. Their number, though particularly mentioned, may not be intended precisely to intimate threescore and no more, agreeably to the general plan of Scripture on these points. The five wise virgins, and the five foolish virgins, in the parable, were not intended to say that there will be an equality of souls saved, and souls lost, at the last day. Neither can the one person, who had not on a wedding garment, in that other parable, be supposed to imply that there shall be but only one soul cast out at the great day of account. See Matthew 22:11; Matthew 22:11 . Perhaps the threescore valiant men of Israel in point of number, are to be considered much in the same way; a certain number is put for an uncertain.

Verse 8

They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.

It is most probable that the sword here spoken of and which they are said all to hold, means the sword of the spirit, which the apostle calls the word of God, Ephesians 6:17 . and which the ministers of Christ are expert, or ought to be expert in handling. The church calls upon Christ to gird his sword upon his thigh, as the most mighty! Psalms 45:3 . And the night guard of Solomon's worthies very beautifully re presents the Lord's servants, who are supposed to be more earnest and alive at their posts in seasons of danger, and during the nights of error among the people:

Verses 9-10

King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. (10) He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.

I would not strain the figures we meet with in this Song, beyond what they may fairly be supposed to bear; but, both the bed and the chariot of Solomon may be supposed to have reference to Christ's church and people. He rests in his love; and his chariot of salvation, in which he goeth forth for the salvation of his people, is all of the choicest materials. Its being paved with love, gives us full authority to consider the whole an highly finished representation of the infinite preciousness of all that is here meant to be conveyed. Some have thought by the wood of Lebanon; an allusion is made to the cross of Christ, to show the everlasting durableness of the sacrifice Christ offered upon it. The chariot is supposed to mean the covenant of grace, and the blessed gospel in which the Lord Jesus is brought home to the hearts of his people. But whatever be the precise meaning of the whole, evidently it is of Christ's making, and this plainly proves that all the work of redemption, from beginning to end, is the Lord's. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Author and Finisher of Faith.

Verse 11

Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Here is a gracious call to the church at large to go forth and behold Jesus as King, and crowned. Jesus came forth at the hall of Pilate crowned with thorns, to testify that He, and He only, was made perfect through suffering. And when Jesus, after his ascension, returned to glory, then was he crowned in heaven to testify his kingly power over all. And there is another coronation which takes place on the day when any and every poor sinner bends the knee of the heart to the sceptre of his grace, and crowns him for his Lord and his God. Then is the day of Christ's espousals, and the gladness of his heart; for then Satan cast out, and the Lord Jesus rejoiceth in Spirit, when Satan as lightning falleth from heaven. Reader, what do you know of this coronation of our Lord Jesus in your heart? Is Christ formed there the hope of glory?


MY soul! frequently in silent meditation run over the several blessed and gracious instructions which arise out of this delightful chapter, and enquire what correspondence thou canst find between Christ's church and thy experience in the love she manifested here to her Lord. Hast thou known what it is by night on thy bed to seek Jesus? Canst thou not say, With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea with my spirit within me have I sought thee early. It is blessed sometimes to be exercised with disappointments in order to endear the mercy, and to increase the value of it. The poor woman of Canaan would not have afforded so illustrious an instance of faith had the Lord Jesus given her an immediate answer to the first cry of her soul: and though Jesus is very frequently found of them that seek him not, and sometimes surprizeth his people with his goodness, yet, there shall be silence at the throne of grace again and again, when a child of God is going there with earnest importunity. But, as in the case of the church, when the Lord at length overwhelmed her with his visit of love, whenever the Redeemer comes, he comes with such a fulness of love, grace, and goodness, that the soul then holds him fast by faith, and dreads to let him go, lest darkness again should enter in upon the soul. And, Reader, will you allow me to ask, or will you put the very interesting enquiry yourself to your own heart; Are you coming up out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, and perfumed with the sweet incense of Jesus's merits and righteousness? Have you found this life what it really is, and is graciously intended to be, to all the Lord's family, a thorny, dark, and intricate path? Have you met with fiery, flying serpents, and scorpions? A land of drought and barrenness, through which the faithful are sure to meet, with persecution, and where none of them can find rest, or wish to make it their home? If so, is Jesus the merchant selling goodly pearls precious to you? Do you know, do you prize his myrrh and frankincense, the sufferings of his cross, the merits of his blood, and all the blessed graces of his Holy Spirit? This is to be coming up out of the wilderness, leaning as the church did upon her beloved. Oh! precious Jesus, I would say both for myself and Reader, give to us to behold thee in thy chariot, and on thy bed of salvation, which is all thine own, and nothing of our dross mixed with it. Cause us to lie down upon this everlasting bottom, which is paved with love. And while, Lord, thou art sending forth thy ministering servants, as ministering to them who are the heirs of salvation; oh! do thou come and visit us thyself, and make all thy glory to pass before us. Yes! thou dear Lord! thou art the king in Zion, the sovereign in every heart, of thy church and people. Here, Lord, upon earth would we hail thee our lawful right monarch, both by purchase and by conquest; and in heaven, we hope ere long to join that happy multitude, who are casting their crowns at thy footstool, and saying with a loud voice; Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/song-of-solomon-3.html. 1828.
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