Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 4

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

Verse 1


We have here the Lord Jesus commending the beauties and graces of his Church. He invites her to a more close and Intimate communion with him, and dwells again somewhat more fully upon her loveliness. The church in return, as one overcome with the goodness of his love, very humbly ascribes all she hath to him, as the author and giver of it: and prays that she may be made meet for the presence and enjoyment of her Lord.

Verses 1-5

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead. (2) Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof everyone bear twins, and none is barren among them. (3) Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. (4) Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. (5) Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

The general commendation which Christ hath here given to the opening of this Chapter, to the beauty of the Church, we have in part met with before in this Song. (See Song of Solomon 1:15 .) But here the Lord Jesus enters into a more particular relation of those beauties of his spouse, and with a special recommendation. It is probable from the several parts of the body here figuratively spoken of, that Jesus intended to set forth the several members of his mystical body, of which we are told by an Apostle, that all the members of that one body being many, are one body in Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 . But at the same time there can be no question, but that Jesus is speaking of the beauty of the soul, The hidden man of the heart, as an Apostle calls it. For the king's daughter is all glorious within. Psalms 45:13 . Probably by the eyes may be meant the ministers of the gospel, who are said, as instruments of the Lord, to be eyes to the blind, as well as feet to the la me. The hair may be supposed to imply both the number of Christ's people and their preciousness; which are all numbered, and not one can fall to the ground unnoticed and disregarded. The teeth, intimate the office in showing the word, and probably to intimate the clean from the unclean, as in the old Jewish dispensation. In coming up from the washing and having no barrenness, implies the very great fruitfulness of Christ's fold, and their purity when washed in his blood. The lips are very expressive of the holiness of a believer's conversation. And as g race was poured into the lips of Jesus, and the Church entreateth her Lord to kiss her with the kisses of his mouth; so it carries with it this idea; that Jesus hath thereby communicated of his fulness and grace for grace. Psalms 45:2 ; Song of Solomon 1:2 ; John 1:16 ; Song of Solomon 4:11 . The Temples being part of the head, may probably be intended to convey the earnestness with which the soul of a believer is always supposed to be engaged, in the contemplation of her Lord. And the neck which connects the head with the body, and which is said to be as the tower of David with armory, may be intended to set forth the uniting grace by which souls are formed in union with Christ, which are stronger than a thousand bucklers, or all the shields of the mighty. The breasts of the Church have been variously considered; some as referring to the two Testaments, others to the law and the gospel, others to the two great Commandments, the love of God and the love of our neighbour: and some would have them mean the two ordinances of the gospel, baptism and the Supper of the Lord. But whether these, or any of them are intended, seems to be accompanied with too much difficulty for modern Commentators to determine. One thing however is certain, the Lord Jesus is evidently speaking with delight of his Church; and it is blessed to be viewed by him in this manner, especially when all the beauty and loveliness of the Church is considered as wholly derived from him.

Verse 6

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

The Church once before had expressed herself in regard to the dispersion of the shades of night, by the break of day, see Song of Solomon 2:17 ; and here she adds, that she will wait this much desired event, by retiring to meditation and prayer. By the mountain of myrrh, perhaps in allusion to him to whom was offered myrrh mingled with gall, may be supposed the mount of Calvary; and by the hill of frankincense may perhaps be implied the fragrancy of that incense, which Jesus as the great High Priest of his people offered up in that one offering of himself, in the bloody vesture. Some have supposed however, that these are the words of Christ in continuance of what went before, as if Jesus, while waiting for the great day in which he will gather all things to himself, gets him away to watch over all the concerns of his Church and people.

Verse 7

Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

What a rich thought is contained in those words of Jesus concerning his Church. In his eye the Church is not only fair but spotless. So that, Reader, while, God's dear children are mourning over the innumerable errors they feel in themselves, and under which they daily groan being burthened: in the view of Jesus as washed in his blood, and clothed in his righteousness, they are without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Jesus having presented them to himself as without blame before him in love. Ephesians 5:27 . Reader! how blessed the thought that Jesus and his Church, Jesus and his people, in the sight of God the Father are one. And though the followers of the Lord feel the sad consequences daily of a fallen nature, and cry out under it through manifold, and as they sometimes think, increasing infirmities; yet it is in Jesus they are beheld, and their whole acceptance ariseth, not from what they are in themselves, but from what they are in the beloved.

Verse 8

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

I would have the Reader observe in this verse how Jesus calls his church by a new name, not before made use of in the Song, namely, his Spouse: perhaps in allusion to what was said before, the day of his espousals. Song of Solomon 3:11 . It is blessed to observe in this, as well as the several other tender names by which Jesus speaks to his church, how very dear she is to him: and no doubt can be entertained of it. He loved her from all eternity. And he so loved her as to give himself for her. And when we see how earnest Christ is that his people should be ever with him, can anything more fully set forth the love of Jesus? Oh! that every poor, distressed, fearful soul, would think of this when calling in question, or doubting, his love. Isaiah 49:14-16 . The call of Jesus to come from Lebanon, the goodly mountain, as Moses called it, Deuteronomy 3:25 , may be supposed to imply the necessity of leaving everything, however apparently goodly in itself, for Jesus. Psalms 45:10-11 . And Amana, Shenir, and Hermon, which some have thought the mountains about Syria, have certainly a spiritual sense like the former. Indeed what follows in the verse explains it. Lions and leopards could not be very numerous in those mountains, which were resorted to occasionally by travellers. But the sense is, Jesus calls his own, his spouse, his fair one, to leave all society, which in ungodly men is dangerous at the best, and for the most part hurtful, and to come with him in whom true joys alone are to be found. What can be more expressive of divine love! How exceedingly ought the faithful in Christ Jesus to delight in these views of the Lord.

Verse 9

Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

The Lord Jesus continues the same strain of affection in this verse as in the former, and here adds another title, that of sister to his beloved, to testify his relationship. Indeed the Lord Christ fills all. And he speaks of his endearments by reason of her beauty. Yea, his whole heart and soul seems to be going out in expressions of his love, as one perfectly overcome by his views of her. Perhaps the one eye Jesus here speaks of means the eye of faith, and love, and desire, with which redeemed souls are forever looking unto Jesus. They have no eye to any other. And the one chain of the neck, by which believers are united to their glorious head, as plainly animates the ornaments of the Spirit, by which their life and conversation is manifested. Solomon, speaking of these things, saith, they shall be as an ornament of grace unto the head, and chains about the neck. Proverbs 1:9 .

Verse 10

How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!

The love of Christ to his Church, and the love of the Church to Christ in return, are the whole subject of this song. And here the Lord Jesus declares how precious, her love is in his sight. The Church had said of the love of Jesus, in the former part of this song, that it was better than wine. Song of Solomon 1:2 . And here the Lord condescends to make use of the same comparison in allusion to her's. Pause, Reader, and remark how gracious the Lord is? I would pause again and again over the passage, and ask, how is it possible that the love of a poor worthless worm, such as I am, can be at all graceful, much less are highly esteemed in Jesus's sight? Surely the whole must result from the love of Christ as it is in himself, and by a communication imparting a fragrancy beyond that of spices.

Verse 11

Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

The dropping of the lips no doubt implies the conversation, which Jesus saith in sweetness surpassed even the honey-comb; for both honey and milk are in it: meaning, the graceful, edifying, conversation of a believer, and what drops from the mouth of a believer in prayer and praise at a mercy-seat. But how doth the honeycomb drop? Not by pressure, but free: not at a rate uncertain and little, but constant and unceasing. For no sooner hath the comb dropped one portion of its golden treasure, but another is immediately forming to follow. This is a most beautiful figure, by which the Lord represents his people. Honey and milk were the two great temporal blessings of the promised land. And, figuratively, such are the spiritual blessings of the gospel. For what so sweet or so nourishing as the divine doctrines of salvation! sweeter than honey, and more fragrant than the most spicy flowers of Lebanon.

Verse 12

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Jesus is still prosecuting the subject in the commendation of his love. And here he compares her, by two or three very striking similitudes She is a garden distinguished from the world's wide wilderness; but she is inclosed also, set apart with special design for the owner. The people are said to dwell alone, and not reckoned among the nations. Numbers 23:9 . Moreover she is a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed; meaning, that from her union with Christ, and her interest in Christ, the water of life which her Lord hath given her to drink, is in her a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:14 . And how truly blessed is it to see and know that by the graces of the Holy Spirit planted in the souls of the redeemed, they have eternal life abiding in them. Because I live, (said Jesus) ye shall live also.

Verses 13-14

Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, (14) Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

Jesus is not tired of the subject, for in both these verses he prosecutes the same theme, and here talks of the fruitfulness of his people. Under various similitudes he sets this forth. The several graces of the Spirit - their choice and divine qualities; with the blessed consequences, as they are brought forth to the joy of the church at large, and the delight of every individual of the church, are figuratively represented by the characters here chosen.

Verse 15

A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

Here it should seem the Church takes up the discourse, and having heard her Lord thus enlarging upon the graces, which she well knew if she enjoyed she had them all and everyone from him, she breaks out in the highest commendation of her Lord. A fountain of gardens: a well of living waters; and streams from Lebanon, is my loved. It is as if she had said, am I a garden; then, Lord, it is thou that hast made me so? Am I inclosed? Yes! thy distinguishing grace hath shut me in. Am I a spring? Yes, Lord! for thou art the fountain of all the gardens; a well of living waters, for I wholly live by thee and in thee and all my refreshments are from thee, as the streams from Lebanon. Reader! it is blessed while we enjoy our mercies to enjoy yet more the author of them; and while we have all things from Christ, to feel the blessedness of all things in Christ. Jesus is indeed the fountain of all, the source of all, and the end of all. And like the well, and the well of living waters, in his Godhead, and in his mediatorial fulness, he is all in all. Oh! for grace to be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:18-19 .

Verse 16

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

It should seem, but I do not presume to determine, that the former part of this verse is the call of Jesus to the Holy Ghost to breathe with his divine influences upon his Church the garden; and then when this is done, and grace is in lively exercise, the Church in the latter part invites her beloved to come into his garden, which is his, and take the blessed fruits which his own Holy Spirit had begotten. The north wind of exciting, and the south wind of warming the affections, are both graciously made use of, and the effect is as might be supposed. The habit of soul in a believer, when one with Christ by regeneration, becomes an actual exercise of grace when the Spirit excites, in going forth in the devout frames of faith, and love, and joy, and delight, upon the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus; and while prayers and praises go up, blessings and favours come down; and the Lord cometh into his garden, and causeth all his goodness to pass before his people. Oh! Lord! thus continually send the sweet influences of the north wind, and the south wind upon my soul, and then will my soul invite Jesus to come into his garden, and eat of his pleasant fruits.


AND doth my Lord indeed call me his fair one, his love, his sister, his spouse? Oh! how shall my soul contain itself, in the contemplation of such peerless grace amidst my conscious undeservings. Surely, blessed Jesus, whatever I am that can at all endear a poor sinner to my Lord, all I have, and all I am, and all I hope to have, the whole is in thee and from thee. Well may I take up the language of one of old, and say, By the grace of God I am what I am. And oh! Lord let it be said also as of him, so of me, that the grace bestowed upon me was not in vain.

And doth Jesus call me to go with him from Lebanon, and escape the lion's den, and the mountains of leopards? Yes, Lord Jesus, I would pray for grace to follow thee, whithersoever thou goest. Nothing shall separate my soul from the love of Christ. For . thou hast bought me, redeemed me, and with a price no less dear than thine own most precious blood: therefore, Lord, I am thine by every endearment, and by every tye. Oh! Lord, give me grace here also, that as I am not my own, but bought with a price, I may glorify thee both in my body and in my spirit which are thine.

But, precious Lord Jesus, as without thee I can do nothing; I pray thee be to me, A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and as streams from Lebanon. Come, Holy Ghost, and be to me as the quickening source in leading to Jesus, and taking from Jesus, and showing everything to me in Jesus. And do thou, Lord, daily maintain, and support, and carry on, the life thy mercy first gave me in Jesus. Thou, Lord, art the only spiritual efficient agent in Christ's garden the Church, which by breathing thy gracious influences upon my heart, can prepare that poor heart for the visits of my Lord to his servant. I would, therefore, gracious Spirit of all truth, intreat thy mercy upon my poor soul, that by thy grace I may invite my Lord and be prepared for my Lord, that he may daily come into his garden: and my soul be so quickened to receive him, that he may eat of his pleasant fruits. Yea, Lord! do thou knock at the door of my heart, and open it thyself; and let my Lord come in, and let me sup with him and he with me.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/song-of-solomon-4.html. 1828.
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