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The church appears, in the opening of this Chapter, to have called forth the serious enquiry of others to seek Jesus with her. And she seems delighted to give information concerning him. Christ then takes up the discourse, and sets forth the loveliness of his church, and his delight in her.
Song of Solomon 6:1
Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.
This is a very interesting part of the Song, because it represents the serious and earnest enquiry of seeking souls after Christ. The persons here asking the question appear to be evidently under impressions of grace, and as the address is made to the church of Jesus, and she is called by them, The fairest among women; nothing can be more plain than that they considered the Lord Jesus the whole cause of her loveliness, and therefore desired to be made partakers of the same. It is one of the most delightful offices of faithful ministers of Jesus, when at anytime the Lord blesseth t heir ministry, to have questions concerning their Lord put to them, by those that are seeking him. I beg the Reader also to observe, before I dismiss the consideration of this verse, that the enquiry here made concerning Jesus; is not who Christ is; for that had been made before (Song of Solomon 5:9 ), and the answer appears to have been truly satisfactory. But having received conviction concerning the Person and work of Christ, the next enquiry of a truly awakened soul is, how shall I find him, and enjoy him to my soul's comfort?
My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
I detain the Reader, in the opening of this verse, to remark to him once more, if the remark be again necessary, that this answer of the church, to those that were seeking her Lord, carries with it the fullest and most undeniable testimony that the whole subject this Song is truly spiritual, and of a divine nature. In the loves of carnal persons there is too much jealousy to direct others to the object of love; rather doth everyone forbid, than lead to an acquaintance: so that if there was no other evidence than what this part of the song contains; itself, would be enough to prove to a demonstration, that it is not the love of Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter which forms the subject of this Song, but Christ and his church. It will not be very difficult to understand what is meant by Christ's garden and his beds of spices, after what hath been already observed on these subjects, (Song of Solomon 4:16 .) The expression, indeed, concerning Christ's garden, somewhat varies here; for the church describes her Lord as being gone down into his garden; by which it may he supposed is meant the garden Jesus hath in this lower world, by way of distinction to that which is above; but the whole, both above and below, is but one church; the gift of his Father, the purchase of his blood, and the conquest of his grace. And Jesus may be truly said to be gone down to the beds of spices, when he visits any particular souls of his with his grace; when he feeds them, or when he feeds (if it be allowed the expression) himself, in receiving the fruits of grace, which he himself hath planted by, his Holy Spirit in their hearts. He gathers the lilies also, whensoever he takes home precious souls he hath redeemed to himself in glory.
I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
I need not detain the Reader over this verse, having already noticed it, Song of Solomon 2:16 . to which I refer; unless it be to remark once more, the delight the church takes in the conscious property she hath in Jesus, and Jesus in her. Here, indeed, the form of expression varies from the former; for in that she first calls Christ hers, and then she is his. But here she inverts the order, and declares herself first to be his, and then Christ is hers: but the alteration only serves to point out yet more strongly the mutual property in both.
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
Here Jesus takes up the discourse, and which he doth in the most gracious manner, in commendations of his love. He saith that she is beautiful as Tirzah. There was a city in the tribe of Manasseh called Tirzah; Joshua 12:24; Joshua 12:24 . And as Judea is said to have been the glory of all lands, no doubt that Tirzah was a pleasant place. But some have thought that it is not the name of a place intended by the expression, but that she is lovely in his eyes, comely from the comeliness he had put upon her. And if this be the sense of it, how delightful ought it to be to a child of God, to consider, however poor, and low, and despised we are in our own eyes, and in the eyes of the world, yet, Jesus declares his people beautiful as Tirzah. But Christ doth not rest here. The church is also comely as Jerusalem. This city, is said in scripture, to be the joy of the whole earth. Psalms 48:2 . And if the church of Jesus be thus lovely upon earth, amidst all the spots and infirmities of its inhabitants; what must it be in the Jerusalem which is above? Read the beloved Apostle's description of it; and while reading, connect with it, in recollection that every individual child of God forms a part in it. Revelation 21:2-4 . There is another description Christ gives of his church in this verse, and that is, that she is terrible as an army with banners. And is it not so? How often hath it been known that vice hath been put out of countenance by the singular zeal of some faithful servant of the Lord? How often have the constancy and firmness of the saints made tyrants tremble? Acts 24:25 ; Hebrews 11:33-35 . And yet more and much more important, how often have the faithful overcome the Lord himself by the prevalency of faith and prayer? See Genesis 32:24-28 ; Exodus 32:11-14 ; Joshua 7:6-9 .
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.
Some have translated these words, Turn thine eyes to me, and they say it means the call of Jesus to his church to be always looking to him. Isaiah 45:22 . And, indeed, there is but too much reason for the perpetual call of Jesus to the church to this effect: but the more general opinion is that Christ expresseth himself as is here said, intimating that such is his love of his church, that when her faith is in lively actings, it compels him to comply with her request. Thus in the case of Lot: Haste thee; escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou become thither. Genesis 32:26; Genesis 32:26 . And in the case of the woman of Canaan, Matthew 15:28 .
Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof everyone beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them. (7) As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.
These verses, as well as the latter part of the former verse, have been already noticed; Song of Solomon 4:1-3 . I only add to what was there offered, what a blessed view it gives us of the Lord Jesus, that he should not only condescend to describe his church by such similitudes, but also to find pleasure in repeating them.
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. (9) My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
In these verses we have still further proof of Christ's love to his church, and the distinguishing nature of it. It is, as if the Lord had said, Though there be among men, and the great ones of the earth, those who have concubines and wives without number; yet, my beloved is but one, and the only one of my love; and so fair, so lovely, so undefiled, that even those who know not me, shall be obliged at length to confess that she is blessed. Reader! at the great day of God we are told that this shall take place. They shall see and confess; and, although in this life, who so despised, and set at nought as the followers of Jesus; yet, at the final audit, every eye shall see him, and all nations shall wail because of him . Revelation 1:7 .
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
It should seem that this verse is introduced here in accommodation of the church of Christ, by some looker-on; perhaps the daughters of Jerusalem: and the description is uncommonly striking and beautiful. If we consider the church in the day-dawn of revelation, amidst the darkness of the whole world around, it might be called the looking forth as the morning. And if, from the days of the Patriarchs, to the giving of the law; and if through that whole dispensation, to the coming of the gospel, it only resembled the pale borrowed light of the moon. And in this view of the subject, the glorious gospel of the ever-blessed God, will then correspond to what is said of the church being clear as the sun, when Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, arose with healing in his wings. But if we consider the verse as referring to the church under the full manifestations of grace by the Lord Jesus Christ, then, in the instance of every individual believer, their experience in divine things is as the path of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.
Some refer these words to the church in seeking after Christ; but there seems a more orderly agreement with all that is before to accept them as the words o f Jesus. It is his gracious office to notice the state of grace in the souls of his people. And by the frequent account the Lord gives of himself doing so in this Song, it may be intended to remind his people how very constant his eye is upon them. Hagar had a sweet sense of this. Genesis 16:13-14 .
Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.
And Jehovah speaks and the church thus conscious of the presence of her Lord visiting his garden, felt that blessed but sudden effect that her soul became as the chariots of Amminadib, perhaps the swiftest ever known. But some have rendered the passage as the words of Jesus. That God is overcome by the earnest cries of his people; and, indeed, speaking after the manner of men, this is evident, from passages in scripture already quoted in this chapter. And, in addition to these, the Reader will find a beautiful illustration to the same amount; Hosea 11:8-9 . And also another in Jeremiah 31:20 . The chariots here spoken of, if the words be accepted in this latter sense, will be the chariots of my willing people; that is their faith, love, and all the other graces implanted by Jesus in the soul, and thus called forth by him into exercise. Ammi, meaning my people, and Nadib, implying their willingness.
Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.
The church is in this verse called upon, most probably by the daughters of Jerusalem, to return. But it doth not so immediately appear what the church is called upon to return to; some, therefore, have accepted the call as the words of Christ; and in this sense the words are certainly much more plain and obvious; for then the object of the return, that we may look upon thee, will be that all the Persons of the God-head, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may behold the fair beauty of the church, robed in the apparel of her Husband. I do not presume to determine the exact sense of the passage, or to which they refer. But, when the church is called Shulamite, it should seem it means a woman of Salem, or Jerusalem; for the word is the same. And as the bride of Jesus, she is the Shulamite indeed. Solomon, as the name of a man, is precisely the same as Shulamite for a woman. Now as the Lord Jesus, in one scripture, is called the Lord our righteousness, and in another passage of the same prophet, the church is so called, all this seems to throw a light upon the subject, in explaining why the church is called Shulamite. Jeremiah 33:16; Jeremiah 33:16 . The answer of the church is a most beautiful proof of grace, and her humbleness of soul. What will ye see, saith the church, but as a company of two armies, or as the margin of the Bible hath it, of Mahanaim, two hosts, such as the patriarch Jacob noticed, Genesis 32:1-2 . The conflict between grace and nature is very aptly represented by two armies, and in a warfare that ends not but with death. Blessed Jesus, it is well that it ends then; and everlasting praises be to thy name the victory is not doubtful; for thy people are more than conquerors, through thy grace making them so. Romans 8:37-39 .
Here Reader, let us pause; and before we close the chapter, take into one view, some at least of the many blessed things contained in it for our instruction. Are we earnest in our enquiries for Jesus? Do we now seek after him from a knowledge of him, and a conviction of our need of him, and our utter ruin without him? Then let us learn from hence, where we are to seek Christ, and the earnestness with which we should enquire after him. There is a generation that seek the Lord, and of whom he saith, he will not be sought in vain. And very blessed it is to have this assurance from the Lord himself; while in a day of much heresy the cry is, Lo! here is Christ, or lo, he is there! Reader! let us not be discouraged with these things. A real love for Christ, and the going forth of real desires after Christ; both are of Jesus's own giving: and the grace he gives, he will perfect. And if, as the church speaks, Jesus is gone down into his garden, his church; let us in ordinances, and in all the several means of grace there, seek him, where his name is as ointment poured forth, and where his glory and his salvation are the chief and only object regarded; and we shall find that, ere we are aware, our souls will be made like the chariot of Amminadib. And oh for grace, like the church, to arrive at that blessedness of assurance founded in the Father's love, the Redeemer's grace, and the Spirit's fellowship, that each may say for himself as the church: I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.
Precious Jesus! is thy church indeed lovely and beautiful as Tirzah? is she comely as Jerusalem; and in thy strength terrible as an army with banners? Surely then, blessed Lord, the whole is derived from thee! What grace, what endowment, what ornament can our poor polluted nature have but in, and from thee. In thy light, Lord, we shalt see light; and in thy strength we are strong: but without thee we are nothing. Cause thy redeemed to come up as a flock of sheep from the washing, and let there be not one barren among them.
I praise thee, my blessed Lord and Saviour, for this account of thy church, that she is but one and undefiled; and the choice one of her that bare her; and oh! for grace to bear about with me this precious mark of unity. One, Lord, with thee, and one, with thy people: one faith, one hope, one baptism; and all thy redeemed shall be found in one spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling. And although, thou glorious Head of thy body the church, all thy redeemed here below are like the Shulamite, always in the conflict as of two armies; yet already in thy strength we have overcome. Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ! And therefore now we would begin the Song, until in the full assembly of the church above we come to sing with a louder, fuller, sweeter strain: Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12