This beautiful Song is now drawing to a close, and the Church repeats her earnest desires for increasing knowledge of, and communion with her Lord. In the body of this Chapter, it is hard to distinguish between the expressions of Christ and those of his Church, in which are contained the vehement pantings for fellowship. Towards the close, the Church puts up a request for the speedy call of the Gentiles, and finisheth the whole in earnest prayer for her Beloved to hasten his coming, and sum up his whole purposes of redemption in glory.
Song of Solomon 8:1
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.
The Church in this verse is still prosecuting the same pleasing subject, that she dwelt on in the former chapter; but, willing to enjoy Christ in every relationship, wherein he hath condescended to put himself, she here reminds him that he is her brother, as well as her husband. Reader! it is blessed to know and enjoy Jesus, in all his names, offices, characters, and relations; for he fills all. And as we are told that he is not ashamed to call his people brethren; surely everyone should delight to make use of the relationship, and call him brother. Christ is the brother of his Church, from taking our nature upon him, in being the seed of the woman after the flesh; for it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren: Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 11:12; Matthew 12:50. Perhaps by the wish which the Church expresseth in this verse, is meant to convey the longing of Old Testament saints for the incarnation of the Lord Jesus. O that thou wert as my brother; that is, Oh! that the salvation were given unto Israel out of Zion! And as Christ and his Church are one, so one mother, even Jerusalem is, as the Apostle saith, the mother of us all. Galatians 4:26. By sucking the breasts, very plainly means the enjoyment of the same ordinances. Hence Jesus, when on earth, graced the synagogue with his divine presence. Luke 4:16, etc. The kisses, mean the exercises of faith, love, repentance, and all those graces which Jesus, by his Holy Spirit, plants in the souls of his people, and which, by his influences, he again brings forth into action, upon his person, blood, and righteousness. Hence, therefore, saith the Church, when I humbly offer these things unto my brother, my Lord, I shall not be despised. No! Jesus despiseth not the day of small things. Zechariah 4:10. He doth not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. Matthew 12:20.
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
And then, saith the Church, (still following up the same subject of her address to her brother and her Lord,) I would assume the freedom wherewith the Lord makes his people free, and lead thee into my mother's house, and cause thee to drink of my poor offering. Reader, here is a beautiful verse, well worthy the closest attention. We meet in scripture with numberless passages of the Lord's leading his people, and very earnest prayers that he would fulfill his promises in doing so; but here it is the Church leading her Lord. See Deuteronomy 32:12; Psalms 32:8; Psa_43:3. But I humbly conceive that this scripture is designed to teach a believer in Jesus, what powerful effects are in faith, when the Lord gives out large supplies of this blessed principle. Remember the state the Church was now in. She was looking to Jesus as a brother. And what may we not hope to do with a brother such as Jesus; one purposely born for adversity, and that loveth at all times, and sticketh closer than a brother? Proverbs 17:17. And, Reader, do not forget also what Jesus himself hath said; If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you. John 15:17. Oh! the condescension of our adorable Lord! Then, blessed Lord, may a believer hope, that thus living in thee, and thou in him, a poor sinner may lead Jesus into his closet, into his retirement, and there pour out his soul before him, an offering more precious to Jesus than all the spiced wine of the juice of the pomegranate.
His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. (4) I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
These have been already noticed, therefore I refer to them. Song of Solomon 2:6-7; Son_3:5.
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
The former part of this verse also hath been noticed; Song of Solomon 3:6. But there is an addition here, of a most interesting nature, which saith, that while the Church is coming up out of the wilderness, she is leaning upon her beloved; meaning, that believing souls lay their whole stress of salvation upon Jesus. They have not an atom of their own, but hang upon him, cleave to him, rest upon him. And this is in perfect agreement to the whole doctrine of faith. See those scriptures; Isaiah 22:24; Proverbs 3:5; Psalms 71:15-16; Philippians 3:8-9. It should seem that Christ is the speaker of that after part of this verse, I raised thee up under the apple tree, and intimating the power of his blessed Spirit, in the conversion and new birth of the souls of his redeemed. But the words may be read as the words of the Church. For when by faith Jesus is raised up to a believer's view, and in the Church the soul of the redeemed beholds Christ in his incarnation, sufferings, and death: there is no impropriety of speech, as the language of faith, thus to speak of the Redeemer. John 3:14-15.
Set me as a seal upon thine 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.
In whatever sense we accept the words of this most precious verse, the meditation on them cannot but be sweet, if God the Holy Ghost, who is the author of them, should open them and bring them home to the soul. For then we may say with the prophet, Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. Jeremiah 15:16. Reader! let us first accept them as the words of the Church, which should seem to be the most probable of the two. Now when a soul, like the Church, desires to be set as a seal upon Christ's heart, what a delightful thought is it of being so near to Jesus; always, not only in his sight, and, as the High Priest, bearing the names of Israel on his breast-plate, she might be in a constant memorial before him; but still nearer than this, even in his heart, and upon his arm; to live always with him, and upon him, and never, never to be a moment separated from him. What an ardency of faith is this? And the reason she assigns is as beautiful as interesting. Her love is strong as death; yea, stronger; for death kills all, destroys all connections, all relations, all ties; but death cannot separate the Church from Jesus. Romans 8:38-39. And her jealousy lest she should lose her Lord, like the grave, which for cruelty would destroy anything, and everything that arose in the way to oppose it; for the coals in her soul of love was burning with a flame that would consume all that came in its way. Reader! where shall we look, in the present day, for faith and love so ardent and so lively! And if we accept the passage in this verse as the words of Jesus, we are only lost in greater amazement still at the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge! Set me, saith Christ, as a seal upon thine heart. Jesus desires the first place in the affections of his people. Indeed, unless this be given him we give him nothing. It is with all the heart, and all the soul, if we love him at all, that that love is to be manifested. And if Christ be formed in our heart, the hope of glory, there will be all the suitable correspondence. Hence the apostle Barnabas exhorted the believers at Antioch, that with full purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. Acts 11:23. And what that is, will not be far to gather. In the soul which is cleaving unto the Lord, and setting Jesus as the seal there, Christ will be uppermost in the affection. The soul will undertake nothing but in his strength, and design nothing but for his glory. And the most blessed testimonies, that the soul is really thus setting Jesus for a seal, will be found in the life and conversation, by the affections being weaned from all things here below, and a growing connection forming more and more, with those that are above. Reader! is it so with you? Precious Jesus! thy love hath been strong as death indeed, for the accomplishment of these purposes. And oh! that thy jealousy, for the suitable return of the affections of thy people, may provoke all the souls of thy redeemed to a holy jealousy for thine honour, that we may love thee, who hath so earnestly first loved us!
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.
Here is the same obscurity in this verse, as in the former, whether the words are principally applicable to Christ or to his Church. If we consider the Church as thus expressing her affection, every believer ought to be enabled to adopt the sentiment contained in them. For as some blessed martyrs in times past have waded not only through waters and floods under the persecutions of the ungodly, but through blood, to testify their love to Jesus; so ought believers in every age. Neither the malice of enemies, nor the slights of friends, the unkindness of relations, and the sneers of the world; the infidelity of men, nor the rage of devils; since none of these can separate from the love of Christ; surely none of them ought to have influence to lessen in our hearts that love. But as it is not to be bought with money, so ought every child of God to prize it above all things. They should despise everything the world holds dear, in order to keep alive the immortal spark, not to be extinguished by the floods or waters of immortal hatred. But if we read the verse with an eye to Christ, the subject contained in it riseth in glory. Such indeed was the love of Christ to his Church, that neither the view of his Father's burning anger against sin, nor all the sufferings he had to sustain in his own sacred person, when doing away the evil of sin by the sacrifice of himself, could for one moment make his holy soul remit his love to his redeemed. Yea, if possible, more deeply wounding still to his tender heart, not all the baseness and ingratitude of his redeemed, could extinguish the holy flame of his love. Reader! pause over this subject, and contemplate well the wondrous contents of it, and then say, Is not the love of Christ in the heights and depths, in the breadths and lengths of it, a love of God, which passeth knowledge?
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? (9) If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar. (10) I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
It should seem that these verses are the wishes of the Jewish Church for the call of the Gentile. For the term sister implies as much. And as God the Father gave his dear Son, for a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as to be the glory of his people Israel; so the faithful who saw as much of the mind of Jehovah in this particular, as to enter into the apprehension of the subject, might be supposed under the Holy Ghost, to be praying for its accomplishment. Isaiah 49:6; Isa_60:1-3, etc.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; everyone for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. (12) My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
The best comment perhaps on this verse is what the Lord Jesus himself hath given, Matthew 21:33, etc. That the Church is Christ's vineyard, that he hath servants in all ages ministering, and working in its Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Pastors; that his is the revenue, and to him will be all the fruit of it; and that finally, he who hath now his eye constantly upon it, will come to make a reckoning: all these momentous concerns are read to us in every part of scripture.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.
These are the words of Christ to his Church, in which he calls her the inhabitress of the gardens, his Churches; and it is a love-call of the Lord, that as she is heard by her companions, and is frequently speaking of him, and concerning him, he desires that she will speak to him also. Reader! it is blessed to speak of Christ, but infinitely more so to speak to Christ. Communion with the saints is like heaven below; but communion with the Lord of the saints is like heaven above! Reader! do not overlook the tenderness of Jesus in thus seeking fellowship with his people.
Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
With these words the song is closed. Jesus finisheth his divine part, in the verse before, and here the Church echoes to her Lord in this affectionate answer. We had a similar request, Song of Solomon 2:17; and the repetition here only serves to show, with what ardency so blessed an event was desired. Such was the longing of Old Testament saints for the Lord's first coming, in substance of our flesh; and such should be the earnest desire of New Testament believers, that Jesus would hasten his second coming! And, Reader, if your views and mine of the Lord Jesus, in his glorious person, and in the infinite importance of his salvation, correspond to these sentiments of the Church, in all ages, then shall we find our souls going forth, in the same earnest cry of faith; Make haste my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
READER! here let us take to ourselves the sweet instruction the Church teacheth, in the opening of this Chapter, and while she is so passionately looking to her Lord, as her Brother, and desiring to kiss him without being ashamed or despised; let you and I delight to call him our Brother also, and to be convinced, that as a Brother, he feels interested in all that concerns our salvation. And oh! for grace and faith in such full actings upon his glorious Person, that we may constrain him to come with us to the Church our Mother, and there cause him to drink of our spiced wine, even the blessed fruits and effects of his own grace in our hearts. Surely Jesus will embrace us, and take us into his arms; neither shall any disturb the hallowed season of enjoyment with him, while he is pleased to impart the manifestations of his love. And, Reader, shall we not be among the happy number, that are coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon our Beloved, hanging upon him, and feasting our souls with beholding his beauty, and living upon his fulness? Yea, surely Jesus will raise us up from under the apple tree of this world's good; will bring us out of all the deadness of nature, and the dead frames of the heart, and bring us into his Church, the Church of the living God.
Blessed Lord Jesus! dost thou really desire that such poor creatures as we are, should set thee as a seal upon our hearts, and upon our arm? And is thy love so ardent, and yet so condescending, that thou declarest it to be strong as death, and as jealous as the grave, and doth it burn towards us, as coals of fire? Oh Lord! for grace, ever to keep this desire of thine in remembrance, and to carry it about with us, whithersoever we go; delighting our souls with the very thought that our poor sealing to the love of Jesus is had in remembrance, and valued by our Lord. And do thou, oh thou most gracious and compassionate Redeemer, do thou set thy people as a signet on thy right hand, and wear our names, worthless as they are in themselves, but highly honourable as noticed and owned by thee, wear them in thine heart, and bear them in, as the High Priest of thy people, before the throne, that as thine, we may be sealed in the presence of our God, unto the day of redemption. Oh! for a heart to have thee, and to live to thee, and to praise thee, that nothing could damp or abate thy love to thy people. Neither the agonies in the garden, nor the cross, neither the justice of divine wrath against sin, nor the powers of hell, no, nor the forsaking of thy disciples at thy death, nor the continued slights of all thy disciples through the whole of thy life, even until now, hath abated, or can abate thy love for one moment from thy redeemed; but, as thou hast from the beginning loved thy people, that are in the world, thou lovest them unto the end. Oh, that the Lord would add one mercy more to this unmerited mercy, and as no waters nor floods can quench thy love, so the Lord would not suffer any, or all, the torrents of sin and death to quench ours. Lord, we pray thee to keep our poor souls in the love of God, and in the patient waiting for Jesus Christ.
Hail! holy Lord! Father, Son, and eternal Spirit! we bend before thy throne with thanksgivings and praise for all the wonders of redemption by Jesus Christ! Hasten, almighty God, the call of thy people. Let the little sister of Christ's Church, even the Gentile Church, be filled with the breasts of consolation, and may our elder Brother, the Jewish Church, be called home by grace. Oh! for that glorious hour, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be completed, and all Israel shall be saved. When the Deliverer shall arise out of Zion, to turn away ungodliness from Jacob! In the blessed hope of this assurance may thy people live from day to day, and may the cry of faith be continually going up for the accomplishment of it, from all the redeemed of the Lord. And while Jesus is calling upon his Church to hear his voice, and saying, Surely I come quickly, oh! may every faithful heart make sweet responses to their Lord, and send up the earnest prayer, Even so! come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter