Song of Solomon 8:1. O that thou wert as my brother— O that thou wert as my infant brother, sucking my mother's breasts! New Translation.
Song of Solomon 8:2. Who would instruct me— literally, Thou shouldest be constantly with me: so Houbigant. The next clause refers to the Hebrew custom of mixing aromatic drugs with their wine. Russel in one place observes, that there are three sorts of pomegranates at Aleppo, the sour, the sweet, and another betwixt both; and in another place, that they are wont to give a graceful acidity to their sauces by pomegranate or lemon-juice. Liquors of the kind above, mentioned, leaving out the wine, which the Mahommedan religion forbids, are very common in the East to this day. See Observations, p. 193.
Song of Solomon 8:4. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, &c.— We have in this day's eclogue a further account of the love of Christ towards his church; as well as a description of the church's graces. The church professes her faith and longing desire after Christ, together with the satisfactions of his love to her. In the 11th verse the heavenly Bridegroom expresses his desire and expectation of fruit proportionable to his care of the church, and kindness to her. In chap. Song of Solomon 7:1-9 the particular graces, beauties, and excellencies of spiritual and divine communications are set forth: while the church expresses her wish in the 11th and 12th verses, to go forth and plant the gospel in the distant places and most remote corners of the earth; for which purpose, the hoards of pleasant fruits new and old, that is to say, the knowledge and treasures of the oracles of God, are spoken of and adapted; and perhaps our Lord himself, who delighted to refer to the written word, may have in some degree alluded to these words, when he speaks of a wise scribe, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. Matthew 13:52. Ravished with the prospect of the blessings of his love, the church declares her affection, chap. Song of Solomon 8:1-4 and professes that she feels the communication of his Spirit, which is the greatest token of his love, and which then works most strongly in our hearts, when he sees them fullest of affection to him.
Song of Solomon 8:5. Who is this that cometh up, &c.?— The seventh and last day's eclogue begins here.
Song of Solomon 8:6. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, &c.— See Exodus 13:9. The meaning is, "Place me so that I may never slip out of thy memory or affection. This request I make out of fervent love, which is strong or irresistible as death; especially when heightened by jealousy, or a fear of losing the beloved object." The coals thereof are coals of fire; or, as Dr. Hammond has excellently illustrated the place, The darts or arrows thereof are darts of fire, of a most vehement flame. The metaphor is taken from an arrow shot out of a bow, which by the swiftness of its motion takes fire; or rather, perhaps, alludes to the fiery arrows which were sometimes made use of for the same purpose as fire-balls among us. The LXX countenance this version by rendering the passage, The feathers or wings thereof are wings of fire. See Hammond on Psalms 76:3 the New Translation, and Martin's Explication des Textes Difficiles, p. 325.
Song of Solomon 8:9. If she be a wall, &c.— If she be a wall, we will build upon her two silver towers. The meaning of the passage is, "We will take care of her in proportion as she is capable of receiving or profiting by our bounty, like as men are accustomed to build upon good foundations." The orientals delight thus to express themselves by parables or comparisons.
Song of Solomon 8:12. My vineyard, which is mine— My vineyard which before brought me in a thousand pieces, is now thine, O Solomon; and there are two hundred pieces for those who look after the fruit thereof. By pieces of silver here are understood shekels, supposed to be in value about two shillings and four pence halfpenny each.
Song of Solomon 8:14. The mountains of spices— That is, the mountains where spices grow; such as those mentioned, chap. Song of Solomon 4:6 and chap. Song of Solomon 2:17 and some have thought that it should be rendered here, as in the last place, the mountains of בשׂמים Besamim. What these mountains were we are now ignorant, though it is certain that the creatures here mentioned were bred in the highest mountains of the country: as AElian testifies in the latter end of his fifth book: "The harts in Syria are bred in their highest mountains, Amanus, Libanus, and Carmel." Spiritually we have in this eclogue the vehemency of divine love set forth, the calling of the Gentiles, and in the last verse a prayer for the coming of Christ. The calling of the Gentiles is foretold in the eighth verse, though some suppose that it refers to the properties of divine love, described in the preceding verse; one of which is, a solicitude for those who are devoid of this love, or who have but the beginning of it. The words may also be applied (says a writer) to a soul or a church in a state of imperfection; but built upon Christ, the foundation; and then the ninth verse may be thus paraphrased, "Let her be but firm and constant like a wall in her love to me, and I will not abandon the care of her. Let her but exclude all other, and admit me alone, and she shall never want any thing necessary to her perfection; for I will richly adorn her, and make her like the house of God himself, which is lined with cedar:" and then the 10th verse may be thus applied, as her answer: "I am resolved to do what thou requirest, to be steadfast and faithful, and I already perceive the reward of my fidelity; in consequence of which, I will consecrate myself, and all my powers, the cultivation and improvement of all my talents, to the service of my heavenly bridegroom," Song of Solomon 8:11-12. The last verse concludes this song as it began, with a desire that the Messiah would come and make good all those things which had been represented in these divine raptures.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,
1. The desire of the spouse after the most endearing intimacy and communion with her Lord: O that thou wert as my brother, with whom she might indulge a holy familiarity, and from whom the might find the warmest regard and succour under all her afflictions and infirmities; that sucked the breasts of my mother; which may refer to the incarnation of Christ, who became a babe at the breast, and partaker of the same flesh and blood with us; and therefore from him we may hope for the tenderest sympathy and affection.
2. She professes what she would do in this case. When I should find thee without, or in the streets, in the public ordinances, I would kiss thee; make open professions of her love and attachment to him: yea, I should not be despised, for such marks of affection which to a brother were becoming, and which Jesus would not disdain, but receive with pleasure. I would lead thee with delight to my mother's horn, the place of the assembly of God's children, who would instruct me how to behave aright towards thee; or, there thou wouldst instruct me, and teach me how to walk and to please God. Note; True wisdom cometh from Jesus alone; without his divine teaching, we can know nothing as we ought to know. I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate, the lively exercise of grace, and her diligence in his service, more pleasing to him than the most delicious juice of the grape or pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head and his right hand should embrace me; comforting me with the most endearing expressions of his love, and supporting me with his almighty power.
3. She gives a charge to the daughters of Jerusalem, as before, not to interrupt her communion with her beloved. I charge you, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love until he please. Note; They who know the blessing of Christ's presence, will be careful themselves, and mindful to caution others not to grieve the Saviour, or by any unfaithful and displeasing conduct to provoke him to depart.
2nd, The daughters of Jerusalem are represented,
1. As breaking forth into admiration on beholding the spouse. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? dependent on him, and sweetly supported by him. And it may represent the church in general, driven into the wilderness during the times of persecution, but through the power of Jesus at last triumphant: or the case of every particular believer, who is by nature found in the wilderness of sin, far from God, the ways of truth, and the road to glory; but invited by the grace of Jesus, and by his arm supported: faith perseveringly resting upon him, we are enabled to go up, travelling in the greatness of his strength, till we come to the eternal rest which remaineth for the people of God.
2. The spouse relates her own experience. I raised thee up under the apple-tree. The words are addressed to Jesus, who, when he seemed asleep, and to disregard his people's distresses, hath by prayer been raised up to stretch out his arm and come and help them. There thy mother brought thee forth, there she brought thee forth that bare thee: in the ministry of the word souls are brought forth, and Christ formed in the heart. This is compared to a woman travailing in birth, the pangs of repentance being frequently most acute and painful, and followed with joy and peace in believing.
3. She begs for an abiding interest in his regard, and a happy assurance of it. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm. The allusion is to the high-priest's breast-plate, or to bracelets worn with the name, the hair, or the picture of any beloved object; and intimates the desire of the true believer to have a sure place in the heart of Jesus, a constant sense of his nearness, a lively experience of his love, and the abiding supports of his grace. To urge her suit, she pleads her vehement affection; for love is strong as death. As it brought Jesus to the death of the cross for us, so, if need be, will it engage the faithful to lay down their lives for him. It will make us dead to the world, and to every object, compared with his blessed self: it will engage us to live for him, and make us happy to die and go to him. Jealousy is cruel as the grave, and will not admit a rival to Jesus in the heart. The coals thereof are coals of fire, which have a most vehement flame, burning with resistless fury, consuming the dross of base affections, and ascending in circling volumes to the skies. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. It burns the fiercer by opposition, and rises fairer and stronger from the waters of persecution. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. Offer a faithful soul ten thousand worlds in exchange for the love of Jesus,—she would count them all dung and loss. Or it intimates the freedom, as well as riches of the grace of Christ, which, though inestimable, he bestows on his people without money and without price.
3rdly, This loving pair, now united in the bonds of heavenly love, are represented as consulting together about their affairs. Husband and wife must consult together; this is a part of the mutual comfort of that endearing relation, for two are better than one.
1. The spouse proposes a case for her beloved's advice: We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts; which may be interpreted of the Gentile church, a sister to the Jewish church, but little, younger in years, and having no breasts; not grown up to a woman's estate, destitute of ministers, ordinances, and the word; and, as a little child, ignorant and foolish; what shall we do for our sister, in the day when she shall be spoken for? when the Gentiles should be called into the fellowship of the Gospel, to enjoy that high dispensation, or spoken against by the unbelieving Jews or heathens, loaded with reproaches, and urged to desert the faith of Christ.
2. He answers, if she be a wall, raised on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner-stone, we will build upon her a palace of silver. We; for though the power is Christ's alone, he is pleased to employ ministers as workers together with him; and the work of grace is well compared to a silver palace, to denote the excellency of the soul, made the habitation of God through the Spirit. And if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar. As soon as ever the door is open for the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles, they shall grow up into a glorious temple.
3. It is no sooner spoken than done. I am a wall, and my breasts like towers, which are the words of the Gentile church. What Jesus hath promised, is spoken of as already done: she is built upon him the foundation, and strengthened by his grace. Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour; affectionately regarded of Christ, and favoured with all the privileges and blessings of the Christian church.
4. The Gentile church describes the progress of the Gospel, and Christ's glory therein manifested. Solomon, the Prince of peace, the Lord Jesus, had a vineyard, a church, at Baal-hamon, in the Gentile world, consisting of many nations: he let out the vineyard unto keepers, the ministers of the sanctuary, whose business and office it is to dress and keep it, See Matthew 21:33. Every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. He expects to receive fruit from their labours, and to see multitudes of immortal souls gained by their ministry, which will be as much to their account as to his glory.
5. The church expresses her concern for all her members. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me; every plant requiring constant care, and every believing soul watching with jealousy over herself, lest any noxious weeds growing up should choak the fruits of righteousness. Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand; for since all our increase cometh from him, most justly ought we to render to him the praise of what his grace hath wrought; and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred. They who labour in the gospel shall be abundantly gainers thereby: the souls that are presented to Christ as the fruit of their ministry, shall be their own joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of his appearing, when they who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars in the firmament for ever and ever.
4thly. Though for a moment they are parting, Christ and his church express their mutual regard, and look for their future happy meeting.
1. Christ at parting expects often to hear of her and from her. Thou that dwellest in the gardens, here below, enjoying the ordinances and means of grace; the companions hearken to thy voice; sweet intercourse and communion being maintained between the faithful, and all of them paying the most attentive regard to the ministry of the word. Cause me to hear it, ascending in prayer and praise, in bold and open professions of her faith before the world, and in zealous endeavours to spread the knowledge of his grace among men. Note; When Christ courts us to come to him, and declares himself so willing to hear, shall we be backward to go? No, Lord, early in the morning will I direct my prayer to thee, and look up.
2. The church desires his speedy return. He is gone away for a while to heaven, on her account, to be her friend and advocate before the throne of God, to prepare eternal mentions of glory for her reception; and she begs him to hasten back, and take her to himself, that where he is, she may be also. Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices. Christ is now set down on the mountain of spices, the throne of glory: there the eye of faith beholds him, and there love still embraces him. With eagerness his waiting servants expect him; and, while they enjoy the bright gleams of his reconciled countenance here below in sweet communion with him, their souls, the more importunately pray for his appearing, that they may see him face to face. Nor shall the time be long delayed; swift are the rapid hours hurrying by; time draws to its period; eternity approaches; the Lord is at hand: blessed and happy are they who in that day can welcome his arrival, and, when he once more bows the heavens, and comes down, in the assured confidence of his love can meet him, and cry, Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Reader, may this be thy happy case, Amen!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany