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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Song of Solomon 3

Verse 1

1. By night When night veils all things, and the soul is driven in upon itself, fond memory brings the light of other days, and our emotions, especially of tenderness and anxiety, become stronger. Even should be prefixed to this verse, and still be inserted before sought. She looked anxiously at her lattice, but he did not appear. “Next to love’s joys, are wakeful, anxious fears.”

Verse 2

2. I will rise A plainer connexion would be made by placing, I said to myself, at the beginning of the verse. The emotions of the Enamoured have become intolerable. About the city, suggests an unusual effort at search, as her home was evidently in the suburbs. Tidings of him at night will more likely be found in the streets of the town and the broad thoroughfares leading to it, than in the fields. Or it may be, that as Palestine has always been infested by robbers, the inhabitants, even of the rural districts, sought the safety of the town by night. Such is the prevailing usage at this time.

Verse 3

3. Saw ye him The question, put to the watchman patrolling the town, is very abrupt, hardly enough to explain her untimely roving.

Verse 4

4. It was but a little, etc. Better, Scarcely had I passed from them, when, etc. He may have heard her voice, as she inquired, or he may now have been seeking her.

Into my mother’s house This statement, and that of my own mother’s room, suggests at once the privilege and the safety of lovers under the sanctity of such a shelter. One can but infer that the mother was in widowhood, and the story has the greater diversity from the guardianship of the brothers over their sister, its heroine.

Verse 5

5. I charge you, O ye daughters With this verse ends the rehearsal; and so sweet was this last interview, over which memory fondly broods with miser care, that she urges the hearers to do nothing to divert her affections unless, in some possible juncture. they of themselves seek another object. See Song of Solomon 2:7. In all this rehearsal the leading emotions are so delicately and faithfully traced and sustained by given incidents, while so much is skilfully left to the imagination to supply, that, by the rules of rhetoric which we apply to Theocritus or Catullus, to Moore or Burns, it must take rank as a master-piece of soft and brilliant poetry. No wonder that under its infinite suggestion it has furnished material for allegory, often true and tender, applicable to much of Christian experience, to many a phase of both the Church of Israel and the Church of Christ. And this it does all the more solidly for having itself been real, if not literal, at first. That is to say, it was a dramatic truth if not a historic truth.

Verse 6

6. Who is this that cometh, etc. The scene of action now changes. The royal pavilion, in which the king and his court were enjoying the pleasure of a country sojourn, is exchanged for the capital and its palace. The division opens with the return of the royal train to the city.

From the most conspicuous theme presented in this division, it may be called the Vision of Love, but this title would not apply to every thing herein contained.

The speakers at first are citizens along the principal street of the city. Perfumes have always been burned at the head of processions in the East. They seem to be used, as we use music, to give eclat, that is, dignity and impressiveness, to the occasion.

Out of the wilderness Better, From the fields, the open country.

Powders That is, aromatics. The trade of perfumery is an important one to this day in the East, requiring large capital. Palestine furnishes some articles of perfumery, Arabia more, while some choice aromatics come from India. To collect, convey, and make sale of all these, was a large and distinct business.

Verse 7

7. Behold… bed Better, That is the palanquin of Solomon. A palanquin is a canopied couch used by men of rank for travelling. It is usually carried on men’s shoulders, is long enough for the person within to lie at full length, and, as it requires relays of bearers to accompany it, it is a more pretentious mode of conveyance than riding on horseback or even in a chariot. This verse is uttered by a second speaker from the throng of bystanders as a rejoinder to the first.

Verse 8

8. Expert in war Better, the valiant of Israel. There was probably no time in the history of Israel when robbers did not infest the country. These were, and still are, mostly Arabs. Ishmael dwelt in the presence of his brethren, and kept them always on the lookout. Hence, the royal escort included such a guard as is here described. The fear in the night is, of course, these nightly marauders. The phrase seems to refer to the selected bodyguard of mighty men formed by David, and perhaps continued by Solomon.

Verse 9

9. Still another bystander calls attention to the great beauty and costliness of this palanquin.

Chariot Its frame was of the choice cedar or cypress of Lebanon strong, light, and admitting a polish. This framework usually includes a latticed door on each side.

Verse 10

10. The bottom Hebrew, the support of the head and back.

The covering Better, the seat.

The midst Rather, the lining wrought for him by the daughters of Jerusalem, as a token of their love. Rich and costly as was this palanquin, the British Government, in 1766, presented one of perhaps greater cost and beauty to the Nabob of the Carnatic. Other Indian sovereigns used to appear in public in similar style of palanquin and escort.

Verse 11

11. Go forth, etc. The call, apparently, of a fourth speaker.

Crowned Crowns in ancient times were not merely symbols of royalty, but were also expressive of joy and gladness. The Greeks and Romans wore them at banquets and carousals. The Jews formerly wore them at marriage feasts, as members of the Greek Church do still. Solomon arrayed in all his glory was a sight worthy of admiration even of those to whom he was no stranger. The term daughters of Zion, is clearly applied to the women of Jerusalem, but is more limited and noble than the phrase daughters of Jerusalem, to whom the Enamoured was lately speaking. It would be quite natural for the court ladies, when in the country, to be called “daughters of Jerusalem” by one who recognized them as having come from the city.

Zion was the royal abode.

The arrival of the royal train at Jerusalem causes the conversation of the following verses to take place in the king’s palace instead of the pavilion in the open country. As rehearsal characterized the first division of the Song, so this division is made up of direct and personal address, in which the Beloved gives his utmost from his heart in rapturous admiration, while the Enamoured, for the most part, listens in modest, but expressive, silence.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/song-of-solomon-3.html. 1874-1909.