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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Song of Solomon 8

 

 

Verses 1-14

Song of Solomon 8:1. Oh that thou wert as my brother. The Chaldaic is a metaphrase of the text. “In the time that king Messiah shall be revealed to the congregation of Israel, they shall say to him, Come, and be thou our brother.” The love of a brother and a sister of nearly equal age, who sucked the same breasts, is intimate, innocent, and strong; and such should be the love of brothers and sisters in the Lord. The first love of the christian church was of this description.

Song of Solomon 8:2. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house. I would place thee on the throne in the church; there thou shouldst drink nectar in the banqueting house, while prayers, the sweet incense of the saints, should becloud the mercyseat.

Song of Solomon 8:3. His left hand should be under my head. See on Song of Solomon 2:6.

Song of Solomon 8:4. I charge you, oh daughters of Jerusalem: Song of Solomon 2:7. Let no feuds, no schisms, no revolts, no sins in the church disturb the favoured place of his abode. It is promised that his rest in Zion shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:10.

Song of Solomon 8:5. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness? The Hebrew church in the desert, seeking a better country, leaning and resting solely on the promise to Abraham. “All this land will I give to thy seed for a possession.” It is the same with the christian church, scattered abroad in the face of the earth, and seeking the inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and whose verdure fadeth not away. This is the church under the appletree, or like Nathaniel under the figtree, raising up attention in the Redeemer by all the acts of devotion.

Song of Solomon 8:6. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a signet upon thine arm. The reference may be to the highpriest, who bore the names of all the tribes upon his breastplate. Exodus 28:21-29. The signet upon the arm may refer to punctures made in the skin, and filled with colour. So our sailors make anchors, letters, and marks in their flesh with gunpowder, that no long voyage, nor distant land, may induce them to forget the object of their love. Others wear the name of a betrothed woman, on a signet in a ring.— For love is strong as death, which is invincible. He conquers all, and is conquered by none. Thus all the storms and all the foes we have to encounter in the desert, cannot separate us from the love of Christ. His love is such that the waters of death cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it. He loves us, because he hath set his love upon us.

Song of Solomon 8:8. We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts. She is in infancy, and hath no mother to suckle her. What shall we do for our little sister, that she may grow to maturity, may be asked in marriage, may fill her rank with the virgins, and the mothers of Israel, and be intermarried with the household of the faithful? This little sister was the abundance of gentile proselytes, which came over to the jewish church. Here is the tender love of Hebrew piety towards their little sister, which had no mother; no breasts of ordinances to feed her with the sincere milk of the word.

Song of Solomon 8:9. If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace. Christ, on his ascension, received gifts for the rebellious gentiles. He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, for the work of the ministry, and for perfecting the superstructure of his living temple, the church, which is his body.—Now if she be a door, and Christ opened a great and effectual door when Paul preached to the gentiles, then we will surround her with a wall, and enclose her as a sister in the pale of the church; for upon all the glory there must be a defence.—Here then, oh gentile, be reminded of the love which the jewish prophets had for thee; and think of the debt which thou owest to that nation for the holy scriptures, for the promises, and for the Saviour. Still pray for Israel, that the veil may be removed from off their hearts.

Song of Solomon 8:11. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; that is, “Lord of the people;” a place adjacent to Jerusalem, a vineyard planted with the best vine, or vines of Sorek, and other spice-trees. Here we have a figure of the church, as improved in the eightieth psalm, and in the fifth of Isaiah. He let it out to husbandmen, each paying a yearly rent of a thousand shekels, easy rentals for a plantation so rich and productive. This vineyard designates the Hebrew nation, “and the men of Judah his pleasant plants.” But in Isaiah’s time, and more so in our Saviour’s day, they proved ungrateful and wicked husbandmen. Matthew 21:33.

REFLECTIONS.

At the marriage in Cana, our Saviour kept the best wine to the last; so it would seem, Solomon did at the close of this sublime and beautiful song. It opens with a lovely view of the church, like children in early years gathering round their royal brother, the heir apparent, and placing the crown on his head, that he might reign in the church, and dwell for ever with his people; for in his peace they have peace, glory and joy.

We see this church in her afflictions, like her forefathers, coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on the covenant and promises of Christ. The saints in their pilgrimage sigh for rest, but they are never in despair. The beloved is at hand, marching before the host, in all the majesty of his pillary cloud.

This new and heavenly family, not like the carnal Hebrews, full of strife and revolt, are united by laws of love, the hallowed fire of the celestial altar. Love, which many waters cannot quench, because they forgive one another, as God for Christ’s sake forgave them. It is love rëascending to its source, and which the waters of Jordan cannot quench. This fire is bright on earth, but in heaven it blazes out in the perfection of brightness, and burns with inexhausted flame.

The tender regards of the Hebrew church towards the gentiles, should not be lightly overlooked in these reflections. It is the true spirit of the holy prophets, transported by the divine impetus to speak of righteousness, and to confer a plenitude of glory on the heathens, surpassing all that Jerusalem below could boast or hope. The gentiles were co-heirs with Israel of the grace of life. Oh what shall we do for our little sister; that the gentile world may hear the joyful sound, and that the nations which sit in darkness may walk in the light of the Lord.

This poem closes with a view of the church left in the gardens, and toiling in the vineyard; the church, the spouse surrounded with her companions, who listen to her voice in all social joys and in the most enlivened communion of the saints; while in return, the bridegroom hears her unceasing voice of prayer and praise; as David has said, prayer shall be made before him continually, and daily shall he be praised. Psalms 72:15.

To conclude, we must at the close, as at the commencement, regard this beautiful song as improving the happiness of royal and nuptial felicity, to more exalted ideas of the happiness of the Hebrew church in covenant with Messiah the hope of Israel, penciled in all the richer drapery of oriental allegory; and so far as Solomon had light, in conformity with the inspired words of other seers; such as, The Lord thy Maker is thy husband. Isaiah 54:3. Ezekiel 16:1-14. So also is the parable of the marriage feast, and that of the ten virgins. To speak more plainly, such is the love of Christ to the church that he gave himself for her, and washed her from her sins in his own blood, that he might at last present her faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. 1:24. Such also in the Revelation are the decorations, the gems, and glories of the bride, the Lamb’s wife: chap. 18. 21. 22.

We must therefore deplore, deeply deplore the Arian philosophy, which can see nothing in this poem, but a Samson’s marriage of seven days! A feast which John Taylor has favoured with a new version; a feast alas, which a friend and brother of mine has copied into his commentary, with the strongest marks of approbation!! If this philosophy be well founded, then the prophets were blind; the Hebrew targumists were misguided, and all the christian fathers were in darkness. Had the Hebrew prophets been of this mind, that this poem was a mere love-song, they would have despised Solomon as much as Arbactus despised Sardanapalus when he found him shut up in his palace of Nineveh, in a female dress, spinning with his queens, and assigning them their tasks.—Postremus apud eos regnavit Sardanapalus, vir muliere corruptior. Ad hunc videndum (quod nemini ante eum permissum fuerat) præfectus ipsius, Medis præpositus, nomine Arbactus, cum admitti magnâ ambitione ægrè obtinuisset; invenit eum inter scortorum greges purpuram colo nentem, et muliebri habitu, cum mollitiâ corporis, et oculorum lascivâ, omnes feminas anteiret, pensa inter virginis patientem. Hist. Justin. lib. 1. cap. 3.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/song-of-solomon-8.html. 1835.

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Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
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