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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Song of Solomon 7

 

 

Verse 1

Song of Solomon 7:1. How beautiful are thy feet with shoes Instead of shoes, we might read more properly sandals. The word נדיב nadib, here rendered prince, is in Psalms 47:9; Psalms 107:40 used in the plural number to denote the Hebrew chiefs, or rulers of tribes: it is rendered, Isaiah 13:2 by the word nobles.


Verse 2

Song of Solomon 7:2. An heap of wheat It was usual with the Jews, when their wheat had been threshed out and fanned, to lay it in heaps, Ruth 3:7. Haggai 2:16 and as their threshing-floors were in the open air, they stuck them round with thorns in order to keep off the cattle, Hosea 2:5-6. These, as a mark of respect to the spouse, are here converted into a fence of lilies; or, we may suppose with Lamy, that Solomon here alludes to a custom which, according to him, they had in Palestine, of throwing flowers round the heaps of corn after it was winnowed. Wheat and barley were, among the ancient Hebrews, emblems of fertility; and it was usual for the standers-by to scatter these grains upon the new-married couple, accompanying it with a wish that they might increase and multiply. The passage in the text is therefore a prediction of the glorious fertility of the church of Christ. The next verse should be rendered as in ch. Song of Solomon 4:5. See the New Translation, and Selden, Uxor. Heb. lib. ii. ver. 15.


Verse 4

Song of Solomon 7:4. Thine eyes like the fish-pools The author of the New Translation gives us a true idea of the simile here used: Thine eyes are clear and serene as the pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Beth-rabbim [which was one of the gates of Heshbon].


Verse 5

Song of Solomon 7:5. Thine head upon thee, &c.— Thine head upon thee riseth eminent and majestic, like Carmel; and the tresses of thy head shine like scarlet. Michaelis, however, thinks that the word rendered purple, does not here signify the purple colour, but the murex, or Tyrian shell-fish, which produces that colour. Houbigant renders the whole passage, The tresses of thy hair are like the royal purple, which hangs in festoons from the ceiling. See New Translation.


Verse 7

Song of Solomon 7:7. Clusters of grapes Dates are the fruit of the palm-tree. They grow in clusters, and should be read here instead of grapes. See Brown's Observations, and the New Translation.


Verse 10

Song of Solomon 7:10. His desire is toward me Is fixed upon me. New Translation. See ch. Song of Solomon 2:16, Song of Solomon 6:3.


Verse 13

Song of Solomon 7:13. The mandrakes give a smell The New Translation renders it in general, The finest flowers give their fragrance. See Genesis 30:14. The next clause may be rendered, And in our hoards are all kinds of delicious fruits, new gathered, as well as old. The gates in Judges were usually large buildings, and we may suppose the repository for fruits was either over them, or near them. Houbigant would read it, And amongst our golden apples (or citrons) are many sweet ones, as well new as old; that is to say, vernal and autumnal. Sanctius supposes that the passage relates to the custom in Palestine of decking the gates of newly-married persons with festoons of fruits and flowers.

Are all manner of pleasant fruits Dr. Russell tells us, as I have intimated above, that the English at Aleppo generally live at the gardens near Baballa during the month of April and part of May. Now I would observe (viewing the words at present in their literal sense), that if the sacred writer refers to such a sort of retirement in the close of this chapter, I doubt the word fruits should not have been introduced here. The original word מגדים megadim, apparently signifies precious things, of a very different kind from the fruits of a garden, in Genesis 24:10. 2 Chronicles 21:3. Ezra 1:6 but they cannot be things of the nature of those referred to there, which are here meant, as appears from the invitation to go into the field or villages to enjoy them. If then they be neither fruits, nor jewels of gold, which are here meant, why may we not understand the word as signifying precious plants in general; herbs and flowers, shrubs and trees? Thus the new and old megadim that were treasured up, will signify, a delightful mixture of new plants with those desirable ones which had been accustomed to grow in the gardens of Judaea. Great additions of precious flowers, shrubs, and trees, have been made to the gardens of Europe. Exotic plants also have been introduced into those of the East. Russell tells us, that the ladies of Aleppo are very fond of several European flowers which have been introduced into their gardens: and we learn from Maillet, that a bashaw of Egypt took great pains to preserve the balm of Matarchah. Cambyses carried the peach into Egypt; and it is thought to be past doubt, that the cassia, the orange and lemon kind, apricots, moseh, (a delicious fruit, but which cannot be kept,) the pomegranate, and the cons or cream-tree, are none of them natives of that country. And can it be imagined then, that when novelties have been in all ages introduced into gardens, and that in the east as well as the west, there should not be many such in the days of a prince, who not only planted trees of all kinds of fruit for pleasure, (Ecclesiastes 2:5.) but who also distinguished himself by the study of natural history, and of vegetables in particular? 1 Kings 4:33. What is more, Josephus expressly tells us, there was a tradition, that the balsam for which Judaea was so celebrated, came from the queen of Sheba, who presented a root of it to Solomon. Antiq. lib. 8: Song of Solomon 7:6. At our gates, or, as it is elsewhere translated, at our doors; at hand that is, will you there find all manner of precious plants. The words, understood in this sense, are by no means unnatural, especially if they be supposed to be those of the bridegroom. See the Observations, p. 410.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,

1. A fresh commendation of the beauty of the church, addressed as a prince's daughter, begotten of the King eternal, and espoused to the Prince of the kings of the earth. She had in a great variety of expressions described the surpassing excellence of her Lord, and he now, rejoicing over her on her return to him, launches forth into her praise. From the beauty of the human form, some faint traces are collected of the infinitely surpassing beauty of the soul, by divine grace renewed, and made all glorious within. The similitudes here used represent to us,

(1.) The ministers of the church shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and, with their feet beautiful on the mountains, hasting to proclaim the glad tidings of great joy.

(2.) The firm connection between the members of the body mystical, who are knit together in love, strong by their mutual union, and readily moving in the paths of the divine commands.

(3.) The preachers of the word, full of divine truth, as a goblet crowned with wine, and strong to labour in the cause of God.

(4.) The fruitfulness of the church, teeming with precious seed, and beautiful to view as the hedge of lilies.

(5.) The rich consolations which are bestowed from the breasts of the word, where all the children of the church milk out, and are satisfied with the abundance of her glory, Isaiah 60:3.

(6.) The strength of faith, and purity of manners, which distinguish genuine and faithful Christians.

(7.) The depth and clearness of their understandings enlightened by divine grace; and the calmness of their tempers, unruffled as the surface of a standing pool. (8.) Their sharp sagacity, and impregnable constancy.

(9.) Their glorious head, Christ Jesus; or their heavenly-mindedness, and elevation above the storms and tempests of this lower world.

(10.) The number and royal dignity of the faithful, who spring from their glorious Head, depend upon him, and are nourished by him.

2. Since she is so beautiful, Christ expresses his delight in her. The king is held in the galleries, well-pleased to take up his rest in the hearts of his people, and held by the strong cords of love to maintain abiding communion with them. How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! all her words and ways pleased him, and she was in his eyes altogether lovely; tall as the palm tree, and her breasts as clusters of the vine; straight in her walk and conversation, and fruitful in all good works that make glad the heart of God and man. I said, I will go up to the palm-tree, to solace himself in the shade, or to behold its flourishing state; I will take hold of the boughs thereof, to gather the fruit, or to prune the luxuriant branches by afflictions and crosses. Now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, yielding the most grateful favour: and the smell of thy nose like apples; for Christ's presence draws forth the graces into lively exercise, and makes them give their sweet smell: and the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved; her gracious discourse being refreshing and pleasing to the ear, as wine to the taste, that goeth down sweetly: or to righteousnesses, leading and directing her in the ways of holiness; and by its reviving influence, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak; as those who were faint, and their eyes closed, are recovered by a cordial draught; so the souls of those who slept in the death of sin are recovered by the word and spirit of Christ; and believers who had felt a diminution of grace are revived and restored thereby.

2nd, The spouse,

1. Expresses her confidence in her Lord, and makes profession of her fidelity to him. I am my beloved's, wholly his, and not my own. Whatever excellencies I possess, they are derived from him; I have nothing which I have not received: I am his; I know, I am assured of it; for faith in lively exercise casteth out fear and doubt, and gives the soul the most assured certainty: and his desire is toward me; his affections are placed on his faithful people: for the whole world, but for their sakes especially, he came down from heaven, and loved not his life unto death, but underwent the bloody baptism, Luke 12:50. The company and converse of his church he is now pleased with; nor will he rest till the utmost desires of his soul are satisfied, and all his faithful people who perseveringly cleave to him, are brought to the enjoyment of his glory.

2. She invites him to come and give her the enjoyment of his presence: Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field. Wherever we are, we should desire Christ for our companion: if taking recreation, his presence will make the air doubly sweet: if engaged in the labours of the field, a sense of his nearness will beguile our toils, and make them easy. Let us lodge in the villages, retired from the noisy town, for solitude is the friend of contemplation; and they who would enjoy sweet communion with God must be often alone, speaking with him that seeth in secret. Or it intimates, that his presence can make the cottage a palace, and the place of meanest accommodations a dwelling of delight. Let us get up early to the vineyards; for those who have Christ with them must improve their opportunities, early seek him in their youth, early seek him every morning; for a slothful soul that dozes away the light of day, can never be in a flourishing state. Let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth; in what state the church and the several members of it are; whether our souls are putting forth the fresh blossoms of grace, and promising a plenteous vintage of every good word and work.

3. She promises to give him there her warmest affections: There will I give thee my loves; the desires of her soul being enlarged by his presence, and all her graces going forth in most lively exercise towards him. The mandrakes give a smell, (or, the loveliest flowers) which signify the fragrance of the graces of the saints, and their acceptableness to Christ: and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old; the abounding works of faith and love; or the doctrines of the sacred Scriptures from which the ministers of the sanctuary, as from a storehouse, draw forth the richest provision for the soul; which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved; for though the provision be made for all who are called to partake of the advantages resulting from the oracles of God, and more especially for the members of his church, yet doth it ultimately tend to his glory. Note; All that we have is Christ's; it is a poor all indeed, and unworthy of his acceptance; but a gracious soul delights to lay it, such as it is, at his feet, and feels the deepest gratitude that he condescends to accept the service.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 7:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/song-of-solomon-7.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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