Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. By night--literally, "By nights." Continuation of the longing for
the dawn of the Messiah
The spiritual desertion here
(So 2:17; 3:5)
is not due to indifference, as in
"As nights and dews are better for flowers than a continual sun, so
Christ's absence (at times) giveth sap to humility, and putteth an edge
on hunger, and furnisheth a fair field to faith to put forth itself"
Ps 30:6, 7.
on . . . bed--the secret of her failure
Am 6:1, 4;
loveth--no want of sincerity, but of diligence, which she now makes
up for by leaving her bed to seek Him
(Ps 22:2; 63:8;
she calls Jesus Christ, "Him whom my soul loveth," designating Him as
absent; language of desire: "He loved me," would be language of
In questioning the watchmen
she does not even name Him, so full is her heart of Him. Having found
Him at dawn (for throughout He is the morning), she
charges the daughters not to abridge by intrusion the period of His
stay. Compare as to the thoughtful seeking for Jesus Christ in the time
of John the Baptist, in vain at first, but presently after successful
found him not--Oh, for such honest dealings with ourselves
2. Wholly awake for God
"An honest resolution is often to (the doing of) duty, like a needle
that draws the thread after it" [DURHAM]. Not a
mere wish, that counts not the cost--to leave her easy bed, and wander
in the dark night seeking Him
the city--Jerusalem, literally
and spiritually the Church here
broad ways--open spaces at the gates of Eastern cities, where the
public assembled for business. So, the assemblies of worshippers
(So 8:2, 3;
She had in her first awakening shrunk from them, seeking Jesus Christ
alone; but she was desired to seek the footsteps of the flock
so now in her second trial she goes forth to them of herself. "The more
the soul grows in grace, and the less it leans on ordinances, the more
it prizes and profits by them" [MOODY STUART]
(Ps 73:16, 17).
found him not--Nothing short of Jesus Christ can satisfy her
Ps 63:1, 2).
fit persons to consult
found me--the general ministry of the Word "finds" individually souls
in quest of Jesus Christ
end of verse
whereas formalists remain unaffected.
4. Jesus Christ is generally "found" near the watchmen and means of
grace; but they are not Himself; the star that points to Beth-lehem is
not the Sun that has risen there; she hastens past the guideposts to the
STUART]. Not even angels could satisfy Mary, instead of
held him, &c.--willing to be held; not willing, if not held
Lu 24:28, 29;
"As a little weeping child will hold its mother fast, not because it is
stronger than she, but because her bowels constrain her not to leave
it; so Jesus Christ yearning over the believer cannot go,
because He will not" [DURHAM]. In
it is He who leads the bride into His chambers; here it is she who
leads Him into her mother's. There are times when the grace of Jesus
Christ seems to draw us to Him; and others, when we with strong cries
draw Him to us and ours. In the East one large apartment often serves
for the whole family; so the bride here speaks of her mother's
apartment and her own together. The mention of the "mother" excludes
impropriety, and imparts the idea of heavenly love, pure as a sister's,
while ardent as a bride's; hence the frequent title, "my
sister--spouse." Our mother after the Spirit, is the Church, the
Ga 4:19, 26);
for her we ought to pray continually
also for the national Jerusalem
(Isa 62:6, 7;
also for the human family, which is our mother and kindred after
the flesh; these our mother's children have evilly treated us
but, like our Father, we are to return good for evil
(Mt 5:44, 45),
and so bring Jesus Christ home to them
but there it was for the non-interruption of her own fellowship
with Jesus Christ that she was anxious; here it is for the not
grieving of the Holy Ghost, on the part of the daughters of Jerusalem.
Jealously avoid levity, heedlessness, and offenses which would mar the
gracious work begun in others
Ac 2:42, 43;
BRIDEGROOM WITH THE
Historically, the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth.
6. New scene
The friends of the Bridegroom see a cortege approach. His palanquin and
cometh out--rather, "up from"; the wilderness was lower than Jerusalem
pillars of smoke--from the perfumes burned around Him and His bride.
Image from Israel and the tabernacle (answering to "bed,"
marching through the desert with the pillar of smoke by day and fire by
and the pillars of smoke ascending from the altars of incense and of
atonement; so Jesus Christ's righteousness, atonement, and ever-living
intercession. Balaam, the last representative of patriarchism, was
required to curse the Jewish Church, just as it afterwards would
not succumb to Christianity without a struggle
but he had to bless in language like that here
(Nu 24:5, 6).
Angels too joyfully ask the same question, when Jesus Christ with the
tabernacle of His body (answering to "His bed,"
"dwelt," Greek "tabernacled,"
ascends into heaven
also when they see His glorious bride with Him
Encouragement to her; amid the darkest trials
she is still on the road to glory
in a palanquin "paved with love"
she is now in soul spiritually "coming," exhaling the sweet graces,
faith, love, joy, peace, prayer, and praise; (the fire is lighted
within, the "smoke" is seen without,
it is in the desert of trial
she gets them; she is the "merchant" buying from Jesus Christ without
money or price
just as myrrh and frankincense are got, not in Egypt, but in the
Arabian sands and the mountains of Palestine. Hereafter she shall
(So 3:6, 11)
in a glorified body, too
Historically, Jesus Christ returning from the wilderness, full of the
(Lu 4:1, 14).
The same, "Who is this," &c.
(Isa 63:1, 5).
the wilderness character of the Church is portrayed; in
So 3:7, 8,
its militant aspect. In
So 3:9, 10,
Jesus Christ is seen dwelling in believers, who are His "chariot" and
the consummation in glory.
bed--palanquin. His body, literally, guarded by a definite number of
angels, threescore, or sixty
from the wilderness
(Mt 4:1, 11),
(Lu 2:13; 22:43;
Ac 1:10, 11);
just as six hundred thousand of Israel guarded the Lord's tabernacle
one for every ten thousand. In contrast to the "bed of sloth"
(Jos 5:13, 14).
Angels guarding His tomb used like words
of Israel--true subjects, not mercenaries.
8. hold--not actually grasping them, but having them girt on the
thigh ready for use, like their Lord
So believers too are guarded by angels
and they themselves need "every man"
to be armed
(Ps 144:1, 2;
Eph 6:12, 17;
because of fear in the night--Arab marauders often turn a wedding into
mourning by a night attack. So the bridal procession of saints in the
night of this wilderness is the chief object of Satan's assault.
9. chariot--more elaborately made than the "bed" or travelling litter
from a Hebrew root, "to elaborate" [EWALD].
So the temple of "cedar of Lebanon," as compared with the temporary
tabernacle of shittim wood
(2Sa 7:2, 6, 7;
1Ki 5:14; 6:15-18),
Jesus Christ's body is the antitype, "made" by the Father for Him
the wood answering to His human nature, the gold, His divine; the two
being but one Christ.
10. pillars--supporting the canopy at the four corners; curtains at
the side protect the person within from the sun. Pillars with silver
sockets supported the veil that enclosed the holy of holies; emblem of
Jesus Christ's strength
Margin, "silver," emblem of His purity
so the saints hereafter
bottom--rather, "the back for resting or reclining on"
(Vulgate and Septuagint) [MAURER].
So the floor and mercy seat, the resting-place of God
in the temple, was gold
covering--rather, "seat," as in
Hereafter the saints shall share His seat
purple--the veil of the holiest, partly purple, and the purple robe
put on Jesus Christ, accord with English Version, "covering."
"Purple" (including scarlet and crimson) is the emblem of royalty, and
of His blood; typified by the passover lamb's blood, and the wine when
the twelve sat or reclined at the Lord's table.
paved--translated, like mosaic pavement, with the various acts and
promises of love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
1Jo 4:8, 16),
in contrast with the tables of stone in the "midst" of the ark, covered
with writings of stern command (compare
this is all grace and love to believers, who answer to "the
daughters of Jerusalem"
The exterior silver and gold, cedar, purple, and guards, may deter, but
when the bride enters within, she rests on a pavement of
11. Go forth--
daughters of Zion--spirits of saints, and angels
(the Hebrews wore costly crowns or chaplets at weddings), and kingly
The crown of thorns was once His nuptial chaplet, His blood the wedding
"His mother," that so crowned Him, is the human race, for He is
"the Son of man," not merely the son of Mary. The same mother
reconciled to Him
as the Church, travails in birth for souls, which she presents to Him
as a crown
Not being ashamed to call the children brethren
He calls their mother His mother
Re 12:1, 2).
day of his espousals--chiefly the final marriage, when the
number of the elect is complete
MOODY STUART observes as to
the center of the Book, these characteristics: (1) The bridegroom takes
the chief part, whereas elsewhere the bride is the chief speaker. (2)
Elsewhere He is either "King" or "Solomon"; here He is twice called
"King Solomon." The bride is six times here called the "spouse"; never
so before or after; also "sister" four times, and, except in the first
verse of the next Canticle
nowhere else. (3) He and she are never separate; no absence, no
complaint, which abound elsewhere, are in this Canticle.