Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Contrast with the bride's state by nature
her state by grace
"perfect through His comeliness put upon her"
The praise of Jesus Christ, unlike that of the world, hurts not, but
edifies; as His, not ours, is the glory
Re 4:10, 11).
Seven features of beauty are specified
("lips" and "speech" are but one feature,
the number for perfection. To each of these is attached a
comparison from nature: the resemblances consist not so much in outward
likeness, as in the combined sensations of delight produced by
contemplating these natural objects.
doves'--the large melting eye of the Syrian dove appears especially
beautiful amid the foliage of its native groves: so the bride's "eyes
within her locks"
MAURER for "locks," has "veil"; but locks suit the
connection better: so the Hebrew is translated
The dove was the only bird counted "clean" for sacrifice. Once the
heart was "the cage of every unclean and hateful bird." Grace makes the
Chaste and guileless ("harmless,"
John the Baptist, historically, was the "turtledove"
with eye directed to the coming Bridegroom: his Nazarite unshorn hair
answers to "locks"
(Joh 1:29, 36).
hair . . . goats--The hair of goats in the East is fine like silk. As
long hair is her glory, and marks her subjection to man
so the Nazarite's hair marked his subjection and separation unto God.
with 2Co 6:17;
Jesus Christ cares for the minutest concerns of His saints
appear from--literally, "that lie down from"; lying along the
hillside, they seem to hang from it: a picture of the bride's hanging
Gilead--beyond Jordan: there stood "the heap of witness"
2. even shorn--the Hebrew is translated
"of one size"; so the point of comparison to teeth is their
symmetry of form; as in "came up from the washing," the
spotless whiteness; and in "twins," the exact correspondence
of the upper and lower teeth: and in "none barren," none
wanting, none without its fellow. Faith is the tooth with which we
eat the living bread
(Joh 6:35, 54).
Contrast the teeth of sinners
also their end
Faith leads the flock to the washing
none . . . barren--
He who is begotten of God begets instrumentally other sons of God.
3. thread--like a delicate fillet. Not thick and white as the leper's
lips (type of sin), which were therefore to be "covered," as "unclean"
scarlet--The blood of Jesus Christ
cleanses the leprosy, and unseals the lips
Rahab's scarlet thread was a type of it
speech--not a separate feature from the lips
Contrast "uncircumcised lips"
MAURER and BURROWES
translate, "thy mouth."
temples--rather, the upper part of the cheek next the temples: the
seat of shamefacedness; so, "within thy locks," no display
(1Co 11:5, 6, 15).
Mark of true penitence
pomegranate--When cut, it displays in rows seeds pellucid, like
crystal, tinged with red. Her modesty is not on the surface, but within,
which Jesus Christ can see into.
4. neck--stately: in beautiful contrast to the blushing temples
as that of unbroken nature; nor "stretched forth" wantonly
nor burdened with the legal yoke
but erect in gospel freedom
tower of David--probably on Zion. He was a man of war, preparatory
to the reign of Solomon, the king of peace. So warfare in the case of
Jesus Christ and His saints precedes the coming rest. Each soul won
from Satan by Him is a trophy gracing the bride
(each hangs on Him,
Isa 22:23, 24);
also each victory of her faith. As shields adorn a temple's walls
so necklaces hang on the bride's neck
5. breasts--The bust is left open in Eastern dress. The breastplate
of the high priest was made of "two" pieces, folded one on the other, in
which were the Urim and Thummim (lights and perfection). "Faith
and love" are the double breastplate
answering to "hearing the word" and "keeping it," in a similar
connection with breasts
(Lu 12:27, 28).
roes--He reciprocates her praise
Emblem of love and satisfaction
among the lilies--shrinking from thorns of strife, worldliness, and
Roes feed among, not on the lilies: where these grow,
there is moisture producing green pasturage. The lilies represent her
6. Historically, the hill of frankincense is Calvary, where,
"through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself"; the mountain of myrrh
is His embalmment
till the resurrection "daybreak." The third Canticle occupies the one
cloudless day of His presence on earth, beginning from the night
and ending with the night of His departure
His promise is almost exactly in the words of her prayer
(the same Holy Ghost breathing in Jesus Christ and His praying people),
with the difference that she then looked for His visible coming. He now
tells her that when He shall have gone from sight, He still is to be
met with spiritually in prayer
until the everlasting day break, when we shall see face to face
(1Co 13:10, 12).
7. Assurance that He is going from her in love, not in displeasure
(Joh 16:6, 7).
all fair--still stronger than
So 1:15; So 4:1.
no spot--our privilege
8. Invitation to her to leave the border mountains (the highest
worldly elevation) between the hostile lands north of Palestine and the
Amana--south of Anti-Libanus; the river Abana, or Amana, was near
Shenir--The whole mountain was called Hermon; the part
held by the Sidonians was called Sirion; the part held by the
Infested by the devouring lion and the stealthy and swift leopard
Contrasted with the mountain of myrrh, &c.
the good land
with me--twice repeated emphatically. The presence of Jesus Christ
makes up for the absence of all besides
(Lu 18:29, 30;
Moses was permitted to see Canaan from Pisgah; Peter, James, and John
had a foretaste of glory on the mount of transfiguration.
9. sister . . . spouse--This title is here first used, as He is soon
about to institute the Supper, the pledge of the nuptial union. By the
term "sister," carnal ideas are excluded; the ardor of a spouse's love
is combined with the purity of a sister's
one--Even one look is enough to secure His love
Not merely the Church collectively, but each one member of it
(Mt 18:10, 14;
Lu 15:7, 24, 32).
answering to the "shields" hanging in the tower of David
Compare the "ornament"
(Pr 1:9; 3:22).
10. love--Hebrew, "loves"; manifold tokens of thy love.
much better--answering to her "better"
but with increased force. An Amoebean pastoral character
pervades the Song, like the classic Amoebean idylls and eclogues.
wine--The love of His saints is a more reviving cordial to Him than
wine; for example, at the feast in Simon's house
(Lu 7:36, 47;
smell of . . . ointments than all spices--answering to her praise
with increased force. Fragrant, as being fruits of His Spirit in
11. drop--always ready to fall, being full of honey, though not always
(Pr 5:3; 16:24).
under thy tongue--not always on, but under, the tongue, ready
Contrast her former state
"Honey and milk" were the glory of the good land. The change is
illustrated in the penitent thief. Contrast
with Lu 23:39,
&c. It was literally with "one" eye, a sidelong glance of
love "better than wine," that he refreshed Jesus Christ
(So 4:9, 10).
"To-day shalt thou be with Me (compare
is the only joyous sentence of His seven utterances on the cross.
smell of . . . garments--which are often perfumed in the East
The perfume comes from Him on us
We draw nigh to God in the perfumed garment of our elder brother
Lebanon--abounding in odoriferous trees
12. The Hebrew has no "is." Here she is distinct from the garden
yet identified with it
as being one with Him in His sufferings. Historically the Paradise,
into which the soul of Jesus Christ entered at death; and the tomb of
Joseph, in which His body was laid amid "myrrh," &c.
situated in a nicely kept garden (compare "gardener,"
"sealed" with a stone
in which it resembles "wells" in the East
(Ge 29:3, 8).
It was in a garden of light Adam fell; in a garden of darkness,
Gethsemane, and chiefly that of the tomb, the second Adam retrieved us.
Spiritually the garden is the gospel kingdom of heaven. Here all is
it was "the tender grape." The garden is His, though He calls
the plants hers
by His gift
spring . . . fountain--Jesus Christ
sealed, while He was in the sealed tomb: it poured forth its full tide
Still He is a sealed fountain until the Holy Ghost opens it to one
The Church also is "a garden enclosed"
So "a spring"
(Isa 27:3; 58:11);
As wives in the East are secluded from public gaze, so believers
Contrast the open streams which "pass away"
13. orchard--Hebrew, "a paradise," that is, a pleasure-ground
and orchard. Not only flowers, but fruit trees
hennah, or cypress blooms.
14. calamus--"sweet cane"
myrrh and aloes--Ointments are associated with His death, as well as
The bride's ministry of "myrrh and aloes" is recorded
15. of--This pleasure-ground is not dependent on mere reservoirs; it
has a fountain sufficient to water many "gardens" (plural).
Joh 4:13, 14; 7:38, 39).
from Lebanon--Though the fountain is lowly, the source is lofty; fed
by the perpetual snows of Lebanon, refreshingly cool
fertilizing the gardens of Damascus. It springs upon earth; its source
is heaven. It is now not "sealed," but open "streams"
16. Awake--literally, "arise." All besides is ready; one thing alone
is wanted--the breath of God. This follows rightly after His death
It is His call to the Spirit to come
compared to "the wind"; quickening
Saints offer the same prayer
The north wind "awakes," or arises strongly, namely, the Holy Ghost as a reprover
the south wind "comes" gently, namely, the Holy Ghost as the
The west wind brings rain from the sea
(1Ki 18:44, 45;
The east wind is tempestuous
These, therefore, are not wanted; but first the north wind clearing the
and then the warm south wind
so the Holy Ghost first clearing away mists of gloom, error, unbelief,
sin, which intercept the light of Jesus Christ, then infusing spiritual
causing the graces to exhale their odor.
Let my beloved, &c.--the bride's reply. The fruit was now at
length ripe; the last passover, which He had so desired, is come
(Lu 22:7, 15, 16, 18),
the only occasion in which He took charge of the preparations.
his--answering to Jesus Christ's "My." She owns that the garden is
His, and the fruits in her, which she does not in false humility deny