Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
--THE BRIDE SEARCHING FOR AND FINDING THE KING.
1. The song of songs--The most excellent of all songs, Hebrew idiom
A foretaste on earth of the "new song" to be sung in glory
(Re 5:9; 14:3; 15:2-4).
Solomon's--"King of Israel," or "Jerusalem," is not added, as in
the opening of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, not because Solomon had not
yet ascended the throne [MOODY STUART], but because his personality is hid under that of
Christ, the true Solomon (equivalent to Prince of Peace). The
earthly Solomon is not introduced, which would break the consistency of
the allegory. Though the bride bears the chief part, the Song
throughout is not hers, but that of her "Solomon." He animates her. He
and she, the Head and the members, form but one Christ [ADELAIDE NEWTON]. Aaron prefigured
Him as priest; Moses, as prophet; David, as a suffering king; Solomon,
as the triumphant prince of peace. The camp in the wilderness
represents the Church in the world; the peaceful reign of Solomon,
after all enemies had been subdued, represents the Church in heaven, of
which joy the Song gives a foretaste.
2. him--abruptly. She names him not, as is natural to one whose heart
is full of some much desired friend: so Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre
as if everyone must know whom she means, the one chief object of
kiss--the token of peace from the Prince of Peace
of his mouth--marking the tenderest affection. For a king to permit
his hands, or even garment, to be kissed, was counted a great honor; but
that he should himself kiss another with his mouth is the greatest
honor. God had in times past spoken by the mouth of His prophets, who
had declared the Church's betrothal; the bride now longs for contact
with the mouth of the Bridegroom Himself
Heb 1:1, 2).
True of the Church before the first advent, longing for "the hope of
Israel," "the desire of all nations"; also the awakened soul longing
for the kiss of reconciliation; and further, the kiss that is
the token of the marriage contract
(Ho 2:19, 20),
and of friendship
Joh 14:21; 15:15).
thy love--Hebrew, "loves," namely, tokens of love, loving
wine--which makes glad "the heavy heart" of one ready to perish, so
that he "remembers his misery no more"
(Pr 31:6, 7).
So, in a "better" sense, Christ's love
(Hab 3:17, 18).
He gives the same praise to the bride's love, with the emphatic
addition, "How much"
Wine was created by His first miracle
and was the pledge given of His love at the last supper. The spiritual
wine is His blood and His spirit, the "new" and better wine of the
which we can never drink to "excess," as the other
3. Rather, "As regards the savor of thy ointments, it is good"
So 4:10, 11,
the Bridegroom reciprocates the praise of the bride in the same terms.
thy name--Christ's character and office as the "Anointed"
(Isa 9:6; 61:1),
as "the savor of ointments" are the graces that surround His
(Ps 45:7, 8).
in its fullest sense, applies to Him. The holy anointing oil of the
high priest, which it was death for anyone else to make (so
implies the exclusive preciousness of Messiah's name
(Ex 30:23-28, 31-38).
So Mary brake the box of precious ointment over Him, appropriately
the broken box typifying His body, which, when broken, diffused all
grace: compounded of various spices, &c.
(Col 1:19; 2:9);
of sweet odor
therefore--because of the manifestation of God's character in Christ
(1Jo 4:9, 19).
So the penitent woman
(Lu 7:37, 38, 47).
virgins--the pure in heart
The same Hebrew is translated, "thy hidden ones"
The "ointment" of the Spirit "poured forth" produces the "love of
4. (1) The cry of ancient Israel for Messiah, for example, Simeon,
Anna, &c. (2) The cry of an awakened soul for the drawing of the
Spirit, after it has got a glimpse of Christ's loveliness and its own
Draw me--The Father draws
The Son draws
"Draw" here, and "Tell"
reverently qualify the word "kiss"
me, we--No believer desires to go to heaven alone. We are converted
as individuals; we follow Christ as joined in a communion of saints
(Joh 1:41, 45).
Individuality and community meet in the bride.
run--Her earnestness kindles as she prays
Ps 119:32, 60).
after thee--not before
king . . . brought me into--
(Ps 45:14, 15;
He is the anointed Priest
chambers--Her prayer is answered even beyond her desires. Not only is
she permitted to run after Him, but is brought into the inmost
pavilion, where Eastern kings admitted none but the most intimate
(Es 4:11; 5:2;
The erection of the temple of Solomon was the first bringing of the
bride into permanent, instead of migratory, chambers of the King.
Christ's body on earth was the next
whereby believers are brought within the veil
Heb 10:19, 20).
Entrance into the closet for prayer is the first step. The earnest of
the future bringing into heaven
His chambers are the bride's also
There are various chambers, plural
be glad and rejoice--inward and outward rejoicing.
Php 4:1, 4).
Not in our spiritual frames
(Ps 30:6, 7).
remember--rather, "commemorate with praises"
The mere remembrance of spiritual joys is better than the
present enjoyment of carnal ones
(Ps 4:6, 7).
upright--rather, "uprightly," "sincerely"
Peter (Joh 21:17);
or "deservedly" [MAURER].
5. black--namely, "as the tents of Kedar," equivalent to blackness
She draws the image from the black goatskins with which the Scenite
Arabs ("Kedar" was in Arabia-Petræa) cover their tents
(contrasted with the splendid state tent in which the King was
awaiting His bride according to Eastern custom); typifying the darkness
of man's natural state. To feel this, and yet also feel one's self in
Jesus Christ "comely as the curtains of Solomon," marks the believer
"I am chief"; so she says not merely, "I was," but "I am";
still black in herself, but comely through His comeliness
put upon her
curtains--first, the hangings and veil in the temple of Solomon
then, also, the "fine linen which is the righteousness of saints"
the white wedding garment provided by Jesus Christ
Col 1:28; 2:10;
Historically, the dark tents of Kedar represent the Gentile
&c.). As the vineyard at the close is transferred from the Jews, who
had not kept their own, to the Gentiles, so the Gentiles are introduced
at the commencement of the Song; for they were among the earliest
enquirers after Jesus Christ
the wise men from the East (Arabia, or Kedar).
daughters of Jerusalem--professors, not the bride, or "the virgins,"
yet not enemies; invited to gospel blessings
(So 3:10, 11);
so near to Jesus Christ as not to be unlikely to find Him
desirous to seek Him with her
So 6:13; 7:1, 5, 8).
So 7:8, 9,
the bride's Beloved becomes their Beloved; not, however, of
all of them
Lu 23:27, 28).
6. She feels as if her blackness was so great as to be gazed at by
She is to forget "her own people and her father's house," that is, the
worldly connections of her unregenerate state
they had maltreated her
(Lu 15:15, 16).
Children of the same mother, but not the same father [MAURER],
They made her a common keeper of vineyards, whereby the sun looked
upon, that is, burnt her; thus she did "not keep her own" vineyard,
that is, fair beauty. So the world, and the soul
The believer has to watch against the same danger
So he will be able, instead of the self-reproach here, to say as in
7. my soul loveth--more intense than "the virgins" and "the upright
(So 1:3, 4;
To carry out the design of the allegory, the royal encampment is here
represented as moving from place to place, in search of green pastures,
under the Shepherd King
The bride, having first enjoyed communion with him in the pavilion, is
willing to follow Him into labors and dangers; arising from all
this distinguishes her from the formalist
feedest--tendest thy flock
1Pe 2:25; 5:4;
No single type expresses all the office of Jesus Christ;
hence arises the variety of diverse images used to portray the
manifold aspects of Him: these would be quite incongruous, if the Song
referred to the earthly Solomon. Her intercourse with Him is peculiar.
She hears His voice, and addresses none but Himself. Yet it is through
a veil; she sees Him not
(Job 23:8, 9).
If we would be fed, we must follow the Shepherd through the
whole breadth of His Word, and not stay on one spot
makest . . . to rest--distinct from "feedest"; periods of rest are
vouchsafed after labor
(Isa 4:6; 49:10;
Communion in private must go along with public following of Him.
turneth aside--rather one veiled, that is, as a harlot, not His
[GESENIUS]; or as a mourner
[WEISS]; or as one unknown
[MAURER]. All imply
estrangement from the Bridegroom. She feels estranged even among
Christ's true servants, answering to "thy companions"
so long as she has not Himself present. The opposite spirit to
8. If--she ought to have known
(Joh 14:8, 9).
The confession of her ignorance and blackness
leads Him to call her "fairest"
Her jealousy of letting even "His companions" take the place of Himself
led her too far. He directs her to follow them, as they follow Him
Heb 6:10, 12);
to use ordinances and the ministry; where they are, He is
Mt 18:19, 20;
Indulging in isolation is not the way to find Him. It was thus,
literally, that Zipporah found her bridegroom
The bride unhesitatingly asks the watchmen afterwards
Christ is to be found in active ministrations, as well as in prayer
shepherds' tents--ministers in the sanctuary
9. horses in Pharaoh's chariots--celebrated for beauty, swiftness, and ardor, at the Red Sea
These qualities, which seem to belong to the ungodly,
really belong to the saints [MOODY STUART]. The allusion may be to the horses brought at a
high price by Solomon out of Egypt
(2Ch 1:16, 17).
So the bride is redeemed out of spiritual Egypt by the true Solomon, at
an infinite price
1Pe 1:18, 19).
But the deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea accords with the
allusion to the tabernacle
(So 1:5; 3:6, 7);
it rightly is put at the beginning of the Church's call. The
ardor and beauty of the bride are the point of
"comely." Also, like Pharaoh's horses, she forms a great company
(Re 19:7, 14).
As Jesus Christ is both Shepherd and Conqueror, so believers are not
only His sheep, but also, as a Church militant now, His
chariots and horses
10. rows of jewels--
OLERIUS says, Persian ladies wear two or three
rows of pearls round the head, beginning on the forehead and descending
down to the cheeks and under the chin, so that their faces seem to be
set in pearls
The comparison of the horses
implies the vital energy of the bride; this verse, her superadded
(Pr 1:9; 4:9;
11. We--the Trinity implied by the Holy Ghost, whether it was so by
the writer of the Song or not
Pr 8:30; 30:4).
"The Jews acknowledged God as king, and Messiah as king, in
interpreting the Song, but did not know that these two are one" [LEIGHTON].
make--not merely give
borders of gold, with studs of silver--that is, "spots of
silver"--Jesus Christ delights to give more "to him that hath"
He crowns His own work in us
The "borders" here are equivalent to "rows"
but here, the King seems to give the finish to her attire, by adding a
crown (borders, or circles) of gold studded with silver
spots, as in
Both the royal and nuptial crown, or chaplet. The
Hebrew for "spouse"
is a crowned one
The crown is given at once upon conversion, in title, but in sensible
12. While--It is the presence of the Sun of Righteousness that draws
out the believer's odors of grace. It was the sight of Him at table that
caused the two women to bring forth their ointments for Him
(Lu 7:37, 38;
and in church worship
and at the Lord's Supper especially, for here public communion
with Him at table amidst His friends is spoken of, as
refers to private communion
(1Co 10:16, 21);
the future perfect fulfilment
The allegory supposes the King to have stopped in His movements and to
be seated with His friends on the divan. What grace that a table should
be prepared for us, while still militant
my spikenard--not boasting, but owning the Lord's grace to and in
her. The spikenard is a lowly herb, the emblem of humility. She rejoices
that He is well pleased with her graces, His own work
13. bundle of myrrh--abundant preciousness (Greek),
Even a little myrrh was costly; much more a bundle
BURROWES takes it of a scent-box filled with
liquid myrrh; the liquid obtained by incision gave the tree its
he--rather, "it"; it is the myrrh that lies in the bosom, as the
cluster of camphire is in the vineyards
all night--an undivided heart
Eze 16:15, 30).
Yet on account of the everlasting covenant, God restores the adulteress
(Eze 16:60, 62;
&c.). The night is the whole present dispensation till the everlasting
Also, literally, "night"
(Ps 119:147, 148),
the night of affliction
14. cluster--Jesus Christ is one, yet manifold in His graces.
camphire--or, "cypress." The "hennah" is meant, whose odorous flowers
grow in clusters, of a color white and yellow softly blended; its bark
is dark, the foliage light green. Women deck their persons with them.
The loveliness of Jesus Christ.
vineyards--appropriate in respect to Him who is "the vine." The
spikenard was for the banquet
the myrrh was in her bosom continually
the camphire is in the midst of natural beauties, which, though lovely,
are eclipsed by the one cluster, Jesus Christ, pre-eminent above them
En-gedi--in South Palestine, near the Dead Sea
famed for aromatic shrubs.
15. fair--He discerns beauty in her, who had said, "I am black"
because of the everlasting covenant
doves' eyes--large and beautiful in the doves of Syria. The
prominent features of her beauty
gentleness, innocence, and constant love, emblem of the Holy Ghost, who
changes us to His own likeness
(Ge 8:10, 11;
The opposite kind of eyes
16. Reply of the Bride. She presumes to call Him beloved,
because He called her so first. Thou callest me "fair"; if I am so, it
is not in myself; it is all from Thee
but Thou art fair in Thyself
towards Thy friends
bed . . . green--the couch of green grass on which the
King and His bride sit to "rest at noon." Thus her prayer in
is here granted; a green oasis in the desert, always found near waters
in the East
The scene is a kiosk, or summer house. Historically, the
literal resting of the Babe of Beth-lehem and his parents on the
green grass provided for cattle
(Lu 2:7, 12).
In this verse there is an incidental allusion, in
to the offering
So the "cedar and fir" ceiling refers to the temple
(1Ki 5:6-10; 6:15-18);
type of the heavenly temple
17. our house--see on
but primarily, the kiosk
"His rest." Cedar is pleasing to the eye and smell, hard, and never
eaten by worms.
fir--rather, "cypress," which is hard, durable, and fragrant, of a
reddish hue [GESENIUS,
MAURER]. Contrasted with the shifting
His house is "our house"
Perfect oneness of Him and the bride
(Joh 14:20; 17:21).
There is the shelter of a princely roof from the sun
without the confinement of walls, and amidst rural beauties. The carved
ceiling represents the wondrous excellencies of His divine nature.