Matthew Henry Complete CommentarySong of Solomon 5
on the Whole Bible
In this chapter we have,
I. Christ's gracious acceptance of the invitation which his church had
given him, and the kind visit which he made to her,
Song of Solomon 5:1.
II. The account which the spouse gives of her own folly, in putting a
slight upon her beloved, and the distress she was in by reason of his
Song of Solomon 5:2-8.
III. The enquiry of the daughters of Jerusalem concerning the amiable
perfections of her beloved
(Song of Solomon 5:9),
and her particular answer to that enquiry,
Song of Solomon 5:10-16.
"Unto you that believe he is thus precious."
|The Love of Christ to the Church.
1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have
gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with
my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends;
drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
These words are Christ's answer to the church's prayer in the close of
the foregoing chapter, Let my beloved come into his garden; here
he has come, and lets her know it. See how ready God is to hear prayer,
how ready Christ is to accept the invitations that his people give him,
though we are backward to hear his calls and accept his invitations. He
is free in condescending to us, while we are shy of ascending to him.
Observe how the return answered the request, and outdid it.
1. She called him her beloved (and really he was so), and
invited him because she loved him; in return to this, he called her his
sister and spouse, as several times before,
Song of Solomon 4:1-16
Those that make Christ their best beloved shall be owned by him in the
nearest and dearest relations.
2. She called the garden his, and the pleasant fruits of it
his, and he acknowledges them to be so: It is my garden,
it is my spice. When God was displeased with Israel he turned
them off to Moses (They are thy people,
and he called the appointed feasts of the Lord their appointed
but now that they are in his favour he owns them for his garden.
"Though of small account, yet it is mine." Those that are in sincerity
give up themselves and all they have and can do to Jesus Christ, he
will do them the honour to stamp them, and what they have and do for
him, with his own mark, and say, It is mine.
3. She invited him to come into his garden, and he says, I
Thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. When Solomon prayed
that God would come and take possession of the house he had built for
him, he did come; his glory filled the house
(2 Chronicles 7:2),
(Song of Solomon 5:16)
he let him know that he had chosen and sanctified this house, that his
name might be there for ever. Those that throw open the door of
their souls to Jesus Christ shall find him ready to come in to them;
and in every place where he records his name he will meet his people,
and bless them,
4. She desired him to eat his pleasant fruits, to accept of the
sacrifices offered in his temple, which were as the fruits of his
garden, and he does so, but finds they are not gathered and ready for
eating, therefore he does himself gather them. As the fruits are his,
so is the preparation of them; he finds his heart unready for his
entertainment, but does himself draw out into exercise those gracious
habits which he had planted there. What little good there is in us
would be shed and lost if he did not gather it, and preserve it to
5. She only desired him to eat the fruits of the garden, but he
brought along with him something more, honey, and wine,
and milk, which yield substantial nourishment, and which were
the products of Canaan, Immanuel's land. Christ delights himself
greatly in that which he has both conferred upon his people and wrought
in them. Or we may suppose this to have been prepared by the spouse
herself, as Esther prepared for the king her husband a banquet of
wine; it is but plain fare, and what is natural, honey and milk,
but, being kindly designed, it is kindly accepted; imperfections are
overlooked; the honey-comb is eaten with the honey, and the weakness of
the flesh passed by and pardoned, because the spirit is willing.
When Christ appeared to his disciples after his resurrection he did eat
with them a piece of a honey-comb
in which this scripture was fulfilled. He did not drink the wine only,
which is liquor for men, for great men, but the milk too, which is
liquor for children, little children, for he was to be the holy
child Jesus, that had need of milk.
6. She only invited him to come himself, but he, bringing his own
entertainment along with him, brings his friends too, and invites them
to share in the provisions. The more the merrier, we say; and
here, where there was so great a plenty, there was not the worse fare.
When our Lord Jesus fed 5000 at once they did all eat and were
filled. Christ invites all his friends to the wine and milk
which he himself drinks of
to the feast of fat things and wines on the lees,
The great work of man's redemption, and the riches of the covenant of
grace, are a feast to the Lord Jesus and they ought to be so to us. The
invitation is very free, and hearty, and loving: Eat, O friends!
If Christ comes to sup with us, it is we that sup with him,
Eat, O friends! Those only that are Christ's friends are welcome
to his table; his enemies, that will not have him to reign over
them, have no part nor lot in the matter. Drink, yea, drink
abundantly. Christ, in his gospel, has made plentiful provision for
poor souls. He fills the hungry with good things; there is
enough for all, there is enough for each; we are not straitened in
him or in his grace, let us not therefore be straitened in our own
bosoms. Open the mouth widely, and Christ will fill it. Be not drunk
with wine, but be filled with the Spirit,
Those that entertain Christ must bid his friends welcome with him;
Jesus and his disciples were called together to the marriage
and Christ will have all his friends to rejoice with him in the day of
his espousals to his church, and, in token of that, to feast with him.
In spiritual and heavenly joys there is no danger of exceeding; there
we may drink abundantly, drink of the river of God's pleasures
and be abundantly satisfied,
|The Love of Christ to the Church; Spiritual Desertion.
2 I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved
that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove,
my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with
the drops of the night.
3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed
my feet; how shall I defile them?
4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my
bowels were moved for him.
5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with
myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the
handles of the lock.
6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself,
and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I
could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
7 The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote
me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil
8 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my
beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.
In this song of loves and joys we have here a very melancholy scene;
the spouse here speaks, not to her beloved (as before, for he has
withdrawn), but of him, and it is a sad story she tells of her own
folly and ill conduct towards him, notwithstanding his kindness, and of
the just rebukes she fell under for it. Perhaps it may refer to
Solomon's own apostasy from God, and the sad effects of that apostasy
after God had come into his garden, had taken possession of the temple
he had built, and he had feasted with God upon the sacrifices
(Song of Solomon 5:1);
however, it is applicable to the too common case both of the churches
and particular believers, who by their carelessness and security
provoke Christ to withdraw from them. Observe,
I. The indisposition that the spouse was under, and the listlessness
that had seized her
(Song of Solomon 5:2):
I sleep, but my heart wakes. Here is,
1. Corruption appearing in the actings of it: I sleep. The wise
virgins slumbered. She was on her bed
(Song of Solomon 3:1),
but now she sleeps. Spiritual distempers, if not striven against at
first, are apt to grow upon us and to get ground. She slept,
that is, pious affections cooled, she neglected her duty and grew
remiss in it, she indulged herself in her ease, was secure and off her
watch. This is sometimes the bad effect of more than ordinary
enlargements--a good cause. St. Paul himself was in danger of being
puffed up with abundant revelations, and of saying, Soul, take thy
ease, which made a thorn in the flesh necessary for him, to
keep him from sleeping. Christ's disciples, when he had come into his
garden, the garden of his agony, were heavy with sleep, and could not
watch with him. True Christians are not always alike lively and
vigorous in religion.
2. Grace remaining, notwithstanding, in the habit of it: "My heart
wakes; my own conscience reproaches me for it, and ceases not to
rouse me out of my sluggishness. The spirit is willing, and,
after the inner man, I delight in the law of God, and with my
mind I serve that. I am, for the present, overpowered by
temptation, but all does not go one way in me. I sleep, but it is not
a dead sleep; I strive against it; it is not a sound sleep; I cannot be
easy under this indisposition." Note,
(1.) We ought to take notice of our own spiritual slumbers and
distempers, and to reflect upon it with sorrow and shame that we have
fallen asleep when Christ has been nigh us in his garden.
(2.) When we are lamenting what is amiss in us, we must not overlook
the good that is wrought in us, and preserved alive: "My heart wakes in
Christ, who is dear to me as my own heart, and is my life; when I
sleep, he neither slumbers nor sleeps."
II. The call that Christ gave to her, when she was under this
indisposition: It is the voice of my beloved; she knew it to be
so, and was soon aware of it, which was a sign that her heart was
awake. Like the child Samuel, she heard at the first call, but did not,
like him, mistake the person; she knew it to be the voice of Christ. He
knocks, to awaken us to come and let him in, knocks by his word and
Spirit, knocks by afflictions and by our own consciences; though this
is not expressly quoted, yet probably it is referred to
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock. He calls sinners into
covenant with him and saints into communion with him. Those whom he
loves he will not let alone in their carelessness, but will find some
way or other to awaken them, to rebuke and chasten them. When we are
unmindful of Christ he thinks of us, and provides that our faith fail
not. Peter denied Christ, but the Lord turned and looked upon him, and
so brought him to himself again. Observe how moving the call is:
Open to me, my sister, my love.
1. He sues for entrance who may demand it; he knocks who could easily
knock the door down.
2. He gives her all the kind and most endearing titles imaginable:
My sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; he not only gives her
no hard names, nor upbraids her with unkindness in not sitting up for
him, but, on the contrary, studies how to express his tender affection
to her still. His loving-kindness he will not utterly take
away. Those that by faith are espoused to Christ he looks upon as
his sisters, his loves, his doves, and all that is dear; and, being
clothed with his righteousness, they are undefiled. This consideration
should induce her to open to him. Christ's love to us should engage
ours to him, even in the most self-denying instances. Open to
me. Can we deny entrance to such a friend, to such a guest? Shall
we not converse more with one that is infinitely worthy of our
acquaintance, and so affectionately desirous of it, though we only can
be gainers by it?
3. He pleads distress, and begs to be admitted sub formâ
pauperis--under the character of a poor traveller that wants a
lodging: "My head is wet with the dew, with the cold drops of
the night; consider what hardships I have undergone, to merit thee,
which surely may merit from thee so small a kindness as this." When
Christ was crowned with thorns, which no doubt fetched blood from his
blessed head, then was his head wet with the dew. "Consider what
a grief it is to me to be thus unkindly used, as much as it would be to
a tender husband to be kept out of doors by his wife in a rainy stormy
night." Do we thus require him for his love? The slights which careless
souls put upon Jesus Christ are him as a continual dropping in a
very rainy day.
III. The excuse she made to put off her compliance with this call
(Song of Solomon 5:3):
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on again? She is half
asleep; she knows the voice of her beloved; she knows his knock, but
cannot find in her heart to open to him. She was undressed, and would
not be at the pains to dress herself again; she had washed her
feet, and would not have occasion to wash them again. She could not
send another to open the door (it must be our own act and deed to let
Christ into our hearts), and yet she was loth to go herself; she did
not say, I will not open, but, How shall I? Note,
Frivolous excuses are the language of prevailing slothfulness in
religion; Christ calls to us to open to him, but we pretend we have no
mind, or we have no strength, or we have no time, and therefore think
we may be excused, as the sluggard that will not plough by
reason of cold. And those who ought to watch for the Lord's
coming with their loins girt, if they ungird themselves and
put off their coat, will find it difficult to recover their former
resolution and to put it on again; it is best therefore to keep tight.
is interpreted making light of Christ
and so it is. Those put a great contempt upon Christ that cannot find
in their hearts to bear a cold blast for him, or get out of a warm
IV. The powerful influences of divine grace, by which she was made
willing to rise and open to her beloved. When he could not prevail with
her by persuasion he put in his hand by the hole in the door, to
unbolt it, as one weary of waiting,
Song of Solomon 5:4.
This intimates a work of the Spirit upon her soul, by which she was
unwilling made willing,
The conversion of Lydia is represented by the opening of her
and Christ is said to open his disciples' understandings,
He that formed the spirit of man within him knows all the
avenues to it, and which way to enter into it; he can find the hole
of the door at which to put in his hand for the conquering of
prejudices and the introducing of his own doctrine and law. He has the
key of David
with which he opens the door of the heart in such a way as is suited to
it, as the key is fitted to the wards of the lock, in such a way as not
to put a force upon its nature, but only upon its ill nature.
V. Her compliance with these methods of divine grace at last: My
bowels were moved for him. The will was gained by a good work
wrought upon the affections: My bowels were moved for him, as
those of the two disciples were when Christ made their hearts to
burn within them. She was moved with compassion to her beloved,
because his head was wet with dew. Note, Tenderness of spirit,
and a heart of flesh, prepare the soul for the reception of Christ into
it; and therefore his love to us is represented in such a way as is
most affecting. Did Christ redeem us in his pity? Let us in pity
receive him, and, for his sake, those that are his, when at any time
they are in distress. This good work, wrought upon her affections,
raised her up, and made her ashamed of her dulness and slothfulness
(Song of Solomon 5:5,
I rose up, to open to my beloved), his grace inclining her to do
it and conquering the opposition of unbelief. It was her own act, and
yet he wrought it in her. And now her hands dropped with myrrh upon
the handles of the lock. Either,
1. She found it there when she applied her hand to the lock, to shoot
it back; he that put in his hand by the hole of the door left it
there as an evidence that he had been there. When Christ has wrought
powerfully upon a soul he leaves a blessed sweetness in it, which is
very delightful to it. With this he oiled the lock, to make it go easy.
Note, When we apply ourselves to our duty, in the lively exercises of
faith, under the influence of divine grace, we shall find it will go on
much more readily and sweetly than we expected. If we will but rise up,
to open to Christ, we shall find the difficulty we apprehended in it
strangely overcome, and shall say with Daniel, Now let my Lord
speak, for thou hast strengthened me,
2. She brought it thither. Her bowels being moved for her
beloved, who had stood so long in the cold and wet, when she came
to open to him she prepared to anoint his head, and so to refresh and
comfort him, and perhaps to prevent his catching cold; she was in such
haste to meet him that she would not stay to make the usual
preparation, but dipped her hand in her box of ointment, that she might
readily anoint his head at his first coming in. Those that open the
doors of their hearts to Christ, those everlasting doors, must
meet him with the lively exercises of faith and other graces, and with
these must anoint him.
VI. Her said disappointment when she did open to her beloved. And here
is the most melancholy part of the story: I opened to my
beloved, as I intended, but, alas! my beloved had withdrawn
himself, and was gone. My beloved was gone, was gone, so the word
1. She did not open to him at his first knock, and now she came too
late, when afterwards she would have inherited this blessing.
Christ will be sought while he may be found; if we slip our time, we
may lose our passage. Note,
(1.) Christ justly rebukes our delays with his denials, and suspends
the communications of comfort from those that are remiss and drowsy in
(2.) Christ's departures are matter of great grief and lamentation to
believers. The royal psalmist never complains of any thing with such
sorrowful accents as God's hiding his face from him, and
casting him off, and forsaking him. The spouse here is
ready to tear her hair, and rend her clothes, and wring her hands,
crying, He is gone, he is gone; and that which cuts her to the
heart is that she may thank herself, she provoked him to withdraw. If
Christ departs, it is because he takes something unkindly.
2. Now observe what she does, in this case, and what befel her.
(1.) She still calls him her beloved, being resolved, how cloudy
and dark soever the day be, she will not quit her relation to him and
interest in him. It is a weakness, upon every apprehension either of
our own failings or of God's withdrawings, to conclude hardly as to our
spiritual state. Every desertion is not despair. I will say, Lord, I
believe, though I must say, Lord, help my unbelief. Though
he leave me, I love him; he is mine.
(2.) She now remembers the words he said to her when he called her, and
what impressions they made upon her, reproaching herself for her folly
in not complying sooner with her convictions: "My soul failed when
he spoke; his words melted me when he said, My head is wet with
dew; and yet, wretch that I was, I lay still, and made excuses, and
did not open to him." The smothering and stifling of our convictions is
a thing that will be very bitter in the reflection, when God opens our
eyes. Sometimes the word has not its effect immediately upon the heart,
but it melts it afterwards, upon second thoughts. My soul now
melted because of his words which he had spoken before.
(3.) She did not go to bed again, but went in pursuit of him: I
sought him; I called him. She might have saved herself this labour
if she would but have bestirred herself when he first called; but we
cut ourselves out a great deal of work, and create ourselves a great
deal of trouble, by our own slothfulness and carelessness in improving
our opportunities. Yet it is her praise that, when her beloved has
withdrawn, she continues seeking him; her desires toward him are made
more strong, and her enquiries after him more solicitous, by his
withdrawings. She calls him by prayer, calls after him, and begs of him
to return; and she not only prays but uses means, she seeks him in the
ways wherein she used to find him.
(4.) Yet still she missed of him: I could not find him; he gave me
no answer. She had no evidence of his favour, no sensible comforts,
but was altogether in the dark, and in doubt concerning his love
towards her. Note, There are those who have a true love for Christ, and
yet have not immediate answers to their prayers for his smiles; but he
gives them an equivalent if he strengthens them with the strength in
their souls to continue seeking him,
St. Paul could not prevail for the removing of the thorn in the
flesh, but was answered with grace sufficient for him.
(5.) She was ill-treated by the watchmen; They found me; they smote
me; they wounded me,
Song of Solomon 5:7.
They took her for a lewd woman (because she went about the streets at
that time of night, when they were walking their rounds), and beat her
accordingly. Disconsolate saints are taken for sinners, and are
censured and reproached as such. Thus Hannah, when she was praying in
the bitterness of her soul, was wounded and smitten by Eli, one
of the prime watchmen, when he said to her, How long wilt thou be
drunken? so counting her a daughter of Belial,
1 Samuel 1:14,15.
It is no new thing for those that are of the loyal loving subjects of
Zion's King to be misrepresented by the watchmen of Zion, as enemies or
scandals to his kingdom; they could not abuse and persecute them but by
putting them into an ill name. Some apply it to those ministers who,
though watchmen by office, yet misapply the word to awakened
consciences, and through unskillfulness, or contempt of their griefs,
add affliction to the afflicted, and make the hearts of the
righteous sad whom God would not have made sad
discouraging those who ought to be encouraged and talking to the grief
of those whom God has wounded,
Those watchmen were bad enough that could not, or would not, assist the
spouse in her enquiries after her beloved
(Song of Solomon 3:3);
but these were much worse, that hindered her with their severe and
uncharitable censures, smote her and wounded her with
their reproaches, and though they were the keepers of the wall of
Jerusalem, as if they had been the breakers of it, took away her
veil, from her rudely and barbarously, as if it had been only a
pretence of modesty, but a cover of the contrary. Those whose outward
appearances are all good, and who yet are invidiously condemned and run
down as hypocrites, have reason to complain, as the spouse here, of the
taking away of their veil from them.
(6.) When she was disabled by the abuses the watchmen gave her to
prosecute her enquiry herself she gave charge to those about her to
assist her in the enquiry
(Song of Solomon 5:8):
I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem! all my friends and
acquaintance, if you find my beloved, it may be you may meet
with him before I shall, what shall you tell him? so some read.
"Speak a good word for me; tell him that I am sick of love."
[1.] What her condition was. She loved Jesus Christ to such a degree
that his absence made her sick, extremely sick, she could not bear it,
and she was in pain for his return as a woman in travail, as Ahab for
Naboth's vineyard, which he so passionately coveted. This is a sickness
which is a sign of a healthy constitution of soul, and will certainly
end well, a sickness that will not be death, but life. It is better to
be sick of love to Christ than at ease in love to the world.
(2.) What course she took in this condition. She did not sink into
despair, and conclude that she should die of her disease, but she sent
after her beloved; she asked the advice of her neighbours, and begged
their prayers for her, that they would intercede with him on her
behalf. "Tell him, though I was careless, and foolish, and slothful,
and rose not up so soon as I should have done to open to him, yet I
love him; he knows all things, he knows that I do.
Represent me to him as sincere, though in many instances coming short
of my duty; nay, represent me to him as sincere, though in many
instances coming short of my duty; nay, represent me as an object of
his pity, that he may have compassion on me and help me." She does not
bid them tell him how the watchmen had abused her; how unrighteous
soever they were in it, she acknowledges that the Lord is
righteous, and therefore bears it patiently. "But tell him that I
am wounded with love to him." Gracious souls are more sensible of
Christ's withdrawings than of any other trouble whatsoever.
Languet amaus, non languet amor--
The lover languishes, but not his love.
|Enquiring after the Excellencies of Christ; The Church's Confidence in Christ.
9 What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou
fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another
beloved, that thou dost so charge us?
10 My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten
11 His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy,
and black as a raven.
12 His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of
waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.
13 His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his
lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
14 His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly
is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
15 His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of
fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the
16 His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of
I. The question which the daughters of Jerusalem put to the spouse
concerning her beloved, in answer to the charge she had given them,
Song of Solomon 5:9.
1. The respectful title they give to the spouse: O thou fairest
among women! Our Lord Jesus makes his spouse truly amiable, not
only in his eyes, but in the eyes of all the daughters of Jerusalem.
The church is the most excellent society in the world, the communion of
saints the best communion, and the beauty of the sanctuary a
transcendent beauty. The saints are the most excellent people; holiness
is the symmetry of the soul; it is its agreement with itself; it
recommends itself to all that are competent judges of it. Even those
that have little acquaintance with Christ, as those daughters of
Jerusalem here, cannot but see an amiable beauty in those that bear his
image, which we should love wherever we see it, though in different
2. Their enquiry concerning her beloved: "What is thy beloved more
than another beloved? If thou wilt have us to find him for thee,
give us his marks, that we may know him when we see him."
(1.) Some take it for a scornful question, blaming her for making such
ado about him: "Why shouldst thou be so passionate in enquiring after
thy beloved, more than others are after theirs? Why shouldst thou be so
set upon him, more than others that yet have a kindness for him?" Those
that are zealous in religion are men wondered at by such as are
indifferent to it. The many careless ones laugh at the few that are
solicitous and serious. "What is there in him that is so very charming,
more than in another person? If he be gone, thou, who art the
fairest among women, wilt soon have another with an equal
flame." Note, Carnal hearts see nothing excellent or extraordinary in
the Lord Jesus, in his person or offices, in his doctrine or in his
favours; as if there were no more in the knowledge of Christ, and in
communion with him, than in the knowledge of the world and in its
(2.) Others rather take it for a serious question, and suppose that
those who put it intended,
[1.] To comfort the spouse, who, they knew, would recover new spirits
if she did but talk awhile of her beloved; nothing would please her
better, nor give a more powerful diversion to her grief, than to be put
upon the pleasing task of describing the beauties of her beloved.
[2.] To inform themselves; they had heard, in general, that he was
excellent and glorious, but they desired to know more particularly.
They wondered what moved the spouse to charge them concerning her
beloved with so much vehemence and concern, and therefore concluded
there must be something more in him than in another beloved, which they
are willing to be convinced of. Then there begin to be some
hopes of people when they begin to enquire concerning Christ and his
transcendent perfections. And sometimes the extraordinary zeal of one,
in enquiring after Christ, may be a means to provoke many
(2 Corinthians 9:2),
as the apostle, by the faith of the Gentiles, would stir up the Jews to
a holy emulation,
II. The account which the spouse gives of her beloved in answer to this
question. We should always be ready to instruct and assist those that
are enquiring after Christ. Experienced Christians, who are well
acquainted with Christ themselves, should do all they can to make
others acquainted with him.
1. She assures them, in general, that he is one of incomparable
perfections and unparalleled worth
(Song of Solomon 5:10):
"Do not you know my beloved? Can the daughters of Jerusalem be ignorant
of him that is Jerusalem's crown and crowned head? Let me tell you
(1.) That he has every thing in him that is lovely and amiable: My
beloved is white and ruddy, the colours that make up a complete
beauty. This points not at any extraordinary beauty of his body, when
he should be incarnate (it was never said of the child Jesus, as of the
child Moses, when he was born, that he was exceedingly fair,
nay, he had no form nor comeliness,
but his divine glory, and the concurrence of every thing in him as
Mediator, to make him truly lovely in the eyes of those that are
enlightened to discern spiritual things. In him we may behold the
beauty of the Lord; he was the holy child Jesus; that was
his fairness. If we look upon him as made to us wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, he appears, in all,
very amiable. His love to us renders him lovely. He is white in
the spotless innocency of his life, ruddy in the bloody
sufferings he went through at his death,--white in his glory, as
God (when he was transfigured his raiment was white as the
light), ruddy in his assuming the nature of man,
Adam--red earth,--white in his tenderness towards
his people, ruddy in his terrible appearances against his and
their enemies. His complexion is a very happy composition.
(2.) That he has that loveliness in him which is not to be found in any
other: He is the chief among ten thousand, a nonsuch for beauty,
fairer than the children of men, than any of them, than all of
them; there is none like him, nor any to be compared with him; every
thing else is to be accounted loss and dung in comparison of
He is higher than the kings of the earth
and has obtained a more excellent name than any of the
principalities and powers of the upper or lower world,
He is a standard-bearer among ten thousand (so the word is), the
tallest and comeliest of the company. He is himself lifted up as an
to whom we must be gathered and must always have an eye. And there is
all the reason in the world why he should have the innermost and
uppermost place in our souls who is the fairest of ten thousands
in himself and the fittest of twenty thousands for us.
2. She gives a particular detail of his accomplishments, conceals not
his power or comely proportion. Every thing in Christ is amiable. Ten
instances she here gives of his beauty, which we need not be nice in
the application of, lest the wringing of them bring forth blood and
prove the wresting of them. The design, in general, is to show that he
is every way qualified for his undertaking, and has all that in him
which may recommend him to our esteem, love, and confidence. Christ's
appearance to John
&c.) may be compared with the description which the spouse gives of him
here, the scope of both being to represent him transcendently glorious,
that is, both great and gracious, made lovely in the eyes of believers
and making them happy in himself.
(1.) His head is as the most fine gold. The head of Christ is
(1 Corinthians 11:3),
and it is promised to the saints that the Almighty shall be their
their defence, their treasure; much more was he so to Christ, in
whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,
Christ's head bespeaks his sovereign dominion over all and his vital
influence upon his church and all its members. This is as gold,
gold; the former word in the original signifies shining gold, the
latter strong solid gold; Christ's sovereignty is both beautiful and
powerful. Nebuchadnezzar's monarchy is compared to a head of
because it excelled all the other monarchies, and so does Christ's
(2.) His locks are bushy and black, not black as the tents of
Kedar, whose blackness was their deformity, to which therefore the
church compares herself
(Song of Solomon 1:5),
but black as a raven, whose blackness is his beauty. Sometimes
Christ's hair is represented as white
denoting his eternity, that he is the ancient of days; but here
as black and bushy, denoting that he is ever young and that
there is in him no decay, nothing that waxes old. Every thing that
belongs to Christ is amiable in the eyes of a believer, even his hair
is so; it was pity that it should be wet, as it was, with the
dew, and these locks with the drops of the night, while he
waited to be gracious,
Song of Solomon 5:2.
(3.) His eyes are as the eyes of doves, fair and clear, and
chaste and kind, by the rivers of waters, which doves delight
in, and in which, as in a glass, they see themselves. They are washed,
to make them clean, washed with milk, to make them white, and
fitly set, neither starting out nor sunk in. Christ is of
purer eyes than to behold iniquity, for they are doves' eyes,
All believers speak with pleasure of the omniscience of Christ, as the
spouse here of his eyes; for, though it be terrible to his
enemies as a flame of fire
yet it is amiable and comfortable to his friends, as doves'
eyes, for it is a witness to their integrity. Thou knowest all
things, thou knowest that I love thee. Blessed and holy are those
that walk always as under the eye of Christ.
(4.) His cheeks (the rising of the face) are as a bed of
spices, raised in the gardens, which are the beauty and wealth of
them, and as sweet flowers, or towers of sweetness. There is
that in Christ's countenance which is amiable in the eyes of all the
saints, in the least glimpse of him, for the cheek is but a part of the
face. The half discoveries Christ makes of himself to the soul are
reviving and refreshing, fragrant above the richest flowers and
(5.) His lips are like lilies, not white like lilies, but sweet
and pleasant. Such are the words of his lips to all that are
sanctified, sweeter than honey and the honey-comb; such are the
kisses of his lips, all the communications of his grace;
grace is poured into his lips, and those that heard him
wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. His
lips are as lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. Never any
lilies in nature dropped myrrh, but nothing in nature can fully set
forth the beauty and excellence of Christ, and therefore, to do it by
comparison, there must be a composition of images.
(6.) His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl, a noted
Song of Solomon 5:14.
Great men had their hands adorned with gold rings on their fingers, set
with diamonds or other precious stones, but, in her eye, his
hands themselves were as gold rings; all the instances of
his power, the works of his hands, all the performances of his
providence and grace, are all rich, and pure, and precious, as gold,
as the precious onyx and the sapphire, all fitted to the purpose
for which they were designed as gold rings to the finger, and
all beautiful and very becoming, as rings set with beryl. His
hands, which are stretched forth both to receive his people and to give
to them, are thus rich and comely.
(7.) His bowels are as bright ivory, for so it should be
rendered, rather than his belly, for it is the same word that
was used for bowels
(Song of Solomon 5:4)
and is often ascribed to God (as
and so it denotes his tender compassion and affection for his spouse,
and the love he has to her even in her desolate and deserted state.
This love of his is like bright ivory, finely polished, and
richly overlaid with sapphires. The love itself is strong and
firm, and the instances and circumstances of it are bright and
sparkling, and add much to the inestimable value of it.
(8.) His legs are as pillars of marble, so strong, and stately,
and no disgrace, no, not to the sockets of fine gold upon which
they are set,
Song of Solomon 5:16.
This bespeaks his stability and stedfastness; where he sets his foot he
will fix it; he is able to bear all the weight of the government that
is upon his shoulders, and his legs will never fail under him. This
sets forth the stateliness and magnificence of the goings of our
God, our King, in his sanctuary
and the steadiness and evenness of all his dispensations towards his
people. The ways of the Lord are equal; they are all mercy
and truth; these are the pillars of marble, more lasting
than the pillars of heaven.
(9.) His countenance (his port and mien) is as Lebanon,
that stately hill; his aspect beautiful and charming, like the prospect
of that pleasant forest or park, excellent as the cedars, which,
in height and strength, excel other trees, and are of excellent use.
Christ is a goodly person; the more we look upon him the more beauty we
shall see in him.
(10.) His mouth is most sweet; it is sweetness itself; it is
sweetnesses (so the word is); it is pure essence, nay, it is the
quintessence of all delights,
Song of Solomon 5:16.
The words of his mouth are all sweet to a believer, sweet as milk to
babes (to whom it is agreeable), as honey to those that are grown up
to whom it is delicious. The kisses of his mouth, all the tokens of his
love, have a transcendent sweetness in them, and are most delightful to
those who have their spiritual senses exercised. To you that
believe he is precious.
3. She concludes with a full assurance both of faith and hope, and so
gets the mastery of her trouble.
(1.) Here is a full assurance of faith concerning the complete beauty
of the Lord Jesus: "He is altogether lovely. Why should I stand
to mention particulars, when throughout there is nothing amiss?" She is
sensible she does him wrong in the particular descriptions of him, and
comes far short of the dignity and merit of the subject, and therefore
she breaks off with the general encomium: He is truly
lovely, he is wholly so; there is nothing in him but what is
amiable, and nothing amiable but what is in him. He is all
desires; he has all in him that one can desire. And therefore all
her desire is towards him, and she seeks him thus carefully and cannot
rest contented in the want of him. Who can but love him who is so
(2.) Here is a full assurance of hope concerning her own interest in
him: "This is my beloved, and this is my friend; and therefore
wonder not that I thus long after him." See with what a holy boldness
she claims relation to him, and then with what a holy triumph she
proclaims it. It is property that sweetens excellency. To see Christ,
and not to see him as ours, would be rather a torture than a happiness;
but to see one that is thus lovely, and to see him as ours, is a
complete satisfaction. Here is a true believer,
[1.] Giving an entire consent to Christ: "He is mine, my Lord and my
mine according to the tenour of the gospel-covenant, mine in all
relations, bestowed upon me, to be all that to me that my poor soul
stands in need of."
[2.] Taking an entire complacency in Christ. It is spoken of here with
an air of triumph: "This is he whom I have chosen, and to whom I have
given up myself. None but Christ, none but Christ. This is he on whom
my heart is, for he is my best-beloved; this is he in whom I trust, and
from whom I expect all good, for this is my friend." Note, Those
that make Christ their beloved shall have him their friend; he has
been, is, and will be, a special friend to all believers. He loves
those that love him; and those that have him their friend have reason
to glory in him, and speak of him with delight. "Let others be governed
by the love of the world, and seek their happiness in its friendship
and favours, This is my beloved and this is my friend. Others
may do as they please, but this is my soul's choice, my soul's rest, my
life, my joy, my all; this is he whom I desire to live and die