The song - The most excellent of all songs. And so this might well be called, whether you consider the author of it, who was a great prince, and the wisest of all mortal men; or the subject of it, which is not Solomon, but a greater than Solomon, even Christ, and his marriage with the church; or the matter of it, which is most lofty, containing in it the noblest of all the mysteries contained either in the Old or the New Testament; most pious and pathetical, breathing forth the hottest flames of love between Christ and his people, most sweet and comfortable, and useful to all that read it with serious and Christian eyes.
Let him - The beginning is abrupt; but is suitable to, and usual in writing of this nature, wherein things are not related in an historical and exquisite order, but that which was first done is brought in, as it were accidentally, after many other passages: as we see in Homer, and Virgil, and others. These are the words of the spouse, wherein she breathes forth her passionate love to the bridegroom, whom she does not name; because it was needless, as being so well known to the persons, to whom she speaks, and being the only person who was continually in her thoughts. By kisses, the usual tokens of love and good-will, she means the communications of his love and favour, his graces and comforts breathed into her from the Spirit of Christ. Thy love - This sudden change of the person is frequent, in pathetic discourses. First she speaks of him as absent, but speedily grows into more acquaintance with him, and by ardent desire and faith, embraces him as present. Wine - Than the most delicious meat or drink, or than all sensible delights, one kind being put for all.
Ointments - Because of those excellent gifts and graces of God's Spirit wherewith thou art replenished. Thy name - Thy report, the very mention of thee, and all those things by which thou makest thyself known to men, thy word, particularly thine offers of pardon and salvation to sinners; and all thy works, especially that great work of redemption is most acceptable, and refreshing. The virgins - called the companions of the bride, Psalms 45:14, particular believers, who are called virgins, 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 14:4, who have their senses exercised to perceive this sweetness and fulness of Christ.
Draw me - By thy grace and holy spirit. We - Both I, thy spouse, and the virgins, my companions. And this change of numbers teaches us that the spouse is one great body, consisting of many members. Run - Will follow thee readily, chearfully, and swiftly. The king - Christ, the king of his church, hath answered my prayer. Chambers - Where I may freely converse with him, and enjoy him. He hath taken me into intimate communion with himself. Remember - This shall be the matter of our thoughts and discourses.
Black - I confess, as to myself, I am contemptible and deformed. She alludes to the complexion of Pharaoh's daughter. Comely - Yet I am glorious within, and comely through the beauty which my husband hath put upon me, by his graces conferred upon me, in justification and sanctification. Daughters - By which she understands particular believers, whose mother, Jerusalem is called, Galatians 4:26. The tents - Of the wild Arabians, the posterity of Kedar, Genesis 25:13, who dwelt in tents, and were black and uncomely. The curtains - As the hangings wherewith Solomon's house was furnished, which none can doubt were most beautiful and glorious. So these two last clauses answer to the two first, and that in the same order in which they lie.
Look not - With wonder and disdain. Mother's children - False brethren, who pretend that the church is their mother, when their actions demonstrate, that God, the husband of the church, is not their father; hypocritial professors, who are, and ever were, the keenest enemies; false teachers, and their followers, who by their corrupt doctrines, and divisions, and contentions, bring great mischief to the church. Made me - Having prevailed against me, they used me like a slave, putting me upon the most troublesome services, such as the keeping of the vineyards was esteemed, 2 Kings 25:12; Isaiah 61:5; Matthew 20:1-7. Not kept - They gave me such a full employment in the drudging work about their vineyards, that they left me no time to mind my own; they hindered me from doing my own duty, and from minding my own concerns. And therefore it is no wonder if I be uncomely and scorched by the sun.
Tell me - Notwithstanding all these discouragements and afflictions which I suffer for thy sake, and for my love to thee. Being reproached and persecuted by others, I flee to thee, O my only refuge and joy. Feedest - Thy flock, discover to me which is thy true church, and which are those assemblies and people where thou art present. This is the request of particular believers. At noon - In the heat of the day, when the shepherds in those hot countries used to lead their flocks into shady places. Whereby he means the time of persecution, when it is hard to discover the true church, because she is deformed by it, and because she is obscured and driven into the wilderness. That turneth - Or, a wanderer, or vagabond; like a neglected and forlorn creature exposed both to censure and danger. The flocks - The assemblies of corrupt teachers and worshippers. These he calls Christ's companions because they profess the name of Christ, and their conjunction with him in God's worship.
If - This is Christ's answer. Go - Observe and follow the paths which my sheep have trodden before thee, my faithful servants, Abraham, and others. For the church in all ages is one and the same, and there is but one way for the substance, in which all the saints from the beginning of the world walk, Christ being the same yesterday, and to day, and forever. Feed - Take care for the feeding of all, and especially young and weak Christians. Beside - Under the conduct, and according to the instruction of my faithful shepherds, chiefly those who have gone before thee, the prophets and apostles, and in subordination to them, and to their writings, and to others whom I shall raise from time to time to feed my people.
Compared thee - For strength and courage, to overcome all thine enemies. For horses are famous for that property, and the strength of the battle was then thought to consist much in horses, and chariots, especially in a company or multitude of them. And the church in this book is represented not only as fair and beautiful, but also as terrible to her enemies.
Jewels - Which being fastened to the heads of brides, used to hang down upon their cheeks, in those times. He mentions the cheeks, as the chief seat of beauty. Chains - Whereby, as well as by the rows of jewels: he may seem to design all those persons and things wherewith the church is made beautiful in the eyes of God, and of men, such as excellent ministers, and saints, righteous laws, holy ordinances, and the gifts and graces of God's spirit.
We - I and my father. Will make - Beautiful and honourable ornaments.
The king - My royal husband. Sitteth - With me in his ordinances. Spikenard - The graces of his spirit conferred upon me, here compared to those sweet ointments, which the master of the feast caused to be poured out upon the heads of the guests, Luke 7:38, in which ointments, spikenard was a chief ingredient. Sendeth - This denotes the exercise and manifestation of her graces, which is a sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of her husband, and of her companies.
Myrrh - Myrrh, was ever reckoned among the best perfumes. Shall lie - This phrase may denote the churches intimate union with, and hearty affection to Christ.
Camphire - We are not concerned to know exactly what this was; it being confessed, that it was some grateful plant, and that it sets forth that great delight which the church hath in the enjoyment of Christ. Engedi - A pleasant and well-watered place in the tribe of Judah, where there were many pleasant plants.
Behold - This is the speech of Christ. The words are doubled to manifest his fervent affection for her. Doves eyes - Which are mild and harmless, chaste and faithful. And by the eyes he seems to design both her outward behaviour, and the inward disposition of her mind.
Behold - The church here again speaks, and retorts Christ's words; thou, and thou only art fair indeed. Pleasant - As thou art beautiful in thyself, so thou art amiable and pleasant in thy condescention to me. Bed - This seems to denote the place where the church enjoys sweet fellowship with Christ, by his spirit accompanying his ordinances. Green - Is pleasant, as that colour to the eye.
Cedar - Not only strong, but also fragrant and delightful. Cypress - Which also was strong and fragrant, and therefore suits well with cedar.