1. Answer to her prayer (Isa 65:24 Re 3:20).
am come--already (So 4:16); "come" (Ge 28:16).
sister . . . spouse--As Adam's was created of his flesh, out of his opened side, there being none on earth on a level with him, so the bride out of the pierced Saviour (Eph 5:30-32).
have gathered . . . myrrh--His course was already complete; the myrrh, &c. (Mt 2:11 26:7-12 Joh 19:39), emblems of the indwelling of the anointing Holy Ghost, were already gathered.
have eaten--answering to her "eat" (So 4:16).
honeycomb--distinguished here from liquid "honey" dropping from trees. The last supper, here set forth, is one of espousal, a pledge of the future marriage (So 8:14 Re 19:9). Feasts often took place in gardens. In the absence of sugar, then unknown, honey was more widely used than with us. His eating honey with milk indicates His true, yet spotless, human nature from infancy (Isa 7:15); and after His resurrection (Lu 24:42).
my wine--(Joh 18:11)--a cup of wrath to Him, of mercy to us, whereby God's Word and promises become to us "milk" (Ps 19:10 1Pe 2:2). "My" answers to "His" (So 4:16). The myrrh (emblem, by its bitterness, of repentance), honey, milk (incipient faith), wine (strong faith), in reference to believers, imply that He accepts all their graces, however various in degree.
eat--He desires to make us partakers in His joy (Isa 55:1,2 Joh 6:53-57 1Jo 1:3).
drink abundantly--so as to be filled (Eph 5:18; as Hag 1:6).
CANTICLE IV.--(So 5:2-8:4)--FROM THE AGONY OF GETHSEMANE TO THE CONVERSION OF SAMARIA.
2. Sudden change of scene from evening to midnight, from a betrothal feast to cold repulse. He has gone from the feast alone; night is come; He knocks at the door of His espoused; she hears, but in sloth does not shake off half-conscious drowsiness; namely, the disciples' torpor (Mt 26:40-43), "the spirit willing, the flesh weak" (compare Ro 7:18-25 Ga 5:16,17,24). Not total sleep. The lamp was burning beside the slumbering wise virgin, but wanted trimming (Mt 25:5-7). It is His voice that rouses her (Jon 1:6 Eph 5:14 Re 3:20). Instead of bitter reproaches, He addresses her by the most endearing titles, "my sister, my love," &c. Compare His thought of Peter after the denial (Mr 16:7).
dew--which falls heavily in summer nights in the East (see Lu 9:58).
drops of the night--(Ps 22:2 Lu 22:44). His death is not expressed, as unsuitable to the allegory, a song of love and joy; So 5:4 refers to the scene in the judgment hall of Caiaphas, when Jesus Christ employed the cock-crowing and look of love to awaken Peter's sleeping conscience, so that his "bowels were moved" (Lu 22:61,62); So 5:5,6, the disciples with "myrrh," &c. (Lu 24:1,5), seeking Jesus Christ in the tomb, but finding Him not, for He has "withdrawn Himself" (Joh 7:34 13:33); So 5:7, the trials by watchmen extend through the whole night of His withdrawal from Gethsemane to the resurrection; they took off the "veil" of Peter's disguise; also, literally the linen cloth from the young man (Mr 14:51); So 5:8, the sympathy of friends (Lu 23:27).
undefiled--not polluted by spiritual adultery (Re 14:4 Jas 4:4).
3. Trivial excuses (Lu 14:18).
coat--rather, the inmost vest, next the skin, taken off before going to bed.
washed . . . feet--before going to rest, for they had been soiled, from the Eastern custom of wearing sandals, not shoes. Sloth (Lu 11:7) and despondency (De 7:17-19).
4. A key in the East is usually a piece of wood with pegs in it corresponding to small holes in a wooden bolt within, and is put through a hole in the door, and thus draws the bolt. So Jesus Christ "puts forth His hand (namely, His Spirit, Eze 3:14), by (Hebrew, 'from,' so in So 2:9) the hole"; in "chastening" (Ps 38:2 Re 3:14-22, singularly similar to this passage), and other unexpected ways letting Himself in (Lu 22:61,62).
bowels . . . moved for him--It is His which are first troubled for us, and which cause ours to be troubled for Him (Jer 31:20 Ho 11:8).
5. dropped with myrrh--The best proof a bride could give her lover of welcome was to anoint herself (the back of the hands especially, as being the coolest part of the body) profusely with the best perfumes (Ex 30:23 Es 2:12 Pr 7:17); "sweet-smelling" is in the Hebrew rather, "spontaneously exuding" from the tree, and therefore the best. She designed also to anoint Him, whose "head was filled with the drops of night" (Lu 24:1). The myrrh typifies bitter repentance, the fruit of the Spirit's unction (2Co 1:21,22).
handles of the lock--sins which closed the heart against Him.
6. withdrawn--He knocked when she was sleeping; for to have left her then would have ended in the death sleep; He withdraws now that she is roused, as she needs correction (Jer 2:17,19), and can appreciate and safely bear it now, which she could not then. "The strong He'll strongly try" (1Co 10:13).
when he spake--rather, "because of His speaking"; at the remembrance of His tender words (Job 29:2,3 Ps 27:13 142:7), or till He should speak. no answer--(Job 23:3-9 30:20 34:29 La 3:44). Weak faith receives immediate comfort (Lu 8:44,47,48); strong faith is tried with delay (Mt 15:22,23).
7. watchmen--historically, the Jewish priests, &c. (see on So 5:2); spiritually, ministers (Isa 62:6 Heb 13:17), faithful in "smiting" (Ps 141:5) too harsh; or, perhaps, unfaithful; disliking her zeal wherewith she sought Jesus Christ, first, with spiritual prayer, "opening" her heart to Him, and then in charitable works "about the city"; miscalling it fanaticism (Isa 66:5), and taking away her veil (the greatest indignity to an Eastern lady), as though she were positively immodest. She had before sought Him by night in the streets, under strong affection (So 3:2-4), and so without rebuff from "the watchmen," found Him immediately; but now after sinful neglect, she encounters pain and delay. God forgives believers, but it is a serious thing to draw on His forgiveness; so the growing reserve of God towards Israel observable in Judges, as His people repeat their demands on His grace.
8. She turns from the unsympathizing watchmen to humbler persons, not yet themselves knowing Him, but in the way towards it. Historically, His secret friends in the night of His withdrawal (Lu 23:27,28). Inquirers may find ("if ye find") Jesus Christ before she who has grieved His Spirit finds Him again.
tell--in prayer (Jas 5:16).
sick of love--from an opposite cause (So 2:5) than through excess of delight at His presence; now excess of pain at His absence.
9. Her own beauty (Eze 16:14), and lovesickness for Him, elicit now their enquiry (Mt 5:16); heretofore "other lords besides Him had dominion over them"; thus they had seen "no beauty in Him" (Isa 26:13 53:2).
10. (1Pe 3:15).
white and ruddy--health and beauty. So David (equivalent to beloved), His forefather after the flesh, and type (1Sa 17:42). "The Lamb" is at once His nuptial and sacrificial name (1Pe 1:19 Re 19:7), characterized by white and red; white, His spotless manhood (Re 1:14). The Hebrew for white is properly "illuminated by the sun," white as the light" (compare Mt 17:2); red, in His blood-dyed garment as slain (Isa 63:1-3 Re 5:6 19:13). Angels are white, not red; the blood of martyrs does not enter heaven; His alone is seen there.
chiefest--literally, "a standard bearer"; that is, as conspicuous above all others, as a standard bearer is among hosts (Ps 45:7 89:6 Isa 11:10 55:4 Heb 2:10; compare 2Sa 18:3 Job 33:23 Php 2:9-11 Re 1:5). The chief of sinners needs the "chiefest" of Saviours.
11. head . . . gold--the Godhead of Jesus Christ, as distinguished from His heel, that is, His manhood, which was "bruised" by Satan; both together being one Christ (1Co 11:3). Also His sovereignty, as Nebuchadnezzar, the supreme king was "the head of gold" (Da 2:32-38 Col 1:18), the highest creature, compared with Him, is brass, iron, and clay. "Preciousness" (Greek, 1Pe 2:7).
bushy--curled, token of Headship. In contrast with her flowing locks (So 4:1), the token of her subjection to Him (Ps 8:4-8 1Co 11:3,6-15). The Hebrew is (pendulous as) the branches of a palm, which, when in leaf, resemble waving plumes of feathers.
black--implying youth; no "gray hairs" (Ps 102:27 110:3,4 Ho 7:9). Jesus Christ was crucified in the prime of vigor and manliness. In heaven, on the other hand, His hair is "white," He being the Ancient of days (Da 7:9). These contrasts often concur in Him (So 5:10), "white and ruddy"; here the "raven" (So 5:12), the "dove," as both with Noah in the ark (Ge 8:11); emblems of judgment and mercy.
12. as the eyes of doves--rather, "as doves" (Ps 68:13); bathing in "the rivers"; so combining in their "silver" feathers the whiteness of milk with the sparkling brightness of the water trickling over them (Mt 3:16). The "milk" may allude to the white around the pupil of the eye. The "waters" refer to the eye as the fountain of tears of sympathy (Eze 16:5,6 Lu 19:41). Vivacity, purity, and love, are the three features typified.
fitly set--as a gem in a ring; as the precious stones in the high priest's breastplate. Rather, translate as Vulgate (the doves), sitting at the fulness of the stream; by the full stream; or, as MAURER (the eyes) "set in fulness, not sunk in their sockets (Re 5:6), ("seven," expressing full perfection), (Zec 3:9 4:10).
13. cheeks--the seat of beauty, according to the Hebrew meaning [GESENIUS]. Yet men smote and spat on them (Isa 50:6).
bed--full, like the raised surface of the garden bed; fragrant with ointments, as beds with aromatic plants (literally, "balsam").
sweet flowers--rather, "terraces of aromatic herbs"--"high-raised parterres of sweet plants," in parallelism to "bed," which comes from a Hebrew root, meaning "elevation."
lips--(Ps 45:2 Joh 7:46).
lilies--red lilies. Soft and gentle (1Pe 2:22,23). How different lips were man's (Ps 22:7)!
dropping . . . myrrh--namely, His lips, just as the sweet dewdrops which hang in the calyx of the lily.
14. rings set with . . . beryl--Hebrew, Tarshish, so called from the city. The ancient chrysolite, gold in color (Septuagint), our topaz, one of the stones on the high priest's breastplate, also in the foundation of New Jerusalem (Re 21:19,20; also Da 10:6). "Are as," is plainly to be supplied, see in So 5:13 a similiar ellipsis; not as MOODY STUART: "have gold rings." The hands bent in are compared to beautiful rings, in which beryl is set, as the nails are in the fingers. BURROWES explains the rings as cylinders used as signets, such as are found in Nineveh, and which resemble fingers. A ring is the token of sonship (Lu 15:22). A slave was not allowed to wear a gold ring. He imparts His sonship and freedom to us (Ga 4:7); also of authority (Ge 41:42; compare Joh 6:27). He seals us in the name of God with His signet (Re 7:2-4), compare below, So 8:6, where she desires to be herself a signet-ring on His arms; so "graven on the palms," &c., that is, on the signet-ring in His hand (Isa 49:16; contrast Hag 2:23, with Jer 22:24).
belly--BURROWES and MOODY STUART translate, "body." NEWTON, as it is elsewhere, "bowels"; namely, His compassion (Ps 22:14 Isa 63:15 Jer 31:20 Ho 11:8).
bright--literally, "elaborately wrought so as to shine," so His "prepared" body (Heb 10:5); the "ivory palace" of the king (Ps 45:8); spotless, pure, so the bride's "neck is as to tower of ivory" (So 7:4).
sapphires--spangling in the girdle around Him (Da 10:5). "To the pure all things are pure." As in statuary to the artist the partly undraped figure is suggestive only of beauty, free from indelicacy, so to the saint the personal excellencies of Jesus Christ, typified under the ideal of the noblest human form. As, however, the bride and bridegroom are in public, the usual robes on the person, richly ornamented, are presupposed (Isa 11:5). Sapphires indicate His heavenly nature (so Joh 3:13, "is in heaven"), even in His humiliation, overlaying or cast "over" His ivory human body (Ex 24:10). Sky-blue in color, the height and depth of the love of Jesus Christ (Eph 3:18).
15. pillars--strength and steadfastness. Contrast man's "legs" (Ec 12:3). Allusion to the temple (1Ki 5:8,9 7:21), the "cedars" of "Lebanon" (Ps 147:10). Jesus Christ's "legs" were not broken on the cross, though the thieves' were; on them rests the weight of our salvation (Ps 75:3).
sockets of fine gold--His sandals, answering to the bases of the pillars; "set up from everlasting" (Pr 8:22,23) to the feet, "of fine gold." He was tried in the fire and found without alloy.
countenance--rather, "His aspect," including both mien and stature (compare 2Sa 23:21, Margin; with 1Ch 11:23). From the several parts, she proceeds to the general effect of the whole person of Jesus Christ.
Lebanon--so called from its white limestone rocks.
excellent--literally, "choice," that is, fair and tall as the cedars on Lebanon (Eze 31:3, &c.). Majesty is the prominent thought (Ps 21:5). Also the cedars' duration (Heb 1:11); greenness (Lu 23:31), and refuge afforded by it (Eze 17:22,23).
16. Literally, "His palate is sweetness, yea, all over loveliness," that is, He is the essence of these qualities.
mouth--so So 1:2, not the same as "lips" (So 5:13), His breath (Isa 11:4 Joh 20:22). "All over," all the beauties scattered among creatures are transcendently concentrated in Him (Col 1:19 2:9).
my beloved--for I love Him.
my friend--for He loves me (Pr 18:24). Holy boasting (Ps 34:2 1Co 1:31).
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