After the title, the church, the bride, speaks to Christ, the
bridegroom, ver. 1 - 4.
To the daughters of Jerusalem, and to Christ again, ver. 5 - 7.
Christ answers her complaints and requests, ver. 8 - 11.
The church expresses her value for Christ, and her delight in him,
ver. 12 - 14.
Christ commends the church, ver. 15.
And the church, Christ, ver. 16, 17.
1: 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.
2: 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.
3: 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, (Ps 45:14), particular believers, who are called
virgins, (2Co 11:2,Re 14:4), who have their senses exercised to
perceive this sweetness and fulness of Christ.
4: 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.
5: 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, (Ga 4:26).
The tents - Of the wild Arabians, the posterity of Kedar,(Ge 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.
6: 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, (2Ki 25:12,Isa 61:5,Mt 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.
7: 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
8: 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.
9: 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.
10: 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.
11: We - I and my father. Will make - Beautiful and honourable
12: 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, (Lu 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.
13: 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.
14: 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.
15: 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.
16: 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.
17: Cedar - Not only strong, but also fragrant and delightful.
Cypress - Which also was strong and fragrant, and therefore suits
well with cedar.