As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my
beloved among the sons
As the apple tree, in a garden or orchard, excels and is preferable to the wild barren trees of a forest F11, especially it appears so when laden with choice fruit; so the church, who here returns the commendation to Christ, asserts, that he as much excels all the "sons", the creatures of God, angels or men: angels, as the Targum, who, though sons of God by creation, Christ is the Son of God, in a higher sense; he is their Creator, and the object of their worship; they are confirmed by him in the estate they are, and are ministering spirits to him; and he is exalted above them in human nature: men also, the greatest princes and monarchs of the earth, are sometimes compared to large and lofty trees; but Christ is higher than they, and is possessed of far greater power, riches, glory, and majesty. All the sons of Adam in general may be meant; wicked men, who are like forest trees, wild, barren, and unfruitful; yea, even good men, Christ has the pre-eminence of them, the sons of God by adopting grace; for he is so in such a sense they are not; he is their Creator, Lord, Head, Husband, and Saviour, and they have all their fruit from him; and so ministers of the word have their gifts and grace from him, and therefore Christ excels all that come under this appellation of sons. Christ may be compared to an apple tree, which is very fruitful; and, when full of fruit, very beautiful; and whose fruit is very cooling, comforting, and refreshing. Christ is full of the fruits and blessings of grace, which are to be reached by the hand of faith, and enjoyed; and as he is full of grace and truth, he looks very beautiful and glorious in the eye of faith; and which blessings of grace from him, being applied to a poor sensible sinner, inflamed by the fiery law, and filled with wrath and terror, sweetly cool, refresh, and comfort him. The apple tree has been accounted an hieroglyphic of love, under which lovers used to meet, and sit under its delightful shade, and entertain each other with its fruit; to which the allusion may be; see ( Song of Solomon 8:5 ) ; the apple was sacred to love F12. The Targum renders it, the pome citron, or citron apple tree; which is a tree very large and beautiful; its fruit is of a bitter taste, but of a good smell; always fruit on it; is an excellent remedy against poison, and good for the breath, as naturalists F13 observe; and so is a fit emblem of Christ, in the greatness of his person, in the fulness, of his grace, in the virtue of his blood, and righteousness and grace, which are a sovereign antidote against the poison of sin; and whose presence, and communion with him, cure panting souls, out of breath in seeking him; and whose mediation perfumes their breath, their prayers, whereby they become grateful to God, which otherwise would be strange and disagreeable; I sat down under his shadow with great delight:
under the shadow of the apple tree, to which Christ is compared; whose person, blood, and righteousness, cast a shadow, which is a protecting one, from the heat of divine wrath, from the curses of a fiery law, from the fiery darts of Satan, and from the fury of persecutors, ( Isaiah 25:4 Isaiah 25:5 ) ; and is a cooling, comforting, and refreshing one, like the shadow of a great rock to a weary traveller, ( Isaiah 32:2 ) ; and though the shadow of some trees, as Pliny F14 observes, is harmful to plants that grow under them, others are fructifying; and such is Christ; "they that dwell under his shadow shall revive and grow" ( Hosea 14:7 ) . "Sitting" here supposes it was her choice; that she preferred Christ to any other shadow, looking upon him to be a suitable one in her circumstances, ( Song of Solomon 1:6 Song of Solomon 1:7 ) ; it intimates that peace, quietness, satisfaction, and security, she enjoyed under him; it denotes her continuance, and desire of abiding there, ( Psalms 91:1 ) ; for the words may be rendered, "I desired, and I sat down" F15; she desired to sit under the shade of this tree, and she did; she had what she wished for; and she sat "with great delight": having the presence of Christ, and fellowship with him in his word and ordinances, where Christ is a delightful shade to his people; and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste;
the fruit of the apple tree, to which the allusion is. Solon F16 advised the bride to eat a quince apple before she went into the bridegroom, as leaving an agreeable savour; and intimating how graceful the words of her mouth should be. By "his fruit" here are meant the blessings of grace, which are Christ's in a covenant way, come through his sufferings and death, and are at his dispose; such as peace, pardon, justification and fresh discoveries and manifestations of his love, of which the apple is an emblem: and these are sweet, pleasant, and delightful, to those that have tasted that the Lord is gracious; whose vitiated taste is changed by the grace of God, and they savour the things of the Spirit of God.
F11 "Quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi", Virgil. Bucolic. Eclog. 1. v. 26. "Lenta salix" Eclog. 5. v. 16.
F12 Scholiast. in Aristoph. Nubes, p. 180. The statue of Venus had sometimes an apple in one hand, and a poppy in the other, Pausan. Corinth. sive l. 2. p. 103.
F13 Athenaei Deispnosoph. l. 3. c. 7. p. 83. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 53. & 12. c. 3. Solin. Polyhistor. c. 59. Macrob. Saturnal. l. 3. c. 19.
F14 Nat. Hist. l. 17. c. 12.
F15 (ytbvyw ytdmx) "concupivi, et sedi", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Marckius.
F16 Plutarch. Conjug. Praecept. vol. 2. p. 138.