Who is she [that] looketh forth as the morning?
&c.] These words may be connected with the preceding, by a supplement of the word "saying"; and so may express what the daughters said, when they blessed and praised the church, wondering at her beauty, it being like the rising morning; so Helena is said to show her beautiful face, (awv) (antelloisa) , as the morning, when it springs forth F14: there was a city in the tribe of Reuben, called Zarethshahar, the beauty or splendour of the morning, ( Joshua 13:19 ) . Homer often describes the morning by her rosy fingers F15, and as clothed with a saffron garment F16, and as beautiful and divine F17, and fair haired F18; and as on a golden throne and beautiful F19. And as these words describe the progressive gradations of light, so they may set forth the state and condition of the church in the several ages of the world; its first state in this clause, which may reach from the first dawn of light to Adam, ( Genesis 3:15 ) ; increasing in the times of the patriarchs, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob, and in which and to whom were various displays of Gospel light and grace; to the time of the giving of the law by Moses, when the church might be said to be fair as the moon;
which, though it receives its light from the sun, yet splendour and brightness are ascribed to it, ( Job 31:26 ) ; and, by other writers F20, is represented as fair and beautiful; and the beautiful form of persons is expressed by it F21: and very fitly is the state of the church under the law signified by the moon, by which the ceremonial law seems intended, in ( Revelation 12:1 ) ; that lying much in the observation of new moons, by the which the several festivals under the law were regulated; and which law gave light in the night of Jewish darkness, into the person, offices, and grace of Christ; and though it was imperfect, variable, waxed old, and at length vanished away, yet the church under it was "fair"; there being a beauty and amiableness in the worship of that dispensation, ( Psalms 27:4 ) ( 84:1 ) . The next clause, "clear as the sun", may describe the church under the Gospel dispensation; when the "sun of righteousness" arose, and made the famous Gospel day; when the shadows of the old law fled away, Christ, the substance, being come; when there were more light and knowledge, and a clear discerning of spiritual and evangelic things: and, in all those periods, the church was "terrible as [an army] with banners"; to her enemies, being in a militant state; (See Gill on Song of Solomon 6:4). The whole of this may be applied to particular believers; who, at first conversion, "look forth as the morning", their light being small, but increasing; and, as to their sanctification, are "fair as the moon", having their spots and imperfections, and deriving all their light, grace, and holiness, from Christ; and, as to their justification, clear as the sun,
being clothed with Christ, the sun of righteousness, ( Revelation 12:1 ) ; and so all fair and without spot; [and] terrible as [an army] with banners,
fighting the good fight of faith, under the banners of Christ, against all spiritual enemies.
F14 Theocrit. Idyll. 18. v. 26.
F15 (rododaktulov hwv) , Iliad. 1. v. 477. & passim.
F16 (hwv krokopeplov) , Iliad. 8, v. 1. & 19. v. 1.
F17 Iliad. 18. v. 255.
F18 Odyss. 5. v. 390.
F19 Odyss. 15. v. 56, 250.
F20 "Tanto formosis, formosior omnibus illa est", Ovid. Leander Heroni, v. 73. "Pulchrior tanto tua forma lucet", Senecae Hippolylus, Act. 2. chorus, v. 740.
F21 Vid. Barthii Animadv. ad Claudian. de Nupt. Honor. v. 243.