My beloved is gone down into his garden
Which may be said by Solomon, in allusion to what he himself was wont to do, as Josephus
F17 relates; who used to go very early in a morning in great pomp to Etham, about two miles from Jerusalem, a pleasant place, abounding with gardens and flows of water: or respect may be had to the king's gardens nearer Jerusalem, which were at the descent of Mount Zion, and reached to the lower pool F18; see ( Nehemiah 3:15 ) ; and which lying lower than the king's palace, he might be said to go down to it. And this may point at the low estate of the people of God on earth, depressed with sorrows, afflictions, and persecutions; and the condescension of Christ, in visiting them in their low estate, and granting them his gracious presence: of the garden of Christ, and of his coming into it, (See Gill on Song of Solomon 4:12); (See Gill on Song of Solomon 4:16); (See Gill on Song of Solomon 5:1); and the church might remember what he said, "I am come into my garden", ( Song of Solomon 5:1 ) ; though she soon fell asleep and forgot it, and now calls it to mind, and so could direct the daughters where he was. She adds, to the beds of spices;
of odoriferous plants; to which particular believers, planted regularly in the churches of Christ, may be compared, for the excellency and fragrancy of their graces; and among whom Christ delights to be; see ( Song of Solomon 4:13 Song of Solomon 4:14 ) . Gussetius F19 thinks the words, both here and in ( Song of Solomon 5:13 ) , should be rendered "rivers of spices"; an hyperbolical expression, showing that a man walking by rivers of waters, where aromatic plants and fragrant flowers grow, perceives such a sweet odour, that, while he is refreshed with the moisture of the waters, he seems to be walking by rivers of spices. The end of her beloved's going thither is, to feed in the gardens;
to feed his flocks there: not on commons and in fields, but in gardens, which is unusual: and by which are meant particular churches, where Christ feeds his people, by his Spirit and by his ministers, word and ordinances, with himself, the bread of life; with the discoveries of his love, better than wine; and with the doctrines and promises of the Gospel: or to feed himself, or that "he [himself] might be fed" F20 there; by beholding with pleasure how the plants grow, and the spices flow out; by tasting the pleasant fruits of the garden; and by observing with delight the graces of the Spirit in his people in lively exercise; and to gather lilies;
to crop them with the hand F21; lilies are liable to be cropped, hence Horace F23 calls the lily "breve lilium", the short lived lily: to these saints may be compared, for the glory, splendour, and beauty, they receive from Christ; see ( Song of Solomon 2:2 ) ; there was a gathering of these at the death of Christ, ( Ephesians 2:10 ) ( John 11:51 John 11:52 ) ; and there is a gathering of them in effectual calling, and into a church state, and into nearer communion with Christ; but here it seems to signify a gathering them by death, when fully ripe, to enjoy everlasting fellowship with him.
F17 Antiqu. l. 8. c. 7. s. 3.
F18 See Lightfoot's Chorograph. Inquiry on John, c. 5. s. 4. p. 509.
F19 Ebr. Comment. p. 642.
F20 (twerl) "ut ubi pascatur", V. L. Munster, Mercerus.
F21 (eupnoa leiria kersoi) , Theocrit. Idyll. 19. v. 32.
F23 Carmin. l. 1. Ode 36, v. 16.