Thou [art] beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah
These are the words of Christ, who had been absent for some time, and till now silent; but, like another Joseph, could not refrain any longer, but makes himself known to his church, and bursts out in strong expressions of love to her, and in high commendations of her; for, notwithstanding her behavior toward him, she was his love still, and as "beautiful" and as comely in his sight as ever: and for which he compares her here to Tirzah; which is either the name of some beautiful woman, well known in those times; so one of the daughters of Zelophehad is called by this name, ( Numbers 27:1 ) ; but whether from her beauty is nowhere said: or rather a city of this name is here meant, since, in the next clause, the church is compared to the city of Jerusalem for the same reason. There was a city in the land of Canaan, called Tirzah, formerly the seat of one of the ancient kings of Canaan, and, in later times, of Jeroboam and some of his successors; and which, no doubt, was a very pleasant and delightful place, as its name imports, either from its situation or buildings, ( Joshua 12:24 ) . Adrichomius F24 says, it was an heroic city, situated on a high mountain. In some of the Greek versions, it is read as an appellative, and tendered, as "good will" or "good pleasure" F25, and so may respect the sweetness of her temper and disposition; which is heightened by using the abstract, she was all good nature and good will; not only sweet, as the Vulgate Latin version, but "sweetness" itself, as she says of him, ( Song of Solomon 5:16 ) ; and this may be said of her, as she was the object of God's good will and pleasure in election, of Christ's in redemption, and of the Spirit's in effectual calling; and as she was the subject of good will, bearing one to God, to Christ, to his people, word, worship, ways, and ordinances. The word comes from a root which signifies to be "grateful [and] accepted": and so Jarchi interprets the word here "acceptable": and so some ancient writings of the Jews F26: and may denote the acceptableness of the church in Christ, with whom God is well pleased in him for his righteousness's sake, in which she appears exceeding fair and lovely. And for the same reason is said to be comely as Jerusalem;
the metropolis of Judea, and seat of the kings of it; and, as Pliny F1 says, was far the most famous of any of the cities of the east; it was a city well built and compact together, beautiful for situation, very rich in Solomon's time, the place of divine worship, and was strongly fortified by nature and art: and hence the church of God often bears this name, both in the Old and New Testament, ( Isaiah 40:2 ) ( Hebrews 12:22 ) , being the city of the great King, built on Christ, the Rock; consisting of saints, fitly and closely united together; rich with the unsearchable riches of Christ; where the several parts of spiritual and evangelic worship are performed; possessed of many privileges, and well secured by the power and salvation of God. Yet terrible as [an army] with banners;
to her enemies, though so lovely to Christ. This shows that not a single person is meant all along, who could not with propriety be compared to an army; but a collective body, as the church is: and that the church on earth is militant, and, like a well disciplined army, in good order, and provided with proper officers and suitable armour, and in a posture of defence, and ready to fight when attacked; and so "terrible" to her enemies, Satan and his principalities, wicked men and false teachers; who are terrified by their having such a General at the head of them as Christ, and being under such banners as his, and provided with such good weapons of warfare, as are mighty through God; by their close union to one another; and by the constancy, undauntedness, and invincibleness of their faith; and are awed by their pious conversation and good examples. Perhaps some respect may be had by Christ to the church's courage and constancy in seeking after him; the force of whose faith and love he felt, which he could not withstand, and therefore says as follows:
F24 Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 74.
F25 (hurtk) (wv eudokia) , Sept. (eudokhth) , Symmachus.
F26 Siphri in Jarchi, & Shir Hashirim Rabba in loc.
F1 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 14.