There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and
virgins without number.
] In this verse and ( Song of Solomon 6:9 ) the church is commended as she stood related to others; and is compared with them, and preferred to them. The words may be considered either as an assertion, "there are" or as a supposition, "though there be", &c. yet Christ's church is but one, and excels them all. "Queens" are principal and lawful wives of kings; "concubines", secondary or half wives, as the word F9 signifies; who were admitted to the bed, but their children did not inherit: "virgins", unmarried persons, maids of honour, who waited on the queen. The allusion is to the custom of kings and great personages, who had many wives, and more concubines, and a large number of virgins to wait on them; see ( 1 Kings 11:3 ) ; or to a nuptial solemnity, and the ceremony of introducing the bride to the bridegroom, attended with a large number of persons of distinction; and so Theocritus F11 speaks of four times sixty virgins attending the nuptials of Menelaus and Helena; see ( Psalms 45:9 ) . By all which may be meant either the kingdoms and nations of the world; by "queens", the more large, rich and flourishing kingdoms; by "concubines", inferior states; and by "virgins without number", the vast multitudes of inhabitants that fill them; but all, put together, are not equal to the church; see ( Song of Solomon 2:2 ) ; or else false churches; by "queens", such who boast of their riches and number, as the church of Rome, ( Revelation 18:7 ) ; by "concubines", such as are inferior in those things, but equally corrupt, as Arians, Socinians and by "virgins without number", the multitudes of poor, weak, ignorant people, seduced by them; and what figure soever these make, or pretensions to be the true churches of Christ, they are none of his, his spouse is preferred to them all. Or rather true believers in Christ, of different degrees, are here meant; queens, those that have the greatest share of gifts grace, most nearness to Christ, and communion with him; by "concubines", believers of a lower class, and of a more servile spirit, and yet sometimes are favoured with, fellowship with Christ; and by "virgins", young converts, who have not so large an experience as the former; and this distribution agrees with ( 1 John 2:13 1 John 2:14 ) ; and the rather this may be the sense, since each of these are said to praise the church in ( Song of Solomon 6:9 ) , who is preferable to them, and includes them all.
F9 (Myvglyp) "secundariae uxores", Michaelis.
F11 Idyll. 18. v. 24.