Verse 11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. Wholehearted love is the duty and bliss of the marriage state in every case, but especially so in this lofty mystic marriage. The church must forsake all others and cleave to Jesus only, or she will not please him nor enjoy the full manifestation of his love. What less can he ask, what less may she dare propose than to be wholly his? Jesus sees a beauty in his church, a beauty which he delights in most when it is not marred by worldliness. He has always been most near and precious to his saints when they have cheerfully taken up his cross and followed him without the camp. His Spirit is grieved when they mingle themselves among the people and learn their ways. No great and lasting revival of religion can be granted us till the professed lovers of Jesus prove their affection by coming out from an ungodly world, being separated, and touching not the unclean thing. For he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. He has royal rights still; his condescending grace does not lessen but rather enforce his authority. Our Saviour is also our Ruler. The husband is the head of the wife; the love he bears her does not lessen but strengthen her obligation to obey. The church must reverence Jesus, and bow before him in prostrate adoration; his tender union with her gives her liberty, but not license; it frees her from all other burdens, but places his easy yoke upon her neck. Who would wish it to be otherwise? The service of God is heaven in heaven, and perfectly carried out it is heaven upon earth. Jesus, thou art he whom thy church praises in her unceasing songs, and adores in her perpetual service. Teach us to be wholly thine. Bear with us, and work by thy Spirit in us till thy will is done by us on earth as it is in heaven.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. This is a most sweet promise. For the Holy Spirit knoweth that this monster, Monk, sticks fast in our heart -- that we want to be pure and without spot before God. Thus, under Popery, all my temptation was this. I used to say, `that I would willingly go to the sacrament if I were but worthy.' Thus we seek, naturally, a purity in ourselves; and we examine our whole life and want to find a purity in ourselves, that we might have no need of grace, but might be pronounced righteous upon the grounds of our own merit ... Thou wilt certainly never become righteous by thyself and thine own works ... The Holy Spirit saith, therefore, I will give thee wholesome counsel; and if thou wilt hear me, thou shalt become a virgin all fair. For, if thou wouldst be beautiful in the sight of God, so that all thy works should please him, and he should say, "Thy prayer pleaseth me; all that thou sayest, doest, and thinkest, pleaseth me!" proceed thou thus: "hear, see, and incline thine ear;" and thou shalt thus become all fair. When thou hast heard, hast seen, hast forgotten all thine own righteousness, all the law, all traditions, and all that monkery, and hast believed, then art thou fair; not in thine own beauty, but in the beauty of the King who has adorned thee with his Word; because he has brought unto thee thereby his righteousness, his holiness, truth, and fortitude, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit ... The Holy Spirit uses the most exalted language. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: that is, thou wilt by this faith prevail upon him to do whatever thou desirest: so that, as one urged by the power of love, he will spontaneously follow thee, abide with thee, and take up his abode with thee. For wherever God has given his Word, there he does not leave his work which he has begun in thee; but he brings upon thee first the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh; that by them he may work upon thee. These are his embraces whereby he embraces his spouse through impatience of love ... The sum of the whole therefore, is this: That our beauty does not consist in our own virtues, now even in the gifts which we have received from God, by which we put forth virtues, and do all those things which pertain unto the life of the law; but in this -- our apprehending Christ and believing in him. Then it is that we are truly beautiful: and it is this beauty alone that Christ looks upon, and upon no other. Martin Luther.
Verse 11. In this Psalm Christ is set forth in all his royalty and majesty; yet he is said greatly to desire or delight in the beauty of his queen, that is, the graces of the saints; and that not with an ordinary delight, but he "greatly desires;" his desire is increased as her beauty is. For that is there brought in as a motive unto her to be more holy and conformed unto him, "to incline her ear, and forsake her father's house." So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. Christ hath a beauty that pleaseth him as well as we have, though of another kind; and, therefore, ceaseth not till he hath got out every spot and wrinkle out of his spouse's face, as the apostle speaks Ephesians 5:27 , "so as to present her glorious unto himself," that it, delightful and pleasing in his eyes. Thomas Goodwin.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty. Christ delighting in the Beauty of the Righteous. Martin Luther. (Select Works, by H. Cole.