Inquiry where Christ must be sought. (1) Where Christ may be found. (2,3) Christ's commendations of the church. (4-10) The work of grace in the believer. (11-13)
Verse 1 Those made acquainted with the excellences of Christ, and the comfort of an interest in him, desire to know where they may meet him. Those who would find Christ, must seek him early and diligently.
Verses 2-3 Christ's church is a garden, enclosed, and separated from the world; he takes care of it, delights in it, and visits it. Those who would find Christ, must attend him in his ordinances, the word, sacraments, and prayer. When Christ comes to his church, it is to entertain his friends. And to take believers to himself: he picks the lilies one by one; and at the great day he will send forth his angels to gather all his lilies, that he may be for ever admired in them. The death of a believer is not more than the owner of a garden plucking a favourite flower; and He will preserve it from withering, yea, cause it to flourish for ever, with increasing beauty. If our own hearts can witness for us that we are Christ's, question not his being ours, for the covenant never breaks on his side. It is the comfort of the church, that he feeds among the lilies, that he takes delight in his people.
Verses 4-10 All the real excellence and holiness on earth centre in the church. Christ goes forth subduing his enemies, while his followers gain victories over the world, the flesh, and the devil. He shows the tenderness of a Redeemer, the delight he takes in his redeemed people, and the workings of his own grace in them. True believers alone can possess the beauty of holiness. And when their real character is known, it will be commended. Both the church and believers, at their first conversion, look forth as the morning, their light being small, but increasing. As to their sanctification, they are fair as the moon, deriving all their light, grace, and holiness from Christ; and as to justification, clear as the sun, clothed with Christ, the Sun of righteousness, and fighting the good fight of faith, under the banners of Christ, against all spiritual enemies.
Verses 11-13 In retirement and in meditation the Christian character is formed and perfected. But not in the retirement of the idle, the self-indulgent, or the trifler. When the Christian is released from the discharge of his duties in life, the world has no attractions for him. His prayer is, that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow within him, and around him. Such are the interesting cares and employments of him whom the world wrongly deems unhappy, and lost to his true interests. In humility and self-abasement, the humble Christian would turn away from the sight of all; but the Lord delights to honour him. Chiefly, however, may the reference be to the ministering angels who shall be sent for the soul of the Christian. Their approach may startle, but the departing soul shall find the Lord its strength and its portion for ever. The church is called the Shulamite: the word signifies perfection and peace; not in herself, but in Christ, in whom she is complete, through his righteousness; and has peace, which he made for her through his blood, and gives unto her by his Spirit.
Solomon 6:1-13 .
1. Historically, at Jesus Christ's crucifixion and burial, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and others, joined with His professed disciples. By speaking of Jesus Christ, the bride does good not only to her own soul, but to others Compare the hypocritical use of similar words ( Matthew 2:8 ).
2. gone down--Jerusalem was on a hill (answering to its moral elevation), and the gardens were at a little distance in the valleys below.
beds of spices--(balsam) which He Himself calls the "mountain of myrrh," &c. ( Solomon 4:6 ), and again ( Solomon 8:14 ), the resting-place of His body amidst spices, and of His soul in paradise, and now in heaven, where He stands as High Priest for ever. Nowhere else in the Song is there mention of mountains of spices.
feed in . . . gardens--that is, in the churches, though He may have withdrawn for a time from the individual believer: she implies an invitation to the daughters of Jerusalem to enter His spiritual Church, and become lilies, made white by His blood. He is gathering some lilies now to plant on earth, others to transplant into heaven ( Solomon 5:1 , Genesis 5:24 , Mark 4:28 Mark 4:29 , Acts 7:60 ).
3. In speaking of Jesus Christ to others, she regains her own assurance. Literally, "I am for my beloved . . . for me." Reverse order from Solomon 2:16 . She now, after the season of darkness, grounds her convictions on His love towards her, more than on hers towards Him ( Deuteronomy 33:3 ). There, it was the young believer concluding that she was His, from the sensible assurance that He was hers.
4. Tirzah--meaning "pleasant" ( Hebrews 13:21 ); "well-pleasing" ( Matthew 5:14 ); the royal city of one of the old Canaanite kings ( Joshua 12:24 ); and after the revolt of Israel, the royal city of its kings, before Omri founded Samaria ( 1 Kings 16:8 1 Kings 16:15 ). No ground for assigning a later date than the time of Solomon to the Song, as Tirzah was even in his time the capital of the north (Israel), as Jerusalem was of the south (Judah).
Jerusalem--residence of the kings of Judah, as Tirzah, of Israel ( Psalms 48:1 , &c.; Psalms 122:1-3 , Psalms 125:1 Psalms 125:2 ). Loveliness, security, unity, and loyalty; also the union of Israel and Judah in the Church ( Isaiah 11:13 , Jeremiah 3:18 , Ezekiel 37:16 Ezekiel 37:17 Ezekiel 37:22 ; compare Hebrews 12:22 , Revelation 21:2 Revelation 21:12 ).
terrible--awe-inspiring. Not only armed as a city on the defensive, but as an army on the offensive. ( 2 Corinthians 10:4 ).
5. ( Solomon 4:9 , Genesis 32:28 , Exodus 32:9-14 , Hosea 12:4 ). This is the way "the army" ( Solomon 6:4 ) "overcomes" not only enemies, but Jesus Christ Himself, with eyes fixed on Him ( Psalms 25:15 , Matthew 11:12 ). Historically. Solomon 6:3-5 represent the restoration of Jesus Christ to His Church at the resurrection; His sending her forth as an army, with new powers ( mark 16:15-18 mark 16:20 ); His rehearsing the same instructions ( Luke 24:44 ).
overcome--literally, "have taken me by storm."
6. Not vain repetition of Song of Solomon 4:1 Song of Solomon 4:2 . The use of the same words shows His love unchanged after her temporary unfaithfulness ( Malachi 3:6 ).
8. threescore--indefinite number, as in Solomon 3:7 . Not queens, &c., of Solomon, but witnesses of the espousals, rulers of the earth contrasted with the saints, who, though many, are but "one" bride ( Isaiah 52:15 , Luke 22:25 Luke 22:26 , John 17:21 , 1 Corinthians 10:17 ). The one Bride is contrasted with the many wives whom Eastern kings had in violation of the marriage law ( 1 Kings 11:1-3 ).
9. Hollow professors, like half wives, have no part in the one bride.
only one of her mother--namely, "Jerusalem above" ( Galatians 4:26 ). The "little sister" ( Solomon 8:8 ) is not inconsistent with her being "the only one"; for that sister is one with herself ( John 10:16 ).
choice--( Ephesians 1:4 , 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ). As she exalted Him above all others ( Solomon 5:10 ), so He now her.
daughters . . . blessed her--( Isaiah 8:18 , 61:9 , Ezekiel 16:14 , 2 Thessalonians 1:10 ). So at her appearance after Pentecost ( Acts 4:13 , 6:15 , 24:25 , 26:28 ).
10. The words expressing the admiration of the daughters. Historically ( Acts 5:24-39 ).
as the morning--As yet she is not come to the fulness of her light ( Proverbs 4:18 ).
moon--shining in the night, by light borrowed from the sun; so the bride, in the darkness of this world, reflects the light of the Sun of righteousness ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ).
sun--Her light of justification is perfect, for it is His ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 , 1 John 4:17 ). The moon has less light, and has only one half illuminated; so the bride's sanctification is as yet imperfect. Her future glory ( Matthew 13:43 ).
army--( Solomon 6:4 ). The climax requires this to be applied to the starry and angelic hosts, from which God is called Lord of Sabaoth. Her final glory ( Genesis 15:5 , Daniel 12:3 , Revelation 12:1 ). The Church Patriarchal, "the morning"; Levitical, "the moon"; Evangelical, "the sun"; Triumphant, "the bannered army" ( Revelation 19:14 ).
11. The bride's words; for she everywhere is the narrator, and often soliloquizes, which He never does. The first garden ( Solomon 2:11-13 ) was that of spring, full of flowers and grapes not yet ripe; the second, autumn, with spices (which are always connected with the person of Jesus Christ), and nothing unripe ( Solomon 4:13 , &c.). The third here, of "nuts," from the previous autumn; the end of winter, and verge of spring; the Church in the upper room Acts 1:13 , &c.), when one dispensation was just closed, the other not yet begun; the hard shell of the old needing to be broken, and its inner sweet kernel extracted [ORIGEN] ( Luke 24:27 Luke 24:32 ); waiting for the Holy Ghost to usher in spiritual spring. The walnut is meant, with a bitter outer husk, a hard shell, and sweet kernel. So the Word is distasteful to the careless; when awakened, the sinner finds the letter hard, until the Holy Ghost reveals the sweet inner spirit.
fruits of the Valley--MAURER translates, "the blooming products of the river," that is, the plants growing on the Margin of the river flowing through the garden. She goes to watch the first sproutings of the various plants.
12. Sudden outpourings of the Spirit on Pentecost ( Acts 2:1-13 ), while the Church was using the means (answering to "the garden," Solomon 6:11 , John 3:8 ).
Ammi-nadib--supposed to me one proverbial for swift driving. Similarly ( Solomon 1:9 ). Rather, "my willing people" ( Psalms 110:3 ). A willing chariot bore a "willing people"; or Nadib is the Prince, Jesus Christ ( Psalms 68:17 ). She is borne in a moment into His presence ( Ephesians 2:6 ).
13. Entreaty of the daughters of Jerusalem to her, in her chariot-like flight from them (compare 2 Kings 2:12 , 2 Samuel 19:14 ).
Shulamite--new name applied to her now for the first time. Feminine of Solomon, Prince of Peace; His bride, daughter of peace, accepting and proclaiming it ( Isaiah 52:7 , John 14:27 , Romans 5:1 , Ephesians 2:17 ). Historically, this name answers to the time when, not without a divine design in it, the young Church met in Solomon's porch ( Acts 3:11 , 5:12 ). The entreaty, "Return, O Shulamite," answers to the people's desire to keep Peter and John, after the lame man was healed, when they were about to enter the temple. Their reply attributing the glory not to themselves, but to Jesus Christ, answers to the bride's reply here, "What will ye see" in me? "As it were," &c. She accepts the name Shulamite, as truly describing her. But adds, that though "one" ( Solomon 6:9 ), she is nevertheless "two." Her glories are her Lord's, beaming through her ( Ephesians 5:31 Ephesians 5:32 ). The two armies are the family of Jesus Christ in heaven, and that on earth, joined and one with Him; the one militant, the other triumphant. Or Jesus Christ and His ministering angels are one army, the Church the other, both being one ( John 17:21 John 17:22 ). Allusion is made to Mahanaim (meaning two hosts), the scene of Jacob's victorious conflict by prayer ( Genesis 32:2 Genesis 32:9 Genesis 32:22-30 ). Though she is peace, yet she has warfare here, between flesh and spirit within and foes without; her strength, as Jacob's at Mahanaim, is Jesus Christ and His host enlisted on her side by prayer; whence she obtains those graces which raise the admiration of the daughters of Jerusalem.