Desire for communion with Christ. (1-4) The vehemence of this desire. (5-7) The church pleads for others. (8-12) And prays for Christ's coming. (13,14)
Verses 1-4 The church wishes for the constant intimacy and freedom with the Lord Jesus that a sister has with a brother. That they might be as his brethren, which they are, when by grace they are made partakers of a Divine nature. Christ is become as our Brother; wherever we find him, let us be ready to own our relation to him, and affection for him, and not fear being despised for it. Is there in us an ardent wish to serve Christ more and better? What then have we laid up in store, to show our affection to the Beloved of our souls? What fruit unto holiness? The church charges all her children that they never provoke Christ to withdraw. We should reason with ourselves, when tempted to do what would grieve the Spirit.
Verses 5-7 The Jewish church came up from the wilderness, supported by Divine power and favour. The Christian church was raised from a low, desolate condition, by the grace of Christ relied on. Believers, by the power of grace, are brought up from the wilderness. A sinful state is a wilderness in which there is no true comfort; it is a wandering, wanting state: There is no coming out of this wilderness, but leaning on Christ as our Beloved, by faith; not leaning to our own understanding, nor trusting in any righteousness of our own; but in the strength of him, who is the Lord our Righteousness. The words of the church to Christ which follow, entreat an abiding place in his love, and protection by his power. Set me as a seal upon thine heart; let me always have a place in thine heart; let me have an impression of love upon thine heart. Of this the soul would be assured, and without a sense thereof no rest is to be found. Those who truly love Christ, are jealous of every thing that would draw them from him; especially of themselves, lest they should do any thing to provoke him to withdraw from them. If we love Christ, the fear of coming short of his love, or the temptations to forsake him, will be most painful to us. No waters can quench Christ's love to us, nor any floods drown it. Let nothing abate our love to him. Nor will life, and all its comforts, entice a believer from loving Christ. Love of Christ, will enable us to repel and triumph over temptations from the smiles of the world, as well as from its frowns.
Verses 8-12 The church pleads for the Gentiles, who then had not the word of God, nor the means of grace. Those who are brought to Christ themselves, should contrive what they may do to help others to him. Babes in Christ are always seen among Christians, and the welfare of their weak brethren is an object of continual prayer with the stronger believers. If the beginning of this work were likened to a wall built upon Him the precious Foundation and Corner-stone, then the Gentile church would become as a palace for the great King, built of solid silver. If the first preaching of the gospel were as the making a door through the wall of partition, that door should be lasting, as cased with boards of durable cedar. She shall be carefully and effectually protected, enclosed so as to receive no damage. The church is full of care for those yet uncalled. Christ says, I will do all that is necessary to be done for them. See with what satisfaction we should look back upon the times and seasons, when we were in his eyes as those that find favour. Our hearts are our vineyards, which we must keep with all diligence. To Christ, and to his praise, all our fruits must be dedicated. All that work for Christ, work for themselves, and shall be unspeakable gainers by it.
Verses 13-14 These verses close the conference between Christ and his church. He first addresses her as dwelling in the gardens, the assemblies and ordinances of his saints. He exhorts her to be constant and frequent in prayers, supplications, and praises, in which he delights. She replies, craving his speedy return to take her to be wholly with Him. The heavens, those high mountains of sweet spices, must contain Christ, till the times come, when every eye shall see him, in all the glory of the better world. True believers as they are looking for, so they are hastening to the coming of that day of the Lord. Let every Christian endeavour to perform the duties of his station, that men may see his good works, and glorify his heavenly Father. Continuing earnest in prayer for what we want, our thanksgivings will abound, and our joy will be full; our souls will be enriched, and our labours prospered. We shall be enabled to look forward to death and judgment without fear. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Solomon 8:1-14 .
1. He had been a brother already. Why, then, this prayer here? It refers to the time after His resurrection, when the previous outward intimacy with Him was no longer allowed, but it was implied it should be renewed at the second coming ( John 20:17 ). For this the Church here prays; meanwhile she enjoys inward spiritual communion with Him. The last who ever "kissed" Jesus Christ on earth was the traitor Judas. The bride's return with the King to her mother's house answers to Acts 8:25 , after the mission to Samaria. The rest spoken of ( Solomon 8:4 ) answers to Acts 9:31 .
that sucked . . . mother--a brother born of the same mother; the closest tie.
2. Her desire to bring Him into her home circle ( John 1:41 ).
who would instruct me--rather, "thou wouldest instruct me," namely, how I might best please thee ( Isaiah 11:2 Isaiah 11:3 , 50:4 , Luke 12:12 , John 14:26 , 16:13 ).
spiced wine--seasoned with aromatic perfumes. Jesus Christ ought to have our choicest gifts. Spices are never introduced in the song in His absence; therefore the time of His return from "the mountain of spices" ( Solomon 8:14 ) is contemplated. The cup of betrothal was given by Him at the last supper; the cup or marriage shall be presented by her at His return ( Matthew 26:29 ). Till then the believer often cannot feel towards, or speak of, Him as he would wish.
3, 4. The "left and right hand," &c., occurred only once actually ( Solomon 2:6 ), and here optatively. Only at His first manifestation did the Church palpably embrace Him; at His second coming there shall be again sensible communion with Him. The rest in Solomon 8:4 , which is a spiritual realization of the wish in Solomon 8:3 ( 1 Peter 1:8 ), and the charge not to disturb it, close the first, second, and fourth canticles; not the third, as the bridegroom there takes charge Himself; nor the fifth, as, if repose formed its close, we might mistake the present state for our rest. The broken, longing close, like that of the whole Bible ( Revelation 22:20 ), reminds us we are to be waiting for a Saviour to come. On "daughters of Jerusalem,"
CANTICLE V.--( Solomon 8:5-14 )--FROM THE CALL OF THE GENTILES TO THE CLOSE OF REVELATION.
5. Who is this--Words of the daughters of Jerusalem, that is, the churches of Judea; referring to Paul, on his return from Arabia ("the wilderness"), whither he had gone after conversion ( Galatians 1:15-24 ).
I raised thee . . . she . . . bare thee--( Acts 26:14-16 ). The first words of Jesus Christ to the bride since her going to the garden of nuts ( Song of Solomon 6:9 Song of Solomon 6:10 ); so His appearance to Paul is the only one since His ascension, Solomon 8:13 is not an address of Him as visible: her reply implies He is not visible ( 1 Corinthians 15:8 ). Spirit ually, she was found in the moral wilderness ( Ezekiel 16:5 , Hosea 13:5 ); but now she is "coming up from" it ( Jeremiah 2:2 , Hosea 2:14 ), especially in the last stage of her journey, her conscious weakness casting itself the more wholly on Jesus Christ ( 2 Corinthians 12:9 ). "Raised" ( Ephesians 2:1-7 ). Found ruined under the forbidden tree ( Genesis 3:22-24 ); restored under the shadow of Jesus Christ crucified, "the green tree" ( Luke 23:31 ), fruit-"bearing" by the cross ( Isaiah 53:11 , John 12:24 ). "Born again by the Holy Ghost" "there" ( Ezekiel 16:3-6 ). In this verse, her dependence, in the similar verse, Solomon 3:6 , &c., His omnipotence to support her, are brought out ( Deuteronomy 33:26 ).
6. Implying approaching absence of the Bridegroom.
seal--having her name and likeness engraven on it. His Holy Priesthood also in heaven ( Exodus 28:6-12 Exodus 28:15-30 Hebrews 4:14 ); "his heart" there answering to "thine heart" here, and "two shoulders" to "arm." (Compare Jeremiah 22:24 , with Haggai 2:23 ). But the Holy Ghost ( Ephesians 1:13 Ephesians 1:14 ). As in Solomon 8:5 , she was "leaning" on Him, that is, her arm on His arm, her head on His bosom; so she prays now that before they part, her impression may be engraven both on His heart and His arm, answering to His love and His power ( Psalms 77:15 ; see Genesis 38:18 , Isaiah 62:3 ).
love is strong as death--( Acts 21:13 Romans 8:35-39 Revelation 12:11 ). This their love unto death flows from His ( John 10:15 , 15:13 ).
jealousy . . . the grave--Zealous love, jealous of all that would come between the soul and Jesus Christ ( 1 Kings 19:10 , Psalms 106:30 Psalms 106:31 , Luke 9:60 , 14:26 , 1 Corinthians 16:22 ).
cruel--rather, "unyielding" hard, as the grave will not let go those whom it once holds ( John 10:28 ).
a most vehement flame--literally, "the fire-flame of Jehovah" ( Psalms 80:16 , Isaiah 6:6 ). Nowhere else is God's name found in the Song. The zeal that burnt in Jesus Christ ( Psalms 69:9 , Luke 12:49 Luke 12:50 ) kindled in His followers ( Acts 2:3 , Romans 15:30 , Philippians 2:17 ).
7. waters--in contrast with the "coals of fire" ( Solomon 8:6 1 Kings 18:33-38 ). Persecutions ( Acts 8:1 ) cannot quench love ( Hebrews 10:34 , Revelation 12:15 Revelation 12:16 ). Our many provocations have not quenched His love ( Romans 8:33-39 ).
if . . . give all the substance . . . contemned--Nothing short of Jesus Christ Himself, not even heaven without Him, can satisfy the saint ( Philippians 3:8 ). Satan offers the world, as to Jesus Christ ( Matthew 4:8 ), so to the saint, in vain ( 1 John 2:15-17 , 5:4 ). Nothing but our love in turn can satisfy Him ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ).
8. The Gentile Church ( Ezekiel 16:48 ). "We," that is, the Hebrew Church, which heretofore admitted Gentiles to communion, only by becoming Judaic proselytes. Now first idolatrous Gentiles are admitted directly ( Acts 11:17-26 ). Generally, the saint's anxiety for other souls ( 5:19 , John 4:28 John 4:29 ).
no breasts--neither faith nor love as yet which "come by hearing" of Him who first loved us. Not yet fit to be His bride, and mother of a spiritual offspring.
what shall we do--the chief question in the early Church at the first council ( Acts 15:23-29 ). How shall "the elder brother" treat the "younger," already received by the Father ( Luke 15:25-32 )? Generally ( 2 Samuel 15:15 , John 9:4 , Acts 9:6 , Galatians 6:10 ).
In the day . . . spoken for--that is, when she shall be sought in marriage ( Judges 14:7 ), namely, by Jesus Christ, the heavenly bridegroom.
9. wall . . . door--the very terms employed as to the Gentile question ( Acts 14:27 , Ephesians 2:14 ). If she be a wall in Zion, founded on Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 3:11 ), we will not "withstand God" ( Acts 11:17 , 15:8-11 ). But if so, we must not "build" ( Acts 15:14-17 ) on her "wood, hay, stubble" ( 1 Corinthians 3:12 ), that is, Jewish rites, &c., but "a palace of silver," that is, all the highest privileges of church communion ( Galatians 2:11-18 Ephesians 2:11-22 ). Image from the splendid turrets "built" on the "walls" of Jerusalem, and flanking the "door," or gateway. The Gentile Church is the "door," the type of catholic accessibleness ( 1 Corinthians 16:9 ); but it must be not a mere thoroughfare but furnished with a wooden framework, so as not merely to admit, but also to safely enclose: cedar is fragrant, beautiful, and enduring.
10. The Gentile Church's joy at its free admission to gospel privileges ( Acts 15:30 Acts 15:31 ). She is one wall in the spiritual temple of the Holy Ghost, the Hebrew Church is the other; Jesus Christ, the common foundation, joins them ( Ephesians 2:11-22 ).
breasts . . . towers--alluding to the silver palace, which the bridal virgins proposed to build on her ( Solomon 8:9 ). "Breasts" of consolation ( Isaiah 66:11 ); faith and love ( 1 Thessalonians 5:8 ); opposed to her previous state, "no breasts" ( Solomon 8:8 , 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ). Thus Ezekiel 16:46 Ezekiel 16:61 was fulfilled, both Samaria and the Gentiles being joined to the Jewish gospel Church.
favour--rather, "peace." The Gentile Church too is become the Shulamite ( Solomon 6:13 ), or peace-enjoying bride of Solomon, that is, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace ( Romans 5:1 , Ephesians 2:14 ). Reject not those whom God accepts ( Numbers 11:28 , Luke 9:49 , Acts 15:8 Acts 15:9 ). Rather, superadd to such every aid and privilege ( Solomon 8:9 ).
11. The joint Church speaks of Jesus Christ's vineyard. Transference of it from the Jews, who rendered not the fruits, as is implied by the silence respecting any, to the Gentiles ( Matthew 21:33-43 ).
Baal-hamon--equivalent to the owner of a multitude; so Israel in Solomon's day ( 1 Kings 4:20 ); so Isaiah 5:1 , "a very fruitful hill" abounding in privileges, as in numbers. thousand pieces--namely, silverlings, or shekels. The vineyard had a thousand vines probably; a vine at a silverling ( Isaiah 7:23 ), referring to this passage.
12. "mine" by grant of the true Solomon. Not merely "let out to keepers," as in the Jewish dispensation of works, but "mine" by grace. This is "before me," that is, in my power [MAURER]. But though no longer under constraint of "keeping" the law as a mere letter and covenant of works, love to Jesus Christ will constrain her the more freely to render all to Solomon ( Romans 8:2-4 , 1 Corinthians 6:20 , Galatians 5:13 , 1 Peter 2:16 ), after having paid what justice and His will require should be paid to others ( 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 , 9:14 ). "Before me" may also mean "I will never lose sight of it" (contrast Solomon 1:6 ) [MOODY STUART]. She will not keep it for herself, though so freely given to her, but for His use and glory ( Luke 19:13 , Romans 6:15 , 14:7-9 , 1 Corinthians 12:7 ). Or the "two hundred" may mean a double tithe (two-tenths of the whole paid back by Jesus Christ) as the reward of grace for our surrender of all (the thousand) to Him ( Galatians 6:7 , Hebrews 6:10 ); then she and "those that keep" are the same [ADELAIDE NEWTON]. But Jesus Christ pays back not merely two tithes, but His all for our all ( 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ).
13. Jesus Christ's address to her; now no longer visibly present. Once she "had not kept" her vineyard ( Solomon 1:6 ); now she "dwells" in it, not as its owner, but its superintendent under Jesus Christ, with vinedressers ("companions"), for example, Paul, &c. ( Acts 15:25 Acts 15:26 ), under her ( Song of Solomon 8:11 Song of Solomon 8:12 ); these ought to obey her when she obeys Jesus Christ. Her voice in prayer and praise is to be heard continually by Jesus Christ, if her voice before men is to be effective ( Solomon 2:14 , end; Acts 6:4 , Acts 13:2 Acts 13:3 ).
As she began with longing for His first coming ( Solomon 1:2
), so she ends with praying for His second coming ( Psalms 130:6
, Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:21
, Revelation 22:20
). MOODY STUART makes the roe upon spices to be the musk deer. As there are four gardens, so four mountains, which form not mere images, as Gilead, Carmel, &c., but part of the structure of the Song: (1) Bether, or division
( Solomon 2:17
), God's justice dividing
us from God. (2) Those "of leopards" ( Solomon 4:8
), sin, the world, and Satan. (3) That "of myrrh and aloes" ( Song of Solomon 4:6 Song of Solomon 4:14
), the sepulchre of Calvary. (4) Those "of spices," here answering to "the hill of frankincense" ( Solomon 4:6
), where His soul
was for the three days of His death, and heaven, where He is a High Priest now, offering incense for us on the fragrant mountain of His own finished work ( Hebrews 4:14
, Revelation 8:3 Revelation 8:4
); thus He surmounts the other three mountains, God's justice, our sin, death. The mountain of spices is as much greater than our sins, as heaven is higher than earth ( Psalms 103:11
). The abrupt, unsatisfied close with the yearning prayer for His visible
coming shows that the marriage is future, and that to wait eagerly for it is our true attitude ( 1 Corinthians 1:7
, 1 Thessalonians 1:10
, Titus 2:13
, 2 Peter 3:12