Who [is] this that cometh out of the wilderness
This is said by the daughters of Jerusalem, adjured in ( Song of Solomon 3:5 ) ; who, upon the happy meeting of Christ and his church, saw a greater glory and beauty in her than they had seen before; and therefore put this question, not as ignorant of her, but as admiring at her. By the wilderness she is said to "come out" of is meant either a state of nature, as Theodoret; in which all the elect of God are before conversion, and out of which they are brought by efficacious grace; called a wilderness, because of the barrenness and unfruitfulness of persons in such a state; and because of the perplexed ways and tracks in it, which bewilder a man that he knows not which to take; and because of the want of spiritual provisions in it; and because of the danger men are exposed unto through holes and pits, and beasts of prey: in such a state God finds his people, convinces them of it, and brings them out of it; which is an instance of surprising and distinguishing grace: or else the world itself may be meant, the wilderness of the people, ( Ezekiel 20:35 ) ; so called because of the roughness of the way, the many tribulations the saints pass through in it; and because of the traps and snares that are in it, through evil men, the lusts of the flesh, and the temptations of Satan; because of the many evil beasts in it, ungodly men, false teachers, and Satan the roaring lion; and because of the plentiful table God furnishes here for his people, feeding them in the wilderness with Gospel doctrines and spiritual ordinances, ( Revelation 12:14 ) ; and because of the many windings and turnings of Providence in it, through all which they are led in a right way to the city of their habitation: now though they are in the world, they are not of it; they are called out of it, and quit as much as may be the company and conversation of the men of it; and through the grace of God are more and more weaned from it, and long after another and better world; all which may be intended by their coming out of this: or else this may design a state of sorrow and distress when under desertion, and without the presence of Christ; which had lately been the case of the church, who had been in a bewildered condition, and not knowing where her beloved was, ran about here and there in quest of him, like one in a wood, seeking him and calling after him; but now having sight of him, and some communion with him, is represented as coming out of that state. She is further described as being like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense;
her heart being inflamed with love to Christ, her affections moved upwards, heavenwards, and were set on things above; and which were sincere and upright, rose up in the form of palm trees, as the word F14 signifies, a very upright tree; and these moved steadily towards Christ, and could not be diverted from him by the winds of temptation, affliction, and persecution; and though there might be some degree of dulness and imperfection in them, hence called "pillars of smoke"; yet being perfumed with the sweet smelling myrrh of Christ's sacrifice, and the incense of his mediation, became acceptable to God. It is added, with all powders of the merchant:
odorous ones, such are the graces of the Spirit, which Christ the merchantman is full of; and makes his people, their affections and prayers, of a sweet smelling savour with. Ben Melech interprets it of garments perfumed with spices; see ( Psalms 45:8 ) ; Some render the words, "above" or "more excellent than all powders of the merchant" F15, druggist or apothecary F16; no such drug nor spice to be found in their shops, that smell so sweet as Christ, his grace and righteousness.
F14 (twrmytk) "ut columnae ad formam palmae assurgntes", Buxtorf; "ut palmae", Mercerus, Cocceius; "instar palmarum", Tigurine version, Michaelis.
F15 so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt.
F16 (lkwr) (mureqou) , Sept. "pigmentarii", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "pharmacopolae", Tigurine version; "seplasiarii", Mercerus, Cocceius; "aromatarii", Junius & Tremellius, Marckius.