I sleep, but my heart waketh
Like persons that are half awake, half asleep, whom Cicero F24 calls "semisomni". Christ and the church having feasted together at his invitation, she soon after fell asleep, as the disciples did after a repast with their Lord; yet not so fast asleep but that she was sensible of it; for this was not the dead sleep of sin, in which unconverted men are, and are insensible of; nor a judicial slumber some are given up unto, and perceive it not, yet a frame of spirit unbecoming saints, and displeasing to Christ; though consistent with grace, which at such a time is not, or very little, in exercise; they are slothful in duty, and backward to it; the phrase is sometimes used to describe a sluggish, slothful man F25; they are indifferent and lukewarm about divine things, content themselves with the bare externals of religion, without the lively exercise of grace, and without fervency and spirituality in them, and seem willing to continue so; (See Gill on Matthew 25:6); but the church here was not so overcome with sleep but her "heart was awake". Jarchi, and some ancient Jewish writers F26, interpret this and the former clause of different persons; the former, "I sleep", of the bride; this, "my heart waketh", of the bridegroom; and then the sense is, though I am in a sleepy frame, he who is "my heart", a phrase used by lovers F1, my soul, my life, my all, he never slumbers nor sleeps, he watches over me night and day, lest any hurt me; but both clauses are rather to be understood of the same person differently considered, as having two principles of grace and corruption, as the church has, which are represented as two persons; see ( Romans 7:18 Romans 7:20 ) ( Ephesians 4:22 Ephesians 4:24 ) ( Galatians 5:17 ) ; as the carnal part in her prevailed, she was the "sleeping I"; as the new man, or principle of grace appeared, her "heart [was] awake"; for, notwithstanding her sleepy frame, she had some thoughts of Christ, and stirring of affection to him; Some convictions of her sin, and some desires of being in her duty perhaps, though overpowered by the fleshly part; the spirit was willing, but the flesh weak. Christ's response to his church in this case follows, and is observed by her; he spoke to her so loud, that though sleepy she heard him, and owns it, [it is] the voice of my beloved:
in the ministration of the Gospel, which is to be distinguished from the voice of a stranger, even when dull and sleepy under hearing it, and little affected with it. Christ was the church's beloved still, had an affection for him, though not thoroughly awaked by his voice, but sleeps on still; this method failing, he takes another, or repeats the same with an additional circumstance, that knocketh,
saying, "open to me": which is to be understood not so much of his knocking by the ministry of the word to awaken her out of sleep, but in a providential way, by taking in his hand the rod of affliction, or scourge of persecution, and lashing therewith in order to bring her out of her carnal security; see ( Revelation 3:20 ) ; and he not only knocked but called, [saying], open to me,
open the door unto me, and let me in; so lovers are represented as at the door or gate to get admittance, and know not which to call most hard and cruel, the door or their lover F2: there is an emphasis on the word "me"; me, thy Lord, thy head, thy husband, thy friend, that loves thee so dearly; to whom her heart was shut, her affections contracted, her desires towards him languid; wherefore he importunes her to "open" to him, which denotes an enlarging of her affections to him, an exercise of grace on him, an expression of the desires of her soul unto him; which yet could not be done without efficacious grace exerted, as in ( Song of Solomon 5:4 ) ; but, the more to win upon her, he gives her good words, and the most endearing titles, expressive of love and relation, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled,
which are all made use of before, excepting the last; see ( Song of Solomon 1:9 Song of Solomon 1:14 ) ( 4:9 ) ; that is, "my undefiled", which she was, not as a descendant of Adam, nor as in herself, but as washed in the blood of Christ, justified by his righteousness, and sanctified by his Spirit; and as having been enabled by divine grace to preserve her chastity, and keep the "bed undefiled", ( Hebrews 13:4 ) ; not guilty of spiritual adultery among all her infirmities, even idolatry and superstition; see ( Revelation 14:4 ) ; or "my perfect one" F3; not in a legal, but in an evangelical sense, being completely redeemed, perfectly justified, fully pardoned, and sanctified in every part, though not to the highest degree; and perfect in Christ, though not in herself: other arguments follow to engage her attention to his request; for head is filled with dew, [and] my locks with the drops of the
through standing so long at the door, in the night season, waiting to be let in; so lovers represent their case in such circumstances, as dealt very hardly with F4: by which may be meant the sufferings of Christ, either in the persons of his ministers, who are exposed to the rage and reproach of men for ministering in his name to the church; or which he endured in his own person, in his estate of humiliation; and particularly in the night he was betrayed, and during the time of darkness he hung upon the cross, when he bore the sins of his people, and his Father's wrath; compared to "dew", and "drops of the night", because of the multitude of them he endured in soul and body, and because so uncomfortable to human nature; though as dew is useful and fructifying to the earth, so were these the means of many fruits and blessings of grace, and of bringing many souls to glory; now though these arguments were expressed in the most strong, moving, and melting language, yet were ineffectual.
F24 Familiar. Epist. l. 7. Ep. 1.
F25 "Qui vigilans dormiat", Plauti Pseudolus, Act. 1. Sc. 3. v. 151.
F26 Pesikta in Jarchi, & Tanchama in Yalkut in loc.
F1 "Meum mel, meum cor", Plauti Poenulus, Act. 1. Sc. 2. v. 154, 170, 175. "Meum corculum, melliculum", ibid. Casina, Act. 4. Sc. 4, v. 14.
F2 "Janua vel domina", &c, Propert. Eleg. 16. v. 17, 18, 19.
F3 (ytmt) (teleia mou) , Sept. "perfecta mea", Montanus, Tigurine version, Marckius; "integra mea", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.
F4 "Me mediae noctes" Propert. ut supra. (Eleg. 16.) v. 22, &c.