they smote me, they wounded me;
taking her for a night walker, they gave her ill words and hard blows this was not very becoming watchmen to use those of the city in this manner; for, as Plato F12 says, keepers of cities should be mild and gentle towards their own, but to enemies rough and severe: if these were true ministers of Christ, this they did by reproaching her for and upbraiding her with her lukewarmness and unkindness to Christ, sharply reproving her for them; and, instead of comforting her with the doctrines of grace, cut and wounded her with the terrors of the law; or else hearing some sweet discourses from them concerning the person and grace of Christ, her heart was smitten and wounded therewith; and hence she charges the daughters of Jerusalem, in ( Song of Solomon 5:8 ) , that if they found her beloved, that they would tell him, that she was "sick of" or "wounded with love": but as they rather appear to be false teachers, since the church would have shunned them, nor did she make any application to them, nor any inquiry of them about her beloved, and met with cruel and unkind usage from them, they may be said to smite and wounded her by their false doctrines and scandalous lives, by the divisions they made, and by the censures and reproaches they cast upon her, the odious names they gave her, and by stirring up the civil magistrates against her; all which agree with antichristian ministers;
the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me;
there were two sorts of watchmen in a city, one that went about to see that all was right and safe within; and others placed on the walls of it, who kept their stand, and whose business it was to give notice of an enemy approaching, and to defend the city from outward attacks upon it; and such are the ministers of the word, ( Isaiah 62:6 ) ; but here false teachers are meant as before, as appears from their abuse of the church, taking away her veil from her, such as women wore for ornament, or as a sign of modesty or as a token of subjection to their husbands, ( Isaiah 3:23 ) ( Genesis 24:65 ) ( 1 Corinthians 11:6-10 ) ; and may here design either their falsely accusing her good conduct, which was her outward covering; or their attempt to take away from her the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteousness, which is her covering, the wedding garment, the nuptial robe, as Gregory Nyssene F13 calls the veil here: and such a veil was given by the bridegroom with the Romans, and was called "flammeum", from its being of a flame colour F14, either yellow or red, expressive of the blushing modesty of the newly married bride F15; and the like custom might obtain with the Jews.
F12 De Legibus, l. 2. p. 602.
F13 Homil. 12. in Cant. p. 651.
F14 "Non timidum nuptae leviter tinctura padorem, lutea demissos velarunt flammea vultus", Lucan. Pharsal. l. 2. v. 360, 361. Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 8. "Uti tibi corycio glomerarem flammea luto", Virgil. Cyris. Vid. Barthii ad Claudian. Fescen. Ode 4. v. 4.
F15 Vid. Chartarium de Imag. Deorurn, p. 84, 89. & Kipping. Antiqu. Roman. l. 4. c. 2. p. 693, 694.