Christ sets forth the graces of the church. (1-7) Christ's love to the church. (8-15) The church desires further influences of Divine grace. (16)
Verses 1-7 If each of these comparisons has a meaning applicable to the graces of the church, or of the faithful Christian, they are not clearly known; and great mistakes are made by fanciful guesses. The mountain of myrrh appears to mean the mountain Moriah, on which the temple was built, where the incense was burned, and the people worshipped the Lord. This was his residence till the shadows of the law given to Moses were dispersed by the breaking of the gospel day, and the rising of the Sun of righteousness. And though, in respect of his human nature, Christ is absent from his church on earth, and will continue to be so till the heavenly day break, yet he is spiritually present in his ordinances, and with his people. How fair and comely are believers, when justified in Christ's righteousness, and adorned with spiritual graces! when their thoughts, words, and deeds, though imperfect, are pure, manifesting a heart nourished by the gospel!
Verses 8-15 Observe the gracious call Christ gives to the church. It is, 1. A precept; so this is Christ's call to his church to come off from the world. These hills seem pleasant, but there are in them lions' dens; they are mountains of the leopards. 2. As a promise; many shall be brought as members of the church, from every point. The church shall be delivered from her persecutors in due time, though now she dwells among lions, ( Psalms 57:4 ) . Christ's heart is upon his church; his treasure is therein; and he delights in the affection she has for him; its working in the heart, and its works in the life. The odours wherewith the spouse is perfumed, are as the gifts and graces of the Spirit. Love and obedience to God are more pleasing to Christ than sacrifice or incense. Christ having put upon his spouse the white raiment of his own righteousness, and the righteousness of saints, and perfumed it with holy joy and comfort, he is well pleased with it. And Christ walks in his garden unseen. A hedge of protection is made around, which all the powers of darkness cannot break through. The souls of believers are as gardens enclosed, where is a well of living water, ( John 4:14 , John 7:38 ) , the influences of the Holy Spirit. The world knows not these wells of salvation, nor can any opposer corrupt this fountain. Saints in the church, and graces in the saints, are fitly compared to fruits and spices. They are planted, and do not grow of themselves. They are precious; they are the blessings of this earth. They will be kept to good purpose when flowers are withered. Grace, when ended in glory, will last for ever. Christ is the source which makes these gardens fruitful; even a well of living waters.
Verse 16 The church prays for the influences of the blessed Spirit, to make this garden fruitful. Graces in the soul are as spices in these gardens, that in them which is valuable and useful. The blessed Spirit, in his work upon the soul, is as the wind. There is the north wind of conviction, and the south wind of comfort. He stirs up good affections, and works in us both to will and to do that which is good. The church invites Christ. Let him have the honour of all the garden produces, and let us have the comfort of his acceptance of it. We can invite him to nothing but what is his own already. The believer can have no joy of the fruits, unless they redound some way or other to the glory of Christ. Let us then seek to keep separate from the world, as a garden enclosed, and to avoid conformity thereto.
In this chapter is contained a large commendation of the church's beauty by Christ; first, more particularly, by an enumeration of several parts, as her eyes, hair, teeth, lips, temples, neck, and breasts, So 4:1-5; and more generally, So 4:7; And having observed where he himself was determined to go, he invites her to go with him; which he enforces, partly from the danger she was exposed unto where she was So 4:6,8; and partly from the comeliness of her person and graces in his esteem; with which he was ravished, and therefore was extremely desirous of her company, So 4:9-11; And then enters into some new descriptions of her; as a garden and orchard, as a spring and fountain, So 4:12-14; all which she makes to be owing to him, So 4:15; And the chapter is closed with an order from Christ to the winds to blow on his garden, and cause the spices of it to flow out; and with an invitation of the church to Christ, to come into his garden, and relax there, So 4:16.