Song of Solomon 1

1 The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.
2 O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth! For your love is better than wine,
3 your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is oil poured out; therefore the maidens love you.
4 Draw me after you, let us make haste. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.
5 I am very dark, but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.
6 Do not gaze at me because I am swarthy, because the sun has scorched me. My mother's sons were angry with me, they made me keeper of the vineyards; but, my own vineyard I have not kept!
7 Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who wanders beside the flocks of your companions?
8 If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your kids beside the shepherds' tents.
9 I compare you, my love, to a mare of Pharaoh's chariots.
10 Your cheeks are comely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels.
11 We will make you ornaments of gold, studded with silver.
12 While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh, that lies between my breasts.
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Enge'di.
15 Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.
16 Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely. Our couch is green;
17 the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters are pine.

Song of Solomon 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

This book is a Divine allegory, which represents the love between Christ and his church of true believers, under figures taken from the relation and affection that subsist between a bridegroom and his espoused bride; an emblem often employed in Scripture, as describing the nearest, firmest, and most sure relation: see ( Psalm 45 , Isaiah 54:5 Isaiah 54:6 , Jeremiah 2:2 , Jeremiah 3:1 ) ; also in Ezekiel, Hosea, and by our Lord himself, ( Matthew 9:15 , Matthew 25:1 ) : see also ( Revelation 21:2 Revelation 21:9 , Ephesians 5:27 ) . There is no character in the church of Christ, and no situation in which the believer is placed, but what may be traced in this book, as humble inquirers will find, on comparing it with other Scriptures, by the assistance of God the Holy Spirit, in answer to their supplications. Much, however, of the language has been misunderstood by expositors and translators. The difference between the customs and manners of Europe, and those of the East, must especially be kept in view. The little acquaintance with eastern customs possessed by most of our early expositors and translators, has in many cases prevented a correct rendering. Also, the changes in our own language, during the last two or three centuries, affect the manner in which some expressions are viewed, and they must not be judged by modern notions. But the great outlines, rightly interpreted, fully accord with the affections and experience of the sincere Christian.

The title. (1) The church confesses her deformity. (2-6) The church beseeches Christ to lead her to the resting-place of his people. (7,8) Christ's commendation of the church, Her esteem for Him. (9-17)

Verse 1 This is "the Song of songs," excellent above any others, for it is wholly taken up with describing the excellences of Christ, and the love between him and his redeemed people.

Verses 2-6 The church, or rather the believer, speaks here in the character of the spouse of the King, the Messiah. The kisses of his mouth mean those assurances of pardon with which believers are favoured, filling them with peace and joy in believing, and causing them to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. Gracious souls take most pleasure in loving Christ, and being loved of him. Christ's love is more valuable and desirable than the best this world can give. The name of Christ is not now like ointment sealed up, but like ointment poured forth; which denotes the freeness and fulness of the setting forth of his grace by the gospel. Those whom he has redeemed and sanctified, are here the virgins that love Jesus Christ, and follow him whithersoever he goes, ( Revelation 14:4 ) . They entreat him to draw them by the quickening influences of his Spirit. The more clearly we discern Christ's glory, the more sensible shall we be that we are unable to follow him suitably, and at the same time be more desirous of doing it. Observe the speedy answer given to this prayer. Those who wait at Wisdom's gate, shall be led into truth and comfort. And being brought into this chamber, our griefs will vanish. We have no joy but in Christ, and for this we are indebted to him. We will remember to give thanks for thy love; it shall make more lasting impressions upon us than any thing in this world. Nor is any love acceptable to Christ but love in sincerity, ( Ephesians 6:24 ) . The daughters of Jerusalem may mean professors not yet established in the faith. The spouse was black as the tents of the wandering Arabs, but comely as the magnificent curtains in the palaces of Solomon. The believer is black, as being defiled and sinful by nature, but comely, as renewed by Divine grace to the holy image of God. He is still deformed with remains of sin, but comely as accepted in Christ. He is often base and contemptible in the esteem of men, but excellent in the sight of God. The blackness was owing to the hard usage that had been suffered. The children of the church, her mother, but not of God, her Father, were angry with her. They had made her suffer hardships, which caused her to neglect the care of her soul. Thus, under the emblem of a poor female, made the chosen partner of a prince, we are led to consider the circumstances in which the love of Christ is accustomed to find its objects. They were wretched slaves of sin, in toil, or in sorrow, weary and heavy laden, but how great the change when the love of Christ is manifested to their souls!

Verses 7-8 Observe the title given to Christ, O Thou whom my soul loveth. Those that do so, may come to him boldly, and may humbly plead with him. Is it with God's people a noon-time of outward troubles, inward conflicts? Christ has rest for them. Those whose souls love Jesus Christ, earnestly desire to share in the privileges of his flock. Turning aside from Christ is what gracious souls dread more than anything else. God is ready to answer prayer. Follow the track, ask for the good old way, observe the footsteps of the flock, look what has been the practice of godly people. Sit under the direction of good ministers; beside the tents of the under shepherds. Bring thy charge with thee, they shall all be welcome. It will be the earnest desire and prayer of the Christian, that God would so direct him in his worldly business, and so order his situation and employment, that he may have his Lord and Saviour always before him.

Verses 9-17 The Bridegroom gives high praises of his spouse. In the sight of Christ believers are the excellent of the earth, fitted to be instruments for promoting his glory. The spiritual gifts and graces which Christ bestows on every true believer, are described by the ornaments then in use, ver. ( 10-11 ). The graces of the saints are many, but there is dependence upon each other. He who is the Author, will be the Finisher of the good work. The grace received from Christ's fulness, springs forth into lively exercises of faith, affection, and gratitude. Yet Christ, not his gifts, is most precious to them. The word translated "camphire," signifies "atonement or propitiation." Christ is dear to all believers, because he is the propitiation for their sins. No pretender must have his place in the soul. They resolved to lodge him in their hearts all the night; during the continuance of the troubles of life. Christ takes delight in the good work which his grace has wrought on the souls of believers. This should engage all who are made holy, to be very thankful for that grace which has made those fair, who by nature were deformed. The spouse (the believer) has a humble, modest eye, discovering simplicity and godly sincerity; eyes enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, that blessed Dove. The church expresses her value for Christ. Thou art the great Original, but I am but a faint and imperfect copy. Many are fair to look at, yet their temper renders them unpleasant: but Christ is fair, yet pleasant. The believer, ver. ( 16 ) , speaks with praise of those holy ordinances in which true believers have fellowship with Christ. Whether the believer is in the courts of the Lord, or in retirement; whether following his daily labours, or confined on the bed of sickness, or even in a dungeon, a sense of the Divine presence will turn the place into a paradise. Thus the soul, daily having fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, enjoys a lively hope of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance above.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO THE SONG OF SOLOMON

This book is entitled, in the Hebrew copies, "Shir Hashirim", the Song of Songs. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions call it, "the Song"; and the title of it in the Syriac version, is,

``the Wisdom of Wisdoms of the same Solomon;''

that is, the same who wrote the two preceding books. It has always been received and esteemed by the ancient Jews as a valuable part of the sacred writings, calling it "the Holy of Holies" {a}; forbidding their children to read it, because of the sublimity and mysteriousness of it, until they were at years to understand it: nor was there ever any controversy among them about the authenticity of it; but all their writers {b}, ancient and more modern, agree that it was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The ancient Christian fathers and councils have held it as a part of the holy Scriptures, and have continued it in the canon of them; and it has been received as canonical by Christians in all ages, except a very few, as Theodore of Mopsuest, condemned calling it in question by the second council at Constantinople, in 553; and Castalio, in later times, who for the same was censured and exiled by the senate at Geneva; and Mr. Whiston, in our age, whose objections to it I have attempted to answer, in my larger Commentary on this book, published in 1728, and since republished: and I am very sorry I am obliged to take notice of an objection to the antiquity of it, and to its being Solomon's, made by a learned {c} man, very lately; who observes, that the word David, from its first appearance in Ruth, where it is written dwd, without the "yod", continues to be so written through the books of Samuel, Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; but appears with a "yod", dywd, in the books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Zechariah; wherefore he suggests, that if it was customary to write this word without a "yod" till the captivity, and with one after it; then he thinks a strong argument may be drawn from hence against the antiquity of the Canticles, and its being made by Solomon, since this name is written with a "yod" in So 4:4; the only place in it in which it is used: but in answer to this it must be said, that it is not fact that the word is invariably without a "yod" in the books mentioned, particularly the book of Kings: for the authors of the Masorah have observed, on 1Ki 3:14, that it is five times written in that book full, as they call it, that is, with a "yod", dywd; three of the places I have traced out, 1Ki 3:14, 11:4,36; and have found it so written in all the printed copies I have seen; and so it is read by the eastern Jews, in Eze 37:24. This learned man is aware that it is so written, once in Hosea, and twice in Amos, books written two hundred years before the captivity; but then he observes, that in the two last places, in Bomberg's edition, it has a little circle (o) to mark it for an error, or a faulty word, though none over the word in Hosea: but it should be known, that that circle, in hundreds of places, is not used to point out anything faulty in the copy; but is only a mark referring to the margin, and what is observed there; and be it that it does point out an error, or a faulty word, the same circle is over the word in Canticles, and consequently shows it to be faulty there, and to be corrected and read without the "yod", as it was originally without it there; which observation destroys the argument from it: and so it is read in that place in the Talmud {d} without it, and in the ancient book of Zohar {e}; and indeed it seems as if it was read without the "yod" in the copies seen by the authors of the Little Masorah; since in their note on 1Ki 3:14; besides the five places in the Kings, where it is written full, or with the "yod", they say, it is so written throughout the Chronicles, the twelve minor prophets, and Ezra, which includes Nehemiah; but make no mention of Solomon's Song, which, one would think, they would have done, had it been so written there in the copies before them: so that, upon the whole, the argument, if it has any force in it, turns out for, and not against, the antiquity of Solomon's Song. This book of Canticles has plain marks of a divine original, and proofs of its being of divine inspiration: it was written by, one that was inspired of God, as appears by the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, written by him; the greatness of the matter contained in it, the dignity, sublimity, and majesty of its style, show it to be no human composure; the power and efficacy which it has had over the hearts of men, in reading it, and hearing it explained, is another evidence of its being the word of God, which is quick and powerful; the impartiality of it, the bride, who is introduced speaking in it, confessing and proclaiming her own failings and infirmities, is no inconsiderable proof of the same; to which may be added the agreement between this and other portions of Scripture, as particularly Ps 45:1-17; and there seem to be many allusions and references to various passages of this book in the New Testament; see \Mt 9:13 13:52 21:38 25:1\ \Joh 3:8,29 6:44 2Co 11:3 Eph 5:27\ \Col 2:17 Re 3:20 19:7,8\; compared with \So 1:3,4 2:17 4:7,16\ \So 5:1,2 7:13 8:11,12\. In what time of Solomon's life this book was written is not agreed on: some of the Jewish writers say the book of Proverbs was written first, then the Song of Songs, and last of all Ecclesiastes; others, that the Song was written first, then Proverbs, and then Ecclesiastes {f}; though their chronologer {g} says they were all written in his old age, as indeed the last book seems to be; but the Song rather seems to have been written in the middle part of his life, when in the most flourishing circumstances as to body, mind, and estate. Dr. Lightfoot {h} is of opinion it might be written in the thirtieth year of his reign, about ten years before his death, after he had built his summer house in Lebanon, to which he supposes respect is had in So 4:8, 7:4; and upon his bringing Pharaoh's daughter to the house prepared for her, 1Ki 9:24; but be this at it may, it was not a celebration of the amours between Solomon and her, since the literal sense, in many places, would be monstrous and absurd; and besides it must be written twenty years at least after that, if the house of the forest of Lebanon is referred to in the above places; nor does it set forth their amours, and the marriage between them, as typical of the inexpressible love and marriage union between Christ and his church; though there is a resemblance between natural and spiritual marriage, and the love of persons in such a relation to one another, and to which there may be an allusion in some passages. Nor is this book historical and prophetic, expressing either the state of the people of Israel, from the times of Abraham to Solomon, and so to the Messiah; in which way go many Jewish interpreters, as the Targum, Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and others: nor is it to be considered as describing the state of the church: of God, whether legal, from the times of David and Solomon, and before, in and after the captivity, to the birth and death of Christ; or the Gospel church, in its beginning, progress, various changes, and consummation, as Brightman and Cotton nor as setting forth the several ages and periods of the Christian church, in agreement with the seven churches of Asia, as Cocceius, and those that follow him, Horchius, Hofman, and Heunischius; which latter, particularly, makes this distribution of them:

(1) The Ephesian church, So 1:5-17; from the ascension of Christ to heaven, A. C. 33, to 370. (2) The Smyrnaean church, So 2:1-17; from A. C. 371, to 707; (3) The church at Pergamos, So 3:1-11; from A. C. 708, to 1045. (4) The Thyatirian church, So 4:1-5:1, from A. C. 1046, to 1383. (5) The Sardian church, So 5:2-6:8, from A. C. 1384, to 1721. (6) The church at Philadelphia, So 6:9-7:13, from A. C. 1722, to 2059. (7) The Laodicean church, So 8:1-14, from A. C. 2060, and onwards.

But these senses are very arbitrary, uncertain, and precarious, and limit the several parts of it to certain periods; whereas it is applicable to believers in all ages of time. The whole is figurative and allegorical; expressing, in a variety of lively metaphors, the love, union, and communion, between Christ and his church; setting forth the several different frames, cases, and circumstances of believers, in this life; so that they can be in no case and condition spiritual whatever, but there is something in this Song suitable to them; and which serves much to recommend it, and shows the excellency of it; and that it justly claims the title it bears, the Song of Songs, the most excellent. M. Bossuet {i} is of opinion, that whereas the nuptial feast with the Hebrews was kept seven days, this Song is to be distributed into seven parts, a part to be sung, one each day, during the celebration: The first day, So 1:1-2:16. The second day, So 2:7-17. The third day, So 3:1-5:1. The fourth day, So 5:2-6:9. The fifth day, So 6:10-7:11. The sixth day, So 7:12-8:3. The seventh day, So 8:4-14. The thought is ingenious, but seems too fanciful, and without foundation.

{a} Misnah Yadaim, c. 3. s. 5. Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 2. 4. Abarbinel in 1. Reg. iii. 12. fol. 209. 2. {b} Zohar in Exod. fol. 59. 3. Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 2. 4. Targum, Jarchi, & Aben Ezra in loc. {c} Dr. Kennicott's Dissert. 1. p. 20 {d} T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 30. 1. {e} In Gen. fol. 114. 3. {f} Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 3. 3. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 28. 3. {g} Seder Olam Rabba, c. 15. so Shir Hashirim Rabba, fol. 3. 3. {h} See his Works, vol. 1. p. 76. {i} Vid. Lowth de Sacr. Poesi Heb. Praelect. 30. p. 393, 394. & Not. Michaelis in ibid. p. 156-159.

\\INTRODUCTION TO SONG OF SOLOMON 1\\

In this chapter, after the general title of the book, So 1:1, the church expresses her strong desires, and most ardent wishes, for some fresh discoveries of the love of Christ to her, and for communion with him; having tasted of his love, smelt a sweet savour in his grace, and enjoyed fellowship with him in his house, So 1:2-4. She observes her blackness and uncomeliness in herself; the trials and afflictions she met with from others; and her carelessness and negligence of her own affairs, So 1:5,6; and entreats her beloved to direct her where she might meet with him, feeding his flocks, and giving them rest, to which he returns a kind and gracious answer; gives her proper instructions where to find him, So 1:7,8; and commends her beauty; sets forth her amiableness and loveliness, by various metaphors; and makes promises of more grace and good things to her, So 1:9-11. And then she declares what a value she had for Christ, her beloved; and how precious he was unto her, like a bundle of myrrh, and a cluster of camphire, So 1:12-14. Christ again praises her beauty; and particularly takes notice of her eyes, and her modest look, So 1:15; and she returns the encomium back to him, and expresses her pleasure and satisfaction in the house he had built for her, and the furniture of it, So 1:16,17.

Song of Solomon 1 Commentaries