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Chapter 1 Verse 4
me, we will run after thee: The King hath brought me into his
chambers. We will be glad and rejoice in thee: We will remember
thy love more than wine; The upright love thee.
church having taken notice of the excellency of Christ’s love, the savor of his ointments, and preciousness of his name, which made the virgins, her companions, love him; she persists in and continues her request, for communion with him, in these words; in which we have,
I.A petition; “draw me.”
II.An argument which she makes use of to obtain this request; “we will run after thee.”
III.The request granted to her, which is acknowledged by her; “the King hath brought me into his chambers.”
IV.The effects thereof, or the influence which this had upon her; “we will rejoice,” etc.
I.Here is a request or petition made by the church to Christ; “draw me.” What she intends hereby will be proper to consider. And,
1st, There is a powerful efficacious drawing of soul to Christ, at conversion, when God calls a poor sinner by his grace, brings him to Christ, enables him to venture upon him, and believe in him for life and salvation; which is what Christ speaks of in John 6:44 when he says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me, draw him.” A soul’s coming to Christ for life, is not the produce of power and free-will in man, but of the grace of God in drawing, though it is not effected by force or compulsion; it is true, the sinner, in his natural estate, “is stout-hearted, and “far from righteousness,” averse to Christ and the way of salvation by him; but by mighty grace, this stout heart is brought down. and made willing to submit to God’s way of salvation; this obduracy is removed, and hardness of heart taken away by him, who has promised to take away the stony heart, and give an heart of flesh.” Unconverted sinners are indeed unwilling to come to Christ for life; but those who belong to the election of grace, are made “willing in the day of Christ’s power:” the manslayer did not more willingly flee from the avenger of blood, to the city of refuge, than a sinner, sensible of sin, and the danger of his state, does to Christ for salvation; for though a soul is not brought to Christ; by the power of his free-will, yet he is not brought against his will: drawing does not always suppose force and compulsion; there are other ways of drawing besides that. Thus the fame of a skillful physician draws many people to him; thus music draws the ear; love the heart; and pleasure the mind; as the poet says, “Trahit sua quemque voluptas.” Nor is this done by mere moral suasion, which is what ministers use; knowing the terrors of the Lord, they persuade men: but if the mighty power of grace does not attend their ministry, not one soul will ever be converted; though they represent the joys of heaven and the terrors of hell, in never such a lively manner; speak in never such moving strains, and use the most powerful arguments to win upon souls; yet they will stretch out their “hands all the day, to a gainsaying and disobedient people;” they will return with a “who hath believed our report?” the arm of the Lord not being revealed unto them. God does not act as a mere moral cause in man’s conversion; he does not only propose an object, and then leave the will to choose, but powerfully and effectually works both to will and to do of his own good pleasure; for this drawing is accomplished by the secret and invisible power of his mighty grace: and in this sense is the word used, in Judges 4:7 when Deborah tells Barak, that the Lord had promised, saying, “I will DRAW unto thee, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitudes, and I will deliver him into thine hands;” that is, “I will have the hearts of kings, generals, and captains of armies in my hands, and can turn them as the rivers of waters, whithersoever I will,” will powerfully and invisibly work upon, move and incline Sisera’s heart to lead his army to the river Kishon, where I will give an instance of my power and goodness in delivering him into thine hands. Thus God powerfully and invisibly works upon the hearts of sinners, bends their wills, slays the enmity of their minds, allures and draws them to Christ, “suavi omnipotentia, & omnipotente suavitate,” “by a sweet omnipotence, and an omnipotent sweetness;” and this he does by revealing Christ unto them, in all his beauty and loveliness, discovering the love of Christ unto their souls; by the kind invitations of his grace, the precious and encouraging promises of the gospel, and the special teachings of his Spirit; all which is an evidence of his everlasting love; for it is, because he hath “loved them with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness” he hath “drawn” them; this is also a fruit of Christ’s death; “I, if I be lifted up from the earth,” says he, meaning his elevation upon the cross, “wilt draw all men unto me;” (John 12:32) that is, all that the Father hath given me, and has promised, shall be gathered to me, and whom I shall shed my blood for. Moreover, it is likewise an indication of the weakness and impotence of sinners, seeing they cannot come unless they are drawn; and sufficiently destroys the notion which advances the free-will and power of the creature in conversion: but I apprehend that this is not the drawing intended in this petition, for thus the church had been already drawn.
The Septuagint read it, “They have drawn thee: at the smell of thine Ointments, will we run”;4848Eilkusa>n de etc. Sic legunt Origen. Theodor & Ambros, in Sanct in loc. that is, the virgins have loved thee, and shewn their love to thee; and this has so took with thine heart, that it has drawn thee after them, they have thy company, which I want; but by the smell of those ointments, which thou carriest about with thee, I, and others, will run after thee, till we find thee: so that Christ, according to this version and sense of the words, is the person drawn, and not the person petitioned to, to draw; though the latter seems best to agree both with the Hebrew text, and the sense of the words.
R. Aben Ezra thinks that they are the words of the virgins, who, every one of them, desire, saying, “draw me;” we,” every one of us, “will run after thee;” but they seem rather to be the words of the church, desirous of more intimate communion with Christ; for there is,
2dly, A drawing to nearer communion with Christ, which believers oftentimes want, and are desirous of, and which the church had enjoyed; as appears from the following clause in this verse; in which she declares that “the king had brought her into his chambers,” where he conversed with her, and disclosed the secrets of his heart to her: now this petition of hers for nearer communion with him, supposes,
1. A distance between Christ and her; not a distance with regard to union; for believers being one with Christ, they never are, nor can be distanced from him; they are always in this sense, “a people near unto the Lord;” nor is there a distance of affection, for “having loved his own, which were in the world, he loves them to the end;” they can never be separated from his love, seeing they are engraven as a seal upon his heart: but this is a distance as to communion; and, in this sense, Christ does sometimes stand at a distance, and hides himself from his people; as appears by their frequent complaints of it, they then thinking themselves forsaken and. forgotten by him.
2. This petition shews her uneasiness in this condition, and therefore she says, “draw me;” not but that sometimes believers are lukewarm and indifferent; for falling asleep upon a bed of security, they become insensible of their condition, and therefore unconcerned about it; but when they are awakened, and find their beloved gone, their souls are troubled, and being impatient of delay, though in the night, as the church in chapter 3 arise from their beds, and in “the streets and broad ways” seek him, whom their souls love.
3. This request shews the sense she had of her own inability to attain to a state of nearer communion with him: “when he hides his face, who can behold him?” when he stands at a distance, who can come near him? if he is pleased to withdraw his presence, there is no commanding it; the light of his countenance, the enjoyment of his presence, and fellowship with him, are as much the instances of his distinguishing and sovereign grace, and as much depend upon his sovereign pleasure, as the first workings of grace itself; we can no more enjoy the one at pleasure, than we could effect the other; the same Spirit that wrought grace in us at first, must give us access into Christ’s presence; we need now the same bands and cords of love to draw us to Christ, as then we did.
4. It signifies the apprehension she seems to have of danger; draw me, or I shall be drawn away: believers may be sometimes under fearful apprehensions of being drawn away by the corruptions of their nature, the snares of the world, and the temptations of Satan; though they can never be drawn totally and finally from Christ. He has, by the cords of love, drawn them to himself; and though they may not always experience it, yet he will never leave his people till he has brought them safe to glory.
5. It shews that high value and esteem she had for communion with Christ, which makes her so earnestly importune that blessing, and use such pressing and repeated instances for the enjoyment of it; this was the “one thing” she earnestly desired and sought for, yea, preferred to all other enjoyments. Moreover,
II.Here is an argument made use of to obtain this request; “We will run after thee:” or else it may be considered as the end of her asking this favor; “draw me,” that we may “run after thee.”4949hxwrn occurramus, so some in Marckius. Lord, do thou draw, that we may run, which we cannot do, unless thou dost; but if thou wilt, we shall run after thee. Here is a change of persons in these words; first she says, draw me, and then we will run after thee; by whom are meant, she, and the virgins her companions; the church, and particular members: every one in their stations would act with more life and vigor upon such drawings. “We will run after thee;” this is not a running to Christ, as sinners do under apprehension of danger, as to a city of refuge, and saints, as to a place of protection, safety and security; but this is a running after him: Christ is the fore-runner who has gone before us, and left us an example, both in doing and suffering, as the fulfiller of righteousness, and the great captain of our salvation; and we must follow him the Lamb, whithersoever he goeth; and not only follow, but run. Our life is frequently, in scripture, called a race; Christ is the mark we must press after; heaven is the prize we should have in view; and the way or stadium in which we should run, are Christ’s commandments; though our running therein, or performing them, is not the cause of our obtaining the prize; for “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy;” yet running herein is our duty; which supposes,
1st, Cheerfulness, readiness, and willingness; then, says David, “will I run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart;” (Ps. 119:32) that is, I shall observe them more cheerfully, readily and willingly; it will remove that backwardness that is in me to duty.
2dly, Swiftness; “I made haste, and delayed not, to keen thy commandments,” (Ps. 119:60) says the same psalmist such obedience as this, though far more perfectly than we are capable of, do the angels perform in heaven.
3dly, Strength; and this we have not; but there is fullness of it with Christ; who, whilst we are waiting on him, is pleased to renew our strength, so that we “mount up with wings as eagles, and run and are not weary, and walk and do not faint.” Now this is the effect of that drawing, without which there is no running; we cannot set one step forward unless he speak to us, much less can we run, unless he draw us.
III.Here is an account of the request being granted, which she observes with pleasure, “the King hath brought me into his chambers;” though others read it, “Let the King bring me,5050Eisagaetw me, Symmachus; introducat me, Marckius. or, O! that the King would bring me, etc.” and so take it as a continuation of her desires after communion with Christ; but this is for want of knowledge in the Hebrew language, as Mercer observes: others think that the past tense is put for the future, and so read it, “The King shall or wilt bring me,” etc as being expressive of her faith, that she should enjoy what she was desirous of. Junius renders it, “When the King shall have brought me,” etc. and so carries in it the nature of a promise, as to her and her virgins future behavior upon the enjoyment of such a blessing; though I think it is much better rendered by our translators, “The King hath brought me,” etc. and so signifies her enjoyment of the mercy she sought after. Wherein are three things to be considered,
1st, Who this King is, that brought her into his chambers.
2dly, What chambers those are, which he brought her into.
3dly, What is meant by his bringing there, or what this phrase is expressive of.
1st, Who this King is, not Solomon, for “a greater than Solomon is here,” but the Lord Jesus Christ, who is kat ejxoch<ouv by way of eminency, called, “The King”:5151So the Cabalistic Doctors interpret the King, when put alone, of Tiphareth, the bridegroom, Lexic. Cab, p 536. who is the King of the whole world, the King of the kings of the world, and the king of saints; he has, as he is God, an universal empire over all worlds, heaven, earth, and hell; and, as Mediator, has a kingdom given him by his Father, which he has purchased with his own blood, and by the mighty conquests of his grace, has brought into subjection to himself; in this kingdom he enacts laws for the subjects thereof, by which they are governed and kept in order; he subdues all their enemies, sin, Satan, and the world, protects them from all dangers; encourages his loyal and faithful subjects; courteously receives them, graciously takes notice of all their petitions, and supplies them with every thing needful for them: now this kingdom, which Christ, as Mediator, is possessed of, is of a spiritual nature, and managed in a spiritual way; it is kept in peace, being governed in wisdom and righteousness; and will continue for ever, when all other rule and authority shall be thrown down. But,
2dly, What chambers are these which this king is said to bring her into? Not the temple, into which Solomon introduced the people of Israel, which is the sense5252Brightman and Cotton, in loc. some give of the words; though there may be an5353Vide Bishop Patrick, in loc. allusion to the temple, and the chambers thereof, of which mention is made, 1 Chronicles 28:11, 12 and more especially to the holy of holies, which was inaccessible to any but the high priest; as that, which was typified by it, is to any but Christ the high priest, and those who belong to him, to whom he gives access, and who have boldness and liberty to enter into the holiest of all, by the blood of Jesus: nor do I think that by them are meant those everlasting mansions of peace and rest, which are in Christ’s Father’s house, which he is preparing for his spouse, and bride, and into which he, ere long, will introduce her, where they will keep an everlasting nuptial feast; for at present she could not say, that she was brought thither, though she might be assured of it, that she should, by those kind intimations of his love unto her; therefore it seems better to understand them either,
1. Of those chambers of intimate communion and fellowship; which Christ sometimes brings his people into, and of which they are exceeding desirous: this inestimable blessing Christ frequently grants to his people in his ordinances; for he does not always suffer them to stand without, in the outer courts, but sometimes takes them into his inner chambers, where he discloses the secrets of his heart unto them, gives evident intimations of his love, and fills their souls with divine consolation: or else,
2. The doctrines of the gospel, which contain the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the mysteries of his grace) which he brings his people gradually into, and shews them those things which eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived of:5454So Theodoret, and Tres Patres, in loc. He took me, as if she should say, into his chambers, and there more thoroughly instructed me into his mind and will; gave me to know more fully the mysteries of the kingdom; opened all the treasures of his grace, and shewed me all his riches, and glory contained therein. Now this sense suits well with a practice much used by the Jews, who frequently taught in chambers, where they also met together to converse about, and determine matters in religion, as fully appears from their writings;5555Vide Targum in Cant. 3, 4. and Tract. Sabbat. in Misnah, c. 1, § 4. and we have many hints in the New Testament, which confirm it; it was in such a chamber that Christ kept the passover, and instituted the Lord’s Supper, and gave there a discovery of the nature of his death and sufferings to his disciples: in such a room the disciples met together, after his ascension; and in such an one Paul preached till midnight. But,
3dly, What is meant by being brought into these chambers; or what does this phrase import, or express?
1. On Christ’s part.
(1.) An acknowledgement of her to be his bride; he having espoused her to himself, and solemnized the marriage among her friends, which was the Jewish custom, takes her home to himself as his spouse and bride, to live and converse with him; leads her into his chambers, and there unlocks all his treasures; shews her all his riches and glory, and puts her into the possession of them.
(2.) It imports wonderful condescension in him, that he, who is the King of kings, should vouchsafe to regard such a worthless creature, as the church is in herself; and much more espouse her to himself, and in such a kind, loving and familiar manner, give her access to his person, and all he has, and grant her such intimate communion and fellowship with him.
(3.) It shews us, that all our nearness to, and communion with God, are in and through Christ; it is he that gives us “access into the grace wherein we stand,” and leads us into the presence of his Father; he is our only way of access unto him, and acceptance with him.
2. On her part; they being her words, shew,
(1.) That she does not ascribe this to herself, but to his powerful and efficacious grace; she was conscious of her own inability, and therefore makes application to him, and, having obtained her desires, acknowledges it to the glory of his grace; who “brought, or caused her to come,” as the5656ybaybj me venire tecit. word may be rendered, notwithstanding all difficulties and obstructions which lay in the way.
(2.) This she does with thankfulness, in an exulting manner, as this way of speaking testifies, and the following words declare: what was before matter of prayer, is now the subject of praise; she owns, with gratitude, as became her, the mercy she had received.
(3.) It seems to be in a boasting way and manner that she speaks. Believers are allowed to glory in the Lord, and boast of what he has done for them, and manifests to them, that his grace may be magnified, others take notice of it, and they be encouraged in their addresses to him: the church here might have an eye to the virgins or daughters of Jerusalem.
IV.We have, in these words, the effects or consequences of the church’s enjoying this valuable blessing, as they appear in her or her members, or her daughters, “the virgins.”
1st, Gladness and rejoicing in Christ; “we will be glad and rejoice in thee.” The several clauses of this text, some think, should be considered thus;5757Vide Bishop Patrick in loc. the first clause, “Draw me,” as the words of the church; the next, “We will run after thee,” the chorus of the virgins; then the church again says, “The King hath brought me into his chambers;” and after that the virgins, “We will be glad, etc.” but whether the church, or the virgins, or both, are here intended, it is certain, that this is the language of believers, of whose joy Christ is the object: they rejoice, not in themselves, neither in their works, nor graces, nor frames, but in the Lord Jesus Christ: this is one part of the character which the apostle gives of true believers; they are such who “rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” (Phil. 3:3).
1. They rejoice in his person, in his greatness, fitness, fullness, and glory, as he is God and man in one person; for, being so, he is able to be their Savior, a proper person to be a Mediator, has all fullness of grace treasured up in him, and appears to be “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person;” a view of, and communion with, such an one, must needs fill the believer with “a joy unspeakable and full of glory,”
2. They rejoice in what he has done for them; he is the Lord Jehovah, “who has done great things for them, whereof they are glad;” he engaged as their surety in the everlasting covenant, and in the “fullness of time” assumed their nature, finished and made reconciliation for their sins, satisfied Divine Justice, fulfilled a righteous law, brought in and clothed them with an everlasting righteousness, procured the pardon of all their sins; and, in short, has secured all grace and glory for them; and when they consider all this, they cannot but be glad and rejoice in him.
3. They rejoice also in what he is unto them, as well as in what he has done for them; he stands in and fills up all relations to them; he is their “everlasting Father,” their kind and loving brother, their tender and indulgent husband, their constant and faithful friend, and indeed, their “all in all;” he is every thing unto them, for he “of God is made unto them, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;” and when they consider him under all these endearing characters and relations, it is no wonder that they are heard to say, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in the God of my salvation, etc.”
2dly, Another effect of the church enjoying such intimate communion with Christ, is a remembrance of his love; “We will remember thy love more than wine.” I have already, on verse 2. shewn you the preferableness of Christ’s love to wine and shall not here repeat it, but only shew,
1. What it is to remember Christ’s love.
2. Why we should, and why every believer will do so.
1. What it is to remember it.
(1.) It is so to record it in our minds, as not to forget it we should, with David, call upon our “souls, and all that is within us, to bless his holy name, and forget not all his benefits;” (Ps. 103:1, 2) and more especially we should not forget his love, from whence they all spring.
(2.) We should often meditate upon it; which would not only serve to advance the glory of divine love; but would sweetly ravish our souls, raise our affections, inflame our love, and quicken our faith.
(3.) We should constantly observe that ordinance, which Christ has appointed for this purpose, namely, the Lord’s Supper; it being his design in the institution of it, that we should remember him, his broken body and precious blood, and particularly his special love, which appeared in all.
(4.) We should so remember it, as to have our desires more strongly after it, and our affections more firmly fixed upon it: Christ’s love is excellent and valuable; it is preferable to life itself, and all the comforts of it; and a frequent revolving it in our minds will enlarge our desires after a greater knowledge of it, and heighten our value for, and esteem of it.
(5.) We should so remember it, as to exercise faith in it; for it will bring us but little comfort, and do us but little service, unless we can, in some measure, appropriate it to ourselves, saying, with the apostle, “He hath loved me, and hath given himself for me;” it will afford us no solid joy and comfort, that he has loved others, if we have no reason to hope and believe that he hath loved us; for it is faith’s viewing a peculiar interest in this love, that fixes a sense of it more firmly upon the mind.
(6.) It then appears, that this is uppermost in our minds, when we speak and make mention of it to others; and, indeed, that should be the subject of our discourse now, which will be the delightful theme of glorified saints to all eternity. But,
2. Why should we, and why will every believer remember Christ’s love, value and esteem it more than wine?
1. Because it is worthy of remembrance, in its own nature, and in its effects, as has been already shewn; it is “better than wine;” it is great and glorious, stupendous and unparalleled, matchless and boundless, everlasting and unchangeable; it “passeth knowledge, and is the source and spring of all the grace we now receive, and of all the glory we are expectants of.”
2. It would be ungrateful in us not to remember it; should we be unmindful of, and forget this love, and the benefits which spring from it, we should be justly chargeable with the vile sin of ingratitude; and it might be very pertinently returned upon us, what Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this thy kindness to thy friend?” (2 Sam. 16:17).
3. Because he hath remembered us, and that “in our low estate, because his mercy endureth for ever;” even when we were in the depths of sin and misery, could not help ourselves, and were so far from having any love to him, that we were in open rebellion against him; yet such was his amazing love to us, that he raised us “beggars from the dunghill, washed us from our sins in his own blood,” and made “us kings and priests to God and his Father; and shall we not remember? can we be forgetful of this love?
4. A remembrance of it promotes our own comfort and edification, serves to make sin odious and detestable, and is oftentimes useful to excite and revive grace, to banish our doubts and fears, and make the person of Christ more precious to us.
3dly, Another effect or consequence of the church’s being brought into the chambers of near fellowship and communion with Christ, is, that the love of his church and people is the more drawn forth to him, who here go under the character of upright ones, “the upright love thee;” or, according to the Hebrew text, “uprightnesses love thee;”5858µyrçym ejuqu>thv Sept. Rectitudines, Ar. Mont. the abstract for the concrete; which intends upright men, or men of uprightness, as being the persons who love Christ; unless with R. Sol. Jarchi, we take it to be expressive of the sincerity of their love, and so read it, “in uprightnesses, or with an uptight love they love thee:” R. Aben Ezra thinks it is the adjective of wine, before-mentioned, and intends the excellency, sweetness, and incorruptness of it, as in chapter 7:9 and the sense then is this, “we will remember thy love more than wine, yea, more than uptight wine,” or wine that goes down sweetly, “do they love thee:” though I rather think it intends the character of the persons who love Christ. I have already, on the preceding verse, shewn the nature of this love, with which souls love Christ, from whence it springs, and how it manifests itself; and shall now only consider the character of those persons who are here said to love him, namely, upright ones; and they are,
1. Such who are said to be “upright in heart,” of whom mention is made in Psalm 124:4. “Do good, O Lord, to them that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts;” such are they who have a work of grace wrought upon their souls; whose hearts are right with God, and desire to worship him with their whole hearts; who live by faith on Christ, and his righteousness, and whose words and actions are without dissimulation; such are “Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile.”
2. Who are of an upright conversation, as in Psalm 37:14. These are they who walk according to the rule of God’s word; they are not partial in their observance of his commands, but have a regard to them all; they make a conscience of avoiding lesser, as well as greater sins; and in all their obedience to the divine will, seek the honor and glory of God; and what they do, they do in faith, and from a principle of love to God and Christ. Junius understands this clause of the sincerity and uprightness of the love of the church and her friends to Christ, and reads it in connection with the former thus, “We will remember thy love more than wine, and whosoever most uprightly love thee;”5959Quicunque rectissime diligunt te, Jun. that is, whoever bear a sincere affection to thee will do the same.
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