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Chapter 1 Verse 9
have compared thee, O my love, to a company
of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.
having returned a suitable answer, and given proper directions to the church in her present difficulties, enters upon a commendation of her, which is begun in this verse, and continued in the following one. In these words are,
I.An affectionate title given to her; “O my love.”
II.A comparison which Christ makes of her, “to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.” And,
III.It may be enquired why such a comparison is made and mentioned in this place.
I.Here is a very loving and endearing title given unto her, · my love;” it may be rendered “my friend”;9999yty[r amica mea, Pagninus, Montanus, Tig. Vers. Mercerus, Michaelis there is a mutual friendship between Christ and believers; the church owns Christ to be her beloved and her friend, and Christ welcomes his church and people to the entertainments of his grace, under the characters of his beloved, and his friends, saying, “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved:” and he not only calls them so, but uses and treats them as such; he converses with them, and discloses the secrets of his heart unto them; he is a friend to them at all times, in adversity as well as prosperity, and has given the most incontestable proofs of it in his suffering and dying for them. The Septuagint render it, “my neighbor:” the church is Christ’s neighbor; they dwell near to each other; he dwells in their hearts by faith, and they by faith dwell in him: he shews, that he regards his church as his neighbor, by loving her as himself; nay, he has so loved her, as to give himself for her. Again, if we consider this title, according to our version, it well suits the church, who is Christ’s love. 1. Objectively; She is the object of his love, was so from eternity, will be so throughout all time, and when time shall be no more; he has given the fullest proofs of it in his undertaking, as a surety for her, in his assumption of her nature, in dying in her room and stead, and in making satisfaction for all her transgressions. The nature of this love has been shewn already on Song of Solomon 1:2. 2. She is Christ’s love subjectively; Christ’s love is fixed upon her, and is shed abroad in her heart, by the Spirit, and this causes love in her soul to him; that so as Christ loves her, she loves him, with a real, hearty, sincere, and superlative love; she is therefore Christ’s love, both because he loves her, and also because she loves him.
II.Here is made, by Christ, a comparison of her, “to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots: I have compared thee, O my love, etc.” that is, I thought and imagined thee to be like unto them,100100dytymd sin ilem to judico, Tig. Vers. or I have made thee like unto them; which shews that she was not only like unto them, he having asserted her to be so, who must certainly know, but also that this was owing to him, that shew as so: or to my mare, as some render it,101101ytssl th ippw mou, Sept. equae meae, Pag. Mont Gusset. p. 581. So Ahen Ezra, Syr. & Ar. equabus, Piscator. which being a present by Pharoah to Solomon, he might have a particular regard for it; nor is such a comparison of a woman a disagreeable one; many women have had their names from this creature, from some celebrated excellence in them, as Hippo, Hippe, Hippia, etc. and the same figure is made use of by various writers.102102Theocrit. Idyll. 18. 5:29. Theognis Sentent. 5:257. Plato in Hippias Major, p. 1250. Horat. Carmin. I. 3. odc 11. 5. 9. Now the church is compared to a company of horses, to set forth her greatness and excellency, and to Egyptian ones, which were esteemed the best, and to those in Pharoah’s chariots, which, no doubt, were best of all: all believers may very well be compared “to a company of horses in Pharoah’s chariots;” 1. Because the horses in Pharoah’s chariots were a choice and select company, picked and singled out from others, peculiarly for his service: so R. Sol. Jarchi interprets it, “a collection of horses,” which, no doubt, was a choice and curious one; for if there were any more than others, it is very reasonable to suppose, that they were in Pharaoh’s chariots. The church of Christ is a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, and a peculiar people;” they are distinguished and separated from others, by electing, redeeming, and. calling grace; they are a collection from the rest of mankind, made by the free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace of God; they are “a remnant: according to the election of grace,” chosen and singled out from others in Christ, before the foundation of the world; they are “redeemed from among men, and that out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation;” whom God is pleased by his mighty, powerful, and efficacious grace to call, even, one of a city, and two of a family, and bring to the participation of peculiar favors and privileges, thro” Christ, in the church on earth, and with Christ for ever in glory. 2. These horses in Pharoah’s chariots were, no doubt, bought at a very great price; Egyptian horses went at a very great price, in Solomon’s time; a single one was valued at an hundred and fifty shekels of silver: (see 1 Kings 10:29) and therefore these, which were bought for Pharaoh’s service, who was king of Egypt, being the best, must be supposed to be bought at a very great price. The church and people of God are bought with a price, and that with a very great one indeed, such a one, that angels and men could never have given; they are purchased, not with “corruptible things; as silver and gold;” no, all the riches in the world amassed together, could not have purchased a single soul, nor have given to God a ransom for it: “but they are bought with the precious blood” of the unblemished and unspotted Son of God; they are bought for the service of the King of kings, and at no less a rate, than at the expense of his own blood and life; the ransom which is given for them is himself; O how valuable must they be to Christ, and how much must they be esteemed by him! 3. These horses, being well fed, looked very beautiful and pleasant. Believers are fed with the finest of the wheat, with Christ and his fullness; Christ himself is the bread of life, and the hidden manna, which being fed upon by faith, removes hunger, supports life, and preserves from the second death; his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed, which give spiritual and divine refreshment to believers; his grace is represented by wine, milk, and honey, on which his people feeding plentifully, grow and look exceeding delightful and beautiful in his sight. 4. These horses, being the king’s horses, as they were well fed, so, no doubt, they were well taken care of; they had proper persons appointed on purpose to attend upon them, and to supply them with what was necessary for them. Believers in Christ have a guard of angels to attend upon them, who encamp about them, and minister to them; for those “ministering spirits are sent forth to minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation;” also the ministers of the gospel, being furnished with suitable grace and abilities, are appointed to feed them with the doctrines of the everlasting gospel, and to give to every one “their portion of meat in due season.” Moreover they are not left merely to the care of angels and ministers, but the Lord himself likewise concerns himself for them; when his church is represented as a vineyard, he is said to be the keeper of it, who “watches over it night and day lest any hurt it;” when it is compared to a city, he is the wall of fire round about it; and when to a flock of sheep, he is the shepherd of it; and being here compared to a company of horses, it is owing to the food that he gives them, and the care he takes of them, that they appear “as his goodly horse in the battle,” Zechariah 10:3, 5. Horses have been and are much delighted in by princes; and there is no reason to question but that those which ran in Pharaoh’s chariots were so by him; Solomon’s fancy and inclinations ran so strongly this way, and he took so great a delight in those creatures, that he broke through a divine command, Deuteronomy 17:16 compared with 1 Kings 10:29 to satisfy and indulge his carnal pleasure; and many other princes have run prodigious and excessive lengths this way. Julius Caesar set up a marble effigy of his horse in the temple;103103Frantz. hist. animal, sacr. par. 1. c. 12. Antoninus Verus erected a golden image for his. Nero clothed his with a senator’s robe, and told him out a weekly stipend; Poppea Sabina, Nero’s wife, had golden shoes made for hers; Caligula used to invite his to supper, and held out his golden cups to him; he would have made him a consul, as he afterwards made himself a priest, and his horse his colleague; Alexander the great built a city in honor of his Bucephalus; Cimon the Athenian buried his mares by his own sepulcher; and Commodus the emperor buried his horse in the Vatican. These instances, though vain and sinful, and not to be imitated, yet shew how much some princes have delighted in this sort of creatures. Now, as these creatures were the delight of princes, and, perhaps, of Pharaoh, so are believers the delight of Christ; he first makes them beautiful, and then delights in that beauty which he has put upon them; “the Lord taketh pleasure in his people, he will beautify the meek with salvation;” his heart is often ravished with his own grace in them, and his soul delights in that which he himself has given them; there is nothing in them of their own which can render them acceptable to him, and yet they are his jewels, the apple of his eye, and the delight of his heart. 6. Horses are stately and majestic creatures, especially a company of choice and well fed ones, that run in a chariot, as these were. There is a stateliness and majesty in believers, especially when they are united together in gospel-order, in a church-state: and the majesty, stateliness, and glory of a church of Christ, do not consist in the multitude of members, nor in their outward riches, pomp, and splendor; but in their being all clothed with Christ’s righteousness, and possessed of his grace; in the enjoyment of his presence in ordinances; in their walking in love and unity with each other, and wisely towards them that are without; in having their conversation as becometh the gospel of Christ, and the profession which they make of it, and in shewing a becoming zeal for the truths and ordinances thereof; being thus blessed with these things, they may be truly said to be as stately and majestic as “a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots,” which were well fed, and harnessed in a splendid manner. 7. Horses are very strong creatures, especially, a company of them joined together, as these were; concerning the strength of the horse, the Lord says to Job, chapter 39:19. “Hast thou given the horse strength; hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” Believers are strong, not in themselves, but in Christ; their strength lies in their head, and in their union to him; they can do nothing of themselves, but” can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth them;” having strength communicated to them from him, they can endure all hardships, go through all difficulties, withstand all temptations, and perform all duties which he calls them to: and next to their union to Christ, the strength of a society and company of believers, or a church of Christ, lies in their union and close adherence to each other; they are like the bundle of sticks in the fable, which, whilst kept bound together, could not easily be broke, but when separated from each other, were soon snapped asunder; which consideration should excite mutual love among believers, and an endeavor “to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace;” by doing which, they will not so easily fall a prey to their enemies, but will appear “terrible as an army with banners.” 8. Horses are of an undaunted courage, especially such as are well fed, as these were; an elegant description of the majesty, and undaunted courage of the horse, as given by God himself, may be read in Job 39:20-25. Believers in Christ “are bold as a lion; whilst the wicked flee, whim no man pursueth;” they remain undaunted at all the reproaches, threatenings, and menaces of men, and cannot be deterred thereby, from the service of Christ; they fear not the wrath of kings and princes; neither can confiscation of goods, imprisonment of body, racks, tortures, or death itself, scare them from a profession of Christ and his gospel; but viewing all these with an undaunted courage, say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” instances of this we have in Daniel and his companions, the apostles of Christ, the believing Hebrews, whom Paul wrote to, and thousands of martyrs for, and confessors of the truth in all ages. 9. These horses were not employed in ordinary service, in mere drudgery, but were selected for the service of Pharaoh, to run in his chariots. The elect of God being called by divine grace, are not, or at least, they should not be employed in the service and drudgery of sin and Satan; but being subjected to Christ, whom they acknowledge to be their Lord and King, are directed and guided by him, into those paths in which he would have them go, and so readily, cheerfully, and swiftly, “run the ways of his commandments.” These are not common, servile horses, which the church is here compared to, but royal ones, such that were in the service of a king. 10. These horses were not wild, nor loose, running at random, but being fitted for service, were joined and coupled together, and so peaceably and orderly drew one way; and perhaps, were all of the same color, and of an equal size and bigness, which is usual in the chariots of princes. The church is not a company of wild and unconverted sinners, running loose, and enjoying their carnal liberty; but of persons, who, by divine grace, are put under the yoke of Christ, being joined together in gospel-bonds, and “strive together for the faith of the gospel, worshipping the Lord with one shoulder and one consent;” and when they are all of the same faith, of the same mind and judgment, speak the same things, and harmoniously agree together, without disorders, contentions, and divisions, then may they be said to be like “a company of horses in Pharoah’s chariots.” But,
III.It may be inquired, why this comparison is made and mentioned here; which was, 1. To comfort and support her under the mean apprehensions she had of herself, and also to strengthen her against the reproach and scandal that was thrown upon her by others; therefore Christ lets her know, that tho’ she was black in her own eyes, and slighted and despised by her mother’s children, yet she was glorious in his, for he had compared her to a “company of horses,” etc. 2. To inform her, that she was in a militant state, and that she must not expect much ease and rest, which she seemed to be seeking for in verse 7, and therefore he would have her know, that this was a time for fighting the Lord’s battles against sin, Satan, and the world; and for that purpose he had “made her as his goodly horse in the battle,” (Zech. 10:3). 3. Christ having directed her to tread in the “footsteps of the flock,” and to feed her kids beside the shepherds” tents, would have her consider, that she must expect trouble, persecution, and opposition from those other shepherds, whose flocks are mentioned as distinct from Christ’s, in verse 7. and therefore to support her under, and comfort her against these, he tells her, that he had “compared her, or made her like to a company of horses,” stout, strong, courageous, warlike, and victorious; and therefore, seeing he had “not given her the Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” she should not be discouraged and dismayed at these troubles and afflictions that came upon her.
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