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Chapter 1 Verse 10
Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
in these words continues to give an account of the church’s beauty and glory; and that either in opposition to what she had said in verses 5 & 6, and assures her, that her cheeks and neck were not so black as she imagined; but were like the blushing cheeks of a beautiful woman, adorned with jewels, and her fair neck adorned with bracelets, necklaces and chains of gold or pearl (see Ezek. 16:11, 12); or else he continues the metaphor used in the preceding verse, where he compares her to a “company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots” whose bridles being richly adorned, having chains of gold hung about their necks, as the camels of the kings of Midian had (Judg. 8:26), gloriously set forth the beauty of the church; and perhaps, the church’s glory under the Old Testament dispensation is represented in this verse, and a farther increase and display of it under the New Testament dispensation promised in the text. And here,
I.Her cheeks are said to be “comely, with rows of jewels.”
II.Her “neck with chains of gold.”
I.Her cheeks are said to “be comely with rows of Jewels:” the word jewels is not in the Hebrew text, but supplied by our translators; and the word Torim, translated rows, sometimes signifies turtles, which gave occasion to the Septuagint to render the words thus: “How beautiful are thy cheeks, as the turtle dove’s.” R. Aben Ezra thinks that the bridles of those horses, to which she is compared, had the images of turtles upon them; others,104104Vide Mercer, Brightman, and Ainsworth in loc. that these were some ornaments of women, as jewels and ear-rings, which had the figures of turtles upon them, and therefore were called turtles, or turturellas, according to Drusius; even as those pieces of money, which had the figure of a lamb upon them, are called lambs, Genesis 33:19, Job 42:11. Now the cheeks of the church being said to be comely with these, shew her innocency and harmlessness, her love, chastity, faithfulness and beauty; all which appear in this creature. The Targum renders it bridles, and very well refers it to the law given on mount Sinai to the people of Israel; which is as a bridle, both to restrain persons from sin, who are by nature as the horse and mule, without understanding, and also to guide and direct them in the right way, that they may not depart from it; and on these bridles were rows of jewels or precious stones. The word Tor, which is the singular of this in our text, signifies an order, or disposition, and course of things;105105Vide R. David Kimchium in lib. Shorath. rad. dwt. see Esther 2:12, 15 and is not amiss rendered by our translators, rows, that is, of jewels, or precious stones; and by them are intended, either,
1st, The precepts of the moral law;106106These rows, are interpreted by the Jews of their written and moral law, and of the laws of burnt sacrifices, meat offerings, etc. in Pefikta apud Yalkut in loc. which, 1. Are beautifully ranked and disposed in order; the precepts thereof are so strictly and closely joined together, that he that offends in one point, breaks the link, and so is guilty of all. 2. These are so many rows of jewels, valuable and excellent, and are “more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold.” Or else,
2dly, The ordinances of the ceremonial law; which may be compared to rows of jewels, 1. For the variety of them; this law is “a law of commandments,” of many commandments, “contained in ordinances,” which, as they were carnal, so they were divers (see Eph. 2:15; Heb. 9:10). 2. For the excellency of them, as they prefigured the Lord Jesus Christ; it is true, after Christ the substance was come, they were “weak and beggarly elements,” useless and insignificant; but before Christ’s coming, they were lively representations of him, exceeding useful to the saints, and highly valued by them.
Now the church’s cheeks, that is, the outward face and appearance of the church, were comely and desirable in the eyes of Christ, being adorned with these rows of jewels; her outward conversation being according to the laws of God, she appeared beautiful and delightful, for “holiness becomes the house of God” for ever: there was a beauty in ceremonial worship; the tabernacles of God were amiable to the saints, and the saints themselves were so to Christ, in their attendance on the service and ordinances of God: the statutes and ordinances with which the external face of the church was beautified, were such as were not given to other people during that dispensation; which manifestly shewed that God had a peculiar regard for them.
II.Her neck is said to “be comely with chains of gold.” The word gold is not in the Hebrew text, but supplied by our translators, and the word Charuzim, which is only found in this place, is generally interpreted by the Jewish doctors, chains of gold, or jewels and precious stones107107R. Sol. Jarchi in loc. and R. David Kimchi in lib. Shorath. rad. zdj. bored through and hung in a string, to be wore about the neck. A pearl necklace was in use with great personages; so the eldest daughter of Priamus had collo monile baccatum,108108Virgil. AEneid. 1. 5:650. pendebant tereti gemmata monilia collo, Ovid, Metamorph. 1, 10. fab. 3. a pearl necklace, which AEneas made a present of to Dido; and such like was the chain of gold beset with amber, presented to Penelope by her suitors, which shone like the sun.109109Homer. Odyss, 18. 5:295. And, 1st, I shall enquire what is meant by the church’s neck. 2dly, What by those chains of gold, or precious stones, with which it is adorned and made comely.
1st, By her neck may be meant, either the grace of faith, by which the church cleaves to Christ the head, and exalts him; this is also accompanied with other graces, which are linked together as a chain, and is attended with good works: or else, by it is meant the ministers of the gospel,110110So Isidore in loc. who, as the neck, are placed in the most eminent part of the body, the church, and are the means of conveying spiritual food from Christ the head, to the members thereof. But of this, see more on chapter 4:4.
2dly, By those chains of gold, with which the church’s neck is beautified and adorned, may be meant, 1. The laws and ordinances of God; which the ministers of the gospel, and members of churches should be careful to observe; and are, as Solomon says, Proverbs 1:9 “an ornament of grace unto the head, and chains about the neck,” of those who regard them. Or, 2. Those diversities of gifts which are bestowed on the ministers of Christ, by which they are made “able ministers of the New Testament; and so become useful to many, and appear comely and beautiful, both in the eyes of Christ, and of such souls to whom they minister.” Or, 3. The various graces of the Spirit, with which, not only ministers, but all believers are adorned; for as sins and vices are so chained and linked together, that where there is one, there is all; so the graces of the Spirit are like chains of gold, which are so closely linked together, that they cannot be separated, but where there is one grace there is every grace, which very much beautify and adorn the believerers. This golden chain of grace which is put about the church’s neck, consists of these ten links: the first is faith, that precious pearl and valuable jewel, which is alike precious in all saints, as to its nature and object; the fruit of electing love, the Father’s gift, the Son’s grace, and the Spirit’s work. The second is hope, which is called, “good hope thro” grace;” this carries the soul cheerfully through all the difficulties of life, and makes not ashamed at death; it is both the Christian’s anchor and his helmet; it is valuable in its nature, and useful in its actings. The third link in this golden chain is love, which is “the fulfilling of the law;” this is highly valued, by Christ, see chapter 4:10, and is of so great a price, that if a man “would give all the substance of his house for it, it would utterly be contemned,” chapter 8:7. The fourth is humility; which is, in “the sight of God, of great price;” and the believer, being clothed with it, appears very beautiful and comely; it is a sparkling gem in this necklace. The fifth is patience, which is of exceeding use in the believer’s life, much recommends his character and profession, and is greatly taken notice of by Christ (see Rev. 2:2, 3, 19). The sixth is self-denial, which is required of, and should be in exercise in all Christ’s followers, but seldom appears in its luster and splendor, being frequently sullied by carnal and selfish principles and actions. The seventh is contentment in every state of life; this is an exceeding great rarity; few persons are possessed of this jewel; the apostle Paul had it, as appears from what he says. “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” The eighth is a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; this is eternal life itself, and is by believers preferred to all the things of this life; who, with the apostle, “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, their Lord.” The ninth is long-suffering and forbearance, whereby saints are not easily provoked, and do readily forgive those who have offended them; this gives great grace, and is exceeding ornamental to the believers. The tenth, and last link in this golden chain is sincerity; this runs through all other graces, and makes them so glorious as they are; this was exceeding bright, and shone with a great deal of luster in Nathaniel, of whom Christ said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” Or, 4. Those blessings of grace which are laid up in an everlasting covenant, come through the blood of Christ, and are communicated to all his people, may be meant by these chains; they go inseparably together; where a person is blessed with one, he is blessed with all; for though our interest in them may be gradually discovered to us, yet are we blessed at once, “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Not one of these links can be broken; this golden chain of grace and salvation is excellently described by the apostle, when he says (Rom. 8:30), “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified;” where we may observe, how all the blessings of grace are inseparably linked together; and which being put about the believer’s neck, must needs make him look very beautiful and comely.
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