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Chapter 2 Verse 17

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away: turn, my beloved,
and be thou like a roe, or a young hart, upon the mountains of
Bether.


first wordformer part of these words, “until the day break, and the shadows flee away,” may stand connected with either part of the preceding verse; either with those words, my “beloved is mine, and I am, his,”377377So R. Sol. Jorchi in loc. which are expressly, as has been observed, of that mutual interest, union, communion, satisfaction and delight, which Christ and his church have in and with each other; and then the sense is, as long as day and night continue, and God’s covenant with both stands sure, so long will my covenant-interest in, and union to Christ, who is my beloved, abide solid and unshaken; I can no more be separated from his person, and from his love, than day and night can cease; and when they do, I shall be taken up into everlasting and uninterrupted communion with him, which is now subject to the same vicissitudes as these returning seasons are: or else, they may stand connected with the latter part of the preceding verse, “he feedeth among, the lilies, until the day break378378Vid. Sanct. in loc. etc. and so are expressive of the continual presence of Christ in his church, until his second coming, when the everlasting day shall break, and all shadows of darkness flee away; till then, as in chapter 4:6 he will be on his mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense; where he will delight himself with, and feed among his saints, until all his elect ones are called by grace, and till all his lilies are grown up to their full maturity, when he will gather them to himself: though the words may be also considered as connected with the latter part of this verse, “turn, my beloved, etc.” and so they contain a prayer of the church’s for Christ’s speedy access unto her, and continued presence with her, until the day should break, and the shadows flee away. In which may be considered,

I.The favor which she requests of him, which is, 1st, To turn, that is, unto her; and this she desires that he would do speedily, and therefore says, “be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.”

II.The time unto which she desires this favor might be continued to her; and that is, until the day break, upon which the shadows would flee away.

I.The favor which she desires of him is, that he would turn unto her; which seems to intimate, as though he was about to leave her; which, upon some account or other, she had a suspicion of, therefore importunes him to stay With her; and seeing him upon the motion, upon the turn, ready to depart, she desires that he would turn again, and continue with her: or else it supposes that he was entirely gone, and that she was sensible of it; and having a great value for Christ’s person and presence, desires that he would turn again to her: such a petition as this, under a sense of desertion, is frequently put up by the psalmist, particularly in Psalm 60:1, and 69:16, 17, and 86:16. though the word may be rendered, turn about or surround379379bs circui, Montanus, Sanctius; circumito, some in Michaelis. that is, with thy favor and loving kindness; let me always be under thy care and protection; be thou a wall of fire round about me; so shall I be safe and secure from all enemies, until the glorious and wished for day breaks, when I shall be out of fear, as well as out of danger: and this favor she desires might be speedily granted to her, and therefore says, “be thou like a roe or a young hart;” which are not only loving and pleasant, but also swift and nimble creatures. She had experienced Christ to be so before, and therefore might the more comfortably hope that he would be so to her now: she adds, “upon the mountains of Bether;” by which perhaps may be meant Bithron, of which we read in 2 Samuel 2:29. and was so called, because it wag parted or separated from Judea by the river Jordan; though some think it should be read Bethel, by a change of a letter; and so the Septuagint read it in verse 9 which is there an addition to the Hebrew text; though they here render it, o]rh koilwka>twn, the mountains of cavities, that is, such that were full of clefts and hollow places; but be they what they will, it is certain that they were such places where roes and fawns used to skip and run. The words may be very well rendered, the mountains of division380380rtb yrh l[ in montibus divisionis, Vatablus, Piscator; scissionis, Cocceius; dissectionis, Marckius; sectionis vel separationis, Michaelis. which, if referred to Christ’s first coming in the days of his flesh, may regard the ceremonial law, which made and kept up the division between Jew and Gentile, was the partition wall between them, which was broken down by Christ Jesus: or else, the two people divided by it, to whom Christ came, for whom he made peace, to whom he preached it, and thereby made both one. But if we refer the words to Christ’s spiritual coming in a way of special grace to visit his people; then these mountains of division, upon which Christ comes, and over which be leaps as a roe or a young hart, may be our sins and corruptions, which often separate between him and our souls; though, when he is pleased to come, they are no obstacles in his way, but are easily surmounted or removed by him: but if they be applied to Christ’s second coming at the day of judgment; these mountains of division may intend the spacious heavens, in which Christ shall then appear, which at present interpose between him and us, and separate us from the enjoyment of his bodily presence; one part or branch of whose awful work then will be, to separate the sheep from the goats, But,

II.How long does she desire to be indulged with this favor of enjoying his gracious presence, in the discoveries of himself, and of his love unto her, without which she could not live, and therefore desires it might be speedily granted to her? and that is, “until the day break, and the shadows flee away;” which may be understood, either,

1st, Of Christ’s coming in the flesh, which was the break and dawn of the gospel day, until the day break; or, according to the Hebrew text, “until the day breathe or blow,”381381hwpyç d[ diapneush, Sept. donec, vel dum spiret, Merceras, Coccrius; aspiret, Marckius; spiraverit. Michaelis. and naturalists382382Pliny Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 47. Senecae Nat. Quaest.1. 5. c. 8. have observed, that upon the sun’s rising, art air or wind has been excited; so upon the rising of “the sun of righteousness with healing in his wings? were raised some fine, cool, gentle, and refreshing breezes of divine grace and consolation. Before Christ’s coming in the flesh, it was night, hot only in the Gentile, but in the Jewish world; there was a great deal of darkness, blindness, and ignorance, infidelity, sleepiness, and security; but upon the arising of this sun, and breaking or breathing of this day, all this was in a great measure dispelled, and light, nay a great light, was introduced; for Christ’s coming was “as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds;” he came as the light of the world, and made that day, that gospel-day, which, by way of eminency is so often spoken of in the Old Testament. when the shadows of the old law fled and disappeared: so the law is called “a shadow of good things to come,” and that because it was a representation of them; which were no sooner come, but this was gone, and, like a. shadow, appeared fleeting and transitory; and whilst it continued, was dark and obscure; though there was some glimmering of light in it, which led the faith of the Old Testament saints to Christ, who was represented by it: but now these shadows are gone, Christ the body and substance being come; this middle wall of partition is broken down; this hand-writing of ordinances is taken away, and the whole Mosaic dispensation and economy is waxen old and vanished; there being a disannulling of it, because of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; and a glorious dispensation and bright day of gospel grace introduced in the room of it, and all by the appearance of Christ in our nature; which was the great thing promised, prophesied of, long expected, and earnestly wished for by the Old Testament saints, as it was perhaps by the church here. Or else,

2dly, This may be understood of Christ’s second coming to judgment; which, as the former, is called that day in the Old Testament by way of eminency, as being, that great, glorious and notable day of the Lord, so is this an the New; for the former, see Isaiah 11:10 and 25:9 and 26:1 and 27:1, 2, 13; and for this, see Philippians 1:6, 2 Timothy 1:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4. and this as well suits both with the Hebrew text, and with the natural philosophy of it, as the former: Christ’s second coming will be at the evening, both of the world and of the gospel dispensation, when “the shadows of the evening are stretched out, upon us; at a time when there will be a great deal of darkness and ignorance, much want of faith, and a very great sleepiness and security, which will seize upon professors as well as upon profane; but upon Christ’s appearance, a glorious and everlasting day will break, the shadows of darkness and ignorance will flee away; we shall know as we are known, and see him as he is; not as now, “through a glass darkly,” but face to face;” all infidelity, doubts and fears, will be removed; everlasting joy will be upon our heads; no interposing clouds will be between Christ and our souls; but we shall have the everlasting enjoyment of him, and uninterrupted communion with him: there will then be no need of the sun and moon, of gospel-ordinances: for the glory of God will lighten both our persons and the place of our residence, and the Jamb: himself will be the light thereof; so shall we ever be in his presence, see his face clearly, without any mixture of darkness and unbelief, and without any fear of the shadows of the evening returning upon us; there will be no more night, but one pure, bright and everlasting day. Moreover, naturalists383383Pliny 1. 2. c. 47. Aristot. Problems. 25, c. 4. Adspirant aurae in noctem, Virg. AEneid, 7. 5:8. have observed, that the wind often blows fresh, and fine breezes of air are raised at the sun-setting, as well as at the sun-rising; so that the words, until the day blow or breathe, that is, at the cool of the day, when the wind blows fresher, and there are gentle breezes of air, which often are in the evening; at which time it may be very well supposed that God appeared to Adam in the garden after his fall: I say, these words may be very well applied to the evening of the world, or second coming of Christ; which, though it will be with flames of fire, to take vengeance on the wicked, yet to the saints it will be “a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;” which time is earnestly, wished for by them; their desire is, that Christ would be as a roe or young hart to hasten it; for, as he says, “I surely come quickly,” they return and say, “Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus.” So some Jewish384384Tanchuma in Yalcut in loc. writers interpret these words of the day of judgment, and compare them with Malachi 4:1.



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