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Chapter 7 Verse 5a
head upon thee is like Carmel,
and the hair of thine head like purple—
words contain the two last, which are the ninth and tenth instances of the church’s beauty.
I.Her head upon her is said to be like Carmel.
II.The hair of her head like purple.
I.Her head is compared to Carmel. And it will be proper to inquire, First, What is the church’s head. Secondly, Why it is thus compared.
First, I shall inquire what the church’s head is; which is not the civil magistrate; he may indeed be a member of the church, but not the head of it: The princes and great men of the world may be of much service to the church; as in the latter day, kings shall be her nursing fathers, and queens her nursing mothers; but then they shall be so far from being her head, that they shall bow down unto tier, and lick up the dust of her feet: The Targum indeed understands it of the king who is set over the people.
Some857857Alcuin and Sanctius in loc. think, that by the head, is meant the soul or mind; which is indeed the chief part in man; and being filled with the graces of the Spirit, and the precious fruits of righteousness, may much resemble the top of Carmel, covered with pleasant plants and fruitful trees: but it seems better to understand it of Christ, who only is the head of the church; she is compared to a body, because consisting of various members, of which body he is the head; see Colossians 1:18. “And he is the head of the body, the church.” Christ is,
1st, A representative head of his church; as such he acted in the everlasting covenant of grace; where what he did he did in her name, and what he received he received for her; hence the elect are said to be blessed with all spiritual blessings, and grace is said to be given to them in him before the foundation of the world: thus also he acted as their representative, when he was crucified, buried, rose again, and entered into heaven; they were then crucified, buried and raised, and are now made to sit together in heavenly places in him.
2dly, He is a political head; in the same sense as a king is the head of his people, Christ is the head of his church; and this regards his kingly office, as the other did his suretyship engagements: Christ is given to be “an head over all things to the church;” and he is head over the church, thine head, dyl[ which is over thee and above thee; and which may be understood in the same sense, and may be interpreted by his Father’s setting him as king over his holy hill of Zion.; which office he execrates, by enacting laws for the good of his people, which are written, not upon tables of stone, but upon “the fleshly tables of the heart;” by subduing their enemies, protecting their persons, and supplying them with all necessaries, as an head and common parent to them.
3dly, He is an economical head: He is an head to his church, in the same sense as an husband is to his wife (Eph. 5:23), she being espoused and married to him, ought to be subject to him, as her head; and in the same sense as a father is to his children. Christ is the everlasting Father saints are his children, which God has given him, and are born unto him in his church; and him they ought to honor, as their head. Also he is so in the same sense as a master is to his servants; and it is under this consideration that Christ becomes the head of angels, who are servants in his family: he is not indeed the redeemer of angels, because they never were in a state of slavery and captivity; nor is he the mediator of them, they.having never been at variance with God, nor rebelled against him; but yet he is the head of them, according to Colossians 2:10, “which is the head of all principality and power.”
4thly, He is a natural head; even as an human head is to an human body; and it is in allusion to this that he is often called the head; of which many things may be said: as, 1. That he is a true and proper head; and that which is so, must, (1.) Be of the same nature with the body; so is Christ; he has partaken of the same flesh and blood, and has been in all things made like unto his church, sin excepted; hence arise that strong affection to her, sympathy with her, and care of her. (2.) It must be united to it; an head separate from the body, cannot be a proper head, nor do the service of one to the body; there is a spiritual and indissoluble union between Christ and his church; which is represented by that conjugal union there is between a man and his wife, by which, they become one flesh; and also by that natural one, of the vine and branches; but nothing does more express it to the life, than that of head and members; for “we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (3.) It must be superior to the body, as well as of the same nature with it, and united to it: so is Christ: and that not only in his highest nature, as he is God, and in his office, grace and power: but even in our nature, being “crowned with honor and glory,” and set at his Father’s right-hand in it, “far above all principality and power.” (4.) It must be a living head, and endued with the same vital spirit as the body is: such an one is Christ: he and his church live one and the same life: he is the believer’s life: he lives, but it is Christ that lives in him: one and the same vital spirit actuates both head and members, and that is the Spirit of God, which is in Christ, the head, without measure, but in his members in measure; “for he that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit.” 2. Christ is a perfect head; there is no deficiency in him, nor any thing wanting that may render him a suitable one to his church. (1.) Here are no part nor sense wanting; he has eyes to see with, which are continually fixed upon his people; he sees their persons and their circumstances, and accordingly relieves them; his cars are open to their cries, which are not disregarded by him; and he has a tongue to speak a word in season, both to them and for them; he smells a sweet savor in the persons, garments and graces of his people, and has tasted death for them all. (2.) Here are no vicious humors which fall from hence to infect the body: Adam was a federal head to all his seed; but nothing is derived from him but sin, corruption, and death, and such vicious humors, which have infected all human nature; but from Christ is nothing derived, but holiness, grace and life; for he himself is “holy, harmless, and undefiled.” (3.) Here is no deformity at all; but every part is in its proper place and just proportion; there is a surpassing beauty in all: “he is fairer than the children of men;” there is none to be compared to him; “he is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.” (4.) Here is a fullness of every thing to supply his body with; “he is full of grace and truth:” there is a fullness of justifying and sanctifying grace in him; all our righteousness, holiness, grace, strength, life and nourishment, come from Christ, our head; “it is in him we live, and move, and have our being;” and he has a sufficiency of all grace to supply his members with. 3. Christ is the only head of his church; there is no other; if the church had more heads than one, she would be a monster: The civil magistrate is no head of the church; neither lathe pope of Rome; Christ only is. As there is but one body, though consisting of various members; and one spirit, which actuates them all; and one faith, by which they hold to the head; and one baptism, in which they make a profession of him; and one God and father of us all, who, by adopting grace, has made and owned them for his children; so there is but one Lord and head unto them, “who is over all, God blessed for ever.” 4. He is an everlasting head: The church never was, nor never will be without an head; she has a living one, and one that lives for ever; and this is matter of joy and consolation to God’s people; hence they need not fear a suitable supply of all grace, life and strength; for, because he lives as their head, they, his members, shall live also. But,
Secondly, I shall now consider why Christ, who is the church’s head, is compared to Carmel; that is, mount Carmel, as the Arabic version expressly renders it. And, 1. This was a mountain in the land of Judea, where Elijah contended with and slew the prophets of Baal; and which the Targum on this text takes notice of: and for the height of it, Christ, the church’s head, may be compared unto it; “who is higher than the kings of the earth,” nay, than the angels in heaven; for he is “set far above all prinicipality and power;” nay, he is “higher than the heavens themselves.” 2. This was a very fruitful mountain; whose top was covered with vines, com-fields, and fruitful trees (see Isa. 35:2; Amos 1:2). The word is sometimes used for green ears of corn, as in Leviticus 2:14 and 23:14 and is sometimes rendered, by our Translators, a fruitful field, as in Isaiah 32:15. A bushy, well-set head of hair, which may be here referred to, since hair is mentioned in the next clause, may be fitly compared to a mountain or to a field, covered with trees and grass, and such to an head of hair:858858So of hair it is said, Humeros ut lucus obumbrat, Ovid. Metamorph. 50:13. fab. 8. Comanti humo, Statii Thebaid. 1 5. 5:502, comata sylva, Catullus, 4. 11. arboreas comas, Ovid. Amot. 50:2. eleg. 16. 5:36 and this may be expressive of Christ, the church’s head, on whom her hair grows; and who is her green fir-tree, from whom all her fruit is found. 3. The word by some,859859Velut coccinum, Pagninus, Vatablus, Mercerus; simile est coccineo. Junius & Tremellius; est ut coceus, Piscator. so Ainsworth; sicut carmesinum. Schindler, so R. Aben Ezra in loc. and R. David Kimchi, in lib. Shorash. in voce lmrk rendered crimson; and the rather; it may seem to be so taken here, because purple is made use of in the next description; and which go together, and are thus rendered, in 2 Chronicles 2:7 and 3:14, And this may serve to set forth, (1.) The royal dignity and majesty of Christ; this being a color usually worn by the kings and great men of the earth; tree of Christ’s titles, is “the Prince of the kings of the earth,” (Rev. 1:5). (2.) His ardent love to his church; whose flaming affection to her may be very well represented by this color. Or, (3.) His passion and bloody suffering for his church and people; by which their sins, though like scarlet, become as snow; and though red like crimson, are as wool: so that here is a crimson Savior for crimson sinners. Thus may Christ, the church’s head, be compared to Carmel.
Though some think, that not the head, but some covering of the head, is intended here: R. Solomon Jarchi thinks, that the tephillin or phylacteries, which the Jews wore about their heads, are here meant; but this is not probable: rather, with others,860860Sanctius and Bishop Patrick in loc. the allusion is to the nuptial crown or garland, made of flowers, etc., which was wore by the bride on the marriage-day: and this may denote the graces of the blessed Spirit, which are “an ornament of grace to the head, and chains about the neck;” which may very well be thought to resemble the fruitful top of mount Carmel: and as one861861Durham in loc. well observes, by this covering of the head, more particularly may be meant, the grace of hope, which is the believer’s head-piece (1 Thess. 5:8), as Christ, who is our head, is called our hope; so our hope, which is our head-piece, by a figure which is not unusual, may be called the head; it is supported and sustained by faith, which is the neck; and has its life and liveliness from the death, sufferings and resurrection of Christ; and therefore may be compared to crimson.
II.The hair of her head is said to be like purple: purple-colored hair was in great esteem; of this color was the hair of king Nysus, according to the fable;862862Ovid, Metamorph. 1.8. lab. 1 5:301. De Arte Amandi, 50:1. & de Re-med. Amor. 50:1. 5:68 Hygin. Fab. 198. Pausan. Attica, p. 33. and so the hair of Evadne and of the muses were of a violet color;863863Pindar. Olymp. ode 6. & pythia, ode 1. v 2. the hair of Ulysses is said to be like to the hyacinth flower,864864Homer. Odyss. 6. 5:231 & 23 5:158. which is of a purple or violet color; and Milton865865Paradise Lost book 4. calls the first Adam’s hair, hyacinthine locks; and here in a figurative sense, the second Adam’s hair is said to be like purple. By which may be meant, either the thoughts of her heart, which are many and numerous, and which proceed from thence; as the hair does from the head; and when these are fixed upon, and are employed in the contemplation of a crucified Christ, then may they be said to be like purple; and then are they taken notice of by Christ, and are exceeding delightful to him. Though I rather think, that believers are here meant, as I have observed on chapter 4:1 and 5:11, who grow on Christ, the head, and receive their strength and nourishment from him; and these may be said to be like purple, 1. Because of that royal and princely dignity they axe advanced to by Christ; who has made them “kings and priests to God and his father;” for this is a color that is usually worn by great personages,866866Paludamentum erat insigne pallium imperatorum, cocco purpuraqhe & aum distinctum, Isidor. Origin.l19. c. 24. such as all believers are. 2. Because of their being washed in Christ’s purple blood; for so are both their persons and their garments; they are tinctured with it, and are of this dye. 3. Because of the sufferings which they undergo for the sake of Christ and his gospel; and especially such dear and precious servants of Christ may be said to be as purple, who have spilled their blood, and laid down their lives on his account.
Though some867867Durham and Bishop patrick in loc. think, that not the hair, but either the hair-lace, or the pins, or some such small things, by which the hair is tied and dressed up in a beautiful order, are intended; and indeed the word is never used elsewhere for hair, and it properly signifies something small, thin and tender: and this may teach us what notice Christ takes of the meanest grace and performance of believers; every little thing that is in, or is done by a believer, looks very beautiful in Christ’s eye; so far is he from despising the day of small things.
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