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Chapter 4 Verse 8
Come with me
from Lebanon, (my spouse) with me from Lebanon:
look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon,
from the lions” dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
having, in the verses going before, given a large and full commendation of his church’s beauty, and having his heart exceedingly taken with it, so that he could not bear a distance from her; invites her, as his spouse and bride to go along with him, and look off from the several places here mentioned. In the words are,
I.A special title given her, expressive of the nearest relation to him; “my spouse.”
II.A kind invitation to go along with him, enforced with the most powerful arguments.
I.A special title is given to her, “my spouse.” This is a new one, which we never met with before: He had called her his love, his dove, and his fair one, but never, till now, his spouse; which is expressive of that near relation and strict union that is between Christ and his church; which union is represented by several things in scripture, as by the union of the head and members, vine and branches; but by none more strongly than by the conjugal union of husband and wife, by which they become one flesh; which the apostle, Ephesians 5:32, taking notice of, applies to Christ and his church: This, says he, “is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and his church:” Christ and his church being espoused together, become one spirit; hence it is that they are called by the same names: Christ is called by the name of Israel, which is the church’s name, and the church is called by the name of Christ; hence all that Christ has is the church’s, and all that the church has is Christ’s; her debts become his, and his grace becomes hers; there is a mutual interest of persons and things; and that. which crowns all, is, that this union is indissoluble; this band can never be broken, nor this marriage-knot be ever untied.
I shall, now very briefly shew you, 1st, How the church came to be the spouse of Christ. 2dly, Why she is first called so here.
1st, How the church came to be Christ’s spouse; a person so much beneath him, at such a distance from him, and so unlovely and unlikely in herself, it may justly seem strange and be wondered at, “how she came to be so nearly related to him. And here now observe, that the Lord Jesus Christ from all eternity pitched, his love upon her: that he loved her from thence, is manifest from his suretyship-engagements for her; he asked her of his Father, who had a right to dispose of her, and he gave him his heart’s desire, and did not withhold the request of his lips from him; which request being made by the Son, and consent given by the Father, he then betrothed her to himself for ever, and that in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and. in mercies; and resolved to bestow that grace upon her, which should cause her to know, own and acknowledge him to be her Lord and husband: but notwithstanding this, at present here was an actual consent of her own wanting; wherefore he sends his ministering servants in the several ages of the world to obtain it: these are sent to display his greatness, discover the richness of his grace, and speak of all his glories; which, being impressed upon souls by the mighty power of his spirit and graces they are willing to give up themselves to him to be his for ever, to love, own, and acknowledge him as their Lord and husband; which may be called “the day of their espousals” to him: but all this will more visibly and gloriously appear, when all the elect are gathered in, and every soul of them made willing to be a holy spouse unto him; then shall the nuptials be solemnized, and that voice shall be heard in heaven, “the marriage of the Lamb is come;” whose wife, being “as a bride adorned for her husband,” shall be received by him, and enter with him into the marriage-chamber, where they shall spend an endless eternity in the enjoyment of each other.
2dly, Why she is first called so here; she is in the following verses, and in other parts of this song, frequently called so, but never before this time. 1. Being all fair, without any spot or blemish, being prepared by his grace for himself, and having a grant from him to be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white,” he calls her his spouse; for now she looked something like one, having on the wedding garment, Christ’s spotless righteousness. 2. The marriage was now consummated, “the day of his espousals” was over, which is mentioned in chapter 3:11. for all that comes between that and these words, is a commendation of his church’s beauty, which his heart was wonderfully taken with on his marriage-day; and when he had finished the commendation, salutes her with this title, my spouse. 3. The mentioning of it here, may be also to prevail with her to go along with him: Where should a wife be? or with whom should she be, but with her husband? I am thy husband, and thou art my spouse and bride; and therefore both duty and affection to me should oblige thee to go along with me: so that the import of the words is much the same with those; “forget thine own people, and thy father’s house, so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him,” (Ps. 45:10, 11). Which leads me to consider,
II.The invitation he gives her to go along with him,, Come with me, my spouse,” etc. or, as the words may be read, “Thou shalt come with me503503yarbt venies, Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius. etc.” for whatever Christ invites and exhorts us to, he must give us grace and strength to perform, and, blessed be his name, he does. Lebanon, from whence she is exhorted and invited to remove, was a goodly mountain, on the borders of the land of Canaan, northward; it was famous for odoriferous trees, and especially for cedars, wherefore frequent mention is made of it in this song; this was that “goodly mountain and Lebanon; which Moses had such a desire to see before his death (Deut. 3:25). the allusion may be to the bringing of Pharaoh’s daughter, whom Solomon married, from the house of the forest of Lebanon, where she might be first placed, to the house he built for her, when it was prepared to receive her504504See Lightfoot's Works, vol. 1. p 76. and Bedford's Scripture Chronology, p. 607. (1 Kings 9:24). Some of the Jewish writers505505Targum and R. Aben Ezra in loc. think, that a mighty conflux of people to the temple, from all parts of Judea, and even from among the uncircumcised, who are compared to lions and leopards, is here intended: but rather, we are to understand the words as an exhortation, to remove from the temple and from Jerusalem; for perhaps by Lebanon here, may be meant the temple, as in Zechariah 11:1. “Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars;” which, by some Jewish writers,506506R. Abendanae not. in Midol Yophi, R. Sol. Jarchi in Zechariah 11:1. is expounded of the temple, and the destruction of it: for they tell us,507507Talmud Yoma, fol. 39-2. that forty years before the destruction of it, the gates of the temple opened of themselves; at which R. Jochanan Ben Zaccai, as if affrighted, rebuked them, and said, “Now know I that thy destruction is at hand, according to the prophecy of Zechariah, the son of Iddo, Open thy gates, O Lebanon, etc.” The temple might be called so, because it was made of the wood of Lebanon, of cedars which were brought from thence, and because the frankincense which grew there, was daily burnt in it, and the glory of it was brought into it. Now in Christ’s time the temple was become a den of thieves, as he calls it, in Matthew 21:13, and in the apostles time was a den of lions, and a mountain of leopards; was full of painted and spotted hypocrites, and cruel persecutors; wolves in sheeps clothing, who made havock of the church, and persecuted the saints from place to place: wherefore Christ removed from them, broke up housekeeping with them, and left their house desolate unto them; he took his gospel from them, ordered his ministers to depart far hence to the Gentiles, and calls forth his people from among them, to go along with him thither, “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, etc.” Also he bids her look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon: Amana508508Pliny 1. 5. c. 22. Pompon Mela, 1. 1. e. 12, & Solin. c. 51. was a mountain, which divided Cilicia from Syria; from whence perhaps the river at the foot of it took its name, which in 2 Kings 5:12 is called Abana, but in the keri or margin it is read Amana: and so the Targum here expounds it of the people which dwelt by the river Amana: R. Solomon Jarchi would have it to be a mountain in the northern border of Israel, and that it is the same with mount Hor;509509So Talmud. Hieros. Challah, fol. 60. 1 & Sheviith, fol. 37. 4. and indeed, in every place where mention is made of mount Hor, the Targum of Jonathan510510In Numbers 20:22, 25, 27 and 34:7, 8; Deuteronomy 32:50. always renders it, Taurus Umanus; for Amanus, according to Ptolemy, was a part of mount Taurus; it is joined with Libanu by Josephus,511511Antiq.1. 1. c 6. s. 1. and was a part of it, where the snow lay all the summer; as it is both with that and Carmel by AElianus.512512De Animil.1. 5. c. 56. Shenir and Hermon were one and the same mountain, called by different names: Hermon perhaps was the common name to the whole mountain; and that part of it which belonged to the Sidonians, they called Sirion; and the other part which belonged to the Amorites, they called Shenir, Deuteronomy 3:9. Now all these mountains may be called dens of lions, and mountains of leopards, not only because they were inhabited by those wild beasts,513513Vid. Aristot. Hist. Animal. 1. 6, c. 3. Pliny1. 8. c. 16. & Brocard in Cocceii Lexic. p. 123. but because they were inhabited by cruel, savage and tyrannical persons, and by thieves and robbers, and such like persons, and especially Amana, as Strabo514514Geograph. 1. 14. p. 465. & 1. 16. p. 517. Cicero515515Ad. Attic. l. 5. ep. 20. and Plutarch516516In Vita Ciceron. p. 879. relate; and which appears also from what Lucan says, in his Pharsalia, lib. 3. verse 244.
— Venere feroces,
Cappadoces duri populus nunc cultor Amani.
Shenir and Hermon were formerly, as Jarchi observes, the dens of those lions, Sihon and Og, kings of Bashan and of the Amorites; unless they should rather be thought to be the proper names of some places about Lebanon, for Adrichomius517517Mons leopardorum rotundus & altus est, qui contra aquilonem a Tripoli duabus, versus austrum a civitate Arcas tribus, a Libano autem uno miliario distat, Adrichomii Theatrum Terrae sanctae, p. 186 I. says, “The mountain of the leopards, which was round and high, was two miles distant northwards from Tripolis, three from the city Areas southward, and one from mount Lebanon.” Now from the tops of these mountains, Christ would have his church look, and take a prospect how the gospel was received, what numbers of souls were converted, and how churches were planted in Phoenicia, Cyprus, Cyrenia, Antioch, etc. though it was contemned, rejected, and persecuted by the Jewish nation; so that the words may be understood of Christ’s carrying his gospel into the Gentile world, and succeeding in it, and calling his people to take notice of it. Or else,
This may intend in general Christ’s call to his church and people, to leave the society of, and come out from among the wicked men of the world, comparable to lions and leopards, and to go along with him, as in 2 Corinthians 6:17 and Revelation 18:4. And here are two sorts of arguments, which he makes use of to enforce this upon them.
First, That the persons from whom he exhorts them to remove, were no better than lions and leopards; and to converse with them, was no better than to dwell in the dens and mountains of such. 1. Wicked and ungodly persons may be compared to lions, especially those who are of a cruel and persecuting nature: hence David, being among such, says, “my soul is among lions;” he frequently represents the wicked as such, and desires deliverance from them: likewise the apostle Paul calls a persecuting Nero, “the lion,” out of whose mouth it pleased the Lord to deliver him. 2. They may be compared to leopards, (1.) For their being full of spots; the leopard is not fuller of spots, than the sinner is of sin; as the one is natural, so is the other; and as the leopard cannot change one spot, nor make any alteration in his nature; no more can the sinner change his own heart, nor by any power of his own remove the spots and stains of sin; as Jeremy says, Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (2.) For their craftiness and cruelty, as is manifest from Jeremiah 5:6; Hosea 13:7. AElianus reports518518De Animal 1. 5. c. 40. that when the leopard is in want of food, it hides itself among the thickets, so as it cannot be seen; and, by the sweetness of its odor, draws the fawns, does, wild goats, and such like animals to it; and when they are near, breaks out of its lurking-place, and makes them its prey “other artful methods it makes use of for the same purpose, as is recorded by others;519519Solin. c. 27. Frantzii Hist. Animal. par. 1. c. 8. which is a just emblem of the craftiness and cruelty of wicked and ungodly men, who use all the stratagems to ensnare, and exercise all the crusty they can devise upon those who are “quiet in the land.” (3.) For their swiftness; so in Habakkuk 2:8, the horses of the Chaldeans are said to be swifter than leopards: wicked men, though slow and backward to that which is good, yet are swift to do mischief; no sooner do their hearts devise wickedness, but their feet run to accomplish it.
Secondly, The second argument he uses with her to quit the society of wicked men, is, the enjoyment of his own company, which is far preferable to theirs; “Come with me, my spouse.” 1. Christ’s company is much more pleasant than theirs; though the ways of sin may seem pleasant for a while, yet at length they will appear no other than the haunts of lions and leopards; though the company of sinners may seem now sweet and delightful, they will be found at last to be more bitter than death; but Christ’s ways are always “ways of pleasantness:” it is good for the believer to be always in his company, where he finds solid pleasure, and inexpressible delight; more than ever he did in the tents of wickedness. 2. It is more profitable: the company and conversation of wicked men is hurtful and pernicious; “evil communications corrupt good manners;” but the company of Christ is always profitable: a believer always gets something by it; it has a mighty influence upon the inward frame of his soul, and upon iris outward walk in the world; it makes him both comfortable in himself, and useful to others; so that he sustains no loss, but undoubtedly is a gainer, who parts with the company of the men of the world for Christ’s. 3. Christ’s company is much more safe than theirs: the company of wicked men is always dangerous; there is danger, not only of being infected with their sins, but also of partaking of their plagues; it tends to ruin here, and leads to everlasting destruction; but the believer is always safe in Christ’s company, in what place or condition soever he be; though he walks through the waters of affliction, and fire of tribulation, nay, though through the valley of the shadow of death; yet he is always safe, being guided by his counsel, supported by his hand, and comforted by his presence.
Now Christ in all this discovers a great deal of care over, and affection to his church and people. One would think she cannot withstand a request, delivered in such an affectionate manner, where her own comfort, profit, and safety, are so much concerned: Who would dwell in lions” dens, and in the mountains of the leopards, when they might have such agreeable and delightful company as Christ’s is? which is to be valued and preferred before this world, and all the things of it; though God’s own children are too apt to he taken with them; and therefore have need, as here, to be called to look off from them to things that are spiritual and heavenly; and not take up their rest and satisfaction in those things and places, where lions dwell and leopards walk.
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