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Chapter 4 Verse 10
How fair is
thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy
love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
having declared in the preceding verse, how much his heart was delighted in, and ravished with the faith of his church; now proceeds to shew how well pleased he was with her love, and other graces of the Spirit, in these words; where.
I.The excellency of her love is set forth.
II.The sweet smell of her ointments is commended.
I.He gives some excellent characters of her love to him. Christ is the object of a believer’s love; and he is well pleased with that love which they shew to him: the nature of this love, its spring and actings, have been shewn already, on chapter 1:3, where it has been observed, that it is superlative and universal; a believer loves Christ above all, and all of Christ; it is, or at least ought to be, constant and ardent, and is always hearty and unfeigned; it springs and arises from views of Christ’s loveliness, and sights of his suitableness and fullness, from a sense of his love, and a discovery of union and relation to him; and is heightened and increased by enjoying communion and fellowship with them; it manifests itself by a regard to his commands and ordinances, his truths, his people and his presence, and by parting with, and bearing all for him, as has there been more largely shewn, Now of such a love as this, he says, 1. That it is fair; “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse!” the titles and characters he gives her, have been already explained; it was proper to repeat them here, that whilst he was commending her love, he might shew his own; and assure her of the relation she stood in to him, and that he “had an undoubted right to the affections of her heart: he here says, that her love to him was fair, that is, lovely, delightful, grateful, and acceptable; and it appears to be exceeding well-pleasing to him; for those persons, he declares, are the objects of his love, to whom he manifests himself in a way of special grace and favor; he overrules all things here for their good; he gives them more grace, has prepared glory for them, and will preserve them safe unto it: not that their love is the meritorious and procuring cause of all this, nor the condition of their enjoying it; for his love to them has resolved all these thing? for them beforehand, and is the cause of theirs; but when it is wrought in their souls, and discovers itself to him, he is pleased to shew by those instances of his grace, how fair and lovely it is in his sight. 2. He says, that it is “better than wine:” he here asserts the same of her love, which she had of his, in chapter 1:2. Christ and the church, in this Song, do frequently gather up each others words, striving, as it were, to outdo each other in their expressions of love; but Christ will in no wise come behind, and be outdone by his church and people; though it may well be wondered at, that Christ should have the same to say of our love, as we have of his; yet so it is: he here declares, it is “better than wine,” that is, more grateful and pleasant, more refreshing and reviving; “wine makes glad the heart of man,” Psalm 104:15. but it cannot cheer, and make glad the heart of man, more than a sinner’s love does the heart of Christ: wine was used in feasts, and counted a principal part thereof; therefore the “house of feasting”, was called the “house of drinking,” that is, wine, Ecclesiastes 7:2. the feast which the rich Pharisee made for Christ, was not, as one529529Durham in loc. well observes, thought so much of by him, nor half so entertaining to him, as the love which the poor woman shewed him: wine was used in the legal sacrifices; but the wine of legal sacrifices, or any external performance, is not so valued by Christ as a sinner’s love is; and indeed no duties or performances whatever are acceptable to him, unless love be the inward principle from whence they flow, and by Which they are acted. 3. He sets off the greatness and excellency of it, by using a word of the plural number; “How fair are thy loves530530dydwd amores tui, Pagninus, Motanus, etc. how much better are thy loves,” etc. which may be expressive of the several actings of it towards him, for it discovers itself various ways; and also of the several fruits which accompany or spring from it; all which serve for the greater commendation of it. 4. The manner of the expressions, which is by way of interrogation and admiration; “How fair! etc. how much better!” etc. as if it could not be well expressed, how fair and lovely it was; which is an evidence of the valuableness of it, or at least an indication how much Christ esteemed it; Christ’s love has its heights and depths, and lengths, and breadths; and to hear souls speak after such a manner, concerning that, need not to be wondered at; but to hear Christ express himself after this manner, concerning ours, is strange and surprising.
II.Her ointments are next commended, and the smell of them: in chapter 1:3 we read of Christ’s ointments, here of the church’s; in both places one and the same thing is intended, namely, the graces of the Spirit; why these are called ointments, have been there shewn. These ointments, or graces of the Spirit, are first Christ’s and then the church’s: the head is first anointed with them, and then the members; he without measure, but they in measure; which being poured forth upon them, and they anointed with them, the smell of them is exceeding grateful to him: the smell of these ointments intends the actings and exercises of grace upon him; which are very delightful to him, and preferred by him to all spices, even to all that were used in the holy anointing oil, Exodus 30:23, 24, that was not so valuable as this “anointing which teacheth all things;” nor the smell of that so much esteemed by Christ, as this is.
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