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Chapter 5 Verse 4
beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door,
and my bowels were moved for him.
church proceeds here to give an account of some farther steps which Christ took in order to awake her, and cause her to arise and open to him; which, though they are instants of his grace unto her, yet manifestly shew how much he resented her unkindness and ingratitude to him! and she also takes notice what influence this carriage of his towards her had upon her. In these words we have,
I.The method which Christ took in order to have entrance; he “put in his hand by the hole of the door.”
II.The effect it had upon her; her “bowels were moved for him.”
I.The method which Christ took to let himself in. Seeing she was so loath and so unwilling to arise and open to him, he attempts it himself; not by breaking open the door, but by putting in his hand by the hole thereof, in order to remove the bolt or bar which kept him from entering in. Some read the words, “My beloved put down his hand from the hole of the door, or lock;”623623rjh ^m wdy hlç ydwd , ajdelfdov mou ajpesteile ceira aujtou ajpo< thv ophv, Sept. dilectus meus demiseret manum suam a foramine, Junius. that is, withdrew or removed his hand from thence: he put it in there for the aforesaid reason; but hearing such language from within, as in the preceding verse, “I have put off my coat,” etc. he desisted from his attempt, and went his way; resolving to chastise her for her base usage of him, by a departure from her; which, when she understood, it threw her into that concern of mind, which appears in this verse; and also put her upon taking those methods to find him, which the following verses shew she did. But I shall consider the words according to our version or them, “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door;” and then, not to take any notice of the character which she gives him, “My beloved,” which has been often considered and explained; I shall inquire, 1st, What is meant by the door. 2dly, What by the hole of the door. 3dly, What the hand of Christ signifies. 4thly, What the putting of it in is expressive of.
1st, It will be proper to inquire what is meant by the door. There are several things in scripture which bear this name, in a figurative and metaphorical sense; as Christ, the church, an occasion or opportunity of preaching the gospel, John 10:9-Song of Solomon 8:9, 1 Corinthians 16:9, etc. none of which can be intended here. A Jewish writer624624R. Aben Ezra in loc, thinks, that the firmament is here meant, and that God put forth his hand from thence; perhaps either in a threatening way, or by inflicting some chastisement on the people of Israel, for their slothfulness and neglect of building the second temple: but by the door here, I apprehend we are to understand, either the door of faith, of which we read in Acts 14:27. “And when they were come,” that is, “Paul and Barnabas, to Antioch, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the doer of faith unto the Gentiles;” which must be understood, either of the preaching of the doctrine of faith among them, or of the implantation of faith in them, and perhaps both are intended: all by nature, whether elect or non-elect, are shut and locked up fast in the prison of unbelief; and when God comes to convert a sinner, he opens the door of faith, and sets them at liberty; though. sometimes this door of faith, even afterwards, is so closely shut up, as that there is only a little crevice, a small hole, through which a little love breaks forth from the soul to Christ, and a little light breaks in from Christ unto the soul; which seems to be the case of the church here, and is what Heman the Ezrahite complains of, in Psalm 88:8, when he says, “I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.” Or else, by the door, may be meant the door of her heart, which was in a great measure shut against Christ, through weakness, and the prevailings of corruptions in her: thus Lydia’s heart is compared to a door, which was opened by the hand of powerful and efficacious grace; by the means of which, Christ, with his large train of grace, were let in, of whom it is said (Ps. 24:7-10), “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors;” which are not to be understood of the doors and gates of the temple, though perhaps there may be an allusion to them, but of souls which are of an everlasting make; and the king of glory shall come in: Who is this king of glory? the Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory; even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who is glorious in his person, in his offices, and in his saints; and who demands an entrance into, takes possession of, and dwells by faith in the hearts of his people. The door then is either the door of faith, or the door of her heart; or if we put them both together, and say, it is faith in her heart here meant, I cannot see that it will be amiss, But,
2dly, What is meant by the hole of the door, is our next enquiry. The word door is not in the Hebrew text; therefore some interpret it the hole of the window or casement, others of the lock; but it seems rather to be of the door: this hole was either in the door, or hard by it, so R. Solomon Jarchi thinks; or else was between the two leaves or foldings of the door, according to R. Aben Ezra; but however, it is the mystical and spiritual sense which we are chiefly concerned about. And having interpreted the door, of her heart, or of faith in her heart; and there being but a small hole in this door, through which Christ put his hand, it lets us know that her heart was much narrowed and straitened; her faith was very low in its exercise on Christ, which sometimes is an open door to receive him; but now was but as an hole, through which but little light was let in from Christ, and but little love returned to him; her affections were chilly and cold, which used to be enlarged with fervency unto him; her obedience to him was but very small, not attended with that cheerfulness and spirit of liberty, as heretofore; which seems to be the case of David, when he says (Ps. 119:32), “I will run the ways of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge nay heart;” his heart was then narrowed, and he was shut up in his own soul; there were not that cheerfulness and liberty, that warmth and zeal, that liveliness and sprightliness, which he had sometimes experienced, in his obedience to the divine commands: and this no doubt was the church’s case here; but there being a hole open, though perhaps but a small one, yet it shows, that her heart was not entirely closed and shut up; it cannot be said of her, that there were in her no faith in Christ, no love to him, no fear of him; for grace, once implanted, can never be lost; though it is not always in exercise, an motion, yet it is always in being: and herein lies the difference between a regenerate and an unregenerate man; the one has his heart entirely closed and shut up against Christ; there is not a crevice, a cranny open to Christ; but the other, though his heart may be much closed and shut up, yet there is always an entrance, though sometimes but a small one, for him: but you will say, Why then does Christ say, in verse 2, “Open to me, my sister, my love?” etc. I answer, Because he found the entrance into her heart was not so wide, so open and so free, as it had heretofore been; and though he knew she was no more able to widen and enlarge her heart, and open it to him, than she was at first conversion; yet, to bring her under a conviction of her present state, he thus calls to her: no, this work is his alone; he alone can enlarge the heart, and make it wide enough for himself to enter in at; he has a key that can open this door, when he pleases, even the key of David, with which he openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth, But I proceed,
3dly, To shew what is meant by the hand of Christ, which he puts in by the hole of this door: and this I take to be his mighty, powerful, and efficacious grace; and so the word is used in Acts 11:21. “And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.” The reason why the ministry of the apostles was so much owned for the conversion of souls, was, because it was attended with the mighty and efficacious grace of Christ; it was the want of this Isaiah complained of, when he said (Isa. 53:1), “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” If the ministry of any is made useful for the good of souls, it is because this arm is revealed, and this hand is put forth; and the ministers of Christ are willing to ascribe it to that, and not to themselves; and can freely join with the apostle Paul, in saying, “Not I, but the grace of God which was with me;” and without this hand, all the means of orate are ineffectual; but this can turn the key and open the door of any heart, though never so closely shut, and strongly barred and bolted against Christ: now the same mighty and efficacious grace is equally exerted and put forth in the awaking of a drowsy same, reclaiming a backsliding professor, and quickening him to his duty, as in the conversion of a sinner, dead in trespasses and sins. Which brings me to consider,
4thly, What is meant by Christ’s putting in his hand of mighty and efficacious grace, by the hole of the door. Now this intends the exertion and application of grace to the hearts of believers, which influence and quicken, support and maintain grace in them; this is an internal work, and differs from all the other methods which Christ took with her, and appears To be more powerful than any of them; he had called in the external ministry of the word, and knocked in a providential war, by inflicting some chastisement upon her; he had given her good words, expostulated with her, and used persuasive arguments, and yet to no purpose: but now he puts in his hand of mighty grace, and the work is done; which hand moves secretly and invisibly, and yet powerfully and irresistibly; for “none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” though it uses no force or compulsion, but works sweetly and kindly upon the heart; for how unwilling and doth soever the church was before to arise and open to Christ, now she is entirely willing to do it; and that not through force or feat”, but out of a real affection for him, and love to him. Christ now, in putting in his hand, and thus powerfully and sweetly working upon her heart, shows, 1. The exceeding greatness of his love and grace unto her: that though she had treated him in so rude a manner, and discovered so much disingenuity and ingratitude to him, which made him take up a resolution to depart from her; yet he would not leave her without giving some evidences of his love to her, without putting in his hand, and leaving some myrrh upon the lock, and sweet-smelling myrrh on the handles thereof. 2. His faithfulness to her: Christ never wholly and entirely leaves his people; he has promised that he will not, and he is faithful to this promise; Christ may so withdraw himself from them, as that they may not have sensible communion with him; but their union to him remains firm and indissoluble; they may think that he has totally and finally left them, when he has not, nor never will: he departs here from the church, but it was not a total departure; for he put in his hand by the hole of the door, and left something there, which stirred up her affections to him, and put her upon a diligent search and inquiry after him. 3. His power: What is it that the hand of Christ cannot do? what the external calls of the ministry, the knocks and raps of persecution, what good words and moving arguments could not de, that is done in a moment by Christ’s putting in his hand; she lay still before, and put him off with idle excuses, but now she arises and opens to him. Which leads me to consider,
II.The effect of this, or what influence this had upon her heart; her bowels, she says, were moved for him: which is expressive, either,
First, Of that sorrow and grief which then possessed her heart. The word is used in Jeremiah 4:19, Lamentations 1:20, to express grief and sorrow; and indeed, it is no wonder that it should be so with her, when she began to be capable of revolving things in her mind, and comparing her carriage and his together; observing the baseness and disingenuity there were in the one, and the exceeding greatness of love and tenderness in the other. The words have a double reading in the Hebrew text: some copies read, “my bowels were moved ylx in me, or for me;” and this reading the jewish commentators follow, particularly R. Solomon Jarchi, and so do Junius rand Tremellius, the Tigurine version, and that of Pagnine’s: other copies read, “my bowels were moved wilx for him;” which, by Mercer, is esteemed the best and most correct reading, and is followed by our and other translators. If we read the words in the first way, they will afford us these two observations: 1. That her grief and sorrow was inward, and so real and sincere; her bowels moved within her; and such a sorrow as this is what is required, regarded and approved of by God; “Thou desirest truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part thou wilt make me to know wisdom,” says David (Ps. 51:6), for it is not a shedding of tears, nor rending of garments, but a heart broken under a sense of sin, and melted down with the discoveries of boundless love, that is an acceptable sacrifice with God through Christ. 2. That her own sin and unkindness to Christ was the cause of all this; my bowels were moved for me, or concerning myself: for what I had done, and had been guilty of, I have none to blame but myself; I am the sole author of all this trouble to myself; my own sin and wickedness has brought all this upon me; O! it pains me, it cuts me to the very heart, to think that I should use the best of husbands so unkindly, and treat him after so base a rate as I have done!
But then if we follow the second reading, it will lead us to make the remarks following: (1.) That sin, as committed against Christ, was the chief and principle cause of her trouble and sorrow; “my bowels were moved for him,” because I had sinned against him; had it been another, it would not have grieved me so much; but against thee, thee only have I sinned; which shows her repentance to be right, and her sorrow to be true and genuine. (2.) That the sufferings of Christ, occasioned by her sins and transgressions, influenced her sorrow; my bowels were moved for him; it grieves me, I am pained at the very heart, to think that my beloved’s head should be wet with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night, through me; that he should suffer so much upon my account, and for my sake: now when repentance springs from faith’s viewing a crucified and suffering Christ, it appears to be evangelical (see Zech. 12:10). (3.) That her frustrating the means which Christ made use of, added to her grief: Did my beloved call and knock, and call again? and did I know that it was the voice of my beloved? Did he give me good words, expostulate and argue with me in the most moving and tender manner? and yet, vile and ungrateful wretch that I am, did I lie still, and not move to open and let him in? could he get nothing from me but mere shifts and evasions? O! how does the consideration of all this overwhelm me with grief and sorrow? (4.) That the loss of his company was also an ingredient herein; for, as Christ’s company and presence fill the believer with the greatest joy, so his absence and departure from him give him the greatest uneasiness: “Thou didst hide thy face,” says David (Ps. 30:7), and I was troubled; so here, her bowels moved, her soul was grieved, not only for what she had done unto him; but also for the loss of him. Or else, these words, “my bowels were moved for him,” are expressive,
Secondly, Of the moving and stirring of her affections to him, in which sense the word is used in Isaiah 63:15, Philemon 12, for though her affections had been chill, and her love to Christ cold, yet they were not lost; Christ’s putting in his hand, stirred up the coals of love, which “many waters cannot quench;” so that they began to kindle and appear in flames: for not only the grace was in her heart, but in exercise, in motion there, “my bowels moved,” etc. so that she could say, after all her sleepiness, slothfulness, negligence in duty, and base carriage towards Christ, as Peter, after his backslidings, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee :” this love of hers was real, hearty and sincere; it was not the moving of her lips or tongue, but of her bowels within her; she loved “not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth;” and this her actions testify, which are recorded in the following verses.
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