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Chapter 8 Verse 2
I would lead
thee and bring thee into my mother’s house, who
would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of
the juice oaf my pomegranate.
are still the words of the church, discovering the resolutions and desires of her heart after communion with Christ, and a discharge of her duty to him: in which may be observed,
I.Her resolution to “lead and bring him into her mother’s house.”
II.Her expectation of receiving instruction there; “who would instruct me.”
III.The entertaiment she promises to give him; “I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.”
I.She resolves to lead and bring him into her “mother’s house:” wherein may be considered, 1st, What may be intended in those acts of leading and bringing. 2dly, What by, her “mother’s house,” whither she should lead him, and into which she would introduce him.
1st, It will be proper to consider what those acts of leading and bringing intend. We frequently read of Christ’s leading his church and people; but never, as I remember, but in this place, of the church’s leading Christ: Christ leads his church as a king does his subjects, or as a general does his.308 army; for he is given to be a leader and a commander to the people; which he performs, by ruling them with wholesome laws, and protecting them in their rights and liberties from all their enemies: thus (Deut. 32:12), “the Lord alone did lead Israel of old, and there was no strange God with them;” thus David (Ps. 78:72), the type of Christ, fed the same people, “according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands:” He leads them also as a shepherd does his flock, gently, as they are able to bear it to suitable pastures, and proper resting-places; and likewise as a master does his scholars, leading them by his Spirit into all truth, and showing them the fullness and glory of the everlasting covenant: moreover, Christ leads his people, as a guide does a stranger; for they know not the way everlasting themselves, and therefore commit themselves to his guidance and conduct; who, though he leads often in rough paths, yet always in a right way, to the city of their habitation: likewise he leads them, as a nurse does her child; taking them by the hand, he teaches them to walk by faith, and leads them into their Father’s presence; and also as an husband leads his wife, when he brings her home, introduces her into his house, consummates the marriage, and makes her a partner of all his goods; hence the phrase, ducere uxorem, to lead a wife, is used to express the act of marriage: thus it appears to be no very difficult matter to understand how Christ may be said to lead his church; but how she may be said to lead him, does not appear so manifest and easy. The act seems to import these following things: 1. That she used much familiarity with Christ; for, for one person to take another by the hand and lead along, discovers this: Christ allows his church much freedom with him; which she may make much use of, without incurring the reproach and scandal of forwardness or immodesty; seeing it is her own brother, nay, her own husband, whom she thus treats. 2. It shows much tender love, affection, and respect to Christ; as also a welcome of him to her mother’s house: thus friends and relations show their respect and affection to each other and a hearty reception of them into their houses, by taking them by the hand, and leading them in. 3. It also denotes honor given to Christ by her, becoming his stateliness and majesty; thus kings and great persons are usually led: she treats him according to high station, as she is in Psalm 45:14, 15, and leads him along, as kings and conquerors are led when they march in triumph, 4. All this is done by prayer and entreaty in the exercise of faith: Christ is easily prevailed upon by his church, through the exercise of faith in prayer; he is, if I may be allowed the expression, to be led any way by believers, in things which are consistent with his revealed will, and what will make for their good and his glory.
Much in the same sense are we to understand the other act of bringing; which, (1.) On her part may denote the strength of faith in prayer; which held him, and would not let him go, until she had brought him into her “mother’s house:” like Jacob of old, who, when the angel said to him (Gen. 32:26), “let me go, for the day breaketh,” answered, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me:” thus (James 5:16), “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much?” (2.) On his part much condescension, in allowing such mean and worthless creatures, as believers in themselves are, to take him by the hand, lead him along, and bring him where they would have him.
2dly, The next thing to be inquired into, is, what is meant by her “mother’s house,” where she desired to bring him: which may be expressive, 1. Of her desire to have the marriage consummated; the introduction of the bride and bridegroom into their house, being the last and finishing ceremony of marriage; thus it is said of Isaac (Gen. 24:67), that “he brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife:” agreeable to this ceremony, the church expresses herself here; only here is this difference, that it was usual for the bridegroom to lead and bring his bride into his “mother’s house;” but here the church promises to lead Christ to her mother’s house; Christ and the church’s mother being one and the same. 2. Of her desire to have the knowledge of Christ spread among her near relations, those of her mother’s house; for nothing is more common than for persons, when they are converted themselves, to desire the conversation of their near relatives; an instance of which may be observed in the apostle Paul (Rom. 11:1-3). 3. Of her desire to enjoy his presence in the church, which may be meant by her “mother’s house;” for the catholic and invisible church, or “the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven,” may be said to be the mother to the visible church on earth in any age of the world; for this is “the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all;” as may also the visible church on earth be to the several particular and congregated churches; and every particular and congregated church may be said to be the mother of particular believers, or converted persons: so that, (1.) The church is their mother’s house, where they are begotten and born again; for “of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her,” (Ps. 87:5). (2.) Where they are educated and brought up; for Zion’s children, as they are born in her, so they are nursed at her side (Isa. 60:4). (3.) For which they have a great deal of zeal and affection, as persons usually have for the place of their nativity and education; and this in imitation of, and conformity to Christ; of whom it is said, that “the zeal of God’s house had eaten” him up (Ps. 69:9). (4.) Where they take much pleasure and delight to be; are glad when asked to go up unto it; because there they meet with the presence of Christ, receive instructions from him, and are employed in delightful service by him. (5.) This is not only the church’s mother’s house, but also Christ’s Father’s house; nay, his own house; which might be an inducement to him to go along with her (see John 2:16; Heb. 3:6).
The reasons which might induce her to desire and endeavor the introduction of him into her mother’s house, may be such as these: 1. That she might enjoy free and uninterrupted communion with him; which end was attained by her, as appears from the following verse. 2. That others, even those of her mother’s house, might have the benefit of Christ’s presence and company, as well as herself; which shows her to be of tree, noble and public spirit: like those saints, in 1 John 1:3, who were concerned for the comfortable well-being of others, as well as of themselves. 3. That the ordinances of her mother’s house might be blessed unto her; for she knew full well that those breasts of consolation would be but dry breasts without his presence; and, like the mantle of Elijah, he of little service and usefulness, without the Lord God himself. 4. That she might be assisted by him in the service of the house: there are a great many works of faith and holiness to be performed herein, which she knew she was not able to do of herself; but that through Christ strengthening her, she could do all things.
II.She expected instruction in her mother’s house, upon the bringing of him there; and this she expected either from her, or else from him; for the word in the Hebrew text will bear a reading which will suit either sense.
1st, They may be read, “who teacheth me;”962962yndmlt quae docet me, Junius; & doceret me, Mercerus; ut doceres me, Cocceius; doceres me, Brightman. referring it to her mother, who would do so; so Junius and Tremellius read them, to which our version agrees, and which is also favored by R. Aben Ezra. From whence may be observed, 1. That the church is a school of instruction, where souls are instructed in the ways of Christ, in the doctrines of the gospel, and in all the duties of religion; both how to carry themselves in the church, and how to behave themselves agreeably to Christ, in all acts of love and obedience to him; which she may here have chiefly a regard unto: it seems to be an allusion to a grave and prudent woman, who, taking her new-married daughter apart by herself, teaches her how to behave herself towards her husband, that so she may have his affections, and live comfortably and happily with him: some such instructions the church expected from her mother. 2. That the greatest believers are not above instruction, and the means of it; but count it a mercy to have both the one and the other; some persons who know nothing as they ought to know, think they know every thing better than others; and therefore are above ordinances, despise instruction, and contemn the ministry of the word; but those who know most of themselves and of Christ Jesus, desire to know more, value the means of instruction, and make use of the ordinances of the gospel to improve therein: the difference of these two sorts of persons may be seen in Proverbs 9:8, 9.
2dly, The words may be rendered, “thou shalt instruct me,”963963Docebis me, Vulgate Latin version, Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version; so Sept. in Theodoret. Ibi doecbis me, Ambros in Psalm cxviii. octon. 19. col. 1057, meaning Christ; and this sense is favored by the Targum upon the place, and is followed by many interpreters; for though the church is the school, and ordinances are the means of instruction; yet Christ is the teacher, who teacheth as none else can: this the church knew, and therefore expected instruction from him in her mother’s house; being there in the way of her duty, where persons may more reasonably look for it. Now when Christ and the church are in their mother’s house together, he instructs her, and shows her her interest in all the goods of the house; acquaints her with her work and duty, and how she ought to behave herself towards him; he gives some such marriage-precepts as those in Psalm 45:10, 11. “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty; he is thy Lord, and worship thou him:” He informs her what respect and affection, homage and obedience; he expected from her; and that she should not now hanker after her own kindred and relations, being married unto him.
Now Christ teaches and instructs his church and people many ways: as, 1. By his Spirit; who being sent by him, teaches them all things, goes before them, and leads them into all truth, as it is in Jesus (John 14:26, 16:13), 2. By his ministers; who are both fathers and instructors to Christ’s babes, and therefore are called “pastors and teachers:” pastors, as they have the oversight of the flock; and teachers, as they are the instructors in Christ’s school. 3. By the scriptures; which “are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;” for there is nothing written there, whether promises or doctrines, words of advice and direction, or of exhortation and comfort, but what is “written for our learning; that we thro’ patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope,” (2 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 15:4). 4. By his ordinances; for as in his church he teaches men his ways, so he teaches them by them, and in their waiting and attending on them. 5. By afflictive providences; he sometimes takes the rod, and makes use of that to promote his people’s learning, when need requires; and “blessed is the man whom he chasteneth,” and thereby teacheth out of his law (Ps. 94:12).
III.She promises him a noble entertainment; I “would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate:” some think, here is an allusion to a custom at marriage; when a cup of wine, after a benediction of it, was given to the new-married couple, who both drank of it;964964Buxtorf. Synagog. Jud. c. 39. P. 632. etc. and in some places, the custom was965965Phocenses apud Athen: Deipnosoph. 50:13. c. 5. P. 576. Vid. Plutarch. de Virtut. Mulier, p. 258. for a young woman to bring in a cup of wine, all her lovers being present, and deliver it into the hand of him she fixed on to be her bridegroom; and by this action declared him to be so: and so here the church, by proposing to give to Christ a cup of her spiced wine, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, declared him, and acknowledged him to be her husband. This is a different kind of entertainment, than what the old synagogue gave Christ; who, when she found him in the street, did not kiss him, showed no respect to him, made no profession of him, nor did she exercise any faith upon him, nay, despised those who dig so; she was so far from leading and .bringing him into the temple, which the Jews966966Targum & P,-. Solom. Jarchi in loc. here understand by her mother’s house, that she thrust him out of it, and gave him gall for his meat, and in his thirst gave him vinegar to drink; or, as one of the evangelists says (Mark 15:23), “wine mingled with myrrh;” which, though it is of a sweet smell, yet is of a bitter taste: but the church here promises him spiced wine, such as was accounted the most pleasant and agreeable; and “the juice of her pomegranate,” for her plants were an orchard of pomegranates; from the fruit of which a delightful juice is squeezed, of which is made a pleasant wine; and the word which is here translated juice, signifies must,967967ygmr µys[m & mustum malorum granatorum meorum, Vulgate Latin version; de musto mali puuici mec, Cocceius; de vino dulci mali granati mei, Montanus. sweet or new wine; and so it is rendered in Isaiah 49:26; Joel 1:5; Amos 9:13; and Pliny968968Lib. 14. c. 16. speaks of a wine made of pomegranates, which he calls rhoites; mention is also made of it in the Talmud969969T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 143. 2. and by Maimonides:970970Hilchot Maacolot Asurot, c 17. 8. 11. there was a city in the tribe of Dan, called Gathrimmon, Joshua 21:24, “the winepress of the pomegranate,” or where they made pomegranate-wine; and the word here used comes from one which signifies to force, squeeze, or trade under (see Mal. 4:3), spiced wine was much used by the ancients; it was thought less inebriating;971971Athen. Deipnosophist. 1. 11. c. 3. P. 464. and therefore they sometimes put into their wine myrrh and calamus, and other spices;972972Plin. Nat. Hist. 1. 14. c. 13, 16 Plauti Persa, act. 1. sc. 3. 5:7. 8. sometimes it was a mixture of old wine, water and balsam, and of wine, honey and pepper;973973Munster. Dictionar. Chaldaic p. 22, 27. sometimes wine and honey.974974Aufidius forti miscebat mella Falerno, Horat. Satyr. 1. 2. sat. 4. 5:24. & 2. v. 15. These sorts of wine were no doubt accounted the best, and therefore she resolves to treat Christ with them: by which may be intended, 1. The richness and plenty of this entertainment; a banquet of wine being accounted the richest banquet: hence the provisions of grace under the gospel, are represented by it (Isa. 25:6), as are also the joys of heaven (Matthew 26:29). But here these metaphorical phrases intend the graces of God’s people; which, when in exercise, are preferred by Christ to the richest wine. 2. The variety of it; here are spiced wine, and wine of pomegranates, different sorts of wine; which are expressive of the various graces of the Spirit, which are implanted in the hearts of Christ’s people. 3. The delight and pleasure which Christ takes therein: for even one single grace, even that of love, is said to be “better than wine, and the smell” of such ointments than all spices; which delight and pleasure is expressed by his drinking of it; see chapter 4:10 and 5:1. With the Hebrew writers,975975Apud Chartar. de Imag. Deorum, p. 139. pomegranates are said to be a symbol of concord: the tree was sacred to love.976976Athenaei Deiprosophist. 1. 3. c. 8. p 84.
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