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Chapter 8 Verse 5
(Who is this
that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her
beloved?) I raised thee up under the apple-tree; there thy mother
brought thee forth, there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
these words are,
I.A question put by way of admiration, concerning the church who is here described: 1st, By her ascent out of the wilderness. 2dly, By her posture in coming up from thence; “leaning upon her beloved.”
II.Some things asserted, either by Christ or by his church; “I raised thee up,” etc.
I.Here is a question put by way of admiration, “Who is this,” etc. Not by the angels, as some981981Sanctius & Diodat. in loc. think; though it is true, they admire the grace that is bestowed upon mortal men, and rejoice at the faith and conversion of sinners: but it is much more likely that these are the words of the daughters of Jerusalem; who being strictly charged, in the former verse, to give no disturbance to Christ and his church, who were enjoying communion and fellowship with each other; look more earnestly at her, whom Christ had so much honored and indulged with such earnestness to himself, at which they seem astonished and surprised. Though others982982Alcuin in loc. have considered them as the words of the Jewish church, wondering at the conversion of the Gentiles, and their sudden reception into the embraces of Christ. Others983983Junius in loc. have taken them to be the words of the bride herself, declaring what Christ said to her when he first met her, as she was coming up from the wilderness; or else, expressing her great love and affections to Christ, which appeared by her coming out of the wilderness, forsaking all for him, encountering with all difficulties, running all risks, that she might enjoy his company; and therefore says, “Who is this,” etc., or where is there another that has done the like, or shown the like love to him as I have done? Which is not to be understood as though she boasted in herself; for she acknowledges, that it was by his grace and strength that she had been enabled to do this, which is expressed in the very next words, “leaning upon her beloved;” for she could never have been able to come up from the wilderness had she not had his arm to lean upon. Though they seem rather to be the words of Christ himself; not as being ignorant of her, or as not knowing who she was; but as admiring at the graces of his Spirit in her, and especially that of faith, signified by her “leaning on her beloved;” as he had admired her love and affections to him, in a like form of speech, in chapter 3:6, which are there compared to “pillars of smoke.”
The person who is here inquired of and wondered at, is either the Gentile church, which, before the gospel was brought thither, was much like a desert and wilderness; to which it is frequently compared in the prophecies of Isaiah; see chapter 32:15,16 and 35:1,6 and her coming out of the wilderness, may signify her conversion to the faith of Christ: or else, the springing up of a new church may be here intended; and, because an Arabic word is here made use of, Brightman thinks it intends the conversion of the eastern part of the world, Arabia, Persia, Egypt, Assyria, and refers it to the prophecy in Isaiah 19:23-25, though rather the bride, who is all along spoken of in this song, is here meant; who had attained to a greater degree of faith, and had larger experiences of Christ’s love, and was allowed a more intimate communion with him; and is described here,
1st, By her ascent from the wilderness, The Septuagint read the words thus, “Who is this that cometh up in white,984984Leleukanqismenh, dealbata, Sept. or clothed in white?” though there is nothing in the Hebrew text to favor such a version; yet this appears to be the apparel of the church in other places, especially in the book of the Revelation, chapter 3:4,5 and 19:8, where she is said to be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white;” which fine linen is said to be “the righteousness of the saints,” etc. that which Christ has wrought out for them, and is by an act of God’s grace imputed to them; for their own righteousness doth not deserve the name of “fine linen, clean and white;” that being at best but as “filthy rags, and as an unclean thing.” But the words are better rendered, “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness?” by which may be intended, either, her conversion from a state of nature, her being called and chosen out of the world: or her deliverance out of some great affliction as the saints are said to “come out of great tribulation,” (Rev. 7:14). But of all this, see more on chapter 3:6.
2dly, She is described by her posture, in this her ascent out of the wilderness, “leaning upon her beloved;” which is expressive of much confidence in him, and familiarity with him which she was allowed by him to use, and which she might, without justly incurring either shame or reproach; for he, on whose arm she leaned, stood in a near relation to her, being both her husband and her brother. The word translated leaning, is only used in this place, and is differently rendered: 1. Some, among which are Many Jewish interpreters,985985R. Sol. Jarehi, R. Aben Ezra in loc. R. Joseph Kimchi, in R. David Kimchi. in lib. Shorash. rad. qpr & R. Sol. Urb. Ohel. Moed, fol 19. 1. Adjungens se, Montanus; adjiciete ae, Cocceius; associans se, Brightman, Schmidt, Marckius, Michaelis. from the use of the word in the Arabic language render it, joining or associating, or cleaving to her beloved: the church had given up herself to Christ, to be his for ever; was resolved, through grace to abide with him, and to go with him, whithersoever he went; that act of faith in God’s people, which, in the New Testament (2 Cor. 8:5), is expressed by a giving up of themselves to the Lord, to serve, honor, and glorify his name, is frequently expressed in the Old Testament (Isa. 56:3, 6; Jer. 50:5), by a joining of themselves unto him; which, when they have done, they cleave unto him with full “purpose of heart;” resolving, with Ruth, that where he goes, they will go; where he lodges, they will lodge; that his people shall he their people, and his God their God; nay, that in the strength of his. grace, they will abide with him, and by his interest even unto death. 2. Others read the words thus, rejoicing or delighting herself “in her beloved;”986986R. David Kimchi. lib. Shorash, rad. qpr Targum and Vulg. Lat. vers. which sense the Vulgate Latin seems to have a regard to, as well as expresses the sense of our version, by reading the words thus, deliciis affluens, innixa super dilectum suum, “flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved;” as does also the Targum, which thus paraphrases the words, and they shall delight themselves in the mercy of the Lord: Christ and his church take mutual delight and pleasure in each other; as she is fair and pleasant for delights in his esteem, so he is in hers: saints delight themselves much in taking a view of his personal glory, in his comparable beauty, transcendent excellencies, inexhaustible fullness, and unsearchable riches; it is not only their duty to “rejoice in the Lord always;” but this interwoven in the very make, frame, and constitution of their souls, as renewed by grace: hence they are said to be “the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” (Phil. 3:3). 3. The Septuagint render it, “strengthening herself upon her beloved,” that is, being conscious of her own weakness and ability to perform the duties of religion, withstand the temptations of Satan, escape the snares of this world, and hold on and continue in her Christian race, she applied herself to Christ; in whom she saw both “righteousness and strength” for her; and from whom she received both; the one as her clothing, the other as her armor; the one as her title for glory, the other to enable her to hold out until she arrived thither. 4. Others translate the words thus, “casting herself upon her beloved:”987987Injiciens se super dilectum suum, Cocceius. sensible souls will cast themselves at the feet of Christ for mercy, and into the arms of Christ for safety, shelter and security; they will cast their burdens upon the Lord, to be eased from them by him, who has promised to sustain them; and they will cast their care upon him, knowing that he careth for them; nay, they will venture their souls upon him, and commit the whole affair of their salvation to him; as undoubtedly the church did here. 5. Our version reads it, “leaning on her beloved;”988988Innitens, Mercerus; innixa, Vulgate Latin version, Pagninus: Tigurine version, which is the use of the word in the Ethiopic language:989989Vid. Hottinger, Smegina Oriental. 50:1. c. 6. p. 106. confidence and trust in our own strength; wisdom and righteousness, is sometimes expressed by leaning thereunto, as in Job 18:15; Proverbs 3:5; and so is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, by leaning on him (see Isa. 50:10). By faith believers lean upon Christ’s person, for their acceptance with God; upon his righteousness, for their justification before him; upon his fullness, for every day’s supply; and unto his blood, for pardon and cleansing: who is such a staff or prop as will never deceive them; upon which they may venture to lay the whole stress of their Salvation, as it seems the church did here. The attitude in which the church was seen, seems to be this: she appeared coming up from the wilderness, arm in arm with her beloved, her arm under his armhole: for a word from this here used, signifies “the arm-hole;”990990qprm axilla, Buxtorf. Talm Lexic. col. 2281. which was expressive of great freedom, familiarity and fellowship with her beloved, and of her close affection to him, firm trust in him, and dependence on him.
II.In the following part of this text are some things asserted; either by Christ concerning his church, or else by the church concerning Christ; “I raised thee up under the apple-tree,” etc. These words may be considered as the words of Christ;991991Theodoret. & Tres Patres in lb. Foliot & Alcuin in loc. showing by whom and by what means the church was raised out of her former mean condition, and was brought to that honor and dignity which she now enjoyed.
1st, Says he, I raised thee up under the apple-tree: which may either intend the work of faith and conversion, which is the quickening or raising up a soul that is dead in trespasses and sins unto a newness of life; or else, the awakening of a sleepy and drowsy saint. If we consider the words in the former sense, they will lead us to observe, 1. The state and condition that the church was in before conversion; which Christ, it may be, remarks unto her, to teach her humility, that she might not be puffed up with spiritual pride, and forget what she once was; she was dead in sin, and must have continued so, had not Christ raised her up; she was like the wretched infant, in Ezekiel 16:6, which was “cast out in the open field, to the lothing of us person in the day that it was born;” in which condition Christ found her, being like a new-born infant, thrown under an apple-tree, and there left naked and helpless; where he took compassion upon her, and said unto her, whilst in her blood, live: moreover, some regard may be had in this place unto the manner how she came to be in this condition; which was through Adam and Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit, which some have thought to be the apple; whereby “sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned,” (Rom. 5:12). 2. That the work of faith and conversion is a resurrection from the dead; which for ever secures persons from being hurt by the second death (see John 5:25; Rev. 2:110. 3. That this work belongs to Christ, is performed by him, and the glory of it to be given to him; “I raised thee up, etc.” this work cannot be effected by the free-will and power of man, but by the mighty and efficacious grace of Christ; hence he is said to be the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). No less a person than be, who said to Lazarus, come forth, can raise a dead sinner; and no less a power must be exerted in doing this work, than was in the resurrection of Christ’s dead body (see Eph. 1:19). 4. Christ’s doing of this work upon the hearts of his people, is a very great indication of his love to them; he speaks of it here as a peculiar favor done to his church (see Eph. 2:4; Jer. 31:3). But,
If we understand these words of the awakening of her when asleep, they may teach us the following things: 1. That she was fallen asleep; which is sometimes the case of God’s own people, as in chapter 5:2. 2. That this befell her when she was under the ordinances, under the shadow of the apple-tree, chapter 2:3. 3. That Christ will not suffer his people to continue so; but will, by some means or other, awake them out of it.
2dly, He says, that there her mother brought her forth,992992Genet ix is often used for a mother, in poetical composures, etc. Here he expresses her conversion by a regeneration, as he had before by a resurrection; by both which names it is very well known in the New Testament; which work, though it is effected by the grace and Spirit of God, yet the ministry of the word and ordinances are the instrumental means thereof which Christ has placed, continues, and blesses in his church for that end.
But the words seem rather to be the words of the church,993993So Mercerus, Cocceius, Marckius, Michaelis. speaking these things concerning Christ; for though there is nothing in our version to determine the sense this way; yet the suffixes in the Hebrew text being of the masculine gender, manifestly show that they are spoken of a man, and not of a woman. And,
1st, The church says, that she raised Christ up under the apple-tree; that is, she sitting under the ordinances of the gospel, which are the shadow of the apple-tree, to which Christ is compared in chapter 2:3, and finding no communion with him, he being as it were asleep all the while, did, by earnest prayer and entreaty, at length raise him up; so that she enjoyed a large degree of nearness to him, and familiarity with him.
2dly, That there his mother, which is the church and every true believer; see chapter 3:11 (and Matthew 12:50), brought him forth: as did, 1. The Old Testament-church, who long waited for him, and was often in pain, as a woman with child, on that account, until this man-child was born; which was at length accomplished, to the joy of all those who waited for the consolation of Israel. 2. With much pain did the apostles bring Christ forth into the Gentile world, by professing, him, preaching his gospel, and suffering for his sake: thus did they travail in birth, until Christ was formed in the hearts of men. 3. It is with much pain, even like that of a woman in travail, that the new birth, or the work of regeneration on the heart, which is no other than Christ formed there, is wrought; all, more or less, who are called by grace, pass under a work of the law, which is a killing letter; which puts the soul to a great deal of pain; pricks it to the heart, and makes it cry out, What shall I do to be saved? 4. The New Testament church, which is also Christ’s mother, in the exercise of faith and prayer, is waiting for his second coming; nay, is not only looking for it, but is hastening to it; is uneasy, and as it were like a woman in travail, until he makes his appearance; which he will shortly do, through the incessant and continued cries and entreaties of his people: and this may be the reason why the phrase is doubled; there thy mother brought thee forth; that is, the Old Testament church, who waited for his manifestation in the flesh; “there she brought thee forth that bare thee;” that is the New Testament church, which looks for his second appearance. K. Aben Ezra interprets these words of the raising, loosing, and bringing forth of the King Messiah, through the prayers and entreaties of the Jews; who fancy that he now lies bound and fast asleep, but will ere long be awaked and loosed through their prayers, and appear for their deliver, ance from present exile, and captivity; which is all vain and delusive.
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