Canticle I.—(So 1:2-2:7)—The
Bride Searching for and Finding the King.
1. The song of songs—The most excellent
of all songs, Hebrew idiom (Ex 29:37; De 10:14). A foretaste on earth of the "new song"
to be sung in glory (Re 5:9; 14:3; 15:2-4).
Solomon's—"King of Israel," or
"Jerusalem," is not added, as in the opening of Proverbs and
Ecclesiastes, not because Solomon had not yet ascended the throne
[Moody Stuart], but because his
personality is hid under that of Christ, the true Solomon (equivalent
to Prince of Peace). The earthly Solomon is not introduced,
which would break the consistency of the allegory. Though the bride
bears the chief part, the Song throughout is not hers, but that of her
"Solomon." He animates her. He and she, the Head and the members, form
but one Christ [Adelaide Newton]. Aaron
prefigured Him as priest; Moses, as prophet; David, as a suffering
king; Solomon, as the triumphant prince of peace. The camp in the
wilderness represents the Church in the world; the peaceful reign of
Solomon, after all enemies had been subdued, represents the Church in
heaven, of which joy the Song gives a foretaste.
2. him—abruptly. She names him not, as
is natural to one whose heart is full of some much desired friend: so
Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre (Joh 20:15), as if everyone must know whom she
means, the one chief object of her desire (Ps 73:25; Mt 13:44-46; Php 3:7,8).
kiss—the token of peace from
the Prince of Peace (Lu 15:20);
"our Peace" (Ps 85:10; Col 1:21; Eph 2:14).
of his mouth—marking the tenderest
affection. For a king to permit his hands, or even garment, to be
kissed, was counted a great honor; but that he should himself kiss
another with his mouth is the greatest honor. God had in times
past spoken by the mouth of His prophets, who had declared the
Church's betrothal; the bride now longs for contact with the mouth
of the Bridegroom Himself (Job 23:12; Lu 4:22; Heb
1:1, 2). True of the Church
before the first advent, longing for "the hope of Israel," "the desire
of all nations"; also the awakened soul longing for the kiss of
reconciliation; and further, the kiss that is the token of the
marriage contract (Ho 2:19, 20), and of friendship (1Sa
20:41; Joh 14:21; 15:15).
thy love—Hebrew, "loves,"
namely, tokens of love, loving blandishments.
wine—which makes glad "the heavy
heart" of one ready to perish, so that he "remembers his misery no
31:6, 7). So, in a "better"
sense, Christ's love (Hab 3:17, 18). He gives the same praise to the
bride's love, with the emphatic addition, "How much" (So 4:10). Wine was created by His first miracle
2:1-11), and was the pledge
given of His love at the last supper. The spiritual wine is His blood
and His spirit, the "new" and better wine of the kingdom (Mt 26:29), which we can never drink to "excess,"
as the other (Eph 5:18;
compare Ps 23:5; Isa 55:1).
3. Rather, "As regards the savor of thy
ointments, it is good" [Maurer]. In
11, the Bridegroom
reciprocates the praise of the bride in the same terms.
thy name—Christ's character and
office as the "Anointed" (Isa 9:6; 61:1), as "the savor of ointments" are the
graces that surround His person (Ps 45:7, 8). Ec 7:1, in its fullest sense, applies to Him.
The holy anointing oil of the high priest, which it was death for
anyone else to make (so Ac 4:12),
implies the exclusive preciousness of Messiah's name (Ex 30:23-28,
31-38). So Mary brake the box
of precious ointment over Him, appropriately (Mr 14:5), the broken box typifying His body,
which, when broken, diffused all grace: compounded of various spices,
&c. (Col 1:19; 2:9); of sweet odor (Eph 5:2).
poured—(Isa 53:12; Ro 5:5).
therefore—because of the manifestation
of God's character in Christ (1Jo 4:9, 19). So the penitent woman (Lu 7:37, 38,
virgins—the pure in heart (2Co 11:2;
Re 14:4). The same
Hebrew is translated, "thy hidden ones" (Ps 83:3). The "ointment" of the Spirit "poured
forth" produces the "love of Christ" (Ro 5:5).
4. (1) The cry of ancient Israel for Messiah,
for example, Simeon, Anna, &c. (2) The cry of an awakened soul for
the drawing of the Spirit, after it has got a glimpse of Christ's
loveliness and its own helplessness.
Draw me—The Father draws (Joh 6:44). The Son draws (Jer
31:3; Ho 11:4; Joh 12:32).
"Draw" here, and "Tell" (So 1:7),
reverently qualify the word "kiss" (So 1:2).
me, we—No believer desires to go to
heaven alone. We are converted as individuals; we follow Christ
as joined in a communion of saints (Joh 1:41, 45). Individuality and community meet
in the bride.
run—Her earnestness kindles as she
prays (Isa 40:31; Ps 119:32, 60).
after thee—not before (Joh 10:4).
king … brought me into—(Ps
45:14, 15; Joh 10:16). He is
the anointed Priest (So 1:3);
King (So 1:4).
chambers—Her prayer is answered even
beyond her desires. Not only is she permitted to run after Him,
but is brought into the inmost pavilion, where Eastern kings admitted
none but the most intimate friends (Es 4:11; 5:2; Ps 27:5). The erection of the temple of
Solomon was the first bringing of the bride into permanent, instead of
migratory, chambers of the King. Christ's body on earth was the next
2:21), whereby believers are
brought within the veil (Eph 2:6; Heb 10:19, 20). Entrance into the closet for prayer is
the first step. The earnest of the future bringing into heaven (Joh 14:3). His chambers are the
bride's also (Isa 26:20).
There are various chambers, plural (Joh 14:2).
be glad and rejoice—inward and
in thee—(Isa 61:10;
Php 4:1, 4). Not in our
spiritual frames (Ps 30:6, 7).
remember—rather, "commemorate with
praises" (Isa 63:7).
The mere remembrance of spiritual joys is better than the
present enjoyment of carnal ones (Ps 4:6, 7).
"sincerely" (Ps 58:1; Ro 12:9); so Nathanael (Joh 1:47); Peter (Joh 21:17); or "deservedly" [Maurer].
5. black—namely, "as the tents of
Kedar," equivalent to blackness (Ps 120:5). She draws the image from the black
goatskins with which the Scenite Arabs ("Kedar" was in
Arabia-Petræa) cover their tents (contrasted with the splendid
state tent in which the King was awaiting His bride according to
Eastern custom); typifying the darkness of man's natural state. To feel
this, and yet also feel one's self in Jesus Christ "comely as the
curtains of Solomon," marks the believer (Ro 7:18, &c.;
8:1); 1Ti 1:15, "I am chief"; so she says not
merely, "I was," but "I am"; still black in herself, but comely
through His comeliness put upon her (Eze 16:14).
curtains—first, the hangings and veil
in the temple of Solomon (Eze 16:10);
then, also, the "fine linen which is the righteousness of saints"
19:8), the white wedding
garment provided by Jesus Christ (Isa 61:10; Mt 22:11; 1Co 1:30; Col 1:28; 2:10; Re
the dark tents of Kedar represent the Gentile Church (Isa 60:3-7, &c.). As the vineyard at the
close is transferred from the Jews, who had not kept their own, to the
Gentiles, so the Gentiles are introduced at the commencement of the
Song; for they were among the earliest enquirers after Jesus Christ
2:1-12): the wise men from
the East (Arabia, or Kedar).
daughters of Jerusalem—professors, not
the bride, or "the virgins," yet not enemies; invited to gospel
blessings (So 3:10, 11); so near to Jesus Christ as not to be
unlikely to find Him (So 5:8);
desirous to seek Him with her (So 6:1; compare So 6:13; 7:1, 5, 8). In So 7:8, 9, the bride's Beloved becomes
their Beloved; not, however, of all of them (So 8:4; compare Lu 23:27, 28).
6. She feels as if her blackness was so great
as to be gazed at by all.
mother's children—(Mt 10:36). She is to forget "her own people and
her father's house," that is, the worldly connections of her
unregenerate state (Ps 45:10);
they had maltreated her (Lu 15:15, 16). Children of the same mother, but not
the same father [Maurer], (Joh 8:41-44). They made her a common keeper of
vineyards, whereby the sun looked upon, that is, burnt her; thus she
did "not keep her own" vineyard, that is, fair beauty. So the world,
and the soul (Mt 16:26; Lu 9:25). The believer has to watch against the
same danger (1Co 9:27). So
he will be able, instead of the self-reproach here, to say as in So 8:12.
7. my soul loveth—more intense than "the
virgins" and "the upright love thee" (So 1:3, 4; Mt 22:37). To carry out the design of the
allegory, the royal encampment is here represented as moving from place
to place, in search of green pastures, under the Shepherd King
23:1-6). The bride, having
first enjoyed communion with him in the pavilion, is willing to follow
Him into labors and dangers; arising from all absorbing love (Lu 14:26); this distinguishes her from the
formalist (Joh 10:27; Re 14:4).
feedest—tendest thy flock (Isa 40:11; Heb 13:20; 1Pe 2:25; 5:4; Re 7:17). No single type expresses
all the office of Jesus Christ; hence arises the variety of
diverse images used to portray the manifold aspects of Him:
these would be quite incongruous, if the Song referred to the earthly
Solomon. Her intercourse with Him is peculiar. She hears His voice, and
addresses none but Himself. Yet it is through a veil; she sees Him not
23:8, 9). If we would be fed,
we must follow the Shepherd through the whole breadth of His
Word, and not stay on one spot alone.
makest … to rest—distinct from
"feedest"; periods of rest are vouchsafed after labor (Isa
4:6; 49:10; Eze 34:13-15).
Communion in private must go along with public following of Him.
turneth aside—rather one
veiled, that is, as a harlot, not His true bride (Ge 38:15), [Gesenius]; or as a mourner (2Sa 15:30), [Weiss]; or as one unknown [Maurer]. All imply estrangement from the Bridegroom.
She feels estranged even among Christ's true servants, answering to
"thy companions" (Lu 22:28),
so long as she has not Himself present. The opposite spirit to 1Co 3:4.
8. If—she ought to have known
14:8, 9). The confession of
her ignorance and blackness (So 1:5) leads Him to call her "fairest" (Mt 12:20). Her jealousy of letting even
"His companions" take the place of Himself (So 1:7) led her too far. He directs her to
follow them, as they follow Him (1Co 11:1; Heb 6:10, 12); to use ordinances and the
ministry; where they are, He is (Jer 6:16; Mt 18:19, 20; Heb 10:25). Indulging in isolation is not the way
to find Him. It was thus, literally, that Zipporah found her bridegroom
2:16). The bride
unhesitatingly asks the watchmen afterwards (So 3:3).
kids—(Joh 21:15). Christ is to be found in active
ministrations, as well as in prayer (Pr 11:25).
shepherds' tents—ministers in the
sanctuary (Ps 84:1).
9. horses in Pharaoh's
chariots—celebrated for beauty, swiftness, and
ardor, at the Red Sea (Ex 14:15). These qualities, which seem to
belong to the ungodly, really belong to the saints [Moody Stuart]. The allusion may be to the horses
brought at a high price by Solomon out of Egypt (2Ch 1:16, 17). So the bride is redeemed out of
spiritual Egypt by the true Solomon, at an infinite price (Isa 51:1;
1Pe 1:18, 19). But the
deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea accords with the
allusion to the tabernacle (So 1:5; 3:6, 7); it rightly is put at the beginning of
the Church's call. The ardor and beauty of the bride are
the point of comparison; (So 1:4) "run";
(So 1:5) "comely." Also, like Pharaoh's
horses, she forms a great company (Re 19:7, 14). As Jesus Christ is both Shepherd and
Conqueror, so believers are not only His sheep, but also, as a
Church militant now, His chariots and horses (So 6:4).
10. rows of jewels—(Eze 16:11-13). Olerius says, Persian ladies wear two or three rows
of pearls round the head, beginning on the forehead and descending down
to the cheeks and under the chin, so that their faces seem to be set in
pearls (Eze 16:11).
The comparison of the horses (So 1:9) implies the vital energy of the bride;
this verse, her superadded graces (Pr 1:9; 4:9; 1Ti 2:9;
11. We—the Trinity implied by the Holy
Ghost, whether it was so by the writer of the Song or not (Ge 1:26; Pr
8:30; 30:4). "The Jews
acknowledged God as king, and Messiah as king, in interpreting the
Song, but did not know that these two are one" [Leighton].
make—not merely give (Eph 2:10).
borders of gold, with studs of
silver—that is, "spots of silver"—Jesus Christ delights
to give more "to him that hath" (Mt 25:29). He crowns His own work in us
26:12). The "borders" here
are equivalent to "rows" (So 1:10); but
here, the King seems to give the finish to her attire, by adding a
crown (borders, or circles) of gold studded with silver
spots, as in Es 2:17. Both
the royal and nuptial crown, or chaplet. The
Hebrew for "spouse" (So 4:8) is
a crowned one (Eze 16:12; Re 2:10). The crown is given at once upon
conversion, in title, but in sensible possession afterwards (2Ti 4:8).
12. While—It is the presence of the Sun
of Righteousness that draws out the believer's odors of grace. It was
the sight of Him at table that caused the two women to bring forth
their ointments for Him (Lu 7:37, 38; Joh 12:3; 2Co
2:15). Historically fulfilled
2:11); spiritually (Re 3:20); and in church worship (Mt 18:20); and at the Lord's Supper
especially, for here public communion with Him at table amidst
His friends is spoken of, as So 1:4 refers
to private communion (1Co 10:16, 21); typically (Ex 24:9-11); the future perfect fulfilment
22:30; Re 19:9). The allegory
supposes the King to have stopped in His movements and to be seated
with His friends on the divan. What grace that a table should be
prepared for us, while still militant (Ps 23:5)!
my spikenard—not boasting, but
owning the Lord's grace to and in her. The spikenard is a lowly
herb, the emblem of humility. She rejoices that He is well
pleased with her graces, His own work (Php 4:18).
13. bundle of myrrh—abundant
preciousness (Greek), (1Pe 2:7). Even a little myrrh was costly;
much more a bundle (Col 2:9).
Burrowes takes it of a scent-box
filled with liquid myrrh; the liquid obtained by incision gave the
tree its chief value.
he—rather, "it"; it is the myrrh that
lies in the bosom, as the cluster of camphire is in the vineyards
all night—an undivided heart (Eph 3:17; contrast Jer 4:14;
Eze 16:15, 30). Yet on
account of the everlasting covenant, God restores the adulteress (Eze
16:60, 62; Ho 2:2, &c.).
The night is the whole present dispensation till the everlasting day
13:12). Also, literally,
"night" (Ps 119:147, 148), the night of affliction (Ps 42:8).
14. cluster—Jesus Christ is one, yet
manifold in His graces.
camphire—or, "cypress." The "hennah"
is meant, whose odorous flowers grow in clusters, of a color white and
yellow softly blended; its bark is dark, the foliage light green. Women
deck their persons with them. The loveliness of Jesus Christ.
vineyards—appropriate in respect to
Him who is "the vine." The spikenard was for the banquet (So 1:12); the myrrh was in her bosom continually
1:13); the camphire is in the
midst of natural beauties, which, though lovely, are eclipsed by the
one cluster, Jesus Christ, pre-eminent above them all.
En-gedi—in South Palestine, near the
Dead Sea (Jos 15:62; Eze 47:10), famed for aromatic shrubs.
15. fair—He discerns beauty in her, who
had said, "I am black" (So 1:5),
because of the everlasting covenant (Ps 45:11; Isa 62:5; Eph
doves' eyes—large and beautiful in the
doves of Syria. The prominent features of her beauty (Mt 10:16), gentleness, innocence, and constant
love, emblem of the Holy Ghost, who changes us to His own
likeness (Ge 8:10, 11; Mt 3:16). The opposite kind of eyes (Ps 101:5; Mt 20:15; 2Pe 2:14).
16. Reply of the Bride. She presumes to
call Him beloved, because He called her so first. Thou callest me
"fair"; if I am so, it is not in myself; it is all from Thee (Ps 90:17); but Thou art fair in
pleasant—(Pr 3:17) towards Thy friends (2Sa 1:26).
bed … green—the couch of green
grass on which the King and His bride sit to "rest at noon." Thus her
prayer in So
1:7 is here granted; a green
oasis in the desert, always found near waters in the East (Ps 23:2;
Isa 41:17-19). The scene is a
kiosk, or summer house. Historically, the literal resting of the
Babe of Beth-lehem and his parents on the green grass provided
for cattle (Lu 2:7, 12). In this verse there is an incidental
allusion, in So 1:15, to
the offering (Lu 2:24). So
the "cedar and fir" ceiling refers to the temple (1Ki 5:6-10;
6:15-18); type of the
heavenly temple (Re 21:22).
17. our house—see on So 1:16; but primarily, the kiosk (Isa 11:10), "His rest." Cedar is pleasing to the
eye and smell, hard, and never eaten by worms.
fir—rather, "cypress," which is hard,
durable, and fragrant, of a reddish hue [Gesenius, Weiss, and
Maurer]. Contrasted with the shifting
1:5), His house is
"our house" (Ps 92:13; Eph 2:19; Heb 3:6). Perfect oneness of Him and the
bride (Joh 14:20; 17:21). There is the shelter of a princely
roof from the sun (Ps 121:6),
without the confinement of walls, and amidst rural beauties. The carved
ceiling represents the wondrous excellencies of His divine nature.