1. rose—if applied to Jesus Christ, it,
with the white lily (lowly, 2Co 8:9),
answers to "white and ruddy" (So 5:10). But it is rather the
meadow-saffron: the Hebrew means radically a plant with a
pungent bulb, inapplicable to the rose. So Syriac.
It is of a white and violet color [Maurer, Gesenius, and
Weiss]. The bride thus speaks of herself
as lowly though lovely, in contrast with the lordly "apple" or citron
tree, the bridegroom (So 2:3); so
the "lily" is applied to her (So 2:2),
Sharon—(Isa 35:1, 2). In North Palestine, between Mount
Tabor and Lake Tiberias (1Ch 5:16).
Septuagint and Vulgate translate it, "a plain"; though
they err in this, the Hebrew Bible not elsewhere favoring it,
yet the parallelism to valleys shows that, in the proper name
Sharon, there is here a tacit reference to its meaning of lowliness.
Beauty, delicacy, and lowliness, are to be in her, as they were in Him
2. Jesus Christ to the Bride (Mt 10:16; Joh 15:19; 1Jo 5:19). Thorns, equivalent to the wicked
(2Sa 23:6; Ps 57:4).
daughters—of men, not of God; not "the
virgins." "If thou art the lily of Jesus Christ, take heed lest by
impatience, rash judgments, and pride, thou thyself become a thorn"
3. Her reply.
apple—generic including the golden citron, pomegranate,
and orange apple (Pr 25:11).
He combines the shadow and fragrance of the citron with the
sweetness of the orange and pomegranate fruit. The foliage is
perpetual; throughout the year a succession of blossoms, fruit, and
perfume (Jas 1:17).
among the sons—parallel to "among the
daughters" (So 2:2). He
alone is ever fruitful among the fruitless wild trees (Ps 89:6; Heb
I sat … with …
delight—literally, "I eagerly desired and sat" (Ps 94:19; Mr 6:31; Eph 2:6; 1Pe 1:8).
shadow—(Ps 121:5; Isa 4:6; 25:4;
32:2). Jesus Christ
interposes the shadow of His cross between the blazing rays of justice
and us sinners.
fruit—Faith plucks it (Pr 3:18). Man lost the tree of life (Ge 3:22,
23). Jesus Christ regained it
for him; he eats it partly now (Ps 119:103; Joh
6:55, 57; 1Pe 2:3); fully
hereafter (Re 2:7; 22:2, 14); not earned by the sweat of his brow,
or by his righteousness (Ro 10:1-21). Contrast the worldling's fruit (De
32:32; Lu 15:16).
4. Historically fulfilled in the joy of Simeon
and Anna in the temple, over the infant Saviour (Lu 2:25-38), and that of Mary, too (compare
Lu 1:53); typified (Ex 24:9-11). Spiritually, the bride or
beloved is led (So 2:4) first
into the King's chambers, thence is drawn after Him in
answer to her prayer; is next received on a grassy couch under a cedar
kiosk; and at last in a "banqueting hall," such as, Josephus says, Solomon had in his palace, "wherein
all the vessels were of gold" (Antiquities, 8:5,2). The
transition is from holy retirement to public ordinances, church
worship, and the Lord's Supper (Ps 36:8). The bride, as the queen of Sheba, is
given "all her desire" (1Ki 10:13; Ps 63:5; Eph
3:8, 16-21; Php 4:19); type
of the heavenly feast hereafter (Isa 25:6, 9).
his banner … love—After having
rescued us from the enemy, our victorious captain (Heb 2:10) seats us at the banquet under a banner
inscribed with His name, "love" (1Jo 4:8). His love conquered us to Himself; this
banner rallies round us the forces of Omnipotence, as our protection;
it marks to what country we belong, heaven, the abode of love, and in
what we most glory, the cross of Jesus Christ, through which we triumph
(Ro 8:37; 1Co 15:57; Re 3:21). Compare with "over me,"
"underneath are the everlasting arms" (De 33:27).
5. flagons—Maurer prefers translating, "dried raisin cakes";
from the Hebrew root "fire," namely, dried by heat. But the
"house of wine" (So 2:4,
Margin) favors "flagons"; the "new wine" of the kingdom, the
Spirit of Jesus Christ.
apples—from the tree (So 2:3), so sweet to her, the promises of
sick of love—the highest degree of
sensible enjoyment that can be attained here. It may be at an early or
late stage of experience. Paul (2Co 12:7). In the last sickness of J. Welch, he
was overheard saying, "Lord, hold thine hand, it is enough; thy servant
is a clay vessel, and can hold no more" [Fleming, Fulfilling of the Scriptures]. In
most cases this intensity of joy is reserved for the heavenly banquet.
Historically, Israel had it, when the Lord's glory filled the
tabernacle, and afterwards the temple, so that the priests could not
stand to minister: so in the Christian Church on Pentecost. The bride
addresses Christ mainly, though in her rapture she uses the
plural, "Stay (ye) me," speaking generally. So far from
asking the withdrawal of the manifestations which had overpowered her,
she asks for more: so "fainteth for" (Ps 84:2): also Peter, on the mount of
transfiguration (Lu 9:33),
"Let us make … not knowing what he said."
6. The "stay" she prayed for (So 2:5) is granted (De 33:12, 27; Ps 37:24; Isa 41:16). None can pluck from that
embrace (Joh 10:28-30). His hand keeps us from falling (Mt 14:30,
31); to it we may commit
ourselves (Ps 31:5).
left hand—the left is the inferior
hand, by which the Lord less signally manifests His love, than by the
right; the secret hand of ordinary providence, as distinguished from
that of manifested grace (the "right"). They really go together, though
sometimes they seem divided; here both are felt at once. Theodoret takes the left hand, equivalent to
judgment and wrath; the right, equivalent to honor and
love. The hand of justice no longer is lifted to smite, but is
under the head of the believer to support (Isa 42:21); the hand of Jesus Christ pierced by
justice for our sin supports us. The charge not to disturb the beloved
occurs thrice: but the sentiment here, "His left hand," &c.,
nowhere else fully; which accords with the intensity of joy (So 2:5) found nowhere else; in So 8:3, it is only conditional, "should
embrace," not "doth."
7. by the roes—not an oath but a solemn
charge, to act as cautiously as the hunter would with the wild roes,
which are proverbially timorous; he must advance with breathless
circumspection, if he is to take them; so he who would not lose Jesus
Christ and His Spirit, which is easily grieved and withdrawn, must be
tender of conscience and watchful (Eze 16:43; Eph
4:30; 5:15; 1Th 5:19). In
Margin, title of Ps 22:1,
Jesus Christ is called the "Hind of the morning," hunted to
death by the dogs (compare So 2:8, 9,
where He is represented as bounding on the hills, Ps 18:33). Here He is resting, but with a
repose easily broken (Zep 3:17). It
is thought a gross rudeness in the East to awaken one sleeping,
especially a person of rank.
my love—in Hebrew, feminine for
masculine, the abstract for concrete, Jesus Christ being the
embodiment of love itself (So 3:5; 8:7), where, as here, the context requires
it to be applied to Him, not her. She too is "love" (So 7:6), for His love calls forth her love.
Presumption in the convert is as grieving to the Spirit as despair. The
lovingness and pleasantness of the hind and roe (Pr 5:19) is included in this image of
II.—(So 2:8-3:5)—John the
8. voice—an exclamation of joyful
surprise, evidently after a long silence. The restlessness of sin and
fickleness in her had disturbed His rest with her, which she had
professed not to wish disturbed "till He should please." He left her,
but in sovereign grace unexpectedly heralds His return. She awakes, and
at once recognizes His voice (1Sa 3:9, 10; Joh 10:4); her sleep is not so sinfully
deep as in So
leaping—bounding, as the roe does,
over the roughest obstacles (2Sa 2:18; 1Ch 12:8); as the father of the prodigal "had
compassion and ran" (Lu 15:20).
upon the hills—as the sunbeams
glancing from hill to hill. So Margin, title of Jesus Christ
22:1), "Hind of the
morning" (type of His resurrection). Historically, the coming of
the kingdom of heaven (the gospel dispensation), announced by John
Baptist, is meant; it primarily is the garden or vineyard; the
bride is called so in a secondary sense. "The voice" of Jesus Christ is
indirect, through "the friend of the bridegroom" (Joh 3:29), John the Baptist. Personally, He is
silent during John's ministration, who awoke the long slumbering Church
with the cry. "Every hill shall be made low," in the spirit of
Elias, on the "rent mountains" (1Ki 19:11; compare Isa 52:7). Jesus Christ is implied as coming with
intense desire (Lu 22:15; Heb 10:7), disregarding the mountain hindrances
raised by man's sin.
9. he standeth—after having bounded over
the intervening space like a roe. He often stands near when our
unbelief hides Him from us (Ge 28:16; Re 3:14-20). His usual way; long promised and
expected; sudden at last: so, in visiting the second temple (Mal 3:1); so at Pentecost (Ac 2:1, 2); so in visiting an individual soul,
Zaccheus (Lu 19:5, 6; Joh 3:8); and so, at the second coming (Mt
24:48, 50; 2Pe 3:4, 10). So
it shall be at His second coming (1Th 5:2, 3).
wall—over the cope of which He is
first seen; next, He looks through (not forth; for He is
outside) at the windows, glancing suddenly and stealthily (not
as English Version, "showing Himself") through the lattice. The
prophecies, types, &c., were lattice glimpses of Him to the Old
Testament Church, in spite of the wall of separation which sin
had raised (Joh 8:56);
clearer glimpses were given by John Baptist, but not unclouded (Joh 1:26). The legal wall of partition was
not to be removed until His death (Eph 2:14, 15; Heb 10:20). Even now, He is only seen by
faith, through the windows of His Word and the lattice of
ordinances and sacraments (Lu 24:35; Joh 14:21); not full vision (1Co 13:12); an incentive to our looking for His
second coming (Isa 33:17; Tit 2:13).
10, 11. Loving reassurance given by Jesus
Christ to the bride, lest she should think that He had ceased to love
her, on account of her unfaithfulness, which had occasioned His
temporary withdrawal. He allures her to brighter than worldly joys
2:10). Not only does the
saint wish to depart to be with Him, but He still more desires to have
the saint with Him above (Joh 17:24).
Historically, the vineyard or garden of the King, here first
introduced, is "the kingdom of heaven preached" by John the Baptist,
before whom "the law and the prophets were" (Lu 16:16).
11. the winter—the law of the covenant
of works (Mt
rain is over—(Heb
12:18-24; 1Jo 2:8). Then
first the Gentile Church is called "beloved, which was not beloved"
9:25). So "the winter" of
estrangement and sin is "past" to the believer (Isa 44:22; Jer 50:20; 2Co 5:17; Eph 2:1). The rising "Sun of righteousness"
dispels the "rain" (2Sa 23:4; Ps 126:5; Mal 4:2). The winter in Palestine is past by
April, but all the showers were not over till May. The time described
here is that which comes directly after these last showers of winter.
In the highest sense, the coming resurrection and deliverance of the
earth from the past curse is here implied (Ro 8:19; Re
21:4; 22:3). No more "clouds"
shall then "return after the rain" (Ec 12:2; Re 4:3; compare Ge 9:13-17); "the rainbow round the throne" is the
"token" of this.
12. flowers—tokens of anger past, and of
grace come. "The summoned bride is welcome," say some fathers, "to
weave from them garlands of beauty, wherewith she may adorn herself to
meet the King." Historically, the flowers, &c., only give promise;
the fruit is not ripe yet; suitable to the preaching of John the
Baptist, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"; not yet fully
the time of … singing—the
rejoicing at the advent of Jesus Christ. Gregory Nyssenus refers the voice of the
turtledove to John the Baptist. It with the olive branch announced to
Noah that "the rain was over and gone" (Ge 8:11). So John the Baptist, spiritually. Its
plaintive "voice" answers to his preaching of repentance
7). Vulgate and
Septuagint translate, "The time of pruning," namely,
15:2). The mention of the
"turtle's" cooing better accords with our text. The turtledove is
migratory (Jer 8:7), and
"comes" early in May; emblem of love, and so of the Holy Ghost. Love,
too, shall be the keynote of the "new song" hereafter (Isa 35:10; Re 1:5; 14:3; 19:6). In the individual believer now, joy
and love are here set forth in their earlier manifestations
13. putteth forth—rather, "ripens,"
literally, "makes red" [Maurer]. The
unripe figs, which grow in winter, begin to ripen in early spring, and
in June are fully matured [Weiss].
vines with the tender grape—rather,
"the vines in flower," literally, "a flower," in apposition with
"vines" [Maurer]. The vine flowers were
so sweet that they were often put, when dried, into new wine to give it
flavor. Applicable to the first manifestations of Jesus Christ, "the
true Vine," both to the Church and to individuals; as to Nathanael
under the fig tree (Joh 1:48).
Arise, &c.—His call, described by
the bride, ends as it began (So 2:10); it
is a consistent whole; "love" from first to last (Isa 52:1,
2; 2Co 6:17, 18). "Come," in
the close of Re 22:17, as
at His earlier manifestation (Mt 11:28).
14. dove—here expressing endearment
74:19). Doves are noted for
constant attachment; emblems, also, in their soft, plaintive
note, of softened penitents (Isa 59:11; Eze 7:16); other points of likeness are their
beauty; "their wings covered with silver and gold" (Ps 68:13), typifying the change in the converted;
the dove-like spirit, breathed into the saint by the Holy Ghost,
whose emblem is the dove; the messages of peace from God to
sinful men, as Noah's dove, with the olive branch (Ge 8:11), intimated that the flood of wrath was
past; timidity, fleeing with fear from sin and self to the cleft
Rock of Ages (Isa 26:4,
Margin; Ho 11:11);
gregarious, flocking together to the kingdom of Jesus Christ
simplicity (Mt 10:16).
clefts—the refuge of doves from storm
and heat (Jer 48:28;
49:16). Gesenius translates the Hebrew from a
different root, "the refuges." But see, for "clefts," Ex 33:18-23. It is only when we are in
Christ Jesus that our "voice is sweet (in prayer, So
4:3, 11; Mt 10:20; Ga 4:6,
because it is His voice in us; also in speaking of
3:16); and our countenance
comely" (Ex 34:29; Ps 27:5; 71:3; Isa
33:16; 2Co 3:18).
stairs—(Eze 38:20, Margin), a steep rock, broken
into stairs or terraces. It is in "secret places" and rugged scenes
that Jesus Christ woos the soul from the world to Himself (Mic 2:10;
7:14). So Jacob amid the
stones of Beth-el (Ge 28:11-19); Moses at Horeb (Ex 3:1-22); so Elijah (1Ki 19:9-13); Jesus Christ with the three
disciples on a "high mountain apart," at the transfiguration (Mt 17:1); John in Patmos (Re 1:9). "Of the eight beatitudes, five have an
afflicted condition for their subject. As long as the waters are on the
earth, we dwell in the ark; but when the land is dry, the dove itself
will be tempted to wander" [Jeremy
Taylor]. Jesus Christ does not invite her to leave the rock, but
in it (Himself), yet in holy freedom to lay aside the timorous
spirit, look up boldly as accepted in Him, pray, praise, and confess
Him (in contrast to her shrinking from being looked at, So 1:6), (Eph 6:19; Heb 13:15;
1Jo 4:18); still, though
trembling, the voice and countenance of the soul in Jesus Christ are
pleasant to Him. The Church found no cleft in the Sinaitic legal rock,
though good in itself, wherein to hide; but in Jesus Christ stricken by
God for us, as the rock smitten by Moses (Nu 20:11), there is a hiding-place (Isa 32:2). She praised His "voice" (So 2:8, 10); it is thus that her voice also,
though tremulous, is "sweet" to Him here.
15. Transition to the vineyard, often formed
in "stairs" (So 2:14), or
terraces, in which, amidst the vine leaves, foxes hid.
foxes—generic term, including jackals.
They eat only grapes, not the vine flowers; but they need to be driven
out in time before the grape is ripe. She had failed in
watchfulness before (So 1:6); now
when converted, she is the more jealous of subtle sins (Ps 139:23). In spiritual winter certain
evils are frozen up, as well as good; in the spring of revivals these
start up unperceived, crafty, false teachers, spiritual pride,
uncharitableness, &c. (Ps 19:12; Mt
13:26; Lu 8:14; 2Ti 2:17; Heb 12:15). "Little" sins are parents of the
greatest (Ec 10:1; 1Co 5:6). Historically, John the Baptist spared
not the fox-like Herod (Lu 13:32), who gave vine-like promise of fruit at
6:20), at the cost of his
life; nor the viper-Sadducees, &c.; nor the varied subtle forms of
16. mine … his—rather, "is for
me … for Him" (Ho 3:3),
where, as here, there is the assurance of indissoluble union, in spite
of temporary absence. So 2:17,
entreating Him to return, shows that He has gone, perhaps through her
want of guarding against the "little sins" (So 2:15). The order of the clauses is reversed
6:3, when she is riper in
faith: there she rests more on her being His; here, on His
being hers; and no doubt her sense of love to Him is a pledge that
she is His (Joh 14:21, 23; 1Co 8:3); this is her consolation in His
I am his—by creation (Ps 100:3), by redemption (Joh
17:10; Ro 14:8; 1Co 6:19).
feedeth—as a "roe," or gazelle (So 2:17); instinct is sure to lead him
back to his feeding ground, where the lilies abound. So Jesus Christ,
though now withdrawn, the bride feels sure will return to His favorite
resting-place (So 7:10; Ps 132:14). So hereafter (Re 21:3). Ps 45:1, title, terms his lovely bride's
"lilies" [Hengstenberg] pure and white,
though among thorns (So 2:2).
17. Night—is the image of the present
13:12). "Behold men as if
dwelling in subterranean cavern" [Plato,
Until—that is, "Before that,"
break—rather, "breathe"; referring to
the refreshing breeze of dawn in the East; or to the air of
life, which distinguishes morning from the death-like stillness
of night. Maurer takes this verse of the
approach of night, when the breeze arises after the heat of day
3:8, Margin, with
Ge 18:1), and the "shadows" are lost in
102:11); thus our life will
be the day; death, the night (Joh 9:4). The English Version better
accords with (So 3:1). "By
night" (Ro 13:12).
Bether—Mountains of Bithron, separated
from the rest of Israel by the Jordan (2Sa 2:29), not far from Bethabara, where John
baptized and Jesus was first manifested. Rather, as Margin, "of
divisions," and Septuagint, mountains intersected with deep
gaps, hard to pass over, separating the bride and Jesus Christ. In
So 8:14 the mountains are of
spices, on which the roe feeds, not of separation; for at
His first coming He had to overpass the gulf made by sin between Him
and us (Zec 4:6, 7);
in His second, He will only have to come down from the fragrant hill
above to take home His prepared bride. Historically, in the ministry of
John the Baptist, Christ's call to the bride was not, as later (So 4:8), "Come with me," but "Come
away," namely, to meet Me (So 2:2, 10, 13). Sitting in darkness (Mt 4:16), she "waited" and "looked" eagerly for
Him, the "great light" (Lu 1:79; 2:25, 38); at His rising, the shadows of the law
(Col 2:16, 17; Heb 10:1) were to "flee away." So we wait for the
second coming, when means of grace, so precious now, shall be
superseded by the Sun of righteousness (1Co 13:10, 12; Re 21:22,
23). The Word is our light
until then (2Pe 1:19).