1. By night—literally, "By nights."
Continuation of the longing for the dawn of the Messiah (So
2:17; Ps 130:6; Mal 4:2). The
spiritual desertion here (So 2:17; 3:5) is not due to indifference, as in So 5:2-8. "As nights and dews are better
for flowers than a continual sun, so Christ's absence (at times) giveth
sap to humility, and putteth an edge on hunger, and furnisheth a fair
field to faith to put forth itself" [Rutherford]. Contrast So 1:13; Ps 30:6, 7.
on … bed—the secret of her
failure (Isa 64:7; Jer 29:13; Am 6:1, 4; Ho 7:14).
loveth—no want of sincerity, but of
diligence, which she now makes up for by leaving her bed to seek Him
(Ps 22:2; 63:8; Isa 26:9; Joh 20:17). Four times (So 3:1-4) she calls Jesus Christ, "Him whom my
soul loveth," designating Him as absent; language of desire: "He
loved me," would be language of present fruition (Re 1:5). In questioning the watchmen (So 3:3), she does not even name Him, so full is
her heart of Him. Having found Him at dawn (for throughout He is
the morning), she charges the daughters not to abridge by
intrusion the period of His stay. Compare as to the thoughtful seeking
for Jesus Christ in the time of John the Baptist, in vain at first, but
presently after successful (Lu 3:15-22; Joh 1:19-34).
found him not—Oh, for such honest
dealings with ourselves (Pr 25:14; Jude 12)!
2. Wholly awake for God (Lu
14:18-20; Eph 5:14). "An
honest resolution is often to (the doing of) duty, like a needle that
draws the thread after it" [Durham]. Not
a mere wish, that counts not the cost—to leave her easy bed, and
wander in the dark night seeking Him (Pr 13:4; Mt 21:30; Lu
the city—Jerusalem, literally (Mt 3:5;
Joh 1:19), and spiritually
the Church here (Heb 12:22),
in glory (Re
broad ways—open spaces at the gates of
Eastern cities, where the public assembled for business. So, the
assemblies of worshippers (So 8:2, 3; Pr 1:20-23; Heb
10:25). She had in her first
awakening shrunk from them, seeking Jesus Christ alone; but she was
desired to seek the footsteps of the flock (So 1:8), so now in her second trial she goes
forth to them of herself. "The more the soul grows in grace, and the
less it leans on ordinances, the more it prizes and profits by them"
[Moody Stuart] (Ps 73:16, 17).
found him not—Nothing short of Jesus
Christ can satisfy her (Job 23:8-10; Ps 63:1, 2).
3. watchmen—ministers (Isa 62:6; Jer 6:17; Eze 3:17; Heb 13:17), fit persons to consult (Isa 21:11; Mal
found me—the general ministry of the
Word "finds" individually souls in quest of Jesus Christ (Ge 24:27, end of verse Ac 16:14); whereas formalists remain
4. Jesus Christ is generally "found" near the
watchmen and means of grace; but they are not Himself; the star that
points to Beth-lehem is not the Sun that has risen there; she hastens
past the guideposts to the goal [Moody
Stuart]. Not even angels could satisfy Mary, instead of Jesus
Christ (Joh 20:11-16).
found him—(Isa 45:19; Ho 6:1-3; Mt 13:44-46).
held him, &c.—willing to be held;
not willing, if not held (Ge 32:26; Mt 28:9; Lu
24:28, 29; Re 3:11). "As a
little weeping child will hold its mother fast, not because it is
stronger than she, but because her bowels constrain her not to leave
it; so Jesus Christ yearning over the believer cannot go,
because He will not" [Durham]. In
So 1:4 it is He who leads the bride into
His chambers; here it is she who leads Him into her mother's. There are
times when the grace of Jesus Christ seems to draw us to Him; and
others, when we with strong cries draw Him to us and ours. In the East
one large apartment often serves for the whole family; so the bride
here speaks of her mother's apartment and her own together. The mention
of the "mother" excludes impropriety, and imparts the idea of heavenly
love, pure as a sister's, while ardent as a bride's; hence the frequent
title, "my sister—spouse." Our mother after the Spirit, is the
Church, the new Jerusalem (Joh 3:5-8; Ga 4:19, 26); for her we ought to pray
continually (Eph 3:14-19), also for the national Jerusalem
(Isa 62:6, 7; Ro 10:1), also for the human family,
which is our mother and kindred after the flesh; these our mother's
children have evilly treated us (So 1:6); but, like our Father, we are to return
good for evil (Mt 5:44, 45), and so bring Jesus Christ home to them
5. So So 2:7; but there it was for the
non-interruption of her own fellowship with Jesus Christ that she was
anxious; here it is for the not grieving of the Holy Ghost, on
the part of the daughters of Jerusalem. Jealously avoid levity,
heedlessness, and offenses which would mar the gracious work begun in
others (Mt 18:7; Ac 2:42, 43; Eph 4:30).
Bridegroom with the Bride.
Historically, the ministry of Jesus Christ on
6. New scene (So 3:6-11). The friends of the Bridegroom see a
cortege approach. His palanquin and guard.
cometh out—rather, "up from"; the
wilderness was lower than Jerusalem [Maurer].
pillars of smoke—from the perfumes
burned around Him and His bride. Image from Israel and the tabernacle
(answering to "bed," So 3:7)
marching through the desert with the pillar of smoke by day and fire by
14:20), and the pillars of
smoke ascending from the altars of incense and of atonement; so Jesus
Christ's righteousness, atonement, and ever-living intercession.
Balaam, the last representative of patriarchism, was required to curse
the Jewish Church, just as it afterwards would not succumb to
Christianity without a struggle (Nu 22:41), but he had to bless in language like
that here (Nu 24:5, 6). Angels too joyfully ask the same
question, when Jesus Christ with the tabernacle of His body (answering
to "His bed," So 3:7; Joh 1:14, "dwelt," Greek "tabernacled,"
2:21) ascends into heaven
24:8-10); also when they see
His glorious bride with Him (Ps 68:18; Re 7:13-17). Encouragement to her; amid the darkest
3:1), she is still on the
road to glory (So 3:11) in a
palanquin "paved with love" (So 3:10); she
is now in soul spiritually "coming," exhaling the sweet graces, faith,
love, joy, peace, prayer, and praise; (the fire is lighted
within, the "smoke" is seen without, Ac 4:13); it is in the desert of trial
3:1-3) she gets them; she is
the "merchant" buying from Jesus Christ without money or price (Isa 55:1;
Re 3:18); just as myrrh and
frankincense are got, not in Egypt, but in the Arabian sands and the
mountains of Palestine. Hereafter she shall "come" (So 3:6, 11) in a glorified body, too (Php 3:21). Historically, Jesus Christ returning
from the wilderness, full of the Holy Ghost (Lu 4:1, 14). The same, "Who is this," &c.
7. In So 3:6 the wilderness character of the
Church is portrayed; in So 3:7, 8,
its militant aspect. In So 3:9, 10, Jesus Christ is seen dwelling in
believers, who are His "chariot" and "body." In So 3:11, the consummation in glory.
bed—palanquin. His body, literally,
guarded by a definite number of angels, threescore, or sixty
26:53), from the wilderness
11), and continually (Lu 2:13; 22:43; Ac 1:10, 11); just as six hundred thousand of Israel
guarded the Lord's tabernacle (Nu 2:17-32), one for every ten thousand. In
contrast to the "bed of sloth" (So 3:1).
valiant—(Jos 5:13, 14). Angels guarding His tomb
used like words (Mr 16:6).
of Israel—true subjects, not
8. hold—not actually grasping them, but
having them girt on the thigh ready for use, like their Lord (Ps 45:3). So believers too are guarded by
angels (Ps 91:11; Heb 1:14), and they themselves need "every man"
4:18) to be armed (Ps 144:1, 2; 2Co 10:4; Eph 6:12, 17; 1Ti 6:12), and "expert" (2Co 2:11).
because of fear in the night—Arab
marauders often turn a wedding into mourning by a night attack. So the
bridal procession of saints in the night of this wilderness is the
chief object of Satan's assault.
9. chariot—more elaborately made than
the "bed" or travelling litter (So 3:7), from a Hebrew root, "to
elaborate" [Ewald]. So the temple of
"cedar of Lebanon," as compared with the temporary tabernacle of
shittim wood (2Sa 7:2, 6, 7; 1Ki 5:14; 6:15-18), Jesus Christ's body is the antitype,
"made" by the Father for Him (1Co 1:30; Heb 10:5), the wood answering to His human
nature, the gold, His divine; the two being but one Christ.
10. pillars—supporting the canopy at the
four corners; curtains at the side protect the person within from the
sun. Pillars with silver sockets supported the veil that enclosed the
holy of holies; emblem of Jesus Christ's strength (1Ki 7:21), Margin, "silver," emblem of His
purity (Ps 12:6); so
the saints hereafter (Re 3:12).
bottom—rather, "the back for resting
or reclining on" (Vulgate and Septuagint) [Maurer]. So the floor and mercy seat, the
resting-place of God (Ps 132:14)
in the temple, was gold (1Ki 6:30).
covering—rather, "seat," as in Le 15:9. Hereafter the saints shall share
His seat (Re 3:21).
purple—the veil of the holiest, partly
purple, and the purple robe put on Jesus Christ, accord with
English Version, "covering." "Purple" (including scarlet
and crimson) is the emblem of royalty, and of His blood;
typified by the passover lamb's blood, and the wine when the twelve
sat or reclined at the Lord's table.
paved—translated, like mosaic
pavement, with the various acts and promises of love of Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost (Zep 3:17; 1Jo 4:8, 16), in contrast with the tables of stone
in the "midst" of the ark, covered with writings of stern command
(compare Joh 19:13);
this is all grace and love to believers, who answer to "the
daughters of Jerusalem" (Joh 1:17).
The exterior silver and gold, cedar, purple, and guards, may deter, but
when the bride enters within, she rests on a pavement of
11. Go forth—(Mt 25:6).
daughters of Zion—spirits of saints,
and angels (Isa 61:10; Zec 9:9).
crown—nuptial (Eze 16:8-12), (the Hebrews wore costly crowns
or chaplets at weddings), and kingly (Ps 2:6; Re 19:12). The crown of thorns was once His
nuptial chaplet, His blood the wedding wine cup (Joh 19:5). "His mother," that so crowned Him, is
the human race, for He is "the Son of man," not merely
the son of Mary. The same mother reconciled to Him (Mt 12:50), as the Church, travails in birth for
souls, which she presents to Him as a crown (Php 4:1; Re
4:10). Not being ashamed to
call the children brethren (Heb 2:11-14), He calls their mother
His mother (Ps 22:9; Ro 8:29; Re 12:1, 2).
day of his espousals—chiefly the final
marriage, when the number of the elect is complete (Re 6:11).
45:15; Isa 62:5; Re 19:7).
Moody Stuart observes as to this
Canticle (So 3:6-5:1), the center of the Book, these
characteristics: (1) The bridegroom takes the chief part, whereas
elsewhere the bride is the chief speaker. (2) Elsewhere He is either
"King" or "Solomon"; here He is twice called "King Solomon." The bride
is six times here called the "spouse"; never so before or after; also
"sister" four times, and, except in the first verse of the next
5:2], nowhere else. (3) He
and she are never separate; no absence, no complaint, which abound
elsewhere, are in this Canticle.