1. Contrast with the bride's state by nature
1:6) her state by
grace (So 4:1-7),
"perfect through His comeliness put upon her" (Eze 16:14;
Joh 15:3). The praise of
Jesus Christ, unlike that of the world, hurts not, but edifies; as His,
not ours, is the glory (Joh 5:44; Re 4:10, 11). Seven features of beauty are specified
4:1-5) ("lips" and "speech"
are but one feature, So 4:3), the
number for perfection. To each of these is attached a comparison
from nature: the resemblances consist not so much in outward likeness,
as in the combined sensations of delight produced by contemplating
these natural objects.
doves'—the large melting eye of the
Syrian dove appears especially beautiful amid the foliage of its native
groves: so the bride's "eyes within her locks" (Lu 7:44). Maurer
for "locks," has "veil"; but locks suit the connection better: so the
Hebrew is translated (Isa 47:2). The dove was the only bird counted
"clean" for sacrifice. Once the heart was "the cage of every unclean
and hateful bird." Grace makes the change.
eyes—(Mt 6:22; Eph 1:18; contrast Mt 5:28; Eph 4:18; 1Jo
2:16). Chaste and guileless
("harmless," Mt 10:16,
Margin; Joh 1:47).
John the Baptist, historically, was the "turtledove" (So 2:12), with eye directed to the coming
Bridegroom: his Nazarite unshorn hair answers to "locks" (Joh 1:29, 36).
hair … goats—The hair of goats
in the East is fine like silk. As long hair is her glory, and marks her
subjection to man (1Co 11:6-15), so the Nazarite's hair marked his
subjection and separation unto God. (Compare Jud 16:17, with 2Co 6:17; Tit 2:14; 1Pe 2:9). Jesus Christ cares for the minutest
concerns of His saints (Mt 10:30).
appear from—literally, "that lie
down from"; lying along the hillside, they seem to hang from
it: a picture of the bride's hanging tresses.
Gilead—beyond Jordan: there stood "the
heap of witness" (Ge 31:48).
2. even shorn—the Hebrew is
translated (1Ki 6:25),
"of one size"; so the point of comparison to teeth is their
symmetry of form; as in "came up from the washing," the
spotless whiteness; and in "twins," the exact correspondence
of the upper and lower teeth: and in "none barren," none
wanting, none without its fellow. Faith is the tooth with which we
eat the living bread (Joh 6:35, 54). Contrast the teeth of sinners (Ps 57:4;
Pr 30:14); also their end
3:7; Mt 25:30). Faith leads
the flock to the washing (Zec 13:1; 1Co 6:11; Tit 3:5).
none … barren—(2Pe 1:8). He who is begotten of God begets
instrumentally other sons of God.
3. thread—like a delicate fillet. Not
thick and white as the leper's lips (type of sin), which were therefore
to be "covered," as "unclean" (Le 13:45).
scarlet—The blood of Jesus Christ
6:5-9) cleanses the leprosy,
and unseals the lips (Isa 57:19; Ho 14:2; Heb 13:15). Rahab's scarlet thread was a
type of it (Jos 2:18).
speech—not a separate feature from the
lips (Zep 3:9; Col 4:6). Contrast "uncircumcised lips" (Ex 6:12). Maurer and Burrowes
translate, "thy mouth."
temples—rather, the upper part of
the cheek next the temples: the seat of shamefacedness; so, "within
thy locks," no display (1Co 11:5, 6, 15). Mark of true penitence (Ezr 9:6; Eze
16:63). Contrast Jer 3:3; Eze
pomegranate—When cut, it displays in
rows seeds pellucid, like crystal, tinged with red. Her modesty is not
on the surface, but within, which Jesus Christ can see into.
4. neck—stately: in beautiful contrast
to the blushing temples (So 4:3); not
"stiff" (Isa 48:4; Ac 7:51), as that of unbroken nature; nor
"stretched forth" wantonly (Isa 3:16);
nor burdened with the legal yoke (La 1:14; Ac 15:10); but erect in gospel freedom (Isa 52:2).
tower of David—probably on Zion. He
was a man of war, preparatory to the reign of Solomon, the king of
peace. So warfare in the case of Jesus Christ and His saints precedes
the coming rest. Each soul won from Satan by Him is a trophy gracing
the bride (Lu 11:22);
(each hangs on Him, Isa 22:23, 24); also each victory of her faith. As
shields adorn a temple's walls (Eze 27:11), so necklaces hang on the bride's neck
(Jud 5:30; 1Ki 10:16).
5. breasts—The bust is left open in
Eastern dress. The breastplate of the high priest was made of "two"
pieces, folded one on the other, in which were the Urim and Thummim
(lights and perfection). "Faith and love" are the double
breastplate (1Th 5:8),
answering to "hearing the word" and "keeping it," in a similar
connection with breasts (Lu 12:27, 28).
roes—He reciprocates her praise (So 2:9). Emblem of love and
satisfaction (Pr 5:19).
among the lilies—shrinking from thorns
of strife, worldliness, and ungodliness (2Sa 23:6; Mt 13:7). Roes feed among, not on
the lilies: where these grow, there is moisture producing green
pasturage. The lilies represent her white dress (Ps 45:14; Re
6. Historically, the hill of
frankincense is Calvary, where, "through the eternal Spirit He
offered Himself"; the mountain of myrrh is His embalmment (Joh 19:39) till the resurrection "daybreak." The
third Canticle occupies the one cloudless day of His presence on earth,
beginning from the night (So 2:17) and
ending with the night of His departure (So 4:6). His promise is almost exactly in the
words of her prayer (So 2:17),
(the same Holy Ghost breathing in Jesus Christ and His praying people),
with the difference that she then looked for His visible coming. He now
tells her that when He shall have gone from sight, He still is to be
met with spiritually in prayer (Ps 68:16; Mt 28:20), until the everlasting day break, when
we shall see face to face (1Co 13:10, 12).
7. Assurance that He is going from her in
love, not in displeasure (Joh 16:6, 7).
all fair—still stronger than So 1:15; So
no spot—our privilege (Eph 5:27; Col
2:10); our duty (2Co
6:17; Jude 23; Jas 1:27).
8. Invitation to her to leave the border
mountains (the highest worldly elevation) between the hostile lands
north of Palestine and the Promised Land (Ps 45:10; Php
Amana—south of Anti-Libanus; the river
Abana, or Amana, was near Damascus (2Ki 5:12).
Shenir—The whole mountain was called
Hermon; the part held by the Sidonians was called Sirion;
the part held by the Amorites, Shenir (De 3:9). Infested by the devouring lion and the
stealthy and swift leopard (Ps 76:4; Eph 6:11; 1Pe 5:8). Contrasted with the mountain of myrrh,
&c. (So 4:6; Isa 2:2); the good land (Isa 35:9).
with me—twice repeated emphatically.
The presence of Jesus Christ makes up for the absence of all besides
(Lu 18:29, 30; 2Co 6:10). Moses was permitted to see Canaan from
Pisgah; Peter, James, and John had a foretaste of glory on the mount of
9. sister … spouse—This title is
here first used, as He is soon about to institute the Supper, the
pledge of the nuptial union. By the term "sister," carnal ideas are
excluded; the ardor of a spouse's love is combined with the purity of a
sister's (Isa 54:5;
one—Even one look is enough to
secure His love (Zec 12:10; Lu 23:40-43). Not merely the Church collectively,
but each one member of it (Mt 18:10, 14; Lu 15:7,
chain—necklace (Isa 62:3; Mal
3:17), answering to the
"shields" hanging in the tower of David (So 4:4). Compare the "ornament" (1Pe 3:4); "chains" (Pr 1:9; 3:22).
10. love—Hebrew, "loves";
manifold tokens of thy love.
much better—answering to her "better"
(So 1:2), but with increased force.
An Amoebean pastoral character pervades the Song, like the classic
Amoebean idylls and eclogues.
wine—The love of His saints is a more
reviving cordial to Him than wine; for example, at the feast in Simon's
house (Lu 7:36, 47; Joh 4:32; compare Zec 10:7).
smell of … ointments than all
spices—answering to her praise (So 1:3) with increased force. Fragrant, as
being fruits of His Spirit in us (Ga 5:22).
11. drop—always ready to fall, being
full of honey, though not always (Pr 10:19) actually dropping (So
5:13; De 32:2; Mt 12:34).
honeycomb—(Pr 5:3; 16:24).
under thy tongue—not always on,
but under, the tongue, ready to fall (Ps 55:21). Contrast her former state (Ps 140:3;
Ro 3:13). "Honey and milk"
were the glory of the good land. The change is illustrated in the
penitent thief. Contrast Mt 27:44 with Lu 23:39, &c. It was literally with "one"
eye, a sidelong glance of love "better than wine," that he refreshed
Jesus Christ (So 4:9, 10). "To-day shalt thou be with Me
4:8) in Paradise" (So 4:12), is the only joyous sentence of
His seven utterances on the cross.
smell of … garments—which are
often perfumed in the East (Ps 45:8). The
perfume comes from Him on us (Ps 133:2). We draw nigh to God in the perfumed
garment of our elder brother (Ge 27:27; see Jude 23).
Lebanon—abounding in odoriferous trees
12. The Hebrew has no "is." Here she is
distinct from the garden (So 5:1), yet
identified with it (So 4:16) as
being one with Him in His sufferings. Historically the Paradise, into
which the soul of Jesus Christ entered at death; and the tomb of
Joseph, in which His body was laid amid "myrrh," &c. (So 4:6), situated in a nicely kept
garden (compare "gardener," Joh 20:15);
"sealed" with a stone (Mt 27:66);
in which it resembles "wells" in the East (Ge 29:3, 8). It was in a garden of light Adam fell;
in a garden of darkness, Gethsemane, and chiefly that of the tomb, the
second Adam retrieved us. Spiritually the garden is the gospel kingdom
of heaven. Here all is ripe; previously (So 2:13) it was "the tender grape." The
garden is His, though He calls the plants hers (So 4:13) by His gift (Isa 61:3, end).
spring … fountain—Jesus Christ
4:10) sealed, while He was in
the sealed tomb: it poured forth its full tide on Pentecost (Joh
7:37-39). Still He is a
sealed fountain until the Holy Ghost opens it to one (1Co 12:3). The Church also is "a garden enclosed"
4:3; Isa 5:1, &c.).
Contrast Ps 80:9-12. So "a spring" (Isa 27:3;
58:11); "sealed" (Eph
4:30; 2Ti 2:19). As wives in
the East are secluded from public gaze, so believers (Ps 83:3; Col
3:3). Contrast the open
streams which "pass away" (Job 6:15-18; 2Pe 2:17).
13. orchard—Hebrew, "a paradise,"
that is, a pleasure-ground and orchard. Not only flowers, but fruit
trees (Joh 15:8; Php 1:11).
camphire—not camphor (So 1:14), hennah, or cypress blooms.
14. calamus—"sweet cane" (Ex 30:23; Jer
myrrh and aloes—Ointments are
associated with His death, as well as with feasts (Joh 12:7). The bride's ministry of "myrrh and
aloes" is recorded (Joh 19:39).
15. of—This pleasure-ground is not
dependent on mere reservoirs; it has a fountain sufficient to
water many "gardens" (plural).
living—(Jer 17:8; Joh 4:13,
14; 7:38, 39).
from Lebanon—Though the fountain is
lowly, the source is lofty; fed by the perpetual snows of Lebanon,
refreshingly cool (Jer 18:14),
fertilizing the gardens of Damascus. It springs upon earth; its source
is heaven. It is now not "sealed," but open "streams" (Re 22:17).
16. Awake—literally, "arise." All
besides is ready; one thing alone is wanted—the breath of God.
This follows rightly after His death (So 6:12; Ac 2:1-4). It is His call to the Spirit to come
14:16); in Joh 3:8, compared to "the wind"; quickening
(Joh 6:63; Eze 27:9). Saints offer the same prayer (Ps 85:6;
Hab 3:2). The north wind
"awakes," or arises strongly, namely, the Holy Ghost as a
reprover (Joh 16:8-11); the south wind "comes" gently,
namely, the Holy Ghost as the comforter (Joh 14:16). The west wind brings rain from the sea
(1Ki 18:44, 45; Lu 12:54). The east wind is tempestuous (Job
27:21; Isa 27:8) and
withering (Ge 41:23).
These, therefore, are not wanted; but first the north wind clearing the
air (Job 37:22; Pr 25:23), and then the warm south wind (Job 37:17); so the Holy Ghost first clearing
away mists of gloom, error, unbelief, sin, which intercept the light of
Jesus Christ, then infusing spiritual warmth (2Co 4:6), causing the graces to exhale their
Let my beloved, &c.—the bride's
reply. The fruit was now at length ripe; the last passover, which
He had so desired, is come (Lu 22:7, 15, 16, 18), the only occasion in which He took
charge of the preparations.
his—answering to Jesus Christ's "My."
She owns that the garden is His, and the fruits in her, which she does
not in false humility deny (Ps 66:16; Ac 21:19; 1Co 15:10) are His (Joh 15:8; Php