World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
Where has your beloved gone,
O fairest among women?
Which way has your beloved turned,
that we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone down to his garden,
to the beds of spices,
to pasture his flock in the gardens,
and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he pastures his flock among the lilies.
The Bride’s Matchless Beauty
You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
comely as Jerusalem,
terrible as an army with banners.
Turn away your eyes from me,
for they overwhelm me!
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of ewes,
that have come up from the washing;
all of them bear twins,
and not one among them is bereaved.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
and maidens without number.
My dove, my perfect one, is the only one,
the darling of her mother,
flawless to her that bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her happy;
the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.
“Who is this that looks forth like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
terrible as an army with banners?”
I went down to the nut orchard,
to look at the blossoms of the valley,
to see whether the vines had budded,
whether the pomegranates were in bloom.
Before I was aware, my fancy set me
in a chariot beside my prince.
Return, return, O Shulammite!
Return, return, that we may look upon you.
Why should you look upon the Shulammite,
as upon a dance before two armies?
1. Historically, at Jesus Christ's crucifixion and burial, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and others, joined with His professed disciples. By speaking of Jesus Christ, the bride does good not only to her own soul, but to others (see on So 1:4; Mal 3:16; Mt 5:14-16). Compare the hypocritical use of similar words (Mt 2:8).
2. gone down—Jerusalem was on a hill (answering to its moral elevation), and the gardens were at a little distance in the valleys below.
beds of spices—(balsam) which He Himself calls the "mountain of myrrh," &c. (So 4:6), and again (So 8:14), the resting-place of His body amidst spices, and of His soul in paradise, and now in heaven, where He stands as High Priest for ever. Nowhere else in the Song is there mention of mountains of spices.
feed in … gardens—that is, in the churches, though He may have withdrawn for a time from the individual believer: she implies an invitation to the daughters of Jerusalem to enter His spiritual Church, and become lilies, made white by His blood. He is gathering some lilies now to plant on earth, others to transplant into heaven (So 5:1; Ge 5:24; Mr 4:28, 29; Ac 7:60).
3. In speaking of Jesus Christ to others, she regains her own assurance. Literally, "I am for my beloved … for me." Reverse order from So 2:16. She now, after the season of darkness, grounds her convictions on His love towards her, more than on hers towards Him (De 33:3). There, it was the young believer concluding that she was His, from the sensible assurance that He was hers.
4. Tirzah—meaning "pleasant" (Heb 13:21); "well-pleasing" (Mt 5:14); the royal city of one of the old Canaanite kings (Jos 12:24); and after the revolt of Israel, the royal city of its kings, before Omri founded Samaria (1Ki 16:8, 15). No ground for assigning a later date than the time of Solomon to the Song, as Tirzah was even in his time the capital of the north (Israel), as Jerusalem was of the south (Judah).
Jerusalem—residence of the kings of Judah, as Tirzah, of Israel (Ps 48:1, &c.; 122:1-3; 125:1, 2). Loveliness, security, unity, and loyalty; also the union of Israel and Judah in the Church (Isa 11:13; Jer 3:18; Eze 37:16, 17, 22; compare Heb 12:22; Re 21:2, 12).
terrible—awe-inspiring. Not only armed as a city on the defensive, but as an army on the offensive.
5. (So 4:9; Ge 32:28; Ex 32:9-14; Ho 12:4). This is the way "the army" (So 6:4) "overcomes" not only enemies, but Jesus Christ Himself, with eyes fixed on Him (Ps 25:15; Mt 11:12). Historically, So 6:3-5, represent the restoration of Jesus Christ to His Church at the resurrection; His sending her forth as an army, with new powers (Mr 16:15-18, 20); His rehearsing the same instructions (see on So 6:6) as when with them (Lu 24:44).
overcome—literally, "have taken me by storm."
8. threescore—indefinite number, as in So 3:7. Not queens, &c., of Solomon, but witnesses of the espousals, rulers of the earth contrasted with the saints, who, though many, are but "one" bride (Isa 52:15; Lu 22:25, 26; Joh 17:21; 1Co 10:17). The one Bride is contrasted with the many wives whom Eastern kings had in violation of the marriage law (1Ki 11:1-3).
9. Hollow professors, like half wives, have no part in the one bride.
10. The words expressing the admiration of the daughters. Historically (Ac 5:24-39).
as the morning—As yet she is not come to the fulness of her light (Pr 4:18).
moon—shining in the night, by light borrowed from the sun; so the bride, in the darkness of this world, reflects the light of the Sun of righteousness (2Co 3:18).
sun—Her light of justification is perfect, for it is His (2Co 5:21; 1Jo 4:17). The moon has less light, and has only one half illuminated; so the bride's sanctification is as yet imperfect. Her future glory (Mt 13:43).
army—(So 6:4). The climax requires this to be applied to the starry and angelic hosts, from which God is called Lord of Sabaoth. Her final glory (Ge 15:5; Da 12:3; Re 12:1). The Church Patriarchal, "the morning"; Levitical, "the moon"; Evangelical, "the sun"; Triumphant, "the bannered army" (Re 19:14).
11. The bride's words; for she everywhere is the narrator, and often soliloquizes, which He never does. The first garden (So 2:11-13) was that of spring, full of flowers and grapes not yet ripe; the second, autumn, with spices (which are always connected with the person of Jesus Christ), and nothing unripe (So 4:13, &c.). The third here, of "nuts," from the previous autumn; the end of winter, and verge of spring; the Church in the upper room (Ac 1:13, &c.), when one dispensation was just closed, the other not yet begun; the hard shell of the old needing to be broken, and its inner sweet kernel extracted [Origen] (Lu 24:27, 32); waiting for the Holy Ghost to usher in spiritual spring. The walnut is meant, with a bitter outer husk, a hard shell, and sweet kernel. So the Word is distasteful to the careless; when awakened, the sinner finds the letter hard, until the Holy Ghost reveals the sweet inner spirit.
fruits of the Valley—Maurer translates, "the blooming products of the river," that is, the plants growing on the margin of the river flowing through the garden. She goes to watch the first sproutings of the various plants.
Ammi-nadib—supposed to me one proverbial for swift driving. Similarly (So 1:9). Rather, "my willing people" (Ps 110:3). A willing chariot bore a "willing people"; or Nadib is the Prince, Jesus Christ (Ps 68:17). She is borne in a moment into His presence (Eph 2:6).
Shulamite—new name applied to her now for the first time. Feminine of Solomon, Prince of Peace; His bride, daughter of peace, accepting and proclaiming it (Isa 52:7; Joh 14:27; Ro 5:1; Eph 2:17). Historically, this name answers to the time when, not without a divine design in it, the young Church met in Solomon's porch (Ac 3:11; 5:12). The entreaty, "Return, O Shulamite," answers to the people's desire to keep Peter and John, after the lame man was healed, when they were about to enter the temple. Their reply attributing the glory not to themselves, but to Jesus Christ, answers to the bride's reply here, "What will ye see" in me? "As it were," &c. She accepts the name Shulamite, as truly describing her. But adds, that though "one" (So 6:9), she is nevertheless "two." Her glories are her Lord's, beaming through her (Eph 5:31, 32). The two armies are the family of Jesus Christ in heaven, and that on earth, joined and one with Him; the one militant, the other triumphant. Or Jesus Christ and His ministering angels are one army, the Church the other, both being one (Joh 17:21, 22). Allusion is made to Mahanaim (meaning two hosts), the scene of Jacob's victorious conflict by prayer (Ge 32:2, 9, 22-30). Though she is peace, yet she has warfare here, between flesh and spirit within and foes without; her strength, as Jacob's at Mahanaim, is Jesus Christ and His host enlisted on her side by prayer; whence she obtains those graces which raise the admiration of the daughters of Jerusalem.