Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII

That this book was of Divine inspiration is so clear, that as the Jewish writers note, none ever questioned it, although some doubted of some other of Solomon's writings. And the same arguments which prove the divinity of other books, are found here, such as the quality of the pen - man, who was confessedly a man inspired by God; the excellency and fullness of the matter; the sacred and sublime majesty of the style; and the singular efficacy of it upon the hearts of sober and serious persons. The form of this book is dramatical, wherein several parts are uttered in the name of several persons, who are chiefly, the bridegroom and the bride, and the friends or companions of, the one, and of the other. And is it declared what and when each of them speak, but that is left to the observation of the prudent reader. The design of the book in general is to describe the love and happy marriage of two persons, but it is not to be understood concerning Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter, (although the occasion may be taken from that, or rather he makes an allusion to that) but concerning God, or Christ, and his church and people. This is sufficiently evident from the descriptions of this bridegroom and bride, which are such as could not with any decency be used or meant concerning Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter. There are many expressions and descriptions, which being applied to them, are absurd and monstrous. Hence it follows, that this book is to be understood allegorically concerning that spiritutal love and marriage which is between Christ, and his church. And this will be more than probable to any man who shall consider the following particulars;

  1. That the scriptures both of the Old and New Testament are full of allegorical passages; which being known and confessed, it is needless to prove:
  2. That the doctrine of Christ, being the head, and husband, of God's church or people, was well known, at least to the prophets, and the wise and pious Israelites in the time of the Old Testament:
  3. That God compares himself to a bridegroom, and his church to a bride, Isa 62:5, and calls, and owns himself the husband of his people, Isa 54:5 Hos 2:16,19,20. In which places, by comparing these with many other texts of scripture, by God, or the Lord, is meant Christ, the second person in the Godhead, who then was to come down, and since did come from heaven to earth, for the consummation of that eternal design of marriage between God and his people:
  4. That the forty - fifth Psalm, which is a kind of abridgment of this book, although it alludes to the marriage between Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter, was written concerning the Messiah, as all interpreters, both Christian and Jewish agree. From these considerations, and many others which might be suggested, it is sufficiently manifest, that the scope of this book is to describe the mutual love, union and communion which is between Christ and his church, in the various conditions to which it is liable in this world.

Chapter I

After the title, the church, the bride, speaks to Christ, the bridegroom, ver. 1 - 4. To the daughters of Jerusalem, and to Christ again, ver. 5 - 7. Christ answers her complaints and requests, ver. 8 - 11. The church expresses her value for Christ, and her delight in him, ver. 12 - 14. Christ commends the church, ver. 15. And the church, Christ, ver. 16, 17.

1 The song - The most excellent of all songs. And so this might well be called, whether you consider the author of it, who was a great prince, and the wisest of all mortal men; or the subject of it, which is not Solomon, but a greater than Solomon, even Christ, and his marriage with the church; or the matter of it, which is most lofty, containing in it the noblest of all the mysteries contained either in the Old or the New Testament; most pious and pathetical, breathing forth the hottest flames of love between Christ and his people, most sweet and comfortable, and useful to all that read it with serious and Christian eyes.
2 Let him - The beginning is abrupt; but is suitable to, and usual in writing of this nature, wherein things are not related in an historical and exquisite order, but that which was first done is brought in, as it were accidentally, after many other passages: as we see in Homer, and Virgil, and others. These are the words of the spouse, wherein she breathes forth her passionate love to the bridegroom, whom she does not name; because it was needless, as being so well known to the persons, to whom she speaks, and being the only person who was continually in her thoughts. By kisses, the usual tokens of love and good - will, she means the communications of his love and favour, his graces and comforts breathed into her from the Spirit of Christ. Thy love - This sudden change of the person is frequent, in pathetic discourses. First she speaks of him as absent, but speedily grows into more acquaintance with him, and by ardent desire and faith, embraces him as present. Wine - Than the most delicious meat or drink, or than all sensible delights, one kind being put for all.
3 Ointments - Because of those excellent gifts and graces of God's Spirit wherewith thou art replenished. Thy name - Thy report, the very mention of thee, and all those things by which thou makest thyself known to men, thy word, particularly thine offers of pardon and salvation to sinners; and all thy works, especially that great work of redemption is most acceptable, and refreshing. The virgins - called the companions of the bride, Psal 45:14, particular believers, who are called virgins, 2Cor 11:2 Rev 14:4, who have their senses exercised to perceive this sweetness and fulness of Christ.
4 Draw me - By thy grace and holy spirit. We - Both I, thy spouse, and the virgins, my companions. And this change of numbers teaches us that the spouse is one great body, consisting of many members. Run - Will follow thee readily, chearfully, and swiftly. The king - Christ, the king of his church, hath answered my prayer. Chambers - Where I may freely converse with him, and enjoy him. He hath taken me into intimate communion with himself. Remember - This shall be the matter of our thoughts and discourses.
5 Black - I confess, as to myself, I am contemptible and deformed. She alludes to the complexion of Pharaoh's daughter. Comely - Yet I am glorious within, and comely through the beauty which my husband hath put upon me, by his graces conferred upon me, in justification and sanctification. Daughters - By which she understands particular believers, whose mother, Jerusalem is called, Gal 4:26. The tents - Of the wild Arabians, the posterity of Kedar, Gen 25:13, who dwelt in tents, and were black and uncomely. The curtains - As the hangings wherewith Solomon's house was furnished, which none can doubt were most beautiful and glorious. So these two last clauses answer to the two first, and that in the same order in which they lie.
6 Look not - With wonder and disdain. Mother's children - False brethren, who pretend that the church is their mother, when their actions demonstrate, that God, the husband of the church, is not their father; hypocritial professors, who are, and ever were, the keenest enemies; false teachers, and their followers, who by their corrupt doctrines, and divisions, and contentions, bring great mischief to the church. Made me - Having prevailed against me, they used me like a slave, putting me upon the most troublesome services, such as the keeping of the vineyards was esteemed, 2Kings 25:12 Isa 61:5 Matt 20:1 - 7. Not kept - They gave me such a full employment in the drudging work about their vineyards, that they left me no time to mind my own; they hindered me from doing my own duty, and from minding my own concerns. And therefore it is no wonder if I be uncomely and scorched by the sun.
7 Tell me - Notwithstanding all these discouragements and afflictions which I suffer for thy sake, and for my love to thee. Being reproached and persecuted by others, I flee to thee, O my only refuge and joy. Feedest - Thy flock, discover to me which is thy true church, and which are those assemblies and people where thou art present. This is the request of particular believers. At noon - In the heat of the day, when the shepherds in those hot countries used to lead their flocks into shady places. Whereby he means the time of persecution, when it is hard to discover the true church, because she is deformed by it, and because she is obscured and driven into the wilderness. That turneth - Or, a wanderer, or vagabond; like a neglected and forlorn creature exposed both to censure and danger. The flocks - The assemblies of corrupt teachers and worshippers. These he calls Christ's companions because they profess the name of Christ, and their conjunction with him in God's worship.
8 If - This is Christ's answer. Go - Observe and follow the paths which my sheep have trodden before thee, my faithful servants, Abraham, and others. For the church in all ages is one and the same, and there is but one way for the substance, in which all the saints from the beginning of the world walk, Christ being the same yesterday, and to day, and forever. Feed - Take care for the feeding of all, and especially young and weak Christians. Beside - Under the conduct, and according to the instruction of my faithful shepherds, chiefly those who have gone before thee, the prophets and apostles, and in subordination to them, and to their writings, and to others whom I shall raise from time to time to feed my people.
9 Compared thee - For strength and courage, to overcome all thine enemies. For horses are famous for that property, and the strength of the battle was then thought to consist much in horses, and chariots, especially in a company or multitude of them. And the church in this book is represented not only as fair and beautiful, but also as terrible to her enemies.
10 Jewels - Which being fastened to the heads of brides, used to hang down upon their cheeks, in those times. He mentions the cheeks, as the chief seat of beauty. Chains - Whereby, as well as by the rows of jewels: he may seem to design all those persons and things wherewith the church is made beautiful in the eyes of God, and of men, such as excellent ministers, and saints, righteous laws, holy ordinances, and the gifts and graces of God's spirit.
11 We - I and my father. Will make - Beautiful and honourable ornaments.
12 The king - My royal husband. Sitteth - With me in his ordinances. Spikenard - The graces of his spirit conferred upon me, here compared to those sweet ointments, which the master of the feast caused to be poured out upon the heads of the guests, Luke 7:38, in which ointments, spikenard was a chief ingredient. Sendeth - This denotes the exercise and manifestation of her graces, which is a sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of her husband, and of her companies.
13 Myrrh - Myrrh, was ever reckoned among the best perfumes. Shall lie - This phrase may denote the churches intimate union with, and hearty affection to Christ.
14 Camphire - We are not concerned to know exactly what this was; it being confessed, that it was some grateful plant, and that it sets forth that great delight which the church hath in the enjoyment of Christ. Engedi - A pleasant and well - watered place in the tribe of Judah, where there were many pleasant plants.
15 Behold - This is the speech of Christ. The words are doubled to manifest his fervent affection for her. Doves eyes - Which are mild and harmless, chaste and faithful. And by the eyes he seems to design both her outward behaviour, and the inward disposition of her mind.
16 Behold - The church here again speaks, and retorts Christ's words; thou, and thou only art fair indeed. Pleasant - As thou art beautiful in thyself, so thou art amiable and pleasant in thy condescention to me. Bed - This seems to denote the place where the church enjoys sweet fellowship with Christ, by his spirit accompanying his ordinances. Green - Is pleasant, as that colour to the eye.
17 Cedar - Not only strong, but also fragrant and delightful. Cypress - Which also was strong and fragrant, and therefore suits well with cedar.

Chapter II

Christ speaks of himself and his church, ver. 1, 2. The church declares the delightful fellowship she had with Christ, ver. 3, 4. Rejoices in his favour, and takes care that nothing may displease him, ver. 5 - 7 Triumphs in his love and gracious call, ver. 8 - 13. Christ's care of the church, ver. 14, 15. Her faith and hope in him, ver. 16, 17

1 I - These are the words of the bridegroom. He compares himself to the rose and lilly, for fragrancy and beauty. Sharon, was a very fruitful place, and famous for roses.
2 Among - Compared with thorns, which it unspeakably exceeds in glory and beauty. So - So far, doth my church or people, excel all other assemblies. The title of daughter, is often given to whole nations. These are Christ's words, to which the spouse makes the following reply.
3 The apple - tree - Whose fruit is very pleasant and wholesome. The trees - Which are barren. I sat - I confidently reposed myself under his protection. His fruit - The benefits which I received by him, remission of sins, faith, grace, and assurance of glory.
4 Banquetting house - The places in which believers receive the graces and blessings of Christ. His banner - By the lifting up whereof I was invited to come to him, and to list myself under him. Love - The love of Christ crucified, which, like a banner, is displayed in the gospel.
5 Stay me - Or, support me, keep me from fainting. The spouse speaks this to her bride - maids, the daughters of Jerusalem: or to the bridegroom himself. Flaggons - With wine, which is a good cordial. Apples - With odoriferous apples, the smell whereof was grateful to persons ready to faint. By this understand the application of the promises, and the quickening influences of the Spirit.
6 His hand - No sooner did I cry out for help, but he was at hand to succour me.
7 I charge you - This is spoken by the bride. By the roes - By the example of those creatures, which are pleasant and loving in their carriage towards one another. Nor awake - That you do not disturb nor offend him. 'Till - Never, as this word, until, in such phrases, is commonly used. For neither can sin ever please him, nor can the church bear it that Christ should ever be offended.
8 The voice - Christ's voice, the word of grace revealed outwardly in the gospel, and inwardly by the Spirit of God. Leaping - He saith, leaping and skipping, to denote that Christ came readily, and swiftly, with great desire and pleasure and adds, upon the mountains and hills, to signify Christ's resolution to come in spite of all difficulties.
9 Like a roe - In swiftness. He is coming to me with all speed and will not tarry a moment beyond the proper season. He standeth behind - And while he doth for wise reasons forbear to come; he is not far from us. Both this and the following phrases may denote the obscure manner of Christ's manifesting himself to his people, under the law, in comparison of his discoveries in the gospel. The window - This phrase, and that through the lattess, intimate that the church does indeed see Christ, but, as through a glass, darkly, as it is said even of gospel - revelations, 1Cor 13:12, which was much more true of legal administrations.
10 Spake - Invited me outwardly by his word, and inwardly by his Spirit. Rise up - Shake off sloth, and disentangle thyself more fully from all the snares of this world. Come - Unto me, and with me; follow me fully, serve me perfectly, labour for a nearer union, and more satisfying communion with me.
11 The winter - Spiritual troubles arising from a deep sense of the guilt of sin, the wrath of God, the curse of the law; all which made them afraid to come unto God. But, saith Christ, I have removed these impediments, God is reconciled; therefore cast off all discouragements, and excuses, and come to me.
12 The flowers - The communications of God's grace, the gifts, and graces, and comforts of the Holy Spirit, are vouchsafed unto, and appear in believers, as buds and blossoms do in the spring. The turtle - This seems particularly to be mentioned because it not only gives notice of the spring, but aptly represents the Spirit of God, which even the Chaldee paraphrast understands by this turtle, which appeared in the shape of a dove, and which worketh a dove - like meekness, and chastity, and faithfulness, in believers.
13 Her figs - Which it shoots forth in the spring.
14 My dove - So the church is called, for her dove - like temper, and for her dove - like condition, because she is weak, and exposed to persecution, and therefore forced to hide herself in rocks. The stairs - In the holes of craggy and broken rocks, which resemble stairs. Let me see - Be not afraid to appear before me. Hear - Thy prayers and praises. For - Thy person and services are amiable in my sight.
15 Take us - The bridegroom gives this charge to his bridemen or friends. By whom he understands those magistrates and ministers to whom, under Christ, the custody of the vineyards, the churches, principally belong. These he commands to take the foxes, to restrain them from doing this mischief. Foxes - The disturbers of the vineyard, or the church, seducers or false teachers. Little foxes - This he adds for more abundant caution, to teach the church to prevent errors and heresies in the beginnings. Spoil vines - Which foxes do many ways, by gnawing and breaking the little branches and leaves, by digging holes in the vineyards, and so spoiling the roots. Tender grapes - Which are easily spoiled, if great care be not used to prevent it.
16 My beloved - These are the words of the bride, who having come to him upon his gracious invitation, now maketh her boast of him. He feedeth - Abideth and refresheth himself amongst his faithful people, who are compared to lillies, ver.2.
17 Until - Until the morning of that blessed day of the general resurrection, when all the shadows, not only of ignorance, and sin, and calamity, but even of outward administrations, shall cease. Turn - Return to me. For although Christ had come to her, and she had gladly received him, yet he was gone again, as is here implied, and evidently appears from the following verse. Which sudden change is very agreeable to the state of God's people in this world, where they are subject to frequent changes. A roe - In swiftness; make haste to help me. Of Bether - A place in the land of promise, where it seems those creatures were in great abundance.

Chapter III

The church seeks Christ, finds him, and resolves not to displease him again, ver. 1 - 5. Christ's coming out of the wilderness; his bed, guard and chariot, ver. 6 - 10. An invitation of the church to the kingdom of glory, ver. 11.

1 By night - When others compose themselves to sleep, my affections were working towards him. I sought - I sought for Christ's gracious and powerful presence. I sought - This repetition denotes her perseverance and unweariedness in seeking him. Found him not - For he had withdrawn the manifestations of his love from me, either because I had not sought him diligently, or because I had abused his favour.
2 The city - The city of God, the church in which Christ resides. Broadways - Not finding him in private prayer, and meditation, I sought him in the places of public assemblies and ordinances. Found not - He saw fit still to delay the discoveries of his grace.
3 The watch - men - The ministers of Christ, and rulers of the church. Go about - To prevent disorders and dangers. Him - She does not name him, because she thought it needless, as supposing a person of such transcendent excellency could not be unknown to men in that capacity. Their answer is not mentioned, either because they gave her no satisfactory answer, or because by their silence she gathered that they were unable to inform her; and being eager in the pursuit, she would not lose time.
4 Found him - Christ met me, and manifested his love to me. Mother's house - As the spouse here, signifies particular believers, so her mother is the universal church, or the true Jerusalem, which hath its rise from above, which is the mother of us all, Gal 4:26, in which Christ and believers are united, and have sweet communion together in holy ordinances, into which believers are said to bring Christ, by faith and prayer. Conceived me - Christ is as it were the father that begets, and the church the mother that conceives and brings forth believers.
6 Who - The persons speaking seem to be the daughters of Jerusalem, who upon occasion of the bride's speech to them, make this reply. The person spoken of is the spouse. Wilderness - Believers were to be called, not only out of the holy land, which was as the garden of God, but also out of the Gentile - world, which in prophetical writings is frequently described under the notion of a wilderness. Pillars - Being conducted out of the wilderness as by a pillar of smoak going before them, as the Israelites were led through the wilderness to Canaan, by a pillar of cloud and fire. Perfumed - The spouse is said to be thus perfumed, for her excellent virtues and religious services which are pleasant and acceptable to God, and for the merits and graces of Christ, which are a sweet savour to God, wherewith she is enriched and beautified. Of merchants - Which are fetched by the merchants from Arabia, or other remote parts.
7 Behold - The bride - men continue their speech, and from the admiration of the bride, proceed to the admiration of the bridegroom. Bed - The bed seems to denote the church, which is comely through Christ's beauty, and safe by his protection, in which Christ is glorified, and believers enjoy sweet fellowship with him. Solomon's - Which is the bed, not of an ordinary man, but of a great king, whom Solomon typifies, and who is greater than Solomon. Threescore - Very many, the certain number being put for an uncertain. He alludes to Solomon's guard, whereby he designs all those creatures, whether angels, princes, ministers, or others, whose ministry God uses for the protection of his church.
8 Every man - Is prepared and ready to fight, to prevent those dangers which are frequent in the night season. The night may denote the whole time of this life, which may well be called night in respect of that ignorance and error wherewith it is attended, (as the future life is compared to day) this life being the only time wherein such a guard is necessary.
9 A chariot - In which the royal bridegroom and bride might ride together in state. By this chariot he seems to understand the word of Christ dispensed by his ministers, whereby Christ rides triumphantly in the world, and believers are carried into heavenly glory. Of Lebanon - Of cedars, which wood being incorruptible, doth fitly signify the word of the gospel, which endureth forever, 1Pet 1:25.
10 He made - There is no necessity that either this or the following particulars should be distinctly applied to several things in the gospel; this in the general may suffice, that as all the particulars are added to shew the perfection and beauty of the chariot, so they do imply that Christ's word is every way amiable and perfect. The bottom - The under and lower part. Whereby he may seem to understand the foundation of the word and promises, which is either God's covenant, or Christ's mediation, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. Covering - The uppermost part of it. Midst - The inward parts. Paved - Covered and adorned. Love - The love of Christ to the sons of men. For the daughters - For their delight and comfort, who all bear a part in this marriage.
11 Go - The church bids particular believers go forth to see this sight. Solomon - The Messiah, of whom Solomon was an illustrious type. The crown - Which being applied to Solomon, may design that garland or crown which was usually worn in nuptial solemnities: but being applied to Christ, it denotes the honour that was given him, which though principally done by his Father, yet is here ascribed to his mother, the universal church, which in respect to his humanity may be called his mother, because he was born in, and of her, and one of her members. In the day - When the church is married to him, which is done when the covenant is confirmed between them, or when persons are converted to Christ, and more compleatly when they are received by Christ into his immediate fellowship in the kingdom of glory. Gladness - When he rejoiceth over his bride.

Chapter IV

Christ commends his church, for her beauty, ver. 1 - 7. He calls her to go with him, ver. 8. Manifests his love and affection for her, ver. 9. A farther commendation of her, ver. 10 - 15. She prays for the effectual operation of his Holy Spirit on her to make her fruitful, ver. 16.

1 Behold - These words are evidently spoken by the bridegroom. Fair - Being clothed with my righteousness, and adorned with all the graces of my spirit. Fair - He repeats it both to confirm his assertion, and to shew the fervency of his affection. Dove's eyes - Whereas the beauty of the spouse is here described in her several parts, we need not labour much about the application of each particular to some distinct grace of the church, this being the chief design of the description to shew that compleatness and absolute perfection which the church hath in part received, and shall more fully receive in the future life. Goats - Which in these parts was of extraordinary length, and softness, and comeliness. Mount Gilead - A very fruitful place, fit for breeding all sorts of cattle, and especially of goats, because it was an hilly and woody country.
2 A flock - Numerous, and placed in due order. Even - Smooth and even, as also clean and white. Twins - Which seems to denote the two rows of teeth. Barren - Not one tooth is lacking.
3 Thy speech - Which is added as another ingredient of an amiable person; and to explain the foregoing metaphor. The discourse of believers is edifying and comfortable, and acceptable to God, and to serious men. Temples - Under which he comprehends the cheeks. Pomegranate - In which there is a lovely mixture of red and white.
4 Thy neck - This may represent the grace of faith, by which we are united to Christ, as the body is to the head by the neck. By which Christians receive their spiritual food, and consequently their strength and ability for action. The tower - Upright, firm, and strong; and moreover adorned with chains of gold or pearl, or the like ornaments. Of David - Some tower built by David, when he repaired, and enlarged his royal city, and used by him as an armory. Bucklers - Such as are reserved for the use of mighty men. A thousand is put indefinitely for a great number.
5 Lillies - In the fields where lillies grow.
6 Until - These words are uttered by the bride, chap.2:17, and here returned by the bridegroom as an answer to that request. And this place may be understood of the day of glory, when all shadows and ordinances shall cease. To the hill - To my church upon earth, which was typified by the mountain of Moriah and the temple upon it. This in prophetic writings is called a mountain, and may well be called a mountain of myrrh and frankincense, both for the acceptable services which are there offered to God, and for the precious gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, which are of a sweet smelling savour to God and men. Thus Christ directs believers, where they may find him, namely in his church and ordinances.
8 Come - Unto the mountains of myrrh. Look - To the place to which I invite thee to go, which from those high mountains thou mayest easily behold. Of Leopards - From these or other mountains, which are inhabited by lions and leopards. This seems to be added as an argument to move the spouse to go with him, because the places where now she was, were not only barren, but also dangerous.
9 My sister - So he calls her to shew the greatness of his love, which cannot sufficiently be expressed by any one relation. With one - With one glance. One chain - With one of those other graces and perfections wherewith thou art adorned.
10 Fair - How amiable and acceptable to me. Ointments - Of the gifts and graces of God's Spirit, wherewith thou art anointed.
11 Thy lips - Thy speeches both to me in prayer and praises, and to men for their edification, are highly acceptable to me. Milk - Words more sweet and comfortable than honey or milk. Garments - Of that righteousness wherewith I have adorned thee. Lebanon - Which was very sweet and grateful in regard of the great numbers of sweet - smelling spices and trees which grow on that mountain.
12 A garden - For order and beauty, for pleasant walks, and flowers, and fruits. Inclosed - Defended by the care of my providence: and reserved for my proper use. Shut up - To preserve it from all pollution, and to reserve it for the use of its owner, for which reason, springs were shut up in those countries where water was scarce and precious.
13 Plants - Believers, which are planted in thee, are like the plants or fruits of an orchard, which are pleasant to the eye, and delicious to the taste or smell, whereby he signifies the variety and excellency of the gifts and graces in the several members of the church. Spikenard - Which he mentions here with camphire, and in the next verse with saffron, because it is mixed with both these, and being so mixed, yields. the more grateful smell.
14 All trees - Such trees as produce frankincense.
15 Living water - Though my spouse be in some sort a fountain shut up, yet that is not so to be understood as if she kept her waters to herself, for she is like a fountain of living or running water, which flows into gardens, and makes its flowers and plants to flourish. The church conveys those waters of life which she receives from Christ to particular believers. Streams - Like those sweet and refreshing rivers which flow down from mount Lebanon, of which Jordan is one.
16 North wind - These winds may signify the several dispensations of God's spirit. My garden - This verse is spoken by the spouse. And he calls the garden both hers and his, because of that oneness which is between them, chap.2:16. May flow - That my graces may be exercised. Let - Let Christ afford his gracious presence to his church. And eat - And let him delight himself in that service which is given him, both by the religious worship, and by the holy conversation of his people.

Chapter V

Christ answers the church's invitation, and shews her the delight he took in her fruit, ver. 1. She acknowledges her negligence to Christ in not opening the door, ver. 2 - 6. Of the harsh usage she met with, ver. 7. She tells the daughters of Jerusalem she is sick of love to Christ, ver. 8. Their question concerning him, ver. 9. A description of Christ by his graces, ver. 10 - 15. In whom she boasteth, ver. 16

1 I come - This is the bridegroom's answer. I have - I have eaten of my pleasant fruits, I have taken notice of, and delight in the service and obedience of my people. O friends - Believers are here encouraged with freedom and chearfulness to eat and drink their spiritual food.
2 Asleep - I was dull, and sluggish. But - Yet in my very sleep my thoughts were running upon my beloved. It is - Between sleeping and waking, I heard his voice. Knocketh - By his word, and providence, and spirit, at the door of my heart. Open - Inviting me to let him into my soul. My love - This heap of kind compellations signifies Christ's fervent affection to his people. With dew - While I wait without thy door, which signifies his sufferings for the church's good. The drops - The dew which falls in the night.
3 My coat - My day clothes, as persons use to do when they go to rest. How - It is inconvenient and troublesome to do it at this time. Washed my feet - Which the eastern people commonly did when they went to bed.
4 By the hole - He assayed to open the door. When his word would not prevail, his spirit, which is called the finger of God, Luke 11:20, wrought inwardly upon my conscience. Were moved - With compassion for him and his sufferings, and with affection to him.
5 I rose - I went forth to receive him. Dropped - With oil or ointment made of myrrh, which dropped from the bridegroom's hand upon the door in great abundance, when he put it into the hole of the door, and consequently upon her hands and fingers when she touched the door to open it. By which she signifies, that Christ, though he withdrew himself from her, yet left a sweet savour behind him. The handles - Heb. with myrrh passing or flowing upon the handles of the lock, which place the bridegroom had touched when he attempted to open it.
6 With - drawn - Denied me his comfortable presence, as a just punishment for my former neglect. Faded - Heb. went out of me: I fainted and was ready to die away, for those endearing expressions related, ver.2, which then I did not heed. I sought - By diligent enquiry and importunate prayer.
7 Watch - men - The governors of the church, who, though by their place they are obliged to comfort the faithful, do frequently discourage them. Smote - With bitter calumnies and persecutions. The keepers - The same with the watchmen, whose office it is to keep the gates and walls of the city. My vine - Which was an ornament of her sex, and an ensign of her relation to Christ. And so the taking of this veil away, signifies their contemptuous usage of her, and endeavours to represent her, as one that had no relation to Christ.
8 O daughters - The church having passed the watchmen, proceeds in the pursuit of her beloved, and enquires of every particular believer whom she meets concerning him. Tell him - That I am ready to faint for want of his presence.
9 What is - Wherein doth he excel them? Believers might ask this, that they might be more fully informed of it.
10 White - The white may denote his pure and spotless innocency, and the ruddy colour his bloody passion.
11 As gold - It shines like gold, by reason of the crown of pure gold upon his head. We need not aim at a distinct application of this and the following particulars, unto some special excellency of Christ, because such things are mere conjectures, and the only design of this description is, to set forth the beauty of Christ under the notion of a most amiable person, in whom there is no defect or blemish, from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.
12 Of doves - Lovely and pleasant, chaste and innocent. Rivers - Where they delight to abide. Milk - Doves of a milk white colour.
13 Cheeks - His face or countenance, an eminent part whereof is the cheeks. Spices - Of aromatic flowers which delight both the eye with a pleasant prospect, and the smell with their fragrancy. Lillies - Beautiful and pleasant.
14 Beryl - Beautiful, and precious, and richly adorned, as it were with gold rings set with precious stones. Belly - Which seems to be here used, for the whole body, reaching from the neck to the bottom of the belly. Saphires - Of a pure and bright white colour, intermixt with blue veins; for some saphires are of a bright blue colour.
15 Marble - White, and strait, and well shaped and strong. Gold - His feet are compared to gold, for their singular brightness, for which they are compared to fine - brass, Rev 1:15. Countenance - Heb. his aspect or appearance, his form or person. Lebanon - In respect of its cedars, tall, and upright, and stately.
16 Altogether - Not to run out into more particulars.

Chapter VI

An enquiry after Christ, ver. 1. The churches answer, ver. 2. The church confesses her faith in Christ, ver. 3. Christ shews the graces of his church, ver. 4. And the beauty of her several parts, ver. 5 - 10. He acquaints her where he had been, and what he had been doing, ver. 11. And discovers his affection to her, ver. 12. With an invitation of her to return to him again, ver. 13.

1 Gone - From thee.
2 Is gone - The spouse had hitherto been at a loss for her beloved, but having diligently sought him, now at last she meets with a gracious answer from God, directing her where to find him. The garden may signify the church catholic, and the gardens, as it follows, as also the beds, the particular assemblies of the faithful, in which Christ affords his presence. Spices - In which the gifts and graces of God's spirit, fitly compared to spices, grow. To feed - To refresh and delight himself. Lillies - Which may denote either, particular believers, whom Christ gathers to himself in his church; or, the prayers and praises of his people in the publick congregations.
4 Thou - These are the words of Christ, who had now again manifested himself to his church. Tirzah - A very pleasant city, the royal seat of the kings of Israel. Jerusalem - Which was beautiful both for its situation, and for its goodly buildings. Terrible - To her enemies, whom God will certainly destroy.
5 Turn away - It is a poetical expression, signifying how beautiful the church was in Christ's eyes. Thy hair - This clause, and the whole following verse are repeated from, chap.4:1, 2. And this repetition is not vain but confirms what was said before, that the churches miscarriage had not alienated Christ's affection from her.
8 Threescore - A certain number for an uncertain. The sense seems to be this, there are many beautiful queens and concubines in the world, in the courts of princes, but none of them is to be compared with my spouse.
9 But one - The only beloved of my soul, my only spouse. The only one - She is as dear and as precious to me as only children use to be to their parents, and especially to their mothers. Daughters - Called virgins, ver.8. Praised - As more beautiful and worthy than themselves.
10 Who - These are the words of the queens and concubines. Who, what manner of person is this, how excellent and glorious! Morning - As the morning light, which coming after the darkness, is very pleasant and amiable.
11 I went - When I went away from thee these are the words of the bridegroom. Valley - Which being low, and well watered is very fruitful. To see - What beginnings or appearances there were of good fruits or works among believers.
12 Or ever - I was surprized with a vehement desire of my spouse, which is to be understood figuratively, and so as to agree with the majesty and omnisciency of Christ. Ammi - nadib - Eager in my desire, and swift in my motion towards the church. Ammi - nadib is supposed to be some eminent charioteer then well known, and famous for his speed in driving chariots.
13 Return - Christ recalls his spouse, who as when Christ was gone, she pursued after him, so now when Christ was coming to her, she was ready to wander from him. Return - This word is repeated four times, to signify both Christ's passionate love to her, and her backwardness. Shulamite - This title signifies, the wife of Solomon, thus called after her husband's name, and as Christ is called by the name of Solomon, so the church is fitly described by the title of Solomon's wife. May look - That I and my companions may contemplate thy beauty. What - But what do you my friends expect to discover in her? Christ proposes the question, that they might take special notice of this as a very remarkable thing in her. The company - Whereby he intimates that this one spouse was made up of the whole multitude of believers. Two armies - Confederate together, and so this may signify the union of Jews and Gentiles, and the safety and strength of the church, which is compared to a numerous host, distributed into two armies.

Chapter VII

A farther description of the church's his graces, ver. 1 - 7. His design to visit the church, with the blessed effect thereof, ver. 8 - 9. She professes her faith, and desire, ver. 10. She invites him to communion with her, ver. 11. The end thereof, ver. 12, 13.

1 Shoes - Were anciently evidences of a free and comfortable state, whereas slaves and mourners used to go bare - foot.
4 Like fishpools - Full, and clear, and quiet, and pleasant. Heshbon - A pleasant and well watered city, beyond Jordan. The tower - Which was in all probability built by Solomon in the mountain of Lebanon, the northern border of the land of Israel towards Damascus; and therefore a very fit place for a watch - tower. Which looketh - There was another tower or building in or near Jerusalem, which was called the house of the forest of Lebanon, 1Kings 7:2.
5 Carmel - Eminent and pleasant to the eye, and fruitful as mount Carmel was. Which may denote that her mind was replenished with knowledge, and other excellent gifts of the Holy Ghost. Purple - Which colour was anciently much esteemed. Is held - In which he walks, and having once espied thee, is unable to take off his eyes from thee.
6 Delights - For those various lovely features which, are in thee.
7 Palm - tree - Tall and strait, or upright. And he seems to mention the palm - tree, rather than any other, because it is constantly green and flourishing, and grows upward in spite of all pressures.
8 I said - Within myself, I resolved. I will - Climb up, that so I may take hold of the boughs, which do not grow out of the sides, as in other trees, but only at the top of it. Take hold - Partly to prune and dress them, and partly to gather the fruit. The smell - Of thy breath; which is often called the breath of a man's nostrils.
9 Thy mouth - Thy speech, the palate being one of the principal instruments of speech. Wine - Grateful and refreshing for thee my beloved, who reapest the comfort and benefit of that pleasure which I take in thee. Causing - The most dull, and stupid, and sleepy persons to speak.
10 I am - This and the following verses contain the words of the bride, in answer to the bridegroom's endearing expressions delivered in the foregoing verses.
11 Go forth - That being retired from the crowd, we may more freely and sweetly converse together.
12 Early - The church having lost her beloved by her former laziness, now doubles her diligence. Vineyards - To particular congregations. Let us see - Let us inquire into the success of our labours, what souls are brought in and built up, and how they prosper and grow in grace. There - There I will discover the fervency of my affections to thee, and maintain communion with thee in thy holy ordinances.
13 Mandrakes - This Hebrew word is used Gen 30:14, 15, and the signification of it is very much doubted and disputed by interpreters. The word here signifies sweet and pleasant flowers, and therefore if it be understood of mandrakes, they were of another sort than ours, as flowers of the same kind in several climates have very different natures and qualities. At our gates - Brought thither by divers persons to congratulate our nuptials. All fruits - Fruits of this year and of the former. Which seems to be meant of the various fruits and operations of the Spirit, and degrees of grace in several believers.

Chapter VIII

The church expresses her desire of familiarity with Christ, ver. 1. By the entertainment she would make him, ver. 2, 3. She charges the daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb her beloved, ver. 4. A commendation of the church for her faith in Christ, ver. 5. She prays for full assurance of his love, her invincible desire, ver. 6. Which is insatiable, ver. 7. The calling of the Gentiles with their intent, and her condition, ver. 8 - 13. Christ's coming prayed for, ver. 14.

1 O that - The church here expresses her desire of a stricter union, and closer communion with Christ. Without - In the open streets.
2 Instruct me - Or, where she did instruct or educate me. I would - My gifts and graces should all be employed to serve and glorify thee.
5 Who - This and the next clause are the words of the bridegroom, who proposes the question, that he may give the answer following. Her beloved - He speaks of himself in the third person, which is usual in the Hebrew language. I raised - When thou wast dead in trespasses and in the depth of misery. Under - Under my own shadow; for she had compared him to an apple tree, and declared, that under the shadow of the tree she had both delight and fruit, chap.2:3, which is the same thing with this raising up. There - Under that tree, either the universal or the primitive church, did conceive and bring thee forth.
6 Set me - These are undoubtedly the words of the bride. Let thy heart be constantly set upon me. He seems to allude to the engraven tablets which are frequently worn upon the breast, and to the signet on a man's arm or hand, which they prized at a more than ordinary rate, and which are continually in their sight. For love - My love to thee. Jealousy - Or, zeal; my ardent love to thee. Cruel - Heb. hard, grievous and terrible, and sometimes ready to overwhelm me; therefore have pity upon me, and do not leave me. Fire - It burns and melts my heart like fire.
7 Many waters - My love to thee cannot be taken off, either by terrors and afflictions, which are commonly signified in scripture by waters and floods; or by temptations and allurements. Therefore, give me thyself, without whom, and in comparison of whom, I despise all other persons and things.
8 We - These are still the words of the bride. The present church, which was that of the Jews, speaks of a future church, which was to consist of the Gentiles, which she calls little, because she was the younger sister, and then scarce had a being; and she calls her sister to intimate that the Gentile - church should be admitted to the same privileges with the Jews. She hath - No grown and full breasts, as virgin have when they are ripe for marriage, Ezek 16:7. This signifies the present state of the Gentiles, which as yet were not grown up, and wanted the milk or food of life, as for itself, so also for its members. When spoken for - In order to her marriage. How shall we supply that defect?
9 If - This seems to be Christ's answer to the foregoing question of the Jewish church. Christ engages himself to provide for her, as suits best with her condition. If the Gentiles when they are converted shall be like a wall, strong and firm in faith; We, my Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost, as the principal builders, and my ministers as workers with, and under us, will build upon her a palace of silver, will add more strength and beauty to her, will enlarge and adorn her; and if she be as a door, which is weaker than a wall; if she be weak in faith, yet we will not therefore reject her, but we will inclose or (as many others render the word) strengthen or fortify her with boards of cedar, which are not only beautiful, but also strong and durable.
10 I am - These seem to be the words of the Jewish church. O Lord, by thy grace I am what thou wouldst have my sister to be, and therefore humbly hope, according to thy promise to her in that case, thou wilt build upon me a palace of silver. Towers - Which stand out from and above the wall, and are an ornament and defence to it. Then - When by his grace I was made a wall, he was well - pleased with me, and with his own workmanship in me.
11 Baal - hamon - A place not far from Jerusalem. A thousand - Whereby he signifies both the vast extent of the vineyard which required so many keepers, and its singular fertility.
12 My vineyard - My church, which is here opposed to Solomon's vineyard. Possibly we may ascribe the first clause to Christ, and the latter to the spouse: such interlocutions being familiar in this book. Mine - This repetition is very emphatical, to shew that Christ had a more eminent title to his vineyard, the church, than Solomon had to his vineyard, because it was purchased not by his money, but by his blood. Before me - Is under my own eye and care. Thou - These words are the church's return to Christ, who is here called Solomon, as he was chap.3:9, 11, as elsewhere he is called David. Dost thou, O Christ, keep thine own vineyard, which Solomon did not? Then surely it is meet that thou shouldst receive as large a revenue from thy vineyard, as he did from his. Two hundred - Though the chief revenue is justly given to thee, yet thy ministers, who serve thee in thy vineyard, are allowed by thee to receive some encouragement for their service.
13 Thou - Christ speaks here to his spouse. The gardens - Not in the wilderness of the world, but in the church, the garden of God. He saith, gardens, because of the many particular congregations, into which the church is divided. Companions - The friends of the bride and bridegroom. Hearken - Diligently observe all thy words towards me. Cause me - When I am gone from thee, let me hear thy prayers, and praises, and the preaching of my gospel in the world.
14 Make haste - Seeing we must part for a time, make haste, O my beloved bridegroom, and speedily finish the work which thou hast to do in the world, that so thou mayest take me to thyself, that I may live in thine everlasting embraces.