Song of Solomon 1:6 MEANING

Song of Solomon 1:6
(6) Look not . . .--i.e., with disdain, as in Job 41:34 (Heb. 26).

Black.--Literally, blackish.

The sun . . .--The word translated looked upon occurs only twice besides (Job 20:9; Job 28:7). The "all-seeing sun" is a commonplace of poetry; but here with sense of scorching. The heroine goes on to explain the cause of her exposure to the sun. Her dark complexion is accidental, and cannot therefore be used as an argument that she was an Egyptian princess, whose nuptials with Solomon are celebrated in the poem.

Mother's children--i.e., brothers, not necessarily step-brothers, as Ewald and others. (Comp. Psalm 50:20; Psalm 69:8.) The reference to the mother rather than the father is natural in a country where polygamy was practised.

Mine own vineyard . . .--The general sense is plain. While engaged in the duties imposed by her brothers, she had been compelled to neglect something--but what? Some think her beloved, and others her reputation; Ginsburg, literally, her own special vineyard. But the obvious interpretation connects the words immediately with the context. Her personal appearance had been sacrificed to her brothers' severity. While tending their vines she had neglected her own complexion.

Verse 6. - Look not upon me, because I am swarthy, because the sun hath scorched me. My mother's sons were incensed against me; they made me keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. The meaning seems to be - Do not let the swarthiness of my complexion lower me in your eyes. Literally the words are, Do not see me that I am; i.e. do not regard me as being, because I am. There is no necessity to suppose any looks of the ladies to have suggested the words. They are the words of modest self-depreciation mingled with joyful sense of acceptance. It is difficult to render the Hebrew exactly. The word translated "swarthy" (shecharchoreh) is probably a diminutive from shechorah, which itself means "blackish;" so that the meaning is, "that my complexion is dark." The reference to the sun explains the word still further, as pointing, not to a difference of race, but to mere temporary effects of an outdoor life: "The sun has been playing with my complexion;" or, as the LXX. renders it, Παρέβλεψέ μὰ ὁ ἡλίος, "The sun has been gazing at me." So other Greek versions. Some, however, include the idea of burning or scorching, which is the literal meaning of the verb, though in Job 3:9 and Job 41:10 it is used in the sense of looking at or upon. The sun is the eye of the heavens (see 2 Samuel 12:11), and with delicate feeling it is spoken of here as feminine, the bride playfully alluding, perhaps, to the lady seen in the heavens preceding the ladies of the court in gazing on her beauty. It is difficult to explain with perfect satisfaction the next clause of the verse. Doubtless "mother's sons" is a poetical periphrasis for brothers - not "step-brothers," as some have said. Perhaps the mother was a widow, as no father is mentioned. The best explanation is that the bride is simply giving an account of herself, why she is so browned in the sun. The brothers, for some reason, had been incensed against her, possibly on account of her favour in the eyes of the king, but more probably for private, family reasons. They would not have her shutting herself up in the house to take care of her complexion; they would have her in the vineyards. In the word "keeper" (noterah instead of notzerah) we have an instance of the northern dialect - a kind of Platt-Hebrew - hardening the pronunciation. My own vineyard have I not kept no doubt refers simply and solely to her complexion, not to her virginity or character. She means - I was compelled by my brothers to go into the vineyards in the heat of the sun, and the consequence was, as you see, I have not been able to preserve the delicacy of my skin; I have been careless of my personal beauty. The sun has done its work. The reference helps us to recognize the historical background of the poem, and leads naturally to the use of the pastoral language which runs through the whole. The king is a shepherd, and his bride a shepherdess. Without straining the spiritual interpretation, we may yet discover in this beautiful candour and Simplicity of the bride the reflection of the soul's virtues in its joyful realization of Divine favour; but the true method of interpretation requires no minute, detailed adjustment of the language to spiritual facts, but rather seeks the meaning in the total impression of the poem.

1:2-6 The church, or rather the believer, speaks here in the character of the spouse of the King, the Messiah. The kisses of his mouth mean those assurances of pardon with which believers are favoured, filling them with peace and joy in believing, and causing them to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. Gracious souls take most pleasure in loving Christ, and being loved of him. Christ's love is more valuable and desirable than the best this world can give. The name of Christ is not now like ointment sealed up, but like ointment poured forth; which denotes the freeness and fulness of the setting forth of his grace by the gospel. Those whom he has redeemed and sanctified, are here the virgins that love Jesus Christ, and follow him whithersoever he goes, Re 14:4. They entreat him to draw them by the quickening influences of his Spirit. The more clearly we discern Christ's glory, the more sensible shall we be that we are unable to follow him suitably, and at the same time be more desirous of doing it. Observe the speedy answer given to this prayer. Those who wait at Wisdom's gate, shall be led into truth and comfort. And being brought into this chamber, our griefs will vanish. We have no joy but in Christ, and for this we are indebted to him. We will remember to give thanks for thy love; it shall make more lasting impressions upon us than any thing in this world. Nor is any love acceptable to Christ but love in sincerity, Eph 6:24. The daughters of Jerusalem may mean professors not yet established in the faith. The spouse was black as the tents of the wandering Arabs, but comely as the magnificent curtains in the palaces of Solomon. The believer is black, as being defiled and sinful by nature, but comely, as renewed by Divine grace to the holy image of God. He is still deformed with remains of sin, but comely as accepted in Christ. He is often base and contemptible in the esteem of men, but excellent in the sight of God. The blackness was owing to the hard usage that had been suffered. The children of the church, her mother, but not of God, her Father, were angry with her. They had made her suffer hardships, which caused her to neglect the care of her soul. Thus, under the emblem of a poor female, made the chosen partner of a prince, we are led to consider the circumstances in which the love of Christ is accustomed to find its objects. They were wretched slaves of sin, in toil, or in sorrow, weary and heavy laden, but how great the change when the love of Christ is manifested to their souls!Look not upon me,.... Meaning not with scorn and disdain because of her meanness; nor as prying into her infirmities to expose her; nor with joy at her trials and afflictions; neither of these can be supposed in the daughters of Jerusalem addressed by her: but rather, not look on her as amazed at her sufferings, as though some strange thing had befallen her; not at her blackness only, on one account or another, lest they should be stumbled; but at her beauty also;

because I am black; or "blackish" somewhat black (a), but not so black as might be thought, or as she was represented: the radicals of the word being doubled, some understand it as diminishing; but rather it increases the signification; see Psalm 14:2; and so it may be rendered "very black" (b), exceeding black; and this she repeats for the sake of an opportunity of giving the reason of it, as follows;

because the sun hath looked upon me; and had burnt her, and made her black; which effect the sun has on persons in some countries, and especially on such who are much abroad in the fields, and employed in rural services (c); as she was, being a keeper of vineyards, as in this verse, and of flocks of sheep, as in the following. This may be understood of the sun of persecution that had beat upon her, and had left such impressions on her, and had made her in this hue, and which she bore patiently; nor was she ashamed of it; nor should she be upbraided with it, nor slighted on account of it, see Matthew 13:6;

my mother's children were angry with me; by whom may be meant carnal professors, members of the same society, externally children of the same mother, pretend to godliness, but are enemies to it: these were "angry" with the church for holding and defending the pure doctrines of the Gospel; for keeping the ordinances as they were delivered; and for faithful reproofs and admonitions to them and others, for their disagreeable walk: and these grieved the church, and made her go mourning, and in black; and more blackened her character and reputation than anything else whatever: though it may be understood of any carnal men, who descend from mother Eve, or spring from mother earth, angry with the church and her members preciseness in religion; and particularly violent persecutors of her, who yet would be thought to be religious, may be intended;

they made me the keeper of the vineyards; this is another thing that added to her blackness, lying abroad in the fields to keep the "vineyards" of others, by which may be meant false churches, as true ones are sometimes signified by them; and her compliance with their corrupt worship and ordinances, which was not voluntary, but forced; they made me, obliged her, and this increased her blackness; as also what follows;

but mine own vineyard have I not kept; which made her blacker still; her church state, or the spiritual affairs of her own, her duty and business incumbent on her (d), were sadly neglected by her: and this sin of hers she does not pretend to extenuate by the usage of her mother's children; but ingenuously confesses the fault was her own, to neglect her own vineyard and keep others, which was greatly prejudicial to her, and was resented by Christ; upon which it seems he departed from her, since she was at a loss to know where he was, as appears from the following words. With the Romans, neglect of fields, trees, and vineyards, came under the notice of the censors, and was not to go unpunished (e).

(a) "paululum denigrata", Pagninus, Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; so Ainsworth and Aben Ezra. (b) "Valde fusca", Bochart; "prorsus vel valde, et teta nigra", Marckius, Michaelis. (c) "Perusta solibus pernicis uxor", Horat. Epod. Ode 2. v. 41, 42. Theocrit. Idyll. 10. v. 27. (d) So Horace calls his own works "Vineta", Epist. l. 2. Ep. 1. v. 220. (e) A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 4. c. 12.

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