turn, my beloved; and so is a prayer for Christ's speedy coming to her, and continued presence with her, until the day should break: which may be understood either of the Gospel day made by the rising of Christ, the sun of righteousness, at his first coming in the flesh; when the shadows of the ceremonial law disappeared, Christ, the body and substance of them, being come, and the darkness of the Gentile world was scattered, through the light of the Gospel being sent into it: the words may be rendered, "until the day breathe", or "blow" (b); and naturalists observe (c), that, upon the sun's rising, an air or wind has been excited, and which ceases before the middle of the day, and never lasts so long as that; and on Christ's, the sun of righteousness, arising with healing in his wings, some cool, gentle, and refreshing breezes of divine grace and consolation were raised, which were very desirable and grateful: or this may be understood of Christ's second coming; which will make the great day of the Lord, so often spoken of in Scripture: and which suits as well with the Hebrew text, and the philosophy of it, as the former; for, as the same naturalists (d) observe, the wind often blows fresh, and fine breezes of air spring up at the setting as well as at the rising of the sun; see Genesis 3:8; and may very well be applied to Christ's second coming, at the evening of the world; which will be a time of refreshing to the saints, and very desirable by them; and though it will be an evening to the world, which will then come to an end, with them there will be no more night of darkness, desertion, affliction, and persecution; the shadows of ignorance, infidelity, doubts, and fears, will be dispersed, and there will be one pure, clear, unbeclouded, and everlasting day; and till then the church prays, as follows:
turn, my beloved; that is, to her; who seemed to be ready to depart from her, or was gone; and therefore she desires he would turn again, and continue with her, until the time was come before mentioned: or, "turn about" (e); surround me with thy favour and lovingkindness, and secure me from all enemies, until the glorious and wished for day comes, when I shall be out of fear and danger; or, "embrace me" (f); as in Sol 2:6; during the present dispensation, which was as a night in comparison of the everlasting day;
and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether; the same with Bethel, according to Adrichomius (g); where were mountains, woody, set with trees, full of grass and aromatic plants; and so may be the same with the mountains of spices, Sol 8:14; where the Ethiopic version has Bethel; and so that and the Septuagint version, in an addition to Sol 2:9; here; see 2 Kings 2:23; unless Bithron is meant, 2 Samuel 2:29; a place in Gilead, beyond Jordan, so called, because it was parted from Judea by the river Jordan: and the words are by some rendered, "the mountains of division or separation" (h); which, if referred to Christ's first coming, may regard the ceremonial law, the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, broke down by Christ, and the two people divided by it, which were reconciled by him; if to his spiritual coming, the same things may be intended by them as on Sol 2:9; but if to his second coming, the spacious heavens may be meant, in which Christ will appear, and which now interpose and separate from his bodily presence; and therefore the church importunately desires his coming with speed and swiftness, like a roe or a young hart, and be seen in them; see Revelation 22:10.
(b) , Sept. "donec, vel dum spiret", Mercerus, Cocceius; "aspirat", Marckius; "spiraverit", Michaelis. (c) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 47. Senecae Nat. Quaest. l. 5. c. 8. (d) lbid. Aristot. Problem. s. 25. c. 4. "Adspirant aurae in noctem", Virgil. Aeneid. 7. v. 8. (e) "circui", Montanus, Sanctius; "circumito"; some in Michaelis. (f) "Complectere", Marckius. (g) Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 16. (h) "in montibus divisionis", Vatablus, Piscator; "scissionis", Cocceius; "dissectionis", Marckius; "sectionis vel separationis", Michaelis.
INTRODUCTION TO SONG OF SOLOMON 3
In this chapter an account is given of an adventure of the church, in quest of her beloved; of the time when, and places where, and the persons of whom she sought him; and of her success upon the whole; with a charge she give to the daughters of Jerusalem, Sol 3:1; by whom she is commended, Sol 3:6; and then Christ, her beloved, is described by her; by his bed, and the guard about it, Sol 3:7; by the chariot he rode in, Sol 3:9; and by the crown he wore on his coronation day, Sol 3:11.
I sought him, but I found him not; because she sought him not aright; not timely, nor fervently and diligently, nor in a proper place; not in her closet, by prayer, reading, and meditation, nor in public ordinances, she afterwards did; but on her bed.
(i) , Sept. "per noctes", V. L. Junius & Tremeilius, Piscator; "in noctibus", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine versions, Marckius, Michaelis.
and go about the city; not the city of Jerusalem, though there may be an allusion to it; but the spiritual city, of which saints are fellow citizens, where they dwell, and where the word is preached, and the ordinances are administered: and "going about" it, as she proposed, showed her diligence and industry in seeking him: and the night being an unseasonable time to walk about a city, especially for women, this is a further proof of her great love to Christ, in that she not only exposed herself to reproach and scandal, but to harm and danger also; but being fired with love, and fearless of danger (k), and set on finding her beloved, she resolved to proceed, whatever she suffered. Hence she sought him
in the streets, and in the broad ways; that is, of the city, such as commonly are in cities; so Troy is described (l) as a city, having broad ways in it; and also Athens (m): meaning the public ordinances of the Gospel, where he takes his walks, and often shows himself; in seeking him here, she was right, though she did not succeed;
I will seek him whom my soul loveth; her love was still the same, not abated, more likely to be increased through disappointment; nor was she discouraged, but was determined to go on seeking, till she found him;
I sought him, but I found him not; this was to chastise her for her former negligence; to try her faith, love, and patience; and to show that even the best means, though to be used, are not to be depended on; and that Christ has his own time and way to make himself known to his people, which depends on his sovereign will.
(k) "Audacem faciebat amor". Ovid. Metamorph. l. 4. Fab. 4. (l) Homer. Iliad. 2. v. 29, 66, 141, 329. & 14. v. 88. Odyss. 22. v. 230. (m) Ib. Odyss. 7. v. 80.
to whom I said, took an opportunity privately to discourse with them, and put this question to them,
Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? meaning Christ; who was still the object of her love, and uppermost in her thoughts; whom she thus describes, without mentioning his name, as if he was the only "Him" in the world worthy of any regard; which shows how much he was in her mind, how much the desires and affections of her soul were towards him, and that these ministers needed no other description of him. No answer is returned to her question that is recorded; not because they were not able to give one, nor because they did not; and if they did not, it might be owing to her haste, not waiting for one; and if they did, she not being able to apply it to her case, no notice is taken of it: however, though she did not find immediate relief by them, yet she met with something from them that was of use to her afterwards, as appears by what follows.
but I found him whom my soul loveth; which she expresses with the utmost exultation and pleasure, which meeting with him must give her, after such long and fruitless searches, and so many disappointments; see John 1:41; and for Christ to show himself, without which there is no finding him, is a proof of the greatness of his love, and of the freeness and sovereignty of it; and that means, though to be used, are not to be depended on; nor should we be discouraged when they fail, since Christ can make himself known without them, as he did here to the church; who says,
I held him, and would not let him go; which on the part of the church is expressive of her faith in him, signified by laying hold on him, his person, righteousness, grace, and strength, Proverbs 3:18; and of her strong affection to him, grasping and embracing him in her arms of faith and love; and of her fear and jealousy lest he should depart from her again; and of her steady resolution to hold him, whatever was the consequence of it: and, on his part, it intimates a seeming offer to be gone; and a gracious allowance to lay hold on him; and his wonderful condescension to be held by her; and the delight and pleasure he took in the exercise of her faith upon him; for it was not against but with his will he was held by her; and this she determined to do, and not let go her hold,
until, says she,
I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chambers of her that conceived me; the allusion is to the tents and apartments women had in former times, distinct from their husbands, Genesis 24:67; and all this may be understood either of the visible church, and the ordinances of it, the mother of all true believers, where they are born again, brought up and nourished; and where Christ may be said to be brought, when his name is professed, his Gospel is embraced, and his ordinances are submitted to; and here the church is desirous of introducing Christ, that she with others might magnify him, and praise him for all the instances of his grace and goodness, and have communion with him: or else the heart, and the inmost recesses of it, may be meant; where the incorruptible seed of divine grace is cast; where the new creature; conceived, born, and brought up, until it becomes a perfect man; and where Christ is desired to be, and to dwell by faith, and saints may have uninterrupted communion with him: unless the heavenly mansions are intended, the house of the Jerusalem above, the mother of us all; where saints long to be with Christ, enjoy him, and never lose his presence more; till then the church resolves to hold him fast in the arms of faith, hope, and love, and not let him go.
by the roes and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please; See Gill on Sol 2:7.
like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense; her heart being inflamed with love to Christ, her affections moved upwards, heavenwards, and were set on things above; and which were sincere and upright, rose up in the form of palm trees, as the word (n) signifies, a very upright tree; and these moved steadily towards Christ, and could not be diverted from him by the winds of temptation, affliction, and persecution; and though there might be some degree of dulness and imperfection in them, hence called "pillars of smoke"; yet being perfumed with the sweet smelling myrrh of Christ's sacrifice, and the incense of his mediation, became acceptable to God. It is added,
with all powders of the merchant: odorous ones, such are the graces of the Spirit, which Christ the merchantman is full of; and makes his people, their affections and prayers, of a sweet smelling savour with. Ben Melech interprets it of garments perfumed with spices; see Psalm 45:8; Some render the words, "above" or "more excellent than all powders of the merchant" (o), druggist or apothecary (p); no such drug nor spice to be found in their shops, that smell so sweet as Christ, his grace and righteousness.
(n) "ut columnae ad formam palmae assurgntes", Buxtorf; "ut palmae", Mercerus, Cocceius; "instar palmarum", Tigurine version, Michaelis. (o) so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt. (p) Sept. "pigmentarii", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "pharmacopolae", Tigurine version; "seplasiarii", Mercerus, Cocceius; "aromatarii", Junius & Tremellius, Marckius.
threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel; ministers of the Gospel, such as are Israelites indeed, faithful and upright; and who are valiant, and heartily concerned for the good and welfare of Christ's people, and are careful that nothing hurt them, nor disturb their rest and repose. In the number of them, the allusion may be to the guard about Solomon's bed; which might consist of so many, partly for the security of his royal person, and partly for grandeur and majesty: and were just double the number of his father's worthies, he excelling him in greatness and glory; though it may be a certain number is put for an uncertain; and this is a competent and sufficient one.
(q) Targum, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, Ben Melech, and Abendana.
being expert in war; in military straits, in the spiritual war against sin, Satan, and the world, in common with other Christians; and in fighting the good fight of faith, against all opposers of the doctrines of the Gospel; knowing how to use to the best advantage the spiritual sword, the Scriptures of truth, to defend the Gospel, and refute error;
every man hath his sword upon his thigh; as a preparation for war, and an indication of readiness to engage in it, Psalm 45:3; for, being on the thigh, it is near, easy to come at, at once upon occasion, and so always in a posture of defence; all which expresses the familiar acquaintance ministers have with the word of God, its nearness, so that they can easily come at it, and furnish themselves with a sufficient proof of truth, and with proper arguments for the refutation of error. And this is done
because of fear in the night: when there is most danger; hence Cyrus considering that men are most easily taken when eating and drinking, and in the bath, and in bed, and in sleep, looked out for the most faithful men to be his bodyguard (t). By "night" or "nights" (u) may be meant the nights of desertion, temptation, affliction, and persecution; when saints are in fear of their spiritual enemies, and of being overcome and destroyed by them: now Christ has provided a guard for his people, to prevent or remove these fears, and defend them from such as would make inroads upon their faith and comfort; namely, his ministers, that by their ministerings they may be a means of securing their peace and comfort, and of freeing them from all terrible apprehensions of things; which, as it shows the safety and security of the saints, so the tender care and concern of Christ for them.
(r) Sept. "gladium", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius. (s) Ebr. Comment. p. 23. (t) Xenophon. Cyropaedia, l. 6. c. 29. (u) "in noctibus", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Marckius, Michaelis.
(u) "thalamum sponsarum", Montanus. (w) So Schmidt, Marckius, David de Pomis, Kimchi in Sopher Shorash. rad. & Ben Melech in loc. (x) Sotah, c. 9. s. 14. & Jarchi in ibid. (y) Vid. Alstorph. de Lecticis Veter. c. 3.((z) Vid. Suidam in voce (a) Agreement of Customs between the East Indians and Jews, artic. 17. p. 68.
the bottom thereof of gold; Christ, the golden bottom of the Gospel, the sum and substance of it, the principal subject in it to be insisted on; he is laid in it as the bottom, ground, and foundation of faith and hope, and of everlasting life and salvation; and for its richness, firmness, and duration, may be said to be of gold, as the street of the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:21; or its "pavement" (b), as the word here signifies. The Septuagint render it, a "reclining" (c) place, to sit and rest, or lean upon; such is Christ;
the covering of it of purple; or the top of it; the word signifies a chariot itself: it may respect such doctrines of the Gospel which relate to redemption, pardon of sin, and justification through the blood of Christ; and all under the purple covering of the blood of Christ are secure from wrath to come, and go safe to heaven;
the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem; the carpet wrought with lovely figures or with love stories: the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel are full of love, of God in Christ, in providing Christ as a Saviour, and sending him to be one; and of the love of Christ in assuming human nature, and suffering and dying in it for sinners, even for Jerusalem sinners; the Gospel sets forth the heart of Christ as "inflamed" (d), as the word here used signifies, with love to the daughters of Jerusalem, his dear children, which moved him to do all he did and suffered for them; and could his heart be looked into, the very images of these persons would be seen upon it: the ordinances of the Gospel are designed both to set forth, in the most striking manner, the love of Christ to his sons and daughters, for whose sake he became man and suffered death, and to draw forth their love to him; so the words may be rendered, "paved with love by the daughters of Jerusalem" (e), or "with the love of them" (f) how delightful must it be to ride in such a chariot, or sit under such a ministry, where there is nothing but love! moreover, the whole description of the "bride chamber", which some choose to render the word for "chariot" by, well agrees with the New Jerusalem state, as given in Revelation 21:1, where the church being as a bride prepared for her husband, will be introduced, the nuptial feast will be kept, and Christ will be seen by the daughters of Zion in all his regal glory, with the royal diadem on his head, as he is described in Sol 3:11.
(b) "pavimentum ejus", Vatablus, Grotius. (c) Sept. "reclinatorium ejus", Arabic interpreter. (d) "succcensum", Montanus, Marckius; "accensum, sive exustum", some in Vatablus, so Aben Ezra. (e) "a filiabus", Montanus, Cocceius; so Sept. "a puellis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (f) "Amore foeminarum", Tigurine version; "amore filiarum", Vatablus, Mercerus.