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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Song of Solomon 4

Verse 1

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

Song of Solomon 4:1-16

Behold, thou (art) fair. Contrast with the bride's state by nature (Isaiah 1:6) her state by grace (Song of Solomon 4:1-7), 'perfect through His comeliness put upon her' (Ezekiel 16:14). The praise of Jesus Christ, unlike that of the world, hurts not, but edities, as His, not ours, is the glory (John 5:44). Seven features of beauty are specified (Song of Solomon 4:1-5: "lips" and "speech" are but one feature, Song of Solomon 4:3), the number for perfection-namely, the eyes, hair, teeth, lips, temples, neck, breasts. 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' eyes - the large melting eye of the Syrian dove appears especially beautiful midst the foliage of its native groves; so the bride's "eyes within her locks." Her locks are her veil, the mark of her modesty, subjection, and pure affection toward Christ, her Husband and Lord. 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 - (Matthew 6:22; Ephesians 1:18; contrast Matthew 5:28; Ephesians 4:18.) Chaste and guileless (Matthew 10:16, margin; John 1:47). John the Baptist, historically, was the 'turtle dove' (Song of Solomon 2:12), the harbinger of spring and summer, with eye directed to the coming Bridegroom. His Nazarite unshorn hair answers to "locks" (John 1:29; John 1:36).

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, so the Nazarite's hair marked his subjection and separation unto God (cf. Judges 16:17 with 2 Corinthians 6:17). Jesus Christ cares for the minutest concerns of His saints, even to 'the hairs of their head' (Matthew 10:30).

Appear from - literally, 'that lie down from.' Lying along the hill-side, they seem to hang from it; a picture of the bride's hanging tresses.

Gilead - beyond Jordan there stood the 'heap of witness' (Genesis 31:48).

Verse 2

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

Thy teeth (are) like a flock ... shorn. The Hebrew [ qªtsuwbowt (H7094)] implies 'cut' or "shorn," so as to be like one another. Cf the same Hebrew term in 1 Kings 6:25, "of one size." So the point of comparison to teeth is their symmetry of form; as in 'come up from the washing,' the spotless whiteness; and in "twins," the exact correspondence of the upper and under teeth; and in "none barren," none wanting, none without its fellow. Faith is the tooth with which we eat the living bread. Contrast the teeth of sinners (Proverbs 30:14); also their end (Matthew 25:30). Faith leads the flock to the washing (1 Corinthians 6:11).

None ... barren - (2 Peter 1:8.) He who is begotten of God begets instrumentally other sons of God.

Verse 3

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

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."

Scarlet - the blood of Jesus Christ (typified by the live coal from off the altar applied to Isaiah's lips by the seraph, Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 6:9) cleanses the leprosy and unseals the lips (Hebrews 13:15). Rahab's scarlet thread was a type of it.

Speech - not a separate feature from the lips (Colossians 4:6). Contrast "uncircumcised lips," Exodus 6:12. Midbar (H4057) elsewhere means a wilderness; here only speech.

Temples - rather, the upper part of the cheek next the temples; the seat of shamefacedness: so, "within thy locks" (Song of Solomon 4:1); no display (1 Corinthians 11:5-6; 1 Corinthians 11:15). Mark of true penitence (Ezekiel 16:63). Contrast Jeremiah 3:3, "a whore's forehead;" Ezekiel 3:7, "impudent;" Hebrew, stiff of forehead.

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.

Verse 4

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

Neck - stately: in beautiful contrast to the blushing temples (Song of Solomon 4:3); not 'staff' (Acts 7:51), as that of unbroken nature; nor "stitched forth" wantonly (Isaiah 3:16), nor burdened with unforgiven sin and the legal yoke (Lamentations 1:14), but erect in Gospel freedom (Isaiah 3:2).

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 (each hangs on Him, Isaiah 22:23-24); also each victory of her faith. As shields adorn a temple's walls (Ezekiel 27:11), so necklaces hang on the bride's neck (Judges 5:30).

Verse 5

Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

Thy two breasts - an image of the nutritive virtue in the Church. 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 (1 Thessalonians 5:8), answering to 'hearing the Word' and 'keeping it,' in a similar connection with breasts (Luke 11:27-28).

Like two young roes. He reciprocates her praise (Song of Solomon 2:9). Emblem of love and satisfaction (Proverbs 5:19).

Feed - (Psalms 33:2).

Among the lilies - shrinking from thorns of strife, worldliness, and ungodliness. Roes feed among, not on the lilies. Where these grow there is moisture, producing green pasturage. The lilies represent her white dress (Revelation 19:8).

Verse 6

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

The mountain of myrrh ... the hill of frankincense. Historically, the hill of frankincense is Calvary, where, 'through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself;' the mountain of myrrh is His embalmment with the myrrh and aloes of Nicodemus until the resurrection "day break." The 3rd Canticle occupies the one cloudless day of His presence on earth, beginning from the night (Song of Solomon 2:17), and ending with the night of His departure (Song of Solomon 4:6). His promise is almost exactly in the words of her prayer (Song of Solomon 2:17) - the same Holy Spirit 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 until the everlasting daybreak, when we shall see face to face. Typically, as the chariot of the heavenly Solomon (Song of Solomon 3:9) would express His moving tabernacle in the wilderness, so His getting Him to "the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense" expresses His taking His abode in His temple on the holy hill of Zion, where frankincense was offered until the spiritual day-break at the first advent of Messiah.

Verse 7

Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

Assurance that He is going from her in love, not in displeasure (John 16:6-7).

All fair - still stronger than Song of Solomon 1:15; Song of Solomon 5:1.

No spot - our privilege (Colossians 2:10); our duty (James 1:27).

Verse 8

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Come with me from Lebanon - invitation to her to leave the border mountains (the highest worldly elevation) between the hostile lands north of Palestine and the Promised Land (Psalms 45:10; Philippians 3:13).

Amana - south of Anti-Libanus; the river Abana, or Amans, was near Damascus.

Shenir. The whole mountain was called Hermon; the part held by the Sidonians was called Sirion; the part held by the Amorites, Shenir (Deuteronomy 3:9). Infested by the devouring lion and the stealthy and swift leopard (Psalms 76:4, note). Contrasted with the mountain of myrrh, etc. (Song of Solomon 4:6; Isaiah 2:2); the good land (Isaiah 35:9).

With me - twice repeated emphatically. The presence of Jesus Christ makes up for the absence of all beside (2 With me - twice repeated emphatically. The presence of Jesus Christ makes up for the absence of all beside (2 Corinthians 6:10). Moses was permitted to see Canaan from Pisgah; Peter, James, and John had a foretaste of glory on the mount of transfiguration.

Verse 9

Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

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 ardour of a spouse's love is combined with the purity of a sister's (Mark 3:35).

One of thine eyes - even one look is enough to secure His love (Zechariah 12:10; Luke 23:40-43). Not merely the Church collectively, but each one member of it (Luke 15:7) is precious to His heart.

Chain - necklace, answering to the "shields" hanging in the tower of David (Song of Solomon 4:4). Compare the "ornament" (1 Peter 3:4); "chains" (Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 3:22).

Verse 10

How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!

Love - Hebrew, loves; manifold tokens of thy love.

Much better - answering to her "better than wine" (Song of Solomon 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; e.g., at the feast in Simon's house.

Smell of ... ointments than all spices - answering to her praise (Song of Solomon 1:3), with increased force. Fragrant, as being fruits of His Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22).

Verse 11

Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

Drop - always ready to fell, being full of honey, though not always actually dropping (Song of Solomon 5:13; Deuteronomy 32:2).

Honey-comb - (Proverbs 16:24.)

Honey and milk (are) under thy tongue - not always on but under, the tongue, ready to fall: not deceitful, as Psalms 55:21. Contrast her former state, "adder's poison is under their lips" (Psalms 140:3). "Honey and milk" were the glory of the good land. The change is illustrated in the penitent thief. Contrast Matthew 27:44 with Luke 23:30, etc. It was literally with 'one' eye, a sidelong glance of love "better than wine," that he refreshed Jesus Christ (Song of Solomon 4:9-10). "Today shalt thou be with me (cf. Song of Solomon 4:8) in Paradise" (Song of Solomon 4:12), is the only joyous sentence of His seven utterances on the cross.

Smell of ... garments - which are often perfumed in the East (Psalms 45:8). The perfume comes from Him on us (Psalms 133:2). We draw nigh to God in the perfumed garment of our older brother (Genesis 27:27; see Jude 1:23).

Lebanon - abounding in odoriferous tress.

Verse 12

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

A garden enclosed. Here she is distinct from the garden (Song of Solomon 5:1), yet identified with it (Song of Solomon 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 amidst "myrrh," etc. (Song of Solomon 4:6), situated in a nicely kept garden (cf. "gardener," John 20:15); "sealed" with a stone (Matthew 27:66); in which it resembles 'wells' in the East. 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 (Song of Solomon 2:13) it was "the tender grape." The garden is His, though he calls the plants her's (Song of Solomon 4:13), by his gift (Isaiah 61:3, end).

Spring ... fountain - Jesus Christ (John 4:10) sealed, while He was in the sealed tomb: it poured forth its full tide on Pentecost. Still He is a sealed fountain, until the Holy Spirit open it to one (1 Corinthians 12:3). The Church also is "a garden enclosed," (Psalms 4:3; Isaiah 5:1, etc.) Contrast Psalms 80:9-12. So "a spring" (Isaiah 27:3); 'sealed' (2 Timothy 2:19). As wives in the East are secluded from public gaze, so believers (Colossians 3:3). Contrast the oven streams which "pass away" (Job 6:15-18; 2 Peter 2:17).

Verse 13

Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,

Orchard - Hebrew ( Pardeec (H6508)), a paradise - i:e., a pleasure-ground and orchard.

Pomegranates - not only flowers, but fruit tress (John 15:8).

Camphire - not camphor (Song of Solomon 1:14); hennah, or cypress blooms.

Verse 14

Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

Calamus - `sweet cane,' an ingredient in the "holy anointing oil" for the high priest (Exodus 30:23; Jeremiah 6:20).

Myrrh and aloes - so Psalms 45:8. Ointments are associated with His death, as well as with feasts (John 12:7). The bride's ministry of "myrrh and aloes" is recorded, John 19:39.

Verse 15

A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters - "of." This pleasure-ground is not dependent on mere reservoirs; it has a fountain sufficient to water many "gardens," (plur.)

Living - (Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:8; John 4:13-14.)

Streams from Lebanon - though the fountain is lowly, the source is lofty; fed by the perpetual snows of Lebanon, refreshingly cool (Jeremiah 18:14), fertilizing the gardens of Damascus. It springs open earth; its source is heaven. It is now not "sealed," but open "streams" (Revelation 22:17).

Verse 16

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Awake - Arise. All beside is ready: one thing alone is wanted-the breath of God. This fellows rightly after His death, (Song of Solomon 6:12; Acts 2:1.) It is His call to the Spirit to come (John 14:16); in John 3:8 compared to "the wind:" quickening (John 6:63; Ezekiel 37:9). Saints offer the same prayer (Psalms 85:6). The north wind 'awakes,' or arises strongly-namely, the Holy Spirit as a reprover (John 16:8-11); the south wind 'comes' gently-namely, the Holy Spirit as the Comforter (John 14:16). The west wind brings rain from the sea (1 Kings 18:44-45). The east wind is tempestuous (Job 27:21), and withering (Genesis 41:23). These, therefore, are not wanted; but first the north wind, clearing the air (Job 37:22), and then the warm south wind (Job 37:17); so the Holy Spirit first clearing away mists of gloom, error, unbelief, sin, which intercept the light of Jesus Christ, then infusing spiritual warmth (2 Corinthians 4:6), causing the graces to exhale their odour.

Let my beloved ... - The bride's reply. The fruit was now at length ripe; the last Passover, which He had so desired, is come (Luke 22:7; Luke 22:15-18), the only case 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 conceal (Psalms 66:16), are His (John 15:8).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.