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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 8

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.

Song of Solomon 8:1-14

Oh that thou (wert) as my brother. He had been a brother already. Why, then, this prayer here? It refers to the time after His resurrection, when the previous outward intimacy with Him was no longer allowed; but it was implied that it should be renewed at the second coming (John 20:17): for this the Church here prays. Meanwhile she enjoys inward spiritual communion with Him.

I would kiss thee. The last who ever 'kissed" Jesus Christ on earth was the traitor Judas. The bride's return with the King to her mother's house answers to Acts 8:25, after the mission to Samaria (Moody Stuart) (Song of Solomon 7:11-12). The rest spoken of (Song of Solomon 8:4) answers to Acts 9:31.

That sucked ... mother - a brother born of the same mother: the closest tie. The bride, the Church, desires no longer with alternations, now in a chamber, now in a garden, now in a field, to enjoy hasty glimpses of Christ, but continuously, and without interruption, as it shall be in the coming manifestation of Christ and of His saints in glory.

He is the older Brother of the Church by His incarnation (Matthew 12:50; Hebrews 2:11-12). In a special sense the penitent Israelite Church is meant, when she shall long for the Saviour who has been found by "the daughters of Jerusalem," the Gentiles who had learned Christianity first from her.

Verse 2

I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.

Bring thee into my mother's house. Her desire to bring Him into her home circle (John 1:41).

Who would instruct me - rather, 'THOU wouldest instruct me;' namely, how I might best please thee (John 16:13). The heavenly Bridegroom of Israel, literal and spiritual, shall cause all her children in the day of His return to Jerusalem in mercy to be "taught of the Lord" (Isaiah 54:13). Then also the Gentile nations (Isaiah 2:2-3). Israel here sighs for His return and permanent abode in Jerusalem, "her mother's house" (Zechariah 12:10; cf. Song of Solomon 3:1-11; Song of Solomon 4:1-16), which implies that here the union that had subsisted between Israel and the Lord is on the eve of being re-established.

Spiced wine - seasoned with aromatic perfumes. Jesus Christ ought to have our choicest gifts. Spices are never introduced in the Song in His absence, therefore the time of His return from "the mountain of spices" (Song of Solomon 8:14) is contemplated. The cup of betrothal was given by Him at the last Supper; the cup of marriage shall be presented by her at His return (Matthew 26:29.) Until then the believer often cannot feel toward, or speak of Him, as he would wish.

Verse 3

His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.

Left hand ... under my head ... right hand should embrace me - (cf. as to Israel, Deuteronomy 32:27.) The 'left and right hand,' etc., occurred only once actually (Song of Solomon 2:6), and here optatively. Only at His first manifestation did the Church palpably embrace Him: at His second coming there shall be again sensible communion with Him.

Verse 4

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.

I charge you ... nor awake (my) love until he please. This charge is that of restored Israel to the converted Gentile nations, not to interrupt the millennial rest of Christ with His world-wide Church, the center of which shall then be Jerusalem. The apostasy which shall precede, as also that which shall close, the millennium, shows this charge not to be needless (Revelation 20:4-9). The rest in Song of Solomon 8:4, which is a spiritual realization of the wish in Song of Solomon 8:3 (1 Peter 1:8), and the charge not to disturb it, close the 1James 2:1-26; James 2:1-26 nd, and 4th canticles; not the 3rd, as the Bridegroom there takes charge Himself; nor the 5th; for if repose formed its close, we might mistake the present state for our rest. The broken, longing close (Song of Solomon 8:14), like that of the whole Bible (Rev. 22:29 ), reminds us we are to be waiting for a Saviour to come. On "daughters of Jerusalem," see note, Song of Solomon 7:10.

Verse 5

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? - literature, conjoined, or conjoining herself upon her Beloved, as the kindred Arabic to the Hebrew, mithrapequeth, means. Words of the daughters of Jerusalem, i:e., the churches of Judea; referring to the period when Paul returned from Arabia ("the wilderness"), where he had gone after conversion (Galatians 1:15-24) (Moody Stuart). The gender in Hebrew, "Who is this?" is feminine. The ulterior reference seems to me to be rather to restored Israel, who shall come up from 'the wilderness of the peoples,' leaning upon her beloved Lord, wherein she has so long sojourned. The daughters of Jerusalem (the converted Gentiles) ask the question, for they at first are slow to believe the restoration of Israel as a nation to God's favour. But afterward they do (cf. Isaiah 66:20).

I raised thee ... she ... bare thee - (Acts 26:14-16.) The first words of Jesus Christ to the bride since her going to the garden of nuts (Song of Solomon 6:9-10); so His appearance to Paul is the only one since His ascension: Song of Solomon 8:13 is not an address of Him as visible: her reply implies He is not visible (1 Corinthians 15:8) (Moody Stuart). But the Hebrew masculine pronoun suffixes show that "thee" refers to Christ, and that therefore it is the bride who is speaking of Him, not He of her. Spiritually, the literal and the spiritual Israel was found in the moral wilderness (Hosea 13:5); but now she is "coming up from" it (Jeremiah 2:2; Jeremiah 2:6), especially in the last stage of her journey, her conscious weakness casting itself the more wholly on Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 21:9 ). "Raised" (Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:7). But as the words are the brides as to Christ, "I raised" must mean, I, by my sin under the apple tree in Eden, and consequent misery, roused thy compassion, so that thou didst become incarnate for my sake.

Israel here speaks as representative of the whole of redeemed humanity. The apple tree symbolized love. Israel restored here reminds Christ of her having formerly eat under Him, "the apple tree" of love, and having eaten of His fruit "with great delight" (Song of Solomon 2:3). "Thy mother" that "brought thee forth" is the woman, the Church, of whom Christ is the promised. "Seed." (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 12:1-2). "There" is twice repeated, to mark emphatically the immediate connection between the scene of man's sin and the bringing forth from the love of God the remedy - i:e., the incarnation of Christ in the Virgin's womb (Micah 5:3, note). The Old Testament Church travailed in anxious waiting for Christ (Micah 4:9-10). Found ruined under the forbidden tree, restored under the shadow of Jesus Christ crucified, "the green tree" (Luke 23:31), fruit - "bearing" by the cross (Isaiah 53:11). Born again by the Holy Spirit "there" (Ezekiel 16:3-6). In this verse her dependence, in the similar verse, Song of Solomon 3:6, etc., His omnipotence to support her, are brought out. The reference back to the first part implies her restoration to her former union with the Bridegroom, riding in His palanquin, as of old in the wilderness.

Verse 6

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

Seal - having her name or likeness engraven on it. His holy priesthood also in heaven, (Hebrews 4:14; "His heart" there answering to "thine heart" here, and "two shoulders" to "arm." Compare Jeremiah 22:24 with Haggai 2:23. The Church is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). As in Song of Solomon 8:5 she was "leaning" on Him-i.e, her arm on His arm, her head on His bosom-so she prays now that her impression may be engraven both on His heart and His arm, answering to His love and His power (Psalms 77:15; see Isaiah 62:3). The prayer of the literal Zion here is answered in Isaiah 49:16, "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands."

Love is strong as death - (Romans 8:35-39.) This their love unto death flows from His love unto death (John 10:15; John 15:13).

Jealousy ... the grave - zealous love, jealous of all that would come between the soul and Jesus Christ Psalms 106:30-31; Luke 9:60; Luke 14:26).

Cruel - Hebrew, quasha: rather, unyielding, hard: as the grave will not let go those whom it once holds (John 10:28).

A most vehement flame - literature, the fire-flame of Yah or Yahweh (Isaiah 6:6). Nowhere else is God's name found in the Song. The zeal that burnt in Jesus Christ kindled in His followers (Romans 15:30).

Verse 7

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.

Waters - in contrast with the "coals of fire," which can be ordinarily quenched with water (Song of Solomon 8:6; 1 Kings 18:33-38). Satan's waterflood of persecutions (Acts 8:1) cannot quench the Church's love (Hebrews 10:34). Our many provocations have not quenched His love (Romans 8:33-39). if ... give all the substance ... contemned-nothing short of Jesus Christ Himself, not even heaven without Him, can satisfy the saint (Philippians 3:8). Satan offers the world, as to Jesus Christ, so to the saint, in vain (1 John 2:15-17; 1 John 5:4). Nothing But our love, in turn, can satisfy Him (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Verse 8

We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

We have a little sister - the Gentile Church (Ezekiel 16:48-53). "We," i:e., the Hebrew Church, which heretofore admitted Gentiles to communion, only by becoming Judaic proselytes. Now first idolatrous Gentiles are admitted directly (Acts 11:17-26). Generally, the saint's anxiety for other souls (John 4:28-29).

No breasts - neither faith nor love as yet (note, Song of Solomon 4:5), which "come by hearing" of Him who first loved us. Not yet fit to be His bride and mother of a spiritual offspring.

What we shall do for our sister - the chief question in the early Church at the first council, (Acts 15:1-41.) How shall "the older brother" treat the "younger," already received by the Father? (Luke 15:25-32.) Generally the first question of every soul that has itself been brought to the obedience of the heavenly King (Galatians 6:10).

In the day when she shall be spoken for? - i:e., when she shall be sought in marriage (Judges 14:7), namely, by Jesus Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom.

Verse 9

If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.

Wall ... door - the very terms employed as to the Gentile question (Acts 14:27; Ephesians 2:14). If she be a wall in Zion, founded on Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11), we will not "withstand God" (Acts 15:8-11). But if so, we must not "build" (Acts 15:14-17) on her "wood, hay, stubble" (1 Corinthians 3:12), i:e., Jewish rites, etc.; but a "palace of silver," i:e., all the highest privileges of church communion (Galatians 2:11-18; Ephesians 2:11-22). Image from the splendid turrets "built" on the "walls" of Jerusalem, and flanking the "door," or gateway. The Gentile Church is the "door," the type of catholic accessibleness (1 Corinthians 16:9); but it must be not a mere thoroughfare, but furnished with a wooden framework, so as not merely to admit, but also to safely enclose. Cedar is fragrant, beautiful, and enduring.

Verse 10

I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.

I (am) a wall, and my breasts like towers. The Gentile Church's joy at its free admission to Gospel privileges (Acts 15:30-31). She is one wall in the spiritual temple of the Holy Spirit; the Hebrew Church is the other: Jesus Christ, the common foundation, joins them (Ephesians 2:11-22).

Breasts . . . towers - alluding to the silver palace which the bridal virgins proposed to build on her (Song of Solomon 8:9). "Breasts" of consolation (Isaiah 66:11); faith and love (1 Thessalonians 5:8): opposed to her previous state, "no breasts" (Song of Solomon 8:8). Thus Ezekiel 16:46; Ezekiel 16:61, was fulfilled, both Samaria and the Gentiles being joined to the Jewish Gospel Church. But the fullness of the accomplishment shall be when, at Israel's restoration, all the Gentile nations, as well as the Jews, shall suck and be satisfied with the breasts of Jerusalem's consolations, and so, in turn, shall themselves have breasts, becoming spiritual mothers to their children.

Favour - rather peace (cf. Romans 9:25-26). The Gentile Church, too, is become the Shulamite (Song of Solomon 6:13), or peace-enjoying bride of Solomon - i:e., Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14). Reject not those whom God accepts (Acts 15:8-9). Rather, superadd to such every aid and privilege (Song of Solomon 8:9).

Verse 11

Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.

Solomon had a vineyard. The joint-church speaks of Jesus Christ's vineyard. It had been transferred from the Jews, who had not rendered the fruits, to the Gentiles (Matthew 21:33-43). Now Israel no more complaints of herself - "Mine own vineyard have I not kept:" but "thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand" (Song of Solomon 8:12).

At Baal-hamon - meaning the owner of a multitude: so Israel in Solomon's days (1 Kings 4:20); so Isaiah 5:1, "a very fruitful hill," abounding in privileges, as in numbers.

He let out the vineyard unto keepers - the Israelites (Song of Solomon 1:6. "They made me the keeper of the vineyards" Matthew 21:33).

Every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces - namely, silverings, or shekels. The vineyard had 1,000 vines probably: a vine at a silverling (Isaiah 7:23), referring to this passage.

Verse 12

My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.

My vineyard, which (is) mine, (is) before me. "Mine" by grant of the true Solomon. Not merely "let out to keepers," as in the Jewish dispensation of works, but, "mine" by grace. This is "before me," i:e., in my power (Maurer).

Thou, O Solomon, (must have) a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof, two hundred. But though no longer under constraint of "keeping" the law as a mere letter and covenant of works, love to Jesus Christ will constrain her the more freely to render all to Solomon (1 Peter 2:16), after having paid what justice and His will require should be paid to others (1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 1 Corinthians 9:14). "Before me" may also mean 'I will never lose sight of it' (contrast Song of Solomon 1:6) (Moody Stuart). She will not keep it for herself, though so freely given to her, but for His use and glory (1 Corinthians 12:7). The "two hundred" is thought by some to mean a double tithe (two-tenths of the whole) paid back by Jesus Christ as the reward of grace for our surrender of all (the thousand) to Him (Hebrews 6:10): then she and "those that keep" are the same. But Jesus Christ pays back not merely two tithes, but His all, for our all (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

Verse 13

Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.

Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it - Jesus Christ's farewell address to the bride, the spiritual Israel, before parting from her at the Ascension, when about to be no longer visibly present. I am about to depart for a time; let me meanwhile hear thy voice of prayer and praise (Song of Solomon 2:14; Psalms 5:3), "For whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you" (John 16:23). "The gardens" are the particular churches and congregations met for worship, and forming parts of the universal Church. "The companions" are the saints individually, forming one general communion; and the ministers the vinedressers-e.g. Paul, etc. (Acts 15:25-26) - under her (Song of Solomon 8:11-12): these ought to obey her when she obeys Jesus Christ. Her voice, in confession of sin, profession of faith, in prayer and praises, to be heard continually by Jesus Christ, if her voice before men is to be effective (Song of Solomon 2:14, end; Acts 13:2-3).

Verse 14

Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon

Make haste, my beloved. (See note, Song of Solomon 2:17). As she began with longing for His first coming (Song of Solomon 1:2), so she ends with praying for His second coming (Psalms 130:6; Revelation 22:20). Moody Stuart makes the roe upon spices to be the muskdeer. As there are four gardens, so four mountains, which form not mere images, as Gilead, Carmel, etc., but part of the structure of the Song.

(1) Bether (H1335), or division (Song of Solomon 2:17), God's justice dividing us from God;

(2) Those "of the leopards" (Song of Solomon 4:8), sin, the world, and Satan;

(3) That "of myrrh and aloes" (Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 4:14), the sepulchre of Calvary;

(4) Those "of spices," here parallel to "the hill of frankincense (Song of Solomon 4:6), where His soul had been for the three days of His death; and answering to heaven, where He is a High Priest now offering incense for us on the fragrant mountain of His own finished work (Heb. 4:19; Hebrews 7:25; Revelation 8:3-4).

Thus, He surmounts the other three mountains-God's justice, our sin, and death. The mountain of spices is as much greater than our sins as heaven is higher than earth (Psalms 103:11). The abrupt unsatisfied close, with the yearning prayer for His visible coming, shows that the marriage is future, and that to wait eagerly for it is our true attitude (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 3:12). This verse is parallel to the disciples' longing for the kingdom just before the Ascension-`Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6.)

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/song-of-solomon-8.html. 1871-8.
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