Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Song of Solomon 5

Verses 1-16

Song of Solomon 5:9 . What is thy beloved more than another beloved? To address this question to Pharaoh’s daughter, had been the highest insult. More therefore is intended in this sublime of songs than a mere nuptial poem. The address is to the church of Judea, whose husband is the Lord of hosts.

Song of Solomon 5:10 . The chiefest among ten thousand. The standard bearer, or the captain general of ten thousand. So when he comes to judge the unbelieving world, the armies of heaven shall follow him on white horses.


The church being the garden of the Lord, the true paradise and joy of the whole earth; we have here the king’s entrance into it, and his invitation to the spouse to walk with him, and see the delights of paradise. I am come into my garden, he says, my sister, for I am flesh of thy flesh, and bone of thy bone; my spouse, for I have betrothed thee in righteousness. How glorious then is the church! She is daughter of the Father of heaven, and king of glory; for her all things are and were created, and for her the Lord of glory died on Calvary. Hence Christ takes her from her earthly kindred, and calls her by his own name. He shares with her all his glory and honour, that she may forget the meanness of her earthly birth.

Christ having gathered in his garden myrrh and spice, and stored his table with honey and wine, invites his friend and beloved to eat and drink abundantly. But oh what spices are so fragrant as the merits and intercessions of the Lord of glory? What honey is so sweet as the gracious words which fall from his lips; and what wine is so delicious as the reviving influences of his Spirit? Oh what a happiness that we poor aliens are made friends of the Bridegroom, and called to sit in heavenly places, and eat of all the rich fruits of redeeming love. When the heart comes properly prepared, and is fully absorbed in the spirit of devotion, language cannot utter the joys which the ordinances afford even on earth. And to heighten the charms of grace, the nuptial feast has a social character. Our friends whom we love, banquet at the same board; and they augment the happiness of heaven by mutual love and joy in the Lord.

As a woman retiring to rest before her husband arrives, cannot enjoy perfect sleep, and is reluctant to rise when he calls, so a slumbering time is dangerous to the church. I sleep, but my heart waketh. At all times we are called to watch and wait for the Lord. But if we suffer a yawning supineness to steal upon us, if we begin to be less alarmed at the world and its maxims, and if we relax in zeal for God, we are sliding into a state of stupor highly displeasing to the Lord. Our heart will awake; and conscience will remind us that this is not the humble, holy and happy state we once enjoyed.

The sure signs of that state are reluctance to the cross, and a tardiness to duty. Christ says, open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled, for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. He calls the soul by these endearing appellatives, because they happily express the graces of the church. In particular, he calls her his dove, so true to her mate, so pure in her deportment, so peaceful in her life, and so fond of society. Now, if the Holy Spirit shall prompt us to prayer, to acts of faith and love, to reprove sin, and obey the severer commands of grace, we should never be tardy and reluctant to comply. Love should always kindle love; and here the Lord has set us a high example.

The excuses we make to religious duties are highly displeasing to the Lord, because they slight the greatness of his love, and he therefore withdraws his comforts from the slumbering soul. I have put off my robe, says indolence; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? “The flesh,” says Dr. Richard Sibbs, in his excellent volume of sermons on this chapter, “never wants excuses. There were never yet any went to hell but they had some pretense for going thither. There was never yet any sinful course, but it had the flesh to justify it with one reason or other.” We make excuses because Satan has a great influence over our hearts, and they are naturally inclined to evasion in religious concerns. “Master,” said Peter, “spare thyself.”

We here see the alarms of a gracious soul, when it finds the Lord has withdrawn his presence. I rose to open, but my beloved had withdrawn himself. Then the soul should say, Oh how great is my sin; how provoking to the Lord. It has deprived me of his presence and comfort. The above pious divine farther adds, that the Lord withdraws himself to try our affections to teach us wisdom for the future to correct our security to prepare us for near communion with him and to acquaint us with the evil of sin. When the comforts of religion are once lost, they are difficult to be regained. I sought him, but I found him not. I called, but he gave me no answer. When that is the case, we must never give up the search, but rather redouble our efforts. So here; the church grieved for her folly, and alarmed for her loss, ran into the streets and asked the watchmen whether they had seen her beloved. But they treated her rudely, being strangers to the hallowed sentiments which glowed in her breast. Just so, when the distressed soul runs to hirelings for counsel, or to the world for comfort, they expose their weakness to insults and contempt.

Bad usage from the world did not discourage her in seeking her Lord, but it made her more prudent. She addressed her enquiries next to the daughters of Jerusalem, who called her the fairest among women; but withal sifted her sincerity by asking, What was her beloved more than another beloved? So a soul appears truly amiable when it is seeking the Lord with all its powers; and it never acts more wisely than when it goes in distress to the children of the heavenly Zion for instruction and comfort.

In seeking the Saviour we should get exalted ideas of his perfections and beauty. My beloved is white and ruddy. Blooming health, celestial beauty, and every grace irradiate his countenance. He has every virtue and lustre which can adorn a king. Nay, he is the chief of ten thousand kings who fill the thrones of heaven; for in the glory of his person, in his creation and providence, and in all the grace of redemption he is altogether lovely.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.