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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Song of Solomon 5

Verse 1


There is an immediate connection between the first verse of this Chapter, and the last of the preceding: for no sooner hath the church invited her Lord to come into his garden, than he declares himself come. The church professeth herself to be in a sleepy state, but awakened by Jesus, she breaks out into a commendation of her Lord, which runs through the whole chapter.

Song of Solomon 5:1

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

Reader! observe the instant answer, and the gracious answer of Jesus to the Church in these words. The moment she asked, her wishes are complied with; yea, agreeably to that promise of Jesus, Before his people calls, he will answer. Isaiah 65:24 . For as some read the words it is as if Jesus had said, I am come into my garden: that is, I am always with you. And surely if you considered aright you would know this, by the manifestations I am forever making to you. For how else would you invite me, had I not first inclined your heart to it, by the sweet influences of my grace? And do you not know of my presence with you, by the secret intimations I give you? Are you not sensible when I answer your prayers, accept and follow up your petitions, and meet you with blessings in the refreshment you feel at, and after you have been to a throne of grace. Is not this gathering my myrrh with my spice, eating of my honey and drinking of my wine? For all the graces you are enabled to exercise on me are mine, both in my first giving and in my after calling forth into use. And when you feel a fulness of enjoyment at my house or my table; in private, or in public worship; from whence do these enjoyments arise, but from me? Do you not hear my voice in all, calling upon you as my friends and beloved to eat and drink abundantly? I do not detain the reader with many observations on the several things here spoken of, for this would lead into an endless subject. I fear indeed in every line I write that I am swelling this work, which at the first was begun with a view to compress within a very few pages, to a bulk by much too large. But I would trespass here, on this verse in one part of it, to offer a remark on the honey-comb, and the honey the Lord so delightfully speaks of eating. Honey is in the flower, before it is extracted and formed by the bee. So it may be said that the love and grace of Jehovah in redemption goodness was in his infinite mind and will towards us, before that it was brought forth from the Father, towards us and our nature by the Lord Jesus Christ. And as honey in the comb is there made and prepared by the bee; so Jesus our adorable Redeemer, our Glory-man, made, and prepared, and wrought it all out by himself, for us and our nature. And as honey in the mouth is known and enjoyed by him that eateth it; so when God the Holy Ghost takes of the things of Christ and shows to us, doth he not make us eat and drink abundantly, yea, as the Lord's beloved? Yea, more. We not only eat the honey, but of the honeycomb. We not only take the sweet things of Jesus, but Jesus himself which is sweeter far. Not only his gifts and graces, his whole redemption, but himself. Oh! precious Lord what beauties are in thy word, what endless subjects in this one verse? And what then, thou dearest Lord Jesus, what beauties must be in thyself, to ravish the souls of thy people with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, to all eternity?

Verse 2

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, 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.

We have here the description of the soul under a state of coldness and indifferency to her Lord. This is described under the image and figure of sleep; yet not a dead sleep of total insensibility; for she saith, Her heart waketh; and so as to hear and know the voice of her beloved, w ho is calling upon her and desiring admittance. But it is intended to represent that situation, which the people of God, everyone of them by experience, know but too much of: at times a coldness to divine things, an indifferency to the cause of Jesus: and sometimes to the neglect of ordinances, and the means of grace; or if sitting under the word, a hearing as though they heard not. It is a sad state this, and sometimes the temptation to it is carried on to a length truly alarming. And as it ariseth from a body of sin of death they carry about with them, believers can never be too earnest with the Lord to be kept from it. Our indifferency under it becomes the Worst symptom of it. And no doubt, it becomes also the greatest cause of the displeasure of the Lord. And did not his grace as much exceed our deserts, as his love is greater than ours, a recovery from it could never be expected.

Yea, perhaps many a child of God hath had his last days clouded in consequence of it, and gone out of life without that fulness of divine light, which the exercise of lively faith upon the person of Christ is sure to induce. Reader! pause over it. And while looking up with earnest prayer to be kept from it, learn to get more and more insight into that science which will tend to humble the soul, and exalt Jesus that teacheth us what a mass of sin, after all our attainments in grace, we virtually are. Truly did the Apostle say, and truly may all regenerated souls say the same, know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. Romans 7:18 . How blessed is it to observe the unchangeable love of Jesus, as set forth in this sweet verse of his word. Though the church was fallen asleep, and seemingly regardless of her Lord; yet Jesus was not regardless of her. Though we fail in duty, Jesus never fails in his love. His love-calls in this verse are most tender and gracious. He stands at the door and knocketh. Revelation 3:20 . And this by his word, by his servants the ministers of his gospel, by ordinances, by providences, by chastisements; in short, in numberless ways as shall best suit the blessed purposes of his grace. But in all and every one, see how tender his reproofs, how gentle his corrections. Sleepy and unworthy as his Church is, still is she his sister, his love, his dove, his undefiled. Oh! wonderful matchless grace! Oh! astonishingly gracious Saviour! We must not wholly pass over the several arguments the Lord Jesus makes use of, to enforce the Church to receive him. He saith, His head is filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night. By which perhaps may be understood, that he came with a fulness of grace, and would be himself as the dew unto Israel. Hosea 14:6 ; Deuteronomy 32:2 . And perhaps the drops of the night is intended to manifest to the Church the Redeemer's own personal sufferings, which he endured in order to bring blessings to her. The garden of Gethsemane, and the mount of Olives may well and fully explain. Psalms 22:0 and Psalms 69:0 compared with the Evangelists. Matthew 26:1-75 etc.

Verse 3

I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

If this verse affords as that it doth indeed afford, an awful example to what a degree of baseness and ingratitude our nature is capable of falling; it will serve at the same time to manifest the wonderful patience, and love, and forbearance of our Lord. What a beautiful representation of both is given by the Prophet. Hosea, Hosea 11:7-9 .

Verse 4

My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.

See Reader! the sovereignty of grace, and behold at the same time the whole source of our mercies. All calls, all entreaties, are lost upon our poor unthinking hearts, until the Lord that calls makes willing also in the day of his power. But until the voice that ere long shall wake the dead, now wakes the sinner, dead in trespasses and sins; no heart will open to him, nor feet move towards him. How blessed to see the Church having her very inside turned towards Christ, when by his Almighty love he had opened her soul. The prophet describes a beautiful instance of this, in the case of Ephraim: Jeremiah 31:13-20 . And the Evangelist another, in the case of the Prodigal Luke 15:17-24 .

Verse 5

I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

We have the Church here recovered from her sleep, and the sweet effects of grace moving in her heart towards Christ, are set forth in the charming figures of hands dropping, and fingers smelling with the fragrancy of myrrh; by which we are to understand that faith and love were in lively exercise to receive Christ, and to manifest her sense of his goodness and her unworthiness. Myrrh in scripture is frequently made use of to resemble grace. Thus the grace of Jesus to his people is set forth: Song of Solomon 1:13 ; Psalms 45:8 .

Verse 6

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

This is a very interesting verse, and full of divine matter. The departure of Jesus from his people doth not mean a total departure, or a loss of covenant interest in Christ's righteousness, or an union with his person. Neither his love nor his affection can he take away; for having loved his own which are in the world he loveth them unto the end. John 13:1 . And his betrothing his church unto himself is forever. Hosea 2:19 . But it means the hiding of his countenance, the suspension of the influences of the Holy Ghost. And if Jesus thus withdraws, the soul of a believer will feel what the Church felt, when she expressed herself as in this verse. Reader! pause over this subject. If you know the Lord you will know also, what a blessedness it is to live always under the visits of his love; and if at any time he remits those visits, to mourn after him. My soul can derive no joy, no comfort, from the consciousness that the Holy Ghost is with the Church always, if at the same time he is not with my soul. I still go heavily all the day if I have nothing of his quickening, upholding, and communicating grace, leading me into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ. Hence the cry of the Psalmist, Psalms 51:11 , and again Psalms 143:7 . The Church seeking Christ as expressed in the latter part of this verse, hath been observed upon, Song of Solomon 3:2 .

Verse 7

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

Some observations have been already made upon the watchmen finding the Church. Song of Solomon 3:3 . So that on that part I need not enlarge. But by wounding her; and the keepers of the walls taking away her vail from her, it may be proper to add a little by way of explaining. If the watchmen here spoken of were intended to represent the Lord's faithful servants, perhaps by those expressions are intended to show that they did not spare sharpness of speech, but admonished her of her improper conduct, and took away all the covering of excuse. Isaiah 58:1 , etc.

Verse 8

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.

The Church had twice before in this Song given a charge to the daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Solomon 2:7 . and Song of Solomon 3:5 . But here she adds a more earnest request. Tell my Lord, saith she, that I am sick of love: which is, as if she had said, oh let my Lord know how truly sorry I am for my late ungrateful conduct. Tell him I cannot rest until I know that I have his pardoning mercy and his renewing grace. Oh! tell my Lord, if he will but come unto me and draw my soul out after him, that my soul will revive as the spring. But while Jesus is absent I can find neither peace within, nor comfort without. Reader! do you know anything of these soul-searching, soul-distressing feelings? Here is nothing of the cold lifeless form of prayer. This differs widely from that lukewarm frame of spirit; which the Laodicean Church had, and which the Redeemer declared himself so much displeased with, that he rejected it with abhorrence. Revelation 3:15-16 .

Verse 9

What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

We have in this verse a question put to the Church by the daughters of Jerusalem. They call her the fairest among women, and by twice asking what there is in her beloved more than in another, they express both their surprize and their earnestness to know who this is. It is a blessed consideration that the Church is a perfection of beauty. The human soul as it first came out of the hands of the Almighty Creator pure and undefiled, and as it is when again washed in the blood of Christ after its defilements, is such an object of beauty as may well be called fair. Now the question seems to be put with much earnestness, what is there in Christ so superior to every other object of love, that it carries everything before it? Various are the objects of desire among men. Some to the world, - the pride, rank, opulence, grandeur of the world. Others to human learning. Some to pleasure; some to money; some to title; some to natural alliances. But Christ is so fair, so lovely, so supremely the chief, the only good, that the Church hath set her affection upon him, to the total exclusion of them all.

Verse 10

My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.

The Church in this verse begins her answer, and had she said no more than what she saith in the commendation of Jesus, this is a final reply to all. First, she describes his double nature, He is white; alluding, most probably, to his Godhead, spotless, pure and holy: next to his manhood; he is ruddy or red. Adam was so called, in allusion to the earth, which is red; and this feature intimates the Person of Christ in his human nature, when shedding his blood for the sins of his people. But some have supposed, and perhaps not without reason; that the human nature of Christ only is intended by the expression: the perfect obedience and purity of Christ indicated by the whiteness; and the bloody hue of his sacrifice and death setting forth by the red: But whether either or both of these, it is sufficient to show the great sense the Church had of the glory of her Lord. But she adds also, that he is the chiefest among ten thousand. This is a delightful description of the Lord Jesus. He is the chiefest among ten thousand in the sight and choice of God the Father. For Jehovah saith, I have exalted one chosen out of the people. Psalms 89:20 . He is so among all his people; for he is fairer than the children of men: and the language of every follower of Jesus is, he shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Psalms 47:4 . Precious Lord! how lovely is it to see that thou art hath the choice of Jehovah, and of thy people also.

Verse 11

His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

The Church now having given as before a general idea of her Lord, here begins to descend into particulars. And as Jesus in the preceding Chapter had been commending the beauty of his Church, she now holds forth in the best manner she is able, the surpassing grace and loveliness of her Lord. And first, she describes his head: perhaps alluding to God the Father: for the Apostle saith, that the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 . And as Christ in his divine nature is one with the Father over all, God blessed forever; perhaps also the expression might allude to the divine nature of Christ, and his headship over his Church and people. And in this sense the locks of Christ may refer, in relation to the numberless hairs of the head, to the multitude of believers.

Verse 12

His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.

The Church now describes the eyes of her, beloved. Blessed it is to know that Jesus's eye is upon all his people, and with the love and meekness of the dove. Perhaps the influences of his Holy Spirit may be here intended by the allusion. And as the Holy Ghost is frequently set forth under the similitude of rivers and waters; so his gifts are said to be as by the rivers. Sweet thought here again suggested! Jesus never loseth sight of his people; and he will be to them as a well of living water, and streams from Lebanon.

Verse 13

His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

Two features of her beloved in description the Church joins together in this verse: the cheeks of Christ and his lips. Perhaps by the former may be meant the beauties of his Person; and by the latter, the blessedness of what he delivered. And to those who have seen the King in his beauty, and heard the gracious, words which proceed out of his mouth, nothing can more strikingly set forth the Person and offices of the Lord Jesus.

Verse 14

His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

The Church again unites in one view two representations more of Jesus. The hands, which set forth his bounty, and the belly, which being the tenderest part of the body, represents his wonderful condescension to his people. And in both the Church aims to show how gracious the Lord is.

Verse 15

His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

The Church still prosecutes the pleasing subject, and from the legs to the countenance, points to her beloved. Perhaps the strength of Christ by the former, and his mildness by the latter, are intended in these expressions.

Verse 16

His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

And having now so largely particularized, she here sums up in one the whole description: as if she had said, time would fail to enumerate all: but such is my beloved, and such my friend, that he is altogether lovely, there is nothing in him but what is so. In his person, his offices, in every point of view, not only to me, but to all. Jehovah is unceasingly beholding him with divine complacency. Angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect in the Church above, centre their whole affections upon him. And the whole Church below look on no other for grace and salvation. If you therefore ask, who this is my soul loveth, and is everlastingly looking after: be it known unto you, oh! ye daughters of Jerusalem, that this is he. This is my beloved, and this is my friend. Pause, Reader! and ask your heart, whether such be your friend and your beloved also?


READER! let us not dismiss this beautiful chapter, until we have once more looked up to God the Holy Ghost, and entreated him to show us our interest in what is here said of Jesus, and how far we can adopt a similar language concerning him. And first, let us never overlook the readiness of Jesus to comply with the wishes of his people in coming at their call. No sooner did the church invite her beloved to come into his garden, but we find Christ is come. And let us remark further, how gracious the Lord is in gathering his spices; his myrrh, and milk, and honey. Reader! be assured from hence, that every prayer of his people Jesus regards. Every sigh they utter comes up before him. As one of old said, so all may be assured: He putteth our tears into his bottle all these things are noted in his book. And as Jesus comes in the midst of his churches and people to gather, so doth he give unto them largely to enjoy. His language is, Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!

Reader! are you acquainted with that state, of which the church in this part of the Song so greatly complains? Dost thou, by reason of a body of sin and death which thou carriest about with thee, groan, being burthened? Dost thou feel a heaviness not unlike the sorrow of soul which the disciples felt in the garden, and frequently dust thou feel that sad indisposition which disqualifies the soul for the sweet enjoyment of Jesus? And when at times under this dreadful deadness of affliction, thou hearest the voice of Jesus in ordinances, its providences; by rebukes, by chastisements; oh! what a decisive proof is this, in every heart that feels it, of the impossibility of any natural goodness in a creature, who is the subject of such infirmities? Precious Jesus! do thou by me, do thou by the Reader, and by every child of thine, follow up thy gracious calls, by opening the door of our hearts; and do thou come in, Lord, and revive thy work with the droppings of thy grace, and the fragrancy of thy Spirit's influences. And in those seasons, do not withdraw, thou dear Lord, neither be thou to us as the way-faring man that turneth in to tarry but for a night. Neither let thy servants, the watchmen of thy, city, wound us; but oh! let them point our souls to thee, and lead us to Jesus that we may tell our Lord we are sick, waiting for the renewed views of his pardoning grace, and mercy, that our souls may revive as the corn, and grow as the vine.

Are there any that enquire after my beloved? Do you desire to know, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, who Jesus is; what, he is; what he hath wrought; what he is doing, and can, and will do; and wherefore it is that he is my beloved, my only beloved, and why is it that I am so truly anxious for his love? Oh! for grace and power to tell you of his loveliness. Everything in Christ is precious. He is precious in his Person. Every feature of him is lovely. He is precious in his offices, precious in his character, precious in his relations; yea, there is nothing in him but what is precious; for he is altogether lovely, and the chiefest among ten thousand. And what would be alarming and distressing in others, becomes lovely in him. His cross and reproaches for his sake, how trying and painful soever to flesh and blood, are on his account, not only endurable, but productive of holy joy. And Jesus is this in all that belongs to him, and in all circumstances connected with him, for as he is in himself the first fair, the first beautiful; the first lovely; so he communicates loveliness to all that are united to him; neither is there anything lovely or amiable but what is derived from him. Do you enquire, then, what there is in my beloved, more than in another beloved I answer; All these things and a thousand more. And will you not love him with me, and delight in him also; oh that he that is my beloved, may be your beloved; and that you may at length say with me, This is my friend, and this is my beloved, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.