Song of Solomon Chapter 3: The Church’s Love for Christ

Aug 12th, 2009 | By | Category: Song of Solomon, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Song of Solomon Chapter 3

Chapter 3 shows that the Church class do not need to be prodded to seek the Lord. They are resting comfortably in their bed, thinking about the Master the way David used to think about God while out in the fields as a shepherd. This bed is one of comfort and rest.

(We are in a wonderful position today feasting on present truth. Unfortunately, the attitude can be one of complacency.) While resting, the Church class become uneasy, so they rise up, move to the door, and go out to look for the Master. In other words, of their own volition, they go out to find him.

The prospective Bride is not satisfied but is ever seeking to come closer to the Lord. While searching for him, she has some discomforting experiences. “I sought him [but did not find him]” (verse 1). Again, “I sought him, but I found him not” (verse 1). And a third time, “I sought him, but I found him not” (verse 2). When she goes beyond the watchmen but a little way, she finds him “whom my soul loveth” (verse 4).

The third chapter is contrasted with the fifth chapter, which describes the attitude of the Great Company class.

Song 3:1 By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

In this bedroom scene the prospective Bride class, personified as an individual, is musing, which often happens at night. This scene is quite different from the bedroom scene in Chapter 5. In Chapter 5 the Great Company, who have been sleeping, delay their action. Here the individual (the Bride class) zealously, of her own volition, seeks the Lord. He did not have to go to the door and rattle the latch.

Q: Can the “bed” be equated not only to a personal experience that happens at night but also to a creedal bed, as in Isaiah 28:20, “For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it”?

A: Some of this class who ultimately make their calling and election sure may be in a creedal bed. Some are in another type of bed: a bed of faith. Those in the creedal bed who are not satisfied with the current situation will leave that bed to find the Master. Of those in the creedal bed, many would be in Christendom, but some could even be in the Truth movement itself, for there are two classes in our midst and none of us know for sure that we are of the Little Flock. However, in searching our hearts, we can be sure where our priorities are. As babes when we first consecrate, we may think we are of the Little Flock, but we are immature. As we are consecrated longer and longer, we realize the qualifications that are necessary for membership in that class, and we then aspire, run, desire, and pray to be faithful. But God will make the final determination. Verses 1–4 give characteristics of the class who will make their calling and election sure. They voluntarily search for an ever closer relationship with the Master. One way of searching is to come out of Babylon (“Come out of her, my people”) lest her plagues be received. In order to have sufficient spiritual development, we should gravitate to where we can get the best instruction. When we hunger for a closer communion with Jesus and for more information, we should search for a situation that fulfills that desire.

Comment: Bro. Frey suggested the “night” would be the night of the Gospel Age. For the Bride class, the creedal bed becomes too short, so she gets up out of the bed and searches about the city looking for the Lord. When she does not find him there, she continues to search.

Reply: Yes, except that the setting is the end of the Gospel Age, ie, during the Harvest period. If we are running the race, one of our chief desires should be union with our Lord in the coming marriage. Those who earnestly desire this union purify themselves. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

Getting up out of the bed shows activity; whether in or out of the nominal Church, she gets out of the slumbering posture and actively seeks the Lord, whom her soul loves. Laodicea is a slumbering, indolent period of ease and comfort. To personally want to be with Jesus is something we could all improve on—and on a daily basis. Truth per se is an aid to bring us closer to the Lord because we can think his thoughts on a higher plane, but personal love for Jesus is another matter. Whom do we want to see most? It should be God first and Jesus next.

Comment: An interesting Scripture is Isaiah 26:9, “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”

Song 3:2 I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

“I will rise now, and go about the city [the nominal Church] in the streets [Christendom].”

This verse shows a searching among all professing Christians, for even tares profess to be Christians. On a short-term basis it is hard for us to determine a tare from a real Christian.

If one leads a fairly decent life and manifests interest in the Lord, we must take the individual at his word. In nature we look for fruitage to determine wheat from tares, and so we look at professing Christians to make sure they are not hypocritical in their profession. When wheat matures, it begins to bow its head because of the weight of the little seeds. In contrast, the tare grows straight up.

Comment: In each of the first four verses, the words are repeated “whom my soul loveth.” This indicates the Bride’s supreme personal love for Jesus.

Not finding Jesus at first would be the experience of many of us, if not all, in searching for truth. Perseverance is necessary. Development comes about when something is withheld and we have to exercise faith and search for it.

Comment: Many in our fellowship are “born” in the truth.

Reply: That is true. Bro. Krebs emphasized the difference between those who are born in the truth and those who are not. When enlightened, the latter class is, at least initially, more responsive and sensitive. For one who is down in a coal mine in darkness for a long time and then comes up into daylight, the reaction is startling—more so than with one who is familiar with truth from birth. However, in the final analysis, what we ultimately do with the truth is what is important. In the beginning, both classes are very lovable in the Lord’s sight because they have made a consecration.

In regard to not finding Jesus, even those who are born in the truth have questions. An example would be: Am I being influenced by my association? Is this the truth or not? To illustrate: If one is born in Russia, he thinks like a Russian. If one is born in Germany, he has German attitudes and thinking. Whether this is good or bad is another matter. How we develop subsequently is what counts.

“I will … go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways.” The “broad ways” would be ways other than the nominal systems. For a while, when he could not get answers from the denominations, the Pastor studied other religions. Not finding answers there either, he returned to a prayerful, diligent study of the Bible.

“I will seek him whom my soul loveth.” This repetition is appropriate because the Song of Solomon is a metered song that will be sung with understanding in the Kingdom. Jesus will be represented by a solo male voice; the Bride, by a solo female voice and in some verses by a group of women. This is “the song of songs,” and Solomon pictures the Lord in glory.

Comment: In former times, and especially in Europe, streets were narrow. Thus narrow streets are contrasted with the broad ways.

Reply: There is a definite contrast. The “narrow” aspect would be Christendom’s streets, which are structured and strictured, but the “broad ways” are too broad. The creedal beds of the nominal Church are cribs, which are too short and too narrow. “For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it” (Isa. 8:20). Moreover, the blanket is too short; if the blanket is pulled up to the neck to keep warm, the feet are exposed, and if the blanket covers the feet, the upper part of the body is exposed. For those who desire to develop and grow as new creatures, the creedal beds are too restrictive. For those who are satisfied, for those who wish to remain as babies, the crib is long enough.

Comment: “Broad ways” would imply one is just wandering around, not knowing where he is going.

In this picture, the Bride first looks around on her own. When she does not find the Master, she begins to ask questions. And so, when we feel we are not getting anywhere, we inquire for instruction.

“But I found him not.” Again her searching ends without success.

Song 3:3 The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?

Comment: The “watchmen” are religious leaders, especially in the nominal systems, but they can also be in our midst. If we are not finding truth in a particular ecclesia in the depth that we desire, we should attend different classes to find out where we are best fed.

Reply: The “watchmen” are nominal religious leaders in positions of prominence who are in a teaching capacity.

Comment: It is the “watchmen” who find the prospective Bride class, and not vice versa.

Reply: Ministers want sincere Christians in their congregations, and they seek converts who will look to them for instruction. The next part of the verse indicates the seeking is almost mutual. Notice how responsive the Bride is! As soon as the nominal religious leaders find her, she asks where Jesus is—but she does not find him there.

Her attitude is one of watching and praying, and praying and watching. “Watch and pray,” we are told (Mark 13:33; 14:38; Luke 21:36; 1 Pet. 4:7). The Holy Spirit is an activating influence. In proportion as we have the Holy Spirit, the stronger will be our hunger and our desire to be satisfied.

Comment: Isaiah 56:10 speaks of unfaithful ministers: “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.”

Reply: On the other side of the coin, Bro. Russell is likened to a watchman: “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” (Isa. 21:11). “Watchmen” should survey the horizon for dangers as well as for good news. The prospective Bride goes to those with a reputation for teaching.

Song 3:4 It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

The key thought here is that the prospective Bride takes Jesus to her “mother’s house.” The “mother” is Sarah, and the “house” is related first to a covenant and eventually to marriage. Hence the “mother’s house” is the Sarah Covenant. In Genesis 24:67, Isaac took Rebecca into his mother’s tent: “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” Thus verse 4 is related to the fulfillment of the Sarah Covenant.

Q: Is Sarah considered the Church’s mother?

A: Yes, she is the “mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26).

Comment: In Genesis 24:67 Isaac takes Rebecca into his mother’s tent, but here in Song of Solomon the Bride takes Jesus.

Reply: The fervent, intense love between Jesus and the Bride is mutual. The reverse emphasis in Song of Solomon (that Rebecca takes Isaac into Sarah’s tent) is intentional to bring out the mutuality of their intense love. It also raises the standard of our desire to be with the Master. That desire should be more supreme than just wanting to be identified with a movement. Many look for social acceptance, for mutuality of fellowship. Instead our highest desire should be to see God and Jesus. This type of love is a most vehement flame.

Comment: The repetition “my mother’s house” and “the chamber of her that conceived me” indicate her realization that she only exists as a Bride because of the Sarah Covenant and because of her relationship to Jesus.

Reply: Some translations read “into the inner chamber of her that conceived me.” Isaac was Sarah’s seed. The Apostle Paul said, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). In the final analysis, the “children of promise” are only the Little Flock.

Song 3:5 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

This verse is a repeat of Song 2:7. Again, the Holy Spirit is speaking, the ending being “till love please” or “nor awake love, till it please.” This Holy Spirit commentary will be sung as a chorus in the Kingdom.

Comment: In the two instances so far, this interjection by the Holy Spirit comes appropriately at the tenderest of moments.

A temporary ending occurs here with the marriage; that is, with Jesus’ being brought into the Sarah Covenant, into the mother’s house.

Song 3:6 Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?

The one coming “out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke” is the Bride class. Clue: the word “this” is feminine. The “pillars of smoke,” along with the “myrrh” and “frankincense,” refer to the Tabernacle arrangement, which was in the “wilderness” of Sinai. Normally we think of the one cloud that led the Israelites, and a pillar of the cloud went before them.

Q: Strong’s has “a column that is cloud.” Could the plurality be the idea of the column and the cloud?

A: Yes, it could be. Another instance would be the smoke that issued forth from three sources at the same time: (1) the Brazen Altar in the Court, (2) the incense that went over the veil into the Most Holy, and (3) the burning hides and dung without the Camp.

Q: Would verse 6 be explaining those who make their calling and election sure?

A: Yes. Myrrh and frankincense are clues. Verse 6 definitely refers to the Tabernacle arrangement, and soon, in the same context, the Ark of the Covenant will be mentioned.

The time element, the real key to the identity of the one in verse 6, must be determined. “Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant” refers to the various incense powders. “Myrrh” is a symbol of wisdom, and “frankincense” would be praise. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were given to Jesus by the wise men. The Berean Manual says that gold represents obedience in consecration; frankincense represents praise, devotion, heart adoration, appreciation, and gratitude; and myrrh represents submission and a willingness for service to the extent of bitterness and suffering. The three wise men picture three classes of the Church, as do the three sons of Noah, the three stories of the Ark, the three bands of Gideon, and the three Hebrew children. Daniel mentions that “the wise” have understanding. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; … the wise shall understand” (Dan. 12:10); that is, enlightened Christians would understand certain prophecies of Daniel at a certain time. Here in verse 6 “myrrh” pictures submission to the extent of sacrifice, and “frankincense” signifies praise, worship, devotion, etc. “All powders of the merchant” would be various other good qualities.

To repeat: three sources of smoke ascended simultaneously from the Tabernacle arrangement. (1) Smoke arising from the Brazen Altar in the Court pictures those in the condition of belief. In antitype the wall is a wall of belief to those inside the Court and a wall of unbelief to those outside. The smoke was pleasing to the Lord. (2) Smoke ascended from the incense in the Holy. (3) Smoke arose from the burning hides, dung, etc., outside the Camp. All three represent the same (one) burning, but as seen from three different standpoints. The world (outside the Camp) has no appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice. Those in the Court of belief see the vicarious nature of Jesus’ sacrifice—that it pleased God and that it provides justification.

On the Day of Atonement, the bullock preceded the goat so that it could justify the goat; ie, the bullock was offered for the priesthood. The goat, which followed the bullock on the altar, was for the sins of the nation, the people. The Lord justified the Church so that its offering can be reckoned as pleasing to God. The Apostle Paul said we are baptized for the dead, meaning for the world of mankind: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29). In other words, the bullock and the goat were the sin offering on the Day of Atonement for the nation, for the people. The bullock justified the priesthood. It was like a transfusion. The merit of Jesus’ blood coursing through the Church gives them a standing so that they can be presented as a sin offering. And what is the sin offering for?

The goat represents the Church, but the Church’s offering is for the sin of others. After being sprinkled on the Law, the blood was sprinkled symbolically on the nation, and that is what Paul refers to in Hebrews when he mentions that the “blood of bulls and goats” does a sanctification work.

In effect, then, verse 6 refers to the Church in the feminine aspect, but it also represents The Christ, the Bride and Bridegroom. When a literal bride comes out of a church after the wedding ceremony, she leans on the arm of her bridegroom.

Q: Does verse 6 talk of the Church going home?

A: Verse 6 shows The Christ as a consummated class in the following sense: “When thy judgments are [abroad] in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9). The world of mankind will also learn that Jesus is Messiah and that The Messiah includes body members. The reason for the delay of 2,000 years for restitution and for God’s showing His favor to the world is because He has been selecting a class, namely, Jesus and the Church. Verse 6 shows the consummation in several ways. The acceptability of Jesus’ sacrifice was manifested in the incense in the Holy, and it is his justification that makes our prayers acceptable to God. Coming “out of the wilderness” (verse 6) brings in the Church. We sometimes say “the Church in the wilderness.”

Song 3:7 Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.

Verses 6–11 are a commentary by the Holy Spirit. Verse 7 speaks of Solomon’s bed or palanquin. Just as the Pope, the false Christ, is carried in a chair, so the Ark of the Covenant is likened to the “chair” of God, who “dwellest between the cherubims” (Psa. 80:1). The shekinah light represents God, but the Ark represents The Christ. The propitiatory lid pictures Jesus, the Head, and the box underneath is the Church. (Of course the Ark is incomplete without the cover.) Inside the box are the tables of the Law (The Christ will be the lawgiver), the golden pot of manna (The Christ will possess immortality), and Aaron’s rod that budded (The Christ are God’s elect). The budding of Aaron’s rod indicated he was God’s choice as high priest; hence Aaron’s rod was a sign of election and selection. “Solomon” pictures The Christ in glory.

Comment: The fact that the “bed” is guarded by “valiant men” seems to indicate the scene takes place this side of the veil with guardian angels watching over the elect.

“Threescore valiant men.” What does the number “60” represent? Song 6:8 compares a series of numbers: “There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.” Song 6:8 is a mystery verse, which we hope the Lord will open up to us, but notice that the context has 60, 80, and “without number.” On the other hand, the “60” of Song 3:7 is not compared with another number but is by itself. In the past, the word “60” in Hebrew has had the connotation of an indefinite number. Sometimes we say to someone who wants our attention, “Just a minute,” but we do not mean 60 literal seconds. What we mean is that we have something important to attend to, but it will not take long. In other words, the phrase means a short but unspecified amount of time. The “threescore” of Song 3:7 is not literal either. Based on the Hebrew, it is an indefinite number. However, in Song 6:8 the series of numbers means the 60 and 80 are definite numbers.

Song 3:8 They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.

Sixty “valiant” (mighty) men are around Solomon’s bed. All of the valiant men hold swords upon their thighs, “being expert in war … because of fear in the night.” During the wilderness journey of its earthly career, the Ark of the Covenant is pictured as having spiritual forces protecting it. But God’s providence is over His elect not only during the Gospel Age but also in the Kingdom Age. People will come forth from the tomb with the same characters they had previously (anarchists, atheists, rebels, etc.), but Jesus will reign with authority and be empowered from on high in connection with his work. As overseers of authority, the “valiant men” protect the Ark so that nothing can despoil, damage, or interrupt it “because of fear in the night[time of the Gospel Age],” the antitypical Passover night when the lamb was eaten.

The “valiant” ones, the power that is used to preserve the Ark during its wilderness journey, will be manifested and exercised even in the Kingdom Age so that nothing will interfere with the Lord’s arrangement.

Song 3:9 King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.

A “chariot” is a litter bed on which one can be transported. It is called a palanquin. The “wood of Lebanon,” a superior type of cedar from the cedars of Lebanon, is a type of wood that grows for thousands of years and is hard and enduring, much like our California redwoods. Cedars of Lebanon were used in building the Temple of Solomon. The “cedar,” an evergreen, is a symbol of everlasting life, of long and enduring life. The arbor vitae (“tree of life”) is basically a cedar.

This whole scene is a reference to the Tabernacle. Solomon’s “chariot” was not drawn by horses. The Ark of the Covenant carried on the shoulders of the Kohathites was borne with staves so that the Ark proper would not be touched.

Song 3:10 He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.

The “pillars” are the staves or poles that were inserted into the rings of the Ark to carry it. Verse 10 is a description of the Ark, which has a fragrance and a glory. It manifests God’s authority and is connected with Solomon, who built the Temple and is a picture of The Christ in glory. The “silver” of the pillars represents truth.

The bottom of the Ark or the bottom of the palanquin was made of gold, a symbol of divinity. This is a double picture.

Q: When the Tabernacle furniture was transported, cloths of blue, white, or black were used to cover it, but purple is used here. Would the silver, gold, and purple picture the entrance from the Holy to the Most Holy? The pillars were silver, the bottom of the palanquin was gold, and the covering was purple.

A: When the Ark was transported, it was covered with a blue cloth. Here the fact the “chariot” is covered with purple shows it is a finished picture, for purple represents royalty, based upon faithfulness unto death. (Purple is a mixture of blue and red.) The blue covering for the Ark in the Wilderness, which was very different from the coverings for the other furniture, represents Jesus during his earthly course. As the Israelites followed the Ark during their Wilderness journey, they could see the covering, just as the people can see that Jesus was faithful. Even if they are not believers and do not agree with his doctrine, they know he was very unusual. True, they do not see him in the sense of royalty, but they do see him as being faithful. However, the world does not now see or recognize the true Church class as being faithful unto death. From the Lord’s standpoint those who make their calling and election sure are “blue” in this age, but the world does not see the blue. Not until the “purple” condition, which represents royalty and being faithful unto death, will the world recognize the Church’s faithfulness.

“The midst thereof [of the palanquin] being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.” The word “love” is used many times in the Song of Solomon.

The New International Version correctly reads “by the daughters of Jerusalem.” In Hebrew or Greek, some of the same prepositions can be translated by six or more different words. In the Masoretic text, points indicate certain types of vowels and modify the consonants. While the Masoretic reads “for the daughters of Jerusalem,” if the points are omitted (the ancient Hebrew did not have points), the choice of a preposition is open to several options. Therefore, the text should read “by the daughters of Jerusalem.” So far in the Song of Solomon, the “daughters of Jerusalem” have represented the professed Church of Christ, some of which are the Great Company. The term “professed Church” can be understood two ways: (1) the merely nominal or the merely professed Church, or (2) that which is real, ie, the sincerely professing Church. Thus the love of the daughters of Jerusalem will “pave” the Ark in glory in the Kingdom Age.

The daughters of Jerusalem were an entity unto themselves. In Chapter 1 the true Church was pictured as longing for fellowship, and she was searching for the Master. Observing that she was outside the professed Church, she said she had been working in the vineyard. “I am black, but comely. Where are you, Lord? Teach me so I can come into closer communion with you,” she pleaded. Some of the daughters of Jerusalem considered the tanned and dark one to be inferior, and some even ridiculed her. But for the Ark to be paved with the love of the daughters of Jerusalem, it means that when the professed Church—whether they end up as tares or as Great Company—come to realize who the Very Elect are, they will acknowledge the saints as being worthy of their position of honor and royalty. This can happen only in the next age, for in the present life the true saints are not recognized as such. Remember the Holy Spirit’s commentary: “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up [that you do not disturb], nor awake … love, till … [it] please.”

In summary, these last few verses go back to Tabernacle pictures of the past to give a frame of reference and to show that that class is now covered with royalty and in glory.

The same is true of Job, who pictures the true Church. When Job had his suffering experiences, he was not recognized as a special man of God—until God thundered from heaven. When the supernatural occurred, then the “comforters” recognized Job for his true merit and that he truly was a man of God. In the first chapter of Job, God talked with Satan (in allegory), “Have you seen how loyal and righteous my servant Job is?” Satan replied that if God let him test Job with various experiences, Job would not praise God. God permitted the testing, and Job’s children, cattle, house, and health were all taken from him. Only his life was spared by Divine Providence. But once it was revealed that Job was a true man of God, then he received twice as much as he had previously had.

Song 3:11 Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

“In the day of his espousals” refers to the marriage. The “daughters of Zion” will “behold king Solomon … in the day of the gladness of his heart,” ie, when the Church is complete and after the marriage.

In Hebrew, “in the day of his espousals” refers to when the Bride and Bridegroom come out following the marriage. “His mother” is Sarah.

In a subsequent study, we will review and find out why verses 6–11 were inserted and why there was an abrupt change.

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