The Song Of Solomon Chapter 1: The Bride of ChristOct 6th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Song of Solomon, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
The Song Of Solomon: The Bride of Christ
Song 1:1 The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.
In some Bibles, this book is called Canticles, which means “Song.” An English derivative is “cantor,” a singer. “The song of songs” is the special song of the calling of the Church.
Many have had difficulty accepting this book as part of Scripture because of the wording, but it is in the Bible. The problem is that such individuals take the wording literally and do not see the spiritual aspect. This book was providentially included in the Scriptures, and the fact that it is called “THE Song” indicates there is an important need to understand the contents.
Solomon represents Jesus as King, but after he ascended; that is, Solomon represents Jesus as the risen Lord. Written during Solomon’s reign, the Song of Solomon has been in the Bible for almost 3,000 years.
Comment: The Song of Solomon expresses primarily the sentiments of the Bridegroom and the Bride. A comment from the 1976 study is that anyone possessing the desirable symptoms and characteristics recorded in this Song of Songs will be an overcomer. An intense, personal love for Jesus is necessary if we are to make our calling and election sure.
Song 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
“Let him [Jesus] kiss me.” The prospective Bride class is speaking. In the final analysis, this verse expresses the sentiment of the Very Elect, the Bride class, not the Great Company.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses [plural] of his mouth.” The Bride class is asking for multiple and/or repetitive kisses. The Hebrew plural for “kisses” is not the double or dual plural but means repeated. In Hebrew, there are three endings: singular, the dual plural, and anything more than two.
“Of his mouth.” What does the “mouth” indicate here?
Comment: Jesus’ utterances come through the Scriptures. Spiritual refreshment comes from his recorded words.
Reply: The “kisses” are particularly the words of Jesus. When Jesus spoke to his apostles in the Gospels, there was an intimacy of communion and rapport. Those who love Jesus love his principles, doctrines, promises, instruction, warnings, etc. His words are of special importance. “For thy [Jesus’] love is better than wine.”
Comment: “Wine” is special truth that we rejoice in, but the personal assurance of Jesus’ love exceeds even the most wonderful truth that we might study on a more intellectual basis.
Reply: Yes, for example, subjects like chronology and the history of the kings do not contain much sentimentality, emotionalism, affection, or union of heart. Solomon pictures Jesus, and the “wine” would be the joys of the truth. “Water” is truth, but wine is the joys of the truth, the personal relationship with Jesus. What are the joys of the truth? If we understand chronology (such as the 1,260, 1,290, and 1,335 days), we get a certain pleasure, but the joy described here (“let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth”) is on a much higher level. Verse 2 describes the communion between Jesus and those who will make their calling and election sure. They desire intimate fellowship with the risen Lord, and their goal is to be members of the Bride class.
Song 1:3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
This verse reminds us of the holy anointing oil, which was poured on the head of the high priest (Jesus) and came down to the hem of his garment (to the body members). The “ointments” are plural.
“Thy name is as ointment poured forth.” When perfumes are applied to clothing or to the skin, their fragrances are pleasing. There are different types of pleasing odors: for perfume, for cleanliness, etc.
We learn about Jesus’ doctrines and deeds in the Gospels, and of course the promises to each of the seven Churches in Revelation are precious to us. The only reprimand to those in the first period of the Church, Ephesus, was that they had left their first love (Rev. 2:4). “You do not love ME as you did at the first” (paraphrase). The joy has to be maintained throughout our Christian walk, and hopefully, our course will end with this close type of communion—a goal we all aspire to.
“Therefore do the virgins love thee.” The word “virgins” plural shows that the Bride is a multitudinous seed, or class.
Comment: The hymn beginning “Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast” beautifully fits the part of verse 3 that reads, “Thy name is as ointment poured forth.”
Reply: Yes, and the hymn continues, “Hope of every contrite heart, joy of all the meek.”
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). The hymn catches this spirit.
The Scriptures encourage us to obtain understanding, and understanding is essential for this type of affection for the Lord Jesus. We must feel that we are blood-bought, that he died for us on the Cross, that we are his possession. This type of thinking must be kept in mind lest we get absorbed in other things inordinately and forget the character, deeds, principles, and thinking of Jesus as manifested during his earthly ministry. Through the Scriptures, we see Jesus as a man. Now we can understand him as a new creature. The combination of witnessing his life and deeds, as well as understanding his doctrine, is very important. Those whom God has called must be conformed to the image of His dear Son in order to make their calling and election sure. Developing a Christlike character is harder to do today than in the past because of the many distractions. However, redeeming the time has always been a struggle for the Christian. In the past, people worked 12 hours a day and averaged 7 or 8 hours of sleep. The remaining 4 or 5 hours became exceedingly important, for not only was there limited time for studying God’s Word, but the flesh was tired at night from the day’s physical exertion and reading by candlelight was difficult. Abraham Lincoln read by firelight from a chimney. This was a hardship, but his efforts show he meant business. A Christian needs even more zeal. We should feel ashamed if we do not have more hunger for God’s truth than Abraham Lincoln had just to be a success.
Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). There are dedicated people in the world along various lines. For example, Muslims, based on their religion, will use explosives to destroy a building, knowing they will die in a moment. In other words, they are giving their life for a cause. The difference is that Jesus laid down his life DAILY for 3 1/2 years. Terrible as it was, the Cross was only the climax.
The daily process is what counts. Love for the brotherhood is shown in the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers” with the words “All one body, we.” We admire most those who are trying to please the Lord. Seeing that effort shows it is a brotherhood. The closer one walks to the Lord, the higher the regard we should have for that individual. And so the Lord chose Peter, James, and John because, evidently, they manifested a more intense interest in hearkening to Jesus’ words and trying to be loyal disciples.
“Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth.” Thinking of Jesus, his counsel, and what he did for us brings back good memories.
The word “therefore” relates to three points raised thus far. “Therefore, we, the virgins, love you, Jesus, because (1) your love is better than wine, (2) your anointing oils are fragrant, and (3) your name is as oils poured out.”
When we pray to the Father, we pray in Jesus’ name because Jesus made it possible for us to approach the throne of grace. He taught us the Lord’s Prayer, and that short, simple prayer manifests many wonderful things. Jesus’ name triggers fond recollections. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Song 1:4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
“Draw me” is still the desire of the virgins. They are asking Jesus to draw them. We know the high calling is of God, so this sentiment is referring to a desire to love Jesus more and more.
We would like that affection intensified, as expressed by several hymns: “More love to thee, O Christ. More love to thee.” “Jesus calls us o’er the tumult.” “O for a closer walk with thee.” “We will run after thee,” not walk. “Awake, my soul. Stretch every nerve and press with vigor on.” The desire to be reinvigorated is expressed here. We would like reassurance that the Lord still loves us, that he is still dealing with us. In making these requests to the Father, we sometimes think of Jesus as being there with Him. And we pray to the Father for more love for Jesus. Here in verse 4, the Christian is promising that if he gets the assurance of Jesus’ love, he will be more zealous. He will give more time and think more soberly, etc.
Comment: Also, a tender dependency is expressed here by the virgin class. They realize they must have help from Jesus in order to do the running.
Reply: Jesus is our Advocate. He pleads our case. We ask the Father in the name of Jesus to have mercy on us.
“The king [Jesus as the risen Lord] hath brought me into his chambers.” The title of “King” was given to Jesus at his ascension, but the exercise of that power is future. Even as a babe, he was called a “King” because the Father was so confident in his being faithful, but he became King after he died faithfully on the Cross and ascended on high.
The word “chambers” refers to the Holy of the Tabernacle arrangement where Jesus is the High Priest tending the Candlestick, the Table of Shewbread, and the Incense Altar. Since the “chambers” are plural, the Court with the Brazen Altar is also included. And by prayer, we enter the Most Holy. Through the smoke of the incense (the perfections of Jesus), our prayers are lifted over the Second Veil into the Most Holy. Figuratively speaking, the smoke is like a platform that lifts our prayers. We penetrate into the Most Holy through Christ Jesus.
Comment: Ephesians 1:3 uses the plural: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
“We will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember [extol, RSV; praise, NIV] thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.” Because we are so interested in the intellectual part of the truth, many prayers mention “the plan this” and “the plan that.” However, as marvelous as the plan is, it should not be the main emphasis of our prayers. True, we hope to have the privilege of helping mankind in the Kingdom Age, but we must first get ourselves ready. We must love God and Jesus supremely before we think of restitution for the world.
A crude definition of “extol” is “rave.” The Lord is pleased with praise from the heart. Lips are merely the channel—praise must come from the heart.
Q: The end of verse 4 in the King James Version reads, “The upright love thee,” but we are not upright in the present life. The King James margin says, “They love thee uprightly.” The Hebrew word for “uprightly” is mesharim, which can mean “sweet” or “sweetly.” With the King James marginal thought in mind, could the thought be “They [the prospective Bride class] love thee sweetly,” emphasizing the personal aspect?
Comment: The Masoretic has “sincerely.”
Reply: “Sincerity” would be implied and is the superior thought. When people accuse us of being a cult, they doubt our sincerity. They question the core, or center, of our consecration to the Lord.
Song 1:5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
“Daughters of Jerusalem” are professed Christians including, to a certain extent, even the Great Company, for in the final analysis, this is the Song of Songs of those who will become the Bride class. This love of the Bride class for Jesus is a consuming love.
“I am black, but comely.” In talking with the daughters of Jerusalem, the virgin class admit they are black. If they did not have the robe of Christ’s righteousness, their own righteousness would be as filthy rags from the standpoint of perfection. They realize they need a Savior and cleansing and forgiveness. The virgin class are explaining to another class, who regard them as being of an inferior stature.
Some in the nominal Church, especially Protestants, view us as a cult. They do not consider us Christians, even though we have dedicated our lives to Jesus. The Scriptures show that the Great Company class have a higher opinion of themselves than the Little Flock. Here the Great Company have such confidence in their own relationship with the Lord that the wise virgin class are defending themselves. The wise virgins have almost an inferiority complex, but when their love for Christ and God is questioned, they will not be a doormat. They feel they are just as sincere in their love and devotion to Christ as anyone else because they know their own feelings.
Job was questioned repeatedly about his relationship with God, but he realized his own integrity. He knew what he felt and how he regarded God. He even had to explain to his three friends—supposedly his comforters—a lot of things he had done before he was afflicted. And what did the three comforters do? They assumed a superior attitude. For seven days, they sat with Job and wept and commiserated with him, but after that, they did nothing but criticize him. Job represents the Little Flock. Elihu, who pictures the Great Company, also felt superior to Job. Therefore, all four—the three comforters and Elihu—believed they were superior. Elihu cannot represent Jesus in any sense because he did some bragging and had a big head.
The daughters of Jerusalem feel superior to and look down on the black virgin class, who are trying to defend themselves. If someone claiming to be a Christian calls us a cult, that is an insult. The virgin class admit, “Yes, I am black”; that is, they are not as perfect as they would like to be, but nevertheless, their love and affection for Jesus and their desires to please God are every bit as good as those of the critics.
“I am black, but comely … as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.” The “tents of Kedar,” a reference to bedouin tents, were black on the outside and hung with beautiful tapestries on the inside. Back there, when the king traveled around, he had a black tent with lovely things inside.
Comment: As used elsewhere, “black” is a sign of favor. (1) The outer Tabernacle curtain was black. (2) Moses’ wife Zipporah was black, Moses being a picture of Jesus and Zipporah representing the Church. (3) The Queen of Sheba, who admired Solomon’s wisdom and traveled to Jerusalem to see the Temple, was black. She pictures the Church and Solomon portrays Jesus. (4) Also, black onyx stones were on the shoulders of the high priest. Chains suspended from them supported the breastplate. The black stones show that the Church will forever remember their humble origin here on earth.
Q: Would an alternate way of explaining this verse be the following? “I am black, but comely” is a couplet. The “tents of Kedar” and the “curtains of Solomon” describe, respectively, the blackness and the comeliness. In other words, “I am black as the tents of Kedar, and comely as the curtains of Solomon.” The curtains of Solomon refer to beautiful curtains, such as those that were in the Temple.
A: Yes, that is the true thought.
Song 1:6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
“Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me.” In other words, “Look not upon me as a servant.” It is like members of a household looking upon another member as a servant, as just a worker in the vineyard, and not as part of the household. The owner of a vineyard usually has helpers and does not ask his own sons and daughters to work there. Being suntanned is a sign of having worked in the field. The nobility used to pride themselves on the whiteness of their flesh, and ladies carried parasols to keep from getting a tan.
“My mother’s children were angry with me.” The “mother’s children” would be the professed children of the Sarah Covenant. It has been the history of the Church down through the age for the Little Flock class to be looked upon as inferior. For example, not having a ministerial title somewhat adversely affects a brother’s relationship with others in the Christian world.
Comment: The “mother’s children” are the same as the “daughters of Jerusalem”—daughters, sons, and children of the mother Jerusalem (the Sarah Covenant).
“They made me the keeper of the vineyards.” The virgin class are kept busy with activity and service (such as Sunday School). After consecration, an individual gets into an association with other professed Christians. As time goes on, that one is looked upon either as being immature (even though he may be growing) or with askance as to his true relationship to Christ. As a result, the consecrated one is not recognized on a level with the others. If the individual is growing in Christlikeness and knowledge, and then asks questions about a certain Scripture, the response is, “The Lord’s Word does not say that. Who are you to question the doctrine?”
The minority virgin class are not accepted to the level of the majority daughters of Jerusalem. They are not esteemed on a family level with the mother’s other children and are elevated only to the level where they are taken advantage of. Their zeal is channeled into work for the organization, for that kind of work is accepted—just as money is accepted from almost any quarter. The virgin class work for the household, but they are not in the household. They are not “in the club,” as it were.
Comment: That can happen in our midst too.
Reply: Yes, that attitude is not limited to the nominal Church.
“But mine own vineyard have I not kept.” What is the thought here?
Comment: The NIV reads, “My own vineyard I have neglected.” The virgin class realize they have been so busy with service and activity that they have not developed the way they should.
Reply: When the Bride class realize they have been kept busy to the neglect of their own vineyard, their sentiment is, “O, for a closer walk with God and Jesus!”
Comment: Prior to coming out of Babylon, the truly consecrated in the nominal system can have this experience—until they come to their senses and realize what is happening.
Reply: The Song of Solomon was written for all Christians throughout the Gospel Age. This condition has existed ever since Pentecost, and will exist up to the end of the age. This class of professed Christians includes the purely nominal and the Great Company. In fact, the Great Company will be forcefully treated later in this book. Even the Little Flock are “professed Christians” in a broad sense. We, too, are “professed Christians” but, hopefully, sincere ones and not nominal merely.
It is natural to desire friends and company—to want to sing, pray, meet, fellowship, and study together. There is nothing wrong with this natural yearning, but we must be careful that the yearning does not become the chief motivation. Religion can be merely a society of believers, a fellowship, and that is as high as it goes. Those who believe in the erroneous doctrine “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” have no fears. Moreover, they question the faith and integrity of those who try daily to make their calling and election sure, being suspicious of different beliefs. Meanwhile, they are confident of their own integrity.
The virgin class realize they have not kept their own vineyard; that is, they realize that all of the activity and service has kept them from developing as they should. In order for them to develop the fruits of the Spirit for their own salvation, the fruits must be planted, cultivated, pruned, watered, given sunshine, etc. The “vineyard” can be the heart.
Q: Who is angry with “me” and making me do “their” work instead of my own?
A: Anger can be inward and not necessarily expressed. There are all kinds of work. The Lord tells us to sit down and soberly assess what our talents are. We are to be neither overly highminded nor so humble that our talents are not used. We should not all do the same service, for there are various talents and various administrations of the Spirit.
Q: The prospective Bride is speaking rather than the finished Bride class. Is the Great Company included at this point?
Comment: All of the consecrated have the hope of the high calling. How we respond makes the difference.
Reply: The ideal is shown here, but are you the ideal? Am I the ideal? Is anybody else? We will not know until our course is finished. When history is reviewed in the future, the class who prove faithful will be seen to have these symptoms and thinking. At present the Song of Solomon is meant to help us have the right motives.
Comment: A simple statement from the 1976 study might help. “The Song of Songs is a special song of the calling of the Church,” so it has to do with us now, in the present life—how we respond to circumstances.
Comment: The Bride is one of the daughters of Jerusalem too, but she is not recognized by those who oppose her. The “daughters of Jerusalem” (the new Jerusalem, the Jerusalem which is above) are professed Christians. “Jerusalem” can be considered on either side of the veil depending on context. Here it is this side of the veil. In the Book of Revelation, the new Jerusalem, the finished product that comes down from heaven, is beyond the veil. The Hebrew has “mother’s sons,” which would still be children of the Sarah Covenant. In the Scriptures, we are pictured as daughters in one verse and sons in another verse. The sons and daughters are one and the same.
Song 1:7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
The prospective Bride continues to speak. Verse 7 has a pastoral setting. A shepherd is tending his flock, and of course the flock are entirely dependent upon the shepherd to (1) protect them, (2) lead them to water and good pasturage, and (3) bring them back if they stray. The prospective Bride wants to know where her Shepherd (Jesus) feeds his sheep and where they rest at noon with a minimum of sun shining on them. In a desert, shade would come only from a very large rock. The sentiments of the verse suggest that the prospective Bride is yearning for what she lacks, for some assurance or realization of the Shepherd’s care being manifested.
Q: Verse 6 said, “Look not upon me … because the sun hath looked upon me.” Verse 7 now mentions a desire to rest at noon. Would the “sun” represent a trial?
A: Yes, a trial or persecution. In such circumstances, a Christian yearns for a measure of comfort and consolation.
“For why should I be as one that is veiled by the flocks of thy companions?” is the correct thought, as presented in the Masoretic and the KJV margin. The prospective Bride feels she is veiled. The “companions” are nominal Christians, who have more fellowship. They seem happier and do not have so many trials weighing them down. The faithful virgin class desire fellowship, but on a higher plane. Others take advantage of those who comprise this serious class by relegating them to the more menial tasks and activities.
Q: Does the word “where” (“where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon”) signify a place or a condition?
A: Spiritually speaking, it is a condition. The prospective Bride is looking for a circumstance or a condition, for the Shepherd does not seem to be there in her current circumstance. Her words are like a prayer, a yearning.
Song 1:8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
Jesus speaks in verses 8 through 10. Notice the expression “O thou fairest among women.” Generally speaking, this condition has existed all down through the Gospel Age, where this class has yearned for a closer walk with Jesus. She is veiled in the eyes of her companions, but she is unveiled in the eyes of Jesus. He sees the beauty of her face and finds her more attractive.
However, the motives of true Christians are generally not understood very well by nominal Christians. The prospective Bride yearns for closer fellowship. The others, who are also brothers and sisters in Christ, are content with their lower, more superficial level of fellowship.
For example, consider those who feel that if a person just believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he will be saved. Such a doctrine eliminates the need for scriptural discussions and study because its adherents lack the hunger and feel eternally secure without them. The more sincere class think the others should sense their earnestness and their desire to please the Lord, but nominal Christians are blind in this regard. This blindness reminds us of Moses when his face was veiled. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul said that this veil blinds Israel from seeing Moses in the true light as a type of Jesus. When Moses was up in the mountain, his face was unveiled, and he was talking with God. The light shone on his countenance to such a degree that when he came down from the mountain, the people were fearful and he had to hide his face with a veil. (Incidentally, this veiling is a type.)
To repeat: the virgin class, who are wearing a veil of mourning, desire Jesus’ fellowship. The others cannot appreciate this desire because they are living on a superficial level. The advice is to “go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.”
Q: Why is the instruction to feed “beside” and not “in” the shepherds’ tents?
A: One cannot take the liberty of entering the shepherd’s tent. It is like a dog that sits outside its master’s door. The dog wants to be close so that when the occupant comes out, it will share in attention and fellowship.
The prospective Bride is longing for Jesus’ appearance so she can follow him. For the Christian who finds himself in this condition, advice is given plainly: leave where you are. “Go thy way forth.” If we find that conditions are not helpful to us spiritually where we are, why stay there? We should go out and look for a better spiritual environment. Of course looking for the closer fellowship with those who are like-minded, having the same desires and goals, will require effort, courage, and faith that the Lord will guide. “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love” is the type of fellowship sought.
The advice continues: “Go … [to the] shepherds’ [plural] tents.” The Good Shepherd said he would go away and return at the end of the age. Meanwhile, until the invisible rapture, he has his ministers feeding the flock. Therefore, the yearning Christian should look not only for a better spiritual environment but also for an undershepherd that is more like the Good Shepherd. Such an undershepherd would be able to raise the Christian to a higher level of thinking and fellowship.
“Footsteps of the flock” would be evidences of the walk, conduct, path, etc., of those who are like-minded. This yearning condition has been experienced by Christians down through the age. The advice is to look for teachers who have the same manner of instruction as the Good Shepherd. To go out and search the unknown for the footsteps of the flock and the shepherds’ tents requires a commensurate faith. Down through the age, ecclesias were in homes because public places were either too costly or too dangerous. Looking for homes where higher-level Christians met required effort.
Comment: Verse 7 mentions “flocks” (plural) versus “flock” (singular) here. This distinction shows again that Christians with the Little Flock tendency are in the minority.
The prospective Bride’s “kids” could be thought of as her own natural children. Parents have a measure of responsibility for their children. Putting them in a favorable environment increases their chance of “success.” The advice here is to pull up stakes and, if necessary, move. If we cannot find the proper spiritual environment by branching out locally, then we should move to where we can find it.
Q: Wouldn’t the “kids” also be babes in Christ? Baby spiritual sheep and goats—those we witness to—need nurturing in a good spiritual environment.
A: Yes, the “kids” refer to those we are responsible for, starting with the home and then reaching out to others.
Song 1:9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.
Jesus compares the one who is fairest among women to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. The literal rendering compares her to a horse (singular), or a mare. The horse would have to be female in order to be compared to the woman who is looking for a closer walk. It was proper for Solomon to appreciate horses, but his sin came in inordinately acquiring them. God created the horse, and He singles out the horse in detail in Job 39, describing the magnificence of that animal from His perspective. Therefore, it was not wrong for Solomon to liken the Bride class to a mare. The mare was a lead horse in Pharaoh’s chariot, and Pharaoh had only the best horses to draw his chariots. The thought of verse 9 is that among those who are choice, the Bride class is particularly choice.
A mare is an animal of stability. The comparison is that we can have confidence in a sincere and mature Christian, one who is stable in character. We can count on such a one.
Song 1:10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
Jesus is still talking about the mare. To be sure not only the enemy but also the compatriots in the nation knew who Pharaoh was, he wore a uniform and had horses, a chariot, decorations, etc., to show that he was the chief. Of course his chariot was outstanding in workmanship and ornamentation. Despite all this honor and display, the class Jesus is looking for are mournful and veiled. Why? Because the meek will be honored in the Kingdom. Faithful Christians who are humiliated in the present life will be honored in the next life by “Pharaoh.”
A horse wears a bridle. Here the bridle has gold pins, or studs, joining the pieces of leather together. And perhaps a decoration flutters from the animal’s head or mane. The point is that the mare is specially ornamented. In pulling the chariot, the mare would be in the center between two other horses and half a foot or so ahead of them.
Song 1:11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
The pronoun “we” refers to God and Jesus. To encourage the thought that God is interested in the Church as well, Jesus said, “The Father himself loveth you” (John 16:27). We get a more complete representation of Jesus because of his sermons and the events of his earthly ministry that were recorded. To raise our thoughts to the Father, Jesus said on one occasion (John 14:8,9), “Philip, why do you say to me, Show us the Father? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” In other words, Jesus exemplified God so much in everything he did that if God were to come down here and appear in the flesh, He would look and act very much like Jesus. Jesus was saying, “You want to see the Father, but you know that no man can see God and live. I represent the Father fully.” “We [the Father Himself and I, Jesus] love you” is the thought.
Q: The Hebrew word for “borders” is tor. The back of Young’s Analytical Concordance gives three definitions for tor. One meaning, used only once, is “estate.” Would this be referring to the abode we will receive if faithful?
A: Yes, “estate,” “government,” or “condition.” Tor also means “rock,” showing stability. The golden boards of the Tabernacle were set in sockets of silver. Those seated in the Holy hope to enter the Most Holy, which pictures a stable, permanent condition. The Holy is rectangular, being composed of two squares, whereas the Most Holy is just one square or cube. This distinction shows that only one of the two virgin classes in the Holy will get into the Most Holy, into the divine nature or estate.
Instead of “borders,” some translations have “chains” or “circlets,” which would be true when the picture is considered from the standpoint of the horse. Pharaoh had not only the best horse, chariot, and ornamentation but also the best sound from the tinkling chains when the horse moved. That way the eyes and ears of the people focused on Pharaoh. Just as Pharaoh chose the best mare for his chariot, so the Bride class is selected in this age according to those who develop the proper Christlike character for obtaining a permanent abode in heaven.
Comment: Malachi 3:17 comes to mind: “And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”
Reply: The Church will be honored in the future.
“Studs of silver” would be truth, verity. In other words, the prospective Bride’s relationship to Jesus is not just a mood or condition but a FACT. It is like saying, “Thus it is!” When one looks into the Word and comes to the proper shepherd and the proper tent, that shepherd and tent will remind him of these Scriptures. From time to time, we should review the precious promises and take inventory of where we stand by asking, “Have I made any progress? Am I still in the Lord’s favor? Was my call real?” As we reflect on past miracles, we get a little more confidence in our present state and realize we have not been following fables but what is REAL. The longer we are in the truth, the more we should feel like veterans in some respects.
We have experienced wars, trials, and problems, yet we still love God and Jesus. This type of reasoning encourages us to put more faith in God and in the unknown future. God talks to us through His Word and through providence.
Song 1:12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
King Jesus reclines at his table. While we study together with our Bibles, we are at the Lord’s table. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” When we gather, we expect to be fed spiritually. This “table” is on the ground in the desert. If in a nice house, the table would be a little elevated.
“My spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.” We are reminded of Spikenard Mary. Spikenard sending forth fragrance pictures our appreciation. Mary sacrificed the spikenard, which cost her a year’s salary in value, because she LOVED Jesus. Her love was a spiritual love based on the Word and its principles, and we, too, should want to show a measure of our appreciation to Jesus. “What can I do to show my appreciation?” she would have asked. Others considered the pouring of the spikenard to be a waste of money, but the act showed how much she appreciated sitting at Jesus’ feet (or sitting at the “table” where she was fed).
When the expense was criticized, Jesus responded by saying, “What she has done will be known forever.” Her act of kindness and sacrificing such a cost has been recorded in history for all generations to know. He further stated, “She hath anointed me for my burial” (Matt. 26:12 paraphrase). “She hath done what she could” (Mark 14:8). On the opposite extreme is Judas, who, every time the Crucifixion is replayed, will be seen as the traitor. He is known in history as the son of perdition (John 17:12).
On another occasion, Jesus said to the woman who anointed his feet, “Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). He encouraged her for her sorrow and tears of repentance and for drying his feet with her hair. A woman’s hair is her glory, so drying Jesus’ feet was a sacrifice. We should find the time to meditate on these precious moments.
Song 1:13 A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
Myrrh is a symbol of wisdom. Here the prospective Bride class is speaking of Jesus as being a bundle of myrrh: wisdom. His thinking is on such a high level that it lifts the Christian up to a cleaner, purer, higher clime.
In its natural form, myrrh was used as a deodorant and in connection with burial as a purifying agent. Women in the past worked and perspired. Suspending a bag of myrrh from their necks down between their breasts prevented the perspiration from giving an unpleasant odor.
But here the Bride is saying that Jesus is a bundle of myrrh to her. In other words, she realizes or asks, “Who am I?” We are but a tiny speck of humanity on one of the tiniest planets in the universe. From the divine standpoint, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. If we did not have Jesus’ robe of righteousness, he would find plenty of fault in every one of us—not just idiosyncrasies but unpleasant traits. Jesus’ words “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” are very encouraging (Matt. 11:28). In spite of our situation, the God of heaven, whose name is HOLY and who inhabiteth eternity, is very close to the meek, lowly, and contrite of heart. It is encouraging for us to realize He is able to forgive. Jesus can love us if we recognize our undone condition and look to him for help, guidance, and instruction. This is the “deodorant” that overcomes our sins and shortcomings.
“He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.” This statement, which is part of Scripture, is to be considered on a very high level. At night David would think about God and study the heavens: “Oh, how wonderful is thy Word, O God! This is my meditation day and night” (see Psalm 119). Christians in this age see Jesus, who reflects what his Father is like. The gospel is essential to get comfort, instruction, and edification.
Comment: The heart is between the breasts, and the heart is the seat of affection.
Comment: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). If our heart is in heaven, our words will reflect that.
Song 1:14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi.
The Bride is speaking of her “beloved” Jesus. (“Beloved” is in the masculine gender.) Camphire is probably a form of cypress, which is very fragrant. In times past, sofas and pillows contained a cypress product of some kind as a deodorant. A forest of cypress trees produces a pleasing fragrance. There are many kinds of cypress, not just spruce and cedar. Cedar is a preservative too (for example, in cedar chests). In addition, a waxlike extract of camphire has been used as a cooling agent. If lips get sunburned, camphire will cool them.
“In the vineyards.” Vineyards are notorious for sun. Good grapes are produced with plenty of sun, which sweetens the grapes. Therefore, the camphire signifies coolness in the midst of extreme heat. “Camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi” reinforces the thought of coolness in the midst of heat—whether it is a shade tree, shade leaves, or a refreshing fragrance. En-gedi is at the Dead Sea, a very low, hot region.
1 Kings 4:29-34 speaks of Solomon’s wisdom before he deflected: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; … and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”
Comment: The text just quoted is excellent to rebut someone who wants to throw out any of Solomon’s writings.
1 Kings 3:11-13 speaks of God’s granting Solomon’s request for wisdom. “And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.” Solomon was richly blessed because he is a picture of Jesus (and sometimes of The Christ).
Song 1:15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.
Jesus is speaking. He calls the prospective Bride “my love.” The repetition of “Behold, thou art fair” is for emphasis and for reassurance that Jesus is not overstating the matter. When one sincerely consecrates and tries to do God’s will, the Lord’s love for that individual is more intense and real than our love for him. When we question our love, we say it is maximum (or at least our intent is), but Jesus is trying to show us that his love for us is more intense.
When one consecrates, God is very pleased—just as He was pleased when Abraham responded after being called out of Ur. From God’s standpoint, it is remarkable when an imperfect person consecrates, when one gives his heart to Him (or to Christ in some cases because there has been some confusion). The angels in heaven rejoice over even one sinner who repents, and God Himself rejoices (Luke 15:7).
“Thou hast doves’ eyes.” Having doves’ eyes signifies purity, peacefulness, tenderness, gentleness, sympathy, meekness, and humility—all of which are related. If Jesus is meek and lowly of heart and we are to be like him, then, generally speaking, those who are called are the meek and lowly ones of the earth, those who are poor in spirit, those who realize their fallen condition. The flesh can have a good deal of pride that has to be dealt with and gotten rid of.
We have conflicting emotions in that we are of the earth, earthy, yet our hearts yearn for the spiritual, the heavenly, with its nobility and purity. Hence we need to wage a continual warfare against the flesh.
The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, for when Jesus was immersed, the outward sign, or evidence, that the new nature was blossoming in him was the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove visible to John the Baptist. Also, a dove sent forth from the Ark returned with an olive twig, which is a symbol of peacefulness, unction, and hope.
Song 1:16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
The prospective Bride responds to Jesus, calling him “my beloved.” “Behold, thou art fair, … yea, pleasant.” The virgin class tells Jesus, “You are handsome as well.” Then she adds the word “pleasant.” Jesus is pleasant to be with. “Yea” is a form of emphasis. When we give our heart to the Lord, different emotions go through us. We see our own fallen estate, our weaknesses, and our shortcomings, and then we see the nobility of Jesus’ character, statements, and actions—and that he died on the Cross for sinners, of which we are one. We see his noble character and our own base character, and we want to be like him and to have fellowship with him. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to be instructed, to learn from him and be like him. Even those sent by the scribes and Pharisees to find fault with Jesus could only report, after listening to his sermons, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). They were enthralled by his profound utterances. We, too, are enthralled by the principles enunciated in Scripture, but we have gone one step further in wanting to be like him. To do that, we must be his disciples, and to be his disciples will cost us something (Luke 14:28). We admire what Jesus stood for, and we admire his devotion to the Father, whom we love as supreme.
“Also our bed is green.” The NIV has, “Our resting place is life-giving.”
Comment: We are reminded of Jesus’ invitation “Come unto me … and I will give you rest.” Jesus gives us a rest of faith and inner peace.
The word “bed” can be “couch” or “resting place”; it is not a bed that one sleeps in. “Green” pictures comfort, refreshment, life, youth, freshness. When in comfort in the shade, one is apt to commune and talk. A rest is implied, a comfortable condition, away from the world. The new creature communes with the Master in this most favorable environment for spiritual development.
Comment: On another occasion, this rest was described as an oasis in the desert.
Reply: Yes, water for refreshment and trees for shade are in an oasis in the desert.
Comment: We have a new life in Christ, and we walk in newness of life. That would fit in with the thought of verdure and life-giving qualities.
Reply: When we first consecrate, not only do we feel we have found something wonderful and most unusual, but we want to tell everyone we know. We think others will be just as interested, and we are surprised to find out they are not. Without God’s Word, the future would be bleak, ephemeral, and visionary, but the Bible is specific and brings order out of confusion.
Song 1:17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.
Again the Bride is speaking, as shown by the pronoun “our” in verses 16 and 17. The beams and the rafters are a form of evergreen, which means the truth engenders life and hope. The term “our house” is plural in the Hebrew in the sense of many (not just a dual plural). In the Song of Solomon, the prospective Bride sometimes speaks as an individual and sometimes in the plural (clue: “our”). This is the experience of each of the consecrated, particularly at the time of consecration: joy, hope, a life-giving message, etc.
Comment: The King James margin has “galleries” for “rafters.”
Reply: Yes, because the rafters are the upstairs. For example, the rafters in a barn are the partial floor above, where hay and other things are stored.
Consider, first, the “beams of our house.” Beams are supports, and it is crucial to have good supports. In other words, our future, our security, in which our faith and hope are anchored, is that these beams are very real—in fact, more real than a literal beam. In a book entitled Christ in Concrete, the thought is presented that for the Christian, faith sees things which are more real, whereas to others these things are delusions and fairy tales. The only problem is us—we must develop more faith. The promises are sure and real and concrete.
Q: Would the beams being cedar refer to our treasure in heaven, which moth and rust cannot corrupt?
A: Yes. This verse is a chorus. “The beams of our house[s]” means that all of the consecrated have a hope of being in the mansion with Jesus. If the Song of Solomon is put to music, this verse will be sung as a chorus. In other places, an individual talks who is representative of the Bride class. Here the entire class speaks in a chorus.
Comment: “Faith is the … evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). It is there! It is real!
Cedar has a preservative influence; it repels insects and has a fragrance that combats mildew.
In times past, pillows and cushions contained cedar to combat odors and dampness. Cedar is a symbol of everlasting life. Therefore, our hope is eternal, lasting, secure. A house rests upon its beams and particularly on the rafters. A strong beam is needed to support the next floor. Thus the beams are fundamental supports. The “beams” refer to the thoughts of Christians as regards their life now, at the present time, with the hope of everlasting life, whereas the “rafters” refer to the next life, beyond the veil.
“Our rafters [are] of fir.”