Song of Solomon Chapter 4: Jesus describes his Bride

Nov 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Song of Solomon, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Song of Solomon Chapter 4: Jesus describes his Bride

Song 4:1 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

In verses 1-5, Jesus is describing the virgin class who will ultimately become his Bride.

“Doves’ eyes” indicate innocence, peace, humility, gentleness, meekness (teachableness), the Holy Spirit, sensitivity, and attentiveness.

Comment: A thought presented on another occasion was that doves in the Middle East have eyes that appear unusually large and noticeable, particularly as they look out from a thicket, which would be comparable to the Bride’s eyes with her locks of hair (or with a veil, as some translations state).

The setting is a love story, and Jesus finds that the Church is attracted to him, having an eye single to pleasing him. If the eyes are considered as being behind a veil, the veil would show discreetness. If the eyes are associated with locks of hair, an attitude of consecration and devotion is symbolized. As the prospective Bride looks to the Master for instruction, she is characteristically submissive and has a spirit of reverence for him.

“Thy hair is as a flock of goats.” Normally, we do not think of a goat in a favorable sense. Being left for scavenger purposes, the goat can even eat tin cans, and it is usually unattended, unwashed, and ungroomed. But since the Song of Solomon is a love story, these goats are not ordinary goats. Coming from Mount Gilead, they have soft, lustrous, thick, luxurious, black (raven-colored) hair that is beautiful in quality and texture, and is used to produce cashmere. Hair is a symbol of consecration.

Q: Would the black hair tie in with the first chapter where the prospective Bride says she is “black, but comely”?

A: Yes. Black is favorable in Song 1:5 and also here.

Mount Gilead is the “hill of witness.” Jesus was “the faithful and true witness” throughout his earthly ministry, ending with his death on Calvary. His entire life and his words were a testimony of his devotion to God and of his submission to the will of the Father. He faithfully enlightened Israel about God’s plan and purposes, and he sealed this faithful testimony with his blood. The Church class also bear witness to the testimony of God and of Jesus and endeavor to do God’s will at the cost of sacrifice. The “hill of witness” is down here.

Comment: According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, Gilead means “strong, rocky.” Smith’s Bible Dictionary says Gilead means “rocky region.”

The Song of Solomon is primarily the duet of Jesus and the Bride class. The Great Company is introduced only in a secondary sense.

Comment: Doves mate for life; hence the Bride has an eye only for Jesus.

Q: What is the time setting here?

A: We will treat the time setting here, as well as in Song 3:6-11, after we discuss verse 6.

Song 4:2 Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

Teeth are a factor in looking for beauty. When a person talks or smiles, a missing tooth detracts from the appearance.

“Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that were shorn evenly and just washed” (paraphrase).

During the year, the sheep’s wool gets dirty, and for identification purposes, it is stained with a red dye. When shorn and bathed, the sheep look alike, being even and clean. And so the Bride’s teeth are even, clean, white, and twinned (“whereof every one bear twins”). Each tooth has a twin: two eyeteeth, two bicuspids, two molars, etc. The main function of teeth is to chew food, and food is masticated so that it can be swallowed and digested. One spiritual lesson is to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Another is to masticate truth in both the Old and the New Testaments (which are pairs or twins).

Q: Teeth are seen when a person smiles. Could it be that when Jesus looks at his Bride, he sees her smiling with joy at beholding him?

A: Yes.

Comment: With the Bride’s teeth being complete and even, the chewing of truth is even; that is, it is not just Christian-living truth but also dispensational truth in whatever age the Christian lives.

Reply: “None is barren” means that no teeth are missing.

Song 4:3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

“A thread of scarlet” would be the theme of the Ransom, which is taught in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; it is the doctrine of restitution made possible by Jesus’ death. In Hebrew, “thread” is a cord. The New International Version has “a scarlet ribbon,” which is better.

Comment: Rahab let down a scarlet cord from her window; a thread would be too thin. This is natural redness, not color artificially introduced with cosmetics. Lips are a prominent feature in enunciating and proclaiming truth and love for Christ, and the Bride’s “speech is comely.”

Comment: There are several Scriptures about speech. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Prov. 25:11). 1 Peter 3:4-6 gives the example of Sarah: “But let it be … the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well.”

The prospective Bride’s speech is comely too in that it is in harmony with proper Christian thinking and bearing. It is constructive and not frivolous, comporting well with what one would expect from a child of God.

“Thy temples [cheeks] are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.” The color and exterior shape of the pomegranate are the first spiritual comparison. Each cheek of the Bride is smooth, round, and rosy (a healthy color).

Comment: The pomegranate is full of seeds. Hence her mind is active and full of good and beautiful seed thoughts.

Comment: When Esther, who pictures the Church, entered the beauty contest, she rejected any artificial cosmetics or adornments. She had natural beauty that is spiritually pictured here: reddish lips, healthy cheeks, and teeth evenly matched.

Reply: Yes, there was a long period of purification under the tutelage of one who pictured the Holy Spirit.

Comment: The flavor of the pomegranate is a combination of the flavors of all fruits, showing the development in the Bride of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Reply: The teeth, lips, and cheeks are all related to constructive, pure conversation.

Q: In addition to the cheeks picturing spiritual health, could they also represent an act of blushing? Jesus admires the Bride, but in her humility, she is embarrassed by some of his words and so much attention being bestowed on her.

A: That is an interesting thought which may have value. It is true that flattery is a problem for the Christian, and this form of flattery from Jesus is very unusual. When anyone forsakes the things of this world and gives his or her heart to the Lord, promising that from henceforth God’s will is to be supreme, that in itself is a wonderful and precious stand. In fact, that is one reason why the Great Company class will be rescued. God so appreciates their stand, even though they do not achieve the Little Flock, that in His mercy, He will grant them opportunity to wash their robes.

“Within thy locks.” Even the hair is paired or twinned, indicating the doing of God’s will as expressed in the Old and New Testaments. Teeth, cheeks, lips, and locks are all paired. The locks are evenly distributed.

Song 4:4 Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

Comment: The neck is a symbol of determination and purpose. The Bride has strength as well as gentle beauty.

From a natural standpoint, a person who has good bearing with a beautiful neck is admired.

Natural nobility and bearing are appreciated. Spiritually speaking, a stately neck is a picture of prominence in God’s sight.

“Tower of David.” David was a warrior in battle, and he fought not only Goliath but also wild animals (the lion and the bear) bare-handed, tearing their jaws apart. This quality pictures boldness for the truth. Whether a brother or a sister, we should try to have this blending of qualities found in the Master; namely, he was bold as a lion yet meek as a lamb. And generally speaking, even a tower is paired—one tower at each corner.

Comment: This verse indicates that the prospective Bride is equipped for spiritual warfare at all times. She is to have on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13).

Reply: Yes, the tower was an arsenal for weapons. In it were stored implements of warfare such as bucklers, shields, and weaponry like bows and arrows for archers. From the tower, an approaching enemy could be seen. The Christian’s attackers are the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The important point is that we must stand for the truth, defend the truth, and still the mouths of the enemy if possible. One of an elder’s duties is to stop the gainsaying of those who oppose or contradict the truth.

“A thousand bucklers” just means a large number, not a specific number. In other words, the Christian should have an ample supply of spiritual weaponry for defense against the enemy.

Song 4:5 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

This verse concludes the remarks of the Bridegroom begun in verse 1.

“Roes” are “fawns” in some translations and “gazelles” in the Revised Standard, New International Version, and Masoretic. The “two breasts” picture the development that comes from feeding upon the Old and New Testaments, particularly the more lofty themes and sentiments (as opposed to chronology and history, for example). The breasts being “twins” means the development is even, balanced, and mature. “Lilies” picture good, constructive, upbuilding, Christlike thoughts. The lily is also a symbol of peace and resurrection.

One cannot develop a Christlike character without thinking Christlike thoughts. Feeding among the lilies means the Christian in his or her solitude sees the necessity of meditating on helpful, constructive thoughts. The new creature needs this wholesome, peaceful, gentle atmosphere. True, the Christian is to be like a soldier with fortitude, strong character, and faith, but the Song of Solomon, being a love song, emphasizes reverence and worship, which is usually done best in private study with quietness and solitude. Generally speaking, one has more control over the atmosphere in private study than in public or study meetings.

Q: What are the characteristics of “fawns”? Is their gentle, sensitive nature significant as well as the fact that they are easily startled?

A: This trait can be tied together with the Scripture “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 … love, till [it] … please” (Song 2:7). The Christian usually finds the necessity for solitude and private study, in which there are no interruptions. In a group study, some do not realize they should not interrupt a subject of great importance or sensitivity. The daughters of Jerusalem class will be accountable, to some extent, for such interruptions. To feed among the lilies has to do with the Christian being where he can control the atmosphere and surroundings so that they are conducive to prayerful, private study. A reverential heart attitude (the inner spiritual man) is very important in spite of a possible crude exterior (the old or natural man).

Song 4:6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

The prospective Bride class speaks. “Until the day break” is “until the day breathe” in many translations. Both terms are good, the thought being “until the day breaks the darkness,” “until the day comes to life.” This “day” will break for the Little Flock when they are with their Lord as the complete Bride class. The Apostle Peter spoke of the change beyond the veil: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:19).

The day will break regarding the gospel night of sin for the Little Flock. Leeser translates Psalm 46:5, “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her in the dawning of her morning.” Leeser associates this text with the dawning of the spiritual class, rather than the dawning of the Kingdom. The dawning of the daystar in one’s heart corresponds to the dawning of “her morning.”

Comment: Song 2:17 is similar to Song 4:6, “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.”

Reply: The prospective Bride speaks in both cases.

“I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.” Two incense ingredients are mentioned: myrrh and frankincense. What are the “mountain of myrrh” and the “hill of frankincense”?

Comment: A thought from an earlier study related the “mountain of myrrh” to Jesus’ death on Calvary and the “hill of frankincense” to his resurrection. Jesus’ death and resurrection, which constitute the basis of hope, are what the Church especially feeds on.

Comment: The Bride class desires to have all the experiences necessary to bring praise to her Lord.

Reply: Yes with both comments. Jesus set the example by his death on the Cross. The resurrection was the Father’s reward for the Son’s faithfulness. The Christian who suffers with Jesus will reign with him. Jesus is the example, the path ordained, for the Church to follow to attain the high calling.

“Myrrh” is bitter experience and the wisdom gained through such experience. “Frankincense” represents praise and thanksgiving. Hymns of praise often include the Christian’s gratitude for deliverance from suffering that is beyond human endurance. Such help usually evokes praise and thanksgiving. Of course pleasant experiences also bring forth praise, but the type of praise that arises from suffering is on a higher level than praise from pleasure. Verse 6 alludes to praise that arises from suffering.

“Until … the shadows flee away.” The shadows of the nighttime experience of the Church will “flee away” when the Church is complete. These are the shadows of the gospel night, the Passover night.

Q: Why is myrrh a “mountain” and frankincense a “hill”? Two different Heb rew words areused.

Comment: Our praise can never reach the mark of perfection. What Jesus offered at Calvary far transcends anything we can offer.

Reply: With our finite fallen nature, we cannot fully appreciate or know the depth of agony, anguish, and pain Jesus went through in Gethsemane and on the Cross. We do know we were purchased by a price, the blood of the Savior, and we praise him for having died and suffered for us. In fact, we so appreciated the condescending love of Jesus and the Father that we fully consecrated our lives, but we can only partly perceive the “mountain of myrrh” that Jesus suffered. We try to empathize as best we can with our “hill” of praise.

Comment: For the Bride to obtain wisdom (through bitter experience) on this side of the veil is harder to do than praising the Lord. She struggles to go through the “mountain” of bitter experiences.

Reply: The principle is the same in either case. The last comment considers the matter purely from the Christian’s experience, whereas the first comparison was with Christ’s experience, which is a “mountain” far greater than we can realize. Isaiah 53:11 says, “He [Jesus] shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” Such anguish was crushing him that not until his resurrection, when he looked back, did he see the necessity for his suffering experiences. On the Cross, he did not have this understanding. His faith was victorious in that he cried, “It is finished!” but seeing the necessity for his suffering, realizing the amount of thought the Father had put into the heavy hand, came later. To be a corresponding price, Jesus had to suffer counterpart experiences for Adam’s disobedience and circumstances.

Incidentally, we are developed with a heavy hand too, and many times we do not understand the nature of the trials we are going through. We do not see the necessity until afterwards— and sometimes that “afterwards” will not occur until we are beyond the veil. Often we do not see the reason for the trials of other individuals as well as of ourselves. In the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord prayed that the cup might be removed. His prayer indicates the travail was so heavy on his shoulders that it almost crushed him. His repetitive pleading shows that Jesus had feelings. To fully realize the Father’s wisdom was even beyond Jesus’ concept at the time, but after his resurrection, he could see how essential the sufferings were to prepare him to be earth’s King, Priest, and Savior.

That which is a “mountain” to us now, will be understood in the next life if we are faithful.

“Our Father’s wisdom planned it all” is a very meaningful statement. When we first heard the truth, salvation was just a story, but it sounded true and logical. We consecrated as babes, being delighted to know that there is a God, that He is merciful, that He has plans pertaining to eternal life, etc. Later on, as we draw nearer and nearer to death, we will have gained a wealth of experience—and eventually we will understand our travail and be satisfied.

A trial can come on an individual for various reasons. Trials are tailored to fit our position and work in the body of Christ in the next age, and sometimes in this age too. Trials cannot be humanly reasoned in the present life. In the next age, it will be seen why the Great Company are the Great Company and why the Little Flock are the Little Flock. The distinction between the two classes will be realized. We cannot discern this distinction now because the fact that we look upon one another as human beings obscures, to a large extent, the inner man. The most we can see of the inner man is his habit of thought and his habit of conduct, but we do not know what motivates these. The white stone that will be given to “him that overcometh” pertains to our motives (Rev. 2:17). Some motives will never be known except between the two who each have one half of the stone: the Savior and the risen saint. In the Kingdom Age, certain things will be known about the lives of each of the 144,000, but not all things. Our lives in the present life are being recorded, and we trust that the Lord will edit and delete aspects of our behavior

down here in the flesh that would not be profitable to others.

Review of Song 2:10 Through 4:6 as to the TIME ELEMENT

“My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song 2:10).

“The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song 2:13). These verses, which pertain to the resurrection of the sleeping saints in 1878, provide a chronological fix, a particular date. In regard to those members of the prospective Bride still here in the flesh between 1878 and the rapture of the feet members, Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth [that is, from 1878 up to the rapture]: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow [with] them.” In this interim period, those proven to be of the Very Elect receive an individual instantaneous change when they die. Other Scriptures show that the last members of the Church, the feet members, will be snatched away as a class. They will be raptured as new creatures from the body of flesh to a spirit body.

Song 4:1-6 brings us down to the end time, to the latter part of the Harvest period “until the day break,” which is yet future. Therefore, Chapter 4 is describing a class who are still down here in the flesh.

In summary, two classes are being described. (1) Song 2:10-13 tells of the time for the change of the sleeping members of the Church. (2) Song 2:14 through 4:6 tells of the time approaching for the feet members to be raptured.

Q: Is the thought that after the second call in Song 2:13 to “arise, my love, my fair one, and come away,” which is the call of the sleeping saints to resurrection, then verse 14 is addressed to the saints still here in the flesh, to the “doves [who dwell] … in the clefts of the rock”? From verse 14 through Song 4:6, which we are currently considering, the application continues to be the present life in the Harvest period, the time period since 1878 but prior to the rapture.

A: Yes. Just as the world of mankind is told that “the hour is coming when all in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and come forth” (John 5:28)—that is, those in the tomb will “hear” the call—so the saints who had been sleeping in death since Pentecost “heard” the call to resurrection in 1878. Similarly Lazarus, who lay in a tomb for four days, “heard” Jesus call him to “come forth.”

The time setting of Chapter 3 is down here at this end of the age in the Harvest period. Verses 6-11 are a break in thought. Who is speaking depends on the perspective. As for those who are beyond the veil now (i.e., the risen saints), when they received their change, they immediately understood many things not previously realized (for example, why it took so long for God to select the Bride class and why their resurrection did not occur until 1878). Beyond the veil, the risen saints understand the principle upon which God has been calling the Bride class out of a wilderness condition. They realize that the wilderness condition was necessary to develop them and that the Ark of God pictures the movement of the Church down through the Gospel Age. In coming out of their wilderness experience and having their change, they see “Solomon” (Jesus). The crown represents his glorified state as earth’s King. The raised saints have the perspective of looking down and understanding God’s purposes. Meanwhile, the class still in the flesh must be carefully guarded in the end-time experience, which will eventually lead to the marriage. To repeat, the time setting of Chapter 3 is the end time.

Comment: In an earlier study, verses 6-11 of Chapter 3 were attributed to the Holy Spirit, an impersonal commentary, which would still fit with the present thought that these verses can also express the sentiments and the perspective of the raised saints—how they would view certain matters. Either way, the setting is down here.

Reply: That is right. The risen saints know the past and the present—the present in earth’s atmosphere as well as their view of happenings down here. Fallen angels can predict certain events because from their perspective, they see what a situation is leading to. Some of their predictions come remarkably true, and some do not because certain foibles of nature and events cannot be foreseen except with omniscience, a quality that only God has. Omniscience knows no enigma—it sees everything.

Song 4:7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

Jesus begins to speak here and continues through verse 15.

There are two types of perfection: being faultless and being blameless. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you [as if you were] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight” (Col. 1:22). One who is “without blame,” or “blameless,” still has faults, but God sees that they are due to Adamic weakness. It is the will that must be perfect in His sight. To be “faultless” would mean that a person has no imperfections at all. Hence we are not “faultless” because we do have blemishes and we do fall. However, God does not blame those in the right heart condition who commit certain aberrations through Adamic weakness because the aberrations are covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness.

Verse 7 means the prospective Bride is without blame on this side of the veil. A “spot” is a particular fault, a flaw. We must wash our robes on a daily basis, asking each day for forgiveness. Those who do not apply for mercy and forgiveness each day develop both wrinkles in their garments (through inactivity and a sleeping condition) and spots. The Great Company have long-term spots that need to be washed. Ephesians 5:26,27 describes the Little Flock: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Comment: “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). Jesus views the consecrated with the eyes of love. He is not looking for imperfections but sees them covered with his robe of righteousness.

Reply: In other words, he makes a big distinction between the old creature underneath the garment of his righteousness and the new creature on the outside. Jesus views the individual something like the Tabernacle. God views the Tabernacle from the standpoint of the Most Holy: from the inside, He looks outward at those approaching Him (Most Holy, Holy, Court). We approach from the outside and look inward (Court, Holy, Most Holy).

Song 4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Jesus is speaking to the espoused virgin Bride. Lebanon means “white mountain.” Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon are two parallel mountain ranges that run north to south. The prefix “anti” means “similar.” The prospective Bride is situated in Christ in the Holy, the “white” Lebanon.

The meaning of Amana is uncertain. It may mean “fixed”; another definition is “integrity.” These three names—Amana, Shenir, and Hermon—all refer to different parts of the same mountain range, Anti-Lebanon. Shenir means either “coat of mail” or “white” depending on the vowel. Hermon, which has the thought of “prominent” and “lofty” and is the summit of this mountain range, is also defined as “white.” From the perspective used here, Jesus is addressing his Church to come up higher. Elsewhere, Hermon represents God’s throne.

Comment: In this mountain range, Amana is the farthest north, Shenir is in the middle, and Hermon is to the south. From the Sea of Galilee, Hermon can be seen, and it is covered with snow year-round.

Q: Would the order of the three mountains show a progression? Jesus calls the Bride from Lebanon, then from Amana, then from Shenir, and finally from Hermon at the border of Israel. Since we usually associate “Lebanon” with the cedars of Lebanon and everlasting life, is Jesus calling the Bride to come away from the earthly condition, from the possibility of life here on the earth?

A: Yes, a progression is shown for the Church, with Hermon being the loftiest condition, the one nearest to God, the “promised” heavenly condition. Jesus sought to get closer to the Father by climbing a mountain to pray.

Comment: After 40 years in the wilderness, Moses went up on Mount Pisgah to view the “land that floweth with milk and honey” (Deut 6:3; 11:9; 26:9,15; 27:3; 31:20; 32:48,49). There he died, picturing that flesh and blood cannot enter the spiritual phase of the Kingdom. After his long earthly journey, he was in a high peak condition just before his death.

Reply: Yes, the association between Moses and the Church, the Moses class, is proper. Jesus, the Church, and Moses all reverently seek (or sought) communion with Jehovah. Amana, Shenir, and Hermon are a progression upward from the “lions’ dens” and the “mountains of the leopards.”

Comment: The lions’ den mentioned in Daniel 6 has an antitype for the feet members.

Reply: Yes. From the progression standpoint, the “lions’ dens” signifies opposition for the feet members at the very end of the age. “Having done all” they can do, the test for the feet members at that time will be to “stand” (Eph. 6:13). The crystallization process is the principle upon which God’s people have been developed down through the Gospel Age. Those who are faithful live long enough to have the Christian character developed in them, and then that character is usually crystallized by “standing.” All of the consecrated are to develop the fruits of the Holy Spirit as much as possible. The Little Flock develops the fruits willingly, whereas the Great Company is forced to wash their robes in tribulation in order to develop more of the fruits. All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).

What is the difference between “lions’ dens” and “mountains of the leopards”?

Q: “Mountains” remind us of kingdoms, and Revelation 13:2 attributes leopard characteristics to Papacy. Do the “mountains of the leopards” refer to Papacy?

A: The Little Flock’s persecution will come from Christendom. Since the Great Company’s trial will occur after the fall of Babylon, they will be persecuted by a worldly element, the angry populace, near the time of Jacob’s Trouble. They will be persecuted because of their espousal of friendship with natural Israel. Hence anti-Semitism will be rife—in fact, Jacob’s Trouble will be a climax of anti-Semitism.

Q: Will the fallen angels be involved with the death of the Great Company?

A: Yes, and the fallen angels are anti-Semitic too.

Therefore, the “lions’ dens” and the “leopards’ mountains” refer to the persecutions that yet await the true Church.

Song 4:9 Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

The word “spouse” literally means “perfected one.” In other words, this class, in which Jesus sees “no spot” (verse 7), will make the grade. The expression “one of thine eyes” indicates that their eye is single toward Jesus. Their main focus of attention is on Jesus as their Lord, Master, and Bridegroom.

Comment: Devotion can be plainly seen in the eyes. If someone is in love, that devotion is obvious.

The New International Version reads, “You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.” “One chain of thy neck” does not mean one link of the chain. The thought is “with [the] one chain of thy neck.” The chain is a symbol of the consecration covenant relationship. Both a ring (circle) and a rainbow (semicircle) represent a covenant relationship.

This class has stolen the Lord’s affection. He will come as a thief in the night to take the jewel class as his Bride. The beauty of the Christian is in proportion to the heart affection for the Lord. “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him” (Psa. 45:10,11). We must be careful not to be too technical, concentrating exclusively on doctrine to the neglect or forgetting of what the Lord has done for us personally. The emotional side of a Christian’s development is absolutely essential—plus doctrine. We must serve the Lord with the heart—and with understanding.

Song 4:10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!

“Love” is plural, indicating a progressive love. The evidences (plural) of the love of the Bride class are what win the Master’s favor. Jesus calls the Bride “my sister,” and we consider him to be our elder brother. Jesus will marry his sister.

“How much better is thy love than wine!” The Bride’s personal love for Jesus is better than “wine,” the joys of the truth. While the joys of the truth are a higher level than just truth (water), the Bride class has to ascend to the still higher level of personal affection for Jesus. Many in the nominal system see the necessity for a personal relationship with Jesus, but they do not see as clearly the necessity for the water and the wine. Some say “once saved, always saved,” which minimizes the Word of God and a thirst for understanding.

Jesus’ first miracle at the First Advent was to change water into wine. Likewise his first miracle at the Second Advent was to change water (truth) into wine (joys of the truth) through Tabernacle Shadows and the Volumes.

“How much better is … the smell [fragrance] of thine ointments than all spices!”

Comment: This commendation reminds us of Mary’s anointing of Jesus with spikenard.

Reply: The heart devotion that prompted her to do the anointing and the personal cost involved (a year’s salary) are an example of sacrifice by the Bride class. Mary’s act of breaking the alabaster box and anointing Jesus with the very costly perfume is admirable. Normally in Old Testament times, such costly perfume was saved as a dowry.

The fragrance of the Bride’s garments is better than that of all other spices. The emphasis is on the word “thine”: “The smell of thine [the Bride’s] ointments [is better] than all [other] spices.”

When some pray, they try to flatter the Lord, but in His sight, the flattery means nothing unless it is genuine. Women wear cosmetics and jewelry to attract attention to themselves, but the fragrances here in verse 10 result from a motivation of trying to please the Lord, not fellow man. The actions, services, reverences, etc. [plural], of the Bride class are included in the “ointments” [plural]. These repetitive, genuine, from-the-heart little things win his heart. Jesus appreciates the heart affections and the heart services.

The Song of Solomon manifests an emotional aspect that is necessary in our Christian development. The Book of Proverbs emphasizes the need for knowledge and understanding, which are tools for attaining a deep, personal love for Jesus. How can we love him if we do not know him? Knowledge and wisdom are stepping-stones, or a means to an end, that enable us feeble ones down here to develop reverence and love. The Song of Solomon speaks of the end product: perfect love, the sum of the graces.

Imagine that Jesus could love someone down here when he has the fellowship of all heaven! He appreciates our lack along certain lines, such as the woman who cried and washed his feet with her tears, then wiped them with her hair. Jesus was criticized for recognizing this woman because of her questionable past, but the general principle with the Bride class is that the one who is forgiven more can love more. Sacrifice and humiliation are involved. The intensity of one’s love can be enhanced through experience.

Just giving one’s life for a cause does not constitute faithfulness. Consider, for example, the radical Muslims in the Middle East, who are idealistic. They are taught that if they die a martyr’s death, they will be in the kingdom, and so firm is their belief that they are willing to die for it. What is the difference between them and true Christians, for both are faithful unto death according to their beliefs and both are sacrificing? In the Dark Ages, millions of Christians were put to death for their beliefs, yet only 144,000 from a 2,000-year period will be chosen. The difference is that radical Muslims aggressively destroy individuals (the enemy, as they view matters), while Christians are called not to destroy but to do good to others and to die for a true and right cause. The principle behind the motivation is the determining factor. We should ask the soul-searching question “Do I have the intensity of love plus the proper principle and motivation?” We must know about God and Jesus and what their instructions are. Just to sacrifice money, goods, friendships, family, etc., is not sufficient, for the sacrifice must be according to proper understanding. The qualifications to become one of the Little Flock are very high and are of a somewhat different nature than just sacrifice.

Song 4:11 Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

“Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb.” Jesus continues to speak and describe how he views the prospective Bride. The “lips” refer to the prospective Bride’s speech. From another standpoint, the “lips” are the Old and New Testaments. Not only does she speak in harmony with the principles and doctrines of Scripture, but her only knowledge of God and Jesus comes from the Word. Her lips testify, utter praises, pray, witness, etc. Verse 11 is an overall appraisal by Jesus of the Bride’s verbal expressions, both private and public, concerning the Father and him.

Comment: Of “honeycomb,” Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” The prospective Bride’s speech is sweet.

Reply: To “drop as the honeycomb” would mean that sweet words flow naturally (they are not forced) from the Bride’s lips and heart and are sincere.

Comment: There is not to be any “honey” (hypocrisy or flattery) in sacrifice. “No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire” (Lev. 2:11).

Reply: Spiritually speaking, the addition of “honey” diminishes the real reason for a sacrifice. For example, if a sacrifice were for sin, “honey” words (flattery) would not bring forgiveness.

One must get down to the basics: “I have done….” “I have sinned….”

However, here in Song 4:11, “honey” is acceptable because it is given genuinely. Jesus listens to and observes the sincere testimony and heart appreciation of the consecrated. He is benefited from such words. What can we give the Father and the Son? Our sincere worship.

A dripping honeycomb overflows with honey. Jesus thoroughly appreciates the dripping of sweet words out of the abundance of the heart in a natural fashion. The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the marrow of the bone as a soul-searching, penetrating message. In contrast, the honey aspect is healthful and soothing.

Comment: Honeycomb is geometrical and structurally organized. Out of God’s mathematical, well-thought-out plan come forth the sweet words of the Bride.

Comment: The Bride’s lips being “like a thread [or cord] of scarlet” (verse 3) and dropping honeycomb are a picture of real beauty.

Reply: The scarlet thread is the testimony and appreciation of what Jesus did for us and for others at Calvary.

“Honey and milk are under thy tongue.” This description by Jesus of the prospective Bride is interesting.

Comment: In the potential Bride’s mouth is nothing bitter; everything is sweet and wholesome.

Reply: Yes, and constructive and helpful. Jesus appreciates these qualities. Under her tongue are honey and milk, which sweeten her talk.

To the contrary, the poison of asps is under the tongue of those whom the Lord disapproves.

“Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Rom. 3:13,14). Also, James likens the tongue to a match that burns down a forest. The little tongue is the rudder of a big vessel; the way it wags can steer a vessel into treacherous areas.

“The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.” Jesus is enamored with the fragrance of cedar that emanates from the garments of the espoused class. The aroma of cedar is pure, healthy, wholesome, fresh, and stimulating, having everlasting and preservative qualities. The multiple “garments” worn are a symbol of the graces (plural) of the truth.

Comment: Psalm 45:13,14 says, “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework.”

Reply: The needlework is done down here, but the gold (the divine nature) will be received at the marriage.

Song 4:12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Jesus’ sister and spouse is (1) an enclosed garden, (2) a shut-up spring , and (3) a sealed fountain.

The “garden inclosed” would be a bolted, barred, or locked garden. This expression pertains to the virginity of the Bride class as new creatures. The point is that no one will come between Jesus and the one worshipping him. Providences can momentarily interfere with that relationship, but from her standpoint, she wants to keep the line of communication open with her Lord. She will allow no deviation or violation to occur. The “garden” is the spiritual garden of the heart; seeds are sewn or planted in the garden through the mind.

“A spring shut up.” Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well that anyone who drinks of the water he possesses will become a potential spring of life. If this spring of life within oneself is “shut up,” it is not active at present but is potential or latent. Eventually, with those who are faithful, this spring will burst forth so that the world of mankind can come and drink freely of the water of life. Therefore, the “spring shut up” represents the pent-up hope of the Christian.

The barrier is the flesh. This “spring” cannot come forth until the flesh is broken. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick [sad]: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12). In the present life, the Christian gets sustaining elements of grace and help lest he sorrow too much.

“We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom 8:24,25). One cannot have this feeling without first having faith, for faith, hope, and love are a process. When faith and hope are realized, love remains and will get opportunity for service in a real sense. The love between Christ and his Bride will become more real when they see Jesus as he is, and walk by his side, and sit in his throne.

Song 4:13 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,

Jesus is still speaking about the prospective Bride.

“Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates.” The pomegranate is an unusual fruit, for it is full of seeds and its flavor is a combination of all fruits. Hence the fruits of the Holy Spirit are developed in this class. The word “orchard,” meaning “paradise” in the Hebrew, reminds us of the Garden of Eden, which was basically an orchard of fruit-bearing trees, one kind of which was forbidden.

“With pleasant fruits.” Pomegranates are a pleasant fruit, but the plural expression “fruits” suggests a variety. In other words, in addition to the pomegranates, which are common to all, each of the Bride class has a certain pleasing quality that is unique to that individual. Therefore, the thought is “with [other] pleasant fruits.” Each individual has one unique characteristic, but when the Church is considered as a whole, all of them together have “pleasant fruits” (plural) in addition to the basic “pomegranates,” or fruits of the Holy Spirit. The promise in Revelation 2:17 is that Jesus will give a special name to each of the 144,000 that is peculiar to only that one individual. The same principle operated when God brought the animals to Adam to name according to his first impression (Gen. 2:19). The name pertained to something unique with each species.

Comment: Verses 13 and 14 further describe the “garden” mentioned in verse 12. The garden contains a spring, a fountain, an orchard of pomegranates, and different spices.

When the Christian develops in character to his maximum capability, then comes the test of stability, of steadfastness, of standing firm, which is the final crystallization of character.

“Camphire, with spikenard.” Camphire and spikenard portray qualities in the prospective Bride that Jesus appreciates. “Spikenard” suggests sacrifice because of Spikenard Mary. A cost is involved. What God appreciated in Abraham was his willingness to sacrifice his only son of promise. And Mary’s anointing of Jesus with the spikenard cost her a year’s salary. What more costly sacrifice can be made than one with such a high personal cost?

Comment: Strong’s Concordance says the Hebrew word for “camphire” is kopher, which means a “cover” and is sometimes translated “ransom.” According to Bro. Frey’s notes, camphire has a fragrance.

Reply: Kopher is another word for “atonement.” Camphire has a pure, invigorating, and wholesome fragrance.

Song 4:14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

Let us consider the “saffron,” which is predominantly yellow in color.

Q: Would the combination of spikenard followed by or coupled with saffron be like the Scripture “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11)?

A: Yes, and that can be considered a fragrance.

Calamus pictures experimental knowledge, knowledge that results from or is based upon hard experience and “calamity” (calamus). Cinnamon symbolizes pleasant head knowledge, delightful knowledge, pleasing facts, which have a pleasant fragrance. These definitions are based on the ingredients in the holy anointing oil of the Tabernacle service (Exod. 30:23-25).

When Jesus looks at his people and sees their efforts to do his will, he is seeing their knowledge with intent. Knowledge by itself can lead to pride. Therefore, if we are to please Jesus, our purpose in acquiring knowledge is to better serve and do his will. Why do we study the Word of God? So that we can understand God’s thinking and the mind of Jesus and bring our conduct into alignment with that thinking. Knowledge is a tool to that end. “With all trees of frankincense.” Trees of frankincense come in different varieties. The frankincense is obtained by making an incision in the bark to cause a resin-like exudation.

When the exudation dries and hardens, it can be ground to powder. “Frank” means open, honest (not hypocritical). Hence “frankincense” means “open praise.” There are different types of praise and worship and seeking to please the Master. Some praise the Lord with their lips, some with their conduct, some with certain deeds, etc.

Similar to calamus, “myrrh” refers to bitter experiences. Calamus pictures knowledge gained through experience. Myrrh and aloes (companion spices) are usually associated with burial and death. Having experience (calamus) helps make one a good counselor. Myrrh is the application of experience obtained through the school of hard knocks. Aloes is the beneficial aftermath of the “myrrh,” the beautiful healing and beneficent effects that result from the myrrh. Myrrh and aloes are like “cause and effect.”

Comment: Then all of the couplets in verses 13 and 14 would be cause and effect: camphire and spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, myrrh and aloes.

Reply: That is right.

Q: Could the myrrh and aloes be referring to the Bride’s view of her flesh? She is dead with Christ and keeps her flesh under.

A: Yes, there is a relationship. This class crucifies the flesh.

Many have died for Christ; few have died with Christ. In the final analysis, the Great Company class die for Christ, and the Little Flock die with Christ. In other words, the Great Company’s sacrifice is not as acceptable as the offering on the altar. Of the two goats, one had to be led to the condition of crucifying the flesh; the other submitted fully and voluntarily to the doing of God’s will. The Great Company are like the children of Israel, who made a covenant with God and said, “All these things we will do. We agree to the covenant.” But agreeing with a covenant and actually carrying it out are two different matters. Self-examination is essential in trying to please God, rather than having providence do all the instructing. Certainly providence is part of our development (these are setting-apart experiences), but the development of the Great Company results more from providence than from strict, wholesome, and spontaneous obedience. The Little Flock need less discipline for wrongdoing. We all get some discipline for wrongdoing, but self-discipline is another matter. We are to run the race as if there is only one prize, one winner. “Suffering with Christ” means to pay close attention to doing what is latently in us so that, by God’s grace, we can be drawn out and enhanced and supplemented by the Holy Spirit and the robe of Christ’s righteousness. “Suffering with Christ” has to do with spontaneity, whereas with the Great Company, the issue is just life.

In the present life, the difference between the Little Flock and the Great Company is not too discernible. Since we cannot even judge ourselves, how do we know where we stand with the Lord in reality? It is not what we think or feel but where we stand in actuality that is important. Only God can clearly see in advance who will be faithful and who will not. The Little Flock are faithful unto death and are more than overcomers. In summary, we cannot know in the present life whether we are suffering “for” or “with” Christ.

“With all the chief spices.” The Hebrew has “with all the chief balsam spices.”

Q: Is the expression “with all the chief spices” similar to the expression in verse 13 “with pleasant fruits”; that is, do both refer to the additional individual qualities of the Bride?

A: Yes.

Song 4:15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

All three pertain to active water and their sources: a fountain (pouring forth), a well (of living waters), and (flowing) streams. Active (moving) water shows zeal.

Comment: In verse 12, the fountain was described as “sealed.” Although sealed now, a wonderful potential of living water lies within those who will be faithful.

Reply: The sealed fountain can be likened to virginity of the heart. This is a virgin class in the highest sense of the word; they know only Jesus. Their potential is locked, shut up, and sealed (three descriptions). In verse 15, the water is a fountain, living waters, and streams (three types of active water). These two verses are a very meaningful play on words.

“Fountain of gardens.” Normally, a garden has just flowers, but if water is displayed, the garden is aesthetically enhanced. A “fountain of gardens” is spectacularly beautiful. The water shoots up and pours forth.

“Well of living waters.” This is a well of “living waters,” as opposed to a well of stagnant water, which is not potable. Usually a well is deep within the earth (the heart), and water has to be drawn up in a bucket. A fountain is seen outwardly, which is good if the water is pure, but in addition, Jesus sees us inwardly.

Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “If you knew who is talking to you, you would have asked him for a drink” (paraphrase of John 4:10). Instead Jesus asked the woman for a drink of water.

Comment: John 7:38 says, “He that believeth on me, … out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

Reply: Usually that Scripture is coupled with Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say [to others], Come. And let him that is athirst come.

And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

“Streams from [Mount] Lebanon.” We are reminded of Psalm 46:4, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.” Lebanon means “white,” hence a white mountain that symbolizes God’s throne. The river of God descends from His throne. (The Jordan River can be viewed from different perspectives.) The streams will be brought together as a river in the Kingdom Age, when the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come and drink of these living waters.”

All three symbols (fountain of gardens, well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon) are exhilarating and life-giving waters that suggest freshness. This is how Jesus views his “true” disciples. When we consider the pure heavenly environment he has been living in, it is almost unbelievable that he can look upon members of the fallen human race this way, but he sees their potential. God’s will is done in heaven. How wonderful to be in that environment! Only in regard to earth is rebellion allowed.

Comment: Where the streams come together to form a river, could that river be, in a typical sense, the source of the water that will proceed forth from the Third Temple?

Reply: Yes. Also, the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea, and so will waters from the Third Temple. Wherever that water goes, even down to the Dead Sea, there will be trees of life and accompanying verdure. The Dead Sea, which contains no life and is the lowest and saltiest body of water on earth, will have fish in its northern part at that time. At present, without an outlet, the deposit of salt is getting more and more concentrated. Therefore, for fish to survive in part of the Dead Sea in the future, there will have to be an outlet. Fresh water will enter the northern part of the Dead Sea, but the southern part will remain salty and will be mined for salt and other minerals.

Comment: Water at the Baneas Springs comes from Mt. Hermon (the Lebanon area), and it is cold and pure.

Reply: And earlier we discussed the cedar trees from Lebanon, which have a pleasing fragrance that suggests everlasting life. When standing among the California redwoods, one feels removed from the world because of the deep silence, the height of the trees, and the smallness of self by contrast.

As we learn more and more of the truth, we become increasingly aware of our imperfections. We are supposed to grow in character, yet we see our shortcomings more and more. Such a realization does not necessarily mean we are failing—we may just be getting keener insight into the reality of who we are and where we came from. We should be comforted to learn that while we recognize our shortcomings, faith and obedience are to surmount any discouragement along this line. Even the great Apostle Paul said, “I judge not mine own self.”

Verse 15 ends Jesus’ appraisal of his Church in the flesh. In verse 16, the prospective Bride responds.

Song 4:16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Comment: The prospective Bride recognizes that both refreshing and difficult experiences are needed for development and discipline. We cannot grow with only one kind of experience—we need both.

Reply: The Church invites these experiences. A hymn goes, “Send sorrow, send pain. Sweet are thy messengers, and sweet their refrain.”

Comment: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psa. 51:7).

Reply: Yes, David had this spirit of desiring to please God. “Cleanse me from secret faults.

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins” (Psa. 19:12,13).

Q: In nature, does the combination of warm and cold winds help spices to grow well, for the next part of this verse reads, “Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out”?

A: Yes, and in certain places, the nighttime temperatures go down to freezing. However, the cold wind and no sun would retard growth.

Comment: Cold winds strengthen the trunk of some trees, and certain fruits need both the cold and the warm weather. For this reason, apples grow only in certain climates.

Reply: Apples are the juiciest if picked when the first frost comes.

Comment: The proper attitude is to invite trials as well as pleasant experiences. When the hard experiences come, we should thank the Lord for them—even in the midst of the trial. We do not always remember to do this.

Reply: In other words, we are not always awake.

The prospective Bride requests that these mixed winds “blow upon my garden.” The Hebrew is “breathe upon my garden.” Thus the north and south winds have a life-giving quality, even if they are not always appreciated. The purpose of the north and south winds blowing on the Bride’s garden is “that the spices thereof may flow out.” The quality of spices is improved by this combination of winds.

Comment: The NIV and the RSV use the word “fragrance” instead of “spices”: “let its fragrance be wafted abroad.”

Q: The Hebrew word for “flow” is nazal. Is it related to the English word “nasal”?

A: Yes, it has to do with fragrance. The invisible fragrance flows out.

Comment: Verse 16 seems to fit into the context of the previous verses, which have cause-and effect couplets: spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, etc. The prospective Bride recognizes the relationship between trials, or trouble, and the subsequent peaceable fruits of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11 also shows this relationship: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

“Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” This is a garden of spices and pleasant fruits. The prospective Bride expresses her heart’s desire to be of the class Jesus will approve in the highest sense.

Q: Does Jesus eat any of the Church’s pleasant fruits in the present life, or does he eat them all beyond the veil? Of course the prospective Bride is expressing this sentiment in the present life.

She hopes she will be faithful now so that her garden will be pleasing to him, but when will Jesus do the eating?

A: The pleasant fruits will be eaten in the future, that is, beyond the veil. Jesus anticipates this fruit development, and the Bride class are very desirous of pleasing him so that they will be fit for their future role.

1994

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