Song of Solomon Chapter 6: The Bride’s Love for Christ and His Love for Them

Jan 12th, 2010 | By | Category: Song of Solomon, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Song of Solomon Chapter 6: The Bride’s Love for Christ and His Love for Them

Song 6:1 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.

The Great Company, the foolish virgin class, has been speaking. Now the “daughters of Jerusalem,” the “watchmen,” in response to hearing the Great Company exult about Jesus, ask where he (“thy beloved”) has gone so that they, too, might seek him. Earlier, in Song 5:9, the watchmen asked the Great Company, “What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women?”

These questions indicate quite a change in heart condition among the watchmen class. The type of Elijah, Elisha, and the sons of the prophets seems to have a parallel here. After Elisha smites the Jordan, the sons of the prophets will inquire of him, “Where is Elijah?”

“And he [Elisha] took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?” (2 Kings 2:14-18).

Song 6:1 shows the daughters of Jerusalem seeking: “Whither is thy beloved turned aside? That we may seek him with thee.” There is some similarity, a seeming tie-in, between the two accounts. In 2 Kings 2, the “sons of the prophets” make the inquiry and do the seeking. Who are the “sons of the prophets”?

Comment: They are the Holy Remnant, the present-day right-hearted descendants of the holy prophets of the past.

Reply: The “sons of the prophets” are a sincere element in Israel who are interested in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Another application which does not fit as well is that the “watchmen,” the “daughters of Jerusalem,” represent that portion of the Great Company who are forced out of the nominal Church when it falls. Bereft of the nominal system, they will at first be antagonistic to the Great Company class already out of Babylon, but then they will become more sincerely interested.

This application and time period would be earlier than the Holy Remnant application, but both applications would take place after the Church is gone.

“That we may seek him with thee” indicates an interest in what the Great Company class has been saying about Jesus.

Song 6:2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.

The Great Company is speaking. “My beloved is gone down into his garden” is another way of saying that the true Church is complete and the marriage has taken place. This verse ties in with Song 5:1.

“My beloved is gone down … to the beds of spices.” “Beds” (plural) are raised mounds or terraces. Elevation helps the development of spices. “Beds of spices” are the graces, beauties, and virtues of the Bride class that Jesus will enjoy. Each member of the Little Flock will have individual characteristics and a distinctive personality.

“My beloved is gone … to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.” Lilies are delicate flowers that picture purity, peace, simplicity, and humility—all characteristics of the Bride class. Lilies beautify a home when they are gathered and arranged in a vase.

Song 6:3 I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

The Bride now speaks. Verses 1, 2, and 3 are, respectively, the sentiments of the daughters of Jerusalem, the Great Company, and the Bride.

Comment: When Song of Solomon is set to music and sung in the future, the different voices for verses 1-3, followed by Jesus’ voice, will be moving.

Song 6:4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.

The Bridegroom responds to the glorified Bride. “O my love” would be “O my very, very close friend.” “Thou art beautiful … as Tirzah.” “Tirzah” has the thought of desirable, pleasant, delightful.

Tirzah was one of the five daughters of Zelophehad, who had no sons. When he died in the Wilderness of Sinai, the daughters wanted an inheritance. When this matter, which was not covered under the Law, was brought to Moses, God’s answer was that the daughters should have an inheritance. Numbers 26:33 and 27:2-7 read as follows.

“And Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. Then came the daughters of Zelophehad … And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons. Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father. And Moses brought their cause before the LORD. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.”

“Thou art … comely as Jerusalem.” This description of the Bride is based on the beauty of Solomon’s Temple. From a distance, how magnificent the Temple complex appeared sitting on the hilltop! As one approached Jerusalem, the Temple and the city were spectacular to behold.

In the Kingdom, Jerusalem, especially with the Third Temple, will be the most beautiful place on earth as the capital of the world. Just as literal Jerusalem was well situated and beautiful to behold, so in a spiritual and figurative sense, the Bride, or New Jerusalem class, will be situated in prominence and beauty before the holy angels. Down here their beauty will be demonstrated in other ways.

“Thou art … terrible [awesome] as an army with banners.” Army banners indicate victory. The glorified Church will be victorious and like a well-trained, orderly army.

Q: Would the banners also be for identification, as in the promise of Revelation 3:12 that the Church will have the name of her God, the name of the city of her God, and Jesus’ new name?

They would be marching under this victorious banner of identification.

A: Yes. Sooner or later, in God’s due time, every one of the 144,000 will be singled out by name and honored or displayed as an example of faithfulness. Their past deeds will be made known.

Song 6:5 Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.

Imagine Jesus, “the chiefest of ten thousand,” being so enthralled and enamored by the faithful overcomers, by their previous lifestyle and faithfulness to his name and cause! Of course the blemishes will be erased lest they be distracting, so the Church will be seen without blemish and with a victorious banner.

The Bride’s eyes will overwhelm Jesus emotionally. All of this class are with him here. The battle is over; they have made their calling and election sure.

Q: Will Jesus’ emotions be similar to Joseph’s when he was reunited with his brethren (Gen. 45:1,2)? He was so overcome with emotion that he asked all except his brothers to leave the room. Then he made himself known to them and wept.

A: Yes, that is a beautiful picture.

“Thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.” Gilead was north of the Dead Sea and across the Jordan River to the east. Hair is a symbol of consecration. In what sense is the Bride’s consecration like a flock of goats? The reference is to the black-haired (cashmere) goats of the Middle East. Their thick, luxurious hair pictures the full, deep consecration of the Bride class, and Jesus appreciates this quality.

“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). The forsaking of the earth and its attractions (Adam’s house)—this removal from the worldly condition—makes the Church more appealing in Jehovah’s sight. (The Church is Jehovah’s “daughter”: “Hearken, O daughter.”)

Song 6:6 Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.

These sheep are ewes, females. The Bride’s teeth are evenly paired—none are missing. Since teeth are used for eating and masticating, the thought is that the Bride has evenly fed upon the Old and New Testaments. This balanced diet resulted in spiritual health. The text “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” proves that the Old Testament cannot be ignored (Matt. 4:4). There must be an equal, balanced appreciation of the Old and New Testaments, for God’s Word comprises both. We must be careful not to denigrate any Scriptures unless we know they are spurious.

In the present life, it is hard to always have wholesome, elevated thoughts. Beyond the veil, in perfection, how beautiful will be the thoughts, words, and deeds of the glorified Church!

Comment: The comments of Jesus here in Song 6:5-7 are a repeat of Song 4:1-3. There Jesus was looking for these qualities in the Christian in the present life. Chapter 6 is the assurance that this type of Christian will make his or her calling and election sure and thus will be of the Bride of Christ.

Reply: Yes, it is important to have that interest now. We are responsible for the truth that is available in our given locale and circumstances. Here in the United States, the land of plenty, we are more responsible than the brethren in many other countries. The judgment is according to that which a man hath, as well as hath used (Matt. 25:29).

Song 6:7 As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.

The pomegranate pictures the fullness of the graces of the Spirit. “Within thy locks” is literally “behind thy veil.”

Comment: In the discussion of Chapter 4, the thought of “within thy locks” was that even the hair is paired or twinned, indicating the doing of God’s will as expressed in the Old and New Testaments. Cheeks, teeth, and locks are all paired.

Song 6:8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.

There are 60 queens, 80 concubines, and virgins without number. To date, this verse has not been satisfactorily explained as far as we know. Clues: The “virgins without number” (an unnumbered virgin class) seem to be the Great Company. The order of importance is (1) queens, (2) concubines, and (3) virgins. But other than the Little Flock, who are mentioned in verse 9 and thus cannot be included in verse 8, who would be higher than the Great Company class? Eventually the Ancient Worthies will have a higher ranking but not in this age (and context). Verse 8 seems to have a spiritual application, but since all will be males in heaven, the three categories of females are puzzling. (Of course, the Church is pictorially represented as female: the Queen, the Bride of Christ.)

“Virgins” are usually thought of as maidens in the household. In Old Testament times, a “concubine” was next to a wife, for prior to the Gospel Age, there was no prohibition against having more than one wife. Concubines were not only permitted but were considered to be half wives.

Comment: When “threescore” valiant men were mentioned in Song 3:7, “60” was the only number in that context. Therefore, it was considered to be an indefinite number. The suggestion was made that the fact Song 6:8 mentions two numbers means they are definite numbers.

Comment: It is difficult to think of the Ancient Worthies as being “queens” because they are not pictured as females.

Comment: The queens, the concubines, and the virgins are being compared to the “dove,” the “one,” of verse 9. Bro. Frey’s notes say that the contrast is between the one and the other women, over whom she excels, and that all of them, in one way or another, aspired to become the Lamb’s wife. The queens, the concubines, and the virgins were all in the running, but she is the only one to receive the honor. Later they realize not only that they did not make the grade but that the “choice one” deserved the higher honor, and they praise her accordingly.

Reply: What is being said, in effect, is that the queens, the concubines, and the virgins are all the Great Company, having spiritual aspirations.

Q: How can the “daughters of Jerusalem” be the same as the “virgins without number”? The daughters of Jerusalem were defined as professed Christians, not necessarily Great Company, and the virgins are now being defined as the Great Company.

A: All who name the name of Christ are professed (or nominal) Christians, including the Little Flock. But there are the real nominal and the merely nominal. The Lord appreciates a person who makes a definite commitment of consecration and then, for the rest of his or her life, tries to live within the strictures of that consecration, sacrificing time, talent, money, position, education, etc.—even if that individual does not make the grade. The high calling is a character calling, a calling of those who love the Lord more than any other being. He appreciates those who believe in Christ first. Those who have never made a definite covenant with the Lord—no matter how good or intrinsically noble they are—have no standing with Him. The Ancient Worthies made such a commitment in the prior age; Hebrews 11 mentions what they did and sacrificed. Therefore, all three classes—queens, concubines, and virgins—would be consecrated, whoever they are.

Perhaps verse 8 will clarify in the future. A distinction may exist that we are not historically aware of. In the true Church, star will differ from star in glory, meaning that some will be above the others in the Little Flock. One distinction, a distinction in management, is that some will get ten cities, some five, etc. The rich and/or very intellectual who make their calling and election sure, having faithfully used their talents, will get a better grade and more honor in the Kingdom. Perhaps similar distinctions will exist among the Ancient Worthies. The only problem with inserting the Ancient Worthies in this interpretation is that it is hard to see them pictured as female.

Jesus magnified the Law. He was in agreement with the Law but made it stricter in order to get the divine nature. The Ancient Worthies of the past, who had sterling characters, will not get that reward. Jesus was the first to be given the divine nature.

Q: Could these three categories be gradations of the Great Company class from the standpoint that they will need encouragement after the Church is gone? If they think that even after the fact, even after the wedding, there is a possibility of degrees of favor from the Lord, they will be spurred on to a greater development of zeal and faithfulness. Knowing positively that they missed out on the high calling, they will need Scriptures to encourage them. Another point is that verses both preceding and following verse 8 pertain to the Great Company while they are still here in the flesh. Since it is possible to “see” the Bride in the sense of recognition, the queens, concubines, and virgins would not necessarily have to literally see the Bride in heaven at this point (Song 6:9). Chapter 5 shows the Great Company coming to their senses, and they have just given a glowing description of Jesus.

A: Verse 8 may be a categorization of a spiritual class with distinctions being made that we are not accustomed to using, but at present, we do not know of other Scriptures to support this thought. Queens, concubines, and virgins could all be different categorizations of the Great Company class. And yes, the Great Company will use superlative terms in their praise for Jesus. In order to get life, they must be on fire with zeal for Jesus at that time. If only they had been this zealous earlier, they would have made their calling and election sure. They will come to their senses too late.

Q: Is Jesus speaking in verse 8, or is this an interjection by the Holy Spirit?

A: Verse 8 is a commentary by the Holy Spirit, and so is the second half of verse 9. “The daughters saw her, and … they praised her” is a statement of a fact.

Song 6:9 My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her ; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

The Church are collectively considered to be “one.” “She is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” The “mother … that bare her” is the Sarah Covenant, the “Jerusalem … above, … which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26).

“The daughters saw her, and proclaimed her blessed” is a better rendition than the King James, for how could that which is inferior bless that which is superior?

“Undefiled” in Hebrew means “perfect” in the sense of maturity—the Church is mature. Therefore, by inference, the queens, the concubines, and the virgins without number are immature. In the final analysis, the Great Company will be overcomers, but not more-than-overcomers like the Church. There are heroes and superheroes, the Church class being superheroes.

Song 6:10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?

Leeser has, “Who is this that shineth forth like the morning dawn, beautiful as the moon,

bright as the sun, terrible as armies encamped round their banners.” “Shineth forth” seems to fit the context better than the King James “looketh forth” because the sun and the moon are being compared. The Church is beheld as lustrous and superlative. She shines forth as the dawn, that is, as a spectacular sunrise. On a clear morning, the atmosphere seems to be cleaner; dawn has an unusual freshness and newness. The sun provides necessary warmth and light for plant, animal, and human life.

The Church are promised that they will shine as the sun. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament [the sun]” (Dan 12:3). “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43). The sun pictures the almost overpowering glory that the Church will receive. Historically in the present life, the Church has been clothed with the sun and has stood upon the moon (Rev. 12:1).

“Fair as the moon.” Although not as bright as the sun, the moon has its own beauty and purity. A moonlit night is particularly beautiful.

The Bride is “terrible [awesome] as an army with banners.” The NIV has “majestic as the stars in procession.” The word “army” is supplied in the King James. Based on the heavenly comparison already drawn with the dawn, the sun, and the moon, one can take the liberty of supplying the word “stars.” God created the greater light (the sun), the lesser light (the moon), and from man’s standpoint the still lesser lights (the stars). (Actually the stars may be suns much larger than our own sun.) “Stars” could be the better thought. Either way the thought is one of victory: victory banners or a victory procession.

The Holy Spirit is commenting in verse 10.

Song 6:11 I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.

The Revised Standard shows a paragraph break at verse 11. Leeser translates verse 11, “Into the nut garden was I gone down, to look about among the plants of the valley, to see whether the vine had blossomed, whether the pomegranates had budded.”

This garden of nut trees is in a “valley,” or ravine, between two mountains. The Bride is speaking. She “went down” (came down here to earth’s atmosphere) to observe the nut garden (the Great Company class). A nutshell must be crushed in order to extract the nut, or kernel, a pleasant food. Spiritually speaking, excruciating experiences bring out the inner development of fruit. This principle has been true all down the Gospel Age and thus also applies to the setting here, that is, after the Church is complete and glorified.

Q: Could the flourishing or blossoming vine and the budding pomegranates bring in other thoughts? Would the crushing of the nuts to reveal the “meat” refer to the hard experiences coming in the Time of Trouble?

A: Yes, and the Holy Remnant could be included, although the primary focus is on the Great Company. In Song 8:8, the Little Flock beyond the veil will say, “We have a little sister.” They will come down to examine this secondary class.

Song 6:12 Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.

Amminadib can mean “my willing people” or “my princely people.” The Church goes down to see the garden of nuts and to find out whether the vine has flourished and the pomegranates have budded.

The RSV reads, “Before I was aware, my fancy [intent or soul] set me in a chariot beside my prince.” Since Amminadib pertains to leadership, “prince” is the correct translation. The Bride is speaking. The “chariot” is a conveyance, a speed vehicle that hastens one to a destination. Right after the wedding, the Bride will have the Great Company so much on her mind that she races down to see her little sister. In her new state, she will be able to travel rapidly.

The thought of the Church being beside Jesus in a chariot fits the context, for the pronoun “we” is used in verse 13. After the excitement and glory subside of finding themselves in the Little Flock, the Bride class will ask, “What about this consecrated one and that consecrated one still in the flesh?” It will be a natural development for them to be solicitous for those they had associated with in the present life. Jesus will be equally interested—and even more so in some instances.

Song 6:13 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.

In some translations, verse 13 begins Chapter 7, for a new setting starts here. Jesus and the Bride are speaking.

The “Shulamite” is the Great Company. The “two armies” are the two classes of the Great Company: those in Babylon and those outside of Babylon. 2 Kings 2:9,10 tells of Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah’s reply, “If thou see me when I am taken from thee,” indicates that the Elisha class is the Great Company outside of Babylon with a knowledge of present truth. They will understand that the last members of the Church are being taken. The Great Company who are still in the nominal system at that time will far outnumber those outside of the system, but because of present truth, those outside will be better informed. Those in the nominal system will be extricated at the time of its fall, just as Lot was pulled out of Sodom at the time of its destruction.

Elisha accompanied Elijah; hence Elisha pictures those of the Great Company who are conversant with, and companions of, the feet members. When Elijah smote the Jordan, he and Elisha walked across together. In the antitype, therefore, Elisha has knowledge of present truth.

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins indicates that the foolish virgins do get the oil. In the marketplace of experience (the great Time of Trouble), they wash their robes white in the blood of the Lamb and then return with their vessels full of oil, but to their chagrin, the door is closed. This parable lumps together both classes of the Great Company. In contrast, Elisha accompanied Elijah and saw what Elijah did—thus picturing only that portion of the Great Company who are familiar with present truth.

Comment: In Strong’s Concordance, “Shulamite” means “peace,” and it is the feminine of “Solomon.”

Reply: Yes, and the word “peace” is shalom, Solomon, etc.

“Return, return” means “return to the Lord.” It is an exhortation or entreaty to the Great Company to repent. They will have to wash their robes. A contrite attitude will be necessary for reconciliation with Jesus and for their redemption.

“Return, return, that we may look upon thee.” “We” would be Jesus and the Church. “What will ye see in the Shulamite?” or “What do you see in the Shulamite?” is an interjection or extraneous comment. Jesus and the Church answer, “As it were the company of two armies [a host].”

Comment: Verse 13 has two different speakers. “Return, return … that we may look upon thee” would be The Christ speaking. An impersonal comment by the Holy Spirit follows: “What will ye see in the Shulamite?” The answer from The Christ is, “As it were the company of two armies.”

Comment: If Shulamite means “peace,” it could be in the unfavorable sense of compromise. The Great Company are a compromising class. At least temporarily, they will not stand up for truth and principle the way they should.

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON SONG 6:13 follow, as presented by Bro. Frank several weeks later.

They are inserted here for convenience.

First, let us read Genesis 32:1-5,13. “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight…. And he … took … a present for Esau his brother.”

The reason Jacob fled north in the first place was for fear of what Esau would do to him because Esau thought Jacob had fraudulently obtained the birthright. With the mother’s (Rebekah’s) cooperation, Jacob fled for his life to Laban’s household with just a staff in his hand. Twenty years later, Jacob felt that enough time had elapsed, and he wanted to return to his home environs. Nevertheless, he thought Esau might still be angry. Genesis 32:1-5 gives Jacob’s strategy to appease Esau. First, Jacob assured Esau he was not coming to take away anything temporal but was sending gifts to further appease him. Not only did the strategy work, but Esau declined the gifts. Before sending the message to Esau, Jacob was met by angels, to whom he said, “This is God’s host.” He called the name of the place where the angels met him Mahanaim. The word “host” is the Hebrew mahanaim, and Song 6:13 translates mahanaim as “of two armies” or “of two camps.”

At the recent Rockland Bible Students Convention, a question on Song 6:13 was asked that will be addressed further at this time. When Jacob saw the angels, he recognized that they were in two companies, but why did he call them “God’s host” or “God’s two camps”? Years earlier, before Jacob went north to Laban, he wanted assurance, and he fell asleep on a rock “pillow.”

He dreamed and had a vision of a ladder between heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending before (in front of) the Son of man. These are the two companies: a company ascending and a company descending. Jacob called that place “Beth-el” (house of God), indicating he had a miraculous experience there. It was as though he had communion with heaven. Now, on the return trip 20 years later and at a different location, he again saw two companies of God’s angels. When he was going north, the location was named Beth-el. Now, on his return, it was a place he called Mahanaim, and he considered the angels to be an assurance that all was well, even though he feared.

The place Jacob named Mahanaim was across Jordan, that is, east of the Jordan River in Gilead. This location is verified in Scripture, as follows:

And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families…. And from Heshbon unto Ramath-mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir; … And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families. And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities” (Josh. 13:24,26,29,30).

“But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul’s host, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; … And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon” (2 Sam. 2:8,12).

“And unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs, and Kartah with her suburbs, … And out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Mahanaim with her suburbs” (Josh. 21:34,38).

“Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him” (2 Sam. 17:24).

“And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword” (1 Kings 2:8).

We will read Song 6:13 again: “Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.” First, the “two armies” are both spiritual. When the angels appeared to Jacob and he called them “God’s host,” the angels were spiritual. In the Bible, the word “angel” signifies “messenger.” Hence there were two companies of God’s messengers.

While we are treading on unexplored ground, Pastor Russell’s comments on Beth-el opened the door to the thoughts that follow. When Jacob slept with his head on the rock pillow and saw the angels of God ascending and descending, the Pastor referred to these angels as the Great Company, a spiritual class. A spirit class can come down to earth and return, but an earthly class cannot go up to heaven and come back. The spiritual aspect is emphasized by the Hebrew name Mahanaim. Based on Jacob’s experiences, a town in the land of Gilead across Jordan was given the name Mahanaim. More importantly, Mahanaim was in the tribe of Gad, which is a symbol of the Great Company. (We are trying to show the harmony of God’s Word.) Furthermore, Mahanaim was one of the three Levitical cities given to the Merarites, who, the Pastor stated, also represent the Great Company. And Mahanaim was a borderline town for the tribes of both Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh across Jordan in Gilead.

Manasseh across Jordan pictures the Ancient Worthies beyond the Kingdom, when they will get a spiritual resurrection. (During the Kingdom, the Ancient Worthies will be an earthly class, as pictured by the half tribe of Manasseh in Israel proper.) The 2 1/2 tribes across the Jordan all represent spiritual classes: Gad pictures the Great Company, Manasseh represents the Ancient Worthies, and Reuben is the Little Flock.

“What will ye see in the Shulamite?” Two classes, two camps. In its present application, the Shulamite represents two divisions of the Great Company: those inside Babylon and those outside Babylon. The Shulamite was told to “Return, return”; that is, the Great Company will have to repent, to renew their consecrations, to wash their robes, etc. In the next or Kingdom age, the Ancient Worthies will be an earthly class, and the Great Company will be a spiritual class. Beyond the Kingdom Age, however, the Ancient Worthies will become a spiritual class higher in rank than the Great Company.

During the Kingdom Age, the Great Company class will be spirit beings. But there was another class on the back side of the Tabernacle called the Gershonites, who were a Levitical tribe with no inheritance in the land. The Gershonites picture a “Great Company” class prior to the Gospel Age. In other words, this consecrated class were overcomers and companions of the Ancient Worthies but not of the same caliber. Once the Ancient Worthies come forth from the tomb and the Kingdom is set up, this secondary class will receive their resurrection. Whether they will come forth in the Kingdom as spirit beings (like the Great Company of the  Gospel Age) or as earthly beings remains to be seen. At any rate, this secondary class, having no inheritance in the land, will eventually receive a spirit nature. Regardless of which nature the Gershonites have during the Kingdom, the Ancient Worthies in the flesh will be superior.

During the Kingdom Age, the world of mankind will be resuscitated. The Great Company class of the Gospel Age will deal with those of mankind they are familiar with. In other words, as a spirit class, they will deal with those humans who were born during the Gospel Age era (during Wycliffe’s day, Luther’s day, etc.). And the secondary class of prior ages, the sons of the prophets (not the prophets themselves), will deal with those humans who lived before the Gospel Age (from Adam through the Flood and up to Jesus’ day). Thus the economy of the divine plan is seen—none will be in a position from which they are completely estranged.

Of course the Kingdom Age is only temporary—let us say, for convenience’ sake, 1,000 years long. What these classes do during the Kingdom Age is one thing, and what they will do beyond the Kingdom Age is another thing. Revelation 7:15 more or less indicates the Great Company class will occupy a position of messengers and servants and identify with Christ not only during the Kingdom Age but forever. “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among

them.” They will be in a fixed office, their future being secured in many ways. With the Little Flock, however, the horizon will open wider and wider and wider. After the Kingdom Age, they will be given their own domains, and their activities will be unlimited. The suggestion is that the Great Company class—at least the Great Company class of the Gospel Age—will be associated with the Bride class as bridesmaids, as messengers, forever. Whatever things are going to be done, there will be a rapport between the two classes.

Daniel 12:3 tells us the Ancient Worthies will be like stars and the Church as the sun. During the Kingdom Age, the Ancient Worthies will be next to the Church in rank and honor. They will be “princes” in all the earth, whereas the Great Company will be messengers. After the Kingdom Age, when the Ancient Worthies are given a spirit nature, they will have a role superior to that of the Great Company, and they will serve in some fashion with the unending creation of God (just how the Scriptures do not say).

The mahanaim, or two camps, of the Great Company not only have a present application of those inside and outside Babylon, but they are a prophecy of the Kingdom Age and beyond.

From one standpoint, the secondary class before Christ and the Great Company class since Christ are really both Great Company. These are two classes during the Kingdom Age. But notice that the city of Mahanaim, which is on the border between Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, is actually in Gad (the Great Company class). Progression is shown: (1) the present, (2) an enlargement during the Kingdom Age to include the secondary class before Christ, and (3) beyond the Kingdom into the ages of ages. The fulfillment of half the tribe of Manasseh being across Jordan—that is, the spirit nature being given to the Ancient Worthies—will take place at the end of the Kingdom Age.

Q: How could the secondary class prior to the Gospel Age get a spirit change before the Ancient Worthies? Wouldn’t the Ancient Worthies have to precede them?

A: I would think so, but technically it is not an absolute necessity because even if they were given a spirit nature, they would still be secondary. Whether they are down here or up there, they are secondary. The preferable thought is that they will be flesh like the Ancient Worthies during the Kingdom Age, but we are not dogmatic.

When the resurrection takes place, there will be two Great Company classes, those after Christ and those before Christ. Probably the Great Company class before Christ will be companions and associates of the Ancient Worthies, who will be established as princes throughout the earth.

Comment: A corroborating picture would be the two classes (or armies) of the Merarites and the Gershonites around the Tabernacle.

Reply: Yes. Neither the Merarites nor the Gershonites have an inheritance in the land, but they are not on the level of the Kohathites (Ancient Worthies) or the Amramites (Little Flock).

The Ancient Worthies will be under the New Covenant until the end of the Kingdom because they need further instruction. The New Covenant, like the Old, is a Law. Those under the New Covenant will be under the tutelage of Jesus, and not directly under God. Hence more mercy can be extended to mankind in their growth and development, but eventually they will have to meet the full weight of the Law and come up to the character of overcomers. The Ancient Worthies have already proven their loyalty, but they need other lessons not received in their prior life. This reasoning indicates that the secondary class of the prior age will probably be an earthly class during the Kingdom.

(1988 and 1994 Studies)

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