Lectures on the Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon 1  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 5
"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth: for Thy love is better than wine." v. 2. Was He not Jehovah and God? To be sure He was, but He is man; He is their own Messiah. And thus we see the beauty of these words. It is the more striking, because, instead of saying, "Let Messiah kiss me," she says what is more proper, more becoming. There was only one object. As she was His object, so He was her Object; for this is the point, and she does not require to say who. And indeed, is not this its beauty? "Let Him." It could not be mistaken. There might be ever so many in the world, but there was only One, and that was the One whom she had so offended -whom she had refused and rejected and despised. "Let HIM kiss me." That is her feeling; and was it not needless to say whom? There was no one in heaven or earth that she desired but Him. "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth." No doubt it is the expression of the most tender affection; but, still, that is the very thing. Could she not desire it? She did most ardently desire it, but there was the thought that she had lost it. She thought that it could not be. Oh, if He were only to answer! And here again, how beautiful! You see, the heart of Israel must turn, and the Lord stands to that. He means to bless Jerusalem, and He will bless. His own secret grace will work. But she must speak the word first, as He said (when rejected and bowing to. the rejection here below) in the same Gospel that I have referred to, the Gospel of Matthew: "till ye shall say."
He left the house desolate and called it "your house." It is no longer His "Father's house" (John 2:1616And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. (John 2:16)), nor Jehovah's house (Matt. 21:1313And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13)); but, speaking of the temple, He says, "Your house is left unto you desolate." And He adds, "Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." There is the "He"; He is the One; He is coming in the name of Jehovah. But observe, it is still "ye shall say." What, they-the Jews who were then going to crucify Him? The very same. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"; and here it is answered. Here is the work of grace at length. How long they had waited for Him! But now the time-the set time-to favor Zion is come-God's set time. And as His servants take pleasure in her stones, and as the dust even is precious in their eyes, so now her heart desires that what seemed to be the lost relationship should be the formed relationship. Oh, that she might have Him! But she had refused Him. This then is the opening word. It is the desire of her heart that the Messiah would show His love to her He to whom she had shown such contempt and hatred.
"For Thy love is better than wine. Because of the savor of Thy good ointments Thy name is as ointment poured forth." Here we see how evidently it is no question of Solomon, or of anything that may have historically given rise to it. There is none but one named-none but one who could fill up. A greater than Solomon is here. "Thy name," as she says, "is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love Thee." Nothing can be more holy-nothing can be more pure-than the affection of her who thus breathes out her heart's desire-that He would only show His love to her. "Therefore do the virgins love Thee." Whom does she refer to as "the virgins"? Those who were uncontaminated by the corruptions of that day. This "Song of Solomon of the Canticles" supposes the heart of the godly in Israel-for they will be the true Israel; they will be the true bride when the day comes for this to be made good, at a time of excessive corruption and apostasy.
And this is the very thing which now she shows she values. There will be others having this very title. We see it in the Revelation. We find certain persons, for instance, in the 14th chapter of that closing book (where we have a scene of the last days after the Church has gone-after the heavenly bride has been taken up to heaven-for God has not done with blessing), one hundred and forty-four thousand who are seen on Mount Zion; and how are they described? They are described as those who had not been defiled. They are described, therefore, just in the very way in which she describes-"Therefore do the virgins love Thee." It is those that were not polluted by the idolatry and wickedness of that day; and her delight is that it was not merely herself-there will be others too, Jerusalem- the godly among the Jews will not be the only persons in that day. They will, I have no doubt, be very conspicuous; and the Lord will watch over them and bless them. Some of them will even die. Some of them will shed their blood for the truth's sake in that day. But it is quite evident that there are companions.
It is clear that there are the upright-that there are those whom she calls "the virgins." She does not, therefore, describe to us what we know now. We do not talk in that way. It seems that the earthly bride could talk about the virgins, and talk about the upright outside herself. Why? Because the heavenly bride now comprises all the godly on the earth. The difference, therefore, you see, is very manifest. When that day comes, there will be a special object, but not the only one; whereas now the heavenly bride consists of all that are Christ's. They all form one body. That is not the case then at all. I mention this for the express purpose of keeping our hearts clear as to the proper bearing of this wonderful book.
"Draw me, we will run after Thee." Now, mark here again. "Draw me, we will run after Thee." She in no way begrudged that others should be the objects of His love. She, no doubt, will have a special place; but she delights that others, who were uncontaminated by the wickedness of the world, should be precious in His eyes. And so they will be, but it was impossible for the Church to say that. The Church could not look on Jews or Mohammedans, or other people on the earth, and speak of them as the upright, or speak of them as the virgins who love the Lord Jesus; for, in point of fact, they are not upright and they do not love Him; and the whole state of things, you see, is different.
But, I repeat, it will be a different thing when this is true. Accordingly, I think, this helps to give the true bearing of the Song of Solomon. In its proper application, it looks at the heart of the Jewish bride turning to the Messiah-bridegroom before He comes-the heart prepared for it. So it is a great mistake to suppose that the conversion of the Jew will be when Christ returns in glory. Not so. That will be the day when she will be received. It will be the day when the bridal relationship will be established. But that is not at all as yet. It is not yet that day. The day is yet to break. As we shall see, that day is not yet come. The shadows are to flee away, but all through the Song of Solomon the daybreak is not yet; the shadows are still there. But the time is coming. She was perfectly conscious of this, and the Lord makes her conscious. It is Himself who lets her know that. As we shall find presently, the day is not come. She is preparing for Him and preparing for it. That is what we find here.
"Draw me," then, she says; "we will run after Thee: the King hath brought me into His chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in Thee, we will remember Thy love more than wine: the upright love Thee." She is anticipating what she hopes, but she is not yet there. She is looking for it in the language of faith; but we must carefully remember that the marriage has not yet taken place. She is a designated bride. She is to become more and more distinct in saying that she is to be the bride and take the place of the bride-more and more laying hold of the word that she really is so. Still, the relationship is not yet consummated. That is what we find as the object of the book. It is the preparing of the bride for the consummation of the marriage.
Now she turns to another thing-herself. Here she has another tale to tell. "I am black," she says-the first word which she speaks about herself. "I am black, but comely." She is conscious of what the law has wrought. She does not deny the curse of the law, but her first word is her own shame. She owns, therefore, how little she is according to the One that she desires. He is all fair: but as for her, she is black, though she can add, "comely." That is, she owns thoroughly her need of grace. She owns herself as entirely dependent upon the mercy of the Lord, and this at once connects itself with the language of the Psalm There are two things that mark the godly in Israel, that you will find in the Psalm The first is, sense of the need of mercy; the next, clinging to righteousness-real integrity of heart. They take the place of integrity, but their grand confidence is in His mercy. You will find it continually. Mercy and righteousness are constantly brought together, but Israel's first word is mercy. God's first word in looking at them is their integrity, if I may say so; but their first word is His mercy. So here you have it. She describes herself as "black." She owns it. It is really integrity of heart; but still it is because of her confidence in His mercy that she is able to say, "I am black, but comely."
Take the 25th and 26th Psalm and you will find exactly this very thing. In Psalm 25 the godly in that day own their sins; and what is the great word that they use about themselves? "Pardon mine iniquity"; why? "for it is great." What a wonderful thing to say to God! They could not say it to man. If a criminal were to ask the judge who was trying him to pardon his iniquity because it was great, I need not say that the whole court would stare with amazement at the man's presumption. But what would be presumption to the world and before men, is exactly the confidence of faith. And that is precisely what God works in a soul that is converted-integrity of heart in owning and confessing its sins-and so there is not merely a cleansing of the sins, but a cleansing from all unrighteousness. That is a different thing. There is clearly a work which is wrought in the soul. Guile is taken away from the soul. There is not the hiding of sin. There is integrity, but it is integrity produced by confidence in God's mercy.
And what is it in the 25th Psalm which had given confidence in this mercy? Ah! think of it! What had preceded? The 22nd Psalm. There is an order in these things. We must not suppose that the Psalm are just tumbled into their places. They are put in their places by God just as much as they were written by God's inspiration. They might be written at ever so distant a time, and I do not at all suppose that they were written in the order in which they appear; but they are arranged-they are disposed-in an order which is as divine as the words that compose them. You could not change the order of a single Psalm without spoiling the truth. It would be like tearing a leaf out of a most beautiful plant which would leave a gap most sensible to anyone who knew what the plant ought to be, or what it really was according to God's constitution of it.
Well, here then we see this very thing. The grace of God in giving Christ to suffer on the cross opens their heart to tell out their sins; and they can say, "For Thy name's sake, 0 LORD [Jehovah], pardon mine iniquity; for it is great." That is indeed the reason. The greatness of it, no doubt, requires such a sacrifice; but in the presence of such a sacrifice there is no asking for consideration because the sin was little, but, on the contrary,
to pardon it because it was so great. Then in the 26th Psalm the very same Spirit of Christ which leads to confess the sin takes the ground of thorough integrity-takes the ground of hating to be in the congregation of the wicked or have anything to say to those who did not fear Jehovah-takes the ground of washing their hands in innocency, and so surrounding His altar. These things all go together.
So then she was "black, but comely"; but I do not doubt that the blackness refers to another thing, and that is not merely the blackness of failure-of shortcoming-of sin-but the blackness of suffering. And the Lord will feel it too. The Lord will say in that day, Jerusalem has suffered double at the hand of the Lord for her sins. She has suffered too much. I will not allow her to suffer any more. She has suffered twice as much as she ought to have suffered. The Lord will espouse the cause of poor guilty Jerusalem in that day, and will not permit that she shall suffer further. So then she owns that whether it was her own fault, or whether it was the cruel persecution that she had endured in the just chastening of her faults, such was her condition-black, but, by grace, she was comely. "I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar" -which, I suppose, are the figure of the one, and the curtains of Solomon, with all their beauty, of the other.
"Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me." There is what evidently confirms the idea that there was the scorching of affliction, as it seems to me, in this trial. "My mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept." Jerusalem had high thoughts. The Jews did take the place of being a guide to the blind and a teacher of the ignorant. They ought to have been the witnesses; they were not. They ought to have looked after all the world for God. They ought to have been His great witness to every nation, tribe, and tongue; but, alas! the truth was that so far from accomplishing their relation to all the world, and being a blessing to every nation under the sun according to the word to Abraham that all the families of the earth should be blest, they did not keep their own vineyard. They did not preserve their own blessings. They did not fill up what the Lord required even as to their own ways before Him; still less were they a light to all the world.