Lectures on the Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon 1‑2  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 5
Listen from:
This then, I think, is what she now acknowledges. "Tell me, O Thou"-now her heart turns, after speaking to the daughters of Jerusalem, to the object of her affection-"Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth"-for this is the great thing which comes out-"Thou whom my soul loveth." She does love the Messiah, and the Spirit of God puts this language into her lips; and she will take it up in that day. She will make it her own. These affections will indeed be wrought in her. How gracious of the Lord! It is not her doing. It is her believing. It is not her assumption; it is His grace which gives her these most comfortable words-if I may refer to Hos. 2:1414Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (Hosea 2:14)-words which refer, I suppose, to somewhere about the same time. So she addresses herself to Him. "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest"-she wants to find Him-"where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of Thy companions?" Now we see that as she desired this relationship with Him and that He would show His love to her, so she desired to behave suitably to such a relationship. She had wandered long among the nations. She had gone after idols-gone a whoring after others-as the prophets so solemnly and sternly describe it, but so truly. Now her heart was for Him alone-Him whom her soul loved.
And the answer comes. "If thou know not, 0 thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock." That was the right thing. The point was now to be found following the ways of the Word of God, and "go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock"-those who had trodden the path before -who were the sheep of Jehovah. "And feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents." Hold fast the testimony of the Word of God- what God had given in His own Word-those whom God had raised up to guide His flock here below. That is, she is told, in short, to cleave to His Word before she knows that His heart is turned toward her-before she proves His love to her. But the answer comes from Himself. She acts upon it, no doubt. This is supposed. She is subject to the Word now; and this wonderfully encouraging word comes from the Bridegroom.
"I have compared thee, O My love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver." This appears to me to be the first word from the Bridegroom; but it does not yet reach to all that He will tell her. Yet she understands, and at once there is the answer of her own heart. "While the King sitteth at His table" -you see, she calls Him by the right name. She speaks of Him as the King. She is quite aware that that is the relationship. Is that the relationship of Christ to us? Do we speak of the King now? I have heard of such a title being given to Him. I believe that the practice is not yet extinct, even among Christians, to speak of the Lord Jesus as our King. We used to sing-and I suppose we did not see much harm in it then- "Our prophet, priest, and king."
The Scriptures do not thus speak of Him to us. Scripture never calls Him our King-not even the scripture in the Revelation which might appear to do so. There, "King of saints" ought to be "King of the nations." There is no doubt of this, whatever. But here she does not speak of Him as King of the nations, but "the King." In what relation does she look at Him? The King of God's people-the King of Israel. It is this which is evidently before her. "While the King sitteth at His table"- He is not yet come-"my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof." She was quite aware that the Lord had been working in her own soul, and she does not in any way repudiate it. She can speak with a good conscience and with her heart quite confident that there is what was the fruit of divine grace in her.
Now she speaks of what He was to her. "A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts." It is purely a question of her affection. It is not at all anything which one would feel to be unsuitable if it were a mere question of the actual, established relationship. The relationship is not yet established. It is not yet come. But there is the expression of her perfect delight in such a one that loves her. "My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire"-or of Cyprus berries, more probably-"in the vineyards of En-gedi."
Observe now, how this expression of love to Him draws out an answer from the Lord! "Behold, thou art fair, My love." It is not that He is come, for He is not yet come; but there is the word which God provides that she shall know-that as truly as her heart takes up these words and expresses its affection to the Messiah, so truly God gives her to know that such is His affection toward her. What does He say about her? What grace! It is not, "I love thee," but, "Behold, thou art fair, My love." It is what the eye of love sees in her, though, perhaps, no other eye in the world would see it. I believe that at this time there will be what is most godly wrought in the remnant. I believe that they are really suffering, too-suffering for their faith. But this is His language, and how blessed it is! What a different thing it would be from any other mouth than His! "Behold, thou art fair, My love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes"-the expression, of course, of the modesty of her that was to be His bride-and her answer is, "Behold, Thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir." That is, it is not some mere tent which might be taken down. She looks for a settled habitation when the King comes and owns her as His own. She looks for all to be in that established relationship which shall be for the glory of God here below. And so it will be.
And in the next chapter-on which I may say a few words before I close this evening-we have, "I am the rose"-or narcissus, most probably-not exactly the rose. It occurs only in two passages of Scripture; and, although it would be rather a shock to some feelings to hear it, I suppose that in both places-in the present instance and also where it is said, "The desert shall... blossom as the rose" (Isa. 35:11The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1))-it seems to be rather the narcissus than the rose. However that may be, it is of no great consequence; but I think it is more appropriate, because it is what she says herself. Now, the rose being pre-eminently the flower of beauty and fragrance, I do not think that that is exactly the language which she would adopt. If He had called her so, I could understand it; but the narcissus not being in any measure comparable to the rose, one can understand that she does not pretend to be more than she is. So she speaks of herself as a "rose [or narcissus] of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." She takes a humble place. It is not some conspicuous place as yet. She is going to be in the place of glory by-and-by; but she was only, as far as that went, a lily of the valleys. I think that this confirms the thought that it is not "the rose of Sharon"-a very conspicuous object-but one of a more recluse or retired character.
Then comes His answer, "as the lily among thorns"-for He takes up her word about the lily- "the lily among thorns"- that is what He compares others to. And so she is surrounded by that which is utterly opposed and hateful to Him and that which is to be given to the burning when He comes. "As the lily among thorns, so is My love among the daughters." This is the answer of the Bridegroom; and this is her word as she continues. "As the apple tree"-or citron tree, rather, the finest of all these trees, which the apple tree might not be, but-"As the citron tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me." Yet this does not mean that He was come. It is simply the love which He had shown her-the grace which He had shown her-her sense of His love to her even now, though she desired all that should be according to His word.
And now comes in an important keynote for understanding Solomon's Song. "I charge you, 0 ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till He please." This occurs several times in the Song, and I think it is the perfect answer to those who suppose that the Song is merely a number of little songs put together without any particular order. Not so. There is perfect order and not only continuity but progress. It will be found that this charge is given three times. (There is one a little like it which we might consider a fourth, but not strictly so.) It occurs in this second chapter, also in the third chapter, and again in the eighth chapter; so it is clear from this that there is a very designed order. And this also helps to confirm another thing which I referred to, and that is that the Lord is viewed here as not yet married to her. It is, I think, the Bridegroom and the bride elect. The term "bride" is, of course, used; but we must not suppose that the marriage had yet been consummated. Not so. She is waiting for the establishment of the relationship. She has the sense of it, the grace of the Lord in deigning to look upon her; and, of course, her heart desires it.
"I charge you," then she says, "O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field"-referring to them, I suppose, as being the most sensitive of all animals as to noise -the most easily disturbed. She draws attention to her desire, therefore, that nothing should disturb Him-that He should rest in that love which He designed for her. For it is a sweet and wondrous thought that the Lord means to rest in His love for Jerusalem. I am now referring to the last chapter in Zephaniah, and my object in referring to it is to show the hidden links which connect this Song of Solomon with the rest of the Word of God. I have referred to the Psalms; I now refer to this in the Prophets. The mind of the Holy Ghost is one. He is to rest in His love; and, as to whom does He use that expression? To us? No, to Jerusalem. You will find this clearly in Zephaniah 3.
What follows? "The voice of my beloved! behold, He cometh" -but He is not yet come; He is coming. That is what she knows. "Behold, He cometh." There might be mountains and hills between, but what is that to Him? "He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart." Therefore, difficulties are nothing. "Behold, He standeth behind our wall, He looketh forth at the windows, showing Himself through the lattice." It is her heart, I presume, which here thus anticipates His coming-so much so as even to hear His voice. Not only does she say, "The voice of my beloved," but she gives His words. "My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, My love,"-for this is meant to fill her heart with confidence in His love-"Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past"-the long winter of Israel-"the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs"-you see the parable of the fig tree here which the Lord refers to in Matt. 24-"and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away."
And so He calls upon her then to let Him hear her voice.
Such was His thought of her, and desire-that she might know His love to her. "Let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." He desires also the removal of that which would hinder. He wished to see the fruits in His garden, because if He comes to His own, it is not only that He has got His own people, but His own scene-His own place. And He is looking to all being suitable to His coming by-and-by. So He warns, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes."
And now comes out another key word of the Solomon's Song. "My beloved is mine." This is her answer. "My beloved is mine." That is the first thought. She applies it to her soul. It is not yet the marriage; but it is His voice, and He has comforted her- given her confidence in His love. "My beloved is mine," she says, "and I am His." She enters into it. It is the preparation of her heart for the bridal. "My beloved is mine, and I am His: He feedeth among the lilies." It is not yet, I repeat, that He has taken His place upon the throne. He feeds among the lilies. "Until the day break." It is not yet the day shining; therefore, the day is not yet come. It is not yet "the Sun of righteousness.. with healing in His wings"; that is yet to come. "Until the day break," she says, "and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be Thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether."
But here I stop for the present. If the Lord will, I hope to resume and take, at any rate, a general view of this wonderful little book of God.