Matthew Poole's Commentary
O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.The church expresseth her desire of familiarity with Christ, Song of Solomon 8:1, by the entertainment she would make him, Song of Solomon 8:2,3. She charges the daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb her. Beloved, Song of Solomon 8:4. A commendation of the church for her faith in Christ, Song of Solomon 8:5. She prayeth for full assurance of his love; her invincible desire, Song of Solomon 8:6; which is insatiable, Song of Solomon 8:7. The calling of the Gentiles, with their intent, and her condition, Song of Solomon 8:8-13. Christ’s coming prayed for, Song of Solomon 8:14.
Oh that thou wert as my brother, most intimate, and free, and familiar with me, as brethren and sisters commonly are,
that sucked the breasts of my mother! that came out of the same womb, and sucked the same breasts, and consequently were brother and sister by father and mother too; for such are most dear to one another. See Genesis 43:29 Deu 13:6. Heb. sucking the breasts, &c.; so she wisheth that he were as a little sucking brother, with whom she might innocently and inoffensively delight herself, as sister: do with such a brother. The church here expresseth her passionate desire of a stricter union and closer communion with Christ than yet she had attained. And in particular these may be the breathings of the ancient Jewish church after Christ’s incarnation, whereby he was to be their brother, Romans 8:29 Hebrews 2:11,12, and a sucking infant.
Without; in the open streets; I might then express my affections to thee, and kiss thee openly, without any scandal or contempt. Or, without, i.e. come forth from the Father’s bosom into the world, John 16:28.
I would kiss thee; I would demonstrate my reverence, and subjection, and affection to thee, of all which kissing was a token in those times and places, as hath been oft observed in divers foregoing texts.
Yet I should not be despised; then should I not be ashamed or censured, as if I had done an indecent or immodest action, because such expressions of love are usual amongst persons so nearly and dearly related.
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.Bring thee, with joy and triumph, as the bridegroom was usually brought to the bride’s house. See Psalm 45:14,15.
Into my mother’s house; either,
1. My mother’s-inlaw, my husband’s mother, as the custom was, Genesis 24:61 Judges 12:9. Or,
2. My own mother’s, to show her extraordinary respect and affection to him. In the mystical sense both come to one; for the universal church was in some sort both his and her mother.
Who would instruct me, to wit, how I should behave myself towards thee. Or, where she did instruct or educate me.
I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate; I would give thee the best entertainment which the house affords. My gifts and graces should all be employed to serve and glorify thee.
His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.The same expressions are used Song of Solomon 2:6. The sense is, He would not despise me for my forwardness in showing my affections to him, as men commonly do in like cases, but would kindly accept of my love, and return love for it.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.This verse is here repeated again, from Song of Solomon 2:7 3:5, See Poole "2:7", See Poole "Song of Solomon 3:5".
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness? These Words are repeated from Song of Solomon 3:6, See Poole "Song of Solomon 3:6". This and the next clause are the words either,
1. Of the daughters of Jerusalem, or the friends of the bride and Bridegroom, admiring and congratulating this happy conjunction. Or,
2. Of the Bridegroom, who proposeth the question, that he may give the answer here following.
Leaning upon her Beloved; which implies both great freedom and familiarity, and fervent affection, and dependence upon him. If these be the Bridegroom’s words, he speaketh of himself in the third person, which is usual in the Hebrew language.
I raised thee up, when thou wast fallen, and laid low, and wert dead in trespasses, and in the depth of misery I revived thee.
Under the apple tree; under my own shadow; for she had compared him to an apple tree, and declared that under the shadow of the tree she had both delight and fruit, Song of Solomon 2:3, which is the same thing with this raising up.
There thy mother brought thee forth; under that tree either the universal or the primitive church did conceive and bring thee forth.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: these are undoubtedly the words of the bride. The sense is, Let thy mind and thy heart be constantly set upon me, let me be engraven upon the tables of thine heart. He seems to allude to the engraven tablets which are frequently worn upon the breast, and to the signet on a man’s arm or hand, which men prize at a more than ordinary rate, as appears from Jeremiah 22:24 Haggai 2:23, and which are continually in their sight.
For love, my love to thee, from whence this desire proceeds,
is strong as death; which conquers every living thing, and cannot be resisted nor vanquished.
Jealousy, or zeal; my ardent love to thee, which also fills me with fears and jealousies, lest thou shouldst bestow thine affections upon others, and cool in thy love to me, or withdraw thy love from me; for true believers are subject to these passions.
Cruel, Heb. hard; grievous and terrible, and sometimes ready to overwhelm me, and swallow me up; and therefore have pity upon me, and do not leave me.
Are coals of fire; it burns and melts my heart like fire.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.It is the nature of love in general, and of my love to thee, that it cannot be taken off, neither by terrors and afflictions, which are commonly signified in Scripture by waters and floods, Psalm 32:6 52:7, and elsewhere; not by temptations and allurements. Nothing but the presences and favour of the beloved person can quiet and satisy it. And therefore do not put me off with other things, but give me thyself, without whom, and in comparison of whom, I despise all other persons and things.
We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?These are manifestly the words of the bride, still continuing her speech. The present church, which was that of the Jews, speaks of another future church, which was to consist of the Gentiles, which she calls
little, because she was the younger sister, and then scarce had a being; and she calls her her
sister, partly because she was so in the purpose of God, their common Father, though at present she was a stranger to him; and partly to intimate that the Gentile church should be admitted to the participation of the same privileges with that of the Jews.
She hath no breasts; no grown and full breasts, as virgins have when they are ripe for marriage, Ezekiel 16:7. This signifies the present doleful estate of the Gentiles, which as yet were not grown up into a church estate, and wanted the milk or food of life, as for itself so also for its members.
What shall we do for our sister? teach us to know and perform our duty to them, which is to embrace them with sincere and fervent affections, to promote their coming in to Christ, and to rejoice in it, and not to envy it, and murmur at it, as the Jews did in the days of Christ and of his apostles.
In the day when she shall be spoken for, to wit, for bringing her into the state of matrimony; when Christ and his apostles, and others, the first ministers of the gospel, who were members of the Jewish church, did speak and act for the conversion of the Gentiles.
If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.This seems to be Christ’s answer to the foregoing question of the Jewish church concerning their sister church of the Gentiles, for which they were very solicitous. Christ therefore engageth himself to take care of her, and to provide for her, as the matter doth require, and as suits best with her condition. If the Gentiles, when they are converted, shall be like a
wall, strong and firm in faith, stedfast against all assaults and temptations, for a wall in Scripture use signifies strength, Isaiah 26:1 Jeremiah 15:20, and elsewhere,
we, my Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost, as the principal builders, and my ministers as workers with and under us,
will build upon her a palace of silver; will add more strength and beauty to her, will enlarge and adorn her, make her more amiable in mine eyes, and more visible and glorious in the eyes of the world.
And if she be as a door, which is weaker than a wall, and where the enemy doth or may break in upon her; if she be weak in faith, and sometimes overcome by the tempter, yet we will not therefore reject and forsake her, but
we will enclose, or (as many others render the word) strengthen, or fortify, her with boards of cedar, which are not only beautiful, but also strong and durable. If she be sincere, and open the door of her heart to me, though she be weak, I will come in to her, and make her stronger.
I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.These seem to be the words of the Jewish church to Christ: O Lord, by thy grace I am what thou wouldst have my sister to be, a wall, and therefore do humbly beg and hope that, according to thy promise to her in that case, thou wilt build upon me a palace of silver.
My breasts like towers; which stand out from and above the wall, and are an ornament and defence to it. Of the church’s breasts, see before, Song of Solomon 4:5 7:3,7.
Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour; when by his grace I was made a wall, he was well-pleased with me, and with his own workmanship in me.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.Baal-hamon; a place not far from Jerusalem, where Solomon had, as it seems, a noble vineyard.
Every one was to bring a thousand pieces of silver; whereby he signifies both the vast extent of the vineyard, which required so many keepers, and its singular fertility, which afforded so great a rent.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.My vineyard; my church, which is oft compared to a vineyard, and is here opposed to Solomon’s vineyard. It is much doubted and disputed whether this verse be spoken by Christ or by the spouse; the first clause seems to agree best to the former, and the following clause to the latter. Possibly the difficulty may be reconciled by ascribing the first clause to Christ, and the latter to the spouse; such interlocutions being familiar in this book, and in other writings of this kind. Which is mine: this repetition is not idle, but very emphatical, to show that Christ had a more eminent and special title to his vineyard, the church, than Solomon had to his vineyard, because it was purchased not by his money, but by his blood, and because it was his, not only for the short time of this present life, as Solomon’s was, but to all eternity.
Is before me; is under my own eye and care, and is not wholly committed to the care and management of others, as Solomon’s was: I the Lord do keep it night and day, as we read, Isaiah 27:3. I am with it to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20.
Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand: these are the church’s return to Christ, who is here called Solomon, as he was Song of Solomon 3:9,11, as elsewhere he is called David. Dost thou, O Christ, keep thine own vineyard, which Solomon did not? Then surely it is meet that thou shouldst receive, and thou shalt receive, as large a revenue from thy vineyard as he did from his.
Those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred; though the chief revenue belongeth and is justly given to thee, yet thy ministers who serve thee in thy vineyard shall have, and are allowed by thee to receive, some encouragement for their service. See 1 Corinthians 9:7.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.Thou that dwellest: the Hebrew word is of the feminine gender, which plainly showeth that Christ speaks hero to his spouse, being about to depart from her for a season, as the next verse showorb.
In the gardens; not in the wilderness of the world, for believers are chosen or called out of the world, John 15:19; but in the church, the garden of God, which God hath fenced and appropriated to himself. He saith gardens, because of the many particular congregations into which the church is divided.
The companions, the friends of the bride and Bridegroom,
hearken to thy voice; diligently observe all thy words and carriages towards me, and all the transactions between thee and me.
Cause me to hear it; when I am gone from thee, let me hear thy prayers, and praises, and the preaching of my gospel in the world.
Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.Seeing we must part for a time, make haste, O my beloved Bridegroom, and speedily finish the work which thou hast to do in the world, that so thou mayst take me to thyself, that I may live in thine everlasting embraces. The words of this verse are borrowed from Song of Solomon 2:17. where they are explained.