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.
Verses 1-3. - Oh that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! When I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; and none would despise me. 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. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. The meaning seems to be this - Let our relation to one another be the highest and the purest and the most permanent possible. The sisterly relation is not merely one of affection, but one of blood. The bond between husband and wife may be broken by the caprice and weakness of human feeling, but nothing can destroy the bond of blood. "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17); "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). The brotherly bond represents the strength of the blood relationship. When to that is added personal affection, then the tie is perfect. Shulamith means that she would have their love freed from all the uncertainties of human fickleness. As symbolically interpreted, therefore, we take this whole passage to signify that the Church, when it is desiring the closest fellowship with the Saviour, would be lifted above all the temptations of earthly life, which so often lower the standard of Christian feeling and service. The words are specially impressive in the lips of the bride of Solomon. It is a testimony to the inspiration of the whole book that the voluptuous monarch, whose life fell so far below the ideal of a godly king, should yet, indirectly though still powerfully, condemn and rebuke his own departure from God, setting clearly before us the surpassing excellence of pure love and the sanctity of married life. In the Mug's address to his bride he called her "sister" and "sister-bride;" she now virtually returns his own sentiment and calls him "brother."' She shows that she has risen in her love far above the mere fleshly desires - "the lust of the fiesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." She would blend her whole existence with that of her Lord. I would kiss thee; yea, and none would despise me. Nothing can more exquisitely and delicately express the fulness of affection. It is not merely a return for that which is given; it is free and spontaneous. So should our spiritual feelings be. They should be the natural outpouring of the soul towards the Saviour; not a worked up, artificial, spasmodic impulse, not a cold, dead formalism, not an unsympathetic service of conscience; but "doing the will of God from the heart." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law;" "Faith worketh by love." The second verse is differently rendered by some. Jerome, Venetian, and Luther take it as referring to the bride's dependence on her husband's superior wisdom - "Thou wouldest instruct me;" which, of course, is a very suitable sentiment as addressed to the wise King Solomon. The Targum expounds it thus: "I would conduct thee, O King Messiah, and bring thee into the house of my sanctuary; and thou wouldest teach me to fear God and to walk in his ways." Hitzig and our Revisers take the verb as in the third person feminine, and applied to the mother. "She would teach me as a mother teaches a young bride, from her own early experience." The old view that the bride is the personification of wisdom seems quite refuted by this speech of Shulamith's. She desires and waits for instruction. Solomon is wisdom. She is the soul of man, or the Church of God, delighting to sit at his feet and learn of him. Whichever rendering we choose, whether the mother or Solomon be regarded as teacher, the meaning is the same. It is, as Delitzsch has observed, a deep revelation of Shulamith's heart. "She knew how much she yet came short of being to the king all that a wife should be. But in Jerusalem the bustle of court life and the burden of his regal duties did not permit him to devote himself to her; in her mother's house, if he were once there, he would in. struct her, and she would requite him with her spiced wine and with the juice of the pomegranates." The "spiced wine," vinum conditura, aromatic wine, probably grape wine "mixed with fragrant and pungent essences," as in the East. The juice, or pressed juice, of the pomegranate is a delicious drink. There is no allusion to any love symbol. The grains of the pomegranates were said by the Arabians to be from Paradise (cf. the ῤοι'´της, or "vinum de punicis quod roidem vocant" in Dioscorides and Pliny). Perhaps this reference to exchange of gifts may be taken as symbolizing the happy state of the Church when she pours out her treasures in response to the spiritual blessings which she is freely receiving. The meaning is something beautiful and precious. And that is the highest state of religious life when the service we render and the gifts we place on the altar are felt to be the grateful sacrifices of our hearts under a sense of Divine love. When the Church of Christ depends for its support on such fellowship between itself and the Saviour there will be no limits to its attainments, no achievements beyond its powers. "All that see" such a state of the Church "shall acknowledge" the glory of it, "that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed" (see the whole of the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, which breathes the very spirit of Solomon's Song). The rejoicing bride then gives herself up to the thought of her husband's affection. In that beautiful simplicity and purity of her childhood's life she would realize the bliss of her new relation. Delitzsch describes her state of mind thus: "Resigning herself dreamily to the idea that Solomon is her brother, whom she may freely and openly kiss, and her teacher besides, with whom she may sit in confidential intercourse under her mother's eye, she feels herself as if closely embraced by him, and calls from a distance to the daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb this her happy enjoyment." Perhaps the sense of weakness and dependence is meant to be expressed. The bride is conscious that her lord is everything to her. In that identification which the highest love brings vividly into the soul, there is the joy of exultation. "All things are ours; and we are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
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.
His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
Verse 4. - I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awaken love, until it please. This, of course, as the refrain of the song, must be taken as a general sentiment. Love is its own lord. Let it have free course. Let it perfect itself in its own best way. The form of the adjuration is abbreviated in this case. The omission of the words, "By the roes and by the hinds of the field," is not without its significance. Is it not intended to intimate that the natural love, to which reference was made by the introduction of the beautiful wild creatures of the field, is now no more in the thoughts of the bride, because it has been sublimated into the higher sisterly love of which she has been speaking? She is not merely the lovely woman on whom the king dotes because of her personal beauty; she is his companion and dearest friend. He opens his heart to her. He teaches her. He lifts her up to his own level. She participates in his royal dignity and majesty. The ἔρως of her first estate of love is now exalted into the ἀγάπη, which is the grace never to be without its sphere, abiding forever. We must not press too closely the poetic form of the song. Something must be allowed for the framework in which the main ideas are set before us. It may not be possible to answer the question - Who are intended to be symbolized by the daughters of Jerusalem? There is no necessity to seek further into the meaning of the whole poem than its widest and most general application. But the daughters of Jerusalem are in a lower position, a less favoured relation to the bridegroom, than the bride herself. We may, therefore, without hesitation, accept the view that by the adjuration is intended the appeal of the higher spiritual life against all that is below it; the ideal love calling upon all that is around it and all that is related to it to rise with it to perfection. The individual soul is thus represented claiming the full realization of its spiritual possibilities. The Church of God thus remonstrates against all that hinders her advancement, restrains her life, and interrupts her blessedness. Jerusalem has many daughters. They are not all in perfect sympathy with the bride. When they listen to the adjurations of the most spiritual, the most devoted, the most heavenly and Christ-like of those who are named by the Name of the Lord, they will themselves be lifted up into the bridal joy of "the marriage supper of the Lamb."
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.
Verses 5-14. - Part V. CONCLUSION. THE BRIDEGROOM AND THE BRIDE IN THE SCENE OF THEIR FIRST LOVE. Verse 5a. - Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? We must compare this question with the corresponding one in Song of Solomon 3:6. In that case the inhabitants of Jerusalem are supposed to be looking forth, and behold the bridal procession approaching the capital. In this case the scene is transferred to the country, to the neighbourhood of the bride's home, where she has desired to be with her lord. The country people, or the group of her relatives, are supposed to be gazing at the pair of lovers, not coming in royal state, but in the sweet simplicity of true affection, the bride leaning with loving confidence on the arm of her husband, as they were seen before in the time of their "first love." The restoration of "first love" is often the prayer of the disciple, feeling how far he falls short of the affection which such a Master should call forth. The first feelings of the heart when it is won to Christ are very delightful.
"Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul-refreshing view
Of Jesus and his Word?" It is a blessedness when we come up from the wilderness. It is a joy to ourselves and a matter of praise to our fellow believers when we are manifestly filled with a sense of the Saviour's presence and fellowship. The word midhbaur, translated "wilderness," does not, however, necessarily mean a desolate and barren desert, but rather the open country, as the Valley of Jezreel The LXX. had either a different reading in the Hebrew or has mistaken it. They have rendered the last clause "clothed in white," which perhaps Jerome has followed with his deliciis affluens. The word is, however, from the root rauvaq, which in the hiph. is "to support one's self." The meaning, therefore, is, "leaning for support." It might, however, be intended to represent the loving confidence of married life, and therefore would be equivalent in meaning to the Greek and Latin renderings, that is, "Who is this? Evidently a young newly married wife with her husband." Perhaps this is the best explanation of the words as preparing for what follows, as the bridegroom begins at once to speak of the first love. Some think that the road in which the loving pair are seen to be walking brings their footsteps near to the apple tree over against Shulamith's house where they had first met. But there is no necessity for that supposition. It is sufficient if we imagine the apple tree to be in sight. Verse 5b. - Under the apple tree I awakened thee; there thy mother was in travail with thee; there was she in travail that brought thee forth. I awakened thee; i.e. I stirred thee up to return the affection which I showed thee (cf. Song of Solomon 2:7). The Masoretic reading prints the verb עורַרתִּיך, as with the masculine suffix, but this renders the meaning exceedingly perplexed. The bride would not speak of awakening Solomon, but it was he who had awakened her. The change is very slight, the ך becoming ך, and is supported by the Old Syriac Version. It must be remembered that the bridegroom immediately addresses the bride, speaking of her mother. The apple tree would certainly be most naturally supposed to be situated somewhere near the house where the bride was bore perhaps overshadowing it or branching over the windows, or trained upon the trellis surrounding the house. The bridegroom points to it. "See, there it is, the familiar apple tree beside the house where thy dear self wast born. There, yonder, is where thy mother dwelt, and where thou heartiest my first words of affection as we sat side by side just outside the house under the shade of the apple tree." The language is exquisitely simple and chaste, and yet so full of the tender affection of the true lover. The spot where the first breathings of love came forth will ever be dear in the remembrance of those whose affection remains faithful and fond. The typical view certainly finds itself supported in these words. Nothing is more delightful and more helpful to the believer than to go over in thought, again and again, and especially when faith grows feeble, when the heart is cold and fickle under the influence of worldly temptations and difficulties of the Christian course, the history of the first beginning of the spiritual life. We recall how dear the Lord was to us then, how wonderful his love seemed to us, how condescending and how merciful. We reproach ourselves that we faint and fail; we cry out for the fulness of grace, and it is given us.
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.
Verses 6, 7. - 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 flashes thereof are flashes of fire, a very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it; if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, he would be utterly contemned. Is this to be regarded as the reply of the bride to the tender allusion of her husband to their first love; or is it, as some think, only the first words which belong to the bride, while the rest of the two verses are a kind of chorus echoing her loving appeal, and bringing the general action of the poem to a conclusion? It is difficult to decide this, and the meaning is not affected either way. Perhaps, however, it is best to take it as spoken by the bride, who continues her address to the end of the eighth verse. She is full of joy in the return of perfect confidence; she prays that the full tide of affection may never cease to flow, that there be no ebbing of that happy feeling in which she now delights; and then sings the praise of love itself, as though a prelude of praise to a long and eternal peace. The seal is the signet ring, chotham, from a root "to impress" It was sometimes carried by a string on the breast, and would, therefore, be near the heart (see Genesis 38:18). It was sometimes worn on the hand (see Jeremiah 22:24; and cf. Genesis 41:42; Esther 3:12). It was not worn on the arm like a bracelet (2 Samuel 1:10). Probably it was not the signet ring which is referred to in the second clause: "Set me as a seal on thine heart, and as a bracelet on thine arm." The same simile is not infrequent in the prophets. The desire of Shulamith was to escape all possibility of those declensions of which she had spoken before. "Let me never be out of thy thoughts; let me never go back from my fulness of joy in thy love." The true believer understands well such language. He knows that the maintenance of devout affection is not a matter of mere desire and will. The Lord himself must help us with his blessed gifts, the influence of his gracious Spirit to overcome the feebleness and fickleness of a fallen heart. We want to be close to the heart of the Saviour; we want to be constantly in his eye, and so diligently employed in his service, so closely associated with the work of his mighty arm, that we shall be ever receiving from him the signs and evidences of his approval and affection. The purity and perfection of true love are the theme of every sincere believer. The priceless value of such love is described in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 6:30), in Numbers 22:18, and 1 Corinthians 13:3. It is an unquenchable flame - nothing can resist it. We cannot but recall the rapturous language of one who himself was an example of the highest devotedness to the Saviour, who rejoiced over death and the grave in the consciousness of victory through him from whose love nothing can separate us (Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:54). Certainly the history of the sufferings and trials of the true Church form a most striking commentary upon these words. Floods of persecution have swept over it, but they have not quenched love. The flame has burst forth again and again when it seemed to be extinguished, and it has become a very "flame of the Lord." The bush has been burning, but has not been consumed. By jealousy is intended love in its intensity not bearing arival. The "flame of the Lord" may be compared with "the voice of the Lord," which is described in Hebrew poetry as connected with the fury of the storm. The flame, therefore, would be lightning and the voice thunder. The whole of this passage, which forms a kind of keynote of the poem, is more like a distinct strain introduced to give climax to the succession of songs than the natural expression of the bride's feelings. It has been always regarded as one of the sublimest apostrophes to love to be found anywhere. The enemies of God and of humanity are represented as falling before it, death and the grave. Its vehemence and force of manifestation are brought vividly before us by the comparison of the flash of lightning. It is remarkable that this exaltation of love should be included in the Old Testament, thus proving that the Mosaic Law, with its formal prescriptions, by no means fulfils the whole purpose of God in his revelation to the world. As the New Testament would not have been complete without the message of the beloved disciple, so this Old Testament must have its song of love. Nor is it only the ideal and the heavenly love which is celebrated, but human affection itself is placed very high, because it is associated with that which is Divine. It is a more precious thing than mere wealth or worldly honour, and he that trifles with it deserves the utmost scorn and contempt of his fellows. It is well to remark how consistently the poetic framework is maintained. There is no attempt to leave the lines of human relations even at this point, whets evidently the sentiment rises above them. The love which is apostrophized is not removed from earth in order to be seen apart from all earthly imperfections and impurities. We are invited rather to look through the human to the Divine which embraces it and glorifies it. That. is the method of the Divine revelation throughout. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." We do not need to take Solomon's Song as an allegory. It is a song of human love, but as such it is a symbol of that which is Divine.
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.
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?
Verse 8. - 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? The term "little" refers, of course, to her tender age, as in 2 Kings 5:2, the "little maid;" and in Genesis 44:20, "a child of his old age, a little one," referring to Benjamin. "She hath no breasts" is equivalent to saying she is not yet mature, of marriageable age (see Ezekiel 16:7). The question which the bride asks of King Solomon refers to the promise which he is supposed to have made, and which he is virtually pledging himself to fulfil by this visit to the country home of his queen. "What shall be done for the advantage of my little sister? Let us consult together" (cf. Genesis 27:37; 1 Samuel 10:2; Isaiah 5:4). "The day when she shall be spoken for" is the day when she shall attract the attention of a suitor. It must necessarily be difficult to find satisfactory interpretations forevery detail in such a poem of human love as this. It might be sufficient to see in this reference to the younger sister the general idea of love's expansion. Those who are themselves the objects of it, being full of exquisite happiness, desire to call others into the same joy. This is true both of the individual and of the Church. What shall be done for others? That is the question which is awakened in every heart where true love is at work. There is no need to explain the language further. But the allegorists have been very ingenious in attempting to find meanings forevery allusion of the poem. Who is the little sister? What is her virginity? What is the day in which she shall be spoken for? Some have said that the little sister represents the firstfruits of the Jews and Gentiles received into the Christian Church immediately after the time of our Lord's ascension, as Beza and others. Some, again, take it to mean the whole body of Jews and Gentiles yet to be converted. Others would see in it those that are weak in faith, the beginners in Christian life. And, again, it has been regarded as pointing to the "daughter of Zion" at the time of the first beginnings of her conversion to the heavenly Solomon, which is the view of Hengstenberg and others. There is no end to such fancies. The broad general meaning is all that we can rest upon. The bride naturally thinks of her sister. It is a lovely incident in a perfectly idyllic poem. The visit to the home is quite in harmony with the fresh, pure, and simple life which reveals itself in all the utterances of the bride, and is honoured by the devoted attention of the splendid monarch. It is a real touch of nature when the young bride, in her family life once more, asks what shall become of her sister. It is an exquisite type of that sisterly solicitude with which all true Christians will care for the souls around them. Delitzsch thinks that the question which is asked by the bride is answered by her brothers, as they were the actual guardians of the little sister (see Genesis 21:50, 55; 34:6-8). But there is no necessity to introduce any new interlocutors at this point. The words are certainly addressed to Solomon. It is quite natural that he should reply to them in a royal style, with the pluralis majestatis which suits the corresponding position of the bride as a suppliant for her sister.
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.
Verse 9. - If she be a wall, we will build upon her a turret of silver: and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar. The interpretation which Delitzsch suggests of these words is that the "wall" represents firmness of character, and the "door" weakness and insecurity. If she firmly and successfully withstands all immoral approaches, then we will bestow high honour upon her, as a tribute to her maidenly virtue and constancy. The turret or castle of silver would mean rewarding her with increase. Silver is the emblem of holiness, gold of nobility. The meaning may, however, merely be, "We will endow her with plenty." The boards of cedar are supposed to be special protections, as cedar is noted for its hardness and durability. But is not the meaning much simpler and more natural? It would be rather a far fetched use of the figure of a door that it should suggest seduction, and would be rather unsuitable in the lips of the bridegroom when speaking of the little sister of his own bride. May not the meaning be no more than this? - She may become one of the most substantial parts of the building, like a wall; in that ease all that she can be she shall be; we will put the highest honour upon her. She may be a door, that is, though not so great and substantial as the wall, still in the very front of the building and before the eyes of all. In that case we will beautify her with costly and fragrant adornment. The gate shall be enclosed in cedar wood. "The wall and the door," says Zockler, "are mostly understood of the steadfast and faithful keeping of the Word of God and of its zealous proclamation to the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 16:9, etc.); but some also explain them of the valiant in faith and the weak in faith, or of the learned and simple, or of faithful Christians and such as are recreant and easily accessible to the arts of seduction. And then, according to these various interpretations, the 'silver bulwarks' are now the miracles of the first witnesses of Jesus, now the distinguished teachers of the Church, now pious Christian rulers, now the testimonies of Holy Scripture by which faith is strengthened. And, again, by the 'cedar boards' are sometimes understood the ten commandments or the Law, sometimes Christian teachers, sometimes the examples of the saints, sometimes the salutary discipline of the cross and sufferings for Christ's sake," etc. All such attempts at detailed interpretation fail to give satisfaction. Their effect is to repel many from the study of the book altogether, just as the follies and. extravagances of the interpreters of prophecy have greatly hindered the study of the prophetic Scriptures. The wall and the door need not be taken as opposed to one another, as they are not in our conceptions of a city. They fulfil different functions. The wall is for defence; the door is for admission. In the one case we think of strength, and in the other case of beauty. The application of the symbols is very easy if the general meaning alone is regarded. There is a variety of capacity and function in the Church of Christ. There are differences in the forms of Christianity among different nations. But the Lord will receive and bless all. Some are not fitted to be built upon as strong wails, but they may still be beautiful examples of Christian graces in the eyes of the world, through whom many gladly enter into the truth and into the fellowship of Christ.
I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
Verses 10-12. - I am a wall, and my breasts like the towers thereof: then was I in his eyes as one that found peace. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to brings a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, shalt have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred. The meaning seems to be affectionate approval of the method just described. Solomon says, "If the young sister be, worthy of love, she shall receive more and more of defence and honour; she shall be all that I can make her." The bride takes up this thought. "So it is with me, and, in the spirit of thankful acknowledgments and praise, I will respond to all the favour of the king. King Solomon has loved me, and now I am rising higher and becoming more and more glorious because of his love." The typical reference can scarcely be missed. The Church, the bride of the Lamb, shines only in the light of him whose favour is life, and whose loving kindness is better than life. The comparison to a city with the walls and towers, while it would seem a little far fetched in a love song, is quite in place if the typical intention was in the mind of the writer. He was thinking of the city of God, "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth." "One that findeth peace" is the same as "one that findeth favour," that is, one who is the object of his affection. There are several references which confirm this, such as Esther 2:17; Deuteronomy 24:1; Jeremiah 31:2; Psalm 41:10. The word "peace" (shalom) is in all probability purposely chosen in this case as a kind of play on the name Solomon, which appears immediately afterwards. "The king of peace delights in me because I am peace in his eyes." The Church is after the image of the King. His likeness in her makes her beautiful. Men take knowledge of Christians that they have been with Jesus (see 1 Chronicles 22:9). It is scarcely necessary to point out that this language of the bride is entirely against the shepherd theory. She could not have talked of finding peace in his eyes if she was torn from her true lover. The bride then goes on to express her devotedness to the king and her desire to bring forth abundance for him. She uses as an example, which perhaps was typical in her time and country, some remarkably fruitful vineyard of the king's. She will, in like manner, realize all his highest wishes. All that she has shall be his. The name Baal-hamon (בַּעַלחָמון) in the LXX. Βεελαμών (cf. Judith 8:3), designates probably a place near to Sunem, somewhere to the north, on the further side of the Plain of Jezreeh The produce of the vineyard must have been very large, as every keeper was to bring in for himself a thousand shekels of silver. It is not stated how many keepers there were, but the word which is employed is not "servants," but "watchers, or overseers." A vineyard was divided into portions, with a certain definite prescribed number of vines in each portion. In Isaiah 7:23 we read, "And it shall come to pass in that day that every place where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings shall even be for briers and thorns." Now, a thousand silverlings was one shekel, so that if this passage can be taken as throwing light on what the bride says, it would imply that, instead of one shekel forevery thousand vines, every keeper brought a thousand shekels. That would seem impossible, so that the parallel can scarcely be strict. Perhaps the largeness of the vineyard is referred to, and each of the keepers would have many thousands of vines under his inspection. The general meaning, however, is not obscure. The vineyard was a celebrated one, and was taken as a typical instance of fertility and abundance. When the bride speaks of her vineyard which is before her, there may be an allusion to her previous manner of life as a rustic maiden employed in the vineyards, and to her own position as a keeper or as one of the family. But this is not intended to be prominently expressed. The whole spirit of the poem justifies the view that she is speaking of her person. She invited Solomon to rejoice in the beauty and fragrance of her garden, to pluck the fruits, to revel in the delights. Everything that is pleasant and lovely is before him (see Song of Solomon 4:12; Song of Solomon 5:1). Before me; that is, in my power is all this delight, and my desire is to my husband; all that I have is his. Like the far-famed keepers of Baal-hamon, I will give the king a thousand shekels, that is, the utmost that the vineyard can produce, and "those that keep the fruit thereof" shall have two hundred - perhaps meaning a hundred each, that is a tenth, which was the ancient tithe due to the priests. It may be, however, that a double tithe is intended. The king shall be satisfied, and all those who labour for the king shall be more than ever rewarded. If we take such words as typical, they point to a state of things in the history of the kingdom of God when the spiritual and the temporal shall be perfectly adjusted. The keepers of the vineyard have often made sad havoc of the vineyard itself because of their greedy discontent. The fruits which have been yielded by the Church have fallen very far short. The husbandmen have ill treated the Lord's servants. But all the judgments which have been poured out both upon ancient Jews and upon the corrupt Christendom of later times have been directed to one end, to make the vineyard of the Lord more fruitful, to remove the things which are offensive in his sight, to satisfy him whose soul travailed for his people; for herein is the Father glorified in the Son, when them who bear the name of the Beloved "bear much fruit." Then the keepers of the vineyard will themselves rejoice, not that they reap a larger harvest of this world's good, not "for filthy lucre's sake," but because their hearts are one with his whose vineyard they keep, and to see the fruit abound is to fill them with joy. Surely we shall recognize in such language an anticipation of the many allusions which are found both in the prophets and psalms and in the discourses of our Lord himself. "The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant" (Isaiah 5:7)
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.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.
Verse 13. - Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken for thy voice; cause me to hear it. There cannot be much doubt that these are the words of the bridegroom. They are addressed to the bride. She is the dweller in the gardens; that is, one who is at home in the gardens, whose beauty blends with the rural loveliness around her. The king wishes his bride to understand that she is only acceptable in his sight, and that all that she asks shall be granted. It is delightful to him to hear her voice, as it is delightful to those who have been accustomed to that voice from her childhood. "Dear country girl, sing to me, and let me revel in the sweetness of thy music. 'Thy companions hearken for it' - thy former associates, the playmates of thy youth. And while they gather round us, and you and I rejoice in one another, let the sound of thy voice mingle with the peaceful beauty of this earthly paradise." There is an exquisite tenderness in this conclusion of the poem. The curtain falls, as it were, upon a scene of mutual confidence and affection, the simplicity of the bride's early home being lifted up into the royal splendour of the king's presence, the companions beholding and praising, while, in the midst of all that sunny bliss and peaceful content, the voice of the Bride is heard singing one of the old, familiar strains of love with which she poured out her heart in the days when her beloved came to find her in her home. It is impossible to conceive a more perfect conclusion. It leads up our thoughts to the laud of light and song, where "the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be the Shepherd" of those who shall "hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat;" "and he shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:16, 17). It is sad to think that Solomon himself fell from such an ideal of human affection, and was unfaithful to such a bride. But there is no need to trouble the clear, transparent beauty of this typical poem by any reference to the incidents of the writer's own history. He placed it on the altar of God, no doubt, at a time when it represented sincere feelings in his heart, and because he was inspired to see that it would be profitable to the people of God as a mirror in which they could behold the reflection of the highest truth. But though he himself fell away from his high place as a prophet of God, the words which he left behind him were still a precious gift to the Church. It is otherwise with him who is typified by the earthly monarch. He who is the heavenly Bridegroom has himself to lift up the weakness and fickleness of his bride by fellowship with her, until she is above the reach of temptation, and partaker of his own glory. And he does so, as this exquisite poem reminds us, by the power of his love. It is the personal influence of the Lord Jesus Christ which must glorify the Church and restore it to its original simplicity and spirituality. The scene into which we are led in this story of bridal affection typifies a state of the Church when the artificiality of court life shall be abandoned, the magnificence of mere external pomp and ritual shall be left behind, and the bride shall simply delight herself in the Bridegroom among the pure and peaceful surroundings of a country home. The Church will realize the greatness of her power when she is delivered from that which hides her Saviour, when she is simply human and yet entirely spiritual; then the Lord of her life, the second Adam, the perfect Man, who is from heaven and in heaven, but still on earth, changing earth to heaven by his love, will fulfil his promise. "He not merely concludes the marriage covenant with mankind, but likewise preserves, confirms, refines, and conducts it step by step to its ideal consummation, which is at the same time the palingenesia and perfection of humanity."
Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
Verse 14. - Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices. This is a snatch of the old love songs which the bride used to sing when love was fresh and young. She sings it now at the request of her bridegroom himself, and in the delighted ears of her companions. She goes forth from among, them leaning on her beloved, to rejoice in the beautiful scenery and rural pleasures with him whose presence heightens every joy, the life of her life, the soul of her soul, "all her salvation, all her desire." The bridegroom and the bride are seen disappearing together over the flowery hills; and the music of the Song of Songs dies away in the sweet fragrance of that closing scene; the vision of love has, gazelle-like, leapt from point to point, and vanishes away at last among the mountains of spices. It is well to notice that what were before "mountains of Berber," that is, of "separation," are now "mountains of Besamin" - balsam mountains. There is no more word of separation. Henceforth the only note is one of peaceful enjoyment. "My beloved is mine, and I am his." Our home and haunt is the same. The concluding words, we cannot doubt, are intended to open a perfect future to the eye. Yet the poet, with consummate art, connects that future with the past and the present by the voice of the bride heard singing the love song with which she first expressed her love, now lifted up into anticipation of the everlasting hills of fragrant and joyful life.