If you know not, O you fairest among women, go your way forth by the footsteps of the flock…
The daughters of Jerusalem - the inmates of Solomon's harem - who scornfully addressed these words to the faithful girl who was mourning after her beloved, never meant to utter a great spiritual truth when they thus spoke; any more than Caiaphas did when he said, "It is expedient that one man die for the people." The doctrine of the atonement is in that Caiaphas-speech; and so, sacred suggestions for souls that seek their Lord are found in these words of Jerusalem's daughters. The parallel passage, or comment on this verse, is Hebrews 11:12, "Be ye followers of them who through faith," etc. Now, it is suggested by this verse that if we would find God -
I. WE MUST GO FORTH. (Cf. Hebrews 13:13, "Let us go forth unto him," etc.) We cannot stay
(1) in the world; or
(2) in any known sin; or
(3) amid the common religionism of the day.
II. OUR WAY MUST BE THE WAY OF THE LORD'S TRUE PEOPLE. We must go by "the footsteps of the flock." As to who the flock are, cf. John 10. They are the true sheep of Christ; those whom he calls "my sheep." They consist not of those who are indifferent, still less strangers, and, least of all, hostile to him; but of those who have followed him, and do follow him "whithersoever he goeth." It is good, oftentimes, when we are in doubt as to what we should do, to ask ourselves what some sincere follower of Christ whom we have known would have done in like circumstances. Such people leave footprints, and they are clearly discernible, and if we track them we shall come where they are.
III. WE MUST FEED OUR SOULS UPON THE WORDS OF THE LORD'S SHEPHERDS. (Cf. Hebrews 13:7, "Remember those who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God," etc.) Such words are spoken in the Scriptures, and from many a Christian pulpit, and they who seek the Lord have ever found strength and help in the preaching of the Lord's true pastors. It is easy to joke and jibe at the pulpit, and to say it is time that it were put away amidst old lumber; but let the pulpit be filled by a real Christ-given pastor, the words that are uttered from it shall still feed the flock of God. But especially let us feed upon the Word of him who is "the good Shepherd." We shall newer find him whom we seek unless we obey these counsels.
IV. THOSE WHO WOULD THUS FIND HIM ARE VERY DEAR TO HIM. The speaker had addressed him as "thou whom my soul loveth," and now he addresses her as the "fairest among women." She had said of herself, "I am black," but he says to her, "Thou fairest," etc. All this suggests what so many Scriptures teach as to the children of God being "beautiful" in his sight, and as to his rejoicing over them. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.