1. Answer to her prayer
sister . . . spouse--As Adam's was created of his flesh, out of his
opened side, there being none on earth on a level with him, so the bride
out of the pierced Saviour
have gathered . . . myrrh--His course was already complete; the
(Mt 2:11; 26:7-12;
emblems of the indwelling of the anointing Holy Ghost, were already
have eaten--answering to her "eat"
honeycomb--distinguished here from liquid "honey" dropping from
trees. The last supper, here set forth, is one of espousal, a pledge
of the future marriage
Feasts often took place in gardens. In the absence of sugar, then
unknown, honey was more widely used than with us. His eating honey with
milk indicates His true, yet spotless, human nature from infancy
and after His resurrection
--a cup of wrath to Him, of mercy to us, whereby God's Word and
promises become to us "milk"
"My" answers to "His"
The myrrh (emblem, by its bitterness, of repentance), honey,
milk (incipient faith), wine (strong faith), in reference
to believers, imply that He accepts all their graces, however various
eat--He desires to make us partakers in His joy
(Isa 55:1, 2;
drink abundantly--so as to be filled
--FROM THE AGONY OF GETHSEMANE TO THE CONVERSION OF
2. Sudden change of scene from evening to midnight, from a betrothal
feast to cold repulse. He has gone from the feast alone; night is come;
He knocks at the door of His espoused; she hears, but in sloth does not
shake off half-conscious drowsiness; namely, the disciples' torpor
"the spirit willing, the flesh weak" (compare
Ga 5:16, 17, 24).
Not total sleep. The lamp was burning beside the
slumbering wise virgin, but wanted trimming
It is His voice that rouses her
Instead of bitter reproaches, He addresses her by the most endearing
titles, "my sister, my love," &c. Compare His thought of Peter
after the denial
dew--which falls heavily in summer nights in the East (see
drops of the night--
His death is not expressed, as unsuitable to the allegory, a
song of love and joy;
refers to the scene in the judgment hall of Caiaphas, when Jesus Christ
employed the cock-crowing and look of love to awaken Peter's sleeping
conscience, so that his "bowels were moved"
(Lu 22:61, 62);
So 5:5, 6,
the disciples with "myrrh," &c.
(Lu 24:1, 5),
seeking Jesus Christ in the tomb, but finding Him not, for He has
(Joh 7:34; 13:33);
the trials by watchmen extend through the whole night of His withdrawal
from Gethsemane to the resurrection; they took off the "veil" of
Peter's disguise; also, literally the linen cloth from the young man
the sympathy of friends
undefiled--not polluted by spiritual adultery
3. Trivial excuses
coat--rather, the inmost vest, next the skin, taken off before going
washed . . . feet--before going to rest, for they had
been soiled, from the Eastern custom of wearing sandals, not shoes.
4. A key in the East is usually a piece of wood with pegs in it
corresponding to small holes in a wooden bolt within, and is put through
a hole in the door, and thus draws the bolt. So Jesus Christ "puts forth
His hand (namely, His Spirit,
by (Hebrew, 'from,' so in
the hole"; in "chastening"
singularly similar to this passage), and other unexpected ways letting
(Lu 22:61, 62).
bowels . . . moved for him--It is His which are first troubled for us,
and which cause ours to be troubled for Him
5. dropped with myrrh--The best proof a bride could give her lover
of welcome was to anoint herself (the back of the hands especially, as
being the coolest part of the body) profusely with the best perfumes
"sweet-smelling" is in the Hebrew rather, "spontaneously
exuding" from the tree, and therefore the best. She designed
also to anoint Him, whose "head was filled with the drops of night"
The myrrh typifies bitter repentance, the fruit of the Spirit's
(2Co 1:21, 22).
handles of the lock--sins which closed the heart against Him.
6. withdrawn--He knocked when she was sleeping; for to
have left her then would have ended in the death sleep; He
withdraws now that she is roused, as she needs correction
(Jer 2:17, 19),
and can appreciate and safely bear it now, which she could not then.
"The strong He'll strongly try"
when he spake--rather, "because of His speaking"; at the remembrance
of His tender words
(Job 29:2, 3;
Ps 27:13; 142:7),
or till He should speak.
(Job 23:3-9; 30:20; 34:29;
Weak faith receives immediate comfort
(Lu 8:44, 47, 48);
strong faith is tried with delay
(Mt 15:22, 23).
7. watchmen--historically, the Jewish priests, &c. (see on
faithful in "smiting"
(Psalm 141. 5),
but (as she leaves them,
too harsh; or, perhaps, unfaithful; disliking her zeal wherewith she
sought Jesus Christ, first, with spiritual prayer, "opening" her heart
to Him, and then in charitable works "about the city"; miscalling it
and taking away her veil (the greatest indignity to an Eastern lady),
as though she were positively immodest. She had before sought Him by
night in the streets, under strong affection
and so without rebuff from "the watchmen," found Him immediately; but
now after sinful neglect, she encounters pain and delay. God forgives
believers, but it is a serious thing to draw on His forgiveness; so the
growing reserve of God towards Israel observable in Judges, as His
people repeat their demands on His grace.
8. She turns from the unsympathizing watchmen to humbler persons,
not yet themselves knowing Him, but in the way towards it. Historically,
His secret friends in the night of His withdrawal
(Lu 23:27, 28).
Inquirers may find ("if ye find") Jesus Christ before she
who has grieved His Spirit finds Him again.
sick of love--from an opposite cause
than through excess of delight at His presence; now excess of
pain at His absence.
9. Her own beauty
and lovesickness for Him, elicit now their enquiry
heretofore "other lords besides Him had dominion over them"; thus they
had seen "no beauty in Him"
(Isa 26:13; 53:2).
white and ruddy--health and beauty. So David (equivalent to
beloved), His forefather after the flesh, and type
"The Lamb" is at once His nuptial and sacrificial name
characterized by white and red; white, His spotless manhood
The Hebrew for white is properly "illuminated by the
sun," white as the light" (compare
red, in His blood-dyed garment as slain
Re 5:6; 19:13).
Angels are white, not red; the blood of martyrs does not enter heaven;
His alone is seen there.
chiefest--literally, "a standard bearer"; that is, as conspicuous
above all others, as a standard bearer is among hosts
(Ps 45:7; 89:6;
Isa 11:10; 55:4;
The chief of sinners needs the "chiefest" of Saviours.
11. head . . . gold--the Godhead of Jesus Christ, as distinguished
from His heel, that is, His manhood, which was "bruised" by Satan;
both together being one Christ
Also His sovereignty, as Nebuchadnezzar, the supreme king was "the head
the highest creature, compared with Him, is brass, iron, and clay.
bushy--curled, token of Headship. In contrast with her
the token of her subjection to Him
1Co 11:3, 6-15).
The Hebrew is (pendulous as) the branches of a palm,
which, when in leaf, resemble waving plumes of feathers.
black--implying youth; no "gray hairs"
(Ps 102:27; 110:3, 4;
Jesus Christ was crucified in the prime of vigor and manliness. In
heaven, on the other hand, His hair is "white," He being the Ancient of
These contrasts often concur in Him
"white and ruddy"; here the "raven"
the "dove," as both with Noah in the ark
emblems of judgment and mercy.
12. as the eyes of doves--rather, "as doves"
bathing in "the rivers"; so combining in their "silver" feathers the
whiteness of milk with the sparkling brightness of the
water trickling over them
The "milk" may allude to the white around the pupil of the eye. The
"waters" refer to the eye as the fountain of tears of sympathy
(Eze 16:5, 6;
Vivacity, purity, and love, are the three features typified.
fitly set--as a gem in a ring; as the precious stones in the
high priest's breastplate. Rather, translate as Vulgate (the
doves), sitting at the fulness of the stream; by the full
stream; or, as MAURER (the eyes) set in
fulness, not sunk in their sockets
("seven," expressing full perfection),
(Zec 3:9; 4:10).
13. cheeks--the seat of beauty, according to the Hebrew meaning
[GESENIUS]. Yet men smote and spat on them
bed--full, like the raised surface of the garden bed; fragrant with
ointments, as beds with aromatic plants (literally, "balsam").
sweet flowers--rather, "terraces of aromatic
herbs"--"high-raised parterres of sweet plants," in parallelism to
"bed," which comes from a Hebrew root, meaning "elevation."
lilies--red lilies. Soft and gentle
(1Pe 2:22, 23).
How different lips were man's
dropping . . . myrrh--namely, His lips, just as the sweet dewdrops
which hang in the calyx of the lily.