The Progress of the Soul
Comments on the Song of Solomon — Chapter Five
In this part of the Song, the Bridegroom speaks in the past tense of an event still future. Isaiah the Prophet does likewise, he points forward to the coming of Christ, yet speaks of Him as if He had already come: “He was despised… He hath borne our griefs,… He was wounded for our transgressions, … He hath put Him to grief” (Isa. 53). These words refer not to the coming of Christ as the Bridegroom, but to His coming as Saviour to do the will of God. Not only did He come to redeem man, to salvage what was possible from a lost and condemned world, but He came also to win for Himself a Bride. “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.” Inasmuch as God has given us the power to become the children of God, we are said to be members of His Body, of His flesh, and of His bones. This, O Friends, is why the Bridegroom in our Song can call mortals “My sister, My spouse.” Paul espoused the Church as a chaste virgin unto Christ.
Myrrh is very bitter to the taste, but it yields an exceeding pleasant odour. The myrrh of Jesus’ cup which was given to Him of the Father was bitter indeed for He prayed, “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done.” Yet, its odour was a sweet savour to the Lord. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief; when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”
The spices speak of the fragrance produced by the reproaches which He suffered from His own people, before the tribunal of Herod, before Pilate, and at the hands of the soldiers.
That our Lord Jesus drank His wine with His milk may be taken to mean the wine of cheer and of blessing. When He prayed in the garden, did not an angel appear to strengthen Him? After the last passover, He took “bread to strengthen and wine to cheer.” This Bridegroom speaks of His friends. “For all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” “He that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”
Sleep for rest and recuperation is one matter, but sleep because of negligence and indolence is quite another. The Scripture warns, “Therefore, let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
In Matthew’s Gospel it is stated, “And when He had sent the multitude away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray.” And Luke tells us that “He continued all night in prayer to God.” Many other times Jesus crossed the brook Cedron, where was a garden, a place which Mark says “was named Gethsemane.” Need we wonder then, that His blessed head was filled with dew? How vividly do we see this prophecy of our Song fulfilled in the Lord Jesus!
From verse two throughout the rest of the chapter, the voice of the Bride is heard; she has taken off her coat, settled down, and does not want to be disturbed. Are we too as ready to condole our weak spiritual condition with make-shift excuse? The Lord never forces Himself into the privacy of anyone’s heart. He was on the outside of Nicodemus’ heart, but appealed for admittance, and thus kindly told him, “Ye must be born again.”
The Bride becomes aroused and moved deeply as she sees the hand of her Bridegroom at the door. How gracious He is! “He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”
We spend so much for that which is not bread, and our labour for that which satisfieth not with eternal values. It is no wonder that our Beloved withdraws Himself. Need it surprise us that long minutes of silence prevail in our worship meetings? These occasions ought to be filled with praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to our Beloved. We cannot seek Him with a divided heart, spending our affections upon mundane attractions.
The Bride was smitten and wounded by the city watchmen. It is the humble Christians who are chided by the religious element of society. Peter and John represented their Lord in Jerusalem, but the priests and captains of the temple came upon them, and smote them with their tongues, demanding, “By what power or by what name have ye done this?” They then took away their liberty, their vail, “and put them in hold unto the next day.”
“If ye find my Beloved, tell Him that I am sick of (for) love.” The Bride here is seen in Christ, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” Her testimony to them, whether they hear or forbear is, “Tell my Beloved that I love Him, and that I need Him constantly, every hour; no tender voice like His can peace afford; I am hungry for His love.” When others asked her, “What is thy Beloved more than another Beloved?” they were admitting that they did not know Him, and that they were following other leaders; they were showing that some believed and some believed not.
“My Beloved is white and ruddy,” said the Bride. The colour white suggests purity, and reminds one of the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus. “The Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: Take you a lamb…, your lamb shall be without blemish.” The white and the red signify the spotless One without blame, the slain One, the Lord Jesus.
Christ is the Head over all. The most fine gold symbolizes His Deity. The Prince of the kings of the earth is indeed God; notwithstanding, He loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. Although “He was cut off out of the land of the living,” He did not lose His youthfulness, nor did He die without generation. The Bride saw Him, as you and I may also see Him by faith, “The same yesterday, today, and forever.”
The washing of His eyes with milk may suggest that all His actions in blessing upon His Church or in wrath upon His enemies, that all His words and doings are in accordance with the Word of God. His eyes are fitly set because He guides the affairs of men with righteousness and judgment. As spices yield their odours when crushed, even so was the life of the Lord Jesus fragrant under the reproaches suffered at the hands of wicked men.
The lips of her Beloved were pure as a lily because He spoke only the commandments of His Father. “The words of the Lord are pure words,” very pure, therefore the Bride loveth them.
The Bride views His hands with reverence. The beryl means that through all of Jesus’ words and works we see the gold of His divine righteousness mingled with the blue of His heavenly character; His Diety is predominent over all. Jesus said of Himself, “Him hath God the Father sealed.” He was sealed, so to speak, at His baptism by the voice from Heaven and by the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove… We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews. “A body hast Thou prepared Me” (Heb. 10:5). Psalm 45 intimates that this blessed One in bodily form came out from the ivory palaces of Heaven. “All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Thee glad” (V. 8).
The Good Samaritan was moved with compassion when he saw the man lying half dead by the roadside; even so, our Lord Jesus had compassion upon the multitude when He saw them faint and scattered abroad as sheep without a shepherd. All these figures of speech signify a deep feeling of divine compassion, symbolized by the wrought ivory.
The word for marble in our text is the same as that translated “fine linen” in other Scriptures. It expresses whiteness, and, of course, this typifies righteousness.
His countenance reminds us of another Scripture or two: “I will make a man more precious than fine gold.” “The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
“His fruit was sweet to my taste.” Whatever He said to men, He had first received and known the sweetness of it Himself. The Bride looked at Him in every possible manner, and she found no fault in Him. May we too sing with another member of the heavenly Bride,
“Altogether lovely, He is altogether lovely,
And the fairest of ten thousand,
This wonderful Friend divine;
He gave Himself to save me,
Now He lives in Heaven to keep me,
He is altogether lovely,
Is this wonderful Saviour of mine.”