Spiritual Progress of the Soul
Comments on the Song of Solomon—Chapter 3
The Bride seeks her beloved in the hours when she cannot sleep. In this she reminds us of Pilgrim in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” He had many experiences similar to that of the Bride in this Song. On his journey to the Celestial City, he caught glimpses of it now and again.
We cannot seek the Lord half-heartedly, or turn away from Him to mundane or selfish projects, going even for a day’s journey without Him as did Joseph and Mary, and not expect trouble, sorrow, and anxiety. King David had such an experience, and said afterward, “Thou didst hide Thy face and I was troubled.” We occasionally separate ourselves from the Lord in the day of prosperity, but turn to Him in the darkness, or on the bed of illness, and, of course, we do not readily find Him. Where did the Bride search for her Beloved? Did she find Him in the City, in the streets of business, social excitement, and confusion, or on the broad ways of worldly pleasures and amusements? It was when Peter was with a worldly crowd that he denied his Lord. He was travelling the wrong way on the wrong street, away from the presence and the fellowship of his Master. Jesus had earlier reproved Peter and the other slumbering disciples with His question, “What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?” Peter apparently could not.
Just who the watchmen were to whom the Bride made reference may be deduced from the Song itself. Since they were not known to either the Bride or the Bridegroom, they may represent the leaders of other faiths, other religions, which are false to all of Christianity. The persons indicated by “the daughters of Jerusalem” and “the daughters of Zion” may suggest members of the apostate Church, in the same class as the Pharisees, Sadducees, and hypocrites, who clamoured for the death of the Messiah, and who taught for “doctrines the commandments of men.” If they had been true shepherds, without doubt they would have directed her in the right paths. She addressed them as shepherds, but they did not help her in the dilemma. Soon after she had left them, she found Him without their help.
There are two different groups of people spoken of in this Song, just as there are two groups all through the Bible; there is the true Church and the apostate Church. The Church of God is being builded by the Lord Jesus, and is made up of all who are born again; such form the Body of Christ. The apostate Church is composed of those who profess to accept Christianity, but who in particular reject the Bible as divine revelation. The parable of the ten virgins illustrates this for us.
The Bride wished to bring her Beloved to her kinsmen; she longed that they would leave the vineyards of the world for better ones. Her heart went out to them; she wished that her Beloved might become their Beloved. Just as the slightest noise will frighten away the roe or the hart, so will a little bitterness, strife, jealousy, frivolity, etc., mar the communings of love.
“Who is this?” was the question asked by the people of Jerusalem when Jesus rode into their city. His own disciples answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” Whether it is asked by saint or sinner, it is always answered in the one person, the Lord Jesus.
There are two senses in which our Lord Jesus came up out of the wilderness, He came up out of the temptation in the wilderness and He came up out of the wilderness of His earthly life. In both of these He travelled in the greatness of His strength.
When we partake of the bread and the wine at the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded that first of all the wheat was cut down, that it was crushed and ground, and that then it passed through the heated oven; all of which is a reminder of the Lord Jesus going through the fires of man’s rejection and of God’s judgment for us. In this respect the remembrance feast is like pillars of smoke as we recall His substitutionary death.
Why the myrrh? Because, the bride and we must ever keep in remembrance the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. How often we have sensed the sweet-smelling myrrh on a person coming up out of the waters of baptism. Because of his identification with Christ in His death, he was morally and spiritually happy. His obedience to the will of God filled his heart with joy.
Was not our Lord Jesus the merchant man who “went and sold all that He had and bought the field, that He might obtain the one pearl of great price? Where did He find that pearl? Was it not in the field of the world? He purchased the field in order to possess the pearl.
The name of Solomon here is prophetic, and suggests our heavenly Bridegroom, our Lord Jesus. The threescore valient men of Israel who protected Solomon cause us to think of the angels and their ministry during the life of our Lord on earth. They were with Him at His birth, at His baptism, at the time of His temptation, in Gethsemane, and in the tomb after He arose from the dead. These valients are also with His Bride; we read, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.”
Any little grievance is more exaggerated at night than in the day. In all our fears we can say with Isaiah, “God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” (Isa. 12:2).
The chariot mentioned in this chapter could not have been a vehicle of travel or of war, for its description proves it to be emblematic. Pillars mean support: our salvation rests upon the strong support, the atonement accomplished by Christ on the cross. Silver abides the hot fire, so the work of redemption is eternal in its efficacy. The seat, like the mercy-seat on the ark of the covenant was of gold, symbolic of Christ’s divine nature.
This meaning in the Song is precious, and draws us closer to Him in a more intimate relationship of love. As we come to Him we find grace to help in times of need.
The Bride will be eventually without spot or wrinkle, which idea corresponds with the colour of blue, it is heavenly. “If ye suffer with Him (the scarlet), we shall also reign with Him” (the purple).
How easy it is to read the text casually, and see only the crowning of a king in his earthly glory! If we understand through the reading of this beautiful Song the hidden truths of the Church of the Firstborn, we will not only say, but obey, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13).