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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Song of Solomon 3



Verses 1-5

The Young Maiden Dreams That She Has Lost Her Beloved (Song of Solomon 3:1-5).


Song of Solomon 3:1-4

‘By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loves, I sought him, but I did not find him. I will rise now, and go about the city, In the streets and in the broad ways, I will seek him whom my soul loves, I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me, “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?” It was but a little that I passed from them, When I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go, Until I had brought him into my mother’s house, And into the inner room of her who conceived me.”

But there is always a consequence to such a refusal. Having turned him away, she discovered that when nighttime came, she had a nightmare. She dreamed that she sought her beloved and did not find him. And as a result she panicked and determined that she would seek him, and not stop until she had found him. So in her dream she left her comfortable country home, and went into what was to her the strangeness and foreignness of the city, and there in its streets and its broad ways she sought him whom her soul loved. But search as she would she still did not find him.

Eventually she was discovered wandering around the streets by the watchmen on their rounds, and she pleaded with them, ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves’. Surely everyone must know him? And it was not long after she left them that she found him whom her soul loves, presumably with the assistance of the watchmen. Then she clung to him desperately and would not let him go, and she refused to release him until she had taken him to the only place where she felt they could be safe and alone together, to her mother’s house and the place of her birth. He must be hers for ever. This dream, contains all the intensity and absurdity of a nightmare, while revealing the real desire of her heart.

It was ever God’s desire that Israel might one day realize her folly in turning Him away, and nothing would have delighted Him more than to be sought out by them in this way by those with a genuine desire to please Him. But that too was only a dream. Outwardly there sometimes appeared to be a passionate concern for Him, but it did not become an inward reality. And as the centuries that were coming, and especially the coming and rejection of Jesus, would reveal it did not come from a genuine and moral heart. And so they are left wandering the streets of the city through the centuries, ever searching and never coming to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7), for if they are ever to find Him it can only be through responding to the King Whom they have rejected.

But it is not only Israel who have been ready to turn the Lord away, and leave Him waiting. Many others, even Christians, do the same, even some who were once fervent. However, if they are really His elect He will not leave them in that unhappy position. They too will have a ‘nightmare’. At some stage God will awaken them to what they are doing. So they too need to learn from this dream of the need for them to come to Him or to return to their first love (Revelation 2:4) and seek for Him and find Him, so that they can take Him home to live with them. Indeed, for those who will receive Him He is ever near. As He said to the church at Laodicea, ‘Behold I am standing at the door and knocking, if anyone hear My voice and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with Me’ (Revelation 3:20). There is no excuse for our not having Him with us. It is up to us then to open the door into our homes and lives, and let Him enter so that we can have continual fellowship with Him, eating and drinking with Him. And how grateful we should be that He has provided us with ‘watchmen’ to help us in our search, first the prophets, then the Apostles, and then faithful preachers. Thank God for the watchmen. And once we have found Him again we must make sure that like the young maiden we hold on to Him and refuse to let Him go until we are sure that He is once more living with us permanently.

Verse 5

“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the roe-deer, or by the hinds of the field, That you stir not up, nor awake my love, Until he please.”

Possibly still in her dream she now once again (compare Song of Solomon 2:7) calls on the young women of Jerusalem, in the name of those symbols of love, the roe-deer and the hinds, not to stir up or awaken her love, until he please. She is realizing how intense love is. She is now aware that it is a dangerous thing to love. It must not be entered into lightly. And she does not want to approach him and find that she is not welcome, nor to be caught up in something that she cannot cope with. She knows now what the demands of love will be, and she is ready to wait until his love comes to demand her.

Verse 6


The Loving Couple Are Married And The Marriage Is Consummated (Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1).

The young maiden need not have worried. Her beloved had not forgotten her. And soon the arrangements went forward for the wedding. In her love she had never really thought about the greatness and splendor of her beloved. But now it was brought home to her in its totality when a splendid litter arrived accompanied by the bridegroom and his friends, and she was taken in great splendor to Jerusalem, where they were met by the daughters of Jerusalem who had come out to greet them. It was the custom at ancient weddings for the bridegroom to collect the bride and take her to the wedding.

The BELOVED carries his bride in splendor to Jerusalem for their wedding.

Verses 6-8

‘Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, Like pillars of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, With all powders of the merchant? Behold, it is the litter of Solomon, Threescore mighty men are about it, Of the mighty men of Israel. They all handle the sword, And are expert in war, Every man has his sword on his thigh, Because of fear in the night.’

It is possible that we are to see this as general question which the singers and hearers are to answer themselves as they sing the song, although it could be the voices of the daughters of Jerusalem. Coming from the wilderness (compare Song of Solomon 8:5) the bride arrives at Jerusalem in splendid procession, borne by ‘the litter of Solomon’ and accompanied by King Solomon in his palanquin. The pillars of smoke represent the myrrh and frankincense being released as a sign of rejoicing. No expense is being spared to make the occasion memorable. The bride too is fully perfumed and prepared, for she is the king’s bride. And the litter is surrounded and guarded by the king’s friends, sixty mighty men of valor, all skilled swordsmen and experts in war, and fully armed against the danger of an attack by night. The sixty emphasizes the splendor of the marriage. It is twice the number of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8-39) and twice the number of friend’s of the bridegroom at Samson’s wedding (Judges 14:11).

The idea that God would establish His people in Zion/Jerusalem if they proved worthy is constant in the prophets. And for a long time it was the hope of Israel. But in the end they proved unworthy and the earthly Jerusalem was rejected (Matthew 23:38), and then the focus turned to the new bride (Matthew 21:43; and onto the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22).

What a change has now taken place for the bride. She is‘perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant.’She is saturated in the righteousness of Christ, and giving off a sweet savor of righteousness, for He has been made to her righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) while she has been made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). She has been endowed with all the beauty of His holiness. And she is carried in His litter, safe from the dangers of the night and guarded closely by the mightiest of the mighty men.

While this may certainly in one sense be seen as a preview of the marriage of the bride and the Lamb which will take place at the consummation (Revelation 19:7-9; Revelation 21:1-2), it also represents the experience of every Christian at the moment when they come to Christ (although some may not recognize it). For in that moment they are made His for ever, and made fit to be His bride (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:25-27). They are ‘perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant.’ They are raised with Christ and made to sit with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), in His litter. They are transported in splendor into the very heart of His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). They travel from thenceforward under the escort of a powerful armed guard (Hebrews 1:14 with 2 Kings 6:17). Those who are of the true Israel are achieving their destiny. The final marriage will be but the icing on the cake, incorporating the whole of the bride whose numbers have by then been made up. But we who are His are to see ourselves as married to Him even now (Romans 7:4), and so as having available to us all the riches of His grace (Ephesians 2:7) so that we might enjoy His blessings to the full (Ephesians 1:3).

Verse 9-10

‘King Solomon made himself a palanquin Of the wood of Lebanon. He made its pillars of silver, The bottom of it of gold, The seat of it of purple, The midst of it being paved with love, From the daughters of Jerusalem.’

Accompanying his bride is the bridegroom-king in his splendor. He is borne in a new palanquin made of the wood of Lebanon, with its pillars of silver and its bottom of gold. Its seat is purple, paved with love from the daughters of Jerusalem. That the pillars are of silver demonstrates that it was early on in Solomon’s reign, for later ‘silver counted for nothing in the days of Solomon’ (1 Kings 10:21). But silver is also the emblem of purity, and gold and purple of majesty and royalty. Yet the most important feature of all is that it is paved with love.

In this we see the majesty of our Lord as He accompanies us on our way, revealed in both glory and love, bearing us onwards towards the heavenly Jerusalem. The idea of Jesus as the bridegroom in this way was implied by John the Baptist (John 3:29) and confirmed by Jesus (Mark 2:19-20; Matthew 22:1-14). The idea is firmly based on Old Testament ideas (Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5).

Verse 11

“Go forth, O you daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon, With the crown with which his mother has crowned him, In the day of his espousals, And in the day of the gladness of his heart.”

The scene is awe-inspiring. The mighty Solomon arrives in great splendor from the wilderness accompanied by his bride in her litter, and the daughters of Jerusalem are summoned to go forth to meet him (compare Matthew 25:1-13), being called on to consider him, crowned with his garland crown which his mother Bathsheba had personally put on him on the day of his wedding, the day which has brought gladness to his heart. (Such wedding touches would be left to the womenfolk and, besides, his father was dead). Note how all the emphasis is on King Solomon and not on the bride. It is the benefits that he is receiving which are being emphasized. For he is the one who is all important.

The application is even more awesome as we have already seen above. For on the day when we are made one with Christ, we become a part of this great festivity. We enter into Christ and are from that day borne upon His litter and surrounded by His mighty men, awaiting the glorious wedding feast of the Lamb. How can our hearts not overflow with gladness at the thought? But we too also cry out that all may look at Him and not at ourselves. He is the One Who is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). And meanwhile in His case His Father crowns Him with the crown of rejoicing and love, a symbol of His joy in us. For that is the even more wonderful thought here, that it has especially brought gladness to His heart because He loves us so. There is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7), how much more then over all of them repenting. For it is the conversion of His whole elect that is in mind here, and their final presentation to Him.

The speech of the BRIDEGROOM at the wedding.


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 3:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

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