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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Song of Solomon 1

 

 

Verse 1

Song of Solomon 1:1. The song of songs — The most excellent of all songs. And so this might well be called, whether we consider the author of it, who was a great prince, and the wisest of all mortal men; or the subject of it, which is not Solomon, but a greater than Solomon, even Christ, and his marriage with the church; or the matter of it, which is most lofty, containing in it the noblest of all the mysteries contained either in the Old or the New Testament; most pious and pathetical, breathing forth the hottest flames of love between Christ and his people, most sweet and comfortable, and useful to all that read it with serious and Christian eyes.


Verse 2

Song of Solomon 1:2. Let him kiss me — The beginning is abrupt; but is suitable to, and usual in, writings of this nature, wherein things are not related in a historical and exquisite order, but that which was first done is brought in, as it were, accidentally, after many other passages; as we see in Homer, and Virgil, and others. These are the words of the spouse, wherein she breathes forth her passionate love to the bridegroom, whom she does not name; because it was needless, as being so well known to the persons to whom she speaks, and being the only person who was continually in her thoughts. By kisses, the usual tokens of love and good-will, she means the communications of his love and favour, his graces and comforts breathed into her from the Spirit of Christ. Thy love — This sudden change of the person is frequent in pathetic discourses. First she speaks of him as absent, but speedily grows into more acquaintance with him, and by ardent desire and faith, embraces him as present. Is better than wine — Than the most delicious meat or drink, or than all sensual delights, one kind being put for all.


Verse 3

Song of Solomon 1:3. Because of the savour of thy good ointments — Because of those excellent gifts and graces of God’s Spirit wherewith thou art replenished; thy name — Thy fame or report, the very mention of thee, and all those things by which thou makest thyself known to men; thy word, particularly thine offers of pardon and salvation to sinners; and all thy works, especially that great work of redemption; is as ointment poured forth — Is most acceptable and refreshing. Therefore do the virgins love thee — Called the companions of the bride, Psalms 45:14; particular believers, who are called virgins, 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 14:4; who have their senses exercised, to perceive this sweetness and fulness of Christ.


Verse 4

Song of Solomon 1:4. Draw me — By thy grace and Holy Spirit. We will — Both I, thy spouse, and the virgins, my companions. And this change of numbers teaches us, that the spouse is one great body, consisting of many members; run after thee — Will follow thee readily, cheerfully, and swiftly. The king hath brought me, &c. — Christ, the king of his church, hath answered my prayer; into his chambers — Where I may freely converse with him, and enjoy him. He hath taken me into intimate communion with himself. We will remember thy love, &c. — This shall be the matter of our thoughts and discourses.


Verse 5

Song of Solomon 1:5. I am black — I confess, as to myself, I am contemptible and deformed. She alludes to the complexion of Pharaoh’s daughter; but comely — Yet I am glorious within, Psalms 45:13; and comely, through the beauty which my husband hath put upon me, by his graces conferred upon me, in justification and sanctification. O ye daughters — By which she understands particular believers, whose mother Jerusalem is called, Galatians 4:26. As the tents of Kedar — Of the wild Arabians, the posterity of Kedar, (Genesis 25:13,) who dwelt in tents, which were black and uncomely. As the curtains of Solomon — As the hangings wherewith Solomon’s house was furnished, which none can doubt were most beautiful and glorious. So these two last clauses answer to the two first, and that in the same order in which they lie.


Verse 6

Song of Solomon 1:6. Look not upon me — With wonder and disdain; because the sun hath looked upon me — My blackness is not essential and inseparable, but chiefly caused by the scorching beams of the sun; that is, sore persecutions and tribulations, which, by God’s permission, have befallen me, represented by the sun, Matthew 13:6-21. My mother’s children were angry with me — False brethren, who pretend that the church is their mother, when their actions demonstrate, that God, the husband of the church, is not their father; hypocritical professors, who are, and ever were, the keenest enemies to the true church and people of God; false teachers, and their followers, who, by their corrupt doctrines, and divisions, and contentions, bring great mischief to the church. Made me keeper of the vineyards — Having prevailed against me, they used me like a slave, putting me upon the most troublesome services, such as the keeping of the vineyards was esteemed, 2 Kings 25:12; Isaiah 61:5; Matthew 20:17. Mine own vineyard have I not kept — They gave me such a full employment in the drudging work about their vineyards, that they left me no time to mind my own; they hindered me from doing my own duty, and from minding my own concerns. And therefore it is no wonder if I be uncomely, and scorched by the sun.


Verse 7

Song of Solomon 1:7. Tell me, &c. — Notwithstanding all these discouragements and afflictions, which I suffer for thy sake, and for my love to thee. Being reproached and persecuted by others, I flee to thee, O my only refuge and joy, and beg direction and help from thee; where thou feedest thy flock — Discover to me which is thy true church, and which are those assemblies and people where thou art present. This is the request of particular believers. Where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon — In the heat of the day, when the shepherds, in those hot countries, used to lead their flocks into shady places. Whereby he means the time of persecution, when it is hard to discover the true church, because she is deformed by it, and because she is obscured and driven into the wilderness. Why should I be as one that turneth aside? — Or a wanderer, or vagabond; like a neglected and forlorn creature, exposed both to censure and danger. By the flocks of thy companions — The assemblies of corrupt teachers and worshippers. These she calls Christ’s companions, because they profess the name of Christ, and their conjunction with him in God’s worship.


Verse 8

Song of Solomon 1:8. If thou know not — This is Christ’s answer; go thy way, &c. — Observe and follow the paths which my sheep have trodden before thee, my faithful servants, Abraham and others. For the church in all ages is one and the same, and there is but one way, for the substance, in which all the saints, from the beginning to the end of the world walk, Christ being the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Feed thy kids — Take care for the feeding of all, and especially young and weak Christians. Beside the shepherds’ tents — Under the conduct, and according to the instruction of my faithful shepherds, chiefly those who have gone before thee, the prophets and apostles, and in subordination to them, and to their writings, others, whom I shall raise, from time to time, to feed my people.


Verses 9-11

Song of Solomon 1:9-11. I have compared thee — For strength and courage, to overcome all thine enemies; to a company of horses — For horses are famous for that property, and the strength of the battle was then thought to consist much in horses and chariots, especially in a company or multitude of them. And the church in this book is represented not only as fair and beautiful, but also as terrible to her enemies. Thy cheeks, &c., with rows of jewels — Which being fastened to the heads of brides, used to hang down upon their checks in those times. He mentions the cheeks, as the chief seat of beauty. Thy neck with chains of gold — Whereby, as well as by the rows of jewels, he may seem to design all those persons and things wherewith the church is made beautiful in the eyes of God and of men, such as excellent ministers and saints, righteous laws, holy ordinances, and the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit. We — I and my father; will make thee borders of gold — Beautiful and honourable ornaments.


Verse 12

Song of Solomon 1:12. While the king — My royal husband; sitteth at the table — With me in his ordinances. My spikenard — The graces of his Spirit conferred upon me, here compared to those sweet ointments, which the master of the feast caused to be poured out upon the heads of the guests, (Luke 7:38,) in which ointments spikenard was a chief ingredient; sendeth forth the smell thereof — This denotes the exercise and manifestation of her graces, which are a sweet-smelling savour in the nostrils of her husband, and of her companions.


Verse 13-14

Song of Solomon 1:13-14. A bundle of myrrh — Myrrh was ever reckoned among the best perfumes; shall lie, &c. — This phrase may denote the church’s intimate union with, and hearty affection to Christ. My beloved is as a cluster of camphire — We are not concerned to know exactly what this was; it being confessed that it was some grateful plant, and that it set forth that great delight which the church hath in the enjoyment of Christ; in the vineyards of Engedi — A pleasant and well-watered place in the tribe of Judah, where there were many pleasant plants.


Verse 15

Song of Solomon 1:15. Behold, thou art fair — This is the speech of Christ. The words are doubled to manifest his fervent affection for her. Thou hast doves’ eyes — Which are mild and harmless, chaste and faithful. And by the eyes he seems to design both her outward behaviour and the inward disposition of her mind.


Verse 16-17

Song of Solomon 1:16-17. Behold, thou art fair — The church here again speaks, and retorts Christ’s words; thou, and thou only, art fair indeed; yea, pleasant — As thou art beautiful in thyself, so thou art amiable and pleasant in thy condescension to me. Also, our bed — This seems to denote the place where the church enjoys sweet fellowship with Christ, by his Spirit accompanying his ordinances; is green — Is pleasant, as that colour to the eye. The beams of our house are cedar — Not only strong, but also fragrant and delightful; and our rafters of fir — Or, rather, as the ancients and others render ברותים, of cypress; which also was strong and fragrant, and therefore suits well with cedar.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 1:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/song-of-solomon-1.html. 1857.

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