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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Song of Solomon 8

 

 

Verse 1

Song of Solomon 8:1. O that thou wert as my brother — Most intimate, and free, and familiar with me, as brethren and sisters commonly are; that sucked the breasts of my mother — That came out of the same womb and sucked the same breasts, and were brother and sister by father and mother too: for such are generally most dear to one another. The intent of these expressions, and of those in the three following verses, is to signify the church’s earnest desire of a stricter union, and more intimate fellowship with Christ. When I should find thee without, &c. — In the open streets; I would kiss thee, &c. — And thus express my affection to thee openly, without fearing any scandal or contempt; such expressions being usual among persons so nearly and dearly related.


Verse 2-3

Song of Solomon 8:2-3. I would lead and bring thee — With joy and triumph, as the bridegroom was usually brought to the bride’s house; into my mother’s house, who would instruct me — How I should behave myself toward thee: or, as the clause may be rendered, where she did instruct, or educate me. I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, &c. — I would give thee the best entertainment the house affords. My gifts and graces should all be employed to serve and glorify thee. His left hand, &c. — The same expressions are used Song of Solomon 2:6. The sense is, He would not despise me for my forwardness in my affection to him, but would kindly accept of my love, and return it.


Verse 5

Song of Solomon 8:5. Who is this, &c. — These seem to be the words of the daughters of Jerusalem, or of the friends of the bride and bridegroom, admiring and congratulating this happy union: leaning upon her beloved — Which implies both great freedom and familiarity, and fervent affection and dependance upon him. I raised thee up — These are Christ’s words: when thou wast fallen, and laid low, and dead in trespasses and sins, and in the depth of misery, I revived thee: Under the apple-tree — Under my own shadow: for she had compared him to an apple-tree, and declared, that under the shadow of the tree she had both delight and fruit, (Song of Solomon 2:3,) which is the same thing with this raising up. There — Under that tree, either the universal or the primitive church did conceive and bring thee forth.


Verse 6-7

Song of Solomon 8:6-7. Set me as a seal upon thy heart — These are undoubtedly the words of the bride. The sense is, Let thy mind and heart be constantly set upon me. Solomon seems to allude to the engraven tablets which were frequently worn upon the breast, and to the signet on a man’s arm or hand, which they prized at a more than ordinary rate, and which were continually in their sight. For love — My love to thee, whence this desire proceeds, is strong as death — Which conquers every living thing, and cannot be resisted or vanquished. Jealousy — Or, zeal: my ardent love to thee, is cruel as the grave — Hebrew, קשׁה, is hard, grievous, and terrible, and sometimes ready to overwhelm me, and swallow me up; therefore have pity upon me, and do not leave me. The coals thereof are coals of fire. It burns and melts my heart like fire. Many waters cannot quench love — My love to thee cannot be taken off, either by terrors and afflictions, which are commonly signified in Scripture by waters and floods, or by temptations and allurements. Therefore, give me thyself, without whom, and in comparison of whom, I despise all other persons and things.


Verse 8

Song of Solomon 8:8. We have a little sister — These are still the words of the bride. The present church, which was that of the Jews, speaks of another future church, which was to consist of the Gentiles, which she calls little, because she was the younger sister, and then, as a church, scarce had a being. And she calls her her sister, partly because she was such in the foreknowledge and purpose of God, their common Father, though, at present, in a great measure, a stranger to him; and partly to intimate that this Gentile church should be admitted to the participation of the same privileges with that of the Jews. And she hath no breasts — No grown and full breasts, as virgins have when they are ripe for marriage. This signifies the present deplorable state of religion among the Gentiles, and their want of the word and ordinances of God, the means of instruction and consolation, the milk and food of life for themselves and their posterity. They were neither married to the heavenly bridegroom, nor in a state to be married to him. What shall we do for our sister? — Namely, to fit her for this spiritual marriage? How shall we supply this defect? How shall we promote the conversion of the Gentiles, and their union with the promised Messiah? In the day when she shall be spoken for — When proposals of marriage shall be made from the King of heaven, and her consent shall be required?


Verse 9

Song of Solomon 8:9. If she be a wall, &c. — This and the following verse are certainly very obscure, and it is, perhaps, impossible to ascertain the precise signification of each of the terms or clauses used in them. The general meaning, however, of this verse is thought to be, that Christ engages himself to provide for her, in a way which should best suit with her condition. If the Gentiles, when they are converted, shall be like a wall, strong and firm in faith; we — my Father and I, as the principal builders, and my ministers, as workers with and under us, will build upon her a palace of silver — Will add more strength and beauty to her, will enlarge and adorn her; and if she be as a door — Which is weaker than a wall; if she be weak in faith, yet we will not therefore reject her, but we will enclose, or (as many others render the word) strengthen, or fortify her with boards of cedar — Which are not only beautiful, but also strong and durable. In other words, “We will take care of her, in proportion as she is capable of receiving or profiting by our bounty, like as men are wont to build on good foundations.” The eastern people delight thus to express themselves by parables, or comparisons. The bride’s answer in the next verse is thought to show that the bridegroom alludes to the sister’s degree of growth.


Verse 10

Song of Solomon 8:10. I am a wall, &c. — “The ancient church,” says Mr. Scott, “seems here thankfully to reflect on her privileges; she was, before the coming of the Messiah, as a wall built on the precious foundation, a part of the glorious temple that was to be erected; and the lively oracles and ordinances which she enjoyed were her security, as well as the sustenance and comfort of her children: and she was thus distinguished, because then (even when this difference originated,) she was in his eyes as one that found favour, and peace with him.” Bishop Patrick, however, considers these as the words of the little sister, in answer to those of Christ, “I am such a wall. I am no longer of a low and despicable stature, nor unfit for his love: but from this time forth I shall be acceptable unto him, and find such favour with him, as to enjoy all the happiness which he imparts to those that are most dear unto him.”


Verse 11

Song of Solomon 8:11. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon — A place, according to Aben-ezra, not far from Jerusalem, where many persons had vineyards. He let out the vineyard unto keepers — To farmers or tenants: to how many is not said; but the text supposes to several. Every one for the fruit was to bring a thousand of silver — That is, shekels, supposed to be in value about two shillings and four pence halfpenny each: as much as to say, it brought him a vast revenue yearly. The words imply the great extent of the vineyard, which required so many keepers, and its singular fertility, which afforded so great a rent. Thus Christ, typified by Solomon, had a church in a very fruitful place, (Isaiah 5:1,) under the means of grace. He appointed ministers to watch over, defend, and cultivate it; to dispense the word and administer the ordinances of God for the edification of its members. And each minister was to endeavour to the utmost of his power to promote the fruits of righteousness in every individual, to the honour and glory of the great proprietor of the whole. See notes on Isaiah 5:1-7; and Matthew 21:33; Matthew 21:43.


Verse 12

Song of Solomon 8:12. My vineyard, which is mine — My soul, may every true member of the church say, my heart and life, my time and talents; or, my privileges and advantages, may the church in general say, which are committed to my trust, and for which I must be accountable; are before me — Under my continual care. Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand — Thou, O Christ, must have the honour and glory: thou must receive returns of gratitude, love, and duty for the blessings thou hast bestowed; thou must be served with the produce of the vineyard, and of every plant therein. And those that keep the fruit thereof, two hundred — Those ministers that take pains with thy people to make them fruitful, must have that reward and encouragement that is due to them, 1 Corinthians 9:7. They that give Christ his due, will also give ministers theirs; yet without encroaching on Christ’s. It may be observed here, that the Hebrew of this verse will admit of a different translation, thus; My vineyard, which before brought me a thousand pieces, is now thine, O Solomon, and there are two hundred pieces for those who look after the fruit thereof. They who adopt this translation suppose that the occasion of writing this book was taken from Solomon’s marriage of a beautiful person called Shulamith, (Song of Solomon 6:13,) and generally supposed to be Pharaoh’s daughter: and that in her single state she possessed a vineyard, which upon her marriage became Solomon’s; because, though among the Jews it was usual for the husband to endow his spouse with a sum of money at their marriage, yet the bride also often brought a portion to her husband, as appears from Tobit 10:10. Now, supposing it to be a fact, that Solomon’s marriage gave occasion to this book, and that what has now been stated is the literal meaning of this verse; in the application of it to Christ and his church, we must say, as Solomon’s spouse gave her vineyard, or her whole property, to him on her marriage, so the church, the spouse of Christ, upon her marriage to him, gives him, not only herself, but her all, and retains a propriety or exclusive right in nothing. She lays herself and her all at his feet. With her heavenly husband’s permission, however, she takes care to provide for those who are employed in cultivating and keeping the vineyard. For while Solomon has the vineyard, two hundred pieces, arising from the produce of it, are reserved for those who look after the fruit thereof. For the labourer, said Jesus, is worthy of his hire: and he that is taught in the word must communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.


Verse 13

Song of Solomon 8:13. Thou that dwellest — The word היושׁבת thus rendered, is in the feminine gender, which plainly shows that Christ speaks here to his spouse, being about to depart from her for a season, as the next verse shows; in the gardens — Not in the wilderness of the world, for believers are called out of the world, (John 15:19,) but in the church, the garden of God, which God hath fenced and appropriated to himself. He saith, gardens, because of the many particular congregations into which the church is divided. The companions — The friends of the bride and bridegroom; hearken to thy voice — Diligently observe all thy words, and thy whole conduct toward me, and all the transactions between thee and me. Cause me to hear thy voice — When I am gone from thee, let me hear thy prayers and praises, and the preaching of my gospel in the world.


Verse 14

Song of Solomon 8:14. Make haste, my beloved — Seeing we must part for a time, make haste, O my beloved bridegroom, and speedily finish the work which thou hast to do in the world, that so thou mayest take me to thyself, that I may live in thine everlasting embraces.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/song-of-solomon-8.html. 1857.

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