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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Song of Solomon 6

 

 

Verse 1

Song of Solomon 6:1. Whither is thy beloved gone This is the address of the virgins to the spouse; and, in the Vulgate, LXX, &c. is included in the former chapter.


Verse 4

Song of Solomon 6:4. Thou art beautiful—as Tirzah Tirzah was a beautiful situation in the tribe of Ephraim chosen by Jeroboam for his place of residence till he removed to Samaria. Its etymology in the Hebrew signifies a delightful city. Comely or graceful as Jerusalem, alludes to the known estimation in which Jerusalem stood. The Psalmist and Jeremiah call it, the perfection of beauty. Psalms 50:2. Lamentations 2:15. Terrible as an army with banners, might be rendered, dazzling as bannered hosts. This passage is finely illustrated by a modern poet:

Awfully gay, as glitt'ring hosts appear, Majestically sweet, and amiably severe.

See the New Translation.


Verse 5

Song of Solomon 6:5. Thy hair is a flock of goats See on chap. Song of Solomon 4:1 and the Explication des Textes Difficiles, p. 323.


Verse 9

Song of Solomon 6:9. My dove, my undefiled, &c.— The author of the new version renders it thus, But, my dove, my undefiled is but one, (that is to say, stands alone in my affections;) she is dear to me as an only child to her mother; as her darling to her that bare her. The maidens saw her, and blessed her, &c. and thus they praised her:10. Who is she, &c.?


Verse 10

Song of Solomon 6:10. Who is she that looketh forth Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, dazzling as all the starry hosts? The gradation of images so naturally leads to the interpretation here given, that it seems impossible that the passage could have had any other meaning. A little attention to the original will abundantly shew the propriety of the meaning here assigned. See the New Translation, and Robertson's Thesaurus, p. 860, &c.—Here ends the firth day's eclogue; wherein the church, having a taste of Christ's love, is sick of love, and gives a description of him by his graces. She professes her faith in him; and he in return sets forth the graces of the church in terms nearly similar to those made use of in the fourth chapter. It is generally thought by spiritual interpreters, that the description given, chap. Song of Solomon 5:2-7, refers to that spiritual dulness which sometimes creeps upon too many believers. "Let us hence learn, (says Theodoret on this passage) what mischiefs arise from spiritual sloth and laziness, and in what troubles and pains they engage us; for the spouse here excusing herself, and not being willing presently to rise to the bridegroom, is compelled a little while after, not only to rise, and run down to the door, but to run through the city, and wander about the streets, falling among the watchmen, and being evil-intreated by them, and after all could scarcely find her beloved; to whom if she had hearkened immediately, and obeyed his heavenly call, she had avoided all these inconveniences." See Bishop Patrick, Bishop Hall, Calmet, Gill, and the Reflections. It shall now suffice to say here with the spouse, that he is altogether lovely; amiable in every perfection, and sufficient to attract the love of all mankind. I would just add, that in the description which the Bridegroom gives of the beauty of the church, the ninth verse is generally supposed to be expressive of the unity of the church. See, in particular, St. Cyprian, book 4: sect. 8, 12 and book 5: sect. 1.


Verse 11

Song of Solomon 6:11. I went down into the garden of nuts The nut-tree is a plant which delights in a cold climate, and therefore must have been valued as a rare and curious exotic in Palestine. Josephus speaks of it as an uncommon proof of the fine temperature of the air, that this shrub flourished in Galilee near the lake of Gennesareth, together with plants of a warmer region. The vine flourished, would be rendered more exactly, the vine budded forth; and so in Song of Solomon 6:12 of the next chapter. See the New Translation, and Addison's Present State of the Jews.


Verse 12

Song of Solomon 6:12. Or ever I was aware, &c.— I knew [them] not: my heart set me upon the chariots of my willing people. Carpzov. Crit. Sacr. p. 904. See Aquila, and Symmachus. According to the common rendering, chariots of Ammi-nadib, is supposed to be a proverbial expression for chariots of an extraordinary swiftness. The author of the New Translation renders the verse thus; I knew not the irresolution of my mind, which made me withdraw swift as the chariots of Ammi-nadib.


Verse 13

Song of Solomon 6:13. Return, return, O Shulamite שׁולמית Shulamith. SHULAMITE is evidently formed from שׁלמה shelomah, SOLOMON as Charlotte from Charles, &c. and is equivalent to wife or bride of Solomon. This appellation is the more remarkable, as it was inconsistent with the Jewish customs to give the name of the husband to his wife. I have no doubt but there was a mystic meaning in the imposition of this name; which might be, that as the Shulamite is held by some to have been a foreigner, and the favourite spouse of Solomon, the king, in marrying her, typified the true Prince of Peace, the Messiah, who was to espouse a church taken from the Gentiles, though strangers and foreigners with respect to the Jews. We may just observe, that the former part of this verse is assigned to the bridegroom's companions: then the virgins are supposed to ask, What would, or, will you see in the Shulamite? or, what do you look for in the Shulamite? when the bridemen answer, As it were the conflict, or perhaps more exactly, the rushing together of two armies; not in the way of battle, for that will not agree with the original word מחלת mecholath, but in the way of a friendly or triumphant meeting; and may imply the exultation of the two choruses of men and women on this occasion.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Struck with the description of the excellence of Jesus, which the spouse his church had given, the daughters of Jerusalem no longer wonder that she should so highly value him; their own hearts caught the sacred flame; and since here no rivalship awakens jealousy, they are resolved, with her, to seek him. Her discourse shewed the intimacy of her acquaintance with him, therefore they in their turn are solicitous to learn of her where he may be found. We have,

1. The question, Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside, that we may seek him with thee? Holy zeal is a spreading flame; they who delight to proclaim the glories of Christ, will find others charmed with his beauty, and ready to join in seeking him, in prayer, in his word, and in his other ordinances, and he will be found of all that call upon him faithfully.

2. The answer is given, My beloved is gone down into his gardens. The spouse had toiled in vain to seek him in the streets; in the noise and hurry of the world he is not to be found; she now remembers that he had gone down to his garden, his church, to the beds of spices, the several congregations of his saints, or the souls of his believing people filled with divine graces, where, well-pleased, he takes up his abode: To feed in the gardens, either his flocks in the green pastures of his ordinances, or himself with the pleasant fruits of holiness, which he with delight beholds growing up before him; and to gather lilies; to place his saints now in the bosom of his love, or at death to gather them into his everlasting arms.

3. She professes her confidence of an assured interest in him. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine; she entertains not a doubt of his regard, and is conscious of the simplicity of her own heart before him. He feedeth among the lilies; there in the midst of his people she expected with delight to find him; nor was she disappointed of her hope. Note; (1.) That soul is truly happy which in faith and love can say, My beloved is mine, and I am his. (2.) When we can rest assured of our own unfeigned attachment of heart to Christ, we may safely conclude our sure interest in his regard.

2nd, The gracious Lord no longer hides his face, not delays to satisfy the desires of his believing people. He comes; grace is in his lips, and tenderness in his heart.

1. He admires her beauty: Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, which was most pleasantly situated on a rising hill; comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners, to all her enemies, who must finally bow before her feet.

2. He expresses the delight that he took in her: Turn away thine eyes from me; he can no longer bear the earnestness, anguish, love, and tenderness, which speak in her looks. Or, Turn thine eyes over against me; the eyes of faith and affection; hang not down thy head with shame, but raise these downcast looks: all the past is forgiven and forgotten, return then unto thy rest again; for they have overcome me, brought me back again: or, they have strengthened me; it refreshed his heart to behold her penitent return: or, lifted me up with joy, so delighted was he with her love.

3. He gives the same description of her beauty which he had done before, chap. Song of Solomon 4:1-3. Though by her unfaithfulness it was sullied, and she might be fearful that Christ's love towards her would not return with equal ardour, he assures her of the recovery of his warm affection, and that she is again beautiful in his eye. Blessed be our dear Lord, he hateth putting away; and, though corruptions have prevailed to our defilement, yet the fountain of his blood is still open; and if we come to wash there, our souls shall then appear as the moon, fair as ever, when the cloud is passed away.

4. Her excellence is above all compare. By the queens, concubines, and virgins, some understand the world in general, from the highest in rank and station to the lowest; others, the false churches and deluded people; but rather it may mean believers in general, the most advanced in spiritual attainments, or the converts of lesser experience, who are afterwards said to praise her. Whatever amiable qualities may be in any individuals, the church in the aggregate possesses them all. My dove, my undefiled, is but one; dear to him above all others; one body, of which he is the living head. She is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her; more tenderly beloved than an only darling child. The daughters saw her and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. Either this signifies the high honour the church will receive in the latter day, see Isaiah 60:3-11 or the delight in her expressed by all the faithful, and their prayers for her prosperity.

5. They who praised her, burst forth into admiration at her beauty. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning? The image is taken from the light, and may be applied to the church, whose day began to dawn in the patriarchal age: fair as the moon, as increasing discoveries of the divine Messiah were reflected from the prophetic word: clear as the sun, when in the dispensation of the Gospel spiritual light and knowledge were in their full blaze diffused: terrible as an army with banners, going on conquering and to conquer, till all the powers of darkness shall be at last finally and eternally subdued. And this may be applied in particular to every faithful soul, to whom the light of truth at first, like the grey morning, is indistinct: as they advance in grace they shine with borrowed but increasing splendour derived from Christ; till at last they appear bright as the sun in the firmament of glory, and all their enemies, which in their militant state opposed them, shall for ever become their footstool.

3rdly, The reconciliation being now complete, Christ gives his church an account whither he went, and how he was affected during his absence from her.

1. I went down into the garden of nuts: though his sensible and comforting presence was withheld, he was among the trees, to see the fruits of the valley, what graces of repentance would be exercised by his church; and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded; either the first movings of his Spirit quickening the hearts of new converts, or the risings of gracious repentance for the unfaithfulness which had caused him to hide his face, which he with delight observed.

2. He declares how strongly he felt his heart drawn forth towards her: Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib. He could refrain no longer; swift he flew to dry the tears of her penitence, and, with the sense of his presence and love, to comfort her disconsolate heart. Or, My soul made me as chariots to my willing people: since they began to seek him in prayer and faith, his heart is open for their reception, and he takes them up into his chariot of love. Some make these the words of the spouse, pleasingly surprised to find her Lord come down to visit her, and flying to meet him with rapid eagerness.

3. He invites her with affectionate importunity to return to him, and be happy. Return, return, O Shulamite: Christ, the greater than Solomon, communicates his name to his spouse the church; she is the Shulamite. Ubi tu Caius, ibi ego Caia. And lest, discouraged by her past conduct, she should be ashamed or afraid to meet him, he assures her of the kindest reception. Guilt makes the soul fearful, and bitter are the disquietudes which the awakened backslider experiences; but let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Return, return, that we may look upon thee; Christ now taking pleasure in her, and all the saints and angels admiring her beauty, when presented without blame before him in love.

4. A short account is given of the Shulamite. What will ye see in the Shulamite? which, considered as her own words, bespeaks her modesty and humility. Christ desired to look upon her, and she is not conscious of aught in herself worthy the least regard from him: as it were the company of two armies; a scene of warfare between her and her enemies without, or between grace and corruption within. Or this is the description that Christ gives of her: she is beautiful as two companies that go forth with music and dancing to convey the bride to her husband's house; or, as divided into two bands, the church militant on earth, and triumphant in heaven, and both glorious in holiness.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 6:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/song-of-solomon-6.html. 1801-1803.

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