The Song of Solomon
I Am His and He is Mine
In many respects, this is the most precious and most refreshing of the Books of Inspiration. This is altogether a book about fellowship and communion with Christ. It is not in any sense to be interpreted literally. It is an allegory, a spiritual dialogue between Christ, our heavenly Bridegroom, and the church, his Bride.
John Gill wrote, “The whole Song is figurative and allegorical; expressing, in a variety of lively metaphors, the love, union, and communion between Christ and his church; setting forth the several different frames, cases, and circumstances of believers in this life. There is no case, no circumstance, no spiritual condition which we may be in, regarding our relationship to Christ, which is not expressed in this sacred Song of Love”
C. H. Spurgeon said, “This Book stands like the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and no man shall ever be able to pluck its fruit, and eat thereof, until first he has been brought by Christ past the sword of the cherubim, and led to rejoice in the love which hath delivered him from death. The Song of Solomon is only to be comprehended by men whose standing is within the veil. The outer court worshippers, and even those who only enter the court of the priests, think the Book a very strange one; but they who come very near Christ can often see in this Song of Solomon the only expression which their love to their Lord desires.”
The Song of Solomon is set in the Scriptures in direct contrast to Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes shows us the emptiness of life without Christ. The Song of Solomon shows us the fulness of life in Christ. Ecclesiastes expounds the first part of our Lord’s statement to the Samaritan woman—“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” The Song of Solomon expounds the second part of his statement to her—“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.”
This is a Book full of Christ. Here he is presented not only as our God, our Redeemer, our Savior, and our King, but in the most intimate character and personal relationship imaginable—our Bridegroom, our Beloved! Here we see the Son of God in marriage union with his elect.
This sweet, precious, intimate song of love begins with the church, Christ’s chosen, beloved bride speaking to him, expressing her desire for intimacy with him (1:2-4, 7).
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee…"Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?"
Husband and Wife
The highest, strongest affection known to humanity is the love of a husband and wife. Our Savior spoke of this devotion when he said, ''For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh'' (Matt. 19:5). When we understand the teaching of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:22-32—that the union of a husband and wife is an earthly illustration of the heavenly relationship between Christ and his church—the Song of Solomon takes on a new meaning. We see that the love of Christ for his church and the church for him is portrayed through the love of a man for his wife and of the wife for her husband. The Song of Solomon is intimate, even passionate, because it is all about the love life of Christ and his church for each other.
The love of a man for his wife is set before us throughout the Scriptures as a type and picture of Christ’s love for his church (Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Boaz and Ruth, Hosea and Gomer). Paul said to the Corinthian saints, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as chaste virgin to Christ.”
The Lord Jesus Christ loves his people, everlastingly, immutably, and unconditionally. And all who are born of God, all who know his Son, love him. To know him is to love him. We do not love him like we should. We do not love him as we would. And we do not love him as we shall. But we do love him (1 Cor. 16:22; 1 John 4:19).
Christ loves us perfectly; and we want to love him perfectly. His love for us is without variation; but our love for him is not. Our love for him (Let us blush with shame to acknowledge it; but acknowledge it we must.) varies greatly. We have been forgiven much and we love much; but our love is sometimes (Must honesty force us to say, “often”?) grows cold. The Song of Solomon shows us in pictures, with which every believer becomes familiar by personal experience, of how our Beloved keeps us in his love.
The Song of Solomon does not mention the word redemption or portray it in any way. Yet, redemption is clearly at the very heart of the relationship portrayed in this love song. In the fifth verse of the first chapter, the bride confesses both what she is by nature and what she is in Christ. —"I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon."
She says, “I am as black as the goat hair tents of Kedar.” Blackness within and blackness without, in heart and in deed, is our nature. But in Christ every believer is as comely (as beautiful and magnificent) as the curtains of Solomon’s temple. This beauty is not natural to us and was not in any way achieved by us. It is the beauty of redemption and grace. Our righteousnesses are but filthy rags; but Christ has clothed us with the robe of his righteousness (Ezek. 16:6-14).
“O my dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock” (2:14), the Beloved says to his bride. Hidden in the cleft Rock of Ages, “crucified with Christ.” Being crucified with Christ, we are dead to the law that would condemn us, and the world that would allure us away from him.
“Behold, thou art fair, my love. Behold, thou art fair” (4:1) is our Savior’s constantly reiterated assurance to us. He tells us again and again, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” (4:7). He does not simply say, “Soon you shall be fair and one day there shall be no spot in you.” He says, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” “For Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25, 27).
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight" (Col. 1:21-22). This is talking about what Christ has done. It refers to the present state of God’s saints in this world. In Christ we are both justified and sanctified, clothed with his spotless righteousness, in which we are perfectly comely, all fair, and without spot.
Throughout this song, Christ is spoken of as “my Beloved.” His majesty, beauty, excellence, and supremacy are described in a variety of ways. “He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys” (2:1-2). The Rose of Sharon is a beautiful, fragrant, white rose. The Lily of the Valleys is a wild flower of the buttercup family, with showy flowers of brightest crimson color. The white rose of Sharon suggests our Lord’s spotless, sinless character. The crimson lily of the valleys suggests his blood shed for us.
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste” (2:3). The apple tree, as it is set before us in Scripture, seems to be an emblem of Christ, the Tree of Life. It (He) provides us with shade from the heat of the sun (2:3), sweet fruit (2:3), and delightful fragrance (7:8). In response to the question, “What is thy beloved more than another beloved?” the bride answers…
"My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem" (5:9-16).
Compare this with John’s vision of Christ in Revelation 1:9-18.
As we read the Song of Solomon, though there are acknowledged struggles, we see the bride’s love deepening with experience. So it is with us. Through our experience of grace, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, our love for him deepens. The more we enjoy sweet communion with Christ, the more we grow in love and devotion to him.
Twice in these chapters, that communion is interrupted for a season. But the interruptions only make us know our need of him more fully, and graciously compel us to seek him ardently. These seasons when our Savior hides his face are either the result of our own declensions or times of trial, by which our Beloved wisely and graciously makes himself the more precious to us.
What we want is for Christ himself to embrace us and make his love for us known to us (1:2-3). We are fully aware that we will never seek him, except he draws us. We will never embrace him, except he embraces us (1:4). That is how it was in our first experience of grace, when the Son of God first wed our hearts to him; and that is the way it is now. Everything depends upon him (2:4-6).
The place where communion is found is in the assembly of his saints, that place where our Savior feeds his flocks, and causes them to rest (1:7). As we seek him, in his house, by the guidance of his watchmen (faithful gospel preachers), we find him, find him for ourselves and bring him into our mother’s house (the assembly of the saints) with us (3:1-4).
Chapter 5 (vv. 1-8) describes a scene all to familiar. The lessons of that chapter are too important to merely mention. Pause briefly to consider them. The Lord Jesus speaks in verse 1. —"I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” Then the Bride responds…
“I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love."
There is within each of us a terrible tendency to become neglectful, indifferent, and lukewarm towards the Lord Jesus Christ. This common, sinful tendency of our nature must be marked, acknowledged, and avoided.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love:
Here’s my heart, Oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Here is a very common sin. —“I sleep.” The wise virgins often sleep with the foolish. Far too often this is the bad effect great privileges have upon our sinful hearts. When we indulge ourselves in carnal ease and security, our hearts become cold, neglectful, drowsy, and indifferent. Prayer becomes a burden. Devotion languishes. Worship sinks to nothing more than bodily exercise. Zeal dies.
Here is a hopeful sign. —“But my heart waketh.” It is a hopeful sign that there is grace in the heart when the heart struggles against that horrid, sinful sluggishness to which we are so prone. Ours is not the sleep of death. There is life within, struggling, struggling hard against sin (Rom. 7:14-22).
Here is a very loving and tender call. —“It is the voice of my Beloved.” All is not gone. Though my heart sleeps so foolishly, yet Christ is my Beloved. Though my love is so fickle, so shameful, and so unworthy of him, I do love him. And what is more, I still hear his voice and know his voice.
The Lord Jesus Christ tenderly knocks to awaken us to come and open to Him (Rev. 3:20). By his Word, by his providence, and by his Spirit, the Son of God knocks at the heart’s door of his beloved, because he will not be spurned by the object of his love. He will not leave his own; neither will he let his own leave him. He has betrothed us unto himself forever (Hos. 2:19).
He not only knocks for entrance. Our beloved Redeemer graciously calls us, wooing us to himself by his grace. Whose voice is it? “It is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh.” Who is he calling? “My Sister!” “My Love!” My Dove!” “My Undefiled!” What does he call for? “Open to me.” Why is he calling? “My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night”, the night of his agony in Gethsemane, in the judgment hall, when he was crowned with thorns, piercing his brow.
Here is a most ungrateful excuse. —"I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" (v. 3). Because of her carnal ease, she refused the Lord’s gracious invitation to communion. She did not want to trouble herself, and she did not want to be troubled, not even by him! Her heart was so cold that she preferred her ease to the fellowship of Christ. Let us be honest. We are often so wrapped up in worldly care and carnal ease that we become almost, if not altogether, indifferent to our Lord Jesus Christ!
But our Lord is gracious still. Our Redeemer’s love cannot be quenched. He is longsuffering, patient, and gracious to his people, even in our most sinful rejection and denial of him. Here is a picture of our Savior’s persevering, effectual grace. —"My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him" (v. 4). It is written, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth" (Ps. 110:3). How our hearts rejoice to know that Christ will not leave his people to themselves. As the hymn writer put it, “He will never, never leave us, nor will let us quite leave Him!” His grace is effectual. His grace is persevering. His grace is irresistible. His grace is preserving. Yes, his grace is indestructible! He knocks; but we are so cold, so indifferent, so hard that we would never open to Him.
Here is a sad picture of the loving chastisement our neglect and indifference brings upon us. —"I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me" (vv. 5-7; Isa. 54:9-10). Thank God for faithful watchmen who will not allow us to hide behind any veil, excusing our indifference and sin, but faithfully expose us to ourselves and point us to Christ for mercy and grace!
Here is one last hope. —"I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love" (v. 8). She could not find Christ for herself, so she employed the help and assistance of the Lord’s people. Cherish the precious fellowship of Christ. Let nothing rob you of your rich privilege. Do nothing to drive him away (Eph. 4:30). But when you have grieved the Spirit of God, when the Lord Jesus hides his face from you, do not despair. It is not because he has ceased to cherish you (1 John 2:1-2), but because he cherishes you so much that he is determined to make you pine for him. Are you sick of love? Does your soul long for fresh tokens of Christ’s love to you? When your soul languishes, child of God, when sin robs you of Christ’s manifest presence and sweet communion, as soon as he calls, open to him. “Today, if ye will hear his voice harden not your heart.” Go back to the cross. Confess your sinful negligence. Go on seeking him. Trust Him still (2 Sam. 23:5; Lam. 3:18-33). We will find our Beloved right where we left him, in his garden (his church, gathering his lilies) (6:2).
Return, O Son of God return!
Come knock again upon my door.
Dear Savior, my Beloved, return.
Possess me and depart no more!
Though we are fickle, weak and wavering, our marriage to Christ is firm. “He hateth putting away.” Our communion is sometimes broken; but our union is indestructible. Why? The union is all his doing, not ours. It depends altogether upon him, not at all upon us. We can, therefore, say with confidence, “I am his and he is mine.”
“My Beloved is mine, and I am his” (2:16). Here the Bride speaks of her possession in Christ and his possession of her. He is mine because he has given himself for me and to me. I am his because I have been bought with his blood and called by his grace, and because I have given myself to him. “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine” (6:3). Here the thought of his ownership of her seems to hold the chief place. “Ye are not your own. Ye are bought with a price.” “I am my Beloved, and his desire is toward me” (7:10). Here his ownership of and devotion to her swallows up every other thought. I am his, but more—“His desire is toward me!”
The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 1 that Christ is the inheritance of his church; and we are the inheritance of Christ. “In (Christ) we have obtained an inheritance” (v. 11); and we are “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (v. 18).
“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a well shut up, a fountain sealed” (4:12). Here our Lord gives us an idea of his inheritance in the saints. It is a quiet spot where he delights to dwell, enclosed for his use, full of all manner of precious fruits and flowers.
Our prayer must ever be that God the Holy Spirit, the Wind of heaven, will blow upon his garden and that the Lord Jesus will come into his garden, as we gather to worship him. —"Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits" (4:16).—"I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved" (5:1).
The church is his garden, but he shares the fruits of his garden with his chosen friends. “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” Christ promised both to bless Abraham’s seed and to make his seed a blessing.
The sealed fountain in the midst of the garden is first for the Master’s use, for he says, “Give me to drink;” but it flows out to others. “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon” (4:15). —“Whoso drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” The soul’s thirst quenched at the Fountain. —“The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.” Here is an unfailing supply in the soul of every believer. —But there is more. “He that believeth on me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water,” “streams from Lebanon,” flowing through the believer to thirsty souls.
As the Song of Songs, this blessed song of love, closes we have several instructive words. Here is a picture of the believer’s life of faith in this world—"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee" (v. 5). Here is a description of Christ’s love for us. —“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned” (vv. 6-7). Here is our Savior calling for us to constantly call upon him—“Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it” (v. 13; Heb. 4:16). Here is the longing of our souls. —“Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices” (v. 14; Rev. 22:20).