Song of Solomon 1:2
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for your love is better than wine.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Love.—Marg., loves, i.e., caresses or kisses, as the parallelism shows. The LXX., followed by the Vulg., read breasts (probably dadaï instead of dôdaï), the origin of many fanciful interpretations: e.g., the two breasts = the two Testaments which breathe love, the first promising, the second revealing Christ. The reading is condemned by the obvious fact that the words are not spoken to but by a woman, the change of persons, from second to third, not implying a change of reference or speaker, but being an enallage frequent in sacred poetry. (Comp. Deuteronomy 32:15; Isaiah 1:29, &c) Instead of “let him kiss me,” many prefer the reading “let him give me to drink,” which certainly preserves the metaphor (comp. Song of Solomon 7:9), which is exactly that of Ben Jonson’s:—

“Or leave a kiss but in the cup,

And I’ll not ask for wine.”

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. 1:2-6 The church, or rather the believer, speaks here in the character of the spouse of the King, the Messiah. The kisses of his mouth mean those assurances of pardon with which believers are favoured, filling them with peace and joy in believing, and causing them to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost. Gracious souls take most pleasure in loving Christ, and being loved of him. Christ's love is more valuable and desirable than the best this world can give. The name of Christ is not now like ointment sealed up, but like ointment poured forth; which denotes the freeness and fulness of the setting forth of his grace by the gospel. Those whom he has redeemed and sanctified, are here the virgins that love Jesus Christ, and follow him whithersoever he goes, Re 14:4. They entreat him to draw them by the quickening influences of his Spirit. The more clearly we discern Christ's glory, the more sensible shall we be that we are unable to follow him suitably, and at the same time be more desirous of doing it. Observe the speedy answer given to this prayer. Those who wait at Wisdom's gate, shall be led into truth and comfort. And being brought into this chamber, our griefs will vanish. We have no joy but in Christ, and for this we are indebted to him. We will remember to give thanks for thy love; it shall make more lasting impressions upon us than any thing in this world. Nor is any love acceptable to Christ but love in sincerity, Eph 6:24. The daughters of Jerusalem may mean professors not yet established in the faith. The spouse was black as the tents of the wandering Arabs, but comely as the magnificent curtains in the palaces of Solomon. The believer is black, as being defiled and sinful by nature, but comely, as renewed by Divine grace to the holy image of God. He is still deformed with remains of sin, but comely as accepted in Christ. He is often base and contemptible in the esteem of men, but excellent in the sight of God. The blackness was owing to the hard usage that had been suffered. The children of the church, her mother, but not of God, her Father, were angry with her. They had made her suffer hardships, which caused her to neglect the care of her soul. Thus, under the emblem of a poor female, made the chosen partner of a prince, we are led to consider the circumstances in which the love of Christ is accustomed to find its objects. They were wretched slaves of sin, in toil, or in sorrow, weary and heavy laden, but how great the change when the love of Christ is manifested to their souls!the prologue. - The Song commences with two stanzas in praise of the king (now absent) by a chorus of virgins belonging to the royal household. Expositors, Jewish and Christian, interpret the whole as spoken by the Church of the heavenly Bridegroom.

Songs 1:2

Let him kiss me - Christian expositors have regarded this as a prayer of the Church under the old covenant for closer communion with the Godhead through the Incarnation. Thus, Gregory: "Every precept of Christ received by the Church is as one of His kisses."

Thy love - Better as margin, i. e., thy endearments or tokens of affection are more desired than any other delights.

2. him—abruptly. She names him not, as is natural to one whose heart is full of some much desired friend: so Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre (Joh 20:15), as if everyone must know whom she means, the one chief object of her desire (Ps 73:25; Mt 13:44-46; Php 3:7,8).

kiss—the token of peace from the Prince of Peace (Lu 15:20); "our Peace" (Ps 85:10; Col 1:21; Eph 2:14).

of his mouth—marking the tenderest affection. For a king to permit his hands, or even garment, to be kissed, was counted a great honor; but that he should himself kiss another with his mouth is the greatest honor. God had in times past spoken by the mouth of His prophets, who had declared the Church's betrothal; the bride now longs for contact with the mouth of the Bridegroom Himself (Job 23:12; Lu 4:22; Heb 1:1, 2). True of the Church before the first advent, longing for "the hope of Israel," "the desire of all nations"; also the awakened soul longing for the kiss of reconciliation; and further, the kiss that is the token of the marriage contract (Ho 2:19, 20), and of friendship (1Sa 20:41; Joh 14:21; 15:15).

thy love—Hebrew, "loves," namely, tokens of love, loving blandishments.

wine—which makes glad "the heavy heart" of one ready to perish, so that he "remembers his misery no more" (Pr 31:6, 7). So, in a "better" sense, Christ's love (Hab 3:17, 18). He gives the same praise to the bride's love, with the emphatic addition, "How much" (So 4:10). Wine was created by His first miracle (Joh 2:1-11), and was the pledge given of His love at the last supper. The spiritual wine is His blood and His spirit, the "new" and better wine of the kingdom (Mt 26:29), which we can never drink to "excess," as the other (Eph 5:18; compare Ps 23:5; Isa 55:1).

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. The beginning of this book is abrupt, and may seem disorderly; but is very suitable to and usual in writings of this nature, wherein things are not related in an 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 in the Greek and Latin comedians. These are the words of the spouse, as all acknowledge, wherein she breatheth forth her passionate love to the Bridegroom, whom she doth not name, but only intimate by the pronoun relative him, which is here put without and for the antecedent, as Psalm 87:1 114:2 John 20:15; which manner of expression she useth, because it was needless to name him, as being so well known to the person or persons to whom site speaks, and being the only person who was continually in her thoughts and speeches. By kisses, which were the usual tokens of love and good will, she means nothing else but the communications and manifestations of his love and favour to her, as the following clause explains this; his graces and comforts breathed into her from the mouth and Spirit of Christ.

Thy love: this sudden change of the person is frequent, especially in such pathetical discourses. First she speaks of him as absent, and at a distance, but speedily grows into more acquaintance with him, and by ardent desire in faith embraceth him as present.

Than wine; than the most delicious meats or drinks, or than all sensual delights, this one kind being synecdochically put for all the rest, as it is Esther 5:6 Job 1:13 Proverbs 9:2 Ecclesiastes 2:3. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,.... That is, Solomon; Christ, the antitype of Solomon, the church's beloved; or it is a relative without an antecedent, which was only in her own mind, "let him"; him, whom her thoughts were so much employed about; her affections were so strongly after; and whose image was as it were before her, present to her mind: and "the kisses of his mouth", she desires, intend some fresh manifestations and discoveries of his love to her; by some precious word of promise from his mouth, applied to her; and by an open espousal of her, and the consummation of marriage with her. It may be rendered, "with one of the kisses of his mouth" (n); kisses with the ancients were very rare, and used but once when persons were espoused, and as a token of that; and then they were reckoned as husband and wife (o): on which account, it may be, it is here desired; since it was after this we hear of the spouse being brought into the nuptial chamber, and of the keeping of the nuptial feast, Sol 1:4;

for thy love is better than wine; or "loves" (p); which may denote the abundance of it; the many blessings of grace which flow from it; and the various ways in which it is expressed; as well as the high esteem the church had of it. This is said to be "better than wine"; for the antiquity of it, it being from everlasting; and for the purity of it, being free from all dregs of dissimulation and deceit on the part of Christ, and from all merit, motives, and conditions, on the part of the church; for its plenty, being shed plenteously in the hearts of believers, and who may drink abundantly of it; and for its freeness and cheapness, being to be had without money and without price; and it is preferable to wine for the effects of it; which not only revives and cheers heavy hearts, but quickens dead sinners, and comforts distressed saints; and of which they may drink plentifully, without hurt, yea, to great advantage.

(n) "uno tantum, vel altero de osculis oris sui", Michaelis; so Gussetius, p. 446. (o) Salmuth. in Pancirol. Memorab. Rer. par. 1. tit. 46. p. 215. (p) "amores tui", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.

Let {a} him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

(a) This is spoken in the person of the Church, or of the faithful soul inflamed with the desire of Christ, whom she loves.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth] It may be doubted whether this is spoken by the Shulammite of her absent lover, or by one of the ladies of the court, of Solomon, In favour of the former view, there is the likelihood that the heroine would first speak, and the change of pronoun in Song of Solomon 1:3, if there be no change in the persons speaking, is abrupt. But the change of pronoun would not be altogether unnatural in any language if the person spoken of were suddenly seen approaching after the first clause had been uttered. Nor even if he were not present at all would the change be impossible; for in passionate poetry the imagination continually vivifies and gives life to its conceptions by representing the object of affection as present, though actually absent. Perhaps the view that the king is seen approaching and that one of the court ladies speaks is preferable. In that case it would be his kisses that would be referred to.

for thy love is better than wine] i.e. thy caresses are better than wine. The word dôdhîm is properly ‘manifestations of kindness and love,’ but it also means love. Here the former is the better translation.Verse 2-ch. 2:7. - Part I. MUTUAL LOVE. Song of Shulamith in the royal chambers. Chorus of ladies, daughters of Jerusalem. Verse 2. - Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Whether we take these words as put in the lips of the bride herself, or of the chorus as identifying themselves with her, is of little consequence. It is certain that the idea intended to be expressed is that of delight in the approach of the royal bridegroom. The future is used optatively, "Let me be taken up into the closest fellowship and embrace." All attempts to dispense with the amatory phraseology are vain. The "kisses" must be interpreted in a figurative sense, or the sacred character of the whole book must be removed. The words may be rendered, with one of his kisses; i.e. the sweetness of his lips is such that one kiss would be rapture. Some have thought that allusion is intended to the custom among idolaters referred to in Job 31:27, "My mouth hath kissed my hand;" but the meaning is simply that of affection. The great majority of Christian commentators have regarded the words as expressive of desire towards God. Origen said, the Church of the old dispensation longing after higher revelations, as through the Incarnation, "How long shall he send me kisses by Moses and the prophets? I desire the touch of his own lips." It is dangerous to attempt specific applications of a metaphor. The general truth of it is all that need be admitted. If the relation between God and his people is one that can be set forth under the image of human affection, then there is no impropriety in the language of Solomon's Song. "To kiss a kiss" (נָשָׁק נְשִׁקָה) is the ordinary Hebraic form (cf. "to counsel a counsel"). Thy love is better than wine. The plural is used, "loves," as in the word "life" (חַיִים) - the abstract for the concrete, perhaps in order to indicate the manifestation of love in many caresses. The change from the third person to the second is common in poetry. The comparison with wine may be taken either as denoting sweetness or exhilarating effects. The intoxicating power of wine is but rarely referred to in Scripture, as the ordinary wine was distinguished from strong drink. Some, as Hitzig and Bottcher, would read יַשְׁקֵנִי, changing the pointing, and translating, "Let him give me to drink;" but there is no necessity for a reading so forced and vulgar. The Septuagint, altering the vowels of the word "love," turn it into "breasts," and must therefore have supposed it addressed to the bride. The word is connected with the Arabic, and runs through the languages, dodh (cf. Dada, Dido, David). Perhaps the reference to wine, as subsequently to the ointments, may be explained by the fact that the song is supposed to be sung while wine is presented in the chamber, and while the perfumes are poured out in preparation for the entrance of the royal bridegroom. We can scarcely doubt that the opening words are intended to be the utterance of loving desire on the part of the bride in the presence of the daughters of Jerusalem. Some have suggested that vers. 1-8 are from a kind of responsive dialogue, but the view of the older interpreters and of Ewald, Hengstenberg, Weissbach, and others of the moderns, seems more correct, that all the first seven verses are in the mouth of Shulamith, and then ver. 8 comes in naturally as a chorus in reply to the song of the bride. The use of the plural, "We will run after thee," etc., is easily explicable. The bride is surrounded by her admiring companions and attendants. They are congratulating her on the king's love. She speaks as from the midst of the company of ladies. It is further said of Koheleth, that he put forth efforts not only to find words of a pleasant form, but, above all, of exact truth: "Koheleth strove to find words of pleasantness, and, written in sincerity, words of truth." The unconnected beginning biqqesh Koheleth is like dibbarti ani, Ecclesiastes 1:16, etc., in the book itself. Three objects follow limtso. But Hitz. reads the inf. absol. וכתוב instead of וכתוּב, and translates: to find pleasing words, and correctly to write words of truth. Such a continuance of the inf. const. by the inf. absol. is possible; 1 Samuel 25:26, 1 Samuel 25:31. But why should וכתוב not be the continuance of the finite (Aq., Syr.), as e.g., at Ecclesiastes 8:9, and that in the nearest adverbial sense: et scribendo quidem sincere verba veritatis, i.e., he strove, according to his best knowledge and conscience, to write true words, at the same time also to find out pleasing words; thus sought to connect truth as to the matter with beauty as to the manner? Vechathuv needs no modification in its form. But it is not to be translated: and that which was right was written by him; for the ellipsis is inadmissible, and כתוב מן is not correct Heb. Rightly the lxx, καὶ γεγραμμένον εὐθύτητος. כּתוּב signifies "written," and may also, as the name of the Hagiographa כּתוּבים shows, signify "a writing;" kakathuvah, 2 Chronicles 30:5, is equals "in accordance with the writing;" and belo kǎkathuv, 2 Chronicles 30:18, "contrary to the writing;" in the post-bibl. the phrase אמר הכּתוּב equals ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, is used. The objection made by Ginsburg, that kathuv never means, as kethav does, "a writing," is thus nugatory. However, we do not at all here need this subst. meaning, וכתוב is neut. particip., and ישׁר certainly not the genit., as the lxx renders (reading וּכתוּב), but also not the nom. of the subj. (Hoelem.), but, since ישׁר is the designation of a mode of thought and of a relation, the accus. of manner, like veyashar, Psalm 119:18; emeth, Psalm 132:11; emunah, Psalm 119:75. Regarding the common use of such an accus. of the nearer definition in the passive part., vid., Ewald, 284c. The asyndeton vechathuv yosher divre emeth is like that at Ecclesiastes 10:1, mehhochmah michvod. That which follows limtso we interpret as its threefold object. Thus it is said that Koheleth directed his effort towards an attractive form (cf. avne-hephets, Isaiah 54:12); but, before all, towards the truth, both subjectively (ישׁר) and objectively (אמת), of that which was formulated and expressed in writing.
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