|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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!
Verse 3. - Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance; thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee. There is some slight difference among critics as to the rendering of this verse, but it does not affect the meaning. Lovely and delightful thou art. As thy perfumes are so precious, so is thy name; the more it is spread, the more delight is found in it. The idea is that the person is the sweetest, and that his communications are elevating and inspiring. The "virgins" may be taken generally, "Those who are full of the sensibility of youth appreciate thy attractions." The word almah is much disputed about, but the meaning is simply that of "young woman," whether virgin or married. "Thou art the delight of all the young." Mason Good renders the verse -
"Rich thy perfumes; but richer far than they
The countless charms that round thy person play;
Thy name alone, more fragrant than the rose,
Glads every maid, where'er its fragrance flows."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Because of the savour of thy good ointments,.... It was usual for lovers to anoint themselves, their hair, garments, &c. to commend themselves to each other; and it was common to commend each other's ointments, and the grateful smell of them (q) none being like them, or so agreeable as theirs: by these ointments may be meant the grace of Christ, the fulness of it, the oil of gladness with which he is anointed above his fellows, and without measure; and which so greatly recommends him to his church and people, Psalm 45:7;
thy name is as ointment poured forth; which emits the greater odour for its being poured forth out of the box. The very names of lovers are dear to one another, sweeter than nectar itself (r); the very mention of them gives an inexpressible pleasure. This may respect not merely the fame of Christ spread abroad in the world through the ministry of the word; nor the Gospel only, which is his name, Acts 9:15; and is like a box of ointment broke open, which diffuses the savour of his knowledge everywhere; but some precious name of his, as Immanuel, God with us; Jesus, a Saviour; but more particularly his name Messiah, which signifies anointed, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King of his church;
therefore do the virgins love thee: for the preciousness of his person, the fulness of grace in him, and the truths of his Gospel: and which love shows itself in a desire of his presence, and communion with him; in a regard to his word and worship, to his truths and ordinances; and to his people, to conversation and communion with them. By these virgins are meant either congregational churches that strictly adhere to Christ, and to his pure worship; or particular believers, for their inviolate attachment to him; for the singleness and sincerity of their love to him; for their uncorruptness in the doctrine of faith; for the truth and spirituality of their worship; for the purity of their lives and conversations; for their beauty and comeliness through Christ; for their colourful and costly attire, being clothed with his righteousness; and for their modest behaviour, having the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.
(q) "Nam omuium unguentum odos prae tua nautea est", Plauti Curculio, Acts 1. Sc. 2. v. 5. (r) "Nomen nectari dulcius beato", Martial. l. 9. Epigr. 9.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Rather, "As regards the savor of thy ointments, it is good" [Maurer]. In So 4:10, 11, the Bridegroom reciprocates the praise of the bride in the same terms.
thy name—Christ's character and office as the "Anointed" (Isa 9:6; 61:1), as "the savor of ointments" are the graces that surround His person (Ps 45:7, 8). Ec 7:1, in its fullest sense, applies to Him. The holy anointing oil of the high priest, which it was death for anyone else to make (so Ac 4:12), implies the exclusive preciousness of Messiah's name (Ex 30:23-28, 31-38). So Mary brake the box of precious ointment over Him, appropriately (Mr 14:5), the broken box typifying His body, which, when broken, diffused all grace: compounded of various spices, &c. (Col 1:19; 2:9); of sweet odor (Eph 5:2).
poured—(Isa 53:12; Ro 5:5).
therefore—because of the manifestation of God's character in Christ (1Jo 4:9, 19). So the penitent woman (Lu 7:37, 38, 47).
virgins—the pure in heart (2Co 11:2; Re 14:4). The same Hebrew is translated, "thy hidden ones" (Ps 83:3). The "ointment" of the Spirit "poured forth" produces the "love of Christ" (Ro 5:5).
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