|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-7 Believers are beautiful, as clothed in the righteousness of Christ; and fragrant, as adorned with the graces of his Spirit; and they thrive under the refreshing beams of the Sun of righteousness. The lily is a very noble plant in the East; it grows to a considerable height, but has a weak stem. The church is weak in herself, yet is strong in Him that supports her. The wicked, the daughters of this world, who have no love to Christ, are as thorns, worthless and useless, noxious and hurtful. Corruptions are thorns in the flesh; but the lily now among thorns, shall be transplanted into that paradise where there is no brier or thorn. The world is a barren tree to the soul; but Christ is a fruitful one. And when poor souls are parched with convictions of sin, with the terrors of the law, or the troubles of this world, weary and heavy laden, they may find rest in Christ. It is not enough to pass by this shadow, but we must sit down under it. Believers have tasted that the Lord Jesus is gracious; his fruits are all the precious privileges of the new covenant, purchased by his blood, and communicated by his Spirit; promises are sweet to a believer, and precepts also. Pardons are sweet, and peace of conscience sweet. If our mouths are out of taste for the pleasures of sin, Divine consolations will be sweet to us. Christ brings the soul to seek and to find comforts through his ordinances, which are as a banqueting-house where his saints feast with him. The love of Christ, manifested by his death, and by his word, is the banner he displays, and believers resort to it. How much better is it with the soul when sick from love to Christ, than when surfeited with the love of this world! And though Christ seemed to have withdrawn, yet he was even then a very present help. All his saints are in his hand, which tenderly holds their aching heads. Finding Christ thus nigh to her, the soul is in great care that her communion with him is not interrupted. We easily grieve the Spirit by wrong tempers. Let those who have comfort, fear sinning it away.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. Whether Christ, or the church, is here speaking, is not certain: most of the Jewish writers (t), and some Christian interpreters (u), take them to be the words of the church, expressing the excellency of her grace, loveliness, and beauty, she had from Christ; and intimating also her being in the open fields, exposed to many dangers and enemies, and so needed his protection. The church may be compared to a "rose", for its beautiful colour and sweet odour (w), and for its delight in sunny places, where it thrives best, and is most fragrant. This figure is exceeding just; not only the beauty of women is expressed by the colour of the rose (x), as is common in poems of this kind; to give instances of it would be endless (y); some have had the name of Rhoda from hence; see Acts 12:13. No rose can be more beautiful in colour, and delightful to the eye, than the church is in the eyes of Christ, as clothed with his righteousness, and adorned with the graces of his Spirit: nor is any rose of a more sweet and fragrant smell than the persons of believers are to God and Christ, being considered in him; and even their graces, when in exercise, yea, their duties and services, when performed in faith; and, as the rose, they grow and thrive under the warming, comforting, and refreshing beams of the sun of righteousness, where they delight to be. The church may also be compared to a "lily of the valleys", as she is, in the next verse, to one among thorns. This is a very beautiful flower; Pliny (z) says it is next in nobleness to the rose; its whiteness is singularly excellent; no plant more fruitful, and no flower exceeds it in height; in some countries, it rises up three cubits high; has a weak neck or body, insufficient to bear the weight of its head. The church may be compared to a lily, for her beauty and fragrance, as to a rose; and the redness of the rose, and the whiteness of the lily, meeting in her, make her somewhat like her beloved, white and ruddy; like the lily, being arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, the righteousness of the saints; and like it for fruitfulness, as it is in good works, under the influence of divine grace, and grows up on high into her head, Christ Jesus; and though weak in herself, yet strong in him, who supports her, and not she him: and the church may be compared to a "lily of the valleys"; which may not describe any particular lily, and what we now call so; but only expresses the place where it grows, in low places, where plants are in danger of being plucked and trodden upon; though they may have more moisture and verdure than those in higher places; so the church of Christ is sometimes in a low estate, exposed to enemies, and liable to be trampled and trodden under foot by them, and to be carried away with the flood of persecution, were it not guarded by divine power; and, being watered with the dews of grace, it becomes flourishing and fruitful. But the more commonly received opinion is, that these are the words of Christ concerning himself; and which indeed best become him, and are more agreeable to his style and language, John 14:6; and suit best with the words in the Sol 2:2, as one observes (a); nor is it unfitly taken by the bridegroom to himself, since it is sometimes given by lovers to men (b). Christ may be compared to a rose for its colour and smell; to the rose for its red colour: and which may be expressive of the truth of his humanity, and of his bloody sufferings in it; and this, with the whiteness of the lily, finishes the description of him for his beauty, Sol 5:10; and for its sweet smell; which denotes the same things for which he is before compared to spikenard, myrrh, and camphire. The rose, as Pliny says (c), delights not in fat soils and rich clays, but in rubbish, and roses that grow there are of the sweetest smell; and such was the earth about Sharon (d); and to a rose there Christ is compared, to show the excellency and preferableness of him to all others. The word is only used here and in Isaiah 35:1. Where it is in many versions rendered a "lily": it seems to be compounded of two words; one which signifies to "cover" and hide, and another which signifies a "shadow"; and so may be rendered, "the covering shadow": but for what reason a rose should be so called is not easy to say; unless it can be thought to have the figure of an umbrella; or that the rose tree in those parts was so large, as to be remarkable for its shadow; like that Montfaucon (e) saw, in a garden at Ravenna, under the shadow of the branches of which more than forty men could stand: Christ is sometimes compared to trees for their shadow, which is pleasant and reviving, as in Sol 2:3. Some render it, "the flower of the field" (f); which may be expressive of the meanness of Christ in the eyes of men; of his not being of human production; of his being accessible; and of his being liable to be trampled upon, as he has been. And as he is compared to a rose, so to a "lily", for its colour, height, and fruitfulness; expressive of his purity in himself, of his superiority to angels and men, and of his being filled with the fruits and blessings of grace; and to a lily of the valleys, denoting his wonderful condescension in his low estate of humiliation, and his delight in dwelling with the humble and lowly: some render the words, "I am the rose of Sharon, with the lily of the valleys" (g); by the former epithet meaning himself; and by the latter his church, his companion, in strict union and communion with him; of whom the following words are spoken.
(t) Zohar in Gen. fol. 46. 2. Targum, Aben Ezra, & Yalkut in loc. (u) Ainsworth, Brightman, Vatablus; Cocceius; Michaelis. (w) The rose, by the Arcadians, was called that is, "sweet-smelling", Timachidas apud Athenaei Deipnosophist. l. 15. c. 8. p. 682. and "rosy" is used for "beautiful"; "rosea cervice refulsit", Virgil. Aeneid. l. 1. Vid. Servium in ibid. (x) So Helena, for her beauty, is called , in Theocrit. Idyll. 19. The rose was sacred to Venus, Pausaniae Eliac. 2. sive l. 6, p. 391. (y) Vid. Barthii Animadv. ad Claudian. de Nupt. Honor. v. 247. (z) Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 5. (a) Durham in Ioc. (b) "Mea rosa", Plauti Bacchides, Sc. 1. v. 50. Asinaria, Acts 3, Sc. 3. v. 74. Curculio, Acts 1. Sc. 2. v. 6. (c) Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 4. (d) Misnah Sotah, c. 8. s. 3.((e) Diar. Italic, c. 7. p. 100. (f) , Sept. "flos campi", V. L. Pagninus, Mercerus. (g) "Ego rosa Sharon lilio vallium", Marckius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1. rose—if applied to Jesus Christ, it, with the white lily (lowly, 2Co 8:9), answers to "white and ruddy" (So 5:10). But it is rather the meadow-saffron: the Hebrew means radically a plant with a pungent bulb, inapplicable to the rose. So Syriac. It is of a white and violet color [Maurer, Gesenius, and Weiss]. The bride thus speaks of herself as lowly though lovely, in contrast with the lordly "apple" or citron tree, the bridegroom (So 2:3); so the "lily" is applied to her (So 2:2),
Sharon—(Isa 35:1, 2). In North Palestine, between Mount Tabor and Lake Tiberias (1Ch 5:16). Septuagint and Vulgate translate it, "a plain"; though they err in this, the Hebrew Bible not elsewhere favoring it, yet the parallelism to valleys shows that, in the proper name Sharon, there is here a tacit reference to its meaning of lowliness. Beauty, delicacy, and lowliness, are to be in her, as they were in Him (Mt 11:29).
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