|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-5 It was hard to the Old Testament church to find Christ in the ceremonial law; the watchmen of that church gave little assistance to those who sought after him. The night is a time of coldness, darkness, and drowsiness, and of dim apprehensions concerning spiritual things. At first, when uneasy, some feeble efforts are made to obtain the comfort of communion with Christ. This proves in vain; the believer is then roused to increased diligence. The streets and broad-ways seem to imply the means of grace in which the Lord is to be sought. Application is made to those who watch for men's souls. Immediate satisfaction is not found. We must not rest in any means, but by faith apply directly to Christ. The holding of Christ, and not letting him go, denotes earnest cleaving to him. What prevails is a humble, ardent suing by prayer, with a lively exercise of faith on his promises. So long as the faith of believers keeps hold of Christ, he will not be offended at their earnest asking, yea, he is well pleased with it. The believer desires to make others acquainted with his Saviour. Wherever we find Christ, we must take him home with us to our houses, especially to our hearts; and we should call upon ourselves and each other, to beware of grieving our holy Comforter, and provoking the departure of the Beloved.
Verse 1. - By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The bride is probably relating a dream. The time referred to is the close of the day on which she had been visited by her lover. She is retired to rest, and dreams that she searches for the beloved object in the neighbouring city (cf. Job 33:15). It is another way of telling her love. She is always longing for the beloved one. She had been waiting for him, and he came not, and retired to rest with a heart troubled and anxious because her lover did not appear as she expected at the evening hour. The meaning may be "night after night (לֵילות)" (cf. Song of Solomon 3:8), or the plural maybe used poetically for the singular. Ginsburg observes that "by night on my bed" is opposed to midday couch (cf. 2 Samuel 4:5), merely to express what came into her thoughts at night in her dreams or as the result of a dream. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the bride intends to represent herself as suffering from self-reproach in having grieved her lover and kept him away from her. In that case the typical meaning would be simple and direct. The soul grieves when it is conscious of estrangement from him whom it loves, and the sense of separation becomes intolerable, impelling to new efforts to deepen the spiritual life.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth,.... The day being not yet broke, the night of Jewish darkness still on the church, and the shadow of the ceremonial law as yet stretched upon her; and having some knowledge of Christ by types and prophecies, desires more, and seeks it in the use of means: though the words may be taken in a more large sense, and represent the state and condition of the church and of all true believers in any age, and at one time as well as another; who, when their beloved is absent, it is "night" with them; as Christ's presence makes day, his absence makes night; and it was now night with the Church, either of affliction, or of darkness and desertion, and indeed of both. The word is plural, "by nights" (i); one night after another, successively, she sought her beloved; which both expresses the continuance of her state, and her diligence and constancy in seeking Christ. The place where she sought him was "her bed"; not the same as in Sol 1:16; which was both Christ's and hers, and where a different word is used; but this was purely her own: either a bed of affliction, when good men usually seek the Lord, Isaiah 26:16, Hosea 5:15; or rather of carnal ease and security, in which she continued, and rose not up from it to seek her beloved; which shows the cold, lukewarm, lazy frame she was in, and formal manner in which she sought him, and so succeeded not: however, he was stilt the person "whom her soul loved", cordially and sincerely, though not so fervently as she had done; true love, though it may be abated, cannot be lost;
I sought him, but I found him not; because she sought him not aright; not timely, nor fervently and diligently, nor in a proper place; not in her closet, by prayer, reading, and meditation, nor in public ordinances, she afterwards did; but on her bed.
(i) , Sept. "per noctes", V. L. Junius & Tremeilius, Piscator; "in noctibus", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine versions, Marckius, Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1. By night—literally, "By nights." Continuation of the longing for the dawn of the Messiah (So 2:17; Ps 130:6; Mal 4:2). The spiritual desertion here (So 2:17; 3:5) is not due to indifference, as in So 5:2-8. "As nights and dews are better for flowers than a continual sun, so Christ's absence (at times) giveth sap to humility, and putteth an edge on hunger, and furnisheth a fair field to faith to put forth itself" [Rutherford]. Contrast So 1:13; Ps 30:6, 7.
on … bed—the secret of her failure (Isa 64:7; Jer 29:13; Am 6:1, 4; Ho 7:14).
loveth—no want of sincerity, but of diligence, which she now makes up for by leaving her bed to seek Him (Ps 22:2; 63:8; Isa 26:9; Joh 20:17). Four times (So 3:1-4) she calls Jesus Christ, "Him whom my soul loveth," designating Him as absent; language of desire: "He loved me," would be language of present fruition (Re 1:5). In questioning the watchmen (So 3:3), she does not even name Him, so full is her heart of Him. Having found Him at dawn (for throughout He is the morning), she charges the daughters not to abridge by intrusion the period of His stay. Compare as to the thoughtful seeking for Jesus Christ in the time of John the Baptist, in vain at first, but presently after successful (Lu 3:15-22; Joh 1:19-34).
found him not—Oh, for such honest dealings with ourselves (Pr 25:14; Jude 12)!
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