|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 3. - The watchmen that go about the city found me: (to whom I said) Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? The simplicity of these words is very striking. They confirm the view that the bride is recalling what occurred in her country life. The watchmen make no reply, and do not treat her ill, as in the dream related in Song of Solomon 5:7, where they are keepers of the walls, and smite her and wound her. In a small country town she might have been recognized, or known to be really in trouble. But such incidents must not be pressed too much in a poem. The allegorical view finds considerable support in the fact that it is difficult on any hypothesis exactly to explain the language as descriptive of real occurrences. In such instances as Psalm 127:1 and Isaiah 52:8 the reference to watchmen in the city shows that such a metaphor would be familiarly understood. Whether adopted from Solomon's Song or not, the figure of a city watched and guarded, and the people of God as watching for the glory of Zion, was common in the prophetic writings. The soul seeking for its object and for the restoration of its peace calls in the aid of the faithful guardians of the holy city, the friends alike of the Saviour and of those who desire to be his.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The watchmen that go about the city found me,.... By whom are meant the ministers of the Gospel; who are called watchmen, as the prophets were under the Old Testament, Isaiah 52:8; in allusion to watchmen in cities; and are so called in regard to themselves, it being their duty to watch over themselves; and to their doctrine, and all opportunities to preach it, and the success of it: their business with respect to others is to give the time of night; to point out the state and condition of the church; to give notice of danger to sinners in the broad road to destruction; and to saints, through the prevalence of error, heresy, and immorality; all which require sobriety, vigilance, prudence, courage, and faithfulness; and show the necessity and utility of the Gospel ministry, and the awfulness of it; and the care Christ takes of his churches, in providing such officers in them. These are said to "go about the city", denoting their industry and diligence; and being in the way of their duty, they "found" the church, fell upon her case in their ministry, and hit it exactly; which shows the efficacy of the word under a divine direction; which finds out sinners, and their sins; saints, and their particular cases, unknown to ministers; and the church, having met with something suitable to her case under their ministry,
to whom I said, took an opportunity privately to discourse with them, and put this question to them,
Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? meaning Christ; who was still the object of her love, and uppermost in her thoughts; whom she thus describes, without mentioning his name, as if he was the only "Him" in the world worthy of any regard; which shows how much he was in her mind, how much the desires and affections of her soul were towards him, and that these ministers needed no other description of him. No answer is returned to her question that is recorded; not because they were not able to give one, nor because they did not; and if they did not, it might be owing to her haste, not waiting for one; and if they did, she not being able to apply it to her case, no notice is taken of it: however, though she did not find immediate relief by them, yet she met with something from them that was of use to her afterwards, as appears by what follows.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. watchmen—ministers (Isa 62:6; Jer 6:17; Eze 3:17; Heb 13:17), fit persons to consult (Isa 21:11; Mal 2:7).
found me—the general ministry of the Word "finds" individually souls in quest of Jesus Christ (Ge 24:27, end of verse Ac 16:14); whereas formalists remain unaffected.
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