|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-7 If each of these comparisons has a meaning applicable to the graces of the church, or of the faithful Christian, they are not clearly known; and great mistakes are made by fanciful guesses. The mountain of myrrh appears to mean the mountain Moriah, on which the temple was built, where the incense was burned, and the people worshipped the Lord. This was his residence till the shadows of the law given to Moses were dispersed by the breaking of the gospel day, and the rising of the Sun of righteousness. And though, in respect of his human nature, Christ is absent from his church on earth, and will continue to be so till the heavenly day break, yet he is spiritually present in his ordinances, and with his people. How fair and comely are believers, when justified in Christ's righteousness, and adorned with spiritual graces! when their thoughts, words, and deeds, though imperfect, are pure, manifesting a heart nourished by the gospel!
Verse 3. - Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy mouth is comely; thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate behind thy veil. Scarlet; that is, shining, glistening red colour. Thy mouth (מִדְבָּרֵך). Thy mouth as speaking. So the LXX., Jerome, and Venetian, "thy speech," eloquium, conversation. But this is questioned, as it should then be דְּבוּרֵך. The word midhbar undoubtedly means "the mouth," from davar, "to speak," with the מ preformative, as the name of the instrument. It is the preterite for פִיך, but perhaps as referring specially to speech. Thy temples; Latin tempora, from the adjective רַק, "weak," meaning the thin, piece of skull on each side of the eyes, like the German schlafe, from schlaff, "slack." The inside of the pomegranate is of a red colour mixed and tempered with the ruby colour. Ginsburg, however, thinks that the cheeks are intended, and that the comparison is with the outside of the pomegranate, in which the vermilion colour is mingled with brown, and resembles the round cheek; but then why say, "piece of a pomegranate"? פֶלַת, from the root "to cut fruit" (see 1 Kings 4:39), certainly must refer to the cut fruit and the appearance of the inside. The meaning may be a segment, that is, so as to represent the roundness of the cheek. Possibly the reference may be to blushes on the bride's cheek, or to ornaments which appeared through the veil. We can scarcely expect to make out every particular in an Eastern description.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet,.... To a "thread" for thinness, to "scarlet" for colour; thin red lips being beautiful, as well as white teeth; so the beautiful Aspasia had red lips (b), and teeth whiter than snow; hence we read of red and purple lips (c). Now as lips are the instruments of speech, the words of the church, and of all true believers, may be designed; what is said by them in their prayers, which are filled, not with great swelling words of vanity, exalting themselves, and magnifying their works, like the Pharisee; but with humble confessions of sin, and acknowledgments of their unworthiness of mercy; and they are constant, like one continued thread, they go on praying all their days: and the scarlet colour may denote the fervency of them, whereby they become available with God; and the acceptableness of them to God, through the mediation of Christ, whose blood, and not any worthiness of theirs, is pleaded in them: their words of praise also may be signified hereby; which are not filled with big swollen encomiums of themselves, and of what they have done; but with expressions of the goodness and grace of God to them; and with thankfulness for all mercies, both temporal and spiritual, bestowed upon them; and these are hearty and sincere, coming from a heart inflamed with the love of God, which make such lips look like scarlet; and that being in great esteem may intimate the acceptableness of them to God, through the blood and sacrifice of Christ. To which may be added, that the doctrines of the Gospel, delivered by the ministers of the church, who are her lips, may be taken into the sense of this clause; which are like a "thread", spun out of the Scriptures, and are harmonious and all of a piece, consistent and closely connected; the subject and matter of which are the blood, sufferings, and death of Christ, and the blessings that come thereby; and which also, like scarlet, are valuable and precious;
and thy speech is comely; which explains the preceding clause; and shows, that by her lips her speech is meant, which is "comely", that is, graceful and amiable; as it is when believers speak of Christ, of his person, offices, and grace; and for him, in vindication of his truths and ordinances; when they speak to him, in prayer or in praise; and when, in common conversation, their speech is with grace;
thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks; not like a piece of the tree, but of the fruit, when the shell of it bursts of itself, through the abundance of liquor in it; such the Israelites found at one of their stations, and therefore called it "Rimmonparez", the pomegranate of rupture, or the bursted pomegranate; and in the tribe of Zebulun was a city called Remmonmethoar, the beautiful pomegranate, Joshua 19:13; now the rind being broken (d) it appears full of grains or kernels, of a white colour, interspersed with a reddish purple juice, like blood, as Pausanias remarks (e), and looks very beautiful; and is aptly used to set forth the church's beauty, who, like her beloved, is "white and ruddy", Sol 5:10, by which may be meant ecclesiastical officers, placed on an eminence in the church; to take care, among other things, of the discipline of it, according to the laws of Christ, 1 Timothy 5:17; The temples, in the Hebrew tongue (f), have their name from the thinness and tenderness of them, having but little flesh on them, and covered with a thin skin; and, in the Greek tongue (g), from the evident beating of the pulse in them; and their situation is between the ear and the eye: all which denote, that such officers should be spiritual men, and have as little carnality in them as may be; that they should use great tenderness in the administrations of their office, particularly in giving admonitions and reproofs: and, as by the beating of the pulse the state of a constitution is discerned, whether healthy or not; so the state of the church may be judged of by the discipline of it; if that is neglected, it is in a bad state, and in a declining condition; but if strictly observed, it is in a healthful and flourishing one: and the temples being between the eye and the ear may teach, that, in the management of church affairs, the officers are to make use of both; their ears are to be open to all; and they are not to shut their eyes against clear and plain evidence: and being said to be "within her locks", may be expressive of the meekness and humility of such officers, who are not to lord it over God's heritage; and of the private manner in which admonitions are to be given, in case of private offences; and of the affairs and concertos of a church being kept private, and not blazed abroad. And these may be compared to "a piece of a pomegranate", because of their being full of gifts, and grace, and good works, visible to men; and for their harmony and union among themselves, and with the church and its members; and the strict regard that, in all things, is had to the rules and laws of Christ; all which make the officers of the church, and the discipline of it, acceptable to him. It may be further observed, that the temples, taken largely, include the "cheeks" also; and so some render the word (h) here; and the purple juice of the pomegranate well expresses the colour of them; hence we read of purple cheeks (i): and this may denote the beauty and modesty of the church; whose blushing looks, and ruddy cheeks, made her extremely beautiful in the eye of Christ.
(b) Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 12. c. 1.((c) , Theocrit. Idyll. 15. "Purpureis labellis", Ovid. Amor. l. 3. Eleg. 13. (d) , Sept. "sicut fragmen", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; "pars vel frustum", Michaelis. (e) Boeotica, sive l. 9. p. 578. (f) "tenuis faciei pars", Marckius; "tenuior", Michaelis. Vid. Kimchii Sepher Shorash. rad. (g) . (h) , Sept. "genae tuae", Pagninus, Cocceius. (i) "Purpureas genas", Ovid. Amor. l. 1. Eleg. 4. Statii Thebaid. l. 1. v. 538. Ausonii Parental. 23. v. 16. "Purpurissatae buccae", Plauti Trucul. Acts 2. Sc. 2. v. 35. "genre", Apulei Apolog. p. 239.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. thread—like a delicate fillet. Not thick and white as the leper's lips (type of sin), which were therefore to be "covered," as "unclean" (Le 13:45).
scarlet—The blood of Jesus Christ (Isa 6:5-9) cleanses the leprosy, and unseals the lips (Isa 57:19; Ho 14:2; Heb 13:15). Rahab's scarlet thread was a type of it (Jos 2:18).
speech—not a separate feature from the lips (Zep 3:9; Col 4:6). Contrast "uncircumcised lips" (Ex 6:12). Maurer and Burrowes translate, "thy mouth."
temples—rather, the upper part of the cheek next the temples: the seat of shamefacedness; so, "within thy locks," no display (1Co 11:5, 6, 15). Mark of true penitence (Ezr 9:6; Eze 16:63). Contrast Jer 3:3; Eze 3:7.
pomegranate—When cut, it displays in rows seeds pellucid, like crystal, tinged with red. Her modesty is not on the surface, but within, which Jesus Christ can see into.
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