|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:9-16 Even those who have little acquaintance with Christ, cannot but see amiable beauty in others who bear his image. There are hopes of those who begin to inquire concerning Christ and his perfections. Christians, who are well acquainted with Christ themselves, should do all they can to make others know something of him. Divine glory makes him truly lovely in the eyes of all who are enlightened to discern spiritual things. He is white in the spotless innocence of his life, ruddy in the bleeding sufferings he went through at his death. This description of the person of the Beloved, would form, in the figurative language of those times, a portrait of beauty of person and of grace of manners; but the aptness of some of the allusions may not appear to us. He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all that believe. May his love constrain us to live to his glory.
Verse 10. - My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. The mingling of colours in the countenance is a peculiar excellence. The word tsach, from the root tsahach (cf. Lamentations 4:7), means a bright, shining clearness; it is not the same as lavan, which would mean "dead white." So in Greek λαμπρὸς differs from λεῦκος. The red adhom, from the root dam, which means "to condense," is dark red (rouge puce), no doubt as betokening health and vigour. The pure, delicate white among the Caucasians denotes high rank, superior training, hereditary nobility, as among ourselves the "aristocratic paleness" (cf. Hom., 'I1,' 4:141, "ivory with purple;" Virg., 'AEn.,' 12:65; Ovid, 'Am.,' 2; ' Eleg.,' 5:39; Hor., Od., 1:13, etc.; Tibull., 'Eleg.,' ext. 4, etc.). The chiefest, that is, the distinguished one, the chosen (so the Greek versions, Syriac, Jerome, Luther). The LXX. has ἐκλελοξισμένος, e cohorte selectus. Another rendering is "bannered," furnished with a banner or pennon (דֶּגֶל) hence the word דָּגוּל as a past participle (so the Venetian σεσημαιωμένος). The numeral (revava) "ten thousand" is simply used to represent an innumerable multitude; "myriad" is so used among ourselves (cf. Ezekiel 16:7).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
My beloved is white and ruddy,.... This, and the following verses, contain the church's answer to the question of the daughters; she first gives a general description of her beloved, and then descends to particulars: the description of him in general is, that he is "white and ruddy"; having the whiteness of the lily, and the redness of the rose, Sol 2:1; which make a perfect beauty. Some understand this of the two natures in Christ, divine and human; with respect to his divine nature, "white", expressive of his simplicity, purity and holiness; which colour, Cicero says (r), is chiefly becoming God, it being simple, and having no mixture and composition in it: with respect to his human nature, "red", being a partaker of the same flesh and blood with his people. Others, only of the human nature; "white" denoting the purity and holiness of it, being without either original or actual sin; "red", or "ruddy", his bloody sufferings in it for the sins of his people. But it may denote, in general, his fairness, beauty, and glory; being, as a divine Person, the brightness of his Father's glory; as man; fairer than the children of men; as the Mediator, full of grace and truth; and in all his offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King, and in all the relations he stands in to his, as Father, Husband, Brother, and Friend, he appears most lovely and amiable;
the chiefest among ten thousand; whether angels or men; he is the Creator of angels, the object of their worship; and has a more excellent name and nature than they, to whom they are subject, and are ministering spirits; he is superior to men, good and bad, high and low; Lord of all, King of kings, and Head of saints, and has the pre-eminence over all creatures. The Septuagint version is, "chosen out of" or "from ten thousand"; Christ, as man, is chosen of God, from among the myriads of the individuals of human nature, to union with the divine Word, or Son of God; see Psalm 89:19; as God-man and Mediator, to be the alone Saviour and Redeemer of his people; to be the Head of the body, the church; and to be the Judge of quick and dead; and he is chosen by sensible sinners to be the object of their love; to be their only Saviour; and to be their Ruler and Governor, whose laws, commands, and ordinances, they choose to obey; see Psalm 73:24; The words may be rendered, "the standard bearer", or "one standarded by" or "over ten thousand" (s); the church is militant, and has many enemies; in the name of the Lord, she sets up her banners against them, and the banner over her is the "love" of Christ, Sol 2:4; and he is the standard bearer, who has a multitude of angels and saints under his standard; and how stately and majestic does he look, and what a noble sight is it to see him bearing the standard before such a company! Revelation 7:9. Or the sense is, Christ is a more excellent standard bearer than all others (t); there may be ten thousand persons that carry a flag, but none to be compared with him, for comeliness, strength, and courage: or he is lifted up, as a standard, above others, angels and men; as he was upon the cross, and now, in the ministry of the word, that souls may gather unto him, and enlist themselves in his service; see Isaiah 11:10.
(r) De Legibus, l. 2.((s) "vexillatus a decem millibus", Montanus; "sub signis habens exercitum decem millium", Tigurine version. (t) "Insignis prae decem millibus", Pagninus, so Cocceius, Marckius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. (1Pe 3:15).
white and ruddy—health and beauty. So David (equivalent to beloved), His forefather after the flesh, and type (1Sa 17:42). "The Lamb" is at once His nuptial and sacrificial name (1Pe 1:19; Re 19:7), characterized by white and red; white, His spotless manhood (Re 1:14). The Hebrew for white is properly "illuminated by the sun," white as the light" (compare Mt 17:2); red, in His blood-dyed garment as slain (Isa 63:1-3; Re 5:6; 19:13). Angels are white, not red; the blood of martyrs does not enter heaven; His alone is seen there.
chiefest—literally, "a standard bearer"; that is, as conspicuous above all others, as a standard bearer is among hosts (Ps 45:7; 89:6; Isa 11:10; 55:4; Heb 2:10; compare 2Sa 18:3; Job 33:23; Php 2:9-11; Re 1:5). The chief of sinners needs the "chiefest" of Saviours.
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