|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:2,3 Christ's church is a garden, enclosed, and separated from the world; he takes care of it, delights in it, and visits it. Those who would find Christ, must attend him in his ordinances, the word, sacraments, and prayer. When Christ comes to his church, it is to entertain his friends. And to take believers to himself: he picks the lilies one by one; and at the great day he will send forth his angels to gather all his lilies, that he may be for ever admired in them. The death of a believer is not more than the owner of a garden plucking a favourite flower; and He will preserve it from withering, yea, cause it to flourish for ever, with increasing beauty. If our own hearts can witness for us that we are Christ's, question not his being ours, for the covenant never breaks on his side. It is the comfort of the church, that he feeds among the lilies, that he takes delight in his people.
Verses 2, 3. - My beloved is gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth his flock among the lilies. In Ecclesiastes 2:5, 6 Solomon says, "I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit; I made me pools of water, to water therefrom the forest where trees were reared." In Revelation 7:17 it is said, "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of water of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes." We can scarcely doubt that the meaning is - The bridegroom is not gone far; he is where he is congenially employed; where his pure and lovely nature finds that which is like itself - beauty and fragrance and innocence. It is his resort, and it corresponds with his perfection. Delitzsch thinks "thoughtfulness and depth of feeling are intended" (cf. Psalm 92:5). "His thoughts are very deep." But it would seem more fitting, in the lips of the bride, that she should dwell on the aspects of her beloved which correspond with her own feelings. She is one of the lilies. The king is coming into his garden, and I am ready to receive him. The shepherd among his flock. They are all like lilies, pure and beautiful. The bride has nothing but chaste thoughts of her husband: because she knows that he is hers, and she is his. Surely such language is not inaptly applied to spiritual uses. Tennyson's lovely poem, 'St. Agnes' Eve,' has caught the spirit of Shulamith. A few of his lines will illustrate this -
"The shadows of the convent towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord.
Make thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.
He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All Heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strews her lights below,
And deepens on and up! the gates
Roll back, and far within
For me the heavenly Bridegroom waits,
To make me pure of sin.
The sabbaths of eternity,
One sabbath deep and wide,
A light upon the shining sea -
The Bridegroom with his bride."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
My beloved is gone down into his garden,.... Which may be said by Solomon, in allusion to what he himself was wont to do, as Josephus (q) relates; who used to go very early in a morning in great pomp to Etham, about two miles from Jerusalem, a pleasant place, abounding with gardens and flows of water: or respect may be had to the king's gardens nearer Jerusalem, which were at the descent of Mount Zion, and reached to the lower pool (r); see Nehemiah 3:15; and which lying lower than the king's palace, he might be said to go down to it. And this may point at the low estate of the people of God on earth, depressed with sorrows, afflictions, and persecutions; and the condescension of Christ, in visiting them in their low estate, and granting them his gracious presence: of the garden of Christ, and of his coming into it; see Gill on Sol 4:12; See Gill on Sol 4:16; See Gill on Sol 5:1; and the church might remember what he said, "I am come into my garden", Sol 5:1; though she soon fell asleep and forgot it, and now calls it to mind, and so could direct the daughters where he was. She adds,
to the beds of spices; of odoriferous plants; to which particular believers, planted regularly in the churches of Christ, may be compared, for the excellency and fragrancy of their graces; and among whom Christ delights to be; see Sol 4:13. Gussetius (s) thinks the words, both here and in Sol 5:13, should be rendered "rivers of spices"; an hyperbolical expression, showing that a man walking by rivers of waters, where aromatic plants and fragrant flowers grow, perceives such a sweet odour, that, while he is refreshed with the moisture of the waters, he seems to be walking by rivers of spices. The end of her beloved's going thither is,
to feed in the gardens; to feed his flocks there: not on commons and in fields, but in gardens, which is unusual: and by which are meant particular churches, where Christ feeds his people, by his Spirit and by his ministers, word and ordinances, with himself, the bread of life; with the discoveries of his love, better than wine; and with the doctrines and promises of the Gospel: or to feed himself, or that "he himself might be fed" (t) there; by beholding with pleasure how the plants grow, and the spices flow out; by tasting the pleasant fruits of the garden; and by observing with delight the graces of the Spirit in his people in lively exercise;
and to gather lilies; to crop them with the hand (u); lilies are liable to be cropped, hence Horace (w) calls the lily "breve lilium", the short lived lily: to these saints may be compared, for the glory, splendour, and beauty, they receive from Christ; see Sol 2:2; there was a gathering of these at the death of Christ, Ephesians 2:10; and there is a gathering of them in effectual calling, and into a church state, and into nearer communion with Christ; but here it seems to signify a gathering them by death, when fully ripe, to enjoy everlasting fellowship with him.
(q) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 7. s. 3.((r) See Lightfoot's Chorograph. Inquiry on John, c. 5. s. 4. p. 509. (s) Ebr. Comment. p. 642. (t) "ut ubi pascatur", V. L. Munster, Mercerus. (u) , Theocrit. Idyll. 19. v. 32. (w) Carmin. l. 1. Ode 36, v. 16.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. gone down—Jerusalem was on a hill (answering to its moral elevation), and the gardens were at a little distance in the valleys below.
beds of spices—(balsam) which He Himself calls the "mountain of myrrh," &c. (So 4:6), and again (So 8:14), the resting-place of His body amidst spices, and of His soul in paradise, and now in heaven, where He stands as High Priest for ever. Nowhere else in the Song is there mention of mountains of spices.
feed in … gardens—that is, in the churches, though He may have withdrawn for a time from the individual believer: she implies an invitation to the daughters of Jerusalem to enter His spiritual Church, and become lilies, made white by His blood. He is gathering some lilies now to plant on earth, others to transplant into heaven (So 5:1; Ge 5:24; Mr 4:28, 29; Ac 7:60).
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