Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.
1. Historically, at Jesus Christ's crucifixion and burial, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and others, joined with His professed disciples. By speaking of Jesus Christ, the bride does good not only to her own soul, but to others (see on So 1:4; Mal 3:16; Mt 5:14-16). Compare the hypocritical use of similar words (Mt 2:8).
My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
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feed in … gardens—that is, in the churches, though He may have withdrawn for a time from the individual believer: she implies an invitation to the daughters of Jerusalem to enter His spiritual Church, and become lilies, made white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).
I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
3. In speaking of Jesus Christ to others, she regains her own assurance. Literally, "I am for my beloved … for me." Reverse order from So 2:16. She now, after the season of darkness, grounds her convictions on His love towards her, more than on hers towards Him (De 33:3). There, it was the young believer concluding that she was His, from the sensible assurance that He was hers.
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
4. Tirzah—meaning "pleasant" (Heb 13:21); "well-pleasing" (Mt 5:14); the royal city of one of the old Canaanite kings (Jos 12:24); and after the revolt of Israel, the royal city of its kings, before Omri founded Samaria (1Ki 16:8, 15). No ground for assigning a later date than the time of Solomon to the Song, as Tirzah was even in his time the capital of the north (Israel), as Jerusalem was of the south (Judah).
Jerusalem—residence of the kings of Judah, as Tirzah, of Israel (Ps 48:1, &c.; 122:1-3; 125:1, 2). Loveliness, security, unity, and loyalty; also the union of Israel and Judah in the Church (Isa 11:13; Jer 3:18; Eze 37:16, 17, 22; compare Heb 12:22; Re 21:2, 12).
terrible—awe-inspiring. Not only armed as a city on the defensive, but as an army on the offensive.
banners—(See on So 5:10; Ps 60:4); Jehovah-nissi (2Co 10:4).
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.
5. (So 4:9; Ge 32:28; Ex 32:9-14; Ho 12:4). This is the way "the army" (So 6:4) "overcomes" not only enemies, but Jesus Christ Himself, with eyes fixed on Him (Ps 25:15; Mt 11:12). Historically, So 6:3-5, represent the restoration of Jesus Christ to His Church at the resurrection; His sending her forth as an army, with new powers (Mr 16:15-18, 20); His rehearsing the same instructions (see on So 6:6) as when with them (Lu 24:44).
overcome—literally, "have taken me by storm."
Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.
6. Not vain repetition of So 4:1, 2. The use of the same words shows His love unchanged after her temporary unfaithfulness (Mal 3:6).
As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.
8. threescore—indefinite number, as in So 3:7. Not queens, &c., of Solomon, but witnesses of the espousals, rulers of the earth contrasted with the saints, who, though many, are but "one" bride (Isa 52:15; Lu 22:25, 26; Joh 17:21; 1Co 10:17). The one Bride is contrasted with the many wives whom Eastern kings had in violation of the marriage law (1Ki 11:1-3).
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
9. Hollow professors, like half wives, have no part in the one bride.
only one of her mother—namely, "Jerusalem above" (Ga 4:26). The "little sister" (So 8:8) is not inconsistent with her being "the only one"; for that sister is one with herself (Joh 10:16).
choice—(Eph 1:4; 2Th 2:13). As she exalted Him above all others (So 5:10), so He now her.
daughters … blessed her—(Isa 8:18; 61:9; Eze 16:14; 2Th 1:10). So at her appearance after Pentecost (Ac 4:13; 6:15; 24:25; 26:28).
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
10. The words expressing the admiration of the daughters. Historically (Ac 5:24-39).
as the morning—As yet she is not come to the fulness of her light (Pr 4:18).
moon—shining in the night, by light borrowed from the sun; so the bride, in the darkness of this world, reflects the light of the Sun of righteousness (2Co 3:18).
sun—Her light of justification is perfect, for it is His (2Co 5:21; 1Jo 4:17). The moon has less light, and has only one half illuminated; so the bride's sanctification is as yet imperfect. Her future glory (Mt 13:43).
army—(So 6:4). The climax requires this to be applied to the starry and angelic hosts, from which God is called Lord of Sabaoth. Her final glory (Ge 15:5; Da 12:3; Re 12:1). The Church Patriarchal, "the morning"; Levitical, "the moon"; Evangelical, "the sun"; Triumphant, "the bannered army" (Re 19:14).
I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.
11. The bride's words; for she everywhere is the narrator, and often soliloquizes, which He never does. The first garden (So 2:11-13) was that of spring, full of flowers and grapes not yet ripe; the second, autumn, with spices (which are always connected with the person of Jesus Christ), and nothing unripe (So 4:13, &c.). The third here, of "nuts," from the previous autumn; the end of winter, and verge of spring; the Church in the upper room (Ac 1:13, &c.), when one dispensation was just closed, the other not yet begun; the hard shell of the old needing to be broken, and its inner sweet kernel extracted [Origen] (Lu 24:27, 32); waiting for the Holy Ghost to usher in spiritual spring. The walnut is meant, with a bitter outer husk, a hard shell, and sweet kernel. So the Word is distasteful to the careless; when awakened, the sinner finds the letter hard, until the Holy Ghost reveals the sweet inner spirit.
fruits of the Valley—Maurer translates, "the blooming products of the river," that is, the plants growing on the margin of the river flowing through the garden. She goes to watch the first sproutings of the various plants.
Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.
12. Sudden outpourings of the Spirit on Pentecost (Ac 2:1-13), while the Church was using the means (answering to "the garden," So 6:11; Joh 3:8).
Ammi-nadib—supposed to me one proverbial for swift driving. Similarly (So 1:9). Rather, "my willing people" (Ps 110:3). A willing chariot bore a "willing people"; or Nadib is the Prince, Jesus Christ (Ps 68:17). She is borne in a moment into His presence (Eph 2:6).
Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.
13. Entreaty of the daughters of Jerusalem to her, in her chariot-like flight from them (compare 2Ki 2:12; 2Sa 19:14).
Shulamite—new name applied to her now for the first time. Feminine of Solomon, Prince of Peace; His bride, daughter of peace, accepting and proclaiming it (Isa 52:7; Joh 14:27; Ro 5:1; Eph 2:17). Historically, this name answers to the time when, not without a divine design in it, the young Church met in Solomon's porch (Ac 3:11; 5:12). The entreaty, "Return, O Shulamite," answers to the people's desire to keep Peter and John, after the lame man was healed, when they were about to enter the temple. Their reply attributing the glory not to themselves, but to Jesus Christ, answers to the bride's reply here, "What will ye see" in me? "As it were," &c. She accepts the name Shulamite, as truly describing her. But adds, that though "one" (So 6:9), she is nevertheless "two." Her glories are her Lord's, beaming through her (Eph 5:31, 32). The two armies are the family of Jesus Christ in heaven, and that on earth, joined and one with Him; the one militant, the other triumphant. Or Jesus Christ and His ministering angels are one army, the Church the other, both being one (Joh 17:21, 22). Allusion is made to Mahanaim (meaning two hosts), the scene of Jacob's victorious conflict by prayer (Ge 32:2, 9, 22-30). Though she is peace, yet she has warfare here, between flesh and spirit within and foes without; her strength, as Jacob's at Mahanaim, is Jesus Christ and His host enlisted on her side by prayer; whence she obtains those graces which raise the admiration of the daughters of Jerusalem.