Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.
1. thy feet—rather, "thy goings" (Ps 17:5). Evident allusion to Isa 52:7: "How beautiful … are the feet of him … that publisheth peace" (Shulamite, So 6:13).
shoes—Sandals are richly jewelled in the East (Lu 15:22; Eph 6:15). She is evidently "on the mountains," whither she was wafted (So 6:12), above the daughters of Jerusalem, who therefore portray her feet first.
daughter—of God the Father, with whom Jesus Christ is one (Mt 5:9), "children of (the) God" (of peace), equivalent to Shulamite (Ps 45:10-15; 2Co 6:18), as well as bride of Jesus Christ.
prince's—therefore princely herself, freely giving the word of life to others, not sparing her "feet," as in So 5:3; Ex 12:11. To act on the offensive is defensive to ourselves.
joints—rather, "the rounding"; the full graceful curve of the hips in the female figure; like the rounding of a necklace (as the Hebrew for "jewels" means). Compare with the English Version, Eph 4:13-16; Col 2:19. Or, applying it to the girdle binding together the robes round the hips (Eph 6:14).
cunning workman—(Ps 139:14-16; Eph 2:10, 22; 5:29, 30, 32).
Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.
2. navel—rather, "girdle-clasp," called from the part of the person underneath. The "shoes" (So 7:1) prove that dress is throughout presupposed on all parts where it is usually worn. She is "a bride adorned for her husband"; the "uncomely parts," being most adorned (1Co 12:23). The girdle-clasp was adorned with red rubies resembling the "round goblet" (crater or mixer) of spice-mixed wine (not "liquor," So 8:2; Isa 5:22). The wine of the "New Testament in His blood" (Lu 22:20). The spiritual exhilaration by it was mistaken for that caused by new wine (Ac 2:13-17; Eph 5:18).
belly—that is, the vesture on it. As in Ps 45:13, 14, gold and needlework compose the bride's attire, so golden-colored "wheat" and white "lilies" here. The ripe grain, in token of harvest joy, used to be decorated with lilies; so the accumulated spiritual food (Joh 6:35; 12:24), free from chaff, not fenced with thorns, but made attractive by lilies ("believers," So 2:2; Ac 2:46, 47; 5:13, 14, in common partaking of it). Associated with the exhilarating wine cup (Zec 9:17), as here.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.
3. The daughters of Jerusalem describe her in the same terms as Jesus Christ in So 4:5. The testimonies of heaven and earth coincide.
twins—faith and love.
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.
4. tower of ivory—In So 4:4, Jesus Christ saith, "a tower of David builded for an armory." Strength and conquest are the main thought in His description; here, beauty and polished whiteness; contrast So 1:5.
fishpools—seen by Burckhardt, clear (Re 22:1), deep, quiet, and full (1Co 2:10, 15).
Heshbon—east of Jordan, residence of the Amorite king, Sihon (Nu 21:25, &c.), afterwards held by Gad.
Bath-rabbim—"daughter of a multitude"; a crowded thoroughfare. Her eyes (So 4:1) are called by Jesus Christ, "doves' eyes," waiting on Him. But here, looked on by the daughters or Jerusalem, they are compared to a placid lake. She is calm even amidst the crowd (Pr 8:2; Joh 16:33).
tower of Lebanon—a border-fortress, watching the hostile Damascus. Towards Jesus Christ her face was full of holy shame (see on So 4:1; So 4:3); towards spiritual foes, like a watchtower (Hab 2:1; Mr 13:37; Ac 4:13), elevated, so that she looks not up from earth to heaven, but down from heaven to earth. If we retain "nose," discernment of spiritual fragrance is meant.
Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.
5. upon thee—the headdress "upon" her.
Carmel—signifying a well-cultivated field (Isa 35:2). In So 5:15 He is compared to majestic Lebanon; she here, to fruitful Carmel. Her headdress, or crown (2Ti 4:8; 1Pe 5:4). Also the souls won by her (1Th 2:19, 20), a token of her fruitfulness.
purple—royalty (Re 1:6). As applied to hair, it expresses the glossy splendor of black hair (literally, "pendulous hair") so much admired in the East (So 4:1). While the King compares her hair to the flowering hair of goats (the token of her subjection), the daughters of Jerusalem compare it to royal purple.
galleries—(so So 1:17, Margin; Re 21:3). But Maurer translates here, "flowing ringlets"; with these, as with "thongs" (so Lee, from the Arabic translates it) "the King is held" bound (So 6:5; Pr 6:25). Her purple crowns of martyrdom especially captivated the King, appearing from His galleries (Ac 7:55, 56). As Samson's strength was in his locks (Jud 16:17). Here first the daughters see the King themselves.
How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!
6. Nearer advance of the daughters to the Church (Ac 2:47; 5:13, end). Love to her is the first token of love to Him (1Jo 5:1, end).
delights—fascinating charms to them and to the King (So 7:5; Isa 62:4, Hephzi-bah). Hereafter, too (Zep 3:17; Mal 3:12; Re 21:9).
This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
7. palm tree—(Ps 92:12). The sure sign of water near (Ex 15:27; Joh 7:38).
clusters—not of dates, as Moody Stuart thinks. The parallelism (So 7:8), "clusters of the vine," shows it is here clusters of grapes. Vines were often trained (termed "wedded") on other trees.
I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;
8. The daughters are no longer content to admire, but resolve to lay hold of her fruits, high though these be. The palm stem is bare for a great height, and has its crown of fruit-laden boughs at the summit. It is the symbol of triumphant joy (Joh 12:13); so hereafter (Re 7:9).
the vine—Jesus Christ (Ho 14:7, end; Joh 15:1).
nose—that is, breath; the Holy Ghost breathed into her nostrils by Him, whose "mouth is most sweet" (So 5:16).
apples—citrons, off the tree to which He is likened (So 2:3).
And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.
9. roof of thy mouth—thy voice (Pr 15:23).
best wine—the new wine of the gospel kingdom (Mr 14:25), poured out at Pentecost (Ac 2:4, 13, 17).
for my beloved—(So 4:10). Here first the daughters call Him theirs, and become one with the bride. The steps successively are (So 1:5) where they misjudge her (So 3:11); So 5:8, where the possibility of their finding Him, before she regained Him, is expressed; So 5:9 (So 6:1; 7:6, 9; Joh 4:42).
causing … asleep to speak—(Isa 35:6; Mr 5:19, 20; Ac 2:47; Eph 5:14). Jesus Christ's first miracle turned water into "good wine kept until now" (Joh 2:10); just as the Gospel revives those asleep and dying under the law (Pr 31:6; Ro 7:9, 10, 24, 25; 8:1).
I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.
10. Words of the daughters of Jerusalem and the bride, now united into one (Ac 4:32). They are mentioned again distinctly (So 8:4), as fresh converts were being added from among enquirers, and these needed to be charged not to grieve the Spirit.
his desire is toward me—strong assurance. He so desires us, as to give us sense of His desire toward us (Ps 139:17, 18; Lu 22:15; Ga 2:20; 1Jo 4:16).
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages.
11. field—the country. "The tender grape (Maurer translates, flowers) and vines" occurred before (So 2:13). But here she prepares for Him all kinds of fruit old and new; also, she anticipates, in going forth to seek them, communion with Him in "loves." "Early" implies immediate earnestness. "The villages" imply distance from Jerusalem. At Stephen's death the disciples were scattered from it through Judea and Samaria, preaching the word (Ac 8:4-25). Jesus Christ was with them, confirming the word with miracles. They gathered the old fruits, of which Jesus Christ had sown the seed (Joh 4:39-42), as well as new fruits.
lodge—forsaking home for Jesus Christ's sake (Mt 19:29).
Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.
12. (Mr 1:35; Joh 9:4; Ga 6:10). Assurance fosters diligence, not indolence.
The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.
13. mandrakes—Hebrew, dudaim, from a root meaning "to love"; love apples, supposed to exhilarate the spirits and excite love. Only here and Ge 30:14-16. Atropa mandragora of Linnæus; its leaves like lettuce, but dark green, flowers purple, root forked, fruit of the size of an apple, ruddy and sweet-smelling, gathered in wheat harvest, that is, in May (Mariti, ii. 195).
gates—the entrance to the kiosk or summer house. Love "lays up" the best of everything for the person beloved (1Co 10:31; Php 3:8; 1Pe 4:11), thereby really, though unconsciously, laying up for itself (1Ti 6:18, 19).