Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
1. He had been a brother already. Why, then, this prayer here? It refers to the time after His resurrection, when the previous outward intimacy with Him was no longer allowed, but it was implied it should be renewed at the second coming (Joh 20:17). For this the Church here prays; meanwhile she enjoys inward spiritual communion with Him. The last who ever "kissed" Jesus Christ on earth was the traitor Judas. The bride's return with the King to her mother's house answers to Ac 8:25, after the mission to Samaria. The rest spoken of (So 8:4) answers to Ac 9:31.
that sucked … mother—a brother born of the same mother; the closest tie.
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
2. Her desire to bring Him into her home circle (Joh 1:41).
who would instruct me—rather, "thou wouldest instruct me," namely, how I might best please thee (Isa 11:2, 3; 50:4; Lu 12:12; Joh 14:26; 16:13).
spiced wine—seasoned with aromatic perfumes. Jesus Christ ought to have our choicest gifts. Spices are never introduced in the song in His absence; therefore the time of His return from "the mountain of spices" (So 8:14) is contemplated. The cup of betrothal was given by Him at the last supper; the cup or marriage shall be presented by her at His return (Mt 26:29). Till then the believer often cannot feel towards, or speak of, Him as he would wish.
His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
3, 4. The "left and right hand," &c., occurred only once actually (So 2:6), and here optatively. Only at His first manifestation did the Church palpably embrace Him; at His second coming there shall be again sensible communion with Him. The rest in So 8:4, which is a spiritual realization of the wish in So 8:3 (1Pe 1:8), and the charge not to disturb it, close the first, second, and fourth canticles; not the third, as the bridegroom there takes charge Himself; nor the fifth, as, if repose formed its close, we might mistake the present state for our rest. The broken, longing close, like that of the whole Bible (Re 22:20), reminds us we are to be waiting for a Saviour to come. On "daughters of Jerusalem," see on So 7:10.
Canticle V.—(So 8:5-14)—From The Call of the Gentiles to the Close of Revelation.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
5. Who is this—Words of the daughters of Jerusalem, that is, the churches of Judea; referring to Paul, on his return from Arabia ("the wilderness"), whither he had gone after conversion (Ga 1:15-24).
I raised thee … she … bare thee—(Ac 26:14-16). The first words of Jesus Christ to the bride since her going to the garden of nuts (So 6:9, 10); so His appearance to Paul is the only one since His ascension, So 8:13 is not an address of Him as visible: her reply implies He is not visible (1Co 15:8). Spiritually, she was found in the moral wilderness (Eze 16:5; Ho 13:5); but now she is "coming up from" it (Jer 2:2; Ho 2:14), especially in the last stage of her journey, her conscious weakness casting itself the more wholly on Jesus Christ (2Co 12:9). "Raised" (Eph 2:1-7). Found ruined under the forbidden tree (Ge 3:22-24); restored under the shadow of Jesus Christ crucified, "the green tree" (Lu 23:31), fruit-"bearing" by the cross (Isa 53:11; Joh 12:24). "Born again by the Holy Ghost" "there" (Eze 16:3-6). In this verse, her dependence, in the similar verse, So 3:6, &c., His omnipotence to support her, are brought out (De 33:26).
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
6. Implying approaching absence of the Bridegroom.
seal—having her name and likeness engraven on it. His Holy Priesthood also in heaven (Ex 28:6-12, 15-30; Heb 4:14); "his heart" there answering to "thine heart" here, and "two shoulders" to "arm." (Compare Jer 22:24, with Hag 2:23). But the Holy Ghost (Eph 1:13, 14). As in So 8:5, she was "leaning" on Him, that is, her arm on His arm, her head on His bosom; so she prays now that before they part, her impression may be engraven both on His heart and His arm, answering to His love and His power (Ps 77:15; see Ge 38:18; Isa 62:3).
love is strong as death—(Ac 21:13; Ro 8:35-39; Re 12:11). This their love unto death flows from His (Joh 10:15; 15:13).
jealousy … the grave—Zealous love, jealous of all that would come between the soul and Jesus Christ (1Ki 19:10; Ps 106:30, 31; Lu 9:60; 14:26; 1Co 16:22).
cruel—rather, "unyielding" hard, as the grave will not let go those whom it once holds (Joh 10:28).
a most vehement flame—literally, "the fire-flame of Jehovah" (Ps 80:16; Isa 6:6). Nowhere else is God's name found in the Song. The zeal that burnt in Jesus Christ (Ps 69:9; Lu 12:49, 50) kindled in His followers (Ac 2:3; Ro 15:30; Php 2:17).
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
7. waters—in contrast with the "coals of fire" (So 8:6; 1Ki 18:33-38). Persecutions (Ac 8:1) cannot quench love (Heb 10:34; Re 12:15, 16). Our many provocations have not quenched His love (Ro 8:33-39).
if … give all the substance … contemned—Nothing short of Jesus Christ Himself, not even heaven without Him, can satisfy the saint (Php 3:8). Satan offers the world, as to Jesus Christ (Mt 4:8), so to the saint, in vain (1Jo 2:15-17; 5:4). Nothing but our love in turn can satisfy Him (1Co 13:1-3).
We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
8. The Gentile Church (Eze 16:48). "We," that is, the Hebrew Church, which heretofore admitted Gentiles to communion, only by becoming Judaic proselytes. Now first idolatrous Gentiles are admitted directly (Ac 11:17-26). Generally, the saint's anxiety for other souls (Mr 5:19; Joh 4:28, 29).
no breasts—neither faith nor love as yet (see on So 4:5), which "come by hearing" of Him who first loved us. Not yet fit to be His bride, and mother of a spiritual offspring.
what shall we do—the chief question in the early Church at the first council (Ac 15:23-29). How shall "the elder brother" treat the "younger," already received by the Father (Lu 15:25-32)? Generally (2Sa 15:15; Joh 9:4; Ac 9:6; Ga 6:10).
In the day … spoken for—that is, when she shall be sought in marriage (Jud 14:7), namely, by Jesus Christ, the heavenly bridegroom.
If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.
9. wall … door—the very terms employed as to the Gentile question (Ac 14:27; Eph 2:14). If she be a wall in Zion, founded on Jesus Christ (1Co 3:11), we will not "withstand God" (Ac 11:17; 15:8-11). But if so, we must not "build" (Ac 15:14-17) on her "wood, hay, stubble" (1Co 3:12), that is, Jewish rites, &c., but "a palace of silver," that is, all the highest privileges of church communion (Ga 2:11-18; Eph 2:11-22). Image from the splendid turrets "built" on the "walls" of Jerusalem, and flanking the "door," or gateway. The Gentile Church is the "door," the type of catholic accessibleness (1Co 16:9); but it must be not a mere thoroughfare but furnished with a wooden framework, so as not merely to admit, but also to safely enclose: cedar is fragrant, beautiful, and enduring.
I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
10. The Gentile Church's joy at its free admission to gospel privileges (Ac 15:30, 31). She is one wall in the spiritual temple of the Holy Ghost, the Hebrew Church is the other; Jesus Christ, the common foundation, joins them (Eph 2:11-22).
breasts … towers—alluding to the silver palace, which the bridal virgins proposed to build on her (So 8:9). "Breasts" of consolation (Isa 66:11); faith and love (1Th 5:8); opposed to her previous state, "no breasts" (So 8:8; 2Th 1:3). Thus Eze 16:46, 61 was fulfilled, both Samaria and the Gentiles being joined to the Jewish gospel Church.
favour—rather, "peace." The Gentile Church too is become the Shulamite (So 6:13), or peace-enjoying bride of Solomon, that is, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Ro 5:1; Eph 2:14). Reject not those whom God accepts (Nu 11:28; Lu 9:49; Ac 15:8, 9). Rather, superadd to such every aid and privilege (So 8:9).
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
11. The joint Church speaks of Jesus Christ's vineyard. Transference of it from the Jews, who rendered not the fruits, as is implied by the silence respecting any, to the Gentiles (Mt 21:33-43).
Baal-hamon—equivalent to the owner of a multitude; so Israel in Solomon's day (1Ki 4:20); so Isa 5:1, "a very fruitful hill" abounding in privileges, as in numbers.
thousand pieces—namely, silverlings, or shekels. The vineyard had a thousand vines probably; a vine at a silverling (Isa 7:23), referring to this passage.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
12. "mine" by grant of the true Solomon. Not merely "let out to keepers," as in the Jewish dispensation of works, but "mine" by grace. This is "before me," that is, in my power [Maurer]. But though no longer under constraint of "keeping" the law as a mere letter and covenant of works, love to Jesus Christ will constrain her the more freely to render all to Solomon (Ro 8:2-4; 1Co 6:20; Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:16), after having paid what justice and His will require should be paid to others (1Co 7:29-31; 9:14). "Before me" may also mean "I will never lose sight of it" (contrast So 1:6) [Moody Stuart]. She will not keep it for herself, though so freely given to her, but for His use and glory (Lu 19:13; Ro 6:15; 14:7-9; 1Co 12:7). Or the "two hundred" may mean a double tithe (two-tenths of the whole paid back by Jesus Christ) as the reward of grace for our surrender of all (the thousand) to Him (Ga 6:7; Heb 6:10); then she and "those that keep" are the same [Adelaide Newton]. But Jesus Christ pays back not merely two tithes, but His all for our all (1Co 3:21-23).
Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.
13. Jesus Christ's address to her; now no longer visibly present. Once she "had not kept" her vineyard (So 1:6); now she "dwells" in it, not as its owner, but its superintendent under Jesus Christ, with vinedressers ("companions"), for example, Paul, &c. (Ac 15:25, 26), under her (So 8:11, 12); these ought to obey her when she obeys Jesus Christ. Her voice in prayer and praise is to be heard continually by Jesus Christ, if her voice before men is to be effective (So 2:14, end; Ac 6:4; 13:2, 3).
Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
14. (See on So 2:17). As she began with longing for His first coming (So 1:2), so she ends with praying for His second coming (Ps 130:6; Php 3:20, 21; Re 22:20). Moody Stuart makes the roe upon spices to be the musk deer. As there are four gardens, so four mountains, which form not mere images, as Gilead, Carmel, &c., but part of the structure of the Song: (1) Bether, or division (So 2:17), God's justice dividing us from God. (2) Those "of leopards" (So 4:8), sin, the world, and Satan. (3) That "of myrrh and aloes" (So 4:6, 14), the sepulchre of Calvary. (4) Those "of spices," here answering to "the hill of frankincense" (So 4:6), where His soul was for the three days of His death, and heaven, where He is a High Priest now, offering incense for us on the fragrant mountain of His own finished work (Heb 4:14, 7:25; Re 8:3, 4); thus He surmounts the other three mountains, God's justice, our sin, death. The mountain of spices is as much greater than our sins, as heaven is higher than earth (Ps 103:11). The abrupt, unsatisfied close with the yearning prayer for His visible coming shows that the marriage is future, and that to wait eagerly for it is our true attitude (1Co 1:7; 1Th 1:10; Tit 2:13; 2Pe 3:12).