Matthew Poole's Commentary
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.Christ answereth the church’s invitation, and showeth her the delight he took in her fruit, Song of Solomon 5:1. She acknowledges her negligence to Christ in not opening the door, Song of Solomon 5:2-6. Of the harsh usage she met with, Song of Solomon 5:7. She tells the daughters of Jerusalem she is sick of love to Christ. Song of Solomon 5:8. Their question concerning him, Song of Solomon 5:9. A description of Christ by his graces, Song of Solomon 5:10-15, in whom she boasteth, Song of Solomon 5:16.
I am come into my garden: this is the Bridegroom’s answer to her request, delivered in the next foregoing words.
I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey; I have drunk my wine, with my milk; I have eaten of my pleasant fruits, as thou didst desire. I have taken notice of, and delight in, the service and obedience of my people.
Friends; the friends of the Bridegroom; whereby he understands either,
1. The holy angels and glorified saints, who in a sublime and spiritual sense may be said to eat and drink in heaven, the happiness whereof is frequently represented under the name and notion of a feast. Or rather,
2. Believers or members of the church militant upon earth, who by the argument of Christ’s gracious presence with them, and acceptation of their works signified in the last words, are here invited and encouraged with great freedom and cheerfulness to eat and drink their spiritual food, to feed upon God’s holy word and sacraments, to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God, who here gives them a hearty welcome to this feast.
I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.I sleep, Heb. I was asleep, i.e. I was dull, and sluggish, and insensible of his kind expressions and offers of grace.
But my heart waketh; yet in my very sleep my thoughts were running upon my Beloved, as is not unusual in such cases, which at last awakened me. Thus she implies the conflict which was between the flesh and the Spirit, and the Spirit’s victory in the combat.
It is the voice of my Beloved; between sleeping and waking I fancied that I heard his voice.
That knocketh, by his word, and providence, and Spirit, at the door of mine heart, desirous that I would receive him by faith and love. Compare Revelation 3:20. Saying,
Open to me; inviting me to accept of his gracious offers, and to let him in to my soul.
My sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: this heap of kind compellations signifies Christ’s sincere and fervent affection to his people, notwithstanding her manifold imperfections and infirmities. The title of
dove signifies her chastity and constant faithfulness to her Husband, for which doves are famous. How she is undefiled, See Poole "Song of Solomon 4:7".
My head is filled with dew, whilst I wait without thy door. He alludes to the custom of lovers, which oft and willingly suffer such inconveniences for their hopes and desires of enjoying their beloved, and signifies his sufferings for the church’s good.
The drops of the night; the dew which falls in the end of the night, or towards the morning, whence it is called morning dew, Hosea 6:4.
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?I have put off my coat, my day clothes, as persons use to do when they go to rest.
How shall I put it on? it is inconvenient and troublesome to do it at this time. Thus she tacitly reflects upon the Bridegroom for coming to her so unseasonably, and giving her such disturbance, and puts him off to another time, and excuseth her non-admission of him by her present indisposition, and the difficulty of the thing required of her.
I have washed my feet; which the Eastern people commonly did when they went to bed, partly to cool their feet, and partly to cleanse them from that dust and sweat which they had contracted in the day time by labour and travel, as being used to go barefoot.
My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.My Beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door; he assayed to open the door. When his word would not prevail, his Spirit, which is called the finger of God, Luke 11:20, compared with Matthew 12:28, wrought inwardly upon my conscience, and affected mine heart. My bowels were moved for him, with compassion for him and his sufferings, and with affection to him; for both these ways is this phrase off used, as Job 37:1 Philippians 2:1,2, &c.
I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.I rose up to open to my Beloved; I repented of my former drowsiness and neglect, and went forth to receive him.
My hands dropped with myrrh, i.e. with oil or ointment made of myrrh, which either,
1. She had taken out of her own stock to prepare herself for the entertainment of the Bridegroom; or rather,
2. Dropped from the Bridegroom’s hand upon the door in great abundance, when he put it into the hole of the door, Song of Solomon 5:4, and consequently upon her hands and fingers when she touched the door to open it. By which she signifies that Christ, though he withdrew himself from her, yet left a sweet savour behind him, infusing into her, and stirring up in her, the graces of the Spirit, such as repentance, which is bitter as myrrh, earnest desire after Christ, &c.
With sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock, Heb. with myrrh passing or flowing upon the handles of the lock, which place the Bridegroom had touched when he attempted to open it.
I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.Withdrawn himself; denied me his gracious and comfortable presence, as a just punishment for my former neglect and folly.
And was gone; either she repeats the same thing to show how deeply she was affected with it; or this is added to imply that he had not only stepped aside, but was quite gone away.
My soul failed, Heb. went out of me. I fainted and was ready to die away through excessive passion, as this phrase is used, Genesis 35:18 42:28, and elsewhere.
When he spake; or, for what he spoke; for those endearing expressions related Song of Solomon 5:2, which then I did not heed, but this sad occasion brings them to my remembrance; as ofttimes that word which is ineffectual when it is preached, is afterwards brought to a man’s mind, and, produceth blessed effects.
I sought him by diligent inquiry and importunate prayer. He gave me no answer; that so he might both chastise her folly, and quicken her desires, and prepare the way for a more hearty welcome, and his longer abode with her.
The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.The watchmen that went about the city; the governors of the church, as Song of Solomon 3:3, who, though by their place and office they be obliged, to comfort and protect the faithful, do frequently discourage and oppress them, as they manifestly did both in the days of Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and the other holy prophets, and in the time of Christ and his apostles, and in divers other ages.
They wounded me with bitter calumnies and persecutions.
The keepers of the walls; the same with the watchmen, whose office is to keep the gates and walls of the city.
Took away my veil; which was an ornament of her sex, Isaiah 3:23, and a badge of her modesty, Genesis 24:65, or an ensign of her relation and subjection to Christ, Genesis 20:16 1 Corinthians 11:5. And so the taking of this veil away signifies their contemptuous and injurious usage of her, their endeavours to blast her reputation, and to represent and treat her as a common and impudent prostitute, and as one that had no relation to Christ.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.Daughters of Jerusalem; of whom See Poole "Song of Solomon 1:5", See Poole "Song of Solomon 2:7". The church having passed the watchmen, and patiently borne, and in a manner forgotten, their injuries, proceeds in the pursuit of her Beloved, and inquires of every particular believer or professor whom she meets concerning him.
That I am sick of love; that I am ready to faint for want of his presence, and the tokens of his favour. Use all your interest and importunity with him on my behalf.
What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?What is thy Beloved more than another beloved? wherein doth he excel them? which professors of religion might ask, because they were ignorant of Christ’s excellency; and true believers might ask it, that they might be more fully informed of it, and might give the spouse occasion to discourse of that subject which was very grateful to them.
O thou fairest among women; whose beauty may command the respects and affections of the most worthy persons; and therefore we conclude it must be some person of transcendent excellency with whom thou art so highly enamoured.
My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.White and ruddy; which two colours rightly mixed together make a face beautiful. Or the white may note his pure and spotless innocency, and the brightness of his glory and majesty, and the ruddy colour may intimate his bloody passion, which made him amiable both to God and men.
The chiefest, Heb. the standard-bearer; for such are usually persons of great eminency, both for stature, and courage, and dignity.
Among ten thousand; among all persons, angels or men. A certain number is put for an uncertain. There are other kings, and priests, and prophets, but none to be compared with him.
His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.His head is as the most fine gold; it shines like gold, not in respect of the hair, which is black, as it followeth, but by reason of his crown of pure gold upon his head, Revelation 14:14; whereby she implies that her Bridegroom was a King, which she declared above, Song of Solomon 5:11.
His locks; in which a part of man’s beauty consists. I shall not trouble my reader with a distinct application of this and the following particulars unto some special part or excellency of Christ, because such things are mere conjectures without any solid grounds, and the only design of this description seems to be this, to set forth the beauty of Christ under the notion of a most complete and amiable person, in whom there is no defect nor blemish, from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.
Black as a raven; which is mentioned, partly because this was esteemed a beauty, and partly because it was an evidence of his youth and rigour, as grey hairs are characters of age and infirmity, Hosea 7:9.
His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.His eyes are as the eyes of doves, lovely and pleasant, chaste and innocent.
By the rivers of waters; where they delight to abide, and wherewith they bathe themselves, and wash their eyes; where also their eyes are most lively and beautiful, both by the reflection of the waters, and from that pleasure which they take in such places.
Washed with milk; which may belong either,
1. To the eyes, which are supposed to be washed with water, as white and pure as milk; or,
2. To the doves, which are intimated to be of a milk-white colour, which in those parts was most esteemed, which colour also made the eyes appear more lovely.
Fitly set; neither sinking into the head, nor standing out too much, but in a moderate and comely situation. Heb. sitting in fulness; which may note a full and competently large eye, which is esteemed one beauty of the eye.
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.His cheeks; his face or countenance, an eminent part whereof is the cheeks, in which the beauty or deformity of a face doth much consist.
As a bed; which being higher than other parts of the garden, fitly represents the cheeks, which are higher than other parts of the face.
Of spices; not of dry spices, for they are not in beds; but of aromatical flowers, which delight both the eye with a pleasant prospect, and the smell with their fragrancy. This may also signify the down or hair upon the Bridegroom’s cheeks, which is the evidence of his mature and vigorous age, and may denote that Christ’s sweetness and gentleness is accompanied with majesty, and gravity, and just severity.
Sweet flowers: this may be added to explain the former phrase. Or,
towers of perfumes, i.e. boxes in which perfumes were put, which by their height or form had some resemblance to a turret.
His lips like lilies; beautiful and pleasant. Or this is meant of that sort of lilies which were of a red or purple colour, as ancient writers affirm, and so signify the grateful colour of the lips. This may note that grace which was poured into Christ’s lips, and which flowed from them in sweet and excellent discourses.
Dropping sweet smelling myrrh; not only graceful to the eye, as lilies are, but also fragrant to the smell.
His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.His hands; the instruments of action and of distribution, which may design the actions of Christ, and particularly his distributing gifts and graces to his members.
As gold rings set with the beryl; beautiful and precious, and richly adorned, as it were with gold rings set with precious stones.
His belly; which seems to be here used, either,
1. Metonymically for the bowels, which are contained in the belly. Or rather,
2. Synecdochically, for the whole body, reaching from the neck, to the bottom of the belly, which is distinguished from the face and the joints, which are described in the other clauses. For he speaks here of those parts which are visible to the eye. And thus here is a complete description of Christ’s beauty in all parts, from his head to his feet.
As bright ivory overlaid with sapphires; of a pure and bright white colour, intermixed with blue veins; for some sapphires are of a bright blue colour.
His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.His legs; the instruments of local motion, and the supporters of the body.
As pillars of marble; white, and straight, and well shaped, and strong; which may note the firmness and stability of Christ’s kingdom in spite of all opposition.
Set upon sockets of fine gold; which add both beauty and strength to them. These may note his feet compared to gold, either for their great price and worth, or for their singular brightness, for which they are compared to fine brass, Revelation 1:15; or, as others, for his golden shoes, wherewith they were covered or adorned, as the spouse is commended from her shoes, Song of Solomon 7:1.
His countenance, Heb. his aspect or appearance; his form or person, as this Hebrew word is elsewhere used.
As Lebanon, in respect of its cedars, as the next words explain it, to wit, tall, and upright, and stately, and withal pleasant to the eye.
His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.His mouth is most sweet, which was said before in other words, Song of Solomon 5:13, and is here justly repeated, because it was a principal part of Christ’s beauty, and the chief instrument of the spouse’s comfort and happiness, which wholly depends upon his sweet and excellent speeches, his holy precepts and gracious offers and promises contained in the gospel. He is altogether lovely; not to run out into more particulars, in one word, there is no part of him which is not exquisitely beautiful.
This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem, and therefore you have no cause to wonder or to blame me if I am transported with love to so excellent a personage.