Matthew Poole's 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.A further description of the church’ s graces, Song of Solomon 7:1-7. This design to visit the church, with the blessed effect thereof, Song of Solomon 7:8,9. She professeth her faith and desire, Song of Solomon 7:10. She inviteth him to communion with her, Song of Solomon 7:11. The end thereof, Song of Solomon 7:12,13.
The Bridegroom, who spake the last words, here continueth his speech, and breaks forth into an elegant and particular description and commendation of the spouse, partly from the parts of her body, and partly from her ornaments; in which the same thing is to be observed which was noted concerning her description of the Bridegroom, that there is no necessity of a distinct application of every parcel of it, the design being only this, to describe the beauty and glory of the church under the representation of a beautiful and noble woman. This also is observable, that in the description of Christ she begins at the head, and so goeth downward, Song of Solomon 5:11, &c., but Christ in the description of the spouse proceedeth from the feet upwards.
Feet being the chief instrument of our motion from place to place, is oft used metonymically for the motion itself, and so may here signify either the inward motions, the workings of the affections, or the outward motions, the steps or actions of the life, both which are right and amiable in believers.
Shoes were anciently evidences of a free and comfortable state, whereas slaves and mourners use to go barefoot, 2 Samuel 15:30 Isaiah 20:4, which also in women of high quality were adorned with gold and other ornaments; of which see Isaiah 3:18. These may also signify that the feet of believers should be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:15. Prince’s daughter, both by birth, being born of God, and by disposition and deportment agreeable to that quality.
The joints of thy thighs; either,
1. The hollow place in which the hip or thigh-bone moveth and turneth itself; or rather,
2. The hip or thighbone which moveth there; for this is more fitly compared to a jewel well set. Some understand this of some ornaments worn by women upon those parts; for the word rendered joints may signify girdles, or any ornament which encompasseth any part of the body, and the same words which signify thighs are both in Hebrew and other languages sometimes used concerning the legs; which being admitted, this might seem to be understood of the bride’s garters, about her legs, which not unfitly follows the shoes upon her feet last mentioned. But this sense seems not to suit so well with the following comparison as the former doth.
Like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman; like jewels orderly and excellently set by a skillful artist. So this signifies the uprightness and decency of her going, which depends very much upon the right situation of the hip or thigh-bone, which when it is dislocated or disordered causeth a lameness or uncomeliness in going; whereby he understands the orderliness and amiableness of her conversation.
Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.Thy navel is like a round goblet, to which it is not unfitly compared, because it is of a round form, and hollow, and hath windings and circlings in it,
which wanteth not liquor; thy navel is not only comely, but fruitful. For the navel is the proper instrument of nourishing the child or children which are in the womb. And so this seems to signify the church’s fruitfulness, partly in herself, in cherishing and improving all the graces and good motions of God’s Spirit within her; and principally in reference to those many children which she bears and feeds in her womb with the wholesome liquor of God’s ordinances. Thy belly, in which thy children are for a time contained and fed, is like a heap of wheat, i.e. of wheat corn, round and swelling, as it is in women with child, and full of nourishment, not only of liquor, as was last said, but also of meat, which may note the various provisions which Christ hath laid up in his church according to the several capacities of her children, milk for babes, and stronger meat for those who are grown up. Set about with lilies; not for defence, which the church doth not need, having the strong God for her Protector, but for ornament and beauty; whereby is implied that she is not only fruitful, but beautiful, and that her children are not only numerous and well fed, but also comely and delightful to the eye, as lilies are, and withal pure and innocent, in which respect both Christ and the church are compared to lilies, Song of Solomon 2:1,2.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.Which is repeated from Song of Solomon 4:5, where it is explained.
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.Thy neck, of which See Poole "Song of Solomon 4:4",
is as a tower of ivory, clear, and smooth, and long, and straight, and erected.
Thine eyes, See Poole "Song of Solomon 1:15"; See Poole "Song of Solomon 4:1",
like the fishpools, full, and clear, and quiet, and pleasant. Possibly here were two fish-pools, which being conveniently seated in a large field, might bear some resemblance to the eyes placed in the head.
Heshbon; a pleasant and well-watered city, beyond Jordan, as we may guess from Numbers 32, where doubtless there were some eminent and well-known fish-pools, as further appears by the exact description of the particular place here following, in which they were.
Thy nose; the instrument of smelling, and discerning between pleasant and loathsome things; which may signify the church’s sagacity in discerning between good and evil;
is as the tower of Lebanon; which though it be not elsewhere mentioned, was in all probability built by Solomon in the mountain of Lebanon, which was the northern border of the land of Israel towards Damascus, and therefore a very fit place for a watch-tower. To this tower her nose is compared, not for its greatness, but for its comely and convenient proportions, and beautiful aspect, which doubtless were in this as well as in the rest of Solomon’s buildings.
Which looketh toward Damascus; which words seem to be added to distinguish this from another tower or building in or near to Jerusalem, which was called the house of the forest of Lebanon, 1 Kings 7:2.
Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.Thine head, which may signify the church’s mind or understanding, which is seated in the head,
upon thee, which is upon thee, or above the rest of thy body,
is like Carmel, eminent and pleasant to the eye, and fruitful as Mount Carmel was, as hath been formerly noted; which may note that her mind was adorned and replenished with knowledge and other excellent gifts of the Holy Ghost. Or, as others render it, like crimson or purple, which is called Carmel, 2 Chronicles 2:7 3:14, because those fishes out of which they had their purple were taken in the sea bordering upon Mount Carmel. And so the same thing is repeated in the next clause in other words.
Like purple; which colour was anciently much esteemed and commended, as by sacred, so also by profane writers.
The king is held in the galleries; in which he walketh, and having once espied thee, is captivated by thee, and unable or unwilling either to depart or to take off his eyes from thee, as if he were fast bound and chained to thee. The galleries may note either the ordinances, or rather the churches, in which Christ walketh, Revelation 2:1, in which Christ and believers converse together.
How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!How fair and how pleasant art thou? it were infinite to reckon up all the particulars of thy beauty; in one word, thou art universally amiable beyond expression.
For delights; for those various lovely features which are in thee, and for the great and manifold delights which are or may be enjoyed in conversing with thee.
This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.Like to a palm tree, tall and straight, or upright, as a tree. And he seems to mention the palm tree rather than any other, partly because it grows more directly upward than other trees; and partly because it is constantly green and flourishing, and groweth upward in spite of all pressures, and therefore was used in festival solemnities, Leviticus 23:40 John 12:13, and was a symbol of victory, Revelation 7:9; in all which respects it fitly represents the state of believers.
Clusters, large, and round, and full of juice. See Poole "Song of Solomon 7:3". This particular is added as an evidence of her maturity and married estate, and of her fruitfulness.
Grapes; which word may easily be supplied out of the next verse. Although the fruit of the palm tree also is said to grow in clusters.
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;I said within myself, I resolved,
I will go up to the palm tree; I will climb up, that so I may
take hold, as it follows, of the boughs, which do not grow out of the sides, as in other trees, but only at the top of it.
I will take hold of the boughs thereof, partly to prune and dress them, and partly to gather the fruit; whereby is signified Christ’s care of his church, and his delight in her.
Of thy nose; of thy breath; which is oft called the breath of or in a man’s nostrils, Genesis 7:22 Isaiah 2:22 Lamentations 4:20.
Like apples; either,
1. Common apples, which sometimes yield a very pleasant smell. Or,
2. Odoriferous apples. See Poole "Song of Solomon 2:5".
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.The roof of thy mouth; either,
1. Thy speech, the palate being one of the principal instruments of speech; or rather,
2. Thy taste, whereof the palate or roof of the mouth is the most proper and principal instrument, Job 34:3. But then this is not to be understood actively of her taste, but passively of the taste or relish which her Beloved had of her; as in the foregoing clause, the smell of her nose was not meant subjectively or actively of that sense of smelling which was seated in her nose, but objectively or passively of the breath of her nostrils, which was sweet to the smell of her Beloved.
Like the best wine, grateful and refreshing. For my beloved; either,
1. For thee my beloved, who reapest the comfort and benefit of that pleasure which I take in time; or,
2. For me thy Beloved, or, according to thy usual expression,
for my Beloved; which words Christ takes as it were out of her mouth, and repeats them emphatically; which agrees very well to the style and usage of these dramatical and amaropious writings. And this clause further intimates the church’s loyalty or faithfulness to Christ, that she reserves herself and all her loves for Christ alone.
That goeth down sweetly; whereas bad wine either goeth down slowly and tediously, or is not permitted to go down at all; Heb. that walketh directly; or, that moveth itself aright; which is given as the character of good wine, Proverbs 23:31.
Causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak; causing the most dull, and stupid, and sleepy-headed persons to speak, and that fluently and eloquently, which is a common effect of good wine.
I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.This and the following verses contain the words of the bride, in answer to the Bridegroom’s most endearing expressions delivered in the foregoing verses.
His desire is toward me; I perceive, and am fully satisfied, that he heartily loves me. It is my duty to have my desire towards him as my Husband, according to God’s sentence, Genesis 3:16, but it is a wonderful condescension in him, that his desire is towards me.
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages.Let us go forth into the field; that being retired from the crowd, we may more freely and sweetly converse together, and may observe the state of the fruits of the earth. In the villages; in one of the villages, as cities is put for one of the cities, Judges 12:7.
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.Let us get up early: the church having offended and lost her Beloved by her former laziness, now doubles her diligence, and discovers how earnestly she was set upon the following work.
To the vineyards; to particular congregations. See Song of Solomon 6:11 Isaiah 5:1.
Let us see if the vines flourish &c.; let us inquire into the success of our labours, what souls are brought in and built up, how they prosper and grow in grace, whether they abound in good works, &c.
There will I give thee my loves; there I will discover the sincerity and fervency of my affections to thee, and maintain communion with thee in thy holy ordinances.
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.Mandrakes: this Hebrew word is used Genesis 30:14,15, and the signification of it is very much doubted and disputed by interpreters; of which see my Latin Synopsis on that place. But this is certain, that the word signifies sweet and pleasant flowers; and therefore if it be understood of mandrakes, they were of another sort than ours, as it is no unusual thing for flowers of the same kind in several climates to have very differing natures and qualities.
At our gates; either,
1. Growing there upon the walls, or in gardens, or orchards, near the door of our dwellinghouse. Or rather,
2. Brought thither by divers persons to congratulate and adorn our nuptials, or laid up for our entertainment, as may be gathered from the nature of the fruits, which were not only new, and growing, but also old, and laid up, as it here follows.
Fruits new and old; fruits of this year and of the former, that the variety might delight; which seems to be spiritually meant of the various fruits and operations of the Spirit and degrees of grace in several believers.
Which I have laid up for thee; which have been produced by my ministry for thy service and glory.