Song of Solomon 1:16
Behold, you are fair, my beloved, yes, pleasant: also our bed is green.
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(16) Our bed is green.—The heroine replies in similar terms of admiration, and recalls “the happy woodland places” in which they were wont to meet.

Song of Solomon 1:16-17. Behold, thou art fair — The church here again speaks, and retorts Christ’s words; thou, and thou only, art fair indeed; yea, pleasant — As thou art beautiful in thyself, so thou art amiable and pleasant in thy condescension to me. Also, our bed — This seems to denote the place where the church enjoys sweet fellowship with Christ, by his Spirit accompanying his ordinances; is green — Is pleasant, as that colour to the eye. The beams of our house are cedar — Not only strong, but also fragrant and delightful; and our rafters of fir — Or, rather, as the ancients and others render ברותים, of cypress; which also was strong and fragrant, and therefore suits well with cedar. 1:9-17 The Bridegroom gives high praises of his spouse. In the sight of Christ believers are the excellent of the earth, fitted to be instruments for promoting his glory. The spiritual gifts and graces which Christ bestows on every true believer, are described by the ornaments then in use, ver. 10,11. The graces of the saints are many, but there is dependence upon each other. He who is the Author, will be the Finisher of the good work. The grace received from Christ's fulness, springs forth into lively exercises of faith, affection, and gratitude. Yet Christ, not his gifts, is most precious to them. The word translated camphire, signifies atonement or propitiation. Christ is dear to all believers, because he is the propitiation for their sins. No pretender must have his place in the soul. They resolved to lodge him in their hearts all the night; during the continuance of the troubles of life. Christ takes delight in the good work which his grace has wrought on the souls of believers. This should engage all who are made holy, to be very thankful for that grace which has made those fair, who by nature were deformed. The spouse (the believer) has a humble, modest eye, discovering simplicity and godly sincerity; eyes enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, that blessed Dove. The church expresses her value for Christ. Thou art the great Original, but I am but a faint and imperfect copy. Many are fair to look at, yet their temper renders them unpleasant: but Christ is fair, yet pleasant. The believer, ver. 16, speaks with praise of those holy ordinances in which true believers have fellowship with Christ. Whether the believer is in the courts of the Lord, or in retirement; whether following his daily labours, or confined on the bed of sickness, or even in a dungeon, a sense of the Divine presence will turn the place into a paradise. Thus the soul, daily having fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, enjoys a lively hope of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance above.Camphire - Rather, כפר kôpher," from which "cyprus" is probably derived (in the margin misspelled "cypress "),the name by which the plant called by the Arabs "henna" was known to the Greeks and Romans. It is still much esteemed throughout the East for the fragrance of its flowers and the dye extracted from its leaves. Engedi was famous for its vines, and the henna may have been cultivated with the vines in the same enclosures. 16. Reply of the Bride. She presumes to call Him beloved, because He called her so first. Thou callest me "fair"; if I am so, it is not in myself; it is all from Thee (Ps 90:17); but Thou art fair in Thyself (Ps 45:2).

pleasant—(Pr 3:17) towards Thy friends (2Sa 1:26).

bed … green—the couch of green grass on which the King and His bride sit to "rest at noon." Thus her prayer in So 1:7 is here granted; a green oasis in the desert, always found near waters in the East (Ps 23:2; Isa 41:17-19). The scene is a kiosk, or summer house. Historically, the literal resting of the Babe of Beth-lehem and his parents on the green grass provided for cattle (Lu 2:7, 12). In this verse there is an incidental allusion, in So 1:15, to the offering (Lu 2:24). So the "cedar and fir" ceiling refers to the temple (1Ki 5:6-10; 6:15-18); type of the heavenly temple (Re 21:22).

Behold, thou art fair, my beloved. The church here again speaks, and retorts Christ’s words upon himself: If I am fair, it is only by thy grace and favourable acceptation; thou, and thou only, art fair indeed, thy beauty is exquisite and perfect.

Pleasant; as thou art beautiful in thyself, so thou art amiable and pleasant in thy condescension to me, and converse with me, in communicating thy blessed counsels, and graces, and comforts to me. Our bed; either,

1. Upon which we sit at meat, as the manner then was, Esther 1:5,6 Eze 23:41. Or rather,

2. Upon which we lie, our nuptial bed; for the union and communion between Christ and his church is here represented under the notion of marriage. And accordingly the bed seems to denote the place or places where the church enjoyeth sweet fellowship with Christ, by his Spirit accompanying his ordinances, and imparting his merits, and graces, and comforts to her.

Is green; is pleasant, as that colour is to the eye; is prepared for us, being adorned with green garlands, or boughs and herbs, as the manner seems to have been with country brides, such as the spouse in this book is represented to be. Or, as others, both ancient and later interpreters, render it, is flourishing, i.e. fruitful. So it is a happy presage, that the church should not be barren, but bring forth many children to Christ; of which see Isaiah 54:1, &c. By these and the following words the church invites Christ to her bed and house, where she may freely and fully enjoy spiritual communion with him. Behold, thou art fair, my beloved,.... These are the words of the church, giving back to Christ his commendation of her, and much in the same words, as more properly belonging to him than her; he calls her "my love", she calls him "my beloved": he says that she was "fair"; the same she says of him, with a like note of wonder, attention, and asseveration, he had prefixed to the commendation of her; suggesting, that his fairness and beauty were essential, original, and underived, but hers was all from him; and therefore he only ought to have the character: he, as man, is "fairer" than the children of men; as Mediator, is full of grace and truth, which makes him look lovely in the eyes of his people; and, as a divine Person, is the brightness of his Father's glory. To which she adds,

yea, pleasant; looks pleasantly, with a smiling countenance on his people, being the image of the invisible God; pleasant to behold, as the sun of righteousness, and Saviour of men; pleasant in all his offices and relations; the doctrines of his Gospel are pleasant words; his ways, his ordinances, are ways of pleasantness; and especially having his presence, and communion with him in them; and which may be designed in the next clause;

also our bed is green; the same with "his bed which is Solomon's"; his by gift and purchase; the church's, by having a right through him, and an admittance to all the privileges of it: where the word is preached, ordinances administered, souls are begotten and born again, there Christ and his church have fellowship with each other; said to be "green", in allusion to the strewing of beds with green herbs and leaves, and branches of trees (h); particularly the nuptial bed, called from thence "thalamus" (i): and it may denote the fruitfulness of the saints in grace and holiness, like green olive trees, in the house of God: or else numerous converts in the church, a large spiritual seed and offspring of Christ and the church, as were in the first times of the Gospel, and will be in the latter day: a green bed is an emblem of fruitfulness in the conjugal state; so the Targum and Jarchi interpret it.

(h) Vid. Alstorph. de Lectis Veterum, c. 1. p. 2. s. 9, 10. "Viridante toro consederat herbae", Virgil. Aeneid. 5. v. 388. "In medo torus est de mollibus ulvis impositus lecto", Ovid. Metamorph. 8. v. 685. (i) Alstorph. ibid. c. 13. p. 73, 74.

Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our {u} bed is green.

(u) That is, the heart of the faithful, in which Christ dwells by his Spirit.

16. our bed is green] R.V. rightly, our couch. She recalls the green sward of the meadows, or possibly some leafy arbour where she had reclined with her beloved. Siegfried would understand the words of the marriage bed, sprinkled with sweet smelling substances; but that is incompatible with the following verse, and is moreover not supported by Psalm 92:10, where the word translated ‘green’ here is rendered by ‘fresh,’ for in all probability it ought to be translated ‘green’ there also, since the best kind of olive oil is green. Cp. Riehm’s Hdwb. 11. p. 1123.Verse 16-ch. 2:1. - Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant; also our couch is green. The beams of our house are cedars, and our rafters are firs. I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley. We take these three verses together as being, in all probability, the address of the bride to her royal husband. This was the view taken by the Masoretic editors and preserved in our present pointing of the Hebrew, as we see in the masculine form of the first word, הִגֶּך, which replies to the feminine form in ver. 15, הִגָּך. The seventeenth verse is apparently abrupt. Why should the bride pass so suddenly from the general address of affection, "Thou art fair, thou art pleasant," to a particular description of a rural scene? The explanation suggested by some of the critics is not farfetched, that Solomon whispers to her that she shall go back with him to her country life if she pleases, or she reminds him of his promise made at some other time. Undoubtedly the point of Shulamith's response lies in ch. 2:1, "I am not at ease in this palatial splendour; I am by nature a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley. Take me to the green couch, and let me lie under the cedars and the firs." The couch is the divan (cf. Amos 6:4), from a root "to cover over" (like "canopy" in Greek, κωνωπεῖον, so called from its protecting the person under it from the κώνεπες, or "gnats). It is not that the nuptial bed is particularly intended, or even the bridal bower, but the home itself as a bowery resting place. "Our home is a sweet country home; take me, there, beloved one." The word "green" is very suggestive in the Hebrew. It is said to "combine in itself the ideas of softness and juicy freshness, perhaps of bending and elasticity, of looseness and thus of overhanging ramification, like weeping willow." Beams, from a root "to meet," "to lay crosswise," "to hold together." But the meaning depends upon the idea of the whole description. Some would render "fretted ceilings," or "galleries;" but Dr. Ginsburg gives it, "our bower is of cedar arches," which excludes the idea of a formal structure made of cedar beams. The same meaning is conveyed in the last clause, "our rafters are firs." The word rendered "rafters" (יָחִיט) literally signifies "a place upon which one runs" (like שׁוּק, a "street"), i.e. a charming or pleasant spot. The beroth is the cypress tree, an Aramaic word, or one used in the north of Palestine. The meaning is, "our pleasant retreat is cypresses" - is beautiful and fragrant with the cypress tree. Delitzsch, however, and others would take it differently as describing the panels or hollows of a wainscoted ceiling, like φατναί, lacunae, lacunaria, and the LXX., φατνωμάτα: Symmachus, φατνωσεῖς: Jerome, laquearii (cf. Isaiah 60:13). But the concluding words would then be unfitting. The bride is not describing a splendid palace, but a country home. "I am a tender maiden," she says, "who has been brought up in retirement; take me to a forest palace and to the green, fragrant surroundings, where the meadow flower, the valley lily will be happy." We are so accustomed to the rendering of Song of Solomon 2:1, which our Revised Version has adopted from the Authorized, that it would be wrong to destroy the effect which it borrows from long familiarity unless it were absolutely necessary. The word chavatseleth, however, has been differently translated; it is literally any wild flower - rose, saffron crocus (Colchieum autumnale), tulip, narcissus, lily. The crocus is, perhaps, nearest . to the meaning, as the name is probably derived from a root "to form bulbs" or bulbous knolls. It occurs only once again, in Isaiah 35:1, where it is rendered "rose" in the Authorized Version; LXX., ἄνθος: Vulgate, flos. Some derive it from the root chavaz, "to be bright," with ל as termination. Sharon may be here a general denomination of the open field or plain, from יָרַשׁ, "to be straight, plain." There was a district called Sharon on the coast from Joppa to Caesarea. There was another Sharon beyond the Jordan (see 1 Chronicles 5:16). According to Eusebius and Jerome, there was yet another, between Tabor and Tiberias, and this, as being in the north, may be referred to. Aquila renders "a rosebud of Sharon." The lily (shoshannah) is only found as here in the feminine form in the Apocrypha. The red and white lily were both known. Some would derive the word from the numeral (shesh) "six," because the liliaceae are six-leaved, while the rosaceae are five-leaved; but it is probably akin to shesh, "byssus," shayish, "white marbles" (cf. Hosea 14:5, "He shall bloom as a lily"). Our Lord's reference to "the lilies of the field" reminds us that they were in Palestine both very beautiful and very abundant. Zockler thinks it is not the strongly scented white lily (Lilium candidam) to which reference is made, but the red lily (Lilium rubens); but either will convey the same idea of a flower of the field which is meant. "My beauty is the beauty of nature - artless and pure."

Solomon, while he was absent during the first scene, is now present. It is generally acknowledged that the words which follow were spoken by him:

9 To a horse in the chariot of Pharaoh Do I compare thee, my love.

10 Beautiful are thy cheeks in the chains, Thy neck in the necklaces.

11 Golden chains will we make for thee, With points of silv.

Till now, Shulamith was alone with the ladies of the palace in the banqueting-chamber. Solomon now comes from the banquet-hall of the men (Sol 1:12); and to Sol 2:7, to which this scene extends, we have to think of the women of the palace as still present, although not hearing what Solomon says to Shulamith. He addresses her, "my love:" she is not yet his bride. רעיה (female friend), from רעי (רעה), to guard, care for, tend, ethically: to delight in something particularly, to take pleasure in intercourse with one, is formed in the same way as נערה; the mas. is רעה ( equals ra'j), abbreviated רע, whence the fem. rǎ'yāh (Judges 11:37; Chethı̂b), as well as rē'āh, also with reference to the ground-form. At once, in the first words used by Solomon, one recognises a Philip, i.e., a man fond of horses, - an important feature in the character of the sage (vid., Sur. 38 of the Koran), - and that, one fond of Egyptian horses: Solomon carried on an extensive importation of horses from Egypt and other countries (2 Chronicles 9:28); he possessed 1400 war-chariots and 12, 000 horsemen (1 Kings 10:26); the number of stalls of horses for his chariots was still greater (1 Kings 5:6) [4:26]. Horace (Ode iii. 11) compares a young sprightly maiden to a nimble and timid equa trima; Anacreon (60) addresses such an one: "thou Thracian filly;" and Theocritus says (Idyl xviii. 30, 31):

"As towers the cypress mid the garden's bloom,

As in the chariot proud Thessalian steed,

Thus graceful rose-complexioned Helen moves."

But how it could occur to the author of the Song to begin the praise of the beauty of a shepherdess by saying that she is like a horse in Pharaoh's chariot, is explained only by the supposition that the poet is Solomon, who, as a keen hippologue, had an open eye for the beauty of the horse. Egyptian horses were then esteemed as afterwards the Arabian were. Moreover, the horse was not native to Egypt, but was probably first imported thither by the Hyksos: the Egyptian name of the horse, and particularly of the mare, ses-t, ses-mut, and of the chariot, markabuta, are Semitic.

(Note: Eber's Aegypten u. die B. Mose's, Bd. I pp. 221f. 226; cf. Aeg. Zeitschr. 1864, p. 26f.)

סוּסה is here not equitatus (Jerome), as Hengst. maintains: "Susah does not denote a horse, but is used collectively;" while he adds, "Shulamith is compared to the whole Egyptian cavalry, and is therefore an ideal person." The former statement is untrue, and the latter is absurd. Sūs means equus, and susā may, indeed, collectively denote the stud (cf. Joshua 19:5 with 1 Chronicles 4:31), but obviously it first denotes the equa. But is it to be rendered, with the lxx and the Venet., "to my horse"? Certainly not; for the chariots of Pharaoh are just the chariots of Egypt, not of the king of Israel. The Chirek in which this word terminates is the Ch. compag., which also frequently occurs where, as here and Genesis 49:11, the second member of the word-chain is furnished with a prep. (vid., under Psalm 113:1-9). This i is an old genitival ending, which, as such, has disappeared from the language; it is almost always accented as the suff. Thus also here, where the Metheg shows that the accent rests on the ult. The plur. רכבי, occurring only here, is the amplificative poetic, and denotes state equipage. דּמּה is the trans. of דּמה, which combines the meanings aequum and aequalem esse. Although not allegorizing, yet, that we may not overlook the judiciousness of the comparison, we must remark that Shulamith is certainly a "daughter of Israel;" a daughter of the people who increased in Egypt, and, set free from the bondage of Pharaoh, became the bride of Jahve, and were brought by the law as a covenant into a marriage relation to Him.

The transition to Sol 1:10 is mediated by the effect of the comparison; for the head-frame of the horse's bridle, and the poitral, were then certainly, must as now, adorned with silken tassels, fringes, and other ornaments of silver (vid., Lane's Modern Egypt, I 149). Jerome, absurdly, after the lxx: pulchrae sunt genae tuae sicut turturis. The name of the turtle, תּוּד, redupl. turtur, is a pure onomatopoeia, which has nothing to do with תּוּר, whence דּוּר, to go round about, or to move in a circle; and turtle-dove's cheeks - what absurdity! Birds have no cheeks; and on the sides of its neck the turtle-dove has black and white variegated feathers, which also furnishes no comparison for the colour of the cheeks. תּורים are the round ornaments which hang down in front on both sides of the head-band, or are also inwoven in the braids of hair in the forehead; תּוּר, circumire, signifies also to form a circle or a row; in Aram. it thus denotes, e.g., the hem of a garment and the border round the eye. In נאווּ (vid., at 5a) the Aleph is silent, as in לאמר, אכל. חרוּזים are strings of pearls as a necklace; for the necklace (Arab. kharaz) consists of one or more, for the most part, of three rows of pearls. The verb חרז signifies, to bore through and to string together; e.g., in the Talm., fish which one strings on a rod or line, in order to bring them to the market. In Heb. and Aram. the secondary sense of stringing predominates, so that to string pearls is expressed by חרז, and to bore through pearls, by קדח; in Arab., the primary meaning of piercing through, e.g., michraz, a shoemaker's awl.

After Sol 1:11, one has to represent to himself Shulamith's adorning as very simple and modest; for Solomon seeks to make her glad with the thought of a continued residence at the royal court by the promise of costly and elegant ornaments. Gold and silver were so closely connected in ancient modes of representation, that in the old Aegypt. silver was called nub het, or white gold. Gold derived its name of זהב from its splendour, after the witty Arab. word zahab, to go away, as an unstable possession; silver is called כּסף, from כּסף, scindere, abscindere, a piece of metal as broken off from the mother-stone, like the Arab. dhuḳrat, as set free from the lump by means of the pickaxe (cf. at Psalm 19:11; Psalm 84:3). The name of silver has here, not without the influence of the rhythm (Sol 8:9), the article designating the species; the Song frequently uses this, and is generally in using the art. not so sparing as poetry commonly is.

(Note: The art. denoting the idea of species in the second member of the st. const. standing in the sing. without a determining reference to the first, occurs in Sol 1:13, "a bundle of (von) myrrh;" Sol 1:14, "a cluster of (von) the cyprus-flower;" Sol 4:3, "a thread of (von) scarlet," "a piece of pomegranate;" Sol 5:13, "a bed of balm" (but otherwise, Sol 6:2), Sol 7:9, "clusters of the vine;" Sol 7:3, "a bowl of roundness" (which has this property); Sol 7:10, "wine (of the quality) of goodness;" cf. Sol 8:2, "wine the ( equals of the) spicing." It also, in cases where the defined species to which the first undefined member of the st. const. belongs, stands in the pl.: Sol 2:9, Sol 2:17; Sol 8:14, "like a young one of the hinds;" Sol 4:1; Sol 6:5, "a herd of goats;" Sol 4:2, "a flock of shorn sheep;" Sol 6:6, "a flock of lambs," i.e., consisting of individuals of this kind. Also, when the second member states the place where a thing originates or is found, the first often remains indeterminate, as one of that which is there found, or a part of that which comes from thence: Sol 2:1, "a meadow-saffron of Sharon," "a lily of the valleys;" Sol 3:9, "the wood of Lebanon." The following are doubtful: Sol 4:4, "a thousand bucklers;" and Sol 7:5, "a tower of ivory;" less so Sol 7:1, "the dance of Mahanaim." The following are examples of a different kind: Genesis 16:7, "a well of water;" Deuteronomy 22:19, "a damsel of Israel;" Psalm 113:9, "a mother of children;" cf. Genesis 21:28.)


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