Song of Solomon 2:16
My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
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(16) He feedeth.—Heb., he that is feeding his flock—the pastor.

Song of Solomon 2:16. My beloved is mine — These are the words of the bride, who, having come to him upon his gracious invitation, now maketh her boast of him. He feedeth among the lilies — Abideth and refresheth himself among his faithful people, who are compared to lilies, Song of Solomon 2:2.

2:14-17 The church is Christ's dove; she returns to him, as her Noah. Christ is the Rock, in whom alone she can think herself safe, and find herself easy, as a dove in the hole of a rock, when struck at by the birds of prey. Christ calls her to come boldly to the throne of grace, having a great High Priest there, to tell what her request is. Speak freely, fear not a slight or a repulse. The voice of prayer is sweet and acceptable to God; those who are sanctified have the best comeliness. The first risings of sinful thoughts and desires, the beginnings of trifling pursuits which waste the time, trifling visits, small departures from truth, whatever would admit some conformity to the world; all these, and many more, are little foxes which must be removed. This is a charge to believers to mortify their sinful appetites and passions, which are as little foxes, that destroy their graces and comforts, and crush good beginnings. Whatever we find a hinderance to us in that which is good, we must put away. He feedeth among the lilies; this shows Christ's gracious presence among believers. He is kind to all his people. It becomes them to believe this, when under desertion and absence, and so to ward off temptations. The shadows of the Jewish dispensation were dispelled by the dawning of the gospel day. And a day of comfort will come after a night of desertion. Come over the mountains of Bether, the mountains that divide, looking forward to that day of light and love. Christ will come over every separating mountain to take us home to himself.Feedeth among the lilies - Pursues his occupation as a shepherd among congenial scenes and objects of gentleness and beauty.16. mine … his—rather, "is for me … for Him" (Ho 3:3), where, as here, there is the assurance of indissoluble union, in spite of temporary absence. So 2:17, entreating Him to return, shows that He has gone, perhaps through her want of guarding against the "little sins" (So 2:15). The order of the clauses is reversed in So 6:3, when she is riper in faith: there she rests more on her being His; here, on His being hers; and no doubt her sense of love to Him is a pledge that she is His (Joh 14:21, 23; 1Co 8:3); this is her consolation in His withdrawal now.

I am his—by creation (Ps 100:3), by redemption (Joh 17:10; Ro 14:8; 1Co 6:19).

feedeth—as a "roe," or gazelle (So 2:17); instinct is sure to lead him back to his feeding ground, where the lilies abound. So Jesus Christ, though now withdrawn, the bride feels sure will return to His favorite resting-place (So 7:10; Ps 132:14). So hereafter (Re 21:3). Ps 45:1, title, terms his lovely bride's "lilies" [Hengstenberg] pure and white, though among thorns (So 2:2).

My Beloved is mine, and I am his: these are the words of the bride, who having come to him upon his gracious invitation, now maketh her boast of him, and of that intimate union and communion which was between them.

He feedeth among the lilies; either,

1. He feedeth his flock in sweet and lovely pastures, where there is not only herbage to feed them, but lilies to delight them. Or rather,

2. He feedeth himself, i.e. he abideth and refresheth himself amongst his faithful people, which are compared to lilies, above, Song of Solomon 2:2, and Hosea 14:5, as Christ also is here, Song of Solomon 2:1.

My beloved is mine, and I am his,.... These are the words of the church; who, having had such evidences of Christ's love to her, and care of her, expresses her faith of interest in him, and suggests the obligations she lay under to observe his commands. The words are expressive of the mutual interest had property Christ and his church have in each other: Christ is the church's, by the Father's gift of him to her, to be her Head, Husband, and Saviour; and by the gift of himself unto her, to be her Redeemer and ransom price; and by marriage, having espoused her to himself, in righteousness and lovingkindness; and by possession, he living and dwelling in her, by his Spirit and grace: the church also acknowledges herself to be his, as she was, by the Father's gift of her to Christ, as his spouse and bride, his portion and inheritance; and by purchase, he having bought her with his precious blood; and by the conquest of her, by his grace in effectual calling; and by a voluntary surrender of herself unto him, under the influence of his grace: hence all he is, and has, are hers, his person, fulness, blood, and righteousness; and therefore can want no good thing. Moreover, these words suggest the near union there is between Christ and his church; they are one in a conjugal relation, as husband and wife are one; which union is personal, of the whole person of Christ to the whole persons of his people; it is a spiritual one, they having the same Spirit, the one without measure, the other in measure; it is a vital one, as is between the vine and its branches; and it is a mysterious one, next to that of the union of the three Persons in the Godhead, and of the two natures in Christ; it is an indissoluble one, the everlasting love of Christ being the bond of it, which call never be dissolved; and from this union flow a communication of the names of Christ to his church, conformity to him, communion with him, and an interest in all he has. Likewise these phrases express the mutual affliction, complacency, and delight, Christ and his church have in each other; he is beloved by his church, and she by him; she seems to have a full assurance of interest in him, and to make her boast of him; excluding all other beloveds, as unworthy to be mentioned with him: of whom she further says,

he feedeth among the lilies; which is either an apostrophe to him, "O thou that feedest", &c. thou only art my beloved; or is descriptive of him to others, inquiring who he was, and where to be seen: the answer is, he is the person that is yonder, feeding among the lilies; either recreating and delighting himself in his gardens, the churches, where his saints are, comparable to lilies; See Gill on Sol 2:1, and See Gill on Sol 2:2; or feeding his sheep in fields where lilies grow: and it may be observed, it is not said, he feedeth on, or feeds his flock with lilies, but among them; for it is remarked (y), that sheep will not eat them: or the sense may be, Christ feeds himself, and feeds his people, and feeds among them, as if he was crowned with lilies, and anointed with the oil of them; as was the custom of the ancients at festivals (z), thought to be here alluded to by some who read the words, "that feeds"; that is, sups in or with lilies, being anointed and crowned with them. The lily is a summer flower (a); the winter was now past, Sol 2:11.

(y) Tuccius in Soto Major in loc. (z) Vid. Fortunat. Schacc. Eleochrysm. Sacr. l. 1. c. 28. p. 137. (a) Theophrast. apud Athenaeum in Deipnosoph. l. 15. c. 7. p. 679.

My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
16. This verse is addressed by the bride to her companions within the house, or is spoken in a loving rapture to herself. Some however think that it is sung to the lover.

he feedeth among the lilies] Rather, as in R.V., He feedeth his flock among the lilies. It may also be rendered, the shepherd among the lilies, the shepherd standing in apposition to the ‘him’ involved in ‘his.’

Verse 16. - My beloved is mine, and I am his; he feedeth (his flock) among the lilies. These are the words of the bride. The latter clause is repeated in Song of Solomon 6:2, with the addition, "in the gardens," and it is evident that Solomon is lovingly regarded as a shepherd, because Shulamith delights to think of him as fully sympathizing with her simple country life. She idealizes. The words may be taken as either the response given at the time by the maiden to the invitation of her lover to come forth into the vineyards, or as the breathing of love as she lies in the arms of Solomon. Lilies are the emblem of purity, lofty elevation above that which is common. Moreover, the lily stalk is the symbol of the life of regeneration among the mystical mediaevalists. Mary the Virgin, the Rosa mystica, in ancient paintings is represented with a lily in her hand at the Annunciation. The people of God were called by the Jewish priests "a people of lilies." So Mary was the lily of lilies in the lily community; the sanctissima in the communio sanctorum. There may be an allusion to the lily forms around Solomon in his palace - the daughters of Jerusalem; in that ease the words must be taken as spoken, not in remembrance of the first love, but in present joy in Solomon's embrace. Some would render the words as simply praise of Solomon himself, "who, wherever he abides, spreads radiancy and loveliness about him," or "in whose footsteps roses and lilies ever bloom." At least, they are expressive of entire self-surrender and delight. She herself is a lily, and the beloved one feeds upon her beauty, purity, and perfection. Song of Solomon 2:16There now follows a cantiuncula. Shulamith comes forward, and, singing, salutes her beloved. Their love shall celebrate a new spring. Thus she wishes everything removed, or rendered harmless, that would disturb the peace of this love:

15 Catch us the foxes, the little foxes,

     The spoilers of the vineyards;

     For our vineyards are in bloom!

16 My beloved is mine, and I am his;

     Who feeds his flock among the lilies.

If the king is now, on this visit of the beloved, engaged in hunting, the call: "Catch us," etc., if it is directed at all to any definite persons, is addressed to those who follow him. But this is a vine-dresser's ditty, in accord with Shulamith's experience as the keeper of a vineyard, which, in a figure, aims at her love-relation. The vineyards, beautiful with fragrant blossom, point to her covenant of love; and the foxes, the little foxes, which might destroy these united vineyards, point to all the great and little enemies and adverse circumstances which threaten to gnaw and destroy love in the blossom, ere it has reached the ripeness of full enjoyment. שׁעלים comprehends both foxes and jackals, which "destroy or injure the vineyards; because, by their holes and passages which they form in the ground, loosening the soil, so that the growth and prosperity of the vine suffers injury" (Hitzig). This word is from שׁעל (R. של), to go down, or into the depth. The little foxes are perhaps the jackals, which are called tǎnnīm, from their extended form, and in height are seldom more than fifteen inches. The word "jackal" has nothing to do with שׁוּעל, but is the Persian-Turkish shaghal, which comes from the Sanscr. crgâla, the howler (R. krag, like kap-âla, the skull; R. kap, to be arched). Moreover, the mention of the foxes naturally follows 14a, for they are at home among rocky ravines. Hitzig supposes Shulamith to address the foxes: hold for us equals wait, ye rascals! But אחז, Aram. אחד, does not signify to wait, but to seize or lay hold of (synon. לכד, Judges 15:4), as the lion its prey, Isaiah 5:29. And the plur. of address is explained from its being made to the king's retinue, or to all who could and would give help. Fox-hunting is still, and has been from old times, a sport of rich landowners; and that the smaller landowners also sought to free themselves from them by means of snares or otherwise, is a matter of course, - they are proverbially as destroyers, Nehemiah 3:35 [Nehemiah 4:3], and therefore a figure of the false prophets, Ezekiel 13:4. מחבּ כּרם are here instead of מחבּלי הכּרם. The articles are generally omitted, because poetry is not fond of the article, where, as here (cf. on the other hand, Sol 1:6), the thoughts and language permit it; and the fivefold m is an intentional mere verborum sonus. The clause וּכר סמדר is an explanatory one, as appears from the Vav and the subj. preceding, as well as from the want of a finitum. סמדר maintains here also, in pausa, the sharpening of the final syllable, as חץ, Deuteronomy 28:42.

The 16th verse is connected with the 15th. Shulamith, in the pentast. song, celebrates her love-relation; for the praise of it extends into Sol 2:15, is continued in Sol 2:16, and not till Sol 2:17 does she address her beloved. Luther translates:

My beloved is mine, and I am his;

He feeds (his flock) among the roses.

He has here also changed the "lilies" of the Vulgate into "roses;" for of the two queens among the flowers, he gave the preference to the popular and common rose; besides, he rightly does not translate הרעה, in the mid. after the pascitur inter lilia of the Vulgate: who feeds himself, i.e., pleases himself; for רעה has this meaning only when the object expressly follows, and it is evident that בּשּׁו cannot possibly be this object, after Genesis 37:2, - the object is thus to be supplied. And which? Without doubt, gregem; and if Heiligst., with the advocates of the shepherd-hypothesis, understands this feeding (of the flock) among the lilies, of feeding on a flowery meadow, nothing can be said against it. But at Sol 6:2., where this saying of Shulamith is repeated, she says that her beloved בּגּנּים feeds and gathers lilies. On this the literal interpretation of the qui pascit (gregem) inter lilia is wrecked; for a shepherd, such as the shepherd-hypothesis supposes, were he to feed his flock in a garden, would be nothing better than a thief; such shepherds, also, do not concern themselves with the plucking of flowers, but spend their time in knitting stockings. It is Solomon, the king, of whom Shulamith speaks. She represents him to herself as a shepherd; but in such a manner that, at the same time, she describes his actions in language which rises above ordinary shepherd-life, and, so to speak, idealizes. She, who was herself a shepherdess, knows from her own circle of thought nothing more lovely or more honourable to conceive and to say of him, than that he is a shepherd who feeds among lilies. The locality and the surroundings of his daily work correspond to his nature, which is altogether beauty and love. Lilies, the emblem of unapproachable highness, awe-inspiring purity, lofty elevation above what is common, bloom where the lily-like (king) wanders, whom the Lily names her own. The mystic interpretation and mode of speaking takes "lilies" as the figurative name of holy souls, and a lily-stalk as the symbol of the life of regeneration. Mary, who is celebrated in song as the rosa mystica, is rightly represented in ancient pictures with a lily in her hand on the occasion of the Annunciation; for if the people of God are called by Jewish poets "a people of lilies," she is, within this lily-community, this communio sanctorum, the lily without a parallel.

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