Song of Solomon 3:1
By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loves: I sought him, but I found him not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
III.

(1) A reminiscence (elaborated in Song of Solomon 5:2 seq.) of the intensity of their love before their union, put by the poet into his lady’s mouth. She “arises from dreams” of him, and goes to find him.

Song of Solomon 3:1. By night on my bed — When others compose themselves to sleep, my affections were working toward him. I sought him — I sought for Christ’s gracious and powerful presence. I sought him — This repetition denotes her perseverance and unweariedness in seeking him; but found him not — For he had withdrawn the manifestations of his love from me, either because I had not sought him diligently, or because I had abused his favour.3:1-5 It was hard to the Old Testament church to find Christ in the ceremonial law; the watchmen of that church gave little assistance to those who sought after him. The night is a time of coldness, darkness, and drowsiness, and of dim apprehensions concerning spiritual things. At first, when uneasy, some feeble efforts are made to obtain the comfort of communion with Christ. This proves in vain; the believer is then roused to increased diligence. The streets and broad-ways seem to imply the means of grace in which the Lord is to be sought. Application is made to those who watch for men's souls. Immediate satisfaction is not found. We must not rest in any means, but by faith apply directly to Christ. The holding of Christ, and not letting him go, denotes earnest cleaving to him. What prevails is a humble, ardent suing by prayer, with a lively exercise of faith on his promises. So long as the faith of believers keeps hold of Christ, he will not be offended at their earnest asking, yea, he is well pleased with it. The believer desires to make others acquainted with his Saviour. Wherever we find Christ, we must take him home with us to our houses, especially to our hearts; and we should call upon ourselves and each other, to beware of grieving our holy Comforter, and provoking the departure of the Beloved.By night - i. e., In the night-hours. CHAPTER 3

So 3:1-11.

1. By night—literally, "By nights." Continuation of the longing for the dawn of the Messiah (So 2:17; Ps 130:6; Mal 4:2). The spiritual desertion here (So 2:17; 3:5) is not due to indifference, as in So 5:2-8. "As nights and dews are better for flowers than a continual sun, so Christ's absence (at times) giveth sap to humility, and putteth an edge on hunger, and furnisheth a fair field to faith to put forth itself" [Rutherford]. Contrast So 1:13; Ps 30:6, 7.

on … bed—the secret of her failure (Isa 64:7; Jer 29:13; Am 6:1, 4; Ho 7:14).

loveth—no want of sincerity, but of diligence, which she now makes up for by leaving her bed to seek Him (Ps 22:2; 63:8; Isa 26:9; Joh 20:17). Four times (So 3:1-4) she calls Jesus Christ, "Him whom my soul loveth," designating Him as absent; language of desire: "He loved me," would be language of present fruition (Re 1:5). In questioning the watchmen (So 3:3), she does not even name Him, so full is her heart of Him. Having found Him at dawn (for throughout He is the morning), she charges the daughters not to abridge by intrusion the period of His stay. Compare as to the thoughtful seeking for Jesus Christ in the time of John the Baptist, in vain at first, but presently after successful (Lu 3:15-22; Joh 1:19-34).

found him not—Oh, for such honest dealings with ourselves (Pr 25:14; Jude 12)!The church seeking Christ, Song of Solomon 3:1-3. Her great joy; she findeth him, Song of Solomon 3:4. Her charge to the daughters of Jerusalem not to awake her Beloved, Song of Solomon 3:5. The manner of Christ’s coming out of the wilderness, Song of Solomon 3:6. His bed, guard, and chariot, Song of Solomon 3:7-9. Its maker, matter, and furniture, Song of Solomon 3:10. An invitation of the faithful to the kingdom of glory, Song of Solomon 3:11.

By night on my bed; either,

1. In a time of tribulation, which is commonly signified by the night, and sometimes by a bed, as Revelation 2:22. Or,

2. When I expected to find him; for the husband who by his occasions is oft forced to be absent from his wife in the day time, but at night returns to her, and beds with her. Or,

3. When others compose themselves to rest and sleep, my thoughts were troubled and my affections were working towards him, and I was very desirous to enjoy him.

I sought him; I sought for Christ’s gracious and powerful presence, in and by the word, and prayer, and meditation. I sought him: this repetition notes her perseverance and unweariedness in seeking him.

But I found him not; for he had withdrawn himself and the manifestations of his love from me, either because I had not sought him diligently, or because I had abused his favour, or to try and exercise my faith, and patience, and love, and other graces.

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth,.... The day being not yet broke, the night of Jewish darkness still on the church, and the shadow of the ceremonial law as yet stretched upon her; and having some knowledge of Christ by types and prophecies, desires more, and seeks it in the use of means: though the words may be taken in a more large sense, and represent the state and condition of the church and of all true believers in any age, and at one time as well as another; who, when their beloved is absent, it is "night" with them; as Christ's presence makes day, his absence makes night; and it was now night with the Church, either of affliction, or of darkness and desertion, and indeed of both. The word is plural, "by nights" (i); one night after another, successively, she sought her beloved; which both expresses the continuance of her state, and her diligence and constancy in seeking Christ. The place where she sought him was "her bed"; not the same as in Sol 1:16; which was both Christ's and hers, and where a different word is used; but this was purely her own: either a bed of affliction, when good men usually seek the Lord, Isaiah 26:16, Hosea 5:15; or rather of carnal ease and security, in which she continued, and rose not up from it to seek her beloved; which shows the cold, lukewarm, lazy frame she was in, and formal manner in which she sought him, and so succeeded not: however, he was stilt the person "whom her soul loved", cordially and sincerely, though not so fervently as she had done; true love, though it may be abated, cannot be lost;

I sought him, but I found him not; because she sought him not aright; not timely, nor fervently and diligently, nor in a proper place; not in her closet, by prayer, reading, and meditation, nor in public ordinances, she afterwards did; but on her bed.

(i) , Sept. "per noctes", V. L. Junius & Tremeilius, Piscator; "in noctibus", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine versions, Marckius, Michaelis.

By {a} night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

(a) The Church by night, that is, in troubles, seeks Christ, but is not incontinently heard.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. By night] Lit. In the nights. In Psalm 16:7 the same phrase is translated “in the night seasons,” and some understand it here of the night hours. But in none of the few passages in which the plural lçlôth occurs, is it used in this sense. In all it refers to more nights than one, not to the several parts of one night. It would therefore seem that she means to say, that one night after another she dreamt that she missed and sought her lover. More than once that had come to her, so that more than one night must have passed before she told the dream.

on my bed] This means that the dream came to her when she was in her bed. The repetition of I sought expresses well the continued and repeated searching always ending in failure, which is so characteristic of dreams and so painful. The place where she first looked for him is left indeterminate as it often is in dreams.

Chap. Song of Solomon 3:1-5. A Dream

Almost all commentators agree that we have here a dream narrated to some persons, in which the Shulammite seems to herself to have sought her lover in the city and failed to find him. Those who take the dramatic view think of it as narrated to the women of the court. Oettli’s view is that the Shulammite expected her lover to return at sunset. He did not come, and so her agitated heart sought him in this dream, which she tells to her companions, adding the refrain already used in Song of Solomon 2:7, which deprecates the stirring up of love before it arises spontaneously. Ewald, who regards the end of ch. 2 as dealing only with a waking dream, and not a real incident, thinks of this as a narrative of what she remembered to have dreamed during her sad night in the king’s palace. Delitzsch again, who thinks of the lover as Solomon, considers the dream to be one that came to her night after night, when she had become doubtful of the king’s love for her. Budde’s view is one that entirely contradicts his theory that lovers could not meet and have such intercourse as is depicted in the book before marriage. He makes this a strong point in his criticism of the dramatic theory, yet here he says of this section, “The bride speaks. She narrates a dream she had as a girl, for what she narrates can be understood only as a dream. She had so loved her husband for a length of time that she dreamt she was married to him.” Martineau, because of a misunderstanding of the passage and on other insufficient grounds, would strike out the verses altogether. In any case they describe a dream, and of all the suggestions as to the occasion Oettli’s seems the best.Verse 1. - By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The bride is probably relating a dream. The time referred to is the close of the day on which she had been visited by her lover. She is retired to rest, and dreams that she searches for the beloved object in the neighbouring city (cf. Job 33:15). It is another way of telling her love. She is always longing for the beloved one. She had been waiting for him, and he came not, and retired to rest with a heart troubled and anxious because her lover did not appear as she expected at the evening hour. The meaning may be "night after night (לֵילות)" (cf. Song of Solomon 3:8), or the plural maybe used poetically for the singular. Ginsburg observes that "by night on my bed" is opposed to midday couch (cf. 2 Samuel 4:5), merely to express what came into her thoughts at night in her dreams or as the result of a dream. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the bride intends to represent herself as suffering from self-reproach in having grieved her lover and kept him away from her. In that case the typical meaning would be simple and direct. The soul grieves when it is conscious of estrangement from him whom it loves, and the sense of separation becomes intolerable, impelling to new efforts to deepen the spiritual life. 11 For, lo! the winter is past,

     The rain is over, is gone.

12 The flowers appear in the land;

     The time of song has come,

     And the voice of the turtle makes itself heard in our land.

13 The fig-tree spices her green figs,

     And the vines stand in bloom, they diffuse fragrance; -

     Rise up, my love, my fair one, and go forth!

The winter is called סתו, perhaps from a verb סתה (of the same root as סתר, סתם, without any example, since סוּת, Genesis 49:11, is certainly not derived from a verb סוּת), to conceal, to veil, as the time of being overcast with clouds, for in the East winter is the rainy season; (Arab.) shataā is also used in the sense of rain itself (vid., D. M. Zeitsch. xx. 618); and in the present day in Jerusalem, in the language of the people, no other name is used for rain but shataā (not metar). The word סתיו, which the Kerı̂ substitutes, only means that one must not read סתו, but סתו, with long a; in the same way עניו, humble, from ענה, to be bowed down, and שׂליו, a quail, from שׂלה, to be fat, are formed and written. Rain is here, however, especially mentioned: it is called gěshěm, from gāshǎm, to be thick, massy (cf. revīvīm, of density). With עבר, to pass by, there is interchanged חלף, which, like (Arab.) khalaf, means properly to press on, and then generally to move to another place, and thus to remove from the place hitherto occupied. In לו הלך, with the dat. ethicus, which throws back the action on the subject, the winter rain is thought of as a person who has passed by. נצּן, with the noun-ending n, is the same as ניסן, and signifies the flower, as the latter the flower-month, floral; in the use of the word, נצּן is related to נץ and נצּה, probably as little flower is to flower. In hǎzzāmīr the idea of the song of birds (Arab. gharad) appears, and this is not to be given up. The lxx, Aquila, Symm., Targ., Jerome, and the Venet. translate tempus putationis: the time of the pruning of vines, which indeed corresponds to the usus loq. (cf. זמר, to prune the vine, and מזמרה, a pruning-knife), and to similar names, such as אסיף ingathering of fruit, but supplies no reason for her being invited out into the open fields, and is on this account improbable, because the poet further on speaks for the first time of vines. זמר (זמּר) is an onomatopoeia, which for the most part denotes song and music; why should זמיר thus not be able to denote singing, like זמרה, - but not, at least not in this passage, the singing of men (Hengst.), for they are not silent in winter; but the singing of birds, which is truly a sign of the spring, and as a characteristic feature, is added

(Note: It is true that besides in this passage zāmǎr, of the singing of birds, is not demonstrable, the Arab. zamar is only used of the shrill cry of the ostrich, and particularly the female ostrich.)

to this lovely picture of spring? Thus there is also suitably added the mention of the turtle-dove, which is a bird of passage (vid., Jeremiah 8:7), and therefore a messenger of spring. נשׁמע is 3rd:pret.: it makes itself heard.

The description of spring is finished by a reference to the fig-tree and the vine, the standing attributes of a prosperous and peaceful homestead, 1 Kings 5:5; 2 Kings 18:31. פּג (from פּנג, and thus named, not from their hardness, but their delicacy) are the little fruits of the fig-tree which now, when the harvest-rains are over, and the spring commences with the equinox of Nisan, already begin to assume a red colour; the verb חנט does not mean "to grow into a bulb," as Bttch. imagines; it has only the two meanings, condire (condiri, post-bibl. syn. of בּשׁל) and rubescere. From its colour, wheat has the name חטּה equals חנטה; and here also the idea of colour has the preference, for becoming fragrant does not occur in spring-in the history of the cursing of the fig-tree at the time of the Passover, Mark (Mark 11:13) says, "for the time of figs was not yet." In fig-trees, by this time the green of the fruit-formation changes its colour, and the vines are סמדר, blossom, i.e., are in a state of bloom (lxx κυπρίζουσαι; cf. Sol 7:13, κυπρισμός) - it is a clause such as Exodus 9:31, and to which "they diffuse fragrance" (Sol 2:13) is parallel. This word סמדר is usually regarded as a compound word, consisting of סם, scent, and סמדר, brightness equals blossom (vid., Gesen. Thes.); it is undeniable that there are such compound formations, e.g., שׁלאנן, from שׁלה and שׁאן; חלּמישׁ, from (Arab.) ḥams, to be hard, and hals, to be dark-brown.

(Note: In like manner as (Arab.) karbsh, corrugare, is formed of karb, to string, and karsh, to wrinkle, combined; and another extension of karsh is kurnash, wrinkles, and mukarnash, wrinkled. "One day," said Wetstein to me, "I asked an Arab the origin of the word karnasa, to wrinkle, and he replied that it was derived from a sheep's stomach that had lain over night, i.e., the stomach of a slaughtered sheep that had lain over night, by which its smooth surface shrinks together and becomes wrinkled. In fact, we say of a wrinkled countenance that it is mathal alkarash albayt." With right Wetstein gathers from this curious fact how difficult it is to ascertain by purely etymological considerations the view which guided the Semites in this or that designation. Samdor is also a strange word; on the one side it is connected with sadr, of the veiling of the eyes, as the effect of terror; and on the other with samd, of stretching oneself straight out. E. Meier takes סמדר as the name of the vine-blossom, as changed from סמסר, bristling. Just as unlikely as that סמד is cogn. to חמד, Jesurun, p. 221.)

But the traditional reading סמדר (not סמדר) is unfavourable to this view; the middle ā accordingly, as in צלצל, presents itself as an ante-tone vowel (Ewald, 154a), and the stem-word appears as a quadril. which may be the expansion of סדּר, to range, put in order in the sense of placing asunder, unfolding. Symm. renders the word by οἰνάνθη, and the Talm. idiom shows that not only the green five-leaved blossoms of the vine were so named, but also the fruit-buds and the first shoots of the grapes. Here, as the words "they diffuse fragrance" (as at 7:14 of the mandrakes) show, the vine-blossom is meant which fills the vineyard with an incomparably delicate fragrance. At the close of the invitation to enjoy the spring, the call "Rise up," etc., with which it began, is repeated. The Chethı̂b לכי, if not an error in writing, justly set aside by the Kerı̂, is to be read לכי (cf. Syr. bechi, in thee, levotechi, to thee, but with occult i) - a North Palestinism for לך, like 2 Kings 4:2, where the Kerı̂ has substituted the usual form (vid., under Psalm 103 introd.) for this very dialectic form, which is there undoubtedly original.

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