Song of Solomon 5:13
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
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(13) His cheeks are as a bed of spices—Probably with allusion to the beard perfumed (Marg., towers of perfumes), as in Psalm 133:2.

Lilies.—Comp. “He pressed the blossom of his lips to mine “(Tennyson, (Enone).

5:9-16 Even those who have little acquaintance with Christ, cannot but see amiable beauty in others who bear his image. There are hopes of those who begin to inquire concerning Christ and his perfections. Christians, who are well acquainted with Christ themselves, should do all they can to make others know something of him. Divine glory makes him truly lovely in the eyes of all who are enlightened to discern spiritual things. He is white in the spotless innocence of his life, ruddy in the bleeding sufferings he went through at his death. This description of the person of the Beloved, would form, in the figurative language of those times, a portrait of beauty of person and of grace of manners; but the aptness of some of the allusions may not appear to us. He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all that believe. May his love constrain us to live to his glory.Sweet flowers - Better as in the margin, i. e., plants with fragrant leaves and flowers trained on trellis-work.

Like lilies - Are lilies dropping liquid myrrh (see the Sol 5:5 note). Perhaps the fragrance of the flowers, or the delicate curl of the lip-like petals, is here the point of comparison, rather than the color.

13. cheeks—the seat of beauty, according to the Hebrew meaning [Gesenius]. Yet men smote and spat on them (Isa 50:6).

bed—full, like the raised surface of the garden bed; fragrant with ointments, as beds with aromatic plants (literally, "balsam").

sweet flowers—rather, "terraces of aromatic herbs"—"high-raised parterres of sweet plants," in parallelism to "bed," which comes from a Hebrew root, meaning "elevation."

lips—(Ps 45:2; Joh 7:46).

lilies—red lilies. Soft and gentle (1Pe 2:22, 23). How different lips were man's (Ps 22:7)!

dropping … myrrh—namely, His lips, just as the sweet dewdrops which hang in the calyx of the lily.

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 cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers,.... Which may intend the presence of Christ with his people in his word and ordinances; often called his "face", which he shows, and they seek after, than which nothing is more desirable; walking in the light of his countenance is preferable to walking among spicy beds, where fragrant plants and odoriferous flowers grow: or the cheeks, being the seat of modesty and blushing, may denote the great humility of Christ, seen in his assumption of our nature, throughout the whole course of his life, and especially at his death, and which renders him very delightful to his people; how lovely does the meek and lowly Jesus look! how beautiful are those blushing cheeks of his, who, being equal with God, took upon him the form of a servant! The cheeks may intend not bare cheeks, but with the hair growing upon them, the hair of the beard; which puts forth itself, and grows upon the cheeks or "jaws" (o), as it may be rendered, which makes a man look graceful and majestic; so Aben Ezra interprets the word of the beard, and so many Christian (p) interpreters, which puts out like aromatic plants on spicy beds. This was literally true of Christ, who was a grown man when he suffered, and gave his cheeks to the smiters, and who plucked off the hair of his beard: and in a mystical sense it may intend either believers in Christ, who are the hair of his cheeks, as well as of his head; and who, like spicy beds and fragrant flowers, are odoriferous to Christ and to one another; or "as towers of perfumes" (q) as some, which ascend upwards in the exercise of faith, hope, and love: or rather the graces of the Spirit in Christ, as man and Mediator; which, like the hair of the beard, are in Christ, in great numbers, without measure, and make him very lovely and graceful; and are like beds of spices and sweet flowers, for the variety and sweet smelling savour of them. Though it seems, best of all, to be expressive of the manliness, courage, prudence, gravity, and majesty of Christ; of which the beard, thick set and well grown, is an indication; all which appeared in the whole conduct and deportment of Christ among men; in his ministry, in his life and conversation, at his apprehension, arraignment, condemnation, sufferings, and death. The cheeks rising, and being a little elevated, are fitly described by beds in a garden, by "towers of perfumes", or fragrant flowers and fruit trees, reared up in the form of towers, or pyramids; or by a dish of fruit preserves, placed in such a figure: and the hair of the cheeks, or beard, are aptly represented by spices, rising up from a bed of them; and all denote the beauty, savour, and majesty of Christ. Or, as the Vulgate Latin version, "as beds of spices set by confectioners"; not as aromatic plants, set in rows by the gardener; but the spices themselves, set in rows by the confectioner in vessels (r), placed in his shop in rows to be sold; which being of various colours, especially white and red, the cheeks, for colour and eminence, are compared unto them;

his lips like lilies dropping sweet smelling myrrh; by which are meant the words of Christ, which drop from his lips; which are like lilies, for their purity, thinness, and beautiful colour: the words of Christ are pure words, free from all pollution, deceit, and human mixtures; nor are his lips big with his own praises, but with expressions of regard for his Father's glory; and are very pleasant, gracious, and graceful. But then the comparison is not between them and white lilies, for not white, but red lips, are accounted the most beautiful; see Sol 4:3; wherefore rather red or purple lilies are respected, such as Pliny (s), and other writers (t), speak of; such as grew in Syria (u), a neighbouring country; and also in Egypt (w) grew lilies like to roses. Some (x) think the allusion is to crowns, made of red or purple lilies, wore at nuptial festivals, on which were poured oil of myrrh, and so dropped from them; but the phrase, "dropping sweet smelling myrrh", is not in construction with "lilies", but with "lips": signifying, that the lips or words of Christ were like to lilies; not so much or not only for their thinness and colour, as for the sweet smell of them, very odorous, grateful, and acceptable; as are the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation, to sensible souls, delivered in the ministry of the word: the manner of which delivery of them is expressed by "dropping"; gradually, by little and little, as Christ's church and people can bear them; seasonably, and at proper times, as their wants require constantly, as while Christ was here or, earth, so now he is in heaven, by his ministers, in all ages, to the end of the world; and yet sweetly and gently refreshing, and making fruitful; see Deuteronomy 32:2. Moreover, the kisses of Christ's lips, or the manifestations of his love, may be taken into the sense of this clause; which together with the grateful matter and graceful manner of his words, render him very acceptable to his church; see Sol 1:2; and such a sentiment is expressed, in much the same language, by others (y).

(o) "maxillae ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Marckius, Michaelis. (p) Sanctius, Cocceius, Ainsworth, Marckius, Michaelis. (q) "turribus pigmentorum", Marckius; "condimentorum", Schmidt, Michaelis. (r) Vid. Fortunat. Scacchi Eleochrys. Sacr. l. 1. c. 18. p. 90. (s) Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 5. (t) Theophrast. apud Athenaei Deipnosophist. l. 15. c. 8. p. 681. Maimon. in Misn. Sheviith, c. 7. s. 6. & Alshech in loc. Midrash Esther, s. 4. fol. 91. 1.((u) Dioscorides, l. 1. c. 163. Apud Fortunat. Scacch. ut supra, (Eleochrys. Sacr.) l. 1. c. 27. p. 134. (w) Herodot. Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 92. (x) Scacch. ibid. l. 1. c. 28. p. 138, 139. (y) "Olent tua basia myrrham", Martial. Epigr. l. 2. Ep. 10.

His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
13. as a bed of spices] Rather, as a bed of balsam shrubs. Probably we should read the plur. beds as in Song of Solomon 6:2, to correspond with the plur. cheeks. The Heb. for ‘bed’ is ‘arûghâh derived from ‘âragh, ‘to mount up,’ and signifying a raised flower-bed. Cp. Driver on Joel, Camb. Bible, p. 47. The points of comparison are the rounded form and the variegated colour.

as sweet flowers] This is rather a paraphrase than a translation. As they stand, the Heb. words mighdĕlôth merqâchîm mean ‘towers of perfume herbs.’ ‘Towers’ is taken to be a synonym of ‘arûghôth, but if these are only raised garden-beds, this can hardly be. Probably we should read with the LXX, Targ. Vulg. meghaddĕlôth for mighdĕlôth, i.e. rearing or producing perfumes. The point of the comparison is the growth of a perfumed beard on the cheeks.

like lilies] The redness of the shôshannâh is the point here. Tristram thinks it is the Anemone coronaria. Cp. note on Song of Solomon 2:1.

sweet smelling myrrh] or liquid myrrh (R.V.), i.e. the finest myrrh, that oozes from the bark of itself. Cp. note on Song of Solomon 5:5. The reference is to the perfume of the breath (cp. Song of Solomon 7:8).7 The watchmen who go about in the city found me,

   They beat me, wounded me;

   My upper garment took away from me,

   The watchmen of the walls.

She sought her beloved, not "in the midbar" (open field), nor "in the kepharim" (villages), but בעיר, "in the city," - a circumstance which is fatal to the shepherd-hypothesis here, as in the other dream. There in the city she is found by the watchmen who patrol the city, and have their proper posts on the walls to watch those who approach the city and depart from it (cf. Isaiah 62:6). These rough, regardless men, - her story returns at the close like a palindrome to those previously named, - who judge only according to that which is external, and have neither an eye nor a heart for the sorrow of a loving soul, struck (הכה, from נכה, to pierce, hit, strike) and wounded (פּצע, R. פץ, to divide, to inflict wounds in the flesh) the royal spouse as a common woman, and so treated her, that, in order to escape being made a prisoner, she was constrained to leave her upper robe in their hands (Genesis 39:12). This upper robe, not the veil which at Sol 4:1, Sol 4:3 we found was called tsammā, is called רדיד. Aben Ezra compares with it the Arab. ridâ, a plaid-like over-garment, which was thrown over the shoulders and veiled the upper parts of the body. But the words have not the same derivation. The ridâ has its name from its reaching downward, - probably from the circumstance that, originally, it hung down to the feet, so that one could tread on it; but the (Heb.) redid (in Syr. the dalmatica of the deacons), from רדד, Hiph., 1 Kings 6:32, Targ., Talm., Syr., רדד, to make broad and thin, as expansum, i.e., a thin and light upper robe, viz., over the cuttoněth, 3a. The lxx suitably translates it here and at Genesis 24:65 (hatstsaiph, from tsa'aph, to lay together, to fold, to make double or many-fold) by θέριστρον, a summer overdress. A modern painter, who represents Shulamith as stripped naked by the watchmen, follows his own sensual taste, without being able to distinguish between tunica and pallium; for neither Luther, who renders by schleier (veil), nor Jerome, who has pallium (cf. the saying of Plautus: tunica propior pallio est), gives any countenance to such a freak of imagination. The city watchmen tore from off her the upper garment, without knowing and without caring to know what might be the motive and the aim of this her nocturnal walk.

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