Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? I raised you up under the apple tree…
Who is this that cometh up, etc.? The end of this pastoral song is approaching. The speaker in the former versos has finished her recital with words telling of her yearning love for her beloved, and an adjuration to those listening to her that they should not attempt to alter her mind towards him (vers. 3, 4). They are the same as in Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5. And now the scene changes. She has been rescued from or permitted to leave her gilded but none the less hated captivity in Solomon's palace, and with her beloved is returning to her old home. A band of friends exclaim, "Who is this," etc.? Applying the words spiritually, we may take them of the soul's home coming. And they tell -
I. WHITHER SUCH SOUL COMES. It is ever an upward coming. For all the characteristics of the soul's true home are far above the soul's natural condition. For here, assuredly, we have not peace. "Man is born," not to peace, but "to trouble." Who knows not that? For sin is the great troubler. Therefore, for the soul to have what it so desires, it must come up and away from the wilderness. Purity, likewise. How here can we keep ourselves undefiled? Who amongst men unregenerate and unsaved ever does so? But as the soul in coming home enters into the peace of God, so also shall it partake of his purity. Rest. The trials, crosses, and disappointments of life, its manifold adversities, all ceaselessly proclaim to the soul, "This is not your rest." But "there remaineth a rest for the people of God." And the soul, uprising in faith and love towards God, does even here know much of the truth of Christ's promise, "I will give you rest." And then there is the course and consummation of all these in the presence of God eternally in heaven. Here we have pledges and foretastes, but there only are we made perfect.
II. WHENCE. "From the wilderness." How fit that word for the soul's condition here ere it is redeemed by Christ! Are not the distress of conscience, the sense of guilt, the tyranny and cruelty of sin, the trials of life, and at length the grave, - are not all these wilderness like things? But when the soul comes home, it comes away from all these. It is not a coming in them, as every soul has to make acquaintance with them when it is born into the world; nor is it a coming through them - that is what we are occupied in now whilst we linger here; but it is coming from them, leaving them all behind. Oh, blessed home coming of the soul!
III. How. "Leaning upon her beloved." This tells of the soul's relation to Christ. He is "her Beloved." Of its union with him. As it were linked lovingly together as the soul leans upon him. Of its dependence upon Christ. It is a long, rough, lonely, and difficult way that the soul has to traverse. It needs, therefore, that the Lord should be her "arm" every day (Isaiah 33:2). Of its communion with Christ. Note the affectionate converse of the next verse. The maiden is represented as coming to a particular tree where once she had awaked him from a noonday slumber, and where, too, he had been bern. "In Oriente non raro accidit at mulieres in aperto pariant" (cf. Genesis 35:16). And they talk of these reminiscences. It was natural, and tells of the familiar intercourse, the happy communion, which the soul enjoys with Christ. Yes, it is thus that we make our way homeward, heavenward. In union, in dependence, in communion, with Christ. Thus we come up from the wilderness leaning on our beloved Lord. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.