What is your beloved more than another beloved, O you fairest among women? what is your beloved more than another beloved…
What is thy beloved more, etc.? The world asks this question. Upon the answer the Church gives depends whether the world remains as it is - alienated from Christ or drawn to him. If the Church makes it evident that Christ is "chiefest among ten thousand" and "altogether lovely," then the blessed era of the world's conversion will be at hand. The Church asks this question of those whom she receives into communion. It should be clear that Christ is enthroned in the hearts of those whom she receives. They are not really members of the Church unless it is so. We should ask ourselves this question, so that we may see to it that we are giving him the chief place in our hearts, and that in all things he has the pre-eminence. The question may be answered in various ways. As for example -
I. BY COMPARISON OF CHRIST WITH THE OBJECTS OF WORSHIP IN OTHER FAITHS. (Cf. Hardwick's 'Christ and other Masters.') There have been and are "gods many and lords many;" it is well to compare and contrast with them the all-worthiness of him whom we serve. Missionaries to heathen lands do well to make themselves acquainted with the points of contrast and resemblance - "the unconscious prophecies of heathendom" - which they will find in the faiths they seek to supplant by the pure faith of Christ. Often will they find in such study that he is "the Desire of all nations."
II. BY COMPARING THE OBJECTS OF MEN'S PRESENT PURSUITS AND AFFECTION WITH CHRIST, who is the Beloved of the believer's heart. Some set their affections only on earthly things - wealth, power, pleasure, fame, the favour of men. Some on those whom God has given them to love - wife, lover, children, friends. It is well to see how Christ surpasses all these, and deserves the chief place in our hearts: such place, when given to him, will not consign to a lower one than they before filled those objects of our lawful love; but, on the contrary, will uplift and enlarge our love for them, making it better both for them and us. But we prefer to take -
III. THE ANSWER GIVEN IN THIS SONG ITSELF. See vers. 10-16, translating its rich imagery into the plain language of "the truth as it is in Jesus." She who was asked this question replied by giving the description of her beloved which we have in these verses. And, translated, they suggest these reasons for counting Christ chief of all.
1. He is the perfect Pattern and Sacrifice that my soul needs. (Ver. 10.) It is a representation of the beauty of perfect physical health: "white and ruddy" (cf. 1 Samuel 16:12; 1 Samuel 17:42). Fit type, therefore, of that perfect moral and spiritual health which we behold in Christ, and which constitutes him our all-perfect Pattern. His perfect sacrifice also has been seen in this same description, and it has been compared with that similar description of him in Revelation 5:6, "a Lamb that had been slain." Not alone the whiteness of purity, but "ruddy" as with the stain of his precious sacrificial blood.
2. He is God in his essential Person. (Ver. 11.) Gold is, in the sacred symbolism of Scripture, ever associated with that which is of God. The head of fine gold suggests, therefore, that which St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 11:3), "The head of Christ is God."
3. Yet he consecrated himself for our sakes. The unshorn hair, "his locks are bushy," was the sign of consecration (cf. the vow of Nazarite).
4. And is evermore mighty to save. Youth and strength are signified by the "raven" hair. Whilst others wax old as doth a garment, he is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (cf. Psalm 102:27).
5. Gentleness, purity, and the love and light of the Holy Spirit beam in his eyes. (Ver. 12.) Cf. New Testament notices of the look of our Lord - hew he looked with compassion, hew he "looked upon Peter" (Luke 22:61).
6. To see his face is heaven. (Ver. 13.) To walk in the light of that countenance, to behold it fair and fragrant as sweet flowers.
7. And from his lips drop words of love. Men wondered at the gracious words which he spake. "Never man spake like this Man." "Grace is poured into thy lips" (Psalm 45:2; Isaiah 50:4).
8. He is invested with the authority of God. (Ver. 14.) "His hands are rings of gold," etc. The ring was the signet and seal of authority. He spake as one having authority; "I by the finger of God cast out devils;" "All things are put under him."
9. Stainless purity and heavenly mindedness marked his life. (Ver. 14.) The body, or rather the robe that covered it, as bright ivory, tells of the purity and perfectness of his life; the heavenly blue of the "sapphires" is the type of heaven. His conversation was in heaven. He walked with God.
10. He was firm and steadfast in God. (Ver. 15.) The legs, as "pillars of marble," tell of his steadfast strength; the "sockets of fine gold," of the Divine basis and foundation of that strength.
11. Full of majesty and beauty, as Lebanon and its cedars. Cf. his appearance at the Transfiguration; to the guards at his rising from the dead.
12. And yet full of grace and benignity. (Ver. 16.) "His mouth" - his smile - "most sweet." The little children nestled in his arms. The poor fallen women read the benignity of that look. Publicans and sinners crowded round him, irresistibly drawn by his exceeding grace.
13. No human tongue can tell how fair he is. "Yea, he is altogether lovely." The words tell of the giving up the task, of ceasing from the hopeless endeavour, to fitly fully set forth her beloved. She could only say, "He is altogether," etc.
CONCLUSION. Such was the answer given when asked, "What is thy beloved more," etc.? (ver. 9). And such answer is the best. The testimony of the loving heart to what Jesus is to such heart is more convincing than any argument. May such testimony be ours! - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?