My beloved is white and ruddy, the most chief among ten thousand.
The figure here employed by the bride to depict the superiority and excellence of her royal husband is very striking. In reply to the inquiry of those who mock and taunt her in the season of her sorrow and her loss, asking what her beloved is more than another, she replies that he is the banner in the vast embattled host, rising conspicuous and commanding above the thousand warriors by whom he is encompassed. Christians are often reproached with their attachment to Christ. Men who are willing to acknowledge him as one of many, to rank him with "other masters," cannot tolerate the claims advanced by his Church on his behalf, and ask what there is in him to entitle him to adoration so supreme, to devotion so exclusive. The answer of Christ's people is one which gathers force with the lapse of time and the enlargement of experience. Christ is "chiefest among ten thousand." He excels all other teachers, leaders, saviours of society, in every respect.
I. IN THE PROFUNDITY OF HIS INSIGHT INTO TRUTH, AND IN THE CLEARNESS WITH WHICH HE REVEALS TRUTH. Among the sages and philosophers who have arisen in ancient and in modern times, and to whom the world is indebted for precious communications, for great thoughts, which it will not willingly let die, there is none who can compete with Christ. His sayings are more original in their substance than those of others, with regard both to the character and service of God and to the duty and hopes of men. In fact, he is "the Truth," proved to be such by the persistence of those utterances which have sunk into the minds of men, enlightening and enriching humanity with its choicest treasures.
II. IN THE EFFECTUAL COMPASSION WITH WHICH HE RECOVERS THE MORALLY LOST. The Lord Jesus is not merely a wise Teacher; he is a mighty Saviour. He knew well that little good is done by communicating truth, unless at the same time the heart can be reached and the character moulded anew. During his earthly ministry he put forth his moral power in many and most memorable instances, and rescued the sinful, the degraded, those abandoned by men, restoring them to integrity, to purity, to newness of moral life. And since his ascension he has been exercising the same power with the same results. His Name, by faith in his Name, has made many whole. His gospel loses none of its efficacy, his Spirit exercises the same energy of grace, as generation succeeds generation. Ten thousand attempt what Christ alone performed.
III. IS THE SPIRITUAL POWER WITH WHICH HE RULES OVER HUMAN SOCIETY. If A comparison be made between Christ and other founders of religious systems and Churches, it will be seen that the superiority rests with him, in the sway wielded over the true nature of men. Compare him, for example, with Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, or with Mohammed. What is the result of such a comparison? There can be no question that, in the matter of spiritual authority, it will be to establish the supremacy of the Son of man. He lays hold, as none other has done, of the affections, the moral susceptibilities and convictions, the inner principles, of men's being, and thus controls and inspires their true life. In this respect ten thousand are inferior to him; but he stands alone - his banner towers above the host.
IV. IN THE WELL-FOUNDED PROSPECT WHICH HE IMPARTS TO THE WORLD'S FUTURE. Every well wisher to his race, in looking forward to what shall be after him, must often be assailed with fear and foreboding. There is much to make the outlook gloomy and stormy. And there is no principle which can subdue such natural anxiety, which can inspire confident and sustaining hope with regard to the future of human society, except the principle of Christianity, i.e. the personal and spiritual power of the Lord Christ to govern and to guide mankind to glorious issues. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.