Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? I raised you up under the apple tree…
As a skilled artist by two or three strokes brings some incident vividly and picturesquely before the eye, so does the poet here by a few words picture before us a scene harmonious with the whole composition, and depict the mutual relation of the two personages of this exquisite dramatic idyll. We see the bride returning to the home of her youth, quitting the familiar pastures, and approaching the dear abode; she is "leaning upon her beloved." If true love is suggestive of true religion, as is not to be doubted, then we may regard this attitude as having its analogue in the Christian's wonted experience as related to his Lord.
I. THE CHURCH'S INNATE WEAKNESS. Men sometimes use extravagant language regarding the Church, as though in itself it were great and powerful. But the juster view to take is that suggested by the posture of the beloved coming up out of the wilderness. All the Church has is derived; she can neither stand nor walk alone; her steps would falter if unsupported, would stray and err if unguided.
II. THE CHURCH'S DIVINE FRIEND AND HELPER. Christ, who has called his Church into fellowship with himself, is alone able and willing to take her under his protection and control. He knows the way in which she is to walk, the enemies she will encounter, the dangers by which she will be assailed. And he has all resources of spiritual strength and wisdom, encouragement and love. Every earthly counsellor and friend has limited powers, which sooner or later will surely fail. There is no measure to Christ's capacity to save and bless.
III. THE CHURCH'S WILLING, GRATEFUL, AND CLINGING DEPENDENCE. They who would fain go alone are not Christ's. So surely as he chooses his own, so surely does he put within them a spirit of subjection and attachment to himself. A cry for leading and for support comes up from the depths of the spiritual nature - a cry to which Christ is never indifferent, to which Christ always responds. He bids her "lean hard" upon him.
IV. THE CHURCH'S HAPPY SECURITY. Having given herself into his keeping, she knows that she is safe; that he will lead her aright, that he will never leave and never forsake her; that if she stumbles, she will not be allowed to fall; that if she is faint and weary, he will uphold her tottering steps; that if she is fearful, his words and his smile will banish her apprehensions and restore her peace. - T.
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.