His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
It is of Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom, that we perceive the spouse to be speaking, and mentioning in detail at least ten particulars, dwelling with delight upon the beauties of His head and His locks, His eyes and His cheeks, His lips and His hands, and every part of Him; and, beloved friends, I think it shows true love to Christ when we want to speak at length upon everything that concerns Him. True love to Christ seeks to get to Him, to live with Him, to live upon Him, and thus to know Him so intimately that things which were unobserved and passed over at the first, stand out in clear light to the increased joy and delight of the contemplative mind.
I. CHRIST LOOKED UPON IS VERY LOVELY. "His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers."
1. But why do they mention His cheeks?
(1) I suppose, first, because every part of Christ is inexpressibly delightful. Take any portion of His countenance that you may, and it has surpassing beauty about it. Think for a moment what is meant by a sight of "His cheeks." Though you may not yet see the majesty of His brow as King of kings and Lord of lords, — though you may not perceive the brightness of the lightning flashes of His eyes, which are as a flame of fire, — though you may scarcely be able to imagine at present what will be the glory of His second advent, — yet, if you can but see the cheeks that He gave to the smiters, if you do but know something of Him as the suffering Saviour, you shall find that there is inexpressible delight in Him, and with the spouse you will say, "His cheeks are as a bed of spices."(2) But, methinks, the saints see great loveliness in those parts of Christ which have been most despised. Oh! if we could but see Him now, if we could but gaze upon His face as it is in glory, what a subject of meditation it would be to think that even the spittle of cruel mockers did run a-down those blessed cheeks, — that infinite loveliness was insulted with inconceivable contempt, — the holy face of the Incarnate Son of God distained with the accursed spittle of brutal men. "It was I, with my vain and idle talk, with my false and proud speech, that did spit into that dear face." How sad that He should ever have been made to suffer so! O glorious love, that He should" be willing even to stoop to this terrible depth of ignominy that He might lift us up to dwell with Him on high I(3) And next, those parts of Christ in which we do not immediately see any special office or use are, nevertheless, peculiarly lovely to the saints. Do you care only for the lips that speak to you? Have you no love for the cheeks that are silent? Do you care for nothing but for the eyes that are watching over you? If there come to you nothing from those cheeks of your Lord, yet shall they not be to you "as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers"? The fact is, we are not to judge concerning Christ in any such fashion as this; on the contrary, if there is any duty which Christ has commanded, but which, instead of seeming to be easy and profitable to us, is hard, and requireth that we should give so much that Judas will cry out, "To what purpose is this waste?" let us never mind him, but break our alabaster boxes, and pour out the sweet perfume upon our dear Master.
(4) But further, the followers of Christ have an intense admiration, an almost infinite love for that part of Christ by which they are able to commune with Him, and perhaps that is one reason why His cheeks are here specially mentioned. The cheek is the place of fellowship where we exchange tokens of love. What a blessing it is that Christ should have had a cheek for the lips of love to approach, and to kiss!
2. The spouse, however, in our text tries to speak of the loveliness of Christ by comparisons. She cannot do it with one emblem, she must have two even concerning His cheeks; they are "as a bed of spices," "as sweet flowers."(1) Notice, in the metaphors used by the spouse, that there is a blending of sweetness and beauty; "as a bed of spices," — there is sweetness; and then, "as sweet flowers," — there is beauty. There is sweetness to the nostrils and beauty to the eye, spice for its fragrance and flowers for their loveliness. In Christ, there is something for every spiritual sense, and for every spiritual sense there is a complete satisfaction and delight in Him.
(2) Notice that, when the spouse is speaking even of the cheeks of her Beloved, she brings in the idea of abundance; — spices, aye, "a bed of spices"; flowers, — not one or two, but, according to the Hebrew, "towers of perfume," which I understand to mean those raised beds which we delight to have in our gardens, where there are many flowers set in order, forming charming banks of beauty. No doubt Solomon had some of those in his garden, for "there is nothing new under the sun"; and those raised beds of dainty flowers are fit emblems of the beauteous cheek of Christ, with its delicate tints of white and red. So in Christ there is infinite abundance.
(3) There is also in Christ infinite variety; there is in Him all you can want of any one thing, and there is more than all you can want of everything.
(4) The spouse's metaphors seem to me also to suggest use and delight. She speaks of spices, for which there is practical use in surgery and in medicine, for preservation and for perfume; and she also mentions sweet flowers, for which there may not be any particular use, but which are charming for ornament, and for the delectation of taste. So, dear friends, in Christ Jesus there is all that we want, but there is a great deal more. There is something beside and beyond our actual necessities, there are many spiritual luxuries.
II. Now let us turn to the other part of our text:His lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. These words teach us that CHRIST LISTENED TO IS VERY PRECIOUS. When He is silent, and we only look at Him, He is lovely to our eyes; but when He speaks, we can see "His lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh."
1. Notice, first, that it is well, whenever we hear the voice of Jesus Christ, to try to see the blessed Person who is speaking. The spouse does not say in our text, "His words are sweet," but she speaks of "His lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh." Why should we not believe more in a personal Christ, and why should we not always see the connection between the mercy and the hand that gives it, and between the promise and the lips that speak it?
2. Notice the comparison in the text, — lilies; not white lilies, of course, but red lilies, crimson lilies, lilies of such a colour as are frequently to be seen, which would be a suitable emblem of the Beloved's lips. Christ's lips are peculiarly delightful to us, for it is with them that He speaks to us, and intercedes with the Father for us. When Heb, leads as the Intercessor on behalf of a poor soul like me, His lips are indeed in God's sight like lovely lilies. The Father looks at His dear Son's lips, and He is charmed with them, and blesseth us because of Christ's intercession. And whenever Christ turns round, and speaks to us, shall we not listen at once, with eyes and ears wide open, as we say, "I like to watch His lips as He is speaking, for His lips are to me as lilies"? I suppose this comparison means that Christ's lips are very pure, as the lily is the purest of flowers; and that they are very gentle, for we always associate the lily with everything that is tender and soft and kind.
3. But the spouse's comparison fails, for she said, "His lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh." This lilies do not do, but Christ does. He is more than a lily, or He is a lily of such a sort as never bloomed on earth except once. He was the only lily that ever dropped sweet-smelling myrrh. The spouse says that His lips do that; what means this? Does it not mean that His Word is often full of a very sweet, mysterious, blessed influence?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.