Song of Solomon 6


1 “Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women?

whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with

thee.”  The dialogue still continues, possibly because, the effect of

the dream which Shulamith narrates is not passed away in the

morning.  Under the influence of it she goes forth and meets the daughters

of Jerusalem, who offer their assistance. But there is no necessity for this.

The poetry merely demands that the idea of the dream should be still kept

before the mind of the reader. The scene is still in the palace. The ladies

playfully carry on the bride’s cue, and help her to pour out her feelings.

The bridegroom, they know, is near at hand, and is coming to delight

himself in his bride; but the bride has not yet drawn him back completely to

her side. This is evident from the fact that there is no distress in the

language of the bride. She is not complaining and crying out in agony

under a sense of desertion; she is waiting for the return of her beloved, and

so she calmly sings of his love and his perfect truthfulness, even though

absent from her. He is where his perfect beauty and fragrance might well



2 “My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of

spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.   3  I am my beloved’s,

and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.” In

Ecclesiastes 2:5-6 Solomon says, “I planted me vineyards; I made me

gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit; I made

me pools of water, to water therefrom the forest where trees were reared.”

In Revelation 7:17 it is said, “The Lamb which is in the midst of the

throne shall be their Shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of

water of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.” We can

scarcely doubt that the meaning is — The bridegroom is not gone far; he is

where he is congenially employed; where his pure and lovely nature finds

that which is like itself — beauty and fragrance and innocence. It is his

resort, and it corresponds with his perfection. Delitzsch thinks

“thoughtfulness and depth of feeling are intended” (compare Psalm 92:5).

“His thoughts are very deep.” But it would seem more fitting, in the lips of

the bride, that she should dwell on the aspects of her beloved which

correspond with her own feelings. She is one of the lilies. The king is

coming into his garden, and I am ready to receive him. The shepherd

among his flock. They are all like lilies, pure and beautiful. The bride has

nothing but chaste thoughts of her husband: because she knows that he is

hers, and she is his. Surely such language is not inaptly applied to spiritual

uses. Tennyson’s lovely poem, ‘St. Agnes’ Eve,’ has caught the spirit of

Shulamith. A few of his lines will illustrate this —


“The shadows of the convent towers

Slant down the snowy sward,

Still creeping with the creeping hours

That lead me to my Lord.

Make thou my spirit pure and clear

As are the frosty skies,

Or this first snowdrop of the year

That in my bosom lies.

He lifts me to the golden doors;

The flashes come and go;

All Heaven bursts her starry floors,

And strews her lights below,

And deepens on and up! the gates

Roll back, and far within

For me the heavenly Bridegroom waits,

To make me pure of sin.

The sabbaths of eternity,

One sabbath deep and wide,

A light upon the shining sea —

The Bridegroom with His bride.”


“I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” It is the declaration of holy

rapture in the consciousness of Christ’s love. They that seek Him shall find




                Dialogue Between the Bride and the Daughters of Jerusalem 

                                                            (vs. 1-3)


  • THE QUESTION OF THE MAIDENS. The dream is past. The

bridegroom is absent for a time, but the bride is not anxious; she knows

where he is, and that he will soon return. Perhaps it was such a short

absence which filled her thoughts before, and was the occasion of those

narratives which are so dream-like, which recall so vividly reminiscences of

dreams such as most men have probably experienced. The chorus again

address the bride as “fairest among women.” They recognize her beauty

and graces. They do not see the bridegroom with her; they ask, “Whither is

he gone?” They offer to seek him with her. So we sometimes ask others

who have more Christian graces, more love of Christ, than we have, where

we may find the Lord. We want to seek Christ with them; we ask for their

prayers; we will join our prayers with theirs.




Ø      The bride knows where her beloved may be found. She has no doubts

now, no anxieties, as she had in her dream. She answers without

hesitation, “My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of

spices, to feed [his flock] in the gardens, and to gather lilies.” She

 invests her beloved with the ideal character of a shepherd, as she had

done before (ch. 1:7). We see that the words are not to be taken

literally; he is no shepherd in the ordinary sense. He is said, indeed,

to be feeding (his flock), but not in ordinary pastures. He is gone to

his garden, a garden of costly spices; and he is gone to gather lilies,

apparently for his bride. The bride never dwells on the wealth and

magnificence of her royal lover as the chorus do. Such thoughts,

perhaps, were to her oppressive rather than attractive; she loves to

think of him as a shepherd, as one in her own condition in life. The

grandeur of the king was dazzling to the country maiden. So the

Christian loves to think of the Lord Jesus as THE GOOD

SHEPHERD.   We know, indeed, that the kingdoms of this world

are His; that He is King of kings and Lord of lords; that He is the

Word who in the beginning was with God, and Himself was God;

 that all things were made through Him, and WITHOUT HIM


know that He will come again in majesty and great glory to judge

 the quick and the dead. But when our souls are dazzled by the

contemplation of His glory; when we shrink, as sinful men must

shrink, from the thought of the great white throne and Him that

sitteth on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven flee away

(Revelation 20:11); — it is a relief then to our weakness to remember

that the great King humbled Himself to our low estate, that He was

made as one of us, that He shared all our human infirmities, sin only

excepted; that he who is the Life of the world humbled Himself

for us unto death, even the death of the cross. And of all the titles

by which He has been pleased to make Himself known to His people,

there is none so full of comfort as that of the Shepherd, the good

Shepherd, who calls His sheep by name, who guides them and feeds

them, who knows His own and His own know Him, who once laid

down His life for the sheep.  Now He feeds them in His garden, the

garden enclosed (ch. 4:12), which is the Church, among the beds of

spices, which are the fruit of the Spirit. There He gathers the lilies one

by one, the souls of His redeemed, the souls which He has tended and

cared for, and glorified with a beauty of holiness which is a faint

reflection of His own heavenly beauty. Solomon in all his glory was

not arrayed like one of those precious lilies (Matthew 6:28-30). He

gathers them one by one when they have grown into that spiritual

beauty for which He planted them at the first, and carries them into

a better garden, the true Eden, the Paradise of God, there to blossom

into purer and holier beauty.


Ø      She is wholly his. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he that

feedeth [his flock] among the lilies.” She repeats the happy assurance of

ch.2:16, only she inverts the order of the clauses, and adds the description.

“He is feeding his flock among the lilies: but I am his, and he is mine.”

There is no jealousy, no doubt now, as there seemed to be when she

dreamed of his absence. The shepherd is her shepherd, the lilies

are for her, she is his. She thinks first now of her gift to the bridegroom.

In the reference above, she put his gift first. He had given his heart to

her in the first happy days of their young love; and that gift had won from

her the responsive gift of her affection. She knew now that her heart was

wholly his; she delights in owning it. And she was sure of his affection.

His heart was wholly hers. “We love Him, because He first loved us”

(I John 4:19). It is the love of Christ manifested in His blessed life and

Precious death, revealed into the believer’s heart by the power of the

Holy Spirit, — it is that constraining love which draws forth from our

cold and selfish natures that measure of love, real and true, though

unworthy and intermittent, with which the Christian man regards the

Lord. At first we are more sure of His love than of ours. He loved us,

that is certain; the cross is the convincing proof. But we are not sure,

alas! that we are returning His love. We have learned from long and

sad experience to doubt these selfish hearts of ours; we are afraid that

there is no real love in them, but only excited feeling, only transitory

emotion. But if by His grace we persevere in the life of prayer and faith,

little by little His love given to us, manifested in our souls, draws forth

the response of earnest love from us; little by little we begin to hope

(oh, how earnestly!) that we may be able at last to say with Peter,

“Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”  (John

21:17.  But to say that, with the knowledge that His eye is on us, that

He is reading our heart, involves much awe, much heart searching, as

well as much hope, much peace. We can only pray that “the God of

 hope may fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may

 abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

And if that love, though weak, as, alas! it must be, is yet real, we may

make the bride’s words our own: “I am my Beloved’s; I belong to Him.

My heart is His; I am giving it to Him; and He, blessed be his holy Name,

is helping me to give it by first giving Himself to me. I am my Beloved’s,

and my Beloved is mine.”  Therefore the Christian soul may say, “I hope

one day to see Him face to face, and to be with Him where He feedeth

His flock among the lilies of Paradise.”


The peasant woman who is, in this Song of Songs, pictured as the beloved

of the king, cherished for her husband the warmest affection; he was

everything to her — ever in her memory when absent, and ever in her

heart. Hence she knew him better than others; and those who wished to

know of his character and his movements did well to inquire of her. In this

simple fact we discern the operation of an interesting and valuable moral

principle. To whom shall we go for an appreciative estimate of the

character and the work of Immanuel? We shall go in vain to those among

the learned and the critical who care not for Christ —save as for an object

of speculative, psychological, or historical inquiry. We shall fare better if

we appeal to the lowly and the unlearned, if only they are persons who feel

their personal indebtedness to Christ, who have “tasted that the Lord is

gracious” (I Peter 2:3), who have learned by their own personal experience what

He can do for those who put their trust in Him. It is those who, like Mary, can

exclaim, “My Master;” who, like Thomas, can address him as My Lord

and my God;” who, like Peter, can appeal to Him, saying, “Lord, thou

knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee;”  (John 20:16, 28; 21:17),

it is such that can tell of the mystery of the Saviour’s love, and the gracious

wisdom of the Savior’s ways.



Successful Quest after the Chief Good (vs. 1-3)


The inquirer has taken a step in advance. Awhile he asked, “What is there

in Jesus that makes Him so attractive?” To this question the loving disciple

had responded. He had answered the question fully. He had given a full

description of the sinner’s Friend. He had testified to the worth and

excellence of the heavenly King. And now the inquirer asks further,

“Where may I find this gracious Friend? My heart craves the good which

this Friend alone can bestow. I fain would have Him too. Tell me where I

may find Him.”




Ø      Spiritual life and joy in one attract others. Genuine piety acts like a

magnet. A well kept garden, stocked with fragrant flowers, has

strong attractions for a thousand men, and the fragrant graces of

true piety have a like fascination. If “a thing of beauty is a joy forever,”

the life of a true Christian, being of all things the most beautiful, is an

abiding joy.  There is nothing so capable of manifesting beauty as

character. If all Christians were as gracious and loving as they might be,


UNGODLY!   This is Christ’s method for propagating His gospel.

“I am glorified in them” (John 17:10).  By which He meant to say,

“All the charm of my character and all the fruit of my redemption

shall be seen in the lives of my disciples.” This will win the world’s



Ø      Christian Churches are the objects of the worlds respect. This is not

true of every community that styles itself a Church. But every true Church

commands the respect and homage of mankind. And as a Church is simply

an assemblage of individuals, a genuine Christian has a similar

influence over men. The bride of Christ is here addressed as “the fairest

among women.” Purity and magnanimity of character command universal

respect.  Prejudiced men may malign and slander consistent Christians;

they may envy their high attainments; yet in their heart of hearts they do



Ø      ACTIVE SEARCH IS NEEDFUL if we would find Christ. It is

quite true that Jesus seeks the sinner. He came to “seek the lost.” This

first desire to have the friendship of the Beloved has been awakened

in the heart by the good Spirit of Christ. Nevertheless, there is a part

we must perform, or we shall not gain success. We must strive to

enter into the kingdom, or the portals will not open. The salvation of

the soul is not to be attained by indolent passivity. There must be

search, exertion, intense effort:


o       We must break away from old companions.

o       We must forego former indulgences.

o       We must gain knowledge of Christ.

o       We must search the Scriptures (John 5:39). 

o       We must be much in prayer.

o       We must watch the stratagems of the tempter. (“your

adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walking about

seeking whom he may devour.”  (I Peter 5:8)

o       We must seek if we would find.


Ø      To find Christ it is best to have an experienced guide. That we may

seek Him with thee.” The man who has found Christ, and knows well

all the favorite haunts of Christ, is the best guide for others. No

qualification in a guide is so good as personal experience. (Take for

instance Kit Carson of the early west fame and many others! – CY –

2014).  Nothing can take its place. No titles, no diplomas, no amount of

intellectual learning, will take the place of experience. The pilot who has

navigated a hundred ships through the rocky straits, though he may not

be able to read a word in any language, is the best guide to bring us

safely into port. It is a foolish act to refuse the practical counsels OF

FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS!   A learned man once accounted for

his eminent acquisitions by the fact that he had never hesitated to ask

questions respecting the unknown. To find Christ is ETERNAL LIFE!

Therefore let us use every wise measure in order to gain so great a



  • VALUABLE COUNSEL. “My beloved is gone down into his garden.”


Ø      Here is confident assurance upon the matter. On the part of a real

Christian there is no doubt where Christ can be found. His knowledge is

clear, for it is well founded. As surely as men know in what part of the

heavens the sun will rise or will set, so the friend of Jesus knows where

He can be found. So he speaks in no doubtful tones. There is no

peradventure.  “My Beloved is gone down into his garden.” There he

had always found the Saviour, when devoutly he had sought Him.

For “His delights are with the children of men.”  (Proverbs 8:31).

And His gracious promise to ‘His Church has never been broken,

“Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there

am I in the midst of them.”  (Matthew 18:20)


Ø      In the society of living and fruitful saints Jesus will be found. He has

gone “to the beds of spices.” However imperfect and insipid our graces

seem to ourselves, Jesus finds in them a sweet savor. The organ through

which Jesus discovers these and enjoys their fragrance and sweetness, is

far more highly developed in Him than in us. To His sensitive nature there

is a fine aroma in our lowliness and patience, in our love and praise, which

we had not suspected. Nor do the sweetest songs of angels attract Him so

much as the first lispings of a penitent’s prayer. The nearer we get to Jesus

the richer joy do we attain. There is a rare delicacy in the gladness, easier

felt than described. So in our fresh passionate love, and in our simple zeal,

and in our childlike trust, Jesus finds profoundest satisfaction. In the midst

of such virgin souls He delights to dwell. (“He will rejoice over thee with

joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.” 

(Zephaniah 3:17).  These hold Him, and will not let Him go. What spice

beds are to every lover of innocent pleasure, the piety of true saints is to

Jesus. Near such He may AT ANY TIME BE FOUND!   If any

man longs to find the Saviour, he will find Him in the vicinity of genuine

believers. He is gone to the “beds of spices,” perchance to some bedside,

where deep-rooted love is blossoming and bearing fruit.


Ø      Purity of heart wins Christs presence. He is gone “to gather lilies.”

Using Oriental language to convey heavenly truth, He is described as a

Shepherd who feeds His flock “among the lilies,” In the former chapter

We read, “His lips are like lilies” (ch. 5:13).  To express His fondness for

purity, He portrays His bride as “a lily among thorns,” In the use of all

such language He utters His strong affection for that which is pure in

moral character. If He stoops in His pity to save a polluted sinner, He at

the same time makes it clear that He loathes and abhors sin. His companions

shall be spiritual virgins. Until a man is newborn he cannot see the kingdom

of heaven, much less can he see the King (John 3:3).  Purity of life may not

yet be reached, but if in the central heart the purpose and firm resolve be

for purity, then Jesus will soon be found. “Blessed are the pure in heart:

for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)


  • FAITHFUL TESTIMONY. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is



Ø      Religion is essentially a matter of the heart. This title of endearment,

“My Beloved,” implies that He has won the affections of the heart. True

piety is not simply a matter of conviction. It is not merely a doctrine or a

creed. It is not a set of forms and ceremonies. It is an affair of the heart. It

moves and holds the whole man. Feeling, desire, choice, strong affection,

enter into the warp and woof of TRUE RELIGION!   I may be very

incompetent to set forth Christ’s claims to the homage of mankind. But

one thing I know — Jesus is supreme in my heart. None is so worthy

of the central shrine as He. I have given myself to Him, as the only

possible return for His love.


Ø      This testimony is the outcome of vigorous faith. The bride of Christ had

used this language before, but now she reverses the order. The order of

events is not always the order of our experience. There are times when the

Christian loses the assurance that he is loved by Christ. The sunshine of the

Master’s smile is hidden. Yet even then the language of faith is, “Come

what may, I give myself afresh to him. Whether he count me worthy of a

place in his regards or not, he is worthy of a place in mine. I AM HIS!”

Therefore faith says (though I do not realize it now), ‘My Beloved is



Ø      This renewed testimony is required by new circumstance. The daughters

of Jerusalem were inquiring where this Friend of sinners might be found.

The bride of Christ undertakes to guide into His presence. Then she wishes

to make it plain upon what terms Jesus will reveal Himself to seekers. So

she means to say, “I gave my whole self to him. I opened to him my heart,

and made him Monarch there. Do you likewise, and you shall find THE

SAVIOUR TOO!   Jesus Christ craves the human heart. Lovest thou me?”

(John 21:17) is His inquiry still. Even the city harlot, sick of sin, and opening

her heart to Jesus, found in Him sympathy and pardon and a new life.

“She loved much, therefore her sins are forgiven her”  (Luke 7:47).


4  “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as

Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.   5 Turn away thine eyes

from me, for they have overcome me. Thy hair is as a flock of goats

that appear from Gilead.   6 Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which

go up from the washing whereof every one beareth twins, and there

is not one barren among them.  7 As a piece of a pomegranate are thy

temples within thy locks.  The king is not far off. The bride knows

that he is near. She prepares herself for him with words of love. He is

coming among his “rosebud garden. of girls.” His voice is heard as he

approaches. And as he enters the chamber he bursts forth with lavish

praises of his bride. Tirzah and Jerusalem, two of the most beautiful cities

of the world, are taken as symbols of the surpassing beauty of the bride —

doubtless also with an intended reference to the symbolism of Scripture,

where the people of God are compared throughout to a city. Tirzah was

discovered by Robinson in 1852, on a height in the mountain range to the

north of Nablus, under the name Tulluzah, high and beautiful, in a region

of olive trees. The name itself signifies sweetness, which might be so

employed even if there were no actual city so called. Jerusalem is said to

have been “the perfection of beauty” (Psalm 48:2; 50:2; Lamentations 2:15).

Cities are generally spoken of as females, as also nations. The Church is

the city of God. The new Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb. If the prophets

did not take their language from this Song of Solomon, then the phraseology

and symbolism which we find here must have been familiarly known and used

among the people of Israel from the time of Solomon. The beauty of the bride

is overwhelming, it is subduing and all-conquering, like a warrior host with

flying banners going forth to victory. Solomon confesses that he is vanquished.

This, of course, is the hyperbole of love, but it is full of significance to the

spiritual mind. The Church of Christ in the presence and power of the Lord is

irresistible. It is not until He appears that the bride is seen in her perfection.

She hangs her head and complains while He is absent; but when He comes and

reveals Himself, delighting in His people, their beauty, which is a reflection of His,

will shine forth as the sun forever and ever. The word which is employed,

“terrible,” is from the root “to be impetuous,” “to press impetuously

upon,” “to infuse terror,” Septuagint,  ἀναπτεροῦνanapteroiun - to make to

start up  - referring to the flash of the eyes, the overpowering brightness of the

countenance. So the purity and excellence of the Church shall delight the

Lord, and no earthly power shall be able to stand before it. Heaven and

earth shall meet in the latter days. Wickedness shall fly before

righteousness as a defeated host before a victorious army. Is there not

something like a practical commentary on these words in the history of all

great revivals of religion and eras of reformation? Are there not signs even

now that the beauty of the Church is becoming more and more army-like,

and bearing down opposition? The remainder of the description is little

more than a repetition of what has gone before, with some differences.

Mount Gilead is here simply Gilead. The flock of shorn sheep is here the

flock of ewes with their young. Perhaps there is intended to be a special

significance in the use of the same description. The bride is the same, and

therefore the same terms apply to her; but she is more beautiful than ever in

the eyes of the bridegroom. Is it not a delicate mode of saying, “Though

my absence from thee has made thee complain for a while, thou art still the

same to me”? There is scope here for variety of interpretation which there

is no need to follow. Some would say the reference is to the state of the

Church at different periods — as e.g. to the primitive Church in its

simplicity and purity, to the Church of the empire in its splendor and

growing dominion. The Jewish expositors apply it to the different stages in

the history of Israel, “the congregation” being the bride, as under the first

temple and under the second temple. Ibn Ezra, and indeed all expositors,

recognize the reason for the repetition as in the sameness of affection. “The

beloved repeats the same things here to show that it is still his own true

bride to whom he speaks, the sameness in the features proving it.” So the

Targum. The flock of goats, the flock of ewes, the piece of pomegranate,

all suggest the simple purity of country life in which the king found so

much satisfaction, he is wrapped up in his northern beauty, and idolizes her.

One cannot help thinking of the early Jewish Church coming forth from

Galilee, when all spoke of the freshness and genuineness of a simple-hearted

piety drawn forth by the preaching of the Son of Mary — the

virgin-born Bridegroom whose bride was like the streams and flowers, the

birds and flocks, of beautiful Galilee; a society of believing peasants

untouched by the conventionalities of Judaea, and ready to respond to the

grand mountain like earnestness and heavenly purity of the new Prophet,

the Shepherd of Israel, “who feedeth his flock among the lilies.” There is a

correspondence in the early Church, before corruption crept in and

sophistication obscured the simplicity of faith and life among Christians, to

this description of the bride, the Lamb’s wife. There must be a return to

that primitive ideal before there can be the rapturous joy of the Church

which is promised. We are too much turned aside from the Bridegroom to

false and worthless attractions which do not delight the Beloved One.

When He sees His bride as He first saw her, He will renew His praises

and lift her up to Himself.



The Terribleness of the Church of Christ (v. 4)


There is nothing inconsistent in the assertion that the same living society is

possessed of beauty and of terribleness. To the susceptible mind there is

ever something awful in beauty; it is felt to be Divine. There is a side of

beauty which verges upon sublimity. We feel this in gazing upon the

headlong cataract, the glorious sea. It sometimes seems to us as though

God draws near to our souls when we suddenly behold a noble woman’s

grace and charm and pure ethereal expression. So there is in Christ’s

Church a severity as well as a winsomeness of beauty; we are conscious in

some phases of Christian life of an aspect of deep and unspeakable awe.

How is this to be explained?




It is the scene of the “real presence” of Him who ever fulfills His own

assurance, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

(Matthew 28:20)




IMAGINATION. Moving with spotless garments amidst the world’s

defilement and contamination, the true Church presents to the enlightened

vision a spectacle of true sublimity, and commands our reverence as that

which on earth is most truly sublime.



EVIL. To penitents the attitude of the Church of Christ is, as was the

Master’s, benignant and compassionate; but to hardened sinners and to

contemptible hypocrites there is a sternness and severity in its demeanor

which may well make its presence terrible.



“Terrible as an army with banners.” The Church has to confront the hosts

of ignorance, of error, and of sin; its attitude and its equipment must,

therefore, partake of the nature of a warlike force. As an army, the Church

of Christ acknowledges the leadership of the Divine Captain of our

salvation; is supplied with weapons, not carnal, but mighty to the pulling

down of strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4); is distinguished by a duly

martial spirit, shrinking from no conflict to which it is called, by steady

discipline and by just order.  Well, then, may it be likened to an embattled

host, with banners floating on the breeze, and the voice of the Commander

ringing through the ranks. The spectacle is grand and awe-inspiring — an

earnest of victory, an omen of empire.


8 “There are three score queens, and four score concubines, and virgins

without number.  9  My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one

of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.  The daughters

saw her, and blessed her;  yea, the queens and the concubines, and they

praised her.”   The account given us of Solomon’s harem in I Kings 11:3

represents the number as much larger. Is not that because the time referred to

in the poem was early in the reign? The words are an echo of what we read in

Proverbs 31:28 and Genesis 30:13. Perhaps the general meaning is merely to

celebrate the surpassing beauty of the new bride. But there certainly is a special

stress laid on her purity and innocence. There is no necessity to seek for any

exact interpretation of the queens and concubines. They represent female

beauty in its variety. The true Church is in closer relation to the

Bridegroom than all the rest of the world. Even in the heathen and

unconverted world there is a revelation of the Word, or, as the ancient

Fathers of the Church said, a Λόγος σπερματὶκος - Logos spermatikos.

He was then as light,  though the darkness comprehended Him not. The

perfection of the true bride of the Lamb will be acknowledged even by

those who are not professedly Christian.



The Bridegroom’s Praise of the Bride (vs. 4-9)




Ø      General praise of her beauty. Her beauty is compared to the beauty of

Tirzah or Jerusalem. She is beautiful as Tirzah, which word means

grace”or “beauty;” comely as Jerusalem, the habitation or foundation

of peace.  The bridegroom mentions Tirzah as well as Jerusalem, which

seems to imply that the song was written before the division of the

kingdom. The bride is beautiful as Tirzah was to the inhabitants of

Northern Palestine — a fair city in a fertile country, deriving its name

from the attractive graces of the surrounding scenery. She is comely

as Jerusalem was to every loyal Israelite. “Beautiful for situation,

 the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north,

the city of the great King;” “Walk about Zion,” the psalmist continues,

“and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.  Mark well her

bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation

following” (Psalm 48:2, 12-13). Zion was to the Israelites “the perfection

of beauty” (Ibid. ch.50:2; Lamentations 2:15). The exiles in the days of

the Captivity sang in plaintive strains, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let

my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem

above my chief joy” (Ibid. ch.137:5-6). The great delight in

returning from their long captivity was to think, “Our feet shall stand

in thy gates, O Jerusalem.” “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” they

would say: “they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls,

and prosperity within thy palaces” (Ibid. ch.122:2, 6-7). And what

Jerusalem was to the Israelites, that the Church is to the heavenly

Bridegroom. Her salvation was “the joy set before Him,” for which

“He endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). He tells

her towers; for “the Lord knoweth them that are His.” (II Timothy 2:19). 

He knows every living stone of  the spiritual temple, the Church, which

he hath built upon the Rock of ages.  He never forgets her.

He intercedes for her, and is preparing a place for her, that hereafter

“the nations of them which are saved may walk in the light of her”

(Revelation 21:24). He prays now for her peace, and giveth her His

peace — “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”

(Philippians 4:7)  She is beautiful with the reflection of His perfect

beauty, He will cleanse and purify her, and at the last present her to

Himself a glorious Church.  (Ephesians 5:27).  And if

the Church is fair in the Bridegroom’s eyes, so in a degree is each

converted and sanctified soul; in each such soul He sees something of

that beauty of holiness which comes from the indwelling presence of

the Holy Spirit of God. For they who love Him, and seek to live in that

fellowship which is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ,

must, while they “behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, be

changed into the same image from glory to glory” (II Corinthians

3:18). And if the dear Lord is pleased with the poor holiness of His

people, how earnestly we ought to strive to purge ourselves from

all pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear

of God! Earthly beauty is but a poor endowment; it soon fades and

passes away. The inner beauty of a holy soul abides and increases

continually, and is very precious and sacred; for such

fair souls, washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb,

shall see the King in his beauty, and dwell in the light of the

golden city.  (Isaiah 33:17)


Ø      She is terrible as an army with banners. The bride is beautiful not

Only for her attractive gentleness; she has a queenly dignity that

could repel any presumptuous advances. The beauty of the Church

is a severe beauty, like the martial beauty of a bannered host. For,

indeed, the Church is an army, the army of the living God; the

banner of the cross shines in the van, advancing ever forward.


“The royal banners forward go,

The cross shines forth in mystic glow.”


That bannered host is terrible to the enemy. “Our wrestling is not

against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the

powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the

spiritual hosts of wickedness” (Ephesians 6:12).


“They march unseen,

That sacred band, in serried ranks arrayed,

Each cheering on his brother to the fight.

The Spirit sword flashes in each right hand;

The shield of faith protects each steadfast breast;

The red cross banner glitters in their van,

As they press ever forwards; breathing all

The selfsame prayer, the selfsame Presence high

Abiding in each heart, the selfsame hope,

The glory crown in heaven, sustaining all.”


Each Christian soul has its place in that vast army; each is a sworn

soldier of the cross; each such soul is terrible to the enemy, because

Christ is the strength of His people, and they are more than

conquerors through him who loved them.


“Satan trembles when he sees

The humblest saint upon his knees.”


Then we must pray for grace to follow the banner of the cross with

loyal heart and steadfast purpose, that our service may be acceptable

to the Captain of our salvation, and pleasing in His sight, as a

bannered host marshaled and ordered, as each noble warrior well

equipped and disciplined, is a sight that gives pleasure and joyful

pride to the commander.


Ø      The bridegroom repeats the praises of  ch. 4:1-6. But first he says,

Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me.”

He had praised her eyes again and again; they were as doves (ch.1:15;

4:1, 9). Now he says, in the tenderness of a great love, “they have

overcome me.” We may compare the Lord’s gracious wonder

at the faith of the centurion (Luke 7:9). He condescended to “marvel at

him, and turned Him about, and said unto the people that followed

Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

The bridegroom goes on to praise the various features of the bride’s

beauty, he had done so already in the love of their first espousals.

His affection continues unabated; he repeats the same praises in the

same words. The heavenly Bridegroom loves His bride the Church

with “an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). The terms of affection

which are bestowed in the Old Testament upon the ancient Jewish

Church are repeated in the New Testament, and applied to the

Christian Church, the Israel of God. Thus Peter (I Peter 2:9) calls

Christians “a chosen generation;” the same title (in the Greek of the

Septuagint the words are exactly the same) is given in the Prophet

Isaiah (Isaiah 43:20) to the Jewish people. Peter calls Christians

“a royal priesthood” (Ibid.),in Exodus 19:6 the Israelites are called

“a kingdom of priests” (here again Peter has used the exact words of

the Septuagint). He calls Christians “a holy nation;” the same thing is

said of the Israelites in (Ibid.).  Peter describes Christians as

“a peculiar people;” his words represent Deuteronomy 7:6, translated

in our old version “a special people,” in the new version, “a peculiar

people.” He applies to the Christian Church the words which the

Prophet Hosea had used of the Jews, “Which in time past were not a

 people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy,

but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:10;Hosea 2:23). The Lord

Jesus loves His Church with a love that changes not. Almost at the

beginning of the New Testament stands the holy promise, “Thou shalt

call His name Jesus:  for He shall save His people from their sins”

(Matthew 1:21), and almost at the end we read the blessed words,

“Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely”  (Revelation

22:17).  Each faithful Christian may trust his Saviour’s love, for it is

written, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”  (Hebrews 13:5),

and again, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform

it until the day of Jesus Christ”  (Philippians 1:6).




Ø      They are many. David had had sixteen wives. Solomon had early

followed that unhappy example; already he had, it seems, “three

score queens, and four score concubines.” He had transgressed the

commandment of (Deuteronomy 17:17), where it is said of  any

future king, “Neither shall he multiply wives unto himself,  that

his heart turn not away.” Solomon, alas! broke the commandment

of God, and incurred the awful peril denounced against disobedience.

“He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred

concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to

pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his

heart after other gods” (I Kings 11:3-4). Now he was young

but even in his youth the evil desire was strong within him.

His love for the pure country maiden might have saved him;

for a time, perhaps, it did check his sensual passions. But, alas!

if it was so, the evil spirit that had been cast out soon returned,

and brought with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself,

and the last state was worse than the first (Matthew 12:43-45).


Ø      She is one alone, “One is she, my dove, my undefiled; one is she to her

mother; the choice one is she to her that bare her.” Such is the literal

rendering of the touching words. The bride was an only daughter; she

was the joy and darling of her mother. The good daughter makes a

good wife.  She was the bridegroom’s dove, his undefiled one, and

she stood alone in his affections; no other came near to her. So good

was she and so lovely in character as well as in person, that even those

who might have been expected to regard her with envy praised her

and called her blessed. The luxurious monarch seems to have a

glimpse of THE BLESSEDNESS OF PURITY,   he seems

almost to feel that “to love one maiden and to cleave to her” is the

ideal of human love. Alas! “his goodness was as a morning cloud, and as

the early dew it passed away” (Hosea 6:4) The evil spirit of sensuality

returned. When he was old, his wives turned away his heart; and he

did evil in the sight of the Lord, and built high places for the worship

of idols in the hill that is before Jerusalem (I Kings 11:4, 6-7). How

earnestly we ought to strive to retain in our souls those happy feelings,

those aspirations after purity and holiness which God sends from

time to time, like angels’ visits, into our hearts! They can only be

fixed and wrought into our characters by immediate action. In

themselves they are transitory, and rapidly pass away. But hold

them firm, make them the basis of real effort, the beginning and

occasion of the healthy discipline of self-denial, — then

God will help us to keep them alive in our souls; the little seed will

grow till it becomes a great tree; the little leaven will spread through

the whole life with its quickening powers. Very precious are those

moments of holy emotion; very solemn, too, for they involve a great



o       To let them go is perilous exceedingly,

o       to use them aright brings a priceless blessing.


10 “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the

moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” This, of

course, is the praise which comes from the lips of the queens and

concubines, the ladies of the harem, the daughters of Jerusalem. The word

rendered looketh forth” is literally bendeth forward,” i.e. in order to look

out or forth (compare Psalm 14:2), παρακυπτοῦσαparakuptousa -  (compare

James 1:25, “stooping down and looking into the  Word as into well”). The idea

seems to be that of a rising luminary, looking forth from the background, breaking

through the shades of the garden, like the morning star appearing above the horizon

(compare Isaiah 14:12, where the morning star is called הֶן שַׁחַר). The moon

is generally יָדֵח, “yellow,” but here לְבָנָה, “white,” i.e. pale and sweet, as

the lesser light, with true womanly delicacy and fairness; but the rest of the

description, which plainly is added for the sake of the symbolical

suggestiveness of the figures, removes all idea of mere weakness. Clear

(or, bright) as the sun. And the word for “sun” is not, as usual, shemesh,

but chammah, “heat,” the warming light (Psalm 19:6; see Job 31:26;

Isaiah 49:2). The fierce rays of the Eastern sun are terrible to

those who encounter them. The glory of the Church is a glory

overwhelming as against all that opposes it. The description is pure

hyperbole as applied to a fair bride, referring to the blazing beauty of her

face and adornments, but symbolically it has always been felt a precious

contribution to religious language. Perhaps no sentence in the Old

Testament has been more frequently on the lips of devout men, especially

when they have been speaking of the victories of the truth and the glowing

prospects of the Saviour’s kingdom.



Christ’s Picture of His Church (vs. 4-10)


The value of an encomium depends on the qualification of the speaker. If a

man is a master of eloquent phrases, and knows but little of the person he

eulogizes, his encomium is little worth. If, on the other hand, the speaker is

a skilful judge of character, and knows well the person, and speaks from

pure motives, his estimate is priceless. Now, the best judge of the quality of

a wife is her own husband, for no one else has such opportunities of

knowing her virtues. If we regard the language in the text as the language

of Christ, then He has all the qualities needful to be an accurate judge. As

the Bridegroom, He has intimate acquaintance with His bride; and so

righteous is He that He will neither exaggerate nor detract in His delineation.

He will gauge with perfect accuracy her merit and her worth. Others may

not acquiesce in His judgment. She herself may deem it a flattering portrait.

But Jesus is an unerring Judge, and we accept with perfect confidence His

description of His Church.



SPIRITUAL BEAUTY. “Thou art beautiful, my love, as Tirzah; comely as

Jerusalem.” Tirzah was a city on the mountains of Samaria, that had a wide

renown for beauty. The name meant “a delightful place.” God has given to

the human soul a faculty that discerns and appreciates what is beautiful.

We detect what is beautiful in material nature, viz. symmetry of form and

harmony of color. We discern also what is beautiful in human character

and in human conduct. All beauty springs from God, the Fount. He is

perfect Beauty, as much as perfect Righteousness. The constituent

elements of spiritual beauty are humility, holiness, and love. These, wisely

blended, form a comely character. It is always unsafe, because an

inducement to pride, to praise the bodily beauty of a maiden within her

hearing. But one of the elements in spiritual beauty is lowliness; hence

public praise is an advantage rather than a peril. For commendation is a

spur to fresh effort, and whatever quickens our exertion in the culture of

humility and holiness is a boon to be prized. Nor is this spiritual beauty

evanescent. It is a permanent acquisition. It will develop and mature

towards perfection, as the ages roll on. The sun will be quenched in

darkness, the stars will disappear or else assume new forms; but the

ransomed saints will be rising in excellence, and adding to their spiritual

adornments, WORLD WITHOUT END!   This high estate of beauty may

not as yet be in esse, but it is in posse. It is not yet an actual possession. But

it is in course of development, from the bud to the open flower. It is clearly

seen in its perfection by the prescient eye of our Immanuel.



“My dove, my undefiled, is one.” In all God’s works we find unity amid

diversity. Throughout all material forces we discover system. Part is

subordinated to part. Everything is linked to everything else. All forces

work together for the well being of the whole. There is organic unity. The

universe shows the presence of one Mastermind. (See  Fantastic Trip on

You Tube – CY – 2014).  God loves order.  Confusion, conflict, anarchy, are

an abomination to Him. Yet variety is not displeasing to Him. Very clearly Jesus

has not ordained a system of rigid uniformity in His Church. That would not

add to her beauty nor to her usefulness. But the heart of Jesus is set upon unity.

In His great prayer to His Father, prior to His crucifixion, He pleaded, “That

they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.”   (John 17:21)

In opinions and beliefs it is next to impossible for the Church to be one. For God

has created such diversities of taste and temper in men’s minds, that for the time

present truth presents itself under many aspects. Likely enough, this will

continue until the human mind can more easily grasp the system of truth as a

whole.  Yet, while opinions and beliefs may vary, Christians can be one in

feeling, one in love, one in loyalty to their King, one in aggressive service. This

unity of life and love, amid diversities of belief and methods of service, will

add to the Church’s beauty and the Church’s success. All the imagery

which God has employed in Scripture to set forth His Church conveys this

idea of unity. Is the Church a vine, springing out of Christ the Root? Then

the manifold branches and twigs imply a united whole. Is a human body

employed as an illustration? Then all the members and organs working in

harmony imply unity. So, in our text, the bride is the representative of all

saints, in all lands and in all ages. A dominant note of Christ’s Church is

unity. “There are many members, yet are they one body.”  (I Corinthians



  • THE LANGUAGE DENOTES FAME. “The daughters saw her, and

blessed her; yea, the queens and the women praised her.” High and noble

qualities of character are sure to command fame. Fame is a doubtful good.

Counterfeit excellence, like tinseled brass, sometimes gains currency, and

imposes on credulous people. Successful wickedness will, now and then,

obtain a transient fame. Nevertheless, real and permanent honor belongs

only to substantial goodness. Sooner or later the true Church will secure

high renown. “God is in the midst of her.” “The highest Himself shall

establish her.”  (Psalm 46:5; 87:5)  Her spiritual beauty and her beneficent

influence shall win for her immortal praise. Beyond all human institutions,

the Church will be found:


Ø      the bond of human society,

Ø      the bulwark of freedom,

Ø      the inspirer of intellectual life,

Ø      the guardian of the nation’s welfare.


Fame is of secondary importance, yet fame must not be despised. For fame

is power. Fame is large opportunity for doing good. Fame, as the result of

generous and heroic service, is inevitable. Yet the Church will not keep her

fame for herself. She will lay it at the feet of her Lord, to whom all belongs.

For the present the Church may inherit the world’s scorn rather than the

world’s fame; but when her hidden light and power shall break forth,

“the Gentiles shall come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her

rising” (Isaiah 60:3).Resplendent fame is her sure reversion, “for the

 mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”  (Isaiah 40:5)



this that looketh forth as the morning?” Morning is the dawn of hope to the

benighted and the shipwrecked. Such are the evils that infest human

society, that many thoughtful men have become pessimists. “Is life worth

living?” many ask. If, after all the struggles and toils and endurances of this

life, there is only extinction, or if the future is a dark enigma, then may not

suicide be true wisdom? Hope, the backbone of all energy, is destroyed.

The great questions are — Is there any desirable future for the human race

on the earth? Is there a certain prospect of a better life for righteous souls

after death? Now, there is no oracle, outside the Church, that can respond

to these queries. The Church is the apostle of hope, the champion of

humanity. The Church is a pledge of a better future for mankind. The

Church proclaims a universal brotherhood. The Church is the foster mother

of all the useful arts; the foster mother of progress, learning, social order,

and peace. She changes deserts into gardens, and prisons into palaces.

Where dark despair awhile reigned, she comes like the light of morning,

and opens a new day.


Ø      HERE IS THE IDEA OF USEFULNESS. “Fair as the moon, clear as

the sun.” As the luminaries of night and of day perform an office of

unspeakable usefulness to mankind, so does the true Church. In some

respects the Church most resembles the moon, Her light is borrowed, and

hence is enfeebled. She passes oft through manifold phases. The world

often obstructs her light. It is only now and then that her light is full-orbed

and at its best. This shall not always be. Her light shall be soft and gentle,

like the light of the moon; yet for clearness and brilliance she shall be like

the sun. Who can measure the potent usefulness of light? How destitute of

beauty and of life would our earth be without light! If tomorrow the sun

should not rise, what consternation would prevail in every home of man!

The wheels of commerce would stand still. Agriculture would be

suspended. Food would speedily be exhausted. All artificial light would

soon come to an end, and, before many months had sped, all animal and

vegetable life would expire. Equally useful, yea, more beneficent still, is the

Church in the moral world. Apart from the truth embodied in the Church,

what would mankind know of God, or his relationship to men, or his

purposes of redemption, or his provision for a higher home? Or what

would men know of themselves, their spiritual capacities, their Divine

origin, their possible developments, or the resources of Divine help open to

them? If you could blot out from existence the Church of Christ, this world

would speedily sink into darkness and ruin. Within a single generation of

men it would be a chaos, a pandemonium. Usefulness is predicated.


Ø      A FURTHER IDEA IS DEVELOPMENT. “Who is this that looketh

forth as the morning?” The morning is a promise and a pledge of perfect

day. Light and warmth advance by regular stages until noon is reached. It

is a picture of certain progress — advancement along an appointed way.

Such is the destined life of the Church. At her birth she was feeble. Political

arrogance at Jerusalem thought to crush out her life. But she steadily grew,

passed safely through the stages of infancy and childhood, until now she

appears a full-grown, ruddy maiden. Development is evidently God’s

order. He places trees at zero, and from the lowest point gives them

opportunity to reach the highest. At the present hour the Church’s

development is an impressive fact. She grows in intelligence, in vigor, in

power, in influence, in usefulness, day by day. At no period in her history

was the Church of Christ so highly developed as she is today. Her

progress is assured.



OF CONFLICT. “Terrible as an army with banners.” The metaphor

imports a majesty of active power that moves onward with confident step

to overthrow its foes. “Terrible as a bannered host.” The Church on earth

is a Church militant. Many regiments of believers make up one army. This

consecrated host of God’s elect is commissioned to fight against error,

ignorance, superstition, vice, and all immorality. Until the day of complete

triumph dawns, she must station her sentinels, discipline her recruits, boldly

contend with sin, and lead men captives to the feet of Christ. In proportion

to her internal holiness and unity and zeal she will be “terrible” to ungodly

men. The main secret of her terribleness is the fact that Jehovah dwells in

her midst. As the Canaanites of old feared the host of Israel because the

rumor of their power had spread on every side, and the mystic presence of

Jehovah was with them, so is it still. The more that evil men discern the

tokens of God’s presence in the Church, the more they tremble. On the

banner of the Church, men see the pattern of the cross. This inspires

courage in the army, but terror among opponents. And the old battle cry of

the Crusaders is still the battle cry of the Church, “By this we conquer!”


11 “I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to

see whether the vine flourished and the pomegranates  budded.  12  Or ever I

was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.”  There cannot be

much doubt as to the meaning of these words. Taking them as put into the lips of

the bride, and as intended to be a response to the lavish praises of the

bridegroom, we may regard them as a modest confession that she had lost

her heart immediately that she had seen King Solomon. She went down

into her quiet garden life to occupy herself as usual with rustic labors and

enjoyments, but the moment that her beloved approached she was carried

away — her soul was as in a swift chariot.   The nut or walnut tree (Juglans

regia, Linn.) came originally from Persia. The name is very similar in the Persian,

AEthiopic, Arabic, and Syriac. One cannot help comparing the lovely simplicity

of the bride’s description with the tender beauty of Goethe’s ‘Herman and Dorothea.’

The main point is this, that she is not the mere captive of the king, taken, as was too

Often the case with Eastern monarchs, by violence into his harem; she was

subdued by the power of love. It was love that raised her to the royal

chariots of her people. She beholds in King Solomon the concentration and

the acme of her people’s glory. He is the true Israel; she is the glory of him

who is the glory of God.



Spiritual Promotion (vs. 11-12)


The Shulamite is now the queen; but she has not forgotten her early home,

her youthful training, occupations, and companionship. She takes a

pleasure in looking back upon bygone days, and calling to mind the

remarkable manner in which, through the king’s admiration and favour, she

was raised from her lowly condition to the highest position amongst the

ladies of the land. The contrast may be used to illustrate the change which

takes place in the experience of the soul which has been visited by the

mercy of God in Christ Jesus, and has been raised from a state of pitiable

depression and hopelessness to participation in the fellowship and the life

of the Son of God.







Ø      The several steps of this interposition may be connected with the facts of

this simple and beautiful narrative. Christ visits the soul, bringing Himself

before the attention of the object of His merciful regard. He loves the soul,

and makes His affection known by words and by deeds. He appropriates the

soul as His own chosen possession. He thus elevates the soul by bidding it

share His own nature and life.


Ø      The manner of the Saviour’s approach in many instances corresponds

with the king’s revelation of his love to the Shulamite maiden. It may be

sudden and impressive, and yet at the same time unspeakably welcome and




CONSIDERATION IS ELEVATED. The change of condition experienced

by the maiden from Northern Palestine, when she became the consort of

Solomon, may serve to set forth the elevation of the soul that Christ has, in

the friendship of His Divine heart, made partaker of His spiritual life.

Such a condition involves:


Ø      Fellowship with the King himself.

Ø      Congenial society.

Ø      Dignified occupations.

Ø      Honor from all associates.

Ø      Imperishable glories.


·         APPLICATION.  The soul that rejoices most gratefully in the immunities

      and honors of the spiritual life and calling will do well to recollect the state

of error, sin, and hopelessness from which the human race was delivered

by the compassion and power of the Divine Redeemer. The Divine

communion to which Christians are admitted is a privilege which was

forfeited by sin, and which has been recovered and restored

through the clemency and loving kindness of Him who is love, and

whose love is nowhere so conspicuous as in the salvation of His people.

There are many cases in which there is danger lest this obligation should

be overlooked. It is well that the polished stone in the temple of God

should look back to “the hole of the pit whence it was digged.” 

(Isaiah 51:1)


13 “Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may

look upon thee. Shulem is the same as Shunem (see I Kings 1:3; II Kings 4:8;

Joshua 19:18). Shulamite will, therefore, mean “lady of Shulem.” It is the first

occurrence of the name. It cannot be a pure proper name because the article is

attached to it. It is a name of descent. The Septuagint  has Σοοναμῖτις

hae Soonamitis -  i.e. she who is from Shunem. Abishag was exceedingly

beautiful, and she came from the same district. It is the country in the tribe

of Issachar, near to little Hermon, to the southeast of Carmel and south of Nain,

southeast of Nazareth, southwest of Tabor. It is found at present under the name

Sawlam, not far from the great plain of Jiszeal (now Zerin), “which forms a

convenient way of communication between Jordan and the seacoast, but is yet

so hidden in the mountain range that the Talmud is silent concerning this Sulem,

as it is concerning Nazareth.” It is impossible to resist the impression of the fact

that this part of Galilee so closely associated with our Lord and His ministry

should be the native place of the bride. Delitzsch thinks that the Shulamite

is on her way from the garden to the palace. That the words are addressed

to her by the admiring ladies can scarcely be disputed; hence the “we” of

the address. “The fourfold ‘come back’ (or, ‘turn’) entreats her earnestly,

yea, with team, to return thither (that is, to the garden) with them once

more, and for this purpose, that they might find delight in looking upon

her.” But Delitzsch is scarcely right in thinking that the garden of nuts to

which the bride referred is the garden of the palace. She is, perhaps,

turning to leave the company of ladies, Solomon himself being among them,

as though she would escape from their gaze, which is too much for her in

her simplicity, and the ladies, seeing her intention to leave them, call her

back. Another view is that the word “return” is for “turn round;” that is,

“Let us see thee dance, that we may admire the beauty of thy form and

movements.” This would explain the appropriateness of the bride’s reply in

the latter haft of the verse. Moreover, the fourfold appeal is scarcely

suitable if the bride was only slightly indicating her intention to leave. She

would surely not leave hastily, seeing that Solomon is present. The request

is not that she may remain, but that they may look upon her. It would be

quite fitting in the mouth of lady companions. The whole is doubtless a

poetic artifice, as before in the case of the dream, for the purpose of

introducing the lovely description of her personal attractions. Plainly she is

described as dancing or as if dancing. Delitzsch, however, thinks that the

dance is only referred to by the ladies as a comparison; but in that case he

certainly leaves unexplained the peculiarity of the description in ch.7:1-5,

which most naturally is a description of a dancing figure.  

“What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of

two armies.”  (why will ye look upon the Shulamite as upon the dance

of Mahanaim?) The Shulamite, in her perfect modesty and humility, not

knowing how beautiful she really is, asks why it is that they wish still to

gaze upon her, like those that gaze at the dance of Mahanaim, or why they

wish her to dance. But at the same moment, with the complaisance of

perfect amiability, begins to move — always a pleasure to a lovely maiden

— thus filling them with admiration. Mahanaim came in later times to mean

“angels,” or the “heavenly host” (see Genesis 32:3), but here it is

generally thought to be the name of a dance, perhaps one in which the

inhabitants of Mahanaim excelled, or one in which angels or hosts were

thought to engage. The old translators, the Syriac, Jerome, and the

Venetian, render, (choros castrarum, θίωσον στρατοπέδωνthiason

stratopedon - the dances of the camps), possibly a war dance or parade.

The word, however, is in  the dual. Delitzsch thinks the meaning is a dance

as of angels, “only a step beyond the responsive song of the seraphim”

(Isaiah 6.). Of course, there can be no objection to the association of angels

with the bride, but there is no necessity for it. The word would be, no doubt,

familiarly known in the age of Solomon. The sacred dances were often referred

to in Scripture. and there would be nothing degrading to the dignity of the

bride in dancing before the ladies and her own husband. “After throwing aside

her upper garment, so that she had only the light clothing of a shepherdess or

vine dresser, Shulamith danced to and fro before the the daughters of Jerusalem,

and displayed all her attractions before them.”   




Conversation Between the Chorus and the Bride (vs. 10-13)




Ø      The question. “Who is she?” This question occurs three times in the

song. In ch. 3:6 it is asked apparently by a chorus of young men, the

friends of the bridegroom; here and in ch.8:5 it seems to be put into

the mouth of the chorus of maidens, the daughters of Jerusalem. It is an

expression of admiration. The maidens meet the bride after an interval,

and are startled by her surpassing beauty, at once graceful and majestic.

Her happy love has shed a new grace around her; she is clothed in

queenly attire; it is a vision of rare loveliness. It is the love of Christ

which gives the Church whatever beauty she possesses.  Christ’s love

for her, drawing forth her responsive love for Him, gives her

whatever graces she may possess. She is His creation. He built His

Church upon the rock; all that she is, and all that she has, comes only

from His gift.


Ø      The description. She looks forth as the dawn. The bride’s sudden

appearance is like the early dawn, coming forth in its beauty, tinging

sky and clouds with rosy light. She is fair as the moon, clear and pure

as the sun (poetical words are used here, as in Isaiah 24:23; 30:26; the

moon is the white, the sun the hot luminary); and the comparison of

v. 4 is repeated; in her queenly majesty she is terrible, awe-inspiring,

as a bannered host. Christ is the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation

22:16); He is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2); He is the true

Light, the Light of the world. The true Light lighteth every man

(John 1:9); and they who believe in the Light, and walk as children of

light, reflect something of its brightness; so that the Lord, in His

condescending love, says of them, “Ye are the light of the world”

(Matthew 5:14); and so Paul says of his Philippian converts that

“ye shine as lights [luminaries] in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all”  (I John 1:5).

Christians must strive, by His grace and the illumination of His Spirit,

to walk always in the light, as He is in the light (Ibid. v. 7), that so they

may have fellowship with one another in the light of holy love,

and that the blood of Jesus Christ may cleanse them continually from

all sin, making their souls white and clear in the transparent truth of

that purity in heart which must, by the Saviour’s compassionate mercy,

belong to them who shall see God (Matthew 5:8).




Ø      Her lowliness. The maidens praise her beauty and stateliness; she

reminds them of her former low estate. She seems to be looking back to

the hour of her first meeting with the bridegroom. She had no thought,

country maiden as she was, of the elevation that awaited her. She was

engaged in her ordinary occupations. She had gone down into the garden

to tend it and to watch the budding of the fruit trees; there she first saw the

king. Whatever graces the Church possesses come from the favor of the

heavenly Bridegroom. “Through Him we have access by one Spirit unto

the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but

fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians

2:18-19).  The Gentiles were strangers and foreigners; they knew not the

King; they were not looking for Him. As the Lord God called Adam and

Eve when they were hiding themselves among the trees of the garden,

so the Lord called the Gentiles by the mission of His apostles. In the

infancy of the human race it was the protevangel, the promise of the

Seed of the woman who shall bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15),

that first shed light upon the gloom of sin and misery. And in the

fullness of time it was the Lord’s gracious mission, “Go ye into all the

world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Matthew 28:20) that

first called the Gentiles into the city of God. Till He calls us we are like

the bride in the song, immersed in worldly pursuits and earthly cares;

He brings us into the new Jerusalem and makes us fellow citizens

with the saints. We must remember always that “By the grace of God

I am what I am” that whatever we may have done of good or right,

it was “Not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians

15:10). “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:

 it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8). The bride was poor in this world’s

goods; we Christians must be “poor in spirit.” That holy poverty, that

sense of our own helplessness and need of the Saviour, is very blessed;

it has the first place in the Beatitudes.   (“Blessed are the poor in

spirit:  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” - Matthew 5:3)


Ø      Her exaltation. I knew not,” she says, “my soul made me the chariots

of my people, a princely [people].” She uses a military figure, perhaps

suggested by the words twice addressed to her in this chapter,

“Terrible as an army with banners.” In a sense she accepts the

metaphor. Elijah and Elisha had been severally called “the

chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof” (II Kings 2:12; 13:14).

So now the bride had been raised to a lofty position, and was awe-

inspiring in her majesty, like a bannered host, or the chariots of a

princely people. Her soul, she says, had made her this; she means

her soul’s love for the bridegroom, whom she so often describes

as “him whom my soul loveth (ch. 1:7; 3:1-4).  The king saw her and

loved her. His love won her innocent heart; and that pure, artless love

of hers, the love which filled her soul, the seat of the affections, had

lifted her up into the very highest place in the affections of the king,

so that now in her queenly majesty she was not only fair as the

moon, but awe-inspiring as a bannered host, as the war chariots of a

princely people. So it is LOVE that makes one man better than

another in the sight of God; not riches, or refinement, or learning,

but LOVE!   There is, as it were, a hierarchy of love in the universe.

Good men love, angels love more, BUT GOD IS LOVE  THE

INFINITE, EVERLASTING LOVE!   “He prayeth best who

loveth best.” He is nearest to God who by His Spirit has learned the

great grace of love. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only

begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,

 but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The love of Christ draws forth

the love of His people. Their love, given in response to His most holy

love, lifts them nearer the King; it makes them take up the cross and

follow Him as His faithful soldiers, quitting themselves like men in

the good fight of faith; it makes them terrible to the powers of evil

as a bannered host, as the war chariots of iron were in the days of

the Judges (Judges 1:19; 4:3).




Ø      Request of the chorus. The bride retires; the maidens of the chorus

eagerly call her back; they desire to look again upon her beauty.

They call her for the first and only time, “O Shulamite!” What is

the meaning of the word? Is it equivalent to Shunamite? Was the

bride a native of Shuuem in the Plain of Esdraelon, where Elisha

afterwards was wont to sojourn (II Kings 4:8-12)? And if so, can

it be that the historical basis of the song is the love of Solomon

for Abishag the fair Shunamite of I Kings 1:3? Or, again, is it

possible, as some scholars have suggested, that the Hebrew

name Shula-mith may have been chosen as a near approach to

the feminine form (Shelomith) of Solomon (Shelomoh), signifying

the bride’s the great monarch? But the bride seems

to belong to the Lebanon district; and wives were not then

accustomed to take their husband’s name. Again, Shulamith may

possibly have been the original name of the maiden, though it

occurs nowhere else as a proper name. It is enough for our purpose

that the word suggests the meaning “peaceful;” the

Vulgate rendering is pacifica. The bride is modest and quiet,

she is peaceful; such should Christians be.


Ø      Question of the bride. She repeats the name given to her by the chorus,

and asks, “What will ye see in the Shulamite?” The question is asked in

modesty. The last clause of the verse, whether taken as part of the

question or as the answer of the chorus, is exceedingly difficult. The

word translated “company” is the second part of Abel-meholah

(“the meadow of the dance”), the home of Elisha (I Kings 19:16). The

Hebrew for “two armies” may be the name of the town in Gilead,

Mahanaim,” so called by Jacob when “the angels of God met him”

there (Genesis 32:2). Hence the translation of the Revised Version,

“Why will ye look upon the Shulamite as upon the dance of Mahanaim?”

as if the chorus was inviting the bride to dance some stately measure

called from the Gileadite town.  Some commentators who take this view

understand the bride’s words as a modest refusal; others, that she

complies with their request. But the second Hebrew word has the definite

article, which would scarcely be used here if it were the name of the city.

And if the first word must mean “dance,” as it elsewhere does, may it

not be taken in connection with the preceding titles of praise, “the

bannered host” and “the chariots of a princely people,” as a martial dance,

or as the stately and well ordered evolutions of two bands of

warriors? This interpretation, which is suggested with much doubt, may

perhaps be regarded as yielding a more suitable explanation than that of

the dance, though this last is the view of many accomplished scholars. The

chorus looks upon the bride with the interest and delight with which they

would watch the evolutions of two hosts with banners and chariots.

Warlike images occur several times in the song (ch.1:9;  vs.4, 10, 12 here).

To the Christian the words recall the onward march of the

army of the soldiers of the cross with the attendant escort of angels, the

two hosts (Mahanaim) of Genesis 32:2. For the angels of God still, as

in the times of old, encamp round about them that fear him to deliver

them (Psalm 34:7). And still, if our eyes were opened, we should see,

as the servant of Elisha once saw, chariots and horses of fire round

aboutthe faithful. “They that be with us are more than they that

be with” the enemy (II Kings 6:16-17).




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                                    Earnest Inquirers after Christ (vs. 1-3)


The conversation still goes on between her who has lost her beloved and

the daughters of Jerusalem. She has just poured out her heart to them in

the description of him whom her soul so loved, and these verses give their

response. We learn —



THAT EARNESTLY SEEKS CHRIST. (Compare v. 1,” O thou fairest among

women.”) It is not merely that Christ sees this loveliness, we know he

does; but others see it likewise. It is not the beloved who speaks here, but

the daughters of Jerusalem. (Compare II Corinthians 7:10-11, where are set

forth some of those graces of character and conduct which are found in the

seeking soul.) And that humility, tenderness of conscience, zeal,

devoutness, holy desire, and gentleness of spirit which accompany such

seeking of Christ — how beautiful these things are! And, like all real

beauty, there is no self-consciousness in it, but rather such soul mourns

that it is so little like what Christ would have it be.



NOT POSSESS. At the beginning of this song it is plain that the maiden

who speaks did not have the sympathy but rather the contempt,, of the

daughters of Jerusalem (compare ch. 1:5, 8). But now all that

is altered. They are won to her love. Great love to Christ will blessedly

infect those about us. We can hardly live with such without coming under

the power of its sweet and sacred contagion. Compare  Jethro, “We will go with

you, for we see that the Lord hath blessed you.” See, at the Crucifixion,

how Joseph of Arimathaea, Nicodemus, the centurion, and others ceased

from their cold neutrality or open opposition, and showed that they felt the

power of Christ’s love.



inquiry of ver. 1 had its fulfilment when Christ lay in the tomb. Those who

sought him mourned, but found him not. Cf. Christ’s words concerning his

absence, “Ye shall have sorrow, but your sorrow shall be. turned into joy.

Also Mark 2:20. And the reply of v. 2 had part fulfillment at that same

period. Compare “This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Yes, the Beloved had gone down into his garden (v. 2). But we may also

understand by the garden his Church (compare on ch. 4:6).

And thus the soul we are contemplating instructs others. She tells them:


1. Where Christ is to be found. In his garden, the place he has chosen,

separated, cultivated, beautified, and whither he loves to resort. And:


2. What he delights in there. The spices — the fragrant graces of

regenerated souls, the frankincense of their worship and prayers. The fruits

on which he feeds — the holy lives, the manifestation of his people’s faith

and love. The lilies — the pure, meek, and lowly souls that spring and

grow there.


3. What he does there. He “feeds” there. “He shall see of the travail of his

soul and be satisfied.” As his “meat and drink” when here on earth was “to

do the will of” the Father, now his sustenance is those fruits of the Spirit

which abound in his true Church. And he “gathers lilies.” “He shall gather

the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom” (Isaiah 40.). Whenever

a pure and holy soul, like those of children and of saints, is transplanted

from the earthly garden to the heavenly, that is the gathering of the lilies.

“O death, where is thy sting?” Thus doth the soul that loves Christ instructs




Beloved’s... mine.” It is the declaration of holy rapture in the

consciousness of Christ’s love. They that seek him shall find him. There

may be, there are, seasons when we fear we have lost him, but they shall

surely be succeeded by such blessed seasons when the soul shall sing in her

joy, “My Beloved is mine,” etc. (v. 3).




                                    The Friendship of the World

                                        (vs. 4-10 and ch. 7:1-9)


Those who take the literal and historic view of this song see here a

repetition of Solomon’s attempts to bend to his will the maiden whom he

sought to win. It is a repetition of ch. 4:1-5. And. in the

extravagance of his flattery, his mention of her terribleness, his telling of his

many queens and concubines, his huge harem, all of whom he says he will

set aside for her — all this is like what he would say. Now, it all might be,

as it generally has been, taken allegorically, as we have taken it (ibid.),

and as setting forth Christ’s estimate of his Church. But

here the representations are yet more extravagant and even gross, so that

we prefer to take them as telling of that which is evil rather than good; as

the language, not of Christ, but of the world, his foe, in attempting to win

from him those who are his. Let it, then, teach us concerning this friendship

of the world.


I. FLATTERY IS EVER ONE OF ITS FORMS. It is compelled to adopt

this in order to hide away the fatal issue of its friendship. Like as the

vampire is said to fan its victim with its wings, soothing and stupefying it

so that it may the more surely destroy it, thus the world soothes and sends

asleep by its flatteries the soul it would destroy.




1. It is extravagant. Of what is here said in the verses selected concerning

her of whom they speak. How monstrous are the representations as

addressed to any maiden! And are not the conceits the world engenders in

men’s souls of this order?


2. It is always fearful of losing its prey. (v. 4, “Terrible as an army;”

also v. 10.) These expressions seem to indicate consciousness that the

soul was as yet anything but fully won.


3. Has no originality. It says the same things over and over again. See

about her “hair,” her “teeth,” her “cheeks” (vs. 5-7; compare ch. 4:1-5).

And still every poor fool that the world successfully flatters is plied with

the same worn-out arguments, and, alas! yields to them.


4. Sensuous and sensual. (Compare v. 8 and ch. 7:1-9.) The baser instincts

are the world’s happy hunting grounds. It knows that it can get a response

there when there is none elsewhere.


5. Ruthless and cruel. (v. 9.) The flatterer professes, but let all such

professions be doubted vehemently — that he would sacrifice all the rest

for her whom he would now win. For her, the “dove,” whom he, the hawk,

would devour, the three score queens and the four score concubines and

the virgins without number (v. 8) should all be set aside and lose favor.

Anything, no matter how unjust, so Solomon may please his sensual fantasy.

They who are ruthless in winning will be ruthless when they have

won (compare poor Anne Boleyn). Oh, the all-devouring world! Its “words are

smoother than butter,” but “the poison of asps is under its lips.”


III. TRUE LOVE WILL REJECT IT. Such love is the Ithuriel-like spear

which detects at once what it is. So this maiden, type of the redeemed soul,

will have none of it (compare ch. 7:10). And here is suggested

— what, indeed, is the theme of the whole song — the invincible strength

of the true love of Christ in the soul. Let us have that, and no flatteries or

blandishments of the world, nor its fierce frowns either, shall seduce us

from him whose we are and whose we hope ever to be. Such love will he

“terrible,” must be so, to all who would come against it. Christ’s love to us

is so infinite that, therefore, nothing less than these many dread words of

his about the everlasting fire can serve to tell of his wrath against that and

those who would destroy us for whom he died. And if we love him as we

should, we shall give no quarter to sin; it will be to us “the abominable

thing which I hate,” even as to him. Oh, may this love dwell in us richly

and forevermore!




                                    How Souls Come into Perilous Places. 

                                                            (v. 10-ch. 7:9)


“Or ever I was aware.” This section contains — so the literalists say — the

account of the speaker’s coming to Solomon’s palace. (For right rendering

of text, see the Revised Version and its margin.) She relates how she met

the king’s court (v. 11). She was dwelling at home, and occupied in her

customary rural labours, when Solomon, on a pleasure tour (ch. 3:6, etc.),

came into the neighborhood of her town, Engedi.

There the ladies of the court saw her, and were greatly struck with her

beauty (v. 10). Bewildered, she would have fled (vs. 12-13), but

thought the royal chariots were those of the nobles of her country (v. 12).

The ladies of the court beg her to return (v. 13), and when she asks

what they want of her (v. 13), they request, and she consents, that she

will dance before them, as the maidens of her country were wont to do.

Thus Solomon sees her, and is enraptured with her, and begins to praise

her in his gross way from her feet upwards (ch. 7:2-9;

Muller, in loc.) as he had seen her in dancing. And he seems to have

brought her to Jerusalem and to his palace there, where she relates all this.

Such appears to be the history on which this song is founded. It is likely,

natural, and enables us, whilst still regarding it allegorically, to avoid

assigning to Christ language and conduct which far more befit such a one

as Solomon was. From the narrative as above given we may learn that —



represented as at home and occupied in her usual and proper employ, when

suddenly all happened as is here told. And what places are there in which

the world, and Satan, do not seek the soul’s harm? At home, in our lawful

calling, in the Church, everywhere.



ENSNARE OTHERS. The women of Solomon’s court are represented as

actively engaged in trying to secure this maiden for him. It is a true picture

of how worldly souls try to make others as themselves.





“Evil is wrought

By want of thought

As well as want of heart.”


It was so here. There was mistake as to who the people were; as to the

motive of the request made her; in not at once escaping; in yielding to their

requests. It does seem very hard that when there is no intention of evil, evil

should yet come, and often so terribly (compare I Kings 13:11, etc.). But it is

that we may learn by our mistakes. We learn by nothing so well, and they

are never suffered to have irreparable consequences.



who is told of here fled away as she intended, none of her after trial would

hate followed. To hold converse with a spiritual enemy is next to giving up

the keys of the fortress. See how prompt our Lord was in repelling the

suggestions of the tempter.



DOWN. The tempter in this history was baffled after all. She whom he

tried so much kept her faith and love. The soul that loves Christ may

wander and fall, but shall assuredly be brought back. “He restoreth my

soul.” Faithful love will soon reassert its power.




                        True Love is True Knowledge (vs. 1-3)


Knowledge of phenomena and of physical laws is scientific, and is of the

intellect. It is not so with knowledge of persons, which is largely intuitive,

and depends upon the qualities of the heart. It is sometimes seen that a

character, misunderstood by the learned and clever, is apprehended by a

very child. A man who is not loved is not truly known; but as love grows

warmer, it may well be that knowledge grows clearer. It is certainly so with

our experimental acquaintance with our Saviour and Lord.



AT A DISTANCE. How is it that the Lord Jesus is so utterly

misunderstood by many able and distinguished. men? that some such class

him with impostors or with fanatics? that others are evidently at a loss to

explain the hold he has over the heart of humanity? How many distressing

representations of the Saviour’s character, sayings, and ministry are to be

met with in the writings of even learned and thoughtful men! The

explanation is to be found in a law which governs all our knowledge of

persons as distinct from our knowledge of phenomena. These latter we

may study from without, as cool spectators. But no great man is to be

comprehended if studied in such a spirit; far less any man of remarkable

moral character and influence. He who will not sympathize with such a

person must be content to be ignorant of him; for he is only to be known

upon a nearer view, a closer acquaintance, and by means of a profound and

tender association with him of feeling and of confidence.




The peasant woman who is, in this Song of Songs, pictured as the beloved

of the king, cherished for her husband the warmest affection; he was

everything to her — ever in her memory when absent, and ever in her

heart. Hence she knew him better than others; and those who wished to

know of his character and his movements did well to inquire of her. In this

simple fact we discern the operation of an interesting and valuable moral

principle. To whom shall we go for an appreciative estimate of the

character and the work of Immanuel? We shall go in vain to those among

the learned and the critical who care not for Christ —save as for an object

of speculative, psychological, or historical inquiry. We shall fare better if

we appeal to the lowly and the unlearned, if only they are persons who feel

their personal indebtedness to Christ, who have “tasted that the Lord is

gracious,” who have learned by their own personal experience what he can

do for those who put their trust in him. It is those who, like Mary, can

exclaim, “My Master;” who, like Thomas, can address him as “My Lord

and my God;” who, like Peter, can appeal to him, saying, “Lord, thou

knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee;” — it is such that can tell

of the mystery of the Saviour’s love, and the gracious wisdom of the

Savior’s ways.


APPLICATION. These considerations are a rebuke to those who despise

the experience and undervalue the testimony of lowly and unlettered

disciples of Jesus Christ. And they point out to all who desire intimate

knowledge of Christ, that the true method for them to adopt to that end is

to yield to him their heart’s warmest affection and unreserved, ungrudging

confidence. By the way of love we may come to enjoy clear knowledge,

and to give effectual witness.




            The Spiritual Beauty of the Church of Christ (v. 4)


There is such a study as the aesthetics of the soul. Beauty is not wholly

material; it has a spiritual side appreciable by the spiritual sense. There is

beauty of character as well as of form “beauty of holiness” in which the

holy delight. In the human countenance may now and again be seen,

shining through symmetrical features, the loveliness of high emotion and

aspiration. And in the spiritual society of the redeemed, even where

churches are lowly, services inartistic, the ministry far from brilliant, the

discerning mind may nevertheless often recognize glimpses of moral

majesty, or comeliness, or attractiveness, speaking of a Divine favor and a

Divine inspiration.



merely imaginary, like that


“Light that never was on sea or land,

The consecration and the poet’s dream.”


Though not physical, it exists, and partakes of the character of moral

excellence. It is not discernible by the thoughtless, the insusceptible; it may

be passed unnoticed by the haughty and the worldly. Yet it is observed by

the enlightened and morally sensitive; such contemplate it with a

satisfaction deeper than that of the artist who gazes entranced upon a noble

statue or a fascinating picture.



claim to be in possession of such a quality in its own right, to take credit

for it as for something due to its own innate power and goodness. On the

contrary, it acknowledges that all moral excellence is due to Divine

presence and operation. The beauty which adorns the Lord’s spiritual

house is the Lord’s own workmanship, the expression of the Lord’s own

wisdom and love. It is derived, and it is reflected — the mirrored image of

the purity and benignity which are essentially and forever his own. It is

sustained and developed and perfected by the same grace by which it was

originally imparted. The language of the Church’s prayer is accordingly,

“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,” and the language of the

Church’s grateful praise, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy

Name give glory.”



SPIRITUAL BEAUTY. There are, indeed, unspiritual natures for whom it

has no interest and no charm. But it is dear to Christ, who delights in it as

the reflection of his own excellence. The King desires and greatly delights

in the beauty of his spiritual spouse, the Church; to him she is beautiful and

comely, fair as the moon, and clear as the sun. And all who share the mind

of Christ take pleasure in that which delights him. The purity and unity, the

Christ-like compassion and self-sacrifice of God’s people, have exercised

an attractive power over natures spiritual, awakened, and sensitive. By his

living Church the Lord has drawn multitudes unto himself. And thus the

beauty of the Church, reflecting the beauty of Christ, is the means of

winning souls to the fellowship of immortal love.