It will be noticed that the bride speaks a great deal of the Beloved to others, while He speaks rather of her to herself. This is thoroughly according to her need of re-assurance, and to the truth of things, when we know that Christ is the One really intended by the Spirit; for He is above all need of the creature and by His love creates love. That He loves her she needs to know; and on this He dwells most fully. Others may learn it from the fact that His love is set upon her: she relieves her heart by setting forth His beauty and excellence to others.
"As the citron among the trees of the wood,
So is my beloved among the sons.
In his shadow I delighted and sat down,
And his fruit [is] sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the house of wine,
And his banner over me [is] love.
Stay ye me with raisin-cakes,
Refresh me with citrons;
For I am sick of love.
His left hand [is] under my head,
And his right hand doth embrace me.
I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles and by the hinds of the field,
That ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love,
Until he please.
The voice of my beloved! behold he cometh,
Leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart.
Behold, he standeth behind our wall,
He looketh in through the windows,
He glanceth through the lattice.
My beloved spake and said unto me,
Rise up, my fair one, and come away.
For, behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over, it is gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing is come,
And the voice of the thrush is heard in our land;
The fig tree melloweth her winter figs,
And the vines in bloom give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
My dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the covert of the precipice,
Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice;
For sweet [is] thy voice, and thy countenance comely.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards:
For our vineyards are in bloom.
My beloved [is] mine, and I his;
He feedeth [his flock] among the lilies.
Until the day dawn, and the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved: be thou like a gazelle, or a young hart,
Upon the mountains of Bether" (vers. 3-17).
Christ is described under the figure of the citron, the true bearer of fruit. Under His shadow she had rapture and sat down, and His fruit was sweet to her taste. Moses did not avail Israel, though faithful as a servant. Nor did the first covenant meet the need, but provoked transgressions, and brought forth death and ruin. Christ is the spring of all good. Yet even at this early point the bride feels that the bright time is coming. It is evident that in the Canticles is the revelation of the mutual affection between Messiah and the Israel of God, such as is found nowhere else. And this will be the sweeter to the people of God when brought by the Holy Spirit to judge their whilom truant affections; for Israel had gone after many lovers in the past: see Jer. 3, Ezek. 16, Hosea 1, 2, 3. But her restoration to Messiah in the discovery of His faithful love, notwithstanding her shameless infidelity to such a lover, will be all the deeper; and this book supplies the needed expression of it all on both sides: so gracious is God, so complete His word, Who knew all from the beginning and reveals fully what will be realised only at the consummation of the age.
The psalms of David are rich indeed, but they reveal the rejection and the sufferings of the Messiah (no doubt in infinite grace), and the people's wickedness, sins, unbelief, and need generally, rather than the mutual love expressed in the Song of Songs. Still less do the Law and the Prophets show this forth as here. Yet Zep_3:17 is a beautiful word that illustrates, as far as it goes, the bearing of Canticles. Sympathy in sorrow predominates in the Psalms. Every thing in the scripture is perfect in people, place, and season. And those taught of God find Christ to their everlasting profit and joy everywhere, save in such an unfolding as Ecclesiastes (the remarkable writing by the same hand which indited Canticles), the nothingness and misery of all where Christ is not, spite of the utmost round of passing pleasures and pursuits with the largest means and power of enjoying them. That the style necessarily differs immensely goes without saying: none but a simpleton or a malignant would expect, or if able, execute, otherwise. Yet in all these inspired books, however profoundly instructive to the Christian, the Jewish people are those immediately and primarily in view, not the church of the firstborn ones, not the saints blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ as we are now.
After the introductory sketch of Cant. 1, the godly Jewish remnant are here shown as going through the spiritual process to make Messiah's love appreciated and fruitful. And the charge in ver. 7 should be compared with a similar one in Son_3:5, and in Son_8:4. In each case the coming of Messiah follows suitably to the advancing action of the book. The bride anticipates it by faith; for He is not yet come, however warm the language that realises its blessedness. Jehovah shall arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come, though the Psalmist alone could suitably add that His servants take pleasure in her stones and favour the dust thereof. It is here His voice that is heard, as He comes leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills. What He spoke and said reached the ear, the heart, of the bride (vers. 13, 14), where we next hear of "our" vineyards (ver. 15): compare Son_2:6-11. The first expression of conscious relationship follows (ver. 16). Progress is clear, when we compare what appears afterwards. It is rather Himself and His love to her that comes out on this mention of His coming. We shall see more on each fresh occasion; but here His fulness of power, the suitability of the time and circumstances, and the welcome sound of His love to her, have their due place.