The Song of Songs which is Solomon’s has suffered more at the hands of its friends than probably any other Book of the Bible. Passing by the irreverent treatment accorded to this great and most noble of Songs by earthly-minded critics and commentators to whom nothing is holy, nothing is pure, we are left with a long succession of earnest and well-meaning writers who venture upon the Solomonic mysteries without the least indication of having sought or found the key which gives admission to this Garden of the Lord. Unlike the eunuch of Ethiopia they have never adequately pondered the all-important question, “Of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself or of some other man?” (Acts 8:34) For this is the question which must first of all be resolved, as it stands in the opening sentence: THE SONG OF SONGS WHICH IS SOLOMON’S.
The answer to the Ethiopian’s question concerning the identity of the Sufferer in Isaiah 53, proved to be the key which opened to him the mystery of the Incarnation and the Atonement. Likewise on the road to Emmaus the risen Lord, preserving a mysterious incognito, unfolded in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself—beginning at Moses and continuing through all the prophets (Luke 24:27). We may suitably begin with the same question propounded by the Ethiopian, adapted as it is to the mystery of such a Book as the Song of Songs, and ask, “Of whom does Solomon speak—of himself or of some other?” May we not also take the words of the Lord Himself into our account, and conclude that in that marvelous Bible exposition lasting the seven-mile leisurely route between Jerusalem and Emmaus, the Song of Songs was not excluded from the Saviour’s unfolding of Himself “in all the Scriptures”?
Solomon knew that he was not speaking of his own life and experience when he composed the Song of Songs. The very title he gave to this most remarkable of all epics, must put us on instant guard against all trivial, merely human, expositions of his glorious writing. We are prepared at once to prove and vindicate our own verdict, that what Solomon knew was precisely what Philip taught the eunuch, namely, that the subject of his Song of Songs, both by intention and by inspiration, was none other than the Messiah, the Christ, the Eternal and Only Begotten Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the long promised Redeemer of mankind.
For Solomon was a prophet indeed, as was his father David, and he drank deeply of the mysteries unfolded by his father in the Book of Psalms, and was conversant with the prophetic significance both of David and himself. Indeed, Solomon must be numbered amongst the very greatest of the prophets as we hope to prove.
It is of first importance that we begin there because much of the confusion which has existed among the commentators has been created because of the fundamental error entertained by them as to Solomon himself. The proof that Solomon knew that he was writing under divine inspiration, not of himself and his own life history, but concerning the hope of Israel (indeed the hope of our race); concerning the promised Redeemer, the Seed of the Woman, who was to bruise the Serpent’s head, (Genesis 3:15)—lies in the deliberate use of his own name throughout the Song. The name Solomon occurs exactly seven times, and this indicates beyond doubt with what deliberation and insight he saw himself to be a type of Israel’s messianic hope. The sacred significance of the number seven in Holy Scripture is too well attested to be challenged. In the Song it is deliberately intended to enforce the divine nature of the composition, and the true divinity of the mystic Solomon who is its subject.
Solomon could not have been unaware of Jacob’s fundamental prophecy concerning Judah (Solomon’s direct ancestor) that the sceptre of rule would repose in that tribe until the advent of the mysterious Shiloh, the promised Redeemer of mankind (Genesis 49:8-12). Nor could he fail to appreciate that his own name Solomon was derived from Shiloh, and had the significance of PEACE. In the Hebrew the name Solomon is spelled SHELOMOH, and in the Song the Bride of Shelomoh is SHULAMITH (in our version The Shulamite) derived from the same root, SHILOH. It is also true that divine history knows of no other persons so named. The sacred name Shiloh was reserved for the Redeemer of Mankind, and given to Solomon prophetically as the son of David to point to “great David’s greater Son” the Lord of glory Himself, the Prince of Peace.
The lines of proof (as we shall endeavour to unfold) are utterly against any personal history of Solomon being involved in the composition of the great Song. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, and Solomon’s inspiration shows that he dwelt deep in the Messianic mystery by which alone his Song is to be known and interpreted.
The Song of Songs is a prophecy—a prophecy not only of the greatest event in all history, but a prophecy in the form of an epic poem the design of which is to lay bare the meaning of all things—the meaning of creation, the meaning of life itself; nay, more, the laying bare of the very heart of God, and the wisdom of God, and the hidden purpose of His great Life.
Poetry is the highest form of speech. The soul of the poet is one of the most formidable arguments against the teachings of materialistic acience, for who will seriously argue that the mind and the art of Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, and Tennyson are mere outgrowths from the brute? The whispers of eternity which breathe through the souls of men, are a rushing torrent in the soul of the true poet who, by his profound observation and rich imagination takes the common things of life and clothes them with the beauty and the wisdom of eternal ages, compressing whole worlds of meaning into a sentence or a phrase.
And the poem of all poems, the Song of all Songs, the richest, grandest of epics, is Solomon’s Song. It is the greatest because of the surpassing greatness of its theme, and the incredible range and intensity of its imagery. The gentlest and most beautiful of creatures, the grandest of trees, the most exquisite of fruits and spices, the most sacred and mystical of all human relationships—these are woven by a master hand into an exercise whose inner meaning exhausts the intellect and the imagination, while it ravishes the soul.
An “Epic” is a poem which hinges enormous consequences upon a single event of history. The three greatest human epics are the Iliad of Homer, the Aeneid of Virgil and the Paradise Lost of Milton. Homer suspends the entire fortunes of the ancient world on the anger of one man—Achilles. Virgil describes the world-shaking event of the foundation of Rome. Milton shows how the sin of one man shook heaven and earth. Solomon surpasses them all. He suspends the fate of the universe on one great event—the Incarnation of God the Son, and His eternal marriage to the mystic Israel. Under the figure of the wooing and the nuptials of the heavenly Bridegroom and His mystic Bride, the poet unveils the secret of all creation, and explores the very heart, mind, and eternal wisdom of the Creator. The superscription chosen by Solomon for this exquisite drama is fully vindicated—THE SONG OF SONGS.
It was the Spirit of God who played on the harp of the royal poet’s soul and brought forth mysteries which Solomon himself could not have known save by divine intuition. The symbolism of the Song is based on the mysterious connection of the poet’s own throne and kingdom with the reason for all things in heaven and in earth. Here is a throne made to be occupied by God Himself, in a relationship with His own creation which can be expressed only in terms of an ETERNAL MARRIAGE of Creator and creature united in an ecstasy of exquisite and eternal love. The stanzas of this Song, proceed not merely from the soul of the poet but from the Spirit of the Heavenly Bridegroom Himself, in an exercise of self-revealing which surpasses any genius of man. Here Christ describes His Bride, the Church whom He has redeemed at the costly dowry of His own great life. And what will Christ see in His bride, the Church? And what will she see in Him? And through what mysterious trials and testing of her faithfulness and ardency must she pass before the final rapture of spiritual union, which having begun can never end? What deep and penetrating and eternal raptures will flow from the lips of Him of whom it is written, “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it”?
We know not at what stage of his life Solomon wrote this Song. Some think it was the product of his early days—the days of the Temple building; the days of his uncorrupted manhood when his fame spread to the whole world and brought the Queen of Sheba “from the ends of the earth” to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Others suppose it was written in the course of a late repentance when in old age, he looked back upon the clouded period when for a season he turned aside unto folly. Let others speculate on that problem. Nothing much depends upon it. We hold no brief for the backsliding of any man, but—is any Christian immune from relapse into sin when for a season he relaxes his vigilance and ceases to watch and pray lest he enter into temptation? Is it not true that the greatest of men have had to acknowledge that there is a bitterness which only the individual soul can know? It is because few of us have any claim to fame that our individual failures are known only to God.
And are not kings set in slippery places? The possession of great and supreme power on earth—even the power of life and death over all souls who come within the range of one man's empire—gives an opportunity for great sin in those who wear the royal purple. Others pass through life knowing only the bitterness of their own hearts and their disappointing failures. Those failures might be magnified a thousand times if we were exalted to positions of absolute power. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at Solomon.
David, a man after God’s own heart, was also a great sinner—and a great penitent. In such cases of men who have lived their lives in places more slippery than can be imagined today, let us beware of the Pharisees' impulse to condemn and revile. We have individually a heavy enough burden of the flesh to endure in circumstances very different from those through which these heroes had to travel. Men wrote the early pages of Holy Writ with sharp pens dipped in their own blood. Let us rather be thankful to God for the shield He has placed between us and what might well have been our sinful fate. If we can show that Solomon in his immortal Song was not writing of himself, but deliberately, consciously, with his eyes fully open, his mind bathed in the mysterious glow of a vast and great inspiration—writing of the greatest event in the universe—the event for which the universe was in fact created—then we have at once removed the Song of Songs from the region of any mere human invention or experience. This proof we find it possible to give without undue difficulty. It lies in the name of Solomon himself, and how he obtained that name, and where and why that name was first introduced to history.
The secret of all history is the divine and holy purpose of redemption. The root of that history is found in the Garden, where our human race began, and our first parents were introduced to the mystery of life and the purpose of their own being.
“The Lord planted a garden eastward in Eden (‘Delight’) and there he put the man whom he had formed”. (Genesis 2:8)
One of the most powerful and significant figures in the Song of Songs is the Garden where the bride and bridegroom of the Song meet each other. The Bible closes with a scene in the “upper garden fair”—Paradise. The history of man begins in a garden and also ends in one. The garden is central in the Song of Songs. The long and painful journey which lies between the first garden and the last is the story of man, of his shameful fall and his glorious redemption. The wisdom of God is in these figures. None less than God could achieve (as He did achieve and as He will yet achieve) the destiny of creation in the exaltation and restoration of man to the glorious divine image and likeness, and his union with God in an eternal marriage the joy and beauty of which will never fade.
And did not Solomon, a prophet and the son of a prophet, know this? Did he not receive from his father David the plan and the provision for the building of the temple which father and son well knew was only the golden reflection of that eternal temple which is the goal of all God’s wisdom and love? Which temple ye are declares Paul (1 Cor. 3:17). How could Solomon mistake his destiny when it was so plainly declared to him in the very name which he bore—a name never borne by any man in the Bible before or since, because it was reserved in its spiritual meaning for Another who was the Prince of Peace and who should make peace by the blood of His cross. Solomon means PEACE, and of Christ the prophet Micah wrote, “This man shall be the peace” (Micah 5:5). Paul writes of Him, “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Isaiah, in lines of absolute immortality, tells us, “Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, THE PRINCE OF PEACE” (Isaiah 9:6).
THE MYSTERY OF SHILOH
To this day the hospitable desert Arab greets the stranger with the word “Salaam” —which is Solomon; and before Solomon it was SHILOH. This wonderful name first appears in Holy Scripture in the prophetical blessing given by dying Jacob to his son Judah, the fourth of the twelve sons who gathered around the bed of the dying patriarch to hear the fate appointed to each (Genesis 49). This truly great man (who has suffered, like most of the Bible heroes, much contempt and base criticism at the hands of preachers) was honoured by God with a new name, Israel, meaning, “A Prince with God”. A prophet in his own right, he saw, not in his eldest son Reuben nor yet in his most godly and gracious son Joseph, but in his fourth son Judah (whose name means “Praise”) the promised seed, the Deliverer for whom the world had waited for nigh upon two millenniums, and was required to wait for two millenniums more, till the great promise was at last realised in our Saviour, Christ the Lord.
In Jacob’s great prophecy, for the first time, the coming One who should bruise the serpent’s head was given a name, SHILOH (“Peace”). When Shiloh at last appeared at the end of those ages of waiting, He could say of Himself, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Only One who was God could say that.
And can it be proved that Solomon did in fact penetrate to the heart of this great prophecy of dying Jacob? Indeed there is remarkable and abundant proof. It lies not only in Solomon’s awareness that his own name was taken from that of the promised Shiloh, but as he plainly knew, he was NOT that Shiloh, but had only a part to play (albeit one of paramount significance) in furnishing for posterity the wonder and the hidden mystery of that prophecy, in an epic Song which would transcend all other epics because of the greatness, even the eternity, of its subject. That subject was not himself, but Another who should come in the course of time and in whom would be realised the hope of all creation.
The proof that Solomon knew all this and was under no illusion (either of pride or of something worse) when he composed the Song, lies in two great facts: First, he was fully aware that he was not the promised Shiloh; secondly, he in fact knew that Shiloh was none other than the Son of God who could only make peace by first becoming despised and rejected of men. This we shall prove beyond doubt when we come to consider the crucial fifth chapter of the Song (a chapter which has baffled so many who since the Reformation have written on the Song of Songs).
Solomon also knew that though he could never be the Shiloh, yet that mysterious Person would proceed from the same royal and legal descent of which Solomon was to be a most distinguished ornament. That he (Solomon) was foreordained to prefigure Shiloh, he clearly perceived. The fact is inescapable, as we shall now endeavour to prove.
THE LAST WORDS OF JACOB
The Song of Songs takes its rise from the fundamental prophecy of the Shiloh in the last words of Jacob when he gathered around him his twelve sons and with his dying breath announced to each his destiny, reserving for Judah, his fourth son, the sacred mystery of being the progenitor of the mystic Shiloh to whom would belong the sceptre, and ‘the gathering of the people’.
Here is Jacob’s great Shiloh prophecy (Genesis 49:8-12):
“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.
Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choicevine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.”
The subject of Jacob’s great prophecy is the coming of the promised Redeemer, the expectation of whom finds its root in the judgment pronounced upon the Serpent in Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel”. The entire theology of the ancient church in the Old Testament was founded on that prophecy, as is ours also in the fulfillment of that prophecy at Calvary where the true Shiloh, the seed of the woman, destroyed death by the suffering of death, and rising from the dead established that Kingdom of Peace in which the name of Solomon (Shiloh) is mystically set forth.
In Jacob’s prophecy the sceptre was given to Judah (whose name means PRAISE), and was not to depart from his house till Shiloh (Christ) should come.
All this was perceived by David, the first king in Judah’s line, and in due order was committed to Solomon.
The prophecy uttered by the dying Jacob is one of the richest and most comprehensive in the Bible, and was clearly in the mind of Solomon when he was inspired by the Spirit of God to compose his Song of Songs. When Jacob said to Judah, “Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise,” he spoke of the future glory of the Redeemer whom he saw in prophetic vision, surrounded by His brethren, the Church—a vision which was well understood by David when composing this verse in the 22nd Psalm (the ‘Crucifixion Psalm') “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation (Church) will I praise thee”. (Psalm 22:22) The vision was well understood also by Paul when he wrote to the Hebrews, “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). Likewise the risen Lord when revealing Himself first to Mary Magdalene at the garden Tomb, quoted from this same Crucifixion Psalm when he commanded Mary, “Go to my brethren and say unto them I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God” (John 20:17). The use of the word ‘brethren’ in this command by the Lord can only signify His deliberate identification of Himself with David’s great psalm, linked to the vision of the dying Jacob. The risen Lord was indicating the new relationship in which the Church stood, through the completion of our redemption at Calvary.
Paul’s quotation in Hebrews 2:11 (above) is taken from the great crucifixion Psalm 22:22—“I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee”. Solomon was well acquainted with this psalm, which begins with the mysterious cry from the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the latter part of the psalm we are told of the gathering of the people (the nations of the world) to the Lord as a result of the atoning death of Christ—“The ends of the earth shall turn unto the Lord and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee” (Psalm 22:27). To Solomon this psalm of his father David was most familiar and he would see at once in the sufferings of the Messiah and the outcome thereof, the fulfillment of the Shiloh promise, “unto him shall the gathering of the people be”.
It was said of Gideon’s “brethren”—“As thou art, so were they; each one resembling the children of a king” (Judges 8:18-19). Truly when Christ’s brethren see Him in the glory, they “shall be like Him, for they shall see Him as He is”. (1 John 3:2)
The words of Jacob to his son Judah begin with the declaration, “Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise”—and as the name Judah means praise, we see clearly the foreknowledge of God in preparing the way for the coming of His Son, to whom all praise was to be given, and of whom the inspired John later wrote, “A crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer”. (Rev. 6:2)
Jacob’s prophecy proceeds, “Judah is a lion's whelp....” and we are not unmindful of the inspired words in Rev. 5:5: “The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed….”
So is the last Book of the Bible linked with the first, and what was promised in the days of the patriarchs is fulfilled in Christ, the Seed of the Woman, the Seed of Abraham and Jacob, the Seed of Judah and of David, the heavenly Shiloh, who goes forth conquering and to conquer until all enemies are made His footstool.
Then comes the climax of the great prophecy from the dying lips of Jacob, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be”.
From David until the great captivity under the power of Babylon, the line of monarchs continued, and then went into the shadows of obscurity till the angel announced to a Jewish maiden named Mary that One should be born of her by divine conception, to whom should be given by the Lord God, “the throne of his father David…and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever and of his kingdom there shall be no end”. (Luke 1:30-33)
Mary the Virgin was of necessity a blood descendant of David’s royal line. As Dr Fausset observes in his Cyclopedia, she appears to have been a first cousin of her husband Joseph, the Carpenter, the legal claimant to the throne of David. Joseph fades from the historic scene before Christ enters upon his ministry. The two genealogies of Matthew and Luke probably record respectively, the legal and natural descents of David’s posterity, and Luke’s is probably the descent held by Mary. Christ was the son of Mary by divine conception, and was the legitimate heir to David’s throne by both lines of descent. The throne of course had been vacant for six centuries since the time of Nebuchadnezzar, nor has there been a king since — nor ever will be, for the lawful king is on the Eternal Throne, and as He lives for ever there is no succession. Those who are interested in these genealogical questions should consult Fausset, or other of the relevant encyclopedists.
How David and Solomon both understood that Shiloh was none other than the Son of God, and how this affected—indeed gave rise to—the composition of the Song of Songs, as well as too many of the most notable of David’s psalms, will presently be shown.
In these introductory facts we are at pains to establish this one thing, that Solomon in composing the Song of Songs was moved by a high inspiration. He was writing prophetically, and nothing of himself entered into the Song. His personal relationships whether of marriage or kingliness were in absolute abeyance. The expositors who have based their theories upon a mere human interpretation have not even begun to penetrate the glorious mysteries of the Song. Solomon was writing about the mystery of all mysteries—and knew it well, for he had before him the records of the human race, the promises made to his own forefathers, and above all the inspired psalms of David his father.
(See Psalms 2, 8, 21, 22, 24, 45, 72, 80:17, 89:19-27, 110, and 132.)
CHRIST IN THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON
The proof of this lies where few have even thought to venture. It lies in the writings of Solomon himself, and in particular in his unique book of Proverbs. He had a clear revelation that he foreshadowed another and greater Solomon, who was the Shiloh of the prophecy of dying Jacob. He gives clear proof of his profound insight into the Messianic mystery by introducing his own name seven times into the great Song—well knowing that seven is a divine number denoting perfection or completeness. The use of his own name shows with what care and prudence he brings all attention to bear on that source from whence his name was derived—the promise of Shiloh. The realisation of the Messianic hope was his theme.
This fact makes nonsense of the theory that the Song of Songs is a mere love lyric composed by Solomon to please the daughter of Pharaoh to whom he was royally wed. That lady would scarcely feel complimented by some of the liberties which her consort takes with her dignity! Others who have purported to see in the bride of the Song a poor shepherdess with whom the king is supposed to have had an illicit liaison, only show how wide and preposterous are the guesses which have been made in the region of casual exegesis. The holiness of the Bride and the transcendent nobility of the Bridegroom cannot be mistaken by those who perceive in the Song the profound depths of the mystery of Christ and the Church.
Looking out and beyond the immediate horizon of the people of Israel, Jacob’s prophecy of “the gathering of the people of Shiloh” relates to the whole kingdom of redemption, the Church. Christ, the heavenly Shiloh, purchases her with His own blood. The full mystery of the atonement and the Incarnation was not yet unveiled in Jacob’s prophecy, but 600 years later David gave voice to these great events, particularly in the Psalms (see Psalms 22 and 110). Thus slowly and deliberately the wisdom of God unfolds itself from age to age.
The same word used by Jacob for “the gathering of the people” appears again in the writings of Solomon. The word for “gathering” in the patriarch’s dying prophecy is used by Solomon in Proverbs chapter 30—and nowhere else in the entire range of the Old Testament. This is singular proof that Solomon had grasped the full messianic significance of the prophecy of the Shiloh and was already fully equipped to write his inspired Song.
AGUR THE SON OF JAKEH
We draw our readers’ attention therefore to the first verse of Proverbs, chapter 30:
“The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: The man spake unto Ithiel and Ucal.”
The inspired history knows of no such men as are named here. They are in fact prophetic symbols. The word Jakeh is the same as used by Jacob in his prophecy of the GATHERING of the people, for Jakeh means “gathering”. The name Agur is complementary in meaning to Jakeh. The word Jakeh also is repeated in the same chapter of Proverbs, verse 27 where we are told of the locusts which go forth ‘by bands’ or in ‘gatherings’. These (with a further reference in verse 11) are the only occurrences of the word in Holy Scripture. That Solomon selected the words from Jacob’s prophecy there can be no doubt, and as this is exclusive to him, the word nowhere else being used, it marks his complete awareness of the meaning of Jacob’s prophecy, as going far beyond himself and his own inspired name. Solomon therefore, could have had no other purpose in writing and composing the Song of Songs, than to describe the glorious outcome of the appearance of the heavenly Shiloh, the Lord of glory, to whom should be the gathering of the people—that is the calling of the gentiles.
The second part of the verse (Prov. 30:1), introduces the strange names of Ithiel and Ucal. The names are symbols and do not denote living persons. Together they mean, “With me is God and I prevail” (Hengstenberg). They are used for amplifying the prophecy concerning Agur and Jakeh. The entire verse is a play upon the Shiloh prophecy, and is yet another proof that Solomon had a clear and prophetic vision of the Messianic nature of Jacob’s prophecy from which his own name (Solomon) was derived.
This does not exhaust by any means the remarkable meanings dwelling in this chapter of Proverbs. The divinity of Shiloh is clearly perceived by Solomon in verse 4:
“Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who bath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and WHAT HIS SON'S NAME, if thou canst tell?”
This most remarkable verse which attests the true divinity of the Shiloh who was to come, in His ascending to heaven and descending from heaven, whose name is secret and whose secret is in His Son, reappears in the Lord’s interview with Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night in pursuit of his quest to know who this Jesus was -the Messiah, the Son of God? (John 3). The Lord reminds Nicodemus that the true Messiah, as foretold by Solomon in Proverbs, must be God, for ‘no man hath ascended up into heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven’ (John 3:13—see AV refs. Oxford edition). Heaven, in the sense used by Solomon, and also by Christ, is inaccessible to the creature, man or angel, for it denotes the eternity, majesty, almightiness, holiness and authority of the Creator Himself. So it would be understood by the wealthy, but anxious and truth-seeking Pharisee, this “ruler of the Jews” who came by night to search out the Saviour—and did not come in vain.
How sad it is that this truly great man, Nicodemus, should have suffered so much at the hands of our preachers who fail utterly to see the true significance of “coming to Jesus by night”—this representative of Israel’s darkness as the black night of their unbelief was fast closing upon them.
THE 45th PSALM
It should now be clear to all that in composing the Song of Songs, King Solomon was fully aware of what he was doing. He was not indulging a poetic gift dramatising either his own marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter, or composing a rather tasteless love lyric of a poor country maid and her princely lover (the vulgar conclusion of men of earthly mind). He (Solomon) was expounding the prophecy of his ancestor Jacob. More, he was dwelling in the 45th psalm of his father David, and was enlarging upon that glorious description of the marriage of Christ with His redeemed Church, in which he (Solomon) comes face to face with one who is “fairer than the children of men” (verse 2)—nay, who is, according to the literal meaning of the remarkable double word used in the Hebrew—One who is the ‘fair-fair’, the incomparable, the unique, the “only fair” flower of all creation, into whose lips grace is poured; whom God the Father has blessed for ever, to whom it is given to go forth conquering and to conquer; who girds upon His thigh the irresistible sword of deliverance for His bride. His arrows bring down the pride of the foe; and to Him is given an eternal throne. His royal garments savour of myrrh, aloes and cassia, out of the Ivory Palaces of that gentile world from which He draws to Himself the rich reward given to Him in the love of the Father before all creation.
Solomon lived for many years in that 45th psalm. He saw his own destiny foreshadowing the greater Solomon who was to come, that Man of Peace who should make peace by the blood of His atonement, and should rise to occupy that eternal throne which was always His by right; but now doubly so, for He proved Himself and won His divine destiny by the merit of that love which gave itself to death. He would not reign alone, but would have beside Him to all eternity a Bride, a Queen. Upon Her He would place His own beauty and with Her He would reign for ever in that Upper Garden fair, the heavenly Eden, the Paradise of God.
It is of this that Solomon in the Song of Songs consciously wrote, even of those “things which he had made, touching the King”. (Psalm 45:1)
Solomon was not so foolish as to imagine that he was himself the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jacob. He saw clearly that only One who was God could meet the conditions of the mysterious Shiloh, and he brings this out, as we have seen, with startling reality in Proverbs 30. Those who wish to pursue these remarkable facts in further detail will find them fully dealt with in Hengstenberg’s “Christology”, volume one, in the section relating to Jacob’s last address to his sons in Genesis 49.
Solomon perceives that the promise of the Shiloh goes far beyond the boundaries of his (Solomon’s) kingdom, and embraces the whole world. This we hope to show when our commentary reaches the last chapter of the Song which introduces a new character who has given much trouble to the commentators—the “Little Sister” who had not yet attained womanhood.
SHILOH IN EZEKIEL
Hengstenberg points out that the Shiloh in hidden form emerges in Ezekiel’s prophecy at the time when the earthly monarchy ceased in Jerusalem and there was no king in Israel until the Babe of Bethlehem was born of the Virgin.
Foretelling the impending end of the Davidic monarchy and its complete suspension during the following centuries until the mysterious Shiloh appeared in great humility, Ezekiel writes (Ezek. 21:25-27):
“And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end,
Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.
I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”
In these solemn words of judgment foretelling the removal of the crown from Israel the name of Shiloh reappears in a concealed manner showing that only when He should come whose right it is to reign, would the full meaning of the prophecy of dying Jacob be realised. The concealment of the name Shiloh can be perceived in the Hebrew lettering of our translation “whose right it is”. Literally this phrase appears in the Hebrews as “which to him the judgment” (or right to rule).
Thus in the Hebrew (anglicized): ASHER LO HAMISHPAT (the significant letters underlined add up to SHILOH).
So in history the fall of Jerusalem and the suspension of the monarchy left the throne of Israel vacant until He came whose right it was to reign over all, the true Shiloh, concealed in great humility, and mounting the eternal Throne by way of the cross and the tomb, whose dominion shall have no end. We acknowledge our indebtedness for this discovery in Ezekiel to Dr. Hengstenberg of Berlin, one of the greatest Old Testament exegetes of all time, who flourished throughout the middle decades of last century.
The concluding words of Ezekiel’s prophecy, “I will give it him” are taken from the great 72nd Psalm of David, composed as the title of the Psalm shows, “A Psalm for Solomon”—“Give the king thy judgments O God” (verse 1).
THE HOLY TRINITY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
There is a yet greater proof (if such were needed) that the inspired Solomon was writing—and consciously writing—of the Christ who was to come, and that the Royal Person around whom the Song was written was none other than the Son of God—even God the Son. The plurality of Persons in the Godhead was not unknown to the ancient Church though the full meaning and mystery of the Godhead was not unveiled till the Incarnation of the Son of God. The mysterious “Angel of the Lord” who appears again and again in the Old Testament was the Son of God in assumed angelic form. Jacob wrestled with Him at the ford Jabbok, and prevailed, and afterwards said, “I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.” He named the place Peniel which means, “The face of God.” It was there that the patriarch received his new name, Israel (“A prince with God”). Later the inspired Jacob described the Lord as “The angel who redeemed me from all evil” (Gen. 48:16). Hosea describes how Jacob “had power over the angel and prevailed… even the Lord God of hosts”. (Hosea 12:3-5)
It is to David however that we must look for the clearest proof that the doctrine of the Eternal Son of God was revealed even in those remote times. David received a revelation of the divine purpose, so lofty and so awe-inspiring, so conclusive and so glorious, as to dispel all doubt as to the purpose of his son Solomon (to whom all was committed by David in writing) when composing the Song of Songs.
DAVID’S SON WHO IS GOD
Solomon was not yet born when King David first spoke to Nathan the prophet of his desire to build a permanent temple in which to enshrine the sacred Ark of the Covenant. Till that time the Ark was housed in the ancient Tabernacle constructed by Moses five centuries before, and at that time it was in its resting place in Shiloh, near Bethel, to the north of Jerusalem. The response of the Lord through Nathan was one of the most remarkable prophecies of the Old Testament. David was informed that not until after his own death would the Temple he built and a permanent resting place be provided for the sacred Ark. The divine reply, however reached far beyond that age and into the remote future when, a thousand years after David, One arose of David’s royal line whose throne is established for ever of whom God declared, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” Paul tells us in Hebrews that these words were fulfilled in Christ, the Eternal Son, greater than angels, equal with God the Father, to whom all worship should be rendered; whose throne would continue for ever and ever (Hebrews 1:5-8).
The birth of Solomon by Bathsheba some few years after, was a foreshadowing of this prophecy but not its fulfillment. Only one who was divine could meet the description enunciated by Nathan, and this was clearly perceived by David. That Solomon himself was fully aware of this prophecy and its Messianic fulfillment in the remote future, there can be no shadow of doubt.
Nor can it be doubted that Solomon clearly understood the Messianic nature of Nathan’s prophecy, and composed his Song of Songs accordingly, in the full light of the knowledge that the Son of David mentioned in the prophecy was the Eternal Son of God of whom he (Solomon) was privileged to be the shadow and the type.
The history of Solomon’s preparation for his great task of putting into the form of Song the great and supreme mystery of our redemption, would not be complete without the remarkable facts of his own birth and his calling as the builder of the Holy Temple of God. His father King David (a considerable time before the birth of Solomon) was deeply moved by the condition of public worship in Israel, centre as it was in the ancient Tabernacle originally constructed in the wilderness by Moses symbolising the pure worship of the invisible God and Saviour who delivered Israel from the bondage of Egypt and was with them in the forty years of wandering ii the wilderness.
Under Joshua the tribes marched triumphantly into the Promised Land carrying the Ark of the Covenant with them, and after the conquest the Tabernacle was reared once more at its permanent site in Shiloh, some twenty miles north of Jerusalem (which at that time was a mere stronghold of the Jebusites). Now, five centuries later, the old Tabernacle still stood in Shiloh no doubt in sad need a renewal. David was deeply moved that the worship of God should be centred in so poor a shelter when he (David) dwelt in a palace. It was a heavy burden upon mind and soul. He opened his heart to his friend and leading adviser, the prophet Nathan through whom the will of the Lord in the matter was duly expressed. It was good that David should have been so concerned, but disappointment awaited him. He was disqualified from being the Temple builder because he was a man of war, whose life had been spent in the camp and on the battlefield. The divine decree was expressed by Nathan in a wonderful prophecy. A son should be born to David, who would be a man of peace (hence the name, Solomon), and to him would be confided the task of building the Temple.
But as is common with divine utterances in the Old Testament, the ultimate purpose of God was veiled. The son who was to be born and who would build the Temple would himself be only the shadow of Another who should come in the course of the ages, and who would be none other than the Son of God. He would build an eternal temple -of “living stones”. (See 1 Peter 2:5)
The significant passages of Holy Scripture involved in this portion of our study are found in 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17. The slight alteration in verbiage found between these two accounts does not affect the meaning, but proves the reliability of the historic account, in that two independent versions of the same event were not copied one from the other, yet confirm and establish each other. It seems probable that one recording is that of David and the other of Nathan. We take the Chronicles wording
(1 Chronicles 17:11-15):
The Lord speaks (through Nathan)
“And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.
He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee:
But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.
According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.”
David replies (verses 16-17):
“And David the king came and sat before the Lord, and said, Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God.”
David perceives at once that the prophecy goes infinitely beyond his own throne and dynasty—beyond any earthly temple—beyond the compass of any man. His soul flames with a new and glorious light. The Son who was ultimately to be born of David’s line was none other than the Lord God Himself! No throne of mere man could be established “for ever”—therefore He who was to come of David’s line could be none other than the Eternal God Himself.
The account in Samuel concludes at the same point as the Chronicles account with words which can only be considered as the original words spoken by David, while the Chronicles account is an interpretation by Nathan.
“And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?”
The Chronicles account reads here: “...and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree.”
Beyond question the Chronicles wording is an interpretation of that in Samuel, for the latter would otherwise present great difficulty of interpretation, as we shall now see.
“And is this the manner of man” (2 Samuel 7: 19) is in the Hebrew to be expressed literally, “And is this the LAW of man—even an Adam who is the Lord God.”
The Chronicles version hints at this, but leaves the mystery to be solved by events of history, as indeed the mystery was solved by the stupendous event of INCARNATION OF GOD at Bethlehem, the second Adam, the Redeemer.
LUTHER ON 1 CHRONICLES 17:13-17
It was Martin Luther (surely in many respects the greatest of the Reformers of the sixteenth century) who first brought to light the inner meaning of this other baffling statement. He writes:
Thy promise that my son (that is, David’s son) should reach such heights as to have him occupy thine own eternal kingdom, as Lord and King is too much honour and glory for me. O Lord God! Where are you taking me?
“Thou past regarded me as in the form of a Man who is God, the Lord on high”. (vs.17)
The translation of these words by almost all other Hebraists is far different. Several however, and among these Bernhard Ziegler (note, Professor of Hebrew at Leipzig and a frequent consultant to Luther and his colleagues in the translation and exposition of the OT)—bear witness to me that this passage may and must be translated grammatically as I did. With these words David clearly states that his Son, the Messiah, will be true man in form, manner and size, like any other man (Phil. 2:7), and yet above and on high, where there is no manner of men, where only God is, and governs. He is to be God the Lord. In view of this David says (v.16), “Whither art thou, O God, taking me?”—and here, “Why dost thou regard me, unworthy human being that I am, that my son should be king in thine eternal kingdom?”
David knows that no other than the true God is entitled to be king in God’s eternal kingdom. And since the son of David is man, and a person apart from the Father who installs him in His kingdom, and since there cannot be two Gods or more than one God, David here concludes that his Son, the Messiah, must be true and natural God, yet not a different God than the Father, but a separate Person in the same inseparable Godhead, and that the Holy Spirit (who is true God) speaks these words through Nathan and David concerning the Father and the Son, (and therefore) is the Third Person in the same Godhead.
You may be tempted to ask here: “If the words of Nathan and David reveal the doctrine of Christ’s deity so clearly, how do you explain that neither the holy Fathers nor any other teacher discovered or ever mentioned this, and that you recent and young Hebraists have just become aware of this now?” We reply: After the days of the apostles the knowledge of the Hebrew language was scant and deficient. The Fathers and teachers contented themselves with the New Testament in which they found this doctrine and all others in abundance. To be sure, we too would not be able to see it if we could not look the OT straight in the eye, because we are illuminated by the NT. For the OT is veiled without the NT (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
(Editorial Note: Except for Origen and Jerome there were few if any of the Fathers who could read Hebrew, and few also among the medieval doctors. Luther supposes it to be clear that Isaiah would be aware of David’s words when writing Isaiah 9:6-7, for Isaiah affirms as out of Nathan’s mouth, that Messiah would be an eternal King and Father in God’s kingdom).
Luther further writes:
To possess the eternal kingdom of God and to be king there, cannot belong to a mere man, nor can this refer to a transitory, temporal and earthly kingdom which will terminate, and the king of which must die and his children after him. He must be God who is able to bestow and preserve such eternal peace by His divine power.
NOTE: Luther proceeds to quote and comment upon Isa. 51:4-5, Daniel 9:24,
1 Cor. 1:30, Isa. 60:19-20, John 1:4-5, Dan. 7:13-14, John 16:15, etc.
So in his translation of 1 Chron. 17:17: “Thou hast regarded me as in the form of a man who is the Lord on high”—and 2 Sam. 7:19—“This is the manner of a man who is the Lord God.”
All the above occurs in Luther’s treatise on “The Last Words of David”. (2 Sam. 23:1-7)
God had declared (2 Sam. 7:13-16) of David’s seed, “He shall build an house for my name and I will establish his throne for ever...I will be his father and he shall be my son....” (See Heb. 1:5; Psalm 89:26)
It was on the basis of this revelation that David wrote the 2nd Psalm and the 110th Psalm concerning the eternal Son. David was also acquainted with the doctrine of the Resurrection on the basis of the same (Ps. 16:10—compare Acts 2:25-32). See also Isaiah 55:3 (Acts 13:34). It is to be noted that Paul in three successive verses (Acts 13:33-35) quotes Psalm 2:7; Isa. 55:3; Psalm 16:10. See also Psalm 89, written for Ethan the Ezrahite or by Ethan under the instruction of David and under his authority. Ps. 89 is one of the doxology psalms marking the end of a section or of a prophetic period.
It is out of this revelation to David in 2 Sam. 7 that the prophecies of the return of David in the latter days arise. Jeremiah 33:15.16; 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; and Ezek. 37:24-28).
These prophetical references to David must be understood in prophetical terms. David here is Christ, as is Solomon in the Song of Songs.
We conclude this section of our study with comments by Dr Rudolf Stier, Doctor of Theology, Chief Pastor and Superintendent of Schkeuditz, Germany, who flourished during the middle of the last century and whose immense study, “The Words of the Lord Jesus” extending to eight volumes, is one of the most precious of store houses of divine truth. In volume 3 page 202 of that great but much neglected work, Stier dismisses the comments of Havernick (etc) that the verse 2 Sam. 7:19, means ‘such is a law for men’; or of De Wette “Such is the way of men” (thus to care for their posterity); or Zinzendorf: “Thou speakest as a friend speaks with another.” Rather (after Luther), “This (distantly) future ruler of eternal kingdom must be God and man because he is to be my son, and yet is to king for ever and ever—which belongs to God alone.”
Hence Stier argues, “We have the true parallel in Ps. 110. Let TORAH be understood of the new Law, the new revelation, the new order of the covenant kingdom; let the HA-ADAM WHICH IS STRIKINGLY BROUGHT INTO PRO INENCE AND USED PERSONALLY (contrary to usage elsewhere) not be overlooked, and then let the passage be read in full, of an ADAM who is Lord Jehovah, a new beginner of humanity and representative of humanity. Or how will one dispose of the parallel passage 1 Chron. 17:17, where this sense is still less to evaded? It means evidently; ‘according to the manner, form, type, of the man who is on high, who is Lord and God.’ The interpretation ‘After the manner of men, O thou on high, God Jehovah,’ is already forbidden by the remarkable accentuation.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE THOUSAND AND FIVE?
What happened, may we ask, to the one thousand and five other songs which Solomon composed but which were never preserved? (1 Kings 4:32). What indeed! The fact that they were passed by as being mere examples of human genius (however valuable in their temporary purpose) whereas this one, the Song of Songs, was placed in the canon of Holy Scripture by consent then, and for ever afterwards, the leaders of Jewish thought and culture, should be warning enough for all remove the shoes from off their feet when approaching this Song—for the place where we stand is holy ground. The people of Israel have always believed that the key to this poem is the Messianic promise. The pity of it is that when Messiah in fact came they did not believe on Him, but despised and rejected Him. But this also is anticipated in the Song of Songs.
The other thousand and five were deliberately numbered, and just as deliberately recognised as being specimens of genius, but not inspired by God. We are told of them and even informed of their contents (see verse 33) to show the vast range of the Solomonic wisdom, and, most important of all, to expose the shallow reasoning of critics of the modern age, who see nothing of divine inspiration in the one was preserved, but cannot tell us why it did not suffer the same fate as its 1005 brethren. It was preserved because it was divinely attested as part of revealed truth, designed not only to instruct but to inspire praise, worship, devotion, consecration and love. Here is the wisdom of the Holy Spirit of God, that Solomon’s poetic labours were carefully catalogued at the time, down to the last five. There is purpose in that exact numbering even to the odd five in the family of the non-inspired. Why was the Song of Songs preserved? If the critics are right it should have been the very first to have been discarded and consigned to the flames because of its alleged indecency, or at least its exposure of Solomon as a royal fool. Instead it was given to the world as the Song of Songs, and (as we hope we have now shown sufficiently), as a profound and prophetic preparation for the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, the Root and Offspring of David, the bright and morning star, long since risen above our horizon as the King of Love, seeking a Bride among the ashes of human hope, rejected, crucified, risen from the dead, reigning, coming again, finding what He sought from the beginning—a Queen for His love, a partner to His eternal throne, a bride upon whom He lays all His glory and beauty, and endows with the total wealth of One who gives all and asks only for love in return.
So the son of David by Bathsheba reads his own destiny as the foreshadowing of that Son eternal upon whom rests all the glory and the dominion for ever, to whom he (Solomon) bequeaths his name, not only that primary name of Solomon but that which David’s prophet-statesman, Nathan, also supplied when he gave to the newborn, nestling in the arms of Bathsheba, the additional name of JEDIDIAH (the Beloved of the Lord). The Speaker’s Bible comments correctly: “The name Jedidiah indicated prophetically what God’s providence brought about, namely the succession and glorious reign of Solomon over Israel.” It meant this, but much more. It showed that Solomon was only the type of Him who was to come, the heavenly Jedidiah, the glorious Son of God, of whom the voice of the Eternal Father testified at the baptismal waters of Jordan, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). So was Solomon also called Jedidiah, “because of the Lord”. (2 Sam. 12:25)
WHY SPEAK IN MYSTERIES?
It is our final duty, in these preliminary exercises, to show why it was necessary for these wonders of the divine love for our fallen race, to be expressed in concealed, poetic language. Why should divine truth be set forth in apparently extravagant figures, or in the form of a mystery, when the same things might be set out in normal language which all may understand without labour and without searching? Why indeed, must Solomon write of the mystery of the holy love of God in terms and measures which for so long have baffled the attempts of even good men to interpret? The reasons are several, and of great importance and significance.
First, it is a good thing that people should be taught to search and ponder, and have their thoughts and aspirations raised to explore the heights and depths of the eternal wisdom and glorious love of God. Paul tells the Ephesians that he prayed upon his knees for them that God would grant them, according to the riches of his glory, to be “strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith; that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fulness of God”. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
God does not cast pearls before swine. To speak of the depths of Christ’s love to those of carnal mind and worldly spirit would be to invite ridicule, if not blasphemy or disgust. Even Christian believers of shallow mind will boast themselves of being so practical and realistic in their religious habits, as not to be moved by “sentimental religion”. The beauties and loveliness of Christ must give way before the requirements of their everyday practical religion, and so the sermon more and more takes upon itself the nature of the lecture, the analytical method, the mathematical calculus. But how can one conquer the heights of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge with the help of an ice-axe? How enter into the mystery of Christ without awe and wonder? How approach the depths of divine love at Calvary with the cool detachment of intellectualism?
The Song of Songs teaches us differently. It shows us that theology (despite the manner and methods of the theological college), is a devotion and not a science ; a rapture and not an affair of the lecture room.
“For the heart only dwells, truly dwells, with its treasure.
And the languor of love captive hearts can unfetter;
And they who love God cannot love Him by measure-
Their love is but hunger to love Him still better.”
And dare we confess that the writer of those lines was F.W. Faber?
Perhaps Miss May Grimes would be more acceptable to some-
“Like a watered garden full of fragrance rare,
Lingering in thy presence, let my life appear.”
“Let my Beloved come into His garden
And eat His pleasant fruits.”
Or even this, from the late Dr. Moffat Gautrey—in prose too—
“Miriam and her maidens coming up from the deliverance at the Red Sea —with timbrel and dance… Corybantic religion, don’t you know! Ah! But I know what it means in personal experience.”
It is possible to express in the language of poetry what it would not be seemly or proper to express in formal speech, and the deep mysteries of the holy love of God are often so expressed in covered language. For the same reason the Lord often spoke to the people in parables. “Because it is given to you (disciples) to know mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them (the unbelievers) it is not given”. (Matthew 13:11-15) There is a mercy of God in withholding light from the ungodly for they would only hear to scoff and scorn, and thus heighten their condemnation. “Cast not that which is holy, unto dogs lest they turn and rend you”. (Matthew 7:6)
Paul writes, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory”. (See 1 Cor. 2:10) The worldly mind has no use for devotion to Christ, or love for God. When the Spirit of God begins to introduce the soul to the deepest and most inward moving mysteries of divine love for the heavenly bride using all the figures of pure earthly love as a parable of that which is holiest of the relation of the soul to its God and Redeemer, we may not expect the carnal mind to do aught save to scoff and scorn.
In the Song of Songs we enter an enclosed garden where the soul finds love, joy and peace.
Cruden rightly remarks, “The spiritual union between Christ and His church is called a mystery because it exceeds human understanding and is revealed only to the children of God”. (Ephesians 5:32)
THE VINDICATION OF GOD
Solomon who dwelt in the inspired region of dying Jacob’s great prophecy of Shiloh was well aware that by name, descent and calling he was a type of Shiloh who was to come. He had inherited direct from his father David the doctrine of the eternal divine Sonship of the mystic Shiloh and that this heavenly Shiloh whose name he (Solomon) bore, was destined to reign eternally over all things in heaven and earth and under the earth in a Kingdom of Love and Grace which, because it would never pass away was no earthly monarchy but a spiritual realm. This Man would be the peace (see Micah 5:5) because He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the most sublime, the most perfect, the unconquered and unconquerable hero, the most divinely glorious of all the glories, the hope and the resting place of the human race.
Solomon therefore knew well, and must have known well, that he wrote under true divine inspiration when composing the Song of Songs. This being so the Song can only be interpreted and understood in transcendental terms. Solomon’s own personality was in complete abeyance when he so wrote. What he was doing in this exercise was to present nothing less than the eternal wisdom of God in the mystery of creation. Solomon saw plainly that creation is designed to achieve the riches of the glory of the grace and wisdom of God. God always had this in view, namely, that He could not and would not reign alone over His creation, but would seek to have and to hold for all eternity, a Bride upon whom He would place His own image, and thus make visible all His own beauties and perfections, and raise to His own eternal throne an uncountable multitude of the human family whose presence at His right hand would be the proof of His own glorious character, wisdom, and qualification to rule. In short, we have here the vindication of God.
Eternal Love must ever subsist in one great end—to enlarge beyond measure the area of its own joy, peace, rest and blessedness by uniting with Itself an uncounted and uncountable host of redeemed souls, all bearing the likeness and partaking of the life, of Him who is Eternal Love.
It was to this end that the Lord created the universe; for this He formed Man after His own moral likeness, the likeness of love eternal, the most fair, the most beauteous likeness of the Son of God engendered by the eternal Spirit of God—the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
How this has been done by the incredible descent of God in the veritable form and likeness of Man, in an action of submissive, sacrificial and self-effacing love, it became the business of the entire Bible to relate and prove. Solomon presents it in the form of an inspired Song which for all succeeding time brings into focus Love’s divine nature and its unconquerable will and purpose to have and to hold for Itself a Bride, a Church, redeemed from a wanton and fallen state—a Bride who would in a return of love begotten by Eternal Love, hold even deity Itself in the imperious grasp of her own all-conquering love, so that Deity would cry out to her—“Turn away thine eyes from me for they have overcome me”. (Song 6:5) Deity conquers by Love and Itself is conquered by love. This is the inspired Solomon’s theme. The royal poet consciously describes in human language that which alone can give credence to divine creation and spell out the full meaning and purpose of the life of God. This is Deity. This is God. This is Christ. This is the Church. This is Truth.
To open and lay bare this theme, which is the deepest secret of the heart of God, is the design of the Song of Songs. Let us remove the shoes from off our feet venture into this Garden of the Lord, this Paradise of God—for the place where we stand is holy ground.
So let us venture, and join the heavenly Bride in her first—and last—utter “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for thy love is better than wine… Make haste my Beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains which separate us.”
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”