THE SONG OF SOLOMON CHAPTER 8.
The Joys of the Heavenly Marriage.
THE LONGING CRY OF THE CHURCH. — V. 1. O that Thou wert as my brother, literally, “as a brother to me,” that sucked the breasts of my mother! When I should find Thee without, out in the open country, the far reaches of the world, I would kiss Thee; yea, I should not be despised, or, “yet none would despise me.” V. 2. I would lead Thee and bring Thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me, rather, “Thou wouldest instruct me”; I would cause Thee, in return for such instruction, to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate, the full and true love of her heart. V. 3. His left hand should be under my head, and His right hand should embrace me, chap. 2, 6. V. 4. I charge you, so the Bridegroom calls out once more, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up nor awake My love, until he please, rather, “until it please,” chap. 2, 7.
Although the work of the Church is done willingly and faithfully, yet it is done under difficulties. And therefore she cries out to Him who is her Brother, with whom, by virtue of His humanity, she is connected with the closest ties, that she hopes soon to find and meet Him outside this present world. In the Great Beyond she will no longer be subject to disgraceful behavior on the part of her enemies; she will be at home, in the city of her eternal rest. Together with Christ, whose work in and with the Church will be brought to an end with the conversion of the last elect, she will enjoy the bliss of eternity. There He will give His Church the full understanding of all things, 1 Cor. 13, 12. There her heart will be given to Him in the perfection of bliss ineffable. So sure is the Church of this fulfillment of her hopes that she speaks of them as being present; she is even now possessing everything contained in the promises of her Bridegroom. And he, in turn, insists upon granting to His Church every possible moment and hour of rest and respite, that she may enjoy His love all the more in the halls of heaven.
THE BLISSFUL UNION IN HEAVEN. — V. 5. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved? supported by Him as they, united in love, approach their home above. I raised Thee up under the apple-tree, stimulating His jealous zeal; there Thy mother brought Thee forth; there she brought Thee forth that bare Thee, namely, that Brother who now was her Husband. Therefore she makes a powerful appeal: v. 6. Set me as a seal upon Thine heart, like a signet-ring worn on a cord over the heart, as a seal upon Thine arm; for love, in its essence, in the absoluteness of its perfection, is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave, hard and unyielding in persistence; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame, its fiery flames are a blaze of Jehovah. V. 7. Many waters cannot quench love, as found in Jehovah, neither can the floods drown it, the rivers washing it away. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, hoping to buy or gain it with such a price, it would utterly be condemned, for all the riches of this world are insufficient and inadequate to pay for it. V. 8. We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts; what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? when suitors for her hand would appear. V. 9. If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver; and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar, to prevent access. V. 10. I am a wall, so Shulamith answers, and my breasts like towers; then was I in His eyes as one that found favor; because she had kept her charms intact, she found peace in the love of the King. V. 11. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon, the “city of tumult”; he let out the vineyard unto keepers, placing it in the charge of several at once; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver, the full product of the vineyard. Answering this statement of the bride, the King says: v. 12. My vineyard, which is Mine, is before Me, in the person of the bride. That is as it should be, the bride says: Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred, as a payment for their faithful work. In conclusion the Bridegroom once more issues His kind invitation: v. 13. Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice; cause Me to hear it. And the bride answers in the eagerness of her love: v. 14. Make haste, my Beloved, and be Thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices, those known for the scent of their balsam. It is the last fond cry of the Church as she looks forward to the delights of heaven.
We have here both a climax and a summary. The Church, accompanied by Christ, her Bridegroom, is pictured as approaching the end of her course, nearing her heavenly home, where the marriage will take place. The Church, in reviewing her history, reminds Christ of the time when her conduct provoked Him to a jealous zeal. But as she was lying there, in the misery of her sinful condition, Christ came, being born into the lowliness and curse of this earthly life, in order to deliver mankind, and especially those that are His own, from the condemnation which men had brought upon themselves. Her consideration of these blessings causes the Church to exclaim that she is the seal of His love and His power. She adds an overwhelming cry of praise concerning the love of Jehovah as shown in the sending of the Messiah for the salvation of mankind, His love being the supernatural strength and divine persistence, a blaze of perfect and enduring affection for all lost and condemned sinners. The great floods of the world’s sins and misery were not able to extinguish this love as revealed in Jesus Christ, altogether unmerited as it was on the part of men.
The Bridegroom, in turn, reviews the history of His relation to the Church. He found the Church when she was still without comeliness and beauty, Ezek. 16, 7, and immediately had compassion upon her. When suitors of a false kind approached her, when the false wisdom of this world tried to influence her, when the lusts of the world tried to insinuate themselves into her favor, He sheltered her. This the Church acknowledges with gratitude; she has been kept faithful and well ornamented by virtue of His mercy. At the same time she meditates upon the vineyard which the heavenly Solomon had in the midst of the world, the city of turmoil, in which He had His watchmen, apostles, preachers, and teachers, who delivered its fruits to the Lord. Christ answers that He has His vineyard before His eyes, that the bride is His kingdom of glory and perfection. To this she assents, reminding Christ, at the same time, of the reward of mercy which the faithful watchmen should have, Luke 8,23. In conclusion the situation as at present existing is once more pictured in a single glance. The Church is still living in gardens, in many congregations scattered over the world; there she must still proclaim the message of salvation in preparing many souls for the bliss of heaven. Therefore she prays to the Lord to hasten the course of His Word far and wide in the world, in order that the last elect may soon be won for the truth and the heavenly marriage take place. When that day comes, all believing hearts, united in the Church as the bride of Christ, will meet the great Bridegroom of their souls and be with Him in everlasting joy and happiness.