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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter One Verses 9-10

by James Durham

Verse 9. I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
10. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.

The commendation follows, verses 9,10, in which the Bridegroom hath respect to two things, which afflicted her most in her condition, 1. That she was in hazard to be a prey to every sin, and to every enemy. 2. That she lay under many blots, and was made black by her own miscarriages; therefore the Lord, that he might comfort her against those, is brought in speaking thus; thou art neither so weak, nor so black and unbeautiful as the world thinks thee, and as thou esteems of thyself; my testimony of thee is better to be believed, than either the world's, or thy own; and I assert thee to be stately and strong, beautiful and comely.

First, verse 9. He sets out her stateliness, strength and courage, by a similitude taken from horses, are (saith he) horses stately and strong? For so in Job is the horse described, chap. 39:19,20, &c. And is not a company of them much more stately, especially a company of Egyptian horses, which were the best in the world? 2 Chron. 1:17; Isa. 31:1. And if any in Egypt were beyond others, certainly Pharaoh the king had such in his own chariots. Now (saith he) if these be lovely, strong and stately, then thou art so; for, 'I have compared thee' to such: this expression, 'I have compared thee,' bears out the confirmation of the assertion; for, it is not men that thinks thee so, but I who know where true worth is, and who can be surety for my own assertion, I have said thou art as strong as these, I have likened thee to them, and made thee like them. This holds forth these things, 1. That there is an excellent courage and boldness, wherewith the believer is furnished beyond others, he is bold as a lion, Prov, 28:l, both in duties and sufferings. 2. That there is in believers an undauntedness of spirit, and an unconquerableness, that overcome they cannot be; better fight with all Pharaoh's chariots, than with them, Zech. 12; Rev. 12. 3. The words hold out, that there is an infallible certainty in this truth; we have here Christ's verdict of it, he in his reckoning counts believers so, and he cannot be mistaken. 4. There is the cause, why the Bride is so strong and stately, he makes her so: and so these words 'I have compared thee,' may be taken efficiently, I have made thee comparable, or made thee to be like them; and there is an article in the original, which may confirm this, and the words may be turned, like my company of horses, or of my horses; which shews that, as believers themselves are Christ's, so also, whatever stock of spiritual strength and courage they have, it is his, and from him; and that they are Christ's and made use of by him, shews the use of their strength, Micah 4:13, and so, Zech. 10:3, they are called my 'goodly horse.' 5. It implies this, that it becomes not believers to droop, faint, or be discouraged under difficulties, seeing he hath past such a sentence, or given such a verdict of them; it is a reflecting on him, as if it were not so with them as he affirms, or as if he did bear false testimony concerning them. Now this courage, strength, and boldness which is here attributed to believers, is to be understood of that which is competent to them peculiarly as believers; and their success in all their spiritual conflicts, is still to be looked upon with respect to the event, which is ever to be more than conquerors, in the issue at least, whatever appears for the present.

The second part of the commendation is, verse 10, wherein her comeliness and beautiful adorning is set out: though thou think thyself black (saith he) yet, 'thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels,' and 'thy neck with chains of gold:' what is meant by neck, or cheeks, or chains, or rows of jewels, we think not necessary to be particularly inquired into; the allusion is to women, who in those places, by such ornaments used to be adorned; and possibly there is here also an allusion to the horses of great ones, who are said to have chains of gold about their necks, Judges 8:26.

The scope and sum of the verse may be taken up in these things, 1. That though the Bride have some infirmities, yet there is exceeding great comeliness and loveliness to be seen in her, she is said to be comely, and that out of Christ's own mouth: certainly grace puts much real beauty upon the person that hath it. 2. That she hath more ornaments than one, there are here jewels in the plural number, and chains of gold also; one grace goes never alone, neither is imputed righteousness and sanctification ever separate; who ever hath one grace, hath all. 3. That this beauty which is to be seen on believers, is universal, as to the subject; for, here one part of the body is adorned, as well as another, both neck and cheeks; the whole man is renewed, and the person is justified. 4. This comeliness grows not of any stock within the believer, nor is it natural to him, but it is communicated, or imparted beauty, such as is put on; a comeliness proceeding from the beneficence of another, and is the work of a cunning workman. See Ezek. 16:10,11, where similitudes, like these in this text are made use of.




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