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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Three Verses 7-8

by James Durham


Verse 7. Behold his bed, which is Solomon's: threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.
8. They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night.

The Bride, being commended in the former verse by the daughters of Jerusalem, as being jealous that they gazed upon her, to the prejudice of the Bridegroom, and being ever restless till every commendable thing that is in her, redound to his praise, to whom she owes, and from whom she derives all her beauty; she steps in hastily with a 'behold,' as having a far more wonderful and excellent object to propose to them, to wit, Christ Jesus, the true Solomon himself, whose loveliness and glory should take them all up, rather than any poor perfections they saw in her.

That this is the scope, the matter will clear, especially, verse 11, where, what she would be at, is propounded in plain terms; and her sudden coming in with a 'behold,' as in chap. 1:6, doth confirm it. That they are the Bride's words also, the scope and connexion bear out; this being her disposition, that she can suffer no commendation from Christ, nor from any other to stay or rest upon her, but is restless till it be turned over to his praise, as, chap. 1:16, 2:3, &c. There is none so tender of him, or jealous of his honour, as Christ's Bride is: again, the daughters being spoken unto, and Christ spoken of as a third person, it can be no other that speaks here, but the Bride; what? (saith she) are ye taken with any loveliness ye see in me? I will propose to you a far more excellent object.

And this short but very sweet discourse, holds forth Christ, lovely and glorious in three most excellent steps, wherein by a notable gradation, Solomon is ever mentioned; his name (who was a special type of Christ) being borrowed to design him, while his glory is set forth. He is described, 1. From his bed, verses 7,8. Whereby is set forth, the excellent happiness and quietness that believers have in enjoying him. 2. From his chariot, a most stately piece of work by which is signified that excellent means (to wit, the covenant of redemption revealed and preached) whereby our Lord Jesus brings his people to his rest, verse 9,10. 3. She propounds his own most excellent self, and that crowned with the stately majesty and glory of his love, beyond which there is no step to proceed, but here she sits, and willeth all others to be taken up, in 'beholding him,' as the only desirable and heart ravishing object, verse 11.

For opening of the first, in the 7th and 8th verses, we have these five things to consider. 1. Who this Solomon is. 2. What this bed is. 3. What this guard, that is about it, doth signify. 4. For what end that guard is appointed. 5. The use of the note of attention, behold, which is prefixed.

1. By Solomon, David's son properly, is not understood, this scope will not agree to him (he was indeed a great king, 'but a greater than Solomon is here') therefore seeing in scripture, Solomon was typical of Christ, as from Psalm 72, and other places may be gathered; through all these verses, by Solomon, is understood Christ, the beloved, and Bridegroom, who especially was typified by Solomon in these things: 1. Solomon had a great kingdom from the river to the sea, and so will our Lord have many subjects. 2. As Solomon was, so Christ is, a powerful, rich king; our Lord Jesus hath all power in heaven and in earth committed unto him. 3. Solomon was a royal, magnificent king, sought unto from all parts of the earth; and so the name and glory, wherewith the Mediator is furnished, is above every name in heaven and in earth. 4. Solomon was a wise judicious king; and singular for that: and so in our Lord Jesus 'dwells all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;' there is no need to fear that any thing that concerns his people will miscarry in his hand. 5. Solomon had a peaceable reign (for which cause he had that name) and his government was blessed and happy to his people and servants; and so our Lord Jesus is the 'Prince of peace,' Isa. 9:6, and of his government there is no change: and happy are his subjects, and blessed are his servants, for the one half of his glory, magnificence, wisdom, &c. and of their happiness can neither be told nor believed. This is an excellent person, and a most stately king, who yet is the believer's Bridegroom; Christ's Bride is nobly and honourably matched.

2. By bed here, is understood the same thing that is signified by it, chap. 1:16, to wit, that access, nearness and familiarity that the believer hath with Christ, and whereunto he admits them that are his; and the rest, solace and refreshment that they enjoy in fellowship with him: beds being especially appointed for these two, 1. For refreshing and rest, Isa. 57:2, and Psalm 132:3. 2. For the mutual fellowship of husband and wife. So then, by this is holden forth the excellent refreshing and soul-ease, that a believer may have in the enjoying of Christ; there is no bed that can give quietness, rest and solace, like this. Again it's called 'his bed' 1. To distinguish it from hers, chap. 3:1. There is great odds betwixt the two, as was hinted upon that verse. 2. To show, that although she be admitted to it (and therefore it's called 'ours,' chap. 1:16,) yet it's wholly procured and framed by him alone. 3. It's called 'his,' to show the communion that a believer hath with Christ in his refreshings. O sweet! It is Christ's own bed, if he lie well, they lie well who are married to him; It is his peace which they enjoy here, 'my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,' &c. John 14:27. And it is his glory and throne, that they are made partakers of hereafter, when they are set down on the same throne with him. Again, it's called 'his bed, which is Solomon's:' which expression, is added to show where the weight of this wonderful refreshing lies, to wit, in this, that the rest (which he invites them to behold) is no mean man's, it's Solomon's; yea, a greater than Solomon's, whose curtains and hangings are much above his, chap. 1:6. If Solomon's servants were happy that were admitted to his presence, how wonderfully happy are believers, Christ's Bride, who are admitted to his own bed: the dignity of believing and union with him, should be read out of the dignity and glorious majesty of the person with whom we are united.

3. There is a guard mentioned here, which in relation to Christ, shows his stateliness, and in relation to us, shows our safety and security, that as kings (and it is like, Solomon) used to be attended by guards, for stateliness and security, that quietly they may rest (their guards watching about them) so this rest that a believer hath in Christ, O it is sure! there is an excellent guard compassing them about. It is particularly described, 1. In its number, they are 'sixty' that is a competent and sufficient number. 2. They are 'valiant,' gallant, courageous men, that will not fail to execute orders: they are the choice men of Israel, that Solomon had to watch his bed, they are choice ones our Lord makes use of for the security of believers. 3. They are orderly disposed for their security, they are 'about it,' on all hands, there can be no approach made upon believers, to the prejudice of the repose they have in Christ. 4. They are well armed; yea, always at their arms, in a posture of defence, 'they all hold swords,' none of them want arms, and they have them still in readiness. 5. They are not only stout, but skilful, 'expert' men, who have been tried and well proved: none of his people needs to suspect Christ's watch over them, dexterous is he in preserving poor souls. 6. 'Every one hath his sword girt on his thigh,' and is standing at his post. All the expressions tend to show that here, and here only, in Christ's bed may a coal rest secure; there is no access for wrath to seize upon them that are in Christ, nor to devils to pull them from Christ; for, He and his Father are stronger than all, and none is able to pluck them out of his hand. Believers have a notable security and defence, Christ's bed and his guard, if he be sure, they are sure, one watch watcheth both him and her. The same power of God, Isa. 27:2, the twenty thousand of angels, which are his chariots, Psalm 68:17, are for the believers' protection in Christ's company, 'pitching their tents about them,' Psalm 34:8. In a word, they are not only guarded with angels, but with divine attributes, the wisdom and power of God, and this makes them dwell in safety.

The end of all this; is, for 'fear in the night;' there are no nights to Christ himself, and so no fear; yea, Solomon the type, having such a peaceable kingdom, it is not like he had much fear; but the fear is in respect of believers, who are admitted to Christ's company and fellowship: for preventing their fears, he hath settled all firmly, as if guards were set for their security. Hence we gather, that the believer is supposed to be in the bed with him, otherwise there is no use of this guard; and his bed here is a piece of work that is framed not only for himself, but also for the daughters of Jerusalem, as the following chariot is. By 'night' here is understood believers' darkness and lightless conditions (to speak so) wherein fears, doubts, challenges, &c. are most ready to assault, as affrightments use to befal men in the night. These words, 'because of fear in the night,' hold forth the use that our Solomon hath of that guard, to wit, for quieting his poor people, against the doubtings, difficulties, discouragements, and such like, whereto believers are so subject in their drooping, night-conditions though when light shines, they are little troubled.

These words shew, I. That Christ's Bride admitted to fellowship with him, may have her black and dark nights. 2. That believers, who have thought themselves above doubtings and fears, when things went well with them, et in nights of temptation, darkness, and trial may be overtaken with many sad fears; it's not always day with them, and when it is night with them, they are apt to fear. 3. That believers in their nights, and under their fears have good security and an excellent guard; yea, their safety and defence is as good then, as when there is no night nor fear; how dark soever their night be, Christ's guard will sufficiently preserve them. 4. Christ is tender even of believers' fears, and hath provided so well for their peace, as he hath appointed means, not only to prevent their hurt, but also to prevent their fears: for, 'because of fear' hath he appointed this guard. 5. There is no king or monarch so well attended and guarded, or who may sleep so secure and sound as a believer: his guard is still at their post, and they are valiant men, that cannot fail; for, 1. He is at peace with God; and he that is within the peace of God, hath the warrant, right, and advantage of it to 'guard the heart and mind,' Phil. 4:7. 2. The believer hath all the promises, and confirmations of oath and seals, in which it is impossible for God to lie, to secure and quiet him. 3. He hath the watch of angels, Psalm 34:7, pitching their tents about him, and chariots of angels waiting on him. 4. He hath God himself, and his almighty power for his defence, who alone may make him dwell in safety, wherefore he may lie down with confidence, and also sleep with quietness, Psalm 4:8. It is good sleeping in Christ's bed, there is not so good rest to be found any where in the world: so then, by the guard is understood, whatever contributes for confirming believers' faith, and strengthening them against their fears of being interrupted in their rest, which (being in Christ) is allowed upon them.

5. A 'behold' is prefixed to all this, and that deservedly, 1. To shew the wonderfulness of what she was to say, O how wonderful is it, if believed! 2. To provoke, and stir up to observe and take notice of it; few are acquainted with believers' privileges, and if they had not been recorded in the word, we durst never have likened or evened ourselves to them. 3. It is to shew an holy impatiency in her affection, in breaking in so with this discourse, as more fervently desirous to fill their mouths and hearts with the commending of Christ, than what they were about in commending of her; a notable diversion, and sign of love in a friend of the Bridegroom, who with John the Baptist is content to decrease, so he may increase: true believers should and will endeavour more the commendation of Christ, in their fellowship together, than to commend any grace, gift, or what else they have gotten from him; they will not conceit, or cry up their graces and gifts as they are theirs, for that were base ingratitude, but withal they mention what they have received, partly to endear him to themselves, and partly to commend him to others; and thus they design to return him his own with advantage, wherein nevertheless they are the gainers, even while they seem to give what they have received.




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