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

by James Durham

Verse 9. King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.
10. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple; the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.

The second piece of work, mentioned for the commendation of the worker, is a chariot, described at large, verses 9,10. For clearing of the words, we are to enquire concerning these three things. 1. Its worker or former. 2. The end for which it is framed. 3. Concerning this chariot itself.

The author or maker thereof, is Solomon, and that King Solomon, that is Christ, as was cleared before, he is mentioned thrice under this name; but there is a gradation here that is observable, 1. He is called Solomon, verse 7. 2 King Solomon, verse 9. 3. King Solomon crowned, or, crowned King Solomon, verse 11. The longer she speaks of Christ, and insists in mentioning his excellency, her thoughts draw the deeper, she sets him up the higher, and becomes warmer in her apprehensions, affections, and expressions concerning him: acquaintance with him, would make one speak eloquently of him, he that is the worker and former of this chariot, is a most excellent king, it must needs then be a stately, royal piece of work.

2. There are two ends mentioned wherefore he makes it, 1. It is to himself, that is, for his own glory, and that thereby he may in a special way hold forth himself to be glorious, and that particularly in his grace; for, though he made all things for himself, yet is he said especially to manifest his glory in doing good to his people; and what serves for the manifestation of his grace, is in a peculiar manner made for: so Isa. 43:7,21. 'This people have I formed for myself' (in a far other way than he formed nations) 'they shall' (in a singular way) 'shew forth my praise;' that is, the praise of his goodness, wherein his way was peculiar to them, and the paving of this chariot with love, and appointing of it for the daughters of Jerusalem, doth confirm this also, that it is the praise of grace that especially shines in this piece of work. And the second end, subordinate to the former is in the end of verse 10, in these words 'for the daughters of Jerusalem,' that is, for their good that are weak and far short of perfection; it is not only fitted for his glory, but also, it is fitted and confirmed to them, so as it may procure and bring about their good. Observe. 1. In the greatest pieces of Christ's workmanship, he had mind of poor sinners yet unglorified, his delight was with them before the world was, Prov. 8:31. 2. The glorifying of grace is the great thing Christ aims at in all his contrivance and way toward his church and people. 3. He hath knit his own glory and the good of his people together; that same work which is for himself, is also for them, that if he obtain his end, they cannot but be well; his glory and their good, ride (to say so) in one chariot. 4. For as stately a person as our Lord Jesus is, he disdains not to be occupied in making works, and as it were framing chariots, for the behoof of his people: rather than they should want what may further them in their way, he will make and furnish them himself.

3. The third is the work itself, which indeed is very admirable, as the worker and ends are: it is a chariot, several ways described, both in its matter, form, and furniture. The word translated chariot is no where else in scripture, it is translated bed on the margin, it is by the Septuagints expressed by such a word as signifieth, to be carried, and to carry, as chariots and litters (wherein men are carried) used to be carried by horses: we think it fitly expressed by chariot, not only because the word is different from that which is translated bed, verse 7, but, 1. The immediate end and use seems to be different also; for, as stately kings use their beds for repose and rest in their chambers, and their chariots to ride in when they go abroad, and wherein their queens may ride with them; so is it here. As Christ hath abed for believers' quieting, he hath also a chariot for safe conveying and carrying them through their journey, till they come to their complete rest, this being no less necessary for believers (such as the daughters of Jerusalem are) than the former.

In short, by this chariot we understand the way of redemption in general, as it is contrived in the eternal council of God, and so called the covenant of redemption, and also as it is preached and manifestated to us in the gospel. The reasons why we thus apply it, are, not only because there is no other thing that it will agree unto; for, 1. It is a work of Christ and so not Christ himself. 2. It is a work of special grace for his own, and that while they are in the way (for the elect in heaven are not daughters of Jerusalem) therefore it is no common work of creation, or providence, or of glory in heaven. 3. It is for the church's good, and therefore cannot be understood of her; for, besides that the several parts of its description will not suit her, not only Christ, but the daughters of Jerusalem are to be borne in this chariot; and we know not a fourth thing imaginable, that can be understood by it but the covenant of redemption revealed in the gospel. But, 2. The covenant of redemption is that work of Christ's wherein most eminently the glory of his grace and love to sinners doth appear, which makes him wonderfully lovely and admirable; (to set forth which is the present scope) it therefore must be here understood. 3. That work is signified by this chariot, whereby Christ communicates his love to poor sinners, and carries them through, therefore it is said to be 'paved with love' for that end; now there is no partaking of special love from Christ, but by this covenant, nor was there ever another means made, or appointed for conveying love to them, or for bringing them through to the partaking of it, but this same covenant; therefore it must be understood. 4. All that is spoken of this chariot, as it will be applicable to no other thing, so will it well agree to the covenant of redemption manifested and preached in the gospel. 1. It may well be compared to a chariot, because by it poor believers are carried through as in a chariot, borne up and sustained by it, even in the way: yea, in it and by it they triumph and ride in triumph, (as he in his gospel rides prosperously) and if it be that wherein he rides, it must be that wherein they ride also, and therefore well compared to a chariot, because both he and they triumph by it. 2. It is eminently and peculiarly Christ's workmanship, he made this covenant for their behoof, and entered himself surety, undertaking for them, when there was none upon their side of the covenant to undertake but he the Mediator; and therefore is he styled Jesus and Redeemer, and it is by his purchase (having procured this unto them) that they are admitted to it, and carried through in it. 3. It is in a peculiar way contrived and framed for the glory of his grace, and the good of his people, as hath been said; by it is manifested in the church the manifold wisdom of God, and the riches of the grace of Christ; if ever a piece of work was made for the good of sinners, and the glory of grace, this is it, without which all the creatures had been uncom fortable; yea, hurtful to them. 4. It may be said to be of the 'wood of Lebanon,' that is excellent and durable, for so the wood of Lebanon was, for which cause it was made use of in building of the temple; and so all the materials of this covenant, and its properties are excellent and durable, it is an everlasting covenant, that fails not, and vanishes not away, but endures for ever.

5. The form is suitable also, 'he made the pillars thereof' (saith she) 'of silver:' pillars in a piece of work signify, 1. Decoration. 2. Orderliness. 3. Stateliness, for which cause when 'wisdom builds her house,' Prov. 9:1,2, 'she heweth out seven pillars;' and Solomon made pillars for the temple, the inscriptions whereof signified their end and use, Jachin and Boaz, stability and strength, 2 Chron. 3:17. And they are as silver pillars to shew their excellency, and so this covenant hath precious promises, as the pillars thereof, able to support believers, and hath all these so well ordered and contrived that every thing is excellently in its own place; this covenant is therefore said to be 'well ordered in all things, and sure,' the pillars will not shrink, shake, nor bow, 2 Sam. 23:5. 6. It hath a 'bottom' and that of 'gold:' a bottom is to shew its stability and firmness to sustain and keep up those who ride in it, and gold shews its solidity and preciousness, it is a rich bottom, therefore the New Jerusalem is said to have streets of pure gold. Rev. 21:22. So this covenant hath a sure foundation, elect and precious; this covenant cannot be unbottomed, and sinners cannot fall through, if once in it. 7. It hath 'a covering,' and that 'of purple:' a cover is to preserve and save from any thing that may fall from above; and purple or scarlet (for in scripture both are one, as may be' seen, Matt. 27:28, compared with Mark 15:17.) sets out the excellency and efficacy of that cover, it is not of every thing, it is of purple; and this in scripture way made use of to be dipt in the blood of the sacrifices, Heb. 9:14, which was called, verse 20, 'the blood of the covenant,' typifying the application of Christ's blood: this is the cover of the covenant, the worth and efficacy of Christ's satisfaction, whereby all in covenant (as it were riding in his chariot) are preserved from the wrath of God, and their sins hid, and so covered by that blood, that they are never called to a reckoning for them, Psalm 32:1,2, Jer. 50:20. 8. 'The midst thereof is paved with love:' what can this be? gold is much but love is more; what workman but Christ can make this pavement: and what piece of work of his, but the covenant of redemption, is so lined and stuffed with love? 'the midst thereof' is the inward of it, as great men in their chariots and coaches, have their pillows and cushions of velvet, &c. to repose them; but here there is a far other thing, to repose and rest upon, love lines all this chariot, so that there is none in the covenant, but love is still next them, the word speaks good to them, and all the promises run like pipes, with streams of love to them: God's dispensations toward them breathe out love, they walk on love, sit on love, rest on love; it must be good to be here; and love is reserved for the midst of it, to shew, that though its excellency and beauty may someway shine, and glitter to those that are without; yet, none knows or can know the heart and bowels of the covenant, (to say so) and the love that is there, but those that are within.

Love is put over the bottom of gold, and made the pavement, 1. Because love in this covenant condescends lowest to us, and there can be no lower stooping imaginable, than that to which the love of Christ hath made him bow. 2. It is love that makes the riches of Christ applicable to us, we could not walk on that gold, if love paved it not, the freedom of his grace and love makes all refreshful; the believer, even though a sinner, may ride and rest here. 3. It is to hearten a sinner to come in and close with this covenant, and it shews what fits it to be chariot for him to ride in, it is the pavement of love; a sinner may leap here, there is no hazard to fall, or if he fall, he falls soft, for it is upon love: there will be no rejecting of sinners that would enter and sit down in it, why? They are to sit, stand, and lie on love, which will cover their infirmities and not contend, otherwise there would be no access to it, nor abiding in it, it would cast them out. Thus doth grace shine in the covenant, as the lining and inside of all the promises, when they are seen, therefore is it peculiarly called the covenant of grace, 9. It is 'for the daughters of Jerusalem:' all the work is for them, but especially the 'pavement of love;' it is for them, who while they are in the way are subject to infirmities, it is fitted for them to roll on, and rest in, even when sense of sin would otherways sting and disquiet them; this suits well with that word, 2 Sam. 23:5, 'although my house be not so with God,' but there are many things sinful to be found in it; yet, 'he hath made with me an everlasting covenant well ordered in all things, and sure, this,' saith he, (when he was to die) 'is all my salvation, and all my desire:' there needs no more for carrying believing sinners through, and giving them ease under their challenges and perplexities but this, it is so well suited for believers' conditions. From all this she proceeds, verse 11, to point out Christ as precious, this covenant putting as it were the crown of grace, and loveliness on him.

Observe. 1. The work of redemption, bringing sinners out of a state of wrath, and carrying them through to glory, is a noble design, a wonderful excellent work, and hath been deeply contrived. 2. O, the excellent wisdom, and wonderful grace that shines in his covenant! 3. They who would rest in Christ's bed, must ride in his chariot; they who would share his peace and be admitted to sweet fellowship with him, must accept of his offers, and enter into covenant with him. 4. The weight of all contained in the covenant lies on Christ, therefore it is his workmanship alone, as being the surety thereof to the Father, the messenger of the covenant to us, and in effect the sum and substance of it himself, therefore is he called 'the covenant,' Isa. 42:6. 5. Christ hath spared no invention nor cost, to make this covenent large and full for the believer's consolation and happiness. 6. Love is a main ingredient in this work of redemption, and the predominant qualification of this covenent, love being the thing which he chiefly intended to make conspicuous and glorious therein. 7. Every particular of the contrivance of grace will be found more precious than another, every step thereof proceeds to a greater excellency, and therefore there is mention made here, 1. Of 'wood.' 2. Of 'silver.' 3. Of 'gold,' &c. The further in we come in the covenant, we will find it the more rich. 8. Love is here mentioned in the last place, to shew the great excellency of Christ's love unto redeemed sinners; there is something beyond gold, but nothing beyond love, especially that of the mediator: it is left last also in the description, to leave the daughters of Jerusalem to consider the more of it, as being the great attractive commendation of this work, which should make it amiable and desirable unto them: love hath the last word, and there is nothing beyond it, but himself, whose glory and loveliness is spoken to in the following verse.

Lastly, her scope is, 1. To commend Christ, for they will never esteem him that are not acquainted with his covenant. 2. To engage both herself and the daughters to fall more throughly in love with him; the right uptaking of the covenant is a most forcible argument for drawing souls to Christ; for, 1. It hath all fulness in it, for the matter: 2. All wisdom, for the manner. 3. All gracious condescending, in the terms. 4. It is most engaging in respect of its end, being made for this same very purpose, and designed for this very end, that it may bring about the peace and salvation of sinners; which considerations exceedingly commend it, and may much strengthen a sinner in applying himself to it. 5. It is most necessary in regard of the salvation of sinners, there is no riding or journeying to heaven, but in this chariot. 'No other name by which men can be saved, but the name of Christ,' that is manifested by this covenant.




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