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by James Durham
Verse 8. Come with me from Lebanon, my Spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir, and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
From this 8th verse to verse 16, follows a second way how the Bridegoom manifests his love to his Bride in other three steps, 1. He gives her a kind invitation and call, verse 8. 2. He sheweth her how he was taken with her love, and in a manner could not want the enjoyment thereof, verse 9,10. 3. Upon this occasion, he proceeds to a new commendation of her; and all of these are wonderful, being considered as spoken by him.
The invitation in this 8th verse, besides the title he gives her, (which we may take in as a motive) hath three parts. 1. The state wherein the Bride was, is set down; and this is contained in the term from which she is called. 2. The duty laid on, included in the term to which she is called. 3. The motives pressing and persuading her to give obedience thereto.
I. The term from which she is called, gets divers names, 1. Lebanon. 2. Amana. 3. Shenir, and Hermon. 4. The lions' dens, and mountains of leopards, which are added for explication of the former. Lebanon is a hill often mentioned in scripture, excellent for beauty, and therefore Christ's countenance is compared (chap. 5:5) to it: Moses desired to see the goodly Lebanon, Deut. 3:25. It was profitable for cedar-wood, and sweet in smell by the flowers that grew on it, verse 11, and Hos. 14:6. It was on the north side of Canaan, a stately place, Isa. 35:1. Therefore Solomon built his dwelling for pleasure there, in the forest of Lebanon, as some conceive, though others think it was built at Jerusalem, and gets the name of the forest of Lebanon, for the pleasantness thereof. As for Amana, we read not of it, except it be that which is mentioned, 2 Kings 5:12, called Abana, but on the margin, Amana. It is like that river there spoken of, flowed from it, which being pleasant and stately, is preferred by Naaman to Jordan, in which the prophet appointed him to wash. Next, Shenir and Hermon, were two hills (or two tops of one hill) mentioned, Deut. 3:9, beyond Jordan, pleasant and fertile, and from which they might see the land of Canaan before they crossed Jordan: and which were conquered from Og, king of Bashan. The tops also of these are mentioned, to shew their height, and she is here supposed to be on the top of them. Lastly, it is added "from the lions' dens, from the mountains of leopards," not designing any new place; but shewing that lions and leopards often rove upon hills, and it is like upon these, notwithstanding all their beauty: therefore mountains are called 'mountains of prey,' Psalm 76:4, because wild beasts that used to make prey, often lurked in them. There is somewhat, Hab. 2:17, that confirms this, where the 'violence of Lebanon,' and the 'spoil of beasts,' is mentioned, supposing that there, beasts used violently to spoil.
2. By these 'mountains' here, we conceive are understood the most excellent, eminent and choice satisfactions that are to be found amongst the creatures, wherein the men of the world delight, who are often compared to ravenous beasts: and the reason is, it is something that is conceived to be excellent, that is here implied by the description, yet such as hath no true excellency in it; therefore the Bride is called from it, and commanded to look over it, even at its height, and to leave it to the men of the world, whose portion properly these heights and excellencies are, for they have not another to enjoy or look after. By lions and leopards, we understand covetous, worldly men, who pursue the world to the destruction of themselves and others; so they are often called in scripture, as Psalm 57:4, &c. 1. For their devouring insatiable nature, that can never have enough, but use always to prey on others. 2. For their unreasonable, brutish nature, being in their way like brute-beasts, rather than men, Psalm 49 ult. 3. For their malicious nature, that are always hurting the godly that are amongst them. Again, these heights and excellencies of the world are called the dens and mountains of these beasts, 1. Because often ungodly men have the greatest share of those, and have no more to claim unto; 'their portion is in this life,' Psalm 17:14. 2. Because they rest in them, and seek after no more, as lions do in their dens. These mountains then are the excellencies of the creatures; for the enjoyment of which, men often use great violence, therefore they are called, Psalm 76:5, 'mountains of prey' as having such beasts, as cruel men lurking in them, above which God (who is the portion of his people) is there said to be far more excellent; and thus these mountains here are opposed to the mountain of myrrh, verse 6, where Christ hath his residence. Next, the church (whose state and case is supposed to be the same naturally with the men of the world) is called from this her natural state, and from the remainders of such a frame, in two words, 1. Come, quit it, saith he, and come with me, which is the same with that command chap. 2:10, 'Rise up and come away,' implying the exercise of faith in him, and the delighting of herself in communion with him, (as the spouse should do with her husband) and a withdrawing from those created
concernments, wherein men of the world sought their happiness. The second word is, 'Look from the top of these,' which word sets out faith also, so Isa. 45:19, 'Look unto me,' &c. and looking from these, signifieth her elevating and lifting of her affections higher than the highest excellencies of the earth, even towards heaven and the enjoyment of Christ, Col. 3:1,2. And so it saith, she is not to look to what is present, but to what is not seen, and coming, which is by faith only to be discerned and apprehended: and this is to be done, by looking over the tops of the highest of created excellencies. Now this word being added to the former, doth shew, that when they cannot 'come,' they are to 'look,' and that their looks are not to be fixed on created things, as their objects, but must ascend higher, as the Israelites from these mountains, Hermon and Shenir, beheld Canaan, with desire to be there.
Observe. 1. The world hath its own taking excellencies, its heights and mountains, whereby it looks very pleasant to many. 2. The most beautiful created excellency hath a palpable defect in it, the most pleasant hill hath a wild lion lodging in it, that mars all the satisfaction that can be found there to a believer: God hath wisely so ordered, that every gourd to them hath a worm at its root. 3. Often the men of the world are much taken with these created excellencies; they love to live in them, and dwell in them, as beasts in their dens, and know no higher design to drive, than their satisfaction in created excellencies yea, 4. Believers are in hazard to fall into this sin, when things go well with them in the world, they are ready to sit down there; therefore are they here called upon, that this hazard may be prevented. 5. Addictedness to the world, when men excessively pursue either after its gain, honour, applause, or pleasure, transforms men into beasts, and makes them irrational, brutish, and violent, forgetting what should be their main work and end. 6. Often violence towards others, and oppression with much cruelty, is the fruit of addictedness to the things of the world: if he profit himself, such a man cares not whom he undo. 7. There is nothing more unreasonable, bitter and cruel, than a worldly Atheist, whose designs are only after things that are within time; they are lions and leopards. 8. Carnal men are often by their neighbourhood to the saints exceeding troublesome, even as lions in a mountain. 9. Addictedness to the world, and a surfeit with its contentments, can hardly stand with fellowship with Christ, and is most unbecoming his Bride; therefore he calls her from it. 10. Believers have, and ought to have a more high, noble, and excellent design, than the greatest conqueror that ever was in the world; the believer in this is beyond Alexander the great, who desired more created worlds; but he looks over from the highest top of all these, as undervaluing them, and longing to be at something else. 11. Believers should have their looks directed towards heaven, and their thoughts and affections (even before hand) should be fixed there, Col. 3:1; Phil. 3:20,21, their face should be set that way. 12. It is faith that looks toward Christ, as coming, when he is for the time absent; and when believers cannot win to walk and move towards him, they may look to him; and sure, Christ who calls for this, will accept of it, till the other be attained. 13. Often in the most excellent parts of this world, such as 'Lebanon, Hermon,' &c. men are most cruel and carnal; and the Bride of Christ hath most enemies, and fewest friends. 14. The most excellent of created contentments, for profit, honour, and pleasure, should be denied and forsaken when Christ calls. 15. There is nothing a believer should watch more against, (as that which mars fellowship with Christ) than taking excessive contentment in created things. 16. Often a condition which abounds in worldly contentments and delights, is very scarce of Christ's company; therefore when he allows her his presence, he calls her to leave them, in her affection at least.
3. Because he knows the world is most bewitching and the affections of his Bride are not so soon weaned from it (though this be most necessary) therefore three ways he presseth her to deny herself in these, and follow him (which is the sum of the call,) 1. Saith he, thou art 'my Spouse,' that is, my Bride: it is the same word which (Jer. 2:32.) is translated Bride, 'can a Bride forget her attire?' This title is frequently given her in this chapter, and verse 1, chap. 5. Importing, 1. A marriage-tie and relation betwixt him and her. 2. Love in him, owning that relation, and claiming thereby an interest in .her. 3. A duty in her to own him as her husband, and to forsake all her lovers, that she go not a whoring after any other, as a wife should cleave to her husband: it is the same with what is pressed, Psalm 65:10, &c. My Spouse (saith he) thou hast not thy portion in the world therefore come away from it. 2. He presseth it from the advantage of his own company, which she should enjoy upon her obeying his call: 'come with me' (saith he) my Spouse, and this is repeated, 'come with me,' that is, thou art mine, and I am thy husband, wilt thou not then come with me, 'with me?' This is a weighty argument, and none will prevail, if this do not; Christ's company should have more weight and be of more force to engage a believer to Christ, than all the pleasantness of the world can have to divert them: he is more excellent by far than the 'mountains of prey.' Psalm 76:4, therefore is his company to be preferred to them all. 3. He presseth it, from the heartless condition which she could not but have in the most excellent things in the world without Christ, they were but 'dens of lions,' not for her to stay with, nor yet any way agreeing with her state and case. Hence observe, 1. When Christ and the most excellent things in the world are opposed, there will be great odds, and a vast difference seen betwixt them. 2. All the defects that abound in created excellencies, should necessitate the believer to take himself to Christ, there is no satisfaction for him till he come there. 3. Men have no great loss that loose their affections from the world, and set them on Christ; it is but leaving the dens of lions, &c. and coming to him, who is more 'excellent than all the mountains of prey.'
We may also read these words, by way of promise, 'thou shalt come with me;' and the scope will not be against this, it being no less an evidence of Christ's love, and no less comfortable to the church, to have his promise, than to have his call; and all his calls having promises implied in them, both will well agree. And so that which is set down by way of precept, Rom. 6:12, 'Let not sin reign in your mortal body,' is set down by way of promise, verse 14, of that chapter, 'sin shall not have dominion over you.'
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