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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Five Verse 12

by James Durham

Verse 12. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of water, washed with milk, and fitly set.

The third thing commended in him, is in verse 12, and it is 'his eyes,' which are several ways described. Eyes in the natural body are the organs, whereby we discern external objects: the Lord, as he is a Spirit, hath no body, nor bodily members; but eyes are attributed to him, to hold forth his omniscience, who, having formed the eye, cannot but see, Psalm 94:9, and therefore eminently is said to see, in opposition to the idols, 'who have eyes and see not,' Psalm 115:5. This, then, sets out our Lord's omniscience, before whom 'all things are naked and open,' Heb. 4:3, even the most secret things are open to his view, as if by the most sharp-sighted bodily eye he did behold them, and much more; so, Prov. 15:3, 'The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good:' and, Prov. 5:21, 'The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord,' he knows them, as if he were looking on them with his eyes, all things are so naked and discernible to him: this agrees also with that, Rev. 2:18, where Christ is said to have 'eyes as a flame of fire:' which title, verse 23, is expounded, (as all the titles throughout those epistles are) and said to be given him, that men may know that he 'searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins;' even the most inward things are fully reached by his all-seeing eye.

The excellency of his eyes (or omnisciency thereby pointed out) is held forth under several similitudes, 1. They are 'as doves' eyes,' such as were attributed to the Bride, chap. 4:1, that is, eyes that are quick, lovely and loving, having much affection in them to his own. 2. They are as doves' eyes 'by the rivers of water,' where doves are most lovely after washing, or bathing and beeking themselves at riversides. 3. They are washen 'with milk,' that is, most clean, white and pure. 4. They are 'fitly set,' or (as the word is) set in fulness, like the stones in Aaron's breastplate, Exod. 39:10, (where the same word is) signifying that there is no deformity in them, but like curious jewels, they are most equally and beautifully set, being neither too hollow, nor sticking too far out, which are the two extreme deformities in eyes. In sum, it saith, 1. That Christ's knowledge is sharp and piercing. 2. Pure and clean. 3. Pleasant to his people to look on. And, 4. That it is kindly vented, and well qualified for the good of his people, whereby he is made exceeding lovely to them. These notes are sure here, 1. That our Lord Jesus is omniscient, knowing all the designs of enemies, knowing all the straits and necessities of his people, he actually takes notice of all these. 2. Christ's omniscience is one of his chiefest excellencies, that qualifies him for the good and comfort of his people, and doth exceedingly commend him to them above all others: it is a very pleasant comfort to his people, especially in the time of trouble, that their Beloved knows all, what we are, what we have need of, and what is good for us, and what is designed to our prejudice by any of our adversaries, and cannot mistake. 3. Christ's omniscience, though it be terrible to his enemies (so his eyes are as a flame of fire) yet it is very amiable to his people, his eyes to them are as 'doves' eyes,' his all-seeing knowledge is kindly and comfortable, and exercised for their good (as all his other attributes are) and is still at work for their good and advantage, 2 Chron. 16:9, 'His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them, whose heart is perfect towards him:' He takes notice of the case of his own, that he may succour them in their wants, as he takes notice of his enemies, that he may disappoint and bring them down. 4. When the tie of the covenant with Christ is once fastened, those attributes in him which are most terrible to flesh and to men in nature, are exceedingly lovely, and make Christ beautiful to his people, as his omniscience, justice, faithfulness, &c. 5. As it is our duty, so it is our advantage to walk under the conviction of Christ's omniscience, and to converse before him with the faith of his beholding what we are doing. 6. It is a good evidence of sincerity, when his omniscience becomes delightsome to us, and when the heart is made glad with this, that Christ knows the secrets thereof, as Peter speaks, John 21:17, 'Thou that knowest all things, knowest that I love thee:' it is much to abide Christ's search, as omniscient, contentedly. 7. All other idols and beloveds are blind, they have no eyes, or though they seem to have, 'they see not,' Psalm 115:5, that is, they can take no notice of, nor give any succour to, their worshippers. Our Lord's eyes, that are upon his people, make him singularly preferable to all that come in competition with him, 8. It is a singular commendation of Christ's knowledge, that it is pure and holy, that it cannot approve of sin, nor take any complacency in it; for, his eves are as "doves' eyes, by the rivers of water, washen with milk:" 'He is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity,' O how doth he delight in purity; and what a strong motive may and ought this to be with his people, to make a covenant with their eyes, that they get not leave to wander and gad on sinful objects!



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