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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Six Verses 11-12

by James Durham

Verse 11. I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.
12. Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.

Follows now in the 11th and 12th verses, the second proof of the reality of the beauty and stateliness of the Bride, which puts all out of controversy; and this proof he takes from his own experience, respecting what was said, verses 4, 5, and it may be summed thus: That must be stately beauty, that ravisheth me; (that is understood) but hers is such; this is proved from experience, 'I went down' (saith he) 'to the garden of nuts' (having withdrawn from that sensible communion which was entertained with the Spouse, as a man doth out of his chamber to his garden) and was looking to the case of my plants, according as the Bride had informed the daughters of Jerusalem, verse 2, but (saith he) 'ere I was aware,' she did cast an eye after me, that so suddenly and effectually ravished me, that I could not but return, and that speedily, as if I had been mounted upon the swiftest chariots, and therefore this cannot but be stately loveliness: which agrees with, and relates to what is said, verse 5, 'Thou hast overcome me:' and so we may look on the words, as if he therein, for her consolation, were giving her an account of his absence, and what he was doing; and he shews her that even while he was absent, her cries (which chap. 5:6, she thought had not been heard) and her looks to him, were not forgotten, nor slighted, even when to her sense she saw him not, yet even then (saith he) they pierced me, and made my affections warm, that I could not but be affected, and return, as now thou seest.

The 11th verse shews where he was, and what he was doing, when he was absent: the 12th verse how he returned. The place whither he went, was to the 'garden of nuts,' that same which was called the garden and beds of spices, verse 2. His 'going down,' is his withdrawing from her sense, and as in that same place, so here his end is set out in two expressions (which expounds how he feeds in his gardens.) 1. It is to 'see the fruits of the valley.' The church, called the garden formerly, is here called the valley, because she is planted, as it were, in a good valley-soil, where fruits use to thrive best. His going to see them; holds forth his accurate observing in general how it is with them, and his taking delight (as it were) to recreate himself by beholding of them, as men do who visit their gardens. Next, and more particularly, it is 'to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded:' by vine and pomegranates, are understood particular believers, who are as several trees of his garden, as was cleared on chap. 4:13. Their flourishing or budding, looks to the beginnings, of grace, scarce come to ripe fruit, but (as in the bud, chap. 2:15,) being exceeding tender; and these are mentioned distinctly, besides the former general, of seeing the fruits; to shew, 1. His taking particular notice of every particular believer, as a man that goes from tree to tree in his garden. 2. His special notice taking of beginners, and of the beginnings of his work in them, as being especially delighted with the first buddinngs of grace, and careful that nothing wrong them: this is his feeding in his gardens, and his gathering lilies, to be delighted with fruitfulness in his people, even with their weak and tender beginnings, and to be solicitously careful of their good, as men use to be of the thriving of their fruit-trees.

Observe. 1. Where our Lord Jesus hath a garden, which he hath planted, and on which he takes pains, he looks for fruits; his garden should never want fruit. 2. There are diverse growths, degrees, or measures of grace amongst his people; for, some of his trees have fruits, and some but blossoms. 3. Our Lord Jesus takes special notice of his peoples' fruitfulness, and that as particularly of every one of them, as if he went from one to another (as the gardener doth from tree to tree) to discover it. 4. Our Lord Jesus is especially delighted with the kindly blossomings of beginners, and he takes especial notice of the young and tender buddings of their grace, and will be so far from crushing them, because they are not ripe fruits, that he will more tenderly care for them. 5. Our Lord Jesus accurately takes notice of his Bride's carriage, and fruitfulness, when he seems to her sense to be absent, and is especially much delighted with it then; for, when he is gone down to his garden, this is the errand, to 'see the fruits of the valley, whether, &c.' when he withdraws he hath a friendly design, yet, saith he, although this was intended, I was made, (as it were) to alter my purpose, and not to stay.

And so we come to the 12th verse, in which is set down, how suddenly he is transported with affection to his Bride; while he is viewing her graces in his absence from her, he is so taken with love to her, that he can stay no longer from her, we may consider in the verse, these three things, 1. An effect, as it were, wrought on him, He 'is made like the chariots of Amminadib,' or 'set as in the chariots of Amminadib.' Chariots were used to travel with, and that for the greater speed; or, they were used in war, for driving furiously (like Jehu) and mightily, over difficulties and obstructions in the way; the word 'Amminadib' may be read in one word; and it is to be taken for a proper name of a prince, and thus the expression sets out excellent chariots, such as belonged possibly to some such valiant men of that name; or it may be read in two words, 'Ammi nadib,' which in the original, signifies 'my willing people;' so, 'Ammi,' signifieth, 'my people,' as, Hos. 2:1. Say to your brethren, 'Ammi,' that is, 'my people;' and 'Nadib' is the same word that is rendered, Psalm 110:3, 'willing,' 'thy people shall be willing;' it is a princely beautifulness and willingness, the word, chap. 7:1, 'O Prince's daughter!' is from the same root, and we rather take it so here, as being more suitable to the scope, which shews what effect his Bride's affection had on him, and the word is often so elsewhere translated; and so it may be rendered, the chariots of my princely willing people: they get this name for their princely behaviour, in wrestling with him under difficulties. Again, the word, 'I was made,' may be rendered, 'was set,' (according to the more usual interpretation of the word) thus the effect may be taken two ways to one scope. 1. I was made like the most swift chariots for speedy return, that nothing could detain me from returning to my Bride. Or, 2. If we may call the prayers, faith, and love of his people, their chariots, he is set on them, as taking pleasure to ride and triumph in them, and to be brought back by them, as if by chariots sent from them he had been overcome: and this suits with what is spoken, verse 5, for, while he accounts her as an army; these must needs be her weapons and chariots, to wit, a longing willingness to be at him, and soul-sickness, casting her eyes after him, and in a manner, even fainting for him.

2. There is the manner how this effect is brought about. He is suddenly, as it were, surprised, 'or ever I was aware,' &c. I knew not (as if he had said) till I was transported with an irresistible power of love toward my Bride, who in the exercise of faith, repentance, and prayer, was seeking after me, while I had withdrawn myself. The expression is borrowed from men (for, properly it agrees not to him) who by sudden effects that fall out beyond their expectation, use to aggravate the wonderfulness of the cause that brings them about: thus I know not how it was, it was or I was aware, or, while I was not thinking on it, so forcibly and, as it were, insensibly the thing prevailed over me: Christ expresseth it thus, to shew the wonderfulness of the thing that came on him, that he could not but do it, and could not shun it, more than if he had had no time to deliberate about it. This narration of Christ's, is not to resent that effect, but to shew how natively it was brought forth, so that when they (to say so) sent their chariots to him, and did cast a look after him, he could not but yield, because he would yield, as the third thing in the verse shews, and that is, what it was that so easily prevailed with him; the cause is within himself that set him on these chariots of his willing people, and made him to be overcome: it was even, his soul, 'my soul made me,' or, set me, that is, my inward soul, my affections, my bowels were so kindled, (as it is Jer. 31:20,) and my soul cleaved so to my loving and longing Bride, and was so stirred with her exercise, that I could not but hastily and speedily yield, because I could not resist my own affections. Hence, Observe, 1. willingness is much prized by Jesus Christ, when the soul yields to open to him, and longs for him, verse 5, and cannot want him, there Christ (as chap. 5:6.) will not, and cannot continue at a distance. 2. Although Christ's affection doth not properly surprise him, nor do the effects thereof fall from him inadvertently, but most deliberately, yet both his affection and the effects thereof, are most wonderful and astonishing in themselves, and ought, as such, in a singular manner to affect us. 3. The first rise and cause of all believers' good, and that which makes their faith, prayer, love, &c. bear weight with Christ, is in himself; it is his own soul, and good will that overcomes and prevails with him in all these: it is not any worth or power in their graces, as considered in themselves, that hath this influence upon him, but his intimate love to believers themselves, that makes their graces have such weight with him: all that ever came speed with him, were preceded by his love. 4. The believer hath a notable friend in Christ's own bosom, his soul is friendly to them, and is in a kindly way affected with their conditions, even though in his dispensations no such thing appear: and while he is man, and hath a soul, they want not a friend. 5. Considering this as the exercise of his soul, when he was withdrawn to her sense, and she was complaining. Observe, That Christ's bowels and soul are never more affected toward his people, than when he seems most offended with them, and when they are most offended with the wrongs done to him, Jer. 31:19,20, Judges 10:16. There be many inconceiveable turnings in his bowels, even when he seems to speak against them to the sense, then he 'earnestly remembers them still,' and their Friend Love steps to, and takes part for them, and so prevails, that by his own bowels he is restrained from executing the fierceness of his anger (Hos. 11:8, compared with 9,) and constrained even when he is provoked to take some other course to express marvellous loving kindness to them.



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