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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Eight Verse 9

by James Durham


Verse 9. If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver; and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.

This verse contains the Bridegroom's answer unto the Bride's last petition: our Lord loves to have his people praying for others, as for themselves, and therefore, he so accepts this petition for the little sister, that instantly he returns an answer thereunto, by a gracious promise; in which we are to consider these four things, 1. The party to whom the promise is made. 2. The promiser. 3. The promise itself. 4. The condition that it is made upon. First, the party to whom this promise is made, is implied in the words, 'she,' and 'her,' that is, the little sister yet unconverted, who is mentioned in the former verse. 2. The promiser is, 'we,' that is, the Bridegroom and the Bride; to whom this sister stands in relation, verse 8, or rather, 'we,' the Father, Son, and Spirit (as we took the like expression, chap. 1:11,) for, this work which is undertaken and engaged for in the promise, doth belong especially to them. 3. The promise is in two expressions (as is also the condition.) 1. 'We will build upon her a palace of silver:' a palace (if the word be so rendered) is a place for dwelling in; and here it signifieth the adorning of her to be a mansion for his Spirit, and wherein himself will dwell, which is a privilege that the believer in him is admitted unto, 1 Cor. 3:16, 17. and 6:19. and this is more than to be a 'wall,' which is an house, but not so completed and adorned. He is no common guest that is to dwell there, therefore it is no common palace, but 'of silver,' both precious, and also durable, and stately for its matter, which we must have to dwell in: we will make her such, saith he. The condition proposed in this part of the promise, is 'if she be a wall:' a wall is different from stones, considered in themselves, and supposeth them to be built on a foundation: now Jesus Christ being the only 'foundation,' 1 Cor. 3:10, upon which the believer, who is the spiritual temple, is built. This to be a 'wall' supposes her to be by faith united to him, whereby she becomes fixed and settled as a wall, who before was unstable and so the sense runs thus, if she, the little sister when she shall be spoken for by the gospel, shall receive the word, and by faith close with Christ, then (saith he) we we will throughly adorn her, as a mansion fit to be dwelt in, and we will 'make our abode' with her, John 14:23. If we render the word, 'towers,' we will build on her towers of silver, it comes to the same scope; walls are for defence, and they are defective till towers be built on them: and so the promise is to strengthen and adorn her more, if Christ be received by her. The second part of the promise, is, 'we will enclose her with boards of cedar:' cedar was a precious wood, and durable (as hath been often said) and to be enclosed with it, signifies the adorning of her, and strengthening of her more. The condition annexed to this part of the promise, is, if 'she be a door:' doors make way for entry, and are the weakest part of the wall: the opening of the heart to receive Christ, is compared to the opening of a door, Psalm 24:7, and chap. 5:4, here he saith, although she be weak (possibly like a door of fir) yet if she be a door, and give entrance to Christ (for all without faith, are as houses without doors to Christ, that cannot receive him) we will not only adorn her, but also fix and strengthen her more. From all which it appears, that these two things are clearly to be found in the scope, 1. That there is an access, and addition of beauty and strength promised to the little sister, even so much as may fully perfect her beginnings, and carry them on unto perfection; as a 'palace,' or towers 'of silver,' are beyond a wall; and 'boards of cedar,' beyond an ordinary door. 2. That these things promised, are here made to hang upon the condition of her receiving Christ, and being by faith united to him, and built on him. That this is the meaning of the supposed condition, is clear, 1. From the promise that is annexed to it, faith in Christ is the condition, upon which all the promises of increase of grace, and establishment, do hang; and the thing promised her can be no other thing: therefore, the condition must be her union with him by faith. 2. It agrees with scripture, to expound her being a 'wall,' to signify her union with Christ; for, Christ being the foundation, and believers being the wall, there must be supposed an union betwixt them, otherwise these names could not denote that relation which is betwixt Christ and the believers, even such as is betwixt the wall and the foundation. Now this union, by which believers are built on him, is made up by coming to him, which is believing, 1 Pet. 2:4,5, 'To whom coming as unto a living stone' (or foundation) 'ye also as lively atones, are built up a spiritual house.' Their coming to him builds them upon him, as the foundation: and, Eph. 2, those that are by nature 'aliens to the commonwealth of Israel' (as the little sister is here, while she hath no breasts) are by their believing on Christ, said to be of 'the household of faith, and to be built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles' doctrine, whereof Christ is 'the chief corner-stone,' verses 19,20, &c. 3. It is clear by the opposition implied; for, to he a wall supposeth her to be that which she is not now, when she hath no breasts; and what that is, is clear from the next verse, where the Bride saith, 'I am a wall, and my breasts like towers,' and so I have found favour in his eyes: therefore, to be a wall, is to be a believer, whatever it includes more: for, none is a wall but the Bride, and who find favour in his eyes, as her argument will conclude; and therefore, to be a wall, must include faith. So then, the meaning of the words comes to this, I tell thee (saith he) what we will do with our little sister, when she shall be spoken for; if she by faith come to Christ, and be built on him, we will perfect that work, for her eternal communion with him; yea, though she be weak and unstable, yet if she yield to Christ, we shall make her grace grow, till she be stable and firm, even as thou, by becoming a wall, hast thy breasts made as towers, and hast found favour to be friendly dealt with, so shall she, and upon the same terms.

Observe. 1. That receiving of Christ by faith, puts them that have been strangers to him in that same capacity, for acceptation and communion with Christ, that his Bride hath, or that those who were formerly believers have by their union with him, 2. All that are bespoken by the gospel, have not interest in the things promised, nor can they apply them, till by faith they be united to Christ, and fulfil the condition to which the promise is annexed, and that is faith. 3. One may really close with Christ, and so be 'a wall,' and yet have many things to be perfected: grace is not perfect at the beginning, but that 'wall' hath a 'palace' or tower to be built upon it. 4. The believer's growing in grace, even after his union with Christ, is a great mercy, and is as such promised here. 5. Growth and increase in grace, after conversion is no less a work of Christ's, and a gift of God's, than conversion itself. 6. Christ hath given a promise to the believer, for furthering and perfecting of his sanctification, as well as of his justification. 7. Where there is any honest begin beginning or foundation laid by real union with Christ, although it be weak, yet it will be perfected, and that may be expected; for, Christ's word, is here engaged for it. 8. There are none of the promised blessings that can be expected from Christ, without performing of the condition of believing in him; and they, who rest on him by faith, may expect all.


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