Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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Index to James Durham

James Durham (1622-1658) was a minister at Glasgow's "Inner Kirk" and was renowned as a preacher and writer during his short life. His Commentary on the Song of Solomon is his best known work.

Until recently it was common for the Song of Solomon to be iterpreted allegorically as describing the mutual love of Christ and His church. In our present age allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures is frowned upon and is no longer accepted by most scholars. Nevertheless Durham in his Key Useful gives his reasons for adopting the allegorial method and the reader may find this interesting and thought-provoking.

Even if the reader should reject Durham's method of interpretation, his book is still valuable for the Christian reader. Throughout the book he expounds classic Puritan ideas concering the believer's relationship with Christ and His Church. Durham's knowledge of the Bible and of the believer's heart are brought together here in a powerful way. As John Owen says, "I am persuaded every reader, whose mind is exercised about, and conversant in these things, whose heart hath an experience of their power and reality, will [discover] the uselessness of any recommendation of this treatise unto those who are willing conscientiously to enquire into the sacred truths treasured up in this excellent portion of scripture, and to improve them unto their own advantage in faith and obedience."

Commentary on the Song of Songs

A note about the editions of Durham's commentary on the Song, and some interesting tidbits about the copy that this web page was made from.
Sample pages from that copy.


Clavis Cantici: or, a Key of the Song, Useful for Opening Up thereof. Durham's introductory material, including his explanation of the allegorical method of interpretation.  PDF format
To the Reader by John Owen from the 1668 and 1840 editions.
The Epistle Dedicatory by Margaret Durham.
Preface by Gavin Parker to the 1840 edition.
To the Reader Anonymous, from the 1723 edition.

Chapter One


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Verse 1. The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.
Verse 2. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
Verse 3. Therefore do the virgins love thee.
Verse 4. Draw me, we will run after thee.
Verses 5-6. I am black, but comely.
Verse 7. Tell me (O thou whom my soul loveth) where thou feedest?
Verse 8. Feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.
Verses 9-10. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels.
Verse 11. We will make thee borders of gold, with studs of silver.
Verses 12-14. He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
Verse 15. Behold, thou art fair, my love: behold, thou art fair, thou hast doves eyes.
Verses 16-17. Behold thou art fair, my beloved.

Chapter Two
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Verses 1-2. I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
Verse 3. His fruit was sweet to my taste.
Verse. 4. He brought me to the banqueting house: and his banner over me was love.
Verse 5. For I am sick of love.
Verse 6. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.
Verse 7. Stir not up, nor awake my love till he please.
Verses 8-9. The voice of my beloved! Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains.
Verses 10-13. Arise up my love, my fair one, and come away.
Verse 14. O my dove....let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
Verse 15. Take us the foxes.
Verses 16-17. My beloved is mine, and I am his; he feedeth among the lilies.

Chapter Three
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Verses 1-2. I sought him, but I found him not.
Verse 3. Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
Verse 4. I found him whom my soul loveth.
Verse 5. Stir not up, nor awake my Love till he please.
Verse 6. Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke?
Verses 7-8. Behold his bed.
Verses 9-10. King Solomon made himself a chariot....the midst thereof being paved with love.
Verse 11. Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon...

Chapter Four

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Verse 1. Behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks...
Verse 2. Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep.
Verse 3. Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely.
Verse 4. Thy neck is like the tower of David.
Verse 5. Verse 5. Thy two breasts are like two young roes.
Verse 6. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away.
Verse 7. Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.
Verse 8. Verse 8. Come with me from Lebanon, my Spouse.
Verses 9-10. How fair is thy love, my sister, my Spouse!
Verse 11. Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey-comb.
Verse 12. A garden inclosed is my Sister, my Spouse.
Verses 13-14. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates.
Verse 15. A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters,
Verse 16. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Chapter Five

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Verse 1. I am come into my garden, my Sister my Spouse.
Verse 2. I sleep, but my heart waketh.
Verse 3. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on?
Verse 4. My bowels were moved for him.
Verse 5. I rose up to open to my Beloved.
Verse 6. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself.
Verse 7. The watchmen that went about the city found me.
Verse 8. I am sick of love.
Verse 9. What is thy beloved more than another beloved?
Verse 10. My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
Verse 11. His head is as the most fine gold.
Verse 12. His eyes are as the eyes of doves.
Verse 13. His lips [are] like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh.
Verse 14. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl.
Verse 15. His legs are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold.
Verse 16. His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely.

Chapter Six

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Verse 1. Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women?
Verse 2. My Beloved is gone down into his garden.
Verse 3. I am my Beloved's, and my beloved is mine.
Verse 4. Thou art beautiful, O my love.
Verse 5a. Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me...
Verses 5b-7. ...Thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from Gilead.
Verses 8-10. My dove, my undefiled is but one.
Verse 10. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon?
Verses 11-12. I went down into the garden of nuts.
Verse 13. Return, return, O Shulamite.

Chapter Seven

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Introductory comments on verses 1,2,3.
Verse 1. How beautiful are thy feet with shoes.
Verse 2. Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor.
Verse 3. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.
Verse 4. Thy neck is as a tower of ivory.
Verse 5. Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple: the king is held in the galleries.
Verse 6. How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!
Verses 7-9. This thy stature is like to a palm-tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
Verse 10. I am my Beloved's, and his desire is toward me.
Verse 11. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field.

Chapter Eight

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Verses 1-2. Oh that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother.
Verse 3. His left hand should be under my head.
Verse 4. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
Verse 5a. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?
Verse 5b. I raised thee up under the apple-tree
Verses 6-7. Set me as a seal upon thine heart.
Verse 8. We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts.
Verse 9. If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver.
Verse 10. Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
Verses 11-12. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.
Verse 13. The companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.
Verse 14. Make haste, my beloved!



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