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by James Durham
Verse 2. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
Having spoken concerning the title, we come now to the Song itself: which is presented as a conversation, or dialogue. We shall divide the various chapters according to the number of the speakers, and their several exchanges and speeches. And so in this chapter, we have five parts. In the first the Bride speaks to verse 8. In the second the bridegroom, to verse 2. In the third the Bride again, to verse 15. And fourth the Bridegroom speaks, to verse 14. And lastly, the Bride in the last two verses. The Bride begins this sweet conference, verse 2. and continues to verse 8. 1. She speaks to Christ, verses 2,3,4. Then 2. to the daughters of Jerusalem, verse 5,6. Lastly, she turns herself again to the Bridegroom, verse 7.
In the first of these, there is, 1. Her aim and desire, by way of an earnest wish laid down, verse 1. 2. The motives that stir up this desire in her, and whereby she presseth it on him, verse 2,3. 3. There is a formal prayer set down, verse 4. which is amplified in these three, 1. In the motive proposed. 2. In the answer obtained, and felt. 3. In the effects that followed on it.
Her great wish is, 'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.' That it's the Bride that speaks, is clear; she begins, not because love ariseth first on her side (for here she begins, as having already closed with him, and therefore she speaks to him, as one who knows his worth, and longs for the out-lettings of his love) but because such expressions of Christ's love, as are to be found in this Song, whereby his complacency is vented and manifested toward us, doth first presuppose the working of his love in us, and our exercising of it on him, and then his delighting (that is, is expressing his delight) in us: for although the man first suit the wife (and so Christ first sueth for his bride) yet when persons are married, it's most suitable, that the wife should be very pressingly long for, and express desire after the husband, even as the Bride doth here after Christ's kisses, and the expressions of his love. Of this order of Christ's love, see Chapter 8 verse 10.
In the words consider, 1. What she desires, and that is, the 'kisses of his mouth.' 2. How she points Christ forth, by this significant demonstrative, 'Him.' 3. Her abrupt manner of breaking out with this her desire, as one that had been dwelling on the thoughts of Christ, and feeding on his excellencey; and therefore now she breaks out, 'let him kiss me,' &c. as if her heart were at her mouth, or would leap out of her mouth, to meet with his.
First, by 'kisses', we understand most lovely, friendly, familiar and sensible manifestations of his love; kisses of the mouth are so amongst friends, so it was betwixt Jonathan and David, and so it is especially betwixt husband and wife.
Next, there are several delightsome circumstances, the heighten the Bride's this esteem of this, the so much desired expression of his love. The first is implied, in the person who is to kiss, it's 'him, let him kiss', He who is the most excellent and singular person in the world,. The second is hinted at in the party whom he is to kiss, it's 'me, let him kiss me,' a contemptible despicable creature; for so she was in herself, as appears from verse 5,6. Yet this is the person, this love is to be vented on. 3. Wherewith is he to kiss? It's with the 'kisses of his mouth;' which we conceive is not only added as an Hebraism, like that expression, 'the words of his mouth,' and such like phrases, but also to affect her self, by expressing fully what she breathed after, to wit, kisses, or love, which are is a more lovely to her, that they come from his mouth, as having a sweetness in it, (Chap. 5:16.) above any thing in the world. That Christ's love hath such a sweetness in it, the reason subjoined will clear, 'for thy love is,' &c. That which is here kisses, is immediately denominated Loves; it is his love that she prized, and whereof kisses were but evidences.
They are 'kisses' in the plural number, partly to shew how many ways Christ hath to manifest his love, partly to shew the continuance and frequency of these manifestations, which she would be at: And the thing which she here desires, is not love simply, but the sense of love; for she questions not his love, but desired to have a sensible expressions of it, and therefore compares it not only to looks, that she might see him, but to kisses; which is also clear from the reason annexed, while she compares his love to wine.
Again, her manner of designing Christ, is observable, 'him.' It's a relative, where no antecedent goes before, yet certainly it looks to Christ alone, as the reasons shew; herein no rules of arts are kept, for love stands not on these. This manner of speaking is to be found also in moral authors, when one eminent is set forth, who singularly known beside others, as having in the estimation of the speakers no match: so Pythagora's scholars used to say of their master, autoV efh: 'he said it.' And in Scripture, when the saints speak of the Lord they had thus designed him, because they're not afraid to be mistaken, Psalm 87.1. 'His foundation,' &c. and Isa. 53.2 'He shall grow up like a tender plant.' This is neither for want of titles due to him, or rhetoric in her, but because in this manner of expression the saints set forth, 1. Christ's singular excellency, which is such, that he hath no match, or equal, there is but one Him. 2. Their singular esteem of him, whatever others think, 1 Cor. 8:6, 'To us there is but one Lord, Jesus:' only Christ is esteemed of by them. 3. A constant and habitual thinking, and meditating on him; for though there be no connexion in the words expressed, yet what is expressed, may have, and hath connexion with the thoughts of her heart; and if all were seen that were within, it would be easily known what Him she meant: and so we are to gather its dependence on the affection, and meditation it flows from, rather than from any preceding words; for here there are none. 4. It is to shew, her thoughts of Christ were not limited, or stinted to her words, or her speaking of Him: for though there be no words preceding, to make known who this Him is, spoken of; yet we may well conceive her heart taken up with desire after Him, and meditation on Him: and so there is a good coherence,'let Him,' that is, Him I have been thinking on, Him whom my soul desires, he only whom I esteem of, and who hath no equal, &c. This sort of abruptness of speech, hath no incongruity in spiritual rhetoric.
Whence we may observe, 1. That Christ hath a way of communicating his love, and the sense of it to a believer, which is not common to others. 2. That this is the great scope and desire of believers, if they had their choice, it is to have sensible communion with Christ: this is their 'one thing,' Psalm 27:4. It is the first and last suit of this Song, and the voice of the Spirit and Bride, and the last prayer that is in the scripture, Rev. 22:17. 3. That believers can discern this fellowship (it is so sweet and sensible) which is to be had with Jesus Christ. 4. That they have an high esteem of it, as being a special signification of his love. 5. That much inward heart fellowship with Christ, hath suitable outward expressions flowing from it. 6. That believers in an habitual walk with Christ will be abrupt in their suits to him, sometimes meditating on him, sometimes praying to him. 7. That where Christ is known, and rightly thought of, there will be no equal to him in the heart.
2. In the next place, she lays down the motives that made her so desire this; which are rather to set forth Christ's excellency, to strengthen her own faith, and warm her own love in pursuing after so concerning a suit, than from any fear she had of being mistaken by him, in being as it were, so bold and homely with him in her desires. 1. The reason is generally proposed, verse 2, and enlarged and confirmed, verse 3. The sum of it is, thy love is exceeding excellent, and I have more need, and greater esteem of it, than of any thing in the world, therefore I seek after it, and hope to attain it.
There are four words here to be cleared, 1. 'Thy loves' (so it is in the original) in the plural number Christ's love is sometimes (as the love of God) taken essentially, as an attribute in him, which is himself, 'God is love,' 1 John 4:8. Thus the Lord, in his love, is the same in all times. 2. For some effect of that love, when he doth manifest it to his people; by conferring good on them, and by the sensible intimations thereof to them: so it is, John 14:21, 23. We take it in the last sense here; for she was in Christ's love, but desired the manifestations of it; and it is by these that his love becomes sensible and refreshing to believers. It's loves in the plural number, although it be one infinite fountain in God, to show how many ways it vented, or how many effects that one love produced, or what esteem she had of it, and of the continuance and frequency of the manifestations thereof to her; this one love of his was as many loves.
The second word to be cleared, is 'wine.' Wine is cheering to men, Psalm 104:15, and makes their heart glad: under it here is understood, what is most cheering and comfortable in its use to men.
3. Christ's love is 'better,' 1. Simply in itself, it is most excellent. 2. In its effects, more exhilarating, cheering, and refreshing, And, 3. In her esteem; to me (saith she) 'It is better;' I love it, prize it, and esteem it more, as Psalm 4:7, 8. 'Thereby thou hast made my heart more glad,' &c. This his love is every way preferable to all the most cheering and refreshing things in the world.
4. The inference, 'for,' is to be considered: it sheweth that these words are a reason of her suit, and so the sense runs thus, because thy love is of great value, and hath more comfortable effects on me, than the most delightsome of creatures, therefore let me have it. Out of which reasoning we may see what motive will have weight with Christ, and will sway with sincere souls in dealing with him, for the intimation of his love; for the love of Christ, and the sweetness and satisfaction that is to be found in it, is the great prevailing motive that hath weight with them: and sense of the need of Christ's love, and esteem of it, and delight in it alone, when no creature-comfort can afford refreshing, may, and will warrant poor hungry and thirsty souls, to be pressing for the love of Christ, when they may not be without it; which shews,
1. That a heart that knows Jesus Christ, will love to dwell on the thoughts of his worth, and to present him often to itself, as the most ravishing object, and will make use of pressing motives and arguments, to stir up itself to seek after the intimations of his love. 2. That the more a soul diveth in the love of Christ, it is the more ravished with it, and presseth, yea, panteth the more after it: it was Him before, 'Let Him kiss me,' as being something afraid to speak to him; it is now, 'Thou, thy love,' &c. as being more inflamed with love, since she began to speak, and therefore more familiarly bold, in pressing her suit upon him. 3. The exercise of love strengthens faith: and contrarily, when love wears out of exercise, faith dieth: these graces stand and fall together, they are lively and languish together. 4. Where Christ's love is seriously thought of and felt, created consolations will grow bare, and lose all relish; wine, and the best of creature-comforts, will lose their savour and sweetness with such a soul, when once it is seen how good he is. 5. An high esteem of Christ, is no ill argument in pressing for, and pursuing after his presence; for to those that thus love and esteem him, he will manifest himself, John 14:21,23. 6. Where there hath been any taste of Christ's love, the soul cannot endure to want it, it cannot enjoy itself, if it do not enjoy him; this is the cordial that cheereth it in any condition, and maketh every bitter thing sweet.
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