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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Three Verse 11

by James Durham

Verse 11. Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

She proceeds in this verse, to hold forth the worker of this great work, and although all the pieces of the work be admirable, yet hath he much more glory, in as far as the builder is more glorious, and hath more honour than the house; and because his commendation is her scope, therefore she propounds him in his beauty and glory, with an exhortation filled with admiration; if (saith she) ye would wonder, 'O daughters,' &c. here is a wonderful object, Christ himself, on whom all eyes should be fixed; up therefore, come forth and behold him. There are four things in the verse, 1. The parties spoken unto. 2. A glorious object propounded to them. 3. This glorious object being Christ, is qualified and set out in his most lovely and wonderful posture, by three qualifications. 4. A duty in reference to him so qualified, is called for, and pressed upon the daughters.

1. The parties excited and spoken to here, are the 'daughters of Zion:' by Zion oftentimes in Scripture is understood the church: wherein Christ is set as king, Psalm 2:6, and elsewhere; and so by 'daughters of Zion,' we are to understand members of the church; they are the same with the daughters of Jerusalem mentioned verse 5, and her scope being to speak to them who spoke, verse 6, and they being the same to whom she spake, verse 5, doth confirm it; for, the words run in one context. They are called here 'daughters of Zion.' 1. Because it was for Zion's sake that the Lord so much prized Jerusalem, Psalm 87:2, his temple and ordinances being especially there. 2. To put the daughters of Jerusalem in mind, what was the especial ground of the relation which God owned in them, namely their being

incorporated into his church, whereby they had access to his ordinances: and that so they might know whoever was deficient, yet this duty called for, did exceedingly become them, Christ being king of Zion; for which cause elsewhere, Zech. 9:9, the exhortation runs in these terms, 'Tell the daughter of Zion, behold thy King cometh,' &c. It is no little thing to get professors taking up the relation they stand under to Christ, and engaged to walk accordingly.

2. The object proposed to these daughters, is King Solomon, even the King of Zion, the King of peace, and King of saints, in a word, their King: this relation makes him lovely to them, yet, it's not Christ simply that is here proposed to their view, but Christ with a crown, in most stately magnificence, such as kings use to be adorned with, when they are in great state, or on their coronation day. While it's said he hath a crown, hereby is not signified any material crown, but majesty and glory, as Psalm, 21:3, 'Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head,' &c. and so Christ conquering on the white horse, Rev. 6:3, is said to have a crown: and Rev. 19:12, it's said, he hath on his head many crowns, to shew his great and manifold glory, such as becomes the Prince of the kings of the earth: every look of Christ is not enough, many think not much of him; this shews how Christ's glory is to be seen, and how for that end he is to be considered by on-lookers; he is to be looked upon as he doth discover and hold forth himself, otherwise his glory will never rightly be taken up: and therefore to help us in this, and to prevent an objection which carnal sense might make against her scope, she qualifies this crown and glory of his three ways. 1. It is the 'crown wherewith his mother crowned him:' where we are to enquire, 1. What different crowns Christ may be said to have, and what this is. 2. Who this 'mother' is. 3. How she is said to crown him.

Christ may be said to have a fourfold glory, or crown. 1. As God co-essential with the Father; this crown is not put on him, being natural to him, who is 'the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person,' Heb. 1:2,3. 2. He hath a crown and glory as mediator, in respect of the power, authority and glory wherewith he is invested, as God's great deputy, and anointed upon the holy hill of Zion, having power and a rod of iron, even in reference to enemies: and seeing this is not of his mother's putting on, it is not that which is here understood. 3. He hath a crown and glory in respect of the manifestation of his glory in the executing of his offices, when he makes his mediatory power and glory apparent in particular steps: thus sometimes he is said to 'take his power to him,' Rev. 11:17, and is said to be 'crowned,' when the white horse of the gospel rides in triumph, Rev. 6:2. The last step of this glory will be in the day of judgment: in short, this consists in his exercising his former power, committed to him as mediator. 4. There is a crown and glory which is in a manner put on him by particular believers, when he is glorified by them, not by adding any thing to his infinite glory, but by their acknowledging of him to be so, especially their acknowledging his rich and free grace, and by believing, 'putting their seal thereunto,' John 3:33, and giving him glory, as Abraham did, Rom. 4:20, in which respect he is crowned, as on the contrary, when he meets not with this, he is despised, and it is a saying upon the matter, 'this man shall not reign over us:' now this last is to be here understood. Again, by 'mother' here, is not understood his natural mother, but it must be taken in a spiritual sense for one of two, either, 1. For the church catholic, which being mother to Christ mystical, may be said to be mother to him, as Rev. 12:5, the church is said to 'bring forth a man-child,' who is taken to heaven, and hath ascribed to him the properties due to Christ, and yet Christ mystical is there understood; or, 2. For a particular, believer, who may be said to be Christ's mother in these respects, 1. For the near relation that is betwixt Christ and particular believers, and the account be hath of them: for which reason they are called 'his sister, and spouse,' chap. 4:10, and Matt. 12:ult. He calls them 'his brother, his sister;' yea, 'mother.' 2. Because Christ is formed and brought forth in them, being as it were conceived in every one of them, Gal. 4:19, Christ (as it were) getting a new being in them, which he had not before. We conceive both may be understood here, and the last especially, as serving most to the scope of commending Christ to them: and if the first be included, to wit, the church universal, then particular believers (being homogeneous parts of the whole) cannot be excluded; for, the church crowns Christ, when she brings forth children to him, which is, when by the ordinances Christ is begotten in them.

Now they are said to crown Christ and glorify him, not by adding any new degrees of glory to him, considered in himself; but this his being crowned by them, doth especially appear in these three: 1. Their high estimation of them, beyond what others have, and what themselves were wont to have; now he is highly esteemed who before was despised by them, and whereas to them he wanted a crown and dominion, now he hath it. 2. Their acceptation of him as their king, when by their consent, they ratify (as it were) God's donation of the crown to him, and in acknowledging thereof, they submit to his sceptre and government: thus he is crowned by them, when he is expressly with full consent of the soul acknowledged as king and Lord: even as David formerly crowned, anointed and made king over Israel by the Lord, is said to be made king of Judah, when they accept of him to reign at Hebron; and afterward by the ten tribes in their submission to him, and consenting to the former appointment: even so believers' submission to Christ, is a crowning of him, as to themselves: and so there are particular coronations (to say so) of Christ, even as there are particular espousals betwixt him and believers. 3. This is in respect of the glory, that results to Christ from their submission and acknowledgment; even as sinners despising him, put (as it were) a blot on him, put him to open shame, and say, we will not have him to reign over us; so believers, yielding up themselves to Christ, do in a manner put honour and glory upon him, Isa. 62:2,3. The married church or people are said to be 'a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord,' when the grace of Christ hath its native effect amongst them, as the conversion of souls proves to faithful ministers their 'crown and joy,' 1 Thess. 2:14, so doth it to the great bishop and shepherd of souls: and, as Prov. 12:4, 'a virtuous woman is a crown,' or ornament 'to her husband,' whereas if she be not so, she maketh him ashamed: so are believers some way a crown to Christ, because all the glory and beauty which is to be found on them, is his, and from him. This then is the meaning: consider Christ in the beauty wherein he appears to believers, and with the esteem they have of him, as full of grace and truth, when they acknowledge him, and become subject to him, and he will be seen to be exceedingly stately and lovely.

The second qualification confirms this: this crown is put on him 'in the day of his espousals;' now Christ's general espousals are not yet come, and so the crown in that respect is not yet put on him; it must be therefore the day of his espousals with particular believers (which is here understood, there being no other before his second coming) who are, 2 Cor. 11:2, 'espoused to him,' by their consenting to accept him for their husband, as he is king to them, by their submitting to his dominion. His being crowned here, is mentioned with respect to this day of his espousals, because as bridegrooms used to be most glorious in their marriage-day, so Christ hath at the time of espousals, a special loveliness to the new married believer, what by the more kindly and tender manifestations of his love, and what by the fresh relish it hath then to them, when their spirits are broken with the sense of their sin, and warm with a deal of holy joy and fainness which useth then to abound in their heart, in reference to so good a bargain; so Christ is then to believers wonderfully lovely: and although the effects of his kindness may be enlarged afterward, and their esteem of him may also grow, yet readily then as it is most sensible, so their admiration is most in exercise, and their thoughts of Christ's excellent worth, are most affectingly, and overcomingly ravishing; and when in their after-thoughts they are taken up with him, the remembering of that day of espousals, when he took them by the hand, puts still a loveliness on him to them, that in his love he so wonderfully condescended unto them.

The third qualification confirms the same (for, it is in effect one qualification in three expressions) and it is in these words, 'and in the day of the gladness of his heart;' what is it (saith she) that cheers Christ, and makes him heartily glad? It is even this, when poor sinners accept of him, that is Christ's marriage-day; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride that day, so doth he rejoice: and as 'the good shepherd' rejoiceth when he recovers his 'lost sheep,' or the 'father' his 'prodigal son,' Luke 15:32, so doth Christ when sinners are brought in to him by the gospel: and this joy is called 'the gladness of his heart,' to shew the reality of it. Christ (in a manner) can enjoy no such satisfying thing as a marriage with a poor sinner; then 'he sees the travail of his soul, and is satisfied,' Isa. 53:11, that cheers him and makes him smile (if I may say so) and this looks to that glory which shines in Christ, and is expressed by him when he is well satisfied with poor sinners, and that is mainly when he gets welcome by them. This signifies not joy in Christ, as it's in us: but, 1. It shews how acceptable a sinner's believing in him, is to him. 2. What confident welcome they may expect from him, when they come unto him. 3. How kindly he useth them, by manifesting himself to be well pleased, as one that is cheerful doth on his marriage-day to his bride.

3. The duty pressed upon the daughters is in two words, holding forth two duties, the one whereof is the middle or mean to the other, and the other the end of this. The first is, 'behold,' which points at the great scope and thing called for; and it imports, 1. A wonderful object, and indeed Christ is so, being considered in his most royal posture, as a crowned king upon his coronation-day; and in his most loving posture, as a beautiful bridegroom on his marriage-day. 2. It imports a dulness in the daughters, needing upstirring to take up Christ in this lovely and glorious posture. 3. A difficulty rightly to take him up under this consideration, yet a necessity of it, and that it be done with attention. 4. It implies an intenseness or bensil of spirit in the act of beholding; so rare an object calls for greatest intention of heart, and gravest consideration of mind in the beholder; it is not every look or glance of the eyes that will discern it; but, 1. There must be attentiveness and steadiness, a stayed looking, and as it were dwelling on the object with their eyes. 2. The exercise of faith must go along with this their looking, reading his worth by faith exercised on him, as Isa. 45:19, 'Look unto me and be ye saved;' beholding of him, as the stung Israelites did the brazen serpent. 3. Also the exercise of love; an affectionate look is here necessary, delighting in him, and being taken up with him, as one with that wherein they take pleasure, the eye of the seer here, cannot but affect and inflame the heart. 4. This looking is attended with wondering at this glorious object, as one beholding a wonder, and ravishing with the admirableness of it: all these are comprehended under this expression, 'behold him.'

The second word (which hath in it another piece of their duty) is, 'go forth,' and this is a help to the other: and (besides what hath been hinted at in the former expression) it shews it is not in every posture that they will take up Christ thus, but there is a necessity they must come out from under the natural condition they were into: we take it to be the same with that precept, Psalm 45:10,11, 'Forget thine own people and thy father's house, so' (and no otherwise) 'shall the King greatly desire thy beauty.' Christ manifests not himself, as reconciled and pleased, till former lovers be given up with; and this beholding of his smiling and glorious countenance, cannot be obtained till then, even as one sitting in the house cannot discern a stately sight going by, except they go forth: thus the similitude is borrowed; to shew the necessity of rousing of affections within; but not to signify any local mutation. This then is the sense and scope; O professors (saith the Bride) would you see a stately sight? Then get up, and set yourselves to take up Christ, more glorious than Solomon, either on his coronation or marriage-day (to which there is an allusion here) and because few see great comeliness and beauty in Christ, why he should be desired; therefore she adds what a sight it is she understands. Endeavour (saith she) to behold him as he is discernable to believers, when they close with him, and accept of him; if so ye will exercise faith in him, so as ye may perfect espousals with him, and satisfy him by resting on him, ye will then have a stately and ravishing object to look upon, otherwise Christ is not alway and to every one, pleasant and cheerful company.

Observe. 1. Christ, when rightly conceived and taken up, is a most ravishing satisfying sight, and a most glorious stately person to look upon. 2. Though Christ Jesus be so stately a person, yet he condescends to espouse and marry himself to the believer: thus Christ by faith becomes theirs. 3. This marrying hath its day, and men are not born espoused to Christ, but their accepting of him, their espousals with him are consummated. 4. Christ is never taken up aright but by the believer, nor doth his glory ever appear as it is, but to the believer: others that are not spiritual cannot discern it. 5. Christ's condescending to marry sinners, and accept of them, is as the crown and diadem of his glory; and that which makes him most singularly admirable, is that he is 'full of grace and truth,' John 1:18. 6. Christ accounts believing on him by a poor sinner, a singular piece of honour done unto him; it is as the putting of a crown on his head, when they make use of his grace; as he accounts it the greatest dishonour can be done to him, to refuse and slight him and therefore, misbelief (when Christ calls) is a most heinous sin, it is as it were the taking of Christ's crown from him. 7. There is no such pleasure that a sinner can do to Christ, as to believe on him; and Christ is ever cheerful then, when sinners are thronging on him by faith, and he is never discontented with that; for, that is the day of the gladness of his heart, as other days in the church are sad, when this design of his, is (as it were) obstructed and disappointed. 8. Usually the sight and sense of Christ's grace are most fresh and sensible to the soul, about the time of their closing with Christ, or of their being clear that they have closed with him. 9. Every lazy looking on Christ, or wishing for him, will not be acceptable to him, nor solidly comfort a sinner; but there must be a going forth, and a beholding of him. 10. This being spoken to the daughters of Zion, saith, many may have much of a profession and a name, yea, they may have a kind of high esteem of gracious people (as the daughters had verse 6,) and yet be such as have not rightly taken up Christ, but are exceeding ignorant of him, as these are, chap. 5:9. 11. Considering these words as spoken by the Bride, who was so much commended, verse 6, we may observe, that no particular esteem or commendation will satisfy a sincere believer, so long as Christ gets not his due: his honour will still be nearer them than their own.




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