Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
[Table of Contents]  [Fast Index]  [Site Map] 

Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Five Verse 11

by James Durham

Verse 11. His head is as the most fine gold; his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

There are ten parts mentioned, that are brought in as proofs of Christ's singular excellency, each of them almost having a double commendation; two of them are in the 11th verse. The first is, 'his head,' the most eminent part of the body; that furnisheth influence and direction to all the rest: it may signify (if we dare adventure) these three in Christ, 1. His Godhead, which is the most eminent nature of Christ's person, sustaining the other, and furnishing it for its office; thus, 1 Cor. 11:3, as 'the head of the woman is the man,' in respect of his dignity; so 'the head of Christ is God,' as the Godhead 'dwells in him bodily,' Col. 2:9, by a wonderful and unspeakable personal union, the like whereof is not to be found in any other. 2. It may hold out Christ's headship, or sovereignty which he hath as Mediator, being made head of 'the body, the church,' and 'over all things for the church,' Eph. 1:12, and his instalment into this office is the rise of all the other commendations that follow, which areas parts thereof: thus Nebuchadnezzar's sovereignty, as being a king of kings, is set out by a head of gold, Dan. 2:32,38. 3. It may signify the qualifications, wherewith he, as head to the body, is furnished for its behoof and good: so he is an excellent head, for contriving of what is good for the body, and for furnishing life and motion to all his members; thus Eph. 4:16, he is the head, from whom the whole body, being fitly compacted together, doth make increase of itself in love: and to this purpose, a man of a great reach and profound wit, useth to be called a great head. All these agree with the scope, being instances of Christ's excellencies, and also with the commendation following; yet, the first seems most agreeable to the analogy of head and members, and it is not unlike that Christ's Godhead is begun at in his commendation: surely it cannot be excluded, seeing, in Rev. 1:14, by his head (as there described) is set forth his eternity, the same nature may well be here understood, though Christ be otherways represented in the colour of his locks, because here he is described as a lovely Bridegroom, there as coming to judge, as also in Dan. 7, But it must be some excellent thing that is meant, as the commendation annexed clears. 'His head is as the most fine gold:' in the original, there are two words indifferently made use of, to signify gold, the first because of its shining brightness and beauty; the second is applied to it, because of its solidity and firmness; so it runs, his head is gold of gold, or gold and gold, or fine shining and solid gold, as if gold were not enough to set out the excellency of this head: gold is rich in the quality, solid and strong as to the efficacy, (as in chap. 3:10,) sovereign as to usefulness and profitableness; it is above other metals, and so in the heavenly Jerusalem, the streets are said to be of pure gold, Rev. 21:21. Therefore that dominion of Nebuchadnezzar's, spoken of Dan. 2:32, is compared to a head of gold, for its excellency above the rest that followed, and especially for the shelter that the church of God had under it: and this being gold of gold, must hold forth such sovereignty, riches of grace, solidity and happiness, as is unsearchable; gold cannot reach it, no not gold raised to the highest worth conceiveable.

This first particular may put us to a stand, when (as it were) the Bride is at a stand in the commendation, and must double the word, as gold, gold; and it's hard to draw observations from it, yet warrantably this may be said, 1. Christ hath a head (however we take it) that is exceedingly excellent, he is God, and in that respect is unsearchable, 'being the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person,' Heb 1:3. He, as Mediator, is furnished with sovereignty and eminent graces for the good of the body; and these, as they are for their nature most solid and excellent, so as to their virtue they are most efficacious and quickening. 2. If we take it in general, Observe: That the excellencies wherewith Christ is furnished, are in the highest degree of excellency; therefore it is gold of gold, whatever it be, and this general will necessarily infer the former, that he is God and Mediator, and in such and such offices furnished for the good of his people, and the former doctrine is the proof of this: all Christ's properties, wisdom, love, counsel, &c. are of more than an ordinary depth, being in him to the very 'uttermost,' Heb. 7:25, and 'without measure,' John 3:34. 3. Christ's excellency is not only lovely in itself, but useful to others; he is not only rich in himself, but enriching those that possess him, as gold doth enrich the owners of it: Christ is a golden possession where there is a well grounded claim to him. 4. Gold and all external riches, are empty things to a spiritual discerner of Christ's worth; as it were, a new sort of gold must be invented, or imagined, to shadow forth the excellencies of Christ, gold itself is but an insufficient and dark shadow to represent him; whoever loves gold, may have (and that freely) the most fine and choice gold in him. Yea, 5. This is peculiar to him, in opposition to all other beloveds: men's idols and other beloveds may be gilded, like the whore's cup, spoken of, Rev. 17:4, but Christ only is the golden Beloved; for, this is so attributed to him, as it is denied to them, which are but clay, or 'thick clay' beloveds, Hab. 2:6.

The second thing commended is 'his locks,' which are no essential part of the body, yet are (when lovely) a special decorement, and ever have been so esteemed: the signification of locks (being joined to the head) will be so much the more clear, if we consider the commendation given them, which is threefold, 1. 'They are bushy,' or curled: not such as old men have, hairs here and there, but his are bushy, thick, and handsome, such as young men in the flower and vigour of their youth use to have. 2. They are black; and that, 3. As a raven: black hair in those times and places was comely in men, and betokens strength of youth, and vigour of age. Therefore the same word, which is here blackness, signifieth youth also in the Hebrew, as Eccles. 11:10, 'childhood and youth,' &c. So black hair here, is opposed to white hairs, whereby decay is signified (as Hos. 7:9, by 'gray hairs' on Ephraim, is understood) and thus all other idols get a dash, as if they were gray haired, decaying beloveds; but Christ is always in youth and vigour, he continues always vigorous, as his love is always green. They are compared to the blackness of a raven, because that is native black, and lovely beyond other things that are black. As by Christ's head then was signified that which is in Christ (to speak so) most intrinsically excellent; so here, by locks we understand the most extrinsic thing that is in him (if we may say any thing of Christ is so) that is, if any thing seem less necessary than another, yet is it in itself excellent, and serves to commend Christ to others. And again, by bushiness and blackness, we understand the vigour and perfection of Christ's lovely and desirable excellencies, that as loveliness and desirableness are in a man, when in his youth, at their height and perfection, so are they in Christ, with all commendable aggravations, as in their prime and vigour. Gold did set forth the intrinsic worth of Christ's qualifications, this aggravates it so, that it lifts up that worth to the highest pitch that is conceivable: as a lovely man is yet loveliest in the flower of his age and youth, so it is with Christ, his perfections are ever in their flower, and never decay, nor does he ever fail in the exercising of them for his people's good, Isa. 42:4, 'He shall not fail nor be discouraged;' and, as Rev. 1:12, Christ's eternity is holden forth by white hairs, so by black hairs is signified his continuing young, vigorous and flourishing (to say so) through all eternity; which serves much to the scope of commending Christ; for, whatever is attributed to him, is in an implied way denied to all other beloveds: otherwise he were not the chiefest among them, and preferable to them all, which is the scope.

Observe. 1. There is nothing for completing Christ's beauty but it is in him; yea, even these things in him, that are least taken notice of by us (though nothing in him be little in itself) they are in themselves, and in their use when discerned, exceeding lovely; his locks, yea, all his garments are so, Psalm 45:8. There is nothing superfluous, and useless in our blessed Bridegroom. 2. What perfections are in Christ (as there are none wanting) they are in him in their perfection; what unspeakable commendation inhere? 1. He hath infinite numbers of perfections. 2. All these are rich, like the 'most fine gold:' 3. If there be a season (to speak so) wherein these perfections may be conceived more lovely and shining than another (for in themselves they are ever the same) they are so in our Lord Jesus Christ; it is ever harvest, summer and youth with him; he is that tree spoken of, Rev. 22:2, which bears fruit always: this Sun is ever at the height, and never goes down. Christ's perfections are continuing perfections; he is a Beloved that never decays, that never waxeth sick, weak, nor old; but is ever in youth, with his hair black, although he be eternal, and the Ancient of days, for all his properties are unchangeably in him, and ever agree to him, even now as well as in Solomon's time, and will do so for ever: this is good and very comfortable to his people; Christ sets not up nor fails; his Spouse weeps not for the death, decay, or waxing old of her Beloved and Husband, which can be said of no other. 3. All other beloveds, besides Christ, are decaying beloveds, they evanish and are growing gray-headed; even all this clay world shall wax 'old as doth a garment,' and the beauty of it shall be stained, and it will become weak, like an old dying harlot, with whom many hath gone a whoring: for, if this, to be black and bushy, be peculiar to Christ, it cannot agree to them; for, 'they shall wax old,' but he is the same, Psalm 102:27, which words are peculiarly applied to Christ, Heb. 1:10. 4. This continued flourishing of Christ's excellency in its perfection, doth put Christ supereminently above all compare, as having no match amongst all beloveds; they decay, but he is the same; they are broken cisterns, and can hold no water of comfort, and appear with no beauty at death and judgment, and through eternity they will be as clothes worn out and failed; but Christ is fresh and vigorous at death to the believer, and will be so for ever: how blessed are they, when they come to eat of the tree of life, that never wants fruit, to possess him, who is 'yesterday, today, and for ever' the same, 'God over all, blessed for evermore!' O the happiness! The eternal happiness, that there is in being espoused to Christ, when the breath of all clay idols and beloveds will be out, and Christ still fresh in the communicating of his fulness to his people! O what a sad heart will many have, who have forsaken this fountain of living waters, and chosen such broken cisterns to themselves as the creatures are, that have set their heart on 'that which is not,' Prov. 23:5, and 'laboured for the wind,' Eccles. 5:16, loading themselves 'with thick clay,' Hab. 2:6, and have neglected him who gave, and who continues the being of all things, and who then will be, when they will not be found, or have a being! In sum (saith she) my Beloved is the golden Beloved, others are but of clay and earth; my Beloved is in his flower and youth, other beloveds are decaying, waxing old, and drawing to their grave, therefore is he incomparable beyond them all.



Return to Song of Songs Index


Table of Contents Main Page Quote of the Week
History & Biography Poetry If You're Looking For...
New & Favourite Reformed Links Fast Index
Site Map Frivolous Search
About the Puritans Our Church