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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Eight Verse 4

by James Durham

Verse 4. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.

Having now access to much familiarity with Christ, as she desired, and being in his arms, she expresseth her care in this verse, to prevent any new interruption of his blessed presence; as if a woman having her friend or husband sleeping in her arms, should command all in the house to be quiet lest he should be awaked: so the Bride sets herself to watch so tenderly over every thing that is in her, that nothing give him just ground to withdraw: and though she speak to the daughters of Jerusalem, yet the scope shews, she looks to herself; but it is thus expressed, partly, to keep the form used in this Song, and so having spoken of bringing him to her mother's house, she makes use of the similitude of keeping the house quiet; partly, to shew her seriousness and reality in this her care, and the great need that there is of being watchful, even as David provokes all the creatures to praise, and lays that charge on them, thereby to show his own seriousness in the thing, and the greatness of the work of praise which he was taken up with: so to the same purpose is this resemblance here. The same words were found, chap. 2:7, and chap. 3:5, where they were opened there are two little differences in the original, which yet alter not the scope. 1. That expression, 'by the roes and hinds' (which was formerly used) is here left out, not because this charge is less weighty, but it shews a haste and abruptness in her speaking, which makes her omit that, the more speedily to express her charge. 2. It was before, 'If ye stir or awake:' here it is (as the margin reads from the original) 'why will ye stir or awake?' which doth more plainly import, 1. A readiness, or bensil in them to stir him up. 2. A certainty of the effect of his withdrawing, if they should stir him up, or awake him. 3. An unreasonableness and absurdity in the doing of it, Why will ye do it? saith she. 4. A pressing seriousness, in her proposing of this question, and urging it so vehemently, From this, and the frequent repetition of this charge, Observe, 1. That it is a difficult piece of work, to keep the heart tender and watchful for entertaining of Christ, even when he is present. 2. The strongest believer will take one charge after another, and all will have enough to do, to make him watchfully tender in keeping Christ: there is so much laziness in the hearts of the best, and there is so great need to stir them up to renew their watchfulness. 3. When the heart hath had frequent proofs of its own declining, there is the more need to be very serious in the preventing of it again. 4. There is nothing that a kindly loving believer will have more indignation at, whether in himself or others, than at this, that Christ should be provoked, and thereby put to withdraw; this he cannot abide, 'Why' (saith she) 'will ye stir him up?' 5. They who have Christ's presence, will not be peremptory with him, for the constant continuing of the sense thereof, although they love it; but will be peremptory with themselves, that by their sin they provoke him not to withdraw before he please. 6. Communion with Christ is an uptaking exercise to the believer, it takes him so up that he is never idle: if he be waiting for Christ, he is breathing, 'O that thou wert,' &c. and seeking to find him; if he enjoy him, he is endeavouring to keep and entertain him, and these two take him up: believers are either seeking while they obtain, or watching that they may entertain what they have attained.



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