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Commentary on the Song of Songs, Chapter Eight Verse 5a

by James Durham


Verse 5a. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?—

The daughters of Jerusalem come in speaking to the Bride's commendation, in the first part of the fifth verse, 'Who is this' they say, (or who is she?) 'that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?' This part of the verse stops the Bride from following the purpose she was upon, with a kind of an abrupt exclamation to her commendation. The daughters now beholding her resting in her Beloved's arms, as it is, verse 3, to shew the commendableness of that posture of leaning on him, they are brought in admiring it: and therefore, both the Bride and the Bridegroom are spoken of in the third person, and that by way of question, which supposeth no doubt in the thing, who it was of whom they speak, but implieth an exceeding high estimation of the party spoken of, as being (especially in that posture) exceedingly lovely. The words hold out a believer's walk, 1. In the nature of it: it is a coming up, or ascending. 2. In the term from which, it is from the wilderness; by which too (as was cleared, chap. 3:6) is understood the believer's spiritual progress heaven-ward, with their backs to the contentments of the world, as being unsuitable for them to rest in: these two are spoken of chap. 3:3. There is added here a more express description of her posture, in this ascending, she is 'leaning on her Beloved:' that is, as they who are weak, make use of a staff, in climbing of a straight and steep ground, or ease themselves by leaning on one that is strong, and especially one whom they love, for helping them on their way; so the believer is said to come up from the wilderness, 'leaning on her Beloved,' because she being weak in herself, and unfit for such a difficult voyage, by faith rests on Christ, for helping her in the way, whereby she is sustained, and carried through in the duties of a holy walk, and the difficulties in her way, till she come through the wilderness unto the land of rest. So then this leaning imports, 1. Felt weakness in herself, for encountering with the difficulties of this walk or journey. 2. Strength in Christ, sufficient for enabling her. 3. Her use-making of this strength by faith; for, that is to lean or rest on him, or to be joined or associated to him, as the word is rendered by some; and it is ordinary for faith to be expressed by leaning, resting, taking hold; and so leaning to Christ, is opposed to 'leaning to our own understanding,' Prov. 3:5. 4. Her quieting of herself delightsomely in her leaning or resting on Christ, which gave her security against all fears and difficulties in her way, as John when he leaned on Christ's bosom, John 13:23, so the believer thinks himself sure and safe, when admitted to lean his soul there. 5. A progress that she made. by this in her way and journey, and that this leaning had much influence on her advancement therein, and upon this account is her leaning mainly commended.

Observe. 1. That even believers are insufficient of themselves, as of themselves, for the duties of a holy walk. 2. That believers should walk under the sense of this their insufficiency and weakness, and when they come the greatest length in a holy walk, they should not lean unto themselves, or any inherent stock of gifts or grace; which two supposes, that a believer's conversation, when right, is a heavenly and tender walk. 3. Christ Jesus hath a sufficiency and efficacy in him, not only for the justification of believers that rest on him, but for the furthering of their sanctification also, and helping of them to a victory over the world; 1. Cor. 1:30, 'He is our sanctification,' as well as our justification. 4. Believers in their way, should not only by faith rest on Christ, for attaining pardon of sin by his righteousness; but, should also depend on him, for furthering of their mortification and sanctification: and thus in the exercise of faith and holy dependance, we are to 'acknowledge him in all our ways,' which is opposed to 'leaning to our own understanding,' Prov. 3:5. This was practised in an exemplary way, by the worthies, recorded, Heb. 11:5. The exercising of faith on Christ for sanctification and life, and for performing of the duties of holiness, hath much influence on the believer's success in all these; for, 'this is our victory,' whereby the world is overcome, 'even our faith,' 1 John 5:4,5. And therefore, those that are most in the use-making of Christ, for the helping them forward in their way, cannot but come best speed; for, 'leaning on him,' and 'going up,' are here joined together: and so they can never make progress in holiness, that make not use of Christ in their endeavours after it; God hath so coupled use-making with Christ, and progress in holiness together, that Christ may bear all the glory of the believer's success in the way of holiness, and that he that glories may glory in him. 6. The believer's walk toward heaven is both a stately, and also an easy and successful walk; for, he is to go about all duties in the strength of Christ, and so Christ bears the burden, and his yoke becomes easy: it is the neglecting of him, that makes all duties wearisome. 7. It is no little piece of the dexterity of a holy walk, and is the great commendation of it, to do all we do by faith, to walk and go on in the faith of his strength, as leaning on him; this makes the Bride's posture wonderful, for its rarity and commendableness. 8. Although doing of duties will not prove an interest to Christ, and although believers come not to perfection, or any exact suitableness in them, yet the doing of them in the strength of Christ, and walking, as leaning on him, will make out an interest in him: none can actually employ him, for bearing them through in duty, who have not first closed with him, as their beloved, for obtaining of pardon; this is the Bride's property, Christ is first her beloved, and then she leans upon him to be helped in her walk. 9. That this solid faith, which doth empty the believer of himself in the performance of all duties, as well as of righteousness in the point of his justification: the native work of faith, is to make the soul rest on Christ, yea, and actually it makes the soul rest on Christ alone; for, all true faith lays the burden of all duties and difficulties upon him, and so it is compared to leaning.



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