These are the words of the daughters of Jerusalem, to whom the charge was given, Song 3:5. They had looked shily upon the bride because she was black (Song 1:6); but now they admire her, and speak of her with great respect: Who is this? How beautiful she looks! Who would have expected such a comely and magnificent person to come out of the wilderness? As, when Christ rode in triumph into Jerusalem, they said, Who is this? And of the accession of strangers to the church she herself says, with wonder (Isa. 49:21), Who has begotten me these? 1. This is applicable to the Jewish church, when, after forty years’ wandering in the wilderness, they came out of it, to take a glorious possession of the land of promise; and this may very well be illustrated by what Balaam said of them at that time, when they ascended out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, and he stood admiring them: From the top of the rocks I see him. How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob! Num. 23:9; 24:5. 2. It is applicable to any public deliverance of the church of God, as particularly of Babylon, the Old-Testament and the New-Testament Babylon; then the church is like pillars of smoke, ascending upwards in devout affections, the incense of praise, from which, as from Noah’s sacrifice, God smells a sweet savour; then she is amiable in the eyes of her friends, and her enemies too cannot but have a veneration for her, and worship at her feet, knowing that God has loved her, Rev. 3:9. Sometimes the fear of the Jews was upon their neighbours, when they saw that God was with them of a truth, Est. 8:17. 3. It is applicable to the recovery of a gracious soul out of a state of desertion and despondency. (1.) She ascends out of the wilderness, the dry and barren land, where there is no way, where there is no water, where travellers are still in want and ever at a loss; here a poor soul may long be left to wander, but shall come up, at last, under the conduct of the Comforter. (2.) She comes up like pillars of smoke, like a cloud of incense ascending from the altar or the smoke of the burnt-offerings. This intimates a fire of pious and devout affections in the soul, whence this smoke arises, and the mounting of the soul heaven-ward in this smoke (as Jdg. 13:20), the heart lifted up to God in the heavens, as the sparks fly upward. Christ’s return to the soul gives life to its devotion, and its communion with God is most reviving when it ascends out of a wilderness. (3.) She is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. She is replenished with the graces of God’s Spirit, which are as sweet spices, or as the holy incense, which, being now kindled by his gracious returns, sends forth a very fragrant smell. Her devotions being now peculiarly lively, she is not only acceptable to God, but amiable in the eyes of others also, who are ready to cry out with admiration, Who is this? What a monument of mercy is this! The graces and comforts with which she is perfumed are called the powders of the merchant, for they are far-fetched and dear-bought, by our Lord Jesus, that blessed merchant, who took a long voyage, and was at vast expense, no less than that of his own blood, to purchase them for us. They are not the products of our own soil, nor the growth of our own country; no, they are imported from the heavenly Canaan, the better country.
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