The daughters of Jerusalem stood admiring the spouse and commending her, but she overlooks their praises, is not puffed up with them, but transfers all the glory to Christ, and directs them to look off from her to him, recommends him to their esteem, and sets herself to applaud him. Here he is three times called Solomon, and we have that name but three times besides in all this song, Song 1:5; 8:11, 12. It is Christ that is here meant, who is greater than Solomon, and of whom Solomon was an illustrious type for his wisdom and wealth, and especially his building the temple.
Three things she admires him for:—
I. The safety of his bed (Song 3:7): Behold his bed, even Solomon’s, very rich and fine; for such the curtains of Solomon were. His bed, which is above Solomon’s, so some read it. Christ’s bed, though he had not where to lay his head, is better than Solomon’s best bed. The church is his bed, for he has said of it. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell. The hearts of believers are his bed, for he lies all night between their breasts, Eph. 3:17. Heaven is his bed, the rest into which he entered when he had done his work. Or it may be meant of the sweet repose and satisfaction which gracious souls enjoy in communion with him; it is called his bed, because, though we are admitted to it, and therefore it is called our bed (Song 1:16), yet it is his peace that is our rest, John 14:27. I will give you rest, Matt. 11:28. It is Solomon’s bed, whose name signifies peace, because in his days Judah and Israel dwelt safely under their vines and fig-trees. That which she admires his bed for is the guard that surrounded it. Those that rest in Christ not only dwell at ease (many do so who yet are in the greatest danger) but they dwell in safety. Their holy serenity is under the protection of a holy security. This bed had threescore valiant men about it, as yeomen of the guard, or the band of gentlemen-pensioners; they are of the valiant of Israel, and a great many bold and brave men David’s reign had produced. The life-guard men are well armed: They all hold swords, and know how to hold them; they are expert in war, well skilled in all the arts of it. They are posted about the bed at a convenient distance. They are in a posture of defence, every man with his sword upon his thigh and his hand upon his sword, ready to draw upon the first alarm, and this because of fear in the night, because of the danger feared; for the lives of princes, even the wisest and best, as they are more precious, so they are more exposed, and require to be more guarded than the lives of common persons. Or, because of the fear of it, and the apprehension which the spouse may have of danger, these guards are set for her satisfaction, that she may be quiet from the fear of evil, which believers themselves are subject to, especially in the night, when they are under a cloud as to their spiritual state, or in any outward trouble more than ordinary. Christ himself was under the special protection of his Father in his whole undertaking. In the shadow of his hand he hid me (Isa. 49:2); he had legions of angels at his command. The church is well guarded; more are with her than against her. Lest any hurt this vineyard, God himself keeps it night and day (Isa. 27:2, 3); particular believers, when they repose themselves in Christ and with him, though it may be night-time with them, and they may have their fears in the night, and yet safe, as safe as Solomon himself in the midst of his guards; the angels have a charge concerning them, ministers are appointed to watch for their souls, and they ought to be valiant men, expert in the spiritual warfare, holding the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and having that girt upon their thigh, always ready to them for the silencing of the fears of God’s people in the night. All the attributes of God are engaged for the safety of believers; they are kept as in a strong-hold by his power (1 Pet. 1:5), are safe in his name (Prov. 18:10), his peace protects those in whom it rules (Phil. 4:7), and the effect of righteousness in them is quietness and assurance, Isa. 32:17. Our danger is from the rulers of the darkness of this world, but we are safe in the armour of light.
II. The splendour of his chariot, Song 3:9, 10. As Christ and believers rest in safety under a sufficient guard, so when they appear publicly, as kings in their coaches of state, they appear in great magnificence. This chariot was of Solomon’s own contriving and making, the materials very rich, silver, and gold, and cedar, and purple. He made it for himself, and yet made it for the daughters of Jerusalem, to oblige them. Some by this chariot, or coach, or chaise (the word is nowhere else used in scripture), understand the human nature of Christ, in which the divine nature rode as in an open chariot. It was a divine workmanship (A body hast thou prepared me); the structure was very fine, but that which was at the bottom of it was love, pure love to the children of men. Others make it to represent the everlasting gospel, in which, as in an open chariot, Christ shows himself, and as in a chariot of war rides forth triumphantly, conquering and to conquer. The pillars, the seven pillars (Prov. 9:1), are of silver, for the words of the Lord are as silver tried (Ps. 12:6), nay, they are better than thousands of gold and silver. It is hung with purple, a princely colour; all the adornings of it are dyed in the precious blood of Christ, and that gives them this colour. But that which completes the glory of it is love; it is paved with love, it is lined with love, not love of strangers, as Solomon’s was in the days of his defection, but love of the daughters of Jerusalem, a holy love. Silver is better than cedar, gold than silver, but love is better than gold, better than all, and it is put last, for nothing can be better than that. The gospel is all love. Mr. Durham applies it to the covenant of redemption, the way of our salvation, as it is contrived in the eternal counsel of God, and manifested to us in the scriptures. This is that work of Christ himself wherein the glory of his grace and love to sinners most eminently appears, and which makes him amiable and admirable in the eyes of believers. In this covenant love is conveyed to them, and they are carried in it to the perfection of love, and, as it were, ride in triumph. It is admirably framed and contrived, both for the glory of Christ and for the comfort of believers. It is well ordered in all things, and sure (2 Sam. 23:5); it has pillars that cannot be shaken, it is made of the wood of Lebanon, which can never rot; the basis of it is gold, the most lasting metal; the blood of the covenant, that rich purple, is the cover of this chariot, by which believers are sheltered from the wind and storms of divine wrath, and the troubles of this world; but the midst of it, and that which is all in all in it, is love, that love of Christ which surpasses knowledge and the dimensions of which are immeasurable.
III. The lustre of his royal person, when he appears in his greatest pomp, Song 3:11. Here observe,
1. The call that is given to the daughters of Zion to acquaint themselves with the glories of king Solomon: Go forth, and behold him. The multitude of the spectators adds to the beauty of a splendid cavalcade. Christ, in his gospel, manifests himself. Let each of us add to the number of those that give honour to him, by giving themselves the satisfaction of looking upon him. Who should pay respects to Zion’s king but Zion’s daughters? They have reason to rejoice greatly when he comes, Zech. 9:9. (1.) Behold him then. Look with pleasure upon Christ in his glory. Look upon him with an eye of faith, with a fixed eye. Here is a sight worth seeing; behold, and admire him, behold, and love him; look upon him, and know him again. (2.) Go forth and behold him; go off from the world, as those that see no beauty and excellency in it in comparison with what is to be seen in the Lord Jesus. Go out of yourselves, and let the light of his transcendent beauty put you out of conceit with yourselves. Go forth to the place where he is to be seen, to the street through which he passes, as Zaccheus.
2. The direction that is given them to take special notice of that which they would not see every day, and that was his crown, either the crown of gold, adorned with jewels, which he wore on his coronation-day (Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, though she did not procure that for him, yet, by her seasonable interposal, she helped to secure it to him when Adonijah was catching at it), or the garland or crown of flowers and green tied with ribbons which his mother made for him, to adorn the solemnity of his nuptials. Perhaps Solomon’s coronation day was his marriage-day, the day of his espousals, when the garland his mother crowned him with was added to the crown his people crowned him with. Applying this to Christ, it speaks, (1.) The many honours put upon him, and the power and dominion he is entrusted with: Go forth, and see king Jesus, with the crown wherewith his Father crowned him, when he declared him his beloved Son, in whom he was well-pleased, when he set him as King upon his holy hill of Zion, when he advanced him to his own right hand, and invested him with a sovereign authority, both in heaven and in earth, and put all things under his feet. (2.) The dishonour put upon him by his persecutors. Some apply it to the crown of thorns with which his mother, the Jewish church, crowned him on the day of his death, which was the day of his espousals to his church, when he loved it, and gave himself for it (Eph. 5:25); and it is observable that when he was brought forth wearing the crown of thorns Pilate said, and said it to the daughters of Zion, Behold the man. (3.) It seems especially to mean the honour done him by his church, as his mother, and by all true believers, in whose hearts he is formed, and of whom he has said, These are my mother, my sister, and brother, Matt. 12:50. They give him the glory of his undertaking; to him is glory in the church, Eph. 3:21. When believers accept of him as theirs, and join themselves to him in an everlasting covenant, [1.] It is his coronation-day in their souls. Before conversion they were crowning themselves, but then they begin to crown Christ, and continue to do so from that day forward. They appointed him their head; they bring every thought into obedience to him; they set up his throne in their hearts, and cast all their crowns at his feet. [2.] It is the day of his espousals, in which he betroths them to him for ever in lovingkindness and in mercies, joins them to himself in faith and love, and gives himself to them in the promises and all he has, to be theirs. Thou shalt not be for another, so will I also be for thee, Hos. 3:3. And to him they are presented as chaste virgins. [3.] It is the day of the gladness of his heart; he is pleased with the honour that his people do him, pleased with the progress of his interest among them. Does Satan fall before them? In that hour Jesus rejoices in spirit, Luke 10:18, 21. There is joy in heaven over repenting sinners; the family is glad when the prodigal son returns. Go forth and behold Christ’s grace toward sinners, as his crown, his brightest glory.