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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–4
Verses 1–4

Here, I. The spouse wishes for a constant intimacy and freedom with the Lord Jesus. She was already betrothed to him, but, the nuptials being yet not solemnized and published (the bride, the Lamb’s wife, will not be completely ready till his second coming), she was obliged to be shy and to keep at some distance; she therefore wishes she may be taken for his sister, he having called her so (Song 5:1), and that she might have the same chaste and innocent familiarity with him that a sister has with a brother, an own brother, that sucked the breasts of the same mother with her, who would therefore be exceedingly tender of her, as Joseph was of his brother Benjamin. Some make this to be the prayer of the Old-Testament saints for the hastening of Christ’s incarnation, that the church might be the better acquainted with him, when, forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he should also himself likewise take part of the same, and not be ashamed to call them brethren. It is rather the wish of all believers for a more intimate communion with him, that they might receive the Spirit of sanctification, and so Christ must be as their brother, that is, that they might be as his brethren, which then they are when by grace they are made partakers of a divine nature, and he that sanctifies, and those that are sanctified, are both of one, Heb. 2:11 It becomes brethren and sisters, the children of the same parents, that have been nursed at the same breast, to be very loving to and tender of one another; such a love the spouse desires might be between her and her beloved, that she might call him brother. 2. She promises herself then the satisfaction of making a more open profession of her relation to him than at present she could make: “When I should find thee without, any where, even before company, I would kiss thee, as a sister does her own brother, especially her little brother that is now sucking the breasts of her mother” (for so some understand it); “I would use all the decent freedom with thee that could be, and should not be despised for it, as doing any thing unbecoming the modesty of my sex.” The church, since Christ’s incarnation, can better own him than she could before, when she would have been laughed at for being so much in love with one that was not yet born. Christ has become as our brother; wherever we find him, therefore, let us be ready to own our relation to him and affection for him, and not fear being despised for it, nor regard that any more than David did when he danced before the ark. If this be to be vile, I will be yet more vile. Nay, let us hope that we shall not be despised so much as some imagine. Of the maid-servants of whom thou hast spoken I shall be had in honour. Wherever we find the image of Christ, though it be without, among those that do not follow him with us, we must love it, and testify that love, and we shall not be despised for it, but catholic charity will gain us respect. 3. She promises to improve the opportunity she should then have for cultivating an acquaintance with him (Song 8:2): “I would lead thee, as my brother, by the arm, and hang upon thee; I would show thee all the house of my precious things, would bring thee into my mother’s house, into the church, into the solemn assemblies (Song 3:4), into my closet” (for there the saints have most familiar communion with Christ), “and there thou wouldst instruct me” (so some read it), as brethren inform their sisters of what they desire to be instructed in. Those that know Christ shall be taught of him; and therefore we should desire communion with Christ that we may receive instruction from him. He has come that he might give us an understanding. Or, “My mother would instruct me when I have thee with me.” It is the presence of Christ in and with his church that makes the word and ordinances instructive to her children, who shall all be taught of God. 4. She promises him to bid him welcome to the best she had; she would cause him to drink of her spiced wine and the juice of her pomegranate, and bid him welcome to it, wishing it better for his sake. The exercise of grace and the performance of duty are spiced wine to the Lord Jesus, very acceptable to him, as expressive of a grateful sense of his favours. Those that are pleased with Christ must study to be pleasing to him; and they will not find him hard to be pleased. He reckons hearty welcome his best entertainment; and, if he have that, he will bring his entertainment along with him. 5. She doubts not but to experience his tender care of her and affection to her (Song 8:3), that she should be supported by his power and kept from fainting in the hardest services and sufferings (His left hand shall be under my head) and that she should be comforted with his love—His right hand should embrace me. Thus Christ laid his right hand upon John when he was ready to die away, Rev. 1:17. See also Dan. 10:10, 18. It may be read as it is Song 2:6; His left hand is under my head (for the words are the same in the original) and so it expresses an immediate answer to her prayer; she was answered with strength in her soul, Ps. 138:3. While we are following hard after Christ his right hand sustains us, Ps. 63:8. Underneath are the everlasting arms. 6. She charges those about her to take heed of doing any thing to interrupt the pleasing communion she now had with her beloved (Song 8:4), as she had done before, when he thus strengthened and comforted her with his presence (Song 2:7): Let me charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, and reason with you, Why should you stir up, and why should you awake, my love, until he will? The church, our common mother, charges all her children that they never do any thing to provoke Christ to withdraw, which we are very prone to do. Why should you put such an affront upon him? Why should you be such enemies to yourselves? We should thus reason with ourselves when we are tempted to do that which will grieve the Spirit. “What! Amos I weary of Christ’s presence, that I affront him and provoke him to depart from me? Why should I do that which he will take so unkindly and which I shall certainly repent of?”