The Bible’s Song Of Love
Verse by verse through the
5:12 "HIS EYES ARE LIKE DOVES BESIDE THE WATER BROOKS; WASHED WITH MILK, AND FITLY SET."
"The eyes are the most expressive feature of the countenance; they indicate the attitude and feelings of the heart towards the one on whom they rest more directly and immediately than the voice or the words. The voice may be heard at a distance; but to gather what is expressed by the eye one must be near… (Who could tell what our Lord’s eyes spoke to Peter when, turning round, the Lord looked at him in the house of the high priest?) Now what have the eyes of the Beloved spoken to us?... The gentle and tender affection of the dove shines out from those eyes, but it is combined with figures which speak of purifying and cleansing." Our Lord regards His loved ones "from the standpoint of one who has refreshing and purifying influences which His love purposes to bring to bear upon them…She has now returned to loyal affections…She knows herself to be the object of His love…His eyes only convey to her thoughts of a love that has with it precious suggestions of purifying." (C.A.Coates An outline of the Song of Songs) (Eph.5:25‑27)
Although the literal Hebrew of the last three words of the verse continue in line with the picture of the streams, the words are intended to convey the thought which is better expressed as "fitly set." As one writer puts it "neither projecting nor too deeply set but just right—set like precious stones in the foil of a ring." This is just one more of the small features which complete the portrait, for it emphasises the thought of His preciousness.
5:13 "HIS CHEEKS ARE AS A BED OF SPICES, AS BANKS OF SWEET HERBS."
"Those blessed cheeks—so often wet with tears of pity and love—were actually smitten; they were once covered with the treacherous kisses of Judas. He subjected Himself to such treatment at the hands of men. Can we wonder that His cheeks have a peculiar attractiveness? …Men are as ready to smite Him on the cheek as ever, and this not least amongst those who make a profession of His Name. What is all the infidelity as to His person and work, and as to the inspiration of the Scriptures upon which He has put His seal, but a public smiting of Him upon the cheek?" (C.A.Coates An outline of the Song of Songs)
His cheeks come nearest to the Bride when, as it were, He gently kisses her with spiritual caresses. "Let him kiss me" she pleaded in the opening verses of the Song (1:2) and, because she has experienced this bliss, she has experienced the fragrance of His affection.
"HIS LIPS ARE AS LILIES," she says, "DROPPING LIQUID MYRRH."
"The lilies speak of the attractiveness of grace as set forth by Jesus. He has Himself told us that there is something in the lilies which surpasses all the glory of Solomon. The inspired title of Psalm 45 tells us that it is ‘Upon Shoshannim’—meaning, the lilies,—and also that it is ‘a song of the Beloved.’ It is a psalm to be read in connection with the Song of Songs. It says of the Beloved, ‘Grace is poured into thy lips’ (verse 2) …The real meaning and value of all His words of grace would be lost if they were disconnected in our thoughts from the love in which He suffered and died for us…speaking forth the fragrance and value of His death…the ‘liquid myrrh’ was there, and the spouse as divinely taught recognises it." (C.A.Coates An outline of the Song of Songs)
How often in this Song of spiritual love are we reminded of spiritual fragrance. The gentle influences of true love have an aura which can only be described as fragrance. Like the most delicate fragrance of some flowers it can only be discerned in a pure atmosphere. The fragrance of some Christian speech can be destroyed by unthinking flippancy or any other carelessness of expression. Lips that drop liquid myrrh are in fact a picture of the expression of pure love. The most simple things can be said a hundred different ways but one word graciously expressed can convey more than mere meaning for it can carry the message on a wave of fragrance.
5:14 "HIS HANDS ARE AS RINGS OF GOLD SET WITH BERYL."
The image here is probably taken from the ringed hands of oriental princes.
Precious stones symbolise the precious beauty of the Christlike character. In this passage this symbol is associated with the "work of His hands." The ring signifies the delegation of Royal Power (Gen.41:42; Esther 3:10) a fitting symbol of the Millennial power of Christ. In this it suggests another link with the thought of His presence. (Matt.28:18; Heb.1:3) Gold rings are also a token of sonship—"Put a ring on His hand" said the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:22)
There is confusion amongst translators concerning the word "beryl." Rotherham translates "topaz" which is a dark green coloured mineral. Others translate the word as "chrysolite" which is described as golden or yellow and pellucid. Beryl is also a pellucid gem but of a bluish green colour. The oriental topaz was one of the stones of the breastplate of the high priests of Israel, also one of the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. It is a stone that never changes.
Is the Bride now recounting a vison of the character of the Church when she describes the beauties of the Body of Christ? As we read the following verses they undoubtedly tell of the excellence of our Lord but it has to be recognised that the perfect members of His body will in glory be part of His excellence and character for their perfection derives from Him.
"HIS BODY," she says "IS AS BRIGHT IVORY WORK ENCRUSTED WITH SAPPHIRES." (Mar.)
The picture is apparently that of His body clothed in a robe of brilliant whiteness representing His spotless purity. Most translators refer to "wrought ivory work" which suggests the thought of the Father’s workmanship and moreover He adorns with white the pure blue of faithfulness. A writer on the orientalism’s of the Song has stated "How admirably this corresponds to the snow‑white robe of many oriental rulers, set full of jewels as may be seen in the portrait of the last king of Persia." These words, therefore, also suggest royalty. How true it is that the body of Christ must be clothed in righteousness wrought by the Father and according to their faithfulness. Only by our remaining faithful can this work be done. Blue is the heavenly colour. It symbolises God’s faithfulness and He acknowledges the faithfulness of His saints also as a Heavenly quality. The reward of the saints is summed up in the words "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (Matt.25:21) This part of the portrait tells us therefore that faithfulness is not only an essential part of a Christlike character (and is not faithfulness the recognised prime virtue of a bride?) but a spiritual adornment–"encrusted with sapphires."
5:15 "HIS LEGS ARE AS PILLARS OF MARBLE, SET UPON SOCKETS OF FINE GOLD."
This phrase introduces a similar thought to that of chapter 3:7 for, during this time our Lord moves about through His Church. The Apostle Paul gives this thought a sublime expression when he shows that although the feet seem to be more feeble than the head that the Head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you. (1 Cor.12:21‑22) Moreover the feet members, being of fine gold, suggests that the Church is divinely protected from defilement with the earth.
In this portrait the legs are likened to pillars of marble and it is interesting to observe that the two pillars by the porch of the Temple—Jachin and Boaz—meant respectively "He will establish" and "In Him is strength." Natural man has not the moral strength to remain established and, as C.A.Coates An outline of the Song of Songs has expressed it "Man after the flesh has never been able to stand in any position in which God placed him; so it is no wonder that ‘He taketh no pleasure in the legs of a man.’" (Psa.147:10)
The resurrected Lord pointed to the same figure as that used by the Bride when He declared "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God." (Rev.3:12 KJV) "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord." (Eph.2:21 KJV)
"HIS ASPECT IS LIKE LEBANON, EXCELLENT AS THE CEDARS."
The majesty and dignity of Lebanon has been used as a symbol earlier in the song (and by contrast the apostate Lebanon has been referred to as a den of wild beasts.) His aspect here refers to His entire person as viewed by his loved ones. Here in the figure of Lebanon we see his surpassing excellence, His dignity and His lofty majesty.