The Song of Solomon 2:3-7
Commentary, Henry Law- 1879
2:3. "Like the apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my Beloved among the young men. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste."
Shall Jesus commend the Church, and no responsive admiration be excited? The Church in fervor of adoring love, selects as His portrait the apple tree, which in its beauty, and in its fruit, excels all the produce of the woods. She speaks of herself as attracted to it. Weary with toil--overcome by sultry rays, she finds rest beneath the shadow of the widespread branches. In this sweet repose, she plucks delicious fruit from the boughs descending to her reach, and there shelter and refreshment are combined.
Thus the soul, wearied with fruitless search for peace in forms and services, and lifeless works, beholds the refuge, which the sheltering shade of Christ presents. Here it feels that labors end, and peace is obtained. The fiery darts of Satan cannot pierce the covering protection. Thus what the needful soul requires is found in Christ.
But under His covering there is more than perfect peace. The Tree of Life bears all manner of fruit. Each craving is supplied. Rich abundance gives nourishment and delight. Happy they who thus sit down beneath this noble Tree!
2:4. "He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love."
This portion unfolds a splendid scene. A royal banquet is opened. We discern a table spread with all luxurious delights. Like the ancient halls of earth's nobles, it is decorated with flags and ensigns, proclaiming ancestral exploits. To this grand guest-chamber Christ leads the Church. Over her seat a banner floats, emblazoned with emblems of love. The spectacle is resplendent with opulent magnificence. May the Holy Spirit teach us by these images of greatness!
We are often reminded, that the life of the believer should be a perpetual feast. How different are the provisions of the famished worldling! He seeks his refreshment in the vain pleasures of a fleeting scene. The world is indeed a mocking cheat. Its friendship is enmity with God. It brings no peace to the affrighted conscience. It affords no shelter from the law's tremendous curse. It presents no blood to cleanse from guilt--no righteousness to hide transgression--no key to open heaven's portals--no refuge from the wrath to come. It holds out indeed a goblet, dazzling to the deluded eye--but there is no reviving power from its poisoned contents. The worldling drinks, but is not satisfied. "He that drinks of this water shall thirst again."
Mark, also, the empty formalist. In rites and services, he strives to gratify the cravings of his heart--but they prove husks and rubbish--their food is but the nauseousness of ashes.
The believer approaches the banquet which Christ enriches. He finds the truth, "He that comes to Me shall never hunger. He that believes on Me shall never thirst." While he thus feasts, his eye discerns the banner which overshadows him. It is a revelation of Christ's love. O marvelous--O transporting view! But it is as real as it is amazing. Who can doubt this love, who sees Christ lying in the manger--whose eye beholds Him hanging on the cross--whose faith looks to the extended hands, and the unceasing intercession! When these perceptions of Christ's love come like a flood into the raptured soul, the adoring spirit is verily overcome. It feels that it can bear no more. It verily faints in ecstasies of delight.
2:5. "Strengthen me with flagons, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love." Song 2:5
Oh! that these feelings of transporting joy were more frequent! Such they would be, if faith were blazing in more ardent warmth. The Church is now like Sheba's Queen, of whom we read that when she saw all Solomon's wisdom and the house that he built, and all his greatness, and his ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord, "there was no more breath in her."
The Church cries for help. She prays to be supported and sustained. She seems to feel, that if no aid be granted, her life must soon expire. The table spread before her, supplies the images which her lips employ. Give me wine from those flagons--let your sweet fruit refresh me. No cries to Christ ever go forth in vain. Hear her quick acknowledgment of response.
2:6. "His left hand is under my head, and His right hand embraces me."
Jesus appears. He raises her fainting head in His arms. He upholds her sinking frame. He puts forth His strength to reanimate and cheer. It is an everlasting truth, "He gives power to the faint, and to those who have no might, He increases strength." His everlasting arms are underneath His feeble people. Blessed is the promise, "Fear not, for I am with You--be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you--yes, I will help you--yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness." Thus, when discoveries of His love overpower, His arm of strength will render aid.
2:7. "I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, and by the deer of the field, that you stir not up, nor awake my love, until He please."
A solemn charge here warns us not to drive Jesus from our hearts. We are aided by a pastoral scene, which pleasantly conveys instruction. We are bid to consider the gazelles and deer of the field. Among animals they are remarkable for shyness and timidity. We view them reposing beneath the shelter of the forest trees, or stretched beside the flowing stream, or sporting in the spacious meadow. At the least sound they raise their heads to catch the note. If a leaf rustles, they are startled. If an intruding step approaches--if the voice of a distant dog is heard, instantly they flee. In some near covert they hide themselves, when scared by any sound.
This instructive emblem is here a messenger of Gospel-truth. It is happiness to know that Christ delights to occupy the believer's heart. Scripture teaches us in graphic words, that He stands at the door, and knocks--that it is His desire to enter, and abide.
It is true, likewise, that His love is an eternal flame. No waters can ever quench it. From all eternity it has burned--to all eternity it will continue. But still His presence, at times, may be withdrawn. The seat which He occupied may be left vacant. The sun may be eclipsed. The stream may be congealed, and thus for a season checked.
Dark and sad are indeed the seasons, when we mourn His absence. But despair must not prevail. Blessed is the assurance, "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back. In a moment of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you," says the Lord, your Redeemer. "Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth and destroy its life, so now I swear that I will never again pour out my anger on you. For the mountains may depart and the hills disappear, but even then I will remain loyal to you. My covenant of blessing will never be broken," says the Lord, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:7-10
But the departures of Christ, though not final, are very grievous. Why do they ever occur? The fault is wholly ours. We stir Him up, and we displease Him. Therefore He retires. With no desire to see His place made void, our indifference may produce the sad effect. Affections, seeming to be cold, may be as the multitude which besought Jesus to depart; and we read, "So Jesus returned to the boat and left."
Open and notorious sins are not here denounced. No lightcan tarry with such darkness. Warning is rather given against the stealthy approach of some enemy in attractive guise. For instance--the WORLD often comes with crafty step. It quietly strives to introduce its principles, and to win to its Christ-denying vanities. Unhallowed PLEASURES, also, may be permitted to entice. The godly voice of Scripture may be unheeded. Conscience may fail to be startled by ungodly sights and words--prayer may be restrained--communion with the Lord may be regarded as irksome and unwelcome.
As in a moment, the gazelles and the deer of the field startle and disappear--so Jesus leaves His chosen resting-place. Let us take heed, and guard well the portals of our hearts. Let not an unhallowed thought intrude. Let all diligence be used that we may never quench the Spirit, or resist His blessed sway. If we abide in Christ, we may be well assured that He will abide in us, until heaven be entered, where separation cannot come.