1 O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.

2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.

3 His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.

4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.

5 Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.

6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.

8 We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

9 If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.

10 I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.

11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.

12 My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.

13 Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.

14 Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Song of Songs
Book: Song of Songs
Chapter: 8

Overview:
Desire for Communion with Christ. (1-4) The vehemence of this
desire. (5-7) The Church pleads for others. (8-12) And prays for
Christ's coming. (13,14)

1-4 The Church wishes for the constant intimacy and Freedom
with the Lord Jesus that a sister has with a Brother. That they
might be as his brethren, which they are, when By Grace they are
made partakers of a Divine nature. Christ is become as our
Brother; wherever we find him, let us be ready to own our
relation to him, and Affection for him, and not fear being
despised for it. Is there in us an ardent wish to serve Christ
more and better? What then have we laid up in store, to show our
Affection to the Beloved of our souls? What Fruit unto Holiness?
The Church charges all her children that they never provoke
Christ to withdraw. We should reason with ourselves, when
tempted to do what would grieve the Spirit.

5-7 The Jewish Church came up from the Wilderness, supported By
Divine power and favour. The Christian Church was raised from a
low, desolate condition, By the Grace of Christ relied On.
Believers, By the power of Grace, are brought up from the
Wilderness. A sinful state is a Wilderness in which there is No
true comfort; it is a Wandering, wanting state: There is No
coming out of this Wilderness, but leaning On Christ as our
Beloved, By Faith; not leaning to our own understanding, nor
trusting in any Righteousness of our own; but in the strength of
him, who is the Lord our Righteousness. The words of the Church
to Christ which follow, entreat an abiding place in his Love,
and protection By his power. Set me as a Seal upon thine Heart;
let me always have a place in thine Heart; let me have an
impression of Love upon thine Heart. Of this the soul would be
assured, and without a sense thereof No Rest is to be found.
Those who truly Love Christ, are jealous of every thing that
would draw them from him; especially of themselves, lest they
should do any thing to provoke him to withdraw from them. If we
Love Christ, the fear of coming short of his Love, or the
temptations to forsake him, will be most painful to us. No
waters can quench Christ's Love to us, nor any floods Drown it.
Let nothing abate our Love to him. Nor will Life, and all its
comforts, entice a believer from loving Christ. Love of Christ,
will enable us to repel and triumph over temptations from the
smiles of the world, as Well as from its frowns.

8-12 The Church pleads for the Gentiles, who then had not the
Word of God, nor the Means of Grace. Those who are brought to
Christ themselves, should contrive what they may do to help
others to him. Babes in Christ are always seen among Christians,
and the welfare of their weak brethren is an object of continual
Prayer with the stronger believers. If the beginning of this
work were likened to a Wall built upon Him the precious
Foundation and Corner-Stone, then the Gentile Church would
become as a Palace for the great King, built of solid Silver. If
the first preaching of the Gospel were as the making a door
through the Wall of partition, that door should be lasting, as
cased with boards of durable Cedar. She shall be carefully and
effectually protected, enclosed So as to receive No damage. The
Church is full of care for those yet uncalled. Christ says, I
will do all that is necessary to be done for them. See with what
satisfaction we should look back upon the times and Seasons,
when we were in his eyes as those that find favour. Our hearts
are our vineyards, which we must keep with all diligence. To
Christ, and to his praise, all our fruits must be dedicated. All
that work for Christ, work for themselves, and shall be
unspeakable gainers By it.

13,14 These verses close the conference between Christ and his
Church. He first addresses her as dwelling in the Gardens, the
assemblies and ordinances of his saints. He exhorts her to be
constant and frequent in prayers, supplications, and praises, in
which he delights. She replies, craving his speedy return to
take her to be wholly with Him. The heavens, those high
mountains of sweet Spices, must contain Christ, till the times
come, when every Eye shall see him, in all the Glory of the
better world. True believers as they are looking for, So they
are hastening to the coming of that Day of the Lord. Let every
Christian endeavour to perform the duties of his station, that
men may see his good Works, and Glorify his heavenly Father.
Continuing Earnest in Prayer for what we want, our thanksgivings
will abound, and our joy will be full; our souls will be
enriched, and our labours prospered. We shall be enabled to look
forward to Death and Judgment without fear. Even So, come, Lord
Jesus.

Song of Songs (also called Song of Solomon, but which shouldn't be confused with the novel that bears the same name written by Toni Morrison) is, in many ways, a 'classic' love poem. The woman who seems to be co-narrating, swooning with love, compares her lover to all the beautiful and good things in life. In portions of the book such as Chapter 2, the subject seems like cliché and characteristic language of love: chirping birds, sunshine, and flowers. However, King Solomon uses figurative and literary devices, especially in Chapter 8, that are much deeper than the hearts and flowers standby of love poetry. In Chapter 8, the narrator urges his lover to "Place [him] like a seal over [her] heart,/like a seal upon your arm," (lines 31-32). This is an allusion to the seals that royalty and aristocracy would own as personalized stamps of ownership or approval. Placing someone as a "seal" on their body is like a figurative modern-day equivalent of tattooing your lover's name on your body; doing so serves as an attempt to claim the person as your own, branding the body as belonging only to the other.


6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. (NKJ)

6 Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.(NIV)


A "love and death" theme is clear in lines (or verses, rather) 33-38 of Chapter 8. During the time period in which the book was written, "waters" and "rivers" were metaphors for death. Put succinctly, one would say that the central theme of Chapter 8 is that love is so strong that not even death can hold it down.

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