OF THE BOOK OF
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.
are still the words of the church, declaring what experience she had of Christ's grace and presence; who immediately upon the notice she gave of her distress, came to her assistance, and with both hands supported her in her fainting fit, and brought her out of it. And it may be observed, that she called to others for relief in the former verse, but it was Christ only that could help her: the flagons and apples of a gospel-ministry and gospel-ordinances will not be effectual to comfort and sustain the saints in such circumstances, unless Christ himself appears in them, and gives a blessing to them; which is what the church comfortably experienced here, and therefore speaks of it. And,
I. I shall consider what these words are expressive of.
II. In what manner they are delivered by her.
III. To whom they are directed, and for what reasons.
I. It may be proper to consider what Christ's left hand being under her head, and his right hand being said to embrace her, are expressive of. And,
1st, They are expressive of Christ's tender love unto, care of, and regard for his church and people; he acts the part of a loving husband, who, seeing his bride and spouse ready to, sink and faint, hastens to her relief, embraces her in his arms, lays her in his bosom, and discovers the strongest and most endeared affection to her: Christ had a love for his church from all eternity; his heart was then ravished with her, and he took the utmost delight in her, viewing her in all the glory his Father meant to bring her to; and therefore requested of his Father that she might be his spouse and bride, which was, accordingly granted to him; who has ever since remained faithful and loving husband, and has given her the fullest and most incontestable proofs of it; he has assumed her nature, died in her room and stead, paid all her debts, procured every needful blessing for her, has given her right unto, and wilt put her into the possession of all that he has; he has raised her from the dunghill, the depths of sin and misery, taken oily her filthy garments, clothed her in rich attire and royal apparel, and set her at his own right hand, in gold of Ophir.
This love of his remains the same as ever it was, and will do so for ever, notwithstanding all her failings and infirmities, her revoltings from him, and unkindness to him; for he is Jesus, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever:” though it is true, he does not always manifest his love to his people, but sometimes hides his face from them, and kindly chides them for their good, and his own glory; yet he cannot always withhold his love in the manifestations of it to their souls; for though he seems to treat them severely for a while, yet his heart is fall of love, pity, and concern; his bowels yearn., and, Joseph-like, cannot refrain himself, but must make himself known unto his brethren. Christ now has various ways of shewing his love to his people, which he does the most suitably and seasonably; when tempted, he succours them; when disconsolate, he comforts them; and when afflicted, he sympathizes with them; when hungry, he feeds them; when naked, he clothes them; when sick, he, as the great physician, heals them; when weak, he supports and upholds them with the right hand of his righteousness; and when fainting, he cheers and revives them; “he giveth power to the faint, and to them who have no might, he increases strength;” and this he does by patting his left hand under their head, and by embracing them with his right hand; the doing of which is an amazing and surprising instance of his grace.
2dly, These phrases are expressive of that near fellowship and communion the church has with Christ; which is variously expressed in scripture, as by supping, and walking with him, and leaning on his bosom, and here by lying in his arms; which is an indication of very near and intimate communion indeed: to be admitted into Christ's banqueting-house, and there sit with him at his table, or into his privy chambers, and there have converse and communion with him, argue great nearness to him, and intimacy with him; but to lie in his arms, and have a place in his bosom, what can be nearer? This is the effect of that near and indissoluble union souls have with Christ; and what, by divine grace, they are called to the enjoyment of; are frequently indulged with in their attendance on ordinances; and is that one thing they are desirous of, and uneasy without; but which, when obtained, gives them the greatest pleasure and highest satisfaction.
3dly, They are expressive of the enjoyment of blessings from Christ, in whose right hand is length of days, and in whose left hand are riches and honor. Temporal mercies are Christ's left hand blessings; and such a measure of them Christ hands forth to his people in a covenant way, as will be needful for them to support them whilst in, and comfortably carry them through this wilderness; but Christ's right hand blessings are of a spiritual nature, such as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, peace and reconciliation by his blood, and adoption; all which being, by Christ's hand, applied unto his saints, cheer, revive, and comfort, when ready to faint; and which sustain, uphold, and strengthen them, when ready to sink and die away.
4thly, They are expressive of the safety and security of the church: they must needs be safe from all enemies, and secure from falling, who are encircled in the arms of almighty grace, sustained by Christ's left hand, and embraced by his right hand, for out of his hands none can pluck them: such are, and will be preserved in Christ Jesus, until they are safely brought to glory. The Targum and R. Sol. Jarchi expound these words of the divine care and protection which the Israelites enjoyed in the wilderness; whereby they were not only provided with every thing that was useful and necessary, but also defended from every thing that was noxious and hurtful.
II. We may now consider the manner in which these words Were delivered; and that they may be considered, either, 1. As a prayer, and be read thus, “O that his left hand was under my head, and that his right hand would embrace me!” and suppose her still in the same case in which she was in the former verse; and seem to intimate, that she had a sense of her present state and condition, and a desire to be out of it; also, that she was without Christ's presence and communion with him, though she had a value for it, and an earnest desire after it, and did firmly believe that the enjoyment of it would relieve her. Or, 2. They may be considered as spoken in the strength of faith, that it would be so; and then the words may be read thus, “his left hand will be under my head, and his right hand will embrace me;” and the sense of them is, as if she should say, It is true I am now in a very weak, feeble, and fainting condition; yet I know I shall not totally sink, fail and perish; for he will hold me up and support me, so that I shall not be moved: the words seem then to be spoke much in the same manner, and to argue the same strength of faith, as those spoke by the church in Micah 8:7, 8. Or else, 3. As expressing her present experience that it was so; and then the words may be read as they are rendered by our translators, “his left hand is under my head,” etc. which experience of hers she mentions with thankfulness, as she ought to do, to the glory of his love and grace, who had so kindly and graciously appeared for her in a time of distress; and this she does also in an exulting manner, and with a kind of boasting; for though we are not allowed to glory in ourselves, nor have any reason to boast of any thing which we have done, yet we may glory in Christ, and boast of what he is unto us, and has done for us,
III. The persons to whom she speaks, are either the ministers of the gospel, whose assistance she had desired; and having enjoyed the comforting and supporting presence of Christ, in the ordinances, and under the ministry of the word, she lets them know of it, to encourage them in their work, and that they, with her, might bless the Lord for it: or else, the daughters of Jerusalem, whom she adjures in the following verse; who are persons newly converted, to whom she directs her discourse, and gives them this account of her experience, that she might allure them to the ordinances, and encourage them to walk in the ways of Christ, as well as engage them to join with her in giving thanks to him for the reception of so great a mercy; which is very agreeable to David's practice (Ps. 34:2, 3), “My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”
 So Isidore in loc.
 Tigurine version, some in Mercer. Ainsworth, Marckius.
 V. L. Pagninus, Montanus.