OF THE BOOK OF
beloved is like a roe, or a young hart: behold he standeth
behind our wall, he looketh forth at the window, shewing himself
through the lattice.
church continues her discourse concerning Christ, and takes notice of the several steps he took in manifesting himself unto her.
I. She compares him to “a roe or a young hart.”
II. Declares the several gradual discoveries of himself unto her.
I. She compares him to “a roe, or a young hart;” which seems to be occasioned by his swift and speedy approach unto her, mentioned in the former verse; for these are creatures remarkable for their swiftness (see 2 Sam. 2:18). and may have reference to Christ's celerity in his coming in the flesh who, as soon as ever “the fullness of time” was come, made no delay, but immediately clothed himself with human nature, in order to dispatch, with the utmost speed, the work which he had agreed to do; and with no less speed does he haste to the assistance of his people, when under trials, desertions, temptations and afflictions, and shews himself to be “a very present help in trouble:” likewise his second coming to raise the dead, judge the world, reward his saints and punish his enemies, will be equally as swift and sudden; for which reason it is compared (Matthew 24:29), to “the lightning which cometh out of the east,” and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, “shineth even unto the west:” but besides the swiftness of these creatures, Christ may be compared to them, or be said to be like to them on some other accounts; as, 1. For their pleasantness and lovingness; they are pleasant and loving creatures, as appears from Proverbs 5:19. Christ is pleasant and desirable in his person to his people, being “white and ruddy, and the chiefest among ten thousand; he is loving in his carriage and deportment to them, and has given the most undeniable proofs of the reality, sincerity, strength and immutability of his love, in shedding his blood, and by giving his life for them. 2. For their choiceness and excellency, as R. Sol. Jarchi observes; young roes and harts being the most choice and excellent: Christ is so in his nature, person, office, people, and ordinances; he is so in the esteem of his Father, and in the esteem of men and angels; for though he is disallowed by some, yet he is highly valued by others. 3. For the antipathy there is between these creatures and serpents: historians report of them, that they search out the lurking-places of serpents, and not being able to come at them in their holes, do: by the very breath of their nostrils, draw them out from thence and then trample upon them, tear them in pieces, and eat them: this may an some measure represent that enmity there is between that old serpent Satan, and Christ Jesus, the seed of the woman, who was manifested in human nature, to break his head, and destroy his works, which he has accordingly done. It is also farther reported of the hart, that after eating serpents, it grows prodigious thirsty, which occasions dreadful cries and lamentations, and violent pantings after the water-brooks; to which an allusion is made in Psalm 42:1, and yet knowing, by an instinct in nature, that it is dangerous to drink until it has digested them, forbears a while: Thus Christ when he destroyed that old serpent the Devil, sustained the weight of his Father's wrath, which occasioned a bloody sweat in the garden, piteous moans upon the cross, a violent consumption of the radical moisture; so that his “strength was dried up like a potsherd,” and his “tongue cleaved to his jaws,” with the violent thirst that was upon him; such an one he had, as is manifest from those words of his, when suffering upon the cross, I thirst. Moreover, it is reported in Lybia, where there is a great number of serpents, that when they see a hart lying alone, will, in great numbers at once, attack him; some wrapping themselves about his feet, others about his horns, his neck and belly, and bite him dreadfully; upon which he gets up and runs about, here and there, in great distress, but at length throws himself upon his back; some he rubs to death, and others he devours, and then hastens to the water-brooks to cleanse and refresh himself: thus Christ was beset by all the infernal powers, yet spoiled them all, got an entire victory over them, and now enjoys the glories of it. These were creatures fit for food, and were allowed to be so by the Levitical law; naturalists say that by their being hunted, their flesh becomes softer: Christ is “the bread of life,” and the “hidden manna;” he is very agreeable food for souls; his flesh is meat indeed,” and his “blood is drink indeed;” and by reason of the sufferings which he underwent in our nature, is become very suitable food for faith. 4. These creatures are long-lived ones: it is reported that Alexander the Great, having taken some of them, put golden chains about them, with which they were found, covered with fat, a hundred years afterwards, and scarce any appearance of old age in them. Christ lives, and will live for ever; he died once for the sins of men, but will never die more; “I am he,” says he, “that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore,” (Rev. 1:18) for such reasons as these, and perhaps some others, Christ may be said to be “like a roe or a young hart.” The Septuagint here adds, “upon the mountains of Bethel,” which is not in the Hebrew text.
II. She declares the several gradual discoveries of himself unto her. In the former verse, she tells us, that she first heard his voice, and then saw him come “leaping upon the mountains,” and “skipping upon the hills;” and here she observes some nearer approaches of him to her. 1st, She says, that he stood behind their wall. 2dly, Looked forth at the windows. 3dly, Shewed himself through the lattice.
1st, She says, that he stood behind their wall; by which is meant, either, 1. The incarnation of Christ, whose glorious Deity was covered and hid under the wall of our humanity; which is called our wall, because he was made partaker of the same flesh and blood with us. Or, 2. The walls of our hearts, of which we read (Jer. 4:19), “I am pained at my very heart;” in the Hebrew, it is, “I am pained at the walls of my heart;” such are our sins and transgressions, which are as so many as walls of separation between Christ and us, particularly unbelief, lukewarmness, carnal reasonings, etc. behind which Christ stands; and which, by the mighty power of his grace and spirit, he batters down and demands an entrance. Or else, 3. The ceremonial law, which the apostle call (Eph. 2:14), “the middle wall of partition:” this separated between Jew and Gentile, and was made up of many hard and difficult precepts; behind this wall Christ stood under the Old Testament dispensation, and shewed himself to his people in types and figures, though but darkly and obscurely in comparison of the gospel revelation. Or else, 4. By it may be meant the church's defense and protection: the church is a city, and a walled one; God himself is a wall of fire round about it; and has also appointed salvation for wails and bulwarks; his ministering servants, he has not only set upon Zion's walls, but has made them as walls of brass unto them; he has set them both for the defense of the church and of the gospel: now Christ's standing behind her wall, may shew that he is ready to protect his people, redress their grievances, and revenge himself upon their enemies. Or rather, 5. In general it shews, that Christ was nearer unto her than he had been before; she then saw him, but at some distance, upon the hills and mountains afar off; but now he was come nearer, even to her very home, and stands behind her wall, being desirous to enter in; but still there was some distance of communion, a wall between them, and a wall of her own building: it was owing to her own infidelity, carnality, and sleepiness, that Christ stood at a distance, and drew no nearer than he was; and yet notwithstanding this, he stands waiting as it were for invitation to enter in.
2dly, She takes notice of a farther discovery of himself: he comes from behind her wall and looks in at the windows, to see in what posture his church was, and how things were managed in his house. The allusion is to the quicksighted roe or young hart; which, as it is remarkable for its swiftness, as in verse 8, so for the sharpness of its sight; Pliny says it is never dim sighted; it has its name dorcas in Greek, from its sharp sight. By windows, we are not to understand the windows of the heavens, through which the Lord looks down upon his people, and beholds them under all their afflictions, and in their several cases and circumstances, as some of the Jewish writers do; but rather, the ordinances of the gospel, which are that to the church, as windows are to a house, they let in light to souls; which windows, for the glory and excellency of them, are said (Isa. 54:12), to be as agates. Christ looks forth at these; and shews himself in his glory and beamy to his saints; even as kings and great men look forth at the windows to be seen in their majesty and splendor by their people: also in at these windows Christ looks, and takes notice how his children behave themselves under the ordinances; with what reverence and attention, faith and affection, they hear the word; and in what becoming manner they carry themselves at the table of the Lord; and there is not the least motion of the heart that escapes his notice.
3dly, She takes notice of his shewing himself through the lattices; which seems to intend a more clear and glorious discovery of himself in the means and ordinances of the gospel; though indeed, our clearest sights of Christ here, are but as through a glass darkly, through windows and lattices, and not face to face, as they will be in another world: and it may be observed from hence, that unless Christ shews himself unto us, we can get no sight of him; for “when he hideth his face, who then can behold him?” as also, that Christ usually discovers himself in the use of means through the ordinances; and therefore these are to be observed carefully, and attended on constantly. Moreover, a behold is prefixed to all these gradual manifestations of himself; which shews us, that Christ's discoveries of himself to his people are exceeding wonderful and ravishing; a glimpse of him behind the wall, is a surprising instance of his grace, much more his looking forth at the windows; and his shewing or flourishing himself. In all his beauty and glory, through the lattices, as the word signifies; this is enough to throw us into the greatest raptures and ecstasies of mind, and fill us with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
 Cervi veloces, Virgil AEneid.1. 5. 5:253. Cerva aeripes, swift as the air, Ibid.1. 6. prope finem.
 Pliny 1. 8. c. 32. AElian. de animal. 1. 2. c. 9. Solin. Polyhist. c. 21. So Theodoret. in loc.
 Hence the hart has the name of elafov according to Plutarch. De Solert. Animal p. 976.
 Frantz. Hist. animal. sacr. par. 1. c. 15..386
 Frantz. ibid.
 Pliny 1. 3. c. 32. Solin. c. 31. Vid. Pausan. Arcad. sive 1. 8. p. 472.. Hence cervina senectus, Juvenal, satyr. 14. 5:251.
 So Isidore in loc.
 So R. Alshech in loc.
 Nat. Hist. 1. 28. c. 11.
 Apo tou ozu dorkein, Origen in loc. so Theodoret. in loc.
 R. Sol. Jarchi, and R. Aben Ezra in loc. and so Lyra.
 Efflorescens, Junius; so Ainsworth, Piscator, and Michaelis. ˆyyam pro-prie de plantis dicitur, quumqid proferunt, quod florem praecedit, Mercer, in loc.