OF THE BOOK OF
It was but a
little that I passed from them, but I found him whom
my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had
brought him unto my mother's house, and into the chamber of her
that conceived me.
church having sought about the city, in the streets and broad ways of it, for her beloved, and made inquiry of the watchmen concerning him, though attended with little success; yet is not discouraged, but keeps on seeking, till at length she finds him; which not only filled her with a transport of joy, but also puts her upon using all the means she could to continue him with her, and secure his presence and company for the future. In these words are,
I. An account of the church's finding Christ; “I found him whom my soul loveth.”
II. The place or time, where or when she found him; “It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found,” etc.
III. Her behavior towards him; “I held him,” &c.
I. The church gives an account of her finding Christ; “I found him,” etc. She had sought, but not in vain; that promise was made good to her, seek, and ye shall find;” which was also when all means failed: she had sought him privately, by prayer and meditation; and publicly, by an attendance upon the ordinances of the gospel: she had heard the ministers of Christ preach, and had conferred with them alone, and yet could not find her beloved; which may inform us, 1. That means, though they are to be used, yet not to be depended on; they will not avail without a divine blessing: Bethesda's pool must be moved by an angel, or no cure can be performed; the Spirit of God must move upon the waters, the ordinances, or they will not convey light and life to souls; Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but it is God only that giveth the in, crease: the most comfortable doctrines and” precious promises of the gospel, opened and delivered in the most powerful manner, will not be useful without the special energy of the Spirit. 2. That we should not be discouraged when all means fail; because he is found sometimes when they do so, as he was by the church here; therefore when, with Job 23:8-10 we have gone backward and forward, on the right hand and on the left, and yet cannot behold him; we should with him rest contented, and say, he knoweth the way that I take, though I do not know which way he has taken and when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. 3. This shews us, that unless Christ shew himself, there is no finding him; for, “when he hideth his face, who can behold him?” 4. Finding Christ, when all means fail, gives the greatest discovery of Christ's love and grace, the freeness and sovereignty of it; and makes it appear, that it does not depend upon our will or works, but upon his sovereign good will and pleasure. 5. Finding Christ after so many disappointments, must needs be joyful and welcome; she seems to speak it with an air of pleasure, and in an exulting manner, as those disciples did, who said, John 1:41, “we have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ;” for his long absence from her, and the fatigue she had endured in seeking of him, did but serve the more to endear and sweeten his presence to her.
II. She declares where or when she found him; “it was but; a little that I had passed from them:” that is, either it was but a little space of time, as R. Aben Ezra observes; or I, had got but a very little way ere I found him. She is said to pass from the ministers, not out of disrespect unto them, for she had an entire value for them; nor because she had received no benefit from them, for they had hit her case, though she had not present enjoyment of Christ; nor was it because she was above ministers and ordinances, for these will continue in the church, and are to be used by believers until the second coming of Christ: but this passing from them shews, that she did not rest here; that though she applied herself to ministers, and made use of ordinances, yet she did not forget Christ, but looked beyond all these to him; and went a little farther than she had done before, in the lively exercise of her faith upon him: also her meeting with Christ, when she had a little passed them, shews, that Christ is not far from his ministers and ordinances; for he has promised to be with them unto the end of the world: and therefore there is a very great encouragement for souls to attend unto them, not only from that promise, but also from the church's experience, here recorded by her.
III. Her behavior to him is next mentioned, 1st, She “held him fast, and would not let him go.” 2dly, Brought him into her mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived her.”
1st, As soon as she saw him, she laid hold on him, and cleaved so close to him, that he could not stir a step from her; which, on her part, is expressive, 1. Of her faith in him: it is the nature of faith to lay hold on Christ; the actings of it are frequently expressed by it (see Prov. 3:18; Heb. 6:18); the believer lays hold on Christ as his savior; on his righteousness, and pleads it as his justifying righteousness before God; on Christ, as God's strength, to do all for him and in him; and on the covenant which is in Christ's hands, with all the blessings and promises of it, and appropriates them to himself (Isa. 27:5, 56:4). 2. Of her love and affection to him; and therefore she grasps him in her arms, will not let go her hold of him, nor suffer him to stir from her; but, could she have her will, would have him always in her sight; and, as Ruth said, chapter 1:16, to Naomi, where he goes, she is resolved to go; where he lodges, she will lodge; his people shall be her people, and his God her God; so pleased was she with him, so dearly did she love him. 3. Of her fears and jealousies lest he should remove from her: she knew the bitterness of Christ's absence, as well as had had experience of the sweetness of his presence, and therefore dreaded parting again; was afraid of every thing that had a tendency to it, and therefore gives that solemn charge she does in the. following verse. 4. Of her steadiness and resolution to hold him, whatever was the consequence; though she might be reproached. and persecuted for it, suffer the loss of her good name, and every thing else that was valuable in this worm; yet Christ to her was worth more than ten thousand worlds; nothing could tempt her to part with him.
Moreover, on his part, these words are expressive, (1.) Of a seeming offer or desire to depart; such an one as the angel who wrestled with Jacob made, when he said, “let me go, for the day breaketh,” (Gen. 32:26). which, as it made him, so it made her cleave the closer to him, wrestle the more with him, and keep faster hold of him. (2.) Of a gracious allowance which he had granted her; to lay hold on him: it is a surprising instance of his grace, that such vile, sinful creatures as we, should be suffered to come so near his person; O astonishing grace! that such should be invited to come, and should be welcome to lay hold on Christ and his righteousness, and not incur the crime of rudeness nor presumption. (3.) Of his wonderful condescension, to be held by a creature, and that a sinful one: it was not because she was stronger than Christ, that she held him and would not let him go, but because he condescended to let it be so; for she received the strength from him, by which she held him: it shews indeed the great power and strength of faith; thus to hold Christ; but then she had it all from him, who is the object of it. (4.) Of that delight and pleasure he took in the exercise of her faith upon him: as it does not argue weakness in him to be held by her, so neither does it unwillingness; he was no more held against his will, than he was by a superior force; he was held by her because it was both his will, and well-pleasing to him; “without faith it is impossible to please God,” or Christ; in the exercise of it they are much delighted, and are well pleased to be held as it were by it.
2dly, The other part of her behavior towards him, is, that she brought him into her mother's house, and into the most private and retired part of it, even into the chamber of her that conceived her; and this is indeed what she principally had in view in holding of him. The allusion is to the tents and apartments women had in former times, distinct from their husbands (Gen. 24:67, 31:33). By her mother's house and chamber, the Targum understands the school that was kept in the chambers of Moses and Joshua, where the children of Israel studied the law; R. Sol. Jarchi interprets them of the tabernacle in Shiloh; as does R. Aben Ezra of the ark of the testimony. Some think that by her mother's house, is meant the temple; and by the chamber the holy of holies, which was accessible to none but the high-priest: though Brightman thinks, that both these phrases are expressive of Christ's incarnation, which the church was importunately desirous of, which may be expressed by her mother's house, and the chamber of her that conceived her; because in becoming incarnate, he was a partaker of the same flesh and blood with her; and she may be said to bring him into it, because it was for her sake that he assumed human nature. But I think it should rather be understood either of the visible church, which is the mother of all believers; see Galatians 4:26 in which many souls are born again through the ministry of the word, and are nursed, and nourished up with the words of faith and good doctrine, with the sincere milk of gospel-truths, and the refreshing breasts of gospel ordinances; and Christ may be said to be brought in here, when his name is publicly professed in the congregation of his saints, his gospel asserted and vindicated, and his ordinances submitted to; when the mighty instances of his grace to his people are made known, and united praises upon that account are offered up unto him: and this no doubt the church had in view in introducing him here, that she, and others with her, might magnify the Lord together, for all the special instances of his kindness to her, and that they” might in having fellowship one with another, in the house of God, have intimate fellowship with the Father and with the Son: or else, by her mother's house, may be meant her heart, where the incorruptible seed of divine grace was cast, and where the new creature was conceived, born and brought up; and where it grows until it becomes a perfect man, and arrives to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: and by the chamber of her that conceived her, the inmost recesses thereof; there she desired to bring him, that he might dwell there by faith; that he might live in her, and she in him, and so have intimate and uninterrupted communion with him; which is the purport and design of the solemn charge which is given to the daughters of Jerusalem in the following verse.
 Bishop Patrick in loc.