OF THE BOOK OF
I am come into
my garden, my sister, my spouse, I have gathered
my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my honey-comb with my
honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, drink,
yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
verse properly belongs unto, and is a part of the preceding chapter. The bible, when first wrote, was not divided into chapters, as now it is: this is a work purely human and not divine, therefore liable to correction. And I much wonder that the authors of this work should begin this chapter with this verse, which ought to end the former, as both the words and sense of them manifestly show; for this chapter ought to begin at verse 2, where the church begins a new account of her state and case, and of some other remarkable occurrences which befell her, not hitherto spoken of. In this verse may be observed,
I. Christ's reply to the church's request, in the latter end of the former chapter, where she desires and invites him to come into his garden.
II. An account of Christ's carriage and behavior, or what he did when he came into his garden.
III. A kind invitation given by Christ to his friends to feast with him.
I. Here is a reply made by. Christ to the church's request or invitation; “I am come into my garden, my sister; my spouse.” The titles which he gives her, have been already” taken notice of and explained, in chapter 4:8, 9, and this reply of his unto her may be considered, either by way of denial to her, so some interpret it; as though Christ did not answer the church's wishes and desires, but rather gives a reason why he does not; and wherefore she had no reason to expect his presence a long time; because, says he, I have been in my garden already, and there I have gathered my myrrh and the rest of my spices; I have got in my harvest or vintage, and I have eat my honey and honey-comb, and drunk my wine and milk; and therefore to what purpose should I now come into my garden? thou canst not expect me, until more myrrh and ether spices grow: or else, as a correction of her mistake, as if he should say, Dost thou invite me to come into my garden, as if I was absent from it? thou art mistaken, I am always in it, and never out of it; and am now there, gathering my myrrh and spice, eating my honey and honey-comb, and drinking my wine and milk, From hence may be observed, that Christ may be in his church, among his people, or with particular believers, and they not know it; so God was in the place where Jacob was, and he knew it not: and thus it was with Mary at the sepulcher; Christ was at her elbow, and she knew him not; he speaks to her, and yet she is ignorant, and takes him for the gardener, until he calls her by her name, Mary, and theft she knew him, and turns herself, “and saith unto him, Rabboni, that is to say, master.” Though I rather think the words are to be taken as a direct answer of Christ's to the church; she desires and invites him to come into his garden, and accordingly he does come, and lets her know of it: in which we may take notice, 1. Of the speediness of it; she no sooner asks, but it is granted; no sooner invites, but he comes; and before she had well done speaking, makes a reply; his answer was ready; he was as willing to come, as she was to desire him; which makes good what is said in Isaiah 65:24. “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer,” that is, will be ready to give an answer; “ and while they are yet speaking, I will hear:” a famous instance of this kind we have in Daniel; who, “while he was speaking in prayer,” and confessing to God his own sins, and the sins of his people, the angel Gabriel was caused to fly swiftly to him; who informed him, that at the beginning of his supplications, as soon as the good man was on his knees, and had opened his mouth in prayer to God, “the commandment came forth,” orders were given, and he, as a messenger from heaven, dispatched to bring him an answer; but God does not always do so; “the vision is for an appointed time,” and must he waited for till it comes. 2. The nature of this answer is worth observing, being exactly according to her request; Christ does not always do so: when the apostle Paul had “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him,” he besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from him; but it does not appear by the answer which was given him, that his request was granted immediately; the answer, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” was a very glorious one, enough to support him under his present exercise, but gives us no intimation that it immediately freed him from it; it being sometimes most for our good and for God's glory, not to be immediately and exactly answered: but here, as she was answered speedily, so exactly; she desires him to “come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits;” he tells her, that he was come into his garden, and did eat his honey-comb with his honey: which shews, 3. That her request was according to his will, in that she was answered so speedily and exactly; for “if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; and therefore our great concern in prayer should be, that we might be under the directions and influences of the Spirit of God, and that he would make intercession for us, according to the will of God, who perfectly knows it; and when we ask a favor or entreat a blessing, it should be always with submission to the divine will, in imitation of our dear Lord, and so shall we be most likely to succeed. 4. It may be observed, that Christ not only answers her, but lets her know it; not only grants his presence, but gives her intimations of it; he himself acquaints her with it; for, as has been observed, Christ may be present with believers, and they not know it: so he was with the two disciples who were going to Emmaus; he walked with them, conversed with them, opened the scriptures to them, and their hearts burned within them while he did so; and yet they knew him not, till he was made known to them in breaking of bread: it is not only an instance of Christ's grace to be present with us, but also to assure us that he is so. I have shewn in chapter 4:16, what is intended by Christ's coming into his garden; and therefore,
II. Shall now proceed to take notice of his carriage and behavior there, or what he declares he did, or was doing; being there.
1st, He says, “I have gathered my myrrh with my spice? Myrrh is one of the chief spices, was a principal ingredient in the holy anointing oil, and was used in other ointments. We read of the oil or ointment of myrrh, in Esther 2:12, with which Esther and the other maidens were purified, in order to be presented to king Ahasuerus: this, and other sorts of ointments, as spikenard, were used in feasts, and were poured upon the heads of those who were the guests, as appears from Mark 14:3, to which custom the Psalmist alludes (Ps. 23:5). Christ being about to make a feast, not only for himself, but for others, gathers myrrh, with other spices, to make an ointment of, to entertain and refresh his guests with. By myrrh, with the rest of spices, may be meant, either repentance and humiliation for sin, and mortification of it, according to some interpreters; and indeed repentance and humiliation for sin, when evangelical, being the work of the blessed Spirit, springing from right principles, and kata Qeo<n, according to God's mind; when it arises from an apprehension of sin, as committed against a God of love and grace; and when it springs from faith's viewing a crucified Christ; though, like myrrh, it is bitter to the soul, yet is odorous and well-pleasing to Christ; it is taken notice of by him, as Ephraim's bemoanings, repentance and humiliation, were by God; he has a bottle to put such tears as these in, which drop from faith's eye: and so mortification of sin, considered as the Spirit's grace, is regarded by him, according to Romans 8:13. “If ye, through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Or else, according to others, by myrrh with other spices, are intended the suffering saints and martyrs, who have undergone bitter afflictions and persecutions for Christ and his gospel; whom he values, esteems, takes notice of, and gathers into his Father's house; where he clothes them with white robes, puts palms in their hands, and everlasting hallelujahs in their mouths (see Rev. 7:9-14), or rather, the sufferings of Christ himself, and the fruits thereof; which, though bitter to him, yet are of a sweet-smelling savor to God the Father, and to all the saints; the fruits of which, appearing in the everlasting salvation of his people, are very delightful to him; for he now sees of the “travail of his soul, and is satisfied;” he is now reaping with pleasure a glorious harvest of all his sweat, toil and labor. Though I rather choose to understand hereby in general the graces of the Spirit, which Christ delights in, and which go under the name of myrrh and other spices, in chapter 4:13,14. Christ having got in his harvest, as the word signifies, and the Septuagint render it, provides a feast for himself and others; as was the custom of those times and nations, as it is now with us. And therefore,
2dly, He says, “I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey.” Honey was the food, not only of infants, but of grown persons, as is manifest from Isaiah 7:22, but that he should eat the honeycomb with it, seems to have some difficulty in it. The Septuagint read it thus, I have eaten my bread with my honey, that is, either bread dipped in honey, or honey being put upon it, or else bread made with it; which sense is favored by those words in Ezekiel 16:13. “Thou didst eat fine flower, and honey, and oil,” that is, bread made thereof: R. Sol. Jarchi says, it is the honey which grows in canes; he means, sugar, which, by Arrianus, is called me>li kala>minon; and that for the exceeding love he had for it, he is said to eat it out of the cane; but it rather seems to be a piece of an honeycomb full of honey, just took out of the hive; such an one as the disciples gave Christ; and this was had in no small esteem among the Jews. The word for honeycomb signifies a wood or forest, and may design such honey as was found in woods; though here, it should seem, in a garden, of which there was plenty in Judea (1 Sam. 14:25), which of its own accord dropped from the comb, and ran down the tree from it, in which it was, and was reckoned the purest honey: and the other word for honey, may signify common honey, or honey made of the fruit of the palm-tree; which, the Jewish writers say, is the honey meant in Deuteronomy 8:8, and so the words may be rendered, “I have eaten my wood-honey with my palm-honey;” for it cannot be thought that the honey and the comb were both eat together. And by the honey and honeycomb, may be meant the doctrines of the gospel, or the words of Christ's mouth, which are said to be sweeter than the honey or the honey-comb:” so that Christ delights, not only in the graces of the Spirit, but also in the doctrines of the gospel, and the preaching of them.
3dly, He says, “I have drunk my wine with my milk.” Having eat, he drinks, to shew that he had a complete feast, and nothing was wanting to give him satisfaction; not only wine, but milk was used for drink, by many nations, and no doubt by the Hebrews: we find that Jael gave Sisera milk to drink when he was thirsty, as being preferable to water; but that wine and milk should be drank together, is not so usual; though it may be observed, that a mixture of wine and milk was used by the ancients, and is by us, which, Clemens of Alexandria says, is a very profitable and healthful mixture. Some of the Jewish writers think, that by wine, is meant red wine, and by milk, white wine; and so the Targum expounds the words of God's acceptation of the drink-offering of red and white wine, which the priests poured upon the altar: R. Aben Ezra gives it as the sense of some of their Rabbins, though he does not approve of it; that by milk, is meant the white which ascends upon the wine; I suppose he means the froth or head that is made by pouring it out. But to leave these empty conjectures, this seems in general to intend the plenty of provisions, and satisfaction therein, which Christ found in his church; by which may be meant the doctrines of the gospel. Gospel grace is represented hereby, in Isaiah 55:1. “By wine and milk, without money and without price:” wine revives and cheats the spirits, makes a man to forget his poverty, and to remember his misery no more; so do the doctrines of the gospel, when they come with power to a poor sinner, sensible of his poverty and misery; they make him to forget it, and fill him with an unspeakable joy: milk nourishes and strengthens; and so do the doctrines of the gospel; therefore says the apostle, “I have fed you with milk,” meaning the wholesome and nourishing words of faith. Now from all this I would observe, 1. That here is a variety: as at a feast, there is a variety of dishes, different sorts, both for eating and drinking; so here are myrrh and spice, honey, and the honeycomb, wine, and milk. 2. That here is nothing but what is sweet, savory and wholesome; myrrh and spice are of a delightful odor; honey is sweet to the taste, and. Wine and milk are wholesome and nourishing. 3. That all these are Christ's own; it is his own he feasts and makes himself welcome with; he does not say, “I have gathered thy myrrh with thy spice,” which grow in thy garden; “I have eaten thy honeycomb with thy honey; I have drunk thy wine with thy milk;” but it is my myrrh and my spice, my honey” and my honeycomb, my wine and my milk: Christ would have but a poor entertainment, if he had no other than what we can provide for him of our own. 4. Christ appears exceedingly delighted and well pleased with all this; therefore he plucks and gathers, eats and drinks: the smallest degree of grace, and the weakest performances of his people, he takes notice of and regards; he eats his honeycomb, as well as his honey, and drinks his milk, as well as his wine; for a “bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.”
III. In these words is also an invitation of Christ to his friends to eat and drink; he is not willing to eat his morsel alone; as he feeds, feasts, and delights himself in the graces of his own Spirit in his people, so he will have them feed and feast upon his person and grace; into whatsoever heart Christ comes, he will not only sup with them, but will make them also sup with him. And here are to be considered, 1st, The persons whom he invites. 2dly, What it is he invites them to.
1st, Who the persons are whom Christ invites; and they are here called friends and beloved; by whom are meant, not the angels, which is the mind of some; though it is true, they are Christ's friends, and rejoice at the conversion of elect sinners, and in the prosperity of his church and people; yet I think they are not intended here: nor the priests, whose right it was to eat the remainder of the sacrifices, as many Jewish writers expound the words: but rather believers in Christ, who of enemies are made friends; being first reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and then to himself by his Spirit and grace; whom he regards and treats as such, by granting them his presence, paying them visits, and disclosing the secrets of his heart unto them; and so he said to his disciples (John 15:14, 15), “Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you:” now these are enabled, through divine grace, to shew themselves friendly to Christ again, by valuing his presence, delighting in his company, regarding his ordinances, and observing his commands; for though these things do not make friends, yet they shew them to be so; as Christ says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” These are also the beloved of his soul; he has loved them with an everlasting love, and has given the fullest proofs and clearest demonstrations of it that possibly can be; which being manifested to their souls, begets love to him again; on the account of which he calls them friends and beloved. But,
2dly, It will be proper to consider what he invites his friends and beloved to; to eat and drink, yea, to drink abundantly: but what is it they are to eat and drink of, or to feast upon? why, Christ himself, who is the bread of life, and the hidden manna, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed; which if a man eats, and feeds upon by faith, he shall never hunger, nor die the second death, hut live for ever: moreover, his love is what they ate to drink of, and that largely; it being preferable to wine, may be drank of, without danger, plentifully; they may drink, yea, be inebriated with loves, as the words may be rendered; for here is enough of it, and no fear of receiving any danger by it; and all this together makes up that feast of fat things, of wines on the less well refined, which the Lord's supper is a representation of. And this shews, 1. The plenteousness of the provisions which Christ makes in his house for his people: it is not an empty house that Christ keeps, a niggardly feast that he makes; but here is food, and that in plenty, and drink enough and to spare. 2. That a believer is heartily welcome to the entertainment which Christ makes: it is true, we are unworthy creatures of ourselves; but seeing Christ has made such entertainments for us, and has so kindly invited us, let us use freedom and eat; and the more heartily we feed on these royal dainties, the more welcome we are; and to assure believers that they are so, he, in his invitation to them, gives them the titles of friends and beloved: nay, the very manner of the invitation, not only declares the plenteousness of the feast, but also the largeness and sincerity of his heart in it. 3. It also lets us know, that Christ neither invites nor allows any to feed and feast with him, but those who are his friends, whom he accounts and makes so; this is a privilege peculiar to them, which indeed none can enjoy but they. And as for the external ordinance of the Lord's supper, that feast of love, none have a right to eat of it, but those who are Christ's friends; and to none but those is it profitable and edifying; for he does not manifest himself, nor discover his love to any other: these are his darlings and favorites; with these he grants his presence at his table, and satisfies their souls with the goodness of his house.
 Brightman in loc.
 Sanctia. in loc.
 Foliot, Alcuin, Cocceius, and Bishop Patrick in loc.
 ]Efagon a]rton mou me>ta me>lito>v mou, Sept.
 In Cocceius in loc.
 yr[y ton drumon mou, Symmachus; mel sylvestre, Michaelis.
 See my Exposition in loc.
 Et nivei lactis pocula mista mero, Tibullus, 50:3. eleg. 5. 5:34.
 Paedagog. 1. I c. 6. p. 107.
 R. Aben Ezra, Sanctius, & Diodat. in loc.
 Targum & R. Sol. Jarchi in loc.
 µydwd wrbç inebriamini amoribus, Mercerus, Schmidt; inebriamini amoenitatibus, Cocceius; be drunken (that is, be plenteously failed) with loves, Ainsworth. See Proverbs 7:18.