EXPOSITION

OF THE BOOK OF

SOLOMON'S SONG,


Chapter 5

VERSE 11.

His head is as the most fine gold; his locks are bushy,
and black as a raven:


church, having given a general description of her beloved in the former verse, pursuant to the request of the daughters of Jerusalem, does in this enter into a more particular commendation of him, and continues unto the end of the chapter: which commendation consists of ten particulars, two of which are in these words;

I. She describes him by his head; which, she says, “is as the most fine gold.”

II. By his locks; which “are bushy, and black as a raven.”

I. She describes “his head as the most fine gold.” Some think, that some ornament of the head is meant, as a diadem or crown of gold: or else, the hair of the head; which though afterwards is said to be black, yet, being powdered with gold dust, looked of the color of gold, especially with the rays of the sun upon it; as did the hair of Solomon's youths that attended him, being thus decorated, as Josephus[1] relates; and which custom of powdering the hair with gold, was used by some of the Roman emperor.[2] By Christ's head may be meant, either,

1st, God the Father, who is in scripture called so: Thus the apostle says, in 1 Corinthians 11:3. “The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God,” that is, God the Father; which is to be understood of Christ as man and mediator; for as he is Gods the Father is not his head; he is not above him, nor superior to him in nature, power or glory; for “being in the form of God, he thought it no robbery to be equal with him.” It is true, the Father is the first person in the Trinity; but he is not first in order of time, dignity, nor causality; some of the fathers and schoolmen have indeed said, that the Father, with respect to the other two persons, is fons deitatis, principium, causa, the fountain of the deity, beginning, and cause thereof; these phrases are better let alone than used: but he may very properly be said to be the head of Christ, as man and mediator; for as he is man, he is God's creature, the work of his hands, “a body hast thou prepared me;” and so subject to him, and under his power and government; and in this sense ,re those words of Christ to be understood, where he says (John 14:28), “My Father is greater than I;” being his Creator, Lord, and head. And, 1. Christ as man and mediator, has his life from his Father; as he is God, his life is original and underived; it is not communicated to him from another; but his life, as man and mediator, is given him; he asked life of his Father, in the everlasting covenant, both for himself and for his people, and it was granted to him; and in this sense is that text to be understood (John 5:26). “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself:” as we derive our life from Christ, and have it maintained and supported by him; so Christ, as man and mediator, has his life from his Father, by whom also it is supported, he lives by him; “as the living Father hath sent me,” says Christ (John 6:57), “and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me shall live by me;” and in this sense is God the head of Christ; he communicates life unto him, as man and mediator, and continues it in him. 2. Christ, as man and mediator, is subject to his Father, as the members of the body are to the head: thus, as God's “righteous servant,” he was sent by him about the great work of man's redemption, was obedient to him, and carefully observed all the commands which he enjoined him; he still is, and will be to all eternity subject to his Father, as man and mediator; for when all things shall be put under the feet of Christ, as King of saints, then he, “the Son shall be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all,” (1 Cor. 15:28). 3. Christ, as man and mediator, was guided and directed, taught and instructed by his Father, what he should speak and what he should do, as the great prophet in Israel, and Savior of the would; and this gives light to those scriptures, John 5:20 and 8:28 and 12:49, 50, and proves the Father to be the head of Christ. 4. Christ, as man and mediator, was strengthened and supported in his work by his Father, as his head; this was promised him in the everlasting covenant; and was made good to him “in an acceptable,” suitable and seasonable “time, in the day of salvation;” in the day he wrought out the salvation of sinners; which animated and encouraged him in the view of all that he was to go through (see Isa. 1:8)—to and proved him to be the “Son of man,” whom God made strong for himself. Now this head of Christ “is as the most fine gold;” here are two words used in the Hebrew text, which both signify gold;[3] the one signifies pure, fine and shining; the other, strong and solid gold; and may also be rendered. the gold of Fez;[4] from whence either the city of Fez had its name;[5] or else, this gold had its name from the land where it was in abundance; and perhaps is the same with the gold of Uphaz, mentioned in Daniel 10:5; Jeremiah 10:9; and this being the best and finest gold, the church uses it to set off the glory and excellency of Christ's head: not that we are to suppose, as the apostle observes, Acts 17:29, that “the Godhead is like to gold and silver,” etc. for no likeness and similitude can be formed of the Divine Being; and indeed the church seems to be almost at a loss what to compare this head to; but gold being the richest, most excellent, and durable metal, and the gold of Fez the best of any, she uses this to set forth the glory of it by: and yet, as not being satisfied, she says, it is as “the most fine gold;” if there is any better, it is like that; or, as the words may also be rendered, “ his head is as the gold of gold;[6] and it is as if she should say, I would compare it to gold, because I can think of nothing better, richer, and more glorious; but I cannot find gold good enough to compare to it; this is “the gold of gold;” there is none such elsewhere; the whole universe cannot furnish us with the like; he that is my beloved's head, is “more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey;” yea, than all the golden mountains of Peru. Or else,

2dly, By Christ's. head may be meant, the divine nature in him,[7] which is the head, the chief and principal nature in Christ; in which his highest characters are wrote, and which puts a glory and efficacy in all that he has done and suffered as mediator; and it is this which supported him, and enabled him to go through the great work of man's salvation: all divine perfections are in Christ, and these all shine resplendently in him, who is “the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person;” this head is an head of pure, fine and shining gold; “all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in him;” and the glory of it is very manifest and conspicuous, Or,

3dly, By Christ's head may be meant, his headship over his church, or his regal power and government, which I rather incline to; thus he is represented, in Psalm 21:3 as having “a crown of pure gold” upon his head, denoting his royal dignity and authority: so Nebuchadnezzar, or the large and flourishing monarchy which he was ruler of, is set forth by an head of gold, in Daniel 2:32-37,38. And now Christ, as Lord of the church, and King of saints, may be compared to “the most fine gold,” because his kingdom and government is the most excellent and glorious; it is managed with the utmost wisdom and prudence, and according to the strictest rules of justice and equity; his head is a golden one, and fit for the work he is called to, for in it “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;” and therefore he is the only wise and just, as well as the only rich and powerful potentate in the universe; he is “King of kings, and Lord of lords;” all others receive their crowns and kingdoms from him, and are set up and put down by him at pleasure; and therefore it is by him that “kings reign, and princes decree justice;” all the wisdom and prudence, justice and equity, which appear in any of the governments of this world, are but faint resemblances of what of this nature appear in Christ's government; he is the “head of gold,” all the rest are but like “brass, iron and clay.” 2. He is compared to fine gold, because his kingdom is pure and spiritual; at is “not of this world;” it consists in nothing that is worldly, earthly and carnal; it is “not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 3. Because, like gold, it is solid and substantial; it does not consist in external pomp and gaudy shows, as the kingdoms of this world, which yet are tiding, transitory, and perishing; but this, though it does not come with observation, but looks mean and abject in its outward appearance; yet is all of pure and solid gold, and will appear bright and glorious, when the gild of others is worn off and gone. 4. It is compared to the most fine gold for the richness of it: Christ is the richest prince in the world; his riches are lasting and durable; they are unsearchable and incomprehensible; his kingdom is the richest on earth, and the meanest subject in it is a prince, nay, a king; that may be much more truly said of Christ's subjects, what the proud Assyrian monarch said boastingly of his princes, “Are not my princes altogether kings?” Christ's meanest subjects are so; for he has made them “kings and priests unto God?” (Rev. 1:6). 5. Christ's kingdom may be compared to gold, because it is lasting and durable: Christ's “throne is for ever and ever?” there will never be any end of his government; nor of the increase of it, and of the peace and prosperity thereof; when all other kingdoms are destroyed, and all other rule, power and authority put down, Christ's kingdom will stand; it wilt be more visibly set up, and appear more glorious, and so continue for ever. Thus Christ, as head of the church, and king of saints, may be compared to the most fine gold; which is the first particular she instances in, by which he may be known from others. The Jewish writers,[8] by this head of fine gold, understand the law, which is more to be desired than gold; as they do by the locks in the following clause, the several letters, sections, doctrines and senses of it.

II. She describes him by his locks, which, she says, “are bushy and black as a raven.” By his locks may be meant, either,

1st, The thoughts,[9] counsels and purposes of God, who is the head of Christi which, 1. Like the hairs of a man's head are innumerable: the purposes of his heart concerning man's salvation; his thoughts of love, grace, and mercy towards sinners, “cannot be reckoned up in order to him; they are more than can be numbered; the sum of them is so great,” that they exceed the sand upon the sea-shore. 2. Like bushy and black locks, are intricate, dark and obscure, unsearchable and incomprehensible; God's thoughts and purposes of distinguishing grace are out of our reach, and beyond our comprehension; and therefore are said to be “higher than our thoughts, even as the heavens are higher than the earth:” when we seriously consider that the great and infinite Being should pitch his thoughts of love from all eternity upon poor, sinful creatures; and upon some, and not all; and resolve on their everlasting salvation, and not on others; it obliges us to say, with the apostle, “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33. 3. Yet these thoughts and purposes of God's heart, so Jar as they are made known to us, are like bushy and black locks of hair, very beautiful and delightful: How glorious and beautiful is the draught, the model and scheme of salvation, which was drawn in the eternal mind? with what exactness is it managed? what wisdom and grace appear in that “fellowship of the mystery,” which the gospel leads us into an acquaintance with? “How precious are those thoughts of love which run through all, as well as “ how great is the sum of them?” Or,

2dly, By these locks may be meant, the multitude of believers,[10] which grow upon Christ, as the head of the church and these may be compared to hair for their number, their dependence on Christ, and their reception of life and nourishment from him, as has been observed on chapter 4:1 and these being called locks of hair, may intend their being congregated in gospel-order, their being united in faith and love, and their walking together in all the ordinances of Christ; “endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” Now saints being thus joined together in holy fellowship, having strict regard to Christ's truths and commands, do much adorn the head, Christ Jesus; and are a lovely and delightful sight to spectators; see Colossians 2:5. And these locks are said to be, 1. Bushy; the word may signify heaps;[11] and so denotes the multitude of believers that spring from, and have their dependence on Christ, the head: or it may be rendered, thick,[12] being well-set; or pendulous,[13] hanging down in a beautiful order: and this may intend the ornament that believers are to Christ; “childrens” children are the crown of old men;” believers are “a crown of glory to Christ;” they are “a royal diadem in his hand,” and upon his head: or it may be translated, crisp or curled;[14] and so be expressive of the hardness and strength of believers; curled hair[15] being the strongest and hardest: believers though weak in themselves, yet are strong in Christ; not only to perform duty, but to withstand enemies, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ Jesus; they are “strengthened with all might in the inner man,” to fight the Lord's battles, are undaunted in their spirits, and immoveable as a rock. 2. They are said to be “black as a raven;” saints are black with original and actual sin, as they are also with infirmities, reproaches, scandal and persecution; they have mean thoughts of themselves; and though exalted on the head, Christ, yet look upon themselves as the least of saints, and chief of sinners: though I rather think, this does not intend their blackness by sins, infirmities, etc. nor their humble thoughts of themselves; but rather, their real beauty, which they have from Christ, and that ornament and glory which they are unto him. Or else,

3dly, By these locks may be meant, Christ's administrations in the discharge of his kingly office: and this seems to me to be the best sense; for, as by his head, is intended his regal power and government; so by his locks, the administrations of it; which though sometimes dark, intricate and obscure, being attended with severity to his enemies, and so may be said to be bushy and black; yet being managed with the utmost wisdom and prudence, and according to the strictest rules of justice and equity, look very beautiful and comely, and are admired and; wondered at by all the saints (see Rev. 15:3, 4).

Moreover in general these bushy and black locks of Christ may denote, 1. The fullness of wisdom which is in Christ; curled hair is a sign of an hot and dry brain,[16] which produces acuteness and sharpness of wit: all wisdom is in Christ; he is the wisdom of God; who has not only fullness of it for himself, which is requisite to qualify him for, and carry him through the work he is engaged in; but has also a fullness of it: for the saints, to whom “he is made of God wisdom as well as righteousness.” 2. His youthful strength, vigor and courage, of which his black hair is accounted a sign: in Revelation 1:14. Christ's hair is said to be “as white as wool, as white as snow,” to denote his senile gravity; that he is “the ancient of days; who exists from everlasting to everlasting:” but here his locks are said to be black, to set forth his juvenile vigor and strength, which is always in its bloom, without any change or alteration: he is the mighty God in his highest nature, and “mighty to save,” as mediator; he gave the fullest proofs of his strength and courage in fulfilling all the law required, in bearing all that justice inflicted, and in conquering all his and our enemies. 3. These black locks set forth the beauty of Christ: black hair was accounted the most beautiful, not only by the Jews but by the Romans; as is manifest from what is said by many of the poets,[17] concerning both men and women: it was very desirable to them; insomuch that these, whose hair was not naturally black, used various ways and methods to make it so, and among other things, both Pliny[18] and Ælianus[19] tell us, they used the eggs, brains, and blood of ravens for that purpose. Now when Christ's locks are said to be black as a raven, the meaning is, that he looks exceeding beautiful, being “fairer than Absalom,” or any of the children of men; his black shining locks, hanging down in a beautiful order from his head of gold, make him look very stately and majestic; and as the blackness of the raven is a very fine black, and what is natural to it, and not made by art; so the beauty of Christ is exceeding great, it is natural to him; it is not derived from another, as ours is from him, but what is original, underived and essential to him; and this proves him to be the most excellent beloved, and “the chiefest among ten thousand.”


ENDNOTES:

[1] Antiquit. 1. 8, c, 7. s. 3.

[2] Vid. Bochart. Hierosoic. par. 1. 13. c. 9- col. 154.

[3] µtk aurum insigne, aurum purgatissimum. ˆp aurum solidum, Buxtorf.

[4] Vid. Ainsworth, Bishop Patrick, and Sanctius in loc.

[5] Leo African. Descriptio Africa:, 1. 2. p. 273.

[6] Aurum auri Mercerus.

[7] Mercerus in loc. so Theodoret. in loc. & Thom. Beda in Sanct. in loc.

[8] Targum, Shirhaihirim Rabba, Alfhech, Yalkut, & Jarchi in loc. Vajikra Rabba, paraih. 19.

[9] Vid. Ainsworth & Sanctius in loc.

[10] Foliot & Alcuin in loc. Greg.Thorn. Beda,& Carpath. in Sanct. in loc. So these locks are interpreted of the disciples of the wise men, by R. Judah, in Shirhashirim Rabba in loc.

[11] µyltlt cumuli, tumuli, Schindler. Lex. Pentaglott. fol. 1972. so Targum, Aben Ezra. Mercer. & Ainsworth, in loc.

[12] Mercer.

[13] Jarchi, & Vochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. 50:2. c. 10. col. 199. and so the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions; and, according to Castell, this is the best sense of the word, vid. ejus Annot. in Ethiop. vers.

[14] Crispaturae capillorum, Buxtorf. Marckius; crispis discriminibus, Junius; crispi, Cocceius, Montanus.

[15] Aristol. de Generat. Animal, 1. 5. c. 3.

[16] Aristot. de Generat. Animal. 1. 5. c. 3.

[17] Spectandum nigris oculis nigroque capillo, Horat, de Arte Poet. 5:37. Et Lycum nigris oculis nigroque trine decorum, ib. Sermon. 1. I. Ode 32. 5:11. Led fuit nigra conspiciena coma, Ovid. Amor, 50:2. eleg. 4, 5:42.

[18] Lib. 29. c. 6.

[19] De Animal. 1. 1. c. 48.