OF THE BOOK OF
I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine:
he feedeth among the lilies.
these words are expressive of that mutual interest and property which Christ and his church have in each other, of that strict and inseparable union that there is between them, and also of that mutual affection and complacency which they have to and in each other, as well as of her knowledge and assurance of her interest in Christ, has been shown on chapter 2:16, but it may be farther observed, that the order of the words is here inverted; that whereas in chapter 2:16, the order of the words is this, My beloved is mine, and I am his; from whence has been observed, that Christ is first ours, and then we are his, which is an undoubted truth; for Christ first gives himself to us, before we are capable of giving ourselves to him; but that which was first there is here last, and what was last is first; for she first says, I am my beloved's; and then, my beloved is mine: from whence it may be observed, that though Christ is first ours in fact, yet our being his, may come first to our knowledge, may be first in discovery; that is to say, that we may know that he has called us by his grace, and enabled us thereby to give up ourselves to him: so that we can say, Lord, we are thine, thou hast conquered our souls by thy grace, and hast taken possession of us, which thou wouldest never have done, had we not been thine; and from this work of grace upon our souls, we conclude that thou art ours. Thus the cause may be known by the effect; and our interest in Christ, by the displays of Christ's grace to us, and in us; likewise, if we consider the words as connected with her former carriage and behavior to Christ, and what she had met with from him, they will lead us to observe; that all the infirmities, sins, and miscarriages of God's people, do not destroy their union with, and interest in Christ Jesus: she had treated him very rudely, when he, in the most moving manner, and with the most tender language, entreated her to arise and let him in; she put him off with idle excuses, which he so much resented, as to absent himself from her, and left her to seek him in vain,, and to be abused by the watchmen and keepers of the walls; and though he thus visited her transgressions with this rod of correction, his own absence, for that is so to God's children; and with those stripes and blows which she received from the watchmen; yet he did not take away his loving-kindness from her, nor break his covenant with her; and she was satisfied of this, and therefore could say, notwithstanding all this, I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine; and if, with R. Aben Ezra, we connect the words with the preceding verse, there will appear a beauty and glory in them, My beloved is gone down into his garden, etc. It is true, he is so; but though he is gone, and I am left alone, he is departed from me, and when he will return, I cannot tell; perhaps I may never see his face more here on earth, in a way of sensible communion and fellowship with him, as I have heretofore done, though I hope I shall; yet if I never do, I am satisfied as to my covenant-interest in him, and union to him; I know that I am my beloved's, and that my beloved is mine; here lies the glory and excellency of faith, thus to believe in an unseen Christ: though it may be, as the Targum intimates, that she had now the presence of Christ, the glorious Shekinah, with her; he had once more shewn himself to her, and, upon the sight of him, she says, as Thomas did, my Lord, and my God: but however, whether she had or had not the visible tokens of Christ's presence, her faith was certainly in exercise upon him; nay, she had not only faith, but the joy of faith; she not only knew her interest in Christ, as her salvation, but also had the joys of this salvation restored to her. And again it may be observed, that tho' she excludes all other beloveds from having any share in her affections, or from being in competition with him; yet by saying what she does, she does not exclude others, particularly the daughters of Jerusalem, from having an interest in him, as well as she, as R. Sol. Jarchi thinks; who paraphrases the words thus, I am my beloved's, and ye are not his, and therefore shall not build with us, and then explains it by Ezra 4:3, but though the church knew that a whole Christ was hers, yet she knew that he was others also; and would therefore never say so to the daughters of Jerusalem, to discourage them in seeking of him.
Moreover she adds, as in chapter 2, he feedeth among the lilies: which may be considered, either as an apostrophe to him, O thou that feedest among the lilies; or as descriptive both of him and of the place where he was; that others might, readily know where her beloved was, and where he was to be found: but of this we have spoken, on chapter 2:16, and shall not here repeat it; only observe, that Christ having been a long time absent from his church, and would not make himself known, nor speak one word a great while, at last breaks silence, and, like another Joseph, cannot refrain himself any longer from her; but must make himself known to her, and bursts out with words of love and joy, in the following commendations of her.