OF THE BOOK OF
my beloved, let us go forth into the field:
let us lodge in the villages.
Let us get up
early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish;
whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth:
there will I give thee my loves.
these words are,
I. A general invitation given by the church to Christ, to go along with her; “Come, my beloved.”
II. Some particular things mentioned which she invites him to: 1st, “To go forth into the field.” 2dly, “To lodge in the villages.” 3dly, “To get up early to the vineyards.”
III. The things she had in view in so doing: 1st. To see whether “the vine flourished.” 2dly, Whether “the tender grape appeared.” 3dly, Whether “the pomegranates budded forth.”
IV. A motive which she makes use of to prevail upon him; “there will I give thee my loves.”
I. In these words is a general invitation given by the church to Christ to go along with her, “Come, my beloved;” on which may be made the following remarks: 1. That this word, come, is by the church taken out of Christ's mouth it is a word much used by them, not only with reference to themselves, but to others also; see chapter 2:10, 13 and 4:8 (see also Rev. 22:17), and is expressive of much familiarity, hearty desire, and tender affection. 2. We must not suppose that Christ needed stirring up, or was unwilling to go along with her, but he sometimes stays until he is asked: not only to make his church sensible of her duty, and that she may prize his presence the more; but also because he loves to hear her ask for his company, and say, “come, my beloved,” let us walk together into the fields; let me there enjoy thy company, and let us take our fill of love. 3. These words may be considered as the church's calling upon Christ, to make good his promise, in verse 8 where he had given her reason to expect his presence; “I said I will go up to the palm-tree;” that is, I will grant my presence to my church and people, which are comparable to the palm-tree; I will be in the midst of them; she now says to him, “come, my beloved,” do as thou hast said: though none of Christ's promises shall ever fail, yet they may not be immediately fulfilled; and it very much becomes believers to plead them with him in prayer, and not let them lie long by them; they ought to put Christ in remembrance of them, as they are allowed, that he would remember to them the word upon which he has caused them to hope. 4. They also contain an earnest desire after the presence of Christ, and the manifestations of his love unto her; nothing is more desirable to believers than Christ's presence; and there is a great deal of reason for it; for this only makes their lives comfortable whilst here fills them with true solid joy and pleasure, makes a heaven upon earth, supports them under all their trials, carries them through all their difficulties, and gives them pleasing prospects of death and eternity. 5. They show the sense she had of her own insufficiency for the work she was going about, without the presence of Christ; for without him we can do nothing: hence says Moses (Ex. 33:15), “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence:” the church here knew full well that her visiting the several congregations of the saints, to see in what condition they were, would be to little purpose, unless Christ went with her, and therefore she requests the favor of him. 6. It may be farther observed, that the clearer views a soul has of its interest in Christ, the more desirous it is of communion with him: this may easily be observed in the church's case, by comparing these words with the preceding verse: some, the more they are known, the less their company is desired; but the more and better a soul knows Christ, the more desirable his company is; and when they once have it, would never part with it; but say, with Peter (Matthew 17:4). “Lord, it is good for us to be here:” hence it is that they often long to depart out of this life, that they might be with Christ; which to them is far better than this life, and all the enjoyments of it. 7. The church's affixing this endearing character, “my beloved,” to the invitation come, thereby signifying her affection to him, as well as her interest in him, may be considered as a powerful argument to induce him to go along with her; for with whom should, or indeed will loving husbands go, but with their wives and especially when their company is importunately desired? one saint cannot tell how to deny another, when their company and conversation is desired on spiritual accounts; so engaging is it to each other; much less can Christ deny his church, when she entreats him after this sort.
II. The particular things she invites him to, are now to be considered. And,
1st, She desires him to “forth into the field with her:” which may be expressive, 1. Of her desire after Christ's presence, both at home and abroad; she would not stir out of doors without him; when at home, nothing so delightful as his presence; and, having some business in the field, she is loth to go without him; O happy soul, that is thus blessed! of such an one it may be truly said (Deut. 28:3-6), “Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field; blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” 2. Of her desire after solitariness, or of being alone with Christ: thus (Gen. 24:63), “Isaac went out to meditate in the field;” where he could be retired, and have his thoughts more free, composed, and fit for such an employment: the field is also a place of more secrecy, as well as retiredness; and therefore (1 Sam. 20:11), “Jonathan said to David, come, let us go into the field;” that they might more freely tell their minds, and impart their loves to each other; thus the church desired Christ to go with her into the field; that there being alone with him, she might tell him all her heart, and let him know how much she loved him; which she could not so freely do in company. 3. She might design some recreation by it; it may be an allusion to persons who keep their country-houses, who, being retired from the city, take their walks in the fields, to see how the fruits of the earth grow, as well as to enjoy the benefit of the country air: so the church, she is for going abroad into the fields; but then she would have Christ go with her; for no recreation is so, unless he be with her; walking abroad in the fields will yield her no pleasure, unless Christ be there. 4. It may signify her desire to have the gospel spread in the world, especially in those parts of it, in which it had not been as yet preached; and which looked very much like an uncultivated field: thus the field in the parable (Matthew 13:38), is said to be the world; which, being overrun with the thorns and briars of sin and corruption, moves her pity and compassion, and excites desire in her to have the gospel planted there, that so it might become a fruitful field; and therefore she is desirous to have her husband, and the true husbandman, go along with her, to manure, cultivate, and plant it; and perhaps the Gentile world may be particularly intended.
2dly, She farther invites him to lodge in the villages with her. There is a manifest gradation in these words of hers, which shows her end and design in all; she first invites him to go forth into the field with her, and that is in order to lodge with her in the villages; and their lodging there, is in order to get up early next morning to the vineyards; Junius and Tremellius read the words thus, “let us lodge by the cyprus-trees;” for the Hebrew word µyrpk cepharim, signifies both villages and cyprus-trees; see chapter 1:13 and 4:14, by which may be meant the saints; who may be compared thereunto, for their excellency, fragrancy, and fruitfulness; and an invitation to lodge by or with these, could not be unwelcome to Christ; seeing they are with him, “the excellent in the earth, in whom is all his delight:” though the word may as well be rendered villages, as it is by the Septuagint and others. From whence may be observed, 1. The villages being places of mean entertainment, both for food and lodging; that a mean condition of life, with Christ, is more eligible and much preferable to the greatest affluence of the good things of this world without him: the church had rather have hard lodgings in a country village with Christ, than to dwell in a city, have her lodgings in a king's palace, or lie upon a bed of down without him: as one, once said. “Brown bread and the gospel are good fare;” so it may be also said, “A country lodging with Christ is good lodging.” 2. Villages being places of retirement, and free from the noise and hurry of the city, might occasion her desire to lodge there; she wanted to be at liberty from the world, that she might have some solitary communion with Christ; so David, being almost worn out with the fatigues of the camp, the hurries of the court, thus passionately wishes, saving (Ps. 55:6, 7), “O! that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away, and be at rest; lo, then would I wander far off, and remain,” or as in the Hebrew text, “lodge in the wilderness, Selah.” The cares of this life, and the hurrying employments of it, do much interrupt and break in upon a believer's comfortable communion with Christ; and therefore, with the church, he desires sometimes to be retired from them, and lodge with him in the villages. 3. She desires not only communion with Christ, but that it might be continued: she would lodge with him all night, as she says, in chapter 1:13, “He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts,” it is not merely for an hour or two, that she would have his company, but all night: believers, who have got some knowledge of Christ's pet son, and have tasted the sweetness of communion with him, are like the Samaritans (John 4:40), who “besought him that he would tarry with them;” they are never weary of his company, and do not care how much they have of it. Though, 4. These words may signify her desire to have the gospel preached in the villages, as well as in the cities: thus our Lord Jesus Christ, in the days of his flesh, “went about all the cities and villages, preaching the gospel of the kingdom,” (Matthew 9:35), as did also his disciples after him; though, as one well observes, the gospel was first preached in cities mostly, and from thence spread itself in time into the neighboring villages, where the heathen idolatry lasted longer than in cities; from whence it had the name of paganism, pagus signifying a village; which the church here observing, desires Christ to go along with her, and spread the gospel there.
3dly, She signifies her desire also to get up early to the vineyards: for which reason she thought at most proper to lodge in the villages, and not in the city; from whence she could not have been so early at the vineyards, as she desired to be. By the vineyards, the Targum, R. Solomon Jarchi and Alshech understand the synagogues and schools of the Jews and so it is explained in the Talmud: though it seems much more probable, that by them are meant, the several particular churches and congregations of the saints; which are distinguished by sovereign grace, planted with a variety of fruitful vines, watered every moment by Christ, and fenced about with his almighty power; and by her getting up unto them, may be meant her visiting of them; which is much such an act of kindness and friendship as that of Paul's, who said to Barnabas (Acts 15:36), “Let us go again and visit our brethren, in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.” And what still more shows how intent she was upon it, and how much her heart was in it, she is for getting up early; that is, betimes in the morning, or in the most seasonable time, as the word early is sometimes used: she is for losing no opportunity, and making use of the most suitable one to visit the churches; and that her visit may not be in vain, she is for taking Christ along with her; she is not willing to go alone; she knew of what service Christ's presence would be to the churches, and to what little purpose hers would be without him; and therefore she says, “let us get up early,” etc. But,
III. She mentions the several things she had in view in giving this invitation to Christ, or the several ends of it. And,
1st, It was to “see if the vine flourished;” and she might well think that this and what follows would take with Christ, and go a great way to prevail upon him to go along with her; seeing her ends here are much the same with his in going down into his nut-garden, chapter 6:11, and which, no doubt, she had some reference to. By the vine, the Targum understands the Israelites, who may be compared thereunto; and I think, true believers in Christ, who are Israelites indeed, may very well be meant. These indeed, likes vines, are weak and worthless creatures of themselves: yet being engrafted in Christ, the true vine, and growing upon him, they bring forth fruit, and are exceeding valuable and precious: and by their flourishing may be meant, both their fruitfulness in the exercise of grace, and in the performance of good works: and though the believer is not always in a flourishing condition; there is sometimes but a small appearance of fruit upon him; his life, his grace is hid unto him; and his fruitfulness does not appear to others; yet he shall flourish again, because he is planted in a fruitful soil, by the rivers of divine love and grace; is well rooted in Christ Jesus, and whom he takes care of, waters every moment, and purges and prunes, that he may bring forth more fruit; this the church was sensible of, and therefore is desirous that Christ would go along with her.
2dly, Another end she had in inviting Christ to, go with her into the field, villages and vineyards, is, to see “whether the tender grape appear, or whether the flower of the grape opened itself.” By which may be meant young converts; who are weak and tender, have but little knowledge, a small degree of faith, and have not arrived to that solidity and establishment, as many others have; and are therefore compared to newborn babes, lambs, and kids of the flock: as also to a bruised reed, and to the smoking flax; but as Christ does not despise the day of small things, so neither does the church overlook them, but shows a very great concern for them; she is very desirous of seeing these appear in churches: this is a very great encouragement to churches, when souls are born again among them; it is a sign that the Lord designs to continue them, and to make them yet more flourishing and fruitful.
3dly, Her other end is to see whether “the pomegranates budded.” By pomegranates, may be meant stronger believers, who are taller and more fruitful than the former; why they are so compared, may be seen in chap. 4:13, and by the braidings of them, may be meant the actings and exercise of grace in them. We may observe that the church is concerned for the comfortable well-being and good estate of believers of all ranks and sizes; of the vines and pomegranates, as well as of the tender grapes; and of the buddings of the one, as well as of the blossoming or opening of the other.
IV. The motive which she makes use of to prevail upon Christ to comply with her invitation, is, “for there will I give thee my loves;” that is, when we are alone in the field, or at our lodgings in the villages, or when we are together in the vineyards, visiting the vines and pomegranates, I will show thee my love; I will open all my heart to thee, and thou shalt know how much I love thee. And, 1. We are not to suppose that this is the first time of her loving Christ, or of her manifesting it to him, for she loved him long before; but she mentions this now to gain her end; for she knew very well what would take with Christ's heart, what was grateful to him, and that nothing was more so than expressions of her love to him, and this she had learned from his own words, in chapter 4:10, “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine!” Christ knew very well she loved him; but yet he loved to hear her say she did. What made Christ ask Peter so often whether he loved him or no? it was not because he doubted of it, but because he loved to hear him express it. 2. By her loves, may be meant the manifestations of her love to him, in the observance of his commands; the offering up the sacrifices of prayer and praise unto him; as well as all other branches of religious worship and service in his house, which she promises to him there; and this sense the Targum inclines unto. 3. This, being expressed in the plural number, may intend not only the excellency of her love to Christ, and the various ways of manifesting it to him, but also the abundance of it: here was an overflow of it in her soul; her heart was brimful of it, and she seems to want an opportunity of venting it; for which purpose she desires to be alone with Christ, as Joseph did with his brethren, that so she might, with the greater freedom, let out her affections to him. 4. Communion with Christ, and the flourishing condition of his churches, tend much to enlarge a believer's heart with love to Christ, and to draw out his affections towards him, “we love him, because he first loved us,” 1 John 4:19, I see not why the word for loves, may not be rendered, my lovely flowers; as a word nearly the same, in the following verse, is by some rendered, “those lovely flowers give a good smell, as Junius and Tremellius;” which seem to refer to the flowers here; such as were to be met with in plenty in fields and vineyards, and among vines and pomegranates, as lilies, violets, etc. and may be an allusion to lovers, who used to give to those they loved, sweet smelling flowers; and here may signify the graces of the Spirit, and the actings of them, which are fragrant and acceptable to Christ.
 µyrpkb hnyln pernoctemus ad cypros, Junius, Piscator, Brightman, Michaelis.
 Mr. Dod.
 Bishop Patrick in loc.
 In Shirhashirim Rabba, in loc. By the field and villages, the nations of the world are understood.
 T. Bah. Erublm. fol. 21. 2.
 rdmsh jtp h}nqhsen o} kuprismov, Sept. si flores fructus parturiunt, Vulg. Lat. version: aperuerit se uva parva, Montanus; an aperta sit gemma, Mercerus; ac florem protrudat, Tigurine version; exeruent se uva prima, Cocecius: an aperiat ae prima uva, Junius; aperuerit uva prima, Brightman.
 Naias amat Thyrsin, Glauca Almona, Nisa Theonem; Nisa rosas, Glanca violas, dat lilia Nais: Cythereus Sidonius apud Auson.