Clavis cantici, or, An exposition of the Song of Solomon by James Durham ...
Durham, James, 1622-1658.
Page  140

Vers. 14.
O my Dove! that art in the clefts of the rocks, in the secret places of the stairs: let me see they countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.

This 14. vers. contains the second part of Christ's sweet and comfortable Sermon. Wherein, beside the title which he gives his Bride, there are three things, 1. Her case. 2. The directi∣ons which he propones, as the cure of her case. 3. The motive pressing it.

The title is, my Dove: This hath a sweet insinuation and mo∣tive in it. Believers are styled so, 1. For their innocent nature, Matth. 10. 16. 2. For their tendernesse, and trembling at the word of the Lord, Hos. 11. 11. Isa. 38. 14. Hezekiah mourned as a Dove. 3. For their beauty and purity, Psal. 68. 13. 4. For their chast adhering to their own mate, in which respect, that of Isa. 38. 14. is thought to allude to the mourning of the one, after the others death▪ This shews what a believer should be, and who deserves this name.

The condition of this Dove is, that she is in the clefts of the rocks, and in the secret places of the stairs: It's ordinary for doves to hide themselves in rocks, or holes in walls of houses; And this similitude is used sometimes in a good sense, as Isa. 60. 8. some∣times in an ill sense, as pointing out infirmity, and too much fear and fillinesse, Hos. 7. 11. Ephraim is a silly Dove without heart that goes to Egypt, &c. The Bride is here compared to a Dove hiding it self, in the last sense, out of unbelief and anxiety, taking her to poor shifts for ease, and slighting Christ, as frighted doves that mistake their own windowes, and fly to other hiding-places; the scope being to comfort and encourage her, and the directi∣ons calling her to holy boldnesse, and prayer to him (implying Page  141 that these had been neglected formerly) doth confirm this: Then sayes the Lord, my poor heartlesse Dove, why art thou discoura∣ged, taking thee to holes (as it were) to hide thee, fostering mis∣belief and fainting? that is not the right way.

What then should she do (might it be said) seing she is so un∣meet to converse with him, or look out to the view of any that looks on? He gives two directions, holding forth what was more proper, and fit for her case, 1. Let me see thy countenance (saith he) like one that is ashamed, thou hides thy self, as if thou durst not appear before me, but come (saith he) let me see thy counte∣nance. This expression imports friendliness, familiarity, and bold∣nesse in her coming before him: So this phrase of seeing ones face is taken, Gen. 43. 3, 5. and 2 Sam. 14. 32. As the not shewing of the countenance, supposeth discontent or fear; So then the Lord calls by this to holy familiarity with him, and confidence in it, in opposition to her former fainting and misbelief. The second direction is, Let me hear thy voice, To make him hear the voice, is to pray, Psal. 5. 3. and under it generally all the duties of religion are often comprehended; It's like discourage∣ment scarred the heartlesse Bride from prayer, and she durst not come before him; do not so (saith he) but call confidently upon me in the day of trouble, and time of need. Obs. 1. Prayer ne∣ver angers Christ (be the believers case what it will) but for∣bearing of it, will. 2. Discouragement when it seases on the childe of God, is not soon shaken off; and therefore he not only gives one direction upon another, but also adds incouragements and motives sutable to these directions.

And so we come to the third thing in the verse, the motives he makes use of to presse his direction, which are two, 1. Sweet is thy voice. 2. Thy countenance is comely. What is my voice and countenance, might she say (for proud unbelief is exceeding humble, and subtile, when it's opposing, and thortoring with Christ's call) yea (saith he) thy voice is sweet; There is no mu∣sick in the world so pleasant to me, as the prayer of a poor belie∣ver. Now this doth not so much commend our prayers, as it shews his acceptation of them, and the excellency of his golden censer, that makes them with his odours so savory before God, Page  142Rev. 8. 3. And, 2. (saith he) thy countenance though there be spots on it, yet to me it's comely, therefore let me hear thy voice, let me see thy countenance. Christ had rather converse with a poor believer, than with the most gallant, stately person in all the world. Beside, Obs. 1. Fainting may overmaster even a be∣liever, and misbelief may mire them. 2. There are often foolish secklesse shifts made use of by believers, for defending misbelief and discouragement, when they are under temptation. 3. Faith∣lesse fears, and discouragement may come to that height, as to scarr a believer from Christ's company, and marr them in prayer to him. 4. Misbelief bears out still this to a tempted soul, that Christ cares not for it; yea, that he disdains such a person and their company. 5. Christ is tender of fainting believers, and of their consolation, even when they suspect him most, and when their suspicions are most unreasonable and uncharitable to him, Isa. 49. 14, 15. 6. Christ allowes poor believers a amiliar and confident walk with him; they might all be courtiers, for the ac∣cesse that is allowed them, if they did not refuse their allowance, and sinfully obstruct their own accesse thereto. 7. Christ loves to be much imployed by his people, and there is nothing more pleasing to him, than frequently to hear their voice. 8. He is a sweet and gentle constructer of them, and their service, and is not rigid, even when often they have many misconstructions of him. 9. The more discouragement seizeth upon the soul, there should be the more prayer, and thronging in upon Christ; for there is no outgate to be expected, but in that way. 10. None needs to fear to put Christ on their secrets; or they need not so to fear (if they be sincere) that they spill their prayers, as there∣by to be kept from prayer, or made heartlesse in it; For it's Christ that hears them, whose censer, Rev. 8. 6. makes them sa∣vory before God: Let me hear thy voice is no little incourage∣ment in that duty: And the right consideration of it, would help to much boldnesse in prayer; and especially considering, that the God who is the hearer of prayer, is our Beloved.