Clavis cantici, or, An exposition of the Song of Solomon by James Durham ...
Durham, James, 1622-1658.
Page  393

Vers. 7.
This thy stature is like to a Palm∣tree, and thy brests to clusters of Grapes.

Vers. 8.
I said, I will go up to the Palm-tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy brests shall be as clusters of the Vine, and the smell of thy nose like Apples.

Vers. 9.
And the roof of thy mouth like the best Wine, for my Beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep, to speak.

The former two expressions, v.—5. 6. have fallen from him (to speak so) in a ravished, abrupt manner, by way of exclama∣tion: The third way how he amplifies the commendation of the Bride, follows, vers. 7, 8, 9. (as subjoyned to the preceeding particular description) And this amplification is expressed these three wayes: 1. By commending her stature, as the result of all her parts (formerly described) put together, with a repetition of one of these parts mainly taken notice of, vers. 7. 2. By shew∣ing his resolution to haunt her company, by which his respect to her appears, vers. 8. 3. By promising gracious effects to follow on his performing the former promise, of his keeping company with her, vers. 8, 9.

The seventh verse then speaks to two things, Her stature and her brests; Her stature respects all the bygone parts being now put together, for so they represent the whole stature: And by stature is understood the proportionablenesse and comelinesse that Page  394 is in the whole, being considered as jointly united in one body, as well as severally (as was said of him, Chap. 5. 16.) and the re∣lative this, clears it, this, that is, this which is made up of all the se∣veral parts I have been enumerating, they being put together, make thy stature, and thy stature thus made up of these members and parts, is like the Palm-tree: And so from this similitude, her stature is commended: The Palm-tree is recorded in Scripture to have diverse commendable properties, 1. It's straight; therefore it's said of the idols that they are upright like the Palm-tree, Jer. 5. 10. straightnesse is comely in a stature, He was like to a Cedar, Chap. 5. 15. she is like to a Palm-tree here. 2. A Palm-tree hath good fruits, the Daits are the fruit thereof. 3. It's a tree of long continuance, and keeps long green; Hence, Psal. 92. 12, 14. It's said of the righteous, they shall flourish like the Palm-tree; there∣fore, Ioel 1. 12. it's an evidence of great drought, when the Palm-tree withereth. 4. They were looked on as most fit to be used in times when men were about to expresse their joy in the most solemn manner, and so when Christ is coming triumphantly to Ierusalem, Joh. 12. they cut down branches of Palm-trees, to carry before him, and, Rev. 7. 4. these Victors have Palms in their hands, and in Levit.. 40. we find branches of these trees commanded to be made use of in the joyful feast of Tabernacles, and the seventy Palm-trees that were found by the Israelits at Elim, are mentioned, Numb. 33. 9. as refreshful, so is the City of Palm-trees also mentioned as a most pleasant place, Deut. 34. 3. All these may be applyed to believers, who, both by the change that is wrought upon them by the grace of Christ, and also, as they are in him by faith, are such; They are straight, not crooked, but beautiful and flourishing, and to him refreshful, as the next verse shews, being the living signs and monuments of his victory over Death and the Devil. Obs. 1. There ought not only to be in a believer, a thriving of graces distinctly, but a right joyning, ordering, and compacting of them together, that they may keep a proportionablenesse, and make up complexly a lovely stature: that is, not only should all graces be kept in exercise together, but as members of one new man, each ought to be subservient to another, for making up of a sweet harmony in the result; love Page  395 should not wrong zeal, nor zeal prudence; but every grace, as being a distinct member of the new man, should be settled in it's own place, to make the stature lovely. 2 When this proportion is kept, and every grace hath it's own place, it is exceeding lovely, like a beautiful stature; whereas grace, when acting un∣orderly (if then it may be called grace) is like an eye, beautiful in it self; but not being in the right place of the face, doth make the stature unlovely and disproportionable: It's not the least part of spiritual beauty, when not only one hath all graces, but hath every one of them acting according to their several na∣tures, even when they are acting joyntly together. 3. This fur∣thers much believers fruitfulnesse, and continues them fresh and green, when the whole stature of grace is right, and kept in a due proportionablenesse.

The particular that is again repeated, is her breasts, which are compared to a cluster of grapes, or wine, as it is in the eight verse, We conceive, by brests here, is signified her love and affection, whereby he is entertained, So, Chap. 1. 13. he shall lye all night between my brests; and so it agreeth well with that expression, Prov. 5. 19. let her brests satisfie thee at all times, and be thou alwayes ravisht with her love: This is confirmed from the similitude unto which it is compared, and that is, grapes, or wine; Shewing, that her love is refreshful, and cordial (to speak so) to him: Thy brests (saith he) that is, to lye between thy brests, and to be kindly entertained by thee, is more than wine to me: And this is the same thing which was said, Chap. 4. 10. How much better is thy love than wine? And the similitude being the same, we think the thing is the same that is thereby set forth and commended, and it is singularly taken notice of by Christ through all the Song, and marked in Chap. 4. and here, as that which makes all her sta∣ture so lovely in it self: Love makes every grace act (therefore is it the fulfilling of the law) and makes grace in it's actings beau∣tiful and lovely to him. These words then, may either express, 1. the lovelinesse of her love: Or, 2. the delight which he took in it, as esteeming highly of it; she was so very lovely, that no∣thing refreshed him so much as her brests: Which expression (as all the rest) holds out intense spiritual-love, under the expressions Page  396 that are usual amongst men. And it sayes, 1. that the beauty of grace is a ravishing beauty; or Christ's love delights in the love of his people; a room in their hearts is much prized by him. 2. Christ hath a complacency and acquiescense in his people, which he hath in none other, and where more grace is, there his complacency (though one in it self) doth the more manifest it self. 3. When a believer is right and in good case, then his love to Christ is warm: And particularly, a right frame is by nothing sooner evidenced, than by the affections; and it's ordinarily ill or well with us, as our love to Christ is vigorious or cold.

The second way how our Lord expresseth his love to his Bride, is in the beginning of vers. 8. and it's by expressing of his resolu∣tion to accompany with her, beyond any in the world: She was compared to a Palm-tree in the former verse, Now (saith he) I will go up to the Palm-tree (that is, to the Palm-tree before mentioned) It's on the matter the same with that promise, chap. 4. 6. I will get me to the mountain of Myrrhe, &c. Consider here, 1. the thing promised or proposed, and that is, his going up to the Palm-tree, and taking hold of the boughs thereof: That the scope is to hold forth his purpose of manifesting himself to her, is clear, 1. By the dependence of this on the former, He had said, Thou art a Palm-tree, and now (saith he) I will go up to the Palm-tree, which speaks his prizing that tree above all others. 2. The ef∣fects also of his going up, in the following words, do clear it; It's such a going up as hath refreshful and comfortable influence upon her: The importance of the similitude is, as men love the trees they converse much about (and it's like, Palm-trees were much used for that end) or as climbing up upon trees, and taking hold of their boughs, do shew the delight and pleasure men have in such or such a tree, and how refreshing it is to them to be neer it; So having compared her to a Palm-tree, he expresseth his delight in her, and his purpose of manifesting himself to her, un∣der the same similitude, as is ordinary in the strain of this Song. 2. Consider, that this resolution is laid down as no passing thought, but is a deliberat and determined resolution, I said I will go, &c. I will take hold, &c. Which doth shew, 1. Christ's inward thoughts and conclusions with himself, this is his heart-language. 2. The Page  397 expression of these, and so the words come to be a promise, which the believer may make use of, as of a thing which Christ hath said. 3. It shews a deliberatnesse in both, that they were not sudden, but the advised result of a former deliberation, and that of old, I said it: In a word (saith he) my Bride is my choice in all the world, the tree that I have resolved, for my delight, to climb up upon, beside all others. Obs. 1. The scope and result of all Christ's commendations of his Bride, is, that she may be brought to look for, and expect to be made happy with his own company, and to be unspeakably made up in the injoyment of his presence. 2. It's not every one that hath the promise of Christ's company and fellowship, or that may expect it; It's the believer only who may look for it, he hath Christ's word for it, and none but he 3. Christ's most passionat expressions of love are not from any sur∣prize of affection in him, but are deliberatly resolved, and that of old, so that now they cannot be altered; his delight was in the habitable parts of the earth, and his resolution was laid down to go up to the Palm-tree before it was. 4. Christ's thoughts to his people (if known) would be found to be precious, thoughts of peace and not of evil; many a good purpose hath been in his heart of old, and there is no greater evidence of love, neither can be, than to intimat and accomplish these, as he doth here: I laid down this resolution (saith he) long ere now, and I will fol∣low it out. 5. A holy tender walk in believers (which is indeed to have the stature lovely as the Palm-tree) will obtain the ma∣nifestation of Christ's heart to them; And there is no greater evidence of Christ's respect, than that, Ioh. 14. 21, and 23.

The third way how he expresseth his love, is by the effects, which he promiseth shall follow on his presence with her, as his presence is subjoyned to her lovely stature (which connexion is observable) The effects that follow, are three, the first two are in the second part of the eighth verse, and the first of them in these words, Now also thy brests shall be as the clusters of the Vine; This is the first fruit of his going up to the Palm-tree, which (as also the rest of them) may be taken as comprehensive of these two, 1. Of some gracious effect that shall be wrought in the Bride, and so these words bring him in speaking to this purpose, Page  398 when I come to thee, then by my presence thy graces shall flow, and thou shall be in a capacity to edifie others, and to satisfie me, as if thy brests were clusters of the Vine, to furnish what might be refreshful: Thus he comforts her, from what should be wrought in her, by his presence with her: And the scope and con∣nexion shews, that this cannot be excluded, it being a native con∣sequence of his presence, and comfortable in it self to her. 2. They are to be looked upon as comprehensive of his gracious acceptation of her and her fruits, as being well satisfied with her; And thus the meaning of these words, thy brests shall be as clu∣sters of the Vine, is this, When I shall come to thee, thy love and company, thy bosome (to say so) shall be to me more refreshful than clusters of the Vine, I will feed upon it, and delight in it, as, Chap. 4. 10. This compleats her consolation, and the evidence of his love, that he undertakes it shall be well with her inward condition, and that he shall accept of her also, and be well satis∣fied with her: These are not only consistent together, but do necessarily concur for making up the scope, which is to evi∣dence his love, and to comfort her; and the one of these follows on the other, therefore, we comprehend both in all these effects. Obs. 1. Christs presence hath much influence on believers liveli∣nesse; their brests run when he is present. 2. Livelinesse is a singular and comfortable mercy in a believers estimation; there∣fore is it promised as a thing that is in a special way comfortable to her. 3. Christ's presence, or neernesse with him, and fruit∣fulnesse, go together: And where the brests are not as clusters, no conditon the believer can be in, is to be accounted presence.

The second effect is in these words, And the smell of thy nose like Apples: Apples are savoury fruit, the smell of the nose is the savour of the breath, that comes from it, which in unwholsome bodies is unsavoury; Saith he to the Bride, thine shall not be so, but thy constitution shall be lively, and all that comes from thee shall be savoury, and so shall be accepted of me; It shall be sa∣voury in it self, as Apples are to the smell, and it shall be de∣lighted in by me, as having a sweet air and breath with it: This imports a conspicuous inward change, by the growth of mortifi∣cation, whereby believers being purified within from all filthinesse Page  399 of the flesh and spirit, there proceeds nothing from them but what is savoury, whereas a loose and ragged conversation, as cor∣rupt breath (Iob. 17. 1.) evidenceth much inward rottennesse. Obs. 1. Christ's presence, is of an healing, cleansing vertue, and makes an observable inward change. 2. An inward change evidenceth it self in the outward fruits and effects, the very smell and savour of the conversation, and of all externall duties, is chang∣ed. 3. This inward purity is very desirable to the believer; for so it's here a piece of his comfort, to have a promise that the smell of his nose shall be as Apples, and it's a speciall evidence of Christs respect, to have that performed.

It may also take in the savourinesse of the believers breathing, in respect of themselves; when Christ is present, they shall draw in a wholesome, pleasant and refreshfull air; whereas now ordi∣narily we breath in a corrupt air: It shall not be so then, saith he, the smell of thy nose shall be as if thou did savour of Apples: Christ's company makes all both fruitfull within, and refreshfull to the believer, and also makes all duties and all dispensations, he is exercised with, savoury and acceptable to himself; All which follows on Christ's presence, and suits with the scope, that saith, both taste and smell are satisfied.

The third lovely effect of Christ's presence, is in the ninth verse; And 1. the effect it self is set down: then it's commendation is amplified. The effect, or advantage of Christ's presence, is in these words, The roof of thy mouth (or thy palat) shall be as the best wine: The palat, or roof of thy mouth, is the instrument of taste, and so is sometimes taken for the taste it self, and is so tran∣slated, Chap. 2. 3. his fruit was sweet to my taste: So, Iob. 34. 3. Or, by palat may be understood the mouth, as, Chap. 5. 16. Next, it's compared to wine, yea, the best wine (the reasons of the com∣parison have been often spoken to) The best wine is that which is most refreshing and exhilerating: Now this wine is three ways set out in it's excellency (for, that the following expressions are to this purpose, is clear) 1. It's for my Beloved, that is, such wine as he allows his friends, whom he styles beloved, Chap. 5. 1. (and this shews what kind of wine is understood) and so it must be excellent wine, being that which is allowed on Christ's special Page  400 friends. Or, it's an abrupt expression, whereby he speaks in name of the Bride; It's such wine as I (as if she were speaking) allow on thee, my beloved, and which I reserve only for thee: For which reason, she is called a Fountain sealed, and Garden inclosed, as being set a-part for him, and not common to others; and thus is he expressing in her name, what she expresseth her self in the last words of this Chapter, It's all for thee my beloved; And it implyeth both a commendation of its sweetnesse, and her devoting of it to him. However, the words hold forth some∣thing that proves it to be excellent, and not common, but such as is found amongst these who stand in this spiritual relation. 2. It's commended from this, that it goeth down sweetly, that is, it's pleasant to the taste, and is not harsh, but delightsomely may be drunk of: Or, it may respect that property of good Wine, men∣tioned, Prov. 23. 31. (that it moves it self rightly) if the words be translated as the margent imports. 3. It's commended from the effects, It drinks sweetly, and when it is drunk, it causeth the lips of those those that are asleep to speak: Wine is cordial and refreshful, but this Wine must be in a singular way refreshful, that makes men that are infirm, or old (as the word may be rendered) and almost dead, to revive and speak, or those that were secure (as the Bride was, Chap. 5. 2.) and in a spiritual drousinesse, it can quicken them, and make them cheerfully speak; Thus the Wine is commended. Now we conceive, by this comfortable effect, that is promised to her upon Christ's coming to her, these two things are here holden forth, 1. How refreshing it shall be to her self, all her senses shall be taken with it, both the smell and the taste; it shall be singularly sweet to her spiritual taste, as it is, Chap. 2. 3. And thus the Wine of the Spirit is commended, which accompanies his manifestations, and is reserved for his Be∣loved, Chap. 5. 1. and is a joy that no stranger is made partaker of: This Wine is indeed peculiar for his beloved, (and is suitable to himself) and is the Wine that goeth sweetly down; and is most refreshful, and makes secure sinners to speak, and those that are aint it revives them, as Eph. 5. 18. Be not filled with wine, &c. but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to your selves in Psalms, sing∣ing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord: This effect agrees Page  401 well to the Spirit, yea, only to this Wine of the Spirit; and it suits well the scope, which is to shew what comfortable influence Christ's presence should have on her, so that when he comes to his Palm-tree, her taste shall relish as with the best Wine; his pre∣sence shall thus revive and quicken her, and be a special evidence of his singular respect to her.

2. It holds out (which follows on the former) that not only her breath shall savour well to him and others, and her inward senses abound with refreshings to her self, but also the expressions of her mouth, to others shall be savoury, and to him refreshful, as a delightsome fruit flowing from her: Thus (saith he) when I betake me to fellowship with thee, and comes near by sensible embracements, to take hold of thy boughs (as a man embracing one whom he loves, for thus the Allegory is spiritually to be un∣derstood) thou shalt be to me, and in my esteem, exceeding lovely; thy brests, smell, and mouth, will be chering and sa∣voury, like Grapes, Apples, and the best Wine: And here spi∣ritual affections and holy reason would be made use of, to gather the life of Christ's love from the effects of it, with some resem∣blance of what useth to be betwixt man and wife, in their mutual loving carriage (for so runs the strain of this Song) although our carnalnesse makes it hazardous, and unsafe to descend in the ex∣plication of these similitudes: And thus, as Chap. 5. 16. by his mouth or palat, was understood the kisses thereof, or the most sensible manifestations of his love to her: So here, by her palat or mouth, is understood her most affectionat soul-longings of love to him, which being warmed and melted by his presence, doth ma∣nifest it self in a kindly way, in spiritual embraces and kisses (as from vers. 11. and 12. will be clear) which are exceedingly de∣lightsome to him: and so the sense of this promise is, when I come to thee, then, yea even now, thy love with the sense of mine shall be warmed and refreshed, so that it shall in an affe∣ctionat way vent it self on me, and that shall be as the most exhi∣lerating cordial unto me, as the manifestations of my love will be chearing and refreshing unto thee; both which are notably com∣fortable to her, and special evidences of his respect, which is the scope. Obs. 1. Ther are some secret flowings of love, and soul-experiences Page  402 betwixt Christ and believers, that are not easily un∣derstood; and that makes the expressions of this love so seeming∣ly intricat. 2. These flowings of love that are betwixt Christ and his people (how strange soever they be) are most delight∣some to the soul that partakes of them, they are as wine that go∣eth down sweetly. 3. Christ's presence hath many benefits and ad∣vantages waiting on it, which contribute exceedingly both to the quickning and comforting of the believer; many things hang on this one, his going up to the Palm-tree. 4. The joy of the Spirit hath notable effects, and can put words in the mouth of these that neverspoke much before, yea, can make the dumb to sing, with a sensible warming of the heart and inward affections, stirring up melody in their souls, which yet will be distinct in the impressions and effects of it. 5. Our Lord Jesus hath designed the comfort of the believer, which he holdeth out in comfortable promises, and alloweth them to make use of it, and it is pleasant and delightsome to him to have them so doing.