The Confession of the Church Rewarded.

THE FURTHER CONFESSION AND CHRIST’S ANSWER. — The bride having answered the first question of the “daughters of Jerusalem” for a description of her soul’s Bridegroom, they now ask about her relation to this mar­velous King. V. 1. Whither is thy Beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? Surely if He is such a paragon of excellence, the place of the bride is always at His side! Whither is thy Beloved turned aside, as though spurning her love, that we may seek Him with thee? For even outsiders are sometimes impressed with the message of the Church. The bride answers, accordingly, v. 2. My Be­loved is gone down into His garden, to which she invited Him, but from which she foolishly absented herself, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies. But she immediately adds, in a burst of joyful confidence, which knows that the present estrangement cannot last: v. 3. I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine; He feedeth among the lilies. This confession of love and of trustful confidence is immediately rewarded by the King when He says: v. 4. Thou art beautiful, O My love, with a surpassing fairness, as Tirzah, the beautiful city of the northern kingdom which Jeroboam chose for his residence, 1 Kings 14, 17, comely as Jerusalem, the capital city praised above all other cities of the world, terrible as an army with banners, a vic­torious host, carrying everything before it. V. 5. Turn away thine eyes from Me, which were just then fixed upon Him with a look of the deepest longing, for they have over­come Me, exciting and inspiring a feeling of the same intense love in His heart; thy hair Is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead, chap. 4. 1. V. 6. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from .the wash­ing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them. V. 7. As a piece of a pomegranate are thy tem­ples within thy locks. Cp. chap. 4, 2. 3. V. 8. There are threescore queens and four­score concubines and virgins without number, these idealized figures being intro­duced here only for the sake of comparison, to bring out all the more strongly the unique­ness of the bride’s position. V. 9. My dove, My undefiled is but one, perfect in her rela­tion to Him; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her, the only one of her kind. The daughters saw her and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

Events move rapidly in this paragraph. The Church had indeed for a time been deprived of the merciful presence of her Lord, He had withheld His gracious visitation from her. But she was sure of His return, for she was still united with Him in faith; she could not lose the Bridegroom of her soul. This con­fession of faith causes the Lord once more to sing the praises of His bride, whose beauty He compares to, and exalts above, the fairest cities of the land, and whose victorious march makes her unconquerable. He is filled with the most burning love for her and therefore lands her qualities in a wonderful burst of song. The former relation of the most intimate love be­tween Christ and the Church has been restored after her repentance. He wants all people of the world to know that His Church, His King­dom of Grace, ranks highest in His estimation, that for her sake He makes and deposes kings and emperors, so that even these outsiders must acknowledge her superiority and glory, Eph. 1, 21-23; 1 Pet. 2, 9.

CHRIST’S LOVE TOWARD THE CHURCH. — The King’s wonderful description of the bride’s beauty causes the “daughters of Jerusalem” to call out in admiration: v. 10. Who is she that looketh forth, suddenly arising from the background, as the morning, like the rising dawn, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners, moving forward with victorious power? The answer of the bride is given with becoming humility: v. 11. I went down into the gar­den of nuts, the beautiful park of the King, to see the fruits of the valley, or “to in­spect the shrubs of the valley,” and to see whether the vine flourished and the pome­granates budded. V. 12. Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib, literally, “I knew it not that my soul had made me chariots of my noble people,” that the King had displayed her pomp and power before the whole world. But the “daughters of Jerusalem” now clamor to see her beauty, v. 13. Return, return, O Shula­mite, so they may observe her from all sides; return, return, that we may look upon thee, for they had never realized before what beauty was found in this bride of the King. Now the inspired author inserts a question, to test the interest which the “daughters of Jerusalem” may have in the bride. What will ye see in the Shulamite? And they promptly answer, As it were the company of two armies, that is, the angel hosts of Mahanaim, Gen. 32, 2. They regard the bride to be as magnificent and stately as the angel hosts whom Jacob saw near Peniel, between Jabbok and the Jordan.

Here we see the bride, filled with new courage and zeal for her work, ready to fulfill her min­istry, imposing and impressive, even to out­siders, in her victorious progress, as the praise given her shows. She, however, disclaims any special merit, stating that it was reward enough for her to be permitted to see and ad­mire the work of God’s hands. Yet the others insist that the work of the Church, if rightly viewed, reminds them of the blessed ministry of angels, with whose assistance the messen­gers of the Church carry out the duty en­trusted to them. That is the glory connected with the work of the Church at all times.