Notes on the Song of Songs

From the Original 1599 Geneva Bible Notes

These notes from the Geneva bible represent the traditional and beautiful interpretation of Solomon's Song of Songs. Is this book a love story about Christ and His Bride -- the Church? A view that in our times has fallen into no small disfavor. "A manual on love, sex and marriage," they say "And little more." Certainly it is that! But is it more? Our reforming forefathers thought so....

Ephesians 5:25-32

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Song 1:2
1:2 Let {a} him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love [is] better than wine.

(a) This is spoken in the person of the Church, or of the faithful soul inflamed with the desire of Christ, whom she loves.

Song 1:3
1:3 Because of the {b} savour of thy good ointments thy name [is as] ointment poured forth, therefore do the {c} virgins love thee.

(b) The feeling of your great benefits.
(c) They that are pure in heart and conversation.

Song 1:4
1:4 {d} Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his {e} chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

(d) The faithful confess that they cannot come to Christ, unless they are drawn.
(e) Meaning the secret joy that is not known to the world.

Song 1:5
1:5 I [am] {f} black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of {g} Kedar, as the {h} curtains of Solomon.

(f) The Church confesses her spots and sin, but has confidence in the favour of Christ.
(g) Kedar was Ishmael's son, of whom came the Arabians that dwelt in tents.
(h) Which within were all set with precious stones and jewels.

Song 1:6
1:6 Look not upon me, because I [am] {i} black, because the {k} sun hath looked upon me: {l} my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; [but] my own vineyard have I not {m} kept.

(i) Consider not the Church by the outward appearance.
(k) The corruption of nature through sin and afflictions.
(l) My own brethren who should have most favoured me.
(m) She confesses her own negligence.

Song 1:7
1:7 Tell me, {n} O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest [thy flock] to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of {o}
thy companions?

(n) The spouse feeling her fault flees to her husband only for comfort.
(o) Whom you have called to the dignity of pastors, and they set forth their own dreams instead of your doctrine.

Song 1:8
1:8 {p} If thou knowest not, O thou fairest among women, go forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.

(p) Christ speaks to his Church, bidding them that are ignorant to go to the pastors to learn.

Song 1:9
1:9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's {q} chariots.

(q) For your spiritual beauty and excellency there was no worldly treasure to be compared to you.

Song 1:12
1:12 {r} While the king [sitteth] at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth its fragrance.

(r) The Church rejoices that she is admitted to the company of Christ.

Song 1:13
1:13 A bundle of myrrh [is] my wellbeloved to me; he shall lie all night between my {s} breasts.

(s) He will be most dear to me.

Song 1:16
1:16 Behold, thou [art] fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our {u} bed [is] green.

(u) That is, the heart of the faithful, in which Christ dwells by his Spirit.

Song 2:2
2:2 As the lily among thorns, so [is] my {a} love among the daughters.

(a) Thus Christ prefers his Church above all other things.

Song 2:3
2:3 {b} As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste.

(b) The spouse testifies her great desire toward her husband, but her strength fails her, and therefore she desires to be comforted, and felt it.

Song 2:7
2:7 {c} I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not, nor awake [my] love, till he please.

(c) Christ charges them who have to do in the Church as it were by a solemn oath, that they trouble not the quietness of it.

Song 2:8
2:8 {d} The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

(d) This is spoken of Christ who took on our nature to come to help his Church.

Song 2:9
2:9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he {e} standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, gazing himself through the {f} lattice.

(e) For as his divinity was hidden under the cloak of our flesh.
(f) So that we cannot have full knowledge of him in this life.

Song 2:11
2:11 For, lo, the {g} winter is past, the rain is over [and] gone;

(g) That is, sin and error is driven back by the coming of Christ, who is here described by the springtime, when all things flourish.

Song 2:14
2:14 O my dove, [that art] in the {h} clefts of the rock, in the secret [places] of the stairs, let me see thy countenance,let me hear thy voice; for sweet [is] thy voice, and thy countenance [is] comely.

(h) You who are ashamed of your sins, come and show yourself to me.

Song 2:15
2:15 Take for us the foxes, the {i} little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines [have] tender grapes.

(i) Suppress the heretics while they are young, that is, when they begin to show their malice, and destroy the vine of the Lord.

Song 2:17
2:17 Until the day shall break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a {k} roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

(k) The church desires Christ to be most ready to help her in all dangers.

Song 3:1
3:1 By {a} night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

(a) The Church by night, that is, in troubles, seeks Christ, but is not incontinently heard.

Song 3:2
3:2 I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will {b} seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

(b) Showing that although we are not heard at first, yet we must still continue in prayer, till we feel comfort.

Song 3:3
3:3 The {c} watchmen that go about the city found me: [to whom I said], Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?

(c) Which declares that we must seek to all of whom we hope to have any help.

Song 3:5
3:5 {d} I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love, till he please.

(d) Read Geneva Song 2:7

Song 3:6
3:6 Who [is] this that cometh out of the {e} wilderness like
pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?

(e) This refers to the Church of Israel which was led in the wilderness for forty years.

Song 3:7
3:7 Behold his {f} bed, which [is] Solomon's; sixty valiant men [are] about it, of the valiant of Israel.

(f) By the bed is meant the temple which Solomon made.

Song 3:8
3:8 They all hold swords, [being] expert in war: every man [hath] his sword upon his thigh because of fear {g} in the night.

(g) He alludes to the watch which kept the temple.

Song 3:11
3:11 Go forth, O ye {h} daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the {i} crown with which his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

(h) All you that are of the number of the faithful.
(i) Christ became man, was crowned by the love of God with the glorious crown of his divinity.

Song 4:1
4:1 Behold, thou [art] {a} fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair; thou [hast] doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair [is] as a {b} flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

(a) Because Christ delights in his Church, he commends all that is in her.
(b) He has respect for the multitude of the faithful, which are many in number.

Song 4:5
4:5 Thy two {c} breasts [are] like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

(c) In which are knowledge and zeal two precious jewels.

Song 4:8
4:8 {d} Come with me from Lebanon, [my] spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

(d) Christ promises his Church to call his faithful from all the corners of the world.

Song 4:9
4:9 Thou hast ravished my heart, my {e} sister, [my] spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thy {f} eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

(e) Christ calls his Church sister in respect that he had taken the flesh of man.
(f) In that he made his Church beautiful and rich, he loved his gifts in her.

Song 4:11
4:11 Thy {g} lips, O [my] spouse, drop [as] the honeycomb: honey and milk [are] under thy tongue; and the scent of thy garments [is] like the fragrance of Lebanon.

(g) Because of your confession and thanksgiving.

Song 4:15
4:15 {h} A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

(h) The Church confesses that all her glory and beauty comes from Christ who is the true fountain of all grace.

Song 4:16
4:16 Awake, O {i} north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, [that] its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

(i) She desires Christ to comfort her and to pour the graces of his Spirit on her, which is meant by the North and South wind.

Song 5:1
5:1 I have come into my {a} garden, my sister, [my] spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drank my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

(a) The garden signifies the kingdom of Christ, where he prepares the banquet for his elect.

Song 5:2
5:2 {b} I sleep, but my heart waketh: [it is] the voice of my beloved that knocketh, [saying], Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, [and] my locks with the drops of the {c} night.

(b) The spouse says that she is troubled with the cares of worldly things, which is meant by sleeping.
(c) Declaring the long patience of the Lord toward sinners.

Song 5:3
5:3 I have put off my {d} coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

(d) The spouse confesses her nakedness, and that of herself she has nothing, or seeing that she is once made clean she promises not to defile herself again.

Song 5:5
5:5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands flowed [with] myrrh, and my {e} fingers [with] sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

(e) The spouse who should be anointed by Christ will not find him if she thinks to anoint him with her good works.

Song 5:7
5:7 The {f} watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

(f) These are the false teachers who wound the conscience with their traditions.

Song 5:8
5:8 I charge you, {g} O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I [am] sick with love.

(g) She asks of them who are godly (as the law and salvation should come out of Zion and Jerusalem) that they would direct her to Christ.

Song 5:9
5:9 {h} What [is] thy beloved more than [another] beloved, O thou fairest among women? what [is] thy beloved more than [another] beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

(h) Thus say they of Jerusalem.

Song 5:11
5:11 His {i} head [is as] the most fine gold, his locks [are] bushy, [and] black as a raven.

(i) She describes Christ to be of perfect beauty and comeliness.

Song 6:1
6:1 Where is thy beloved gone, {k} O thou fairest among women? where is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.

(k) Hearing of the excellency of Christ, the faithful desire to know how to find him.

Song 6:2
6:2 My beloved is gone down into his {a} garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.

(a) That is, is conversant here in earth among men.

Song 6:4
6:4 Thou [art] beautiful, O my love, as {b} Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as [an army] with banners.

(b) Which was a fair and strong city, 1Ki 14:17.

Song 6:5
6:5 {c} Turn away thy eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair [is] as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.

(c) This declares the exceeding love of Christ toward his Church.

Song 6:8
6:8 There are {d} sixty queens, and eighty concubines, and virgins without number.

(d) Meaning that the gifts are infinite which Christ gives to his Church: or that his faithful are many in number.

Song 6:10
6:10 {e} Who [is] she [that] looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, [and] terrible as [an army] with banners?

(e) He shows that the beginning of the Church was small, but that it grew up to a great multitude.

Song 6:11
6:11 I went down into the {f} garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, [and] to see whether the vine flourished, [and] the pomegranates budded.

(f) He went down into the synagogue to see what fruits came from the law, and the prophets.

Song 6:12
6:12 {g} Before I was aware, my soul made me {h} [like] the chariots of Amminadib.

(g) I found nothing but rebellion.
(h) Or, Set me on the chariots of my willing people.

Song 6:13
6:13 Return, return, O {i} Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.

(i) O ye people of Jerusalem, for Jerusalem was called Shalem which signifies peace.

Song 7:1
7:1 How beautiful are thy {a} feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs [are] like jewels, the work of the hands of a skilful workman.

(a) He describes the comely beauty of the Church in every part, which is to be understood spiritually.

Song 7:3
7:3 {b} Thy two breasts [are] like two young roes [that are] twins.

(b) Read Geneva Song 4:5

Song 7:5
7:5 Thy head upon thee [is] like Carmel, and the hair of thy head like purple; the king [is] {c} held captive by [its] locks of hair.

(c) He delights to come near you, and to be in your company.

Song 7:10
7:10 {d} I [am] my beloved's, and his desire [is] toward me.

(d) This the spouse speaks.

Song 7:12
7:12 Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the {e} vine flourisheth, [whether] the tender grape appeareth, [and] the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my

(e) If the people that are called to Christ bring forth any fruit.

Song 8:1
8:1 O {a} that thou [wert] as my brother, that was nourished at the breasts of my mother! [when] I should find thee outside, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.

(a) The Church called of the Gentiles speaks thus to the Church of Jerusalem.

Song 8:3
8:3 {b} His left hand [should be] under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.

(b) Read Song 2:6.

Song 8:4
8:4 {c} I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not, nor awake [my] love, until he please.

(c) Read Song 3:5.

Song 8:6
8:6 {d} Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm: for love [is] strong as death; jealousy [is] cruel as the grave: the coals of it [are] coals of fire, [which hath a]
most vehement flame.

(d) The spouse desires Christ to be joined in perpetual love with him.

Song 8:8
8:8 {e} We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

(e) The Jewish Church speaks this of the Church of the Gentiles.

Song 8:9
8:9 {f} If she [is] a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she [is] a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.

(f) If she is sure and fast, she is fit for her husband to dwell in.

Song 8:10
8:10 {g} I [am] a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.

(g) The Church promises fidelity and constancy.

Song 8:11
8:11 {h} Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard to keepers; every one for the fruit of it was to bring a thousand [pieces] of silver.

(h) This is the vineyard of the Lord hired out, Mt 21:33.

Song 8:13
8:13 Thou that dwellest in the {i} gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear [it].

(i) Christ dwells in his Church, whose voice the faithful hear.

Song 8:14
8:14 {k} Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

(k) The Church desires Christ that if he depart from them, yet he would haste to help them in their troubles.

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