Song of Solomon 6:13
Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return,…. By whom the church is meant, so called from her being the spouse of Christ, the true Solomon; it being common for the wife to have the same name with her husband; thus, with the Romans, if the man’s name was Caius, the woman’s name was Caia: is the name of Christ Solomon? the church’s name is Shulamite; see Jer 23:6. The word from which this is derived signifies both perfection and peace; and the church may be called the Shulamite from her perfection, not in herself, but in Christ, in whom she is complete, and perfectly comely through his righteousness; and is also denominated from the peace which she has from Christ, and he has made for her through his blood, and he gives unto her by his Spirit; and from what she does or should enjoy in her members, and from what she will be possessed of to all eternity. Now the church, the Shulamite, is very importunately desired by the daughters of Jerusalem to return; which is said no less than four times, which shows how vehemently desirous they were of her company: and perceiving she was about to go from them, most earnestly press her to return, or to “turn” (b); to turn herself, that her beauty and comeliness might be more plainly seen; for this is the end proposed by them,
that we may look upon thee; that they might still have more opportunity of viewing her, and more narrowly to examine her beauty, for which she was so much commended; and that they might enjoy more of her company and conversation, which had been, and they might hope would be, more useful and instructive to them. A question upon this follows,
What will ye see in the Shulamite? which question is put, either by the daughters among themselves; some wishing for her return, and others asking what they expected to see in her, should she return: or rather it is put by the church herself; who asks the daughters, what they expected to see in her, a poor, mean, unworthy creature, not fit to be looked on, having nothing extraordinary, nor indeed valuable or of worth, in seeing of her? Which question is thus answered,
As it were the company of two armies: either by the daughters, declaring what they expected to see in the church; either such a glorious and joyful meeting between Christ and her, as is often between great persons, attended with singing and dancing; so the word for company is rendered by the Septuagint (c) “choroi”, a “company” of those that dance and sing; see Psa 68:24; or such an appearance as an army makes at the reception of their prince, when it is divided into two bands, for the sake of greater honour and majesty. Or rather this answer is returned by the church herself; signifying that nothing was to be seen in her but two armies, flesh and Spirit, sin and grace, continually warring against each other; which surely, she thought, could be no desirable and pleasing sight to them; see Rom 7:23.
(b) שובי επιστρεφε, Sept. “convertere”, Sanctius, Marckius. (c) כמחלת ως χοροι, Sept. “sicut chorus”, Vatablus, Marckius, Michaelis, & alii
Romans 7:23 (KJV)
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
But I see another law in my members,…. That is, he saw, he perceived it by experience; he felt the force and power of inbred corruption working in him, and as a law demanding obedience to it; and which he might well call “another law”, it being not only distinct from, but opposite to the law of God he delighted in; the one is good, the other evil; this other law is a transgression of the law of God, and which he observed to be “in his members”, i.e. in the members of his body; not that it had its seat only, or chiefly in his body, and the parts of it, but because it exerted itself by them, it made use of them to fulfil its lusts: the same phrase is used in the Targum on Psa 38:3; which renders the words there thus, there is no peace, באברי, “in my members” because of my sin: now this law was, says he,
warring against the law of my mind; by the “law of his mind” is meant, either the law of God written on his mind in conversion, and which he delighted in, and served with his mind, as renewed by the Spirit of God; or the new nature in him, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, called “the law” of it, because it was the governing principle there; which reigns, and will reign in every regenerate person through righteousness, unto eternal life, though the law of sin opposes all its force and power against it; that is not only contrary to it, lusts against it, but wars, and commits acts of hostility against it: the state of regenerate persons is a warfare, they have many enemies to combat with, as Satan and the world; but those of their own household, within themselves, in their own hearts, are the worst of all; there is a civil war in them, as it were a company of two armies, flesh and spirit, sin and grace, combating together; and so it will be as long as this life lasts; so true is that saying of the Jews (m), in which they agree with the apostle,
“as long as the righteous live, נלחמים עם יצרן, “they are at war with the corruption of their nature”; when they die they are at rest:”
hence we read of מלחמת יצן הרע, “the war of the evil imagination” (n): but what is worst of all, this is sometimes
bringing them into captivity to the law of sin, which is in their members; that is, to itself; for the law in the members, and the law of sin in the members, must be the same: and it may be said to bring into captivity to itself, when it only endeavours to do it, though it does not effect it; for sometimes words which express an effect only design the endeavour to effect, but not that itself; see Eze 24:13. But admitting that this phrase intends the real and actual effecting of it, it is to be understood of a captivity to sin, different from that an unregenerate man is in; who is a voluntary captive to sin and Satan, gives up himself to such slavery and bondage, and rather goes, than is brought or carried into it; whereas a regenerate man is, through the force of sin, and power of temptation, violently drawn and carried into captivity; in which he is held against his will, and to his great uneasiness: besides, this expression does not denote absolute dominion, which sin has not over a regenerate man; nor is it utterly inconsistent with his character as such; for as a subject of one nation may be taken a prisoner, and be carried captive into another nation, and yet remain a subject where he was, and does not become one of that country of which he is carried captive; so a regenerate man, being carried captive by sin, does not come under the absolute dominion of sin, or cease to be a subject of the kingdom of grace, or in other words, a regenerate person: moreover, the very phrase of “bringing into captivity” supposes that the person before was not a captive; whereas every unregenerate man one, was always so, and never otherwise: add to all this, that this captivity was very distressing and uneasy to the person, and makes him cry out, “O wretched man”, &c. whereas the captivity of an unregenerate person is very agreeable to him; he likes his prison, he loves his chains, and do not choose to be in any other state and condition; though, as the Jews (o) say, there is no captivity כגלות הנשמה, “like the captivity of the soul”; and nothing so grieving and afflictive to a good man as that is. The apostle uses much such language as his countrymen do, who frequently represent man as having two principles in him, the one good, the other bad; the one they call יצר הרע, “the evil imagination”, or corruption of nature; the other they call יצר הטוב, “the good imagination”, or principle of grace and goodness; which they say (p), are at continual war with each other, and the one is sometimes נשבה, “carried captive” by the other. The good imagination, they say (q), is like to one that חבוש בבית חאסורין, “is bound in a prison”; as it is said, “out of prison he cometh to reign”; to which agrees what they say (r),
“how shall I serve my Creator whilst I am אסיר יצרי, “a captive to my corruption”, and a servant to my lust?”
(m) Bereshit Rabba, Parash. 9. fol. 7. 4. (n) Tzeror Hammer, fol. 93. 3. & 113. 3. & 115. 2. & 144. 4. & 145. 1, 2. (o) Caphtor, fol. 14. 2. (p) Zohar in Gen. fol. 56. 3. (q) Pirke Abot R. Nathan, c. 16. fol. 5. 2. (r) Machzor Jud. Hispan. apud L. Capell. in Rom. vi. 16.