The compliments of the King (Song 1:9-10)

It would not be regarded as very complimentary today for a woman to be likened to a horse. Yet that has not always been the case, and perhaps the best known example from the ancient world is when Helen of Troy was likened to a horse. Here the king is comparing the lady to a horse dressed for a royal parade in which the chariots of Pharaoh would participate, such as a victory parade or a marital parade. Given the status of Egypt at the time, we can assume that they would have the best royal parades.

The king is saying the woman that she is suitable for participating in such a parade. When we apply this in a spiritual way, we are being informed that Jesus tells his people that they are suitable to take part in his parade, and that they are already taking part in it. After all, Jesus and his people are marching together through this world, and from the point of view of heaven it is a victory parade.

Then the king comments on the ornaments and jewellery that she is wearing. I would suggest that there are two ways of looking at this detail. First, we could say that she has done her best to look her best for the king. Second, the best place for her to obtain suitable jewellery would be from the treasure house of the king. It would be customary for a host to provide guests with suitable attire to wear, and here the king is the host, and normally he would provide everything for his guests. It is not difficult for us to see the spiritual equivalent of this. Obviously, it should be our desire to look our best for the King, and the only place where we can obtain such attractive provisions is from the King himself.

There is another detail that we can observe from his focus on her jewellery and that is the fact that he is concentrating on what is visible, not just to him, but also to others who can see her. We know that in the spiritual life there are features of each Christian that cannot be truly observed by others. For example, none of us knows how often another believer spends time in secret with the Lord. At the same time, there are features that are visible, and that should be visible to everyone. We could borrow an illustration from the apostle Paul when he exhorts believers to put on certain graces as spiritual clothing. He tells us to put on love and elsewhere Peter tells us to be clothed with humility. These are the features in a Christian’s character that make him or her attractive to Jesus.

We should also observe the way that the king addresses her – he calls her ‘my love’. How did he find her? With regard to Solomon we do not know, although some think a clue is given in the reference to Pharaoh’s chariot, which is that he found her in Egypt. It is the case that Egypt was the enemy of Israel, and in that sense the lady would be a good example of where Jesus found those he loved – he found them in the world, enemies of God. Yet Jesus loved them, and his love showed itself by his willingness to go to the cross and purchase her for himself and then give to her the many graces that he purchased for her at the same time.

Whether Solomon found her in Egypt, it is the case that since he is the king his love can only be described as gracious love because whoever the woman was she did not merit in herself such a blessing. So we take either aspect – Egypt or unworthy – and see in his statement of affection a beautiful insight into the heart of Jesus, and into the reality that he loves to communicate his love to his people.

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