Song of Solomon 3:11
by Rev. Hugh Ferrier
"Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart" (Song of Solomon 3, 11).
Here we have a picture of this king being crowned by his mother with what is called a 'chaplet'. A chaplet was really a garland or a wreath; and in this particular case it was a wreath of gold - a round, circular wreath of gold - and it was placed upon the groom's head. It was something that was used in marriage. It was here used with regard to Solomon's wedding day. His mother crowns him as he goes forth on this the happiest and most joyous day of his life.
The Song of Solomon is a story about a bride and a bridegroom. In our evangelical tradition this story has a spiritual interpretation; we refer this story to Christ and to His Bride, which is the Church. Here we find Solomon; he makes a chariot for himself and his bride. "He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem" (v.10). This chariot has been interpreted by some of the old Scottish divines, particularly by James Durham - a very famous Scottish expositor of the eighteenth century - and he refers to this as the Covenant of Grace that Christ has made on behalf of His people. You see this covenant, which has been made between God the Father and Christ the Son, has promises built into it for the people of God who are the Bride of Christ. This covenant is full of promises giving guarantees and assurances to those who are in Christ that they will be conveyed, most surely and most certainly, into the palace of the King of kings, into glory itself.
What I want to do this morning is to look at the verse before us and just note two points: that this verse is really referring to Christ's coronation, which outshines the glory and the splendour of the coronation of Solomon; and also we notice here the great festal occasion that is going to be there after the crowning of the King. So let's look at these two points together.
In the first instance we have Christ's coronation which outshines the glory and the splendour of Solomon's coronation. Could there be anything of greater splendour than the coronation of Solomon the son of David? But you see that coronation fades into insignificance in comparison with the coronation of Christ. The daughters of Zion are the members of the church. Here you see the members of the church are asked to "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon..." - and behold Christ, "with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart" (text). Isn't it said of Christ, with regard to the church of Jesus, "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion" (Psalms 2, 6)? That is what we have done with Christ. We have set Him upon the holy hill of Zion and we are now asked, you see, to behold our King. There are two passages actually in the Book of Revelation that have to do with Christ and his kingship. The first is in what we call the four horsemen of the apocalypse. You remember how John on his island prison saw four horsemen? Here was the first horseman. He was sitting on a white charger, crowned and riding on this white horse of his. There you see Christ. He is riding across the canvas of history, subduing men and women to Himself. He is a victorious King as he rides across the canvas of history. He is followed by another horse, but this horse is a red horse. What is the significance of the red horse? It is the horse of persecution - the red blood. After Christ has come, here is the persecution that sets in against the church of Jesus Christ and against all that is called God. Then there is the third horseman of the apocalypse. As he rides upon his horse he has a pair of balances, and it's an indication of how there would be tremendous famine and all sorts of things happening to the church of Jesus Christ. Last of all there is the grey horse, and there is the rider on the grey horse. As he rides across the canvas of history, what is he called? He is called Death; and Hell follows him.
John, later on in that marvellous revelation that he had been given on the island of Patmos, tells us, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and [this is the point] on his head were many crowns..." (Revelation 19, 11-12). We ask ourselves, what are the crowns that Christ wears, these marvellous crowns that we are asked to behold? As you and I look at Christ today - there He is, crowned with many crowns!
I would suggest to you, and to myself, that as I look at Christ I see Him with the crown of His humiliation. It's a wonderful crown, a very beautiful crown, because here He is, this great Prince, this Son of God, this King of kings and Lord of lords, this Christ who was there with His Father before the world was ever created. He journeys to our universe; and in a sense He lays aside the glory of His Godhood and enters into our manhood. This great King, we are told in the Shorter Catechism, has two natures: one nature is divine and the other nature is human. Here we see Him in His humanity - the Son of Man He is called. Pilate, when he has Him on trial, says "Behold the man!" (John 19, 5). There is Jesus in this wonderful crown of His manhood.
What does it suggest to you and to me? Do you see that infant baby in the cradle in Bethlehem? This is the Son of God! Was there ever a baby like Him? He didn't have an Adamic nature as you and I have. No, his nature was a divine nature, and there he is, cradled in a manger. This Son of God who becomes the son of man who - as one of the great American theologians has said it - "This Son of man is no man's son; He is God's Son." Do you see Him, crowned with the crown of His humanity? Think of Him as a boy. Was there ever a boy like Him? Oh yes, He was just a boy like any other boy. Later on in His parables as He spoke to them, He could speak about the children in their games, and with their playthings. He knew all about that. Yet as a boy of twelve, when His parents had lost Him as they had gone up to Jerusalem for the Passover and as they are travelling back home, here He is... Jesus their Son, and He's disappeared. They go back searching for Him, and where is He? He is in the temple with the famous doctors, discussing and asking questions. When they say, "We've been searching for you; you've caused us distress": "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2, 49). Here you see Him in His manhood.
Then you see Him moving into adult life. You see Him coming to the peak of His manhood at the age of 30. Here his great work begins as He sets His face towards Jerusalem. Beyond Jerusalem is the Hill of the Skull where He is going to die the death of deaths. O, this crown of his manhood, it's a beautiful crown!
There is another crown that I see Jesus wearing. What is it? It is a crown of shame. What a price our King had to pay for us, if we are His people. What a price! You know our debt of sin had to be met. That is why it tells us in the Bible that our judgement was laid upon Him - our judgement! Our judgement is damnation, and it was laid upon Him. Our stripes - O how we deserve these stripes! He was smitten and afflicted of God, and of course our sins merited all that happened to Jesus. Our sins merited that awesome death of crucifixion at Calvary. Remember what the Roman soldiers did to Him in the praetorium at His trial? For fun, they went outside, got some thorn bushes, twisted them, and made them into a chaplet. As we were talking about earlier, they made them into a crown and placed this awful thing upon His head. You can almost see the rivers of blood flowing down that precious face and head of His.
Man of Sorrows! what a nameFor the Son of God, Who cameRuined sinners to reclaim.Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Pilate says, "Behold the Man! There's your king; he's only got a crown of thorns. Shall I crucify your king?" "Away with him! Away with him! We will not have this man to reign over us!" (John 19, 15 & Luke 19, 14). Ah, but isn't that the cry of Inverness today? Isn't that the cry of the people of this town that you and I are living in, or city as it's now called? "Away with him! Away with him!"
I remember reading that wonderful poem of that great Free Church minister [Horatius Bonar] of the past century - oh what men of God they were! - and he wrote these words:I see the crowd in Pilate's hall,Their furious cries I hear;Their shouts of "Crucify!" appall,Their curses fill mine ear.And of that shouting multitudeI feel that I am one,And in that din of voices rudeI recognize my own. I see the scourgers rend the fleshOf God's beloved Son;And as they smite I feel afreshThat I of them am one.Around the Cross the throng I seeThat mock the Sufferer's groan,Yet still my voice it seems to be,As if I mocked alone. 'Twas I that shed that sacred Blood,I nailed him to the Tree,I crucified the Christ of God,I joined the mockery.Yet not the less that Blood availsTo cleanse me from sin,And not the less that Cross prevailsTo give me peace within. Isn't that how you feel, when you look back to your unconverted days? Yet not the less that Blood availsTo cleanse me from sin,And not the less that Cross prevailsTo give me peace within. says Bonar.Oh thank God for the crown of thorns!
But there's another crown. What is it? It's the crown of His Priesthood. Among the garments and the articles that were worn by Aaron the great high priest, there was the mitre, and the mitre was really a crown. Engraven on the mitre were these words "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" (Exodus 39, 30). Aaron was there to make a sacrifice for the children of Israel, and he was also there to intercede. And, you know, this is what Christ is, He is our great High Priest. This is what the writer to the Hebrews says: "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek" (Hebrews 5, 6; Hebrews 7, 17; Hebrews 7, 21). Our Priest offered a sacrifice for His people. Our Priest, King Jesus, offered a sacrifice for us. What was the sacrifice? It was Himself! He offered up Himself to God. Not only did He perform a great act of atonement at Calvary but, after that, He ascended into the inner sanctuary and that is where Christ is at this moment. He left this world of ours after forty days. The people of Jerusalem were watching and suddenly those disciples, who had gone to see Him as he left the Mount of Olives, saw his figure ascending up through the clouds, back to heaven. They didn't know he was leaving of course. The angels came and they said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1, 11). What a joyful day that's going to be, when Christ comes back! When the rocks are rent, when the graves are opened, when the general resurrection takes place, when the great white throne is set up, and when Christ judges righteous judgement upon all men and women. Behold Christ, with the crown of his priesthood. Isn't He wonderful? O, what a wonderful Saviour!
I see him also with the crown of His Kingship. You know in the offices given to Christ, He is our Prophet, He is our Priest and He is our King. As our King, what does a king do? He conquers! This is what Christ has done for us. He has conquered all His and our enemies. Who is our greatest enemy? It is the prince of darkness, that old serpent the devil. O what mischief the devil has done and the devil has made! But he is defeated, and he knows that. He knows that his time is short; and awaiting him and his angels is the bottomless pit. Do you think that hell is a place where the devil rules and where the devil is almost, as it were, giving orders here and there and everywhere? My dear friend, it's not like that at all. In hell the devil is suffering - and what suffering! He is being subdued; Christ has conquered him. On that cross He "spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2, 15). No wonder the devil tried to stop Christ from going to the cross. He knew that once that death was accomplished at Calvary, his kingdom was finished.
And so Christ has broken the power of sin, and He has broken the hold that sin has upon His people - upon you, upon me, if we know Him as our Saviour. 'Oh,' you say, 'I don't feel it like that; I still feel the power of sin in my life.' But I tell you this, my dear friend, the power that it exercises, the dominating power that sin exercises, has been broken. You are not under the law of a broken covenant, you are under grace. Not only that, but He subdues our will so that we give obedience - not perhaps all the obedience we would like to give, but we give obedience to Christ. So I say to you, Christ is there with the crown of His Kingship.
One more crown that I see - and we could speak about many - is the crown of his eternal Godhood. You see, He is King of kings, and Lord of lords. In heaven, saints and angels adore him. The redeemed who are there in glory, cast their crowns before Him. What is their song? "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4, 11). Ah, that is our King. Behold Him. Go out to meet Him.
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
In eternity, my dear friend, we will join with the angels; we will join with the redeemed when the ultimate act of our Lord's coronation takes place, when Christ shall be admired in His saints. When that comes, we will gladly cast our crowns before Him.
I just want to go on to notice that Christ's marriage banquet, O it surpasses by far the marriage banquet of Solomon. You see, after the coronation, the marriage of the Lamb takes place. What I would say about that is this. You know this Christ Jesus that we are talking about? He is a successful suitor; He came from heaven to woo us. That's what He does: He overwhelms us with His love. You cannot but fall in love with this Christ. In our unregenerate state - and I speak from experience, as you do too - we didn't find Christ very attractive, did we? What was Christ like to us in our unconverted days? Well, as the prophet Isaiah tells us, He was "as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53, 2). You take that root out of the dry ground, shake it, shake the earth off it; what are you left with but a shapeless mass. Ah but, in the ground, when the time of year comes round it will blossom into something of beauty. Remember the day when your eyes were opened - do you? Suddenly you saw this Saviour for what He was. Your eyes were opened and you saw Him altogether lovely, the fairest among ten thousand; and today you wouldn't change Him for anyone or anything, would you? How successfully Christ wooed you to Himself.
He is very patient, this Christ. What does it tell us about the bridegroom in the Song of Solomon? He waits patiently throughout the hours of the night and throughout the hours of the darkness. We are given a description of how His head is wet with the dew of the morning, and His locks with the drops of the night. Hour after hour of that long night He waits, standing there knocking, seeking admission to your life and to mine. And yet the door was fast closed upon Him - "We will not have this man to reign over us," (Luke 19, 14). Then, suddenly, we were smitten by His love and we fell in love with Christ. We're not sorry are we? Not only that, but this heavenly Wooer, He has made us His honoured bride. You are the honoured bride and so am I, unseemly as we might have been. Ah yes, what were we like in our unconverted days? From the crown of the head to the soles of the feet we were full of wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. But He took us up; He clothed us with His spotless garments; He cleansed us and made us into new creatures in Christ Jesus.
It reminds me of the story of the abandoned female child in the open field, which is spoken of by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16). There is this infant baby girl, abandonedt in the open field. What's in front of this tiny infant? Nothing but death! Then says God, "I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live...and thou becamest mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil" (Ezekiel 16, 6; Ezekiel 8, 9). Eventually this child grew into a beautiful bride. And, says this heavenly Lover, "I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine" (Ezekiel 16, 8). It's the story of our salvation. Could anything be more wonderful than to be joined to Christ in an everlasting covenant?
Then there is the festal joy. What is that? Well, one day He will gather us home to the eternal state. When that eternal state begins it will be the gladness of our hearts. "Come, ye blessed of my Father," Christ will say, "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25, 34). O, what gifts He has to bestow! "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2, 9). No wonder Samuel Rutherford, the old Covenanter, said:
The bride eyes not her garment,But her dear Bridegroom's face;I will not gaze at gloryBut on my King of grace.Not at the crown He givethBut on His pierced hand;The Lamb is all the gloryOf Emmanuel's land.
What a privilege yours is, my believing friend. What a Christ you've got! What a Saviour! What a King! Do you not value Him?
Is there someone here who hasn't come to Christ? Will you not come to this great Saviour? Will you not come to Jesus who says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11, 28). You know, it's true, He will give you rest. Come running to Him; run into His arms, so to speak. Again I quote to you old Samuel Rutherford. What a man he was. He used to say that he was a little frail man. But O, how he could present Christ to his audience! And he used to say this, 'O! If you saw the beauty of Jesus, if you smelled the fragrance of His love, you would run through fire and water to be at Him.' That's Christ. Isn't He worth your love? I can only plead with you and say: may you, by the grace of God, flee to Jesus. What is there for you in this world? - very, very little - if anything. What is there for you in that world? - all the riches of heaven.