Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
Song of Solomon (Canticles) 1:1
Chapter 1 presents in the most clear and simple manner the assurance of the full enjoyment of blessing; but still, though affection be there, all is more characterised by desire than by peace. And after this we find exercises of heart, that lead to a full understanding of the Beloved One's affection. There is progress in this intelligence, and that in spite of the faults and slothfulness of heart, which gives a fresh value to the affection that is in exercise. This mode of instruction is found in the Psalms, in which the first Verses frequently give the thesis and the result, which is reached through circumstances that are afterwards detailed. Besides the peacefulness of the affection which subsists in a known relation, there is another sign of an affection in exercise when the relation is not formally established. The heart is occupied with the qualities, with the features, of the Beloved One. When, on the contrary, the object is possessed, it is with that object itself the heart is occupied. No doubt the qualities are a source of happiness; but while the position gives the enjoyment of these, it is the person who manifests them that is thought of. The grace, the kindness, or similar qualities, may attract the heart, and it is occupied with them. But, the relationship once formed, it is the person we think of, whose qualities are now, so to say, our own.
The loved one speaks much here of the qualities of her Beloved; she loves to speak of them, and to others. It may be said that the Beloved does so yet more, although He knows the relation in which He stands to her. This is true; but, as she is not yet in it, He is fain to reassure her with respect to her value in His eyes. He therefore speaks constantly of it to herself. Moreover, this is suitable to the position of man and of woman, and so much the more as it is really Christ Himself in question. Christ, in a certain sense, suffices to Himself. He needs not to go and talk to others of that which is in His heart. His love is a love of grace. But it is infinitely precious to us-when, in our utter unworthiness, we might doubt the possibility of His affection, even because it is so inestimable-and very affecting, as well as precious, to see Him manifesting His sense of her value, that her beauty is perfect in His eyes, that He has observed all her features, that one look has ravished His heart, that His dove, His undefiled, is the only one, that there is no spot in her. There is perfect grace in this reassuring testimony of the Bridegroom's part. It is the chief subject of His discourse. It is that which her heart needed.
There is much more variety in the exercises of her heart; there are even failures and sorrows arising from her faults. There is also an evident progress in her assurance. The song commences with the bride's declaration that her heart needs this testimony. She acknowledges that she is black, because of the scorching rays of the sun of affliction. She seeks shelter in the presence of her Beloved, who makes His flock to rest at noon. She would belong to Him only. She fears now to wander among the shepherds of Israel. But if the Spirit of the Lord reminds her of those former testimonies of the law and the prophets, her heart is not silent, and the heart of the Beloved overflows in the testimony of her value in His eyes. The suitability of all this to the remnant in the last days is evident. The rest of the chapter contains testimonies of affection, which present the idea that is the thesis of the book.