Borders of Gold with Studs of Silver

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 27 August 2010


“We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver” (Songs of Solomon 1:11)

The Song of Songs is a poem written by King Solomon not too long after he became king. If we read the poem literally, we see a love story between a Shulamite woman and her lover. The story begins in their courtship days and ends at their day of marriage.

For the most part, the poem is made up of dialogue between the woman and her lover, with some interjection by friends and relatives. But who is this woman and her lover? Many commentators believe that the lover was Solomon himself, whereas the Shulamite woman was the concubine of David who must have been given to him to be his wife when David died.

But this may not be the best interpretation, for in the first place, the lover is painted as a shepherd in the song (1:7), and Solomon was not quite a shepherd although he did own flocks of sheep. In the second place, by the time this Song was written, Solomon had 60 queens, and 80 concubines, and the number was increasing because there were “virgins without number” (SS 6:8)! Whatever romance that Solomon enjoyed would unlikely be the pure and chaste one as depicted in this poem.

Who then were these two persons? Well, in the final analysis, I think we have to come to the conclusion that if you look at the Song literally, that these two persons did not really exist. Solomon was not writing the love story between two real persons. He was writing, I believe, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a parable of perfect love personified,—a parable of the love between the Messiah and His bride.

There is no doubt that if we look at the picture that he paints merely on the surface, we will see a romantic story between a Shulamite girl and Solomon picturing himself as a shepherd (or vice-versa). But there is also no doubt in our minds that this story is not to be interpreted literally, for else it will make no sense as part of the Holy Scriptures.

On the other hand it makes perfect sense to interpret the poem spiritually or allegorically, for everywhere in Scripture is Christ portrayed as a Shepherd, a King, and a Husband as in the Song. And similarly, everywhere in the Scripture, we find the Church portrayed as the Bride, and the Beloved of the Husband.

Indeed, this is the only way we must interpret this book if we are going to find spiritual promises applicable to all of us from this book.

Well, when we interpret this book Christologically like that, we will see that the whole book points to an implicit promise, which is the marriage of the Bride to the Bridegroom. In fact, this whole book is about the courtship between the Shepherd and the Shulamite. It begins with the Shepherd coming to look for the Shulamite at her home and ends with their wedding.

So this book allegorically points us to the Great Wedding Supper of the Lamb, or to the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the day that we are all looking forward to. But this implicit promise is only expressed explicitly though indirectly in one verse in this whole book, namely, chapter 1, verse 11—

We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.

The Lord helping us, let us study these words. Let’s do so under 3 heads. First, let us understand who is the ‘we’ that is speaking. Secondly, what do the borders of gold with studs of silver represent? Thirdly, we want to ask when this promise would be fulfilled.


1. Who?

It is clear that the words of our text is spoken to the Shulamite. The Hebrew which is translated as ‘thee’ is in the feminine, so it can’t be spoken to the Shepherd. Now, the Shulamite represents the church of Christ.

But who are the speakers? Who are the ‘we’ of our text? Who said “we will make thee borders of gold, etc…

Now, as I mentioned, on the surface most of this book contains a dialogue between the Shepherd and the Shulamite.

There are, however, occasional interjections by the friends and relatives of the Shulamite. For example, in the second part of verse 4, we have the words, “we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine.” Who are the ‘we’ who say these words? Well, the Shulamite addresses them as the “daughters of Jerusalem” (v. 5); so they are probably the friends of the Shulamite.

But what about in our text? Who are the ‘we’ in our text? Well, looking at the poem literally, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the speakers are the daughters of Jerusalem.

However, who would these daughters of Jerusalem represent in the courtship between Christ and His bride? Well, certainly they cannot refer to the unbelieving world for they will not rejoice in the marriage between Christ and his bride.

Who then are these?  Well, we are left with two options.

The first option is the Trinity. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary insists: “the Trinity is implied by the Holy Ghost, whether it was so by the writer of the Song or not.” Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole and James Durham agree.

Well, that is possible. But another possibility is that they point to the angels in heaven, whom the apostle Peter suggest are leaning over the parapet of heaven looking earnestly at the development of drama of redemption unfolding before them (1 Pet 1:12).

Whatever the case may be, one thing is sure: Heaven will conspire to make “borders of gold with studs of silver” for the bride of Christ for her wedding day! This is the promise.

But…


2. What?

What do the “borders of gold with studs of silver” represent? Well, in the first place, we should note that the word translated ‘borders’ (rwTo) is usually translated as ‘ornament’ as in the NKJV, NASB, or ESV.

But there are a couple of Hebrew words that clearly mean ‘ornament’ such as ydi[} (Ex 33:4-6 etc) and ylij} (Prov 25:12).

Those words are not used in our text. On the other hand, the word used is related to a verb to mean ‘search out’ as in go around and search out something. So it is very possible that ‘border’ as in the hem of the wedding dress is the intended meaning.

But whatever the case maybe, clear that it refers to “a beautiful and honorable ornament” (Poole) which no doubt is intended to adorn the bride on her wedding day.

As the apostle Paul puts it, on the wedding day, Christ as the bridegroom will present the church “to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27).

We may not know exactly what Solomon meant by the border or the ornament, but one thing is sure, it is intended to enhance the beauty of the bride just like the jewellery she wears on the wedding day.

As Matthew Henry puts it:

“Whatever is wanting shall be made up, till the church and every true believer come to be perfect in beauty.

All heaven will conspire to make sure that the Bride at the wedding supper of the lamb will be perfect and without blemish. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will see to it; and the angels will, no doubt, be involved in some ways to carry out what may need to be done to prepare the church.

As the LORD says to the Church through Ezekiel:

“And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezk 16:14).

What a glorious hope we may have as we look forward to that day when we shall adorn the ornaments of gold and silver to share in the glory of our Lord and Saviour at the dawn of a new day in eternity.

But…


3. When?

When would that be? Well, the promise points to the day of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. That will be at the end of the present era of redemptive history. It will be the Last Day of these Last Days that we are in.

But when that will be, we don’t know. Even the Son of God did not know.

One thing we know is that it is a day we should look forward to and prepare for. The Lord Jesus reminds us in the parable of the Ten Virgins that we must be prepared for that day.

Ten Virgins were looking forward to the coming of the bridegroom. Five had enough oil; five did not. Who do the virgins represent? They represent the members of the church of Christ, no doubt. The bride represents the church triumphant as a whole; but the virgins represent the individual members in the church militant.

The promise we have is that “He which hath begun a good work in [us] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

Today we are imperfect and not ready for the Wedding Banquet. Imagine how a bride will feel if she has to go to her wedding in a shabby wedding gown, with hair unkempt, and face covered with pimples and caked with mud.

Well, that is the state we are in today. But thank God we will be ready for the wedding. God the Father has elected us. He has already given permission for the wedding.

God the Son laid His life down for us and has purchased for us all that we need to bring to the Banquet including the garment of righteousness. He has ornaments of grace made available to us to adorn our wedding garment for the perfect day.

And God the Spirit is making use of all that has been purchased for us to prepare us for life in the eternal mansion. He is changing us little by little from inside out so that we are more and more able to enjoy heaven.

And the angels: they are “all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Heb 1:14). We don’t know exactly what they do. But one thing we know, they are sent to minister to us on our journey.

I can’t prove it, but I wonder if the angels have not at times kept us from serious accidents so that we may live to thank God.

Whatever, it may be, we know that come the day of the wedding supper of the Lamb; we will be ready. All of us will be ready. All our blemishes and flaws that make us bicker and quarrel with one another today will be gone. All our sinful tendencies will be gone. There will be no more hatred, suffering or tears. All that remains will be beautiful persons who love one another—eager to enjoy one another in Christ for all eternity.


Conclusion

We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.

The wedding supper of the Lamb is an event that I trust we are all looking forward to.

Let us remember that we must prepare for it by working out our salvation with fear and trembling. But let us also remember that we will never be able to prepare adequately for it. Therefore thank God that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). And he is directing his angels and saints to accomplish that purpose.

We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.

Thank God that we do not have to prepare alone for we shall never be good enough for our bridegroom.

Thank God that day by day, little by little we see the work that is being done in our heart to prepare us for the great and glorious day. Amen. Ω

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