The spouse aspires to an union with Christ, their mutual love for one another.
1:1. Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine,
Let him kiss me... The church, the spouse of Christ, prays that he may love and have peace with her, which the spouse prefers to every thing delicious: and therefore expresses (ver. 2) that young maidens, that is the souls of the faithful, have loved thee.
1:2. Smelling sweet of the best ointments. Thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee.
1:3. Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the rightous love thee.
Draw me... That is, with thy grace: otherwise I should not be able to come to thee. This metaphor shews that we cannot of ourselves come to Christ our Lord, unless he draws us by his grace, which is laid up in his storerooms: that is, in the mysteries of Faith, which God in his goodness and love for mankind hath revealed, first by his servant Moses in the Old Law in figure only, and afterwards in reality by his only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
1:4. I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
I am black but beautiful... That is, the church of Christ founded in humility appearing outwardly afflicted, and as it were black and contemptible; but inwardly, that is, in its doctrine and morality, fair and beautiful.
1:5. Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept.
1:6. Shew me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions.
1:7. If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds.
If thou know not thyself, etc... Christ encourages his spouse to follow and watch her flock: and though she know not entirely the power at hand to assist her, he tells her, ver. 8, my company of horsemen, that is, his angels, are always watching and protecting her. And in the following verses he reminds her of the virtues and gifts with which he has endowed her.
1:8. To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love.
1:9. Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels.
1:10. We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.
1:11. While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof.
1:12. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts.
1:13. A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi.
1:14. Behold thou are fair, O my love, behold thou are fair, thy eyes are as those of doves.
1:15. Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing.
1:16. The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees.
Canticle of Canticles Chapter 2
Christ caresses his spouse: he invites her to him.
2:1. I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.
I am the flower of the field... Christ professes himself the flower of mankind, yea, the Lord of all creatures: and, ver. 2, declares the excellence of his spouse, the true church above all other societies, which are to be considered as thorns.
2:2. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
2:3. As the apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow, whom I desired: and his fruit was sweet to my palate.
2:4. He brought me into the cellar of wine, he set in order charity in me.
2:5. Stay me up with flowers, compass me about with apples: because I languish with love.
2:6. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.
2:7. I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and the harts of the field, that you stir not up, nor make the beloved to awake, till she please.
2:8. The voice of my beloved, behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills.
The voice of my beloved: that is, the preaching of the gospel surmounting difficulties figuratively here expressed by mountains and little hills.
2:9. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart. Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices.
2:10. Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come.
2:11. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone.
2:12. The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land:
2:13. The fig tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come:
2:14. My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.
2:15. Catch us the little foxes that destroy the vines: for our vineyard hath flourished.
Catch us the little foxes... Christ commands his pastors to catch false teachers, by holding forth their fallacy and erroneous doctrine, which like foxes would bite and destroy the vines.
2:16. My beloved to me, and I to him who feedeth among the lilies,
2:17. Till the day break, and the shadows retire. Return: be like, my beloved, to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.
Canticle of Canticles Chapter 3
The spouse seeks Christ. The glory of his humanity.
3:1. In my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and found him not.
In my bed by night, etc... The Gentiles as in the dark, and seeking in heathen delusion what they could not find, the true God, until Christ revealed his doctrine to them by his watchmen, (ver. 3,) that is, by the apostles, and teachers by whom they were converted to the true faith; and holding that faith firmly, the spouse (the Catholic Church) declares, ver. 4, That she will not let him go, till she bring him into her mother's house, etc., that is, till at last, the Jews also shall find him.
3:2. I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I found him not.
3:3. The watchmen who keep the city, found me: Have you seen him, whom my soul loveth?
3:4. When I had a little passed by them, I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.