Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 23: The Song of Songs & Hymns, by Watchman Nee


Verse 15 says, "Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes." This praise is for the purpose of encouraging her. The first "thou art fair" encourages her, whereas the second "thou art fair" praises her eyes as being doves’ eyes. The eyes of a dove, in their literal sense, are a description of the beauty of the eyes. Spiritually speaking, this means having spiritual insight. As far as their function is concerned, doves’ eyes can only see one thing at one time. Therefore, functionally speaking, this means purity. The maiden has received revelation; she has obtained spiritual insight. She has also put the myrrh between her breasts, and she has a pure heart. Hence, the King can now praise her.


Verse 16 says, "Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant." He is not only fair, but pleasant. This is her response to the King.

"Also our bed is green." The maiden has attained the rest which she had previously sought. There is feeding as well. The grass is the bed, and the reclining is the rest. This matches Psalm 23:2, which says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures;/He leads me to waters of rest." The table which was mentioned previously also has the element of rest, but the emphasis there was on eating. Here the bed has an element of eating, but the emphasis is on rest. If a shepherd is not skillful, his sheep will not stop eating when they are put in a green pasture. But if the shepherd is skillful, his sheep will be able to lie down even though they are in the green pasture. They will have satisfaction and rest.

Verse 17 says, "The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir." The fir is cypress. The cedar is a tall and strong tree. In the Bible, it refers to a humanity that is filled with glory. Many things in the Bible are made of cedar. Many things are made of cypress. Cypress is produced in a place called "death city." The Jews planted cypress beside their graves. Hence, cypress signifies the Lord’s death.

Under such a condition, the maiden is at rest. Grass signifies everything that is living, that has life, and that can serve as food. We can only rest when we lie on top of this grass. Our shelter is the Lord’s glorious humanity and His death. In Solomon’s temple, there were two chief kinds of wood—cedar and cypress. In other words, only these two kinds of wood are qualified to be material for God’s habitation. God dwells among the cedar and the cypress. We can now rest in God’s dwelling place.

Verse 2:1 says, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." This verse comes immediately after 1:17. This word is not spoken by the King, but by the maiden. If this word were spoken by the King, it would be hard to interpret. If this were the King’s word, it would not make sense for him to say in the next verse that the maiden is a lily. "Sharon" is a plain, and the "rose" can be considered as a kind of wild lily or wild rose. This flower is considered a despicable plant in the land of Judea. The lily of the valleys is ordinary and unassuming. It is "the lily of the valleys," and not "the lily of the pot." It is not cared for by man, but by God.

The maiden acknowledges that she is a rose of Sharon and a lily of the valleys because the King praises her in 1:15. On the one hand, in 1:16-17 she praises the King, and on the other hand, she mentions rest. She mentions herself as merely being a rose of the wilderness and a lily of the valleys. This means that she is not worth anything in herself and that she is but an ordinary person cared for by God.


Verse 2 says, "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." The King is saying that she is indeed a lily, not in contrast to the valleys, but in contrast to the thorns. This means that the maiden is a lily, whereas everyone else is just thorns.

According to the Bible, thorns refer to two things. First, they refer to man’s natural life after Adam’s fall. The basis for saying this is Genesis 3:18. There the thorns grew by themselves and did not come out as a result of sowing. Another basis for saying this is in Exodus 3, the chapter on the thornbush. The fire was burning, yet the thornbush was not consumed. The fire and the light did not come from the thorns themselves, but from God. God used the thorns, but He did not cause any loss to the thorns. This means that God would use Moses to deal with the Israelites and the Gentiles according to Himself, and not according to man’s natural life. A proper testimony has, as its capital, not things from man, but things from God. God did not use anything that came from Moses; He only used that which issued from Himself. Second, the thorns signify that which grows out of the natural realm. This refers to the results of sin and the natural self. It is typified by the thorns in Matthew 13:7. The thorns in Hebrews 6:8 signify the fruit that comes out of a person’s own self-will, whose end is to be burned.

The word "daughters" is "maidens" (RSV); it is plural in number. These maidens are not the daughters of Jerusalem. The Lord considers those who pursue after Him as lilies, unlike those who are born of sin. The Lord declares them to be different from those who live in sin. There is sinful living and the natural life all around them, but these ones are different. They are the ones who have faith (the lilies). At the same time, this hints at the sufferings a seeker endures in the midst of an environment of natural and sinful living.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 23: The Song of Songs & Hymns, Chapter 4, by Watchman Nee)