Verse 3 says, "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."
Now she takes her turn to compare the King to the sinners. "The sons" refer to all the things that capture one’s heart, everything that is desired (Gen. 3:6), everything that can serve as the master of one’s heart, and everyone to whom the believer’s heart would turn.
Notice the words "apple tree among the trees." In the original language "apple" is "bergamot orange." It is an evergreen plant and does not shed its leaves in winter. Outwardly, it looks somewhat like a pomegranate, and it tastes somewhat like an orange and lemon. "The sons" can only be compared to ordinary trees, whereas the beloved has three characteristics: (1) He can become a forest. Emphasis is placed on the word "wood," which denotes tallness. (2) His overshadowing never fails. He is an evergreen and therefore provides shade all the time. (3) He bears fruit. Many trees are green but do not bear fruit. He is tall, overshadowing, and fruitful. The maiden has come to realize the Lord as the One who is all in all.
Prior to this, she has given herself fully to the Lord. But now she declares her testimony; these are the words out of her mouth, what she says publicly to all men. She not only acknowledges that He is the wine, but she praises the wine itself. At this time no person or thing can usurp her heart any longer. There are no longer divisions in the church into those of Paul and those of Apollos, which divisions are but things of the flesh (1 Cor. 3:3-4). Now the Lord has filled her sight.
"With great delight" can be translated as "joyously." Sitting down under His shadow means being exalted, and it carries the sense of being raptured. One is joyous because he sits under His shadow, meaning that he feels as if he is being raptured to His presence.
The shadow is in contrast to and echoes the shining of the sun in 1:6. Here is rest (Psa. 91:1).
"His fruit was sweet." The eating in Song of Songs 2:3 is somewhat different from the eating in 1:12. There the emphasis was on the Lord Himself. Here the fruit refers to what the Lord’s life and work have acquired for us, such as justification, sanctification, peace, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, she rejoices at His presence. On the other hand, she enjoys what He has acquired for her in His presence. Every time we taste this fruit, it is sweet to our taste.
Verse 1:4 speaks of running after, whereas 1:8 speaks of following. In 1:12-14 she may be sitting down, but nothing is said of her posture. In 1:16-17 there is no explicit verb. In this verse (2:3) she properly "sat down" to enjoy His presence. It seems as if her condition is officially acknowledged. In 1:16-17 she was resting already; this verse is merely an official announcement of what she enjoyed and acquired in 1:16-17. The actual history is in 1:16-17, whereas this verse is a narration of that history.
Verse 4 says, "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." The banqueting house can be translated as the house of wine; it is the place where one is free to enjoy as much as he desires. The King’s bringing her in here is the second bringing (the first being in 1:4). The enjoyment of the fruit and the banqueting house is somewhat different from the table of the King. The banqueting house is the place where one entertains guests; the emphasis is on joy. Once there is the first consecration, and once a person passes through the way of the cross and sees all the achievements that the Lord has accomplished for him, he is spontaneously brought to the house of wine. In other words, the King brings us into the chambers for the purpose of giving us revelation, and He brings us into the house of wine for the purpose of giving us joy, the joy of the presence of the King.
"His banner over me was love." This means that love is the unfurled standard. The whole matter relates to love. A banner shows what one does; it is a kind of motto. Our banner is love, which means that everything we do is based on love.
Verse 5 says, "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love." The word "comfort" may be translated as "revive." To be sick of love is to be joyous to the point of exhaustion. This is like Mr. Moody, who was so filled with joy that he could no longer bear it; he had to ask the Lord to stop it.
The main point of this verse is a beckoning for moderation. It is good to be in His presence, but the experience of the saints of old shows us that when they were overwhelmed, they fell down as dead. This verse says that what the maiden enjoys is more than she can handle. There is a measure to our capacity to enjoy the Lord. We have to ask the Lord to increase our strength before we can enjoy more. Otherwise, when we see too much, our capacity will come short of what we want to enjoy. An earthen vessel does not have enough capacity; there is a need to receive more strength from the Lord to increase our capacity for enjoyment.
Verse 6 says, "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me." "His left hand is under my head." This means He is lifting the maiden’s head to behold Him. The most natural position to embrace someone is to embrace with the right hand. The emphasis is on the protection and support of love. The emphasis is not on the support of strength, but the support of intimacy. In other words, after one has enjoyed the Lord’s love, there is still the need for the support of His grace.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 23: The Song of Songs & Hymns, Chapter 4, by Watchman Nee)