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Song of Songs 1:12 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— While the king sat at his table, My spikenard sent forth its fragrance.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— While the king [sitteth] at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— “While the king was at his table, My perfume gave forth its fragrance.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— While the king [sitteth] at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth its smell.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— While the king is at his table, My spikenard sendeth forth its fragrance.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— [SHE] By the time the king is in his circle, my nard, will have given out its fragrance:
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— While the king [is] in his circle, My spikenard hath given its fragrance.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth foorth the smell thereof.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— So long as the king was at table, my spikenard gave forth its smell.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— While the king [sitteth] at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
While x5704
(5704) Complement
Properly the same as H5703 (used as a preposition, adverb or conjugation; especially with a preposition); as far (or long, or much) as, whether of space (even unto) or time (during, while, until) or degree (equally with).
the king 4428
{4428} Prime
From H4427; a king.
(7945) Complement
For the relative H0834; used with prepositional prefix, and often followed by some pronoun affixed; on account of, what soever, which soever.
[sitteth] at his table, 4524
{4524} Prime
From H5437; a divan (as enclosing the room); abstractly (adverbially) around.
my spikenard 5373
{5373} Prime
Of foreign origin; nard, an aromatic.
sendeth forth 5414
{5414} Prime
A primitive root; to give, used with great latitude of application (put, make, etc.).
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
the smell 7381
{7381} Prime
From H7306; odor (as if blown).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Song of Songs 1:12

_ _ While — It is the presence of the Sun of Righteousness that draws out the believer’s odors of grace. It was the sight of Him at table that caused the two women to bring forth their ointments for Him (Luke 7:37, Luke 7:38; John 12:3; 2 Corinthians 2:15). Historically fulfilled (Matthew 2:11); spiritually (Revelation 3:20); and in church worship (Matthew 18:20); and at the Lord’s Supper especially, for here public communion with Him at table amidst His friends is spoken of, as Song of Songs 1:4 refers to private communion (1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 10:21); typically (Exodus 24:9-11); the future perfect fulfillment (Luke 22:30; Revelation 19:9). The allegory supposes the King to have stopped in His movements and to be seated with His friends on the divan. What grace that a table should be prepared for us, while still militant (Psalms 23:5)!

_ _ my spikenard — not boasting, but owning the Lord’s grace to and in her. The spikenard is a lowly herb, the emblem of humility. She rejoices that He is well pleased with her graces, His own work (Philippians 4:18).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Song of Songs 1:12-17

_ _ Here the conference is carried on between Christ and his spouse, and endearments are mutually exchanged.

_ _ I. Believers take a great complacency in Christ, and in communion with him. To you that believe he is precious, above any thing in this world, 1 Peter 2:7. Observe,

_ _ 1. The humble reverence believers have for Christ as their Sovereign, Song of Songs 1:12. He is a King in respect both of dignity and dominion; he wears the crown of honour, he bears the sceptre of power, both which are the unspeakable satisfaction of all his people. This King has his royal table spread in the gospel, in which is made for all nations a feast of fat things, Isaiah 25:6. Wisdom has furnished her table, Proverbs 9:1. He sits at this table to see his guests (Matthew 22:11), to see that nothing be wanting that is fit for them; he sups with them and they with him (Revelation 3:20); he has fellowship with them and rejoices in them; he sits at his table to bid them welcome, and to carve for them, as Christ broke the five loaves and gave to his disciples, that they might distribute to the multitude. He sits there to receive petitions, as Ahasuerus admitted Esther's petition at the banquet of wine. He has promised to be present with his people in his ordinances always. Then believers do him all the honour they can, and study how to express their esteem of him and gratitude to him, as Mary did when she anointed his head with the ointment of spikenard that was very costly, one pound of it worth three hundred pence, and so fragrant that the house was filled with the pleasing odour of it (John 12:3), which story seems as if it were designed to refer to this passage, for Christ was then sitting at table. When good Christians, in any religious duty, especially in the ordinance of the Lord's supper, where the King is pleased, as it were, to sit with us at his own table, have their graces exercised, their hearts broken by repentance, healed by faith, and inflamed with holy love and desires toward Christ, with joyful expectations of the glory to be revealed, then the spikenard sends forth the smell thereof. Christ is pleased to reckon himself honoured by it, and to accept of it as an instance of respect to him, as it was in the wise men of the east, who paid their homage to the new-born King of the Jews by presenting to him frankincense and myrrh. The graces of God's Spirit in the hearts of believers are exceedingly precious in themselves and pleasing to Christ, and his presence in ordinances draws them out into act and exercise. If he withdraw, graces wither and languish, as plants in the absence of the sun; if he approach, the face of the soul is renewed, as of the earth in the spring; and then it is time to bestir ourselves, that we may not lose the gleam, not lose the gale; for nothing is done acceptably but what grace does, Hebrews 12:28.

_ _ 2. The strong affection they have for Christ as their beloved, their well-beloved, Song of Songs 1:13. Christ is not only beloved by all believing souls, but is their well-beloved, their best-beloved, their only beloved; he has that place in their hearts which no rival can be admitted to, the innermost and uppermost place. Observe, (1.) How Christ is accounted of by all believers: He is a bundle of myrrh and a cluster of camphire, something, we may be sure, nay, every thing, that is pleasant and delightful. The doctrine of his gospel, and the comforts of his Spirit, are very refreshing to them, and they rest in his love; none of all the delights of sense are comparable to the spiritual pleasure they have in meditating on Christ and enjoying him. There is a complicated sweetness in Christ and an abundance of it; there is a bundle of myrrh and a cluster of camphire. We are not straitened in him whom there is all fulness. The word translated camphire is copher, the same word that signifies atonement or propitiation. Christ is a cluster of merit and righteousness to all believers; therefore he is dear to them because he is the propitiation for their sins. Observe what stress the spouse lays upon the application: He is unto me, and again unto me, all that is sweet; whatever he is to others, he is so to me. He loved me, and gave himself for me. He is my Lord, and my God. (2.) How he is accepted: He shall lie all night between my breasts, near my heart. Christ lays the beloved disciples in his bosom; why then should not they lay their beloved Saviour in their bosoms? Why should not they embrace him with both arms, and hold him fast, with a resolution never to let him go? Christ must dwell in the heart (Ephesians 3:17), and, in order to that, the adulteries must be put from between the breasts (Hosea 2:2), no pretender must have his place in the soul. He shall be as a bundle of myrrh, or perfume bag, between my breasts, always sweet to me; or his effigies in miniature, his love-tokens, shall be hung between my breasts, according to the custom of those that are dear to each other. He shall not only be laid their for a while, but shall lie there, shall abide there.

_ _ II. Jesus Christ has a great complacency in his church and in every true believer; they are amiable in his eyes (Song of Songs 1:15): Behold, thou art fair, my love; and again, Behold, thou art fair. He says this, not to make her proud (humility is one principal ingredient in spiritual beauty), but, 1. To show that there is a real beauty in holiness, that all who are sanctified are thereby beautified; they are truly fair. 2. That he takes great delight in that good work which his grace has wrought on the souls of believers; so that though they have their infirmities, whatever they think of themselves, and the world thinks of them, he thinks them fair. He calls them friends. The hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, is in the sight of God of great price, 1 Peter 3:4. 3. To comfort weak believers, who are discouraged by their own blackness; let them be told again and again that they are fair. 4. To engage all who are sanctified to be very thankful for that grace which has made them fair, who by nature were deformed, and changed the Ethiopian's skin. One instance of the beauty of the spouse is here mentioned, that she has doves' eyes, as Song of Songs 4:1. Those are fair, in Christ's account, who have, not the piercing eye of the eagle, but the pure and chaste eye of the dove, not like the hawk, who, when he soars upwards, still has his eye upon the prey on earth, but a humble modest eye, such an eye as discovers a simplicity and godly sincerity and a dove-like innocency, eyes enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, that blessed Dove, weeping eyes. I did mourn as a dove, Ezekiel 7:16.

_ _ III. The church expresses her value for Christ, and returns esteem (Song of Songs 1:16): Behold, thou art fair. See how Christ and believers praise one another. Israel saith of God, Who is like thee? Exodus 15:11. And God saith of Israel, Who is like thee? Deuteronomy 33:29. Lord, saith the church, “Dost thou call me fair? No; if we speak of strength, thou art strong (Job 9:19), so, if of beauty, thou art fair. I am fair no otherwise than as I have thy image stamped upon me. Thou art the great Original; I am but a faint and imperfect copy, I am but thy umbrathe shadow of thee, John 1:16; John 3:34. Thou art fair in thyself and (which is more) pleasant to all that are thine. Many are fair enough to look at, and yet the sourness of their temper renders them unpleasant; but thou art fair, yea, pleasant.” Christ is pleasant, as he is ours, in covenant with us, in relation to us. “Thou art pleasant now, when the King sits at his table.” Christ is always precious to believers, but in a special manner pleasant when they are admitted into communion with him, when they hear his voice, and see his face, and taste his love. It is good to be here. Having expressed her esteem of her husband's person, she next, like a loving spouse, that is transported with joy for having disposed of herself so well, applauds the accommodations he had for her entertainment, his bed, his house, his rafters or galleries (Song of Songs 1:16), which may be fitly applied to those holy ordinances in which believers have fellowship with Jesus Christ, receive the tokens of his love and return their pious and devout affections to him, increase their acquaintance with him and improve their advantages by him. Now, 1. These she calls ours, Christ and believers having a joint-interest in them. As husband and wife are heirs together (1 Peter 3:7), so believers are joint-heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17. They are his institutions and their privileges; in them Christ and believers meet. She does not call them mine, for a believer will own nothing as his but what Christ shall have an interest in, nor thine, for Christ has said, All that I have is thine, Luke 15:31. All is ours if we are Christ's. Those that can by faith lay claim to Christ may lay claim to all that is his. 2. These are the best of the kind. Does the colour of the bed, and the furniture belonging to it, help to set it off? Our bed is green, a colour which, in a pastoral, is preferred before any other, because it is the colour of the fields and groves where the shepherd's business and delight are. It is a refreshing colour, good for the eyes; and it denotes fruitfulness. I am like a green olive-tree, Psalms 52:8. We are married to Christ, that we should bring forth unto God, Romans 7:4. The beams of our house are cedar (Song of Songs 1:17), which probably refers to the temple Solomon had lately built for communion between God and Israel, which was of cedar, a strong sort of wood, sweet, durable, and which will never rot, typifying the firmness and continuance of the church, the gospel-temple. The galleries for walking are of fir, or cypress, some sort of wood that was pleasing both to the sight and to the smell, intimating the delight which the saints take in walking with Christ and conversing with him. Every thing in the covenant of grace (on which foot all their treaties are carried on) is very firm, very fine, and very fragrant.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Song of Songs 1:12

The king — My royal husband. Sitteth — With me in his ordinances. Spikenard — The graces of his spirit conferred upon me, here compared to those sweet ointments, which the master of the feast caused to be poured out upon the heads of the guests, Luke 7:38, in which ointments, spikenard was a chief ingredient. Sendeth — This denotes the exercise and manifestation of her graces, which is a sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of her husband, and of her companies.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Song of Songs 1:12

(r) While the king [sitteth] at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth its fragrance.

(r) The Church rejoices that she is admitted to the company of Christ.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
the king:

Song of Songs 7:5 Thine head upon thee [is] like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king [is] held in the galleries.
Psalms 45:1 [[To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves.]] My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue [is] the pen of a ready writer.
Matthew 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:


Song of Songs 4:16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, [that] the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.
Matthew 22:4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and [my] fatlings [are] killed, and all things [are] ready: come unto the marriage.
Matthew 26:26-28 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. ... For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Luke 24:30-32 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed [it], and brake, and gave to them. ... And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.


Song of Songs 4:13-16 Thy plants [are] an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, ... Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, [that] the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.
John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
Revelation 8:3-4 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. ... And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
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Ps 45:1. So 4:13, 16; 7:5. Mt 22:4, 11; 25:34; 26:26. Lk 24:30. Jn 12:3. Php 4:18. Rv 3:20; 8:3.

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