The Gospel Bed of Rest
“Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night.” (Song of Solomon 3:7-8)
Solomon throughout this song very fitly personates our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom, as the son of David, king of Israel and builder of the temple, he was a brilliant type, and the spouse is quite as clearly a chosen and appropriate figure of the church of God, which is known as the bride, the Lamb’s wife. In the text, before us our attention is called to behold Solomon’s bed. As Solomon himself is a figure, his bed must also be considered in a figurative sense, and is used to signify something of importance in regard to Christ, which is particularly interesting to the church of God. Beds are commonly regarded as places of rest and comfort, for the weary, and are exceedingly useful in the night, when the feeble wayworn pilgrim or weary laborer can stretch himself upon it and enjoy a peaceful and refreshing slumber. But, there were some peculiar excellencies in the bed which is Solomon’s, which, especially to his love, his undefiled, could be found nowhere else.
Solomon’s bed was in a royal pavilion, possessing elegance and comfort suited to the high position of its august proprietor. It was a place of comfort as well as a place of rest, and in addition to these advantages, it was a place of safety, as we see it was guarded by valiant armed men.
All these figures, we think, are applicable to the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which gospel is the place of the sweetest rest that was ever enjoyed by the weary and the heavy laden, who have been permitted by abounding grace to recline upon its ample space for rest and comfort. The gospel is set forth by the apostle as a rest that remains for the people of God. It was figuratively set forth in the beginning when God created and the heavens and the earth, and rested on the seventh day from all the works which He had made, and blessed and hallowed that day. The seventh day Sabbath instituted under Moses, and all the Sabbatic days and years in the ceremonial law, were typical of the gospel as the rest for weary and heavy laden sinners who are called by grace. The inspired exposition of the subject in the New Testament, especially in the epistle to the Hebrews, thus explains their figurative import and design. Every weary and sin-burdened sinner that ever came to Christ is a witness that we which have believed do enter into rest, and that “He that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” The prophet foresaw and proclaimed of Christ that His rest should be glorious.
We think then that the royal bed of Solomon must refer to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the only place of rest and comfort for those who can rest nowhere else. Taking this then as the correct design of the figure, let us notice this bed of Solomon’s, namely, the gospel. First, we observe that it is Solomon’s, or, as the figure implies, it is Christ’s-, it is the gospel of Christ, the gospel of the Son of God. Paul speaks of some who preach another gospel, which is not another, etc., but he would admit of none as genuine but that gospel of Christ, of which he said he was not ashamed.
Men may invent a multitude of schemes and theories to rest upon, but their beds are too short for one to stretch himself upon, and their covering is too narrow to wrap themselves in it. The strange woman in the seventh chapter of Proverbs boasted that she had decked her bed very extravagantly, and in a very costly manner, and perfumed it with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon, but with all the allurements of her harlot bed no weary sinner ever found either rest or comfort on it. Her house, we are told, is the way of hell, leading down to the chambers of death, and the prophet of the Lord proclaims in thunder tones that, “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest.” No, it must be his bed.
“Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s.” The bed, or resting-place, of Solomon, was the resting-place of his spouse. To her alone belonged the right and privilege of resting with her Beloved in all the comforts of the consecrated couch. So in the glorious gospel of the grace of God, none but the bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall rest upon the gospel bed. The marriage bed is undefiled, no stranger ever has or shall be allowed to pollute it. There certainly is this peculiarity in the comforts of the gospel, none but the members of Christ can possibly rest in them; nor have they in reality any desire, for it is not calculated to be appreciated by them.
“The softest couch that nature knows, Can give the conscience no repose.”
But the gospel gives rest and comfort to all who are allowed to enter into His rest, and this embraces the weary, to whom Christ says, “I will give you rest” and the troubled saints, to whom Paul says, “To you who are troubled rest with us.” Even the Christian can rest only on this bed, for the spouse says in the first verse of this chapter, “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not,” It is a restless place, for the children of God when they get upon their own bed, they cannot find Him there who alone can calm their fears and cheer their hearts.
“And whilst upon my restless bed, Among the shades I roll,
Till my Redeemer shows his head, ‘Tis restless to my soul.”
The perfect security of Solomon’s bed is indicated by the royal guard of armed and valiant men which were stationed around it. It is true the gospel of Christ cannot be endangered by all the powers of earth and hell, but still the gospel church is now in a militant state, or in a state of warfare; hostile enemies have conspired to invade and spoil the resting-place of the church of God, and they sometimes succeed too well in terrifying the timid saints. Doubts, fears, unbelief and lack of confidence often cause the saints to tremble, and forbid their rest, but to protect the saints from these a royal guard is provided.
“Threescore valiant men.” These may represent the gospel ministry, they are entrusted with the watch-care of the churches, and made overseers of the flock and their business is to stand upon the watch-tower and in the faithful discharge of their duties to meet every invading foe at the threshold, whether such foes approach in the form of men, or devils, or in doubts, fear or unbelief. Hence valiant men are required; those timid ones who leave the flock as soon as they see the wolf approaching are not reliable, for they are not of the valiant of Israel. The number, “threescore valiant men,” makes a strong and sufficient guard; it is not to confine the number of the ministry to that number literally, but as in the figure, sixty men, well armed, would seem to be a very strong guard for one bed. So we infer that the gifts for the comfort and protection of the church from surprise or invasion is full and complete, embracing the apostles and all who are called, equipped and placed for the defense of the gospel of Christ.
“They all hold swords.” They are prepared for the conflict, and ready to confront any approaching foe. Their swords are not made of steel to shed the blood of their opposers, for the weapons of their warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God in pulling down strong holds. The apostles understood the sword to be the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, as it comes from the mouth of God. John saw in his vision a sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of the mouth of Him whose name was written upon His vesture and on His thigh, and Whose name is called The Word of God. It is with this sword (namely) the words which God hath spoken, that apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers are to resist error, contend for truth, and with this two-edged sword, which cuts both ways, offensively and defensively, they are to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. “They all hold swords.” What would all their valor be to them when assailed if they could not meet the adversary with a “Thus saith the Lord”?
They are all expert in war-, God has taught their hands to war and their fingers to fight, as he did David and Paul. He makes them expert, for they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful; novices will not do, lest being lifted up with pride, they fall into the condemnation of the devil; not such watchmen as Isaiah described, which were dumb dogs, that could not bark, sleepy dogs, lying down, loving slumber, nor greedy dogs that can never have enough. The wisdom of Solomon would be impugned by the supposition that he would entrust the security of his bed to an inefficient guard, and behold a greater than Solomon is in the church, to order all things in wisdom and righteousness.
“Every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night.” The sword of the warrior is usually fastened on his thigh, as the most appropriate and convenient place, ready to be drawn in an instant. He has not to go to some distant armory to procure a sword, every man on guard has one with him. The word is nigh thee, even in thine heart, and in thy mouth; even the word of faith which we preach. This is very essential, because of fear in the night. The night is the time when thieves and robbers and murderers are busy in pursuing their work, the night is the time for those who love darkness more than light, and it is in the darkness of the night the psalmist says all the beasts of the forest creep forth. It was in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night, that Solomon saw the strange woman (Antichrist) sally forth on her errand of abomination. Naturally, men are more timid in the night than in the daytime, and it is truly so in a spiritual sense with Christians-, when the light of the countenance of the Redeemer is hidden from their view, dark, dismal thoughts and boding fears intrude, and then the valiant of Israel require to use their swords.
Happy the church that sacred place, The seat of thy Creator’s grace;
Thy holy courts are his abode, Thou earthly palace of our God.
Thy walls are strength, and at thy gates, A guard of heavenly warriors waits;
Nor shall thy deep foundations move, Fixed on his counsel and his love.
Thy foes in vain designs engage, against his throne in vain they rage,
Like rising waves, with angry roar, That dash and die upon the shore.
Much more might be written on the subject, if we have not missed the true design of the figure. The subject is instructing, and full of comfort and interest to those who can find rest in the gospel; but none but quickened souls can be weary, therefore none other can truly appreciate rest. The dead can no more rest with the saints upon Solomon’s bed than on the stormy billows of the troubled ocean; the gospel is the rest that remaineth, and shall evermore remain to the people of God; therefore we say:
“Go, ye that rest upon the law, And toil and seek salvation there,
Look to the flame that Moses saw, And shrink, and tremble, and despair.
But I’ll retire beneath the cross, Savior, at thy dear feet I’ll lie,
And the keen sword that justice draws Flaming and red, shall pass me by.”
– Gilbert Beebe