Coming up from the Wilderness
Leaning on Our Beloved
George Mylne, 1862
"Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?" Song of Songs 8:5
What is the wilderness? It is described in the following passages:
"The LORD who led us through the wilderness: through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt." Jeremiah 2:6
"A desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness." Deuteronomy 32:10
"He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions!" Deuteronomy 8:15
Such was the wilderness through which God led His ancient people Israel. And such, believer, is the spiritual wilderness through which He is leading you. The wilderness was God's highway for Israel, from Egypt to the Promised Land. Like Israel of old, you have been brought out from Egypt — from a state of spiritual blindness and deadness — and are on your way to the Promised Land. Once the world was to you as the flesh pots of Egypt. Now it has become to you a wilderness — not your home, nor the place of your rest. You are only passing through it — on your way to the Celestial City.
God was with His people in the wilderness. He says, "I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought." Hosea 13:5. Christian reader, what would you do, if the Lord did not know you in the wilderness — if He were not with you in the wilderness — if you could not, even now, while you are in the wilderness, lean on your Beloved?
It was the being in the wilderness, that made it necessary for the bride, in the Canticles, to lean on her Beloved. Believer, it is the same thing that makes it needful for you to repose on Jesus.
The wilderness was "a land of deserts." There were no vineyards there — no olive groves, nor fields of waving corn. Israel had to depend upon Jehovah — on the manna of His providence. They ate angels' food — they were fed with the bread of Heaven.
Is it not the same with you? What food can you find in this sinful world for your living soul? You are in the wilderness — you are utterly dependent upon the true bread which came down from Heaven. Your soul can feed on nothing but Jesus — on God manifested in the flesh — on God in human form, at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
What are you to do? You are to lean on your Beloved — to repose on Jesus — to trust in His promise, that, though you are in the wilderness, He will give you vineyards from thence (Hosea 2:15), that He will make the very desolation around you, into a fruitful field. When you find no nourishment for your soul in the things of the world, this, of itself, drives you more intensely to Jesus, and thus you find the wilderness itself to be full of fatness.
The wilderness was "a land of pits." And such, Believer, is the world to you. Pit-falls of temptation lie all around you. Stumbling stones beset your path on every side. How could you pursue your course, without your Beloved to lean upon? What could you do, if you did not repose upon Jesus? He "led them through the depths, like a horse in the wilderness, so that they did not stumble." Isaiah 63:13. Is He not pledged to lead you? Lean, then, upon Him with all your might. Repose simply on Jesus. Then the pit-falls shall not surprise you, to your hurt — nor the stumbling stones cause you to fall.
The wilderness was "a land of drought, where was no water." What was Israel to do? Yet God "split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as out of the deep. He brought streams also out of the rock [at Rephidim and Kadesh] and caused waters to run down like rivers!" Psalm 78:15,16. It must have been no little river, to give drink to four million people. For forty years that river was with them in the wilderness. Not only was bread given to them; their water was sure — the Lord failed them not. "They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ!" 1 Corinthians 10:3-4
Believer, you are in the wilderness. Do you lean on your Beloved? Can you trust Him to "give waters in the wilderness?" Isaiah 63:20. He says, "Withhold your throat from thirst." Jeremiah 2:25. What is this but to repose on Him — to go to Him in the full assurance that in a dry land, where there is no water — and He will give you of the water of life freely! You have a spiritual Rock that follows you. That Rock is Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4.
Lean, then, on your Beloved. repose upon Jesus. He has promised that you "shall never thirst." The water that He gives you, is "a well of water in you, springing up unto everlasting life!" John 4:14.
The wilderness was "a land that no man passed through." Therefore there was no beaten path — no road to mark the track in which they were to go. The highway for Israel, was simply to follow where the Lord led the way. They depended upon the pillar to go before them.
Believer, is not this the case with you? Jesus has sent you forth into this wilderness world. Does He not go before you? True, you are journeying in a land where is no beaten track for you to tread. You know not, from one moment to another, what sudden turn you may have to make — what providences await you — what circumstances may befall you. The way may be crooked to the eye of sense — but it is straightforward to the eye of faith. It must be straight, if Jesus goes before you in the way. Fix your eye upon Him, and you will then see far enough. You need not see further than Jesus going before you.
Lean, then, upon your Beloved. Repose upon Jesus — He will lead you in a straight way, wherein you shall not stumble. He will keep you, as a shepherd does his flock, "I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble!" Jeremiah 31:9
The wilderness was "a land where no man dwelt." During the forty years of their wanderings, Israel saw neither town nor village — their eye rested not on a single habitation of man — it was "a land not inhabited." Lev. 16:22. No voice was to be heard, nor a footstep to be traced. It was solitude which might be felt — dreariness and desolation.
God's people are in the wilderness still. Spiritually speaking, they are the only inhabitants of the earth. What are the multitudes of worldly men to them? What is the world itself, but a desolation? God dwells in His people. They are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:22. No part of the earth is "habitable" by God, but the hearts of His people. To God, all the other parts of creation are uninhabitable — they are "a land not inhabited."
And so is it with God's people. Every place is spiritually desolate to them, where they find no brethren in the Lord — where they meet not with the fellowship of the saints. It is a land not inhabited.
Christian reader, do you lean upon your Beloved? You are still in the wilderness — in a land desolate and uninhabited. Do you repose upon Jesus? Do you trust Him for His company? Is His fellowship sufficient for you? There are many pilgrims in the wilderness besides you. Do you seek their company? Do you look to the good Shepherd, to lead you in "the footsteps of the flock?" Song of Songs 1:8. Do you rest in the assurance that the Lord will not leave you alone, but that He will be with you every step of the journey, until you arrive at your journey's end?
The wilderness was "a land where there were venomous serpents and scorpions." Israel knew this, to their cost. Numbers 21:6. Believer, are you free from the like? Do no serpents beset your path? Have you no adversary that walks about, seeking to devour you? 1 Peter 5:8. Is there no Satan at your right hand, to resist you? Zach. 3:1. Is there no Prince of the power of the air, ready to beguile, to mislead, to alarm you?
Have you no need to lean upon your Beloved — to repose upon your God and Savior? He has said, "Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy." Luke 10:19. Shall your power over spiritual scorpions, be less than that of the disciples over earthly ones? He has promised that neither "angels, nor principalities, nor powers — not all the hosts of darkness — shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38, 39. "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Romans 16:20.
Oh! believer, do you lean upon your Beloved? Do you repose upon Jesus? What can you do, alone, against the spiritual serpents and scorpions — against all the power of the enemy? Your only strength is to repose upon Jesus — to walk, leaning upon Him. At every step, this is your only safety; then may you resist the Devil, and he will flee from you — then shall you prevail "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12.
"Leaning upon her Beloved." And WHO is this "Beloved"? Even the same that we find spoken of elsewhere — "to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved" Ephesians 1:6. Jesus always has been, and ever will be, the Beloved — the Beloved of the Father, and the Beloved of every redeemed soul. Oh, Believer, it is impossible for you to associate the name of "the Beloved" with anyone but Jesus! Are you able fully to repose upon Jesus — to fully lean upon your Beloved?
Christian reader, do you cultivate a holy familiarity with Jesus? Are you at home with Him in the inner sanctuary? Do you look Him fully in the face, and consider His loveliness? If asked, "What is your Beloved more than another beloved?" Can you reply, "My Beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand! Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, this my Friend!" Song of Songs 5.
Believer, how is it that you are privileged, spiritually, to gaze upon Jesus without fear, to discern His beauty — instead of being dazzled by His glory? How is it that you are privileged to walk, leaning upon your Beloved, instead of falling at His feet, as dead? How is it that you are privileged in the full gaze of admiring love, to behold His sweetness, and to feed upon His charms? It is because your soul is quickened, although your body is not. Were Jesus to appear bodily to you, as He did to Daniel and John — you also would be blinded with His glory. But, your soul being spiritually renewed, it is equal for the spiritual survey of the Redeemer's glory. It is able to be brought by Him into His banqueting house — to be sustained with His raisin cakes, and comforted with His apples. It is able to have His left hand under your head, and His right hand to embrace you. Song of Songs 2:4.
You are privileged to hold the King in the galleries — to invite your Beloved into His garden, that He may eat His pleasant fruits while He sits at His table; that the King should be enchanted by the fragrance of your perfume! Song of Songs 7:5; 4:16; 1:12.
Christian reader, do you indeed REST upon your Beloved . . .
with the full burden of your cares;
with the intensity of your sorrows;
with all the force of your temptations?
Do you LEAN upon Him . . .
with all the power of conscious dependence;
with all the confidence of a realized welcome;
with all the tenderness of ardent love?
Is He not your Beloved? Must you wait until He invites you to lean upon Him? May you not at any time take His helping arm? Oh the tenderness of Jesus! The lovingness of Jesus! The melting fondness of Jesus! The blissful familiarity, with which He would have His saints to lean upon Him — His beloved ones to repose upon Him!
the very soul of your religion;
the very core of your Christian experience;
the very substance of your consistency;
the very life of your joys — is this:
that you lean upon your Beloved — that you repose upon Jesus with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength — that you delight the soul of Jesus by leaning upon Him with all your might!
Believer, I know not how long you have been walking in the wilderness — how long you have been leaning upon your Beloved. You may have traveled many a weary mile. You may often have been ready to faint because of the length and roughness of the way. Your trials may have been greater, your circumstances more alarming — than fall to the lot of most men.
But has your Beloved ever failed you? Has He been "a wilderness" to you, "a land of darkness"? Jeremiah 2:31. Has He left you to walk alone, or to suffer alone? That was far from His heart — it never came into His mind. He said from the beginning, "I will never leave you, and never forsake you!" Has He not been true to His Word?
Now you are in the wilderness. In due time, you shall come up from the wilderness — or out of the wilderness — leaning upon your Beloved. He said to Jacob, "Behold, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Genesis 28:15. God was faithful to Jacob. He brought him back to that land. He made him to lean upon the Beloved.
Christian reader, just so will God be faithful to you. As your Beloved has been with you in the wilderness — He Himself will see you safely lead you through, and out of the wilderness. He will lead you through its green pastures, and make you to lie down beside its still waters. He will lead you the last step that you take in this wilderness world. He will lead you through Jordan of death. He will lead you into the promised land of Heaven.
Christian, you have leaned upon your Beloved here in this wilderness world — and you shall lean upon your Beloved to all eternity!