The Rose of Sharon!
William Nicholson, 1862
A METAPHORICAL SKETCH.
"I am the Rose of Sharon!" Song of Solomon 2:1
Sharon was a very fruitful place, where David's cattle were fed, 1 Chronicles 27:29, and was situated south of Mount Carmel, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, extending to Caesarea and Joppa. As it was a region of great fertility, it became proverbial of any place of beauty and fertility, see Isaiah 35:12. It is also called a pasture of flocks, Isaiah 65:10. The Sharon rose is the finest kind, and is at this day greatly admired in the East for their beauty and fragrance.
The figurative representations of the Savior's character and work are frequent subjects of meditation to Christians, and convey the truths of the Gospel with much sweetness and power to the heart. Christ is here to be considered as the Rose of Sharon.
I.A Rose is the offspring and fruit of a good, though apparently dry root. "He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground." Isaiah 53:2
Christ, as it regards his human nature, is the Offspring of David, or a Branch out of the Root of Jesse, Revelation 22:16; Isaiah 11:1. In regard to his Divine Nature, he came forth from his Father; he dwelt "in the bosom of the Father," but was sent into this world to secure man's salvation.
II.A Rose is a beautiful flower, very pleasant to the eye, of different colors, red and white, and in some those two colors are intermixed, which intermixture renders them very beautiful.
The beauty with which the God of nature has adorned many of the productions of the earth is wonderful. It is not merely on a slight inspection that they charm, but the more minute the examination is, and the more enlightened and correct the taste — the admiration which they excite is always heightened. "Consider the lilies," etc., Matthew 6:28, 29.
Jesus possesses all Divine and moral excellencies, "Yes, He is altogether lovely!" The loveliest production of nature is only a faint emblem of him, in whom the greatness which excites admiration is united with the tenderness which wins our love. He alone is the image of the invisible God, fairer than the children of men, more bright in excellence than angels, and forever unrivaled in all that charms the heart! Hear how the Apostle describes him, "His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves!" Revelation 1, etc.
Christ is said to be white and ruddy; the former is expressive of his Divinity — the latter of his humanity. The one denotes his natural purity and innocency — the other his bloody agony and sufferings for our sake; hence said to be red in his apparel, Isaiah 63:2. How lovely is Christ in . . .
the atoning sacrifice which he made,
the blessings he purchased, and
the victory which he achieved!
Yes, my Beloved to my sight
Shows a sweet mixture, red and white;
All human beauties, all Divine,
In my Beloved meet and shine,
White is his soul, from blemish free,
Red with the blood he shed for me;
The fairest of ten thousand fairs,
A sun among ten thousand stars!
III.A rose is celebrated for its fragrance. So condescending is the providence of God, and so rich is his goodness — that he ministers delight to all our senses, and has given to various plants delightful fragrances. We read of the fragrance of Lebanon, and in the East such is the profusion of odoriferous plants in some places, that the air is scented by them for a great space around.
The Name of Christ is as "precious ointment poured forth." He is the "fragrance of life unto life to those who believe." What is so sweet and refreshing to the spiritual senses of the soul, as the sacrifice and saving power of Christ?
Every virtue of Christ's character,
every promise of his word,
every precept of his law,
every rite of his worship,
every act of his mediation,
and every blessing of his grace
— is, to the godly, like "ointment poured forth."
His lips are like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh;
all his garments smell of "myrrh, aloes, and cassia;"
and his death was "a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling fragrance unto God."
It has made the loathsome dungeon pleasant, and overcome the noisomeness of the grave. When Jacob appeared before his father in the clothing of Esau, Isaac blessed him, and said, "The smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed." And Christians appear before God, clad in the righteousness and animated by the Spirit of his Son — and for his sake, God accepts them.
IV.The Rose possesses medicinal virtues, which are very serviceable in some illnesses. Being used and applied, they exhilarate the spirits, are very cooling, and good for the eyes.
But no plant can be likened in virtue to Christ, the Rose of Sharon, and the Balm of Gilead; for it affords a remedy for all plagues of the heart. Raging corruption is quelled by its influence, and the anguish of a guilty conscience is healed.
Being crucified for our sakes, what precious virtue, what soul-mollifying water of life he yields to men; making the man of anger gentle, meek, and humble; making the mourner in Zion cheerful and happy; and giving light to the understanding.
The Rose of Sharon is like the tree which Moses was commanded to cast into the waters of Marah, which rendered them wholesome and sweet. It makes the severest affliction light, and death, which the carnal man dreads as his curse, to be welcomed with gratitude.
Papal superstition has attributed many astonishing virtues to the imagined relics of the cross; but the efficacy of the Rose of Sharon, in curing the moral diseases of the heart, is incontrovertible. One touch of it by the hand of faith, will bring from it a remedy to heal all the maladies of the soul.
V.The Rose is reckoned by ancient and modern naturalists to be the Queen of Flowers.
The super-excellency of Christ is represented by the Apostle, Colossians 1:15-18. He infinitely excels men and angels; therefore none are to be compared with him. He is "the Head, the Flower, and Glory of things in Heaven, and of things on earth, whether Thrones, or Dominions," etc. He is fairer than the children of men, the chief among ten thousand.
As the Rose of Sharon was singular in beauty and property — so Christ is singular in the unity of the two natures in his person; singular in his incarnation, in his humiliation, in his conquest and exaltation, etc.
VI.The Rose of Sharon signifies in the Greek, the Flower of the Field. Sharon was a place or plain where herds and cattle were fed, 1 Chronicles 27:29. Roses that grow in a field or plain are not planted by man. They are also liable to be plucked, trodden down, or devoured by beasts.
Just so, Jesus Christ was not planted by man, but by the hand of the Father. Christ is Divine. When Christ was brought forth to the field of this world, he was exposed to the malice of savage men, who, like beasts of prey, labored to tread him down, as in the case of Herod, Judas, and the Jews. How was he plucked to pieces, and trodden under their feet!
Barbarous people! cruel priests!
How they stood round like savage beasts;
Like lions gaping to devour,
When God had left Him in their power.
They wound His head, his hands, his feet,
Until streams of blood each other meet;
By lot His garments they divide,
And mock the pangs in which He died.
VII.The Roses of Sharon were free. Growing in the field or plain, any person might have access to them. They were as free as the air we breathe.
Just so, Jesus is free for all sinners; whoever will come may come, and take the good and gracious virtue, and all the soul-refreshing blessings that dwell in him, Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 22:17.
VIII.The Roses of Sharon gave beauty and resplendence to the field or plain, and caused the scene to be lovely and enchanting.
Just so, the Son of God is the beauty and glory of believers. His mediatorial work having been executed for perishing sinners — God accepts them when they believe on Christ's account, and regards them as righteous. Hence they can triumph, "In that day you will say: I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me!" Isaiah 12:1
"You are all fair, my bride, to me,
I will behold no spot in thee.
What mighty wonders love performs,
And puts a loveliness on worms!
Defiled and loathsome as we are,
He makes us white, and calls us fair;
Adorns us with that heavenly dress,
His graces, and his righteousness.
IX.Lastly, Sharon was a place of pasture, a place of feeding, and where the flocks used to rest, a very fruitful valley.
Just so, Christ is to be found in green pastures — in his church where his word is faithfully preached, and the ordinances are duly administered. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures." Psalm 23:2. A preached Christ gives rest of mind to the penitent sinner, and to the desponding Christian.
The pastures in which Christ feeds his people are his word and ordinances. It is there they receive out of his fullness, and grace for grace. He himself is the food of his people; they eat his flesh and drink his blood — his sacrifice is that to the mind, which food is to the body; it gives nourishment, strength, and satisfaction to the soul that receives it.
1. The most striking figures are but representatives of the Redeemer's excellencies.
The rose, for instance, is not a winter flower; it blooms only in summer; but Christ ever lives, full of grace, power, and glory.
The rose too is but a fading flower. But Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. To Jesus belongs the power of an endless life. The rough blast of persecution has blown upon this Rose of Sharon — yet it remains unhurt. Christianity has seen mighty empires sink in ruin, and generation after generation going down to the dust — yet its life and its virtues are unimpaired. It has Omnipotence for its defense, and eternity for its duration!
2. How wise and happy are those who possess and delight in this flower!
How foolish are unbelieving sinners! They see no beauty, and perceive no fragrance in Christ. Their spiritual senses are gone. They prize the thorns and briers — the pricking pleasures and business of the world — above the rose, the lovely Rose of Sharon.
3. Value this Divine flower more and more. Account him, as indeed he is, the rose and diadem of your souls; bear him not only by an outward profession on your bosoms, but admit the sweet-smelling savor of his grace into your hearts.