Handfuls on Purpose
by James Smith, 1943
SONG OF SOLOMON
Christ's Desirableness, Chapter 1:4
This "Song of Songs which is Solomon's" is seldom sung by self-seeking souls. To many carnal Christians it is either too mystical or spiritual to be of any practical interest. It is a Song parable of Love, or spiritual friendship, and must be interpreted as such. The language is uniformly metaphorical, perhaps, that it might be easily and growingly applicable to spiritual relationships. The two leading personalities assume the character of Bridegroom and Bride, suggestive at once of Christ and the Church. This is confirmed by the intenseness of the language used throughout by both parties, revealing deep and tender feelings. The first to speak is the Bride. This sudden outburst of burning desire reveals—
I.—HER ESTIMATION OF HIS CHARACTER. She declares that—
1. His love is better than wine. She knew this because she had had some experience of it. Wine here stands for the exhilarating and luxurious pleasures of the world. But His love is more effectual, coming from a better source, and producing better and more lasting results. Wine is man-made, love is of God (Romans 8:38-39).
2. His Name is an ointment poured forth. His name is His character, a precious ointment, that contains all the ingredients needed to heal the wounds of humanity (Acts 3:16). This ointment has been poured forth in Word, and in blood, that its efficacy may be tested and enjoyed (2 Corinthians 8:9). This pouring forth of saving virtue implies God's generosity and man's opportunity and responsibility. "Therefore do the virgins (pure hearts) love Him," while the harlots pass Him by. It is to the glory of Christ that He is loved by the purest of minds. The savor of His name is eternally satisfying (Acts 4:12). "Unto you which believe He is precious."
II.—HER DESIRE FOR HIS APPROVAL. She longs for—
1. His Personal favor. "Let Him kiss me," etc. Him.... me. Her aching heart, empty and lonely, yearns for a token of His love. Nothing else can satisfy. It is not enough to hear of His love, or see others rejoicing in it, "Let Him kiss me." Personal contact needed. His kiss is a token of affection, favor, and friendship. This grace can only come from Him. God breathed into Adam—kissed him—and he became a living soul. Matthew 4:4.
2. His Personal Influence. "Draw me, we will run after You" (v. 4). Having been reconciled, she longs to follow. Christ is God's magnet to draw souls to Himself (John 6:44). His influence over the life should be an unceasing draw. He draws by His Word and His Cross, wherever He is "lifted up." This prayer of the Bride is a proof of her love for Him, and devotion to Him. Her self-denial will affect others, "we will run." The more powerfully our lives are influenced by Christ the more swiftly shall we run after Him, and the more likely are we to move others. It is better to draw than to drive. If His influence does not draw us after Him, there are other influences that will certainly draw us from Him. He will have a willing people in the day of His power.
III.—HER EXPERIENCE OF HIS FELLOWSHIP. Her prayer has been answered. He has drawn and she did run, and the results have been abundantly satisfying. We now find her—
1. Companying with Him. "The King has brought me into His chambers" (v. 4). These chambers represent His own personal possessions. All His unsearchable riches are at her disposal. His peace, His rest, His joy, His wealth, what a portion? These present possessions represent the full Salvation Christ desires to give those who lovingly follow Him. He brought her in, she never could have entered His chambers without His liberty and guidance. The way into the Holy of Holies is now open to every blood-washed Spirit-led soul (Philippians 3:12-14).
2. Rejoicing in Him. "We will be glad and rejoice in You." With loving kindness has she been drawn, and with infinite plenty has she been satisfied. The Bridegroom did it all for her, so she will rejoice in Him. It is always with gladness and rejoicing that anyone is brought into this King's palace (Psalm 45:15). There is no night there; it is a banqueting-house, with a canopy of love. All my springs, both the upper and nether—for soul and body—are in You.
3. Testifying of Him. "We will make mention of Your love" (v. 4, R.V.). His love, like Himself, cannot be hid. His love, like Jonathan, constrained Him to strip Himself for our adorning (2 Corinthians 8:9). Shall it not also constrain us to speak forth its praise? At this world's "Babel Streams" the heavenly minstrel can only sit and weep if he has no other fountain opened. Make mention of His love, for it is better than the world's wine. It is not a plant that grows among the weeds of Nature's garden, it is an exotic from above (Romans 5:5). The "upright" love Him, although the learned and the fashionable may reject Him (1 Corinthians 6:29).
"O cold ungrateful heart, that can from Jesus turn,
When living fires of love within His heart does burn."
HER CONFESSION AND APPEAL. Chapter 1:5-7
I.—HER CONFESSION. "I am black, but lovely." To many this is a seeming contradiction, if not a perfect absurdity, but it is a very fit expression of the twofold nature of the Bride's character, even although she has been brought into His chambers of wealth and beauty. She describes herself as—
1. "Black as the tents of Kedar." These tents of Kedar, or of the Bedouin, who led a nomadic life in Arabia, were blackened by the sun, and uncomely. Like our own carnal mind it is black, and can be nothing else.
2. "Lovely as the curtains of Solomon." The graceful and costly curtains of Solomon could only be seen from within. The king's daughter is all glorious within, if the outward appearance should look black in the eyes of others. In the flesh life there is no good thing, but in the Spirit life there is the beauty of the Lord. While in our sins, we, like the Ethiopian in his native land, were unconscious of our blackness. But wondrous grace, her blackness did not disqualify her for receiving His Loveliness. See Ezekiel 16:14 for the secret of perfect beauty.
II.—HER EXPLANATION. She suffered from different causes. "I am black," she says, because—
1. "The sun has scorched me" (v. 6, R.V.). Look not with disdain upon me. I am black because I have been long and severely exposed. If we had been born and brought up in Africa the sun would have blackened us too. How many are born into conditions where they are morally blackened before they know what it means. Christ does not despise us although the complexion of our character may have been changed by exposure and sin.
2. "My Mother's sons were incensed against me" (R.V.). Her "Mother's sons" may represent those unspiritual church members, which are her professed brothers and sisters. They don't like her dusky appearance; they are grieved and angry that she should have such favor shown her by the King. The proud and the jealous have no appreciation of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Persecuted by your own household.
III.—HER OCCUPATION. "They made me the keeper of the vineyards." This looked like a very lowly task for the bride of a king. She offered no objections; she willingly gives herself to the service of the thankless for His sake. Although the task was common and arduous she humbly accepts the situation. Those who love the Lord and are beloved by Him will have their pride and patience tried in their service for Him. "Mine own vineyard," she says, "have I not kept." Was she to blame for this? We think not. The word "But" supplied here, which is not in the Hebrew, has had much to do with the misunderstanding of the statement. A free rendering might be "They made me guardian of that which belonged to others, and so devoted was I to their interests that I sacrificed my own. She made herself of no reputation, denying herself for the good of others. This is the true attitude and business of the Church. In this Christ Himself has set us an example. "He saved others, Himself He could not save." Self-forgetting love is the chief mark of the Bride of Christ and the real motive to all missionary enterprise. There are, of course, those who are so engrossed about the vineyard of the body that they neglect the vineyard of the soul.
IV—.HER APPEAL. "Tell me, O You whom my soul loves" (v. 7). It was first "Kiss me," then "Draw me," now it is "Tell me." This indicates progressive experience. The appeal is to Him who is the object of her soul's love. There is "none other name" to her. Those who love the Lord must love Him with the whole heart. She makes three requests—
1. Tell me where You feed Your flock. This implies that He has a flock, and that He feeds them. His flock was given Him by the Father, redeemed by His blood, and fed by His Word. He feeds them among the green pastures of His revealed truth. He feeds His flock where He Himself is, as the Bread of Life (John 14:21).
2. Tell me where You rests Your flock at noon. His people need rest as well as food. She feels her need of both, and seeks after them. Rest at noon from the burdensome heat of wearisome toil and oppressive circumstances. Where does He rest them? Under the shadow of His love and faithfulness.
3. Tell me....Why should I be as one that is veiled, beside the flock of Your companions? (R.V.). To be a veiled one is to be one unknown to others. The Lord has many companions—Sunday companions—to whom this devoted Bride is unknown. She asks, "Why should I be as one unknown to them, who company with You?" Her heart yearns for fellowship with all who profess to love her Beloved. But alas, the true Bride of Christ is still as a veiled one to those who have only the form of godliness denying the power. Why it should be so is often a wonder to the sincere follower of Christ.
HIS ANSWER AND ENCOURAGEMENT. Chapter 1:8-11
In verse 8, the Bridegroom gives His gracious answer to the Bride's urgent request, "Tell me."
I.—HIS WORDS OF APPRECIATION. "O you fairest among women." He knows how to speak a word in season to the weary. What constitutes beauty in His sight may be unattractive to the blind multitude. To her He is the "Chief;" to Him she is the "fairest." The deciding factor is love and personal devotedness. So is it with Christ and His Church.
II.—HIS WORDS OF COUNSEL. In answer to her question He now tells her—
1. Where she is to go. "Go your way forth by the footsteps of the flock." The footsteps of His flock in every age have been the footsteps of faith as taught in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. To "go forth" in this direction implies a definite act of the will, and a readiness to be separated from all that would hinder It is along this path that He feeds His flock. "Seek the old paths, where is the good way," and beware of the "New" (John 14:6). New revelations, and New theologies that are not in accordance with the "footsteps of the flock" are to be rejected and avoided.
2. What she is to do. "Feed your kids beside the shepherd's tents." The kids are the young of the flock in which she has become specially interested. Personal devotion to Christ leads to an earnest desire after the good of others. Our Lord's "Love you Me" was accompanied with "Feed My lambs," and always is. The kids were to be associated with the flock, and so are to be fed "beside the shepherd's tent." Their tents were pitched for the convenience of the flock. The place where the shepherd feeds his sheep is the place where to feed the lambs, and what is "green pastures" to the one will be "green pastures" to the other. There is but one Lord, one faith.
III.—HIS WORDS OF COMPARISON. "I have compared you... to a steed in Pharaoh's chariot" (v. 9, R.V.). This is His comparison, and must be full of significance. It suggests—
1. Soundness. The King would have no blemished steed in His chariot. The blind and the lame had no place there. In God's service, moral, spiritual, and intellectual soundness is required. Salvation from the deformity of sin needed—
2. Dignity. The royal steed must be dignified in its every action. A slovenly, cumbrous gait does not become such. The servant of Jesus Christ must walk worthy of the Lord. "Lift up your heads." Your citizenship is in Heaven.
3. Strength. Pharaoh's chariot steed is no weakling; it is clothed with power, and can smell the battle afar off (Job 39:25). Paul's soul was prancing like a steed when he said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me."
4. Activity. Always ready for action is another characteristic of the full bred, highly-developed steed. Liveliness of disposition belongs to the perfect man in Christ Jesus. "Ready to every good work" (Titus 3:1). Always abounding in the work of the Lord.
5. Submissiveness. The steed in the kingly chariot, with all its pomp and power, is very sensitive and obedient to the guiding hand. So is the Bride under the constraining love of Christ and His Holy Spirit. Willing and Obedient.
6. Honors. The steed of Pharaoh's chariot was called to Royal service. It was associated with the king for his work and pleasure. Bearing him where he would. We are also co-workers together with Him, who is King of Kings. Called to bear His name among the heathen (Acts 9:15). Take My yoke upon you.
THE BLESSED FELLOWSHIP. Chapter 1:12-17
After the Bride's request and the Bridegroom's answer and encouragement, comes a season of refreshing communion.
I.—WHERE? "At the King's table" (v. 12). The King has a table—that which displays His marvelous provisions—the Word. The King "sits" at His Table" (R.V.) ready to welcome each invited guest. It would be an unsatisfying table if the King Himself were not there. Such is the "Lord's Table" (Luke 12:37). The Scriptures, as the table of the King, testify of Him. Great God, what a spread.
II.—HER EXPERIENCES. She declares, while the King sat at His table—
1. That His spikenard sent forth its fragrance (v. 12, R.V.). As this sweet-smelling shrub, in a congenial atmosphere poured forth its fragrance, so in the warmth of His presence, her afflictions flowed out copiously. When His Spirit is received in fullness, then the love of God, and love to God, will be shed abroad in our hearts.
2. That her Beloved was to her as a bundle of myrrh. The more love we have for Christ, the more fragrant and precious will He become to us. Not only myrrh, but as a bundle of it. We are told that Eastern ladies carried myrrh in their bosoms to impart fragrance to the person. Christ in the heart, makes a fragrant life. To some He is but a "root out of a dry ground." To them that believe, He is precious.
3. That His position was on her heart. "A bundle of myrrh... that lies between my breasts" (13, R.V.). Between the breasts is the seat of the heart— the place where Christ delights to rest. He dwells in the heart by faith (Ephesians 3:17).
III.—HIS WORDS OF COMFORT TO HER. Now the Bridegroom responds to the glowing testimony of the Bride. She has honored Him; He honors her. He says—
1. "You are fair" (v. 15). She has become very pleasant in His eyes. Those to whom Christ is precious, are precious to Christ. The more beauty we can see in Jesus, the more of His beauty will be seen in us. To be fair in His sight is better than being fashionable with the world.
2. "Your eyes are as doves" (R.V.). The eyes are expressive of character. Id those eyes He sees simplicity and purity. The dove nature is seen in the dove's eyes. How different are the eyes of the hawk and the fox: the eyes of the unclean and the deceitful. Her whole nature had been subdued into the purest and tenderest devotion. This is the beauty which the King so greatly desires (Psalm 45:11).
IV.—HER WORDS OF RESPONSE TO HIM. She says—
1. "You are fair, my Beloved, yes pleasant" (v. 16). Fair and pleasant characterizes the Bridegroom. Beautiful to the eye, and pleasant to the heart. He satisfies the vision and meets all the needs of the soul.
2. "Our couch is green" (R.V.). The resting place of these mutual beloveds is as pleasant and refreshing as the Love of God. They rest in His Love. They have both been made to lie down in green pastures.
3. "Our House has beams of cedars" (R.V.). The house of the Church, in which both Bride and Bridegroom delight, being built on a Rock; its beams are strong and enduring. Cedar wood is the most durable of timbers—sometimes called shittim wood. The superstructure is built to Stand.
4. "Our Galleries are firs" (R.V. Marg.). The galleries may refer to steps of ascent, or to a series of balconies for outward prospect. The fragrant firs and the enchanting outlook, that widens the horizon, as they arise, platform above platform. Such is the progressive experience, and growing delight of those who abide in fellowship with Him. Three times over, she uses the word "Our" not "My." What have we, that we have not received from Him, and what is Ours, is also His. It is mutual enjoyment.
TIMES OF REFRESHING. Chapter 2:1-7
In His Chambers, and in His Presence, she is in the enjoyment of rich refreshing. "In Your Presence is fullness of joy." The conversation is the sweetest and most endearing. Notice—
1—HER CONFESSION. "I am a Rose of Sharon, a Lily of the Valley" (R.V.). These words are often quoted as spoken by the Bridegroom, but they are the words of the Bride, and express her lowly opinion of herself. The Rose of the plain and the Lily of the valley were only common, modest flowers. She feels that in herself, she is no better than others. But God has chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom (Jas. 5:2; 2 Corinthians 8:9).
II.—HIS APPRECIATION. "Asa Lily among thorns; so is My love among the daughters." A lily is the symbol of beauty, of purity, and of humility. To Him, she is a lily arrayed in a beauty more glorious than that of Solomon's, but her position on earth is as one "among thorns." Thorns represent the uncharitable, uncomely, unprofitable, and hurtful. Their tendency is to choke the Word of life—their end is to be burned. The lily is among the thorns, not of them, as the wheat grows among the tares. There were saints in Cesar's household. Their position is one of suffering and testimony.
Ill—HER BLISSFUL TESTIMONY. Observe that it is all of Him. She refers to—
1. His Character. "As the tree (citron or orange) among the trees....so is my Beloved among the sons" (v. 3). She is a lily among thorns, He is an orange tree among the fruitless trees of the wood: the sons of men. He is "the Tree of Life." None ever found "nothing but leaves" here. This tree with its thick deep green foliage, and ever ripe and luscious fruit is the coveted place of shelter and refreshing to the weary-burdened, thirsty pilgrim (Isaiah 32:2). This unique tree yields its fruit every month. Let him that is athirst, come.
2. His Shadow. "I sat under His shadow with great delight." There are other shadows, like Jonah's gourd, under which we may sit with fear. Only under His shadow can we sit with "great delight." Here only is security, love, power, and satisfaction. The fruit of His labor and suffering is sweet; Pardon, peace, and hope. It is sweet to the taste of a weary, hungry, thankful heart. Many have their taste so depraved by eating the deceptive apples of Sodom, that they desire not the fruit of the Tree of Life.
3. His Banqueting House. This is suggestive of joyful company, and abundant provision. The House of Prayer is a banqueting house, where the soul is refreshed and strengthened with His grace and truth, being filled with the Spirit. "He brought me! none else could. He leads me into the place of fullness of blessing."
4. His Banner. "His banner over me was love." This banner is the symbol of His conquering love; under it she has a triumphant entrance. Our liberty of access comes through His prevailing love. "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." This King sets His banner over all His possessions. It is the banner of love, because all the forces of love in His Kingdom are represented by it.
5. His Hands. "His left hand under my head, and His right hand does embrace me." She who has such a warm place in the heart of His love, will not fail to have a secure place in the hands of His power. His left hand for support, and His right hand for protection. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." He faints not. The beloved of the Lord shall dwell is safety by Him (Deuteronomy 33:12). None is able to pluck His loved ones out of His hand (John 10:28-30).
PROOFS OF HIS LOVE. Chapter 2:8-13
"The voice of my Beloved" (v. 8). She hears His voice, it is the voice of love, a love that delights to manifest itself in unmistakable words and actions.
1. He Comes. "Behold, He comes." The great distance which separated Him and her, could only be bridged by Him, through infinite love. He comes powerfully, "leaping upon the mountains." He comes joyfully, "skipping upon the hills." He comes to seek and to save.
2. He Stands. "He stands behind our wall." There is no wall that can keep Him out, but "our wall." The wall of indifference and unbelief. Yet He condescends to stand behind it. Break down this wall, and you will see the King.
3. He Looks. "He looks in at the windows" (v. 9, R.V.). He takes advantage of every opening to get into touch with our needy souls. No lover can be more interested in his sweetheart than He is about His own. Every desire after Him is a window through which He can look into the soul.
4. He Reveals. "He shows Himself through the lattice" (R.V.), It is the fondest longing of His gracious heart to show Himself, in all the wealth of His character, to the lonely loving heart. "He who loves me... I will manifest Myself to him" (John
5. He Speaks. "My Beloved spoke" (v. 10) She has no doubt at all that it is His voice she hears. What other voice could be so sweet, so surpassingly charming? There is no mistaking it.
6. He Invites. "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." He has come that He might take her to Himself, and into the fair summer land of His Grace. "Come away," away from all that harms or hinders, into His ways and works, where there is peace and power. As sinners we go to Him, as disciples we go after Him, as friends we go with Him.
7. He Encourages. The characteristics of spring mentioned here (vv. 11-13) are metaphorical of the new life. It is spring-time in the soul, when the Sun of Righteousness casts His warm reviving beams upon it. All the blessings of this new life have their source in Him. In these words of cheer, spoken to the Bride by the Bridegroom, we have "The Gospel of Christ," which assures us that—
(1). "The winter (of Death) is past" (v. 11). You has He quickened who were dead. All in Christ are a new creation...All things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Passed from death into life, from winter into summer.
(2). "The rain (of Judgment) is over and gone." As Noah, after the flood, stepped out into a new world, so Christ, by His death on the Cross, brings us out of condemnation into the glorious liberty of "newness of life." (Romans 8:1).
(3). "The flowers (of promise) appear on the earth." After the death and resurrection of Christ, the promises of God, spring up in fresh beauty and power, as plentiful as the flowers of the field." The promise is unto you," pluck these precious gifts, and make your life beautiful and fragrant.
(4). "The time of Singing (Praise) is come." It well becomes the mornings of spring to be vocal with song. The dawn of the new morning of spiritual life is a time when every bird within the cage of our being is set a singing. "Praise you the Lord," sing and make melody in your heart, for the Lord has done great things for you.
(5). "The voice of the turtle (Holy Spirit) is heard in our land." While the flowers of promise appear in the earth—offered to all, the assuring voice of the Spirit only is heard in our land; To receive the promised Spirit, as the Comforter and Guide, we must know the Power of His Cross, (Galatians 3:13-14).
(6). The season of Fruitfulness is at hand. "The fig tree ripens her green figs, and the vines are in blossom" (v. 13). There is now the prospect of a priceless ingathering. This is the stage referred to in John 15:16. Blessing for others must be one of the results of our Union with Him (Hosea 14:8).
(7). The Call is repeated. "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Arise, don't keep sitting in the place of darkness and doubt. You are "my love, the joy of my heart," come away into the full enjoyment of all this Heaven-sent Spring brings within your reach. In His Presence is fullness of joy. Will you go with this Man?
MUTUAL DELIGHT. Chapter 2:14-17
To her, He is the "chief among the thousands," to Him, she is the "fairest among women." The fellowship of such must be sweet. Observe here—
I.—HER SECURITY. As His own dove—the emblem of purity and affection—she is—
1. "In the clefts of the Rock," for safety (v. 14). She dwells on high (Isaiah 33:16), far above the reach of the cruel fowler, in the cleft of the Rock of Ages, kept by the power of God. The strength of Hills, which is His, is also hers.
2. "In the secret places of the ascent" (Newberry), for progress. Her position is one of safety, her privilege is one of advancement. The Rock of defense is frequently associated with the secret place of privilege (Psalm 27:5; Isaiah 33:16). The power of the Spirit is associated with the blood of the Cross. As sons, we are in the cleft of the rock, as servants, we are "in the secret places of the stairs."
II.—HIS LONGING FOR COMMUNION. He desires of her two things, He says—
1. "Let Me see your countenance....for it is lovely." Lovely with the beauty that He has put upon it, by satisfying her heart with His love and goodness. Lift up your face unto God—His heart yearns to see His own light in your eyes, and to have fellowship with you. Then—
2. "Let Me hear your voice, for it is sweet." It is sweet to Him to hear your voice in prayer to Him, in praise of Him, and in testimony for Him. The voice may be weak and trembling, but to Him it is sweet. Let Him hear it often, for there are so many other voices that must be harsh and painful to His gracious ear.
III.—HIS CAREFULNESS OVER THEIR POSSESSIONS. "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom" (v. 15, R.V.). The vineyards may represent spheres of service. Into the sacred enclosure foxes, or false teachers, have come (Ezekiel 13:4). There are also "little foxes," playful, innocent things in a way, but they spoil the vines. The Bride and Bridegroom are copartners in this business; what touches the vineyard, affects them both. If we are vitally united to Christ, we shall be vitally interested in His cause. What is to be done with the foxes? "Take them." Deal with them as foxes.
IV.—HER JOYFUL CONFESSION. "My Beloved is mine, and I am His" (v. 16).
1. His, by Grace and Choice. His, because He has set His love upon me, and has chosen me as His own. He loved me, and gave Himself for me.
2. His, by Faith and Self-surrender. "I am His!" He gave Himself for me, and I have given myself for Him. You are not your own, you are bought with a price. This is a union that is indissoluble in death or eternity.
3. His, until the Day break. Just now, her sphere of action, in fellowship with Him, is among the shadows: but when that great "day" dawns, these shall "flee away." She is His, as really in the place of suffering, as in the day of glory. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadows.... I will fear no evil, for You are with me (Psalm 23:4).
4. His, until He comes again. "Turn, my Beloved, and be You like a young deer upon the mountains of division" (R.V., Marg.). The young deer can speedily overcome the hills and valleys, which separate. When Christ comes again, He will come "quickly" the mountains that presently hide His visible presence, and divide His waiting people, will flow down at His Appearing. The cry of the Bride is, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."
A SORROWFUL NIGHT. Chapter 3:1-4
These verses tell us of a lost fellowship, and a midnight search.
1. The Search. "I sought Him." Why? What had happened? Something had separated these lovers. When the Holy Spirit is grieved, fellowship with the Lord is broken. She sought Him because she was deeply sensible of her loss. The more precious the Lord is to us, the more sorrowfully shall we miss His presence.
2. The Time. "By night." It is always night to the loving heart when He is not there. Distance from Christ implies darkness; for He is the Light of Life.
3. The Manner. (1), She sought Him on His bed. The bed is a place of ease and inactivity. But He is not found here; for the search is still in a slothful fashion. (2), She sought Him in the Street, she is out of her bed now, and into Society. But even in the city, she is seeking for the living among the dead. Lost fellowship with Christ is not restored in this manner. (3), She sought Him among the Watchmen (v. 3). "Saw you Him?" Alas, even the Watchmen of Zion are not always in personal touch with Him. She has also to pass them by.
4. The Discovery. "I found Him whom my soul loves" (v. 4). When her own plans and methods and efforts had been exhausted, He revealed Himself unto her. She made this joyful discovery when alone. Mary made a like discovery after a somewhat similar search (John 20:11-16), "I found Him." There was no possibility of her mistaking another for Him. He only could satisfy her loving, trusting heart.
5. The Result. Having found Him, she says— (1), "I held Him." She held Him fast, with the heart grip of faith, like one clinging for very life. She held Him, conscious of her own need, and of His inexpressible preciousness. (2), "I brought Him into my mother's house." If He had been earlier brought into her mother's house, she might have saved herself this time of weary searching. Fellowship with Jesus Christ is sweet, but it is all the sweeter when He is brought into the home circle. If you cannot bring your mother and your brethren to Jesus, bring Jesus to them.
HIS BED, HIS CHARIOT, AND HIS CROWN. Chapter 3:7-11
These words, "Bed, Chariot, Crown," are all emphasized in the Hebrew.
I.—HIS BED. "Behold, His bed." His bed represents the place of divine rest.
1. It was well defended. "Threescore valiant men are about it." The place of His rest is strongly protected. "He shall not fail, nor be discouraged." Neither the power, the number, nor the devices of the enemy can disturb the rest of the Lord. To enter into His rest is to be saved indeed. "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." His defenders are all "expert in war" (v. 8).
2. The reason why. "Because of fear in the night." We wrestle not against flesh and blood...but against the rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12). The foes that seek to disturb His rest, and ours, are mighty, but they that are for us are greater. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
II.—HIS CHARIOT. This is His "Car of State" (R.V., Marg.). Like the Salvation of the Lord—
1. It was devised by the King. "King Solomon made himself a chariot" (v. 9). The plan, the purpose, and the material were all his own devising. So was it with the Chariot of the Gospel. The whole scheme of Redemption is according to the choice and mind of God. Man's thoughts have no place here.
2. It was costly. "He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom of gold." Solomon was not only the wisest, but the richest man of the age, he only could provide the materials for such a costly Car of State. Silver and gold stands here for preciousness and perfection. The means of our Salvation was indeed a costly provision. Not silver and gold, but the precious blood of Christ.
3. It was comfortable. It was "inlaid with love" (R.V., Marg.). The covering was the purple of royalty, but the lining was that of love. This phrase in itself is ample warrant for seeking spiritual significance in this Song. In this wonderful chariot there is Love all around. What a blessed experience. You have to get inside to know what is the length, the breadth, the depth, and the height of this love, which passes knowledge.
4. It was for others. "For the daughters of Jerusalem" (v. 10). 0! you daughters of Zion, this is the royal provision for you to take you to the King's palace. Written all round the Chariot of our Salvation, are these words, "Whoever will, may come." If any man enter in he shall be saved and satisfied.
III.—HIS CROWN. "Go forth... and behold King Solomon with the crown" (v. 11). Yes! the chariot paved with love leads to the vision of the crowned King.
1. When did He receive it? It was " in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." When Christ was resurrected and enthroned, it was the day of His betrothal to His redeemed Bride, and a day of great gladness to His heart.
2. Who gave Him the Crown? "The crown with which His Mother crowned Him." The Mother is the embodiment of Love and grace. God is Love. Love sent Jesus Christ, the Son, and love crowned Him. "On His head are many crowns." Behold your Bride groom comes, crowned, with glory and honor. Go forth to meet Him, and to be forever with Him
HER PERSONAL BEAUTY. Chapter 4:1-6
"Behold, you are fair, my Love: behold, you are fair." This is not the Bride's own estimate of herself, but His. The features of the physical body are here used as a similitude of the Church's moral beauty. The outward appearance is taken as an analogy of the inward character.
1. Her Eyes are like dove's. Meek and affectionate. The love of her heart beams out in her eyes. "The light of the body is the eye." Like Him, she is meek and lowly in heart.
2. Her Hair is like a flock of goats. Her hair as a veil of covering gracefully hides her person, as a flock of goats on Mount Gilead. The Bride is modest, not self-assertive, and even her modesty is majestic as the stately march of a flock of goats.
3. Her Teeth are like a flock of ewes that are newly shorn (v. 2, R.V.). Numerous as a flock, and clean as a newly-shorn lamb. The teeth of the Bride are not set on edge, after the sour grapes of the world. They are not spoiled by eating that which is not good (Isaiah 55:2). They are not like lion's, for devouring one another.
4. Her Lips are like a thread of scarlet. They have a healthy color, and are well defined, because they speak the language of the Crucified One. The lips of those who preach the "blood of His Cross" must become like a thread of scarlet.
5. Her Speech is lovely. Because it is seasoned with the salt of His Spirit, and because it is the language of a faithful loving heart. The speech of those who speak of Him, who is altogether lovely, must be lovely. No corrupt communication can proceed out of her mouth.
6. Her Temples are like a piece of pomegranate. They are well developed, and indicate the highest wisdom. Her Bridegroom is made unto her wisdom and righteousness. Those that are Christ's are wise in Him.
7. Her Neck is like the tower of David (v. 4). Strong, straight, and dignified. She is not stiff-necked. The carriage or bearing of the Church of Christ ought to be in keeping with her glorious destiny as the Lamb's wife. Why should the saint walk with his head bowed to the earth, as if he were the conquered foe of the world?
8. Her Breasts are like young roes which feed among the lilies (v. 5). The breast is the symbol of Affection. They are like "young roes," because they possess all the vigor of youth, and all the warmth of a first-love. These affectionate desires have pleasant pastures: they "feed among the lilies." He satisfies the longing soul with good.
9. Her Purpose. "I will get me to the mountain of myrrh... until the day break and the shadows flee away" (v. 6). The mountain of myrrh," and "hill of frankincense" fitly represent "heavenly places in Christ Jesus." This is the abiding place of His people now, until the day of His Appearing break, and the shadows of this earthly life of sorrow and suffering flee away before the glory of His Presence.
HER CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE. Chapter 4:7-15
The many titles given here by the Bridegroom, to the Bride, are a revelation of His high appreciation of her character and preciousness to Him. His invitation is most expressive, "Come with Me" (v. 8). His heart longs for unbroken communion.
1. Come and Walk with Me (Colossians 1:10). Agreement.
2. Come and Talk with Me (Luke 24:17). Prayer.
3. Come and Work with Me (1 Corinthians 3:9). Service.
4. Come and Suffer with Me (Luke 14:26-29). Fellowship.
5. Come and Rejoice with Me (Matthew 25:21). Reward.
6. Come and Dwell with Me (John 14:2-3). Glory. Now observe the various titles used as indicating her character in His sight.
I.—HER CHARACTER. He speaks of her— 1. As a Friend without spot. "You are all fair, my friend: there is no spot in you" (v. 7, Newberry). The Church is Christ's friend in this present evil age, and should be holy and without blemish before Him in love (Ephesians 5:27).
2. As the Companion of His Choice. "Come with Me... from the lion's dens; from the mountains of leopards" (v. 8). Christ has not only chosen us, but by following Him, we are delivered from the power of those spiritual lions and leopards whose dens are still in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
3. As a Sister and Bride. He calls her "My Sister, my Bride" (v. 9). "Spouse" should always be read "Bride" (R.V.). This double relationship comes by birth and betrothal. Like Eve, the Church is "bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh"—Sister—and also God's gift to Him as an helpmeet—Bride. His Incarnation and Resurrection explain these two facts.
4. As a Garden enclosed (v. 12). A garden enclosed is a place of private pleasure and profit. The Church is Christ's own private and delightsome property It is well enclosed, protected by the walls of His almighty power and everlasting love. Separated unto Him.
5. As a Fountain sealed. There are treasures and possibilities connected with the Church that have not been revealed. Our life is hid with Christ in God. "When He shall appear then shall we also be manifested with Him".
6. As a Well opened. "A well of living waters and streams from Lebanon" (v. 15). While about her there is much that is as yet sealed, or hidden from the eyes of others, there is also much that cannot be hid. The Church of God is a channel through which flows streams of living waters. In each redeemed and satisfied soul there is a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14).
II.—HER INFLUENCE WITH HIM. What a confession the Bridegroom makes when He says to her: "You have ravished My heart" (v. 9). This is the only place where this word is used in the Bible. He had yielded His whole heart to her and she had taken it away (R.V., Marg.). How had she succeeded in so captivating and keeping His heart?
1. With her Looks. "You have ravished My heart with one of your eyes." Being single-eyed, her whole body was full of heavenly light. Looking unto Jesus with the clear confident eye of faith is delightsome to Him.
2. With her Love. "How fair is your love... better is your love than wine" (v. 10). Our eye will never ravish His heart, unless He sees our heart in it. Be not deceived, He is not mocked. He who loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, desires to see of the travail of His soul, and to be satisfied in it.
3. With her Lips. "Your lips, O My Bride, drop as the honeycomb" (v. 11, R.V.). The words of her testimony are sweet to Him. The Bridegroom was sanctified in her heart, so she was ready always to give a reason of the hope that was in her (1 Peter 3:15). Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, for no other lips have such a sweet story to tell as they. Honor the Lord with your lips.
HER PRAYER AND HIS ANSWER. Chapters 4:16; 5:1
1. THE PRAYER. The Bridegroom has just been comparing her to "A garden enclosed... with plants...and pleasant fruits... with trees of frankincense. . . and chief spices" (4:12-15). Now her intense desire is that she, as a garden, might be worthy of Him; and abundantly pleasing to Him, so she prays—
1. For the Coming of the Wind. "Awake, O north wind, and come you south" (4:16). The Awakening and the ripening influence of the Holy Spirit are urgently needed if our lives are to be fruitful unto God. As the "North wind," He convicts; as the "South," he comforts and guides into all truth, that we may grow in grace and knowledge.
2. For the Outflowing of the Spices. "That the spices thereof may flow out." The spices—or new graces of the character—would not flow out if they were not there. It takes the wind, or breath of the Spirit, to make them flow out right over the walls, in testimony to the riches of His grace (Zechariah. 4:6).
3. For the Satisfaction of her Beloved. "Let my Beloved come into His garden and eat His precious fruits" (R.V.). She acknowledges that as a garden she is His; and that all she has, and is, are for Him. What have we that we have not received? It is His desire and should be our delight that He should come into our lives and make personal use of all the products of the Holy Spirit in us. You are not your own. The fruits of the unrenewed life are but sour grapes to Him.
II.—THE ANSWER.. To her anxious request He gives a speedy reply—......
1. He comes. "I am come into My garden" (v 1). He comes into His garden: into the sacred enclosure of the heart, and there manifests Himself, claiming it as His own. "My garden." When we yield ourselves unto God, our members will become weapons of righteousness for Him.
2. He accepts. "I have gathered My myrrh, I have eaten My honeycomb, I have drunk My wine," etc. He has willingly and joyfully accepted for His own use, all that had been so freely offered Him. What is consecrated to Him will surely be accepted by Him, and used for the honor and glory of His name.
3. He invites. "Eat, O friends: drink, yes, drink abundantly, O beloved." See now His eager desire that others should share His precious provision. Let all who are friendly to. Christ, show their friendliness by accepting of His offered blessings. Eat. Christ's gifts cannot be received too freely, there is no danger of excess here. "Drink abundantly" (Rev. 22:17).
HER SLOTHFULNESS AND ITS SORROWFUL RESULTS. Chapter 5:2-8
After a season of "abundant" feasting and fellowship, there is the danger of yielding to selfish ease (v. 1). Let not His abounding grace lead to self-confidence and apathy. The experience here is that of a backslider. Why should backsliding follow times of refreshing?
1. Her Sleep. "I sleep, but my heart wakes." This describes a condition of spiritual inactivity while the conscience is still awake. This is not the sleep of death (Ephesians 2:1), but of indifference and neglect. Beware of sinning willfully after that you have believed.
2. Her Awakening. The voice of my Beloved knocks, saying, "Open to Me." She knows that it is His voice that knocks, but she only hears it in a dreamy fashion. How tender is His call. "Open to Me, My sister, my love, My dove." The door of self-sufficiency now stands between her and Him. See Rev. 3:17-20.
3. Her Excuse. "I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on?" etc. (v. 3). A very little thing is an excuse for a backslider. She had put off her coat, and washed her feet, with the intent of self-indulgence. How should she be disturbed, and her purposes thwarted? She has fallen from her first love.
4. Her Repentance. "I rose to open to my Beloved" v. 5). Her heart moved when she saw His hand put in by the hole of the door (v. 4, R.V.). When her heart moved she moved. Backsliding always begins with the heart. If there is even a hole in the door, His merciful hand will find it out, and seek a wider opening.
5. Her Discovery. "I opened to my Beloved, but my Beloved....was gone" (v. 6). While she opened the door her hands and fingers "dropped with myrrh" (v. 5). His gracious act in putting His hand on the lock made it very pleasant for her to open to Him, but when His fellowship is lightly esteemed it will be withdrawn. Be not deceived, God is not mocked (Heb 12:17).
6. Her Self-reproach. "My soul failed when He spoke" (v. 6). He had spoken to her (v. 2), but instead of instant obedience, she began to make excuse (v. 3) Now, like Peter, she mournfully remembers her guilt and failure. She knows exactly where the sin lay. She had preferred selfish ease to obeying Him.
7. Her Miserable Condition.—
(1). Fellowship broken. "I sought Him but could not find Him." Sin leads to separation. We may not be conscious of it at the time, but when the Spirit is grieved our communion with Christ is interrupted.
(2). Prayer unanswered. "I called Him, but He gave me no answer." If we would ask and receive, we must abide in Him (John 15:7). She has ceased to be right with Him, so her prayers do not avail (Jas. 5:16).
(3). Testimony lost. "The watchmen found me.... smote me... wounded me.... took away my veil from me" (v. 7). So changed was she that the city watchman did not know her. Stripped of her veil, she was brought to both sorrow and shame. Backsliders will always suffer in a measure from faithful watchmen, they must be reproved and rebuked, and made ashamed of themselves that they might more keenly feel their guiltiness in disobeying their Lord and Redeemer.
8. Her Appeal. "I charge you....that you tell Him that I am sick of love" (v. 8). She was cast down, but not destroyed. She pleads with those who are in touch with Him to speak to Him on her behalf— to pray for her. The Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. It is a Christ-like ministry to make intercession for transgressors. It is wise to seek the help of others, that we might be lifted into a higher, Christian experience. "Brethren, pray for us." But one must needs be "sick of love" to make such a request as this.
HER DESCRIPTION OF HIS PERSON. Chapter 5:9-16
These "daughters of Jerusalem," as nominal professors, do not help the Bride in her search for her Beloved (v. 8). They acknowledge her character as the "fairest among women," but to them her Beloved is no more than any other beloved. It is only a matter of personal choice and devotion. But their question, "What is your Beloved?" etc., stirred up her deeper emotions to give this full and glowing testimony to His matchless beauty, and incomparable character. She knows Him, whom she has believed.
1. He is white and ruddy (v. 10). As a Nazarite He was "whiter than milk, and more ruddy than rubies" (Lam. 4:7). White and pure as the Son of God, ruddy and healthy as the Son of Man. Divinely pure and beautifully human.
2. He is the Chief among thousands. In the building He is the chief Corner-Stone. Among the brethren He is the First-born. Among the resurrected He is the First-begotten. He is the Alpha and Omega The First-born of every creature.
3. His head is as the most fine gold. Here is perfect purity of thought and the perfection of wisdom. His thoughts are not only pure, but very precious.
4. His locks are bushy and black. His is the beauty of divine youthfulness and strength. The same yesterday, today, and forever.
5. His Eyes are as doves' (v. 12). They are full of tenderness and compassion. They are also "fitly set." They see things in their true light (2 Chronicles 16:9).
6. His Cheeks are as a bed of spices (v. 13). Lovely, fragrant, attractive. There was that about our Lord that drew and fascinated. Even the children were influenced by it. He is fairer than the children of men.
7. His Lips are like lilies. They are pure and full of grace; for grace has been poured into them (Psalm 45:2). They drop sweetness.
8. His Hands are as rings of gold. (v. 14, R.V.). Precious and endless in their working. How manifold are Your works (Psalm 104:24). I have graven you upon the palm of My band (Isaiah 49:16). Into Your hand I commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5:2 Timothy 1:12).
9. His Body is as bright ivory (R.V.). Ivory, "overlaid with sapphires," is surely symbolic of purity and incorruptibility. God would not suffer His Holy One to see corruption. On the mount of transfiguration it was seen to be overlaid with sapphires shining like the sun 10. His Legs are as pillars of marble (v. 15) They are strong and unfailing. He is the Rock, His work and ways are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). He faints not.
11. His Aspect is like Lebanon. There is a unique dignity about His general appearance that makes Him pre-eminent among the sons of men, as Lebanon among the hills.
12. His Mouth is most sweet (v. 16). Never man spoke like this Man (John 7:46). Never man had such a message as this Man. His mouth is most sweet, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead; full of grace and truth.
13. He is altogether lovely. All the loveliness of God is revealed in Him. What is more lovely than love. God is Love. He who dwells in love dwells in God.
Now, says the Bride, "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend." Who would not covet such a relationship?
THE ANXIOUS INQUIRERS. Chapter 6:1-3
It is not to be wondered at that after the Bride's magnificent testimony to His "altogether lovely" character (vv. 10-16) we should immediately meet with seeking souls. If Christ, in all His glorious fullness, was more frequently preached, there would be no dearth of results.
I.—THE INQUIRERS. These are the daughters or virgins of Jerusalem. They are nominal professors, members of the visible Church, who are as yet strangers to Jesus Christ. Their lives are morally clean, but they have no personal experience of His power and fellowship.
1. Whom they seek. They seek her Beloved. "Where is your Beloved turned aside? that we may seek Him with you." They seek Him of whom they have just heard. Him who is so full of grace and truth, the Mighty to save, and to satisfy. Hearing should lead to seeking. Whom Seek you? (John 20:15).
2. Where they seek. "Where is your Beloved gone. O you fairest among women." They seek Him through her, who has been made fair through His loveliness put upon her. Her fairness was her likeness to Him, which made her testimony all the more effective. Those whose character has not been beautified by the grace of Christ will not be privileged to win souls.
II.—THE DIRECTIONS GIVEN. She is able to tell them where He can be found. He is—
1. In His garden. "My Beloved is gone down into His garden" (v. 2). He delights to wander in the garden of His Word, the "Scripture of Truth." There you shall meet with Him. Every book of the Bible is a "bed of spices."
2. Feeding His flock. "My Beloved is gone down...to feed (His flock) in the gardens." Here He refreshes and strengthens His people, who, like Him, take delight in this garden. "Your Word was found, and I did eat it." Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
3. Gathering lilies. "Gone down into His garden... to gather lilies." His loved ones are like lilies (2:2), here He gathers them, receiving them to Himself, and making them a delight to His soul. He who gathers the lambs in His arms says, "Him that comes unto Me I will in no wise cast out."
III.—HER PERSONAL TESTIMONY. "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine" (v: 3). I am His, because I have given myself to Him. He is mine because He has given Himself for me. He is mine, because I have accepted Him; I am His because He has accepted me. We should be able and ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us to all those that ask. Such personal testimony is always encouraging to anxious inquiries.
SYMBOLS OF HER UNIQUE CHARACTER. Chapter 6:4-10
It would seem that each time she extols His virtues, speaking of the goodness and loveliness of His character (vv. 2-3), He in turn extols the virtues of the Bride. They who honor the Lord shall be honored by Him. To her, "He is altogether lovely" (v. 16). To Him, she is "the choice one" (v. 9).
1. Beautiful as Tirzah (v. 4). . Tirzah was a royal residence, a place renowned for its beauty (1 Kings 14:19). The Church, true and clean, is a beautiful and delightful residence of her Lord. "I in you." The beauty of the Lord our God upon us.
2. Lovely as Jerusalem. " Zion," like the Church, is "the perfection of beauty" (Psalm 50:2). Beautiful for situation, none so favored and honored as she. Like Jerusalem, she is well protected, the mountains of God are round about her. The loveliness of her God is upon her (Ezekiel 16:14).
3. Hopeful as the Morning. "She looks forth as the morning" (v. 10). Her prospects are bright Her cause is as the shining light (of the morning) that shines more and more, until the perfect day dawns. She has a blessed hope (Matthew 13:43).
4. Fair as the Moon. The moon is the chief light of the world in the absence of the sun. You are the light of the world. "Occupy until I come." The moon's fairness is but the reflection of the unseen sun. So the Church.
5. Clear as the Sun. While the moon is not so brilliant as the sun, it is equally faithful in fulfilling its appointed mission. The Church ought to be as clear as the Christ in its doctrine, motives, and life. This one thing I do.
6. Terrible as an Army (v. 10). This word "terrible" here and in v. 4 only occurs once elsewhere in the Bible (Habakkuk 1:7). It means Awe-inspiring as bannered hosts. There are tremendous possibilities in "bannered hosts." Banners here are the symbols of unity, conviction, courage, and confidence. The Church in its goings forth on its divinely-inspired mission, with its unfailing resources, its God-given armor and un-conquered Leader, should be an awe-inspiring sight. Is this what the Church is today?
THE BRIDEGROOM'S VISIT. Chapter 6:11-13
1. The Place. "I went down into the garden of nuts." The Church, as a whole, is compared to a garden, and His people to nuts, whose lives are sweet to Him, and well protected. Our life is hid with Christ in God. He "went down." All His dealings with us implies a going down on His part. He humbled Himself.
2. The Purpose. "To see the fruits" (v. 11). And where the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded. He came seeking fruit, and to see how His green plants prospered. The tree that is planted by the rivers of water should bring forth fruit in its season (Psalm 1:3). Every tree planted by our Lord has river privileges, and is therefore without excuse. In Me is your fruit found. See John 15:1-5.
3. The Effect. "Or ever I was aware, My soul (desire) set Me among the chariots of My princely people" (v. 12, R.V.). Suddenly, His chief desire was to identify Himself with the martial movements of His beloved and princely people. Those who would bring forth fruit unto Him, by their life and testimony, shall have the joy-inspiring presence of their Lord and Savior. "Lo, I am with you." Pentecost is the expression of His sudden desire to go forth with His princely people in their service for Him.
4. The Call. "Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon you" (v. 13). "Shulamite" is the feminine for Solomon, and might be rendered, Return, O Solomonite. She is called by the King's own name, as the disciples of Jesus Christ was called "Christians" first at Antioch. Perhaps this call is in response to her anxious inquiry in chapter 5:8. If His soul is to abide with His princely people, they must with their whole soul return to Him. Fruitfulness is conditioned by His abiding in us, and we in Him."
5. The Question. She now ventures to ask: "Why will you look upon the Shulamite?" (v. 13). What will you see in her? She has nothing that she has not received worth looking at. It is all by the grace of God that we are what we are. Although "in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." Yet He desires to see His own loveliness and workmanship in us.
6. The Answer. His reply is wonderful. He sees, as it were, "The advance of two companies" (R.V., Marg.). There are before His eyes two great and happy companies, constituting the whole redeemed family of God. A joyful company in Heaven, and a joyful company on earth, both singing the song of the conquering blood of the Lamb. Rejoice in the Lord.
WORKERS TOGETHER. Chapter 7:10-13
In the first part of this chapter He gives another description of the personal virtues of His Bride. He begins with referring to her "beautiful feet," and ends with comparing her mouth to wine that causes." the lips of those that are asleep to speak" (v. 9). The testimony of the Church ought to lead to the awakening of those that are asleep to speak forth the praise of His glorious Name. There is here—
1. Confession. "I am my Beloved's," and His desire is toward me" (v. 10). Joyful and fruitful service is impossible until our own personal relationship with Christ is properly adjusted. If His desires are to be toward me, and His love fill My heart, He must be the beloved of my soul. I must be wholly His.
2. Consecration. "Come, my Beloved, let us go forth into the field," etc. (v. 11). Her heart is now enlarged, so she longs to go forth into the field of missionary service. She knows that without Him she can do nothing. She says, "let us go. The "fields," the "villages," and the "vineyards," may represent three aspects of service. The evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher. Whether our work is in the open field, gathering the villagers, or ministering to the vineyards, we equally need the presence and power of our loving Lord with us.
3. Resolution. "There will I give You my love" (v. 12, R.V.). If we do not give Him our love, then, in the place of service, with all its trials and difficulties, we are giving him nothing. The love of Christ must constrain us. Are there not those who are more ready to give Him their labor than their love. Here in this world of sin and sorrow, He gave us His love, here, amidst the toil and strife, give Him your love.
4. Satisfaction. "At our doors are all manner of precious fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for You, O my Beloved" (v. 13, R.V.). In union with Him, the fruits will be precious and plentiful. The workers' souls will be abundantly refreshed, and fruits will be "laid up" for their Lord and Master, that He may see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. Just now, we are workers together with Him!
LOVE'S LONGING. Chapter 8:1-5
Wherever there is intense love, there will be unmistakable proof of it.
I.—HER PASSIONATE DESIRE is seen in her longing.
1. To have the liberty of a Sister. "O, that You were as my brother, I would kiss You, yes, and none would despise me" (v. 1, R.V.). She is eager to make a public profession of her love and devotion to Him. It is so becoming to show love for a brother, without provoking the sneer, or suspicion of others. Why should the public expressions of our love to Christ lead to ridicule, any more than to a brother or a sister? The world understands natural, but not spiritual relationships.
2. To bring Him into her Mother's house. The "Mother's house," or household, may represent the Assembly of His people. The Church at Laodicea had great need of one such to bring the rejected Christ inside. The household of faith should profit by the special individual experience of each.
3. To cause Him to drink of spiced wine. There is a burning desire to refresh and cheer His soul with the best. What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits? The wine of our natural love, spiced with the divine love shed abroad in our hearts, is ever pleasing unto Him.
4. To have her whole person supported and protected by His power. "His left hand under my head, His right hand should embrace me" (v. 3). The more we know of the love of Christ, the more shall we seek to trust Him. Those who have taken refuge in the Eternal God shall have underneath them the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27). The head that is resting on His hand shall be without anxious thoughts (Matthew 6:25).
II.—HER NOTE OF WARNING. "I charge you. . . that you stir not up my Love until He please" (v. 4). She warns the daughters of Jerusalem against saying or doing anything that would tend to produce disturbing influences. True love to Christ is jealous for His Will and Work. We must learn to wait on Him," until He please."
III.—HER MANNER OF WALK. "Who is this that comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved?" (v. 5). The virgin daughters ask this question, one of another, as they look at the walk of the Bride with the Bridegroom. Observe—
1. Where she is; "In the wilderness." It is a picture of "the Church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). In the world, but not of it. Pilgrims and strangers on the earth.
2. Where she was going; "Up from the wilderness." This is not our rest; we look for a city, whose builder and maker is God. Up from the sphere of service and suffering to the place of rest and reward.
3. How she went; "Leaning upon her Beloved." Walking with Him, and resting on Him, is the Christian pilgrim's joy and privilege.
THE BRIDEGROOM'S WORDS OF COMFORT. Chapter 8:5-7
This is one of the most impressive passages in the whole Book. It contains His definition of His own love. He declares—
I.—WHAT HE HAD DONE FOR HER. "I awakened you" (v. 5, R.V.). The first impulse of the new life came from Him. "He first loved us." He found us asleep, and insensible to His nearness, His grace, and His goodness. You has He quickened who were dead.
II.—WHAT HE DESIRES TO BE TO HER. He pleads with her to set Him—
1. "As a Seal upon her heart." When Christ Himself is fixed on the heart, then the actions of the life become as His signet, revealing the impress of His character (Hag. 2:23). When this seal is on the heart. then every thought and feeling is stamped with His image.
2. "As a Seal upon her arm." When the arm is made bare for service, the Seal of His authority and power should be visible. The Seal of Christ and of His Holy Spirit must first be in the heart for life and love before it can be on the arm for power and service.
III.—WHAT HE HAS FOR HER. Infinite love.
1. A love that cannot die. "It is as strong as death." Death is strong, but it is not stronger than His love. The strength of this love is the strength of the lover.
2. A love that cannot be quenched (v. 7). Although the enemy comes in like a flood, it cannot quench this love, which is indeed" A very flame of the Lord" (v. 6, R.V.). A fire that shall never go out. "I have loved You with an everlasting love." The many waters of sorrow and suffering cannot quench it. Herein is love (1 John 4:9-10).
3. A love that cannot be drowned. "Neither can the floods drown it." It cannot be extinguished, neither can it be overwhelmed or buried in the depths. It will succeed in manifesting itself.
4. A love that cannot be bought. "If a man would give all the substance of his house for it, he would utterly be contemned." (v. 7). A man can no more purchase the love of God, than he could purchase the Son of God. All the substance of man, moral or material, is utterly worthless as a price for His love. God does not sell His love, He commends it toward us, while we are yet sinners (Romans 5:7-8).
A PLEA FOR OTHERS. Chapter 8:8-10
She has just had another and a fuller revelation of His unquenchable love, and the result of it is: anxiety for others. When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, we will fall in love with the loveless.
I.—THE BRIDE'S INQUIRY. It was regarding "a little Sister" (v. 8). Although the unconverted are lower in standing than the children of God, there is still kinship between them—Sisters.
1. The Sister's defect. "She has no breasts." The breast is emblematic of Affection. She has no love in her heart. This is a most lamentable condition to be in, but it is exactly the state of every unrenewed soul. No love for Jesus Christ.
2. The difficulty. "What shall we do for our Sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?" Yes, even she will be spoken for by Him whose name is Love, and who died for us even while we were yet sinners. What shall we do for her, who is so loved by You, and who has no love in response to You? This is a problem that is still with us. He loves the loveless, "I called... you refused."
II.—THE BRIDEGROOM'S REPLY. There are two possible results.
1. She may be built up. "If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver" (v. 9). If there is any stability in her, and if she is willing to receive all that we can give her, then the breasts of her affection will be lifted up like a "turret of silver" (R.V.). Love begets love, we love Him because He first loved us.
2. She may be nailed up. "If she be a door, we will enclose (fix) her with boards of cedar." If she prove as unstable, and as easily moved about with every wind, as an unfixed door, through which all or anything may go, then we will nail her up, and make her to feel her bondage and helplessness. If souls are not won by love, then they will be condemned by the law. The Bride and Bridegroom co-operate in the work of winning souls.
III.—HER PERSONAL TESTIMONY. She now gives a little bit of her own experience—
1. "I am a wall" (v. 10, R.V.). I am steadfast and trustful. I will not be moved. I know whom I have believed. This is not vain boasting.
2. "My breasts are like towers." My affections, she says, rise up unto Him like towers in the skies. She loves Him with all her heart.
3. "I, in His eyes. . . found peace" (R.V.). Where there is stability of purpose and a heart of love, there will be the enjoyment of His favor and peace (Colossians 2:7). By the grace of God, I am what I am.
CLOSING WORDS. Chapter 8:11-14
In the closing words of this matchless Song we have reference made to—
I.—THE KING'S POSSESSION. "Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon," which means "the place of a multitude" (v. 11). The Church, or vineyard of the Lord, is in the place where the multitude is, because it is intended to be a blessing to the multitude.
1. What He did with it. "He let out the vineyard to keepers." This vineyard needs to be kept, and all called of God and empowered with the Holy Spirit, are put in trust with the affairs of their Lord and King. They occupy for Him.
2. Why he let it out. "For the fruit thereof." The purchase of this vineyard cost Him much (Acts 20:28). Those who reap the advantage of it, are responsible to the King. Mark 13:34.
II.—THE BRIDE'S RESOLUTION. "My vineyard, which is mine (myself) is before me; You... must have a thousand"—the full amount. Each worker in the vineyard will have reward—two hundred, but You must have a thousand. Honor must be given to whom honor is due; but the Lord must be exalted far above all.
III.—THE BRIDEGROOM'S INJUNCTION.
1. To whom spoken? To her "that dwells in the gardens" (v. 13). She who dwelt in the clefts of the rock" (2:14) now dwells in the gardens of separation and delight. The rock for safety, the vineyard for work, the garden for pleasure.
2. To what purpose? He says to her, "The companions hearken to your voice: cause Me to hear it." It is good that others should hear our voice in testimony, but it is better that He should hear it in praise and prayer. Your Redeemer loves to hear your voice. Cause Him to hear it often.
IV.—THE FINAL INVITATION. This book of "unveilings," like the book of "Revelation," closes with an earnest cry for the coming of the Bridegroom in His power and glory. "Make haste, my Beloved" (v. 14). Come quickly, "like a roe or a young deer upon the mountains." This is the attitude of a faithful loving, longing Bride. This is our hope. "For our citizenship is in Heaven, from whence also we wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself." (Phil 3:20-21, R.V.). Even so, come, Lord Jesus.