"Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" Song of Solomon 8:5

"But, firm as on a rock,
The saint on Christ relies;
He smiles in death's dissolving shock,
And mounts into the skies!"

The Jewish church came up from the wilderness, leaning on the Eternal God for her support. He was the Guide, the Rock, the Salvation of his chosen Israel. "He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as his most precious possession. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them in and carried them aloft on his pinions. The Lord alone guided them; they lived without any foreign gods."

In like manner, the Christian church is passing through the deserts of life, has Israel's God for its Leader. The same gracious eye that watched over the wandering tribes of Israel in their long journey through the Arabian wilderness, is now watching with the tenderest care and love over that chosen band, who have forsaken all for Christ, and who are marching through a changing, terrestrial scene to a higher, brighter, nobler world on high. "But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love." "He that touches you, touches the apple of his eye." (Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.) The same kind hand that led Israel of old to the promised land, guides the humble followers of Jesus to mansions of glory in the skies. "The Lord of hosts is with us." "The eternal God is our refuge; and underneath and around us are the Everlasting Arms."

In the 8th chapter of the Song of Solomon we have the posture of the pilgrim, advancing to the celestial city, beautifully presented to us "Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" Here we see the blessed object on which the Christian reposes, while passing through this scene of fluctuating and perishing mortality. He relies entirely upon Jesus Christ, the Beloved of his soul. He look to no other source for protection and support. He hopes in no other refuge. His language is, "Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life."

We would advert to a few ways in which a believing soul, in coming up from the wilderness, rests on Jesus, the sinner's Friend.

1. He rests on him for STRENGTH. The poor pilgrim has no might in himself; but relying on Christ, he can say with holy Paul, "When I am weak, then I am strong." What a happy thing it is to feel our own weakness and nothingness in the sight of Heaven; and then to cast ourselves into the strong arms of Jesus– those arms of infinite love, which encircle and sustain all the righteous. "The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe." It is by leaning upon the Beloved of our souls that we are made strong.

Helpless pilgrim, would you obtain strength for gaining the joyful heights of Zion? Then look to Jesus. Rest in him now; and in a little while, when you cross into Canaan, you will rest with him in that happy land, where weariness and sorrow are unknown. Do not trust to your own strength; but lean upon the Lord, and you will be upheld with divine grace and power. Then you will be enabled to press onward with the greatest speed and alacrity to the heavenly mansions. "The Lord's voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the earth and heavens will begin to shake. But to his people, the Lord will be a welcoming refuge and a strong fortress."

"Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

"Blest Jesus, to my soul
Your grace and strength impart;
Till, clothed in perfect righteousness,
I see you as you art.
As I wander through the desert,
Be my constant help and stay
Shine upon my path, and lead me
To the realms of endless day."

Happy is he who in the morning of life casts all his care upon Jesus; who takes the Savior as his all and in all– as the strength of his heart and his portion forever. He may sweetly sing as he is tossed upon the surging billows of life's ocean, "Praise the Lord! He was angry with me, but now he comforts me. See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."

"But Jesus is my living way,
My only trust, my hope, my stay;
From him, I all my strength receive,
And daily on his fullness live."

2. The Christian CLEAVES TO JESUS BY FAITH. He knows that his Redeemer lives, and he rests his whole weight upon him. He lives upon an unseen Savior. Our life in the wilderness is a life of faith. Here, we live by faith and walk by faith. This will be the manner of our life until we come to behold our Redeemer face to face in the Heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy all the blessedness of that better country above. But such a life is one of comfort and joy to the Christian pilgrim in this wilderness land. "O! the blessedness and joy of faith! How does it bring near, and realize a view of Christ in glory! Do we indeed see Christ by the eye of faith? Is he the one chief object of our souls? Is he precious to us? Verily, then, we shall count our days on earth toilsome ones, and long for the full fruition of him in glory. It will be our great joy to see him, whose blessed head was crowned with thorns, and whose lovely face was spit upon, for us! Until then, let us live by faith in him, constantly crying, "Come, Lord, Jesus, come quickly."

Though the believer may be walking to darkness, yet he must still, by faith, lean upon the Beloved of his soul. "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God." The pathway to the celestial mansions is often obscured by darkness. Here, at best, we see but through a glass, darkly. "We are but as wayfaring men, wandering in the lonely night, who see dimly upon the distant mountain-peak the reflection of a sun that never rises here, but which shall never set in the 'new heavens' hereafter." (Bonar)

"Darkness overspreads us here,
But the night wears fast away
Jacob's star will soon appear,
Leading on eternal day!"

The commission of sin is the great cause of the Christian being often left to wander in darkness. "Your iniquities," says the prophet, "have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, that he will not hear." How sad is such a condition! When, for a season, the light of God's countenance is withdrawn from the believer, he is led to cry with pious Job, "I long for the years gone by when God took care of me, when he lighted the way before me and I walked safely through the darkness. In my early years, the friendship of God was felt in my home. The Almighty was still with me..." "I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him."

At times he cries with the Psalmist, "I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and stand before him?" And he can also say with the pious Cowper, who trod a gloomy path to the realms of day,
"O for a closer walk with God!
A calm and heavenly frame!
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!"

The duty of the Christian, walking in darkness to trust in the name of the Lord, and lean upon his God. Let him always be found leaning on his Beloved; and, though his days on earth may be darksome, yet at the "evening time" of his pilgrimage, "it shall be light." How sweet will be the light of Heaven to such a soul!

"We journey through a vale of tears;
But often from on high;
The glorious bow of God appears,
And lights up all our sky.
Then through the breaking clouds of heaven,
Far distant visions come;
And sweetest words of grace are given,
To cheer the pilgrim home."

In order to obtain the greatest light and comfort now, let the follower of the Lamb be found diligently improving the means of grace and salvation, which God has afforded him. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." How often has a beam from Heaven darted upon the pilgrim while engaged in the sweet employment of praising God!

"Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in his wings!
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain."

3. The believer RESTS ON JESUS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PARDON. The language of a renewed soul is, "In the Lord I have righteousness and strength." "But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult." Man had no righteousness of his own to justify him in sight of Heaven. Not a single soul could have gained the celestial Paradise if the Son of God had not assumed humanity, and by a life of obedience and suffering, fulfilled the violated law, and brought in an everlasting righteousness. Blessed be God! the Son of Righteousness has arisen upon our benighted world; and Zion's pilgrims walk in his light.

"Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one who believes." In the 23d chapter of Jeremiah he is called, "The Lord Our Righteousness." Every believer in Christ is arrayed in that linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints. His robes are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. How happy is the condition of the saint! His sins are all cancelled by the atoning righteousness of our Lord and Savior, whose language is, "I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins."

As the Christian pilgrim journeys towards the realms of peace, leaning upon Jesus for righteousness and pardon, he can raise his voice in triumphant songs of praise to his Redeemer. This is one of his sweetest songs in the house of his pilgrimage: "I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels."

He can also look forward to the dark waters of Jordan, and say, with the poet,
"When death shall loose the silver cord,
Obedient to your mandate, Lord,
My soul shall joy and peace possess,
If Jesus be my righteousness."

4. The Christian pilgrim relies on Jesus FOR GUIDANCE THROUGH THIS VALLEY OF TEARS to the peaceful shore of a blessed eternity. "You shall guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."
"Jesus, on you our hope depends,
To lead us on to your abode:
Assured our home will make amends
For all our toil while on the road."

Amid all the vicissitudes of a sublunary scene- in prosperity and adversity, in health and sickness, in life and death, the weary pilgrim reclines on the Almighty arm of Jesus, and all is well. He knows that what the Savior has promised, he will perform; and he reads, with unspeakable delight, these precious promises: "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." "The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring."

5. The believer trusts in Christ FOR ETERNAL LIFE. Of that little flock who have chosen the better land for their inheritance, Jesus says, "I will give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand;" and again: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." This is the most precious promised blessing of the covenant of grace. No created mind can comprehend the full import of these words– Eternal Life! They include in them the highest bliss of Heaven. Such a life will the Savior eventually bestow upon those who now repose in him.

There is a blissful hour fast approaching, when the weather-beaten pilgrim shall be raised above the storms of life by the Savior's hand. Beyond the swellings of the Jordan of death there is a peaceful shore, a happy, land, where the pilgrims of Zion shall be invested with the robes of immortality, and rein with Christ forever and ever. Fellow pilgrim, we would earnestly invite you to come and put your trust in him who will sustain you amid the heart-rending trials of this valley of tears, and who will bring you to a better land- who will bestow upon you immortal existence, an unfading crown of glory in that world beyond the stars.

In all your wanderings through this world, cleave closely to Jesus. Live for Him who died for you. O, may the redeeming love of the blessed Savior constrain you to be wholly his. Live with an eye fixed upon his cross. Turn to that sacred mount and behold a Savior expiring for your salvation; hear him exclaiming, "It is finished."

O the sweet wonders of that cross,
Where Christ, my Savior, loved and died;
Her noblest life my spirit draws
From his dear wounds and bleeding side."

Go, then, and live upon Christ. Live in the daily contemplation of his glorious atonement, and in the sincere belief of his all-sufficiency to save your soul. May your language ever be that of an enraptured Apostle: "As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world's interest in me is also long dead."

If you thus live by faith in Christ, and in the blessed hope of a glorious immortality, you need not fear, at the close of life, to tread along death's dark valley to cross Jordan's swelling stream; for in that solemn hour, Jesus will sustain and comfort you by his presence; and God will redeem your soul from the power of the grave; for he shall receive you.

"O, could I find, from day to day,
A nearness to my God,
Then would my hours glide sweet away,
While leaning on his word. "
Lord, I desire with you to live
Anew from day to day,
In joys the world can never give,
Nor ever take away.
Blest Jesus, come, and rule my heart,
And make me wholly thine,
That I may never more depart,
Nor grieve your love divine.
Thus, till my last, expiring breath,
Your goodness I'll adore
And when my frame dissolves in death,
My soul shall love you more."