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Song of Solomon 1
"The song of songs, which is Solomon's. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Because of the savor of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king has brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee" (Cant. 1:1-4).
This wonderful Song of Solomon, abounding in figurative language so rich in spiritual meaning, is called the song of songs; that is, it is the one song that surpasses all other songs for excellency and beauty. It is a love song, the greatest love song ever sung because it speaks of the most ardent love and the greatest lover the world has ever known. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God, wooing to Himself a bride from among the children of men.
In its primary application it is a prophecy of Christ, the Messiah of Israel, wooing to Himself the heart of the Jewish remnant after the Church as been caught up to glory. It is a profitable study to take up this Song of Solomon in its prophetic application to Israel, and in fact some passages can only be rightly understood when considered in this connection. But when we realize that the love of the Lord to Israel, His earthly bride, is but a shadow or reflection of His deeper love to His heavenly bride, we find immense profit in applying these beautiful figures to ourselves. So while we should not forget that these figures have a direct application to the remnant of the last days, yet we will find that they have also a deeper, full and spiritual application to ourselves as members of the heavenly bride.
With these few introductory remarks we will now take up this Song of songs verse by verse.
"The Song of songs, which is Solomon's" (verse 1).
Solomon is the writer. His name means peace. Of him it is written, "And King Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom" (2 Chron. 9:22). He is but a faint type of our great Prince of peace, who is the altogether lovely One, "fairer than the children of men," whom God has "anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows," and "appointed heir of all things" (Cant. 5:16; Ps. 45:2, 7; Heb. 1:2). How wonderful to have Him as the lover of our souls.
"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Thy love is better than wine" (v. 2).
Thus the Song opens abruptly with these ardent words of His loved one. She has Him before her eyes and heart. Transported with His beauty and His charming grace, how her heart is drawn out with a deep desire for more of those intimate expression of His love. The kiss is the expression of intimate personal love. One who has tasted that the Lord is good knows that there is nothing so delightful to the human heart as those sweet moments when one enjoys in the depth of the soul that intimate, tender love of Christ. It surpasses all that earth can give. "Thy love is better than wine." Wine here is the emblem of earthly pleasure and mirth. There is something that is far sweeter and more satisfying than any pleasure that this world can afford. It is these moments of intimate exchange of love with our adorable Savior and Lord, whose love to us is stronger than death. He died in love for our souls, but now is alive forevermore, His heart pulsating for us with that love that passes knowledge—a love that took Him through all those death throes of Calvary's cross, and ever lives and abides in His breast in its unchanging everlasting strength for us.
True Christianity is not a head knowledge of certain doctrines, but an intimate acquaintance with the living, loving Son of God. Alas, how many Christians seem satisfied with knowing that their sins are forgiven through His death, and fail to go on in fellowship with the living Son of God, whose love is better that wine. How much they lose in their own souls, for there is nothing that can compensate for lack of personal communion with the Lord. A soul that has been washed in the blood of Christ can never be satisfied with anything short of personal intimate fellowship with Him. No Christian can be happy, contented and satisfied who is not maintaining this personal touch with the living Lord. Notice how personal and intimate it is: "Let Him kiss me."
"Thine ointments savor sweetly; Thy name is an ointment poured forth therefore do the virgins love Thee." So read verse 3 in J. N. D's New Translation.
Ointments speak of fragrant grace. "Thine ointments." Oh, how many and varied are the graces that abound in Him, each having its special charm and all savor sweetly. Ointments were not only used for perfumes but also for healing. (See Isa. 1:6.) There is not a heartache nor a wound that His ointments cannot soothe and heal. Come to Him with all your sorrows, disappointments and grief, you will find in Him a balm for every one.
"Thy name is an ointment poured forth."
"How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fears.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
It calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest."
Not only is the name of Jesus so filled with fragrance, but He has many names in Scripture and each name has a special fragrance of its own. Time does not now permit us to speak of the various sweet odors brought out by His different names.
"Thy name is an ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love Thee." "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). It is His love that draws out our hearts to Him, and the more we are occupied with Him and His love to us, the more we will love Him. There is no use to mourn over your lack of affection for Christ or to try and fan up a bigger flame of love for Him. Turn away from yourself to Christ and keep Him before your heart. Self-occupation will never deepen our affection for Christ, but occupation with Him will. We should feel how sluggish our affections are for Him, Christ, but it is not by mourning over our coldness, but by meditation upon His love for us that our hearts are warmed up. This is important to see. So turn away from your cold heart to the warm glow of His affection for you and you will find your heart warmed by it.
He loves us though there is nothing attractive in us. It is His nature to love. His heart of love cannot be satisfied without an object upon which it can bestow itself. But we love Him because "He is altogether lovely." There is no lack of attraction in Him, but alas how prone we are to let other things come in and take the place that should be only for Him. We all feel the need of this ardent prayer found in our next verse. "Draw me, we will run after Thee." But let it ever be accompanied with that sincere purpose of heart expressed in these words, "We will run after Thee."
The world is running after many things today, and all too often Christians are found running after this or that instead of Christ. No wonder their joy ebbs low and their light burns dim, and you see them restless and uneasy in soul. The things the world is running after can never satisfy an immortal soul created for higher things. God has "called us unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9). And He has given us a spiritual capacity, when He made us partakers of His own divine nature, to enjoy Him, and to find our delight in things above where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Think back over your past experience of your most happy moments. I am sure you will agree with me that it was always at times when Christ was much before your mind and heart—when you felt that He was near you. Isn't it so? Then return to Him again with your whole heart and you will find your joy will return. Let us beware what we run after. May these words ever be the earnest prayer and purpose of our hearts: "Draw me, we will run after Thee."
"The King has brought me into His chambers" (v.4).
Here is the glorious climax when the Lord shall take His beloved bride to Himself. "I go to prepare a place for you," said the Lord, "and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2, 3). But while we wait that glorious day our hearts long for, we have Him in spirit with us now. So we may say, "We will be glad and rejoice in Thee, we will remember Thy love more than wine" (v. 4).
"We will be glad and rejoice in Thee." Here is a spring of gladness that will never dry—a source of rejoicing that can never be exhausted. It is a fountain of joy from which we can continually drink regardless of the circumstances we may be passing through. The poor sinner has no pleasure except what he can find in the shifting circumstances of a passing world, but the Christian has a well of joy in Christ that is never touched by changing circumstances, therefore he can always be glad and rejoice. "Rejoice evermore" says the apostle in 1 Thess. 5:16 and in Phil. 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice."
If your joy is not full it is because you have allowed yourself to become taken up with your circumstances instead of with the Lord who is above your circumstances, ever looking down with infinite love upon you and having at His hand unlimited resources to take care of you. Oh, learn this great secret of true joy and contentment. True joy is found only in Christ.
"We will be glad and rejoice in Thee, we will remember Thy love more than wine: The upright love Thee." It is important, though, that our hearts be also upright, if we are to rejoice in Him. If you are not upright in your dealings with Him or even with your fellowmen, your conscience will not allow you to be easy before Him. Instead of rejoicing in Him you will shrink back from His presence until you judge and put aright what is amiss. One reason why so many Christians are so restless and dissatisfied is because they have allowed things to come in between their souls and the Lord, or between themselves and someone else, and are not ready to own it and put it right. If you would be happy in the Lord you must be upright before Him. Let nothing come in between your soul and Him. If in an unguarded moment something does come in, go to Him at once about it and get it settled with Him. How lovingly He will receive you when you go to Him about it. He longs to have you happy and He knows you can only be happy in Him. He wants nothing to be in the way to hinder you.
"I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon" (chap. 1:5).
A careful reading of this wonderful Song of Solomon will show that it is divided into sections, or parts, with each part having a theme of its own, taking up a certain point and developing it to a climax, which for the godly remnant of the Jews will only be reached in the millennium.
Verses 2 to 4 of this chapter are complete in themselves, beginning with the awakening of the affections of the bride-to-be, and leading on to the full joy and rejoicing in the person and presence of the King in His royal chambers. This forms, as it were, an introduction to the whole book, and gives the general theme which is taken up again and again in each section and brought through to the millennial climax of glory, only each time from a different angle, or from a different starting point, and enlarging on different details.
"I am black, but comely O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon" (v. 5).
This verse begins a new section which ends also with the royal palace in verse 17.
It opens with the confession frank and full of what she is by nature, "I am black," but also coupled with the full assurance of faith of what she is by grace, "comely." Black as the tents of Kedar by nature, comely as the curtains of Solomon by grace. The tents of Kedar, made of coarse black goat's hair and seen in all their dingy blackness under the bright rays of the desert sun, is a fit picture of what we are by nature—full of sin; while the beautiful curtains, made for the temple of fine twined linen, blue and purple and gold interwoven, is the symbol first of all of what Christ is in the perfection and beauty of His Person, but also of the believer as God sees him in Christ, clothed upon with all the beauty and perfection of His Person and work.
It is not by our efforts we have this place in Christ, but by a sovereign act of God's grace. "But of Him (God) are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). The repentant prodigal in Luke 15 had nothing to do in making or arraying himself in the best robe. He had only rags and confessed it frankly to his father: "Father I have sinned . . . and am no more worthy to be called thy son:" But immediately upon that confession the father gave the orders: "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him" (vs. 21, 22). But wouldn't it be the height of discredit to his father if, after being clothed with that beautiful robe, the repentant prodigal would go about mourning about his rags or saying he was not beautifully dressed. True, he would feel how unworthy he was of it all, but that would make him love the father all the more and adore his love and grace that had provided him with such a beautiful robe.
The believer may and should always frankly own what he is by nature, "black"; but he should never forget for a moment that God does always see him as "comely," clothed in that beautiful robe that He Himself has provided at the cost of the all-efficacious sacrifice of His Son. No sin or stain can ever spot that robe because the blood of Christ shed once for all has purged us from all sin.
It is important that the believer grasp this truth clearly. Otherwise he will lose much comfort and rest of heart and plunge himself into much trouble of soul and confusion of thought about his experiences.
And another important fact that one should understand also is that the old nature never changes. "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9). And it always will be as long as we abide in this mortal body. The flesh ever remains the same and it cannot be changed or educated into obedience to God. "It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." The flesh is sure to show itself in the believer whenever he is off his guard or fails to walk in the Spirit and by the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body. (See Gal. 5:16, 17; Rom. 8:6, 13.) But his standing before God is always perfect, unchanging and eternal because it is based upon that perfect sacrifice of Christ that has fully answered once and for all for all sin and failure of the believer. No sin or failure can come up in the believer's life but what the sacrifice of Christ has already met it, and God always sees him clothed in the perfection of that work of Christ that has fully atoned for all his sins.
The heart of the believer, however, cannot be happy in the presence of God where sin and failure has come in until it is owned and confessed. And why should we shrink back from owning all frankly to God, seeing God knows it all and has met it all in love and grace by the sacrifice of His beloved Son, and thus has made us always acceptable to Himself in that beautiful robe furnished us through the atoning work of Christ. We have nothing to hold back nor should we shrink back from the all-penetrating eye of a holy God, since He who sees all our blackness has clothed us in that beautiful robe of Christ's righteousness.
It is an humbling fact to admit that "I am black," but the soul can never be in its right state before God nor at rest in His presence until it learns and frankly owns this fact. Some mourn over every new source of evil they find in themselves, and are troubled and perplexed to find that it is there. But why is it? It is simply because they have not yet come to the point of admitting as to themselves that truth that the great apostle Paul had learned and frankly owned of himself: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). Accept that as a truth once and for all and you will never be perplexed at any new evidence of your evil nature within. You will not expect anything else or different from yourself; and so, while frankly owning it to God, you will turn away from yourself altogether as knowing there is nothing good there, and turn to Christ as the only source of power for any fruit bearing for God. This is what the apostle Paul learned and tells us of in Gal. 2:20. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
"I am crucified with Christ," that is, he frankly owns and accepts that his old self has been seen of God as unfit to live, and has already had the death sentence put in effect against it in the crucifixion of Christ, who died in his stead. He is through, then, with any more looking to himself for anything good from that old life that God has, in the death of Christ, already executed sentence against.
What then was the source of that beautiful, devoted, Christ-like life of the apostle Paul? This is what he goes on to explain: "nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me." It was no longer his old I, his old self, that produced such effect, but Christ, who had come into his heart as the source and power of a new life. He had a new life that was entirely of Christ and not of self at all.
This grand and glorious fact is true also of every believer. When as a sinner we received Christ by faith, we received in Him a new life, or nature, which is entirely distinct from the old self life, or nature, that we have by natural birth. The believer has two natures, one the old nature, the old I or self, the other the divine life, or nature, of which Christ is the source and power.
Now comes the practical question, How then is this new life to be lived out by us while we are in this mortal body, carrying about with us all the time that old nature also? This great secret is what Paul goes on to tell us. "And the life which I now live in the flesh (that is, while in this body) I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." It was by faith. Not in any energy of his own; but, in the sense of his own helplessness to do anything by himself, he simply looked away from self altogether to the Son of God, who had given him a new life, for power and strength for every step, every word, every deed.
Christ illustrated this important truth to His disciples in the parable of the vine in John 15:1-8. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me." How simple! how practical! Just as the branch bears fruit not of its own self but by clinging to the vine and allowing the living sap and energy of the vine to flow through it and produce the fruit, so the believer also can only bear fruit for God by drawing the power and energy from Christ.
Then the apostle goes on to tell of another great influence upon him, namely, the constraining power of Christ's love for him. As he ever looked up to the Son of God he was constantly filled with the sense of His great love in giving Himself for him, and was ever reminded also that that sacrifice gave him a perfect standing before God. He would not want to rest on any other ground of acceptance before God than that perfect sacrifice that answered to God for all his sin and failure. So he goes on to say in the next verse, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21).
We have dwelt a little upon this truth contained in the confession of our verse in the Cant. 1:5 because we realize it is of such practical importance to every believer; and until it is clearly grasped, the soul will not make much progress nor be able to appreciate the beautiful figures we are yet to consider in the rest of this wonderful Song of songs.
"Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun has looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they make me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loves, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turns aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou knowest not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents" (chap. 1:6-8).
It is the bride-to-be speaking here as in the previous verses. She is speaking of herself as burnt black by the hot rays of the sun as she was forced to hard labor in the vineyards of her oppressors. She was forced to serve their interests and had no time left to look after her own things. Her own mother's children, that is, her own brothers, were her oppressors—those from whom one would naturally expect affection and kindness. Thus she learned the sad fact that the world is swayed by its selfish interests so much so that even natural affections are brushed aside in the pursuit of their selfish ends.
Prophetically, no doubt, this refers to the oppression of the remnant by the Jews under the Antichrist. But we will not now dwell on its prophetic application, but on its practical application to our individual experience, because there is a practical lesson here of great importance. The speaker here in these verses learns first of all by bitter experience what the true character of the world is. So often young Christians, charmed by the glare and glitter of the world, have to learn by bitter disappointment that it is all a vain and empty show. At heart the world is heartless and self-centered. Self-interest, selfishness, greed and lust are the great motive powers that keep the wheels of the world turning. The sooner the Christian is disillusioned on this point the better. So many young Christians turn a wistful eye to the world, thinking to find there satisfaction and enjoyment, but find instead that there is nothing there that can satisfy the deep longings of a renewed heart, and as a result the soul is left empty, restless and discontented.
It is just such a state of soul we find here in these verses, and all disillusioned, restless and oppressed she turns to her Beloved and asks, "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loves, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon." How sad, yet how like our natural hearts, that we try everything else before we turn to the Lord to ask Him where to find the rest that He gives. Yes, there is a place where the sheep of His flock can find sweet rest at noon. Noon in hot climates like Palestine is the most trying time of the day, when the sun, a type of affliction (see Matt. 13:6-21), beats down in all its violence. But the Good Shepherd delights to give rest to His sheep even during the most trying heat of the day. Dear reader, have you found this rest and contentment of soul that keeps your heart peaceful and calm during all the heat and bustle of the day, or when the hot rays of affliction beat upon you? These verses give us the secret of how we may find true rest for our souls.
"Tell me, O thou whom my soul loves, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon." Notice well the order here, "where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest"; feeding comes before rest. Her own soul was hungry. There is no food in the things of the world that can satisfy the longings of the renewed soul, and there can be no rest while these longings are left unsatisfied.
Rest as to our sins is found as we rely in simple faith upon the finished work of Christ as our Substitute. We know from the Word of God the question of our sins has been fully settled to God's own satisfaction by the blood of Christ, and that we stand before God accepted in Him in all the virtue and value of His finished work on the cross. This gives rest as to our conscience once burdened with the sense of our guilt, but rest of soul in another thing. Peace and contentment cannot be found in a hungry soul, not till the deep longings of the soul are met. These deep longings that God has implanted in every newborn soul when made a partaker of His own divine nature and eternal life, cannot be satisfied by the passing things of time and sense. An immortal soul possessing eternal life, is fitted for higher things than the fleeting things of this passing scene. Only in God's Word that "abides forever" and in fellowship with the Father and with Christ, the eternal Lover of our soul, can we find food that will fully satisfy the appetite of the new nature.
With this in mind we will now turn again to these verses and see with what wonderful simplicity and beauty this fact is illustrated. The picture here is that of sheep which have been feeding in the green pastures and, their hunger fully satisfied, are resting peacefully and contented during the heat of the day. A hungry sheep will not rest, but will be running about trying to find something to meet its hunger. If we are not feeding in the green pastures of God's Word our souls will not find rest, for there only will you find that which satisfies the spiritual longings of the renewed heart. It is important that we begin the morning with feeding upon the Word of God under the eye of the Good Shepherd in order to have peace and rest in our souls throughout the trying moments of the day. We cannot too strongly press the importance of a quiet time with the Lord over the Word before the hustle and distractions of the day begin. A young Christian we know, who had to go to work early in the morning, made it a practice to retire earlier at night so he could rise in the morning in time for a quiet season over the Word before leaving for work. We might well learn from his example.
Notice the expression here in this verse: "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loves," it is the language of a quickened soul who at heart loves the Lord but is out of touch with Him. She is out of fellowship with the Good Shepherd. She has "turned aside" to other flocks not under His care. "For why should I be as one that turns aside by the flocks of thy companions." It is this personal nearness to the Good Shepherd Himself that she had lost, but which is so essential to rest of soul. It is not merely that we should read the Word but that we should get in touch with the Good Shepherd as we meditate upon it so that our soul is fed by Him through it. It is this personal contact—this personal fellowship with the Lord Himself that is so essential if we are to have rest and quietness in our souls.
"If thou knowest not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids by the shepherds' tents."
It is the Good Shepherd Himself now that answers her. And how gently he deals with this hungry soul. He does not reprove her sharply for having turned aside, but uses language that is suited to draw out her heart to Himself. We may all learn from this and especially any that are used of the Lord to feed and care for His sheep.
"If thou knowest not, go thy way forth." Ah, here is the secret. "Go thy way forth." She was at a distance from Him and moving in another world than that where He fed His flock. The shepherd never feeds his flock in the cities. In the Song of Solomon the city is a type or picture of the world which man has built up for the satisfaction of his own lusts and pleasures without regard to God. If you are saved and are still going with the world in its pursuits of lust and pleasure without God, you may be sure you are moving in a different world than that where the Good Shepherd feeds his flock, and your soul will starve. His loving words to you are, "Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock." Yes, "go thy way forth," associate yourself with His flock, keep close to the Good Shepherd, feed in the green pastures of His Word, and you shall find rest to your soul.
And now one thing more. In the closing clause of this verse we read, "and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents." When we are feeding upon the green pastures of His Word, the Lord would have us give out to others also what we are enjoying in our own souls. Feed on the Word of God, keep close to the Good Shepherd's trusted side, and bear witness for Him, and you will find rest and happiness for your soul.
"I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver" (Cant. 1:9-11).
It is the Lord speaking here. As He beholds His beloved one, He describes what He sees in her that delights His heart. It is a privilege to know His thought about us, and especially, if we love Him to know what He delights most to see in us. This description then of the beauty that He delights to see in His own is a subject of deepest, personal interest to every heart that loves Him.
"I have compared thee, O my love, to a steed (N.T.) in Pharaoh's chariots."
What is the likeness to a steed in Pharaoh's chariots that He so admires? There is no doubt an allusion there to energy devoted to the master's service, and a walking and pulling together in harmony. But there is also another thought of still deeper significance. A verse in Job 11:12 will help us here: "Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt." The wild ass likes his own wild ways. He likes to run about at will and refuses to be bridled or tamed, or to submit himself to another's will. Is not this a striking picture of what the unregenerated heart is? But a steed in Pharaoh's chariots has been broken. It has learned to give up its own inclinations and to yield itself obediently to the impulse of the rein in its master's hand, and so spend its energy in its master's service. It has learned to give up all plans of its own as to what to do and where to go, and just leave all the planning with its master. It goes on its way depending for guidance upon the impulse of the rein held in the driver's hand. This driver of Pharaoh's chariot can be taken as a picture of the Holy Spirit. What the Lord delights to see in His own is that they give the reins of their lives over into the hands of His Spirit to be subject to His guidance in all things. How much energy is wasted in trying to carry out plans of our own devising instead of just leaving the Lord to do the planning while we go on step by step looking to Him for guidance at every turn of the way. The Lord has a perfect plan for the life of every one of His own, and it is the best and most blessed plan possible; but so many Christians rely upon their own plans instead of surrendering themselves to the Lord and asking Him to lead them in the way He has planned for them. It is no wonder that their life becomes a failure instead of one of usefulness and blessing.
We get then in this figure of the horse in Pharaoh's chariot, the thought of one's energies devoted to the Master's service, the will yielded up to Him to walk in dependence upon the guidance of His Spirit in the path of His choosing for us; and, as a result also, walking and working in peace and harmony with others who are likewise yielded to Him. Let us each one ask himself or herself, Is that what the Lord sees in me? How it must grieve the Lord's heart to see His own so often in strife and discord, or spending their energy for selfish pursuits, going on in their own ways, missing by far His chosen plan for their lives. No wonder their testimony is so weak, and their lives have so little fruit to His glory.
"Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold."
Jewels speak to us of a beauty that is not ours naturally, but which has been bestowed upon us. They are therefore the fit symbols of those christian graces, which are displayed in the believer's life as the fruit of the Spirit's working in the heart. These christian virtues don't come from ourselves naturally, but are produced by the power of the Spirit of God. Where there is real surrender of ourselves to Christ and a giving over the reins of our lives into the hands of His Spirit, our lives will become beautified with a truly christian character. In the tabernacle everything was overlaid with gold. The tabernacle is a type of Christ and the gold of the divine nature. The silver bases made of the redemption money speaks of redemption, but silver is also figurative of the Word of God. "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Ps. 12:6). Every believer has been made a partaker of the divine nature through faith in the Word of God. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever. . . . Wherefore laying aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envies and all evil speakings, as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 1:23; 2:1-2). As we feed upon the Word of God and yield our lives up to His Spirit, that divine nature will be manifested by us and the Word of God lived out in all our ways. This then is the jewels of gold and silver which He delights to see in us. Are you wearing these jewels both in private and before the public?
"We will make thee bead-rows of gold (N.T.) with studs of silver."
So the Lord and His Spirit would beautify His own yet more and more.
Some have thought that this may refer to the crown of glory that the Lord as King of kings will bestow upon His queen.
"While the King sits at His table, my spikenard sends forth the smell thereof."
Sitting together at the table enjoying the same things, is an expression of communion and fellowship. When one's life is yielded to the Lord, not only will the Spirit of God beautify it with all the christian graces, but there will also be happy fellowship with the Lord. And while one is enjoying sweet fellowship with Him, the heart will also overflow with worship, praise and thanksgiving for all His benefits. It is this that the spikenard is the symbol of. If there is little praise and thanksgiving in your life it is because you are not walking in close fellowship with the Lord.
Thus far we have been considering these beautiful verses in their spiritual application to ourselves, but now before closing let us look at them for a moment in their prophetical application to the Jewish remnant.
We read in Ezek. 16:11-14, "I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets also upon thy hands, and a chain upon thy neck, and I put a jewel upon thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head. . . and thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty." The prophet is here describing all that royal glory and beauty that the Lord had bestowed upon Jerusalem during the reign of Solomon. But Jerusalem was untrue to the Lord and as a consequence has lost that royal glory. She sank so low that when her Messiah came she cruelly mocked Him, crowned Him with thorns and spit in His face. But the time will come when Jerusalem, repentant and rejoicing in the Lord's forgiveness, will again be exalted at the head of the nations. What a joy that will be to His heart, and what a triumph for His grace, when He will again crown Jerusalem with royal glory as the fruit of His redemption and the work of His Spirit in the heart. He will then be able to say of her, "I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver." And she will say, "While the King sits at His table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof." And the whole world will look on in wonder, rejoicing in the rich blessings of His glorious reign of peace and righteousness.
"A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi. Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes. Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir" (Cant. 1:13-17).
"A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts" (v. 13).
This verse no doubt has its direct application to the remnant of Israel during the dark night of the great tribulation, when "darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people" (See Isaiah 60:2). But it has also a beautiful application to believers now and so we will consider it first in this connection.
The myrrh is a sort of resin gathered from a plant that grows in the East. It was used as a perfume and also as a medicine. It is the life sap that oozes out through the wounds made in the bark of the plant. It is, therefore, a reminder of Christ, who in love for us, was wounded for our transgressions and shed His blood.
The reference here is to an oriental custom of carrying a small bundle of myrrh in the bosom because of its sweet odors. If we take Christ into our bosom, if we give Him that full place in our inmost affections as the One who laid down His life in love for our souls, it is bound to give a sweet fragrance of Christ to all our person.
We cannot copy Christ, we cannot imitate Him in our own strength. As long as we look at Christ only as a model that we strive to imitate, we will never succeed. But as we meditate upon His sufferings for us, our hearts are drawn to Him and we embrace Him in our affections; and as we give Him, who loved us and gave Himself for us, the full place in our hearts, it will give a sweet fragrance of Christ in all our ways. This is the only way we can have a sweet odor of Christ about our person and ways. How much place are you giving Him in your heart?
"He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts." Thus the most intimate place in the affection is given to Him by His beloved one during the time the world is going on in the darkness of night. In John 12:46 Christ says, "I am come a light into the world." And Zacharias, full of the Holy Ghost, said of Him: "The day-spring (or sunrising) from on high has visited us to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:67, 78-79). But the world cast Him out and He has returned to His place on high, and consequently the world is left in darkness. He will come again as "the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2), to usher in that glorious day of His millennial reign. But while awaiting that great event, the world is sitting in darkness without the light of day—without Christ. The period of time we are living in is especially marked by Christ's absence, and the sad part is that He is not wanted. The gospel goes out worldwide but falls on deaf ears, only here and there a heart opens to receive Him as "the light of life" (John 8:12).
He has no place down here where He is wanted except as the hearts of His redeemed ones are opened to receive Him. Surely when we consider how much He suffered for us, He is worthy that we open our hearts wholly to Him and give Him the full place there in our most intimate affections. When we do so the world cannot see Him, but there will be a fragrance of Christ about our person that those around cannot help but take note of. Oh, let us give Him then that full place in our heart's affections, so that we can say in the language of this verse we are considering, "A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts."
"My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire (henna-flowers, N.T.) in the vineyards of Engedi" (v. 14).
The vine is often used by the prophets as a figure of Israel. "For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant" (Isa. 5:7; see also Ps. 80:8).
Verse 13 speaks of the place Christ should have in the heart's affections of His own during this present time characterized by the darkness of night, because He who came as the light of the world was rejected and has returned on high, while in verse 14 we get Christ presented to us in His coming millennial glory, when His glory will be displayed in Israel before a wondering world. It is not sure just what plant is meant here by the Hebrew word translated "camphire." Some translators have translated it "henna-flower," a sweet, showy, fragrant flower that grows in the vineyards of Palestine. If so, it would be a beautiful picture of Christ in His coming reign over Israel—no longer hid from the eyes of the world, but seen in all the display of His glory and beauty in Israel. "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously (or in glory, N.T.)" and, "They shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God" (Isa. 24:23; 35:2). What a blessed day that will be when the glory and beauty of Christ shall be seen like the henna-flower in the vineyards of Engedi, filling the whole atmosphere with His sweet fragrance.
The special hope of the Church is the coming of the Lord for her to take her to be with Himself forever, while the special hope of Israel is the coming of the Lord to reign in glory as King of kings and Lord of lords.
But when He is manifested in all His glory over Israel, the Church shall be manifested with Him in glory. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:4). But the heart that is attached to Christ looks forward with delight to that glory Christ shall yet have in His coming reign; not so much because we are to share that glory with Him, but because we long to see Him have that glory which is due Him, in this world that spit upon Him and in mockery crowned Him with thorns. The Father has purposed and will not rest till it be accomplished that "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). And how the heart of His bride-to-be should rejoice as she looks forward to the coming glory of her Bridegroom.
"Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes" (v. 15).
As she is talking of what her beloved is to her, He now speaks up and tells of the beauty He sees in her. All this fairness is the fruit of His work of grace in her heart, drawing out her affections to Himself. "Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair." The repetition shows the ardor of His enraptured heart as He gazes upon His bride now made perfect through His grace. "Thou hast doves' eyes." The dove is the symbol of faithful love, of purity, holiness, and peace. When a dove is separated from her mate, she rests solitary and mourns till she sees him again, so is a proper emblem of devotion and attachment to Christ. The pigeon or turtle dove, both of the same family, was the only bird that could be offered on the altar as a type of Christ in His love and purity and devotion to God's glory. The Spirit, also, descended upon Christ like a dove (Matt. 3:16). So, in the doves' eyes we can see that Christ-like, Spirit-produced devoted, faithful, pure love.
When He speaks of her beauty, she answers back, "Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant." And then adds, "Our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir" (v. 16. 17).
The bed in a house of cedar and fir speaks of rest in a place of incorruptibility and royal glory. The cedar and fir are the symbol of royal glory. David and Solomon both made houses of cedar. They also resist rot, so are the emblem of that which is incorruptible and enduring.
The bed, which speaks of rest, in this house of cedar and fir, is green. Green is the most restful color in nature. It is a compound color made by mixing blue and yellow together. Blue is the heavenly color, and the golden yellow is the emblem of that which is divine and free from all alloy. The gold was used everywhere in the tabernacle as the emblem of the divinity of Christ.
To sum it up, we get, then, in this green bed in the house of cedar and fir, a divine and heavenly rest free from all alloy in a place of incorruptible and royal glory.
Song of Solomon 2
"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love" (Cant. 2:1-4).
"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys" (v. 1).
The lily of the valley is often taken to be Christ, but it only shows how careless many are when they read their Bibles, not taking pains to read the context and to weigh each verse in the connection with its setting.
It is the bride-to-be that says in verse 1, "I am the rose (or narcissus, J.N.D. trans.) of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys."
It is His pure grace that has made us such. By nature we are anything else than the lily or the narcissus. It is not a question of what we merit. We merit nothing, but to be cast off, forever. It is simply a matter of how great is His grace and what it has wrought for us and in us.
In the next verse Christ answers, "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." This shows us beyond question that the lily is His loved one and as compared with the unsaved around her she is as a lily among thorns. What a contrast between a lily and thorns. But it is all the work of His grace that has taken poor thorny sinners and converted them into sweet lilies of the valley.
The narcissus and the lily look up to the heavens or bow their heads in humility. They do not lift themselves up loftily. They grow under the sunshine of heaven and drink in the refreshing showers from above and thus cared for, they will fill their surroundings with their sweet fragrance.
How is it with us, dear fellow Christian, are our ways fragrant with His grace?
Perhaps you say, If I were only in different surroundings. My surroundings are so difficult. Well, that is just what we get here, a lily among thorns. Why does Christ leave His lily among the sharp thorns? That certainly is no suitable surroundings for a delicate lily, you say. But He leaves it there because that is just where He wants it to be and to shed, in gentle grace and spotless purity, its sweet fragrance all around it.
Do you feel sometimes that your surroundings are thorny and difficult? Well, then, take courage. That is just where Christ wants you to be His lily. Remember He is looking down upon His lily and delights to behold its delicate beauty in contrast to all the thorns that surround it. It is a privilege to give joy to His heart by being a sweet fragrant lily for Him just where you are among the thorns. Take courage and look up. Let your eye meet His and you will find in Him an all-sufficient object for your heart and food to sustain your soul.
She says in answer to what He has just said of her: "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight and His fruit was sweet to my taste" (v. 3). This delightful exchange of happy thoughts, one of the other, is precious. How it delights the heart of our Savior when we delight in Him. There is nowhere else one can find lasting joy and delight.
The trees of the wood may give some shade but one would starve sitting under them. They have not fruit to feed upon. But Christ, ah, there we get food for our souls in abundance. In the apple tree you have not only beauty and shade but food to sustain.
Note, there are five things here: "I sat down," there you have rest; "under His shadow," here is shelter; "with great delight," and this is true joy; "and His fruit," how it refreshes and nourishes the soul; "was sweet to my taste," not only food to nourish but sweet to the taste, bringing delight as we partake of it.
When Christ fed the multitude He made them sit down first. So many souls are running here and there trying to find something that will satisfy. But when you come to Christ you may sit down at rest. No need to run about anymore for you find in Him all you need to delight, satisfy and nourish the soul; as well as a cool and pleasant shade where we may sit to calm and refresh our agitated spirits when we find ourselves under the hot sun of affliction or the burning heat of the day with its usual pressure and round of daily toil and routine. Especially is the shade of a tree appreciated in a hot climate like Palestine. It is "as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Isa. 32:2).
But if we are to enjoy the shade and be constantly refreshed and nourished by the fruit we must stay close to Him. The shade and the fruit are not for those who stray off at a distance from Him.
Dear reader, have you thus learned to know your Savior as the all absorbing delightsome object for your heart? Christianity is not simply a means of getting to heaven but it is the joy of heaven come down to fill our hearts already, to sustain and satisfy the soul now as we journey on toward that heavenly home. So many seem to be satisfied just to know their sins are forgiven and their title to heaven is clear. They would treat the Savior simply as a means to get to heaven, or perhaps also to get them out of trouble. When they get in difficulty they pray to Him. But what the Lord longs for is that we open our hearts fully to Him and receive Him as the lover of our souls. An ever living, loving Person, who would walk and talk with us and delight us with His love and refresh us with His presence and strengthen us as we lean upon His mighty arm.
"He brought me into the banqueting house, and His banner over me is love" (v. 4).
In the previous verse we see the Lord, as the apple tree, and His beloved one sitting down under His shadow with great delight and enjoying His sweet fruit. It is what the Lord is for her while she is still in a "weary land" (Isa. 32:2), where the sun of affliction beats down, and there is no food around for her soul except in Him. In Him she has found a place of delight, rest, shelter, and food. But in the fifth verse there is a change, there is progress. He has come and brought her into His banqueting house, and His banner over her is love. It is the millennial feast for Israel (see Isa. 25:6-8), and for the church, it is the eternal feast with Him on high.
But dropping the future application, there is also a very practical and real sense in which it is true of the believer now, who, like the prodigal, has returned to his Father's house and been made to sit down at the feast spread there (Luke 15). A feast that begins on earth but never ends. See also Luke 14:15-24, where the good things that God offers to all in the gospel is likened to "a great supper"; and the invitation goes out to all, "Come, for all things are now ready." What a feast for our souls we find in Christ under the banner of His love.
The banner, or flag, stands for all the power of the king or nation it represents. All power in heaven and earth is given unto Him (Matt. 28:18). How blessed to be under His banner of love—that banner that speaks of all His mighty power, unfurled over us in love. No power in earth or hell beneath can molest us there. What rest and peace it gives to the heart as we feast upon the good things He has prepared for us under His mighty banner lifted over us in love. No fears to alarm, no dread of the enemy coming in to disturb. Such is the blessed lot of every believer as he in simple faith feasts upon the rich portion that is his in Christ through the gospel.
But someone says, "I do not have that settled rest and peace; my soul is not feasting; I am often disquieted over the present and have fears and dread about the future." Well, dear troubled soul, whose fault is it? Is it that His love for you is too shallow and fickle that you cannot trust it, or His power too weak to defend and keep you? Dare you say so? No, certainly not. He has proved His love in giving His life for you, and as to power, who can question it? "All things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things and by Him all things consist (or are held together, upheld in existence)" (Col. 1:16-17). And in Heb. 1:3 you get the two things together, both His power and the love that purged our sins: "Who . . . upholding, all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Whose fault then is it that you do not have that settled peace? It can't be His; it must be yours, your lack of just trusting in Him, just resting upon Him. Accepting in simple faith what He offers and feasting your soul upon Him. Quit looking at your fears, quit looking at your doubts, quit looking at yourself, and just fix your eyes upon Him and His mighty banner of love and feast your soul upon Him. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus.
Of course if you are going to be nibbling at the carnal things the world spreads for its devotees it will spoil your appetite for spiritual things. You can not be feasting at His banquet table and partaking also of what the world feeds upon.
In 1 Sam. 30:16 we get another feast which is a type of the short lived joy that the world has. "And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah." But the devil never unfurls a banner of love over his followers. Their passing joy in perishing things is indeed short lived for destruction comes upon them suddenly ere the morning light. "When they shall say, peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5:3). In this account in 1 Sam. 30:8-19 David, who suddenly appears and overthrows the Amalekites while their feast and dancing is going on, and delivers all their captives, is a type of Christ when He shall appear with all His armies from heaven for the deliverance of Israel, His earthly people, and the judgment of the nations who are at enmity against God.
How blessed is the believer's portion in contrast to the unsaved. He can feast and be at rest in his soul now under the mighty protection and power of his Savior's banner of love while he looks forward with joyful anticipation to the eternal feast of good things prepared for us in the Father's house. Yes, the Lord is soon coming to bring us into His banqueting house up there.
But let us stop a moment to meditate on the first three words of this wonderful verse, "He brought me." "He," who is He? Think a little of the greatness of His person as the Eternal Son of God, Creator and upholder of all things. Think of His great wealth, His unspeakable glory. Then think again, who am I, poor worm of the dust, guilty and vile sinner by nature helpless in myself. Now put the two together, "He brought me," Oh, wonder of love! "He brought me into His banqueting house"; yes, right into His banqueting house, His own eternal joy. Could anything be greater, more wonderful? No higher place of bliss than that where the Eternal Son of God finds His own joy; but He would share it all with us, with me. And how do we attain to it? "He brought me." Not my own efforts, not my own merits, no, nothing of my own; but He brought me there by His efforts, by His divine work and labor of love.
"Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head and his right hand doth embrace me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please" (Cant. 2:5-7).
In the previous verse we read, "He brought me into the banqueting house and his banner over me was love." What a feast under the banner of His love. As she looks upon the good things He has spread for her on His banqueting table, she says, "Stay me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples; for I am sick of love" (J.N.D. trans.). Sometimes we say, I am sick of it, meaning that we don't want to have anything more to do with it; but the meaning here is just the opposite. While feasting under His banner of love upon the good things He has prepared for her, her heart is touched to overflowing, and her affections burn with such ardent flame for Him that she is sick with love. Nothing can stay her up, or sustain, refresh and comfort her now, but the flagons of wine, or raisin cakes, and the apples from His banqueting table. When we remember that He is the apple tree (see v. 3), then we can understand that the apples are the sweet fruits of His love for us; and wine, or raisin, is the symbol of fellowship and the joy flowing from it. The joy of fellowship with Himself and the strength that comes from the sweet fruit of His love in activity for us, are the only things that can sustain a soul that loves Him. Nothing else will satisfy. When one loves Him truly, it just makes one sick and miserable if his communion with Him is interrupted, or when one fails to feast upon the good things His love has provided for us.
Nothing can make up for lack of fellowship with the Lord and daily feeding upon Him and His Word. It is the only thing that can sustain us in our daily life for Him, and keep our souls refreshed. In the hurry and flurry of our daily lives, we must always be on our guard lest we lose contact with Him. It is so easy to let the busy activities of the day crowd out our communion with Him. There is a vast difference between a Christian who lets his daily activity crowd out his communion with the Lord and the one who begins the day in communion with the Lord and keeps in touch with Him throughout the hustle and bustle of the day. The one easily gets worried, flurried and fretted, the other is kept calm, peaceful and quiet in his soul while he does his daily duties under the eye of the Lord and as unto Him. Both may be doing the same work, but what is going on in the heart and soul of each is quite different. The one is doing what he does in fellowship with the Lord and to please Him, the other is borne down under the pressure of his work and surroundings.
"His left hand is under my head and His right hand doth embrace me."
What a blessed place of rest and peace drawn so close to Him in His tender embrace. "His left hand is under my head." The heart is on the left side. The left hand is the hand nearest His heart. She pillows her weary head in His left hand, soothed by the tender affectionate touch of that hand that was pierced for her. Again we say, What a blessed place of rest. And then, "His right hand doth embrace me." The right hand is the hand we do things with. It is the symbol of power. "Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: Thy right hand, O Lord, has dashed in pieces the enemy" (Ex. 15:6). "My soul follows hard after Thee: Thy right hand upholds me" (Ps. 63:8). His mighty right arm is thrown around her to sustain her and draw her closer to Himself, but also what a protection, with His powerful arm around her, no enemy can molest her, no harm can reach her.
She falls asleep in His arms. What a picture of sweet peaceful rest in His loving embrace. And He is looking lovingly down upon her, watching that nothing disturb her rest. This is the meaning of the next verse.
"I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and the hinds of the fields that ye stir not up nor awake my love till he (or she) please." The Hebrew reads, "till it pleases," so the context must decide who is speaking and whether it is He or she that is sleeping. "Behold, He that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Ps. 121:4). So it is certainly not the Lord who is asleep here, but His beloved one, sleeping peacefully in His embrace, and He, as He holds her lovingly in His arms, is watching that nothing disturb her rest. He charges by the roes and the hinds of the fields that none stir up or awake her till she please. The roes and the hinds have a very keen sense of hearing. Their keen ear detects anything approaching even at a great distance off.
The world today is filled with unrest and uncertainty. And the effects of it are being felt in the lives of many of God's children as well. But there is a place of calm and peaceful rest for the soul regardless of what may be going on around us. It is found only as we keep ourselves close to the Lord and conscious that His mighty arms are thrown around us and His loving eye is ever watching over us. Whatever uncertainty and shifting there may be about our changing circumstances and the conditions in the world, there is one thing that changes not and that is His love for His own, and His power. Therefore the believer can say with the apostle, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purposes" (Rom. 8:28).
"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:27). "And He lifted up His hands and blessed them" (Luke 24:50). "His left hand is under my head and his right hand doth embrace me." Underneath and around and over us are His everlasting arms, and there may we rest in peace and quietness of soul regardless of the surging of the nations or the changing conditions around us. Let us never forget this. If you are worried and fearful, it is because you are losing the Lord from sight, you are not confiding in His everlasting arms. You are not keeping yourself in touch with Him and feeding on His love. Return to His banqueting table and feed upon the raisins and the apples, and let Him draw you close in His loving embrace, and you will find peace and rest of soul.
"The voice of my beloved! behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he stands behind our wall, he looks forth (J.N.D's N.T.) at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with her tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away" (Cant. 2:8-13).
The Song of Solomon is not one continuous song but is made up of different parts. The general theme is the Lord wooing the heart of the remnant of Israel to Himself to be His earthly bride, or queen. See Psalm 45 where the remnant, or perhaps more properly Jerusalem, is represented as the queen. Each part, or section, of the song takes up some special aspect of the general theme and carries it through to a certain climax. Thus in chapter 1, verses 1-4 form the first section. It gives the general theme, ending with the queen brought into the chambers of the King, glad and rejoicing in Him.
The next section, verses 5-17, ends also with the King and queen together in the royal palace, each enraptured with the beauty of the other.
Cant. 2:1-7, is a complete section also and ends with the queen resting sweetly in the King's strong arms while He watches lovingly that nothing disturbs her rest.
Verse 8 begins a new section and ends with verse 17. It is in its primary application a prophecy of the Lord appearing for the deliverance of the Jewish remnant at the close of the great tribulation. In Isa. 26:20 we read, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy door about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be passed. For, behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." This is figurative language, of course, but clearly it speaks of the place of protection which the Lord will provide for the preservation of the remnant during the time when He goes forth in His indignation against the wicked. "The indignation" is a term often used by the prophets for the great tribulation period. (See also Isa. 34:2; Dan. 8:19; 11:36.) In accordance with this we find the remnant, the beloved of the Lord, here in these verses of the Song of Solomon hiding behind the wall of protection He has provided for her. We see she is in a waiting attitude, listening for the voice of her beloved coming for her deliverance. She hears Him coming and knows His voice. He comes up to her place of refuge and looks in at her window, and says to her, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone," etc. The winter with its cold and storms is figurative of the great tribulation which has now given place to the beautiful springtime of the millennial age. She can now leave her place of refuge and enter with Him into His glorious reign so often spoken of by the prophets.
"The wilderness and the solitary place will be glad for them and the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing. . . . And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isa. 35:1-2, 10).
That will be a happy day for the remnant when the Lord appears for their deliverance. But we too are looking for the Lord to come as our Bridegroom to take us away from this place of cold and storm into that blissful scene of eternal spring above. And what joy that will be for our hearts when we shall hear His voice saying to us, "Arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away." May we be found watching and ready.
Let us look again at verses 9 and 10 before leaving them. "The voice of my beloved!"
How precious to have Him as our beloved. It is He Himself that is going to come for us. It is His own voice we will hear calling us away to meet Him in the air. He does not send an angel. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout" (1 Thess. 4:16). And so He says also in John 14:3, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also."
"The voice of my beloved! behold, He comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills." What a joy to His own heart it will be when the time is come for Him to come for His own. How He hastens as it were like a roe (or gazelle, as some translate it) or young hart, leaping, skipping over the mountains as they speed on their way.
How many beautiful thoughts there are in this inspired and inspiring comparison of our Lord to a gazelle or a young hart leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills, speeding on its way to its mate. Grace and beauty, power and affection are all found in it. "Leaping upon the mountains"; His energy is inexhaustible, no mountain or mountains can hinder Him in His course as He speeds on His way, full of grace and beauty, drawn by His heart's affection to His loved one. The Hebrew word for hart means "a very strong one." It is an intensified form of a root word meaning strong; and the word roe means glorious, beautiful or pleasant. Power, glory and beauteous grace all combine in Christ in all their perfection.
There is also, no doubt, another reason why the Spirit chooses the gazelle or hart as the symbol of Christ. Besides its strength, beauty and grace, it is also an innocent and harmless animal. It never preys upon others. Its native haunt also is far away from the cities of man, which in the Song of Solomon represent the world that man has built up in his efforts to gratify his own ambitions, lusts and desires. Especially does the hart and gazelle prefer the high hills and mountain tops, which reminds us of nearness to God far above the world lying in the low plains beneath.
The prophets often refer to the great kings, emperors, and dictators under the figure of some savage beast, as in fact nearly all the nations have as the symbol of their power some wild beast or bird of prey. It is brute force or power that often makes a prey of others, that generally characterizes the great men that have risen to power in the world, and especially is it true of the dictators that the Bible prophesies will be in the end time. They can hold people in subjection for a time by power and force that fills the heart with fear, but Christ has won and continues to win the confidence and hearty submission of countless multitudes by the power of His love and grace. Power never wins the heart, only love and grace can do that. Accordingly the inspired writer speaks of Christ as the gazelle or young hart when speaking of Him as wooing the hearts of His own. In Rev. 5 where it is a question of Christ taking over into His own hands the reins of the government of the world that until then is in rebellion and revolt against God, then Christ is called "the Lion of the tribe of Juda," emphasizing thus the greatness of His majesty and power against which none can stand; and yet even there when He appears, it is as "a Lamb as it had been slain" (v. 6), and His power symbolized by seven horns of a lamb, that is, full and complete power yet in the hands of Him who had been slain as a sacrifice to God and in love for the world. What a deliverance and a blessing it will be when He takes over under His own power the reins of the government of this world. Then no longer worldly power will make right; but justice, righteousness and blessing will be maintained by the mighty power of Him who is love. This beautiful description of spring, in these verses 11-13 of our chapter here, with its flowers and fruit and joyous singings of the birds is but a picture in symbol of that blissful age to come when Christ shall reign.
We look forward with joy to this glorious reign of Christ for He will then have that honor which is due Him. And we know that, sometime before He comes to reign, He will first come for us to take us to be forever with Himself, and we will share the glory of His reign with Him as His heavenly bride.
"O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely. Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes" (Cant. 2:14-15).
"O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock in the secret places of the stairs (or precipices, N.T.), let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice; and thy countenance is comely."
The dove is the symbol of purity, love, and peace, and noted for its faithfulness to its mate. It mourns for it whenever separated until it meets it again. These are just the qualities that Christ delights to see in His redeemed ones, whom He loved even unto death. He would have us to be His dove.
While traveling in the mountains recently we noticed many pigeons in the clefts of the high rocks. It was a beautiful sight to behold them there in the clefts of the great rocks with their young safe and secure from the reach of the foxes or other animals of prey, and it made us think of this passage in the Song of Solomon.
We are all familiar with the hymn, "Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee." Christ is the Rock of Ages, He is the only Rock of refuge for a sin-laden soul. But the rock is also often spoken of in the Bible as a place of refuge, shelter and protection from the attack of the enemy. "In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in Thy righteousness. Bow down Thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be Thou my strong rock for a house of defense to save me. For Thou art the rock of my fortress" (Ps. 31:1-3; see also Ps. 18:2; 27:5-6).
It is rather this thought of trust in the Lord as a rock of refuge from the power of the enemy that we have here in the dove hiding in the cleft of the rock. How precious to the Lord's heart it is when His own trustfully rely upon Him alone in every time of trouble or perplexity. The Lord will never fail those that put their trust in Him. It would be a dishonor to Him if He should fail them—a slur upon His power and ability to protect and deliver them.
The book of Psalms, which is for the most part a prophecy of the prayers and distresses of the remnant after the Church is caught up, is full of this attitude of whole-hearted trust in the Lord. We can profit much by reading them and noting this spirit of trust that permeates them and let it inspire in us a wholehearted trust in the Lord in the midst of our trials and difficulties, which are but light indeed as compared with what the remnant will go through. See Psalms 27:3; 34:1-8; 40:1-3; 56; 62; 71:1-8; 84:8-12.
As we have remarked before, the Song of Solomon in its primary application is a prophecy of Christ wooing the heart of the Jewish remnant to Himself after the rapture of the Church, to whom He appears at the close of the great tribulation for their deliverance, and to bring them into the joys and blessings of the millennium. But we also find it is rich in spiritual lessons for us in this present dispensation. We will now look for a few moments at its application to the remnant and then consider its practical lesson for us.
Christ addressing Himself prophetically to this remnant in Matthew 24:15-21 says, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (this is the same image as that mentioned in Rev. 13:14-18) stand in the holy place . . . then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." The faithful remnant will be placed under sentence of death because they refused to worship this image or to receive the mark of the beast, and they have to flee for their life and keep in hiding in the mountains. Psalm 42 is a prophecy of the remnant pouring out their heart to God during this time of trouble. How precious in the sight of the Lord will be this remnant, who, rather than walk in the ways of the wicked, give up out of faithfulness and love for Him their earthly possession to flee to the mountains in obedience to His word without resource and without supply of daily food, trusting solely to Him to protect them and provide for them. What a joy it will be both for His heart and theirs when He appears for their deliverance and says to them, "O my dove, that art in the cleft of the rock, in the secret places of the precipices (N.T.) let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely."
We may well ask ourselves this practical question: how far when it would cost us something, are we willing to go in faithfulness to the Lord? Are we willing to give up all our earthly possession rather than dishonor Him? Is it not too often the case that the Lord's people are more taken up with their temporal things than with the Lord's interests; and yet they owe their life and their all to Him and His work of redemption. The Lord delights to hear our voice of praise and to see us stand faithful to Him at all cost. Surely He is worthy that we should put Him before all earthly things. The apostle Paul in writing in Phil. 2:21 about the Christians of his day has to say with a sad and heavy heart, "For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." If he were here today what would he have to say about you or me?
"Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last."
In verse 14 the Lord appears to His faithful and beloved remnant in her hiding place for her deliverance. He will then share the glory of His reign with her.
"Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes" (verse 15).
It is His vineyard but He in grace associates her with Himself over it. The vineyard represents both Israel and all the nations, over which Christ will reign. There will be two classes in Israel during the millennium just as in David's day. The faithful little group that stood for David in the time of his rejection are associated with him on the throne, having the highest position of responsibility and trust over the rest of the nation that only owned him as their king when he entered upon his reign. So in the millennium the faithful remnant that stands for Christ during the great tribulation period will be given a higher place in the reign than the rest of the nation which is left alive at the close of the great tribulation and only repents and receives Him when He appears in His glory. It is this faithful remnant that is seen in the Song of Solomon as His dove, His loved one. She will share with Him in a special way the glory of His reign.
The millennial reign will be a time of unparalleled blessing and fruitfulness, because His scepter of righteousness will deal with every evil the moment it appears before it develops into greater harm. The little foxes are taken at once before they have time to spoil the vine or grow into more harmful agents of destruction. Redeemed Israel and especially this godly remnant who stands firm for Christ in the face of such bitter persecution will be associated with Him in the exercise of this righteous government. (See Psalm 149).
But the same principle applies in a most practical way to fruitfulness in our lives as well as to the joy of fellowship with the Lord. The Lord uses the fruit-bearing branch of the vine as the symbol of the Christian bearing fruit for God in John 15; and wine, which comes from the fruit of the vine, is often used in Scripture as the symbol of the joy of fellowship. Fruit-bearing and the joy of fellowship go hand in hand. For there can be no fruit bearing when we are out of fellowship with the Lord nor can there be fellowship with Him when we are not bearing fruit for Him.
Notice it is the little foxes, the little things, rather than the greater ones, that come in and spoil our fruitfulness and fellowship with the Lord. And note, too, the gracious way in which the Lord asks us to deal with these sly little foxes that slip in almost unnoticed and mar our fruitfulness and fellowship with Him. Knowing that we can do nothing in our own strength, He invites us to co-operate with Him in taking these little foxes that so spoil the vine that it has no strength left to bring fruit to maturity. "Let us," He says, "take the foxes." He doesn't say, "Now you see to it that the little foxes don't get in and spoil the vine." That would throw us upon our own responsibility and our own strength and would certainly result in failure; but He says, "Let us take the little foxes," thus inviting us in our weakness to count upon His strength and help.
There are many believers troubled about there being so much failure in their life and so little fruit. This will explain why; they are trying to rid their lives from failure and to bear fruit in their own strength, instead of casting themselves in their weakness upon Christ and His strength and seeking to cooperate with Him.
We generally think of fellowship with the Lord in connection with the joy we get out of it and mourn our lack of the joy we lose by it. But notice Christ doesn't say here "your vine" but "our vines." He has a real portion for His own heart when His own are walking in fellowship with Him and bearing fruit that He loses when those things that come in to mar our fruitfulness and fellowship are not dealt with immediately. We should think of this more. It would give a most powerful additional motive to serve and follow Him.
"My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feeds among the lilies. Until the day break and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether" (Cant. 2:16-17).
"My beloved, is mine, and I am his: he feeds (his flock) among the lilies."
In the two previous verses, as we have seen, we have a prophecy of the Lord appearing for the deliverance of the persecuted remnant of Israel, which He espouses to Himself and associates with Himself in His reign over the nations ("His vineyard"). In this verse we see Him as the great Shepherd of Israel feeding His flock among the lilies. It is a beautiful picture of the millennium; His sheep feeding peacefully in the rich pastures amid the fragrant lilies in the beautiful spring time under His watchful loving eye. "For thus saith the Lord God: behold I, even I, will search my sheep, and seek them out. As the shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among the sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and will feed them on the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God" (Ezek. 34:11-15). "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (Isa. 40:11).
What a joy it will be to the heart of the remnant, once so persecuted by the enemy, to behold the great Shepherd of Israel feeding His flock among the lilies, where everything speaks of peace, abundance and fullness of blessing. But the highest of all her joys is this, this glorious Shepherd is her Bridegroom, her Beloved, her very own. "My beloved is mine, and I am His." This is indeed the climax of this great story of the Lord's love for His chosen people Israel. But the day has not yet dawned for it, so we read, "Until the day break and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether." While waiting for the shadows to flee away the remnant will have to go through the dark days of the great tribulation over rough and trackless mountains of difficulties —"the mountains of Bether." Bether means cloven, that is, full of ravines, so may well represent to us the hardships and distressing trials that the remnant will have to go through during the tribulation, but the Lord will be her refuge in her time of trouble. For the gazelle or young hart is ever present on the mountains of Bether—for where trouble is, there the Lord is ever found, "a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46). Compare with Ps. 57.
Having considered briefly these verses in their prophetic application to the remnant, let us now look at them in their practical application to ourselves.
There is only one love story that surpasses the Lord's love to Israel, His earthly people, whom He will associate with Himself as His earthly bride, and that is His love for the church, His heavenly bride. Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:2, "I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." And truly our relationship to Christ as our heavenly Bridegroom is far higher and more intimate than that which the remnant will have, and, besides, it is heavenly and eternal while that of the remnant is for the earth and is connected with the millennial reign.
What a portion, how surpassingly great, when a soul can say of Christ, "My beloved is mine, and I am His." He is my beloved, what a lover! "My beloved is mine"—mine for time and eternity. He died for me, what marvelous love! His perfect atoning work on the cross was for me; wonderful indeed, but wonder of wonders, He Himself, Who died in love for me, is alive for evermore triumphant over sin, the grave and all the power of the enemy, and He is mine, mine for time and eternity, my eternal Lover, ever present with me in time and I am to be with Him for all eternity.
Did you ever stop to think that He is the only portion you can now have of which you can truly say, "This is mine." You cannot say of a husband or wife, a child, companion or friend, or of any earthly possessions or goods, "This is mine," except in a temporal and passing sense. The rich man in Luke 12:16-20 said to himself, "Thou hast much goods laid up for many years." But God said unto him, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be?" And so it is with every earthly relationship or possession; it is but a temporary thing that must pass away sooner or later. But he who can say of Christ, He is mine, has a companion, a friend, a possession that shall never pass away; it is forever. What profound thankfulness and joy this should produce in our souls when we think of it. How sad, how inconsistent when believers put their temporary, earthly relationships before Him, or their perishing possessions in this passing world before His interests, when we consider the fact that He is their only real, true and abiding portion.
Ah, dear reader, let us think more of this. Well may we bow our heads in shame when we think how often we have neglected Him. May there be a deeper purpose from henceforth to make Him truly our all in all; for all else apart from Him must surely pass away. Think of it. He was mine upon the cross; He is mine now at the right hand of the majesty on high; mine in the coming glory of the millennial reign; mine forever in the eternal felicity in the Father's house; mine to dwell in my heart even now by faith and to lean on as an almighty Helper, all-wise Counselor, unerring Guide, most intimate Friend, dearest of all companions, sweetest of all comforters in every trial and throughout every day of my pilgrimage down here.
Who can estimate the inexhaustible treasures hidden in these words, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His." It gives us rest for the present, for why need we fear with such a One standing by us in the storms of life; it assures us of victory in our conflict with the enemy, and opens to us a future surpassingly bright with bliss and glory. O forbid that we should ever be ashamed to confess Him before men. May we ever count it a grand privilege and a great joy to testify of Him by word of mouth and by deeds of devotion. "My beloved is mine, and I am His." He is my Beloved, my Savior, my Lord, my All. No mountains of Bether, however rough or difficult, shall ever separate us from His love; yea, rather, we find Him in our difficulties and trials to be sweeter and nearer than ever.
Song of Solomon 3
"By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways will I seek him whom my soul loves: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loves? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loves: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please" (Cant. 3:1-5).
The Song of Solomon is not one continuous song but is divided into different parts, each part or section having a special theme of its own. Chapter 3 is a section complete in itself that subdivides into two parts, verses 1-5 forming the first part and verses 6-11, the second part.
In John 1 we see Christ come to His own as the light of the world, but He was rejected and consequently Israel has been left in the darkness of night ever since. In the first part of the third chapter of the Song of Solomon we have a prophecy of the Jewish remnant awakened while the nation as a whole is still in the darkness of the night before the Lord comes as the "Sun of righteousness" (Mal. 4:2) to usher in His glorious reign. She has no rest in the world order (the city with its watchmen, v. 2, 3) where she is, and begins to seek ardently after her Messiah and finally finds Him outside of that order of things where she was at first asleep, and then brings Him into her mother's house. The mother here and in verse 11 and in chapter 8 verse 2, represents Israel as a whole from the day the Lord delivered her from Egypt and established her as a nation in the land of Israel. And then she finds rest in the embrace of His love and welcomes Him as the King of Israel—"brings Him into her mother's house" (See Matt. 23:39; Ps. 118.). And so the long night ends for Israel and the days of her tribulation are over.
The last part of this chapter begins with verse 11; it shows us Israel coming up again out of the wilderness (Compare Hosea 2:14-23.) purified by the fiery trials she has just passed through and beautiful with fragrant grace—a beauty that is not hers by nature but bestowed upon her by the Lord as the fruit of the work of His Spirit in her heart. And then follows a description of the Great King of whom Solomon (Solomon means peaceableness) is but a faint type. His glorious rest (His bed) well guarded from all alarm which He shares with His beloved queen (See again Hos. 2:16-19.) is then described to us. The bed here is a symbol of rest or the place where one finds or seeks rest. Then this section of the song closes with the great joy of His heart in being united again to His beloved Israel and crowned as her King. This in brief is the prophetic outline of this chapter. But we will now drop its primary application to the remnant of the last days and look at the practical lessons there are in it for us.
In chapter 1 verse 13 we read: "A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts." The myrrh was concealed in the bosom as a perfume. It is also a symbol of Christ's sufferings, being the life-sap of a desert plant. So the meaning of this verse is that Christ, who suffered for her, is given the most secret place in her bosom, in her inmost affections, while the world around is still plunged in the darkness of night, and thus her person is made fragrant with His presence. Though unseen by the world, there is a sweet fragrance of Christ always going out from her. What a happy state of communion with the Lord with its resulting fruitfulness for Him.
But here in chapter three we have a different state. She is on her bed. Note the pronounced "my," "my bed." She had been seeking rest for herself, but without Him, as, alas, we often do; but it cannot be found there. She is lonesome and restless while the world is sleeping in darkness around her, for there is nothing in the world or any bed of our own making to satisfy a soul that has been born again. There is an inborn love for Christ in every new-born soul, and therefore when we are out of communion and have drifted to some distance from that place of closeness with Him, the soul is left without the only object that can satisfy it.
Not only is she in a bed of her own making, but she is also in a city where He is not. He is likened to the "roe (gazelle) or young hart" in chapter 2 verse 9, and the gazelle is never found in the cities that man has built, but out in the open country. The city here, well guarded by its watchmen, represents an organized society—a world which man has built up and ordered for his own satisfaction and pleasure without Christ. There is no place for Him there. She seeks in vain to find Him in its streets. When He came in grace He was rejected. They led Him outside of their city and crucified Him. Therefore we read in Heb. 13:12-14, "Jesus suffered . . . without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."
As long as a soul is seeking rest and satisfaction in a world without Christ, he is bound to be disappointed. There is nothing there to meet the hunger of the soul formed by God for higher things. "He feeds on ashes: a deceived heart has turned him aside" (Isa. 44:20).
So this all accounts for the state of soul pictured to us here in these verses. She is lonely and restless in this bed of her own making in this city of man's building. Her association and mingling with the world without Christ has failed utterly to give her rest, and now fully awakened by these bitter experiences, she seeks Him and Him alone. That inborn love for Him that is planted by the Spirit of God in every born-again soul, that had become almost quenched by her association with the world, is stirred up again to a more ardent flame as she turns from everything to seek Him and Him alone. She forsakes this bed of her own—all that wherein she had sought in vain to find rest and satisfaction for herself—for she could not find Him there. "By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loves; I sought Him, but I found Him not." And so with determination she says, "I will rise now and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways will I seek Him whom my soul loves"; but the results are still the same: "I sought Him, but I found Him not." He is not to be found there either. She has to learn the lesson by one disappointment after another, that He is not to be found in this world of man's buildings any more than in the bed of her own making. She has to give it all up and go outside of it all. On her way out she meets the watchmen: "The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye Him whom my soul loves?" But those whom man has set to watch over that which he has built up for himself know not where to find Him. They can give her no answer. She has to leave it all behind and go on further. But no sooner had she passed on beyond the city and its watchmen that He meets her. And oh, what joy now that she has found Him. She holds fast now to Him. 'It was but a little that I passed from them but I found Him whom my soul loves: I held Him and would not let Him go, until I had brought Him into my mother's house, and the chamber of her that conceived me."
Yes, she had to give up all to find Him. A young lady once said to a Christian whose face was beaming with peace and joy, "I would give all the world to have joy and peace like you have." And the quiet answer was, "Well, that is just what you will have to give to have it. You can't have it in any other way." And so it is, as long as we are holding on to the world we cannot have full joy. If we would have real joy in our hearts we must give up the world and its lusts and give ourselves wholly to Christ to be His and His alone. And in the measure we do this, Christ comes into our hearts and lives and fills us with the sunshine of His presence and gives us a share in His own peace and joy.
Why are so many Christians not really happy? It is simply because their heart is not wholly surrendered to Christ. Their heart is divided between Christ and the world. Entirely too many other things have a place in their heart, and so Christ gets but a small place there and as a result the joy is small also. If He were only given the whole place in our hearts He would fill our hearts with Himself and with His own joy and peace.
You may know you are saved, and may have peace with God about your sins, knowing they are all cleansed in the blood of Jesus; but you cannot have full joy, peace and rest for your soul as long as everything is not given over fully to Christ and all that He cannot approve given up.
But now one more important point before leaving these verses. We read "I held Him and I would not let Him go until I had brought Him into my mother's house." She, not only clings to Him now with determined purpose of heart, but also brings Him into her mother's house, that is into her own home, for as she is not yet married her mother's house would be her home. Yes, Christianity is very practical. You have to give up all for Christ if you would be a happy Christian; but you must also bring Christ into your own home, you must bring Him into every detail of your life —into your home life, and into your business life, into your associations and into your activities. Have you done it? Are you doing it? Not only once in a while but every day and every hour of the day. If not you are not a happy Christian and won't be until you do so. You are not really happy and perhaps just don't know why. Well, the reason is just this, you have not really given up all for Christ and then brought Christ into everything you do.
"I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he (or rather she) please." The Hebrew reads till it please and the context must make it clear whether it is he or she. We have the same verse in chapter 2 verse 7 where we see clearly from the previous verse that it is she that is resting in His strong embrace, sleeping peacefully, while He watches tenderly that nothing disturb her rest. So here also in 3:5. No sooner does she leave all in her ardent seeking after Him alone, and then having found Him brings Him into her own home, then we find her fully at rest, sleeping peacefully in His arms, while He watches that nothing disturb her peace. She could not rest in her own bed without Him, but now in His arms what rest what peace is hers. Have you found that joy and peace also? Are you seeking it in His embrace and there only? You will find it no where else but there.
"Who is this that comes out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant? Behold his bed which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man has his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night. King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousal, and in the day of the gladness of his heart" (Cant. 3:6-11).
In Rev. 12:14 we read, "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times and half a time, from the face of the serpent." And in Hosea 2:14, "Therefore, behold I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her, and I will give her her vineyard from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi (my husband)." And then in the Cant. 8:5 we read, "Who is this that comes up from the wilderness leaning upon the arm of her beloved?"
When we read this 6th verse of the 3rd chapter of the Song of Solomon in the light of these verses just quoted, we see how full it is in meaning. None but a divinely inspired writer could conceive of figures so appropriate and so rich and full in significance.
The woman in Rev. 12 is the symbol of the godly remnant of Israel of which Christ was born and which in the last days will be persecuted by the old serpent, Satan, and his two vassals, the beast and the false prophet. But the Lord intervenes in His providence and provides a way of escape for her and a place of refuge in the desert where He nourishes her during the great tribulation. Hosea 2:14 tells us that while in this wilderness the Lord speaks comfortably to her and she learns to know Him as her husband. And in the Song of Solomon 3:6 and 8:5 she is seen coming up out of the wilderness leaning upon His arm.
Thus we see chapter 3:6 as a beautiful picture of the remnant at the close of the great tribulation, being brought up by the Lord Himself from her place of refuge which He had provided for her. There He had nourished her and spoke comfortably to her and purified her by the fiery trials through which she has passed. The fire only served to burn up the dross and purify the silver as is always the case when the Lord's beloved ones are called to go through fiery trials. We see her here then in all that beauty, adorned with every fragrant grace, that is the fruit, the results of the fiery trials she had passed through.
This is the simple meaning of "the pillar of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense and all the powders of the merchant." Smoke is the result of fire, and myrrh, frankincense and all the perfumed powders of the oriental merchant is the symbol of those graces produced by the Spirit of God in the heart, that gives a sweet odor of Christ to the Lord's own who have been passing through deep trials. She has not only been purified and made beautiful by the trials but she has also learned, through His tender care and His speaking comfortably to her, to know the Lord in a fuller, richer way. She leans upon Him whom she can now call in the full joy of her heart Ishi (my husband).
To sum it all up then we have in this verse the Lord Himself introducing to the wondering gaze of all, His earthly bride adorned with every beauteous grace, whose heart He has purified and won fully to Himself. He then brings her into His royal bed chamber (see Cant. 1:4, 16).
"Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man has his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night" (vs. 7, 8).
The bed is the place of rest for the bridegroom and His bride. It is therefore a type here of that glorious rest that the redeemed remnant of Israel will enjoy together with the Lord, the Prince of peace (for Solomon means peacefulness). We see the bed is guarded here by a strong bodyguard of sixty valiant men, which signifies that this glorious rest of our Lord and His redeemed Israel is secure and well guarded against any power that would molest from without. The rest and peace of the millennial age will be guaranteed by the Lord's mighty scepter of righteousness. There will be ample power to deal with any force that would seek to disturb that wonderful peace. Under Christ's mighty scepter of righteousness, redeemed Israel will enjoy unparalleled peace and blessing but that peace will reach out and embrace the whole world also.
The bed is also the place of intimacy and love without which the bride would remain barren. How often Israel is charged with unfaithfulness to the Lord in the past and given to idols (see Jer. 3:20). But in the millennium she will be faithful to Him and whole hearted and will bear much fruit and be a source of blessing to all the world.
This principle applies today with equal force to the church and to every Christian individually (see Rom. 7:4). Why is the church so powerless? Why are Christians so barren? The heart is not fully yielded to Christ and intimate communion and living contact with the Lord is not kept up in the daily life and walk. This is the simple and root cause of all lack of power and fruitfulness.
"King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem" (vs. 9, 10).
In these verses we have the description of the royal chariot or palanquin made by King Solomon. King Solomon, whose name means peacefulness, is a faint type of Christ, the Prince of Peace in His coming reign of glory. There are five materials mentioned in the construction of his royal palanquin. 1. Cedar of Lebanon which is the symbol of stately, lofty, incorruptible glory. The cedars of Lebanon were hundreds of years old and the cedar wood does not rot or decay like other wood. 2. The pillars, or supports, are of silver. Silver speaks of purity, and of the Word of God (see Ps. 12:6) and is also the symbol of redemption. (See Ex. 30:11-16, where everyone that was numbered had to give a half shekel of silver for the ransom of his soul.) 3. The bottom or base was of gold. Gold represents that which is essentially divine, the divine nature or righteousness. 4. The covering, or seat as some translate it, is of purple, which is the symbol of royalty. 5. Then we have the middle part paved with love. So if you put this all together you get an incorruptible glory (cedar wood) and royal splendor (purple) founded upon redemption (silver) based upon divine righteousness (gold) and the Lord's love for His people.
"Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousal and in the day of the gladness of his heart" (v. 11).
All are now called upon to go forth and behold the king with His crown of glory. Israel, who once spat upon Him and rejected Him, humbled and repentant, have at last welcomed Him with the cry: "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:39), and acclaimed Him as their King. What joy that will be for the Lord's heart when He reaps this sweet fruit of the travail of His soul. And so our chapter closes with this joy of the Lord. But before we leave this chapter let me ask you, Have you crowned Him as King in your heart? Have you rejoiced His heart by inviting Him to reign supreme in your life and have full sway in all your ways? If you have not done so, we beseech you to do so at once. For it is only right that He should have this joy from you, for whom He died, and besides your lack of crowning Him King over all in your life, is robbing you of usefulness and fruitfulness and peace of heart.
Song of Solomon 4
"Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast dove's eyes within thy locks; thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead. Thy teeth are like a flock that are even shorn, which come up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them" (Cant. 4:1-2).
In the previous chapter, verse 6, we see the remnant of Israel coming up out of the wilderness adorned with grace and beauty, and the last verse of the chapter closes with the Lord as the King of peace (Solomon means peacefulness) rejoicing in the day of his espousal. Then in chapter 4 we have the Lord speaking to His new bride telling her of all the beauty He sees in her. Well may He admire her beauty for it is the fruit of the travail of His own soul and His work in the heart by His Spirit. It's a beauty of His own creation. She, who was once rebellious and like the clay that would not yield itself in the potter's hand, has at the last become submissive and pliable in His hand, so He could form her into a vessel full of beauty and grace for the display of His glory. This is, in fact, what the Lord wants to do with each of us whom He has redeemed with His precious blood, form us into vessels of beauty and grace for the display of His glory. The one thing essential is that we be submissive and pliable, yielding continually to the touch of His hand.
We will now look at these traits of beauty as the Lord describes them one by one. We can do so with all the more interest because they are not only descriptive of the beauty that He will yet produce in the heart of the remnant after the rapture of the church, but are also the very characteristics which He is seeking to accomplish in the lives of each of us now.
There are two distinct descriptions here. The first is found in verses 1-5, and the second in verses 7-14.
He begins by exclaiming as He beholds her, "Behold thou art fair, my love," and then as His searching eye examines her more minutely He exclaims again with added emphasis, "Behold thou art fair." And He goes on to speak of seven different details which we will consider now one by one. But we may well pause here a moment before going on and each one of us ask himself or herself the question, "What does the searching eye of the Lord see in me? Does He see all as beautiful and fair or is there still much of that old ugly nature cropping out here and there, more or less uncurbed?"
"Thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks."
This is the first thing noticed. The eye has been called "the window of the soul." Not only does the eye often reveal what is going on in the soul, but it is also through the eye that we have our outlook upon all things. The dove was the only bird that could be offered as a sacrifice. It is therefore a symbol of Christ, the holy, loving Savior who gave His life to make peace for us. When Christ was baptized the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove also (Matt. 3:16). The dove then speaks to us of purity, love, and peace — of that which is spiritual and Christ-like. Christ desires much that we have a spiritual eye, a spiritual outlook — that we see things as He sees them. For that He must be given full control of the heart and His Spirit allowed to form our thoughts. The Christian should never look at things in the way the world does, but view them as Christ sees them. The world values things in their connection with time and sense; the Christian, having his eyes enlightened by God's Word and by His Spirit, should always consider everything as they stand in relation to Christ and eternity. Christ always saw how things were in their relation to God, and therefore, His soul was kept pure from all trace of evil and from entanglement with that which was not of God, which, alas, so many Christians are mixed up with today. Yet He was moved with pity and compassion as He saw men everywhere suffering from the consequences of sin and entangled in the snares of the devil, and He ever sought to enlighten and deliver them. Often we come across even Christians who are quick to see every flaw and to criticize and find fault with everything and every one but themselves. And yet they never put their hand to help matters. Is this to have doves' eyes? A spiritual eye will no doubt discern the faults of others, but will see first what there is of good and will seek in meekness, lowliness, forbearance and love to help the weak and failing to get the victory over their shortcomings, to lift the fallen and to bind up the wounds of the wounded.
"Thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from mount Gilead."
"But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. . . . Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering" (1 Cor. 11:3, 14-15).
Whatever the modern world may say, God's divine order is that the man should be in subjection to Christ as his head and that the woman should recognize the man as the head of the house. "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church" (Eph. 5:22-23). The long hair of the woman is her special glory. God has given it to her for a covering as the symbol of her modesty and submission and therefore the apostle says it is a shame for the woman to have her hair cut off (see 1 Cor. 11:6). Man was originally placed by God as head over His works to have dominion over the earth (see Gen. 1 and 2). But sin has come in, so we read in Numbers 6 about the Nazarite, who devotes himself to the service of God, "When either man or woman shall vow the vow of a Nazarite to separate themselves unto the Lord. . . all the days of the vow of his separation. . . he shall be holy and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow" (vs. 3 and 5). What was signified by the man letting his hair grow long as the sign of his separation from all common activities to devote himself to some special service for the Lord? He was giving up his dignity as having dominion. There were many things he had a right to do if he chose to but he gives it all up, and yields himself to the Lord for His service, taking up an attitude of entire submission and surrender of his own will to God.
Now with this in mind let us turn back to our verse, "Thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from mount Gilead." Mount Gilead was noted for its rich pastures, and no doubt it was a beautiful sight to see from a distance the long-haired goats feeding in the green pastures. But there is a deeper significance than this here. The comparisons in the Song of Solomon were not made because of the similarity of appearance but rather because of the parallel in spiritual meaning.
It is the nature of a goat to climb. It always climbs to the highest parts of the mountain. It likes to be on the highest ground. How can one climb to the mountain top and keep up there on the heights, spiritually speaking? There is only one way and that is to give up our own will and ways and surrender ourself fully to the Lord's will. When we are in the path of His will, it keeps us above all that is around us. It keeps us on the mountain top in sweet fellowship with the Lord and in the sunshine of His approving smile far above the mists and fogs that hover over the soul whenever one walks in his own ways in self-will.
How the Lord admires the long hair of His loved one. It is "her glory" (1 Cor. 11:15) and the symbol of her modesty and submission to Him. After all, the glory of the creature is to walk in nearness to the Creator, and the glory of the ransomed sinner is the blessed privilege he has of close fellowship with his Savior. Now this is only possible in a practical way as one walks in submission to His will — of which the long hair speaks. That is also what He is looking for in every soul. When His ransomed saints walk in submission to His will it gives Him joy, but when they walk in their own way it grieves His heart. The pointed question then comes home to the heart, can the Lord say of me, "Thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from mount Gilead"?
"Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof everyone bare twins, and none is barren among them."
The teeth are made to eat with. Only the teeth of wild beasts are used to tear their prey. It is a sad comment upon man when it must be said of him as in Joel 1:6, "Whose teeth are the teeth of a lion and he has the cheek teeth (tusks) of a great lion"; and Ps. 57:4, "Whose teeth are like spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword" (see also Ps. 58:6; 3:7; and Prov. 30:14). How this is becoming more and more openly characteristic of the rising evil of our time. But the Christian should never use his mouth to snap and back-bite at others and to tear and wound with sharp cutting words. It is so easy for the natural heart to do it, and it is done often so carelessly and thoughtlessly. Tusks that tear and wound are found in the mouth of savage beasts that prey upon others, but the Christian should have teeth like the gentle sheep that never bite nor snap back. God never intended that His children should use their mouth in that way, but their teeth were given so they may feed on the gospel feast, that God has spread for them, the roasted passover lamb, the manna. Christ is our passover lamb that was roasted (suffered) in the fire of God's judgment for us, and He is also the manna that came down from heaven and was beaten up in the mortar and baked on the fire to furnish food for life and strength to the new man.
There are certain conditions necessary in order that one may feed upon Christ and enjoy Him. That is what is so vividly portrayed to us here in the comparison of the teeth to "a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which come up from the washing where every one bare twins, and none is barren among them."
First, there is the meekness and gentleness for which sheep are noted. None can find delight in the meek and lowly Jesus who have not been made partakers of the divine nature—the meek, gently, loving nature of Christ.
Second, the sheep here are shorn. When the suspected leper was brought to the priest for examination and the hair in the plague was turned white it was a sign of leprosy (see Lev. 13:3-4) and when the leper was cleansed he had to shave off all his hair (see Lev. 14:9). The hair is something on the surface but having its roots deep within and so the leper's hair becomes symbolic of those actions springing from that corrupt nature within. Shaving the hair is typical of cutting off those actions by applying the sharp razor of self-judgment to oneself. This brings out the second point pictured to us in the sheep. It was not only a gentle sheep but also a shorn sheep. If we are going on with actions and ways that spring from our old corrupt nature we cannot enjoy Christ. There must be a radical cutting off by self-judgment of those actions that come from the old man.
Third, they are not only shorn sheep but also washed sheep. The washing with water is a figure of the practical application of the Word of God to ourselves. The Word of God is often likened to water. How is one to shave the hair—to get rid of his actions and ways which spring from the old corrupt nature, unless he knows what is of God, and what is of the old nature? And where can one get this knowledge except in the Word of God? As one reads and meditates upon God's Word he discovers what pleases and displeases Him. As we apply this precious knowledge to ourselves we are cleansed more and more from what, in our way and action, is not pleasing the Lord. If one neglects reading and meditating upon the Word of God and, above all, the application of what one reads to oneself, one will not be in a condition to enjoy feeding upon Christ.
Fourth, they are not only sheep shorn and washed but also prolific sheep, "each bare twins and not one barren among them." The meaning is simple. We are not only to cleanse our way by taking heed thereto according to God's Word (Ps. 119:9), but are also to so absorb the Word in our hearts that it produces fruit in our lives. If our knowledge of the Word of God is only head knowledge and we remain barren and unfruitful, we will not be able to enjoy feeding upon Christ.
As one enters into the richness and fulness of one little verse here in God's Word, one marvels and is convinced that only an inspired pen could convey so much, so rich and so full truth in so few words. One can spend a life time meditating upon God's Word and still continually find depth and richness there we had not discovered before.
"Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense" (Cant. 4:3-6).
The Lord continues to point out the various beauties of His beloved one. Seven parts of the body are mentioned each having its spiritual significance. In the previous verses we had the eyes reflecting the state of the soul and also indicating our spiritual point of view; the hair, the symbol of submission; the teeth, which speak of capacity to feed upon Christ and His word. In these verses before us today we have the lips, the temples, the neck and the breasts.
"Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet and thy speech is comely."
The lips are associated with the organs of speech. He says her speech is comely. So it should always be with a child of God; his speech should always be pleasing to the Lord. No matter what man may think about it, our business and concern should be to please God in every word we say, for He hears it and takes note of it. "For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether." "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, (note this, nor jesting) which are not convenient (or becoming)." "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt." "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Ps. 139:4; Matt. 12:36; Eph. 5:3-4; 4:29; Col. 4:6; Ps. 19:14; Matt. 12:34). These are a few among many passages that tell what the Christian's speech should be. When we consider ourselves and Christians in general, we ought to mourn as we see how far our speech is from what the Lord expects of us.
If we ask why it is so, the answer is simple; we fail to recognize in practice the title that Christ has acquired with His blood over our lips. The wicked say, "Our lips are our own: who is lord over us"? (Ps. 12:4). Every Christian should realize that his lips are not his own for he is bought with a price (see 1 Cor. 6:20). It is this precious redeeming blood of Christ that has purchased us for Himself, that is symbolized here by the scarlet thread: "Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet." That precious redeeming blood should often be heard on the lips of God's people in their conversation together and in their testimony to the lost and above all be the theme of their ceaseless praise to God. But not only is the blood of Christ to be the grand theme of the Christian, but His blood by which He has purchased us unto Himself has given Him a definite title to our lips so that we have no moral right to use them for any speech displeasing to Him. Just as the blood of the ram of consecration was put on the ear and the thumb and the toe of the high priest and his sons (see Ex. 29:20) to typify that their whole being was to be fully consecrated to the Lord as the result of the blood of atonement shed for them, so the scarlet thread here should remind us that our lips are to be fully consecrated to the Lord, in answer to His blood shed for us, to speak only such language as is well pleasing to Him.
"Thy temples are like a peace of a pomegranate within thy locks."
The temples, or cheeks as some translate it, are a very prominent part of the face, and they are likened here to a pomegranate. The simple meaning of this is that what should be most prominent in Christ's redeemed ones is fruit-bearing. The pomegranate is a fruit made up of many distinct juicy particles but all enclosed in one hull or covering. It is thus a whole made up of many parts. This recalls at once to our minds Gal. 5:22-23; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." The hem of the high priest's robe was adorned with golden bells with pomegranates between the bells, signifying that the priest of the Lord was to have a ringing testimony for the Lord coupled with a walk that displayed the fruit of the Spirit. So our testimony should ring out for the Lord but should also always be backed by a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit. It is this that the pomegranate is a figure of.
"Thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks." Before leaving this verse let us mention here that the temples like a pomegranate are said to be within her locks. Her locks falling down over her temples speak to us of submission. And herein lies the real secret of her fruit-bearing. Without submission to the Lord there can be no fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Insubmission grieves the Spirit and robs us of His power without which we can bear no fruit.
"Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men."
Often Israel is spoken of as a stiff necked people (Ex. 32:9; 2 Chron. 30:8; Jer. 17:23). The figure comes from the rebellious ox that stiffens its neck so the yoke will slip off. But now the Lord describes His beloved one as having a neck like the tower of David whereon hang a thousand bucklers, all trophies of His victory over those mighty enemies who had dared to fight against Him. What greater display of the victory of the Lord's grace can there be than that, those that worked with a stiff neck in rebellion against Him now manifest happy obedience to Him. So they now become the trophies of His victory over their once rebellious hearts.
"Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies."
The breasts indicate maturity, also reminds us of a mother's love and ability to nourish and cherish the little one. In Cant. 2:9 Christ is likened to the roe or gazelle and here the breasts are likened to two young roes, thus indicating that she has arrived to a state of mature Christ-like affection and therefore able also to nourish and cherish the babes in Christ. It takes more than knowledge to nourish a babe in Christ. One must have besides knowledge a Christ-like, tender compassion, love and affection. Here then is a practical word for Sunday School teachers and parents who have the responsibility of instructing the young as well as for all who seek to help the babes in Christ.
"Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense."
The description in the verses we have been considering is of immense value to us today as indicating the various traits the Lord delights to see in His own; but, so far as Israel is concerned, it is a prophecy of what the Lord will yet produce in the heart of the remnant after the church is caught up in glory. For the present Israel is still in the darkness and night of sin and unbelief, and the Lord must wait till "the shadows flee away" before this beauty, that His prophetic eyes see afar, can be a present portion for Him to enjoy. In the meantime He has taken His place on high: "I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense." In due time He will come again as "the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). Then will Israel's long night come to a close and the "shadows flee away" and the brightness of the coming day of glory shine for Israel. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. . . . The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isa. 60:1-3, 19-20). Yes, then the shadows will have fled away.
It is our happy privilege, however, in the meantime to know Him as the glorified One on high, who was dead and behold He is alive for ever more, and also to mount up by faith to the mountain top where we may behold His beauty and live day by day in happy communion with Him above the mists and darkness that enshrouds the world around us.
"Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits' (Cant. 4:7-16). These verses begin another description by the Lord of His loved one. It is really a prophecy of what Israel will be for the Lord when she will have been redeemed and delivered from the power of the enemy and placed by the Lord in royal glory at the head of the nations.
She is seen in verse 8 with the Lord in Lebanon, which is often used in Scripture as the symbol of royal glory, and from this place of prominence she is led of the Lord to the top of other mountains, where were the dens of the lions and the haunts of leopards. The lion and leopard are used as the symbol of Gentile kings (see Daniel 7:4, 6). So, redeemed Israel will be brought by the Lord to the place of dominion over the Gentiles for the blessing of the whole world (see Isa. 60:3, 11-21). It will, however, be no longer a stiff-necked rebellious people as in the past and in the present, but a redeemed and purified people whose moral and spiritual beauty will ravish the Lord's heart (v. 9). She is devoted heart and soul to Him; a veritable paradise of sweet fruits and fragrant spices (special graces) for the Lord. The enclosed garden in verse 12 has reference to the private garden of a king, enclosed and shut off from all around for his own personal enjoyment. It is a beautiful picture of what Israel will be for the Lord, the Great King, during the millennium, bearing sweet and fragrant fruits for Him. Though placed at the head of the nations, she will be wholly devoted to the Lord so that no matter what the influences around may be (the north winds or the south winds) it only serves to spread abroad their sweet fragrance for the Lord (see Isa. 61:3, 6; 62:1-3).
But besides its prophetic application there is also here, as throughout the whole song, a great wealth of spiritual instruction for us contained in these beautiful figures. So we will now leave aside the prophetical application and consider the practical lessons for us.
"Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards" (v. 8).
The Lord does not want His people to live on a level with the world around. Hear His voice saying to you and to me, "Come with Me . . . with Me." Yes, He would have us follow Him, not the world or even other Christians who, alas, are very often living at a low level. If we will but follow Him He will lead us to the mountain tops far above the low level of the world below. Only when we are on the mountain top can we get a broad clear view of things, for then we can see them from above—from God's point of view. Christians living on a low level never have a clear spiritual vision.
But now let us look at the meaning of the names of these mountain tops to which the Lord would lead us. Often the meaning of the names in Scripture are significant. The starting point here is Lebanon. Lebanon means whiteness. We must first be cleansed from our sins and made white in the blood of the Lamb before we can make any spiritual progress at all (Isa. 1:18). On the other hand many Christians seem to think that if their sins are forgiven that is the most important thing, and they settle down quite satisfied without making further progress. The forgiveness of our sins, is important but it is only the starting point, the beginning of the Christian path. His course henceforth should be a constant following of the Lord. "Come with me from Lebanon," says the Lord. "Don't stop there but come with me and I will lead you on to other mountain tops." The first mountain mentioned here after Lebanon is Amana. The meaning of Amana is firmness or constancy. How often Christians are so changeable, always up and down, going on by spurts, full of zeal for a moment, then lagging way behind. It only proves that they are not following the Lord with their whole heart. When one follows the Lord day in and day out there will be firmness and constancy in our Christian walk. The next mountain named is Shenir. Shenir means "bearing the lamp." The Christian is to be a light bearer in this world for the Lord, his life is to be a shining light for the Lord. If you are fickle and changeable, some times up and some times down, your life will not be a light for the Lord. So we see there is real progress and a divine order here. If we are to keep up to the height of our privilege as light bearers for the Lord, we must also have first reached the mountain top or firmness and constancy for Him. The next mountain top is Hermon. Hermon comes from a root word meaning to seclude, to dedicate or devote to the Lord. This is the highest point we can reach on earth, a life completely dedicated and devoted to the Lord. It is only as we walk with the Lord we can attain to this. The enemy is ever active to hinder us. The lion and the leopard are always found on these mountain tops. The lion comes out boldly roaring in front of his prey while the leopard slips up stealthily from behind and pounces upon it all unawares. So Satan ever seeks to attack, both from before and from behind, those Christians who are constant and firm and devoted in their walk with the Lord; for their light shines too brightly to suit him. But the Lord will always give them victory if they keep close to His side.
"Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck".
The Lord is ravished with one of her eyes. It is a single eye (Matt. 6:22) always turned toward Him, for you can only see another's eye when it is turned toward you. And His heart is also ravished with one chain of her neck. The golden chain about her neck speaks of a divine beauty that is not hers by nature, but has been bestowed upon her through grace. (Compare Cant. 1:10 and Prov. 3:3; 6:21).
"How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thine love than wine! and the smell of thy ointments than all spices!" (v. 10).
Wine speaks of earthly joy and there will be a joy for the Lord on earth when He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords, but, what is more precious to His heart than all that outward glory, will be the love and affection of His bride. The love and affection flowing from the heart of those for whom He sacrificed His life is what the Lord especially delights to see. How much are we delighting His heart in this way?
"Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon" (v. 11).
In chapter 5 verse 13 we read, "His (the Lord's) lips are like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh." Honey is the myrrh, or nectar, that the bees have gathered from the flowers. What is the honeycomb that contains these sweet words dropping like the myrrh of the lilies from His lips? Is it not our Bibles? But our heart should also be stored up with His Word so our lips will drop like the honeycomb with this sweet honey. "Honey and milk are under thy tongue." Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey. Are we feeding upon this sweet and pure food of heaven or like many Christians eating the leeks and onions of Egypt that the world under bondage to Satan feed upon?
"And the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." The garment is often used in Scripture as figurative of one's conduct (see Isa. 64:6; Jude 23; Rev. 3:4; 19:8). Our conduct manifests our character and our character is formed by what we feed upon. If we are feeding upon the milk and honey of Canaan, the smell of our garment will be like Lebanon (whiteness, purity). But when a Christian reads novels and the stories printed in the magazines and newspapers for the consumption of the world without Christ, it will show itself in his or her character and conduct; his garments will sooner or later become spotted with the world.
"A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed" (v. 12).
An enclosed garden has a wall around it that limits its boundary and separates it from the surrounding country. A Christian who runs wild will never be an enclosed garden bearing sweet fruit for the Lord. There must be both bounds within which we keep ourselves as well as a real separation from the evil things around us, if we would be fruitful for the Lord. "A spring shut up, a fountain sealed" conveys also the same thought. Its waters are kept pure while an open spring is constantly in danger of having its waters polluted.
"Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits." There is abundance of pleasant fruits there and then follows various spices, "all the chief spices." How is it with us? Is there a fragrance about our person not only of one or two kinds of spices, but of "all the chief spices?" These spices speak to us of all those many virtues, or graces of the Spirit, that go to make up the sweet and varied fragrance of a well balanced character.
Some Christians are loving but inclined to be over indulgent and show lack of firmness for what is right; others are scrupulously exacting and firm in their stand for the right, but are sadly lacking in love and grace. Such have only one or two of the sweet spices in their Christian life, not "all the chief spices."
"Awake, O north wind; and comes thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out" (v. 16).
The north wind would carry the odor of the spices to the south and the south wind would carry it to the north so the more the wind sifts the more their perfume is spread abroad. The north wind is often cold and unpleasant and the south wind, gentle and soft. But it should make no difference which way the wind blows, however much circumstances change about, however various the influences that blow up, both in enduring the storms of life or "when the south wind blows softly, all should only serve to bring out more and more a sweet fragrance of Christ.
"Let my beloved come into His garden, and eat his pleasant fruits" (v. 16).
The garden is His and the fruit is His. All is for Him, nothing for self, all for Christ. What a happy state and what a joy for us when there is really fruit in our lives for Christ, also what a joy for Him to gather these fruits.
Song of Solomon 5
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved"
"I sleep, but my heart wakes: it is the voice of my beloved that knocks, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but He gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me" (Cant. 5:1-7).
These verses begin a new section of the Song of Solomon. In the previous verse the Lord came into His garden where there was all manner of fruit and sweet spices for Him and partakes thereof with great delight. It is a millennial scene where all is joy and where the Lord is given the full place. But here in these verses, beginning with chapter 5 verse 2 and on to the end of the chapter 7, the Spirit of God takes up again from a different angle the theme of the Lord wooing the heart of the remnant from her utter indifference to an ardent affection and devotion to Him.
As always in the Song of Solomon, its first and direct application is to the remnant. The section opens with "I sleep." It is the remnant of Israel, once in relation with God but now asleep. Her affection for the Lord, the Bridegroom of Israel, is entirely dormant. She is asleep in the city, the place of organized commerce and industry, where the Lord has no welcome. It is night and darkness there with the Lord left out in the cold and the dew with no door to welcome Him. Even the remnant here has the door locked and barred against Him. It is a real picture of the Jews today. But from among them the Lord will yet call a people for Himself. His voice and His knocking aroused them. "My heart wakes." And then, her heart awakened, she recognizes Him as Israel's Beloved, but yet has no desire to welcome Him. She does not care to leave her ease and comfort or go to any trouble to let Him in. He then puts His hand in at the hole of the door, that is He manifests Himself partially to her, and her affections are aroused to action. But she has yet to suffer affliction from the world order and origination (the watchmen) before she meets with Him and can say with joy of heart "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." The general application of all this to the remnant is very clear. The remnant will be awakened after the rapture of the church and will go through great tribulation and persecution from the hands of the world before He finally appears and is welcomed by her (see 6:12), where Amminadib means "my willing people". But now let us leave the prophetic interpretation and consider it in its present and spiritual application to ourselves.
"I sleep, but my heart wakes: it is the voice of my beloved that knocks" (v. 2).
How easily it happens that a believer falls into a dull sleepy state of soul so grievous to the Lord, who has a right to expect a full return of heart affection in answer to His love. Such a state creeps on the soul little by little.
There is not so much amiss, one may think. The outward walk may not be bad, and one may even have the mind occupied with the Word in an intellectual way; greatly interested in prophecy, perhaps, or even doctrine, but the heart has lost its living contact with the Lord. But He knows and feels it too when our hearts have left Him out in the cold, and He loves us too much to let us settle down at rest without Him. He would not have us content with anything else but Himself, not even with what we have received from Him; He would be Himself the one Object of our desire and delight.
He comes, He knocks, He speaks, gently pleading in loving terms: "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops of the night."
How touchingly He reminds her that He, who loves her so, is left out in the cold night. There is no door open to welcome Him in the world. It was so when He was here. "He has not where to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20). "And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives" to pass the night under the dew of heaven (John 7:53; 8:1). But surely the heart of His redeemed one will respond and welcome Him in when she hears His gentle, loving voice, even though it be, as it ought, with a sense of shame as she realizes how she had barred the door leaving Him outside in the cold and had settled down to rest without Him.
But no, her heart is still too sleepy and dull to respond. It would take too much effort to arise and open to Him. She is not inclined to trouble herself to let Him in; and besides she had taken off her coat; she was in no state to receive Him and so makes this an excuse.
Did you ever notice how easy one finds excuses for not giving the Lord a hearty welcome when He seeks to arouse us from our dullness? But, as always, one's excuses only reveal what a state one has fallen into. She had taken off her coat, or tunic, she was undressed, and in no condition to welcome His presence.
It is always a sad thing when we have, by our own doings, got into a state which we instinctively feel not to be compatible with the Lord's presence, or a position wherein we would be quite uneasy and ashamed if He should suddenly step in, as it were, on us. Let us beware of getting into any position, or place, or way where we would not welcome the Lord's presence with us. Beware of taking any step or doing anything that causes any uneasiness of heart that the Lord may not be present with you in it, for it is far more important to our spiritual welfare and blessing to keep the consciousness of the Lord's approval and presence with us than anything we could gain out of it. There is nothing in all the world that can compensate for the loss of assurance that the Lord is present with us in what we are doing. It is His presence that makes heaven what it is. "In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16:11). And it is only as we have His presence with us that life down here is really worth living.
"My beloved put in His hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for Him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock" (vs. 4, 5).
How touchingly the Lord still seeks to arouse her from her lethargy. He loves her too much, even in spite of the cold response He received, to just turn away. He puts His hand in at the hole of the door; He reveals Himself to her as much as it is possible for Him to do so in the circumstances where she has placed herself. But that partial manifestation of His person aroused her to action. She arises to open to Him the door. She finds sweet smelling myrrh where He had reached His hand in through the hole in the door. The myrrh is a fragrant resin, the life sap that oozes out through the wounds of a desert plant of the East, and is therefore a reminder of Christ suffering even unto death for us. There was also an oriental custom that when a young man was wooing a young lady and she spurned his love he would go and anoint the handle of her door lock with myrrh as a token of the reality and depth of his love for her.
Indeed, there is nothing that will arouse the heart's affections for the Lord like a vivid reminder of what the Lord has suffered for us. If you feel your heart is growing cold, don't waste your time mourning over your cold state or in trying to pump up a stream of affection for Him out of your empty heart. It can't be done that way. But just stop and think of what He has suffered for you on the cross; think of what it meant for Him, the blessed and eternal Son of God, to leave the glory and bliss of His Father's house above and come into this sin-cursed earth to bleed, to suffer and to die that He might redeem your soul from hell, and purchase for you a title to a place in the Father's mansions above. Nothing will arouse the heart's affections like that.
Here too we see the wisdom of the Lord in leaving us that touching memorial in His supper, of Himself suffering unto death for us, to remind us again and again afresh of His great love for us.
She is fully aroused now. And her heart is drawn out to Him. She arises to let Him in. "I opened to my beloved; but my beloved has withdrawn Himself, and was gone: my soul failed when He spake: I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer" (v. 6).
She opens now at last the door for Him but He is gone. The Lord had withdrawn Himself. She had settled down in her self-complacency in that city where the Lord had no welcome—no door open for Him to enter. It is a type of the world system that man has built up for his own satisfaction while shutting the Lord out. If the Lord's beloved redeemed one seeks to find rest in such a state of things, as is usually the case when the affections become dormant toward Christ, she will be greatly disappointed; for there can be no real rest and peace of heart apart from fellowship with Christ.
When the heart becomes sleepy, He is left out in the cold and dew of the night, so far as the heart is concerned. He will come and speak to such; He will knock at the door; He will remind her of what He suffered for her redemption to arouse, if possible, the affections again; but He cannot have sweet communion with her there. She must get away from all that, before she can enjoy His presence.
She is so aroused now by the token of His sufferings that she seeks Him earnestly. She soon finds out that He is nowhere to be found in that city; and not only so but her earnestness in seeking Him out, only brings reproach and shameful treatment upon her from the keepers of the city. "The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me" (v. 7). But as soon as she gets clear outside the wall, she is taken up with His beauty (see verses 10-16). And soon with joy can she say, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine: He feeds among the lilies" (6:3). Yes, there He is among the lilies of the open countryside clear outside the city walls.
The Lord has given us these things in His Word that we might learn from it. But if the Christian will not learn it from the Word, then he has to learn from sad experiences that he cannot find rest in the things of earth; not even in the necessary things of life is true comfort to be found. True rest and comfort can be found only outside of it all in Christ alone.
We are left in this world by Christ Himself, but we are not of it, our home is above (John 17:11). We are left here to be a witness for Christ. We have to live in the world while we bear witness for Christ and wait for His coming for us; but we are not to settle down here as though this were our rest, nor associate ourselves with that which leaves Him out. We are not to look for joy and satisfaction in the passing things of time and sense, but must find all our springs in Christ as we live in daily fellowship with Him if we are to be truly happy.
There is another point to consider, too, in the Lord's withdrawing Himself here, before leaving these verses.
When we have become neglectful of the Lord and can be content to go on thus at a distance from Him, He feels it keenly. He will seek to arouse us, but He must make us feel too that we have really gotten away from Him. Since the Lord has felt it deeply that we have neglected Him, there can be no real restoration to happy communion and concert of heart with Him, till we have been made to realize what we have done in neglecting Him. So He purposely withdraws Himself till this is realized.
She tries to find Him again but she is uncertain where to find Him. She has gotten at such a distance from Him she does not know how to contact Him. In her earnest seeking she is despised by others, or at least misunderstood. The watchmen beat her as she wanders in the streets seeking Him in the dark. They probably took her for a woman of disrepute, but every blow would only make her feel all the more that if she had not gotten at such a distance from His trusted side, this would never have happened to her. The watchmen were wrong in what they did to her, but she is stirred all the more in her determination to get back close to Him, as she realizes by what she is undergoing, how grievous it is to have gotten so far from Him. She knows if she had not gotten out of the presence of the Lord this would never have happened to her, and so she presses on, determined to let nothing stop her till she finds Him again.
How wisely the Lord allowed it all to bring her fully to her senses, but also to make her more humble about her failure toward Him, and more appreciative of His presence, when she finally gets back to Him, and also more careful in the future not to neglect Him.
We may learn a lesson from this, too, if we only take it to heart.
"I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh" (Cant. 5:8-13).
She had just been mistreated by the watchmen that went about the city but she has no time to stop and complain of the wrong treatment she received or to pity herself. She takes it all as from the Lord as the consequences of the distance she had gone from Him and so is aroused all the more in her ardent desire to get back into His presence again.
She meets with the daughters of Jerusalem. She cannot hide the great longing of her heart. She naturally speaks first of the one thing that preoccupies her thoughts. She is so possessed with this one object of finding Him again that she does not even wait to exchange the customary greetings but says at once, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell Him, that I am sick of love." We sometimes say, "I am sick of this," meaning that we have enough of it, but that is not the meaning here. Her affections for Him and desire to be near Him are aroused now to such a point that it just makes her sick that she cannot contact Him nor know just where to find Him. She has no taste for anything else anymore; nothing can satisfy now but Himself. The daughters of Jerusalem naturally conclude from this that her beloved must be someone altogether exceptional to have drawn out her affections to such an extent as this, and so they ask, "What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?" They want to know more about Him.
Do we not learn a most practical truth here? Nothing produces so effectively a desire in others for Christ as seeing a soul whose heart is aflame for Him. This is a most important truth, not only for those who preach the gospel to bear in mind, but also for any who desire to lead others to Christ, and for Sunday School teachers and for parents who want to see there children saved. It won't do just to speak to them from time to time, but they must see that Christ is everything to you; that you, who have tasted His love, find Him to be "most sweet, yea, altogether lovely," "the chiefest among ten thousand." They will realize, then, that in turning from all the allurements of the world to Christ, they lose nothing but rather gain immensely. They will want to know that One whom they can see through your attachment to Him, excels all.
Her heart is now all aglow as she describes the beauty and perfection of her beloved. They ask, "What is thy beloved more than another beloved?" but there is none that can be compared with Him. "Thou art fairer than the children of men," says the psalmist also of Him (Ps. 45:2). So she does not attempt to compare Him with others. She takes no man nor anything that is of men as a comparison, but turns to that which is most beautiful and most precious in all God's creation as being the only thing that can furnish some faint idea of His loveliness. But even then she realizes that all these beautiful things of nature are inadequate to bring out the fullness of His surpassing excellency, so, after exhausting all that is most beautiful in nature, she must add, "Yea, He is altogether lovely."
"My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand."
She first gives three things as a general description and then follows with ten details. "My beloved is white." He is absolutely pure. There is no spot in Him, no trace or stain of sin. He cannot be compared with any of Adam's race, who are "shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin" (Ps. 51:5; Job 14:4). In His conception by the Holy Spirit, in His pure and holy life and as the spotless victim on the cross where He was made a sin offering for us, He was altogether free from any taint of sin. He is the holy, undefiled and spotless One.
"My beloved is white and ruddy." The ruddy color in the face speaks of health and vigor. David, who was a type of Christ, was ruddy (see 1 Sam. 16:12; 17:42). None were ever so full of energy for God as the Lord. In the Hebrew the word translated ruddy here is translated red in Numbers 19:2, "a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke," and in Exodus 26:14. etc., "And thou shalt make a covering for the tent (tabernacle) of rams' skins dyed red." Both the red heifer, the ashes of which were for the water of purification, and the rams' skins dyed red are a type of Christ. In comparing these passages, the ruddy or red color would seem to denote the Lord's entire consecration and devotion to God even unto death. All His strength and energy both in life and in death was spent to glorify God and to do His will. While here He said, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34).
The Lord would have His own to be followers of Him in this. "He that saith he abides in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked" (1 John 2:6). It is said of the Nazarites of old, "They were whiter than milk and more ruddy than rubies." But they became "blacker than coal, and their skin withered" (Lam. 4:7-8). They lost their purity and energy for the Lord. How is it with us?
The next expression, "the chiefest among ten thousand," or, as some marginal readings have it, "a standard bearer." If translated literally would read, "lifting up as a banner among ten thousand" (see margin of N.T.). So when translated literally it is really no comparison of Him as chiefest among ten thousand. He is fairer than the children of men (Ps. 45:2). He is rather the banner lifted up above them all and honored by all; the rallying point around which all gather in their common purpose to keep it lifted high and displayed before the eyes of all. In this they glory and for this they live, and, as good soldiers, are ready to combat for it and even to die. The living Christ is the Christian's banner to be displayed and lifted high and exalted before the eyes of all. "His head is as the most fine gold."
In the tabernacle all was covered with gold. The gold represents that which is essentially divine, the divine righteousness, divine nature, etc. In this description here His head, which is His seat of intelligence, His hands with which He works, and His feet with which He walks are all gold. Christ's most secret thoughts as well as those expressed in words were always according to the divine mind and His actions and His walk fully displayed the divine nature. In Christ we have the divine nature fully manifested and the divine thoughts of God fully revealed. He who knew the Father thoroughly and understood all the divine thoughts of His heart came to declare the Father unto us and to reveal to us His thoughts of grace.
"His locks are bushy, and black as a raven." In Daniel 7:9 and Revelation 1:14 the Lord is pictured with hair "white like wool, as white as snow." There He is the ancient of days, the one who is from all eternity, but here in the Song of Solomon He is pictured in His eternal youth, not a gray hair in His head, He never grows old. "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: they shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail" (Heb. 1:10-12). How good to have Him for our beloved and to know that we are one with Him forever. Here family, friends and relationship all pass but our relationship with Him is as enduring as He is. It will never decay nor deteriorate.
"His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set."
In Revelation 1:14, "His eyes were as a flame of fire." For there He is seen as judge searching out and judging all that does not correspond with His holy nature. But here His eyes like doves speak of gentle, tender, faithful love. The dove is always faithful to its mate and if they get separated they always mourn till they find each other again. Oh, what tenderness one sees in His eyes as He gazes in faithful love upon her for whom He gave His life! But the dove is also the symbol of peace. And then we have refreshing in abundance (the rivers of waters), purity (white as milk), and beauty (fitly set). In the water and milk there may be also an allusion to the cleansing, purifying effect of His love upon our hearts. Nothing will transform and draw our hearts to Him so much as having our eyes fixed upon His love, gazing as it were into the depth of those eyes like dove's eyes full of love and thoughts of peace for us.
"His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers."
The spices speak of fragrant graces, so perfectly manifested in the Lord, and the flowers of a lowly, pure, meek, humble spirit so rich in beauty and sweetness that we see constantly displayed by the Lord. But, also, the world sees no beauty in this that they delight in. They take advantage of His meekness and lowliness to smite Him on the cheek and spit upon Him and lead Him as a lamb to the slaughter. The world has no heart for the meek and lowly Jesus. What they admire is a self-sufficient, bold man who is ready to stand up and fight for his rights. How sadly so many Christians also fall short of showing that calm, meek, lowly and gracious spirit of Christ.
"His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh."
"Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips" (Ps. 45:2). How beautiful were His lips ever speaking sweet and loving words of grace unto His own. What charm and beauty, richness and depth there were in His words as they welled forth from the depths of His soul, dropping from His lips like sweet smelling myrrh, revealing the surpassing fullness of His love and the exceeding riches of God's thoughts of grace toward us. "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them" (Ps. 139:17). Can we wonder that Mary sat at His feet to hear His words, for surely when the Lord of glory came to her humble dwelling it was not to receive but to reveal and bestow the fullness of what He had in His heart of His love upon her. And would not our own souls be much enlarged and enriched if we would but take more time to sit at His feet and hear His words dropping as sweet smelling myrrh from His lips like lilies?
"His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires" (Cant. 5:14).
We use our hands to work with and to hold things. The Lord's hands are as gold rings. Gold, as we have seen, represents that which is divine. The divine nature shines forth in all its perfection in all that the Lord did. What divine strength as well as divine compassion is seen in the touch of His hands! He touched the lepers and they were cleansed, the blind and they received sight, the deaf and they were made to hear; He touched the bier and the dead arose. He took Jairus' daughter by the hand and lifted her up out of the realms of death; He breaks the bread and it multiplies in His hand. What divine power we see in the touch of His hands as He went about as the meek and lowly Jesus of Nazareth; "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands" (Heb. 1:10). And all that divine power that made the heavens and the earth was still in His hands as He went about as Man doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, only now being used in love and grace to meet the needs of His creatures and to deliver them from the consequences of their sins and from the power of Satan. And above all, what divine perfection is seen in His work on the cross as He hung there apparently in weakness by the nails in His hands. It was there He laid the foundation of the new creation and overthrew all the powers of hell.
"He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom." "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand" (Isa. 40:11; John 10:28). How sweet and wonderful to know we are held in those blessed hands for time and eternity.
An unbelieving uncle, thinking to make sport of his little niece's faith, said to her, "You know you are so little and the Lord's hand is so big you can't hold on to it." But she answered, "I don't have to hold on to it. He holds me in His hands." So the bigger and stronger those hands are the better. Nothing can slip out of them.
Not only are His sheep safe in His hands but all things are held secure in them. "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand" and "the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand" (John 3:35; Isa. 53:10). That may be the significance of the beryl here: "His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl." The beryl is a precious stone of enduring substance. It is mentioned in Ezekiel 1:16; 10:9, "The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of a beryl." The wheels here represent God's government or overruling providence which goes on without deviating in its course, even when all that God has established in the earth seems to be overthrown. Ezekiel is in captivity and is called to prophesy of the complete overthrow of God's chosen people and the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple by pagan Babylon. But Ezekiel is given beforehand to encourage him this vision of the wheels of God's providential government in the earth, "in appearance like the color of a beryl," rolling straight on in their course.
Yes, all things are secure in the blessed hands of our Beloved as gold rings set with the beryl. Whether in times of apparent confusion or when He shall reign in glory over the millennial earth, all things are in His hands and are made to contribute to the furthering of God's unchanging purposes.
"His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires."
In Exodus 24:10, when Moses took Aaron and his sons and the seventy elders of Israel, and went up into Mount Sinai, "they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness." So the stone called sapphire here was a clear heavenly blue. The belly as bright ivory overlaid with blue sapphires would speak of a heavenly love and compassion. We use the heart as the symbol of love, but the Orientals more often used the bowels as the symbol of the deepest feeling of love, pity and compassion. (See Gen. 43:30; 1 Kings 3:26; Jer. 31:20; Phil. 1:8; Col. 3:12; 1 John 3:17.) The compassion of the Lord was truly "the love of heaven to earth come down." Never was there love and compassion so deep and real as His. How often we read, "He was moved with compassion" (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13, etc.) No one ever felt so deeply the sorrows and woes of others as He did. And He is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb. 13:8).
How good it is to know that this same compassionate Jesus feels as keenly today all our sorrows and our trials as when He was on the earth. He Himself has gone through this scene of woe and suffering, temptation and trial, and is therefore able to feel with those that are in any trial and suffering and to succor, encourage and sustain them.
The bright ivory is translated "ivory work" in the revised version and "wrought work of ivory" in the margin of the new translation. The ivory is not only beautiful and bright which would speak of purity, but also being the great tusk of the elephant is procured at the cost of suffering and even death, and the cutting and carving to produce the wrought work would also suggest sufferings. So that the compassions of our Lord are not only heavenly and pure in character but also have become so bright and beautiful in our eyes because of the deep sufferings His love and compassion for us cost Him—sufferings even unto death—. In Ps. 22, which speaks of the sufferings of the Lord on the cross, we read in verse 14, "My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." How intense were His sufferings on the cross as He made atonement for our sins, and yet the intensity of His sufferings reveals the unmeasurable depths of His love and compassion for us. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." "Hereby we have known love, because He has laid down His life for us" (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16 N. T.).
Can we wonder that her heart is all aglow as she describes the beauty and perfection of Him whose love is beyond all comparison?
"His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet; yea, He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem" (Cant. 5:15-16).
"His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold."
Pillars are used as supports to hold up the structure that is built upon it. Man has never been able to stand up under any responsibility that God has placed upon him; he has always broken down under it. Adam failed in the garden of Eden, and as man multiplied the world became full of violence and corruption. After God swept away the wicked with the flood He put the sword into man's hands and made him responsible to maintain justice and to keep down evil by punishing the evil doer, but even faithful Noah is unable to govern himself; he gets drunk and is seen in disorder immediately afterward (Gen. 9). Man has always failed to keep evil down. Where in the whole history of the world can you find a government that has maintained justice without partiality? The record of Israel's history is one of ever recurring failure and the history of the Gentile nations is no better. Even the most faithful prophets, priests, and kings, had failed in some point or another. But here is a man whose legs are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of gold. Stability and strength are seen in Him. He stands firm and unmovable and all that is built upon Him is eternally secure. It stands forever. "For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen" (2 Cor. 1:20). They are confirmed and established forever in Him. Nothing can fail that is founded upon Him. All God's purposes are founded on Him. We read in Eph. 3:11, "According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus," etc. God could not found His purposes or base His immutable promises of blessing upon anything other than Christ. In Him and in Him alone is power and ability to secure and uphold eternally all that is built upon Him. All that God has founded on Him abides forever; because He stands, it stands eternally. The pillars of marble speak of enduring strength and beauty. His power endures forever, but also what beauty and perfection is seen in Him in the way He upholds all things in His own divine strength.
The marble pillars are set on sockets of fine gold. The gold represents that which is essentially divine—the divine righteousness or the divine nature. All things are established and upheld by Him on the basis of divine righteousness. All is maintained in accordance with His divine nature.
If we speak of redemption we read: "For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him"; and "but now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, . . . even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ . . . whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness . . . that He might be just, and the justifier to him which believes in Jesus" (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:21-26). If we speak of spiritual blessings then we read, "Blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ"; "and ye are complete in Him" (Eph. 1:3; Col. 2:10). If we speak of millennial blessings it is still "in thy seed (Christ, see Gal. 3:16) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." "And the government shall be upon His shoulder . . . of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever" (Gen. 22:18; Isa. 9:6-7). Or if we speak of the eternal outflow of blessings it is still "through Christ Jesus" —"that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).
How good to know that all blessing for time and eternity is founded upon Him, and there nothing can give away or fail. Our eternal destiny is bound up with Him; we are one with Him forever.
In this wonderful description the spouse gives of her Beloved, we see His head is gold (v. 11) and the hands are gold (v. 14) and here His legs are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold. His thoughts and works and the basis upon which He secures and upholds all blessing for His own are all divine.
"His countenance (or bearing, see J.N.D's N.T.) is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars." How excellent is He in all His ways. There is an elevation of character and dignity about His person and bearing wherever we see Him. He never showed an attitude that savors of aloofness; He was always accessible. There was a love and tenderness in His ways that drew one to Him, and yet there was ever an excellency in His bearing that made one realize that he was in the presence of his superior. See Him in the gospels before the multitudes, alone with His disciples, with little children in His arms, alone with the adulterous woman of Samaria, eating with publicans and sinners or in the Pharisees' houses, or standing before His accusers and the governor of the land, there was always a dignity and excellence about His bearing that marked Him as superior to all that was around Him even in His deepest humiliation. He always knew just what to say and to do. There was never any indecision or hesitation and never an unwise act or misplaced word. How excellent was He in all His ways as a Man down here.
And then when He comes to reign what excellent majesty and glory will be His—"excellent as the cedars." "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness" (Ps. 45:3-4); and again when He sits in majestic splendor on the great white throne and the earth and the heaven flee away from His face (Rev. 20:11).
Lebanon with its high elevation and stately cedars suggests this elevation and dignity of His person. The name Lebanon means whiteness, no doubt named so from its snowcapped peaks, and would therefore also be suggestive of purity. It was just this heavenly purity always reflected in all His manners and ways that gave such elevation and excellent dignity to His person. Even in His coming glory the scepter of His kingdom will be a scepter of righteousness.
What elevation of character should mark us as we live and walk in the consciousness that He is our Beloved and we are His chosen ones—chosen to be His companions forever. Should such go about with a sour face, grumbling and complaining or all absorbed with the things of the earth or chasing after the soap bubbles of this world's vain glory or pursuing its vanishing riches or social distinctions and honor? He has left us here to represent Himself and His interests in this world. Nothing on earth could be higher, more elevating and blessed than this. Do we realize what an honor and privilege it is to be His representatives here?
"His mouth is most sweet" (v. 16).
In verse 13 reference was made to "His lips like lilies dropping sweet smelling myrrh." Sweet indeed were the words of His lips. His mouth is most sweet may refer also to the words He utters, especially those sweet words of love, sweet both to Him and to her. But coming here immediately after referring to His countenance or bearing, would seem to refer more to the expression of the mouth. The expression of the mouth reveals the hidden feelings of the soul; sorrow, grief, bitterness, joy, peace, satisfaction, love or hatred are reflected as well in the facial expression of the mouth as in one's words. "His mouth is most sweet."
Now after having spoken in detail of the beauty and perfection of His various traits, she adds, "Yea, He is altogether lovely." There is nothing lacking or superfluous. All the beautiful traits blend together to make up that perfect loveliness—altogether lovely. You can't find such loveliness anywhere else.
Her affections for Him are now fully revived and her heart all aglow as she exclaims, "this is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." How happy she is now that she can call Him "My Beloved," "My Friend." There is no joy like knowing that He is mine.
Song of Solomon 6
"Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feeds among the lilies" (Cant. 6:3).
They call her the "fairest among women." Nothing beautifies a soul so much as to be wholly taken up with Christ for one always seeks to copy the moral perfection that one admires in Him; (there is often so little Christ-likeness in believers), but where it is so, you will always find the eye is wholly occupied with Christ or the heart taken up with His moral beauty. And again nothing so arouses in others a desire to seek Him earnestly as seeing a soul really enraptured with Him. There is no sermon so effectual, eloquent and persuasive as a life wholly devoted to the Lord. This is a sermon that all can preach if they will, however little or much they may be otherwise gifted, and one all should be preaching today. The message of the most gifted preacher often loses much of its effect simply because the lives of believers in general do not speak for Christ. How much are our lives speaking for Christ in the eyes of our friends, associates and acquaintances?
"My Beloved is gone down into His garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine: He feeds among the lilies" (Cant. 6:2-3).
We have here the picture of a shepherd feeding his flock on a beautiful spring day where beds of spices embalm the air and the lilies spread their glory and beauty everywhere. In chapter 1:7 she asks, "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loves, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon." But now she knows full well where He feeds His flock. How rich and congenial are those pastures where all speaks of contentment, peace, joy and rest. How happy are those sheep that keep close to their shepherd and feed continually under His eyes in the green pastures of His Word. May we ever keep close to His trusted side. And above all, happy are they who can say with every deepening realization of the blessedness of it all, "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine."
"Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one bears twins, and there is not one barren among them. As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks. There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her" (Cant. 6:4-9).
The bridegroom now speaks as He beholds His spouse with her affections now fully won to Himself and describes her beauty. He has already given two detailed descriptions in chapter four.
"Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners."
"Beautiful as Tirzah." Tirzah means delightsome. Her beauty is the fruit of His work of grace in her heart, delightsome indeed to behold. What wonders of grace that she who was once so indifferent to Him is now a source of delight for Him.
"Comely as Jerusalem." Salem means peace and Jerusalem means founded in peace.
How comely is a soul fully grounded in peace! It moves in serene peace superior to all its circumstances. When the affections are divided the soul is restless, unsettled and never satisfied. It is only when the heart's affections are fully settled on Christ that we have settled peace. A divided heart is never at rest.
"Terrible as an army with banners." An army marching with its banners flying gives the idea of unity of purpose. Each individual has set all other things aside to devote his time, his strength and his life if necessary for the one object of maintaining the honor and glory of the banner or flag under which he has rallied. The one object of the army is to keep that banner flying victoriously in spite of all the power of the enemy. "Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4). Christ is that banner. What joy it is to Christ to see His people united with the one object of exalting Him at all times and at all cost. How sadly the church has failed in this. If all the believers in Christ had stood fast in one spirit with one mind striving together with the faith of the gospel and in nothing terrified by the adversaries, as exhorted by the apostle in Phil. 1:27-28, what a different story the church's history would have been. But now the question comes to each one individually, "What am I doing? Am I gathered to Christ alone? Have I rallied unto Him, leaving aside the pursuit of my own personal interests to fight as a good soldier for His cause? Do I consider it my special glory to exalt Him—to keep the banner flying, or am I ashamed to show my colors? The special glory of soldiers is to keep their banner flying, at all cost, willing even to sacrifice their lives to this end. So it should be with every soldier of Christ Jesus.
"Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me." Her eyes are at last fully fixed upon Him who has become the object of her heart. He reads in her eyes the deep affection of her heart and is overcome by it. There is no beauty so ravishing, so charming to His heart as this.
"Thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one bears twins, and there is not one barren among them. As a piece of pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks."
He repeats here almost word for word these traits He dwells upon in His detailed description of His spouse in chapter 4, verses 1-3. We may be sure, since the Lord repeats them, that they are traits especially pleasing to Him and therefore we might well dwell upon them again. But since we have already considered them in detail where they first occurred in chapter 4, we will only touch briefly the main points now to refresh our memory, that we may not forget these things that the Lord desires very much to see in us.
The woman's long hair is God-given and is therefore her special glory (1 Cor. 11:15). It is symbolic of submission and dependence. The goat's nature is to climb to the highest ground and Mount Gilead is noted for its rich pastures. Putting these three things together we get this truth. Submission and dependence upon the Lord brings one upon the highest spiritual ground and there one finds those rich pastures that fully satisfy all the hunger and longings of the soul.
The teeth are to eat with. The sheep is symbolic of gentleness and meekness, and washing speaks of cleansing. Bearing twins is doubly fruitful. We must feed upon Christ, the bread of heaven for life nourishment and strength (John 6:27-28). But feeding on Christ is always coupled with cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit by the water of the Word, and laying aside hatred, anger, etc., for that Christ-like spirit of gentleness and meekness, and bearing forth fruit in obedience to His will.
The temples are a prominent part of the face and the pomegranates which were always worn on the priest's robe between the bells are typical of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; see Gal. 5:22-23). As the pomegranates were always found together with bells on the priest's robe, so the fruit of the Spirit must always be prominent whenever there is a testimony that rings out for the Lord.
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
The spouse in the Song of Solomon, though having a very practical application to the church as espoused to Christ to be His heavenly bride, refers always in its direct application to the Jewish remnant that turns to the Lord after the rapture of the church, and will have the most prominent place on the earth during the Lord's thousand-year reign over all the tribes of Israel and the Gentile nations, who are represented here in these verses by the queens and concubines, virgins and daughters while all Israel will have a close relationship with the Lord during the millennium. That godly remnant that bears testimony for Him and endures much persecution because of his faithfulness during the dark days of Israel's apostasy under the reign of the antichrist, will have a special place in the Lord's affections and a unique place in His reign. It will be praised of all. Compare these verses with Rev. 14:1-5.
But if this faithful remnant has a special place in the Lord's affections as the choice one among all the queens and concubines on the earth, the heavenly bride will have a still more intimate place. Those that believe on the Lord now during the time of His rejection are "called to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (See 2 Thess. 2:14). They will share with Him as well His heavenly and eternal glory as His earthly glory. When we think of His wonderful grace that has saved such poor sinners as we are, and lifted us to such a lofty place as the bride of the Lamb, called to the obtaining of His surpassing glory, does it not fill our hearts with a deep desire and purpose to live wholly for Him for His glory. Ungrateful indeed is he whose heart does not respond to such love!
"Who is she that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded. Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib. Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies" (Cant. 6:10-13).
These verses can be rightly understood only in their prophetic application to the remnant of Israel.
"Who is she that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?"
In Gen. 1:16-18 we read, "God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good." The sun and the moon are set in the natural world to rule or govern the day and the night and the seasons, and to give light. They are therefore naturally the figure of ruling or governing power and also, as giving light, of a teacher or of a body, or group, which is a source of spiritual light. Israel in the Old Testament and the church in the New were set of God to be a source of light to a world that was groping in spiritual darkness. In Rev. 12 the woman that brought forth the man child (Christ) "Who was to rule all nations" is that godly part, or remnant, of Israel of which Christ was born. She will be delivered from the dragon's (Satan's) effort to destroy her during the reign of the Antichrist (vs. 13-17). She is seen in verse one, clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet. Israel is yet to be vested with authority from God to rule under Christ over all the nations as the supreme governing power in the world with all other powers made subordinate to her. That is the meaning in Rev. 12 of the woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet. The prophet Isaiah, speaking of this, says: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. . . . And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. . . . For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish" (Isa. 60:1, 3, 12). But it will not be just power to govern by force that Israel will wield over the nation, for, having her heart fully won by the Lord, she will be wholly devoted to Him and so will not only govern the nations according to His own mind and will, but will be also the highest source of spiritual light in the world. As the sun was set to rule and to give light, so in redeemed Israel will be united both the supreme authority to govern the world, and that of being the highest source of spiritual light in the world.
"Terrible as an army with banners." Israel will have not only authority under Christ to govern the world, but also ample power given her of God to maintain order according to His mind—a victorious power, exercised in righteousness, that will be a terror to the evil doer whenever and if ever any dare to commit any unrighteous act. "Terrible as an army with banners." It will be a reign of righteousness, maintained with ample God-given power to execute judgment and to mete out just punishment to the evil doer, that righteousness, godly order and peace may be secured for the blessing of the whole earth. "Let Israel rejoice in Him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them sing praises unto Him with the timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people: He will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen (Gentiles), and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honor have all His saints. Praise ye the Lord" (Ps. 149:2-9).
"I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded. Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like (or set me on, N.T.) the chariots of Amminadib (my willing people, see margin)."
In Isa. 5:1-7 Israel is likened to a vineyard with pleasant plants but it brought forth wild grapes. In the parable of the wicked husband-men in Matt. 21:33-39 the Lord has likened Israel to a vineyard, but the wicked men who were responsible to see that the Lord received the fruit of it, mistreated His servants that He sent to them and finally when He sent His Son "they said among themselves, This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance." When the Lord comes again to Israel, how different it will be! Instead of a stubborn and rebellious people He will find them a "willing people," who, having been brought to the Lord by the fiery trials and great tribulation, will welcome Him with a willing heart. Transported with joy in His own soul, the Lord will take His place, to which He has been welcomed, in the royal chariots to head the procession of glory.
"Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies," or according to some translations, "the dance of two companies."
The word in the Hebrew translated here Shulamite is the feminine from of the name Solomon. It means peaceful. Israel not only welcomes the Lord but also becomes the earthly bride. "For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called" (Isa. 54:5).
The whole earth will look in wonder and admiration at her, and call upon her to return to that place of prominence among the nations (of which Israel under King Solomon was but a faint type) that they may look upon her beauty. But what will they see in the Shulamite? "As it were the dance of two companies." The dance speaks of joy and victory (see Ex. 15:21; 1 Sam. 18:6) and the two companies or two armies remind us of the two kingdoms of Israel (Judah and the ten tribes), so long divided, but here seen united again in their common joy before the Lord, rejoicing in the glorious victory He has given over all the powers of evil.
Having now seen the prophetic meaning of these verses in connection with Israel, we will consider a few practical thoughts that we may apply to ourselves as called to be the heavenly bride of Christ.
"That looks forth as the morning." God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). For us the darkness has passed and the true light now shines in our hearts. "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" and "Walk as children of light . . . and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (1 Thess. 5:6; Eph. 5:8-11).
"Fair as the moon." The moon has no source of light in itself, but when its face is turned toward the sun, it reflects as a mirror the clear light of the sun. So should every believer be reflecting Christ. As the moon can only reflect the light of the sun when its face is turned toward it, so we must ever be "looking unto Jesus" if we are to reflect Him.
"Clear as the sun." The world should see nothing but Christ in us. He is the Sun, the supreme source of light to the world.
"I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits . . . to see whether the vine flourished." Christ is the speaker here. He looks to see fruit in us. Are we producing fruit for Him? Is our vine flourishing? Is our soul fresh and growing nicely or is it withered up with but little desire and little power to bear fruit? Ps. 1 and Jer. 17:5-8 give us the secret of how to be as a tree that is flourishing and bearing fruit. Read them. The secret given there is meditation in the Word of God and trusting in the Lord.
"Or ever I was aware, my soul set me on the chariots of my willing people" (N.T.).
Whose people are we who are saved by grace? Surely we are not our own for we are bought with a price. But do we gladly own His title over us? Are we a willing people? Do we give Him a royal place on our chariots as willing and obedient subjects of our great King? or do we seek to drive our own chariots along the paths of our own choosing rather than have Him guide all for His own glory?
"O Shulamite." Shulamite means peaceful. Have you the peace of Christ ruling in your heart and reflected in your ways?
"What will ye see in the Shulamite?" Let us not forget that the world has its eyes upon us. What do they see in us? Do they see us working in that unity and joy before the Lord, which is the fruit of peace?
Song of Solomon 7
"How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman. Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wants not liquor; thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins" (Cant. 7:1-3).
At the close of the previous chapter the Lord is seen taking His place in the royal chariot of His willing people, who becomes His earthly bride. All the earth is enraptured by her beauty. And in this chapter the Lord describes her beautiful traits that are so pleasing to Him. It is His last description in this wonderful Song of Solomon and is by far the richest and fullest given. It is the description of Israel's moral perfectness and glory as the earthly bride of Christ during the millennium, but since it is a description of the moral traits the Lord so delights to see in His people, we can apply them with profit in a practical way to ourselves, who are called by grace to be the heavenly bride of Christ.
"How beautiful are thy feet (or footsteps, N.T.) with shoes, O prince's daughter!"
She is addressed as a prince's daughter, a child of royal birth. So are we children of the great King. Think for a moment what dignity is yours and mine, dear fellow believer, as the child of the great King of the universe. Should we ever downcast be, or be ashamed of our royal birth? or choose for our intimate associates and companions the children of the realms of darkness? Surely we should ever be careful that our walk is in keeping with our royal birth.
The shoes equip one for walking. Consider your shoes a moment. They are made of leather, the skin of some animal that had to die that you might have shoes. This reminds us at once that we, poor sinners who could not stand at all before God in our own merits, have now been made acceptable to Him through Christ. We stand before God clothed in all the merits of Christ's sacrificial death for us.
As shod with these shoes—as brought near to God through the death of Christ, how beautiful our footsteps should be! Our christian walk should ever be one continual display of this great fact that we have been brought into nearness with God through the death of Christ. We have in the death of Christ both cleansing and also a powerful motive to walk worthy of Him who loved us and gave His life for us; but there is more than just cleansing and a motive for our walk in Christ's death. His death must be applied in a practical way to our feet, our walk. Christ's death was God's judgment of the old man. God's sentence of death was executed upon the old man in the death of Christ, our Substitute. Therefore we are to apply that death to our old man in a practical way in our walk—wear it on our feet, as it were shoes—so that none of its ugly traits come out to mar the beauty of our walk as redeemed to God through the blood of Christ.
"The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman," (or artist, N.T.).
The thigh is the seat of strength for the walk. And here is a beauty that is not the result of natural strength, but is the work of a cunning workman, or artist. This artist is the Holy Spirit. Only He can give the strength for a walk that shines like jewels. Notice "jewels" is in the plural, not one jewel, but many. When we yield ourselves to the Spirit of God He produces in us the fruit of the Spirit which is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Each trait named here is a beautiful jewel that reflects the moral beauty of Christ as jewels reflect the various rays of the light that shines upon them. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25). This is the secret and the only secret of power for a beautiful walk.
"Thy navel is like a round goblet which wants not liquor (or mixed wine, N.T.): thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies."
The part of the body spoken of here is where the bowels are located, which in the Scripture is expressive of deep and tender affection, compassion and pity. (See Gen. 43:30; 1 Kings 3:26; Jer. 31:20; Phil. 1:8; 2:1; Col. 3:12; 1 John 3:17). "Wine, which cheers God and man," (Judges 9:13), is often used as the symbol of joy, and a goblet which wants not mixed wine would signify an unfailing source of joy. Wheat would speak of essential food, and an heap of wheat of abundance of this food; but Christ is that food which sustains the soul. He is the grain of wheat that fell into the ground and died (John 12:24). He is also the Bread of Life (John 6:32-35, 48-51). The lilies speak of purity and lowly fragrant grace.
What a joy it will be to the Lord to behold Israel as the peaceful Shulamite (see 6:13), the bride of the great King, at the head of the nations being a constant source of joy to the whole earth as she, moved with deep compassion, lowly and pure as the lilies, ministers Christ abundantly to all nations.
There is a similar thought in the next verse: "Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins."
Christ is likened to a roe or young hart in chapter 3, verse 9. The breasts speaks of maturity and specially of the mother's capacity to nourish and cherish her babies. So we have here that, having become matured and Christ-like in her affections, she is capable of cherishing and nourishing the young, feeding them with the sincere milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2).
All this has a most practical as well as a profitable application to believers now. The conduct of believers together should be a source of joy and an occasion for ministering Christ one to another for their common comfort and edification (See 1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11; Eph. 4:15-16; Heb. 10:24-25). For this our hearts must be filled with Christ and constrained by His love, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Why is Christ so little spoken of by believers when they are together? The answer is simple: they have given Him such a little place in their own heart's affections. Their breasts are not like roes, they have not developed in Christ love and affections. It is only as we feed upon Christ as the source of life and strength to our souls that we will be able to speak of Him to others as a living reality to our hearts and a constant source of joy and strength.
How is it with us, dear fellow reader? Can Christ say of you and me, "Thy navel is as a goblet that wants not mixed wine; they belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies, and thy breasts like roes?"
"Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fish-pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim; thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries" (Cant. 7:4-5).
"Thy neck is as a tower of ivory."
In the past, Israel has been a stiff-necked people. They refused to bow their neck under the yoke of the Lord, but stubbornly chose their own way. What a contrast redeemed Israel will be in the coming millennial age. Her neck will be as a tower of ivory—purity and holiness will characterize her. The white ivory speaks of righteousness and purity. Ivory, which is the great tusk of the elephant, is obtained at the expense of sufferings and even death of the victim. The elephant dies that man might obtain the ivory. The neck of ivory would speak then of holiness and righteousness that is the fruit of Christ's sufferings unto death for us. In the place of the old stubborn will that would not bow to the Lord, we see the heart, won by His love, yielding up the will in joyful obedience to Him.
True whole-hearted obedience cannot be produced by force. One may yield outward obedience by fear but the heart is never in it. Only the sense of Christ's great love in giving His life a ransom for us will produce wholehearted obedience. There is a practical lesson in this for us. If we would think often of Christ and His love in dying for us it would make obedience to Him more easy and natural.
"Thine eyes like the fish-pools of Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim."
The pools always have their face turned upward and so reflect the heavens that are above
them. The quiet pools of water would convey the idea of peace and quietness. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57:20-21). The believer should be in contrast to the wicked as a quiet, still pool reflecting in its depths the serenity of heaven above. The root meaning of the Hebrew word Heshbon is intelligence. The secret of true peace and true intelligence is to have the eyes turned upward. We grow in grace and in knowledge as our eyes are fixed upon the Lord. Bath-rabbim means "Daughter of abundance." The one who keeps his eyes ever turned upward to Christ will be enriched with abundance of peace and spiritual understanding.
One is saddened to see children of God so often agitated, troubled, and perplexed, and having so little spiritual discernment. It only proves how little accustomed they are to looking up to the Lord.
"Thy nose as the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus."
It has been suggested that Damascus was the ancient enemy of Israel; and Lebanon, because of its lofty heights and stately cedar, is often used as the type of royalty. So Israel is seen here standing in royal dignity with her face turned toward her ancient enemy, no longer fleeing in defeat with her back to them. This is a beautiful thought.
Christ is now crowned with glory and honor, victorious over all the power of the enemy. He would have us stand firm before all the strength of the enemy in that victory He has won for us.
But let us consider the nose a little before leaving this verse. The nose is the organ of the sense of smell. Corruption always has a bad smell, and if the organs of smell are active, we could sense the presence of a corrupt thing even before we are close enough to see it. This is true also of those things that give out a fragrant odor. "Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor" (Eph. 5:2). Then we have the frankincense and the sweet incense, all of which speak of the sweet savor of Christ. If our spiritual senses are active, we should be able to distinguish at once between that which has a sweet savor and that which has a smell of corruption. When our eyes are turned to the Lord we gain spiritual intelligence that will make us of quick discernment to sense what is of Christ and what is of the enemy and so be able to stand upright and pure for Christ as of the lofty tower of Lebanon (whiteness). The root meaning of the Hebrew word Lebanon is whiteness.
The corruptible influences of the enemy are many and subtle. Everywhere in the political world and the business world, in the social world and the religious world, influences are on the increase to efface everything that has the fragrance of Christ. All these influences are not openly bad in appearance. They often appear very attractive to the natural man, but he who has his spiritual senses exercised to discern good and evil will sense at once that these influences are directly opposed to Christ or at least leave Him out. Every influence that opposes Christ or leaves Him out, is at bottom evil and savors of corruption; for it is the offspring of man's will deceived by the devil, and working without respect for God's will or concern for His glory.
"Thine head upon thee is like Carmel."
Carmel means "fruitful field." The head is the seat of intelligence and knowledge. One may have a great fund of knowledge, but of what good is it if it does not bear fruit in our lives? The apostle writing to the Colossians, says, "We . . . do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in (by, N.T.) the knowledge of God" (Col. 1:9-10). All divine knowledge is intended to affect the heart and conscience and so bear fruit in the life. If spiritual light is not put into practice it will only serve to harden the heart and sear the conscience. We cannot impress too strongly the importance of having a true purpose of heart to walk in the light of the truth God has given us. This is of vital importance to our spiritual welfare.
"And the hair of thine head like purple: the king is held in the galleries (tresses or ringlets)."
The hair is the adornment of the head and is the symbol of submission, and purple is the royal color. The king looks upon his queen adorned with all her royal glory. But what will especially mark her in her exercise of royal power at the head of the nations? In a word, whole-hearted submission to the will of the Lord. She will not use her royal power to enforce the will of her own but only to carry out the will of God. "Thy people shall be all righteous." "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness" (Isa. 60:21; 62:2). This is the meaning of the hair like purple. The woman's long hair is given her of God, and is the symbol of her submission to the man whom God has made head of the house as a type of the church's submission to Christ, who is the Head over all things to the church. (See Num. 6:2-5; 1 Cor. 11:3-5; Eph. 5:22-25). It is this submission to His will that delights the heart of Christ—that holds Him captivated so to speak. "The king is fettered by thy ringlets" (N.T.).
The Lord desires to see this spirit of submission in His people now. Lack of submission to Him is sin and brings one into bondage. "Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34). Submission to the will of the Lord is the only true liberty. Anything short of this is bondage to sin and Satan.
"How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples; and the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goes down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak" (Cant. 7:6-9).
The Lord has just given in detail a wonderful description of His loved one from her feet to the hair of her head. And now, as He scans her whole person He exclaims, "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!"
What satisfaction it will be for His own heart to behold that beauty which is the result of His sacrifice on the cross and His own work of grace in her heart by His Spirit. She had yielded herself fully to Him that He might mold and fashion her after His own heart. For that is the only way spiritual beauty can be attained. Self-culture and self-effort can never produce spiritual grace and beauty. It can only be acquired by the power of the Spirit of God as we yield to His power working in us.
Nothing delights the Lord in His own so much as that they put themselves wholly into His hands, as the clay in the hands of the potter (Isa. 64:8), that He might fashion them into a vessel after His own likeness and for His own glory. And nothing will bring so much joy to the believer as being thus wholly surrendered to Him, for then His Spirit, being no longer grieved, is free to fill our hearts with joy and peace.
How much delight are you or I really giving the Lord? How much growth have we made? Are we allowing Him to form and fashion us after His own heart? If we are, then, there will be a steady growing into His likeness.
The Lord is working in His grace through the various gifts He has given to His church to the end that "We all come in the unity of the faith, and of knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). There is no limit to the Christian's growth, nor measure fixed, lower than that of the "fulness of the stature of Christ." No Christian should be satisfied with any aim lower than that of measuring up to His stature.
The Lord is intensely interested in our stature, our growth, as we see in the next verse where He describes the stature of His loved one.
"This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes" (or, "to its clusters," R.V., that is the clusters of the palm tree. The words, "of grapes," are in italics in our authorized version, showing that they were added by the translators. The clusters referred to are more than likely the clusters of dates. The fruit of the date palm grows in clusters in the top of the tree).
The palm tree has ever been the symbol of victory. Dates, the fruit of the date palm, are one of the sweetest fruits known. Victory is sweet. It brings real liberty and joy. Defeat crushes, breaks, and depresses.
So many Christians are eating the bitter fruit of defeat or more often defeat than victory. They seldom enjoy the sweet fruits of victory. Discontented and dissatisfied, they often turn again to the things of the world, "as a dog to its vomit" (2 Peter 2:22), only to find more defeat and deeper bitterness of soul in the end. It may be they have never learned the real secret of victory. The date palm not only is the symbol of victory but also reveals its secret. The date palm will flourish only near the waters of the oasis in the desert where it can have constant sunshine together with an unfailing supply of water. This is indeed the twofold secret of victory: we must ever abide in the sunshine of the Lord's presence and be constantly drinking the water of His Word to have victory in our lives (See Ps.1). There are, however, three other things mentioned in the following verses that are important also—the vine, the apple, and the wine.
"I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof."
Before going on with His description, the Lord pauses to speak of His gathering for His own joy the sweet fruit of victory from the palm tree. The date palms have no branches but only a crown of palm leaves around the top. The dates grow in clusters in the center of this crown of leaves. When one gathers the fruit he must climb the bare trunk and then, taking hold of the boughs with one hand, holds himself while gathering the dates with the other hand. This is what is referred to here. You are His date palm, dear fellow believer. Can He gather from you the sweet fruit of victory that He so much desires?
"Now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine."
Here we have the clusters of grapes. The vine stands in sharp contrast to the lofty and stately palm. The vine has no power in itself to lift itself up from the ground except as it has a strong support outside of itself to which it clings. This also is true of us. We always find ourselves trailing in the dust with no power to stand upright as the palm tree, except as we in our weakness cling to Christ and depend upon Him to hold us up.
The grape vine that trails in the dust can bear but little if any fruit. Only those vines that are held up by clinging to a support bear fruit. Is not this the real secret of much of our weakness and fruitlessness? We have been trying to do something in our own strength and have not learned that we have no power of ourselves to do anything. All power to stand upright and bear fruit must come entirely from Christ as we in our helplessness cling to Him and count upon His strength to uphold us.
"And the smell of thy nose like apples." What does your breath smell like? If you eat garlic and onions it is sure to smell on your breath. The children of Israel despised the manna and lusted after the leeks and onions of Egypt. The manna was a type of Christ, whom God has given to be the bread from heaven to sustain our souls as we feed upon Him. The garlic, the leeks, and the onions are the figure of those things the world is feeding upon.
In chapter 2, verse 3, Christ is likened to the apple tree. If we are feeding upon apples —upon those good things that Christ has for us—it will give to us a sweet odor of Christ. One great reason of defeat instead of victory with so many is that they are eating garlic and onions instead of apples—they are feeding upon the newspapers, worldly books, novels, picture shows and the like instead of feeding upon Christ and the good things He has prepared for us in His Word.
"The roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goes down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves. The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved" (7:9-13).
"The roof of thy mouth like the best wine."
Wine is the symbol of the joy of communion. If we are drinking the sweet wine of communion with Christ it will give a fragrance of Christ to our person.
"For my beloved that goes down sweetly, causing the lips of those that sleep to speak."
The bridegroom has done all the speaking in this chapter to this point, but here the feminine speaker interrupts with these words, "for my beloved, etc.," as both the New Translation and the Revised Version show, and she is the speaker to the end of the chapter. Throughout the whole book the appellation, "beloved," is used of the bridegroom, while he, when addressing his spouse, always calls her "my love, love, or my dove" (See Cant. 1:9, 15; 2:2, 10, 13; 4:1,7; 6:4; 7:6, etc.). He had just mentioned that the scent of her mouth was like the best wine. Wine is the symbol of the joy of communion. The best of all joys is the joy of communion with the Lord and she had been drinking freely of that best wine. But communion always has two sides for there must be two for communion. The Lord has His own part and joy as well as we when we are in communion with Him. We are generally prone to think only of our feelings and of our own joy, but she is rather thinking of him and so when he mentions the best wine she immediately says "for my beloved." It was not only for her but also for him. She is thinking of his joy in it rather than hers. This is the way it should be. Then she adds, "that goes down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak." When anyone has been drinking a good deal of wine it causes sleep and talkativeness. It is the same in the spiritual realm, communion giving both rest, of which sleep is a figure, and causes the lips to speak of Christ; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
The chief reason why the hearts of the Lord's people are so often agitated or troubled and their lips speak so little of Him is that they are not drinking enough of this 'best wine" of communion with Him.
"I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me."
Now, her heart is fully at rest in the consciousness that she is his and that his desire is toward her. She is no longer thinking of herself and of her love for him; however much or little it is, but only of him and of that great fact that He has chosen her to be His very own and has set His heart's affection upon her. She is the object of his unchanging love. Here the heart finds rest. And being now delivered from thoughts of herself, she becomes deeply interested in the state of his vineyard.
"Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves."
The apostle with a sad heart was obliged to say when speaking of the believers of his day, "All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's" (Phil. 2:21). But what would be his word if he were here and would write a divinely inspired comment on the attitude of the believers of today with regard to the Lord's vineyard? What a contrast is seen in the attitude here! "Come, my beloved, let us go forth . . . let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish." She is intensely interested and full of energy. However, she would not venture to go without him, she would not go forth in her own strength. She knows that if her efforts are to bear fruit she must have him with her.
There are many who are very zealous and active in their work for the Lord who are entirely too self-reliant. We would be glad to see even more zeal, but what is needed is not so much that one works for the Lord as that one works with the Lord—to be a co-worker with Him. It is His work, not ours; He works and we are to work with Him. The planning, the direction must all be left in His hand for it is His work, not ours. Our great concern should be to work along with Him to carry out faithfully His directions. While we are occupied with the work for the Lord, we are likely to do most of the planning and keep a record of our activities, and also often become discouraged because it does not bear the fruit we expected. But when we work with the Lord we leave the results with Him whose work it is. Our one concern is simply to carry out His will and to keep near Him in what we do. This is the spirit that is shown here, "let us go forth . . . let us get up early to the vineyards. . . let us see." However much interested, however zealous, every step was to be taken with him.
Then she adds, "There will I give thee my loves." Yes, that after all is the only true way of giving Him our love. How can we show it otherwise? Note it does not simply say love but loves. It is to be ever repeating itself, a continual activity. That is what brings real results as the next verse shows.
"The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved."
There is not only some fruit, but all kinds of fruit. Note also the motive that spurred on her activity is revealed in these words, "for thee, O my beloved"--"which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved." It was all for Him.. There was no thought of self interest. Her whole thought was taken up with him that he might have as much as possible. This sustained her and ever urged her on in the long and often tedious hours of labor that must ever precede the harvest.
Song of Solomon 8
"O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please" (Cant. 8:1-4).
In the last verses of chapter seven we have a prophecy of Israel as the earthly bride of Christ occupied with Him in His vineyard (the nations) and there gathers in much fruit for Him. It is a millennial scene. In the first part of the chapter the Lord had described her millennial glory and beauty as His bride, His loved one. So the end of the chapter really brings us to the climax of this section of the Song of songs.
Chapter 8 is a new section beginning with the first awakening of the affections of the remnant for the Lord. Her desire goes out for Him but she is conscious that there is no recognized relationship established as yet, verses 1-4. Then we see her in verse 5 coming up out of the wilderness leaning upon the arm of her Beloved. The Lord has come for her deliverance and the millennial blessing is now to begin. Compare Hosea 2:14-23; Isa. 54:5-8. She is then set as a seal upon His heart and upon His arm. Her relationship to Him is then fully established and publicly manifested in power by the mighty work of His arm. Compare Isa. 51:9-12; 62:1-4. Then being in established relationship to Him as the bride, she is free to be occupied with her little sister who has not yet come to full maturity. The little sister represents the ten tribes, who are brought back to the land of Israel at the beginning of the millennium. Then we find her in verses 11-13 occupied with the vineyards (the nations) as in the close of chapter 8, and dwelling in the garden. Compare with Isa. 51:3, "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody."
That all this is a prophecy of the remnant of Israel is very clear, and need not be enlarged upon. But as we have seen already there is a parallel between Israel, the earthly bride, and the church, the heavenly bride; the earthly being in many respects a shadow or reflection of the heavenly, so there are many practical instructions here for us that we will now consider.
"O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised."
Her affections are aroused, her desire goes out to Him but she is under restraint for fear she would be despised. Her relationship with Him is not an established fact yet, or at least is not known to the outside world. She has not in the past walked as one that knew Him; her conduct has not manifested that she was His. How often believers fail to manifest in their daily walk that they belong to Christ. It is a good thing when they come to the point that they recognize they have forfeited all right to expect that others should believe they have a relationship with Him. They begin to realize how much they have lost by their neglect, and their desire for more intimate relationship with Him is deepened.
"I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me."
She would bring Him into her mother's house. The remnant will receive Christ at Jerusalem. Our mother is Jerusalem above; "but Jerusalem which is above is free which is the mother of us all" (Gal. 4:26). Jerusalem above stands for that system of free grace in contrast to that system of law under which Israel was placed at Mount Sinai, "which genders to bondage." (See the whole passage, Gal. 4:22-28).
As born from above we are children of pure grace that "reigns through righteousness unto eternal life," which has freed us from all our guilt and brought us before God clothed in all the merits and eternal worth of the atoning work of Christ. This alone sets the heart free and gives true liberty: not liberty to sin or do as one pleases, for "whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34), but deliverance from sin's galling yoke so that we can walk in liberty freed from its power.
"Who would instruct me," or, as some translate it, "He would instruct me" (See J.N.D's trans.) But whether it is the mother (grace) or Christ who instructs, the results are the same. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:11-14).
"I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please." (Or she please. For it would seem rather that it is the spouse that is resting peacefully in her bridegroom's embrace while He lovingly watches that nothing disturb her.)
Taught by His grace, she would minister to His pleasure and rest in His love. "I would cause thee to drink of the spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate." This is ministering to His pleasure. The pomegranate is the symbol of the fruit of the Spirit. When truly taught by grace, the fruit of the Spirit manifests itself in the life and this is a spiced wine that gives joy to the Lord, whereas the works of the flesh when seen in His redeemed ones, are great grief to His heart. When we think of that bitter cup of wrath which our sin had mixed that the Lord drank for us to redeem us, surely our heart's desire should be to give Him this cup of pleasure to drink—this cup of spiced wine mixed from the juice of the fruit of the Spirit born in our lives as we walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
"His left hand should be under my head, and His right hand should embrace me." This is real rest with head pillowed upon His loving hand pierced for us and His mighty right hand embracing one, drawing one close to Himself and shielding from all alarm. Is not this the real desire of every born-again soul? But alas we must confess that it is often, as here, more the desire of our hearts than the actual experience in our lives. How may it become more a reality in our life! The fifth verse gives us a clue that if followed out will go far towards a more full realization of this desire. "Who is this that comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved?" Ah, that is the secret, leaning upon the Beloved, leaning hard, leaning all the time. This is indeed a wilderness scene, and how often believers battle with their circumstances in their own strength leaning to their own wisdom. No wonder disappointment and grief result; or, forgetting that this is indeed a wilderness down here, they turn to the world only to find out by sad experience the truth of Christ's words, "Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again" (John 4:13). Whoever drinks of the streams of this world will never find there any real satisfaction or rest for his soul. True rest, joy and peace can only be found in Christ.
"Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned" (Cant. 8:5-7).
"Who is this that comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?"
This world is a wilderness for the Christian who is born again. He finds no food there to sustain his spiritual life, nor water to refresh the new man. The wilderness is a type of the world as the place of temptation, trial and testings. Israel wandered in the wilderness forty years before they entered into Canaan; and the Jewish remnant in the last days will also have to go through fiery trial of the great tribulation before Christ appears for their deliverance and to bring them into their promised rest under His righteous sceptre. The Christian, too, must wait for the promised rest in the Father's house above. He cannot find rest in the passing things of this changing scene down here. This world is for him, as it were, a waste howling wilderness with its shifting sands that tries the feet of the weary pilgrim.
The Lord has not, however, left us without any support in this wilderness. "Lo, I am with you alway," "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," are His words of promise (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). He is ever present with His own for them to lean on. If we lean upon His mighty arm, however weak we may be in ourselves, we will find in Him strength to sustain us in our journey, a sure guide in every circumstance and power for victory over every attack of the enemy.
If we look back over our past life, we will find that every time of failure, straying or defeat, we were not leaning upon Him. The secret of all failure in the Christian's life can be traced to this. He has never failed anyone who leans upon Him.
"Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comes; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit" (Jer. 17:5-8). "But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them" (Ps. 5:11). "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright" (Ps. 20:7-8). "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise Him" (Ps. 28:7). We cannot stress too much the importance of this simple trust in the Lord—just leaning upon Him every day and every hour of the day.
"I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee."
We read in Cant. 2:3, "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons." Christ is the apple tree, and grace is our mother. We owe our very existence as Christians to the sovereign grace of God. "By grace are ye saved" (Eph. 2:5). We are born again through His grace that has wrought in our hearts in connection with Christ. No sinner can ever be saved till he flees to Christ for refuge. "There she brought thee forth that bare thee." There under His shadow grace brought us forth and made us new creatures in Christ Jesus.
"I raised thee up under the apple tree," is translated in J.N.D's translation, "I awoke thee under the apple tree." As brought forth by grace and awakened by Christ, we find ourselves under His shadow. How blessed for the soul when it is fully awakened to the realization that it has a place under the shadow of Christ, who is a tree of life and a shelter from the storm of judgment. "I set down. . . under his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste" (Cant. 2:3). As born of Adam we are under the shadow of death and "after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). The bitter fruits of sin that Adam produced has brought his whole race under the sentence of death and eternal judgment. But Christ is a tree of life eternal and the abundant fruit that is gathered from Him is sweet to the taste. No death, no condemnation or judgment can reach us there where grace has brought us forth under Him. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (or judgment); but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).
"Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death."
The names of the children of Israel were engraved as a signet in precious stones and worn upon the breast and the shoulders of the high priest as a token that they had a place in his affections and were borne up continually by him before God. The high priest in Israel is a type of Christ. In these verses here the spouse, who has had her affections awakened by Christ under the apple tree where her mother brought her forth, desires to be set as a seal upon His heart and upon His arm. She wants the assurance that she has a fixed place in His affections. That is indeed the very place Christ has given to His bride though often newly awakened souls are not fully aware of it. His love is stronger than death. He who spared not Himself all the anguish and sufferings of death on Calvary's cross will never relinquish His hold upon those whom He has redeemed by His blood. "For love is strong as death." Death never lets loose of the one it has laid hold on and the grave never gives up the one it has received. So it is with the love of Christ. He never casts off those whom He has received in His love.
"Jealousy is cruel as the grave, the coals thereof are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame."
There is something wonderful about the jealousy of Christ. The more a man loves the more he is jealous of any rival who attempts to steal away the heart of the one he loves from him. The intensity of Christ's love makes Him jealous of every influence that would dull or corrupt the affections of those who are espoused as a chaste virgin to Him. (See 2 Cor. 11:1-3.) How hateful must every influence appear to Christ that weakens our heart's affection for Him. The flame of His jealousy is like "a most vehement flame" because His love for His spouse is so great He cannot bear that any should steal her heart away from Him.
If His dealing with His own also at times seems to be harsh and His discipline severe, let us not marvel at it. It is only the proof of the strength of His love that cannot endure that His own should drift away from Him but would have them keep always near Him. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent," is the tender call of His heart to our hearts when we are under His chastening hand, (See Rev. 3:19). Let us never be discouraged then when undergoing His rebuke but rather be encouraged by this proof of His love to put away those things that are displeasing Him. He gave Himself for us and He has a right to expect that we should give Him our whole heart, our life, our all. Behind all His dealings with us in chastening is the burning flame of His unchangeable love. "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."
Nothing can check the intensity of His unchangeable love. The intensity of His love for His own, that He has proved to be stronger than death on Calvary's cross, remains unchanged in all its undying and eternal strength "yesterday, today and forever." He loves each and everyone of His own today and everyday of their life with the same intensity of love as the day He died for them.
Also notice how personal this love is. "Set me upon thine heart and thine arm,"—"me, thine." How personal it is, how individual it is! Blessed be His name. It is this personal and individual character of His love that is so precious. Each one of His redeemed ones can say, "He loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
"If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned."
If He had only given all His possessions it would have been a wonderful gift, but, blessed be His name, He has not only given all that He has, but He has given Himself and all that He is for us and to us. Such love should melt and draw our hearts out wholly to Him. "We love Him because tie first loved us" (1 John 4:19). It is His love for us that produces love in our hearts for Him, and there is no other force that could produce it. So never try to fan up the flame of your flickering love for Him by your own effort for it cannot be done that way. But meditate and be much occupied with His intense, eternal and unchanging love for you and you will find it will warm up your affections for Him.
Before we leave these verses let us notice that she says, "Set me as a seal upon thine heart; as a seal upon thine arm." Not only has He set us as a seal upon His heart but also upon His arm. The intensity of His love not only moves His heart for you, but also His mighty arm, that created the universe and upholds it in its course and overrules all things, is moved by His love to you. No wonder the apostle shouts in triumph, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:35, 37).
"We have a little sister, and she has no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar. I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favor" (Cant. 8:8-10).
The little sister who had no breasts would indicate one who had not yet reached maturity. She would represent those Christians who, though saved, have not as yet developed spiritually. The spouse says of herself, "I am a wall and my breasts are like towers." She is well developed and this is what makes her so beautiful in the eyes of her beloved. But one does not attain to this spiritual growth in a day. She passed through many bitter experiences, but she learned through them to know more about herself, her own failures and weaknesses and at the same time to know more and more the faithfulness and depths of His love which is "better than wine"—sweeter than all earthly joy. Now we see her in these verses having a deep interest in her little sister. This genuine interest and desire to do something for the spiritual advancement of others is what especially marks a Christian who has developed spiritually. Those who are spiritual never despise the under-developed but long to see them brought to fuller maturity, and they are ready to sacrifice time and labor to this end. When you hear Christians talking about the faults and failures of others, you can be sure that they are not spiritually minded themselves.
"We have a little sister, and she has no breasts: what shall we do for our sister . . .? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace (or turret) of silver." How different is this from going around talking about their faults. The desire here is to add spiritual value and beauty to them—to build upon her a silver palace.
Notice also her language. She does not say, "I have a little sister . . . what shall I do?" but, "We have a little sister . . . what shall we do?" How completely her beloved has come to fill her heart and life; even her thoughts move in the consciousness that she is one with him. She does not think of herself or think to act apart from him, so that it is not "I", but always "we." This is another mark of matured spiritual life. Then, besides she does not think of her as being her sister only but as also his sister. Therefore she values all the more the little sister because of this relationship with him. We must not forget that, however weak Christians may be, they all belong to the Lord and are therefore to be respected and treated as His. The Lord considers our treatment of them as being done unto Himself. "Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these . . . ye have done it unto Me" (Matt. 25:40).
"If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar."
A wall speaks of separation. It encloses what is within and separates it from what is outside. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111:10) and "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (Prov. 8:13). The beginning of all spiritual growth is marked by what the Bible calls the fear of the Lord, which means to have real reverential respect for Him, recognizing His power and authority over us. This leads to a hating and forsaking of evil. It enables one to stand like a wall against the evil influences that are around one and not allow them to have an entrance within. This is the beginning of all spiritual growth and character. Where it is lacking there is no foundation to build upon. It is the first thing we must seek to produce in souls if we desire them to make any spiritual progress at all. But with this wall as a foundation the next thing is to build upon it a palace of silver.
We cannot produce growth by criticizing, or by knocking and harping upon their faults and failures. We must seek rather to add something of beauty and value to them. We must build upon the wall a palace of silver.
Silver speaks of redemption. The Lord told Moses, "When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord . . . an half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord. . . and thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls." This atonement money was used to make the silver socket that served as the foundation of the tabernacle. (See Ex. 30:12-16; 38:25-28). The silver sockets typify that redemption is the foundation upon which everything rests. Without redemption we have no foundation upon which we can stand at all. In our passage we have the silver used to build a turret upon the wall. A turret is something that stands out conspicuously. It is costly and precious, and adds beauty and adornment. The turret of silver then would speak of redemption beautifully manifested and displayed before the eyes of others. Before this can be accomplished one must be taught the full meaning of redemption, of the depth of the love and grace of God displayed therein and the infinite value and worth of that precious blood that was shed as a ransom for us, and its present and eternal results.
This enlarges the heart and draws out the affections to Christ and fills it with deep desire to live for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us, and that not simply through a sense of duty out of respect to His authority, but out of love to Him, who first loved us. Many are saved through faith in Christ but have grasped only feebly the fullness of Christ's work of redemption, and consequently manifest but feebly that spiritual life that should characterize those who are redeemed. They are like a wall. What they need is to have a turret of silver built upon them.
"If she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar."
A door is a means of entrance, a way whereby one gains access to what is within. The world is in darkness but the believer has been called out of darkness into God's marvelous light. Every believer should be able, in some degree at least, to point the lost to the Savior and to show the ignorant the way of life. Thus he becomes a door. Through him the lost gain access to the saving knowledge of Christ and by him those in darkness find entrance into the light. But it is evident that those who are undeveloped spiritually, not being very clear themselves in the knowledge of the truth, would be able to do this but in a rather clumsy way, and besides there may be many things in their life that would hinder or stumble those they try to enlighten. Such are like a rough unfinished door in a stone wall. One who has reached spiritual maturity would be able to do this work more effectively. He would be like a door that has been attractively and beautifully enclosed with boards of cedar.
The cedar is a fragrant rot-resisting wood that grows on the heights of Lebanon. So it would speak of an elevated character that is fragrant and attractive and has power to withstand corruption and evil. Every believer should serve as a door. But the spiritually developed have a double service. Not only are they to serve as a door through which those who are lost and in darkness may be brought into the light, but they are also to spend labor on the "little sisters," who are spiritually undeveloped, to build them up that they may be made beautiful and attractive spiritually and thus be like a door enclosed with boards of cedar.
"Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred. Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it. Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices" (Cant. 8:11-14).
"Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver" (v. 11).
This is a millennial scene, when Christ, the Prince of Peace, of whom Solomon (peaceful) is but a type, shall reign over all and be acclaimed by all as Lord of lords. Baal-hamon means a master of multitudes. The multitude of the nations will recognize Him as Lord and Master, and the whole world becomes His vineyard. The various heads of the nations will recognize that they are not to rule over the nations as they please, but are keepers of the Lord's vineyard and are responsible to see that He receives from His vineyard that which is due Him. "Every one for the fruit thereof is to bring a thousand pieces of silver." The Lord is to have what is due Him—a thousand pieces of silver, while they who keep the vineyard have the fruit for their own enjoyment as the reward of their labor.
Ten in Scripture is a number connected with responsibility. We have ten fingers on our hands to work with and ten toes on our feet to aid us in walking. Ten is therefore the measure of our capacity for our walk and work. One thousand is 10x10x10. So the thousand pieces would represent a definite return to the Lord according to the full measure of one's responsibility.
"My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred" (v. 12).
The bride also has a vineyard that is in a certain sense her own. Her vineyard is Israel looked at in their privileges and responsibilities before the Lord as in that place where He has put them as head over all the nations; but she does not claim any returns for herself. Her love for Christ makes her desire that the full amount, that is due from her vineyard, should be all for Him. Those who labor as keepers, however, shall have also what is their due. "Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred." In this we see not only living up to one's responsibility, but love that counts it a joy to do so.
If only Christians of today had more real love for the Lord there would be more desire and effort put forth that the Lord should receive from His vineyard the full returns that are due Him. Instead of the half-hearted interest so dishonoring to the Lord shown by very many, there would be a whole-hearted interest in His things.
"Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it" (v. 13).
In verse 5, we see the bride coming up from the wilderness leaning on the arm of her beloved and here we see her dwelling in the gardens. The wilderness with all its trying times is past forever and the desert will have blossomed as a rose (See Isa. 35:1-2). She is enjoying the fulfillment of such prophecies as Isa. 51:3, "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." The nations, her companions, hearken to the voice as she gives them spiritual instruction and leads them in their worship and praise. The Lord delights in this, but especially He delights to hear her voice addressed to Him in personal and intimate communion with Him.
It is this personal intimate communion with Him that the Lord desires above all. It is well that we all should bear this in mind. The Lord certainly delights to hear the voices of His own as they instruct others and lead them in their praise and worship; but He delights above all to hear our voices addressing Him directly in those sweet accents of love from the heart.
Now this beautiful song comes to a close with this happy state in the garden. So far as Israel is concerned, it is a prophecy of what is yet to be, that will delight and encourage the soul while waiting for its fulfillment.
The Song closes with the soul of the remnant going out with longing desire for the speedy return of the Lord to the mountains of Israel, "Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices." His presence will transform the mountains of Israel, now for the most part waste and barren, into mountains of spices. Thus this prophetic book closes like that of Revelation with an invitation breathed from the heart to the Lord to come quickly.
Lord Jesus, come!
The Man of sorrows once,
The Man of patience waiting now—
The Man of joy, forever, Thou,
Come, Savior, come!