What am I to Him? Song of Solomon Chapter 4
Bryan Jenkins, Cwmbran
For most of us this book expresses so much of our appreciation of our Lord Jesus, for we love to take the words of the Bride upon our lips, and say from our hearts, "he is altogether lovely", 5. 16.
In chapter 4, though, we are privileged to see things from a different point of view. Here, we view the thoughts of the Bridegroom in relation to His Bride. As members of His Church, His Bride, we can view ourselves here; what a delight and a privilege it is I It is not only a privilege though, but a responsibility, for if we see ourselves as He sees us, there is a necessity to be like that to the very best of our ability.
First, then, we see that the Bridegroom speaks of the Bride as a Place which is Prepared.
A Garden, v. 12. It is interesting to note that, while the first chapter of Genesis speaks of God creating, the second chapter speaks of God planting. This conveys the thought of a personal care and love. The art of gardening requires not only skill, but a great deal of care and patience, not only for the garden as a whole, but also for the individual plants. Recently the writer was privileged to spend a Lord's Day with a couple who had moved house not too long before. From a wilderness, the garden had been transformed into a place of order and beauty. During a walk round the garden, the brother could explain all about the various flowers and shrubs which had been planted, and it was obvious that both husband and wife cared deeply about the garden. So it is with us; Paul wrote, Ye are God's tilled field, 1 Cor. 3. 9. There is a concern on the part of God for each of us, both as forming part of the whole, and as individuals. The picture here really is that of an oasis in the desert, a spot of fragrance and beauty in the midst of an arid barrenness. Can that really be our condition before God ? As He views us, and as His beloved Son gazes upon His Bride, is there anything about her which stands out in lovely distinction from the world about her?
For the next thing we see is that He speaks of her as a Place which is Protected.
A Garden Enclosed. The word is otherwise translated as "locked" or "barred". The idea seems to be of a wall of separation around the garden, serving two purposes. The first is that it keeps out all the aridity and sterility found on the outside; the second, that it keeps in all the sweetness and fragrance of that which is planted, the atmosphere nurturing and encouraging it. How much this ought to mark us! Some folk say that we need to be more involved with the culture in which we live, more involved in the secular society and the arts. While we cannot, and ought not to live our lives in a vacuum, nevertheless we must be very careful about such involvement. As a young believer, the writer used to be told that it was far easier to be dragged down, than to pull somebody else up, and this is still true. Our chief aim in the world, surely, ought not to be to bring a "christianizing influence" on the things of the world, but to glorify God. For this cause He has made us His own, and the protection which He affords us, the wall of separation which surrounds us, ought not to be broken down. The cry goes up, "but we don't want to appear different". Brethren and sisters, we are different, and if that difference does not show itself, there is something amiss.
Next, we see that He speaks of her as a Person who is Precious.
My Sister, My Spouse. Here is an indication of the two-fold relationship between the Lord Jesus and His Church. The first is that of an intimate family relationship. As children of the living God, we have been brought into a wonderful new relationship with the Saviour, so that He is not ashamed to call us brethren. How wonderful His words to Mary on that resurrection morning, "I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God", John 20. 17. Here was something totally new. Never before had men been in such a close relationship with the One who inhabits the praises of Israel; yet the death and glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus made it all possible. It is, perhaps, the second description which thrills us most, My Spouse, My Bride.
Here is the heart of love of our blessed Lord, shining through in all its full-orbed glory. It may be that one of the reasons why our worship is sometimes unsatisfactory and sterile, is because we make too much of our own salvation. We speak as though we believe that the sole purpose of the cross was that we might be saved so as to come into the fulness of God's blessing. This is one reason, certainly, but by no means the prime one. Above our salvation, come two glorious facts. First, that God was seeking a people for His Name, in whom He could demonstrate His glory and His love. Second, that His Son was seek-a Bride for Himself, a Bride whom He purchased and made clean by His own precious blood. Oh the depth of the wonder of His love for us, that we are that people, that Bride! As He gazes upon us, we ask again, is there something attractive to Him, not so much in what we do, as in what we are?
Again, we see yet another description; this time He speaks of her as a Place of Pleasure and Refreshment.
A Spring shut up, a Fountain sealed. This is a multiple description of the pleasure which the Lord Jesus derives from His Church. The first is that of refreshment, "a spring shut up, a fountain sealed". The idea is that of a spring of living water which is reserved for the Master's refreshment. Yet, almost paradoxically it must first be supplied by Him. How wonderful that cry of the Saviour in that last day, that great day of the feast, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink, and out of his inward being, shall flow rivers of living water, John 7. 37-38.
The second is that of fragrant fruit-fulness, "The plants are an orchard (a paradise) of pomegranates", Song 4. 13. Perhaps this brings before us the fruitfulness of our priestly office. Around the hem of the high priest's garment were alternate bells and pomegranates, and such ought to characterize us. Let us not think that worship and the priestly office are confined only to those occasions when we meet to remember the Lord Jesus in His own appointed way. Peter makes it very clear that there are two aspects of priestly service, (i) as holy priests when we appear in the presence of God to offer to Him the adoration of our hearts, and then (ii) as royal priests when we appear before men, on God's behalf. If we were to appreciate this truth more, it would eliminate much of what passes for Christian service in our day, but which is, in reality, dishonouring to the Lord.
Then we come to the fragrance of our fruit. Here we consider the nine fold fruit of the Spirit of which Paul writes in Galatians 5. 22-23, those Christian graces and virtues formed in us by the Holy Spirit. These in turn are so reminiscent of the person and character of the Lord Jesus in His majesty and holiness, His perfect and matchless life.
But now comes the Bride's response, "Awake, 0 north wind; and blow thou south", Song 4. 16. She realizes that both the north wind of adversity, and the south wind of refreshment and encouragement are necessary. Is this always our experience or are we rather always longing for the balmy south wind? Notice too, the motive behind the Bride's prayer. It is not merely that she might be blessed, but rather, that she might know the enjoyed presence of her Bridegroom; that the fragrance, brought out by mingled suffering and blessing, might be to the enjoyment of Him whom her soul loves.