Chapter 1

We will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine (4),

The first chapter divides itself into three parts. The first four verses give us the soul’s satisfaction; it is the expression of the bride’s delight in her bridegroom. She exclaims, “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” (1-2).

I remember a dear servant of God saying at one time, “I have sometimes wished there were only one masculine personal pronoun in the world, so that every time I say Him everyone would know I mean the Lord Jesus Christ.” You remember Mary Magdalene saying, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him” (John 20:13). Then, looking up to the one she supposed to be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away” (15). She did not think it necessary to use the name Jesus. There was only One to her and that was the Lord who had saved her; so the enraptured soul says, “Oh, to enjoy His love, His communion; to enjoy the blessedness of finding satisfaction in Him alone.”

“Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee” (Song of Solomon 1:3). We are reminded how the house was filled with the odor of the ointment when Mary broke her alabaster box and poured it on Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3).

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

John Newton

Next the heart cries out, “Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath 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” (Song of Solomon 1:4). The shepherdess had been brought from the hill country into the royal palace, as you and I from the distant country into the very presence of the Lord Himself. She had been claimed by the King. What a wonderful picture we have here of real communion. How often our hearts have sung,

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith,
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To Thy precious bleeding side.

Fanny J. Crosby

No one can experience true communion with Christ until He Himself has become the all-absorbing passion of the soul. His love transcends every earthly joy, of which wine is the symbol in Scripture because of its exhilarating character. Wine portrays anything of earth that stimulates or cheers. When a worldling is sad and depressed, he says, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more” (Proverbs 31:6-7). And so wine speaks of the joys of earth to which we once turned before we knew Christ. But after we know Him, we say, “We will remember thy love more than wine.”

I am always grieved in spirit when a young Christian comes to me with the old question, Do you think there is any harm in this or that?—any harm in the theater, in dancing, in a game of cards, in the social party that has no place for Christ? I say to myself, If that young Christian really knew Christ, he would never ask such questions. One minute spent in fellowship with Him is worth all the joys of earth. That is what the Song of Songs is designed to teach us.

There is a fullness in His love, a sweetness found in fellowship with Christ, of which worldly people know nothing. If you are in Christ, earthly pleasures fall off like withered autumn leaves. I often hear people singing:

Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

Frederick Whitfield

And yet the same people who sing this song often don’t spend even half-an-hour a day over the Bible; never spend ten minutes alone with God in prayer; have very little interest in the coming together of the Lord’s people to wait on Him. Invite them to a prayer meeting and they are never there, but invite them to a social evening and they are all present. It is evident that the love of Christ is not yet the controlling passion of the heart. The surrendered soul exclaims, “We will remember thy love more than wine.” And in Ephesians 5:18 we read, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The Spirit-filled believer never craves the follies of the godless world. Christ is enough to satisfy at all times.

The second section of Song of Solomon 1 takes in verses 5-11 and refers to that little retrospect that I have already mentioned in the introduction to this volume. It looks back to the time when the shepherdess first met her lover and inquired of him as to where he fed his flock. He answered, “If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents” (1:8). In other words, it is as when the disciples of John came to Jesus and said, “Master, where dwellest thou?” And He said, “Come and see” (John 1:38-39). And so the soul cries out, “O Thou shepherd of my heart, where feedest Thou?” And He answers, “Just go along in the shepherds’ path, feed your flock with the rest, and you will find out.” If you take the path of devotedness to Christ, you will soon know where He dwells. If you walk in obedience to His Word you cannot fail to find Him.

The third section of chapter 1 includes verses 12-17 and presents to us a wonderful picture of communion with the king. There he and his beautiful bride are together in the royal palace, and she says, “While the king sitteth at his table [the place of communion] my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me” (1:12-13). In other words, “He is to me like a fragrant nosegay in which my senses delight.” And so as we enter into communion with Christ, He becomes all in all to us and the heart goes out in worship and praise, like Mary, as already mentioned, in the house of Bethany bringing her alabaster box of ointment and pouring it on the head of Jesus. The King sat at the table that day, and her spikenard emitted its fragrance and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. There can be no real worship unless the heart is occupied with Him.

It is common nowadays to substitute service for worship and to be more taken up with hearing sermons or with ritual observances than with adoration and praise. God has said, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me” (Psalm 50:23). He tells us He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). It is the satisfied heart that really worships. When the soul has been won for Christ there will be appreciation of Him for what He is; not merely thanksgiving (important as that is) for what He has so graciously bestowed on us. “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). This causes the spirit to go out to Him in worship and praise.

“The Father,” Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). He yearns for the adoring love of devoted hearts. May we indeed respond to His desire and ever “worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”