The Spiritual Progress of a Soul
Comments on the Song of Solomon, continued
Many roses are in Sharon, many lilies are in the valleys, but our heavenly Solomon says specifically, “I am the rose, … I am the lily.” Christ was indeed the Rose of Sharon to the man out of whom he had cast the legion of devils, and to the woman who fell at His feet in adoration and poured upon them the ointment from the alabaster box. The daughters of Jerusalem are as thorns to the Bridegroom, but His Bride is as a lily among these thorns. They engage only in the strife of tongues when they speak; later in the Song they mock the Bride who is the fairest among women, for they say to her, “What is thy Beloved more than another?” Furthermore, they smite her, and wound her, and take away her vail.
The Apple Tree in this Song is likened to the Beloved of the Bride; there is something about this fruit tree that makes it stand out with importance among all the other trees in the woods. Jesus gave the meaning of the other trees as well as that of the Apple Tree when He said that many false prophets are gone out into the world, but that He had come that men might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. The Lord Jesus, then, is that Tree of Life. It is not sufficient to find the Apple Tree, but we must abide there, sitting down under its shadow. The Bride should not only taste the fruit, but she should eat and be filled. By this means she will grow and be strong in the power of His might.
The Beloved One who took her into His chambers, now brings her into His banqueting house. This act might speak of communion, a new and deeper fellowship, a more familiar intimacy. The Bride is made glad by the presence of her King, so the supper on His table merges into a banquet of wine. The banner that flutters over her head suggests the love and devotion of Christ to His Church, that love that led Him to purchase at such a cost the Church. That same love leads Him now to protect her, and eventually will impell Him to present her to Himself a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle.
While the Bride is always mentioned in the singular, the picture is a collective one, symbolizing the corporate body of a great multitude of believers, all members of that future glorified Bride.
The flagons of wine mentioned intimate the abundant joy the Bride finds in her Bridegroom. The word means to uphold, to support; upon the strength of the love and joy He imparts, she may lean heavily, for through these He will sustain her in every hour. She gave to Him of her precious spikenard, and this He receives in His grace, and at the same time imparts to her all His own merits. Upon these she may rest contentedly.
“Comfort me with apples,” the Bride requests; she knows that He is the only One who produces this fruit of nourishment and sustenance; furthermore, she knows that His fruit is sweet to her taste. She realizes that through Him she is nourished, strengthened, and cheered, therefore, she earnestly longs for more.
A woman who wished for the comfort of His heart, and who was sick for His love, said to Him one day, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not.” His disciples also said unto Him, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.”
“His left hand,” “His right hand.” Since we learn from Proverbs chapter eight that wisdom was set up from everlasting, from the beginning or ever the earth was, we assume that wisdom is another title for our heavenly Bridegroom. As wisdom personified, in His left hand are riches and honour, while length of days are in His right hand. “His right hand doth embrace me,” says the Bride. Let no one look at this statement in any profane way, for like almost everything in this wonderful Song, it pertains solely to the spiritual growth and welfare of the child of God. The right hand signifies strength and power, one’s greatest might. David said, “My soul followeth hard after Thee, O God; Thy right hand upholdeth me.”
The roes and the hinds of the woods quickly pick up sounds which are not heard by the ears of others, and cart away so swiftly that the hunter does not see them disappear. When our Lord Jesus was in seclusion with His disciples, away from the eyes and the ears of the worldly wise, He reveals to them the deep things of God. Such precious moments of communion one does not like to disturb. The prayer of the Bride’s heart might well be expressed in the language of the hymn:
“O Lamb of God still keep me
Near to Thy wounded side;
’Tis only there in safety
And peace I can abide.
What foes and snares surround me!
What lusts and fears within!
The grace that sought and found me
Alone can keep me clean.”
The Bride exclaims, “It is the voice of my Beloved!” There are times when the Lord seems to withdraw himself, seems to hide himself until there is in our hearts a hunger and a thirst for His presence. We are informed that when sheep are ill, they will listen to the voice of strangers and follow them. This is obviously true of the members of God’s flock who become spiritually ill. They go astray into other paths; they listen to other voices rather than to that of their Beloved. Eventually, in some circumstance the Bride discerns His approach, and exclaims, “Behold, He cometh!” He leaps over the hills, the circumstances which have produced in her heart the fears and the doubts. Sometimes the Lord leaves a circumstance in our lives as a “thorn in the flesh.” When He does so, He assures us, saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
There is a mental or spiritual wall behind which He sometimes appears, a wall that separates the Christian from his Lord. This wall may result from ignorance, unbelief, or unfaithfulness. We think that we are doing well with our arrangements and schemes, only to discover that our Bridegroom has hidden himself, and is standing behind our wall. Thank God, when our heavenly Bridegroom appears behind our wall, He will be ready to leap over it to our help!
“My Beloved spake.” He speaks to each and every one who receives Him and believes His Word and He promises a blessing to those who keep it.
The passing of the winter and the appearing of the spring, so it has been suggested by some, is the passing of the old dispensation of the law and the ushering in of the new dispensation of grace. The law of God was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus, and this could not be done in or by any natural man. The darkness and winter of God’s wrath and judgment which rested upon man has been endured by the Lord Jesus Christ who has satisfied every demand of the law. Refreshing rain results from the doing away of the law and of the wrath of God, this rain softens the ground and prepares it for the bringing in of the better covenant of grace.
The flowers which appear in the land may be used as metaphors, as also the birds and the turtle-dove. These may intimate the grace of God bestowed on man at the first advent of Christ. The singing of the birds may represent the rejoicing that comes into the lives of God’s dear people, the music and melody within the heart of the new-born soul.
The voice of the turtle-dove suggests the voice of the Spirit. The voice of the Holy Spirit is heard in the Church today proclaiming the soon coming of the Lord Jesus, our Bridegroom, and the cry is being raised, “Go ye forth to meet Him.”
“Let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” Such is the admonition of the Bridegroom to His Bride. Do we, members of the Bride of Christ, want to experience His blessing? We must, then, let Him see our countenance, our faces, in prayer. We must seek Him in our daily devotions through the reading of the Holy Scriptures, seek Him in every experience of life, seek Him constantly in intercession.
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” These not only spoil the vines but they hinder fruit-bearing. H. A. Ironside pointed out that some of these little foxes which hinder our growth are those of the human heart: neglect of the Bible, neglect of prayer, and neglect of fellowship with God’s people. These are some of the points which so easily deprive us of communion, of strength and of fruit in our lives.
“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 the night is sometimes thought of as the long period of sin, we must not think of it in that way here; this is the night of the absence of the Beloved One from His Bride, an absence over which she mourns. He is now separated by the mountains of Bether. Like a young hart He will come leaping over these to claim His long-loved Bride. May she remain faithful to Him, and eagerly await that moment when she shall see Him face to face.