The Spiritual Progress of a Soul
Comments on the Song of Solomon — Chapter VIII
My brother!” “My mother!” exclaimed the Bride. In other words, she implied, if the daughters of Jerusalem and the men of the city were as dear to her as her brother, they would not ridicule nor look down upon her as they had been doing. Hence the inference, these were not of the divine family. One day when Jesus was alone with His disciples, He said, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without all these things are done in parables.”
The affections of which the Bride here speaks is that forgiveness and love the Christian manifests toward those who are without. Only those who belong to the Lord Jesus and are part of His Bride manifest divine love in the sphere of intimate fellowship.
Cuff, a negro slave, was cruelly beaten because he sought to witness for the Lord and exercise the ministry of intercession. Eventually the Lord began to deal with his worldly master. One night when his heart was deeply troubled about the things of God, the master sent for his slave, Cuff, and asked, “O! could you please pray earnestly for me?” Although his back was stinging with the lashes he had received, Cuff replied, “Yesm, bwess de Lawd, Massa, I’se ben praying for you all de night.” This illustrates the love that all who belong to the Bride of Christ should show toward them that are without.
The thought of the Bride leading others into her mother’s house reminds one of Martha who received the Lord Jesus into her house, and of Paul who yearned over new converts as with a mother’s heart. Members of the heavenly Bride should be busy inviting men and women into the house of God, their mother’s house. The chief object in so doing would be to introduce others to their beloved. The spiced wine mentioned is for all such. Spiced wine suggests a mixture of joy and sorrow, of trial and triumph. The story is told of three Russian Christians who were awaiting the day of execution. As they sat in their cells, they sang praises to God. Other prisoners heard them, and finally through their testimony of the Lord, accepted Christ as Saviour, and joined in the singing. When the last day finally arrived, there were seven men who went singing into Heaven.
“His left hand.” “His right hand.” When her Beloved took her into His banqueting house, He revealed the left hand of His support under her head, and the right hand of His skill performing His will in her life. Much more does His hand support and His providence support His own now. Like the Bride in this Song, Christians during the dark ages were falsely accused and were made to suffer violent persecution; nevertheless, they knew His hands were under them to strengthen and to enbolden them with courage. Each could say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
“Leaning upon her Beloved.” This idea may be applied to every believer in the Lord Jesus. We often pray that God might not lead us into temptation, into more trials than we are able to bear. For example Paul besought the Lord to remove the messenger of Satan, the thorn in the flesh which the Lord sent in order that he be not exalted above measure. Notwithstanding the prayer, the Apostle submitted to the will of the Lord; he knew the blessing of leaning upon his Beloved, the Lord Himself. He asserted, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The early Christians had the same perfect assurance that the hymn-writer expressed: “Under His wings, I am safely abiding; Though the night deepens, and tempests are wild; Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me; He has redeemed me, I am His child.”
“Thy mother brought thee forth.” Paul speaks of two mothers in the Epistle to the Galatians chapter four which represent two systems, the one of bondage the other of liberty. One is the legal system connected with Sinai, the other the spiritual system of grace and freedom called “Jerusalem which is from above.” Paul says of the latter, “Jerusalem which is from above and is the mother of us all.” To this statement he adds another, “So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bond woman but of the free.”
“A seal upon thine heart.” Did not the bride set her Beloved upon her heart as a seal? Did she not know that she was sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, and that she was to close her heart to all others save the Lord Jesus?
“Love is strong as death.” That is divine love, which like death overcomes every obstacle.
“Jealousy is cruel as the grave.” Why did Herod slay all the children of Bethlehem, from two years old and under? He was jealous of the One who had been born King of the Jews, the One the Wise Men spoke about. Why did Herod kill John the Baptist? Because he was guilty of gross sin, and was jealous of him as a prophet. How cruel jealousy is!
“Coals of fire.” Many because of their Christian faith have suffered in the flames of jealousy. A servant of Christ, by name Walther, was considered a dangerous heretic; although he evaded capture for years, he was finally caught near Cologne, Germany, and burned at the stake. Another Dutch Christian refused to recant, and was likewise thrown into the flames.
“Many waters cannot quench love.” In times of trial and affliction some of God’s children have felt like Jonah when he said, “The waters compassed me about, even to the soul.” During such periods of infirmity and persecution the Bride of Christ has heard His words of comfort, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.”
“We have a little sister.” This sister of the Bride is small of stature in comparison to her older sister the Bride who is likened by her Beloved to a palm tree. This little sister is quite immature; consequently, there is no sign of full development. In contrast to the Church this may be true of Israel. Alas, it is true of many Christians for when they should be fully grown, they need still to be nursed, and when they should be eating the strong meat of the Word of God, they need to be fed with milk.