Brief Notes on Passages of Scripture

Song of Solomon 1:1-4; Song of Solomon 5:9-16; Song of Solomon 8:14; Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:28-32; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3; 2 Corinthians 4:6-14
Song of Solomon, 1:1-4; 5:9-16; 8:14; Rev. 1:5, 6; 22:205And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5‑6)
20He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)
. The subject we have had before is the unfailing source of joy under all circumstances that the believer has in Christ. To-night, it is the hope of His coming, or, as the Epistles say “Christ Jesus our hope.” First, I would commence with a scripture that does not properly belong to us as Christians, but which will find its primary fulfillment when the Lord brings back both Judah and Ephraim and, as the prophets (specially Hosea) speak, betroths the remnant— “allures them into the wilderness and speaks comfortably.” In reading the Song of Solomon it must be remembered that we too “are espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ.” It is no hyperbole, or high-flown language, but the sober truth.
Always notice that the Lord speaks to her of her beauties and graces, describes them all minutely, for they are all His own gifts; while she speaks of Him to others, but does not dwell on His glories when addressing Him. Is it refinement, delicacy, propriety? Does not our own hymn book help us? When we have such a hymn as “Thou art the Everlasting Word” is it not a relief to sing, “The higher mysteries of Thy fame, The creature's grasp transcend”? Or, in a simpler one, “Worthy of homage and of praise,” “No mortal tongue can tell Thy ways”? We cannot express all He is—especially to Him, but He can tell us all He sees in us.
In ch. 2:16 the earthly spouse is occupied with what He is to her—the lowest ground, though very high ground, you say. Still it is what she has got.
My beloved is mine, and I am his.” She talks of what she has found, and her experience was not much. She has to complain of her failings, her unreadiness to seize the moment of communion when He put in His hand by the hole of the door, and then, He “was gone”; and she has to bear the chastening through the watchman for it. But in ch. 6:3 she has got higher, “I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine” —she is occupied with His thoughts about her, though still holding to what she knows of Him; while in ch. 7:10 she says “I am my beloved's”! And what about yourself?
Nothing! “I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me.” She has reached the top, and the last verse of the book is a fitting end, “Make haste, my beloved.” She wants Himself.
Let us now turn to the Revelation. There the apostle John (or rather the Spirit through him) completes his Gospel and Epistles. In the Gospel we see that Eternal Life which was with the Father down here in a scene entirely opposed to Him. Light amid the darkness; giving life. In the Epistles we find those who have that life severed completely from those who have not; responsible to let their light shine, and if they do not, they are distinctly called “deceived,” or, “a liar.” In the Revelation we see the end both of the true and the false—the bride and the harlot. That book tells us more of the bride than any other, but it shows us the harlot too, pleasing herself, enjoying her wantonness until the judgment falls. Then the bride is brought forth, and from the Throne itself the command goes out to all the heavens to rejoice, not only for power taken to reign, but also because the marriage of the Lamb is come. That is the true Hallelujah Chorus! After such a display, well may the bride exclaim, “Come Lord Jesus.” There is one little word running through Scripture that must not be unnoticed when occupied with the Lord's coming, i.e. the word “who” (too often in our English Bible translated “which”). Turn to Thessalonians. There you find a people not only turned to God from idols, but waiting for His Son from heaven (personal glory) whom He raised from the dead (given glory) even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come. In the Revelation, we are shown wrath coming on the world, on the Jews, on the false church; and not wrath merely, but the “fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God,” the dead raised and judged before the great white throne. But, in view of all this, we are “delivered from the wrath to come.” How? It tells me of His death, tells me why I should break bread, and go into His presence to think of Him. Now turn to Titus. “Looking for that blessed hope (our being caught up to meet Him), and the appearing of the glory (when we appear with Him) of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us,” not only from wrath but from that which causes it— “all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.” That word “peculiar” misleads people now, as it has quite altered its meaning since 1611, and now means, singular, odd, strange. But it really comes from a Latin word meaning a man's own personal property, that which belongs to him alone. Do we realize that we are our Lord's own personal property, “a people for his own possession”?
Then look at Philippians. “We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile bodies.” Our bodies, not merely ourselves in a general way, belong to Him. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:2020For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:20)). Even in taking our food we are to do it in His name for His glory—and so in everything. Our bodies are members of Him, and is He going to leave these members of His to the grave? Oh no! miraculously, of course, but our body of humiliation is to be transformed into conformity to His body of glory. Thus also in John 13 He washes and cleanses the feet. His constant love shown right on to the end is thus assured at the end. What is that end? “I will come again and receive you unto myself.”
In Hebrews too, He is first seen purging our sins on earth, and then interceding for us in heaven. How does it end? “Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come and will not tarry.”
1 Cor. 11:28-3228But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:28‑32). This is a very solemn scripture, and its very solemnity hinders souls from studying it as they should, while its mis-translation in the Authorized Version (excellent as that version is) exaggerates its solemnity. There is a vast difference between “damnation” and “judgment” (this last being the true rendering of the word used in ver. 29). For as saved, our sins having been borne by the Lord Jesus on the cross, we can never come into “damnation.” Every act of judgment from the Lord towards us is in order that we may “not be condemned with the world.” Another word wrongly translated is “judge” in ver. 31. It should be “discern” (as in ver. 29 “discerning the Lord's body”). “For if we would discern ourselves” —the two thoughts are intimately connected. Yet another incorrect rendering is the word “examine” in ver. 28. The R.V., J.N.D., and other authorities, all unite in giving “prove” as the right meaning, and the apostle uses the word again to the same saints about a very tender matter in 2 Cor. 13:55Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5). All sorts of things had been spread abroad about him at Corinth—some apparently going so far as to say the Lord had not spoken through him! But says he, “Since ye seek a proof... prove your own selves” (ver. 4 is a parenthesis). Is Jesus Christ in you? Are you real Christians? Yes, bad ones perhaps, but real, not reprobates. They would not give up the fact of their Christianity, nor would he. Thus since Christ was in them, the apostle had been the Lord's mouthpiece.
It is not as some suppose, examine your ways to see if you are fit to be at the Table, and confess and get forgiveness. Of course all that is true, but I pity a man who only does that once a week. It should be every day and many times a day. A man who only examines his ways once a week must be walking very carelessly.
Well now, do I own that I am a member of the body of Christ—not of the chapel (whether Anglican or dissent), but of Christ? and as a member (it may be an “uncomely,” or, “less honorable” one yet infinitely precious and necessary to the Head, while the more “uncomely” and “less honorable” in the sight of men, the more honored by Him) am set too in my right place therein by God “as it hath pleased him” (1 Cor. 12:1818But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (1 Corinthians 12:18)). Soon too to be manifested in glory as His, when He will make known that “Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” Shall we be ashamed then of having owned no “body” but that of Christ?
But when at the Table I pause. It is blessed and wonderful to think of the blessings I possess, of the place I am brought to. Yet there is something more wonderful still. I turn from the heights of glory where grace has put me, to view, the depths into which He went, and I see the Son of God in death where I was. It is more astonishing that He should descend into death, than that I should be exalted. “The Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
2 Cor. 3:2, 3; 4:6-142Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:2‑3)
6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. (2 Corinthians 4:6‑14)
. In the first of these scriptures, we start with the affections won, Christ written on the heart. It may be feebly, but wherever God works there is love to Christ. In ch. 4:6 we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ shining in; and then (ver. 10), the life of Jesus to be displayed in the earthen vessels into which that light has shone.
We may have desires to give out that light, but desire is not power. How are we to obtain that power? The poor earthen vessel belongs to God. We are to present it to Him as a sacrifice, your “reasonable service” or worship (Rom. 12:11I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)). Secondly, “your bodies are the members of Christ” (1 Cor. 6:1515Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. (1 Corinthians 6:15)); and, thirdly, the Holy Ghost comes down to dwell in that which is thus claimed by both Father and Son, and the body becomes “the temple of the Holy Ghost” (ver. 19). The marginal reading of Psa. 29:99The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory. (Psalm 29:9), “In his temple every whit of it uttereth glory,” while blessedly true in the future of the entire church, should be true now of every one of us as individual temples. We have thus the power of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit for us, and, in the strength of this the apostle says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed.” How often trouble on one side distresses us, and especially if it comes on two! But he had it all round, yet “not distressed” —the excellency of the power was of God, and not of the earthen vessel.
Our bodies then are His; and we have a beautiful type in Ex. 10:24-2624And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God. 26Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the Lord our God; and we know not with what we must serve the Lord, until we come thither. (Exodus 10:24‑26). It was a wily trick of Pharaoh. He would let the people go, but he would not let them worship; they might go, but that which should be sacrificed must remain. Moses was firm. “There shall not a hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve Jehovah our God; and we know not with what we must serve Jehovah until we come thither.” It is not enough to have our spirits out of Egypt. The enemy will permit that, but our bodies are to be sacrificed to the Lord—our eyes, our hands, our feet, yea, all. We know not what He may ask of us; we know not wherewith we must serve. Not a hoof, not one member, must be left in Egypt.
“The life of Jesus” manifested in our mortal flesh. It is useless to try to “imitate the life of Christ.” If a countryman, who had spent all his life at the ploughtail, were to deck himself in evening dress and enter a ball-room, no gentleman there but would discern who he was by his awkwardness, and it is the same with the soul in spiritual things. It is not imitation, but living out the life which we have. “Christ is our life,” We must be clear about salvation first. Col. 3:1212Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12), which tells us to put on “as elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,” etc., shows the same thing. It is only because we are elect, holy, beloved, that we can manifest the lovely traits which shone so brilliantly in Him. “Be ye then imitators of God as beloved children” (Eph. 5:11Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (Ephesians 5:1)). We are His beloved children, and we are called to act towards one another in the same spirit of grace and forgiveness which God has shown to us.
In tracing the life of Jesus down here, what is the first thing that strikes one? Surely, it is His entire dependence and obedience. “I was cast upon thee from the womb,” etc. And Psa. 16, which gives us His pathway so vividly, commences, “Preserve me, O God, for in thee do I put my trust,” showing His perfect and entire dependence. And in the counsels of eternity (Psa. 40) before He became a man, what was it? “Mine ears hast thou digged.” The ear denotes subjection, ready service— “He wakeneth mine ear to hear as them that are taught” (margin, R.V.). And His own word to the churches in Rev. 2; 3, is “He that hath an ear, let him hear.” Obedience is the result of love. “He that saith, I know him (God), and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar” (1 John 2:44He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)). The apostle Paul speaks of the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:11Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: (2 Corinthians 10:1)); the Lord Himself, of His own meekness and lowliness. Meekness is that which will not return unkindness, no matter how badly treated (as illustrated by our blessed Lord in Matt. 11); gentleness is giving up one's rights—the exact opposite of law, and worldly government. We see this in Matt. 17:24-2724And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. 27Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. (Matthew 17:24‑27). Peter had had a revelation from the Father (chap. 16:17) as to the personal. glory of the Lord, and he had also been a witness of the given glories in the beginning of chap. 17; yet, in a moment of haste, he brings the blessed Lord down to the level of a common Jew, and that with reference to His Father's house! “Doth not your Master pay tribute?” “Yes.” Only one word, but how deeply we may dishonor Him by one word! And the Lord anticipated him as soon as he came into the house. How gentle, how clear His question! “Of whom do the kings of the earth take tribute?” Peter said, “Of strangers.” “Then are the sons free.” He was the Son. Yet He links poor failing Peter with Himself, and speaks of “the sons”! Nevertheless, He could add that beautiful “Notwithstanding” His wonderful yieldingness lest they should stumble! Yet, at the same time, He proves Himself not only the King's Son, but the Creator, God Himself, and still gives Peter a share—the half-crown (shekel) was “for me and thee.”
Again, His lowliness or humbleness! We need a second conversion before we can display this. It was to the disciples that the Lord said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children,” etc. (Matt. 18:33And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)). A little child has not the pride of the world. The son of a prince and the son of a peasant would play happily together if left alone. “The pride of life” is worse than the “lust of the eyes” or even the “lust of the flesh,” terrible as that is. There is pride in the school-boy aiming at being at the top of the class, in the college student who would have a name; but there was none in Jesus. How little can we enter into those depths of humiliation and degradation to which He was subjected, especially at Calvary.
Lastly, His faithfulness, not only to God, and to the world, but to His own. His rebuke to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan”; to James and John when they would have fire come down from heaven; as also when they sought a place in the future kingdom. But was there any harm in that? Harm! It caused, at once, indignation in the others. If we seek a place, no matter where, it is sure to rouse the flesh in others, and that is at the bottom of all the divisions and sorrows. We are wrong if we seek a place either down here among the saints, or even in future glory.
And this is but a little of the “life of Jesus.”
W. B.