Song of Solomon 6

Song of Solomon 6  •  33 min. read  •  grade level: 6
VERSE I. " Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? Whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee." Most blessed and varied are the results which flow from the soul's entire occupation with Christ. To lose sight of self, and have Him for our one object, is immediate-certain blessing. When Christians slip into a low, dull state of soul, what will most speedily and effectually bring them out of it? Becoming filled and occupied with Christ for themselves, and speaking of Him to others. The experience of the spouse is a beautiful illustration of this truth. Her failure, doubtless, was thinking and caring about herself. Self-occupation-self-indulgence. " I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? " But when challenged by the daughters of Jerusalem, as to the superiority of her Beloved over others, she is led to think and speak of Him only; and as she proceeds, her own soul, in the first place, is fully and happily restored. She is thus raised to a measure of communion, which she had never before reached; and she so dwells on the matchless excellencies of her Lord that the inquiring daughters are attracted by the glories of His Person, and desire to see Him, and know Him.
But there is another fruit, my soul, of the bride's testimony to Christ, which I would not have thee to pass over unnoticed. The daughters of Jerusalem, observe, very naturally conclude that it must have been the Bridegroom that left His bride; not, of course, the bride that had left her Bridegroom. Hearing her speak of Him in such glowing terms, they could not for a moment imagine that she could ever wander from Him. One so loved-so admired-so good-so appreciated, of course her eye could never cease to gaze on Him-her heart could never cease to delight in Him, and she could never, never grow weary of Him. Hence they inquire, "Whither is thy beloved gone? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee." What a sharp, cutting reproof, though indirect! And how keenly her now sensitive heart must have felt it. But in extolling her Lord, she condemned herself. So it is, and so it must always be. When the soul is out of communion, everything seems to knock unkindly against it, and condemn its ways. But when restored, all these things serve to deepen our humility, and elevate the tone of our communion. The heart that has just been overflowing with the praises of her Beloved, is now rejoicing in Him. Her eye rests on Him. She knows where He is and what He is doing. Happy moment! All is light and joy. Now she can tell her companions where He is to be found.
Verse 2. "My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies." What a lovely scene this is to the eye of Shelomith, compared with chapter v. 7. "The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me: the keepers of the Walls took away my veil from me." Such is the difference between walking in fellowship with Jesus, and wandering in the world. Now she is in the rural scenes with her Beloved, entering into the counsels of His heart, and the works of His hands. This verse presents a scene of happy communion. The Lord is finding delight in His people; He is in His garden gathering lilies. "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." She enters into His thoughts about His people generally, and about herself specially. This is communion, blessed, solid communion Her eye is single, and the light of heaven fills her soul. Now she exclaims,
Verse 3. "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine; he feedeth among the lilies." This is a high note, but easily taken by faith. It is the key note of a soul that has lost sight of self. " I am my beloved's." It is the very opposite of a soul being occupied with itself. It is true heart-occupation with Christ. It is entering into His thoughts, His love, His grace, His delights; in place of being filled and occupied with its own thoughts, its own feelings, its own faith, or its own services. The eye, the heart, the thoughts, the lips, all are full of Christ and occupied with Him. " T am my beloved's." In chapter ii. 16,- she says, " My beloved is mine and I am his." There, it is the joy of possessing Christ; He is mine. Here it is the deeper joy of belonging to Christ; I am His. Both are blessed, but the latter marks divine progress.
We can understand a newly-awakened soul being full of anxieties about itself, in many ways; and, when it first receives the truth, exclaiming " I do believe in Jesus now-I am sure I believe in Him-I know I believe in Him-I know He died for me on the cross-He shed His blood to wash my sins away, and now I can trust in Him!" Having watched the deep struggles of a newly-quickened soul emerging from the darkness of nature, and hearing the shout of victory, as the dart- clouds were rolled back, "Jesus is mine!" we have been thankful and joyful beyond measure. It is all we could expect at the time, and we were satisfied.
But, by-and-by, when the soul has calmed and settled down after the throes of the new birth, we look for it to rise in the intelligence of truth from its own concerns to the source of its blessing. Where has this new life come from? it may well inquire. Whence its source? Why all this grace and goodness to me a sinner? Who has planted the pulse of eternal life in my once-dead soul? Learning, by degrees, that eternal life and every blessing are but the fruits of God's love in Christ to me a sinner, I am sweetly drawn to Him in the confidence of love-of His perfect love to me when in my sins. All fear departs; for fear hath torment. " God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." " Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John 5:2525Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (John 5:25).) Thus the soul is brought into the closest connection with the Son of the living God, in heaven; and finding that all the springs of its blessing are there, it rises to Him, like water to its level! " I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine," becomes the true expression of its admiring faith.
Verse 4. " Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners." What a greeting this is! Consider it well, O my soul. Wouldst thou know the heart of Jesus? Wouldst thou know His patient love -His unwearied kindness His inexhaustible goodness? Meditate on this scene. Tarry here a little.
It may be interesting to ascertain the meaning of the reference to Tirzah, Jerusalem, and an army with banners displayed. But, oh! suffer not for a moment any of these things to divert thy thoughts from the Person of the Lord Jesus. True, I admit, these comparisons may be the immediate expression of His love. Then, if so, let them be to thee as streams by which thou mayest surely reach the fountain; but tarry not too long by the stream, the spring is better. The happy effect of the true ministry of the word is to bring the soul into direct contact with the Person of Christ. The aim of the enemy, and the effect of false teaching, is to bring in something between the soul and Christ. Tirzah • is no more, Jerusalem is trodden down, and Judah's banner has long been furled; but the heart that found relief in the use of these significant emblems is unchangeably the same. Seek, above all things in the universe, to know the heart of Jesus. " This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:33And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3).) To know God's love in Christ to me a sinner is the best thing I can ever know, for then I know the source—the native fountain of every blessing. How often may Christ Himself be missed, even when the soul is delighting in truth! Watch thou, my soul, and pray unceasingly against this
Now look once more at this unexampled greeting, " Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible [or dazzling] as an army with banners." These words, mark, are the first He addresses to His bride after her sad failure. His lips are opened to the restored backslider by, " Thou art beautiful, O my love." This is Jesus Himself! Who can speak of His love? Art thou at home, my soul, in this atmosphere? Art thou not riveted to the spot and lost in admiring wonder? Gaze, oh gaze, on the Person who thus speaks, and see before His delighted heart a wanderer returned. Let nothing distract thy meditations-seek to profit by it, especially by understanding better the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It may be helpful to connect with the present scene His last words to her when they parted. " Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." Nothing could be more tender or affectionate than this touching appeal, yet it was then all but entirely unheeded by her. Consequently she fell for a time sadly away. But now we find her fully and happily_ restored to her Lord. She has perfect confidence in His love. " I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine," is the joyous expression of her soul. But will He say nothing to her for having wandered and behaved foolishly? Will He not be at least distant in His manner at first that she may be ashamed before Him? Certainly not, seeing she has truly repented of what she has done. The Lord not only forgives but forgets all past offenses when we are penitent. He meets every penitent soul with the fullest expression of His grace. The moment the soul is before Him in its true place, He is unreserved, and throws open the rich treasury of His love. Witness, for example, the Syrophenician woman. (Matt. 15) No sooner had she taken the Gentile's place than the full blessing of His heart flows out to her. He even commends her faith in the, strongest terms. "0 woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt." He keeps nothing back. She is blessed even to her heart's content. Witness also the poor fallen one at His feet in the house of Simon, and the prodigal in the arms of the father.
Such is grace-the grace of God in Christ to sinners. The first thing, observe that the Bridegroom mentions to His bride, is her faultless beauty in His sight. " Thou art beautiful, O my love." Not one word of complaint falls from His lips. He makes no allusion to where she had been, or to what she had done. His love is perfect, and His grace is like the indulgence of His love. He will be gracious according to the love of His own heart. He says she is beautiful as " Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem." Tirzah signifies pleasantness. It was the royal residence of the kings of Israel before Samaria was built, as Jerusalem was of the king of Judah. Jerusalem, we know, is famous in scripture for its many glories. It is spoken of as " Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, the city of the great king. God is known in her palaces as a refuge." Tirzah was the capital of the revolted tribes. But the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, shall be united under one Head in the coming day of glory, to be separated no more forever. What we here have presented in allegory is taught in plainest terms in the prophets. " Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they are gone, and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." (Ezek. 37:21, 2221And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: (Ezekiel 37:21‑22).)
When the twelve tribes are restored and Messiah their king, the glory of the nation shall then be great. "ONE KING SHALL BE KING TO THEM ALL." Then it will be "terrible as an army with banners." This figure conveys the idea, not of that which is awful, but of that which is dazzling, brilliant, glorious-like the imposing effect of an army with banners displayed. The king acknowledges that the effect of the glory of His beloved people thus united in one, overwhelms Him. " Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me." This is wonderful! who can understand it? To understand it in measure we must know Jesus Himself. No heart enters into the blessing and joy of others like His. It relieves His heart to bless the needy. We find Him traveling far, in the days of His flesh, to meet and bless a fallen daughter of Samaria, or a poor Gentile from the coasts of Tire and Sidon. It is His joy, and the joy of all heaven, when even one sinner repents and turns to His fullness. But oh! what will be His joy, when the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem turn to Him with mourning and with weeping-when the long-lost tribes shall appear on the scene, and own Him as their true Messiah;" when every eye of every tribe shall be fixed on Him; when every heart shall overflow with His praise; and when, from Jerusalem as a center, blessing shall flow forth to all nations of the earth.
Then Isa. 53 will be the material of Israel's new song, and the expression of their weeping joy. " He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we arc healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord bath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Their beloved Jerusalem shall then become the Jerusalem of God's counsels, and not of man's pride and oppression. Surrounded with mountains, encompassed with walls, bulwarks, and towers, it will be the glory of all lands. " The name of the city from that day shall be JehovahShammah-The Lord is there." (Ezek. 48:3535It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there. (Ezekiel 48:35) Psa. 48) The Messiah will then have things all His own way. Satan shall then be shut up in the bottomless pit, the curse removed from the earth, the power of evil put down, and the true Solomon shall reign as King over all. The effect, all over the realm of nature, of the absence of Satan, and the presence of Christ in power and great glory, is inconceivable.
" O what a bright and blessed world
This groaning earth of ours shall be,
When from its throne the tempter hurled,
Shall leave it all, O Lord to thee.
" But brighter far that world above
Where we, as we are known, shall know
And in the sweet embrace of love,
Reign o'er this ransomed earth below."
Verses 5-7. "Thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them. As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks." These same expressions occur in chapter iv., and yet we know the Holy Spirit uses no vain repetitions. Then why is this? Since they were used by the Bridegroom in addressing His bride, in the fourth chapter, she has wandered and returned. By repeating to her what He before said, He assures her heart that her beauty in His sight is unimpaired; although He says nothing about her having been away from Him, these expressions of His unchanged admiration of her will now take a deeper hold on her heart than before. Their value is increased sevenfold on account of the circumstances in which they are again repeated. The Holy Ghost can use the same expression, when it is for the glory of Christ and the blessing of our souls. In the present instance no words could have re-assured her heart like these.
Verse 8. " There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. This verse, we doubt not, refers to a millennial scene. It follows the union of the two nations. The cities of Judah and the nations of the earth fill up the scene of glory. Jerusalem teas the first place. This truth, so manifest all through scripture, is most fully expressed, and in the most touching manner, in the next verse.
Verse 9. "My dove, my undefiled is but ONE; she is the only ONE of her mother, she is the choice ONE of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her." What a place she has in His heart! She is pre-eminent in His sight. None can be compared with her. There are many others, but His affection can see none but herself. " My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother." In former scenes He speaks of her qualities, and describes her personal beauty; but now, He speaks of herself, and what she is to Him. "'The choice one of her that bare her." The nation is here viewed in a material character, and the tribe of Judah in a bridal. Such, O my soul, is the Bridegroom-love of Jesus! Thus will it be with the godly remnant of Judah in the latter day-thus it is now, even now, with us in spirit. Drink, oh drink deeply, of the Bridegroom-love of thy Lord. The fountain is deep, it is inexhaustible, it is free, it is open to faith until the nuptial day.
The time was when the daughter of Zion, in the pride and naughtiness of her heart, refused His love. Still, it remained the same, but then, it was shown in the tears which He shed over her blindness. Being left by Him, she fell a prey to her cruel enemies, who sorely persecuted her. Still, His eye of love followed her in all her wandering. Nothing could change His heart. In due time He visited her in her low estate. He found her in the condition of a poor, outcast, sunburnt slave-a keeper of the vineyards of others. His heart was kindled towards her. In His love and pity He felt as if she had "received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." And now, " her warfare is accomplished, her iniquity is pardoned," and she is comforted in her gracious and forgiving Lord. But His love rests not, blessed truth, until He has accomplished all the desires of His heart towards her. And now, mark, my soul, what is she? Where is she? the fair and beautiful spouse of the true King Solomon-the partner of His royal throne in Zion. And not only, observe, once more, is she the object of the King's supreme delight, but she is the object of universal admiration. " The daughters saw her and blessed her; yea, the queens and concubines, and they praised her." "And the daughter of Tire [type of the Gentiles] shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favor." (Psa. 45) She reflects the glory and beauty of the King, and all nations admire His comeliness in her. " And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through my comeliness, which 1 put upon thee, saith the Lord God." (Ezek. 16:1414And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:14).)
Verse 10. "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners." This verse appears to be the language of the bride's admirers, and comes in like a chorus to the song. All are vocal in her praise. The dreary night is past; the morning breaks. " Who is she that looketh forth as the morning?" She is just, as it were, emerging from the darkness of the long, long night, through -which she has passed. But now she leaves it all behind, and comes forth in the freshness, beauty, and hope of the morning. She will soon appear in noonday splendor, clothed in the beams of " the Sun of righteousness."
Hast thou observed, my soul, in thy meditations, that the future light, glory, and dignity of Israel, are frequently represented by the heavenly bodies -the sun, moon, and stars? We see this shadowed forth in Joseph's dreams. In the family of Jacob the whole nation is represented, and is prefigured by the sun, moon, and stars. (Gen. 37) In Rev. 12 the tribe of Judah, from which our Lord sprang, is seen invested with the same light and glory. The simile is "a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The glory of the twelve seems concentrated in, and represented by, the royal tribe. There is also the idea of stability conveyed by these heavenly luminaries. " Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." (Psa. 89:35-3735Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. 36His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. 37It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah. (Psalm 89:35‑37).)
Here pause, for a moment, O my soul, and meditate on the sure word of prophecy, as to Israel's future glory. O what a change for the long-despised, down-trodden Jew! The admiring daughters, queens, and concubines behold the royal tribe-bridal Judah, " looking forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." Invested with light, glory, and dignity, as the fair spouse of David's royal Son, she becomes the great attraction of earth, and the object of universal admiration. Hail, happy morn! the darkness is past, " the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in his wings." Already His beams gild the dark mountains of the Holy Land, and cheer its valleys. All hearts rejoice. Hosanna to the Son of David! the promise is fulfilled. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.... And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (Isa. 60 I, 3.)
" Take boughs of goodly trees, the joyous palm, The willows of the brook, and keep the feast;
The mourner's wounds are healed with oil and balm,
The captive's tears are dried, her sorrows cease,
Rejoice with praise; let harp and cymbal tell
'How goodly are thy tents, O Israel.'
" As willows spring beside the winding stream,
So shall thy children's offspring flourish now;
Thy long captivity becomes a dream-
A sweet memorial is that willow bough
Of all thy sorrows, of that tear-steeped bread,
On which, by Chebar's stream, thy soul was fed.
" Planted in Canaan's fruitful ground,
Her streams shall nourish thy wide-spreading root;
On thee no yellow leaf shall e'er be found,
For Hermon's dew shall feed each verdant shoot.
' What hath Jehovah wrought ' the nation's cry;
Great things for us!' the ransomed tribes reply."
Verses 11, 12. "I went down into the garden of nuts, to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded. Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib." How seldom it happens that the husbandman is taken by surprise with the abundance and ripeness of the fruits of his vineyard! How often, alas, it is the other way! Disappointment, not satisfaction, he is often compelled to reap as the fruit of his labor. It had been always so with Israel, we may say, as the Lord's vineyard, until now. But happily, all is changed! Grace shines—faith triumphs—the Lord prevails-the people are looking to Him, and counting on Him alone. Everything is ripe in Judah for glory and victory.
Blessed day! the Lord now sees in His people the ripened fruits of His grace. His heart rejoices -it is overpowered with the sight. It is no longer a scene in the wilderness, and His association with them there, but the fruitful garden, with its budding pomegranates, flourishing vines, and fruits of the valley. These fruits of His rich, patient grace, deeply affect Him. His love carries Him towards
Meditations on the S of S p 243
Present Truth Publishers Andrew Miller CD Collection
His now changed and willing people, swift as the chariots of Amminadib. " Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib; " or, set me on the chariots of my willing people. (Margin. Psa. 110:33Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. (Psalm 110:3).) Wondrous, blessed scene, that the heart of the Lord should be so moved-so impelled by the readiness of His people to receive Him! Is there not something, O my soul, in this aspect of the Lord's love, which calls for deep, special meditation? Surely there is. How wonderful, indeed, but how blessed, that He, who is Lord of all, should be so transported with delight, by hearts looking and longing for Himself! Oh! that every anxious weeping penitent believed this precious truth! When the daughter of Zion bathes His feet with her tears He will turn away from everything else, and hasten to comfort her. Her tears will be His swift chariot. The fullness of His heart will flow forth to her, and a plenary pardon, salvation, and peace He will pour into her opened ear.
On many a page of the New Testament this sight may be seen. It has always been God's way with the penitent soul; but in the New Testament we have many scenes portrayed of the Lord's personal love and grace. And in what scene do we not find Him more delighted than the saved sinner? Did He not turn round in the press and look for the one that had touched the hem of His garment? She might have slipped away, as quietly as she came, but His love must have the entire scene brought into view, and recorded in the book of everlasting remembrance. None so interested in what had taken place as Himself She had touched by faith the innermost spring of His heart, and the virtue that was there flowed out to her. But the Lord wants to see herself, and hear from her own lips the experience of her soul. This done, He cannot let her go until He has acknowledged their kindred relationship, and the blessings which flow therefrom. " Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." (Mark 5)
And is He less delighted, or less overcome, by the cry for mercy of the poor blind beggar? (Luke 18) By no means. He is on an important journey; must the whole procession stand still for the cry of a poor beggar from the very outer circle of the crowd? The moment the cry for mercy falls on the ear of the Son of David, He is arrested. He moves not another step. "And Jesus stood and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" What a sight! 0, look, again! A poor blind beggar in the dust, and Jesus waiting on him. "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" He seeks not to hurry through His work of mercy; He lingers over the hallowed scene. It fills and moves His soul. He only knows its wondrous bearings. But what a position for a destitute soul to be in? " What wouldst thou have asked, my soul, had it been thee? It is as if the Lord had said, " Ask what thou wilt, I am waiting to serve thee-waiting to grant thy request." What will he ask, poor soul? Only what he feels the need of -his natural sight. " And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight." But the good Lord added to his request a thousand-fold. " And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee." The issues of this scene are glorious! He follows Jesus-glorifies God-and all the people give praise unto Him. The whole scene is like a foreshadowing of millennial times.
But of all the scenes in the New Testament, the parable of the prodigal son, we believe, most fully resembles the scene before us in the Song of Songs. The repentance of the prodigal carries the father towards him, as on a swift chariot. He runs to meet the son. " But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him." The love of the father's heart, and the desire of the son to return to him, form, as it were, a swift chariot of love. But the father taking the direction of its course, they rapidly reach their one, eternal, happy home.
Thus will it be with the Beloved in the Song of Solomon The deep and godly sorrow of His people in the latter day, and especially those of His own tribe, and their earnest desire for the Messiah to come, act upon His love, and carry Him swiftly to the scene. " Or ever I was aware my soul set me on the chariots of my willing people." And, now, taking the direction of His people, as the charioteer in the chariot, He accomplishes their full deliverance, and speedily conducts them to glory and triumph.
" How does the sudden earnestness of prayer
From much-loved Zion on my spirit press,
And my heart speed me forward to their aid,
Borne on the chariots of their strong desire.
As in the heavens riding for their help,
And in mine excellency in the sky,
To thrust away encroaching enemies,
To place my dove in safety on my breast! "
Verse 13. " Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies." The admiring virgins again join in the chorus. They express their desire to see more of the beauty, perfection, and glory of the bride. She is walking in the garden of nuts with the King Precious privilege! They call to her by a new name, " Return, return, O Shulamite "; which is the feminine form of Solomon. This is significant. Union is accomplished. The long broken relationships are re-established. Grace has wrought a perfect work in her. Blessed be the name of the Lord! He can now make Himself fully known to her; and she truly reflects the beams of His glory, " she is fair as the moon, and clear as the sun." She is established in the favor of the King, and in the possession and enjoyment of His affections. This is rest for the heart-perfect-blessed rest. Nothing can rise above it or go beyond it. Say, my soul, is this thy resting-place? The manifested -the enjoyed affections of thy Well-beloved? He has revealed Himself-given Himself; what more can He do? We can have no such expressions of His love in heaven, as we have on earth-as was manifested on the cross. The Blood that was shed there is the perfect rest of the conscience-the love that was revealed there, is the perfect rest of the heart; thou hast all now. " Only believe."
Other virgins now join in the chorus, and inquire, " What will ye see in the Shulamite? " The answer is ready, " As it were the company of two armies." The beautiful Tirzah and the comely Jerusalem are seen united in her. Some have thought, that the company of two armies as seen in the spouse, represent the old life and the new, at constant war with each other, in the Christian. We think this a mistake. Here, it does not appear to refer to conflict at all; but rather to peace, unity, and glory. Does it not express the re-union of the long-divided house of Jacob under the Prince of Peace? Judah and Israel are no longer two nations warring with each other, but are joined in one, and here represented by the loving, peaceful spouse of the true Solomon. This union is introductory to the millennium-the reign of peace. " The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim." (Isa. 11:1313The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. (Isaiah 11:13).) The king of Salem reigns; the twelve tribes are restored; the nations are subdued under them; all is peace. The war trumpet hangs in the hall, swords are beaten into plowshares, spears into pruning-hooks, and the nations do not even learn the art of war any more. (Isa. 2:33And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3).)
But, apart from the allegory before us, do the scriptures countenance the idea that christian conflict is between the old life and the new? Certainly not The conflict is between the old life and the Spirit. " The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." It is not, " The old life against the new, and the new against the old." The apostle states in plainest terms, " That our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed." (Rom. 6:11What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)—11.) It is perfectly plain, then, that in God's sight, and now to faith, our old nature came to its end on the cross. We know, of course, as a matter of painful experience, that the old nature we have still exists, and is no feeble thing. And, further, if it be not constantly watched and judged, it will prove a source of ceaseless trouble, both to ourselves and others. But when, through our unwatchfulness, it does rise up, it is met in conflict, not by the new life, but by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the Christian.
Practical Christianity may be said to consist of two things: 1. In nourishing the new life through occupation with Christ. 2. In judging the old, on which God has put the sentence of death in the most awfully solemn manner, in the cross. But some may ask, " How are we to watch against its risings and judge it " The apostle answers, " This I say then, Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." We have no power against nature but in the Holy Spirit, and in the assurance, by faith, that the flesh is a crucified thing in God's mind, and done with forever. It was on the cross that our old man was crucified; there it was nailed to the tree, and made a full end of; we have to believe this, and walk in the power and liberty which faith gives.
Hast thou entered, my soul, into the right understanding of this foundation-truth-this peace-giving truth to the troubled soul? Know, then, for thy perfect rest and comfort, that from the moment we have life through faith in Christ, the whole of our corrupt nature is spoken of and treated in scripture as a dead thing. " Ye are dead," is the emphatic word of scripture, but that is not all, thank God, " and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:33For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3).) How safe! how secure! " with Christ in God." Could our old nature, or anything that belongs to it, be hidden there? Ah, no; all that was thine is gone-gone forever; all that is Christ's remains-remains in all its changeless perfection in the best place in all heaven. By the cross we got rid of that which is ours-in resurrection we are put in possession of that which is Christ's. Not a particle of the old creation shall ever be found in the new.
The apostle gives us a full statement of this blessed truth, as in his own case. " I am crucified with Christ," he says, " nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Here he speaks of himself, in one point of view, as dead; and in another, as alive. How can this be understood? By faith only. He speaks of two " I's "; the old " I," or self, as slain-or crucified. The new " I," as his new life-Christ in him. The first, he treats as dead, and forever done with; the second, as his only life now. " Christ liveth in me." The practical effect of this truth, when believed, is immense Self, wretched self, which is the end and object of the natural man, in all he does, is gone-gone, I mean, to faith. Christ enters and takes the place of self. " For me to live is Christ "-is to have Christ, not self, for my end and object. Christ, not self, is the spring now. We know, of course, that Paul had his natural life here below-the life he ever had as a man, but the life in which he lived, was a wholly new one-Christ in him. " The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
All this is as true now, in principle, of every Christian, as it was of the apostle, though it may not be so brightly manifested. There must first be faith in the truth, then a life answering to the strength which that faith gives. However, it is plainly written, " They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Not, observe, are crucifying it, but have crucified it. But of whom is this great truth stated? Of highly advanced Christians? No, simply of " they that are Christ's." It is as true of the babe, as of the young man, or the father in Christ. What was it that needed crucifying on the cross? Something that belonged to Christ, or to me? It was the old and great " I," that needed to be slain-nailed to the tree, and that was done in Christ, forever, blessed be His name. Oh! to believe it-to keep self where the cross has put it-to walk in the liberty and power of the Holy Spirit, and be only, and always, occupied with the risen and glorified Christ.