SONG OF SOLOMON 1
THE Song of Songs is perhaps the most unique book of the Bible. As in Esther, there is no mention of God, but God is throughout it all, more intimately than in any other part of Scripture - its chief character is God manifest in the flesh, intimately described and detailed.
What is the value of this so strange book of love? It is to create and develop a frame of mind - a sweetening and softening of character - a disposition of gentleness and kindness and affection and care.
The spiritual is taught by means of the natural. We are led from something we know to something we need to know. It is spiritual food for the mind.
It is to develop and intensify our affection for Christ, which is the power and secret of all overcoming.
It is to counterbalance present things. By putting the things of the Spirit in the language of the natural, it impresses us vividly with the reality of the former, and their infinite superiority over the latter.
For the eternal spiritual reality must always be immeasurably more intense and meaningful than the mere passing fleshly shadow that represents it.
The book portrays the relationship of Christ and the Ecclesia. It is meant to express, and by its study to strengthen, the bonds between them, and to portray the manifested beauties of Christ, and the required beauties of the Ecclesia, that the contemplation of the one may generate the development of the other.
Generally, a progression can be traced, through acquaintance, interest, deepening of the relationship, espousal, separation, delay, waiting, seeking, finding, ultimate reunion.
While these aspects can be traced, and in general, in this order, still the progression of the narrative cannot, in its very nature, be too mechanically forced, because there are aspects of weaving together, repetition, anticipation, retrospection, to give depth and meaning and interest.
Br o Growcott - Song of Songs
1 The song of songs, which is Solomon's.
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
Ointment in Proverbs (27:9), is the sweet intimate counsel of soul to soul. "Ointment" here is the common word for "oil" -- shemen -- the oil of gladness, of light, of praise, worship and thanksgiving: purifying, healing, dedicating, consecrating. Sacrifice, praise, worship, and thanksgiving are the sweet savours unto God. *
The moral result of the truth perceived and received
Love sets in as the fruit of knowledge. We must first know a friend before we can love him. The love of Christ follows introduction and acquaintance. It must be so: it cannot fail to be so where he is thoroughly known. If from whatever cause, we fail to advance to the love stage, our case is abortive.
Jesus requires our love; the figure of the coming marriage points to the fitness of it. What use or pleasure could he have in men who knew about him but did not love him? Common reason vindicates the divine requirement in the matter. God is love. His family in its final development will be a family of love, and a man in the family who did not love would be out of place. We look at Paul our example here,
"The love of Christ constraineth us,"
he testifies of his own case, and concerning the brethren, he prayed that they might be
"rooted and grounded in love," and "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Ephes. 3:19
"Love is of God: and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." I love them that love me,"
is the declaration of the Spirit now corporealized in Christ, the Bridegroom.
Knowledge having brought forth love, love leads to betrothal where the right mind exists. The decision to become Christ's is so described by Paul, who said to the Corinthians,
"I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
The espousal takes place when the enlightened man or woman enters into covenant with Christ by baptism. The act of baptism, as we all know from the apostolic teaching, is a taking of his name, not, however, with the finality of the conjugal relation which is not reached till the resurrection, but as a preliminary covenant to be afterwards ratified if the conditions are satisfactorily fulfilled.
It is being baptised into his death (Rom. 6:3); with the determination on the part of the baptised to be done with the sinful past as entirely as a dead man is done with his life (verses 11-14). If this determination is successfully performed,
" the fruit is unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (verse 22).
The act of baptism is therefore a betrothal and a "covenant by sacrifice"; a covenant entered into through the sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifice of Christ is, so to speak, placed in the act of baptism, so that qualified people submitting to the act are brought into association with Christ and become acceptable to God in their approach for covenant making.
A covenant has two parties to it. In the case in question they are easily discernible. They are the Father, and those who approach Him through Christ in the way appointed. Their respective relations to the covenant are visible in the words of Yahweh, quoted by Paul: The act of baptism is therefore a betrothal and a "covenant by sacrifice"; a covenant entered into through the sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifice of Christ is, so to speak, placed in the act of baptism, so that qualified people submitting to the act are brought into association with Christ and become acceptable to God in their approach for covenant making.
A covenant has two parties to it. In the case in question they are easily discernible. They are the Father, and those who approach Him through Christ in the way appointed. Their respective relations to the covenant are visible in the words of Yahweh, qu
"Come out from among them, and be ye separate":
this is our side: this is what we undertake to do.
"And I will receive you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters":
this is the Father's side: this is what He undertakes to do for us if we carry out our part.
The period of betrothal is the period of each man's probation. The ultimate issue depends upon the divine estimation of this. No man is fit to perform this part of judgement. All judgement is committed to the hands of Christ, before whom we must appear to receive it, and who at his appearing is represented as saying,
"Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice" (Psa. 50:5).
4 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.
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. (Isa 26: 20)
5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
'I am black' mourning, desolate and perhaps literally black when hung upon the stake in the Syrian sun
Levi and Simeon were instruments of cruelty - bulls of Bashan.
7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
8 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.
"fruitful in every good work."
And what are good works? Those only that God has required in His Word. There is none good but one - that is God; and there is no righteousness but that which has been constituted such by His Word. Hence, to be fruitful branches in the Christ-tree, men must do those things that Christ has commanded for his servants; otherwise, they are unfruitful branches.
Of what advantage is it for a man to know the truth and to profess the name of Christ, if at the same time he think and speak and act in accordance with the grovelling instincts of the natural man, which are opposed to what Christ has required?
How can a man hope to please Christ, who has conformed in all things to the present evil world, to which Christ did not belong, instead of being transformed in the renewing of his mind after the image of the new man, Christ?
To such a man the truth is of no advantage whatever, but contrariwise, a positive calamity, as he will find in the day-near at the door-when Christ will say to all such,
"I know you not, ye workers of iniquity."
It is better not to know the way of truth at all, than, knowing it, to continue in the ways, works and maxims of the flesh. The saintship that is disfigured by a conformity to this God-forgetting, man-fearing, self-seeking, money-making, poor-neglecting, proud, unjust, merciless, impure, drunken, tobacco-stupefied age - is a saintship that will not be recognized by Christ, for Christ will recognize only the saintship of his own pattern, which is abundantly exhibited beforehand in the word of truth.
That saintship is a saintship of zeal for God, independence of man, faithfulness to truth, purity (both of body and mind), righteousness, mercy, faith in God, love, meekness, gentleness, unselfishness, submission to evil, and kindness to the unfortunate - even if they are erring, fruitfulness in every good work, always abounding therein with thanksgiving, in the inextinguishable hope of the heavenly calling.
Bro Roberts - Christ and the prophets, Seasons 1: 33
9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
Spikenard takes us to quiet Mary's loving ministration, when the odour filled the house (Jn. 12:3); she alone of all that company seeming to realize the significance and solemnity of the occasion.
13 A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
Myrrh is red. It means "bitter." It is medicinal and purifying. It symbolizes sorrow and sacrifice.
The breast is the seat of the emotions. It also represents sustenance and fruitfulness, and nurture and care of the young and helpless. Perhaps maturity, and gentle, concerned, loving consideration and provision for others, are the principal indications here. And motherhood: the New Jerusalem, mother city of the Millennium, nurturing all the earth in the law of the Lord. Isaiah's glorious closing picture is --
"Rejoice ye with Jerusalem... that ye may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations" (Isa. 66:10-11).
The two-fold aspect irresistibly points to Jewish and Gentile components of the Bride. In fact, the whole natural body is almost entirely two-fold and symmetrical: though its fundamental unity is emphasized by its most vital elements -- the mind and heart -- being single. There must be just one mind and heart in the multitudinous Body.*
14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Camphire is kopher, the same word that is translated "atonement" -- actually meaning "cover" or "cleanse": the golden Ark-cover or Mercy-seat. It is apparently so named because from it was extracted a beautiful golden dye or "covering." *
15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.
Repetition: for surety, and emphasis, and importance. "Fair" is archaic English for beautiful. "Love" is rayah: fellow, companion, associate, friend-emphasizing unity of mind and purpose and character, for this is absolutely essential in Bride and Bridegroom.
Eyes are light and understanding, discernment, perception. The dove is the symbol of the Spirit (Jn. 1:32), of purity, gentleness, harmlessness. It was the only sacrificial bird. Here is clarity of spiritual insight; discerning of the Truth; seeing with gentleness and understanding, and sympathetic desire to help and not destroy.
...In the fullness of their intimacy and mutual understanding and heart-harmony, the slightest loving movement of eye or head is sufficient to arouse overflowing affection. How little is needed to convey the deepest meaning when heart is wholly knit to heart! The Bride's beauty overcomes Christ. Are we part of the Bride? -- the select few chosen from the ages. Do we realize the effort and devotion required? *
*Bro Growcott - Come With Me, My Sister-Bride
Many beautiful figures are employed in the Scriptures to describe the close and affectionate relationship between Christ and his people, but there is none more beautiful than that of marriage.
What is marriage? For an answer we must turn, not to the many unhappy alliances which obtain on all hands, but to God's ideal of marriage. God made "male and female" that they twain should be "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-5). Where this oneness - this divinely intended unity - exists, men nourish and cherish their wives, they love them as their own bodies (Eph. 5:28-29).
Thus is it, says Paul, with Christ and the ecclesia. As we think upon this revealed mystery we feel that we miserably fail in our appreciation of Christ's love, of his deep-down fondness for us, and of the joy which little acts done in his name, and for his sake, yield to him.
But he doubtless bears with us. He knows well the deadening influences of sin which press so heavily upon all of us. Our deficiencies are not to last for ever. Exaltation to spirit nature will right matters. The Kingdom of God will see a perfect (multitudinous) woman as we now behold in Christ a perfect man. Then will come the time for a complete antitype of human marriage, only in the antitype the excellencies will exceed the type as the light of the sun exceeds that of the moon.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, April 1900