Chapter 13 Altogether Lovely

Yea, He is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16).

The bride-elect had just finished describing in detail her Bridegroom’s features. This word is the summary of her discoveries of Him. The summary is the essence of it all—short and exquisite. She had given a tenfold description of Him, saying, “This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend.” There is no other testimony so beautiful concerning our beloved Lord Jesus. This is the very essence of what all the prophets and apostles have said about Him. And it is the verdict of all believers through all the ages of human history. It is a word full of unutterable sweetness.

The Loveliness of the Bridegroom

“In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). All the glories, excellencies, beauties, and perfections of the Godhead are manifest in God’s beloved Son. The bride looks at Him from top to bottom.

She begins with His head. “My beloved is white and ruddy.” Whiteness points to His absolute holiness and His ruddiness to the blood of His sacrifice. “His head is as the most fine gold.” This refers to His divine nature which put a glory upon all that He has done for us as our Saviour and Mediator.

“His locks are bushy, and black as a raven.” The locks refer to His counsels and purposes concerning His redeemed. Their blackness points to His wisdom and the eternal vigor and strength behind those thoughts and purposes.

“His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.” This refers to His omniscience as “the eyes of the Lord are in every place.” Also this speaks of His concern for His own as being living and quick as rivers and being constantly clear and full of vision.

“His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers.” His cheeks had a well-trimmed beard which gave Him a noble and majestic appearance, and the hairs of His beard were pulled out by His enemies—a most agonizing suffering (Isaiah 50:6).

“His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.” Lips are instruments of speech and so refer to the wholesome words He spoke—pure words, beautiful words, life-giving words.

“His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl.” His hands tell us of the good works He did, and of His liberality in the distribution of grace and gifts, which are all divine and glorious.

“His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.” This doubtless refers to His human nature which remained strong and immovable in sufferings, qualities which are expressed in love and grace and compassion to us.

“His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold.” These may be compared to marble pillars, and speak of the strength to bear all the weight of human sin placed upon Him, strength which is lasting and durable.

“His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.” This is His appearance, His looks, His general aspect to His bride-elect. He is tall and stately—majestic and pleasant-glorious and excellent.

“His mouth is most sweet.” This refers to His words and promises and teachings and His kisses, which speak of His intimate touch upon our lives.

No wonder she bursts forth with rapturous song—“He is altogether lovely.”

The Rapture of the Bride-Elect

“He is all desires—all that can be desirable” is one translation. Exceedingly so! Her heart glows in admiration at the sight of Him. It is a surge of pure emotion—the utterance of a soul overcome with adoring wonder. “Yea” is said as though she had but inadequately described Him and must therefore cut off the particulars and simply summarize by saying,” He is altogether lovely.”

It is to be feared that not many believers of this age have such realized vision of the glories and excellencies of their Saviour. Such vision was common among the devoted Puritans of former times. Rapturous and adoring praise was uttered by them. But low degrees of spiritual life, lack of vision, ignorance of His Person, work, and offices have made such vision impossible and such rapturous affection unattainable.

The bride-elect has her eyes on no other. Hers is an undivided heart. He is the one and only Lover of her soul. There is no loveliness for her but in Him, and to her He is a vast universe of glory and beauty. She has gazed upon His every part from head to foot and says, “He is altogether lovely.” And so He is, not only in His Person, but in His offices and relations, at all times and seasons, and in all circumstances and conditions.

Her heart is all ablaze. This sight of Him set her heart on fire. She silences those whom she calls “daughters of Jerusalem,” who have expressed some surprise at her ardent love of Him. “You ask,” she says, “what is thy Beloved more than another beloved?” She waves them off. She tries to tell them, but is lost for descriptive words. So she sums up His excellencies in these precious words, “He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend.” Her love for Him is strong and ardent, and the sight of Him is just as a live coal dropped into her deepest affections.

O Lord, Thou King most wonderful,
With heavenly glories crown’d,
Thou Sweetness most ineffable,
In whom all joys are found.

O Lord, Thou Light of all below,
Thou Fount of life and love,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
Or shall know when above:

Thee may our tongues forever bless!
Thee may we love alone!
And ever in our lives express
The image of thine own!

Bernard of Clairvaux