Chapter 15 Leaning On The Beloved

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? (Song of Solomon 8:5).

The elect bride, the Church, is very anxious that her communion and companionship with her Beloved be not disturbed. She says, therefore, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until He please.” She is a little apprehensive about the dangers of any interruption, as she has more than once lost His sensible presence before this. And now we come to a verse which indicates that such communion and companionship are intimately linked with her spiritual progress. To keep in close fellowship with Him is the one thing needful, and therefore that one thing must be guarded at any cost.

The Title Given Him

“Her Beloved.” It matters not who the daughters of Jerusalem of the previous verse represent. They certainly are not in the same relationship, but they also do recognize that there is a love union between Christ and His people. He is the Father’s Beloved, as the Father thrice opened the windows of Heaven and declared: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” But He is also the Beloved of that great company whom He has redeemed, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

But the words may be the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, spoken by way of admiration—something akin to—”There is none on earth like this one!” If so, then it is an ejaculation on His part as He admires the faith which has brought her so near.

Her Posture Toward Him

“Leaning on her Beloved.” He is her support. She leans, not upon some church structure, or the outward performance of religious rites, but upon the Beloved Himself. This implies nearness to Him and some familiarity. It has a sense of cleaving unto Him, to go whithersoever He would go, as Ruth said to Naomi. The posture also implies a certain delight in Him as she rests fully on Him. The words also imply a strengthening of herself, realizing that in herself she is weak. He is her strength as well as her safety and security. She is not leaning upon any one part of Him, such as His arm, but upon His whole Person.

The Place of Retreat

“From the wilderness.” From God’s viewpoint this world is a wilderness. When God redeemed Israel from the house of bondage in Egypt, He brought them into a wilderness to teach them that this world has not a single thing which can feed the new life in redemption. It is nought but barren desert. Note, then, the bride “comes up” from this wilderness.

Hers is an ascending pilgrimage. There is a forgetting of former things, as Paul would say, “Forgetting the things which are behind, I press toward the mark.” Bride and Bridegroom march on together through a wilderness which has many dangers, wild beasts, poisonous serpents, and howling wolves. The Lord is Master of all such creatures so that His bride snuggles up to Him and keeps herself close. This gives her a sweet sense of His protecting care.

The Assertion He Makes

“I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.” This may refer to her state before conversion. Often our Lord reminds us of this to keep us humble and to prevent pride rising in our souls. We were dead in sins, and it was Christ, our beloved Saviour, who alone raised us up.

That work is a resurrection work wrought by Him who is “the Resurrection and the Life.” At His call Lazarus came forth from the tomb as a type of all who receive new life from Him. Only the Lord can raise from the dead, and it demonstrates His great love for us, as was said of Lazarus, “Behold, how He loved him.”

“Under the apple tree” means sitting under the truths of the gospel—that tree laden with so much precious fruit. “Thy mother brought thee forth” has reference to the Church, which from the beginning has always been in travail to bring forth children. The whole history of the Church is one of pain, as of a woman with child, by professing Him, by preaching His gospel, by suffering on His behalf. All who are the Lord’s have come to be so through the travail of the Holy Spirit in the body of the Church.

How precious it is to be in such intimate fellowship, to be so near Him, so accepted of Him. It is the more amazing when we remember what we were—once named “Outcast” but now “Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee.” Once we were as Hannah, a woman of a sorrowful spirit; or like Rahab, dwelling in a doomed city; or like Ruth, an idolatress in a heathen world; but, wonder of wonders, now the bride of God’s Well-Beloved One. What a change! What a blessing! What wondrous grace!

Fade, fade, each earthly joy,
Jesus is mine!
Break ev’ry tender tie,
Jesus is mine!
Dark is the wilderness,
Earth has no resting place,
Jesus alone can bless,
Jesus is mine!

Tempt not my soul away,
Jesus is mine!
Here would I ever stay,
Jesus is mine!
Perishing things of clay,
Born but for one brief day,
Pass from my heart away,
Jesus is mine!

Farewell, mortality,
Jesus is mine!
Welcome eternity,
Jesus is mine!
Welcome, O loved and blest,
Welcome, sweet scenes of rest,
Welcome, my Saviour’s breast,
Jesus is mine!

Mrs. Horatius Bonar