That Fragrant Name

That Fragrant Name

J. Boyd Nicholson

The Song of Solomon is a song of superlatives. It is the finest of the thousand and five songs which Solomon penned.

What wonderful compositions he produced from the treasure store of his God-given wisdom! He could sing of the cedars of Lebanon in their regal majesty and of the lowly hyssop on the dry stone wall. The monarch of the forest crouching in his lair and the swift gazelle bounding over hedge and dyke gave him the inspiration for a joyous melody. How could he ever be at a loss for a subject? The secrets of the soaring heights were known to him, and the thunderous deeps of the ocean with its denizens of scaley monsters were not strangers in his thoughts.

Yet for all this, the other thousand and four songs he wrote have disappeared, and only this one remains. Superlative indeed is this Song of Songs for its theme is not the leafy might of Lebanon, or the lion, or the roe, or the brilliant plumage of the peacock; but, rather, the highest emotion of the human heart, true love. Since love has one supreme object, we are directed by this Song to that person, and of him we read, “Thy name is as ointment poured forth.”

Our minds at once fly to the supreme object of our love, the Lord Jesus, and we think of His name, Jesus. His name, truly, is as ointment poured forth.

“Jesus!” Oh, how sweet the name!
“Jesus!” ev’ry day the same!
“Jesus!” let all saints proclaim
Its worthy praise for ever.

Yet, what does it really mean? How can a name be “as ointment poured forth”?

Among the pourings forth of ointment in the Bible, two references stand out. The first, when Moses sanctified Aaron by pouring ointment upon him; and, the second, when the woman broke the alabaster box and poured its contents on the head of the Lord Jesus.

Detailed instructions were given to Moses in regard to the holy ointment (Ex. 30:22-33). These details suggest the six ways in which the name of Jesus is “as” this ointment. It remains, however, for the records of the New Testament to provide us with the seventh point of comparison, there the ointment is poured forth.

The ointment in Exodus 30 was COSTLY. Dear saint, what did it cost the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, to take the name of Jesus? To take that name, cost Him the comforts of the Father’s bosom which He exchanged for the mountain side. It cost Him the sound of the music of heaven; moreover, He became “the song of the drunkard.” It cost Him Gabbatha. See Him there, scourged and bleeding, thorn-crowned and garbed in the robe of mockery. Oh, foolish men, could they not see that He Who stood before them with strange dignity was Jesus? No, they did not see that beneath the thorny crown there dwelt the thunders and the lightnings of infinite holiness. To them He was only Jesus of Nazareth. Yes, it cost Him Gabbatha.

It cost Him Gethsemane, the oil-press. The binding ingredients of the holy ointment were myrrh, cinnamon calamus, and cassia. How these remind us of the sufferings of Calvary!!! Myrrh, obtained from the reddish exuding tears of the tree makes us think of the precious blood that flowed from Immanuel’s veins. It cost Him all that. Cinnamon, that tender bark left to dry in the sun points us to that gentle One Who hung on the middle tree under the burning sun from the third to the sixth hour. Calamus; the word intimates a reed or spear. In this we see the mockery of Herod and his men. What poor heroes they were that day as they struck the lovely Son of God upon the head! We see the soldier with a spear pierce His side and draw forth the blood that saves. Cassia, cut off the tree in long strips leaving the tree torn and scarred, reminds us of the prophetic cry of Psalm 129, “The plowers plowed upon My back: they made long their furrows.” It cost Him all of these; yea, and infinitely more.

By faith we see Him lifted up, On the cross.
He drinks for us the bitter cup, On the cross.
The rocks do rend, the mountains quake,
While Jesus doth atonement make,
While Jesus suffers for our sake, On the cross!

Well might we say to the Lord Jesus, “Thy name is as ointment poured forth.”

The ointment in Exodus 30 was HOLY. How infinitely holy is that precious name! It is holy because God gave it, because it belonged to the Son of God, and because it was given to Him Who would save His people from their sins. That name belongs to the only Man Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. In the words of the hymn we would address our blessed Lord:

We worship and adore Thy name,
Precious holy name;
Thy matchless name
Through eternal years the same.

The holy ointment in Exodus was to be PERPETUAL. God asserted, “This shall be a holy anointing oil unto Me throughout your generations.” Thus it is with the name of Jesus. Over nineteen hundred years have rolled this sphere in orbit round the sun. Kingdoms and their kings have risen and dropped into obscurity, but the holy name of Jesus lives on in its mighty power, and thus will it endure throughout all generations (Rev. 22:4).

Think of this, dear child of God; you will be anointed eternally as a king and priest with that holy name, the name that you have sought to honour down here. “And they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads” (J.N.D.).

Further, the ointment was NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE FLESH. We read, “Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured.” How many things are done supposedly in that name, and if the records were seen there would be only one word over them, flesh. Ah, no, dear saint, that name will not endorse that which is done in the flesh. May the Lord help us to be wary of the deceitfulness of the flesh, lest we be guilty of trying to cover fleshly activities with that precious holy name.

The ointment was UNIQUE: “Neither shall ye make any other like it,” were the divine instructions. In the French translation of John 3:16, the words, “His only begotten Son,” are written, “His unique Son.” No other like Him! He is not just better; He is unique. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Moreover, “God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Then it was PARTICULAR. It was not to be put upon a stranger (V. 33). The holy name of Christ is reserved for the family of God. Only those who have been born again bear that name, and are thus sealed and protected. On what do you trust for Eternity, dear reader? Do you bear that name? If you have doubts, flee to the Man Who died for you, the Man Who bears that precious name, and bears in His body the battle-scars of Calvary. Do not be a stranger on that day when you will bow the knee! Be among the redeemed in glory! Settle it now, before you read another line!

The Apostle John records that the ointment was poured forth upon Christ (John 12:3). The striking thing about the pouring forth of that ointment is, “The house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” The name of the Lord Jesus is as ointment poured forth; it is fragrant. The servants of the Lamb in heaven are all anointed with that name; consequently, the atmosphere of the celestial city is laden with its sweet fragrance. How is it with us now? Do we carry with us the savour of His good ointment? Fragrance is silent, so also is the fragrance of a Christ-like life. Is it possible that of any of us it might be said as it was of Esau, “The smell … is as the smell of a field”?

May the Lord help us to be like the high priest of old, who, as he walked about, the holy ointment upon his head provided the atmosphere in which he moved, and also by its fragrance indicated his presence. May we indeed be more like Him in order that others discern the company of one of the Lord’s anointed.

Jesus! the name I love so well,
The name I love to hear;
No saint on earth its worth can tell,
No heart conceive how dear.

This name shall shed its fragrance still
Along life’s thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.

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He may let earthly comforters fail you, that, by turning to Him, you shall have everlasting consolation.