Song of Solomon --Part 2

Song of Solomon
Part 2

Dr. George Mair

Dr. George Mair, a busy surgeon at Toronto, Canada, makes time to study the Bible. Here, in his second article of this series on The Song of Solomon, he gives us the results of his diligence and research.

We have now considered the Song of Solomon in a general way and have seen that it symbolizes the love between the Lord and His Church. Now we must look at several incidents to learn a few practical lessons that this book has for us in this present Church age. In chapter 2 the Holy Spirit unfolds to us in a very beautiful way the mysteries of

Communion

In this conversation between Solomon and the Shulamite we get a picture of the relationship between the Lord and His Church, or perhaps on this occasion, instead of the Church in general, it would be better to consider things in the light of the individual believer. Let us think, then, of

The Persons. “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys” (2:1). Contrary to what is generally thought, the bride was describing herself as a very common person, for the rose of Sharon was the common red flower that grew in profusion after the rain. It was either the anemone or narcissus and in spring they cover the entire landscape. She was also describing herself as a shy, retiring person, for the lily of the valleys hides in the shade. Humanly speaking, Christians in general are also insignificant. Did not Paul say in 1 Corinthians 1:26 “how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called”? We usually see very plainly each other’s insignificance and imperfections. But in Song of Solomon 2:2 the Lord replied, “As the lily among thorns, so is My love among the daughters.” Thorns speak of the curse — the mass of unsaved mankind — and to the Lord the Christian stands out from among them in flawless beauty because of redemption.

“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love” (2:3-4). This is how the bride sees the Lord — as a fruit tree, capable of providing

Protection. “I sat down under His shadow with great delight …” This is a common picture of redemption and security in Scripture. “And a man shall be an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; like rivers of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isa 32:2). The easterner must have appreciated the shade of a tree in the blistering sun.

Food and sustainance. “And His fruit was sweet to my taste.”

Happiness. She has to change the metaphor here to express the fulness of her joy. “He brought me to the banqueting house.”

Appreciation. As the bride sits in contemplation, we have the Lord’s reaction in verse 7, “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till it please.” The pronoun “it” is feminine, so should read “she.” The Lord appreciates the Church’s communion and worship, and He is not going to be the One to cut it short. How like the experience of Mary and Martha, “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

Privilege. “O My dove, who art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely” (2:14). Here, the Lord describes the Church with respect to her: (1) character — “O My dove,” (2) security —”who art in the cleft of the rocks,” and (3) access — “in the secret places of the stairs.”

There are times when the Lord’s ear is open to the cry of the unsaved, especially when they cry for help, but as He looks on this world it is His Church that has the privilege of access to Him. In fact, it is only the Church that sincerely approaches Him, and that the Lord delights to hear is indicated by His words, “let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice.” We have to be close to Him in order that He may see our countenance. And do we not often speak to Him from afar —in mere ritual — because something has come between, and so He says, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes” (2:15)? The Shulamite would often have had to deal with these animals in the vineyard, so the Lord speaks in language she would readily understand, and we all know the things in our own lives that come between. Whatever they are, be it work, or money, or position, the Lord says to put them in their place or get rid of them.

“Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether” (2:17).

Fruitfulnes

In Song of Solomon 4:12-16, we are given an idea of the Church’s usefulness (and of the individual believer’s usefulness) to the Lord, and also in the world. “A garden enclosed is My sister, My spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed” (4:12). These words, along with those that follow, tell us of the Lord’s appreciation. However, it’s difficult to understand why He has any appreciation at all for us because we are so imperfect in our practice, and we so often fail Him.

Throughout the book we find the Lord in His garden, but here in the details of the garden we have the principles that govern the Church.

Separation. “A garden enclosed…” (4:12). In the east a garden was always protected by a wall, for without were robbers, dogs, and wild animals which would soon plunder and destroy it. The delight that easterners had for such a place is seen in the fact that our word paradise comes from the Persian word for garden. In a wild lawless world full of the thorns and thistles of sin, the Church is the Lord’s garden. In its visible form it has to be protected — there must be a wall — or else the world will come in and destroy it. In the collective Church we have seen the wolves in sheep’s clothing come in, not sparing the flock, when the wall was broken down, and now many that are called churches are just empty shells with nothing there for the Lord. In our individual lives we have to keep out the world’s principles and practices. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate.” Of course, we have only to separate from the world’s influence, and not from its need, else we could easily become like the Pharisees, who said of the Lord, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”

Activation. “A spring shut up, a fountain sealed” (4:12). Water was very precious (and is today) in the east and a garden needed it if it was to bring forth fruit. In the Scripture water often speaks of the Holy Spirit, and as water is important for producing fruit, so the Holy Spirit is essential in the believer’s life for producing fruit also. The Holy Spirit is the power.

Fructification. “Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits, henna, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices” (4:13-14). The purpose of the Lord’s garden is both to produce fruit and to produce fragrance. Even apart from the fruit, the Lord receives pleasure from our life for Him, from our worship, and from our prayers (see Rev. 5:8).

Propagation. “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon” (4:15). This garden did not just have a well of water for its own use; streams from Lebanon flowed from it. Water would enter the ground from the melting snows on Mount Lebanon and would surface as a spring in this garden and then flow from it to benefit those around. The wall kept out any harm, but it didn’t keep the benefit in. How like the Church —a wall to keep the world out, yet the Holy Spirit working from within our local churches, and from within our individual lives, to reach and benefit those around us. The world sadly needs this living water. Do we keep it to ourselves?

Stimulation. “Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out” (4:16). “Awake, O north wind.” What a strange statement! The south wind with its gentle warmth we can understand, but what garden needs the north wind? Yet God has given our northern gardens winter as well as summer, and as someone has asked, “Have you ever seen a delicious MacIntosh apple grow on a tropical island?” It needs the cold hard Canadian winter to achieve its perfection. Or if we think of fragrance, some plants give off their perfume in the sun, some smell fresh after the rain, some, like the night-scented stock we had in Britain, exude their fragrance as the darkness settles down, some, like the tomato plant give their scent when squeezed and bruised, while frankincense gives its scent when it is burned.

How practical a lesson we can learn in this love story! God doesn’t need hothouse Christians. He allows trial to come into our lives that we may mature, that we may be more useful, that we may draw closer to Him, and that there may ascend from our lives, in all their circumstances, a fragrance. God did not permit honey in the meal offering — natural sweetness destroyed by fire. He asked for frankincense which gave off its sweetness even more in the fire, and so spoke of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians should try to be like that. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, whom, having not seen, ye love …” (1 Pet. 1:7-8).

Intercession

“We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?” (S. of Sol. 8:8). The bride now has her position secure with the bridegroom, but her mind now turns to her immature little sister. Whether she was just young or permanently immature is difficult to determine, but surely the application is that we should be concerned about those who have no love for Christ and thus are not saved. We should speak to the Lord about them. Notice how He seemed to be just waiting to hear about this. Immediately He says, “If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver; and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar” (8:9).

These people we are concerned about may not be saved, but there is something we can work on. If only a wall it can be developed into a palace. If they are our friends, we do have their ear and we can witness to them by our life and conversation, and especially with our Lord’s help they may come to accept Christ as their Saviour.

In the first part, then, in our special relationship we see “we have the secret of the stairs” — we have access to Him, and in the second part we see our usefulness. “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse,” but let us not forget that “we have a little sister” who needs our prayers and our help.