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ADDRESSES ON THE SONG OF SOLOMON
by H. A. Ironside, LITT. D. Author of “Notes on Hebrews,” “Lectures on Romans,” “Colossians,” “Revelation,” etc., etc.
Loizeaux Brothers, Inc. Bible Truth Depot A Non-Profit Organization, Devoted to the Lord’s Work and to the spread of the Truth Copyright @ 1933 CHAPTER FOUR SONG OF Song of Solomon 4:1-22.4.11
“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” (Song of Song of Solomon 4:7). IT is not strange that as we think of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Bridegroom, our souls are moved to their deepest depths, but it is hard for us to realize that He has a greater love for us than we could ever possibly have for Him. And so here in this fourth chapter of the Song of Solomon, we hear the bridegroom expressing to his loved one the feelings of his heart toward her, and as we read these words, as we listen to these heart-breathings, we should remember that the speaker is really our Lord Jesus Christ, and that the bride may be looked at in various ways, as we have already seen. Prophetically, we may think of the bride as Israel, and the Lord God rejoicing over her in that coming day; individually, we may think of the bride as representing any saved soul, and the Lord expressing His delight in the one He has redeemed to Himself by His precious blood; or as that Church which Christ loved and for which He gave Himself.
So we may see in these utterances His delight in His Church. In verses one to seven of this fourth chapter, you will notice that He addresses Himself directly to the bride, and He speaks of her beauties as He sees them in a very wonderful way. The imagery, of course, as throughout this book, is strictly oriental, and goes considerably beyond what we prosaic occidentals are in the habit of using. And yet as we read it, we see that there is nothing coarse, nothing that would bring the blush to the cheek of modesty.
It is the fullest, most rapturous delight of the bridegroom in the bride, but every expression is in keeping with the holiness of this blessed little book.
First, he speaks of her general appearance. Four times over in this chapter, he tells her of her fairness. Twice he declares it in verse one. He says, “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair.” In verse seven we read, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Again in verse ten, “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! How much better is thy love than wine!” And yet she had no fairness in herself, as we had no beauty in ourselves. In an earlier chapter we heard her say, “I am black as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.” But he says, as he looks at her through love’s eyes, “Thou art all fair.” Does it not bring before us the wondrous thing that our Saviour has done for every one of us who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ? We would never have been saved at all if we had not realized in some measure our own wretchedness, our own sinfulness, our unlovely character. It was because of this that we fled to Him for refuge and confessed that we were anything but fair, anything but beautiful. We took our places side by side with Job and cried, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5, Job 42:6). We knelt beside Isaiah and exclaimed, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). We took part with Peter and cried, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). But when we took that place of repentance, of acknowledgement of our own natural deformity and unloveliness, He looked upon us in His grace and said, “Thou art perfect in Mine eyes by the comeliness which I have put upon thee.” And now as those who have been washed from our sins in His own precious blood, He addresses us in the rapturous way that we have here, “Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.” What! No spot in us, when we were stained by sin, when we were polluted by iniquity? Once it could be said of us, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isaiah 1:6). And now His holy eyes cannot find one spot of sin, nor any sign of iniquity. Let this give us to understand what grace hath wrought.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!”
It is only God’s matchless grace that has thus made us accepted in the Beloved.
Then you will notice that the bridegroom looking upon his bride speaks of her person in the most glowing terms, referring to seven different things. First, he speaks of her eyes and says to her, “Thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks.” What does that mean? The dove was a clean bird, the bird of love and sorrow, the bird offered in sacrifice upon the altar, and thus typified our Lord Jesus as the heavenly One. And now he sees reflected in his bride that which speaks of himself. “Thou hast doves’ eyes.” We may not have stopped to realize it, but the dove is very keen of sight.
Recently in an eastern city, a poor carrier pigeon fell exhausted on one of those high buildings, and somebody working on the roof of the building caught it utterly unable to rise. They found attached to it a message that had come over three thousand miles, and that little dove had seen its way all along the miles, and; had flown on and on until at last it had brought the message to that eastern city. When our blessed Lord says to us, “Thou art fair, My love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks,” it means not only that we have eyes of beauty, but eyes quick to discern the precious and wonderful things that are hidden for us in His holy Word. Do we respond to this, or do these doves’ eyes sometimes take to wandering, going out after the things of a poor godless world?
He says, “Thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from Mount Gilead.” He refers to the Syrian goat with its long silken hair. One can imagine the beauty of the scene, a flock of goats up yonder on the mountain-side. The bridegroom says, “Your hair reminds me of that.” Hair, in Scripture, is a woman’s glory. That is one reason why she is not supposed to follow the styles of the world and cut away her beauty and glory. You remember the woman of old who loved Jesus and knelt at His feet and washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. She was using that which spoke of her beauty and her glory to minister to Him, the loving, blessed Saviour. Some of my sisters will forgive me if I say that it would be difficult for them to dry anyone’s feet with their hair! Yes, her hair is a woman’s glory and beauty, and, incidentally, that is exactly the reason why the Word of God tells the woman to cover her head when she comes into the presence of the Lord. When she comes in before Him whose glory fills the heavens, to join with His worshipping people, she is to cover her own glory that no one’s attention may be distracted, but fixed on Christ Himself. When you get the inwardness of these things, you find there is a beauty and a privilege in them that does away with all legality, and also does away with leaving us free to follow our own judgment. In Scripture, some things are commanded because they are right, and other things are right because they are commanded. When He makes known His will, the subject Christian bows to His Word, assured that there is a reason for it, though he does not always understand it. How He delights to behold His obedient people; how He glories in their moral beauty!
Then, in the third place, he speaks of her teeth, and we may think that strange, but there is nothing more beautiful than a lovely set of pearls half-hidden in the mouth. “Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.” The two sets of teeth answer to the twins in their cleanliness and sparkling beauty, so attractive in his eyes. And how important the teeth are, spiritually speaking, because they speak to us of mastication, of the ability to properly lay hold of and digest our food. I am afraid there are a number of toothless Christians from that standpoint. Some say, “I do not know how it is, but other people read their Bibles and find such wonderful things, when I do not find much in mine.” The trouble is you have such poor teeth, you do not masticate your spiritual food properly. It is by meditation that we appropriate our daily provision. David said, “My meditation of Him shall be sweet” (Psalms 104:34). Until He gives you a new set of spiritual teeth, you had better use some second-hand ones. Thank God for what others have found; read their books, and get something that way! By-and-by if you will wait on Him, the Lord will give you back your teeth, even if you have lost them, and you will be able to enjoy the truth for yourself.
The third verse is most lovely: “Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely.” This is different from that abominable custom of today that leads so many women, of course not consistent Christian women, but those of the world and Christians living on the edge of the world, to put that filthy stuff upon their lips that makes them look like a cross between poor, low women of the street and circus performers. Here it is the red lip of health, of spiritual health. “Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely.” Why? Because it is speech that has to do with Him! The bride loves to speak of the bridegroom, as the Christian loves to speak of Christ, and her lips are like a thread of scarlet, for she exalts that blood by which she has been brought nigh to God. Every real Christian will have lips like a thread of scarlet, for he gladly confesses that he owes everything for eternity to that precious atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not only when we gather at the table of the Lord, when we bow in worship as we take the bread and cup as from His blessed pierced hand, that we love to sing and speak and think of the blood; but always!
Everywhere, at all times, the believer delights to remember that he has been redeemed to God by the precious blood of Christ. You will find the scarlet thread running right through this Book.
God has said: - “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your soul; it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” - “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” - “We have been redeemed to God by the precious blood of Christ, as of an unblemished spotless lamb, foreknown indeed from the foundation of the world, but manifest in these last times for you.” - “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” And when at last we get home to heaven, our lips will be like a thread of scarlet still, for we will join in that new song and sing our praises to Him who was “slain and has loosed us from our sins in His own blood,” and we will render adoration unto the Lamb whose blood was shed, that we might be made kings and priests unto God. O Christian, make much of the blood, speak often of the blood. Do not be satisfied with the namby-pamby, bloodless religion of the day. When you ask the question, “Are you a Christian?” and you get the ready answer, “Oh, yes; I belong to the church,” then see that your lips are like a thread of scarlet and ask, “Are you trusting in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus alone for salvation?” So often you will find that the idle profession made a moment ago was only an empty thing. They are Christians in name only. There are thousands about us who know nothing of the cleansing value of the blood of Jesus.
“Thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.” You know the temple speaks of the dome of thought, and so the bride’s thought is about her bridegroom. She loves to think of him, to meditate upon the treasures found in his word. Then he delights in her as she delights in him.
In the next verse we have the strength of her character, given her by divine grace. “Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” David’s tower, you see, is the place of defense, the place of strength, and the bride here is one of those who can stand up straight and boldly look the world in the face, assured of the love and protection of her matchless bridegroom. And so we are called upon to be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”
The head won’t be hanging down like a bulrush when our hearts are taken up with Him. There will be a boldness that is never known when out of communion with Him.
Then, last of all, in the seventh place he speaks of that which tells of affection. “Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.” Her heart is his, her whole being belongs to him, and he rejoices in her. We may well sing:
“Jesus, Thou art enough
The mind and heart to fill; Thy patient life-to calm the soul; Thy love-its fear dispel.
“O fix our earnest gaze
So wholly, Lord, on Thee; That, with Thy beauty occupied, We elsewhere none may see.”
As we joy in Him, we will find that He will joy in us. You remember what Faber wrote:
“That Thou should’st so delight in me And be the God Thou art, Is darkness to my intellect, But sunlight to my heart.”
I cannot understand why He should say, “Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.” I cannot comprehend such matchless grace, but my heart can rejoice in it, and so I love Him in return because He first loved me.
Following this section in which we have the bridegroom’s joy in the bride, in verses eight to eleven we have his summons to companionship with himself. The bridegroom would call his bride away from everything else that has occupied her in order to find in him her all in all. “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!” He sees her upon the mountainside. And, you know, the mountain is the place of privilege, the place of beauty, of worldly grandeur and glory, but it is also the place of danger. The leopard’s lair is there and the lion’s den, and as he beholds her there alone, he cries, “Come with me from Lebanon . . . from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.”
Our blessed Lord wants the companionship of His redeemed people. How sweet those words, “Come with Me!” He never calls His people from anything, either the beautiful things of the world or the dangerous things (and after all, the beautiful is often the most dangerous), simply to take a path alone, but it is always, “Come with Me,” and you cannot afford, you who love His name, to draw back, to say, “There are other things so lovely, so beautiful, that my soul must have; I cannot leave them to go with Thee.” He who died for you, He who left heaven’s glory in order to redeem your soul, calls to you and says, “Come with Me.” Can you draw back and say, “No; it is too much to ask; I cannot leave these surroundings; I cannot leave these worldly follies; I cannot quit this place of danger for Thy sake, Lord Jesus?” Surely there is not very much love there. You need to get down before Him and confess the sin of your cold-heartedness and indifference, and ask for a fresh vision of the love that He manifested in the cross that your heart may be weaned away from everything else. Dr. Watts has put it:
“He calls me from the lion’s den, From this wild world of beasts and men, To Zion where His glories are, No Lebanon is half so fair. Nor dens of prey, nor flowery plains, Nor earthly joys, nor earthly pains, Shall hold my feet or force my stay, When Christ invites my soul away.”
Does your heart respond to that? What He desires above everything else is to see His people finding satisfaction in His company.
And then in the closing two verses of this section, verses ten and eleven, we read, “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.” You remember in the first chapter it is she who said, looking up to him, “We will remember thy love more than wine.” Now it is he who responds to her and says,
“How much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.” His people should be fragrant with the sweetness of Christ. It is said of the disciples of old, “They took knowledge that they had been with Jesus,” and if we are in His company, there will be a rich fragrance of holiness, of heavenliness, about us wherever we are found.
A minister tells of riding with another preacher on top of a bus in London, England. As they came down a poor-looking street with a big factory on one side, they were halted, and they noticed the doors of the factory had opened and hundreds of girls were pouring out and making their way across the street to a lunch room; suddenly the air was filled with a sweet delightful fragrance. The visitor said, “Isn’t that remarkable in a factory district here in London?-such wondrous fragrance! It seems like the odor of a great garden. You would not think of finding such fragrance in this district.” “Oh, you don’t understand,” said his friend; “this is one of the largest perfume-factories in all the British Isles, and these young people are working constantly among the perfumes, and every where they go the fragrance remains upon their garments.”
Beloved, if you and I are living in fellowship with Christ, if we keep in touch with Him, everywhere we go His fragrance will be manifested in our lives.
~ end of chapter 4 ~
ADDRESSES ON THE SONG OF SOLOMON
by H. A. Ironside, LITT. D. Author of “Notes on Hebrews,” “Lectures on Romans,” “Colossians,” “Revelation,” etc., etc.
Loizeaux Brothers, Inc. Bible Truth Depot A Non-Profit Organization, Devoted to the Lord’s Work and to the spread of the Truth Copyright @ 1933 CHAPTER FIVE SONG OF Song of Solomon 4:12-22.5.1
“A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh, and aloes, with all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved” (Song of Song of Solomon 4:12-22.4.15; Song of Solomon 5:1).
WE have been noticing in chapter after chapter how the blessed Lord puts before us our privileges as those who are permitted to enter into communion with Himself, and now in this little section we have the believer (if you think of it as the individual), or Israel, or the Church, whichever you will, pictured as a watered garden set apart for our Lord Himself to bring forth fruit that will be to His delight. It is a lovely figure, one used on a number of other occasions in Scripture. In the fifty-eighth chapter of the prophet Isaiah, God pictures His people as such a garden. In verse eleven, He says, “The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
This is a beautiful picture. Primarily it refers to Israel, and morally it speaks of any believer, of that which God would see in all His saints as they walk with Him. In the book of the prophet Jeremiah, chapter thirty-one, verse twelve, we read, “Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.” It is the Risen Christ Himself from whom we draw abundant supplies of mercy and grace; but did you ever think of your own heart as a garden in which He is to find His joy? Your very life is as a garden which is to be for His pleasure. That is the figure you have here. It is the bridegroom looking upon his bride with his heart filled with delight as he says to her, “You are to be for me, you are like a lovely garden yielding its fruit and flowers for me, set apart for myself.”
“A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” We in America like open gardens that anybody can enjoy, but in Syria and in other parts of the old land, they have many inclosed gardens, gardens that are walled in. This is necessary in some of those countries, as otherwise they would be destroyed by marauding creatures and robbers. It is as though the Lord says, “That is what I want My people to be, separated to Myself; I want them to have about them the wall of holiness, for I have marked them off as My own.” In the Psalms we read, “The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself.” Some Christians shrink from the idea of separation. If it is only a legal thing, it may become mere Phariseeism with no heart to it, but if it is to Himself, if it is the soul going out to Him, if one turns away from the world for love of Him, then separation is a very precious thing indeed, and one does not need to think of it as legal bondage, for it is being set apart for God Himself. Could one think of a higher privilege on earth than that He might find His joy in us and we might find our joy in Him?
“A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse.” How Satan likes to break down the wall, to destroy that principle of holy separation which would keep our hearts for the Lord alone; but what a loss it is to our own souls, and what a loss it means to Him, when His people become like a garden trodden under foot, as it were, by every wayfarer. That is what the Christian becomes who does not keep the path of separation.
Then notice the next figure, “A spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” Pure water is a very precious thing in the Far East and so often, when a spring is discovered, it is walled about, covered, and locked, and the owner of it keeps the key so that he can go and drink when he will, and the water is kept from pollution and waste.
That is what our Lord would have in His people. He has given His Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and the Holy Spirit is Himself the Fountain of Water within every believer’s heart, that we might be to His praise and to His glory. This living water within the garden will, of course, result in abundant fruit and flowers.
“Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard.” The orchard suggests more than a mere garden of beautiful flowers; not only something fair to look at, or something that is fragrant to the senses, but something fruitful as well. What precious fruit is borne by the believer; what precious fruit is found in the heart of the one who is shut up to God! In Philippians one, the apostle tells those dear saints that he is sure that God who has begun the good work in them, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. In verses nine to eleven of this chapter, he says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” It seems to me that every one ought to understand that a life that is lived for God is one bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. Love, purity, goodness, sweetness, kindness, compassion, and consideration for others, all of these things are the beautiful fruits that grow in this garden when the living water is properly fructifying the soil. In Galatians 5:22 we have a long list of the fruit of the Spirit. Challenge your own heart by asking, “Am I producing this kind of fruit for Him, ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering’?” It is that patience, you know, that makes you willing to endure. Then there is “gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” This is the delightful fruit that our Lord is looking for in the lives of His people. He would have every one of us as a garden that produces fruit like this.
That word translated “orchard” is really similar to the Persian word for “Paradise,” and it may suggest that as God has a paradise above for His own people, where they shall share His joy for all eternity, so a believer’s heart when it is producing fruit like this, is for God a paradise where He finds His joy and His delight. I wonder if we think enough of that side of it. Are we not likely to become self-centered and merely think of God as serving us, the blessed Lord Jesus giving Himself for us, dying for us, rising again for us, nurturing our souls, guiding us through the wilderness of this world and bringing us at last to glory? Some of the hymns we sing are almost entirely occupied with the blessings that come to us, but these do not rise to the height of the Christian’s communion at all.
It is when we are through thinking about what God is doing for us, and are seeking by grace to adore the One who does all this for us, and are letting our lives go out to Him as a thank-offering in praise and adoration, that we truly rise to the height of our Christian privileges. Then it is that He gathers these sweet and lovely fruits in His garden. It is not only fruit upon which He feeds, but it is that which gives satisfaction in every sense. “Camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.” Some of these plants give forth their fragrance as the rain and dew fall upon them; some of them send forth a subtle aroma when the rays of the sun are warming them. Others never exude, never give out their fragrance, until they are pierced and the sap flows forth. So is it with our lives. We need all kinds of varied experiences in order that we may manifest the graces of Christ in our behavior, and it is not only that we are to be for His delight in the sense in which I have been speaking, but we are to be for His service too, in making known His grace to a lost world.
In the next verse we read, “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” Let us see if we can correlate that. There is Lebanon, that backbone mountain range of Palestine, with Mt. Hermon to the north covered with snow. The streams coming down from Lebanon sink into the ground, and as they do so, springs rise here and there in vales and dells to the surface of the earth, and so the living water flows forth to refresh the thirsty soil. The living water represents, as we know from John’s Gospel, the blessed Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-43.7.39).
Now the Spirit of God descending from above enters into our inmost being and then we have the living water springing up unto everlasting life. Our own hearts are refreshed and gladdened, and the living water in abundance flows out from us for the blessing of a lost world around. Is this not a beautiful picture? My brother, my sister, what do you know of this life in the fulness of the Holy Spirit? Far too many of us seem to be content to know that our sins have been forgiven, that we have a hope of heaven based upon some testimony that we have received from Holy Scripture. But it is more than this. We are not merely to have the assurance of our own salvation, but every one of us should be as watered gardens for Him, with streams flowing out for the refreshment of dying men and women all about us.
In what measure is your life touching others?
In what measure are you being used of God to win other souls for Christ? If we have to confess, as many of us would, that we have never had the privilege of winning one soul that so far as we know we have never yet give a testimony to any one that has really been blessed in his or her coming to Christ, let me suggest that there must be something that is hindering the outflow of the living water. Can it be that great boulders of worldliness, selfishness, pride, carnality, sinful folly or covetousness are literally choking the fountain of living water, so that there is just a little trickling when there should be a wonderful outflowing? If this is the case, seek by grace to recognize these hindrances and deal with them one by one. Away with worldliness, away with pride. Who am I to be proud? What have I to be proud of? “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” - Away with carnality, - Away with self-seeking, - Away with covetousness, - Away with living for my own interests. Let me henceforth live alone for Him who shed His precious blood for me and redeemed me to Himself. As I thus deal with these things that hinder the outflow of the living water, I will myself enter into a new, living, blessed and wonderful experience, and my testimony then will count in blessing to those about me, and my life will be at its best for Him.
There has been some question as to the identity of the first speaker in verse sixteen. It is very evident that the one who speaks in the last sentence is the bride, but is it the bride or the bridegroom in the first part of the verse? “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” If it is the bridegroom who is speaking, then he it is who is calling on the winds to blow upon what he calls, “my garden,” the heart of his bride, in order that she may be at her best for him. If, on the other hand, as I am personally inclined to believe, it is the bride who is speaking, then it indicates her yearning desire to be all that he would have her to be. Dear child of God, is that your desire? Do you yearn to be all that Christ would have you to be, or are you still actuated by worldly and selfish motives that hinder communion with Him? Listen to these words again, as we think of them as coming from the lips of the bride, “Awake, O north wind.” That is the cold, bitter, biting, wintry blast.
Naturally she would shrink from that as we all would, and yet the cold of winter is as necessary as the warmth of summer if there is going to be perfection in fruit-bearing. It is as though she says, “Blessed God, if need be, let Thy Spirit breathe upon me through trial and sorrow, and difficulty and perplexity; take from me all in which I have trusted from the human standpoint; bereave me of everything if Thou wilt; leave me cold, naked, and alone except for Thy love, but work out Thy will in me.”
The best apples are grown in northern climes where frost and cold have to be faced. Those grown in semi-tropical countries are apt to be tasteless and insipid. It takes the cold to bring out the flavor. And it is so with our lives. We need the north winds of adversity and trial as well as the zephyrs of the south so agreeable to our natures. The very things we shrink from are the experiences that will work in us to produce the peaceable fruits of righteousness. If everything were easy and soft and beautiful in our lives, they would be insipid; there would be so little in them for God that could delight His heart; and so there must be the north wind as well as the south. But, on the other hand, we need the south wind also, and our precious Lord tempers the winds to every one of us. “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” It is a blessed thing to be in that state of soul where we can just trust ourselves to Him.
Charles Spurgeon tells of a man who had the words, “God is love,” painted on his weather-vane. Someone said, “That is a queer text to put there. Do you mean to say that God’s love is as changeable as the wind?” “Oh, no,” said the other; “I mean that whichever way the wind blows, God is love.” Do not forget that. It may be the north wind of bereavement when your dearest and best are snatched from you, but “God is love.” It may be that the cold wind of what the world calls ill-fortune will sweep away like a fearful cyclone all that you have accumulated for years, but “God is love,” and it is written, “The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3).
Perhaps you have been asking questions like this, “Why has God allowed the sufferings we have had to undergo? Why has He allowed these weeks and months with no employment and everything slipping away, the savings of years gone?” Dear child of God, He giveth not account of any of His matters now, but,
“When you stand with Christ in glory, Looking o’er life’s finished story,”
then He will make it clear to you, and you will know why He allowed the cold wind to blow over His garden as well as the south wind, and if you would bow to Him now, and recognize His unchanging love, perhaps He would be able to trust you with more zephyrs from the south than you ordinarily experience. We are not subject enough to the will of God. We need to learn the lesson that, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” In other words, “Anything, Lord, that will make me a better Christian, a more devoted saint; anything that will make me a more faithful child of Thine, so that Thou canst find Thy delight in me.” Is that your thought? And then she looks up into the face of her bridegroom and says, “Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” How He delights to get such an invitation as that from His people. He responds to her immediately, for the first verse of chapter five really belongs to this section. She no sooner says, “Come,” than he replies, “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”
It closes with a scene of rapturous communion. And when you look up to the Beloved of your heart and say, “Come into Thy garden and eat Thy pleasant fruits,” He will immediately respond, “I am come.” You will never have to wait; you will never have to give Him a second invitation. If you have any time for Him, He always has time for you.
~ end of chapter 5 ~
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany