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Sought but Not Found
We have seen that this book is primarily about the relationship between a man and a woman and that we can learn lessons from this for our own relationship in marriage and also about the relationship between a believer and the Lord Jesus. In both relationships it is about a connection that is characterized by love. The meaning is that we learn to know a love that is not bought or enforced, but the love of Someone, Who Himself is love. For God is love.
We are only able to love if we have received this love (1Jn 4:19). If there is no relationship with God and with the Lord Jesus, it is impossible to love. In this love story we find clues to our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and the disturbing elements that prevent us from enjoying His love.
In the history of love we have ended up in a situation where the relationship between the bride and the groom has come a distance. It is not the groom’s fault, but the bride’s fault. Her love is no longer so fervent. Maybe Song 3:1 gives a clue why. The bride has withdrawn and sought her rest. She lies on her bed, on her own bed, “my bed”, which speaks of complacency.
The life of a believer can sometimes produce disappointments. There may be problems for whom a solution has been sought but not has been found. Disappointed in the Lord, one withdraws then, just as the bride has also withdrawn. Although there may even be a certain indifference, it does not leave the Lord Jesus indifferent. He wants to fill our lives with His presence and give rest.
The groom’s attempts to reawaken the bride’s love do not seem to have been in vain, although she sent him away in the previous verse (Song 2:17). In the night she feels the lack of him. She starts looking for him. To get back into someone’s life, the Lord Jesus uses situations in which someone is alone.
I once spoke to a group of young people about the gospel. The reactions are different then when you speak to someone alone. They acknowledge that when they lie alone on their bed in the evening, they no longer have such a big mouth. You think about your life. It can be the beginning of a search for the meaning of life. God can speak to someone “while they slumber in their beds” (Job 33:14-15).
Then the bride comes to the decision to get up. That is where every true conversion begins. We see this with the youngest son in the parable that the Lord Jesus tells us. When he is with the pigs, he comes to himself and says, “I will get up and go to my father.” Then he gets up and comes to his father (Lk 15:18; 20).
In the same way, as believers, we sometimes have to make a decision to deal vigorously with something in our lives that has distanced us from the Lord. So here the bride stands up and moves around the city, through the streets and over the squares, in search of the one she loves dearly. But she doesn’t find him in the city either.
She has searched and not found him. It is there twice: at the end of Song 3:1, when she searched for him on her bed, and at the end of Song 3:2, after she searched for him in the city. Did not the Lord Jesus say, “Seek, and you will find” and “he who seeks find” (Mt 7:7-8)? Yeah, but He adds that there must be knocking and then it will be opened. In doing so, he points out that we have to seek with perseverance. We should not give up if we do not find Him directly.
It is good that we seek a restoration of the relationship with the Lord Jesus when we miss the relationship with Him. However, our search will be in vain if we search in the wrong places. We won’t find Him if we take our ease. Nor do we find Him in the world, of which the city is a picture. The city speaks of a society of people. Cities are formed to establish a society without God. Cain is the first city builder (Gen 4:17b). When there has come a distance between us and the Lord Jesus, when there is dissatisfaction, we no longer have a good view of His whereabouts.
There is a certain Demas in the Bible. He is first a devout believer. Paul mentions him as one of his collaborators (Col 4:14; Phlm 1:24). Then there seems to have come a moment when a separation has arisen between Demas and the Lord Jesus. His love for the Lord is cooled. Demas leaves Paul’s company and leaves for the city. Paul must write with sorrow about him: “Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2Tim 4:10a).
It does not say that Demas is no longer a Christian and that he has openly said goodbye to the Lord. Perhaps he has chosen an honorable profession, but it has seized him completely. He travelled to Thessalonika. There is a sound church. However, that is not his interest. There he seeks the world and not the brothers and sisters.
The world is particularly attractive to young believers. John warns them especially when he says: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1Jn 2:15). The world does not only consist of all sorts of forms of debauchery, of lusts and desires. It is the world as it was made by the fall of Adam into sin, where people that live without taking God into account tell us what to do. This also includes the hardworking people who make careers or discoveries that improve the quality of life. They are highly regarded. But if God has no place in it, it is ‘the world’.
Sought and Found
It is night when the bride leaves her bed and enters the city (Song 3:1-2), looking for the groom. She doesn’t find the groom, but others, the watchmen of the city, find her (Song 3:3). She addresses them without any introduction. She doesn’t mention a name, but asks the watchmen of the city if they ‘have seen him she whom her soul loves’.
After the bride has searched her groom in the wrong way and in the wrong place, she is now also looking for him with the wrong people. How can people who guard the city and have no connection with the groom answer her question? How can those who do not know him tell her where he is? We do not read that the watchmen answer.
We can apply this to believers with mental problems who go to unbelieving counsellors – psychologists and psychiatrists – and ask them for a solution. But how can they offer a solution? After all, these people have no living relationship with the Lord Jesus. They do not believe in Him. If that relationship is not there, the whole quest is in vain. And the emptiness grows.
The watchmen can also represent religious leaders, people who know it so-called. They are the spiritual caretakers of ‘their’ church, but they cannot help either. The general lesson we can learn here is: “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psa 146:3).
In Mark 5, we read about “a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse” (Mk 5:25-26). The many doctors she has visited in the hope of healing have only increased her suffering, while she has invested her entire property to pay for that help. Instead of recovery there has been worsening. Finally, she goes to the Lord Jesus. She says, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well” (Mk 5:28). This means that it comes down to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is able to fill the void in our hearts.
It seems that the bride in Song 3:4 has come out of town and there she finds her beloved. He can be found outside the city, in the field where he pastures the flock between the lilies, as she said before (Song 2:16). She forgot that, so she searched on the wrong places and the wrong people. Now that she is loose from the wrong, she walks into his arms. She found him.
So the Lord Jesus is not to be found in all kinds of man-made systems or with leading spiritual leaders, but in the place of rejection. We can think of the cross of Calvary, which stood “outside the gate” of Jerusalem (Heb 13:12-13). There the Lord is pleased to be found. Whosoever is not prepared to find and follow him there, at the place of rejection, will never find him.
Efforts must be made to find Him there. But if one searches with longing and perseverance, in the trust He lets Himself be found, then He will also be found. He promised it, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Mt 7:7-8; Jer 29:12-13; Isa 45:19).
The bride left the city and left the city and all people behind. We can see this as escaping the hectic of life in the city with all its noise, being absorbed in all kinds of activities, without a moment of rest. The necessary and desired peace is found outside the city in the presence of the Lord. We all need those times of rest with the Lord.
Many people let life just happen by social media and do not have one moment of rest because they think they should always be available. There should be an immediate response when a message comes in. Social media determine life. Imagine that I would miss something, I have to be constantly informed. In this way, peace is increasingly taken away from us.
Do we still have time to be alone with the Word of God and with the Lord Jesus? Only then will we find Him, not in the city, but outside the city. Then we get the strength to go back into the city to be a witness.
When she has found him, she holds him firmly fast (Mt 28:9; Pro 3:18). She doesn’t want to lose him again. She is now very careful about that. Together with him she goes to her mother’s house. She goes back, so to speak, to the beginning of her existence, where her life began and she had her upbringing. If we have departed from the Lord, we must go back to the beginning of our lives with Him. We must remember our first encounters with Him, our first love for Him (Rev 2:4-5).
The bride returns with her groom not only to her mother’s house, but to the room of her, “who conceived” her. That is all the way back to the beginning, to the moment of the birth of the new life. It is like Israel must always do, after the people have been liberated from Egypt. Each year they have to celebrate the Passover as a reminder of the liberation from Egypt.
So we can do this every Sunday, when we proclaim the Lord’s death, remembering what He has done for us. But we must also think about it every day, not forgetting that we are redeemed and how it happened, and thank the Lord for redeeming us from our sins and eternal judgment.
Are we (still) grateful? Do we remember when and where our first real meeting with the Lord Jesus took place? Do we remember the joy and peace it has given us that the heavy burden of our sins has been taken away from us and that we have been born again and become children of God? When something drastic happens in the world, people are sometimes asked later where they were or were doing at that moment. They often remember that too. The conversion of the idols to God is the most profound event in the life of a person which he consciously experiences. Then the Lord Jesus with His love and authority enters his life and changes it completely. It gets a totally different perspective.
In Song 3:5 she addresses herself with the same words to the same persons as in Song of Songs 2 (Song 2:7). It therefore sounds like a refrain. Yet it is not the same. Here, in Song of Songs 3, she speaks these words after the lost connection with the groom has been restored. So there is talk of restoring of fellowship. Now that she has found him again and brought him into the room of her mother’s house, she does hang, as it were, the sign DO NOT DISTURB at the door. She let it be known that she does not want to let in any elements that could disturb her regained fellowship with him again.
Fellowship with the Lord Jesus is not a matter of speed. It takes time, even when the relationship is restored, to grow in it. Growing in faith should not be stimulated artificially. Thus, the use of loud, psychedelic music in a service works that the Beloved disappears. This is also the case with soft music that responds to the emotions. Fellowship with the Lord Jesus requires rest and peace, not incitement. The Spirit of God is present and works in “a gentle blowing”, not in “a great and strong wind”, “an earthquake” or “a fire” (1Kgs 19:11-13). Love needs time to grow, even when cooled love is awakened again.
Who Is Coming Up From the Wilderness?
The answer to the question “who is this coming up from the wilderness” is simple. She is none other than the bride. Yet the question suggests that she is not immediately recognized. That has to do with her stay in the wilderness. The wilderness has changed her. She has become, as it were, a different person. In the spiritual application, the wilderness represents the world seen as the area God uses to test our faith. Through faith tests God wants to change us and make us more and more conform to the image of His Son.
In the prophetic application we can think here of the faithful remnant that is kept by God in the wilderness in the time of great tribulation (Rev 12:13-17; cf. Hos 2:14-23). This time will bring about a change in the remnant that will make it a people with whom the Lord Jesus can live.
The believers individually and God’s people as a whole are compared here to “columns of smoke”. We see the ‘columns of smoke’ in Israel rising from the altar of burnt offering to God, as a soothing aroma to Him. Believers who have been tried by God and to whom He has been able to do His work are also pleasing to Him. In their lives He recognizes what is always perfectly present in the Lord Jesus: His own image.
Further we see that the bride is “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense”. That reminds us of the journey of the people of God through the wilderness, where the people are led by the cloud of God’s glory. This cloud has covered them and also the tabernacle. God wants to make His glory visible through all the exercises through which a believer passes. That is what our stay in the wilderness is for.
The “myrrh and incense” by which she is perfumed, means that she comes in the fragrance of Christ (cf. 2Cor 2:15-16). ‘Myrrh’ symbolizes the suffering of the Lord Jesus, while ‘incense’ symbolizes His glories. Everything that is pleasing to God, He has found in His Son. He wants to work the same in His own, so that through their lives He is increasingly reminded of that of his Son. In the trials of our faith we experience the suffering of Christ, while we may also look forward to the glory that awaits us.
To the myrrh and incense are added “all scented powders of the merchant”, a mixture of aroma’s which with the bride is also surrounded. It looks at the many excellencies that are present in the Lord Jesus and have been expressed. Every word and every act is of great beauty and excellence. At the same time they flow together into a beautiful whole. Everything is in harmony with each other. There is no odor that dominates and destroys the other odors.
Paul presents these ‘scented powders’ to the believers in Colossae so that they will spread them around them. These fragrances are the properties of Christ, which we as believers can exhibit and thus let others smell. He writes to them: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things [put on] love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col 3:12-14). These are some of the many excellencies of the new life that we as believers possess. That new life is Christ Himself. Often the exercises in the wilderness are needed to let others smell the excellent scent of Him.
The ‘scented powders’ are available from “the merchant”. This means that they are not available for free, but must be ‘bought’. A price has to be paid for it. That price is the giving up one’s own self and to put obedience and devotion in its place.
Certainly, every believer possesses these ‘scented powders’ through the new life. But putting them into practice is something else. They must, as Paul says, to be put on. That means we have to be busy with it by reading and studying the Word of God. Then we see how they were expressed in the life of the Lord Jesus. The result is that they are also noticed in our lives.
The Couch and the Mighty Man of Solomon
In Song 3:7 is the answer to the question who she is who comes from the wilderness (Song 3:6). The answer is not ‘the bride’, but “the [traveling] couch of Solomon”. Here we see the rest of Solomon. This is a very different rest from the one in Song 3:1. There it is the laziness. Here it is the rest or peace of Solomon, who became part of the bride. Solomon is the king of peace. This scene shows that the bride has found peace in the groom.
Thus, as New Testament believers, our conscience may come to rest in the presence of God on the basis of the work of the true Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus. Through faith in Him we have peace with God (Rom 5:1). In that rest we may know that in the Beloved we are pleasing to God (Eph 1:6). A similar image as the bride in Solomon’s couch can be seen in the two stone tablets in the ark (Deu 10:1-5). This second pair of stone tablets also represent the believers, and the ark represents Christ.
The couch of Solomon in which he transports his bride, represents the rest of his victory. In that rest, the bride is united with him. He carries her on in that rest. He also ensures that this rest is protected for her sake. It is not just sixty soldiers, but “sixty mighty men” who have been carefully chosen from the “the mighty men of Israel”. It is a corps of excellent men. They have proven that they can wage war. With David there are thirty mighty men (2Sam 23:8-23), but Solomon has sixty.
Christ, the true Solomon, knows all the dangers through which His bride, His own, must pass. He leads her further in that rest. We have found rest for our hearts and conscience by going to Him with our sins (Mt 11:28). He also wants to lead us through life in that rest, on our journey to Him. For this He tells us to take His yoke upon us. Then we find rest for our souls in our daily activities (Mt 11:29).
The rest acquired and obtained by Christ is attacked by the powers of the darkness and must be defended (cf. Isa 27:3). He places the responsibility for the defense in the hands of His own, providing them with the right weapons to effectively eliminate the enemy. We see this in the image of the sixty mighty men.
The sixty mighty men all know how to handle the sword and have it within reach (Song 3:8). In these mighty men we can see a picture of believers who, in the practice of life, protect and preserve the truths of faith. Every believer is called upon to be such a mighty man. It is our responsibility to protect what God has given us in His Word. We are all being called upon to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
For this every believer is given “the whole armor of God” at his disposal, which he must “put on” and “take up” (Eph 6:11-18). This also includes “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17b; Heb 4:12). This can, for example, drive away a wrong doctrine about the peace that the Lord Jesus offers – for example, that this peace can be preserved by keeping the law. It is about knowing God’s Word, by which we become adept at using it as a weapon of defense.
The sword is used here to defend us with it “against the terrors of the nights”. The night is dangerous. It represents the spiritual darkness in which we live. But “the night is almost gone, and the day is near” (Rom 13:12). The day begins when the Lord Jesus returns to earth. At the same time, we also see that darkness is increasing. There is increasing deception and Satan is doing his utmost to keep us from following the Lord.
Only by holding on to the Word of God, holding that sword firmly in the hand or within reach at the hip, will we keep our spiritual rest and peace. The Lord Jesus gives the example when satan tempts Him in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11). He then uses the Word of God as a weapon and defeats satan, so that he finally drips off. If we deviate from the Word, we lose our peace. Therefore it is important that we read and study God’s Word.
Solomon’s Sedan Chair
The bride’s attention is now on the groom. He has made a sedan chair for himself, but uses it for the transportation and protection of his bride. Everything that is said about the sedan chair speaks of the person who made it. The bride in the sedan chair is constantly reminded of him during the journey through the night. It is also a demonstration against the enemy and that nothing can stop him. He is the mighty, invincible prince of peace.
The sedan chair speaks of the Lord Jesus Who is carried around by the believers and in Whom at the same time the believers know themselves safe and protected. Who He is to His own is seen in the materials. Not everything is seen by the people, because what is inside is seen only by God.
The first thing that is mentioned and seen of the sedan chair, is the durable wood of the Lebanon. That wood is strong, it is durable and unbreakable. Wood grows out of the earth and it is often in Scripture a picture of the humanity of the Lord Jesus. He is “the fruit of the earth” (Isa 4:2; Isa 53:2a; cf. Lk 23:31). Thus have men seen Him, and so do the believers know him.
The Lord Jesus knows the dangers of life on earth from His own experience, for He was as Man on earth. He is therefore perfectly capable of protecting us from the terrors of the nights (Song 3:8). The same goes for the religious remnants during the horrors of great oppression. He protects his own: “for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”” (Heb 13:5b-6). This may be the language of the believer, in whatever time he lives.
Solomon made the posts of the sedan chair out of silver (Song 3:10). Silver is a picture of the price of redemption (Exo 30:14-15; cf. 1Pet 1:18-19). Then we remember what the Lord Jesus did for us on the cross. That is the basis on which we are brought into this rest and through which He leads us further.
The back – or floor, as it also can be translated – is made of gold. Back or floor looks at something that supports you, at carrying capacity. Gold represents the glory of God. We see this in the Lord Jesus who carries and supports us. We see His glory in everything He does for us during our journey through the night with all its terrors. When we see Him in God’s glory, those terrors do not affect us.
The seat of the sedan chair is purple fabric. Kings go dressed in red purple. Red purple speaks of royal dignity. The faithful remnant shares in the dignity of her Bridegroom, the Messiah. When He appears in royal dignity, they appear with Him. The believers of today are also have that dignity. They are now a kingdom of priests and will reign in the kingdom of peace with Christ as kings (Rev 1:6; Rev 5:10; Rev 20:6).
Finally, it is mentioned that “its interior” was “lovingly fitted out by the daughters of Jerusalem”. In the interior we see the atmosphere in which the bride finds herself, through which she is surrounded. That atmosphere is love. The daughters of Jerusalem have taken care of this.
This speaks of believers who love the Lord Jesus so much, who live so much for Him, that this love surrounds their whole lives. Whatever they do, they do it out of love for the Lord Jesus. When you come into contact with them, you simply cannot escape experiencing that atmosphere, you, as it were, undergo it. If there is that atmosphere of love around us, it means that we show what we are in Christ. As a result, we accept, complement and help each other in this.
The daughters of Jerusalem, who also love the groom, have decorated the interior of the sedan chair with their love. That is what he really rests on. The Lord Jesus is carried around by the love of all His own. In the light of love, the other materials acquire their true meaning. God forgets nothing done out of love for Him and His own (Heb 6:10).
The Coronation on the Day of the Wedding
The daughters of Sion have lovingly clad the interior of Solomon’s sedan chair. Now those who have created this atmosphere of love are called upon to go forth to see “King Solomon with the crown”. Those who are led by love in their keeping company with the Lord Jesus and His own are given to see His glory as the crowned King. For this they have to go “forth”. It is the call that also sounds today in a Christianity that has fallen asleep: “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out, to meet [him]!” (Mt 25:6b; cf. Eph 5:14).
Love goes beyond being busy for Him. Martha serves the Lord out of love, and the Lord appreciates that too. But if it is only serving, the work becomes more important than the Person for Whom the work is done. There must come a moment when we “go forth”, go out of our activities to meet Him, to see Him and admire Him in His glory.
The crown that Solomon wears is put on his head by “his mother”. ‘His mother’ is a picture of Israel. It shows what the faithful remnant will do with the Messiah as He comes to them after the time of great tribulation. They will recognize Him as their King and thus put Him up the crown. This shows their connection with Him. He is their King and Lord to Whom they bow down in adoration: “Then the King will desire your beauty. because He is your Lord, bow down to Him” (Psa 45:11).
At the same time He is their Bridegroom. He is crowned “on the day of His wedding”. The wedding refers to the union of the Lord Jesus as the Messiah with the remnant, or better, with the city of Jerusalem as His bride. The wedding determines our love between the Bridegroom and the bride. There is not only a relationship of authority but also a relationship of love. His love goes out to His earthly bride. Then there is no longer the aspect of “being busy” for Him in the foreground, but being there for Him. We see that in the last line of the verse. It is about “His gladness of heart”.
When the Lord Jesus has entered His earthly bride into His kingdom and she shares in His rest, His heart is full of joy. After the joy for Israel because of the redemption that He brought about through which He is in their midst as their King (Zep 3:14-17), we read: “He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (Zep 3:17b).
The same goes for our relationship with the Lord Jesus. On earth, His kingship is despicable rejected by men, which is expressed by crowning Him with a crown of thorns (Mt 27:29). But we recognize that He is rightly crowned with glory and honor by God (Heb 2:9). Our recognition of His crowning can be seen as the coronation we perform. We bow down deeply before Him and place our whole lives under His authority.
We give Him His crown and honor Him as our Lord when we dedicate our lives in every sphere to Him. That is as a father, as a mother, as a child, in society and as a member of God’s church with the task He has given. ‘The day of His coronation’, the day we crown Him, is for us every day we live with our hearts directed to Him. Then we will not be primarily concerned with what we can do for Him, but with ‘the joy of His heart’.
Let us fix “our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb 12:2a). While He performed His work on earth through the terrible suffering on the cross He looked over that work to the joy. That joy consists of seeing the great crowd of redeemed whom He has bought for God through His work (Rev 5:9). Among them is His heavenly bride, the believers of the church.
He has “gave Himself up for her” to possess her (Eph 5:25). He will rejoice in her forever. He has had her in His mind in completing His work. She is the “one pearl of great value”, for which He has given up all things to possess that one (Mt 13:45-46). She already belongs to Him now, but is still on her way to Him. When she is with him, the desires of his heart are perfectly fulfilled.
Are we looking forward to His coming because of the joy it means for Him?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Song of Solomon 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12