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Where Is the Groom?
After the bride described the groom in the way she has done, the daughters of Jerusalem confirm that she is the “most beautiful among women” (Song 6:1). The bride made them enthusiastic for him. After her impressive description of him, the daughters of Jerusalem ask if they can help to find him. Now the bride no longer asks for help to the daughters of Jerusalem (Song 5:8), but it is the other way around. They ask her where her beloved has turned.
In a similar way, the disciples have tried to make Thomas enthusiastic about the Lord by telling him that they have seen Him (Jn 20:24-25). Thus we can make others enthusiastic for Him by testifying of Him Who He is for us. If our testimony is real, it contains attracting or recruiting power.
When we talk enthusiastically about Him, the desire arises in others to seek Him also. This may be the result of Bible lectures or Bible studies in which He is central. We listen to what others say about Him. That encourages us to investigate more Who He is. He also likes to listen to it when believers speak about Him. He will then reveal Himself to them.
When the daughters of Jerusalem have asked the bride where her beloved has turned, the bride suddenly knows where he is (Song 6:2). He “has gone down to his garden”. By this she means her heart, her life. He called her “a closed garden” (Song 4:12). After a short period of her slackening love for him, as a result of which she has placed him outside her life, her heart is again alone for him.
When we are full of the Lord, we also know where to find Him. Then our heart is like “beds of balsam”, a place of rest and sweetness for Him (cf. Song 5:13). He comes to enjoy what we are for Him. Although we sometimes shut Him away from our lives, He never really leaves us. Nor do we have to go far up in heaven or far down in the realm of the dead to seek Him. He is near us, in our mouth and in our heart (Deu 30:12-14). He can disappear from our interest. Then He withdraws from us, that we may feel the lack of Him. Thus He brings us to confess our cooled love for Him.
The Lord Jesus not only pastures in “His garden”, which is in my life, but also “in the gardens”, which is in the lives of other believers who also love Him. For them He is also the center of their lives. That’s how our vision expands. We see not only our own life, but also that of others in connection with Him.
With all these believers He wants to “gather lilies”. He seeks fruit in the life of His own. He finds this fruit when the Holy Spirit can work in our lives. He is only interested in the fruit of the Spirit, not in our achievements. The lilies he wants to collect do not speak of impressive deeds, but of tenderness and vulnerability in the midst of a hard, thorny world (Song 2:1-2). These are features of Himself and He would like to collect them from the lives of His own.
The bride becomes aware again of her connection with him and his love for her (Song 6:3; cf. Song 2:16). What she says now goes beyond what she said in Song of Songs 2:16. There she first says that her beloved is hers. She is still ‘I’ oriented. But now she first says she belongs to him. She is focused on him. She has grown spiritually through experience.
A proof of spiritual growth is that what I have received is increasingly coming second, while what Christ has received is increasingly coming first. We think about the joy He can experience in our lives when we live for Him. Then we are no longer busy with ourselves, but with Him. That does not mean that we are ungrateful for what we have received. The point is that we do not dwell on the gifts, but that from the gifts we focus our eye on the Giver. That also gives a deeper satisfaction.
It is a sign of spiritual growth when we think about what we mean to the Lord Jesus instead of what He is to us. We are more focused on Him than on ourselves. The first finds its origin more in the feelings, the second more in the Person Who is the reason for those feelings. The question should not be ‘what can the other person do for me’, but ‘what can I mean for the other person?’ The Lord Jesus never thought of Himself. He has always thought about the pleasure of God and the well-being of His own.
If we know that we are His, it also means that we are completely for His responsibility. He takes full care of us. Whatever happens in our lives, He is involved and helps us. When we know that He is ours, it means that He is at our side with all His love and all His possibilities. There is nothing in our lives that is beyond His control.
Thus He pastures “in the midst of the lilies”. Here we have again ‘the lilies’. He is in the midst of these delicate flowers and He appreciates them. We are for Him like these flowers. We are tender, we are weak, incapable, and we have no power to do anything. But He “pastures” among them, that is, He finds that place of rest with them in a world that has no place for Him.
Beautiful, Lovely, Awesome
Here the groom is speaking again. Now that the bride has found him again, he tells again what she means to him. He has told her before that she is beautiful (Song 4:1). It is an encouragement for the bride to hear this again after the slackening of her love. We also need to hear from the mouth of the Lord Jesus what we mean to Him every time, especially after a period when our love for Him has been weak. This is how the Lord Jesus encourages the apostle Paul when he is in prison (Acts 23:11).
The practical lesson is that a man regularly tells his wife that she is beautiful. This should not only be said when she has dressed well for a particular occasion. It’s about being beautiful about who she is, about being valued about her person with her own abilities. We must also say the same to our children and grandchildren personally. When a child or grandchild is called Emma, we say: ‘You are the most beautiful Emma in the whole world!
A mother called her son. She asked him: ‘Where are you, what do you do?’ The son later said: ‘My mother is only interested in where I am or what I do. But she didn’t ask me how I’m doing, how I feel.’ He missed the interest in him as a person. This is also how we can deal with fellow believers. We do this if we are more interested in what they are doing than in how they are doing.
The fact that the groom calls her “my darling” or “my friend” is also a repetition. He has called her so several times already (Song 1:9; 15; Song 2:2; 10; 13; Song 4:1; 7; Song 5:2). With this he says that there may again be that confidential relationship that characterizes friendship. He can share with her the intimate thoughts of his heart. That is fellowship. It is a next step in the spiritual development in the unity between the groom and the bride.
The purpose of confidentiality is fellowship, growing in unity. For us it means that seeing the Lord Jesus changes us in His image (2Cor 3:18). Christ wants to recognize His image in us, that He is formed in us (Gal 4:19). That is the result of fellowship, recognizing oneself in us. This can happen because He is our life.
With the words “beautiful”, “lovely” and “awesome” the groom uses three images. The bride is beautiful “as Tirzah”. Tirzah was the capital of the ten-tribes realm before Omri made Samaria the capital (1Kgs 15:33; 1Kgs 16:23-24). Tirzah means, among other things, ‘pleasure’. It must have been a beautiful city.
He then compared her loveliness to “Jerusalem”, the capital of the two-tribes realm. Jerusalem means ‘the foundation of peace’. In both capitals we see the glory of all Israel when the twelve tribes are back in the land.
The bride is beautiful and lovely for the groom, but also awesome for those who want to do her harm. She is “as an army with banners” to resist the enemy.
After a speech for young people about sexuality with the history of Dina as an example (Gen 34:1-4) two girls came to me. They looked beautiful. They asked what kind of evil it can be to go out, just like Dina, and have certain friendships.
My answer was: ‘Then you’re on dangerous ground. Boys can come to you and they want ‘something’ with you. They are there for that. If you’re there too, they think you want the same thing. ‘Yes, it has happened before,’ one said, ‘but I said no.’ My reaction was: ‘If a boy has had the occasion to ask you, it means you’ve already gone too far.’ Such girls have not raised up the banners, the banner of the Lord Jesus’ love (Song 2:4; Song 5:10), and are not awesome to the world, but are attractive to the world.
For us, it means that we do not give sin, which is an enemy, a chance to gain a place in our lives. We must take a clear stand against sin. This also applies to the local church. When sin is allowed to enter, the love for the Lord Jesus disappears.
There is in the bride beauty and loveliness that attracts for those who want to join her and at the same time a deterrent power and strength for those who want to do her harm. It seems that many believers have lost both aspects. Because we have lost our holy character, people are no longer afraid of us. Because we have lost our lovely character, there is no longer any attraction with us.
The Bride Described Again
When we look at the Lord Jesus, when our eye is only on Him, it is as if our gaze is too much for Him (Song 6:5). When we are restored to fellowship with Him, our eyes are directed more on Him than before. They no longer roam away from Him to other objects. Then we see ‘Jesus alone’. It is as if this confuses Him. Thus He can be amazed about the faith of a Canaanite woman. She believes with perseverance in His power to heal her daughter. This elicits from Him the cry: “O woman, your faith is great! (Mt 15:28).
The groom is impressed by her renewed dedication. This leads him to describe her again because of what she means to him. He starts with “your hair”, which is the symbol of her devotion. He sees the same devotion to and dependence on him he described earlier (Song 4:1b). It is a repetition, but he sees that the bride now experiences deeper what he says with it. This is also the case with the believer who, after a period of slackening in his relationship with the Lord, again comes to live in fellowship with Him.
Also what he says of the bride’s teeth is a repetition (Song 6:6; Song 4:2), but also not meaningless. Here too, the groom assumes a deeper feeling of the bride. Song of Song 4:2 is about “a flock of [newly] shorn ewes”. The emphasis is on ‘new shorn’. It indicates a fresh beginning. Here it is about is a “flock of ewes”, which indicates adulthood. It speaks of the Lord Jesus observing a change that shows spiritual growth.
“Teeth” is about eating and grinding food so that it can be absorbed into the body. In a figurative sense, it is about the absorption and processing of spiritual food, as a result of which there is spiritual health. The “twins” indicate spiritual balance. The “young” indicate that the effect of balance in spiritual life will be fruit.
When we eat healthy spiritual food, that is, when we read God’s Word, we know when to say something to encourage or exhort. We also know when to spend time with our family and when to go somewhere. In every area of our lives, we will see those responsible in the right perspective and comply with them. The one is not at the expense of the other.
The bridegroom also spoke earlier about the bride’s “temples” (Song 6:7; Song 4:3b). The temples speak of thinking, of thought life. This is “like a slice of a pomegranate”, indicating abundant fruit. This fruit can be seen in her devotion, of which her “veil” speaks.
If there is devotion to the Lord, thinking of Him will fill our thought life. The Lord knows our thoughts. He “understands my thoughts from afar” (Psa 139:2). When two people love each other, they are always busy with each other in their thoughts. When love fades, also the thinking about each other fades away. This applies to our thinking of the Lord Jesus and also to our thinking of the husband or wife.
In my mind I always have to take into account what my wife thinks of something. Just as I stand before God, I stand before my wife. We are a unity. This also applies, for example, when the man is at work and his wife at home. What the man at work says to someone should be the same as if his wife was present. This is a protection of marriage and at the same time a deepening of it. In a relationship of love there are no secrets for each other.
She Is the Only One
The groom, Solomon, says in these verses how unique the bride is to him. He has seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1Kgs 11:3). Of them he mentions here a selection of “sixty queens and eighty concubines” (Song 6:8). They are probably more often in his environment than the other women. Then he also is surrounded by “maidens” in a quantity “without number”.
It is clear that Solomon literally goes against the institution of God, i.e. marriage as a union between one man and one woman (Gen 2:21-24). He also goes against the royal law (Deu 17:17). In this context, however, it is not about his wrong practice, but about the picture of a unique love. We can see this in the same sense that the Lord compares His coming with the coming of a thief. The comparison does not concern the bad character of the thief, but the unexpected, sudden and unwanted arrival of the thief.
Spiritually, the lesson of these verses is that the Lord wants to have a very intimate fellowship with every believer, and that all His love is directed toward us. The church is a whole, but at the same time it consists of individual believers who each have their own relationship with their Lord. In that relationship not every believer stands in the same degree of affection toward Him. These differences are reflected in the queens, concubines and girls.
This is also the case with the various relationships of love for the Lord, which is experienced differently by every believer. The believers of whom this beloved girl is a picture live in the Spirit. Christ sees in them the characteristics of a “dove”, a symbol of the Spirit. He sees a clear or simple eye in them, that is an eye that is only focused on Him. He also sees them as “perfect”, or that they are completely full of Him. Everything in their lives is about Him, they involve Him in all things.
Prophetically, in the one hundred and forty women and countless maidens, we can see the cities in the land to which the love of the Lord Jesus emanates (Song 6:9). But one city transcends them all, and that is Jerusalem (cf. Pro 31:29). He has a special love for that city. Jerusalem is the only city because the Messiah is seen as born there (Psa 87:2-3; 6; Zec 6:12). Jerusalem is “her mother’s only [daughter]”. The mother is Israel. All the cities of Israel and all the cities of the world will acknowledge this.
On that city He laid His glory and that makes her perfect (Eze 16:14). So it is with every individual believer who is fully committed to Him: such a person is an ‘only’ one for Him. He is surrounded by others who love Him, but she is unique, the only one. That she is ‘the only one’ is expressed twice in this verse. By doing so, He underlines how unique she is to Him.
She is also “the pure [child of the one who bore her”. Jerusalem came into being through the faithfulness of God. For a long time the city has been unfaithful, not purely in her relationship to God. When the Messiah comes to the city and declares her to be His bride, she will be “the pure”, the pure city. All her sins are put away. She has been cleansed by the judgment of evil and has become a city completely devoted to Him.
All those who stand in a certain relationship to the Lord Jesus, but not in the way the bride stands in relation to Him, will recognize her in that relationship and praise her. In it we can see the twelve tribes and the cities that lie in therein (cf. Neh 11:1-2).
Similarly, there is a certain admiration for devoted believers among persons who do not have the same devotion. They love the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus loves them. However, they lack the complete surrender that characterizes other believers. We cannot measure this by activities, but by the degree of fellowship that someone has with the Lord Jesus.
We see this difference with Martha and Maria. With Martha her activities before the Lord are paramount, with Mary the Lord Himself is paramount (Lk 10:38-42). After Martha has recognized this, she serves the Lord because of Who He is (Jn 12:2). Thus, every believer can grow to become an “only one” for the Lord Jesus.
Who Is She?
In this verse the Spirit speaks through a third person who asks a question about the bride. That may be the various groups of women from the previous verse. The question is: “Who is this” or “Who is she?” and is about the bride. The question has four parts, each of which draws attention to a particular aspect of her life with the groom. The different aspects represent different impressions the bride makes on the questioner.
The first aspect in her appearance is that she looks “like the dawn”. The dawn announces a new day or a new period. The experiences described above in the life of the bride in her relationship with the groom have led to a new period in her life. She has been recovered in fellowship with the groom. That has changed and renewed her.
That’s how it goes in our lives. We may have had a period of fading or perhaps even life in sin. This has not gone unnoticed by the people around us. Then the Lord Jesus has brought us to the recognition of the wrong and restored us to fellowship with Him. Then we look different. The people around us notice that too. They see that a new day has dawned in our lives, as it were.
The dawn or daybreak indicates the new beginning in the life of the believer who is again committed to the Lord (cf. Gen 32:24). The shadows have disappeared from his life and there is no darkness left in his relationship with the Lord. It is the start of life as a righteous person till the full day has come (Pro 4:18). That is the purpose of the believer’s life. It is the manifestation of Christ and nothing else.
A restored believer is “beautiful as the full moon”. The moon has no light in itself, but receives the light from the sun and passes it on. The believer still lives in the world, where it is night. In the darkness of the night, he may pass on the light of the Sun, that is Christ. In his life he may show the characteristics of the Lord Jesus in the darkness of a world that only pursues its own fame and honor.
The light is also “as pure as the sun”. The light of the sun transmitted by the moon does not lose any of its purity. The moon passes it on as it receives it. It is ‘pure’, meaning that it consumes what is wrong, which stands in the way of the purity of light. If, for example, an unclean thought arises, it is immediately judged.
Finally, a restored believer is also “awesome as an army with banners”. He is in victory, symbolized by the banners. This causes awe to those who want to silence him, so that he does not testify anymore. The following story is a nice illustration of this.
A man arrested for his faith appears in court. The judge threatens that if he does not renounce his faith, he will take everything he possesses from him. The man ‘raises his banners’ and says: ‘Then you need a long ladder, because everything I possess is stored in heaven.’ The judge tries again. Even more threatening he says that he will take his life away from him, let him be killed. The man ‘raises his banners’ again and says: ‘That is not possible, because my life is hidden in God with Christ.’
Such testimonies frighten the enemies, although they often don’t show it. People like Lot, the worldly-minded man, don’t cause awe. His defense against the men of Sodom to do no harm to his guests is answered by the threat to do harm to him (Gen 19:5-9). His testimony of the judgment that comes upon Sodom is considered one of his jokes (Gen 19:14). Opposite to that we see Abraham, the heavenly man. He causes awe to the armies of various kings with an army of three hundred and eighteen men. He defeats those armies and frees his cousin Lot (Gen 14:8-16).
Prophetically, the dawn indicates the coming of the Lord Jesus as “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal 4:2) to illuminate Jerusalem with His glory (Isa 60:1). When He appears, a new day, a new period, begins for Jerusalem. That new day is the time of the kingdom of peace, of which David prophetically speaks as “a morning without clouds” (2Sam 23:4). The shadows of death, the threats of death enemies, are gone. The shadow over the relationship with the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, has also disappeared. There is nothing left between Jerusalem and Him that causes separation.
The change this implies for Jerusalem is noticed by all nations. When Jerusalem was destroyed, the people asked: “Is this the city of which they said, ‘The perfection of beauty, A joy to all the earth’?”” (Lam 2:15b)? After her recovery she will again be the perfection of beauty and a joy to all the earth. This will also lead to surprise with the question: Who is she? Is this the city that had become a mess? God’s restorative work will raise admiring questions because of the enormous change in her circumstances. Former disaster, now glory.
Just before the dawn, before the rising of the Sun of righteousness, we who belong to the church first see the morning star appear (2Pet 1:19; Rev 2:28; Rev 22:16). We await Him as the rising of the morning star. We will not experience the dawn of the day for the people of God and for Jerusalem in particular on earth, but from heaven. Then the Lord Jesus comes with us, His heavenly bride, to the earth to reign with her. Then for Jerusalem and the remnant the glory time begins.
Jerusalem will be “beautiful” “like the full moon”. It is the full light of the moon. It is not primarily about the position of the moon, but about its brilliance. Then Israel will be clothed with the sun (Rev 12:1). Israel will have the highest authority worldwide and spread blessing. The sun and moon are in heaven the witnesses of the faithfulness of God (Psa 89:36-37). There is nothing that darkens the sun, there is only heavenly light.
Jerusalem, the earthly bride, is also “as awesome as an army with banners” (cf. Song 6:6). There are still enemies at the beginning of the kingdom of peace. The Divine light that she will spread will make her strong in battle. God will give her the strength to defeat the remaining enemies (Zec 12:6).
The Groom Went Down
Here the groom is speaking again. He now compares his bride to “the orchard of nut trees”, which also contains fruit trees. There he “went down”. This is always the way of the Lord Jesus when He comes to His people. He bows down to them, He comes to their level. He comes to them to see if there are any signs that the fruit can be eaten soon.
A nut can only be consumed when the shell is hard and can be broken. This must also be done with policy, otherwise the fruit will be broken together with the shell. Sometimes believers live in such a shell. They close themselves off from their surroundings and take a tough stance towards the outside world. Policies are needed to break through the mold and come to the fruit.
The Lord Jesus sees the fruit, we often only see the hard exterior. He does not come to orchard of nut trees to see if there is already fruit, but if there are signs that fruit is coming. He comes ”to see the blossoms of the valley”. The blossoms indicate that fruit is coming, that the process of fruit formation has begun. It happens in the valley, which is in depth. This refers to deep, spiritual exercises that are necessary to come to fruitfulness for Him (Heb 12:11).
We can also observe this in the lives of young people. With some we notice that they want to live with the Lord. The first signs of spiritual fruit appear. We hear that they tell problems at school at home, but also discuss them with the Lord themselves. They are present in the meetings of the believers and help with all kinds of activities.
We cannot force fruit-bearing. Even if we sometimes notice a ‘shell’, we don’t have to want to break through it. Then the fruit is nipped in the bud and can be thrown away. Young believers are delicate plants, which we should accompany carefully. We can learn from the Lord Jesus’ care, from His careful looking to the process of growth.
Then we will not impose our ideas about growth on them, but as He descend to their level. We can do this simply by showing interest in their daily activities, their capacities, their plans. We can share with them how the Lord has shaped us and tell of His patience with us.
What the Lord Jesus then looks at is “whether the vine had budded”. The vine speaks of joy. Are there indications in our lives that we find our joy in the Lord? He looks at that. That joy is connected with fellowship with Him and with the Father (1Jn 1:3-4). When there are signs of fellowship with the Father and the Son, ‘the vine buds’.
As a result, we see “the pomegranate had bloomed’. This speaks of an abundance of fruit. That abundant fruit is worked through the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). The Lord Jesus looks to see if the Holy Spirit can work. The work of the Spirit is seen everywhere where the Lord Jesus is the center. Then His features become visible in that life. That is what He is looking for, that is what He wants to work on.
Then we hear in Song 6:12, in response to His visit to the orchard of nuts, an exclamation of surprise. He says: “Before I was aware, my soul set me [Over] the chariots of my noble people.” The believer with whom the fruit is emerging for Him will give Him the place of honor in his life and will willingly serve him.
This spontaneous willingness is, as it were, a surprise to Him, something He did not count on. It is certainly the result of His own work in the heart of the believer. Yet He says it this way. With this he shows His great, joyful appreciation for the voluntarism to submit to His authority.
Prophetically, this describes an expectant descent from the Lord Jesus to His people. The reaction of His people happens to Him, so to speak, before He has any awareness of it. He did not see it coming, so to speak. The Lord Jesus says this as Man (cf. Mk 13:32). When He comes to His people, He finds a willing people who is drive Him around in honor.
We also see this in Psalm 110, where there is a willing people and a new dawn (Psa 110:2-3). Noble or willing is voluntary, unforced, as also in the voluntary sacrifices. It is not the whole people, but a remnant. So, even today, not all Christianity is devoted to Him, but only those who really love Him.
This is a completely different people than He found at His first coming to earth. Then they did not want Him and He was rejected under the constant crying “crucify Him” (Mt 27:22-23). When He comes back, they will say, “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (Mt 23:38-39; Psa 118:26).
A new part of the book begins with Song 6:13. The previous section ends in Song 6:12 with the arrival of the Bridegroom for Jerusalem and how the city receives Him. In Song 6:13 there is a call to Shulammite to come back. It is said four times. Here the bride is addressed with her name for the first time. This is now possible because she has grown in her relationship with the groom. That is why she can now be called that way. Shulam is related to Solomon. Both words have the meaning of ‘peace’. Her name makes it clear that she suits him.
The daughters of Jerusalem ask her to come back so they can see what happened to her. Their interest in her has been aroused by the change they have noticed in her. They see the peace in which she now finds herself through her connection with the groom. They want to know more about that, to see more about how it came about.
It may also happen to us that people see that there is peace in our lives, while there is discontent throughout the world. We can also apply this to peace in a local church. We can be asked questions about this, why it is that we live with peace in our hearts. They want to know more about that.
In Song 6:13b the bridegroom responds to the call of the daughters of Jerusalem. He first asks why they should gaze at Shulammite, what makes them long to see her well. Why do they want that? He then answers by saying who she is: “A dance of two companies”.
The answer shows that there are two aspects to her peace. The first is that of joy, which is expressed in the “dance”. This dance is an expression of joy at the occasion of liberation and victory (Exo 15:20; 1Sam 18:6). The second is that of unity between “two companies”. Here we can think of the restoration of unity in the kingdom of peace between the two and the ten tribes who have lived so long in division (Eze 37:16-28).
The complete restoration of the unity of the church will take place at the coming of the Lord Jesus. But even now, every restoration of unity is a testimony. It is to be desired that we also show more of this unity and that pure human divisions are made undone (cf. Psa 133:1).
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 6". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12