Featured Article from Living Water Magazine

THE BRIDE’S APPRECIATION OF CHRIST AS RECORDED IN THE SONG OF SONGS

“What is thy beloved more than another beloved,
Thou fairest among women?
What is thy beloved more than another beloved,
That thou dost so charge us?"


“My beloved is white and ruddy,
The chiefest among ten thousand.
His head is as the finest gold;
His locks are flowing, black as the raven;
His eyes are like doves by the water- brooks ,
Washed with milk, fitly set;
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, raised beds of sweet plants;
His lips lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.
His hands gold rings, set with the chrysolite;
His belly is bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires;
His legs, pillars of marble, set upon bases of fine gold:
His bearing as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars;
His mouth is most sweet:
Yea, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, yea, this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.”         

Song of Songs 5:9 – 16


We are often challenged as to what we can truly say about the Lord Jesus. What appreciation have we?  What can we say about Him to God and what can we say about Him to others?  I love this Scripture in the Song of Songs because there the feminine speaker was separated positionally from her beloved. He had come to enjoy her company but she was slow to respond to him and he went away. We cannot just presume the presence of Christ. He comes where He is loved, appreciated and responded to.

She felt this and sought him but she could not find him so she asks her companions to help her and they say, “what is thy beloved more than another beloved?”  In effect they were saying ‘Why should we help you?’ As a result we have a beautiful description of the beloved intended by the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts of Christ. I do not want to go into great detail but just to identify some of the blessed features that she sees.

Some of the things that she says about him are things that she could not have known unless she was in communion with him. It is a great thing to be in communion with Christ. It is not simply that you know Him as your Saviour but also to enjoy a daily and personal walk with the Lord Jesus, to trust Him for everything and to be in the present enjoyment of His love. That is what it is to be in communion with Christ. In John’s gospel after Lazarus was raised from the dead we read, “where was the dead man Lazarus … and Martha served” (John 12:1, 3) but Mary was in communion with Christ and she shows it was so because she anointed His body for burial. Think of what it must have meant to the Lord that there was someone in that company who appreciated where He was going. His death was just a few days away and Mary had some appreciation of where He was going. That was precious to the Lord. It is of great importance to be in communion with the Lord.

Well, here in the Song of Songs it begins with, “My beloved is white”. The spotless character of Christ marks the whole of her description. It shows through in the milk and in the ivory and the lilies and the marble. Every way that I look at Christ, I find perfection. What moral excellence is found in Him.  It was demonstrated right at the start of His public service when He was driven into the wilderness to meet Satan. He did not go, exactly, voluntarily: the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness there to be tested in the most severe way. And that testing brought out the moral perfection that was found in the Manhood of Christ. He would say later, “The ruler of the world comes, and in me he has nothing” (John 14:30).  Satan had no access to Christ. He has access to you and I. It has been well said that temptation comes along three avenues which John describes, “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). These three things, and there were others too that the Lord was tested on, and it brought out the moral perfection found in Him. That was so important because if He was to go forward and meet my liability at Calvary’s cross He had to be morally perfect – and He was. “The holy thing also which shall be born shall be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The perfection of the Manhood of Christ is a wonderful study for us.

She then goes on to speak about the gold. “His head is of the finest gold”.  The gold goes right through her description as well: the gold on the head, the gold on the hands and the gold in the bases. Think of the glory of the divinity of Christ.. When it comes to the Ark of the covenant: the wood was overlaid with the gold. It touched it but it was never mixed. We must keep the thoughts of the divinity of Christ and the perfection of His Manhood separate. We cannot think of them in the same context. God did not die on Calvary’s cross but the Man who died was God. The hymn puts it beautifully:

‘We see the Godhead glory
Shine through that human veil,
And, willing, hear the story
Of love that’s come to heal’
 [J. N. Darby]

Another feature is: “the chiefest among ten thousand”.   He is not to be compared with anyone else. We do not read ‘He shall be the greatest’, but “He shall be great” (Luke 1:32). That is said at the very beginning. He is beyond all praise of tongue or pen. He is not to be compared with anyone else.

“His head is as the finest gold; His locks are flowing; black as the raven”.  Think of the changelessness of Christ. We grow old, we alter, we change. He changes not. This is not what John saw in Revelation: the “hair white like white wool” (Revelation 1:14). There it reminds us of the maturity of His judgment as He assesses the state of the seven churches.  Here, in the Song, it is black as the raven, showing strength and vitality.

Next she speaks of “His eyes are like doves by the water-brooks”.   Think of what is communicated by the eyes. If you are to get the message that the eyes convey then you must be close to the person. You can hear a voice from a distance but for the message that is conveyed by the eyes you have to be close. These eyes conveyed love. The dove would signify fidelity and faithfulness. Christ loves us faithfully despite our failings.

Peter found it to be so. .  When asked whether he had been with the Lord, he replies, “Woman, I do not know him” (Luke 22:57). The Lord turned round and looked at Peter but He never said anything. Those eyes communicated to Peter that He loved him. The Lord knew him through and through. The Lord knew Peter would fail Him. He knew he would let Him down. He knows everything about us. He knows our failings but He knows if we love Him. The look of the Lord broke Peter down. Earlier Jesus had said, I have prayed for you, “that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32). The Lord knew how Peter would fail Him. When he realised what he had done, that he had claimed publicly that he never knew Jesus, it was enough to overwhelm him. He loved the Lord Jesus but he failed at that point. And we all fail Him. We have all let the Lord down.

When was the last time you had an opportunity to proclaim your love for the Saviour and never did it? Let me take it to myself – I have let the Lord down many times but He has never stopped loving me. The constancy of the Lord’s love through everything is a very wonderful thing.

Then we read, “His cheeks are as a bed of spices”.   The cheeks of Christ came within the range of unregenerate man. There was a man, an actor, who was asked to play the part of a Roman legionary in a film. In order to get into the part he enlisted in a school in Rome where you can go and learn how to be a Roman legionary. You can still do that apparently.  He said he was shocked at the savagery of what they were taught.  Now before Jesus was crucified we are told that “they gathered against him the whole band” (Matthew 27:27), over one hundred men, the whole band, set about my Saviour. “He gave his cheeks to those who plucked off the hair” (Isaiah 50:6).

The sufferings of Christ are calculated to affect us.  Why did the Father allow it? It speaks of His love. The Lord Jesus came to demonstrate the heart of God towards lost and ruined man. You and I are included in that - every one of us. Think of the fragrance that ascended to the blessed God through  the life, suffering, and the death of His Son.  That life, surrendered as it was in death, was put under the most severe testing: “who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not; but gave himself over into the hands of him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).   As He was lifted up on that cross He could say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That is my Saviour. The sufferings of Christ should soften our hearts.

Now we come to, “His lips lilies, dropping liquid myrrh”.  Think of the grace of Christ. Think of the grace that was poured into His lips according to Psalm 45.  Think of that grace pouring out as He moved among men. The myrrh would speak of healing balm available to all. Think of those who were healed through the words that came from these lips.  What a challenge! Can we act in this way towards one another and bring in a touch of balm through an impression of Christ that would help someone on their way?  We read, “The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of the instructed, that I should know how to succour by a word him that is weary. He wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the instructed” (Isaiah 50:4). The Lord did that in His Manhood. He met that woman at Sychar’s well, and by His words he brought new life to her (see John 4:4-30).  Then, when he came to Nazareth they “wondered at the words of grace which were coming out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22).

Then, as He taught and encouraged His own what lessons we learn about how we are to be with one another. We are set together; it is not easy sometimes for we are different characters. But we have to get beyond those kind of things and act in grace towards one another. Martha charged the Lord with not caring, “dost thou not care” she says.  But He says to her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). Oh, the grace of Christ. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sakes he, being rich, became poor, in order that ye by his poverty might be enriched” (2 Corinthians 8:9). What enrichment that has come to us through this blessed Person.

It goes on, “his hands gold rings”. His hands were nailed to Calvary’s cross. Those hands that were outstretched in blessing are the hands into which all government has been committed. Everything has been committed into the hands of Christ. What is in those hands? You and I, as believers in Jesus, are held in the hands of Christ. Think of being held there in the affections of Christ. What security that gives for none shall “seize them out of my hand… and no one can seize  them out of the hand of my Father's” (John 10:28-29).

His belly is bright ivory”. Think of the compassions of Christ, expressed here in Manhood as He moved among men. Think of the suffering that He Himself went through. That is why He is able to enter into our circumstances. The Lord Jesus is the One who can comfort and sustain us in any circumstance whatever because He has been through every trial that we may be called to face, only sin apart.

Hebrews tells us of One who is perfected to be the High Priest through the things that He suffered. The compassions of Christ are there.  He is able to succour and support. The hymn puts it:

‘He knows what sorest trials mean
For He has felt the same’

Then she continues, “his legs, pillars of marble”. Think of the stability of that. Isaiah, speaking of Christ, tells, He “shall be the stability of thy times” (Isaiah 33:6). In Solomon’s temple there were two pillars.  One was called “Jachin” , meaning ‘he will establish’, and the other “Boaz”, meaning ‘In him is strength’. That is what we find in Christ, One that we can depend upon absolutely. There is a great deal of instability in the world.  We are challenged when you think about it. The world is heading for judgment. The believer has nothing here. Things will get worse and worse, they will not get better and they are heading up. We are challenged in our own hearts when we think about it. Well, we find stability in Christ.

Then, “His bearing as Lebanon”. Think of the movements of Christ here. Think of the dignity with which He moved even at the point when He was given the crown of thorns and the purple robe. “Jesus... went forth” (John 19:5). Never were things given with such mockery and worn with such dignity. He was and is the King of kings. That will be seen publicly and every eye will see Him and every one will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to God the Father’s glory” (Philippians 2:11). God will see to it that this One is owned. All things are secure, God’s plan is going through. Christ is coming to take up His reins in government. What a day that will be!

His mouth is most sweet”. This was an intimate touch that she had experienced with the Lord. This is what she knew because of her communion with him. “… taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). It is a great thing if you find that the Lord is sweet.

Finally, there is a summing up: “Yea, he is altogether lovely”. “This is my beloved, yea, this is my friend”. In her mind, in her heart, she is restored completely to her beloved. What is the answer from the daughters of Jerusalem?  They are changed as a result of her description. “Whither is thy beloved gone, Thou fairest among women? … And we will seek him with thee”(Chapter 6:1). Can we help one another into this?  Are we so enjoying the presence of Christ that we encourage one another into it? It would be a great thing if as a result we were all more attached to the Lord Jesus - that we find more of our joy and satisfaction in Him.


David McIntyre
Extracted from an Address, Worthing, November 2017

Extracted from LW150