Christ in The Song of Solomon (1)
We are honored to include this series from the pen of our esteemed brother, on the Song of Songs.
This delightful little book is full of Christ. He is in every chapter. Sometimes it may be just a glimpse; sometimes it is a lengthy portrayal. But always it is Christ. Is this why the title of the book is "The Song of Songs," as in the opening verse? It sings Christ, and there can be no greater or sweeter theme. Solomon was a prolific writer, and, like his father David before him, was an accomplished poet. It is perhaps fairly well known that Solomon wrote one thousand and five songs (1 Kings 4.32), but this one alone survives, and has been called "The Song par excellence." It is, like that lovely Psalm 45, "A Song of Loves," and love abides when all else is forgotten.
It cannot be determined with certainty in what order Solomon wrote the three books which bear his name. He has given us Proverbs, where he writes of things moral. He has given us Ecclesiastes, in which he deals with things natural. But the Song is unique; it is occupied with things spiritual.
The form of words in the title of the Song is a Hebrew way of expressing its superlative excellence. It is the Song of Songs. It is the best, the sweetest, the greatest of all songs. The same form of words is used in other places and always helps to exalt the Savior. In His deity He is "God of gods" (Dan 2:47). He is greater than the "Heaven of heavens," which cannot contain Him (2 Chron 2:6; 6:18). In wondrous grace He became a "Servant of servants" (Gen 9:25), the greatest of all Jehovah’s servants. Those who know Him and love Him have found Him to be the answer to earth’s "Vanity of vanities" (Eccl 1:2; 12:8). He is the grand antitype of that place of glory which we call the "Holy of Holies" (Exod 26:33). One day His true greatness will be universally recognized when He appears as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Rev 19:16). It is a "Song of Songs" indeed, that sings of such a One as He!
There are two principal speakers in the Song: Solomon and the Shulamite, the King and His Bride. There are other secondary or subordinate voices heard throughout the Song, and these will be noticed in the course of our meditations.
The Song is, therefore, in the main, a dialogue of love, two persons in a happy and loving communion, almost vying with each other as to who can find the more excellent language and the most endearing words to extol the beauties and merits of the other. Some will interpret these as Messiah and a faithful remnant of Israel, and this indeed may be a very true interpretation. Others will see Christ and the Church in the Song; and yet others will detect the love of Christ and the individual believer. Perhaps the ground is too holy for argument or for cold theological niceties. Notice what these differing views have in common, however. The Bridegroom is always Christ, the Beloved of His people, whoever, and wherever, at any time, those people may be. It is surely a safe principle that wherever we may find language that exalts Him whom we love, we may borrow that language, and use it in our expressions of devotion, whether speaking to each other or to the Father. This is a song of communion. There is no reference to sin or to forgiveness in the Song. That is all settled and the Bride is in the enjoyment of a pure and stainless companionship with her Beloved.
Christ is called the Beloved almost forty times in the Song, but some twenty-five times the Bride calls Him, "My Beloved," and this personal attachment makes the relationship very precious indeed. Others have called Him "My Redeemer," "My Shepherd," "My Lord," and "My Savior." She calls Him, "My Beloved." The personal pronoun makes all the difference! So the saints love to sing -
Ten thousand charms around Him shine
But best of all – I know He’s mine.
The Shulamite speaks first, and the Song opens abruptly as she says, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth." She earnestly desires an expression of His love for her. It is not that she doubts His love, but she longs for the affirmation and demonstration of it in His kiss. Such intimacy was unusual in Oriental custom and culture, where at times the spouse may never have seen the face of her bridegroom until the day of the marriage. Perhaps she is longing for that day, as do those who love Him now. It is often noticed that she does not name Him, but simply uses the pronoun "Him." "Let Him kiss me." He so fills her heart that it seems somehow everyone should know of whom she speaks. This is sometimes likened to Mary Magdalene, when, at the Garden Tomb, she speaks to the supposed gardener saying, "Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away." Three times Mary uses the pronoun "Him," apparently never feeling the need to use the name Jesus, or to identify the One concerning whom she speaks. Everyone should know! Mary’s heart is full of Christ, as the heart of the Shulamite is enraptured with Solomon, her beloved. As the quaint Matthew Henry says, "Those that are full of Christ themselves are ready to think that others should be so too!"
There are a variety of kisses in Scripture, almost too numerous to mention just now. They are associated with a variety of circumstances. Sadly, the first kiss, in Genesis 27:26-27, was a kiss of deception. Then there were kisses at moments of reunion and reconciliation. There were sad kisses too, with tears, at the moment of parting between Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah, as also between David and Jonathan. There are, in all, some thirty-five references to the kiss in the OT. This one is especially precious. It is the longing of the Bride for the love of her Beloved. May this be our longing too as we continue to muse upon Him in the Song!
Christ in The Song of Solomon (2)
"In His Chambers"
There are five references to the King in the Song of Solomon. This is the first: "The King hath brought me into His chambers." "Chambers" is the Hebrew cheder, which denotes the inner apartments, the private parlor of the King. It is a picture of privacy and intimacy, where the Beloved and His Bride enjoy the companionship of one another in an atmosphere of undisturbed love.
Is this the response and answer to the Bride’s request, "Draw me?" She has desired this hallowed communion, and now it has been granted. Is not the longing of every redeemed heart to be drawn nearer to Him whom we love? There are distractions all around in the busy world. There are sights and sounds which would demand our attention, and so, sincerely, the saints sing
Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior, so precious Thou art.
Fold me, O fold me, close to Thy breast,
Shelter me safe in that haven of rest.
Notice the change in the pronoun. She says, "Draw me," and adds, "We will run after thee." The ardent movements of the inividual believer toward Christ have an influence upon others who now also desire the companionship and presence of the King. While it is true, of course, that the Bride enjoys an intimacy which others do not, still, her attachment to the King does draw other hearts to him. It has been pointed out by another that in that other well-known love story, Ruth was not initially attracted to Boaz. It was what she saw of the dealings of the Almighty with Naomi that influenced the girl from Moab and created desires in her heart for the tender El Shaddai, for Bethlehem, and for the people of God.
It is solemn and sobering to think that what I am, and what I do, will have a bearing on other saints. How good it is then that we should ever be in the enjoyment of the King’s presence so that others will be attracted to Him also!
But how then, the exercised younger believer might ask, can I know His presence? How may I know the sweetness of the communion of the inner chambers of the Beloved? In some sense the answer is simple, and yet, in the bustling world in which we live, perhaps it may prove rather difficult. This is a quiet place, the inner apartments, far removed from the restless world around us; but ready access is available to every heart that loves Him through the privilege of prayer and attendance to His Word.
Like the Holiest of all in Israel’s tabernacle, there may indeed be a certain loneliness in that awful presence. With what trepidation the High Priest must have gone within the veil! Thousands of priests on a lower plane than he would draw close to the veil at times but would never see beyond or behind it. It was a solitary privilege granted to one man, once a year, to enter into the glory of the Holiest. But with the believer now it is different. In the sweet privilege of bridal affection we now enter with a holy familiarity, having been invited to come boldly. The spiritual heart may now enter the inner chambers of the King with reverent confidence. This means withdrawal from the world at times, just to commune in quietness with Him. Sometimes it may be just to breathe out our requests to Him, to draw near in our times of need. We do have an invitation to come to find grace at such times.
However, how He must appreciate it when we come there to worship! And what is worship? J. N. Darby’s definition is hard to improve upon. He says, "Worship is the honor and adoration rendered to God for what He is in Himself, and for what He means to those who render it." It must delight the heart of God when we come near just to speak well of our Beloved, just to say what we have found in Him and what He means to us. This is the privilege of the inner chambers. It is communion with divine Persons.
The blessed quietness of the King’s inner apartments is conducive to meditation, and the Bride says, "We will remember." So it is that, drawn aside from a busy life and a noisy world, the believer in precious contemplation has time and opportunity to remember. What memories fill our hearts in His presence! Exalted King though He is, we remember the days of His flesh, the lowliness of Bethlehem, the simplicity of His manger-bed, and His swaddling bands. We remember the Boy of Nazareth, living for the Father’s pleasure. We remember the lowly Man of Galilee, who brought fragrance to Cana, to Sychar, to Bethany, dispensing blessing on every hand in His preaching, teaching, and healing. But then, we remember Gethsemane, Gabbatha, Golgotha, and a Garden Tomb. How can we truly remember and not worship?
We will remember Thy love! We have, in wondrous grace, been brought into a circle of love. "The Father loveth the Son" (John 3:35). So it was from eternal ages, the Son in the bosom of the Father. And the Son said, "I love the Father" (John 14:31). Then He said, "The Father Himself loveth you" (John 16:37). And the story continues as He says, "As the Father hath loved Me so have I loved you" (John 15:9). Each individual believer can then say, in the blessed realization of it all, "The Son of God loved me" (Gal 2:20), and together we exclaim, "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Then at times, when vocabulary fails us, we simply say, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee (John 21:17). A circle of divine love indeed, and in the quietness of the inner chambers of the King we say, "We will remember Thy love more than wine." His love is sweeter than all the accumulated joys that earth can offer. Those joys are transient. His love abides forever, and we remember.