Last we left our bride and King, she seemed dismissive of His pleas to follow Him and tend their vineyard, while still longing to receive all the benefits of their relationship.
Thus, Ch. 2 ends with her saying:
Until the day breaks2:17
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved
See the 2 previous episodes to catch up to speed:
Now, let’s consider the broad story of Chs. 3 & 4:
- The King is distant from her throughout the night (3:1)
- She decides to search for him (3:2)
- She inquires of those watching over the city; similar, perhaps, to us seeking out leaders when the Lord seems absent (“they are keeping watch over your souls,” Heb. 13:17) (3:3)
- Though she finds her love shortly after encountering the watchmen, she also moves past the watchmen, to embrace Him directly (3:4a). If the watchmen represent our leaders, this is a warning to utilize their wisdom, yet we also need to encounter the Lord for ourselves (not in proxy of our leaders).
- From here, she goes to 2 beginnings:
- The beginning of her life, with a focus on her mother (“I had brought him to my mother’s house, the room of the one who conceived me,” 3:4) – here she is recalling the source and beginning of her life.
- Their wedding day, with a focus on her husband (3:6-10) – here there is focus on the source and beginning of her marriage
- In Revelation 2:4-5, those who, “abandoned the love [for Christ] you had at first,” were told to, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” And in Galatians they were warned of beginning in the Spirit, but now going astray by the flesh. Again, Paul calls them back to their beginning in the Lord (Gal. 3:1-5). A similar warning and call comes in Ezekiel 16. There, God shows how far astray they had gone, and calls them back to their humble beginnings of grace. All to say, God’s answer for re-invigorating and course-correcting is often to go back to the beginning of your life and romance with Him, focused especially on Him and His work in bringing you into new life. “For whoever lacks these qualities [of growth in Christ] is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Pet. 1:9)
- After a focus on Him as the beginning of her new life (3:6-10), the King washes, cleanses, and calls her to action by His words toward her (4:1-15), even saying, “there is no flaw in you,” (4:7)!
- Note the parallel of Ephesians 5:25-27: (1) The relationship begins with Christ and His sacrifice: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (2) It then moves to Him cleansing her by His words: “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Of course, this perfection is only possible through Christ’s sacrifice. It is, “in Him,” alone that we are forgiven and seen as flawless before God: “You, who once were alienated…doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you HOLY AND BLAMELESS…” (Col. 1:21-22). Much of the New Testament is spent explaining this truth. In fact, it is found at the beginning of virtually every letter of Paul’s: You are totally perfected in Christ. And, FROM THAT UNDERSTANDING, you are now called to walk out in the new life He has given you. In like manner, Song of Songs 4:1-15 seems a fresh calling of her new beauty (that comes after a consideration of the Husband’s glory on their wedding day, 3:6-10). We must be told and re-told this glorious gospel. THEN, we will walk in power with the Lord. Though 1 more thing is also needed…
- There must be a movement of the Holy Spirit within us: “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden…” (4:16a). At the birth of the church, the Holy Spirit had to descend, “like a mighty rushing wind,” (Acts 2:1-4). Thus, just as Paul’s letters begin with the declaration of our perfection IN CHRIST’s finished work (like Song of Songs 4:1-15), so they proceed to talk about, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Col. 1:27). In other words, Christ indwelling us by his Holy Spirit, to grow in fruit to Him (Gal. 5:22-24; compared with Song of Songs 4:16). Only as we grasp those 2 realities: (1) our perfection in Christ and his sacrifice, (2) Christ’s Spirit living in us, will we be equipped to be a well-pleasing garden for the Lord: “Do you not know that all of us…were baptized into his death.” “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” (Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:19). Much loss has come due to lack of a revelation of these 2 things.
- The results? She is now prepared to give freely of herself to her Lover (in contrast to the more self-centered love we saw in 2:16-17): “Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” (4:16b)