So far we’ve covered:
Now we come to a point where the King leads his beloved into a time of darkness, trials, and separation–with the result of refining and maturing her love for Him in the end:
- The fruit produced by the bride satisfies the King, and others (in that order; 5:1). Just as the greatest commands are to (1) love the Lord, and (2) love others (in that order–in fact, we are to love God with “all” our heart, so only when we give “all” to Him are we granted abundance of love/fruit to share with others).
- She excitedly follows her Lover into the “night,” where he had (temporarily), “left” her on her own (5:2-6)
- The watchmen who are posted to help her, and previously did so (3:3-4), turn against her (5:7). And her friends who formerly encouraged her in Him (1:4b) now question his worthiness (5:9). Like the woman anointing Jesus before his burial amidst scorn from his apostles (Mark 14:1-9), or Job worshiping God when his wife and friends discourage him, or Paul following Him when, “everyone deserted me,” (2 Tim. 4:16), or Jesus Himself obediently dying on the Cross when, “all the disciples deserted Him and fled,” (Matt. 26:56)…there comes a time when Jesus will call us into new levels of obedience that will be discouraged by those around us–even persecuted by those who have helped us previously and we have respected. He is looking to see if we love Him alone. If we trust Him alone. He leads us into these times of darkness to refine our love for Him.
- This questioning and hurt caused her to consider afresh Jesus/the King directly. Specifically, she had a new appreciation and revelation of His beauty and worthiness: “My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His head…his hair…his eyes…his cheeks…his lips…his arms…his body…his legs…his appearance…his mouth…” (5:10-16a). Everything about Him is beautiful, precious, and worthy. Even when He Himself leads you into a cold, dark night where you are beaten and all around you question the value of your lover…He is more than worthy. The key is to re-focus your gaze on Him. Just as the book of Revelation begins with a vision of Christ, and each church sees glimpses of this picture before they are told how to walk in His ways, so all Christian progress (and endurance) comes from a fixation and revelation of Christ. You will not be able to reject the wine of this world without a revelation of the one whose, “love is more delightful than wine,” (1:2). Similarly, you will not endure to the end by sheer will power. It comes through a fixation on Him and his worthiness. From that point obedience follows. Thus…
- At the end of her revelation of His beauty, she calls Him, “my lover…my friend,” (5:16). Note that Jesus says his friends: “do what I command,” and have special revelation of Him and his purposes (John 15:14-15). To see Him as friend means we see Him as one to be obeyed while also having intimate knowledge of Him that a servant does not. In the case of the beloved, her intimate knowledge and revelation of His worthiness leads her into such a friendship.
- Then, remarkably, after enduring this cold and harsh night, once she gains new revelation of His beauty and worth, she ALSO supernaturally knows where to find Him. Specifically, she now recognizes that He can be found looking for the fruit from us that is rightfully His: “My lover has gone down to HIS garden.” (6:1-2).
- Finally, notice how her view of their relationship has shifted and matured. When the love was more self-focused, she firstly saw her Lover as hers to be possessed: “My lover is mine and I am his” (2:16). But NOW…after the dark night of wandering…after being beaten…after being questioned…after her Lover is de-valued by her friends…THEN she saw his worthiness and beauty anew…THEN she knew where to find Him…and THEN, she rightfully saw that she had it all backwards. NOW she says: “I am my lover’s and my lover is mine” (6:3). We firstly are here to satisfy Him. Then, afterward, when we take such a view, He will also satisfy us in ways that will make our self-centered concept of love seem silly and small (compare Luke 17:8 and 1 Cor. 7:4 where a similar truth is shown).
There is even yet more maturing to happen in the final chapters. Stay posted, and by God’s mercy I pray that everyone reading these posts will experience at least a measure of such love themselves from our Lover, “Jesus Christ,” who, “is the same yesterday and today and forever,” (Heb. 13:8).