As I have already mentioned in the opening chapter of this sermon series, the bride is on a journey from immaturity in Christ to full bridal maturity. God’s intention for the bride is not different from His intention for us today, that we would become mature in Christ, partnering with Him in a deep and communal way. And it’s here in Song of Songs 7 through the difficulty of the past six chapters that the bride starts to enter into the fruit of her labor.
Because the bride felt Jesus’ love for her throughout the process of maturity she has been able to stay the course through the thick and thin of walking with Christ over the decades. It’s here in the second half of Song of Songs chapter 7 that the conversation shifts gears from Jesus talking with the Shulamite, to the Shulamite speaking with Jesus related to their partnership in the Gospel together. In this chapter I will cover the bride’s affection based obedience (SOS 7:9b-10), their partnership in powerful and fruitful ministry (SOS 7:11-12) and the bride’s enjoyment of the fruit of her labor (SOS 7:13).
The Bride’s Affection Based Obedience (SOS 7:9b-10)
It’s here in Song of Songs 7:9b-10 that the bride says to Jesus The wine goes down smoothly for my Beloved, moving gently the lips of sleepers. I am my Beloved’s and His desire is towards me. If you remember in Song of Songs 7:8-9 Jesus commissioned the bride in three primary areas. Firstly He said to her Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine… This first area that she was commissioned in was to nurture and feed others through the grace of God that was given to her. The idea is that she has freely received from God, so she should freely give to others (Matt. 10:8). Secondly, Jesus said The fragrance of your breath like apples. This was the call to refresh others in a way that empowers them to love Jesus wholeheartedly. There are many teachers, preachers and leaders in the body of Christ, but it’s been my experience that it’s rare to find leaders who leave you hungry, not just for more preaching, but for God Himself. Good preaching and leadership should cause others to come alive in the Godhead (Prov. 25:11; Song of Songs 2:5; John 20:22).
And lastly the maturing bride is commissioned with the phrase …and the roof of your mouth like the best wine. This is the call to make sure that her intimacy with Jesus, the love that she both received from Him and gives to Him is the primary focus of her life. In Song of Songs 1:2 the bride says that loving You is the best wine. In a life of fruitful ministry it’s easy to lose sight of our single focus for Jesus as we become distracted with many other good opportunities. Jesus must be our primary focus.
The reason why I have mentioned these three areas in which the bride was commissioned, in the previous chapter, is because what the bride says in this chapter is a direct response to three areas in which she was called to operate. We see her now speak to Jesus in Song of Songs 7:9b-10 saying The wine goes down smoothly for my Beloved, moving gently the lips of sleepers. I am my Beloved’s and His desire is towards me. I will work to break open this verse and look at several things that are being said.
The bride is in a place where she’s maturing in Christ and now moving into a place of fruitful ministry with Him. Jesus has already asked her to do some very difficult things and this won’t stop. On this side of eternity, the bride understands that Jesus will continue to call her into the place of difficulty on the Song of Songs 4 mountains of leopards and lions. But in all of this, she’s able to answer His call because she’s not doing it for herself, but …for her Beloved. Wine in this verse represents the difficult things that God asks us to do and the places He asks us to follow Him into.
We can often choke on the wine of God, which is the activity of the Holy Spirit. I know that there have been times in my life where I have nearly spit out the words of the Holy Spirit as they entered into my mouth, much like a person would spit liquid out of their mouth after hearing something wild. But it’s here in the place of ministry, in the face of great challenges that she is able to say the wine goes down smoothly….because it’s for my Beloved.
Jesus was in a similar place when He was approaching the Cross and the pain of his emotional and physical betrayal and crucifixion. In Luke 22:42 He cried out to the Father saying …if it is Your will, take this cup (wine) away from Me; nevertheless not My will but Yours, be done (I’ll do it for You MY Father). Our response to the challenges that are set before us must be the same as Christ’s and of the bride’s. The only way we are able to follow the will of God and drink the wine He offers us, is because we are doing it for Him! We say with the bride and with Jesus, It’s for You that the difficult wine goes down smoothly.
In this very verse the bride mentions that she is able to do the challenging things of God’s will and the result is that it’s moving gently the lips of sleepers. The things she is doing in the will of God and with God is actually starting to awaken those around her who are slumbering in Christ. It’s common for much of Jesus’ church to be asleep while they are busy working for Him in the Church. Three of the seven Churches addressed in Revelation 2-3 were in just this place (Ephesus, Sardis and Laodicea). Often we don’t realize the power of our obedience to Jesus because it has a ripple effect on the lives of those around us.
In the last part of this verse the bride for the first time puts into its proper order a powerful phrase that she has said several other times. This phrase is …I am my Beloveds and His desire is towards me. It’s the first time that the bride is living, not in the longing to feel Jesus’ love towards her, but in the present day experience of His love towards her. Here’s a little look at the progression of the bride’s confession about how Jesus feels towards her;
- Song of Songs 2:16 My beloved is mine, and I am His (Knowledge)
- Song of Songs 6:2 I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine (Heart)
- Song of Songs 7:10 I am my Beloveds, and His desire is towards me (Experience)
This progression is the same progression that you and I have to walk through in order to move to this place where the bride is, in Song of Songs chapter 7. We start with knowledge that God loves us and is moved by our weak attempt to love Him. This is good, but it’s not enough. Your knowledge must lead you into feeling an internal longing at the heart level. Though you’re not experiencing anything yet, you have some knowledge and a longing internally, towards Him. From this place you are now set to walk from knowledge into experience. You are feeling what the initial incline told you was available and know your experiencing it in real time.
Our emotional security in Christ comes from the deep internal experience that God’s desire is towards us, right now, both in Chapter One and in Chapter Seven of our lives. We will struggle to define our identity in Christ until we feel loved, cherished and wanted by Him, both early on in our walk and later in our maturity. This brings up the question, how much does God the Father love God the Son? Well, according to John 15:9 and John 17:23 the Father loves the Son a lot As the Father loved Me, I have also loved you…I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Here’s the kicker though, God loves you in the same way that God loves God. God the Father loves you, in the same exact way that God the Father loves God the Son. That’s earth shattering and beyond our comprehension in this age. I have met people who are Christians and they have never thought about how God feels about them. That thought has never crossed into their minds and to me that’s so tragic. Beloved, Jesus longs for us to know how He feels about us, because from this knowledge we are strengthened to grow in our relationship with Him, not to go away from Him.
Their Partnership in Powerful and Fruitful Ministry (SOS 7:11-12)
In Song of Songs 7:11-12 the bride continues her conversation by saying Come, My Beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give You my love. Through these two verses the bride is describing the power and very fruitful partnership in ministry. The idea is that she is no longer working FOR Jesus, but WITH Jesus. We want to make it clear that Jesus hasn’t called us to work for Him, but to work with Him.
Firstly the bride says Come, My Beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages… It’s here that the bride is pictured in a place of bridal partnership with Jesus, asking for His power and presence to go with her as she works in the fields of harvest. What’s true of the bride is true for us. This means that our harvesting is far more effective when it goes forth under a root-system of worship and intercession. When prayer precedes the mission, the mission goes with greater power.
It’s clear that the bride is in the place of partnership with Jesus in this passage and not just working for Him and for others like she was in Song of Songs 1:6. She is asking Jesus to go with her (intercession) and then she is going together with Him (intimacy in the place of ministry) as they work the vineyard. It’s also important we understand that the pace of ministry is often the pace of running. And while we run in the place of ministry, Jesus still expects us to spend quality time with Him. We must learn to sit before God, prior to standing before men. We sit before God in the place of intimacy before we stand before others in the place of ministry.
It’s here in the place of ministry that she makes the sweeping statement …there I will give You my love. The bride is loving God and serving others. She says There, in the place of service to others, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I will maintain my love for You. I have found that it’s easier to serve God in the secret place than it is to serve Him through prayer, fasting and rigorous Bible study, in the midst of ministry to others. When she says there I will give you my love she is referring to the place of ministry where they are serving together.
The Bride Enjoys the Fruit of Her Labor (SOS 7:13)
The bride says in Song of Songs 7:13 The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old which I have laid up for You, my Beloved. Within just three verses, in Song of Songs 7:11-13 the Shulamite refers to their labors eight times. The eight statements read like this …come; let us; let us; let us; give You; at our gates; and laid up for You. This is powerful and fruitful ministry in partnership with one another. She’s producing much from her labor of love for her Beloved, and in the midst of it all she says Which I have laid up for you, my Beloved.: The bride is producing much fruit through her life of service to others and it’s being laid up not for herself, but for her Jesus.
I am a firm believer in the prosperity of God the Father and His longing to lavish wealth on His people. But it seems that prosperity gets to us, but often it doesn’t get through us. Granted, I have enjoyed the wealth of the Gospel in my own life, but because of poor stewardship I really didn’t even get to enjoy the blessing of God, I just struggled month to month. When Jennifer and I finally got a handle on our personal finances, it was clear that lots of money was flowing through our hands, but we never saw it in a way that was a blessing to us, or to others.
The bride is doing good with that which comes forth from her labors. This is also the goal for each of us. We want to lay up for Jesus that which He gives to us, because it’s all His anyway.