We are now in part one of Song of Songs, Chapter 8, and the second to the last chapter in this written series. The life of the bride is flourishing into something much more than a worker who is struggling to love, as she was in Song of Songs 1, but now she is a lover who is working with Jesus in His many gardens. There is a difference between working for Jesus and working with Jesus. Working for Jesus leads us into a place of burnout; working with Jesus leads us into a place of exhilaration.
In 1988 Mike Bickle had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit where God spoke to him and told him “Before I return to the earth I am going to release the grace of Song of Songs 8:6 on the body of Christ worldwide.” The implications of what the Holy Spirit spoke to Mike were beyond his ability at the time to understand. It wasn’t until 2006 that this book (Song of Songs) began to deeply impact me. Now that I have touched only a little bit of this book’s glory, I understand what the Holy Spirit was saying to Mike some nearly 30 years ago. Song of Songs 8:6, which I will cover in this chapter, is about the bridal seal of fiery love that God promised to set upon the hearts of those in the body of Christ who are hungry for Him. It’s the call to love Jesus in the way that He has loved us, and to love others in the way that He loves others. In this chapter I am going to cover the bride’s partnership with Jesus and her humility in ministry (SOS 8:1-2).I am also going to cover the unseen/seen activity of God in the bride’s life (SOS 8:3-4) and the bride’s ascension from the wilderness (SOS 8:5). And lastly we are going to look at the bridal seal of fire and the high cost of love (SOS 8:6-7).
The Brides Partnership with Jesus and Humility in Her Ministry (SOS 8:1-2)
The bride opens Song of Songs 8:1-2 by saying “Oh, that you were like my brother, who nursed at my mother’s breasts! If I should find you outside, I would kiss you; I would not be despised. I would lead you into the house of my mother, she who used to instruct me. I would cause you to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.” This passage has lots of interesting phrases within it, but as we become a little more acquainted with it, it becomes very impactful. It’s here in the language of the bride’s day that she is speaking about her longing to love Jesus publicly in the same way that she loves Him privately. During the bride’s day it was improper to love someone of the opposite sex that wasn’t from your immediate family. The story that comes to mind is the story of Joseph and Mary and Joseph’s passion to put Mary away when he found out she was pregnant (Matthew 1:18-24). You can hear this same reality coming from the bride as she says “…If I should find you outside, I would kiss you; I would not be despised…”
As believers in Jesus, many of you might struggle with the same thing. It’s much easier to love Jesus in private than it is to love Him in public. When we leave the comfort of the Church or our house, we struggle with sharing Jesus with others. It’s not that we don’t love Jesus; it’s just that we struggle with the cultural pressure that comes along with being attached to Jesus Christ. It’s one thing to talk about God and share God with others, but when you share Jesus with people the mood of others often changes. It’s not that the bride wanted to share everything she knew about Jesus with others; she wanted to share some things, but was struggling with it. This was something the apostles struggled with as well. In Acts 4:29 they prayed to Jesus and said, “Now, Lord look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your Word.” It’s not that the apostles struggled with being outspoken; they struggled with being bold in Jesus’ name. What this passage tells us is that boldness, the kind of boldness that Jesus is calling for, isn’t a personality trait as much as it is a deep inner working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We must have the Holy Spirit help us with our boldness. I have also seen many people who have a loud personality assume that this is the kind of boldness Jesus is looking for. But often that kind of boldness (outspoken personalities) is something that’s abrasive, brash, rude and inconsiderate of those who are separated from Christ or struggling with sin. The kind of boldness that Jesus is looking for within us is the kind of boldness that empowers our hearts to move towards weak people with tenderness and compassion, yet never compromising the truth of the God’s words to lost people.
Besides the bride’s passion to share Jesus with others publicly she also longs to kiss Him with the words of her intimacy. If you remember from Song of Songs 1:2 when the bride originally asked Jesus to “Kiss her with the kisses of His Words” but she is now saying in the final chapter of the book “…if I should find You outside, I would kiss You; I would not be despised.” The premise of this entire book was driven by the bride’s hunger all the way back in chapter 1 for Him to kiss her, but now is ending with her great longing to kiss Him with the words of her intimacy. It’s my firm belief and the Bible’s teaching that as we grow in Jesus’ affection for us, it causes great affection for Jesus to arise within us. As we receive Jesus’ love for us it causes us to give love to Jesus. Many people who are born again, and who have been in relationship with Jesus for a while, still struggle with giving Him their love. The reason for this is because they have yet to experience Jesus’ love for them in a powerful and consistent way. Not experiencing the Father’s love leaves us in a weak and deficient place as we look to give our love to Jesus. We give our love and lives best to Jesus when we feel His love towards us. The idea of feeling His love must be clarified as more than a feeling but rather something we live within, deep inside us. It’s a reality that we know we belong to Jesus and that He is Shepherding our lives regardless of our circumstances. Feeling loved by God is the fruit of making a decision. We don’t always feel His love for us or upon us, but that doesn’t mean it’s not.
The bride then closes this section out by saying in Song of Songs 8:2 “I would lead you into the house of my mother, she who used to instruct me. I would cause you to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.” Here you are able to see the bride’s humility as she longs to share her experiences in the Gospel with those she used to run with. We have already established that the mother represents the Church or the vehicle which produces spiritual life within others. She is longing to return to the place where she first encountered Jesus, to share with them her gratitude and how deeply they had impacted her. Many people encounter Jesus through faithful witnesses, but they often fail to return to give thanks for the lives of sacrifice that enabled them to meet Jesus. The bride on the other hand is passionate about returning and giving honor where honor is due. It’s also true that when we are new in Christ we learn from the body of Christ and allow the Church to teach us. But there comes a time when we who have been well taught become the teachers of others. If we also come to be taught, then who is going to teach those that don’t know? The bride is now longing to return and teach those that have taught her. I (Patrick Walton) have personally returned to many people within my life to give them an update about what I am doing and where I am at in my life. To me this is very important because as someone who works with others, you often pour out much into people but seldom hear about your personal impact upon their lives. It’s nice to hear that, and this is exactly what the bride is doing. She’s sharing with others how they first impacted her and how she took what they gave her and built upon it.
The Unseen and Seen Activity of God in the Brides Life (SOS 8:3-4)
The bride moves from the place of concern and the passion to share Jesus with others, to a place of appreciation of God’s activity in her own life and a charge to others concerning this fiery flame of love. In Song of Songs 8:3-4 the bride says “His left hand is under my head and His right hand embraces me. I charge you O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” Jesus’ left hand refers to the invisible (unseen) activity of God in our lives and Jesus’ right hand speaks of the visible (seen) activity of God in our lives. It is both of these realties that make up our encounter of Christ. Meaning there are times that we feel Him (His right hand) and there are many other times when we don’t feel Him (His left hand). From time to time we have big experiences with God where we feel His manifest presence, but there are many other times when we don’t feel His manifest presence.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the most un-thanked Person within the Trinity. What I mean by this is we thank the Father and the Son but we hardly give thanks to the Holy Spirit for His activity in our lives. It’s actually the Holy Spirit who is at work within our lives here in this age. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love the Holy Spirit; it’s just that we often forget to return and give the Holy Spirit thanks. He does so much within our lives and it would mostly be considered in the left Hand category. What is meant by the left hand being under her head is that it’s under her head. That sounds silly, but the truth of the matter is that because it’s under her head, she can’t see it. So that’s why it relates to the invisible work of God in our lives. If you do a search of the right hand of God in the Bible you will come to find out that 8 out of 10 times it refers to the strength of God, or the in breaking of His Spirit and power upon people and situations.
It’s also here that the bride gives one last exhortation to the daughters about awakening love for Jesus internally. She says to them “I charge you O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” This is the third time that the bride has given the daughters this exhortation. In case you forgot, the daughters throughout the Song of Songs represent lukewarm believers who are serving God at a distance. It’s not that they don’t love God; they just haven’t fully surrendered to Him in all things. Now, from the bride’s perspective she has given up much and has gone through many valleys and up tons of mountains. This love that was awakened in the bride has caused her to follow Him to many difficult places (SOS 4:6-8).In this challenge to the daughters, she is saying to them, “Beloved daughters, be sure that you are ready to awaken love for the Son of God, because if you do, you must be ready to sustain that which is awakened. If you only awaken love but aren’t willing to satisfy it, you will be among the most miserable people on the earth.”
I believe that this is an accurate plea and experience with those that have had their hearts awakened in the love of God, but aren’t willing to satisfy that deep internal longing. We become a miserable people when our hearts are awakened in the love of God but we choose to do nothing with it. We become Christians who live their lives with a bad attitude, struggling with spiritual disciples because our hearts are somewhere other than satisfaction in Christ. I know many Christians whose hearts are awakened in the love of God, but still choose to hang onto sinful pleasures, struggling with much condemnation, guilt and shame. Jesus told us that you can’t have two masters, because you will love the one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24).Her charge to the daughters is a charge that we still use today. It’s a blessed thing to have your heart awakened, but it’s a terrible thing if your heart is awakened but you’re unwilling to sustain it through fellowship with Jesus.
The Ascension of the Bride from the Wilderness (SOS 8:5)
Of all the passages within the Song of Songs this very well might be my favorite. In Song of Songs 8:5 there are two people speaking to the bride. At first it’s the daughters that say “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?” And then it’s Jesus who says to her “I awakened you under the apple tree. There your mother brought you forth, there she who bore you brought you forth.” I will address the first phrase by the daughters and then I will look at the second phrase from Jesus.
Firstly the daughters continue their conversation with the bride from Song of Songs 8:4 when in Song of Songs 8:5 they say “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?” It’s clear from this statement “leaning upon her Beloved” that we can deduce it’s the daughters speaking. They see the bride leaning upon Jesus, but are asking who it is. Jesus wouldn’t ask the bride who she is leaning upon, because He knows that it’s Him that she is leaning on. This helps us understand that the first part of this phrase is from the daughters of Jerusalem. The bride is now being pictured with a loving and a leaning heart. It’s a heart that is fully empowered in love (operating in the fullness of the Kingdom of God) but yet ever leaning (resting, in humility and in confession of her weakness) upon Jesus for all things.
A loving and a leaning heart is a heart that has both public and private victories with God. It’s a life that is being lived for Jesus both in private and in public. Often times what happens is that people experience God in private, He then promotes them in the public but they don’t ever return to the private place of encounter. When our lives become something that’s demanded upon, we often lose sight of the reason why we are doing what we are doing. The bride is walking in the perfect balance of having a life that’s making a huge impact on the kingdom of hell, plundering it for the Kingdom of Heaven, but what’s most powerful about her ministry impact is that she’s still leaning upon Jesus through it all. This is the goal of Jesus’ heart as He raises up an end-time Church that’s fully empowered in love, yet leaning upon Him and Him alone. It’s a Church that operates in the fullness of the Holy Spirit but longs more and more to be with Jesus in private.
Life in this age is a wilderness for many reasons. Among which is the reality that compared to what we are inheriting (the eternal city), there is nothing worth keeping here in this age. That doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy life in this age, but it means that compared with what God has prepared for us, this is a deserted wasteland filled with hardship, pain, suffering, tribulation and some joy. The bride is pictured here as ascending from this very wilderness. You might ask how is that so? That’s a great question and I would like to answer it.
All the way back in Song of Songs 3:6 the bride looked up and in the distant she said this related to what she was seeing “Who is this coming up from the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh, and frankincense, with all the merchants’ fragrant powders?” We know from the context that the bride is looking at Solomon, who for our study is a type of Christ. She is making this statement based on the reality that she is seeing him ascend from this wilderness. Although this passage is disconnected by nearly five chapters, the reality of what the bride has seen here, and her journey in Christ, are by no means disconnected. I believe the evidence is concrete to say that because the bride saw Solomon/Christ ascend from the wilderness she also was able to ascend from it. The reality is: the only way we can make it through life in this age is to look upon Someone who has already overcome it. Jesus is that One. Revelation 1:5 refers to Jesus as “…the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead…” The reason Jesus is called the faithful witness and the firstborn from the dead, is because He’s the prototype. He now is what we will become, and how He was in His ministry is what we are to be now. Looking upon Jesus as the One who conquered death, hell and the grave, gives us hope that the One whom we love, the One who loves us overcame. He will also help us overcome. The bride is able to ascend from this fallen age (wilderness) because she first saw Jesus ascend and overcome. It’s true that what we look at we become (2nd Cor. 3).
The Fiery Seal and the High Price of Love (SOS 8:6-7)
Many people ask about growing in love and passion for Jesus. Some feel that it’s confusing and beyond their ability to grasp these challenging concepts. What I have found is that growing in passion for Jesus and being touched by His great passion for us, is more about cost than it is about confusion. It’s costly to have a heart fully alive in the beauty of Christ. I believe that many hearts live in a place of distance from Jesus because of the price that must be paid to have a heart fully alive. It’s not that we are earning anything from God, because God longs to set us on fire, but it does cost time and energy for it to be a reality in us, it doesn’t just “happen.”
Jesus continues to speak from Song of Songs 8:5 here into Song of Songs 8:6-7 and says “set Me as the seal upon your heart and as the seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; it’s flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man were to give all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.” This passage really changes things when we look at it in context to the other verses around it. Here Jesus is asking the bride to set Him as the seal upon her heart and as the seal upon her arm. It is one thing to ask Jesus to be the seal, but it’s a game changer when Jesus asks to be the seal upon our hearts.
This passage is what I call a first and second commandment passage in the Bible. It’s clear through this passage that Jesus doesn’t only want to be involved in our passion for Him or just in our service with Him to others, but rather both. The seal upon the heart is the call to the first commandment and the seal upon the arm is the call to the second commandment. Jesus is saying to the bride “set Me as the seal upon your heart. I want to be the center of your passion for Me. In the same way that I made you the passion of My heart I want you to do the same. But I also want to be the passion of your arm and all that you put your hand to. I want to be involved in your service to others in My name. “The Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-5 was a Church that had extreme fruit and success in the service of their arm. But in the midst of serving others they had lost their own heart, or their passion for Jesus. Jesus threatened to blow out their candlestick if they refused to repent. The candlestick according to Revelation 1 and 2 speak of the ministry. And it’s not because they had become successful that Jesus threatens to shut it down, but because they had done it all without Him. Their success came at the high price of losing their personal relationship with Jesus.
The seal that is being spoken of in these verses is a wax seal that kings would use to seal up important documents. What would happen is that the king would melt some wax over the closure of the document and then take his signet ring and press it into the wax. This ring was either on the king’s hand or hanging from a necklace (which placed it by his heart). On this ring would be some sort of symbol that represented the King or His kingdom. These letters/documents would then be transported by a trusted currier who would deliver the contents. If that seal was broken and the documents tampered with, the currier was guilty at the penalty of death. The reason this is important for you to understand is because Jesus not only seals our hearts (1st commandment) and our arm (2nd commandment) but He also enforces (presses the signet ring into the wax) the implications of His kingdom into the seal. This means that Jesus isn’t just a hopeless romantic, but that He’s also a King who can enforce the implications of His love upon our hearts. Jesus doesn’t just say that He loves us, without any ability to enforce that love. He says “I love you and here is how I am going to demonstrate that love towards you.” Beloved, this is great news. I would encourage you to look at Ephesians 1:1-14 to see this reality in the New Testament.
Jesus also shares with us how hot His love burns for us by saying “…for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; it’s flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it out..” It’s here that Jesus makes it clear through the Holy Spirit that His love isn’t just a fire, or flames of fire, but flames of the most vehement (intense) fire. Fire most always in the Bible relates to the nature of God and His great passion for us. Most of the fires in this life can be put out with only a little bit of water, but not this flame. This flame cannot be quenched even by the floods. It’s an eternal flame that’s actually been burning forever. Not like a little while forever, but seriously, forever! The Bible makes it clear that Jesus isn’t like a fire, but that He is a fire. It says “there are seven lamps burning before Him, a sea of glass mingled with fire is before Him. His eyes are like flames of fire, His face is shining like the sun in all of its strength, and that He baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Seraphim and the Cherubim who are before His throne day and night are literally called the burning ones. He leads His people with a pillar of fire, speaks through burning bushes, makes His ministers a flame of fire, and He Himself is like a refiner’s fire. Beloved, our God is an all consuming fire.
And the final word of exhortation for this chapter from Jesus is, “If a man were to give for love, all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.” This phrase used to bother me as I would read Song of Songs chapter 8. It just seems as if it didn’t fit in the flow of conversation, but when it became revelation to me, I saw that it fit within this passage perfectly. The way that I connected it to my life and gained understanding into it was when I looked at what the Church often does with people who leave worldly success and join the ministry. The Church often celebrates people who leave high paying jobs and lifestyles to carry their cross for Jesus’ sake. This is great and it’s impactful, but before we venture out into this reality we must realize the truth. The truth of the situation is this, it doesn’t matter what anyone has left, to follow Jesus, it is worthless compared to what they are receiving in the age to come. Now that doesn’t mean that we diminish people and their choices, but it does mean that we put it in proper perspective. That perspective is we are comparing apples with watermelons. There isn’t equality with what we say no to in this age that compares to what we are receiving in the age to come. Christians are going to inherit an eternal city that will never fade, where there is no need for the sun or the moon because the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ lights the entire city. This is wealth beyond understanding in this age.
It doesn’t matter if a man were to give all the wealth of his entire household, all the assets, properties, bank accounts for love, Jesus here says that it would be utterly despised. In this Chapter it’s clear that the overarching theme is the great, powerful and potent love of Jesus. This is a love that holds us, keeps us and empowers us to press on into the upward calling of Christ Jesus.