It’s one thing to see the beauty of Jesus Christ, but it’s an entirely different thing to see your personal beauty in the grace of God. In the Church, our problem isn’t mostly that we don’t believe Jesus is beautiful, awesome and glorious, but that we don’t see ourselves as beautiful, awesome and glorious in the grace of God. In the previous chapter we looked at the bride being taken from a place of shame and condemnation to being joined back again with Christ in their pleasant life together. In this chapter, we are going to continue on where the bride left at the close of chapter 1. In the first half of Song of Songs, chapter 2, we will look at the bride’s personal revelation of herself, of Jesus, her rest under His shade and the celebration of lovesickness that she enters into. I have labeled Song of Songs chapter 2 the chapter of “Two Divines.” The first half is what I call “The Divine Romance” and I’ll share with you the second “Divine” in the next chapter.
The Brides Personal Revelation Of Herself (2:1-2)
Here in Song of Songs chapter 2, the bride is continuing to feed on her newly rekindled romance with the Lover of her soul. Though she was separated from Him for a little while in the middle of Chapter one, at the close she is reconnected with Him and enjoying every minute of it. The enjoyment of His presence and their life together spills right on into the start of Song of Songs chapter two. It’s here in this place of intimate encounter that the bride starts to see herself before Him. The bride opens up Song of Songs Chapter 2 by saying “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” This phrase is a much talked about phrase in the Song of Songs when you start looking at the commentaries. Some commentators say that this is Jesus speaking while others have the bride speaking here. Either way, I don’t believe it takes away from what’s being said overall. But for the sake of our study, I am going to assume that the bride is speaking here. There are many reasons why I believe it’s the bride speaking here but more than focusing our time on that, I want to focus on what’s actually happening.
It’s here that the bride is starting to receive a personal revelation of who she is before God and among others. She says “I am the rose…and I am a lily…” She is using the rose to talk about her love for God and the lily speaks of her personal purity before God and through Christ. Our purity isn’t our own personal purity but that which the Lord imputes to us through the Cross. The valleys speak of those times and areas that are dark around us, those long nights living in a fallen world (Psalm 23). The thorns that she is also speaking of are considered to be things that are sinful, dark and separated from Christ (Genesis 3:17; Hebrews 6:8). To sum up what the bride is saying, it’s that “her love and purity in God and through God is something beautiful to Him in the midst of a fallen world where most people have rejected God and said no to Him.” He sees her as being beautiful and this revelation is becoming personal to the bride as she is speaking it out loud now.
You and I must receive a personal revelation of our beauty before God as we have given up our lives for the sake of Christ. This revelation is the foundation that must be laid if we are going to grow in the knowledge of God. Without the revelation of our personal beauty before God in Christ, we will find ourselves living a distance towards God when we have been invited to share with Him in His most intimate secrets. There is saying that says “If you feel dirty you will live dirty. And if you feel clean you will live clean.” I find so much truth in that statement. Because the bride is starting to experience her personal beauty before Christ, it is going to empower her to live clean before Him, as opposed to living at a distance and never feeling excepted in the presence of God. I do believe there are many Christians, who are saved and headed to heaven, but live at a distance to God because they don’t feel desired by Him. When we don’t see ourselves rightly when we are in Christ, we end up living at a distance to Him, even though He has brought us as close as we could possibly come. It’s here in the personal revelation of herself that the bride also receives a personal revelation of His beauty among the many things around her.
The Brides Personal Revelation Of Jesus’ Beauty (2:3a)
As the bride is pierced in her own heart with her beauty before God, she is at the same time deeply touched with Jesus’ beauty among the many things around her. It’s here in Song of Songs 2:3a that she says “Like an apple tree among the tree’s of the woods, so is my Beloved among the sons.” The bride is stating that He is totally different from everything around her. Though many trees might be taller than Him, they might look equally as glorious, it’s only from the apple tree of Christ that my heart is impacted. It was common in Bible times that people would spend hours walking along rivers, bodies of water and the cities of their day passing tall cedars and strong oaks without seeing a tree from which they could gather fruit. But when they would come across one, it was like heavenly manna sent from God Himself. Jesus is, to her, like a tree that doesn’t just look amazing, but is also refreshing and life giving.
In the pattern of the bride’s life, she is setting forth something that’s vitally important for us to follow as well. Just like her, we too must receive a revelation of both our beauty among things that are fallen and His beauty among the other things of life in this age. It’s upon this twofold revelation that our hearts become awakened. If you only see your beauty before Christ, but you don’t see His beauty you will end up being confident in yourself but arrogant before God. If you only see His beauty but you don’t see your own beauty you will have humility before God but no confidence in yourself. But if you see your beauty before God and His beauty among the nations you will have confidence in yourself and humility towards God and these two realties, combined, will cause your heart to be awakened. I would go as far as to say this is base one for you to start at if you have yet to see either your beauty or His beauty or both combined. You must receive this twofold revelation if you are going to progress further into the knowledge of God just like the bride does. This can’t be someone else’s revelation of Jesus that you work to make your own. As the heading states, this must be a personal revelation that you receive.
The Brides Rest In The Cross (2:3b,c)
It’s here, in the experience and enjoyment of the twofold revelation of our beauty and His beauty, that we are able to rest and cease from striving to find fulfillment in our own lives. Here the bride speaks in Song of Songs 2:3b,c of her rest in Christ. She says “I sat down in His shade with great delight and His fruit was sweet to my taste.” Because we are looking at this entire book as an allegory we are going to use the shade that she is sitting underneath as the Cross of Christ. Jesus’ Cross was made out of wood and it’s from this Cross that you and I find our true rest, in Him and through Him. So, it’s here that the bride is pictured as sitting underneath His shade tree, eating sweet fruit and resting in Him. This rest isn’t a rest of lethargy or complacency but a rest in which the bride isn’t striving to make something happen on her own. In Luke 5:4-5 Jesus steps into Peter’s boat and gives him some instruction about fishing and asks Peter to do something that he had been doing all night but catching nothing. Here, Jesus says “…let down your nets for a catch. But Simon answered and said to Him, Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing…” That word toiled that Peter uses actually means “striving in your own strength, or doing something on your own.” Peter had worked hard on his own but didn’t catch anything. Jesus on the other hand, was asking Him to work in the strength of Christ and not in his own strength.
It’s here that the young bride is starting to see the same revelation that Peter received. She is resting under His shade and taking in the sweet fruit of being with Christ. So many times I try to create shade for my own life but end up with no rest, only more stress. The reason for this is because we can’t create the shade of God for our lives. It’s only through the Cross of Christ that we find the rest that our souls need. Often times when we have had a good day we have confidence in God but when we have a bad day we are covered with shame, guilt and condemnation. The reason for this up and down feeling is because we are trying to relate to God based on our own strength instead of resting underneath His shade and taking great delight in Him.
Something else that the bride’s life tells us is that we can’t go deep in the revelation of Jesus Christ on the run. It’s simply not a reality to think that we will encounter the depth of God’s heart on the run. Many are running to and fro in their days, busy to do this and that, while all along God is left on the backburner. The ministry and jobs, family and life in general are busy, but that excuse won’t work for Jesus when you stand before Him as to why you wasted so much energy doing things that didn’t matter in the end. The bride is pictured as sitting before Him, and in her sitting she tastes the sweet fruit that comes from Him. So few that I meet, in the body of Christ, reflect such a life as hers. When I meet those in the body of Christ that put a premium on sitting before Jesus I am usually more apt to give my ear to what they have to say and when I do, it seems as if they have the sweetest fruit to share with me.
Jesus’ Banner Of Love Over The Bride and Her Lovesickness (2:4-5)
As the bride is experiencing the “Divine Romance” she quickly finds herself in the banqueting house of God. Song of Songs 2:4-5 says “He brought me into the banqueting, and His banner over me is love. Sustains me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick.” This banqueting house is also called the house of wine, the house of celebration or the house of abundance. It’s here, in this house that God is rejoicing over the bride in the way that a husband would rejoice over his spouse or that a Father would rejoice over his son or daughter. The bride is being pictured as seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). This is a place that she doesn’t belong and that she could never get to on her own merits.
The banqueting house tells us three specific things when it comes to Jesus Christ and us. First, it tells us that we didn’t choose God, but He chose us (John 15:16). Our love is always a response to His great love for us. We love Him because He first loved us (1st John 4:19). The verse that we are looking at states that God (or He) brought her to the banqueting house. It’s God that has brought her to the place where He is. How wonderful is our life in Christ when we realize that He Himself has seated us in heavenly places, where we mostly certainly do not belong on our own. Second, this verse tells us that though God could bring us into any number of His houses, He has chosen to take us into the house of celebration and abundance. How grateful I am and forever will be that God has taken me into His house of royal provision and made me a son among such royalty. It’s God Himself who has seated me at His table of provision and invited me to indulge. God is a God of opulence, and it’s through this eternal opulence that I am empowered to be generous in this present evil age. And last, it’s a banner of love that He is flying over me in this house of celebration. Just like the many houses that God possess, He also possess an infinite amount of banners and could chose to fly whichever one He wishes. But it’s here that we see He has chosen to fly a banner of love over me. Not only Has He sought me out, love me, seated and given me all things, but He tells me that He loves me in the process.
It’s my belief that the reason I struggle to give my life wholly to Him is because I have seen so little, and I understand so little when it comes to what I have been invited into. What I am saying is that if I could see more I would give more. When we finally stand before Christ, it’s a great fear of mine that I will have regret about how much I could’ve given to Him and how much more I could’ve trusted Him with my life, family, money, future and so on. I have often said “If you would let me see what Paul saw, I could endure what Paul endured.” When we see that God has seated us at the table with Him, all shame, guilt and condemnation is broken off and we are empowered to love Him in the way that He has loved us.
And even as we are moving through the life of the bride into the future that God has for her, it’s most important that we keep in context where she is at personally in the moment. Right here, in Song of Songs chapter 2 she is being pictured as just recently being reunited with the lover of her soul. She had been separated from Him for a season because of shame, guilt and condemnation from the brothers, but is now being pictured as reconnected with the Shepherd of her soul. And it’s also right here at this point that God is bringing her into the banqueting house and lavishing such great love over her.
Many of us don’t struggle with seeing a God who will love us fully when we totally become free from all the things that we struggle with. But when it comes to seeing a God who loves us while we are in process is a painfully difficult thing to do. Unfortunately the Church doesn’t help us when it comes to this truth. For some reason we preach a message that says “When you get totally free and receive the complete breakthrough from your sin, then God will fully enjoy you.” It’s not that we come out right and say that, but we say it by the way we preach and teach. This is a false message and when we buy into it our hearts shrivel up before God and others. We lose our confidence in His love and the reality that if we have repented of sin then we are clean before Him. See, God is a God who loves us while we are in the process not just in the finished product. The finished product to God is a product of the process of reaching for Him yet failing again and again and again. If you don’t see that God has invited you into the banqueting house while you’re in the process of freedom, then you won’t feel accepted at His table. And just like we said in the start of this chapter, if you feel dirty you will live dirty. But if you feel clean, you will live clean.
Beloved, have you seen your unique beauty before God? Have you seen His beauty as being totally other than everything else around? Do you feel loved in the process of your salvation, or condemned? Right now, in the process of being saved, God has brought you into the banqueting house, given you all things and is flying a banner of love over you. It’s not tomorrow, or when you read your Bible more, of what you don’t miss so much Church, or when you help your neighbor, but right now! Take yourself out of probation and enjoy the grace of God which empowers you to become free from sin and compromise. Shame, guilt and condemnation aren’t helping you grow, but in fact they are tearing you down and burning you out. Break your agreement with shame, guilt and condemnation and reach for the high, upward call in Christ Jesus. This is your inheritance and don’t settle for anything less. You belong before God, dressed in the garments of Christ Jesus!