When looking at Song of Songs chapter two, there are what I have already labeled in the past chapter “Two Divines.” The first “Divine” is “The Divine Romance” where the bride sees both her unique beauty and His (Jesus Christ’s) beauty, among the many other things around them. But the second “Divine” is what I call the “Divine Romance.” You won’t find these terms written in the Bible, but they are summaries of the two main parts within Chapter two that I have given them. It seems that the Divine Romance and the Divine Disruption go hand in hand. Divine Romance always leads us into some Divine Disruption and this is exactly what’s taking place in the life of the Shulamite in Song of Songs 2:8-17. As she is encountering beauty, banquets and bountiful love He is coming to her as the conquering King and inviting her to be with Him in a most disruptive way. In this Chapter we are going to look at His disruptive call, the invitation into partnership, the small foxes and the bride’s painful compromise. Many of the commentaries are divided on the spirit of the bride throughout this chapter. Instead of seeing a struggling, young, immature bride, they see a rebellious, self-indulgent bride who has slept all the way through winter. In this chapter we will look at the heart of the matter for the young bride and her progression into holy passion.
The Divine Disruption (2:8-10)
When you look at the Divine Disruption of Song of Songs chapter two and verses 8-17 it’s critical that you keep the context of the overall story in view. Currently, at the start of Chapter two, the bride is in a place of intimate encounter with Jesus. She is in the modern day equivalent of the secret place. This is a sweet place of worship and prayer, adoration and exaltation. She is enjoying the glorious fellowship of being joined with her Beloved in the place of divine romance. Because she had become separated from Him in chapter one, being joined back together with Him is something that’s not only dear to the young bride, but also to us. It’s here that Jesus enters into the scene and works to break her free from being only in the place of intimacy, and to move her into a place of fruitful ministry with Him. The passage reads in Song of Songs 2:8-10 “The voice of my Beloved! Behold He comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My Beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, He stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, gazing through the lattice.” We will start by looking at the first phrase in this passage, “The voice of my Beloved!”
It’s here in the place of solitude that Jesus breaks in and speaks to her in a most disruptive way. You can see from the punctuation that the bride is using to state the way in which He is speaking to her by adding the exclamation point. As the bride is in the secret place, she hears “The voice of her Beloved” speak to her and it really disrupts her current state with Him. Though she is enjoying His presence, Jesus isn’t longing to have a bride who lives only in the chamber of encounter, but also in the fields of harvest with Him. The bride is hearing many voices that have much to say, but in the midst of the many other voices she hears One that trumps them all, and it’s rightly stated as “The voice of her Beloved.” I personally have found it true that often when I am in the place of solitude with Jesus that He breaks in and speaks to me in a very disruptive way. It’s not disruptive because it’s mean, or harsh, but because He is usually coming to me in a way that I haven’t known before. And it’s what He asks of me that’s often most disruptive. I wish that I could say that I rise up instantly when He speaks to me, but most of the time it takes me a little bit of time to process what’s He’s saying/asking and then to respond.
All of God’s servants have heard God’s disruptive voice break into their time of intimacy with Him, and just like it’s disruptive for us; it’s also disruptive for them. It’s often disruptive to us because He is asking/calling us into places that are scary, humbling, time consuming and often downright painful. The preacher once said, “The same God that planned His own Son’s crucifixion, is also planning ours.” God’s voice is disruptive to us, because most of us are more connected to life in this age than we are to the age to come. So, letting go of where we currently are with God is challenging in light of laying a hold of that which is unseen before us, that which He is calling us into. I also know from personal experience and from listening to many of God’s servants telling their stories, that when we follow the voice that at first is so disruptive, we end up having internal satisfaction that can’t be purchased with all the wealth of this world. Though it comes in a disruptive way, if we follow it and trust it we end up with deep satisfaction.
It wasn’t only that Jesus’ voice was disruptive, but it was also the way that He came to her. Song of Songs 2:8 says “…behold, He comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My Beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.” Unfortunately for those of us who have grown up in Church, we have been accustomed to a flannel graph Jesus that presents a sweet little man, who’s little less than one of those 60’s peace loving hippies that eat granola, and is striving for world peace through diplomacy. But when we read the Bible and encounter a Jesus who is Just, altogether righteous and true, who is patient but never tolerant of our sinful lifestyles, we are forced to either choose our flannel graph Jesus or the Jesus of the Bible. This is what’s taking place with the Bride here in this passage of scripture. She has known Jesus only as a tender Shepherd from Song of Songs Chapter One and half of Chapter two, but the Man she is now encountering is much different than a quaint Shepherd. It’s not that the bride is seeing a new Jesus, but rather a different facet of the same Jesus.
While she is in the secret place, or the chamber of encounter, she first hears His voice and secondly she sees Him. The way she sees Him is like that of a Gazelle or a young stag and He’s skipping over the hills and leaping upon the mountains. The mountains in this allegory and also throughout the Bible represent the high places in God and the places of great difficulty. Not only did Jesus die on a mountain, but He was challenged in His ministry on the mountain. It’s not that Jesus is being pictured as weak upon these mountains, but strong, able and graceful as He leaps and skips over them. She sees Him who is boundless, held by nothing and unhindered in His passion to conquer all things earthly and demonic. Paul says of Jesus in Colossians 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” The vision and picture that Paul paints of Jesus is anything but a peace-loving hippie. Jesus, as a Man, conquered not only the devil, but also all principalities and powers and not only conquered them, but triumphed over them. You can almost replace that word “triumphed” with the words “leaping, skipping, dancing and destroying.”
This Jesus that she has known mainly in the secret place is currently spinning the diamond on her and revealing a new facet to her, and it’s blowing her mind. Gazelle’s are known to move at speeds of 50 MPH for long periods of time and are to climb steep hillsides with grace and ease. The Holy Spirit is showing the young maturing bride that Jesus is all-powerful and that nothing stands in His way. He is doing this because what He’s about to ask her in the following verse is challenging and frightful. She will need this revelation of Jesus for the task that’s at hand. The different Revelations and experiences we have in the grace of God are important to our history in Christ but also our present and our future.
The Call to Come Away Into Fruitful Partnership with Jesus (2:10-14)
It’s here as she has heard His voice and seen Him in a new way that His voice comes to her again, but this time with a request. In Song of Songs 2:10-14 He says to her “My Beloved spoke, and said to me, rise up My love, My fair one and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away. O My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff let Me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” The first thing He says to her is “…rise up My love, My fair one and come away…” Though this voice is very disruptive to the young maturing bride, it’s also coming across with ample love. Love first for her as His beloved, and then secondly as His partner in the Gospel. Before He asks her to get up and get moving with Him in the harvest He first defines her as His bride, His loving companion. Jesus isn’t just looking for a workforce, but a faithful bride that works with Him because of love, not for love. On the other side of the coin, Jesus isn’t just trying to raise up people who live in the secret place of encounter but also on the mountains of partnership with Him. He is working to break her from only being in the secret place and to come away with Him in ministry partnerships upon the mountains.
Jesus is mindful of His tender leadership over our lives through the many seasons that we go through. Just like our natural world has four main seasons every year, so also our spiritual lives have corresponding seasons. The spring season is a time when things are thawing out and getting ready to blossom in the midst of the summer sun. It’s just this cycle that the Lord calls out to the bride and reminds her of His tender leadership over her in the past season. In Song of Songs 2:11-13 He says to her “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our lands. The fig tree puts forth her green figs and the vines with the tender grapes…” According to the Lord her winter season is behind her (which is a glorious thing). He is appealing to her as the One who has kept her safe through the past winter season of her life in Chapter One when she lost His presence due to being overworked and separated from Him in guilt and shame. He is the One who oversees our lives in the midst of trouble and blessing. The God of summer is also the God of winter. And His faithfulness in one season is a testimony to His faithfulness in the next season. If He kept me through the dark night of winter, then He will keep me through the bright day of summer.
Winter is a month where everything dies and dries up. Winter is a time when bitter winds tear the leaves from the trees and freeze the ground making it hard for plants and shrub life to survive. But the fig tree is a winter fruit that hangs on until springtime. It’s a fruit that survives the winter of death and persists through the dark season. He is telling her “Beloved, I kept you through the dark seasons of your life, and the time of spring has come. I was faithful to you in the past and I will be faithful to you in the future. You can trust me. I kept you like the fig tree and now I need you to trust Me.” In the natural we know that spring follows winter, but it’s easy to forget that when applying it to our spiritual lives.
When we get into those winter seasons we feel as if they are never going to come to an end. Depression has settled over my life more times than I could count, when in the midst of those seasons. The Lord feels distant, things are dark and my progression in the Gospel seems limited. But it’s in these seasons that God creates in us what’s needed for us to encounter His beauty and partner with Him in the Gospel. Nobody else can build a personal history in God for you. It’s something that you have to do on your own with God. We can listen to teaching about how to endure that winter season, read books, attend conferences and travel to Churches but at the end of the day I have to walk out in my own personal life what God has worked in. The winter seasons help me to build a personal history in God so that I have confidence going into the subsequent following seasons. This is exactly what’s happening in the life of the bride.
Praying For Deliverance from Compromise (2:15-16)
What God is asking of the bride is case and point to the evidence that His voice is often disruptive. For the bride it’s disruptive because He is asking her to go somewhere she is fearful of going. She lost His presence once before due to being overworked within the Church and that fear is currently driving her ship behind the scenes. But because Jesus is relentless in the way that He chases us down, He’s not going to allow the bride to maintain those fears about His leadership without challenging them, and that is what He’s doing. The young bride is being forced to look at her fears and address them, and in His eyes He is hopeful that she will respond and overcome them, not be subjected to them. Jesus is really good at helping us overturn the rocks in our lives when we don’t care to see what’s underneath. Many commentators speculate over the situation of the bride and what’s going on in her life. Some see a bride who is in sin, self-indulgent and rebellious, but I believe this is far from what’s actually happening. It’s my opinion from the overall storyline in the Song of Songs that the bride is fearful of losing what she has already lost and has now regained. It’s not sin; it’s fear that’s going to cause her disobedience to His request.
His request of her causes her to see that she has a little area of fear in her life that’s going to hold her back from following Him to the mountains. In Song of Songs 2:15 she prays to Him and says “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” His challenge to her, to rise up and come away with Him, causes her to see that though her vines are tender and just starting to bud, she also sees little foxes that are loose within her vineyard that are working to destroy her budding crop from ever being full grown. These foxes and this specific small fox of fear is not only currently hindering her, but it’s also going to hinder her ability to respond to His request to come.
She does two very powerful things when looking at the issue of areas of hindrance in her life. First she calls out to Jesus to catch the foxes. She has rightly seen that these areas in her life are beyond her fixing and taking control over one her own. Unfortunately we don’t always respond like the maturing bride and ask for help. We often spend most of our time working to subdue the sin areas in our lives in our own strength and will power, and it’s to no avail. We need Christ and His help to deliver us from sin and compromise. Secondly, she calls them small foxes. It’s not like she was sticking a hypodermic needle in her arm and shooting people she was mad at with a gun. It’s just fear. It’s just a little bit of fear in her life. Many today in the Church would encourage her in such a way, saying that those fears are okay and they’re normal and she shouldn’t be worried about them. Something that I have witnessed many Christian’s miss is the reality that it’s the little sin areas that do the most damage. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean that it’s not wreaking havoc in both her life and ours. This area of fear is going to lead her into disobedience in the following verse. So this fear that many Christians would encourage her to keep and not let go of, is the same fear that Jesus is working to address and deliver the bride from. It’s not just an issue of fear that the Lord is addressing in the life of the bride; it is a fear connected to His safe leadership over her. Because He’s a good Shepherd He hates us to allow lies about our security in Him to fill our hearts and minds. So He challenges those areas, those ‘little’ areas with His mercy and grace and He works to free us from them.
The Bride’s Painful Compromise (2:17)
It’s awesome that the bride is seeing these “little foxes” but unfortunately she is not going to be able to master this area in her life; instead she is going to be mastered by it. The passage reads in Song of Songs 2:17 “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of Bether (Separation).” The bride has come to the conclusion, that the mountains have activity going on in them that she doesn’t know about, and that fear of the unknown is going to paralyze her from moving on with Him. She is not rebellious or indifferent towards the Lord but rather fearful. It’s important for us to see the difference in the life of the bride. It’s easy for us to call people who are sincere, “rebellious.” We do great damage to their spirits when we miss-label them. Many people look at the bride in this very passage and see her rebellion and write her off. It’s my understanding through the whole of the text that she is not rebellious, but scared and fearful of both what the mountains entail and the possibility of losing His presence again.
The statement “until the day breaks and the shadows flee away” means that she is going to stay in the chamber of encounter until all the little shadow areas of her life are worked out. Instead of working on her life as she is moving with the Lord, she felt it would be better to stay where she is and work on her private life before she goes into the public place. She is saying “until all these little foxes, these little shadow areas of my life are dealt with and I am more perfect before you, I am going to stay here.” Just like the bride, often times our fear of going without something can be greater than the reality of going with it. She was fearful over something that she didn’t need to be fearful over. He has been faithful to her in the past and this is her confidence that He will again be faithful to her in the future. But because her present fear was greater than her confidence in Him and His leadership over her, she told Him to go on without her and that she was going to stay where she was.
Something else that is important for us to understand through the life of this young maturing bride is that whatever God asks us to do; He also gives us the grace to do it. It doesn’t matter what it is that He is asking us to do, if He’s asking, He will give the grace needed to help us pull it off. The story of Peter getting out of the boat in Matthew 14:28-30 and walking on water is exactly what I am talking about. Jesus asks Peter to get out of the boat, which means if Jesus is asking him, Jesus will also empower Peter to do what He has asked. The Bride doesn’t realize that God will give her strength to do what He is asking of her. If God is calling her to come to the mountains of great difficulty He will also empower her to stand upon them and not be defeated.
The safest place to be with God is in 100% obedience. It’s safer to be with God on the water then to be in the boat without Him. It’s safer to be with God on mountains than to be in the chamber without Him. God calls us into risky places but He also equips us, protects us and empowers us with the proper grace to do what’s been asked. Beloved, He remembers that we are but dust. As this chapter closes it’s important that we look at our own lives and take inventory of the little foxes that would work to spoil our grapes before they bud and become full grown. It would pain me to see how many grapes I have lost over the years to the little foxes that I have allowed to run unchallenged in my vineyard. I need the Holy Spirit to help me and to deliver me from that which I can’t free myself. Ask Him to search you and reveal anything in you that would hinder His activity and the high calling of God in your life. You were made to dwell in the place of encounter AND on the mountains with Him in the place of ministry. We move from encounter to ministry, from the monastic to missions, from intimacy to harvest. It’s time to climb the mountains with God in full bridal partnership with Him.