In the previous chapter I mentioned the valley and mountain top experiences that we have in the Gospel. This chapter fits into the mountain top (exciting) category. The bride is on a progressive journey to encounter God and to grow into the full inheritance of being the bride whom Jesus has chosen. Though she lost his presence from the end of SOS 2 through the start of SOS 3, by the middle of SOS 3 she was reunited with Him. Here in this chapter she is about to experience a new facet of the man Christ Jesus. It’s been helpful to me to think about Jesus as a Diamond with many facets. A Diamond when it is shaped comes out with many sides; to the casual onlooker those sides don’t mean anything. But to the trained eye, those facets reveal something different about the same diamond. It’s key that you see it’s not a new diamond, just different facets of the same diamond. The same thing is true with Jesus. It’s not that we are looking for a new Jesus, just different facets of the same Jesus. Here in Song of Songs 3:5-11 you will see Jesus’ ascension from the wilderness; our protection in God through the activity of the Holy Spirit; Jesus’ loving plan of salvation; and the bride’s call to the daughters to encounter the Bridegroom God. It’s true of the Holy Spirit that He loves to exalt Jesus in the human heart. He does so by continually spinning the diamond to reveal another facet that either we haven’t yet seen, or haven’t fully experienced. Just as in the rest of the chapter of the Song of Songs, there is a major revelation of Jesus Christ to be obtained.
The Ascension of Jesus from the Wilderness in Power (SOS 3:6)
The bride is now within her mother’s house (Church) having been reunited with her Beloved (SOS 3:4). And it’s here that she sees something that’s most shocking. It’s so shocking that it actually causes her to use strong punctuation to emphasize what she is looking at. In Song of Songs 3:6 this is what she has to say “who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the merchants fragrant powders?” As she is in the house of her mother she sees a massive caravan of people and glory coming towards her little city, Shunem. We know from the following passage that this person she is seeing is Solomon. He is being pictured as coming out of the wilderness, not still in it or still struggling with it, but coming out of it. He is ascending from the wilderness and he’s coming towards her.
The wilderness can speak of many things including Israel’s long journey into the Promised Land, a season of intense testing or life in this fallen age. It’s best if we see Solomon’s (Jesus for our allegory) ascension from the wilderness as his ascension from life in this fallen age. When looking at life here on earth, it’s truly a wilderness. Many Christians are duped into thinking that Christianity is all about enjoying the pleasures of life in this age, as opposed to becoming delivered from this age and attaching ourselves to the age to come. We call life here on earth a wilderness because of sickness, death, decay, depression, demonic activity and the darkness that settles over God’s creation. It’s not until Jesus returns for the second time that this desolate wilderness will once again become a garden, yea even a garden city. And it’s from this wilderness that the weak struggling Shulamite sees Jesus ascending from it, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When she looks on Jesus she sees Him walking and ascending “in pillars of smoke” and “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense and all the merchants fragrant powders.” The pillar of fire speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament the Children of Israel were lead by a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day (Ex. 13:21). And in Luke 4 we see Jesus coming out of the 40-day in the wilderness fast where He encountered satan “in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Beloved, if Jesus needed the power of the Holy Spirit to ascend from the wilderness how much more so you and me? She then sees and smells that He is scented with myrrh and frankincense. Throughout the scriptures and specifically within this Song myrrh speaks of death, sacrifice and hardship while frankincense speaks of praise, worship and joy. The bride is seeing both the death and life that emanates from the resurrected Christ. It’s important that we understand Jesus will forever bear the marks of the Cross even though He has conquered it and totally come through it. This is why John in Revelation 5 when He sees Jesus, sees a Lamb standing as though He had been slain. Jesus carries the dual nature of both humanity and divinity dwelling in perfect harmony.
It’s here in the way that He is showing her how He ascended from the wilderness that He is actually addressing her fears about fully trusting Him. It wasn’t rebellion that caused her to say no to Him in SOS 2:17, but fear. And it’s here in SOS 3:6 that He is starting to show her that He is totally safe, powerful and the One who overcame all things. Who better to lead His people than Him who overcame all things earthly and demonic? Jesus is the only One fit for the role of leading human history and He is showing her that He is safe. This strategy of the Lord is going to bear much fruit in her life and it actually sets forth a pattern for our lives. The pattern is that when we see Jesus has ascended the wilderness of this fallen age we become empowered with faith that we also can ascend, as well. Jesus’ ascension gives us hope for our ascension.
The Protection of God through the Activity of the Holy Spirit (SOS 3:7-8)
As the bride is looking upon King Jesus as the ascending One, she also sees something else that’s being carried by a rather large group of men coming toward her. In Song of Songs 3:7-8 she describes what she sees. It’s here that she says, “Behold, it is Solomon’s couch (palanquin), with sixty valiant men around it, of the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war. Every man has his sword on his thigh because of fear in the night.” She not only sees Solomon (Jesus) coming towards her, but also Solomon’s couch and it’s being carried by 60 men. What these men were carrying is a couch or a chariot. This was the wedding chariot that was used to transport the king’s bride from her city to the royal palace. This was a wonderful way to travel for a long period of time. But before we get into what this chariot represents and how it was made, I want to first look at these 60 men who are carrying this chariot. And we must not forget that this royal wedding procession is actually coming for the young, weak and maturing bride. It’s for her that this procession has come.
She sees that there are 60 valiant men around it, but even more so than just valiant men, they are the valiant of Israel. The reason why the Holy Spirit has inspired these specific words is very important. Often times when a King would transport something from one place to another, he would use hirelings or hired servants. The only problem with these hirelings is that if they were offered a larger sum of money from someone else, they would betray the king and hand over the delivery because their loyalty wasn’t to the king or the nation, but to the highest bidder. So when the Holy Spirit lets us know that these aren’t just valiant men, but the valiant of Israel, He wants us to know that they would never hand over the delivery of the King, because more than money they are loyal to the nation. We here in America have something called the “Espionage Act.” It has serious penalties when someone from our own country turns against us and tries to destroy us or sell our information to others. It’s a most heinous crime when your own countrymen turn on their country and this is true here in America. They are also “holding their swords on their thighs because of the fire in the night.” The reason their swords are on their thighs is so that they can be ready at a moment’s notice to strike and fight as the cover of night falls. They aren’t being pictured as sleeping or lazy, but diligent, ready and attentive to whatever might come their way.
The reason all of this symbolism is important for you and I to see is because though it’s the story of the bride, it’s also our story. Jesus wants to show the young, weak and maturing bride that she is totally safe with Him. If you remember, it wasn’t rebellion that caused her to say no to Him, but fear. And what is He addressing with this royal procession coming to get her? Her safety. He demonstrates her safety through the activity of the Holy Spirit. A Person asked the preacher once, how safe are we? His response was “he sent His Son for you.” This is as safe as it gets. Jesus left all things with His Father including His dignity as the Divine Son of God and took on flesh for the sake of redeeming lost, fallen, separated and hateful humans to Himself. Beloved, He is safe.
If we are not careful we can buy into the rhetoric that the Church preaches about the complete safety of our physical bodies in this age. This is not fully true. God does protect us and keep us from many things, but our safety is not primarily about our physical bodies, but our souls which we have committed to God. Our bodies may be killed in this age, but our souls are not only safe in this age, but also into the age to come. This is our great hope, not that our bodies will never decay, but that our souls, the part of us which we have committed to Him, He is able to keep. Not only keep, but keep in power with 60 of Israel’s valiant (Holy Spirit) around it. God is making clear to both the bride and you, that He is safe and He is to be trusted. Every day over 400 people die as martyrs for the Gospel around the world. Surely righteous people die under the leadership of Jesus, just look at Revelation 6:9-11.
Jesus’ Loving Plan of Salvation (SOS 3:9-10)
As I said at the beginning of this chapter, the Holy Spirit loves to spin the diamond of Christ to reveal the different facets of His personhood. It’s here that the bride first sees Him ascending from the wilderness; then, her safety through the power of the Holy Spirit; and now His loving plan of salvation for her. You were redeemed by a God who became up close and personal with His creation. It’s here in these two verses that the Holy Spirit is going to show her this very reality. Song of Songs 3:9-10 states “Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a palanquin; he made it’s pillars of silver, it’s support of gold, it’s seat of purple, it’s interior paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem.” This couch or chariot that Solomon has sent is most wonderfully put together and constructed.
Such a beautiful truth being played out in real time as Jesus is coming for her. The bride has nothing for which to pay for her own transportation to the king’s palace. She is fully dependent upon Him and His kingdom wealth to transport her. He is coming for her; she’s not coming to Him. In our own nature, we resist God and fight against Him, but in His humility He has come once at the incarnation and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit He continually comes to us providing our transportation from here to Him. It’s through Him, by Him and for Him. Solomon has come to Shunem, or for our allegory, God in the person of Christ Jesus has come to you. He hasn’t made you try to figure out how to reach Him on your own, but in your sin, in your trespasses He has come to you and made the way for you. This is His loving plan of salvation that He Himself has worked out for us, on our behalf, as our great Substitutionary Lamb.
When we look at the specific features of this Chariot that the King sent for the young maturing bride we gather much insight into the Cross of Jesus Christ. Remember what took place in the Old Testament, though it was real for them, it was only a shadow of things to come, the foretaste of that which would come in fullness through Jesus Christ. It says “Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a palanquin…” Solomon was a man who ended up marrying not just one woman but many. In fact, many of his marriages were strictly political arrangements which created a truce or peace treaty for lands, tribes and areas (1st kings 3:1). For these marriages Solomon would have had nothing to do with the building of their Chariots, but this one is much different. For this one Solomon himself, the wealthiest and wisest king in human history became personally involved in the building of the Shulamite’s chariot. This is speaking to the incarnation, or the fact that God couldn’t redeem us from heaven, but He had to become personally involved in our redemption by becoming a Man and being crushed by the wrath of God, drinking that cup that the Father offered Him. This was stunning to the Shulamite and it’s equally stunning to us. For eternity we will look upon Him who was pierced asking “Why?” When we see Him in His uncreated glory with a resurrected Body, we will marvel that He left His home and endured so much for people who hated Him. It will never make sense to us that He Himself made a Cross of wood and then climbed up on it for our redemption. Stunning!
She also sees that “it’s support of gold, it’s seat of purple, it’s interior paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem.” Gold in the Bible usually always speaks of Divinity or God Himself. For instance when you walked through Moses’ tabernacle there were different elements in the outer-court and the inner-court but once you got into the holy of holies or the place where God dwelt, everything was made of solid gold to represent God and His divinity. The support of our Chariot is made on the sure foundation of God Himself (1st Cor. 3). The seat was made with fabric that was the color of purple speaking of the royalty we possess in the grace of God. Prior to the Cross we were clothed in the filthy rags of our sin and humanity, but after and through the Cross we are now clothed in the royalty of Christ and His Kingdom, no longer citizens of life in this age, but now representatives of the age which is yet to come. This is the purple seat that God Himself has invited us to sit upon. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). And lastly it was paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. At the end of the day, though God has done much, said much, and given much, we must understand above all else that it’s been done in the love of God. Because God loves so much, He gives so much. Our salvation and redemption hasn’t been paid for by an angry, disappointed and distant God, but by a God who in extreme love paid our way. He has paved everything with love. He has paved it all in love, for us and by Him.
The Bride’s Call to the Daughters to Encounter the Bridegroom God (3:11)
With all this revelation coming to the young, weak but maturing bride it causes much emotion to arise within her as she makes this passionate plea to the daughters of Jerusalem. Here in Song of Songs 3:11 she says “Go forth, O daughters of Zion and see King Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding. The day of the gladness of his heart.” In our allegory the daughters of Jerusalem represent the lukewarm believers of their day. They are the ones who have said to God, that they love God but don’t take the step to enter into the fullness of what’s available to them. And it’s here, as the bride is receiving the revelation of her safety in the Gospel, that she calls out to them to get off the sideline and stop standing idly by; to abandon themselves to Him in the way that He has given Himself to them. I love that the bride doesn’t wait until she is fully mature to call others into the fullness of the Gospel. At this point the only thing that the bride has done is get up off her bed and search for Him whom she had just said no to a few verses ago. But as she sees her own safety, she challenges the others around her to enjoy their safety in the Gospel also.
The bride sets forth a powerful kingdom principle in this verse. Her challenge for the daughters “to go forth and see” is something we can learn much from. The idea is that the more you go the more you see. And the more you see the more you go. This is true in the natural and in the supernatural. When we travel further down the road in our natural lives, we see more. If what we see is awesome we’re forced to travel more, so that we can fully see the object in view. The same thing is true in the Godhead. To see Jesus rightly is to love Jesus. The more closely we move to Jesus the more of Him we see. When we see more of Him, it forces us to go further. And since Jesus is a never-ending ocean of wisdom and revelation we can never fully exhaust Him. So, as much as we can see is as much we can obtain. In all reality, for those of you who struggle moving towards the Lord, it’s not a problem of moving, it’s a problem of sight. Because you’re not seeing much you’re not going much. Your movement forward in the Kingdom isn’t a moving problem, it’s a sight problem. Because if you saw more you would go more and in your going you would see more which would cause you to go more. Thus you’re moving forward, but because you don’t see anything, you aren’t empowered to move forward. This is a simple, but deeply profound truth about seeking God and the way that Jesus has set up His kingdom.
It’s from this place of movement that the bride is calling the daughters to see King Solomon (Jesus). She says to them “…King Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding. The day of the gladness of his heart.” In Revelation 19 Jesus is pictured as wearing many crowns. But I believe that there is one crown that Jesus longs to wear most, and it’s the crown of voluntary love. See, Jesus doesn’t force us to love Him; He only reveals Himself to us and gives us the opportunity to either choose Him or reject Him. But when we accept Him, we then take off that crown which we have previously been crowning ourselves and we place it on Him. It’s the “crown with which his mother crowned Him.” The mother represents the Church or that place from which all those that love Jesus have been born again. And it’s the Church that crowns Jesus with our voluntary love. He can’t demand that we give Him our crown, but He invites us to partner with Him and in that partnership we freely give up all things that we have.
And lastly, the bride says that “..on the day of his wedding. The day of the gladness of his heart.” It’s awesome that the bride calls out to the daughters of Jerusalem to enjoy the wedding of God, because that’s what is happening with her at the current moment. The wedding chariot has come for her, and in its coming, she then turns and calls the daughters to encounter this same Man. The day of Jesus’ wedding, when He will marry her to whom He has betrothed Himself from the Cross, is the day of the gladness of His heart. It’s not that Jesus is excited about the angels who will attend the wedding. It’s not the food that He is excited about and it’s not the decorations or the temple décor that He’s excited about. It’s you who He’s excited about. Your presence at the wedding is the gladness of His heart. He is longing for that day when His promise to marry you will have fully come to pass. He is longing to marry you forever and never be separated from His creation again. You are the gladness of His heart. What does this do to you internally? For me, it causes my heart to be undone and a little skeptical. If I’m being honest, it’s hard to receive such a mind-blowing statement as gospel truth when I so often don’t feel lovable at this level. But over time, as I continue to look at statements like this I start to agree with them in my heart and it’s only a matter of time until I see it manifest itself in the way I live my life. I just agree with it and let Him rejoice over me. If this is what He says then let it be, in Jesus’ name.
Beloved, don’t shrink back from that which you were called into. To reject God’s plan of salvation, His tenderness to us and His loving plan, is to hurt His heart. It’s okay to struggle with understanding why and what He is doing, but don’t let that struggle separate you from Him. Reach for Him in your struggle, look at the Word of God, and if it says what it says, just agree with it. This is your hope and your inheritance.