GETTING THE MESSAGE/Culture rejects Christian faith
The Song of Solomon, or as verse one of the book calls it, the Song of Songs, is a description of the fellowship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. The Christian life is concerned with growing more and more into the likeness of Christ by the grace of God. This growth promotes communion and love. Jesus asked, “Can two walk together if they do not agree?”
Salvation is about deliverance from the guilt and corruption of sin. Song of Songs 2:1-7 describes the rich fellowship of a believer who sees the glory of Christ in salvation and delights in drawing near to the Lord and feasting on His Word. She enjoys the shade of His protection, the refreshment of His Spirit, and the sustaining strength of His presence.
Happy is the Christian when he has a season of walking close with the Lord. He is fruitful in his thoughts, heart, and works. But seasons change, and the Christian can find himself in a spiritual season like winter; his heart is cold, his hearing of the Lord’s word is formal, and the Lord Jesus seems far off. Such has been the condition of the soul in this passage (Song of Solomon 2:8-17).
The Christian is described as behind a wall, while the Lord is outside looking in through a window (verse 9). There has been a season of winter in the spiritual life of the believer (verse 11). The wall between the soul and the Lord is similar to what we read of the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3.
There the Lord Jesus is outside a door knocking. He is outside because His people inside had become so comfortable with the prosperity of the world they no longer felt much need for the Lord. They were lukewarm in their affections for Christ. The Lord said that in their condition they were actually “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Their outward condition may have been prosperous, but their inward, spiritual condition was impoverished.
What do you do in such a condition? The remedy is to listen to the voice of the Lord and respond. The writer of Hebrews says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” He also says, “Be careful brothers, lest through an evil, unbelieving heart, any drift away from the living God.” The apostle was using the unbelief of the Israelites in the desert to warn Christians of the danger of not paying attention to the word of the Lord.
He uses the word “Today” in the sense of urgency. If you put off responding to the Lord, you risk hardening your heart. There is a place beyond the reach of mercy. The winter of the soul is not comparable to the place where there is no mitigation of misery, nor any possibility of escaping it. The Lord will sometimes remind His people of this to return them to clarity in their spiritual eyesight.
Always remember the Lord loves mercy. You may have resisted and abused many calls from the Lord in His word to repent and return to your former affections and devotion to Him. But the Lord Jesus is always ready to welcome his sheep who lament their ways and come to Him for cleansing.
Our passage describes the joy of the believer when she responds to the Lord’s voice in phrases likened to abundant life: “Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land” (2:10-13).
Christ is an overflowing fountain of goodness. Everywhere He went, He was doing good: proclaiming the kingdom of God; healing the sick; giving the blind sight, the deaf ears to hear, the lame legs to walk, and on and on. He is the author of life. To resist Him is to resist all good. To embrace Him is to embrace goodness itself. If you are thinking of Christ rightly, you will be thinking of Him highly.
There will always be obstacles while we are in this world to our walk with Christ. This is what the foxes spoiling the vineyard refer to (verse 15). Jesus called Herod a “fox” because he was an enemy of God’s kingdom. Ezekiel called false prophets in Israel “foxes.” There are many forms “foxes” take.
Our culture has turned against the Christian faith; good is called evil and evil good. Our own pride and self-sufficiency hinder our admiration and love to Christ. This passage directs us to seek Christ and call upon Him day by day, to listen to Him with a responding and humble heart.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.