GETTING THE MESSAGE/Nothing apart from Christ
Last week in Song of Songs 3:1, we saw that the believer in Christ goes through different seasons in their walk with Christ. The believer went from joyful communion with Christ (chapter 2) to a time of darkness when she sought Christ but found Him not.
A season of spiritual darkness or dryness may be due to our sin, preoccupation with the world, assaults from the devil, or other reasons. The common experience during this time is that Christ seems to have hidden His face or comforting presence from us. The Lord uses these times to stir us to closer affections for Him, that we might seek Him above all.
That is what we see happen in verse 2: “I will rise now and go about the city, to the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves.” The believer not only resolves to seek him, but she also rises and makes a very thorough search. She is in a distressed state, but it stirs her to action. She is not content without Christ.
At the end of verse 2, we see that “I sought him, but found him not.” Her seeking seems to be to no avail, but it reveals something that is of great worth: she is thirsting after God. Psalm 42 says, “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Discontentment is a blessed thing when it provokes thirst for Christ.
In verse 3 the watchmen of the city found her. She asks them for help in her seeking after Christ. Watchmen in the Old Testament were prophets. They proclaimed the word of the Lord. In the New Testament, they are ministers who are responsible for keeping watch by proclaiming the whole counsel of God. The point is that she came under the counsel of the word of God in seeking after Christ.
How does one seek Christ? We search after the God of grace. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again. But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again” (John 4). She needed this water. You and I need this water. We have need to return to the grace of Christ Jesus to refresh our souls.
I have raised gardens. During this drought, if I had not watered them enough there would have been no growth. If I had not watered them at all, they would have died. The provision of Christ is promised to His people, but we must attend diligently to the word of God to have it. In Isaiah 41, He promises to make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. We are all raised gardens spiritually. The water of grace comes in by the ear, and then down to the heart.
In verse 4 we see that not long after she heard the word of God from the watchmen, she found him whom her soul loves. She held him and would not let him go. So, we see how grace has grown in this Christian. Grace will always reveal itself in a soul. She found him whom she sought, and brought him into her mother’s house, meaning her heart. Where the treasure is, there the heart is also.
Thomas Manton has some helpful words: “Enjoying fellowship with Christ is the goal of all our effort. To serve God is one thing, but to seek him is another. To serve God is to make him the object of worship, to seek God is to make him the goal of worship. There are many who hover about the palace who do not speak to the prince. A formal man worships and prays and is satisfied with the work. The godly man seeks to go away with God. Like Jacob, I will not let you go until you bless me.”
Verse 5 says: “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or does of the field, that you not stir or awaken love until it pleases.” This statement comes from one who has found him who her soul loves. It counsels others to put no other love above Christ and to be watchful over your walk with him. Does are weak, watchful creatures. Christians must know their dependence upon Christ.
We can do all things through Christ, but nothing apart from Him. There are constant challenges and threats to our joy in Christ. So, we must guard our hearts with love to Him and direct our eyes to truths about Him. And if He hides His face, seek Him all the more.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.