Chapter 8

8:1-4. "Oh, if only you were my brother, who nursed at my mother's breast. Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching, and no one would criticize me. I would bring you to my childhood home, and there you would teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, my sweet pomegranate wine. Your left hand would be under my head and your right hand would embrace me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir not up, nor awake my love, until He please."

The Church is inflamed with intense desire for closest communion with her beloved Lord. Sisterly affection in glowing exercise presents a fitting model. The tender sister makes appearance. It may be supposed that she has been mourning for the absence of a dear brother. Suddenly she sees him in the streets. She cannot be restrained. Her close relationship justifies familiar exhibition of her feeling. With no fear of censorious blame she imprints kisses on his cheeks. She resists all further separation. Clinging to his side she conducts him to her mother's abode. There they receive words of welcome from maternal lips. She seeks to cheer and solace her recovered brother. She brings the goblet of her choicest wine. She shows every token of endearment and affection. Such the picture of the intensity of domestic love. Such the close intimacy between the loving brother, and the rejoicing sister.

In this picture we may read volumes of holiest truth. Is not the blessed Jesus, indeed, the believer's brother! In the plenitude of His heavenly grace, He who was God of God, and very God of very God, condescends to assume our nature--to be born one of human family--to be bone of our bones, and flesh of our flesh. The blessed truth is announced, "He is not ashamed to call us brethren." Not only is He thus qualified as one with man's family to be our representative--to undertake the office of our surety--to bear the penalties of the broken law--to fulfill the righteousness required by justice. As such He can hang accursed on the accursed tree, and shed the blood of atonement to obliterate human guilt.

But, moreover, by being made in all things like unto us--sin only excepted--He has a heart to sympathize with us in our trials and in our conflicts. He has tasted the cup of human woe. He can feel for those who are called to drink the same. Thus He can stick close, yes, closer than a mother's son.

As such He invites us to familiar converse. We may draw near, and pour into His heart the tale of all our need. He will not be slow to listen. He will be quick to bring relief. We may assure Him of the warmth and reality of our devoted love. We may clasp Him to our heart of hearts. We may embrace Him with tokens of rapturous delight.

It will be pain to think of any interruption to these pure raptures. We should be watchful against the approach of any intrusive passions threatening separation! Earnestly we should seek that no interruption should mar this happiness! The portals should be barred against the entrance of antagonistic feeling and desire. The world should be utterly avoided and shunned. The cry should be, 'Away, away, all that might cause the beloved Lord to take departure'. The voice will be heard, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir not up, nor awake my love, until He please."


8:5. "Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?"

The scene is changed. Our eyes are fixed upon a novel sight. The Gospel spreads a feast of things new and old. This appearance meets us for the first time. It is a cluster of fresh budding fruit. A form is seen coming up from the wilderness; but not alone, not unsupported. There is another near, and on Him all weight is laid. The truth is clear. We see the Church deriving support from her Lord. They proceed together along a path leading up from the wilderness.

The believer is called to leave all for Christ--to come out, and to be separate from a fallen and polluted world--to shun its pleasures--to turn from its smiles--to disregard its frowns--to close the ear to its enticing voice--to reject its fascinating cup--to trample on its principles and maxims--beneath the mask to see the features of the enemy of God--to feel that the world in its every pulse is opposed to Christ and heaven. Such views are the true teachings of the Spirit. The believer, a pupil in this school, arises and departs.

But there is no profit in what he abandons. The world, when truly seen, is a waste wilderness. It is no fair garden of Eden, fragrant with delicious flowers. It is no vineyard, in which grapes hang down in luxuriant clusters. It is no peaceful meadow, free from incursions of devouring beasts, where every step is happiness, security, and peace. It is no lovely grove, in which the melody of cheerful birds delights the ear. It is no path, in which surrounding prospects give enchanting views. It is a desert--wild, dismal, and unsatisfying. It is an enemy's land, beset with perils and encompassed with malignant foes. Here no manna falls, and no refreshing streams trickle by the side. Its food is poison. To taste is to imbibe death. What is its produce? Thorns--thistles--briers. It yields no nurture, but disappointment, misery, and woe. The believer is called to come up from this cheating and deluding scene.

But how can he obey? He is weak and powerless in himself. But a mighty arm is near. Jesus says, "I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness." He extends the arm of His omnipotence and cries, Come, lean on Me.

As without Jesus the first step cannot be taken, so without Him advance cannot be made. But He is ever near--willing--able. The heavenward path is a steep ascent. It requires strong limbs to climb. But leaning on Jesus, the upward race may be run without loitering. The path, also, through life's course is slippery. Our feet are liable to stumble. Snares also, and pitfalls are before us--but leaning on Him we are upheld, and safely guided.

Afflictions also come in incessant storms. How often is the heart weighed down--how often are tears and sighs the food of our sorrowing board! But trials, troubles, and distresses will not overwhelm. Leaning on Jesus, we stand on an unshaken rock. Temptations may assail with subtle art. At each moment we are on the brink of downfalls. But clinging to Him we rise superior.

Let us be wise. Let us use the offered aid. Let us cast on Him the burden of our every care, anxiety, and fear. Let us place on Him the weight of our salvation. Self-righteousness is a broken reed. His blood--His righteousness is a giant-staff. Let us lean on Him as we pass through the valley of the shadow of death. His rod and staff will surely comfort. Thus let us pass through life leaning on our Beloved. Let us enter heaven leaning on the same arm.


8:5. "I raised you up under the apple tree--there your mother brought you forth--there she brought you forth who bore you."

Another portrait of Christ's tender love comes in succession. We see a helpless infant drawing the first breath of life. It has no home to shelter it, and no fond hands to nurse it. It is brought forth in the open air, exposed to all the inclemencies of changing seasons. It finds its cradle in the leaves of some orchard-tree. We have not to go far to reach the signification of this allegory. The Holy Spirit, which thus indites it, adds a lucid explication by the pen of Ezekiel. There the miserable state of Judah is described, and the Lord appears in tender love to provide for her--to array her in all lovely clothing, and to adorn her as a bride fit for His palace. Let the Spirit's words, then, open out the wondrous meaning.

We read, that at the time of her birth--"When you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was left uncut, and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and dressed in warm clothing. No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were dumped in a field and left to die, unwanted. But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, 'Live!'" It follows, after naming various particulars, "Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. I gave you expensive clothing of linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine leather. I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, and beautiful necklaces, a ring for your nose and earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. And so you were made beautiful with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—fine flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a queen, and so you were!" It is, moreover, added, "Your fame soon spread throughout the world on account of your beauty, because the splendor I bestowed on you perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord."

Thus the Spirit teaches us to see how Jesus looked upon His Church, in her exposed and despised condition, and in His tender love raised her up to be the Bride of heaven.

8:6, 7. "Set me as a seal upon your heart; as a seal upon your arm--for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave--the coals thereof are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be scorned."

Realizing such marvelous dealings, the Church prays for manifestations of the love of Christ. "Set me as a seal upon Your heart." May my image be deeply engraven in the seat of Your affections! "Set me as a seal upon Your arm." May I be as the signet ring on which Your eye continually shall rest! May the grand words be fulfilled in me, "I have engraved you upon the palms of My hands. Your walls are continually before Me."

But who can describe the might of Christ's all-conquering love! It is strong as DEATH. This enemy is indeed a mighty potentate. It strides forth victorious over all who enter upon mortal life. No rank can rise above its touch. No poverty is too lowly for its assault. It hurls the monarch from his throne--it bears the peasant from his hut. Old age and youth are equally its prey. Talent and learning--ignorance and the unlettered mind alike succumb. Its jealousy is as cruel as the grave. It has no heart to relent from morn to eve. It drives crowds to its abode, always filling and never full.

Such is the power of love. It is devouring, as coals vehemently burning, and turning into ashes all that meets its touch. Let floods of water be poured on it; they are vain. It quenches all, and rages still.

Will love take anything in exchange for its beloved? All offerings would be instantly disdained. It is entirely centered on one object, and no intruding rival will receive notice. There is no rest until possession of the loved one is obtained.

We thus are taught the boundless essence of Christ's love. It is omnipotent and all victorious. It ever burns with warmth most ardent and unquenchable. It rejects all things when compared to the Church to which His heart is given. Faith meekly bows and prays, "Good Lord, may Your great love enkindle mine!"


8:8. "We have a little sister, and she has no breasts--what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?"

The Holy Spirit here presents an allegory to unfold Gospel-truth. His tender mercy gives it. May His enlightening grace shine sweetly on it! Faith here looks off from self. It is an aggressive and an active power. It concentrates not its thoughts on its own enjoyments. Its horizon embraces the whole need of man. Wherever members of our race abide, its compassions penetrate.

The blessed Jesus said, "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold--them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd." We have the Church's echo, "We have a little sister." Faith regards the multitudinous inhabitants of earth as allied to us by closest ties. They are partakers of the same flesh and blood. They breathe the same breath of life. They are inhabitants of the same wide earth. They tread the same soil--are enlivened by the same sun; and are journeying alike through the portals of death to an undying scene.

But they are unspeakably unlike in spiritual condition. Some are enlightened by the light of life--have been taught by the Spirit their lost estate by nature--have fled for refuge to Christ the only hope; and are looking to heaven as their everlasting abode. From their high pinnacle of blessedness, they look with pity on a multitude, who share not their grace. They see them bound fast in Satan's fetters--ignorant of God--His love--His character. They know nothing of Christ and His full--His rich salvation.

This sight melts the believing heart. Some of these forlorn masses dwell at their very door. They throng each city. They are scattered in every village. They are utterly unprepared to meet their God. Faith sees what will be their doom, when Christ shall appear to gather up His jewels--when He shall come to be glorified in His Saints, and to be admired in all those who believe! These yearnings are aptly portrayed in the words, "We have a little sister, and she has no breasts--what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?"


8:9. "If she is a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar."

Here we learn our two-fold duty towards the destitute of our race. We should labor diligently--in faith--in love--in prayer for their conversion. We should use every effort to win them to the knowledge of the Lord. We should proclaim Jesus to them in all His willingness and power to save. We should sound aloud in their hearing the precious calls of the Gospel. "Look unto Me, and be saved." "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." We should confidently expect an answer of blessings.

But we must not give up there. When it shall appear, that the little sister has been brought home to the household of faith, and has been received as a living part of the true fabric of the redeemed, and is resting as a wall on the good foundation, and has become a portion of the noble structure, we should do all in our power to lead onward in the course of faith. We should strive, that converted souls should grow in grace--that they should daily shine more and more in the splendor of truth and holiness--that they should be conspicuous as palaces of silver founded on this wall--and as fragrant cedar enclosing this door.

8:10. "I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers--then was I in His eyes as one that found favor."

Here we have the glad response of true converts. They realize that they are built together as a habitation of God through the Spirit. They attribute the work wholly to grace. "We have found favor." Let it never be forgotten, that salvation from first to last is all of free and sovereign grace. Grace began--grace carries on--and grace will consummate the whole. "By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."


8:11. "Solomon had a vineyard in Baal-Hamon; he let out his vineyard to tenants. Each was to bring for its fruit a thousand shekels of silver."

Allegoric pictures have pervaded this precious Song. In varied form they have presented Gospel-truth. Each view has been replete with teaching, and with charms. The character which commenced, now concludes the book.

King Solomon appears as possessor of a vineyard at Baal-hamon. But a far greater than Solomon is here. We learn that Jesus has a chosen people. These people were given to Him by His Father in the councils of eternity. They were loved by Him with an everlasting love. They have been redeemed from all sin by the shedding of His precious blood; and rescued from every foe by His almighty power. They have been guarded with ever watchful care, as His treasure--His delight--His sister--His spouse.

This Church shall never perish. All the ransomed shall be gathered in, and presented a glorious company without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. To give seeming reality to the picture, it is stated that this vineyard is at Baal-hamon. No special truth is here conveyed. In parables, embellishments are added to fill up the portrait; but not to teach dogmatic truth. This vineyard is entrusted to keepers. Christ employs His ministering servants to dress and cultivate it. They are expected to use all diligence in planting, watering, pruning, and guarding. Christ looks to them to bring much fruit to the heavenly storehouse.


12. "My vineyard, which is mine, is before me. You, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred."

By rapid change the Church now speaks of herself as possessor of a vineyard. There are times when believers are negligent of their own hearts. It is a common lamentation, "Mine own vineyard have I not kept." But here the Church speaks of her anxious care. My eye is fixed upon my vineyard. How watchful should we ever be of our treacherous hearts, lest grace should decline, and weeds and briers should grow up--lest little foxes should creep in and spoil the tender grapes.

But to Christ and His glory all the produce should be devoted. The will--the power to strive in His cause come from Him alone. To Him let boundless praise be given. But friends and ministering servants render much help. Let grateful hearts give them much love, and tokens of devoted gratitude.


8:13. "You who dwell in the gardens, the companions hearken to Your voice--cause me to hear it."

Believers are here exhorted. They are represented as having their abode in the garden of the Lord. Happy companions surround them, with whom they hold delightful converse. But Jesus cries, Let not this converse be restricted unto them. Come and hold loving communion with Me. It is well that believers should often talk, one with another. What grand--what sublime themes prompt their discourse! But the soul's main converse should be with the Chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely One. In prayer we should be ever drawing near to Him. In praise we should be ever uplifting melodious notes. His gracious ear delights to hear. May it be our delight to wax stronger in this exercise!


14. "Make haste, my Beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young deer upon the spice-laden mountains."

Earnest cry concludes the Song. It calls upon the Lord to come with all speed and fill the heart. Behold the agile gazelles and deer skipping and bounding on the spice-laden hills. With such alacrity may Jesus come and take up His abode in hearts wide open to give welcome! But especially let our cry be, that He would hasten His kingdom, and establish His gracious reign of righteousness. "Make haste, my Beloved." "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

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