"I Am My Beloved’s And My Beloved Is Mine"
Our Scripture reading is from Song of Solomon 4:12-16 and 5:1: "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense: myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
"Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my Beloved come into his garden and eat his pleasant fruits.
"I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk; eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."
When we read such a portion of Scripture as the one before us, we should read it with reference to ourselves. It is in the measure in which we are able to appropriate the statements in the Scriptures to ourselves, that we enjoy them.
The point is not how much we speak about these things, how much we write about them, how much we read about them, how much we preach about them. It is not how many books we may have written about the things of God, but it is how far we appropriate them to ourselves, and know the power of them in our own hearts. Only in so far as this is the case, will the Word of God be really profitable to our own souls.
"A Garden Enclosed Is My Sister, My Spouse"
What does this mean? Literally it means barred – locked up. But what is it intended to convey here? When a garden is locked up, it is that only the proprietor may have the right to enter, or those to whom he may give this right. Not everyone may have access to the garden to help himself to the fruits as he pleases.
The garden is not only enclosed by walls, as would seem here, but in the Hebrew it is "locked up" or "barred" so that none but the proprietor may have access. Who is He? The Lord Jesus Christ, and He alone should have access to our hearts, and not any one else as he pleases.
What, then, does this deeply important truth convey to us? Simply that we are bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, that we are set apart for the glory of Christ. He and He alone has any right to us, and the devil has none.
More than this, we have no right to ourselves. We are not our own; we are bought with a price: "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
We are not our own masters. No one can say, "My time is my own," as the world does say. It is not mine. My time, my talents are not mine; they are God’s. My business even is not mine; it is God’s. My house, my lands, my purse, everything I have is not mine, but it belongs to the Lord; for He has bought me with His precious blood, and having bought me, He has purchased all that I have (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
All this is implied in the figure used, "a garden barred." But, beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, let me ask you affectionately, is it thus with you? Do you rejoice in this, that you are not your own, that you are bought by the precious blood of Christ, and that you and all you have belong entirely to Him?
Your hands, your feet are His, and therefore to be employed for Him. Your eyes, your tongue, your talents, your time, and your purse, are all His and therefore to be used for Him. Your business and your possessions are His. Everything you have belongs to Him, being bought by His precious blood, and thus set apart for His use.
He has access to all these things, and He alone ought to have this access. He is the Master, and we are but stewards whom He will order as He pleases.
Let us seek to enter into this, that we are set apart for His use, and so we shall be enabled to bring forth more abundant fruit to the praise and honor and glory of God. This is intended by the Holy Ghost to be conveyed to our hearts by the figure, "a garden barred." But still there is more.
"A Spring Shut Up"
Why is it shut up? When an earthly spring is shut up, it is that not everyone may have a right to it, but that the owner, or any to whom he may allow the right and privilege of access to the spring, may be able to use the water, and none others.
It is then, another figure used by the Holy Ghost to teach us the truth we have already been considering – to show us that we are the Lord’s and that we are set apart that He may use us as He pleases. That we have no right to our time and talents, but that they all belong to Him.
Some think it is all the same how they spend their time, whether in learning to play instruments or otherwise. Others have a desire to learn sciences or languages, and they think they have a perfect right to do so if they feel inclined.
Now I do not mean to say that such things are sinful, if we have time for them; but no one has any right thus to employ his time or talents until he has laid it before the Lord, and has asked, "Is it Thy will that I should spend my time in learning to play this instrument or study this science, or this language? Shall I thereby serve Thee or otherwise?"
If it is the will of the Lord, then it is right and proper thus to employ our time. So with everything we have, as our time, money and talents. They are His, and we ought not to use them unless it be for the praise and honor and glory of God.
"A Fountain Sealed"
Another figure is used here, not only "a garden enclosed" and "a spring shut up," but also "a fountain sealed." It is not simply "a spring shut up," but more pointed, to mark that the owner of the spring alone has right of access to it, it is called "a fountain sealed." It is His, and His only, and therefore there is a seal on it, and no one dare break that seal to take water out of the spring.
The spring is His; the water which is in it came from Him; the water that He has put there is for Him and for His use. Therefore, the water which is in it is to be used only for the praise and honor and glory of His great name. This brings before us for the third time, more minutely than before, that we are the Lord’s.
Therefore we are to learn to be more decidedly out and out for the Lord, and we should never look on ourselves as belonging to this world, or as being our own. We should ever remember that we are bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, and that thus we, and all we have and all we are, belong solely to the Master for His glory and use.
"Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices; a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon."
He means by these figures to convey the delight which He, the Bridegroom, takes in His bride, to show us how dear we are to His heart, and what loveliness and beauty He sees in us. It shows how He is delighted with our service, although it may be but little, and how our worship and praise are sweet as incense to Him. Wonderful, is it not?
"A Fountain of Gardens"
"A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon." " A fountain of gardens" does not mean a fountain producing gardens, as it might here be taken to mean, but a fountain in the midst of gardens. A fountain, the waters of which refresh and nourish the gardens.
This he says further of His Church, and here He again uses three figures, even as we notice with regard to the first point. The figures are – first, "a fountain of gardens"; second, "a well of living waters"; and lastly, "streams from Lebanon." What do these figures imply?
"A fountain of gardens" means here that in this world we are, or ought to be, for the refreshment and nourishment of one another, for the strengthening and invigorating of one another.
Just as by a fountain in the midst of a garden, the plants are watered and nourished, and all the vegetation is benefited thereby, and the beautiful and fragrant flowers are refreshed, so the Church is left upon the earth to be a like blessing. She should not merely enjoy His fullness herself, but she should be for the fertilizing of those surrounding her, and especially she may lend a helping hand to the brethren and sisters, particularly the younger ones in Christ.
This is the very purpose for which we are left in this world, that we may be as fountains of water, and especially for the strengthening and encouraging of one another, and the refreshing, nourishing, and watering of one another, even as the fountain in the midst of gardens.
"A Well of Living Waters"
In John 7:38-39 Jesus said, "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified." It was of the Holy Ghost He spake.
Now the Holy Ghost has been given. Therefore we are expected to be wells of living waters. There is no reason why out of you and me individually there should not flow rivers of living water. The living water has been given us to flow out to others. Have we considered this, that for this very reason has been given to us the Holy Ghost – just in order that we may minister to the world around us?
We ought to be the means of good to the sinners about us. Out of us there should flow rivers of living water, that sinners all around, young and old, rich and poor, whether enemies or friends, should be benefited.
And not merely so, but we should also be as wells of living water to the dear fellow believers. They oft may and do stand in need of refreshing and comforting, and it should be our aim to seek to be the messengers of this blessed help to these brethren. We ought to aim so to live and act that here, there, and everywhere, as God gives us opportunity, we may seek to spread far and wide the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.
That is what is meant here – that we should not only be as fountains in the midst of gardens, but even as wells of living waters going out to benefit others, that out of us should flow rivers of living water.
"Streams from Lebanon"
"Streams from Lebanon" goes still further than the other figures. When the snow melted under the summer sun on the heights of Lebanon, then mighty torrents poured down from the mountain, sweeping everything before them.
Nothing could stand in the way of these streams. So should streams of living water flow out of us with so much divine force and power that the people of this world shall not be able to stand before us, but shall be constrained to say that of a truth God is with us.
If such were our state, we should carry all before us, being strong in the Lord, and hundreds, yes, thousands, would be converted. The whole Church surrounding us, which may be cold and dead, would be quickened and set on fire, and all would be stirred up to new love and joy. Thus must we become blessings to many around us. Surely we ought all to aim after this, to be like "streams [torrents] from Lebanon."
Strong in the Armor of God
We may have been idle, but let slumber and sleep rest upon us no more, and even when we have been stirred to some effort, let us not go back into a cold, lifeless state, but having done all to stand.
"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Eph. 6:14-18).
Our attitude is to be strong in the armor of God, or according to the figure which we have been considering, like mighty torrents coming down from Lebanon, carrying everything before them, and being never discouraged by anything we may meet. Those mighty torrents, to which this figure likens us, were never discouraged or beaten back, but carried everything before them.
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8).
Oh, that this were impressed upon our hearts, that we can have power, as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ! We can accomplish great things by prayer and by faith, and none can withstand us, if we go in His power. Great as may be our enemies, yet greater is He that is for us than all that can be against us! And all the powers of darkness cannot withstand us if we work in the strength of God and look to Him and trust in Him alone. All that is before us cannot be accomplished by our own power or resources. If this were more deeply impressed upon our hearts, we should become more and more useful to the praise and honor and glory of God.
In the sixteenth verse to which we now come, the Bride of Christ is speaking. The Lord Jesus Christ has spoken in the highest terms of His Bride, and now His Bride speaks to Him in return. She delights in giving joy to the heart of the Lord Jesus, to see Him partaking of her fruit with pleasure, and to see Him gratifying His loving heart with her.
Therefore she now says, "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." This means in other words, that what I am I am for the Lord’s sake. All that I have belongs not to me but to the Master, who has bought me with His precious blood. Therefore I take delight, joy and pleasure in gratifying His heart who bought me. All I have and all I am I take delight in rendering back to Him again.
It is with this feeling that the Bride responds to the loving words of the Lord Jesus, "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out," because the wind causes the spices and sweet fragrance of a garden to flow forth, so that the owner may enjoy the smell thereof.
Here we observe that whether it be the pleasant south wind or the strong, rough north wind, it is all the same – only that my blessed owner may be gratified by spices which flow out. Whether it be the sweet, soothing influence of love, or the blows of affliction, it matters not, but only that He is gratified by the display of the graces which He has given. But she proceeds to say: "Let my Beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits." Do you seek thus to gratify the heart of Jesus?
My beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, we can verily do so. We can cause sweet spices to ascend to Him. He can come into our company, even now and enjoy our graces. "Let my Beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits." Let us ask you affectionately, are you doing this? Are you lending a willing, an utterly willing hand to the work of the Lord? Are you so doing to gratify the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Lord’s Response
Now Jesus responds to the words of His Bride – "I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk; eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved." What is this? I belong to Jesus. I am His sister, His spouse.
By the grace of God, we are what we are; by the grace of God we have what we have. All we have and are is His by divine right. While He accepts the longings of our heart to offer ourselves to Him, still He would have us remember that we do belong to Him.
Thus the Lord Jesus Christ brings before us that we are His and have received all we have from Him. He would have us keep in mind that we are His through Him – and what we have is through Him.
We are wholly His, and to the very last day of our earthly pilgrimage, all we ever have in the world is of Him. While therefore we invite Him to come into our garden and partake of the pleasant fruits, yet He claims it as His own by right. He does accept and rejoices in our offer of it, but would have us know that it is already all His own.
Lastly, "Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved." If there is anyone who desires to partake of these blessings, the Lord Jesus Christ says to him, "Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly" – which literally means "be drunk with love." Oh, aim above everything after this to increase and abound in love, as it were, to be drunk with love, intoxicated with love! (Phil. 1:9; 1 Thes. 4:9-10).
Oh, that we might know something more of this and be so brimful of love to Jesus, and brimful of love to everyone, that it were running over all round us! Jesus delights in seeing us filled with love, intoxicated with love, drunk with love. May we aim increasingly after this!