Song of Songs
1 The Bride Is Beautiful 2-3 Teeth, Lips and Temples 4-5 Neck and Breasts 6 The Mountain of Myrrh and the Hill of Frankincense 7-8 Perfect Beauty and Testing 9-10 The Appreciation of the Groom 11 Lips, Tongue and Garments 12 A Garden Locked 13-14 The Decoration of the Garden 15-16 My Garden, His Garden
The Bride Is Beautiful

1“How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are [like] doves behind your veil;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead.

This chapter begins with a description of the bride by the groom in all the beauty she has for him. For his description he zooms in, as it were, on seven body characteristics: her eyes, hair, teeth, lips, temples, neck and breasts. She is a bride worthy of him, a bride that fits him perfectly, because her beauty is the reflection of his own beauty. In verse 77“You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
And there is no blemish in you.
, he even says of her: “There is no blemish in you.”

It is a description of the future remnant of Israel, especially of the city of Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus will clothe Jerusalem with His glory (Eze 16:10-1410I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk.11I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck.12I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.13Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.14Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord GOD.). The heavenly Jerusalem will also be beautiful because it has the glory of God: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev 21:10-11a10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,11having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.).

The reason why this chapter is so beautiful is that through Solomon, we hear the Lord Jesus speak about the value His bridal church has for Him. He does not see us here in all our practices, but He sees us in what we are for Him. There is a nice parallel to be drawn with what the Lord says to His disciples in Luke 22. First we read about the behavior of the disciples when they lie down with Him to eat the Passover. He says that He has earnestly desired this (Lk 22:14-2014When the hour had come, He reclined [at the table], and the apostles with Him.15And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;16for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”17And when He had taken a cup [and] given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves;18for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.”19And when He had taken [some] bread [and] given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”20And in the same way [He took] the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.). When they have celebrated the Passover, “there arose also a dispute among them [as to] which one of them was regarded to be greatest” (Lk 22:2424And there arose also a dispute among them [as to] which one of them was regarded to be greatest.).

But what do we read a few verses further on? There the Lord Jesus says to them: “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk 22:28-3028“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials;29and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you30that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.). Who can understand that? The disciples have quarreled. The Lord knows them, and knows how they are. Yet He says to them that they have remained faithful to Him. If we know ourselves even a little, we can only say, ‘Lord Jesus, we have been unfaithful to You so many times, we don’t understand how You can say that.’

In the blessings of Balaam, who tried to curse the so often unfaithful people of God, we find the same thought. Through the Spirit of God Balaam lets us know how God views His own people. Then we hear no curse, but something completely different: “He has not observed misfortune in Jacob; nor has He seen trouble in Israel” (Num 23:21a21“He has not observed misfortune in Jacob;
Nor has He seen trouble in Israel;
The LORD his God is with him,
And the shout of a king is among them.
). He says that while at the same time the Israelites were arguing in their tents. They disobeyed and revolted against God. Yet Balaam says that God sees no evil in Israel. It is incredible, but still true, because God’s Word says it.

That is how God sees us. On the one hand, we know our responsibilities. We know that we often fail and are often unfaithful. On the other hand, we have as church a wonderful position close to His heart and He tells us that here. We can also apply this to the individual believer who is brought to perfection in Christ through identification with Him. Christ describes what He has made of him. It is the result of His grace and love.

We are called “beloved children” (Eph 5:11Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;). God loves us. It is important for each of us to know deep inside that He loves us. This is also important in relation to our children. Parents love their children. They are often disobedient and do things we do not love. But that does not mean that we do not love the children. Love is always there, but not always shown in the same way. If they deserve punishment, we will give it to them, precisely because we love them.

It is also important that we occasionally say to our children: ‘You are beautiful. You did that well. You are so appreciated. You are wonderful.’ Do we ever say that to them? Do we sometimes say it to our wife? That is not flattery, but expressing appreciation to encourage each other.

Recently I spoke to a young man when we met at a supermarket. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. I asked him: ‘And, how is it with the Lord?’ ‘Oh, the Lord is doing well,’ he said. Yes, that’s for sure,’ I replied. But how is your life with the Lord?’ ‘Oh, that is over, all over. I was in a church and I was handy with all kinds of heating. And that’s why the people there could use me. They said to me: You can do that well; you can help me.’ But he felt used. That was not love, that was self-love.

This is also important with us. What do we appreciate in each other? Is it really only for what he or she does for the Lord? Or is it about our own profit, the advantage we have from such a person? Brothers and sisters who are more practical have their value. We can let them know. They will feel whether it is real gratitude or selfish motives play a role. And the child we love, is it because we like it, because we hardly experience problems from it? Or do we love the child, simply and only because it is our child, with its good and also unpleasant characteristics?

It has everything to do with how we see ourselves in the light of the Lord, or how He sees us. He says to everyone who belongs to his church: ‘You are beautiful and precious.’ He says of the remnant of faith: “Since you are precious in My sight, [since] you are honored and I love you” (Isa 43:4a4“Since you are precious in My sight,
[Since] you are honored and I love you,
I will give [other] men in your place and [other] peoples in exchange for your life.
). We may apply that to ourselves. He has proven how precious we are to Him by giving His life for us.

If we are aware of this, it will also be evident from the way we look at our brothers and sisters. He has also given His life for them. He also says to them that they are precious in His eyes. We must accept that and value it. It is not possible to really enjoy the love of God if we constantly argue with a brother or sister.

The first thing the bridegroom of the bride describes are her eyes. He compares her eyes to “doves”. The doves explain the character of the bride’s eyes. The Lord Jesus speaks of being “innocent as doves” (Mt 10:1616“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.) and having a “clear” or “single” (Darby translation) eye (Mt 6:2222“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.). A single eye is an eye that focuses on only one object. The groom sees that the eye of his bride is truly only on him.

The Holy Spirit is also compared to a dove. The Spirit will always direct the eyes of the believer to the one object of faith, namely Christ. He will give the believer insight into Who the Lord Jesus is for him. In addition, the dove has a strong bond with a partner. They always stay true to each other. The Lord Jesus also sees this characteristic in his own.

The groom sees her eyes, despite the fact that they are hidden behind her veil. It is precisely this veil that makes it clear that she is only for him. We see this with Rebecca who takes her veil and covers herself as soon as she meets Isaac (Gen 24:6565She said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “He is my master.” Then she took her veil and covered herself.). With this she indicates: ‘From now on I am available only for you and no other man anymore.

The fact that the groom then talks about the long hair of his bride, fits in beautifully with that. We read in 1 Corinthians 11 that the hair is given to the woman for “a covering” or “a veil” (1Cor 11:1515but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. Darby translation). The long hair symbolizes the dedication and subjection of the woman to her husband. That is where also her strength lies. We see in Samson that he has his strength as long as he has long hair.

The groom compares the bride’s hair to “a flock of goats that have descended from Mount Gilead”. It may be that a flock of black goats walking down the mountain slopes is reminiscent of wavy hairlocks. A flock also speaks of unity and harmony. Believers who are devoted to the Lord Jesus and serve Him in submission also walk in unity and harmony.

The goat is also the special animal for the sin offering (Lev 4:23,2823if his sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a male without defect.28if his sin which he has committed is made known to him, then he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without defect, for his sin which he has committed.; 5:66He shall also bring his guilt offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin.; 16:55He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.; 23:1919You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings.). This reminds us that the long hair speaks of a devotion in which sin has no chance to break in. The believer who has long hair in spiritual application, remembers that the Lord Jesus suffered and died for his sins. He will want to keep himself pure to live only for his Lord and be pleasing to Him.


Teeth, Lips and Temples

2“Your teeth are like a flock of [newly] shorn ewes
Which have come up from [their] washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.
3“Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

Then the bridegroom talks about her teeth, which he compares to “a flock of [newly] shorn ewes”. The teeth are used to chew and take in food. In a spiritual sense, we can say that the believer eats the words of the Lord Jesus. Jeremiah says, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name,) O LORD God of hosts” (Jer 15:1616Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts.
). With him we see that he likes to eat God’s words because God’s Name has been proclaimed upon him.

Teeth can also be misused. The apostle Paul warns the believers in the churches in Galatia of this. He sees that they want to reintroduce the law. If believers place themselves under the law again or impose it on others and the law is reintroduced into their lives, the result is that they devour each other. Paul is clear about this and says: “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another” (cf. Gal 5:1515But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.; Psa 57:44My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
[Even] the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows
And their tongue a sharp sword.
; Joel 1:66For a nation has invaded my land,
Mighty and without number;
Its teeth are the teeth of a lion,
And it has the fangs of a lioness.
).

The teeth are not compared here with lions, but with sheep. Sheep do not tear apart other animals, but they docilely follow the Good Shepherd Who takes them to grassy meadows. A flock of sheep indicates grazing in green meadows and being able to distinguish between what is good food and what is not. A sheep is also a picture of Christ Himself in His tacit surrender to the will of God. This feature also characterizes the believer.

With newly shorn ewes it is clear that the wool has been shaved off. The spiritual meaning of shaving is that the believer judges everything that is of his sinful flesh and on which he boasts. It represents the judgment of what comes from the old nature. The leper to be cleaned had to shave off all his hair (Lev 14:8-98The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean. Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days.9It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean.). Priests are not allowed to wear woolen clothes when entering the sanctuary (Eze 44:1717It shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house.).

The bride’s food is characterized by purity. The bride feeds spiritually on the words of the groom. That makes her completely clean, as if she “comes up from washing”. Water is the familiar image of the Word of God (Eph 5:2626so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,; Tit 3:55He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,). Reading the Word of God cleanses us of the defilement with which we are defiled as we go through the world. We cannot escape it. That is why it is important to read God’s Word over and over again and to become pure in our thinking.

The result is also a balanced life of faith. This is proposed in the “twins”. It is remarkable that the first teeth a child gets appear in pairs. The healthy teaching from God’s Word results in a healthy practice. There will be no bigotry about all sorts of truths and no exaggerated emphasis will be placed on practical Christian life. Both aspects must be balanced.

The result is spiritual fruit, on which we may think, when it says “not one among them has lost [or: is without] her young”. Others are encouraged to live the same way. Timothy and Titus are encouraged to be examples to others (1Tim 4:1212Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but [rather] in speech, conduct, love, faith [and] purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.; Tit 2:77in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, [with] purity in doctrine, dignified,). Especially older men and women have the opportunity to be examples for the youth (Tit 2:2-52Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,5[to be] sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.).

Then the groom speaks about her lips (verse 33“Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.
). Lips form the words we speak and are therefore a picture of the language. Our teeth are the instruments to receive and chew food given by the Lord, and our lips are the means to express what we have received from Him. Her lips are compared to “a scarlet thread”.

That reminds us both of sin, and of the liberation from the judgment of sin. Isaiah speaks of “sins” that are “as scarlet”, meaning that there is blood guilt on the people, but he also points out that they can become “white as snow” (Isa 1:1818“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
). The liberation from judgment is seen in the history of Rachab. She must hang a scarlet thread from the window of her house on the wall of Jericho (Jos 2:18a18unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household.). This scarlet thread is the sign of her liberation from the judgment that comes upon Jericho.

The image here is that the believer uses words that make clear his liberation from the power of sin. This is reflected in the speaking by the mouth of words that are “lovely”. In her words, her royal dignity resounds. Scarlet is also the clothing of kings (cf. Mt 27:28-2928They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.29And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”). The bride does not use vulgar or dirty language, but words that are good, while her lips are under the authority of the king.

One of the contrasts between our life in sin and our life as Christians is the language or words we use. In the words we used to speak, there was nothing of and for God. Our mouth was at the service of our own corrupt heart as we claimed: “With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” (Psa 12:44Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”
). This applies not only to the boasters, but also to highly civilized language users. There is nothing of, and for God.

The believer does not boast in himself, but in the Lord. He makes this heard, for his heart and mouth are full of Christ and His work of love on the cross. He will not restrain his lips (Psa 40:99I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O LORD, You know.
) from honoring Him, but “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb 13:1515Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.).

This is also related to the “slice of a pomegranate” which the bridegroom must think about when he sees her “temples”. The temples are the side of the head, behind the eyes. These are the weak spots in the skull. The pomegranate indicates a fullness of life in the many seeds it contains. Each seed is juicy, sweet and red. The fact that there is a slice of a pomegranate indicates that this fullness is visible to the groom.

Pomegranates can also be seen on the hems of the upper garment of the high priest (Exo 28:33-3533You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet [material], all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around:34a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe.35It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the LORD, so that he will not die.). Here we see that the fullness of life is the result of the Lord Jesus’ service as High Priest in the sanctuary. He lives by the power of an imperishable life and is able to completely save those who approach God through Him (Heb 7:15-17,24-2515And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,16who has become [such] not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.17For it is attested [of Him], “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”24but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.25Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.). The fruit He Himself produces in the sanctuary He associates with the bride.

We can also connect the temples with our thoughts. Nobody sees our thoughts, but the Lord Jesus sees them. All the hidden thoughts of everyone are for Him an open book (Heb 4:12-1312For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.). Of the believers He accepts – in the image we have here before us – that their thoughts go out to Him and that they say to Him with David: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, o LORD, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psa 19:1414Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
).

The thoughts are connected to the veil here. In verse 11“How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are [like] doves behind your veil;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead.
the veil is also mentioned. There we saw that it is a picture of devotion and separation to the Lord Jesus. Here we see that the thought life is full of Him, precisely because there is no more important person for the believer, than He alone. The Lord Jesus sees the believer as one who is seeking the things above and sets his mind on the things above, where He is (Col 3:2-32Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.).

The “meditation” is “pleasing” (Psa 104:3434Let my meditation be pleasing to Him;
As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.
), both to the believer and to Him. The believer meditates on his law, which is His word, day and night (Psa 1:22But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
; 119:97,14897O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
148My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
). He meditates on all His works (Psa 77:1212I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.
). He meditates on His precepts (Psa 119:15,7815I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
78May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
[But] I shall meditate on Your precepts.
). He meditates on His wonders (Psa 119:2727Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
). He meditates on His statutes (Psa 119:4848And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will meditate on Your statutes.

). He meditates on His testimonies (Psa 119:9999I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
). He meditates on all His doings (Psa 143:55I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your doings;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
). All these meditations are at the same time a protection against satan’s attacks on his weak, wandering thoughts.


Neck and Breasts

4“Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built with rows of stones
On which are hung a thousand shields,
All the round shields of the mighty men.
5“Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle
Which feed among the lilies.

The neck (verse 44“Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built with rows of stones
On which are hung a thousand shields,
All the round shields of the mighty men.
) is a symbol of man’s will, which is naturally rigid and obstinate (Isa 3:1616Moreover, the LORD said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,
And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,
; 48:44“Because I know that you are obstinate,
And your neck is an iron sinew
And your forehead bronze,
). But this can change by bowing the neck before God. Jerusalem has proved to be stubborn (2Chr 30:88Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the LORD and enter His sanctuary which He has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you.), but has bowed the neck under the discipline of God. Now the neck is an ornament of strength and victory, which is expressed in the comparison with “the tower of David”. In it, not one’s own power, but the power of God becomes visible.

A neck like a tower indicates constancy and a raised gaze. It is not a power of its own or a haughty gaze. The steadfastness is that of faith in God, and the gaze that is lifted up is directed toward Him. There is spiritual maturity that no longer seeks strength in itself, but has found everything in Christ. By this can be resisted the temptations of the world and the temptations of satan.

The tower is not just any tower. It is ‘the tower of David’, the tower that David built or the tower that came into his possession. It is a defense in times of war. The bride has now become like a bulwark against any hostile attack. She looks like David. The tower has been David’s refuge in times of need. He who is spiritually mature realizes that there is battle and that there is no strength for that battle in himself, but that all strength and protection are to be found in God (Psa 61:44Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.
).

This is not the end of the description of the tower. On the tower “are hung a thousand shields”. It emphasizes that someone who has bowed before God has abundant protection. Whoever is powerful in knowing and doing the will of the Lord, will experience difficult times and great resistance. In order not to give in to the pressure of the enemy, it is important to make a decision of the will not to bow the neck to the difficulties and resistance, and to do only the will of God. Those who do, have an inner protection as “thousand shields” belonging to “mighty men”. Those who bow before God behave like mighty men.

The groom ends his description of the bride with her “two breasts”, which he compares to “two fawns” (verse 55“Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle
Which feed among the lilies.
). Breasts are a picture of spiritual maturity and the ability to pass on food to small children. The fawns seem to allude to this. Fawns drink from their mother’s milk. The milk that is passed on by the breasts speaks of the Word of God through which believers can grow spiritually (1Pet 2:22like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,).

It is beautiful when believers grow in such a way that they are not only personally living with the Lord, but are also able to help others by giving them balanced instruction. This is expressed in the image of “the twins of a gazelle”. The original word means ‘two young deer born from the same mother’. They are identical in size; one is not bigger than the other.

It’s about a balanced life. Doctrine and life must be in balance. Young believers, but also the elderly, are in danger of falling into extremes. In that case, one side is concerned with the doctrine and the other with the practice. We must not set these two sides of religious life against each other, but develop them side by side.

The task of adult believers in the education of young believers is to give them room for spiritual growth and to give them directions that stimulate their personal faith life. The danger of the older believer is to instruct young believers in such a way that they meet their own preferences. The older believer who is spiritually mature, and balanced in his faith, will follow this advice for education: “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Pro 22:66Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
).

The training must be in accordance with “the way he should go”, i.e. he must be raised in accordance with his qualities and abilities. These must be formed in such a way that he becomes useful to God. There must be an insight into the individuality of the newly converted person with which the upbringing must be in tune. Nothing impossible should be demanded, but tasks should be given that are appropriate to gender, age, mental capacity and abilities.

It is mainly about giving leads for the direction of the path the child should go. It is about “the way he should go”, his way of life and the purpose of his life. His life path is not so much determined by his talent and abilities, but more by the choices he makes. The spiritual parent will teach him to make the right choices, choices that will bring and keep him on a path of devotion to God (cf. Gen 18:19a19For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”). In the book of Proverbs there are only two ways a child can go, that is either the way of the wise and the righteous or the way of the fool and the wicked.

“Feed among the lilies” indicates the appropriate environment where the bride is. The lily indicates delicate, breakable, fragile beauty. We can apply this to an uneasy conscience. Those who really want to live in a healthy spiritual balance will practice “to maintain always a blameless conscience [both] before God and before men” (Acts 24:1616In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience [both] before God and before men.). Doctrine and life can only come to a healthy and balanced development if the conscience is clear, if there is nothing that makes it restless.

Prophetically, what the bridegroom says about the bride’s breasts points to the future of Jerusalem. When the city has returned to the LORD, it will become a source of blessing for all the earth: “Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her, that you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, that you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom.” For thus says the LORD, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees” (Isa 66:10-1210“Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her;
Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her,
11That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts,
That you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom.”
12For thus says the LORD, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees.
).


The Mountain of Myrrh and the Hill of Frankincense

6“Until the cool of the day
When the shadows flee away,
I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh
And to the hill of frankincense.

It is not clear who is speaking in this verse. It may be that the bride here responds to the description the groom has given her in the previous verses. It may also be that the groom is still speaking. There is something to be said for both views. We will first look at it from the bride’s perspective. She says as it were that she is overwhelmed by it that she means so much to him. She has to deal with all that. She feels limited in her ability to let it sink in. She cannot understand it all.

The time she needs to think about everything the groom has said about her lasts “until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away”. That indicates that it is not yet daylight. There are still shadows present. It indicates that she still sees dimly. Thus it is written of us that we “now see in a mirror, dimly” and that we “know in part” (1Cor 13:1212For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.). ‘Dimly’ means ‘in a riddle’. It is all not yet perfectly clear. The perfect knowledge has not yet come.

That is why she goes “to mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense”. We have read about myrrh and incense before (Song 3:66“Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Like columns of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all scented powders of the merchant?
). Here in Song of Songs 4 we read about a mountain of myrrh and a hill of frankincense, which indicates a large quantity and also a level higher than the ground. Myrrh speaks of the suffering of the Lord Jesus. Frankincense speaks of the sweet scent that the Lord Jesus is for His God. It speaks to us about the bitterness of Christ’s suffering and the sweetness of His loveliness. He endured the suffering for us in order to save us from our sins. By this He was able to reveal his loveliness to us, and we are taken now into favor before God (Eph 1:66to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Darby translation; cf. Eze 16:1414Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord GOD.).

It is good to consider this when we are impressed by the love the Lord Jesus has for us. We can do this in particular when we, as a church, proclaim His death at His table. Or is it to be said of us that we are not even able to watch for an hour with Him? We must learn to walk in the light of the cross. That desire will be there and will grow as we hear Him speak about us as in this passage.

Are we taking the time to think about how He sees us? We may be full of amazement as we hear him say, ‘This is how I see you.’ If we accept this in all humility and with great gratitude, we honor Him. It is a false humility that says that the gift is too great to accept. Whoever accepts it because He gives it, will also ask Him to indicate everything else in his life that is not in accord with Him. He wants to change in order to live the way the Lord wants him to live.

As it has been said, it may also be that the words of this verse are still spoken by the groom. The meaning of the cool of the day, the shadows, the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense remain the same, but are now seen from his perspective. As long as it is not yet day and there is still the shadow of the night, the Lord Jesus is there for His own in heaven. He is there because of His suffering – of which the myrrh speaks – on earth and His loveliness before God.

That He is at the mountain of myrrh means that He is our High Priest with God. He is a High Priest who can sympathize with us while we are still in trials on earth (Heb 4:1515For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.; cf. Mt 14:23-2423After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.24But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.). The hill of frankincense reminds us of His pleasure before the Father and that we are made pleasant in Him. On the basis of this He is our Advocate with the Father (1Jn 2:11My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;).

He will be there until the full day arrives. The full day, without shadows, arrives when He comes from heaven to establish righteousness on earth. Then He will shine as “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal 4:22“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.). There is no cloud causing any darkening (2Sam 23:44Is as the light of the morning [when] the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
[When] the tender grass [springs] out of the earth,
Through sunshine after rain.’
). This will also be experienced by the faithful remnant of Israel when it enters into the peace of the kingdom of peace after the intense trials of the great tribulation. This is not yet the case, as we see in the following verses, but we do see in faith the full result of Christ’s work, both of His work on the cross and of His work now in heaven.


Perfect Beauty and Testing

7“You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
And there is no blemish in you.
8“[Come] with me from Lebanon, [my] bride,
May you come with me from Lebanon.
Journey down from the summit of Amana,
From the summit of Senir and Hermon,
From the dens of lions,
From the mountains of leopards.

In verse 77“You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
And there is no blemish in you.
, the groom speaks to the bride, by which we think of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. He praises her impeccable beauty. He has already said that she is beautiful. Now He says that she is “altogether beautiful” and that there is “no blemish” in her. That cannot be but the result of His special care for her. Here we see the image of the believer who is perfect in Christ. Christ accomplished the work on the cross and He continues to take care of His own. That is what the previous verses have shown. Here we see the result.

As for the church, we see that Christ cleanses His bride in His love “by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Eph 5:26-2726so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.). For this purpose, He is now committed to us as individual believers and for the church as a whole in heaven. He looks thus at the end result.

The same goes for the earthly bride, Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be the perfection of beauty (Psa 50:22Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God has shone forth.
; cf. Num 23:21a21“He has not observed misfortune in Jacob;
Nor has He seen trouble in Israel;
The LORD his God is with him,
And the shout of a king is among them.
). It will be the beauty that the LORD has laid upon her. That is the result of His going to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. The bride has occupied himself with this and has therefore, spiritually applied, entered deeper into the mystery of the cross and the resurrection.

When we are spiritually on the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense, we are in the company of the Lord Jesus. We are then in the spirit in the heavenly places, indicating our standing in Christ (Eph 1:33Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ,). Knowing that we are there in Christ is more than just the experience of that. As we are busy with Him, with what He has done and does for us, He tells us who we are for Him and we experience fellowship with Him.

However, we cannot always stay in the spirit in the heavenly places. We then hear Him ask us to come with Him from the heights down to every day life (verse 88“[Come] with me from Lebanon, [my] bride,
May you come with me from Lebanon.
Journey down from the summit of Amana,
From the summit of Senir and Hermon,
From the dens of lions,
From the mountains of leopards.
). He insists that she go with Him by saying ‘come’ to her twice.

Lebanon is a symbol of stability, of what is unshakeable. Amana means ‘support’ or ‘confirmation’. One of the meanings of ‘Senir’ is armor. Hermon means, among other things, ‘inaccessible’. These different names of the mountains where the bride is, but also where the lions and leopards hide, can be applied to our position in the heavenly places.

In the place where we enjoy heavenly blessings we also have to deal with demonic powers, of which the lions and leopards are a picture. These spiritual powers of anger want to attack us to make it impossible for us to enjoy the blessing. But they will not succeed if we spiritually link the meaning of the names of the mountains to what we have become in Christ.

On earth, too, the Lord is our protection. This may encourage us and motivate us to do our daily activities with and for Him. We know the occasions of enjoying the love of the Lord Jesus. Then we live, so to speak, ‘on top of the mountain’, in heavenly spheres. But daily life also requires our attention, and that is what the Lord is looking at, while at the same time saying that He also leads us in this. We may come with Him and descend.

It is precisely the letter to the Ephesians, where our blessings in Christ are displayed in the heavenly places, that also speaks of our daily lives. We read here about our responsibilities in society, in marriage and family and in the church. The Lord Jesus wants us to learn to have fellowship with Him in this too. His presence in and involvement with our earthly circumstances give it a heavenly radiance. His joy about this is great, and at the same time it is a testimony in the world.

Prophetically God has said that He will send lions and leopards among His people because of their infidelity (Jer 5:66Therefore a lion from the forest will slay them,
A wolf of the deserts will destroy them,
A leopard is watching their cities.
Everyone who goes out of them will be torn in pieces,
Because their transgressions are many,
Their apostasies are numerous.
; Hab 1:88“Their horses are swifter than leopards
And keener than wolves in the evening.
Their horsemen come galloping,
Their horsemen come from afar;
They fly like an eagle swooping [down] to devour.
). The places where they live are places where lions and leopards hide and lurk on their prey. Both animals are characteristic of the beast from the sea, the symbol of the Roman empire that will be restored (Rev 13:1-81And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns [were] ten diadems, and on his heads [were] blasphemous names.2And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like [those] of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.3[I saw] one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed [and followed] after the beast;4they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”5There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.6And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, [that is,] those who dwell in heaven.7It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.8All who dwell on the earth will worship him, [everyone] whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.). The beast will try to devour the remnant, but God will hide them in the place He has prepared for her (Rev 12:13-1713And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male [child].14But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.15And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.16But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.17So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.).

The reference of the groom to Lebanon has to do with the abode of the faithful remnant during the great tribulation, the time of trial and hiding. Prophetically, the remnant here is outside the land (Psa 42:6-76O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
7Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
). The Lord Jesus asks them to come to Him. After He has spoken to the heart of His own about the beauty He Himself has worked into them, He says that they may come to Him. They no longer need to stay in the circumstances in which they find themselves.


The Appreciation of the Groom

9“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, [my] bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single [glance] of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace.
10“How beautiful is your love, my sister, [my] bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
And the fragrance of your oils
Than all [kinds] of spices!

The heart of the groom is full of love for his bride. His heart is always full of love for her. But now he says to her that she has “made” his “heart beat faster” or has “conquered” his heart, which is the better rendering (verse 99“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, [my] bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single [glance] of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace.
). Something has been done by her that has gently overwhelmed him, something that has deeply touched his heart. He even says it twice in this verse, which indicates how intense he experiences this. Before he says this the second time, he addresses her as “my sister, [my] bride”. In verse 88“[Come] with me from Lebanon, [my] bride,
May you come with me from Lebanon.
Journey down from the summit of Amana,
From the summit of Senir and Hermon,
From the dens of lions,
From the mountains of leopards.
he called her ‘bride’ for the first time. Now he calls her ‘my sister’ for the first time, emphasizing her relationship with him.

The relationship between the Lord Jesus and His own is one of love, but also one of kinship. It is even so that He first made us related to Himself before a relationship of love could arise. He, the eternal Son, has done this by becoming Man and connecting us to Himself through His work of salvation. As we read in the letter to the Hebrews: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb 2:14-1514Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,15and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.). Because of this, a relationship has arisen between him and us and He calls us “brethren” (Jn 20:1717Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”; Heb 2:1111For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one [Father]; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,).

If we understand this well, we will have no choice but to look at Him with admiration and love. And that is what He notices. Just as the bridegroom sees from the bride’s eyes that she is completely full of him, so the Lord Jesus sees from our eyes that we only have an eye for him. That conquers His heart. It seems such a small thing, only “a single [glance] of your eyes”, but it says it all.

It’s about our eyes, what we are looking at. Are we looking only at Him? He would like ‘eye contact’ with us (cf. Gen 24:63-6463Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming.64Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel.). His eye is constantly on us (Psa 32:88I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
). It touches Him deeply when our eye is clear (Mt 6:2222“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.), that is, it is directed at nothing and no one but Him. If our eyes are on Him, we will live our lives entirely for Him.

Then the following relates to what the groom sees in her, and through which she has conquered his heart. He sees “one strand”, or “one link” of her “necklace”. The necklace in Proverbs is a decoration that symbolizes the father’s education and the mother’s teachings (Pro 1:8-98Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
9Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments about your neck.
). Some links of the necklace are “kindness and truth” (Pro 3:33Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
). The groom has an eye for all the links and is delighted. The fact that he speaks of one link that has conquered his heart makes it clear that he has an eye for each link separately. Every detail of her decoration touches him.

So it is with the Lord Jesus in His attention to us. If we submit to the teaching from His Word, we conquer His heart with it. That we submit to His Word is evident when we act according to His Word when He points out something to us through His Word. It is only one link at a time, where all the links together form an adornment. His heart is conquered by it when we do the least of all His commandments for Him. He appreciates this in a special way: “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others [to do] the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches [them], he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:1919Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others [to do] the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches [them], he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.).

The bride said at the beginning of the book that the bridegroom’s love is better than wine (Song 1:22“May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.
). Here the groom expresses himself more strongly (verse 1010“How beautiful is your love, my sister, [my] bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
And the fragrance of your oils
Than all [kinds] of spices!
). He says ‘how much’ better her love is. The groom’s appreciation of love has always been greater than that of the bride. So it is with the Lord. He knows how to fully appreciate our love, while we often appreciate His love so little. That He so appreciates our love is because it is God’s love, that is His own love, which He poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:55and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.). However weak we sometimes show it to Him in our practice, He knows its nature and appreciates it.

With the fragrance of the oils it is the same as with the wine. Again, the bride first praised the fragrant oils that are from the groom (Song 1:33“Your oils have a pleasing fragrance,
Your name is [like] purified oil;
Therefore the maidens love you.
). The groom adopts that and expresses himself more strongly: the smell of her oils is much better “than all [kinds] of spices”. It is not so much about the oil, but about its smell. The fragrance contains all the rich and varied characteristics of that anointing. Fragrance is invisible and can only be discovered by smelling.

The oil, as we have seen before, is a picture of the Holy Spirit (1Jn 2:20,2720But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.). In addition to pouring the love of God into our hearts, He also has come to dwell in our hearts and bodies (2Cor 1:2222who also sealed us and gave [us] the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.; Gal 4:66Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”; 1Cor 6:1919Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?). From our hearts we can spread through our bodies a fragrance that is smelled with joy by the Lord Jesus. Our love for the Lord Jesus is worked in us by the Spirit – the oil speaks of this – and for Him it is much better “than all [kinds] of spices”.

In the same way we can experience when someone has a certain spiritual radiation that we cannot describe. A person’s presence can radiate a benevolent rest even before that person has said or done anything special. The whole performance makes you feel accepted and safe, without that person consciously drawing attention to himself. Such an action is worked out by the Spirit and reminds us of the Lord Jesus. It is the fruit of a life of obedience to the Holy Spirit. It goes far beyond everything the world contains.

In the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit was able to do everything to glorify God. The whole life of the Lord on earth has been a lovely fragrance for God. Now the Lord Jesus says this – in pictures – to the believer. The believer who lives a life shaped by God’s Spirit gives Christ great joy. He expresses His appreciation for this. When the love of God and the working of God’s Spirit are noticeable in a believer, the Lord Jesus finds His greatest satisfaction in it.


Lips, Tongue and Garments

11“Your lips, [my] bride, drip honey;
Honey and milk are under your tongue,
And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

The groom then speaks to her, whom he addresses again as “bride”, about her lips and what drips off of them. He says her lips “drip honey”. He notices what the bride says. What he sees makes clear to him what she has been busy with, what she has eaten. Honey is not made in a quick process. The preparation of honey requires a lot of work and time.

Honeycomb (Darby translation) – this is the honey in the first line of the verse – does not flow like a stream of water, but drips slowly, drop by drop. Honeycomb is also the pure, as yet unprocessed honey. There is no flood of words over the bride’s lips, but words that are sweet and building up. She does not speak impulsively, but thoughtfully. When people speak, their speech can resemble a waterfall of words. Such a waterfall has no depth, there was no consideration. James does not say for nothing: “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak” (Jam 1:1919[This] you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak [and] slow to anger;).

This is also and especially true in marriage, in the conversation between husband and wife. The man sometimes tends to talk fast and a lot and fills in everything already. He knows exactly what his wife thinks, that’s at least what he thinks. Then communication comes to a standstill. The woman then says: I don’t have to say anything anymore, because you’ve already filled in everything. The man may think he won the discussion, but he lost his wife as a conversation partner. It is precisely the man who must learn to listen and learn to listen well, and not think that he already knows everything and can say how the matter works. Listening carefully first, and only then speaking is important.

The picture shows what the bridegroom observes in the bride as a picture of a believer who for a long time, in fellowship with the Lord, diligently searches the Scriptures and collects persistent and patient food from them. The Word of God is for him “sweeter … than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psa 19:10b10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
) and “a joy and the delight” of his heart (Jer 15:1616Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts.
). Our language shows that we appreciate the Word and have taken it into our hearts. Everything that comes over our lips and speaks of the Lord Jesus is sweet to those who hear it; it strengthens them (Pro 16:2424Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
). The Lord Jesus notices this and appreciates it.

The groom also sees what is under her tongue. Under her tongue are “honey and milk”. This means that all the blessing of the promised land (Exo 3:8,178So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.17So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’; 13:55It shall be when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month.; 33:33Go [up] to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way.”) lies there. Honey gives strength when tired from the daily struggle (1Sam 14:27-2927But Jonathan had not heard when his father put the people under oath; therefore, he put out the end of the staff that [was] in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.28Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly put the people under oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food today.’” And the people were weary.29Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See now, how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey.). Honey is the sweetness that, for example, flows from good family relationships. Honey was not allowed to be used in the grain or flour offering (Lev 2:1111‘No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD.). The good relationships in itself should not have a limiting effect on the service toward God (Mk 3:32-3532A crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”33Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”34Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!35For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”). Milk is what the young, delicate life builds up.

She has a stock of it under her tongue. The stock she has built up makes her suitable for distribution to those who need it. She keeps it hidden, she is not someone who throws everything out, but only uses it when it suits her. It is a hidden place, under her tongue, as it were ready for immediate use.

In the application we can say that the believer who has enjoyed the victories of the heavenly land, which are for him the heavenly places, will not show them off. He will know when and to whom he can say something about it. Paul knew that he could nothing say about this to the believers in Corinth. They were carnal, they did not have the right mind to hear about it. The believers in Ephesus were different. He could tell them a lot about this.

The groom also speaks about the fragrance of the bride’s garments. Garments speak of what people see of us, of our behavior. Engaging with God’s Word will affect our attitude of life. We will be a pleasant fragrance for others in our environment when dealing with them. If God’s Word is our daily food, it will become visible in our way of life.

Fragrance, as mentioned earlier, is not visible, but is experienced. The bride has the fragrance of Lebanon, of the heights. The groom notices that she shows heaven in her actions and behavior. In this way the atmosphere of heaven will be noticed on us.

In the same way, the letter to the Ephesians shows us the blessings of the heavenly land containing important directions for our lives. In Ephesians 1-3 the blessings are presented and in Ephesians 4-6 we are told how we should live in accordance with them. Men and women in marriage are addressed, as are parents and children, and employers and employees. It is a joy for the Lord Jesus when, in our daily way of life, the fragrance of heaven, the fragrance of Himself, is present in the various relationships in which we stand.

What the groom says also has a prophetic meaning. As we have seen before, the relationship between the groom and the bride in Song of Songs is primarily a picture of the relationship between the Messiah Jesus and the faithful remnant or Jerusalem in the end times. Here we see that the remnant will have “the fragrance of Lebanon” when it has returned to God and been restored in its relationship with the Messiah.

The remnant will be clothed with “the garments of salvation” and God will wrap them with “a robe of righteousness” (Isa 61:1010I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
). From those garments will come a wonderful fragrance that also hangs on Lebanon. Lebanon is a picture of stability. What characterizes the remnant will characterize it throughout the realm of peace, for a thousand years. The guarantee of that is that they are the characteristics of God Himself. He gave her those garments with that fragrance.


A Garden Locked

12“A garden locked is my sister, [my] bride,
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.

The groom now compares his bride to “a garden locked” and “a rock garden locked’ or, better still, “a source locked”, and “a spring sealed up”. That is to say, he sees her as exclusively for himself, as someone who is only open to him. She does not allow anyone else to approach to her. Thus is she a refreshment for his heart. How much he appreciates this is reflected in the way he addresses her again: “My sister, [my] bride” (verse 1212“A garden locked is my sister, [my] bride,
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.
; verse 99“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, [my] bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single [glance] of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace.
).

This again gives a picture of how the Lord Jesus sees his own. He sees them as only for Himself. Whoever loves Him wants to share his or her love with Him alone, and shuts himself off from other objects of love. This is also important in marriage. In it, husband and wife must be a closed garden, which means that they do not allow anyone else in their life to share their love.

When a married man or woman falls in love with someone else, they are no longer a closed garden and a closed and sealed source or fountain. One cause for this ‘opening up’ may be, for example, that the woman does not receive attention from her own husband and does receive that attention from another man. It may then happen that she ‘opens her garden’ to that other person and breaks the ‘seal of the fountain. The man is guilty of it, but the woman has no excuse either. There is never an apology for opening up the ‘garden’.

In the book Proverbs Solomon also speaks to his son about women as a source of joy for her husband (Pro 5:15-1915Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
16Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
17Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
18Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19[As] a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
). In a different approach, but with the same sense he warns his son not to go to another source, but to surround himself constantly with her love (Pro 5:1919[As] a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
). He tells him to be satisfied with his own wife. In his own house he has a source that can quench his thirst. By this he means his own wife. Thus, with him “marriage [is to be held] in honor among all, and the [marriage] bed [is to be] undefiled” (Heb 13:4a4Marriage [is to be held] in honor among all, and the [marriage] bed [is to be] undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.).

Solomon asks him the question, the answer to which is contained in the question: “Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?” (Pro 5:1616Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
). When the man leaves his house and his wife to go to a strange woman, he leaves his ‘closed garden’ and goes ‘outside’, to ‘the water streams on the squares’. The sources that are outside, the woman who seduces him, are available to everyone. But the source of refreshment should only be his own wife. It should not be an option for his love to go to a strange woman.

The spiritual application, as here in Song of Songs, is that we have enough from the Lord Jesus and for Him alone. He loves us unconditionally and exclusively and also counts on our unconditional, exclusive love (2Cor 11:22For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you [as] a pure virgin.). True satisfaction for every desire can be found only in Christ’s love. As we grow older, our love for our wife will not diminish, but rather increase, just like our love for Christ.

If it’s good, the life of the believer is like a garden in which the Lord Jesus wants to have fellowship with him. The closed fountain in the garden is a picture of the Word of God that is contemplated under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The believer who is like a closed garden is one in whom the Word of Christ, the Word of the Beloved, dwells richly (Col 3:1616Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.).

We may well ask ourselves whether we are such a closed garden for the Lord Jesus. Is our life, is my life, all alone for Him? We will have to admit that it is not always the case, but is it our deepest desire that He experiences joy from our lives?

The believer is also like “a spring sealed up”. That which is sealed belongs to whosoever the seal belonged. The believer is “sealed … with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:1313In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,; 2Cor 1:21-2221Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God,22who also sealed us and gave [us] the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.) and belongs to the Lord Jesus. Through the Spirit he is firmly connected to Christ and will discover more and more of the glory of Christ. For the Spirit indeed came to earth to bear witness of Christ (Jn 16:13-1413But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.14He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose [it] to you.). From the sealed spring, living water flows through the teaching of the Spirit from the heart of the believer for the refreshment of the Lord Jesus and his surroundings (Jn 7:37-3937Now on the last day, the great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.38He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet [given], because Jesus was not yet glorified.).

We can also be closed in the wrong way. This is the case when our lives and the Christian community of which we are part are not governed by God’s Word and God’s Spirit, but by human traditions, by dead orthodoxy. We maintain rules for our own lives and for others which do not come from Scripture itself, but from explanations of Scripture, which are by definition human work. Then we will no longer be open to the activity of the Holy Spirit. The appearance then becomes the yardstick by which spiritual life is measured. There is no question about the inner life, the relationship with the Lord Jesus and the love for God’s Word.

In Scripture, a court or garden is a place where God wants to have fellowship with man. We already see that in paradise (Gen 2:88The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.). It is a garden made entirely by Him as a pleasure garden for Himself. In it are united the highest blessings of creation. Man may enjoy it and of its bounty together with Him. He comes to man for this purpose “in the cool of the day” (Gen 3:8a8They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.).

Because of the fall into sin, nothing of the enjoyment of the garden is left to God. Man has not kept the garden closed, and has given up his fellowship with God. He has disobeyed his task to work and maintain the court as a court of his desire for God (Gen 2:1515Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.). He did not refuse the devil access, but allowed him to enter and talk to him (Gen 3:1-61Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!5For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make [one] wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.). In other ‘gardens’ we see the same picture. For example with Israel, we see that God has made a vineyard for Himself (Isa 5:1-71Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
2He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected [it] to produce [good] grapes,
But it produced [only] worthless ones.
3“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
4“What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected [it] to produce [good] grapes did it produce worthless ones?
5“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
6“I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
7For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
). In it have come men who have cast Him out to seize the vineyard themselves (Mt 21:33-3933“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.34When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce.35The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third.36Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them.37But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’38But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’39They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.).

Yet today there is, and there will be in the future, a group of people who form for Him the garden that is exclusively for Himself. We may be that as believers. We are that, if we open our lives to the working of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. The result is that our hearts and minds are turned to Christ. It is about Him in God’s Word, and about Him also with the work of the Spirit. Israel will be such a garden for Him in the future (Isa 51:33Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.
).


The Decoration of the Garden

13“Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
With choice fruits, henna with nard plants,
14Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
With all the trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices.

The garden has trees. The trees are not there for the wood, but for the view of it. So are the flowers in the garden there to look at and enjoy. So the bride is there for the groom. As a ‘closed garden’ (verse 1212“A garden locked is my sister, [my] bride,
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.
) the bride is entirely focused on the groom. This is evident from the description he gives in these verses of her ‘garden’. He lists what grows in the garden. He has an eye for each tree and for the “choice fruits” that grow on it, for “henna with nard plants”, for “all the trees of frankincense” and for the “all the finest spices” that spread an appropriate scent.

The groom starts by naming “your shoots”. Shoots are the first visible signs of new life. He says that they are “an orchard” or “a paradise”. This reminds us of the beginning of the Bible, of the garden of Eden (Gen 3:99Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”). That paradise has been lost by sin. It also points forward to the situation in the realm of peace, which will be like paradise (Eze 47:1212By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all [kinds of] trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”; Rev 22:1-21Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,2in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve [kinds of] fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.).

But for the Lord Jesus there is now also a paradise on earth, and that is the life of the believer who lives only for Him. From that life an abundance of fruit emerges. There is not only life, there is also the fruit of life. This fruit He Himself cultivates through His Spirit. “From Me comes your fruit” (Hos 14:8d8O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like a luxuriant cypress;
From Me comes your fruit.
).

The groom mentions nine trees and plants that the garden produces. These adorn him and give him fragrance. However, this record of the pleasant effects of the garden is not yet complete. By speaking twice about “all” he indicates that there is much more he enjoys. It speaks of an abundance in which every thought of scarcity is absent, but which also cannot be described in its fullness. This is the best description of its fullness (cf. 2Cor 8:99For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.; Col 1:9-119For this reason also, since the day we heard [of it], we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,10so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously).

In the spiritual application, the connection with the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is obvious (Gal 5:22-23a22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.). What is pleasant in the garden of our life through Christ can only be worked by the Spirit within us if we are separated for the Lord. Then the water of the Word can produce fruit in us that makes us a pleasure garden, a paradise for Him.

The “pomegranate with choice fruits” recall the hems of the high priest’s upper garment on which pomegranates hang alternating with bells (Exo 28:33-3433You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet [material], all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around:34a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe.). The testimony of the Holy Spirit (the bells) is connected to the fruit of the Holy Spirit (the pomegranates). That fruit comes through the watering of the Word and that is the result of the work of the Lord Jesus as High Priest. Everything in our lives that is fruit for Him has been produced through Him for Himself.

All other fruits and spices speak of Him, of Whom He is and what He has done. God enjoys it to the full. As this is present within us, He also enjoys us, because it reminds Him of the Lord Jesus. We are taken into favor in the Beloved. The Lord Jesus also enjoys it, because He recognizes Himself in us as those who suit Him, in whom He finds His joy.

It is not easy to discover the spiritual meaning of the trees and plants mentioned here. The “henna” is only mentioned here. In Song of Songs 1 the bride says that for her the groom is like “a cluster of henna blossoms” (Song 1:1414“My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
In the vineyards of Engedi.”
). Here we see the origin of the henna blossoms. They grow in the garden that is separated for the groom. We see here that the believer’s appreciation of the Lord Jesus is in fact the Lord’s work in him.

Also the “nard”, which comes from the “nard plants”, is mentioned in Song of Songs 1. For an explanation see Song of Songs 1:12.

“Saffron” is only found in the Bible here. ‘Saffron is a spice extracted from the saffron crocus (crocus sativus). Saffron's aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Labor-intensive cultivation makes saffron a precious spice, which is why it is also called ‘the red gold’. [Source: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron]

Two of the components of the holy anointing oil, which consists of “the finest spices”, are “calamus and cinnamon” (Exo 30:2323“Take also for yourself the finest of spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred [shekels], and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane two hundred and fifty,). In the description of the holy anointment they are called “fragrant cane” and “fragrant cinnamon”. All the objects in the tabernacle are anointed with this holy anointment. The holy anointment represents the Holy Spirit, Who consecrates the believer and his whole life and service to God (1Jn 2:20,2720But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.). ‘The finest spices’, including calamus and cinnamon, refer to the glories of Christ, which are a pleasant fragrance for God. Where the Holy Spirit works in the believer, it will spread a precious fragrance, which is also pleasing to God (cf. Psa 133:22It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
[Even] Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
).

The list is not exhaustive which is indicated by the groom by talking about “all the trees of frankincense”. These are trees that spread the scent of frankincense. In Song of Songs there is mention of “frankincense” (Song 3:66“Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Like columns of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all scented powders of the merchant?
), the “hill of frankincense” (Song 4:66“Until the cool of the day
When the shadows flee away,
I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh
And to the hill of frankincense.
) and here of “trees of frankincense”. Frankincense is mentioned in connection with the sacrifices for the grain offering (Lev 2:1,2,15,161‘Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.2He shall then bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests; and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour and of its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priest shall offer [it] up in smoke [as] its memorial portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.15You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering.16The priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, part of its grits and its oil with all its incense as an offering by fire to the LORD.; Neh 13:55had prepared a large room for him, where formerly they put the grain offerings, the frankincense, the utensils and the tithes of grain, wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, the singers and the gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.; Jer 17:2626They will come in from the cities of Judah and from the environs of Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the lowland, from the hill country and from the Negev, bringing burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving to the house of the LORD.; 41:55that eighty men came from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria with their beards shaved off and their clothes torn and their bodies gashed, having grain offerings and incense in their hands to bring to the house of the LORD.). The grain offering speaks of the life of the Lord Jesus on earth. The added frankincense indicates how much His life has been a pleasant fragrance for God.

God recognizes this in the lives of those who live separated for Him. Christ works this out in their lives. He has glorified God in all aspects of His life. In His words, deeds and actions He has always shown God. This is present to a limited extent in believers. Every time they say or do something that is to the glory of God, He smells the pleasant smell of the frankincense that is so characteristic of the life of His Son (Eph 5:1-21Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;2and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.).

Something has already been said about the “myrrh” in the explanation of Song of Songs 1:12. “Aloe” is mentioned by Balaam in the blessing he pronounces on Israel. Under the guidance of God’s Spirit he sees the tents of Jacob and the dwellings of Israel “like aloes planted by the LORD” (Num 24:5-65How fair are your tents, O Jacob,
Your dwellings, O Israel!
6“Like valleys that stretch out,
Like gardens beside the river,
Like aloes planted by the LORD,
Like cedars beside the waters.
). In his blessing Balaam does not speak about the practice of God’s people, but about the value that the people have for Him. We can apply this to God’s purpose with the life of each of His own on earth. We are, so to speak, planted by Him on earth to be a pleasant fragrance for Him.

These two spices are also used at the burying of the Lord Jesus. Nicodemus brings “a mixture of myrrh and aloes” (Jn 19:3939Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds [weight].). It is a tribute to Him after the completed work to glorify the Father. The myrrh looks back on His suffering, the aloe looks forward to His return to the earth. The world doesn’t see Him anymore, but He is coming back. These spices are also mentioned in connection with His return. His clothing then smells of “myrrh and aloes [and] cassia” (Psa 45:8a8All Your garments are [fragrant with] myrrh and aloes [and] cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
).

The spices mentioned also do not fully reflect the total experience of the groom in the closed garden of the bride. It is a garden “with all the finest spices”. The glories of the Lord Jesus cannot be written down exhaustively. All that is present in Him, all His attributes and characteristics, all of which are perfect in themselves, form a harmonious unity. The smells merge with each other and the ‘total fragrance’ is incomparable.

In that ‘total’ scent, each believer has his own scent, a certain quality of Christ that especially characterizes him. All believers together are needed to spread the full scent of Christ. The Lord Jesus works with this in the ‘garden’ of each of His own. Let’s open our garden to that work. What then will be enjoyed is a wonderful fragrance of Him in all those gardens.


My Garden, His Garden

15“[You are] a garden spring,
A well of fresh water,
And streams [flowing] from Lebanon.”
16“Awake, O north [wind],
And come, [wind of] the south;
Make my garden breathe out [fragrance],
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!”

The bridegroom says to the bride, full of delight: “[You are] a garden spring” (verse 1515“[You are] a garden spring,
A well of fresh water,
And streams [flowing] from Lebanon.”
). He sees her as a spring that irrigates her own garden, but also passes on the water to other gardens. It is therefore “a well of fresh water” or “a well of living waters” (Darby translation). Living water flows, it moves on to other places to bring life. It is water “[flowing] from Lebanon”. Here we see its origins. The water comes from the mountains, from the height.

A spring is a repository of water, not stagnant water, but living or flowing water. A spring speaks of depth; living water speaks of powerful and constantly flowing water. In the kingdom of peace there flows through Jerusalem “a river of the water of life” (Rev 22:11Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,). The renewed Jerusalem can, in the context of verses 12-1512“A garden locked is my sister, [my] bride,
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.13“Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
With choice fruits, henna with nard plants,
14Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
With all the trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices.15“[You are] a garden spring,
A well of fresh water,
And streams [flowing] from Lebanon.”
here in Song of Songs, be called a ‘garden city’. The characteristic of a river also, is that there is a constant flow of fresh water.

We recognize the description of the groom in the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The Lord Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman about water He wants to give her (Jn 4:10-1410Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”11She *said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?12You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”13Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”). The water He gives not only frees from restless searching for peace, but gives much more. That water is a spring of joy that someone gains within himself and that he never loses.

That source within is connected with eternal life. By this the Lord refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit Whom He gives to the believer to be in him a fresh spring of divine joy (Jn 7:38-3938He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet [given], because Jesus was not yet glorified.). The Holy Spirit is the gift that God gives us through His Son and through whom we are able to enjoy everything that has been given to us in the Son. The Spirit of God makes the life of the believer fruitful and also makes him a blessing for his surroundings.

The streams come here from the Lebanon. The Spirit comes from Him Who is on high, that is Christ. From the high He gave the Spirit (Jn 16:77But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.). All spiritual refreshment that flows into the life of the believer comes for us, from the Spirit of life in the presence of the Lord Jesus with the Father in heaven.

Then the bride reacts to everything the groom has said of her as a garden in verses 12-1512“A garden locked is my sister, [my] bride,
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.13“Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
With choice fruits, henna with nard plants,
14Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
With all the trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices.15“[You are] a garden spring,
A well of fresh water,
And streams [flowing] from Lebanon.”
(verse 1616“Awake, O north [wind],
And come, [wind of] the south;
Make my garden breathe out [fragrance],
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!”
). The bride wants what the groom has given her, to grow and develop further. She wants the smell of the spice and of her garden to be wafted abroad, i.e. the abundance of smells to be relished. This requires wind. She asks the north wind and the south wind to blow through her garden.

In both winds we see a picture of the working of the Spirit in the life of the believer. It is similar to the Spirit Who will blow through the valley of the very dry bones through which life comes (Eze 37:1-2,9-101The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.2He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, [there were] very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, [they were] very dry.9Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”‘“10So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.). Spiritually, the bride asks for the cold of the north wind on the one hand and the heat of the south wind on the other.

The bride knows that regardless of whether the conditions are favorable or unfavorable, whether they in season or out of season, those conditions serve to make the fragrance of the spices flow better. Paul also speaks of these winds when he says he knows what it is to be humbled and also to live in prosperity. He also speaks about this when he says that he has learned the secret of being filled and going hungry. He knows both abundance and suffering need (Phil 4:11-1211Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.). He is only concerned about the smell that comes from it, and that is the power of Christ through Whom he can do everything (Phil 4:1313I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.).

The cold that can enter our lives are the things we don’t like, the difficulties and worries of life. The bride asks for it. Do we ask for it? The question is whether we are ready to agree with what James says: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:22Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,). We’ll agree with what he says, but is it really that we’re joyful when we’re being tried?

We do not ask for problems, for a cold airflow in our lives. But do we really long that from our life more of scent is spread from and for Him? Then we should ask Him to search and try us, to see if there is a hurtful way with us, something that hinders the spread of that fragrance, and whether He wants to lead us in the eternal way (Psa 139:23-2423Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
).

There is a north wind in the life of the family in Bethany when Lazarus becomes ill and dies (Jn 11:1-3,171Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.2It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.3So the sisters sent [word] to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”17So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.). The cold wind of death has come. But the Lord Jesus comes with the south wind when He raises Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:4343When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”). The Lord has already said that Lazarus’ sickness is not to death, “but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (Jn 11:44But when Jesus heard [this], He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”). The painful or sad things that happen to us aim to spread the scent of the glory of God and the glorification of the Son of God.

Disappointments are also like the north wind. The two disciples who went to Emmaus experienced the north wind in their disappointment in the Lord (Lk 24:13-2113And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.14And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place.15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and [began] traveling with them.16But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.17And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad.18One [of them], named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”19And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people,20and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.21But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.). The reason for this lies in false expectations. We can have them too. We have our desires and plans in business. If things go differently, they are disappointments. Then we speak about it, and the Lord comes to us and burns our hearts by opening the Scriptures for us (Lk 24:27,3227Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.32They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”). Then the south wind blows.

We can experience the cold north wind when we have a ‘bad news talk’ with the doctor. A friend and brother had such a talk. Research has shown that he may have colon cancer. Such a message puts the whole of life in a different light. It has driven him and his wife into the presence of the Lord. They live with Him, but that life with Him then takes on a deeper meaning.

They have shared their needs with the believers of the local church. It has led us all in the presence of the Lord and to intercession. This is the tremendous effect of the ‘north wind’ that blows through the lives of a couple and a local church, enjoying the fragrance of fellowship with the Lord Jesus and with each other.

In his case, shortly thereafter, when the results of the examined piece of intestine were heard, the southern wind started to blow. No cancer cells were found. There is a large polyp that can be removed surgically. This message has made them and the fellow believers very grateful to our God and Father. The fragrance of communion with one another and the glorification of God has been blown through the church and beyond, to those who have no part in the faith in Christ, but to whom is testified of what God has done.

Do we wish to be a garden in which the Lord Jesus loves to come, because its fragrance is for Him? If we wish, we will say to Him: “May my beloved come into His garden and eat of its choice fruits!” It is striking that the bride in connection to the winds speaks of “my garden” and when she then invites her beloved to come to her, she speaks of “His garden”. It is both true.

We do not often think that our life is a garden for Him, where He would like to come to enjoy the fruit of it, fruit He Himself cultivates. Whether we are such a garden for Him is apparent from the things we fill our time with. Consider, for example, how much time is spent on placing and reading nonsense on social media, consuming films and all kinds of entertaining programs. What can we offer Him of these as the “choice fruits” of His garden to eat?


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