Song of Songs
1-3 Where is the Groom? 4 Beautiful, Lovely, Awesome 5-7 The Bride Described Again 8-9 She Is the Only One 10 Who Is She? 11-13 The Groom Went Down
Where is the Groom?

1“Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
That we may seek him with you?”
2“My beloved has gone down to his garden,
To the beds of balsam,
To pasture [his flock] in the gardens
And gather lilies.
3“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,
He who pastures [his flock] among the lilies.”

After the bride described the groom in the way that she has done, the daughters of Jerusalem confirm that she is the “most beautiful among women” (verse 11“Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
That we may seek him with you?”
). The bride has made them enthusiastic about him. After her impressive description of him, the daughters of Jerusalem ask if they can help to find him. Now the bride no longer asks for help from the daughters of Jerusalem (Song 5:88“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
As to what you will tell him:
For I am lovesick.”
), it is the other way around. They ask her where her beloved has turned.

In a similar way, the disciples tried to make Thomas enthusiastic about the Lord by telling him that they have seen Him (Jn 20:24-25a24But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.25So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”). Thus, we can make others enthusiastic about Him by testifying of Him, and who He is for us. If our testimony is real, it contains attracting or recruiting power.

When we talk enthusiastically about Him, the desire arises in others to seek Him also. This may be the result of Bible lectures or Bible studies in which He is central. We listen to what others say about Him. That encourages us to investigate more about who He is. He also likes to listen to it when believers speak about Him. He will then reveal Himself to them.

When the daughters of Jerusalem asked the bride where her beloved has turned, the bride suddenly knows where he is (verse 22“My beloved has gone down to his garden,
To the beds of balsam,
To pasture [his flock] in the gardens
And gather lilies.
). He “has gone down to his garden”. By this she means her heart, her life. He called her “a closed garden” (Song 4:1212“A garden locked is my sister, [my] bride,
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.
). After a short period of her slackening love for him, as a result of which she placed him outside her life, her heart is again alone for Him.

When we are full of the Lord, we also know where to find Him. Then our heart is like “beds of balsam”, a place of rest and sweetness for Him (cf. Song 5:1313“His cheeks are like a bed of balsam,
Banks of sweet-scented herbs;
His lips are lilies
Dripping with liquid myrrh.
). He comes to enjoy what we are for Him. Although we sometimes shut Him away from our lives, He never really leaves us. Nor do we have to go far up in heaven or far down in the realm of the dead to seek Him. He is near us, in our mouth and in our heart (Deu 30:12-1412It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’13Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’14But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.). He can disappear from our interest. Then He withdraws from us, that we may feel the lack of Him. Thus, He brings us to confess our cooled love for Him.

The Lord Jesus not only pastures in “His garden”, which is in my life, but also “in the gardens”, which is in the lives of other believers who also love Him. For them He is also the center of their lives. That’s how our vision expands. We see not only our own life, but also that of others in connection with Him.

With all these believers He wants to “gather lilies”. He seeks fruit in the life of His own. He finds this fruit when the Holy Spirit can work in our lives. He is only interested in the fruit of the Spirit, not in our achievements. The lilies he wants to collect do not speak of impressive deeds, but of tenderness and vulnerability in the midst of a hard, thorny world (Song 2:1-21“I am the rose of Sharon,
The lily of the valleys.”
2“Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens.”
). These are features of Himself and He would like to collect them from the lives of His own.

The bride becomes aware again of her connection with him and his love for her (verse 33“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,
He who pastures [his flock] among the lilies.”
; cf. Song 2:1616“My beloved is mine, and I am his;
He pastures [his flock] among the lilies.
). What she says now goes beyond what she said previously, in Song of Songs 2:16. There she had said that her beloved is hers. She was still ‘I’ oriented. But now she first announces that she belongs to him. She is focused on him. She has grown spiritually through experience.

A proof of spiritual growth is when what I have received is increasingly coming second, while what Christ has received is increasingly coming first. We think about the joy He can experience in our lives when we live for Him. Then we are no longer busy with ourselves, but with Him. That does not mean that we are ungrateful for what we have received. The point is that we do not dwell on the gifts, but that from the gifts we focus our eye on the Giver. That also gives a deeper satisfaction.

It is a sign of spiritual growth when we think about what we mean to the Lord Jesus instead of what He is to us. We become more focused on Him, than on ourselves. The first finds its origin more in the feelings, the second more in the Person who is the reason for those feelings. The question should not be ‘what can the other person do for me’, but ‘what do I mean for the other person?’ The Lord Jesus never thought of Himself. He has always thought about the pleasure of God and the well-being of His own.

If we know that we are His, it also means that we are completely His responsibility. He takes full care of us. Whatever happens in our lives, He is involved and helps us. When we know that He is ours, it means that He is at our side with all His love and all His possibilities. There is nothing in our lives that is beyond His control.

Thus, He pastures “in the midst of the lilies”. Here we again have ‘the lilies’. He is in the midst of these delicate flowers and He appreciates them. We are like these flowers for Him. We are tender, we are weak, incapable, and we have no power to do anything. But He “pastures” among them, that is, He finds that place of rest with them in a world that has no place for Him.

Beautiful, Lovely, Awesome

4“You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
As lovely as Jerusalem,
As awesome as an army with banners.

Here the groom is speaking again. Now that the bride has found him again, he explains again what she means to him. He has told her before that she is beautiful (Song 4:11“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.
). It is an encouragement for the bride to hear this again after the slackening of her love. We also need to hear from the mouth of the Lord Jesus what we mean to Him each time, especially after a period when our love for Him has been weak. This is how the Lord Jesus encourages the apostle Paul when he is in prison (Acts 23:1111But on the night [immediately] following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”).

The practical lesson is that a man should regularly express to his wife that she is beautiful. This should not only be said when she has dressed well for a particular occasion. It’s about being beautiful for who she is, about being valued as a person with her own abilities. We must also say the same to our children and grandchildren personally. When a child or grandchild is called Emma, we say: ‘You are the most beautiful Emma in the whole world!

A mother called her son. She asked him: ‘Where are you, what are you doing?’ The son later said: ‘My mother is only interested in where I am or what I’m doing. But she didn’t ask me how I’m doing, or how I feel.’ He missed the interest in himself as a person. This is also how we can deal with fellow believers. We can also do this if we are more interested in what they are doing than in how they are doing.

The fact that the groom calls her “my darling” or “my friend” is also a repetition. He has called her so several times already (Song 1:9,159“To me, my darling, you are like
My mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.15“How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are! Your eyes are [like] doves.”
; 2:2,10,132“Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens.”10“My beloved responded and said to me,
‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along.13‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth [their] fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!’”
; 4:1,71“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.7“You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
And there is no blemish in you.
; 5:22“I was asleep but my heart was awake.
A voice! My beloved was knocking:
‘Open to me, my sister, my darling,
My dove, my perfect one!
For my head is drenched with dew,
My locks with the damp of the night.’
). With this he says that there may again be that confidential relationship that characterizes friendship. He can share with her the intimate thoughts of his heart. That is fellowship. It is a next step in the spiritual development in the unity between the groom and the bride.

The purpose of confidentiality is fellowship, growing in unity. For us it means that seeing the Lord Jesus changes us into His image (2Cor 3:1818But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.). Christ wants to recognize His image in us, that which He has formed in us (Gal 4:1919My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—). That is the result of fellowship, recognizing oneself in us. This can only happen because He is our life.

With the words “beautiful”, “lovely” and “awesome” the groom uses three images. The bride is beautiful “as Tirzah”. Tirzah was the capital of the ten-tribes realm before Omri made Samaria the capital (1Kgs 15:3333In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel at Tirzah, [and reigned] twenty-four years.; 16:23-2423In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel [and reigned] twelve years; he reigned six years at Tirzah.24He bought the hill Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; and he built on the hill, and named the city which he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.). Tirzah means, among other things, ‘pleasure’. It must have been a beautiful city.

He then compared her loveliness to “Jerusalem”, the capital of the two-tribes realm. Jerusalem means ‘the foundation of peace’. In both capitals we see the glory of all Israel when the twelve tribes are back in the land.

The bride is beautiful and lovely for the groom, but also awesome for those who want to do her harm. She is “as an army with banners” to resist the enemy.

After a talk for young people about sexuality with the history of Dina as an example (Gen 34:1-41Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.2When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force.3He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.4So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife.”) two girls came to me. They looked beautiful. They asked what kind of evil it can be to go out, just like Dina, and have certain friendships.

My answer was: ‘Then you’re on dangerous ground. Boys can come to you and they want ‘something’ from you. They are there for that. If you’re there too, they think you want the same thing. ‘Yes, it has happened before,’ one said, ‘but I said no.’ My reaction was: ‘If a boy has had the occasion to ask you, it means you’ve already gone too far.’ Such girls have not raised up the banners, the banner of the Lord Jesus’ love (Song 2:44“He has brought me to [his] banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love.
; 5:1010“My beloved is dazzling and ruddy,
Outstanding among ten thousand.
), and are not awesome to the world, but are attractive to the world.

For us, it means that we do not give sin, which is an enemy, a chance to gain a place in our lives. We must take a clear stand against sin. This also applies to the local church. When sin is allowed to enter, the love for the Lord Jesus disappears.

There is in the bride beauty and loveliness that is attractive for those who want to join her, and at the same time a deterrent power and strength for those who want to do her harm. It seems that many believers have lost both aspects. Because we have lost our holy character, people are no longer afraid of us. Because we have lost our lovely character, there is no longer any attraction with us.

The Bride Described Again

5“Turn your eyes away from me,
For they have confused me;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Gilead.
6“Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from [their] washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.
7“Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

When we look at the Lord Jesus, when our eye is only on Him, it is as if our gaze is too much for Him (verse 55“Turn your eyes away from me,
For they have confused me;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Gilead.
). When we are restored to fellowship with Him, our eyes are directed more on Him than before. They no longer roam away from Him to other objects. Then we see ‘Jesus alone’. It is as if this confuses Him. Thus, He can be amazed about the faith of a Canaanite woman. She believes with perseverance in His power to heal her daughter. This elicits from Him the cry: “O woman, your faith is great! (Mt 15:2828Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.).

The groom is impressed by her renewed dedication. This leads him to describe her again because of what she means to him. He starts with “your hair”, which is the symbol of her devotion. He sees the same devotion to and dependence on him he described earlier (Song 4:1b1“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.
). It is a repetition, but he sees that the bride now experiences more deeply what he says about her. This is also the case with the believer who, after a period of slackening in his relationship with the Lord, again comes to live in fellowship with Him.

What he also says of the bride’s teeth is a repetition (verse 66“Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from [their] washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.
; Song 4:22“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.
), but certainly not meaningless. Here too, the groom assumes a deeper feeling of the bride. Song of Songs 4:2 is about “a flock of [newly] shorn ewes”. The emphasis is on ‘new shorn’. It indicates a fresh beginning. Here it is about is a “flock of ewes”, which indicates adulthood. It speaks of the Lord Jesus observing a change that shows spiritual growth.

“Teeth” is about eating and grinding food so that it can be absorbed into the body. In a figurative sense, it is about the absorption and processing of spiritual food, as a result of which there is spiritual health. The “twins” indicate spiritual balance. The “young” indicate that the effect of balance in spiritual life will be fruit.

When we eat healthy spiritual food, that is, when we read God’s Word, we know when to say something to encourage or exhort. We also know when to spend time with our family and when to go somewhere. In every area of our lives, we will see our responsibility in the right perspective and comply. One thing is not at the expense of the other.

The bridegroom also spoke earlier about the bride’s “temples” (verse 77“Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.
; Song 4:3b3“Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.
). The temples speak of thinking, of thought life. This is “like a slice of a pomegranate”, indicating abundant fruit. This fruit can be seen in her devotion, of which her “veil” speaks.

If there is devotion to the Lord, thinking of Him will fill our thought life. The Lord knows our thoughts. He “understands my thoughts from afar” (Psa 139:22You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
). When two people love each other, they are always busy with each other in their thoughts. When love fades, also the thinking about each other fades away. This applies to our thinking of the Lord Jesus and also to our thinking of the husband or wife.

In my mind I always have to take into account what my wife thinks of something. Just as I stand before God, I stand before my wife. We are a unity. This also applies, for example, when the man is at work and his wife at home. What the man at work says to someone should be the same as if his wife was present. This is a protection of marriage and at the same time a deepening of it. In a relationship of love there are no secrets from each other.

She Is the Only One

8“There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
And maidens without number;
9[But] my dove, my perfect one, is unique:
She is her mother’s only [daughter];
She is the pure [child] of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed,
The queens and the concubines [also], and they praised her, [saying],

The groom, Solomon, says in these verses how unique the bride is to him. He has seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1Kgs 11:33He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.). Of them he mentions here a selection of “sixty queens and eighty concubines” (verse 88“There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
And maidens without number;
). They are probably more often in his environment than the other women. Then he also is surrounded by “maidens” in a quantity “without number”.

It is clear that Solomon literally goes against the institution of God, i.e. marriage as a union between one man and one woman (Gen 2:21-2421So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.23The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
). He also goes against the royal law (Deu 17:1717He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.). In this context, however, it is not about his wrong practice, but about the picture of a unique love. We can see this in the same sense that the Lord compares His coming with the coming of a thief. The comparison does not concern the bad character of the thief, but the unexpected, sudden and unwanted arrival of the thief.

Spiritually, the lesson of these verses is that the Lord wants to have a very intimate fellowship with every believer, and that all His love is directed toward us. The church is a whole, but at the same time it consists of individual believers who each have their own relationship with their Lord. In that relationship not every believer stands in the same degree of affection toward Him. These differences are reflected in the queens, concubines and girls.

This is also the case with the various relationships of love for the Lord, which is experienced differently by every believer. The believers of whom this beloved girl is a picture live in the Spirit. Christ sees in them the characteristics of a “dove”, a symbol of the Spirit. He sees a clear or simple eye in them, that is an eye that is only focused on Him. He also sees them as “perfect”, or that they are completely full of Him. Everything in their lives is about Him, they involve Him in all things.

Prophetically, in the one hundred and forty women and countless maidens, we can see the cities in the land to which the love of the Lord Jesus goes out (verse 99[But] my dove, my perfect one, is unique:
She is her mother’s only [daughter];
She is the pure [child] of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed,
The queens and the concubines [also], and they praised her, [saying],
). But one city transcends them all, and that is Jerusalem (cf. Pro 31:2929“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
). He has a special love for that city. Jerusalem is the only city because the Messiah is seen as born there (Psa 87:2-3,62The LORD loves the gates of Zion
More than all the [other] dwelling places of Jacob.
3Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God. Selah.
6The LORD will count when He registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.” Selah.
; Zec 6:1212Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.). Jerusalem is “her mother’s only [daughter]”. The mother is Israel. All the cities of Israel and all the cities of the world will acknowledge this.

On that city He laid His glory and that makes her perfect (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.). So it is with every individual believer who is fully committed to Him: such a person is an ‘only’ one for Him. He is surrounded by others who love Him, but she is unique, the only one. That she is ‘the only one’ is expressed twice in this verse. By doing so, He underlines how unique she is to Him.

She is also “the pure [child of the one who bore her”. Jerusalem came into being through the faithfulness of God. For a long time, the city has been unfaithful, not pure in her relationship to God. When the Messiah comes to the city and declares her to be His bride, she will be “the pure”, the pure city. All her sins are put away. She has been cleansed by the judgment of evil and has become a city completely devoted to Him.

All those who stand in a certain relationship to the Lord Jesus, but not in the way the bride stands in relation to Him, will recognize her in that relationship and praise her. In it, we can see the twelve tribes and the cities that are therein (cf. Neh 11:1-21Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths [remained] in the [other] cities.2And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.).

Similarly, there is a certain admiration for devoted believers among persons who do not have the same devotion. They love the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus loves them. However, they lack the complete surrender that characterizes other believers. We cannot measure this by activities, but by the degree of fellowship that someone has with the Lord Jesus.

We see this difference with Martha and Maria. With Martha her activities before the Lord are paramount, with Mary the Lord Himself is paramount (Lk 10:38-4238Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.39She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.40But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up [to Him] and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”41But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;42but [only] one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”). After Martha has recognized this, she serves the Lord because of Who He is (Jn 12:22So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining [at the table] with Him.). Thus, every believer can grow to become an “only one” for the Lord Jesus.

Who Is She?

10‘Who is this that grows like the dawn,
As beautiful as the full moon,
As pure as the sun,
As awesome as an army with banners?’

In this verse the Spirit speaks through a third person who asks a question about the bride. That may be the various groups of women from the previous verse. The question is: “Who is this” or “Who is she?” and is about the bride. The question has four parts, each of which draws attention to a particular aspect of her life with the groom. The different aspects represent different impressions the bride makes on the questioner.

The first aspect in her appearance is that she looks “like the dawn”. The dawn announces a new day or a new period. The experiences described above in the life of the bride in her relationship with the groom have led to a new period in her life. She has been recovered in fellowship with the groom. That has changed and renewed her.

That’s how it goes in our lives. We may have had a period of fading or perhaps even a life in sin. This has not gone unnoticed by the people around us. Then the Lord Jesus has brought us to the recognition of the wrong, and restored us to fellowship with Him. Then we look different. The people around us notice that too. They see that a new day has dawned in our lives, as it were.

The dawn or daybreak indicates the new beginning in the life of the believer who is again committed to the Lord (cf. Gen 32:2424Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.). The shadows have disappeared from his life and there is no darkness left in his relationship with the Lord. It is the start of life as a righteous person till the full day has come (Pro 4:1818But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
). That is the purpose of the believer’s life. It is the manifestation of Christ and nothing else.

A restored believer is “beautiful as the full moon”. The moon has no light in itself, but receives the light from the sun and passes it on. The believer still lives in the world, where it is night. In the darkness of the night, he may pass on the light of the Sun, that is Christ. In his life he may show the characteristics of the Lord Jesus in the darkness of a world that only pursues its own fame and honor.

The light is also “as pure as the sun”. The light of the sun transmitted by the moon does not lose any of its purity. The moon passes it on as it receives it. It is ‘pure’, meaning that it consumes what is wrong, which stands in the way of the purity of light. If, for example, an unclean thought arises, it is immediately judged.

Finally, a restored believer is also “awesome as an army with banners”. He is in victory, symbolized by the banners. This causes awe to those who want to silence him, so that he will not testify anymore. The following story is a nice illustration of this.

A man arrested for his faith appears in court. The judge threatens that if he does not renounce his faith, he will take everything he possesses from him. The man ‘raises his banners’ and says: ‘Then you will need a long ladder, because everything I possess is stored in heaven.’ The judge tries again. Even more threatening he says that he will take his life away from him and let him be killed. The man ‘raises his banners’ again and says: ‘That is not possible, because my life is hidden in God with Christ.’

Such testimonies frighten the enemies, although they often don’t show it. People like Lot, the worldly-minded man, don’t cause awe. His defense against the men of Sodom to do no harm to his guests is answered by the threat to do harm to him (Gen 19:5-95and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”6But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him,7and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.8Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.”9But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.). His testimony of the judgment that comes upon Sodom is considered one of his jokes (Gen 19:1414Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.). Opposite to that we see Abraham, the heavenly man. He causes awe to the armies of various kings with an army of three hundred and eighteen men. He defeats those armies and frees his cousin Lot (Gen 14:8-168And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim,9against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five.10Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country.11Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed.12They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.13Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.14When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.15He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.16He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.).

Prophetically, the dawn indicates the coming of the Lord Jesus 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.) to illuminate Jerusalem with His glory (Isa 60:11“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
). When He appears, a new day, a new period, begins for Jerusalem. That new day is the time of the kingdom of peace, of which David prophetically speaks about as “a morning without clouds” (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.’
). The shadows of death, the threats of deadly enemies, are gone. The shadow over the relationship with the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, has also disappeared. There is nothing left between Jerusalem and Himself that causes separation.

The change this implies for Jerusalem is noticed by all nations. When Jerusalem was destroyed, the people asked: “Is this the city of which they said, ‘The perfection of beauty, A joy to all the earth’?”” (Lam 2:15b15All who pass along the way
Clap their hands [in derision] at you;
They hiss and shake their heads
At the daughter of Jerusalem,
“Is this the city of which they said,
‘The perfection of beauty,
A joy to all the earth’?”
)? After her recovery she will again be the perfection of beauty and a joy to all the earth. This will also lead to surprise with the question: Who is she? Is this the city that had become chaos? God’s restorative work will raise admiring questions because of the enormous change in her circumstances. Former disaster, now glory.

Just before the dawn, before the rising of the Sun of righteousness, we who belong to the church will first see the morning star appear (2Pet 1:1919[So] we have the prophetic word [made] more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.; Rev 2:2828and I will give him the morning star.; 22:1616“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”). We await Him as the rising of the morning star. We will not experience the dawn of the day for the people of God and for Jerusalem in particular on earth, but from heaven. Then the Lord Jesus comes with us, His heavenly bride, to the earth to reign with her. Then for Jerusalem and the remnant the glorious time begins.

Jerusalem will be “beautiful” “like the full moon”. It is the full light of the moon. It is not primarily about the position of the moon, but about its brilliance. Then Israel will be clothed with the sun (Rev 12:11A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;). Israel will have the highest authority worldwide, and spread blessing. The sun and moon are in heaven the witnesses of the faithfulness of God (Psa 89:36-3736“His descendants shall endure forever
And his throne as the sun before Me.
37“It shall be established forever like the moon,
And the witness in the sky is faithful.” Selah.
). There is nothing that darkens the sun, there is only heavenly light.

Jerusalem, the earthly bride, is also “as awesome as an army with banners” (cf. verse 66“Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from [their] washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.
). There are still enemies at the beginning of the kingdom of peace. The Divine light that she will spread will make her strong in battle. God will give her the strength to defeat the remaining enemies (Zec 12:66“In that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples, while the inhabitants of Jerusalem again dwell on their own sites in Jerusalem.).

The Groom Went Down

11“I went down to the orchard of nut trees
To see the blossoms of the valley,
To see whether the vine had budded
[Or] the pomegranates had bloomed.
12“Before I was aware, my soul set me
[Over] the chariots of my noble people.”
13“Come back, come back, O Shulamite;
Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!”
“Why should you gaze at the Shulamite,
As at the dance of the two companies?

Here the groom is speaking again. He now compares his bride to “the orchard of nut trees”, which also contains fruit trees. There he “went down”. This is always the way of the Lord Jesus when He comes to His people. He bows down to them, He comes to their level. He comes to them to see if there are any signs that the fruit can be eaten soon.

A nut can only be consumed when the shell is hard and can be broken. This must also be done with caution, otherwise the fruit will be broken together with the shell. Sometimes believers live in such a shell. They close themselves off from their surroundings and take a tough stance towards the outside world. Caution is needed to break through the mold and come to the fruit.

The Lord Jesus sees the fruit, we often only see the hard exterior. He does not come to orchard of nut trees to see if there is already fruit, but if there are signs that fruit is coming. He comes, ”to see the blossoms of the valley”. The blossoms indicate that fruit is coming, that the process of fruit formation has begun. It happens in the valley, which is a deep place. This refers to deep, spiritual exercises that are necessary to come to fruitfulness for Him (Heb 12:1111All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.).

We can also observe this in the lives of young people. With some we notice that they want to live with the Lord. The first signs of spiritual fruit appear. We hear that they discuss problems at school, and at home, but also discuss them with the Lord themselves. They are present in the meetings of the believers and help with all kinds of activities.

We cannot force fruit-bearing. Even if we sometimes notice a ‘shell’, we don’t always have the ability to break through it. Sometimes the fruit is nipped in the bud and can be thrown away. Young believers are delicate plants, whom we should manage carefully. We can learn from the Lord Jesus’ care, from His careful looking to the process of growth.

Then we will not impose our ideas about growth on them, but only as He descends to their level. We can do this simply by showing interest in their daily activities, their capacities, their plans. We can share with them how the Lord has shaped us and explain to them, His patience with us.

What the Lord Jesus then looks at is “whether the vine had budded”. The vine speaks of joy. Are there indications in our lives that we find our joy in the Lord? He looks for that. That joy is connected with fellowship with Him and with the Father (1Jn 1:3-43what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.). When there are signs of fellowship with the Father and the Son, ‘the vine buds’.

As a result, we see “the pomegranate had bloomed’. This speaks of an abundance of fruit. That abundant fruit is produced through the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-2322But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.). The Lord Jesus looks to see if the Holy Spirit can work. The work of the Spirit is seen everywhere where the Lord Jesus is the center. Then His features become visible in that life. That is what He is looking for, that is what He wants to work on.

Then we hear in verse 1212“Before I was aware, my soul set me
[Over] the chariots of my noble people.”
, in response to His visit to the orchard of nuts, an exclamation of surprise. He says: “Before I was aware, my soul set me [Over] the chariots of my noble people.” The believer with whom the fruit is emerging for Him will give Him the place of honor in his life and will willingly serve him.

This spontaneous willingness is, as it were, a surprise to Him, something He did not count on. It is certainly the result of His own work in the heart of the believer. Yet this is the way He expresses it. With this, he shows His great joyful appreciation for the voluntary submission to His authority.

Prophetically, this describes an expectant descent from the Lord Jesus to His people. The reaction of His people happens to Him, so to speak, before He has any awareness of it. He did not see it coming, so to speak. The Lord Jesus says this as Man (cf. Mk 13:3232But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father [alone].). When He comes to His people, He finds a willing people who parades Him around in honor.

We also see this in Psalm 110, where there is a willing people and a new dawn (Psa 110:2-32The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, [saying],
“Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
3Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power;
In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,
Your youth are to You [as] the dew.
). Noble or willing means voluntary, unforced, as also in the voluntary sacrifices. It is not the whole people, but a remnant. So, even today, not all Christianity is devoted to Him, but only those who really love Him.

This is a completely different people from whom He found at His first coming to earth. Then they did not want Him and He was rejected under the constant crying “crucify Him” (Mt 27:22-2322Pilate *said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all *said, “Crucify Him!”23And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”). When He comes back, they will say, “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (Mt 23:38-3938Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!39For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”; Psa 118:2626Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD;
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

A new part of the book begins with verse 1313“Come back, come back, O Shulamite;
Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!”
“Why should you gaze at the Shulamite,
As at the dance of the two companies?
. The previous section ends in verse 1212“Before I was aware, my soul set me
[Over] the chariots of my noble people.”
with the arrival of the Bridegroom in Jerusalem and how the city receives Him. In verse 1313“Come back, come back, O Shulamite;
Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!”
“Why should you gaze at the Shulamite,
As at the dance of the two companies?
there is a call to Shulamite to come back. It is said four times. Here the bride is addressed with her name for the first time. This is now possible because she has grown in her relationship with the groom. That is why she can now be called that way. Shulam is related to Solomon. Both words have the meaning of ‘peace’. Her name makes it clear that she suits him.

The daughters of Jerusalem ask her to come back so they can see what happened to her. Their interest in her has been aroused by the change they have noticed in her. They see the peace in which she now finds herself through her connection with the groom. They want to know more about that, to see more about how it came about.

It may also happen to us that people see that there is peace in our lives, while there is discontent throughout the world. We can also apply this to peace in a local church. We can be asked questions about this, why it is that we live with peace in our hearts. They want to know more about that.

In verse 13b13“Come back, come back, O Shulamite;
Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!”
“Why should you gaze at the Shulamite,
As at the dance of the two companies?
the bridegroom responds to the call of the daughters of Jerusalem. He first asks why they should gaze at Shulamite, what makes them long to see her. Why do they want that? He then answers by saying who she is: “A dance of two companies”.

The answer shows that there are two aspects to her peace. The first is that of joy, which is expressed in the “dance”. This dance is an expression of joy at the occasion of liberation and victory (Exo 15:2020Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.; 1Sam 18:66It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments.). The second is that of unity between “two companies”. Here we can think of the restoration of unity in the kingdom of peace between the two and the ten tribes who have lived so long in division (Eze 37:16-2816“And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’17Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.18When the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’19say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”‘20The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.21Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;22and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.23They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.24“My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.25They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.26I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.27My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.28And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”‘“).

The complete restoration of the unity of the church will take place at the coming of the Lord Jesus. But even now, every restoration of unity is a testimony. It is to be desired that we also show more of this unity and that pure human divisions are made undone (cf. Psa 133:11A Song of Ascents, of David.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!

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