His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: “The cheeks of His face are soft and piled up high with the fragrance of the spices.” The same spices that He was perfumed with as He came out of the wilderness that caused all His garments to smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia. The finest and choicest spices, sweet as a tower of flowers. A place where she finds again peace and tranquility and the fragrance of the abundant spices is the scent of her beloved. The scent, which caused her hands to drop with myrrh and her fingers with sweet smelling myrrh. She has his aroma, she has been marked with His scent and there is no mistaking the sweet smelling savor.
“his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.” The words from her beloved are oozing with gladness, joy and brilliance. His righteousness and holiness cross over and make the transition to her and back to him in the propitiation He provided for her.
“His hands are as gold rings set with beryl.” His hands are open and welcome the fellowship of His people. This fellowship is shimmering as gold and as comforting as a clear day or fair weather. His fingers fold around all that is in His hand and accomplish, fulfill, and confirm all that He controls.
The seasons, the wind, the rain, the heart of the king, the needs of His children and the hairs of their heads are all within the realm of this hand and its government. The Hebrew word for beryl is, tarshiysh. The seaport city of Tarshish was renown for its merchants and their vessels. It was the center of commerce and trade, and all that transpired within, around, to, and for this city would barely begin to encompass all that is in the hand of the Lord and under His control. He has all the powders of the merchants with Him (3.6).
His hands also appear as gold rings because within them is the scepter of righteousness (Hebrews 1.8) with which he rules. John saw, in his revelation of Jesus Christ, that within His right hand were seven stars, which represented the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1.16). No better an illustration could be given or sweeter a vision received, that all things work together for good to them that love God to the called according to His purpose, than to see that all things, whatsoever they be, are in His hand and in fellowship one with another.
“his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.” The reference to His belly is as to the mechanics and production of offspring or children. It is bright and glossy to a polished shine and it contains righteousness within and precious stones wrapped around. This is the origin of His children who were in Him from eternity past and bear the marks of his lineage.
“His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold.” The lower section of the foundation of our Lord is as bleached white columns, appointed and established together in strength, immovable and sure. Jesus told Peter, “Upon this rock will I build my church (assembly) (Matthew 16.18),” and Paul said to the Corinthians, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3.11).” Here is the feeling of security and longevity. No man laid this foundation and nothing can shake it. He is fixed and sure and the rock in which His people dwell (2.14). Once again, just as His head, His foundation is the purest refined gold and He is all encompassed with justice and equity.
“his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.” The Lord and Master appears to His beloved as the white mountains in Lebanon. So high that they tower above all other, so majestic that they seem unapproachable, and so near to the heavens that they are year-round white with snow. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth (Psalm 121.1f).” He appears as the mountain and the one who, “cometh leaping upon the mountain and skipping upon the hills (2.8).” As majestic and grand as these mountains seemed, He was above even them and, as it were, danced and played with joy upon them. His countenance was as excellent as the cedars because the cedars have a tenacious root system and can withstand the forces of nature. The are straight, tall, and majestic within themselves, and their presence will cover the land and blanket a forest.
“His mouth is most sweet.” The words that proceed from his mouth are life unto His children. They are nourishment and sustenance to their souls. He feeds them by the still waters. He renews their strength. He knows their needs and supplies them before they ask for them. He speaks peace to the troubled, rest to the weary and comfort to the distressed.
“yea, he is altogether lovely.” There is nothing in Him that displeases her, and every aspect of Him draws her to His side. She is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. She is of Him as Eve was of Adam. The separation she feels causes her to long for and desire His presence and His comfort. This is why her beloved is different from another and this is why she will have no other. She will not hear another’s voice. She will not heed another’s call. She will not walk in another’s path. “This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem (5.16).”
When in the course of time and at the moment ordained of old by God, the child of grace is quickened and the presence of the treasure, afore placed within earthen vessels is manifested, when the pricks and the pains of the law have driven this chosen one through the valley of the shadow of death, when the burden of sin has been lifted and the yoke of peace has been applied, there is no greater realization that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
When He reveals unto His own that He had a body prepared for Him just as His children did when they became partakers of flesh and blood; when He conveys to them that He was in all points tempted as they were, yet without sin; when He shows them that He who knew no sin became obedient to the will of His Father and became sin by taking on Himself the sin of His people and them alone; when He imparts the knowledge unto them that, when they were without strength, at enmity with God, alienated from the commonwealth of the house of Israel, walking according to the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience, that He came and stood for them in the Holy of Holies as the High Priest, the sanctuary, the altar and the only offering accepted of God; that He was delivered up for our offenses and raised again for our justification; and that now, being justified by His faith, wherein He was faithful above all the house, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; then and only then can the redeemed of the lord say so and the inhabitants of the Rock sing, He is my beloved and he is my friend!
Hear the words of this Lord of glory when He spoke to His disciples and said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command. Henceforth I call you no more servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you (John 15.13ff).”
I ask you dear brethren, did this fairest among women come to this revelation about her Lord by flesh and blood? Did she scurry down to the library to find the wisdom of the world so she could better understand this wonderful truth? Did she sit under the tutelage of the doctors of divinity, the great oratorical evangelists or soul-winning preachers of the day? Was it not unto her as it was with Peter and is to every one of her children, that flesh and blood has not revealed this unto her, but her Father, which is in heaven? No earthly means could produce this realization in her. No reading of the scriptures, no preaching of the gospel, no mediation or prayer or anything even remotely connected to the flesh could bring this about or even help it on its way. “Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4.6).”
Was this a universal revelation or open calling? Not at all! This was given to one who was chosen in her beloved before the foundation of the world. One who was born of royalty, her Father being the King of Salem and her brother being the Prince of Peace. She then is the daughter of peace, the descendant of peace or, as it is translated from the Hebrew, the Shulamite. Therefore her beloved calls her my sister, my spouse, and my beloved.
This was neither a loss of any temporal blessing nor a diminishing of class standing. She had not ’backslidden’ or ’grieved the spirit.’ She had not fallen from grace. The Heavenly Father had taken her into this tribulation and had, by His grace, cleansed her from this fleshly malady. He demonstrated His love for her by chastening her. He removed the branches that were not fruitful. This was not a punishment but a pruning so that the vine would bring forth more fruit and that more abundantly. He refined the gold, silver and precious stones, which cannot be destroyed, by purging and removing the wood, hay and stubble. “How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. The precious stones of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter (Lamentations 4.1f)!” The fine gold can never become tainted, for it is pure; but it can be concealed on the outside by the flesh. The scum of the flesh coats the exterior and clings to the fine gold and precious stones.
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide in the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering of righteousness (Malachi 3.1ff).” He took the watchmen in one hand and his beloved in the other and washed and sheared his sheep. This was a blessing to her and a benefit for her. “Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins and none is barren among them (4.2).” “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every one he receiveth. If ye then endure chastening, God dealeth with you, as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not (Hebrews 12.5f)?”
“Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? Whither is thy love turned aside? that we may seek him with thee (Canticles 6.1)” The daughters of Jerusalem now ask the second question of this one who is sick of love. She has come to them, those of her family, of like precious faith and charged them to find him and relay to him her condition. She hopes that they can help her find comfort and guide her to his side. They have first asked her to identify just whom it is that she is seeking and now ask her where he is. Observe carefully how that they do not ’lead her to her Lord’ nor do they ’teach her the way of the Lord that she may walk in it’. They do not chide her with the same legalism that she was just delivered from by laying out before her a plan for her to, “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called (Ephesians 4.1).” They do not, as the friends of Job, attempt to condemn her by imposing their form of piety and priestcraft. They do not convene a ’prayer chain’ or an emergency meeting of the board of deacons in order to isolate the problem and contain it before it grows. There is no haughtiness or condescending towards this one who is in this condition and she is not told to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2.12).” These would be and are the ways of the world. They are even more burdensome and laborious to the weak and feeble child of the King.
Here is an individual who has been to the top of the mountain and felt the presence of her Lord and then finds herself alone and desperately seeking the one she loves. Is there any comfort for her in flesh-induced will-worshipping? Shall she find peace in renewed and more diligent Bible study and prayer? No. She finds that the words of the book are sealed to her. The pages are darkened and the truth is hidden and she feels herself even more alone. When she would attempt to force a thought of prayer, she feels that no one is listening. Her heart condemns her, her words fall silently to the ground and she had just as well talk to the wall than to feel that her beloved will hear her. Have you been there, and that more than a few times, dear brethren? All God’s children are led there from time to time to teach them, and that by their Heavenly Father, that they should have no confidence in the flesh and no self reliance. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ (2 Corinthians 1.3f).” These sisters of the grieved were there to comfort her and to “seek him with thee.” They stood with her to weep with her, and later they will rejoice with her.
“My beloved is gone down to his garden.” What a sweet blessing is revealed unto her. He has gone to his garden. She is comforted because she is that garden. He never left her. He did not forsake her. All the time she was reclined in her beloved as He carried her through this trial and tribulation. He said, “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up and a fountain sealed (4.12).” Entrance was barred to all strangers who are not of the household redeemed by blood. The fountain is sealed to her and for her. She is not open to the public and entrance is not to “whosoever will.”
She is His garden and He is come in to His garden. She is His workmanship. She was created in Him. She is his vineyard and He is the husbandman. He has gathered His myrrh with spice. He has eaten the honeycomb with the honey, and He has drunk His wine with His milk, and He has beckoned to His friends to eat and to His beloved to drink abundantly.
“to the bed of spices” The bed on which He lays His beloved for rest and love is a bed of spices. The same spices which are contained in the ointment of the apothecary that is Holy unto the Lord. They arethe same spices, which anointed the altar, the sacrifice and the High Priest. They are the spices of the atonement, the sweet smelling savor before the Lord. He is the propitiation for the sins of His people. By this are they granted this access to this Holy of Holies.
“to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies.” Here in His garden He tends to His flock. He pastures them and provides for them. He assembles together gladness and joy in the brilliance of His righteousness.
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” The eternal oneness and union between these two was never in question or jeopardy. The fact that she was of the living stones, which were hewn from that great rock which was Christ, never was, even remotely, in jeopardy of change or diminished capacity. She was forever in Him and with Him and shall ever be; and the confidence that she expresses here, the joy that fills her soul so that she is no more “sick of love,” and the surety of her Lord and Master could only have been achieved by the path that she walked. Only when she was stripped of the flesh, when the refiner’s fire burned off the outer trappings of corruption and she was purified by the fuller’s soap could she have fully experienced this fellowship. Would she have it any other way? This corruption must put on incorruption and this mortality, immortality; and until that time she, and all her household, must go through this tribulation.
“he feedeth among the lilies.” While on this earth and in the fleshly habitation, the Lord tends to His chosen few with gladness and joy, supplying them with peace and comfort. This is not a reference to Him feeding Himself but to the feeding of His flock. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Psalm 23).”
In need of grace,
Welsh Tract Church