Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the powders of the merchants? (Song of Solomon 3:6)
This is a truly wonderful question Solomon presents here that only the redeemed of the Lord may answer. Many learned men who have been schooled in the institutes of this world have attempted to answer it, but without a personal experience of grace no one can satisfy the length, breadth, height, and depths of this glorious presentation of the Lord of Hosts.
Although the word does not appear in the text, the inference is clear that this question is, who is this one? The identity of this person begins with the inarguable premise that He is alone. He is alone because He is God and there is none else; He is God, and there is none like Him. He is alone because, “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me (Isaiah 63:5).” He was alone because He was the Son who came to do the will of the Father. He is the head of His household, and, as the firstborn, the welfare and perpetuity of the family resides in Him. He is the Elder Brother to whom pertains the birthright and the blessings. He is the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.
He is the “Author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”
When in the determinate council and foreknowledge of God the Son became obedient to the will of the Father and the Spirit, He alone became worthy to accomplish the plan for redeeming His people and saving them from their sin. He took counsel with no one. He asked the advice of no one. There were no angels, no elders, no beasts, no living creatures, nothing in heaven nor in the earth nor under the earth. Nothing had been created when the purpose of God was devised, proclaimed and revealed.
Before the world was and all that is in it, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these three being one, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isaiah 46:10),” determined who, what, when, were and how all was to be; and there was and is nothing, and never shall be anything to alter, amend, change, add to, or subtract from this finished plan. The fact that the Anointed of the Lord, His Chosen One, the Christ whose name is Jesus, performed all that He was sent to do, and that He, alone, was faithful above all His house, makes Him worthy unto the Lord God Almighty.
“And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation (Revelation 5:2-9).”
Cursed be every system that would attempt to add the notion of man’s ’free will’ to this completed work. The only freedom man’s will has is “after its kind.” He is of the earth, earthy, and will not and cannot attend to the things that pertain to the Spirit. Cursed also be they who would put any conditions upon the ones for whom He completed this work. The only condition was that He be found faithful and that He finishes the work in righteousness.
He was given a people before there even was a people, a chosen generation before there was a generation. He was found by them that sought Him not, because they were not. They were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), earthen vessels into which He would place the treasure, His Holy seed (2 Corinthians 4:7); vessels which were “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2)”; vessels that He purchased with His precious blood and who await the redemption of the purchased possession unto Himself (Ephesians 1:14).” They are vessels that must put off this corruption and put on incorruption, put off mortality and put on immortality. This could only be accomplished because the Captain of their salvation has gone before them.
He has walked this path in power and has gotten Himself the victory over death and the grave and was raised again, “according to his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:19ff).” They are vessels that “are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).” He was faithful above all His household to do the will of Him who sent Him. He completed this work in its entirety, in righteousness and power because He is God and He cannot deny Himself. He is set down at the right hand of the throne of the Father having put all things under Him and having all power and all authority in heaven and earth. There is no room for anyone else in the work of the Lord of Hosts.
...that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke....
He first led His people out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage and Pharaoh’s oppression, and to Etham, in the edge of the wilderness of Sin, with the manifestation of Himself as a pillar of smoke. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night (Exodus 13:21).” He then protected them from Pharaoh’s army. “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night (Exodus 14:19f).”
This protection was to show forth His might in parting the Red Sea so His people could cross dry shod. It was to proclaim His name throughout all the land and to “... get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen (Exodus 14:17f).” This glorious episode would be repeatedly told to all generations as being the day when the Lord delivered His people and gave them a testimony of His greatness and His alone. “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw the great work which the Lord [alone] did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and His servant Moses (Exodus 14:30f).”
The Lord then brought His people to the desert of Sinai, to the mount of the Lord, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever.” “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a great furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly (Exodus 19: 9 & 16).” The majesty and fearfulness of the Lord God omnipotent clearly, and without any question or any help from man, is displayed for all to see as a pillar of smoke.
Here, amidst all the splendor of the glory of God, before the trembling house of Israel, with all of nature bowing subservient to her master, He gives His servant Moses the holy and just law. He reveals His holiness and righteousness, with all His demands, to His chosen few. He sets forth the standards by which sin is to be judged and the sacrifices that must be made to atone for each violation. The first chapters of the book of Leviticus set forth each and every one of these sacrifices and the proper procedure to be followed.
Notice how detailed these types and foreshadows are: what type of animal for what type of sin, where it was to be brought, how it was to be killed, how it was to be cut into exact pieces and arranged on the altar, how the altar was to be built, what materials were to be used, and what was forbidden. Each and every detail, set forth by God Himself as the pattern in the mount, foretold of when the Son of God Himself would become flesh and dwell among us to be our sacrifice before the Father.
“If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make an atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: But his inward parts shall he wash with water: and the priest shall burn all upon the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord (Leviticus 1:3-9).”
Each burnt offering followed the same format and was to be this sweet savour before the Lord. As the smoke rose up before the throne of God, atonement was made for each sin that was committed. The fires burned continually because the sin of the people was great and each pillar of smoke represented the ultimate sweet savour that would come before the throne of God, when the Lamb of God would present Himself to the fire and fury of the wrath of the Father’s judgment as the propitiation for the sins of His people. When He who knew no sin became sin for His people, He was led without the camp and slain. He was laid upon the altar, which was Himself. He was placed upon the wood in proper order and He was the fire. He was the smoke. He was the atonement, and it pleased the Father when He saw the travail of His soul.
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angels hand (Revelation 8:4f).” Here we see Jesus the glorified Christ interceding for His people before the throne of God. Again, no one else is qualified. No one else is permitted. No one else has the ability to come before the Father with groanings and utterances for His people but He, “for he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust (Psalm 103:14).” He, being an High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, became flesh and dwelt among us. He became a partaker of flesh and blood just as His children do, “that he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14f).” “For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).”
He has devised, empowered, and performed this plan according to His good pleasure. He has chosen a people created in Christ Jesus unto good works. He has led them out of Egypt and bondage, and He protects them all the way. He provides for them their daily bread, for He knows their needs. He has fulfilled God’s Holy ordinances and appeased His wrath. He is our Passover, which is sacrificed for us. He has given His people His law, written it upon their hearts, and has made them willing in the day of His power. He stands as our Great High Priest at the throne of God making intercession for His saints. This is the one who is coming out of the wilderness as pillars of smoke. He does not come out on a linear plane, as if restricted to this world. His kingdom is not of this world. He ascends upward out of the wilderness before the throne of God having His reward with Him and His work before Him.
...perfumed with myrrh...
“Moreover the Lord spake onto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary; it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, and the table and his vessels, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot, and thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may be ministers unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut of from his people (Exodus 30: 22-33).”
This was an holy anointing ointment. Exact in measurements. Precious in its ingredients. Restricted for the House of Israel and the High priest thereof. Not to be imitated. Not to be changed. Made by the lawgiver Moses after the art of the apothecary. Precious, sweet and pure without blemish. Untainted by dead flies caused by the attempts of man to replicate this holy substance. A sweet smelling savour before the Lord when the fire was applied to the wood upon the anointed altar. It was not the stinking savour which the ointment of man sends forth (Ecclesiastes 10:1). It must be precious and pure, good and pleasant, to be used by the children of Zion for and in the worship of their God.
This was the holy oil of the Lord that was used on His High priest. Observe how the oil ran down over the head and onto the face, across the beard and onto the garments, all the way down to the skirt of the garment, joining all parts together into one. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirt of his garments” (Psalm 133:1f). See how this one, coming out of the wilderness, being our High Priest unto the Lord, is the Anointed of the Lord.
How much more precious is the oil upon His head? How much more sweet and pleasant is His oneness with His brethren? How much more sweet is the aroma of His Holy of Holies as He stands before the anointed altar and applies the purifying fire of the righteous wrath of God? The fire consumes the anointed sacrifice, and the room is thick with the smoke as it ascends up before the throne of God. “All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad (Psalm 45:8).” He is not just daubed or prinkled with this ointment; He is fumigated by it. The aroma precedes Him, and His children are glad because of it, for thereby they know that their Lord is near. “Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed: thou woundest the head of the wicked, by discovering the foundation of the neck. Selah (Habakkuk 3:13).”
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with frankincense: of each shall there be like weight: And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, salted together, pure and holy; And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. And as for the perfume, which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be holy for the Lord. Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people (Exodus 30:34-38).”
This is a confection with ingredients of equal portion, Holy to His people and unto the Lord, placed where He meets with His own. It is not to be imitated even to the smell thereof. It is not for the stranger or the infidel and not to be defiled or treated with contempt. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).” Once again He is this Holy Perfume, which only His people recognize and which identifies the truth to those He has gathered in His name.
Frankincense was to be applied to the meat offering and then to be burnt with fire (Leviticus 2:15f). It was to be applied to the two rows, six in each row, of showbread, upon the pure table before the Lord, “for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord (Leviticus 24:7).”
It cannot be overemphasized that each of these offerings was a type and foreshadow of the Lord Jesus Christ and His fulfillment of the Law. Each offering was made by fire before the throne of God, and they were anointed with frankincense. Thus this one coming out of the wilderness is perfumed, yea, saturated, with myrrh and frankincense.
There is a great contrast to this Holy one’s bride: the other is an imposter and a fraud. She is not in the wilderness but in the city. She is daubed with the fragrances of the world. Cheap imitations made with inferior ingredients and laced with dead flies. Her ways are carnal and lead unto death. She appeals to the natural senses, to sight, smell, taste, touch, sound, and logic. She is found without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner. She is loud and stubborn. She has perfumed herself to cover the stench of death and corruption. She calls to those without understanding, the simple ones. She has fabricated a peace offering and has laid it upon an altar made with hewn stone. She has paid a worldly vow with corruptible things, which the moth doth eat and rust doth corrupt.
She comes forth daily to meet all of the children of Adam’s race and to tempt them with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. She says, “I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linens of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon (Proverbs 7:16f).” She is subtle, cunning and deceptive.
She attempts to imitate the truth, but her ways are carnal and at enmity with God. “With much fair speech she causeth him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him (Verse 21).”
Be not deceived, dear brothers and sisters. This one does not care for those who have been afore ordained unto destruction. She has no effect on those who know not the truth. They are with her, and, like her, they are of the world, worldly. They are of her and they do not hear the instruction of Wisdom who calls to her own, “Hearken unto me now therefore, O children, and attend unto the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death (verses 24-27).”
These sensual trappings appeal to the old man, the body of this death. They beset the children all the days of their lives and are a constant reminder of the frailties of the flesh. This is why the Apostle said, “I die daily.” For each day she met him and revived the law within his members, which warred against the law after his inward man. Each day she called to him, as she does to all the children of the King, tempting them with the walking after the flesh. She calls to them to walk not by the Spirit and not by faith but rather by that which can be seen and felt and handled.
And rest assured that each of us has gone her way. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14f).” Each has enjoyed sin for a season, catering to the old man and his ways; and if a true child of God, each has felt the depths of pain and despair when led by the Spirit to truly see the corruption of our ways. Nothing grieves the blood-bought child more than the understanding of his own corruption and his inability to overcome it.
“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God: but with the flesh the law of sin (Romans 7:24f).
...with all the powders of the merchants?
This is the Lord God Omnipotent. He is the Most High, “that ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will...whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou (Daniel 4:25; 34f)?” He has all the powders, all the potions, all the perfumes and the confections of all the erchants of this world. He has given to all the merchants all that they have, and there is nothing had that was not given by Him. There is nothing that has escaped His divine will.
Nothing that has occurred but it is according to His purpose, which He purposed in Himself before the world was formed. There is no remedy, ointment or perfume which man can create or conjure up which can compare with the glory and the majesty of His Holy one. Imitations abound, but no work, desire, intent, or will of man can appease the righteous judgment of God. He has the cattle of a thousand hills. He knows the secret thoughts of the hearts of men. He established the times, their habitations, and the limitations hereof. He alone controls the winds and the waves. He has ordained the lights of the heavens and has established their courses. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).” There is nothing that has ever been or will ever be that is outside of the ordained will of God, and therein do His children find rest.
“Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. They hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night. King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 3:7ff).”
Can anything be of more comfort than to know that our King has made Himself a bed, a chariot, constructed with precious stones, bedecked in royalty and guarded by valiant men of war, the midst thereof which is paved with the love which He has for His people? Is there any other rest, which can be desired?
The world has many imitations and frauds, but none can give rest to the weary ones in the Lord. “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine (6:3).” Only those whom He first chose and on whom he bestowed His love know this peace. Only those who have been redeemed of the Lord can feel this love, those who are the elect, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.
It is because of this love that the Son became obedient and took on Himself the form of a servant, though He were King of all. It is by this love and for this love that He draws His chosen vessels unto Himself and reveals Himself as the one who has come out of the wilderness in fulfillment of all righteousness. “... Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).” This is the one on whom His chosen, His beloved, must lean as He brings Her with Him out of the wilderness. She cannot do it on Her own, nor does She even try.
He has chosen her. He has redeemed her. He has presented her unto Himself pure, holy, and without spot or blemish. “Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken: neither shall thy land be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married (Isaiah 62:4).”
May the Lord grant a season of refreshing rest unto His people as they “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not (1 John 3:1).”
In hope of glory,
Welsh Tract Church