“A GARDEN inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.”
Solomon is among the holy men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, of whom Peter speaks. Holy men, moved by the Holy Ghost, wrote holy things, therefore there is something in their words deeper than that which appears in the letter of the word. Paul says we are made “able ministers” of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. By the term “able ministers,” we do not understand the apostle to mean great or wonderful, but prepared by revelation and experience to use the mattock in God’s word, and thus bring out for the comfort, encouragement and instruction of the people of God the hidden “things from the wise and prudent,” but revealed unto babes. In this Song of songs we have a dialogue between the bride and Bridegroom, each expressing their love for and mutual interest in the other. We have no doubt that in these characters are represented Christ and the church. A woman in figure is many times in the Scriptures used to set forth the church; at one time barren, and afterwards the mother of many children. This figure is seen in Sarah, the wife of Abraham. She was a garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed; but in God’s purpose and time, according to his promise, she brought forth the son, Isaac, the father of Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, of whom the fourth part could not be numbered. Thus Sarah, who was a garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, is the mother of all the seed of Abraham. The apostle speaks of this in his letter to the Galatia church, when He said, We are not the children of the bond woman, but of the free woman. Sarah was the figure of Jerusalem, which is free, and the mother of us all, while Agar is in bondage with her children. In Isaiah, chapter fifty-four, we have another figure; there is a woman who had been barren and desolate who is called upon to “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: * * * enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes: for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither He thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood anymore.” “For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and u wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.” “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” In the above quotations we see another garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain scaled. For she who had been barren breaks forth on the right hand and on the left. The place of the tent must be enlarged, and the cords extended, and the stakes strengthened. She who had been barren becomes the mother of many children, and all of them shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be their peace. What a blessing to be taught of God in the school of experience; indeed this is the way God reveals himself and makes his power known. In experience the children are taught their need of God and his salvation; yes, taught that they are sinners utterly polluted, justly condemned by God’s righteous law, separated from God by wicked works. Thus being taught, they come to Christ for forgiveness and justification, and being drawn by the Father, Jesus will in no wise cast them out.
Great shall be the peace of these children. This does not mean that they shall always be upon the mountain lop, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, but great is the reconciliation; the children were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. “Great peace” indeed, never again to come into condemnation, but have passed from death unto life.
The text under consideration is another figure of the church of God. Under the law “my sister, my spouse,” was indeed a garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Only a type could be seen in that dispensation, the bride was not yet manifested. But after the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there was no more sea (law), John saw the new Jerusalem, coining down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Hence in the gospel the bride appears and the type is passed away. Now she who had been “a garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain scaled,” breaks forth on the right hand and on the left. “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation.” In her manifestation and development we see God’s purpose, which was shut up and hid from the beginning of the world, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs with the Jews of the glorious things of God, partakers of the only salvation, and children of the free woman. If we are Christ’s, then are we Abraham’s children, and heirs according to the promise. The church in God’s sight has ever been the same in number, not one added nor one taken away since the choice was made in Christ before the world began. But now the garden inclosed, the spring shut up, the fountain sealed, is opened, and “my sister, my spouse,” the spiritual church, is the mother of a host which no man can number.
The question is asked in this Song of Solomon, “What will ye see in the Shulamite? as it were the company of two armies.” The name Shulamite is feminine to Solomon, and signifies queen of peace, therefore if Solomon represented the bridegroom, the Shulamite represented the bride (church). The two armies now seen in the church are Jews and Gentiles, but remember all compose one company, “all one in Christ.” In this beautiful figure we see the meaning of the language of Isaiah when he said “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.” These opposing nations, Jews and Gentiles, are made one, and dwell in peace and harmony. The lying down together signifies rest, rest in the work of Christ; they feed together upon the broken body of their Lord and Master, with no more enmity between them. To this woman who was once inclosed, shut up and sealed, but now delivered, the Bridegroom says, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come.” Arise from under the curse and condemnation of the law, and come away, it has no dominion over you, for the debt is paid. “The winter is past,” that barren and desolate time when no fruit could be manifested; the dark, rainy and “cloudy day” is over and gone; “the flowers appear on the earth,” the manifestation of life; the plant so barren and naked in “winter” is now bearing beautiful flowers; the Unit; of singing is conic. “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud.” This singing is done by the church collectively, and is found in the individual experience of each member of the body of Christ. I low they sing for joy when called upon to “awake “and put on their beautiful garments, in which they appear before God clean and white, and without which no man can see the Lord. There is a sense in which the church is inclosed, shut up and scaled now. Isaiah said, “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.” The day referred to is the gospel day; therefore the church sings the song of praise to God for his salvation, which is walls and bulwarks, and that which incloses, shuts up and seals the holy city. The ungodly cannot enter, the unrighteous are kept out, no worldling or hireling can enter there. The gates are opened, however, to the righteous, to the redeemed, to the sanctified of God. This is the invisible kingdom, therefore “a garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” The Lord is the Husbandman, and not one plant that he hath planted shall be rooted up. A spring shut up; yes, shut up to the world of antichrist, but opened to the thirsty, and they drink without money and without price, from time to time, during this journey to the laud of rest. A fountain sealed, yes, sealed, and none but the Lamb of-God can loose the seal that the weary and tried soul may find a home and kindred. How often they are made to cry,
“Hero my best friends and kindred dwell,
Here God my Savior reigns.”
All these things in the experience of the child of God are seen and felt.
H. C. KER.
Middletown, N. Y.1901.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 72., No. 23.
DECEMBER 1, 1904.