Study 9 LEANING ON OUR BELOVED
THE SONG OF SOLOMON
by Francis Dixon
Key-verse: “Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?…” (Song of Songs 8:5-7)
The section of scripture we are to study begins with an arresting question, which was evidently asked by the daughters of Jerusalem as they saw the radiant and happy bride passing by and leaning on the arm of her beloved bridegroom. The question presents to us, with the words that follow, a beautiful picture of the present position of the believer in relation to the Lord and of some of the great blessings which the believer possesses in the Lord. Let us unfold the passage in the following way:-
1. “WHO IS THIS?” She is the Bride.
It is the bride who is referred to, and she represents the Bride of Christ, the Church, the individual believer. In the New Testament the Church is spoken of as a Building (Ephesians 2:22); as the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:23); as the Brotherhood of believers (Ephesians 2:19); and as the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-27). The daughters of Jerusalem said, “Who is this?” – as if to suggest that the bride was something of a mystery to them. That is exactly what the Church is to the uninitiated – a mystery which had been hidden from the ages but which was revealed to Paul, and through Paul to the saints – look up and compare Ephesians 1:9; 3:3,4,9; and Colossians 1:26-27. What a mystery, what an enigma, the Christian is to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 2:14). The unconverted certainly cannot understand the converted (2 Corinthians 5:17). What strange people Christians are! – they love singing hymns rather than the empty songs of the world – look up Psalm 40:1-3; they love a prayer meeting more than a dance – look up Acts 4:23-24; and they are living more for the world to come than for this present world (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
2. “WHO IS THIS?” She is the Bride who is coming up from the wilderness.
From Deuteronomy 32:10-11 we learn that the Jewish ‘church’ came up out of the wilderness in a very literal sense: from a “barren and howling waste” (Deuteronomy 32:10); from a “desert waste” (Joel 2:3 and 3:19); from a wilderness in which they found grace (Jeremiah 31:2). But, the Church of Christ was also raised up from a desolate wilderness condition by divine grace (Galatians 4:27). As individual believers, as members of Christ’s Church, we have been brought out of the wilderness of sin, shame and separation and into a place of deliverance, honour and security in the arms of our Lover – look up Ephesians 2:1-6 and 12-22. Moreover, we are still coming ‘up from the wilderness’ as we travel towards our heavenly Home in the safe care and keeping of our Lover.
3. “WHO IS THIS?” She is the Bride coming up from the wilderness, leaning (on her Lover).
She comes up leaning! and how significant is this indication of the bride’s posture, for in the process and experience of salvation, of sanctification and of service our attitude as the Bride, as individual believers, must ever be one of leaning upon our Lover, our heavenly Bridegroom. Why did she lean, and what did her leaning indicate?
- (1) She was weak in herself – look up 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
- (2) She believed he could and would support her – look up Jude 24.
- (3) The journey was long and arduous – look up Acts 21:1-16!
- (4) She needed his wisdom – (James 1:5); she needed him to guide her (Proverbs 3:6); she needed his provision (Philippians 4:19); and she needed his protection (Deuteronomy 33:27).
In the Old Testament we are told to trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5); in the New Testament to believe on the Lord (Acts 16:31); In both cases the meaning is to “lean upon” Him.
4. “WHO IS THIS?” She is the Bride coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Lover, because he loves her so much.
The whole message of the Song of Songs is the intense mutual love between the bridegroom and his bride. The bride mentions three indications of her bridegroom’s love:-
- (1) He had answered her cry for help (verse 5): “Under the apple tree I roused you…” When he was reclining restfully, she roused him with her cry and appeal; just as the Lord “listened” to us when we called upon Him – look up Psalm 34:4,6,15,17 and 18, and Psalm 116:1-2.
- (2) He had sealed her as his own (verse 6): “Place me like a seal over your heart”; just as our Bridegroom has sealed us for Himself (Ephesians 1:11-14).
- (3) He had upheld her with his strong arm (verse 6): “like a seal on your arm.” In Christ we are absolutely secure (John 10:27-29 and Romans 8:35-39).
5. “WHO IS THIS?” She is the Bride coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Lover whom she loves so very much.
Why did she love him? Because he first loved her; and this is why we love our heavenly Bridegroom so much (1 John 4:19). In verses 6 and 7 the bride tells us three things about the wonderful love of the Lord which has been shed abroad in our heart (Romans 5:5); and about our love for Him:-
- (1) It is a love which cannot die (verse 6): it is “as strong as death”.
- (2) It is a jealous love (verse 6): it is jealous for the honour and glory of the one who is loved.
- (3) It is a victorious love (verse 7): it cannot be quenched by “many waters”, nor can it be drowned by “the floods”.
- (4) It is a love which cannot be bought, for to give all we have is not sufficient for us to purchase it – this is the meaning of the last part of verse 7.
Have you started the journey out of the wilderness by putting your trust in Christ? Are you coming up more and more out of the wilderness, and as you come up do you lean upon Him for your every need to be supplied? Is He really your Lover – not only because He loves you, but because you love Him so much? As you conclude this study, meditate upon the words recorded in John 21:15-17.