GOD LONGS TO PENETRATE OUR HEARTS,
SO HE USES POETRY AND PICTURES FOR HIS POIGNANT PLEA:
ARISE, MY LOVE!
FIRST, SHE COMPARES HER BELOVED TO A YOUNG STAG:
THE VOICE OF MY BELOVED!
BEHOLD, HE COMES,
LEAPING OVER THE MOUNTAINS,
BOUNDING OVER THE HILLS.
MY BELOVED IS LIKE A GAZELLE
OR A YOUNG STAG.
(Song of Songs 2:8-9a)
HE COMPARES HER TO A DOVE HIDING IN A CLEFT:
ARISE MY LOVE, MY BEAUTIFUL ONE, AND COME AWAY…
MY DOVE, IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK
IN THE CRANNIES OF THE CLIFF,
LET ME SEE YOUR FACE,
LET ME HEAR YOUR VOICE,
FOR YOUR VOICE IS SWEET, AND YOUR FACE IS LOVELY.
(Song of Songs 2:10 & 14)
WHEN SHE DOESN’T COME, HE WARNS OF FOXES:
CATCH THE FOXES FOR US,
THE LITTLE FOXES THAT SPOIL THE VINEYARDS,
FOR OUR VINEYARDS ARE IN BLOSSOM.
(Song of Songs 2:15)
The little foxes that spoil the vineyards
HE IS NEAR, I CAN HAVE HIM ANYTIME,
I’LL RESPOND LATER.
MY BELOVED IS MINE, AND I AM HIS;
HE GRAZES AMONG THE LILIES
(Song of Songs 2:16)
BUT SUDDENLY, HE BOUNDS AWAY.
SHE CALLS OUT TO HIM:
UNTIL THE DAY BREATHES
AND THE SHADOWS FLEE,
TURN, MY BELOVED, BE LIKE A GAZELLE
OR A YOUNG STAGE ON CLEFT MOUNTAINS
(Song of Songs 2:17)
Daniel Eskridge: digital art
TWO ANCIENT CHURCH FATHERS BRING LIGHT TO THIS PASSAGE.
BERNARD OF CLARIVOIX SAID “GOD IS A SHY LOVER.”
WHEN WE DO NOT RESPOND, BEING IN THE ARMS OF ANOTHER LOVER,
HE WILL WITHDRAW.
AND ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS SAID:
In the Song of Songs the bride compares the Bridegroom to the stag…
She makes this comparison… because of the swiftness with which he shows and then
hides himself. He usually visits devout souls in order to gladden and liven them,
and then leaves in order to try, humble, and teach them.
CHRIST IS CALLING BOTH TO US AS INDIVIDUALS,
AND TO THE CORPORATE BRIDE.
TODAY A GLOBAL HYMN SING IS HAPPENING IN CHURCHES
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.
EVEN IF YOUR CHURCH IS NOT INVOLVED,
YOU CAN JOIN HIS BRIDE HERE.
THIS IS THE HYMN, WRITTEN BY KEITH AND KRISTEN GETTY,
AND PUT TO THE TUNE OF AURELIA
(OR “THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION”).
SING ALONG AS A PRAYER
FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR BRETHREN:
Next week we will see her pain, because she delayed in responding.
But this week, let’s consider how we can speak to our souls
to avoid the pain in the first place!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. If you were to summarize the story in this passage in a sentence, what would you say?
MONDAY-FRIDAY BIBLE STUDY (No sermon due to length of study: this is a key passage I long for you to understand!)
2. Read Song of Songs 2:8-9
A. What is the first word picture and why do you think the Lord uses it?
B. She recognizes his voice. Do you? If so, how do you most frequently hear Him and know it is His voice?
3. Read Song of Songs 2:10-13
A. What does He ask of her and how many times does He ask?
B. The Song has many “Edenic pictures,” Eden before the fall. Why, do you think?
C. What are some of those pictures of Eden in this passage?
D. As you meditate on this passage, what do you feel from the Lord?
E. If you sense His love, where is He calling you in particular to arise and trust Him?
4. Read Song of Songs 2:13-14
A. What word picture does He use here and what does this communicate?
B. What does He most want?
5. Read Song of Songs 2:15
A. What word picture of warning does He use here and what does this communicate?
B. Last week our own Rebecca caught “Donna’s” first reaction to the invitation to the Tango: “Right now?”
Why is delayed obedience dangerous? Give an example from your life.
Last year I got a text from Vicki, who is one of the tender young plants in God’s vineyard.
I have a friend who is telling me how much she has liked the writings of Marcus Borg. Is he okay?
I froze, for Borg has led people I love astray. Borg did not believe that the bodily resurrection of Christ had to happen to make Christianity meaningful. This directly contradicts what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 15:14: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” The enemy had come into the vineyard and was stalking Vicki. I texted back:
No, Borg is not okay! I’m so glad you asked! He was part of a group called The Jesus Seminar that diminishes the authority of Scripture. They do not believe that Jesus’ death was meant to pay for our sin or that He rose bodily from the dead.
Vicki: Thanks. I asked because I had a check in my spirit.
Me: I am amazed that you had a check in your spirit!
Vicki: You are amazed? I am the one who should be amazed!
Me: You are right! : ) I should know how good He is after all these years!
God came running to Vicki when the enemy was lurking. He came bounding for His love when He saw the “little foxes” in her vineyard. And because she is His sheep now, she recognized His voice and she obeyed.
6. What fox had come into Vicki’s vineyard and how did God call to her and how did she respond?
I have loved being a part of a church plant, for together, like an army with banners, we are reaching out to the lost. I had forgotten how exciting it is. Though I think it is great to do Bible studies for Christians, how fun it is to do investigative studies with unbelievers or those who think they are believers but may realize they are not. I challenge you to think about doing this together with a couple of friends in your neighborhood or work place. We have used my study on Examining the Claims of Christ and also seeker studies by Rebecca Pippert.
7. What reason in Song of Songs 2:16 does she give for delaying her obedience? Have you done this — if so, what lies have you told your soul? And what was the result?
8. Now he bounds away and she calls to him. Do you know what she is saying in verse 17? (It might help you to compare it to the last verse in the Song and the 2nd to the last verse in Revelation. (Answer this question before you read Hudson Taylor’s interpretation.)
Hudson Taylor, the missionary from the 1800’s who founded China Inland Mission (now OMF) wrote only one book, and it was on the Song. Here, Taylor gives insight into her thinking.
The bride’s response gives a sad illustration of sin’s deceitfulness. Instead of bounding forward to meet him, she first comforts her own heart by remembering his faithfulness, and her union with him.
My love is mine and I am his;
He browses among the lilies.
My position is one of security; I don’t need to worry about it. He is mine, and I am his; and nothing can alter that relationship. I can find him now anytime because he browses among the lilies. While the sun of good fortune shines on me I can safely enjoy myself here without him. If trial and darkness come he will not fail me.
And so she does not leave what feels so safe to her, but tells him to go without her and to hurry back.
Until the day breathes
And the shadows flee,
Turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
Or a young stag on cleft mountains.
Song of Songs 2:14
Though this is a challenging passage, light comes when we see that it is used again as the closing of the Song (see Song of Songs 8:14). In the close, it is his choice to go, just as Jesus chose to leave us while he went to prepare a place for us. But here, it is her choice, for he has requested her to come with him twice and she is silent. To do nothing is a choice, whether it is to neglect to be with Him in His Word, or to ignore His prompting. She chooses to endure separation rather than to leave her familiar surroundings to be with Him. Taylor writes:
Not caring about what he wants, she lightly dismisses him with the thought: “I will enjoy his love later.”
The grieved bridegroom leaves!
Poor foolish bride! She will soon find that the things that once satisfied her can satisfy no longer. She will also find that it’s easier to turn a deaf ear to his tender call than to find him when he is absent.
9. Comment on Hudson’s interpretation.
10. Pray a verse that you were quickened by into your heart using the ACTS acronym.
14. What is your take-a-way and why?