(Song of Solomon 2:1-17)
“I am the rose of Sharon,
And the lily of the valleys.
Like a lily among thorns,
So is my love among the daughters.
Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,
So is my beloved among the sons.
I sat down in his shade with great delight,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.
Sustain me with cakes of raisins,
Refresh me with apples,
For I am lovesick.
His left hand is under my head,
And his right hand embraces me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.
The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes
Leaping upon the mountains,
Skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he stands behind our wall;
He is looking through the windows,
Gazing through the lattice.
My beloved spoke, and said to me:
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 singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”
Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes.
My beloved is mine, and I am his.
He feeds his flock among the lilies.
Until the day breaks
And the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved,
And be like a gazelle
Or a young stag
Upon the mountains of Bether.”
Joined in Love, the Lord Is Our Groom and We Are His Brides
The Song of Solomon is a love song whispering about the love the Lord has for us. This Scripture describes the relationship between the Lord and His workers. The Shulamite woman was in unity with her Lord. This unity between the Shulamite woman and the Lord explains to us very well, the kind of relationship we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have with the Lord. In such a relationship, one can’t help but sing a love song, and the Song of Solomon is a beautiful poetic expression of this love.
It’s written: “I am the rose of Sharon, And the lily of the valleys” (Song of Solomon 2:1). What did the Shulamite woman mean to the Lord? She was His love. She was the rose of Sharon. What about us then? What do we mean to the Lord? We are precious to Him, dotted on with His love. The Shulamite woman here symbolizes none other than us, the righteous workers of God. She refers to all the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit who are now carrying out the Lord’s work. What do we God’s workers mean to Him? In God’s sight, we are like the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.
In carrying out the Lord’s work, the Shulamite woman had come to share her profound love with the Lord. This Scripture passage is a poetic expression of the relationship we have with the Lord. All of us here believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What kind of work are we then doing now before the Lord? We are doing God’s work. We should never forget just how precious we are in God’s sight. Even though this world we are living in is dark and depressing, we can still live a joyous life, for the Lord is with us.
As we know, the European economy is teetering on the verge of collapse. Many economists are worried that the whole global economy might collapse, but God will not allow this. No matter how tough today’s economic and environmental situation might be, when survival is at stake, people will resort to whatever means to confront the crisis. So, the world will limp along to the extent it can, until the problem is solved once and for all with the Lord’s return. Even when this whole world is reeling from a crisis, we have nothing to worry about as long as we are serving the righteousness of the Lord.
Our Lord will then fill us with even more blessings. As we carry on with our lives, we sometimes forget who we are and just how many blessings we have received from God. Too busy with our lives in this world, we are often unaware of who we are as the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, even though we are precious in God’s sight as we believe in and serve His righteousness. All of us the righteous are indeed like the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys. The problem, however, is that we are unaware of this all too often. As a result, our saints and God’s workers can fall into depression despite the fact that it’s a wonderful blessing for them to have found the righteousness of the Lord.
We sometimes wonder to ourselves, “Must I continue to serve and preach only the righteousness of the Lord? It’s right for everyone in the Church to believe in God’s righteousness and serve it, but what about me? Am I nothing more than a tool to be used for spreading God’s righteousness?” However, although such thoughts come to our minds briefly, when we think deeply about it again, we come to thank God for using us for His righteousness. Because we are all still human beings in the flesh, it’s possible for us to fall into spiritual stagnation even if briefly. But, what do we mean to our Lord?
In God’s sight, we are “the rose of Sharon” and “the lily of the valleys.” In other words, we are loved by the Righteous God beyond description. The flip side to this is that we also love and serve the righteousness of God. We have the kind of faith that enables us to share a loving relationship with God. We are such special people who have received such special love from our God. So, whenever we feel depressed, we must reaffirm our pride as God’s beloved people and stand firm on our faith. Unless we the righteous have this spiritual pride of faith, we cannot follow the Lord ceaselessly. It’s by faith that we can confess our love to the Lord as the Shulamite woman did. Therefore, insofar as our faith is concerned, it’s extremely important for us to know who we really are in our Lord’s sight.
We are loved by our Lord. We are the recipients of the special love of the Lord. It’s when we realize this fact that we can truly follow the Lord. And it’s then that we can understand our worth and the reason for our existence. If we were ignorant of our own worth, then our lives of faith would be dry and boring, not to mention our faith in Jesus itself. We are living out our faith looking towards the Lord’s love and righteousness, but if we have trouble appreciating that the Lord loves us, then we cannot sustain our relationship with the Lord.
There must be a link of love in our relationship with the Lord. Only when we know His love can we continue to maintain our loving relationship with Him. Don’t you all agree? There must be an entwined rope of love that joins us to God. Only then can the love between the Lord and us be sustained. This loving relationship between the Lord and us is well-expressed in today’s Scripture reading; let’s all turn to Songs of Solomon 2:2-3 and read together: “Like a lily among thorns, So is my love among the daughters. Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste.” The Shulamite woman was like a lily to the Lord, and to the Shulamite woman, the Lord was like an apple tree among the trees of the woods.
Imagine how pleasantly surprised we would be if we came across a ripe apple tree while hiking in the hills? It would be a refreshing treat to our tired bodies. Probably not all of you can appreciate this, but hikers know how nice it is to come across fruit trees on the trail. When I was a child, I used to hike in the hills and comb the beach all the time. I used to even dive into the ocean from a high cliff. Now that I think about it, I was rather brazen in my youth, as I could have been killed!
When the Shulamite woman looked at the Lord, He was like an apple tree to her. In her eyes the Lord was like an apple tree among all the trees of the woods. This apple tree deep in the mountains was the tree that truly quenched us and blessed us. To the Shulamite woman, Jesus was like an apple tree. Like this, the Lord is precious to us as an apple tree, and we are precious to the Lord like a lily. This passage explains to us just how intimately close we are to the Lord. That’s why the Shulamite woman was so delighted sitting under the apple tree’s shade.
The Lord Sings about His Love for the Shulamite Woman
It’s written here in Song of Solomon 2:4: “He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love.” The relationship between the Shulamite woman and King Solomon symbolizes the relationship between us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and the Lord. The Shulamite woman said here that God brought her to the banqueting house. This implies the Lord giving His workers a sense of belonging. Where, then, is this banquet house to which the Lord brought the Shulamite woman? It is in the Kingdom of God. This banquet in the Kingdom of God can also be held in His Church.
We are actually clothed in the Lord’s infinite love in our everyday lives, and all our blessings are thanks to this love of the Lord. To us, the Lord is the King of love. That’s why He has built the Kingdom of love in the hearts of all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and He also wants to abide and live with us in there. The righteous can therefore live every aspect of life under the flag of God’s love. It’s because of the Lord’s love that we are dotted on by Him. We can realize even more that none other than we are God’s beloved. The love the Lord has for us is indeed vast and deep.
Whenever I feel discouraged, I turn to the Song of Solomon to be reminded of God’s love for me. I can then find spiritual strength. Just as the Shulamite woman was God’s worker in His Church, I am also God’s worker, and you are also God’s worker. That’s how we can all realize that the Lord loves us. The king here in today’s Scripture reading is the Lord, we are His workers, and therefore we are beloved by the King. Together with our Lord, we are now carrying out His work in a loving relationship. In our everyday lives we can feel that in our Lord’s sight, we are His beloved.
We can gain new strength for our hearts from this Song of Solomon. It’s through our Lord’s work that we are sustaining our loving relationship with Him. It’s through God’s work that the workers in His Church are being loved by God, and it’s also through God’s work that they are loving God in return. God has become our own God, and we have a loving relationship with Him because He is our King. It’s because God is our King that we can share fellowship with Him. So, God our King loves us just as King Solomon loved the Shulamite woman, and God makes us feel worthy as His workers just as Solomon enlivened the Shulamite woman’s life.
That’s why the relationship between King Solomon and the Shulamite woman is just like the relationship we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have with God. The Lord is the Shepherd of God’s Church, and the relationship between the Lord and His workers is born out of love. The Song of Solomon is also known as the Song of Solomon because it sings about the greatest love of all.
Love Is Not Rude
The Lord is never rude towards us. It’s written in Song of Solomon 2:7: “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases.” In dealing with us, and in showing His love to us, the Lord has never treated us rudely. He has simply told us that He loves us, and by accepting His love, we have become one body with the Lord. As a result, we are now living in unity with the Lord, for we love the Lord.
In Korea, men from the Gyungsang Province are said to be rather terse and blunt with their words. It’s said jokingly that when a man from this region proposes to the woman he loves, he says to her, “Bear my children!” This is hardly a romantic way to propose; in fact, it’s a rather oafish way to express one’s love, though to the man’s mind he is being practical. In contrast, our Lord is never rude towards us. As the Lord and we are in love, we are never rude towards each other. True love is not one-sided. If you love someone dearly but that person doesn’t love you back, then yours is an unrequited love. Unreciprocated love is not only one-sided but also tragic, for the person you love does not love you in return.
True love must be based on mutual awareness. It’s then that love begins to grow. What about your relationship with the Lord then? Do you love Him knowing that He loves you too? Thanks to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we can all realize and appreciate even more that the Lord indeed loves us all as our own Shepherd. God’s workers know that the Lord loves them. While all of us know the Lord’s love at least to some degree, those of us who are not spiritually sensitive enough may feel that the Lord loves them only a little. Such people can hardly appreciate the Lord’s love. So, even if you love the Lord, it can be a problem if this is just one-sided.
That’s why the Lord said: “Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases.” A truly loving relationship can grow only if both sides know and appreciate one another’s love. Love grows when both sides understand each other’s heart. It’s only when both sides come to know each other’s heart that true love grows bigger and stronger. After all, if we were oblivious to the Lord’s righteous love, how could we come to love Him? It’s for this reason that there was no rudeness in the loving relationship between our Lord and the Shulamite woman.
The Song of the Lord’s Love and Devotion
Those who love the Lord are found in God’s Church and the Lord’s workplace. It’s because we love the Lord that we want to work together at the Lord’s workplace. It’s only natural for God’s workers to do what the Lord wants them to do. If I were to give a title to the Song of Solomon chapter 2, I’d call it, “The Song of Love and Devotion.”
Let’s turn to verses 8-17 here: “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice. My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘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 singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away! ‘O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.’ Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes. My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies. Until the day breaks And the shadows flee away, Turn, my beloved, And be like a gazelle Or a young stag Upon the mountains of Bether.”
Here it’s even written that the Lord comes to the Shulamite woman and is with her when she works in the vineyard. This means that the Lord is protecting her ministry. As the Lord is rich, He gives the Shulamite woman work and allows her to labor in the vineyard. The Lord, who loved the Shulamite woman dearly, came to her and said, “Rise up, and come with Me. It’s been cold at the vineyard, but now that the winter is all past, it’s time for you to go to the vineyard and work.” It was the Shulamite woman’s job to take care of the vineyard. There is a Korean song that goes, “Pretty lady in the vineyard, let me hold your hand and go for a walk.”
Like the woman in this song, the Shulamite woman worked at the vineyard. So the Lord said to her, “The winter is now past, the ice is gone, and the doves will start singing soon. It’s time for the vines to sprout and flower. Rise up and come with Me to the vineyard. Let’s go there together. I will help you in whatever you do. Make sure to sprinkle the vineyard with plenty of fertilizers. And when new sprouts come out, trim the branches carefully.” I don’t really know much about viticulture, but I do know that trimming is very important for fruit trees to bear good fruit. While such steps are necessary to grow the vines, the Lord also told us to catch the little foxes that spoil the vines.
This is important to ensuring that the vineyard is not ruined by foxes. Foxes are carnivores, and several kinds are found in today’s Palestine. The biggest of them is the yellow fox. Foxes are bad for vineyards because they have a tendency to dig holes, and in the process harm the roots of the vines. They are also quite cunning. The fox here refers to those hiding in God’s Church who, while pretending to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, are actually obstructing and blaspheming the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
There are many such people hiding even in God’s Church while talking the talk. They are only there with one purpose, and that is, to try and undermine the spiritual authority of the leaders of God’s Church. Such fox-like people have used various means to undermine the Church. First, they have tried to plant in the saints’ minds a scary image of the spiritual leaders. They have also drawn attention to the Church leaders’ weaknesses in an attempt to dislodge them from their leadership positions. Worst of all, they have tried to prevent the gospel of the water and the Spirit from being spread throughout the whole world.
Recently, it came to our attention that a certain person, who had been in charge of distributing our gospel books through Amazon.com, had in fact been obstructing our gospel ministry. His cunning and unscrupulous ways of undermining the gospel ministry were exposed in broad daylight. Yet, this person is still living in God’s Church. It’s our sincere wish for him to acknowledge his sin and to repent before God.
The Lord told us to catch the little foxes that spoil the vines. He also said: “For our vines have tender grapes. My beloved is mine, and I am his.” This is because the members of the Church have become one body with the Lord. And because the Lord’s workers have united their hearts with the Lord’s, they are building the Kingdom of God. Therefore, when God’s workers share fellowship with Him, they are sharing secret words of love. It’s written here in today’s Scripture passage: "He feeds his flock among the lilies. Until the day breaks And the shadows flee away, Turn, my beloved, And be like a gazelle Or a young stag Upon the mountains of Bether.” As it’s said here, in the Lord’s eyes, His workers are lovely beyond words. The Lord cherishes each and every one of His workers. This is the kind of relationship that the Lord has with His servants.
Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time for us to carry out God’s work even more. All of us have the duty to do what God has commanded us to do in His Church. If we submit to the will of God, He will surely bless even more people to receive the remission of sins through us.
Everyone who has received the remission of sins must recognize God’s Church. The Shulamite woman in today’s Scripture reading refers to God’s workers. This woman symbolizes not just the saints who have received the remission of sins, but she refers to God’s workers who, having received the remission of sins, are now carrying out God’s work in unity with the Lord. That is why the Lord said regarding God’s workers, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Whoever has united his heart with the Lord is someone who not only shares love with the Lord but also spreads this love around. God says that He has raised such people to be workers in His Church.
Having made us carry out God’s work, the Lord has made disciples out of those who are following in our footsteps. While the Song of Solomon sings about the Shulamite woman, it is in fact speaking about us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit who are carrying out God’s work. You and I are today’s Shulamite woman. The problem, however, is that too many of us are content to just know that the Lord loves them and has saved them, when in reality they ought to be carrying out the Lord’s work. In contrast, God’s workers laboring in the Kingdom of the Lord not only know that the Lord loves them, but they are also carrying out God’s work.
God has commanded all the workers in His Church to spread His gospel of the water and the Spirit, and so we are indeed doing everything possible to carry out the work God has entrusted to us. Jesus Christ Himself has turned us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit into God’s own workers. The Lord cherishes each and every one of us laboring in God’s Church, He cares deeply for us, and He is telling us to spread His love. He is whispering His secret words of love to such people. That is why the Shulamite woman was so lovely in the Lord’s sight.
Therefore, it is absolutely important for all of us to believe that we are the Lord’s beloved workers. By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you have all received the genuine remission of sins into your hearts from the Lord. Moreover, those of you who have united yourselves with the Lord by reaffirming His love are now leading a cherished and beautiful life. The Song of Solomon chapter 2 is teaching us that we are such cherished beings in the Lord’s sight. The Lord is joyous to carry out His work through us. Moreover, not only does the Lord work through us, but He is also with us every step of the way, helping us and protecting us all personally. We ought to realize this clearly.
We ought to grasp from today’s Scripture reading just how much the Lord loves us. His love for us is endless and indescribably beautiful. Just as the Shulamite woman put on the Lord’s love, so have you and I also put on His love. If we really are God’s servants in the Lord’s eyes, then all of us ought to yearn for God’s gospel to spread all over the world. The Lord said that He had come to this earth precisely for achieving this work, to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Just before being baptized by John the Baptist, He said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Put differently, the Lord wanted to be baptized in order to bear all the sins of the entire human race and save each and every human by taking up all their sins and then dying on the Cross.
The Lord said that He would build His Kingdom on this earth. His desire is to build a kingdom of love on this earth, to become its King, and to forever bless all His people living in this kingdom—to become, in short, our everlasting Shepherd. Submitting ourselves to this desire of the Lord our King, all of us ought to wish to be used as His instruments to fulfill the will of God. What happens when we unite our hearts with the Lord in our lives? We can have the kind of loving relationship that the Shulamite woman had with the Lord. The will of the Lord is fulfilled on this earth also.
Even on this earth, we all are the Lord’s brides. Until I met the Lord, I had never thought of myself as His bride. It’s only after finding Jesus that I could understand what it meant to be His bride. Once I realized and believed that the Lord had blotted out all my sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I became His, and I had absolutely no shame that I was a bride of Christ. There was nothing awkward about the fact that I was now the Lord’s bride.
Far from it, I was determined to carry out God’s work as my Groom desired, saying to myself, “I will do whatever the Lord wants me to do. I’ll abhor whatever the Lord abhors. I will do everything that’s pleasing to the Lord.” Why did I resolve myself like this? It’s because I loved the Lord, the Lord loved me also, and therefore it was only a matter of course for me to carry out the Lord’s work. This is the kind of faith that all of us God’s workers have. It’s to such people that God shows His love.
As the righteous, we are indeed living such a blessed life. If the workers laboring in God’s Church unite their hearts with the Lord, His love will surely become theirs. If you and I carry out the Lord’s work and support the gospel ministry to the Lord’s delight, then we will no doubt be loved by Him. It’s when we do this that the Lord shows His interest in God’s Church where you and I are abiding. We can then see with our own eyes just how abundantly God blesses everything we do. Whatever we set our minds on; the Lord Himself fulfills it for us. Whatever we contemplate for the spreading of the gospel, the Lord Himself achieves it for us. Whatever we consider for God’s righteous work, the Lord Himself brings it about for us. It’s not because of our own strength or wisdom that we are carrying out God’s work, but it’s all because God has blessed us. What else could this reflect but the Lord’s love?
Whoever is carrying out God’s work is His laborer. The Lord said that the vines are blossoming and the grapes are ripening in the vineyard. “Rise up, and come away with Me.” The Lord is working through His vineyard. This vineyard is the Lord’s workplace, and we have the duty to go and work there. Just like the Shulamite woman, we have also become workers in the Kingdom of God. The Church is God’s workplace. And it’s through His faithful laborers that God carries out His work. God does not fulfill His will in any other way but by working through His servants who have united their hearts with Him, who are in a loving two-way relationship with the Lord, and who are sharing secret words of love with Him.
This is what today’s Scripture reading is teaching us; that God works through His servants, blesses everyone through His servants, and builds His Kingdom of love through His servants. Therefore, as we carry on with our lives of faith in this world, it’s absolutely indispensable for all of us to realize what we mean to the Lord and how much He loves us. We also ought to ask ourselves how much we really believe in the Lord, how much we love Him, how much we trust Him, and how obedient we are to Him.
I have every confidence that if we truly grasp, that the relationship we have with the Lord is one of love, and lead our lives accordingly by faith, then we will all renew our strength. As we carry on with our lives in this world, and as long as we know the Lord’s love and believe in it, there can be neither disappointment nor stagnation to our faith. So, I ask you all to have faith in God’s love, nurture your relationship with the Lord to make it even more uplifting and beautiful, and be cherished by the Lord just like the Shulamite woman in today’s Scripture reading.