How to Fall and Stay in Love with JesusInitial Love 4: Perfume Cannot Be Hidden
Day 6 of "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus"
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says that because of His death on the cross, Christ now sees His Bride as beautiful.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: He sees us not as what we are but as what we will be when we stand before Him—holy, pure, blameless. And with all of that in view, He says to us, “Behold, you are fair, my love.”
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, February 20. Nancy’s continuing in the teaching series, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.”
Nancy: Well, if you’ve been with us the last several days, you know that we are taking our time getting into and through the Song of Solomon or as I like to call it, the Song of Songs. It’s a love song. It’s a song about marriage. It’s a song about romance. It’s a song about intimacy. But at the heart of it all, it’s a song about a God who loves His people passionately, perfectly, perseveringly.
It’s an amazing story and song of the love of God for His people, the love of Christ for His Bride and that Bride is the Church of Jesus Christ. If you are a follower of Christ, belong to Him, you are a part of that Bride. So this is a love song for you as well.
We’re not moving quickly, as you know. I think we’re day six today, and we’re just getting to the ninth verse of the first chapter. We will pick up the pace a little bit as we move along. But I just want you to savor, I want to savor what we’re seeing and hearing—and already we’re hearing responses from people that this is really speaking to them in terms of their own walk with the Lord.
Of course, that has bearing for those who are married in your walk with your mate because your marriage is intended to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church—His perfect relationship with the Church. I know many of our listeners, many in this room, are not married, myself included. But I think this still gives us a lot of wisdom and insight about how to love well—how to let the love of Christ flow through us to others. So every season of life this is a book that speaks to our hearts.
Now, as we come to verse 9 of chapter 1, the bridegroom expresses how delighted he is with his bride. He calls her “my love” and that’s the first of nine references to that term in this book. “My love.” That word could be translated “my darling, my dearest, my friend, my companion.”
By the way, do you have a name that you call your husband or a name that he calls you that you don’t use for anyone else? I mean a nice one! Think about that as you read the Song of Songs and you see her calling him “my beloved” and him calling her “my love.” It’s a term that they reserve for each other, and I think that says something about promoting and cultivating intimacy in marriage is there ought to be special terms—sweet terms that you reserve for each other.
Now, in this paragraph, he begins, as he is admiring her, with a comparison that may seem a bit strange to our twenty-first century ears. He says in verse 9, “I have compared you, my love, to my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots.” My horse. My darling horse. Now you might not consider that a compliment if your husband said that to you, but it actually is a great compliment.
In 2 Chronicles chapter 1, we read that Solomon imported horses from Egypt. These horses were the choice horses that had been used in Pharaoh’s chariots. They were thoroughbreds. They were a select breed. They were beautiful. They were very costly. They were greatly valued and treasured by their owners. And the king, Pharaoh or Solomon, would delight in these horses. They actually became companions of the king or the pharaoh. They were trained for battle. These were powerful, mighty, majestic, beautiful creatures. So this bridegroom is complimenting his bride. He says, “You’re like something that I just really, really love and admire and think is beautiful.”
Those horses, these champion horses would have their faces and their necks decked out with beautiful ornaments. He refers to that in verse 10 when he says, “Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold. We will make you ornaments of gold with studs of silver.” Now you see here that the ornaments that make her beautiful come from him. She didn’t bring them into this marriage. He says, “I’ll make these for you and give them to you.”
And where do our ornaments come from in our walk with the Lord? Where does our beauty come from? Where does our adornment come from? Christ makes it for us and gives it to us. He’s the one who adorns His people with Christian graces—with Christ-like qualities such as the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, pa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-tience. We don’t bring that to the marriage, do we? But He has it. He makes it for us and gives it to us.
I think of Colossians 3 beginning in verse 12:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these [other ornaments] put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (vv.12–14)
We are to put these things on. But where do we get them? We get them from Christ whose qualities they are.
Same concept in 1 Peter 3 that says to women, in particular,
Don’t let your adorning be external [which is what the world tells us we need to focus on]—the braiding of hair, the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear. [Don’t let that be your focus. That’s only skin deep beauty. It’s temporary.] But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious [super valuable]. (vv. 3–4)
Anybody here born with a gentle and quiet spirit? Is there anybody here who has thought within the last week, “I didn’t have a gentle and quiet spirit?” I’ve got my hand up. Where do we get those? He says, “We will make you ornaments of gold with studs of silver.” Precious, priceless, valuable ornaments that He makes for us and bestows on us. We don’t have these naturally. We can’t manufacture them. They are the work and the gift of Christ bestowed on us and wrought in us by His grace.
Now, in verse 12 the bride responds. “While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance.” That word table the ESV translates “couch.” And either word could be used. It may be that this picture is of the two of them alone together. They may be sitting at a table or on a couch. It may suggest a royal banquet where they would recline on couches. We know that Solomon’s table, according to 1 Kings, was a place of abundant lavish provision. It was a king's palace and an abundant table.
We know in Psalm 23 that our Shepherd King, Christ, has prepared a table for us. He invites us to His table. He wants to fellowship with us. He tells us that in Revelation 3, verse 20. But we’ve got to open the door for Him to come in and have that kind of fellowship with us.
So here’s this bride fellowshipping with the king, her beloved. They’re enjoying each other’s company. The scene just suggests communion, intimacy. “The king is at his table. My spikenard sends forth its fragrance.” Here again, we have a reference to the word fragrance which as I’ve told you is one of the themes of the Song of Solomon. Fragrance.
The fragrance of his ointments we read about in verse 2. And now she says, “My spikenard sends forth its fragrance. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts. My beloved to me is a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of En Gedi.” This references the three different spices, fragrant spices, spikenard, myrrh, and henna.
First, spikenard. That was a rare and expensive perfume that had an exotic fragrance. Where else do you read about spikenard in the Scripture? John chapter 12, Mary, the dear friend of Jesus, sister of Martha and Lazarus, she “took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (v. 3).
In her case it was an expression of love and worship. If you put those passages together as we commune with Him at His feet, at His table, in His presence, our hearts are quickened and the sweet perfume of praise and adoration will rise from our hearts to His.
Now remember in verse 2 she talked about the fragrance of his ointments? Where did she get this fragrance? From him. He anoints her so that she can anoint him. And that’s what a relationship with Christ is all about. That’s what a healthy godly marriage is about—each blessing the other. But in this case it starts with him.
She says in verse 13, “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me.” That’s the first time she uses that term and it appears twenty-four times in the eight chapters of the Song of Solomon. “He is my beloved. And a bundle of myrrh,” she says, “is my beloved to me.” This is the first of eight references to myrrh in the Song of Solomon. So it’s an important fragrance.
Again, it was a rare and costly and fragrant perfume. Myrrh was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil used in the tabernacle. It was also used in connection with the birth of Jesus. Remember that? They brought to Him myrrh and frankincense—those perfumes. It was also referenced in the death of Christ. Myrrh was not only a fragrant substance, but it was also used as a pain killer. Jesus was offered myrrh there on the cross but He refused anything to deaden His pain so that He could become our healer—a picture of His sacrificial, suffering love.
And so she says, “My beloved is a bundle of myrrh that lies between my breasts.” Now this is a picture that you would have understood if you’d lived in that era, of how people would take myrrh in solid form and put it in a pouch and wear it around their neck during the night so that the fragrance would refresh them as they slept. They didn’t have showers and all the ways of keeping fresh that we do today, and so this was a way of staying fresh. And so she says, “You refresh me.” It’s a picture of a believer holding Christ close to his heart and letting His fragrance bless them, refresh them, letting His healing balm renew and restore them.
And she said, “My beloved is like this bundle of myrrh that lies all night between my breasts”—continually. It brings to mind that passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 that says, “Christ died for us [the fragrance of His ointment’s poured out for us] so that whether we are awake or asleep [whether we live or die] we might live with him” (v. 10).
It’s a picture of keeping Him close to us all the time, in all seasons, day and night, waking or sleeping, living or dying. Even during the night, this bundle of myrrh during the night may refer to times when He seems absent or when we have troubles in life. Vut we still cling to Him with faith and with love saying, “Lord, I need You close to me at all times.” It’s a picture of just holding Him close.
And then she says, “My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of En Gedi” (v. 14). En Gedi is an oasis in Israel just west of the Dead Sea. It’s a place of grapevines and shrubs with fragrant blossoms and flowers that produce exquisite perfumes—again, just another way of describing the loveliness of Christ.
And then notice in these last two verses two times she says, “My beloved is to me a bundle of myrrh. He is to me a cluster of henna blooms.” Not what he is to others, but what is he to me? What is He to you? She’s talking here about a personal experience of her beloved—not just reading about him somewhere, but he is this to me. And what He is to me and to you will affect others.
I was asked to do an interview recently about the Welsh revival in 1904 and 05. So I brushed up a little bit on that history. I came across again an account that I had read before about before that revival started there was this weekly youth group meeting. At one point the pastor, Joseph Jenkins, asked the young people to share some testimonies. He said, “What is Christ to you?” And those young people started to give all the right Sunday school answers. You know what I mean? They began to give the theological answers and the right answers.
But the pastor stopped them, and he said, “I want to know what is He to you? Who is He to you?” And finally there was a young girl, I’ve heard she was fourteen or fifteen years of age. Her name is Florrie Evans. She was a timid girl and not one accustomed to speaking out publically. Though she had been raised in the church, a few days earlier she had come to realize that she did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She’d talked with the pastor and she had given her heart to Christ.
There in that meeting when the youth pastor said, “What is Christ to you?” She finally spoke up and she said, “I love Jesus with all my heart.” Simple testimony but personal. Here’s who He is to me. And with those few simple words, those young people’s hearts were melted. There was that night a spark lit that God used to ignite a flame that began the great Welsh revival in which 100,000 people were converted to faith in Christ over a period of a few short months. “I love Jesus with all my heart.” No great big theological profound wisdom. Just, “Who is Christ to you?”
Now beginning in verse fifteen, there is this really sweet exchange between the bride and her bridegroom. He speaks first. And they go back and forth. You’ll see this in the text. He says, “Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes” (v. 15). He uses that word behold. That’s for emphasis. That means pay attention. Listen to what he is going to say. Be amazed and believe that it’s true. “Behold you are fair, my love!”
Now that raises the question as we consider our relationship with Christ and we hear Him as our heavenly Bridegroom saying to us, “You are beautiful. You are fair.” We have to wonder how can He consider us fair or beautiful? He knows all of what is in us. He sees all. How can He think we’re beautiful? You ever wonder that? Habakkuk says, “You are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” We have sin, indwelling sin in us. How can He look at us and say, “You are beautiful”?
Well, the answer is that God is satisfied with Christ, His beloved Son with whom He is well pleased. He sees us through Christ who paid to satisfy God’s wrath against our sin. We see in this story the transforming power of God’s love and God’s grace.
Through the course of this book she sees her darkness, her ugliness, her sinfulness, her weakness, her inadequacy. But he sees her through eyes of love and grace, and he is making her a beautiful woman as he justifies her and sanctifies her to use the terminology of salvation. Giving positional purity that we get through Christ, having been justified by faith, by grace through faith; but then He’s also sanctifying us, giving us practical purity, making us fair, as He has already made us beautiful in His eyes because of what He did for us on the cross. So what’s the outcome of all that? You are beautiful to Him—a reflection of His beauty. He sees us through eyes of love.
Now unfortunately, most of us don’t really believe Him when He tells us that we are fair and beautiful. We’re so conscious of our own unworthiness that we trust our feelings more than we trust His Word. So we focus on our sinfulness and our shortcomings rather than on Christ and His perfection and the righteousness that He has lavished on us by His grace. Throughout Scripture He expresses His love to us. He tells us that He doesn’t see us the way that we see ourselves. Now His love is not blind. But He sees us as being clothed in His righteousness and declared righteous because of His death in our place on the cross. He sees us not as what we are but as what we will be as we stand before Him—holy, pure, blameless. And with all of that in view, He says to us, “Behold, you are fair, my love.”
And then he says, “You have dove’s eyes.” Now, this is the first of several references to doves in the song. And we’ll talk more about the significance of dove’s eyes in chapter four. But let me just say this much here. Dove’s eyes focus on one thing at a time. They have singleness of purpose and focus. And there’s a picture here that her heart is only and holy to her beloved. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” That’s a way to cultivate intimacy in your relationship with Him, “You have dove’s eyes.”
Well, she responds to him. He has said, “You are fair, my love. You are fair.” And she responds and says, “Behold you are handsome” is what the New King James says here. But it’s the same word translated “fair” in the previous verse just a masculine form instead of a feminine form. “You are handsome. You are the one who is fair, my beloved. Yes, pleasant. You called me fair. You are the one who is fair.” His expressions of love inspire her to love and admire him in return. And so it goes throughout the book. She is growing in her apprehension of the loveliness of Christ.
Can I remind us that there is no one and nothing as lovely, as beautiful, as fair, as pleasant as Christ. Anything in this world that you see that you say, “Ah, that’s beautiful.” A person, a sunset, something in nature, a beautiful woman, anything that is beautiful is just a dim reflection of His beauty and all of it is intended to point us to Him.
Fairest Lord Jesus, we sing.
Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry hosts.
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.
All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wonderously, Jesus is found in Thee.
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than thou, my Savior, art to me.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all nations!
Son of God and Son of man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.
("Fairest Lord Jesus" by Munster Gesangbuch)
As we come to the end of this chapter, she says “You are fair my beloved! Yes, pleasant! Also our bed is green. The beams of our houses are cedar, and our rafters are fir.” I’m not going to spend much time on that except to say that notice she talks about “our”? Not mine and yours but ours. They’re becoming one. They’re sharing all things in common. They’re building a home together, building a life together. It’s a picture of domestic bliss. “Our bed is green.” Here is a relationship that is flourishing. It is growing. There’s intimacy. There’s communion. There’s fruitfulness. We’re building a home together.
Isn’t that what we’re doing as the Bride of Christ—building a temple for Him to dwell in? You see, in our relationship with Christ now as His Church, as His Bride, as His people, we can have a glimpse, a foretaste of the eternal love, the eternal life, the eternal joy that we will enjoy with Him in His eternal home. And it won’t be just His home. It’s going to be our home. So all that we’re doing here on this earth today is preparation. We’re building a home. We’re building a palace with Him, a temple for Him, fit for Him, made of the finest materials. It’s purposeful because we’ll spend an eternity living with Him together in that holy place.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been giving you good news. You can be entirely beautiful to God thanks to what Christ has done for you. Nancy has written a set of follow-up questions to today’s program. These questions will help you apply today’s teaching to your life and point you to a more intimate relationship with Christ. You can find those questions at the end of today’s transcript. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Today’s program was all about staying close to the Lord day by day. Let me tell you one way you can do that. Nancy wrote a book that will give you new insights about the Lord. It’s a daily devotional called The Quiet Place. Reading one page each day will help you focus on a truth from God’s Word. We’ll send you The Quiet Place when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Well, in order to enjoy being in the presence of Christ, we need to slow down enough to hear from Him. Nancy will explain why tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the ESV. Song of Songs references are from NKJV.
Making It Personal
To get the most out of this verse-by-verse study of the Song of Songs, try to read through the entire book several times during the course of this series. You should be able to read this short book in approximately 15–20 minutes. This will give you a birds-eye view of the whole story. (This study is based on the New King James Version. You may want to print out the text at www.BibleGateway.com so you can follow along.)
As you read, make a note of any observations or questions that come to mind. Also, record your thoughts in relation to these two questions:
- What insights does this book give you in relation to human love and marriage?
- What insights does this book give you regarding God’s love for His people and the relationship between Christ and His Church?
Day 6 – Initial Love (Perfume Cannot Be Hidden—Song of Songs 1:9–17)
- Notice how the bride and her groom express their delight in each other in this passage and throughout the Song of Songs. How much of that kind of communication takes place in your relationship with Christ? If you are married, how much of this kind of loving communication do you have with your mate?
- While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance (1:12). What might it look like for you to sit with the Lord Jesus and engage in personal, loving conversation? How does He express His love for you? How can you express your love for Him?
- How would you answer the question Joseph Jenkins asked his youth group in 1904: “What is Jesus to you?”
- Behold, you are fair, my love! (1:15). What does it mean to you that Jesus sees you through eyes of love and that you are “fair” (beautiful) to Him?
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