Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 14

Episode Resources

Get more from this study. Meditate through the "Making It Personal" questions located at the bottom of the transcript.

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth knows what it’s like to try working from her own strength.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I confess that sometimes I find myself straining really hard to bear fruit, trying to be this fragrant, fruitful, godly, sweet-spirited, loving, godly woman, right? It can kill you!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest. It's Thursday, March 10, 2016.

For the last few weeks, Nancy’s been taking us verse-by-verse through the Song of Songs. It’s been a meaningful study . . . one that will make you fall in love with your Bridegroom all over again.

In fact, this series is called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” Nancy’s written some follow-up questions to today’s teaching. You can get them in a booklet that our team has put together with the same title as the series. We'll send you a copy when you make a donation of any size at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: We come today in our series on the Songs of Songs to what may be my personal favorite passage in the whole book. I don’t know—I tend to love whichever one I’m teaching at the moment—they’re all my favorites, but this one has really blessed me in a great way over the years. I’m excited for us to look at it together today.

In this passage, beginning in Song of Songs 4:12, we see a powerful and lovely picture of how Christ views His Church and what He desires to be true of our lives as well. The bridegroom is the one speaking here—he’s been speaking all through chapter 4, and he likens his bride to a garden.

This is the first of nine references to gardens in Song of Solomon. Five of those references are found in this passage that we’re looking at today, and then others are in the later chapters. So let’s read the passage and then talk about it.

He says in chapter 4, verse 12, “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” Then in  verses 13 and 14 you see the recurring themes you find throughout the Song of Solomon of fruitfulness and fragrance.

He says, “Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, fragrant henna with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices—"

Then in verse 15 he says his bride is “a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” Once again, as we’ve been saying throughout this book, it’s important that we not get so stuck in the details that we miss the big picture. I find myself sometimes scouring the minutiae of these passages and seeing what every commentator has to say about them and what they might possibly refer to. But then it’s important to step back and say, “What’s the big picture?”

What’s the poetry trying to say to us about the love relationship of human marriage, and what is it trying to say to us about Christ and His Bride? So in verse 12 he talks about his bride being a garden. A garden is not a place that grows wild; it’s a place that is designated, set apart for a specific purpose.

That purpose may be simply to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of flowers that grow in that garden, or maybe it’s a fruit garden or vegetable garden, but it’s designed to fulfill the purpose of its owner and its creator. A garden doesn’t just grow naturally.

If you have a field that grows up naturally, you’re going to get wild things. But if you have a garden, it has to be cultivated. And I’ve just told you more than I know about gardens. Some of you know a lot about this, and you’re wondering, Does she even know what she’s talking about?

He says that she’s a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Enclosed, shut up, and sealed. That suggests that her life is a private garden . . .  it’s not a public garden for everyone to come into, take a look at, and pick fruit from the trees. This is a garden that exists for the pleasure of her bridegroom. Our lives are a garden that exists for the pleasure of our heavenly Bridegroom.

This garden is not only private, it’s protected. It has boundaries. It’s a garden enclosed. I think of some of these areas where you see pictures of beautiful gardens that have high privacy hedges around them or walls around them. They enclose, they define the boundaries, they protect that garden from people or things that might threaten the garden.

Her life is a private garden; it’s a protected garden. That protection reminds me where, in the book of Job, Satan says to God, “You have put a hedge around Job, his family, and everything he owns.” That suggests that God protects us. He surrounds us with His blessing and His covering and His hand so that nothing can come into this garden that He is cultivating, apart from His permission.

If we were to stretch this metaphor a bit, we can imagine ourselves as the garden of the Lord and that He is our hedge, He Himself is our protection. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem,” the Scripture says in the Psalms, “so the Lord surrounds His people” (125:2).

So this is a garden enclosed, but what encloses us is Christ, it’s His love, His character, His greatness, His providence. He surrounds His people. Can I suggest that there are parts of our lives and hearts that are to be protected, to be sealed for the Lord alone—that our hearts are a kind of Holy of Holies where no one else can enter in except for our great High Priest. There’s a part of ourselves that is to be reserved exclusively for Him.

Now, it’s also important in marriage that there is be exclusivity—a level of intimacy that is not to be shared with anyone else. That exclusiveness in the marriage relationship is a picture of our marriage relationship with our spiritual Bridegroom. We are to be a garden enclosed for His pleasure, for His enjoyment—enclosed and set apart from the rest of the world—a consecrated garden.

It’s a private garden, it’s a protected garden, it’s a productive garden. In verses 13 and 14 he lists some of the exotic plants and fruits and spices that grow in her garden. “Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits . . . fragrant henna with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes with all the chief spices.”

You feel like this is a cornucopia of fruits and fragrances and spices. It’s just full and overflowing. You hear the variety, the abundance, the pleasant fruits that overflow, that grow abundantly in her garden. It’s beautiful to behold. The fruit is sweet to the taste, and the spices are fragrant, so the senses are involved in seeing and smelling and tasting what’s in this garden.

Again, most important is that this garden brings Him delight. As I read about how this beloved loves the garden of his bride, of her life, I think of the fruit of the Spirit that Christ wants to produce in us for His pleasure, for His purposes, for His blessing and enjoyment.

The qualities of Christ-likeness in us—that’s the fruit of the Spirit—the character, the graces of Christ . . . that’s the fruit that He wants to be growing in our lives. It’s sweet to taste, fragrant to smell. So I can’t help but wonder as I meditate on this passage, “What kind of fruit is the garden of my life producing?” Is it pleasant? It talks about pleasant fruits. Is it Christ-like? Is it sweet, fragrant?

Ask yourself that about the fruit of your garden. If you’re not sure how to answer, ask someone who lives with you. “What kind of fruit is being produced in my garden?”

She’s a garden, and there’s an abundance of fruit. She’s a garden enclosed—it’s private, it’s protected, and it’s productive. Then he says in verse 15 that she is, “a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” Here we have this whole motif of water introduced. A garden requires water in order to flourish and be fruitful.

I have some beautiful potted plants and flowers on my deck. I went out the other day to check on the condition of my little garden and found that one of those plants was looking a little bedraggled, and it's still spring. I felt that it was really dry. It needed water because water perks things up. It causes them to be nourished and to thrive.

Isaiah 58 paints a picture this way: “You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (v. 11). As this bride’s garden is watered, it not only produces beautiful fruit for him, but ultimately it’s going to overflow and bring blessing to others, and it will draw others to him. This provides for us, I think, a picture of the fullness of the Holy Spirit here: a fountain of gardens, a well of living water and streams from Lebanon—not just the garden enclosed, but now overflowing, bringing blessing to others.

The New Testament equivalent to this passage, I think, must be in John 7, where Jesus Himself said, “If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ This he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive” (vv. 37–39).

The picture there is not of just a trickle, but of rivers of living water—huge, immense, unbelievable great blessing that flows out of our lives to others when we are filled with the Spirit of Jesus. The byline of Revive Our Hearts is that we are calling women to “freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.” This is a good reminder of that; that the fruit He produces in our lives is not just for our own enjoyment.

The freedom, the fullness He gives us is not primarily, first and foremost, for us, for our blessing, it’s to enable us to be a blessing to others. We want to be fruitful in others’ lives. I love seeing these “true women” who are loving God’s Word, loving God, getting to know Him, developing the qualities and the characters of Christ-likeness and then reproducing in the lives of others . . . in their children, in their grandchildren, in their friends, in their churches. There are older women with younger women, bearing much fruit, to bless and encourage others.

We’re not supposed to containers of blessing, we’re supposed to be channels of blessing. God wants to flow His blessing through us to others. Everything He has done for us, He wants it to flow out in refreshing, life-giving streams of grace to those around us.

Keep in mind, who is the Living Water? Who waters our souls? Who fills us so that we can be fruitful? It’s Jesus. We drink from Him. He fills us with Himself, and then it’s Christ who flows out through us . . . not me, not my energy, not my effort that’s trying to bear fruit, trying to be fragrant, but His life, His beauty, His fragrance that flows through us to others.

I confess that sometimes I find myself straining really hard to bear fruit, trying to be this fragrant, fruitful, godly, sweet-spirited, loving, godly woman, right? It can kill you! It’s like, “This is so hard!” But when we get filled with Him, fruit-bearing ceases to be a grind, and it becomes a joy. It becomes the overflow of what He’s doing in us.

And, yes, it still requires effort and endurance—that’s the tension here. There are two sides to this. But when you’re connected to the Source, when you’re biding in Him, the fruit will come—in His season, in His time, and there will be far richer and more abundant fruit that anything you could produce on your own.

The phrase that comes to mind as I read this passage is “a profusion” of fruitfulness, this abundance, this overflowing fruit. That’s the life of Christ in us.

I want you to notice something here in this passage—there’s a bracket. Verse 12 and verse 15 together show us two sides, two aspects of our life in Christ. Verse 12 says, “She is a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” I think that speaks of the inner, hidden life of the believer . . . our intimate, personal relationship with Christ, that which is seen and known only by Him.

Colossians 3 says, “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Ephesians 1 says that we’ve been “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” We’re a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed—that’s the inner, hidden life.

But then verse 15 says, “She is a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, streams from Lebanon.” I think that’s a picture of the outer, active life of the believer. It’s the overflow of the inner life that is now manifest to others. You see, we’re not intended to live reclusive, monastic lives.

God’s intent is that the life of Christ in us should flow through us and be shared with others. He wants His Bride to blossom, to flourish, to flow out. That fullness, that fruitfulness, that fragrance are all a result of our union and our communion with Christ . . . intimacy with Him.

The fruits that are cultivated in that inner, quiet, enclosed garden are the ones that will flow out to bless others in abundance. Do you see that connection between those verses? You’ve got to take care of the inner life so that there is something to flow out and bless others in godly fruit.

Again, I quote my friend, Charles Spurgeon, who always says things better than I can, “If the fountain, the secret fountain, were better seen to, I think there would be more of these outward streams. If your soul is not renewed by grace, you cannot do good.” You can try, but the effort will wear you out.

That’s why we need to cultivate our inner life, our walk with the Lord, so that what flows out when you talk to your kids, when you deal with that difficult boss, when you deal with the loss of your mate, when you deal with that difficult person or family member, or a health issue . . . What flows out in those moments is what has been cultivated—the fruit that’s been cultivated—in that enclosed inner garden.

In verse 16, the bride speaks for the first time in this chapter. She responds to all that the groom has been saying, and she expresses her desire to have a fragrant, fruitful life. I love this verse. She says, Song of Songs 4:16, “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.”

There’s so much in that verse, I wish we had time to do a whole session on it, but let’s just look at it a little bit. She talks about the southern winds that she wants to come blow on her life. The southern winds are warm, refreshing, balmy—we love those winds, right?

It’s not hard to pray, “Lord, let the warm, balmy southern winds come blowing into my garden.” But she doesn’t just invite those warm southern winds to blow into her life; she also says, “Awake, O north wind.” What’s the north wind like? Those of you who live up here know it’s cold, it’s biting, it’s harsh.

If we think of the wind in the Scripture as being a picture of the Holy Spirit, we realize that sometimes the Spirit’s ministry in our life is warm, it’s that southern wind of encouragement and comfort. But sometimes He needs to blow on our lives with that north wind that is exposing, chastising, convicting. He may use difficult or painful circumstances as that wind to blow into our lives.

But here’s that fact—we need both the north and the south winds, and both are expressions of His love. That’s why she could pray, “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south!” She welcomes them to come into her garden. And, I wanted to say this, the north winds will come whether we invite them or not. The question is, will we resist them, put up walls and barriers, and lose the benefit they could have on our lives, or will we welcome those cold, biting, harsh north winds as a blessing sent by God, the Master Gardener, intended to make us more fruitful and more fragrant?

You see this in the spring, in those very windy months. There’s something happening in the cycle of nature there that is preparing for the new life of spring and summer. Some of those north winds are really important, in nature and in our lives, and they’re intended to make us more fruitful and fragrant.

So she says to those north and south winds, “Blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out.” There’s a fragrance that will not be released through our lives until we’ve experienced both kinds of winds. Now, here’s the thing. We all want the result—we want this very fragrant, fruitful life that has all these spices flowing out. But the question is, are we willing to welcome the process that will bring that about in our lives?

Because, how much of our lives do we spend trying to ward off those north winds, right? We don’t want the pain, we don’t want the difficulty, we don’t want the suffering, we don’t want the conviction. “Just let me live in . . . Tahiti!” Or somewhere that just has those warm southern winds.

I have relatives who live in the South where it’s much warmer, much more temperate weather than we have up here in the North, and I tell them, “It takes more character to live up here in the North.” We need that if those spices are to flow through our lives.

She says, “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out.” She calls it her garden. Then she says, “Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.” Now, she’s saying, “My garden is his garden.” She’s saying, “I want you to come into my life. I want you to be at home. I want you to belong here. I want you to eat freely. I want you to be pleased and satisfied with the fruit you find in my life.”

That’s a reminder that our lives are not ours; they’re His. They’re His garden; they belong to Him. We want Him to come in, to find pleasant fruit, and our prayer is, “Lord, whatever is there, whatever is being produced in this life by Your Spirit, it’s all for You. It’s all for Your pleasure and enjoyment.”

Ultimately, I don’t live for the women who listen to this program. I don’t do this for you. I love you, and I’m glad to serve you in union with Christ, but ultimately I live for Him. If nobody else listened, nobody else cared, nobody else was pleased or blessed by the work I’m doing, it should be enough for me that He knows, that He is pleased, and that He is blessed, that He is satisfied.

I think about that, because so much of what God calls us to do, regardless of what your job is, is that behind the scenes, routine work that really isn’t public, that doesn’t get a lot of acclaim. Remember that we’re doing it for Him. It’s His garden.

Well, the beloved responds in chapter 5 verse 1, “I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I’ve drunk my wine with my milk. Eat, O friends! Drink, yes drink deeply, O beloved ones!”

She’s invited him to come into his garden, her life, and to eat the fruits, and he is eager to do that . . . just as Christ is eager to come to hearts that desire His fellowship and His presence. He says, “Eat, O friends! Drink, O beloved ones!” This speaks of the communion of saints, the Bride of Christ, fellowshipping together with Him and with one another, drinking deeply of Him and feeding on Him.

So, just a few questions to let God search our hearts as we wrap up this session. What’s the condition of your garden? I don’t mean the one outside your house. I mean the one inside you. Not the condition as it once was or as you wish it were . . . but what is the condition right now?

Maybe are there weeds that have grown up there through lack of care and cultivation? Have cares or riches or pleasures of this life—that Jesus talks about in the gospel of Luke—have they choked out the fruit in your garden? Is your primary purpose in life to bring glory and pleasure to Him?

Do you live for His pleasure, or do you live for your own? Do you live to satisfy Him, or do you live to satisfy yourself? And do you trust Him enough to invite Him to send into your life, not only the warm, refreshing southern winds, but also when He knows it’s necessary, those biting, cold wintry north winds?

If you trust Him, then you know when He does that, it’s for greater fragrance, greater fruitfulness, and you can say, “Come . . .” Bring it on. You can ask the Lord to send those north winds and those south winds to blow on your garden, that its spices may flow out.

Then your prayer will be, “Let my Beloved come into His garden and eat its pleasant fruits.”

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth in a series called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” It’s a verse-by-verse study through the Song of Songs. One important way to stay in love with Jesus is to spend time with Him each day in His Word. We’d like to encourage you to study the Song of Songs for yourself by sending you a booklet called “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.”

Each day of this Bible study matches one of the days of the radio series. So when you’re going through the booklet, you’ll see which passage to read that day. Then you have the option to listen to that day’s teaching online. You can also order the series on CD. Then Nancy asks a series of follow-up questions, to help make sure you understand what you’re reading and that you’re getting it into the practical decisions of real life.

We’ll send you the booklet “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus,” when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. That website is also where you can hear all the programs in the series so far. And the series will continue tomorrow when we’ll talk about this: When the Lord calls you and you don’t respond, you’re in a dangerous place. Find out why, tomorrow, when Nancy takes us back to the Song of Songs.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV. Song of Songs references are from the NKJV.

Making It Personal

Day 14 – Growing Love 4: He Wants His Bride to Blossom (Song of Songs 4:12–5:1)

  • A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse (4:12). What is the condition of the “garden” of your heart and life? Is it well-tended? Overgrown with weeds? Is it bearing rich, abundant fruit for your Beloved to enjoy? What kind of fruit are you producing? (If you’re not sure, you may want to ask someone close to you!)
  • Do you find yourself straining to bear spiritual fruit? What difference does it make to stay connected to the Source?
  • Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden . . .(4:16). Do you trust the Lord Jesus enough to invite Him to send into your life not only the warm, refreshing southern winds, but also when He knows it’s necessary, those biting, cold, wintry north winds?
  • Blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out (4:16). Are you living a reclusive life, or are you living in such a way that the life of Christ in you can flow out to others?
  • Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits (4:16). Is your primary purpose in life to bring glory and pleasure to Jesus? Do you live for His pleasure, or for your own? Do you live to satisfy Him, or to satisfy yourself? 

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