Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 15

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 reminds us how patient Christ is with His Bride.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It’s amazing enough to think of how longsuffering Christ is with unbelievers, but even more amazing to think how longsuffering He is with us.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, March 11, 2016.

For the last few weeks, Nancy’s been taking us through the Song of Solomon in the series, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” So many women have been called to go deeper into an intimate relationship with Christ. Nancy’s here to continue that series.

Nancy: I realize as we’re teaching through this series, in doing an extended series on a short book of the Bible, that some of this can seem repetitive, but it’s all in God’s Word, which means we need it all. I think there’s something really valuable about meditating on passages of Scripture where we don’t just gloss over it. We don’t just quickly move Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and on to the next one, but where we take time to look at it from many different angles and to savor what we’re seeing there.

That’s what meditation does. It’s chewing on it, gazing upon it, reflecting on it. And the more I reflect on these passages, the more I see there is so much I would like to have shared in this series that ended up getting cut from my notes. But it’s good for us to be reflecting over this period of time, this Lenten series in particular, on the love of Christ for His people. And my hope and prayer is that, as a result of fixing our eyes on Christ and on His great love, that it’s going to be transforming in many of our lives over these weeks.

Now, in this book, we’re looking at the growth and the development of a love relationship. In the previous section, we saw this season of intense, fervent communion and delight. There was all this talk about gardens and how “fair you are, my love, there is no spot in you,” and “let my beloved come into his garden and eat its pleasant fruit.” We saw a wedding. We saw great joy and great delight.

But in this section, we come to what, in this book, is a second lapse in the relationship. It’s a reminder that the greatest breaches in a relationship can come on the heels of the greatest seasons of intimacy.

You may have experienced that in your marriage. Whether you’re married or not, you have probably experienced it in your relationship with the Lord. I mean, I can go from the mountaintops down to the depths of the sea, in five minutes sometimes, it seems.

So you have these great encounters with the Lord, these great mountaintop moments, and then come these challenges and our flesh takes over, or we give in to the enemy or to the world, and we find that the relationship has really suffered a great blow.

One writer said, “It’s alarming to discover how quickly fervor can give way to coolness.”

And so as we come to chapter 5, verse 2, the bride says,

I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, "Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of the night."

And she responds, and she says,

I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I defile them? My beloved put his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for him. I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh on the handles of the lock. I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick! (vv. 2–8).

Now, let’s stop there. Actually, we’re not going to see the resolution of this situation until the next session, but let’s just unpack that part of the package.

“Tell him that I am lovesick!” The first time she said she was lovesick was back in chapter 2, and then it was because she was full and overflowing. She could hardly contain all the love that she had received from her beloved. Now when she says it, she’s speaking from a place of dryness and barrenness. She longs to have the intimacy restored that she had experienced in the past with her beloved.

So she says, “I sleep, but my heart is awake.” This scene takes place at nighttime. The bride is at home in bed. She’s just falling off to sleep, and notice she’s not out running around with other men. She’s not doing anything flagrantly immoral or sinful that causes this breech in the relationship. She’s just half asleep. She has become indifferent and unresponsive to the advances of her beloved one.

And what a picture we have here of how spiritual sluggishness and decline takes place in the Bride of Christ, in the Church, in us as believers. So often we find ourselves half asleep, not out there doing something flagrantly wicked, but just complacent, indifferent to our Beloved’s voice.

So in that state, she hears the voice of her beloved. He knocks saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.”

He speaks to her with great tenderness and affection. She means the world to him. He calls her “my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one.” And he asks her to let him in. He’s been outside toiling, and his head and his hair are drenched with the heavy dew of the night.

When I read that passage, it brings to my mind the picture of Jesus in Gethsemane who sweat as it were great drops of blood. We read about His travail and the anguish of soul as He was about to fulfill his Father’s will and the plan of redemption.

Well, the beloved wants his bride to commune with him, to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings, to serve with him. He’s going to call her into a life of service with him. But is she going to be willing to relinquish convenience and comfort? Is she going to be willing to join him when there is suffering, labor, sacrificial toil involved in that calling? She’s received him as her king, but will she receive him when he is seen as a man of sorrows, when she is called to carry burdens with him?

Now, her response to his call is so different than the responsive, love-struck bride that we’ve seen earlier, where she says, “Let my beloved come into his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.” This time she says, in verse 3, when he calls to her, “I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I’ve washed my feet; how can I defile them?” What is she doing? She’s making excuses. “It’s not convenient.”

Now, here’s the real issue, and it’s the real issue when we have breaches in our relationship with the Lord, and often when there’s a breach in a marriage. The issue is she has become focused on herself. “I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I defile them?” I, me, and my. She’s left her first love. If you’ve read the paragraph before, at the end of chapter 4, you’d think: This could never happen.” But it does happen.

There are times in our walk with the Lord when we think, I’ll never not love Him. That’s what Peter said. Right? “I’ll follow You even though everybody else forsakes You.”

Jesus goes, “By the time the cock crows, you will have denied three times that you even know Me.” It happens so quickly.

She’s lost her dove’s eyes. She’s not focused on him anymore but on herself. She’s satisfied with her pristine, washed feet while he’s out there in the middle of the night toiling for others. She has become complacent. She doesn’t want to be disturbed or inconvenienced or make sacrifices. She wants to enjoy a safe life. She doesn’t want to risk getting “messed up.”

Now, how different is that from what we read of this bride in chapter 1, verse 4, where she says, “Draw me away. We will run after you.” You see, her heart has changed. The last time she lost a sense of his presence, in chapter 3, she held him and said, “I’ll never let him go again.” Just a few verses earlier she had said, “Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruit.” Now he’s asking her to open to him, and she has all kinds of excuses for refusing him.

There’s that constant, constant danger in our lives of complacency, taking our Beloved for granted.

Jesus repeatedly emphasized the importance of staying spiritually awake, alert, watchful. He said to the sleepy disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). And you read that kind of language throughout the New Testament epistles.

But we become spiritually sluggish. We get lulled to sleep with all kinds of things, with an excess of food, with entertainment, movies, games, meaningless conversation, even Christian activity, and services, and programs. All of that can fill us up so that we become sated. We’re just stuffed full, and we don’t have room for Him, don’t really have a desire for Him, become complacent.

Christ wants us to be united with Him in His work out in the world. But we don't want to be disturbed. We prefer to sit in our safe, holy environment, holding hands, sharing precious promises, singing praise choruses. It's a lot more comfortable that way, isn't it?

Then what happens is we end up focusing more on the blessings He’s given us than enjoying the Blesser, the One who has given those gifts to us.

Where did she get that purity? Where did we get the purity that we just want to sit and enjoy? We got it from Him. He purchased it on the cross. The very order and beauty that He has brought to our lives, as we have grown in the love relationship with Him, the clean feet, the fine linen, the righteousness of the saints, the robe she talks about, all of that may become an occasion for excluding Him from our lives where we become hesitant to give up spiritual comforts in order to join Him in His labor and His toil for others.

I received a letter from a friend who had been listening to a recording of this series when I gave it a number of years ago. She said,

I listened to the session on faltering love today [today's session], and my heart was deeply stirred and convicted. My beloved woke me at 5:30 this morning via our dog needing to go out. Although I knew I needed to spend extended time with the Lord, the warmth and comfort of the covers beckoned to me. I justified my desire to get extra rest with the fact that I got to bed so late. But He said, "They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.

As I crawled in for just a few minutes, I further justified my choice by praying for those who came to mind. That was mighty spiritual of me, don't you think? That was my 'trade-off' for Him. 

After hearing your message, the Lord showed me what I had done. I was the bride in the Song of Solomon chapter 5. The sobering part of it all was to realize anew that I couldn't go back and relive those moments. What had I missed that He had for me, just because it wasn't convenient.

Well, in spite of his bride’s reluctant response, this beloved is amazingly patient. He perseveres. He keeps pursuing.

It’s amazing enough to think of how longsuffering Christ is with unbelievers, but even more amazing to think how longsuffering He is with us. Right? Those of us who know and love Him and belong to Him, and He puts up with us, and He perseveres, and He keeps pursuing.

And that’s what he does in this passage, verse 4: “My beloved put his hand by the latch (or the opening) the hole of the door.”

That’s a reference, I think, to the fact that in some Hebrew homes there was a hole in the door, and the owner could reach his hand in from the outside and unlock the door with a key or a bolt on the inside, and let himself in.

So he reaches in his hand. It’s a familiar hand to her, a hand that had once embraced her. We read about that in chapter 1. “His left hand is under my head and his right hand embraces me.” She knew that hand really well. That hand was a reminder of the intimacy that they had enjoyed together.

Now, remember that this beloved is a type of Christ, and as He reaches in to seek entrance to our lives, even when we’re sleepy, complacent, not paying attention to Him, we see that those hands are nail-scarred hands. He calls us to take His hand and join Him in His redemptive work in our world.

Well, when he put his hand in by the opening of the door, she says, “My heart yearned for him.” Here she has a change of heart which is evidence that she belongs to him. If you don’t belong to Him, your heart’s not going to be stirred. She is deeply stirred. She’s moved. She realizes who she has rejected, what she has rejected, and she longs to be with him.

So she finally gets up. Verse 5, “I arose to open for my beloved.” Now, if you think you’ve heard this before in this series, it’s because you have. Back in chapter 3 we had a similar incident.

And what a reminder that these lapses in our relationship with Christ may not be once. They may be recurring. There could be different reasons for those breaches in our relationship with Him.

She rose up then to open to her beloved. Now she rises up again to open to him. I think that’s why the psalmist prayed, “Lord, would You not revive us again”—and again—and again—and again. I know that’s how often I need it—again and again, “Revive my heart, oh Lord!”

So she finally decides to leave her comfortable place of rest, put her robe on, get her feet dirty, open the door, and let him in. She says, “I opened for my beloved, but”—verse 6, much to her surprise—“my beloved had turned away and was gone.”

She was expecting him to be right there as soon as she opened the door and everything to immediately get back to normal. But that doesn’t happen, does it? She was slow to respond to his initiative, and now she loses the conscious awareness of his presence.

Oh ladies, it’s so important when we sense a call from the Lord in our hearts to come to communion with Him, to come serve with Him, whether in the middle of the night or the middle of the day. It’s so important that we’re quick to respond and say, “Yes, Lord.”

As Isaiah says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”

There’s such consequences of delayed responsiveness. If you want to see that fleshed out, read Proverbs chapter 1, beginning in about verse 24. “Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one responded.” Then that passage goes on to list serious consequences that will come about in our lives when we don’t quickly respond to the Lord’s call in our lives. And those consequences are all kinds of turmoil and calamity and crisis. And we find ourselves in the middle of all that windstorm and say, “What in the world is going on?”

When, in many cases, that calamity and that crisis—not always, but sometimes—can be traced back to the fact that our Beloved was trying to get our attention, and we weren’t paying attention, so He’s getting our attention. And sometimes He can use calamity and crisis to do that.

Well, she says, “My heart leaped up when he spoke.” Another translation there would be, “My soul failed.” This is a heart-stopping moment when she realizes that he was gone, and now she’s distressed. So she begins to seek him in earnest. She says, “I sought him, but I could not find him. I called him, but he gave me no answer.”

Listen, the worst consequence of being slow to respond to God’s initiative in our lives may be the withdrawal of His presence, the loss of intimacy, the lack of communication. “I couldn’t find Him. I called Him. He gave me no answer.” That ruptured relationship is not always easily restored.

Harry Ironside was a commentator of the 1900s, and he says it this way:

If you do not respond to His voice when He comes in tender grace, you may seek Him for a long time before you will enjoy fellowship with Him again. Such is the sensitiveness of love. He wants to make you feel that His love is worthwhile, and He wants to test you as to whether you are really in earnest when you profess to desire fellowship with Him.

Well, as before, the instance in chapter 3, she once again leaves her house. She goes into the city in search for her beloved. And as happened the previous time, the watchmen find her. But this time the treatment is different than the treatment she had received before.

Verse 7 says, “The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me.” And in that culture, for a married woman to be unveiled was a shameful thing. It represented a loss of reputation or character.

Now, we’ve said that the watchmen are a picture of spiritual guardians, pastors, leaders. And the fact that they struck her, that they wounded her could speak of how our spiritual leaders sometimes have to speak into our lives words that wound and hurt us so that we can be healed. Sometimes they have to say hard things to us.

Or it may be that these spiritual caretakers misunderstood her. They assumed that a woman of good moral character would not be out in the street in the middle of the night. So maybe they misunderstood her motives for being out there.

Whichever it was, whether they were trying to help her or they were misunderstanding her, the whole experience was a painful one. She was wounded by those who should have been able to comfort and help her.

So finally she turns to this group of women who, in the Song of Solomon, are known as the Daughters of Jerusalem. I think this is a picture of other believers, maybe younger, less mature believers, but they are her friends. And she says, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick!”

Well, at this point, having been through all that she’s been through, both in her house, having that heart-stopping moment when she opens but he’s not there, going and searching for him, having these watchmen who come and wound her and strike her and take her veil away from her, by this point she is overcome with an unquenchable longing for her beloved. She’s desperate, and she’s willing to humble herself and ask for help.

Now, in the next session, we’ll pick up from where we’re leaving off here, and we’ll see this search for restoration of intimacy as it continues. But I want to just pause here for a moment and speak to our hearts.

As we’re listening to this story, maybe you have been asleep, complacent, unresponsive in your relationship with the Lord. Has He been calling you, and you’ve ignored Him?  Have you made excuses, put Him off?

You know, I will confess, it struck me the other day while I was working on this series that when I’m studying or in my quiet time, sometimes sitting working on a session like this, but when my phone buzzes, and I’ve got a text message or an email, that I’m often quicker to respond to text messages or emails than I am to the Lord. I’ve just got this reflexive reaction now—buzz, and I’ve got to pick it up.

And it struck me as I was jumping to pick up my phone the other day, “Why am I not like this when the Lord speaks?”

We’ve fallen into that place of complacency and, as a result, we lose the sense of His presence in our lives.

Is your heart yearning for Him as you are listening to this series? As you’re following this bride, are you desperate to experience a restoration of His presence in your life?

As I’ve been working on this series, I’ve just found my own heart so needy, so desirous of knowing Him and responding to Him in more deep and intimate and personal ways, to have a deeper relationship with Him than what I’ve been experiencing.

If our heart is yearning, if we are desperate for more of His presence in our lives, then I think a first step is to do what this bride did, and that’s to get honest, to acknowledge our condition, acknowledge our need, and to ask for prayer, to ask for help. She says, “I charge you, O Daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick!” “Help me out. Help bring us together. Help get us reunited.”

She has to be humble enough to say, “I’ve got a problem here.” And we need to be humble enough to say, “There’s something missing in my walk with the Lord.” There could be different reasons as to why that has happened, in different seasons of our lives, but oh the importance of just saying, “It’s me standing in the need of prayer. Can you help me find my Beloved? Would you pray for me?”

You see, we just go through the Christian life saying we’re fine, we’re doing okay. We’re just living on the surface in so many of our relationships, and how important it is to have people in our lives that we can go to and we say, “Can you help me find Him? I’m standing in the need of prayer. I need more. I want more.”

My hand’s lifted up here, that it’s me who needs God’s grace, His intervention in my life. I want to find my Beloved and experience the intimacy with Him that I once knew.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray.

She’s been leading us to evaluate our hearts. Is Christ at the center? Are you loving Him more than anything else?

Nancy has written a follow-up to today’s program that you can read when you get a copy of her Bible study booklet “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” Each day of the audio series corresponds to a day in the booklet. So you can go back through these rich Bible passages at your own speed. And you can read the follow up questions Nancy has written to get deeper into God’s Word.

We’ll send you the booklet as our thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a financial gift of any size. Ask for the booklet, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” Our number is 1–800–569–5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com and check the box to let us know you’d like the booklet.

Well, what do you do when your emotions tell you you’re far away from Christ? Tomorrow Nancy will show you how to worship Christ no matter what your emotions say. I hope you’ll join us then.

Now she’s back to pray.

Nancy: We’re saying, “Oh Lord, we want restored intimacy, we want deeper, more intimate fellowship with You. Help us, Lord. Some of us have lost that sense of Your presence, and it’s been a long time, and we’ve been half asleep, complacent, unresponsive. Lord, please, show us where and how to find You that we may, not only walk in union with You, but also in deep, rich communion with You.”

I pray on behalf of my sisters and myself, Lord, we just lift our hearts up to You and say, “Come and visit us, meet with us, and make Yourself known to us.” I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

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

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

Making It Personal

Day 15 – Faltering Love 1: The Danger of Delay (Song of Songs 5:2–8)

1.  I sleep . . . (5:2). Have you grown spiritually sleepy or complacent? If so, what kinds of things have “lulled you to sleep” and dulled your responsiveness to Jesus?   

2.  My heart yearned for him (5:4). Is there a longing in your heart to experience deeper communion with the Lord? If you’ve lost the intimacy you once enjoyed with Him, what steps can you take to begin to restore it? If you are married, are there any steps you need to take to seek restoration of intimacy with your mate?

3.  How can you remain spiritually awake and alert and avoid falling into complacency in your relationship with Christ? 

4.  It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love . . .” (5:2). Is the Lord trying to draw you to Himself? Are you hesitating, or will you respond immediately? 

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