Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 16

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 encourages you to worship Christ even when you don’t feel like it.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It’s so important that, in seasons of spiritual dryness or separation from our Beloved, we take time to recall what He is like, to verbalize His features . . . by faith to praise Him for what you’ve known to be true of Him in the past, even when you’re not feeling those things at the moment.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, March 14, 2016.

Nancy’s in the middle of the series, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." It’s a study in the Song of Songs. I hope you’ve been finding yourself in this story between a bridegroom—a picture of Christ—and his bride.

Nancy: In the last session, we saw that the bride had spurned the initiative of her bridegroom. She was slow to respond to his call. When she finally got up to open the door to let him in, he was gone. She misses him, and she sets out to find him, which is not an easy thing, as it turns out.

She’s misunderstood—it is the middle of the night, after all, and what are respectable women doing out walking in the streets in the middle of the night? So she finally turns to the daughters of Jerusalem, her friends, and enlists their help in finding him. And if they find him, she says, “Can you please give him a message for me?”

Chapter 5, verse 8, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick!” And then those daughters of Jerusalem say to her in verse 9, “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?”

Or as the NIV says there, “How is your beloved better than others?” “What’s so special about him? There are lots of other men around here. If you’ve lost him, go find another one.”

In response to that question, the bride begins to think about what makes her beloved so special. What makes him stand out from all other men? She sets out to explain to the daughters of Jerusalem what it is that makes him unique from all others.

She starts with a general description in verse 10. She says, “My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand.” That word white is a word that you read in some translations as “radiant” or “dazzling.” It speaks of a brilliant, blinding white. It reminds me of the picture of Jesus in the gospels, when He’s on the mount of transfiguration, as His clothes were changed to dazzling white as His glory and His deity shone through. I think this description of “my beloved” as “white” is shining, it’s brilliant, it’s dazzling. It’s a picture of the deity of Christ, the glory of Christ.

Then she also says he is ruddy—he’s white and ruddy. That has to do with a healthy complexion, a wholesome, manly appearance.

So she’s juxtaposing His deity, His greatness, His glory, His supreme manhood. He is God, He is man. Then she paints a detailed portrait of her beloved, starting with his head and his hair, all the way down to his feet. In responding to these daughters of Jerusalem, she recalls all that she admires about the appearance of her beloved.

As we read this description, we realize we are witnessing an unveiling of the splendors, the excellencies, the glories of Christ. Our Beloved is dazzling; He is ruddy; He is the Son of God; He is the Son of Man; He is without blemish; He is without flaw; He is—as she says—the Chief among ten thousand. (That’s a poetic way of saying, “There’s no one else like Him.”) He is without peer; He is incomparable.

Now, she wasn’t thinking this when he knocked on the door and said, “Let me in,” and she said, “I don’t want to get my feet dirty,” right? She’d forgotten how great he was, how lovely he was. So, in responding to the question of the daughters of Jerusalem, “What’s so special about your beloved?” she begins to remember what’s so special about him.

We read this description in verse 11,

His head is like the finest gold; his locks are wavy and black as the raven. His eyes are like doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set. His cheeks are like a bed of spices, banks of scented herbs. His lips are like lilies, dripping liquid myrrh.

His hands are rods of gold set with beryl. His body is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of fine gold. His countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet (vv. 11–16).

In this description—we won’t take time to pick it all apart—she sees in his head a picture of his dignity, his nobility, his authority.

In his eyes, she sees depicted gentleness, compassion, tenderness and grace. In His cheeks there’s the fragrance of his passion and His suffering and His death. In His lips we see the purity, the power, the beauty of His words. We see the work of His hands, hands that hold us safe and secure.

In His body we see depicted the beauty of Christ, His perfection and His symmetry. In His legs, we see the kingly strength, the ability to support His people. And as we see this Old Testament description of the Beloved One, I can’t help but think of the revelation of the ascended Christ that the apostle John saw on the Isle of Patmos.

We read it in Revelation chapter 1, beginning in verse 13,

And in the midst of the lampstands, one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. The hairs of His head were white like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters (vv. 13–15).

Both in this Old Testament picture, and in this New Testament description of Christ, we see that everything about Him surpasses and excels everyone else. Every detail is magnificent, and overall He is magnificent.

He is magnificent in the parts; He is magnificent in the whole.

So this bride ends as she began, with an overall description of his beauty. She says, going back to verse 16, “Yes, he is altogether lovely,”—literally, “all of him is lovely and desirable.” Everything about him is lovely. “This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Now, remember again that, in the last session, we saw how the bridegroom knocked and asked her to open to him, but in that case she was focused on herself. She said, “I’ve put off my coat, I’ve washed my feet. How shall I defile them?” And as a result of that self-absorption, she was estranged from her beloved.

Now, she transfers her focus off of herself and fixes her eyes on her bridegroom. She focuses on his magnificence, on his peerless worth, on who he is. By the time she’s done with this description, she realizes who it is that she turned down and how incredibly precious and desirable he is to her.

It’s so important that in seasons of spiritual dryness or separation from our Beloved, we take time to recall what He is like, to verbalize His features . . . by faith to praise Him for what you’ve known to be true of Him in the past, even when you’re not feeling those things at the moment.

As we get our eyes off of ourselves and on to Him, in praise and worship, we find that God revives in our hearts an appreciation of Christ in the present. I think of that verse in 1 Peter 2, “To you who believe, [Christ] is precious” (v. 7). As you focus on Him, as you fix your eyes on Him, as you describe Him, as you praise Him, you find Him to be precious.

As this bride thinks through and verbalizes her response to that question (“What’s so special about your beloved?”), something happens in her heart, and something happens in the daughters of Jerusalem. Let’s start with the daughters of Jerusalem, chapter 6, verse 1. As they hear her description of her beloved, there’s a desire quickened in their hearts to find him.

They say to her, “Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women? Where has your beloved turned aside, that we may seek him with you?” They’re saying, “He’s so amazing, we want to know him, too. How can we find him?” There’s such an impact on others around us when we speak of the loveliness of Christ and what He means to us. That impact may be on those who don’t know Christ at all and those who are lost.

You don’t have to know “four steps to this,” or “eight steps to that,” in order to be an effective witness for Christ. I’m thinking of my friend Valerie, who’s sitting here on the front row. It was fifteen or sixteen years ago, Valerie, that you attended a Bible study I was teaching in my home and—long story, short—she came to faith in Christ.

She was a woman who had been searching, God had been drawing her to Himself, and she gave her life to Christ. Christ took over her life, and she was so transformed. At the time Valerie was a hairdresser, and she had a lot of clients, a lot of customers, a lot of people she talked to.

Before she got any kind of theological training or had been in a lot more studies, she just found herself talking to people about Christ—because He had changed her life. She didn’t know how to explain it all. I can remember her saying at the time, “I just don’t know how to explain all of this. I just don’t know all the answers.”

But she was, and is, an incredibly effective witness because she just tells others about her Beloved: “This is who He is. This is what He means to me.”

But it’s not just talking to lost people that makes an impact—it’s the value and importance of talking with other believers about Christ. What happens when we do that? It strengthens our own faith, but it also stirs up in others their affection and their passion for Him, and most important of all, it blesses the Lord when we praise Him.

Malachi 3, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name” (v. 16).

So these daughters of Jerusalem, they are stirred to want to know and love and respond to this bridegroom as they hear this bride describe how lovely he is and what he means to her. But then something else happens, and it’s in the bride’s heart, herself.

As she witnesses to the loveliness of her beloved, as she describes him, as she tells others how wonderful he is, there’s something quickening in her own heart. She comes to realize, he hasn’t really left her, he hasn’t abandoned her, as she thought. She has just lost the conscious sense of his presence in her life. As she praises him, that awareness of His presence is restored.

She says in verse 2, “My beloved has gone to his garden.” What’s his garden? It’s her heart, her life, right? “He has gone to his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed his flock in the garden, and to gather lilies.” She’s saying, “He’s right here, where he loves to be, with his flock.” She just had not been acknowledging and enjoying his presence, because of that complacency, that led her to not be responsive to his call.

Then, verse 3, she says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” Her love is maturing at this point. We read a similar verse earlier, but this time it’s written a little differently. The first time, she said, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”  Now she says, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”

In other words, she’s coming to the point in her life where nothing matters except that she belongs to him. She’s no longer enjoying him just because he’s satisfying her and blessing her. She’s now loving him, not for what he is to her, but for how she can bless him. There’s a difference there.

Now, God does give us good and gracious gifts that He wants us to enjoy: His presence, His peace, His joy—but He wants us to treasure Him above all of that. This leads me to say a word here about this whole issue of feelings and emotions in our relationship with the Lord.

There are times in our lives as believers where just the thought of Christ and His love is deeply moving to us. I have some friends who, it seems like they’re like that way a lot. And sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable around them because there are so many times when my own feelings are not that way, when the things I know in my head don’t warm my heart, when I feel cold and dry. Am I the only one in the room who ever feels that? Okay, I didn’t think so.

Can I just remind us that feelings have very little to do with reality. Feelings aren’t bad, necessarily. Now, if we let them run our lives, that’s another thing. But we have to learn to walk by faith when we cannot feel Him, and to trust when we cannot sense His presence.

There will be spiritually dry seasons in our lives, times when we don’t have these warm, great, tender feelings toward the Lord. Sometimes it’s maybe because of our lack of responsiveness in the past, and He’s wanting to woo our hearts, to realize how precious He is.

Sometimes, maybe through no fault of our own at all—regardless of the reason—when we get to those spiritually dry times, I want you to encourage you to remember that God draws near to praise. God inhabits the praises of His people, Psalm 22 tells us. As you begin to praise and admire Christ and to express gratitude for His characteristics and His graces—as this bride has just done about her beloved—you’ll find that you will begin to experience a greater sense of the reality of His presence.

By the way, let me just say that God did not intend that we should always have feelings of ecstasy toward our spiritual Beloved any more than you always have intense romantic feelings toward your mate—not if you’ve been married any more than a week or two.

If you never have those kinds of feelings, that ought to concern you. But God did not intend that physically or emotionally or in any way we should be able to maintain those high level emotions. If you had those all the time, you wouldn’t appreciate them, right?

In fact, if we didn’t have any dry periods in our walk with the Lord, our love would be selfish. It wouldn’t really be love at all, because it would be centered on what He does for us. But when we learn to love and trust Him, even when we don’t feel His presence, to praise Him even when our eyes are filled with tears, there’s something really precious about that offering to the Lord.

Those times when we’re deprived of the conscious sense of His presence force us to go back and to be reminded of what it is that is so lovely about Christ. I want to ask you today, how would you answer the question that those women asked this bride? “What is your beloved, more than any other beloved? What makes your beloved so special?”

And by the way, if there’s any other beloved that you love more than Him, that you’ve put in His place or allowed to encroach on His place in your life—what do we call that? An idol. So, what is your Beloved, as you think about Him, than any other beloved? What makes Him more precious, more wonderful, more great, than anything and anyone else that is special to you in your life?

I want to encourage you to make a list of some of the qualities, some of the characteristics that you admire in Him. Maybe it’s something that you’d want to share with someone else. “This is what my Beloved is to me . . ." Maybe it’s that you want to write a love letter to Jesus Himself and say, “This is who You are to me.” But I want to encourage you to itemize, to make a list of what you admire in Him.

I’m going to do something a little risky here, because I haven’t really thought this through carefully. I took time late last night as I was wrapping up my preparation to just write a note to the Lord. I found a card that somebody had made for me, and on the front it just says, “For you.” And I thought, “That’s appropriate. I just want this to be for Jesus.”

I’m not going to read you everything that’s in here, but let me just tell you some of things I said about Him as I was thinking about this question, “What is my Beloved more than any other beloved?”

I remembered that:

  • I was an enemy of God, but Christ reconciled me to God.
  • I was filled with sin, but Christ took my sin and clothed me with His righteousness. He imputed His perfect, obedient life to me.
  • I was walking in darkness and death, and my Beloved brought life and light to me.
  • I was a hater of God and everything that is good—according to the Scripture, I was—but He captured my heart with His love.
  • I was empty, and He filled me. 
  • He delivered me from bondage to the evil one, and He made me His joyful bondslave.
  • I was not seeking Him, but He sought me.
  • He is the fount of every blessing, and that “fountain filled with blood drawn from His veins" has caused me to lose all my guilty stains.
  • He is Bread for my hungry soul. 
  • He is Living Water that satisfies my thirst. 
  • He is the riches of God for my poverty. 
  • He is strength for my weakness.
  • He is my Good Shepherd; He is the Great Shepherd; He is the Chief Shepherd—He leads, protects, and provides for all my needs.
  • He is the radiance of God’s glory, yet He took on human form to rescue sinners from His wrath. 
  • He is fully God and fully man.

I reminded myself—and thanked Him—that:

  • He is the sacrificial Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; that He laid down His life so that we might have eternal life. 
  • He is sinless; He is without spot; He is blameless, yet He took all my sin and my blame and bore the full penalty of the Father’s wrath against my sin.
  • His Words are truth; they are pure. 
  • He is a merciful High Priest—He is my Advocate; He is my Intercessor. 
  • He is gracious and kind and good. 
  • He is my defense against the attacks and the accusations of the evil one.
  • He is my peace. 
  • He is my eternal hope. 
  • He is my joy. 
  • He is my sustainer, my satisfier, my satisfaction, my strength. 
  • He is my King, my Beloved Bridegroom.

You know, by the time I was finished writing that note, my eyes weren’t on myself at all. My heart was filled with thoughts of Christ.

I want to encourage you to write your own note. Write it about Him or write it to Him. Express what maybe you’ve known to be true, but maybe you have forgotten or just haven’t taken time to express recently. Then watch how God will restore, renew, and revive your heart as you take time to praise your Beloved One.

John Piper tweeted recently something I thought of in light of this passage. He said, “Believers live spiritually by viewing the beauty of Jesus Christ, as the body lives by food.” Did you get that? I think the converse is true, also. If we don’t take time to view His beauty, we’re going to be spiritually malnourished. We’re going to starve spiritually.

It’s the beauty of Christ. He is the Bread of Life; He is the One who fills us. As we view the beauty of Christ, our souls are fed.

We’ve walked with this bride through a period of initial love and unheeded love and growing love and now faltering love, but—thank God—He’s a restoring God. In the next section we’re going to move on and see what mature love looks like. We’re going to see that even that is a process that is ever onward and upward.

O Lord, as we close this time together, I want to thank You that, though our love for You may falter, You are willing to be found when we search for You with all our hearts. Lord Jesus, we want to say to You that You are the Chief among ten thousand thousand thousands. You are altogether lovely. You are my Beloved. You are my Friend, and I love You. We agree together in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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 in the Song of Solomon that’s encouraging Revive Our Hearts listeners to draw closer to Jesus. If you’ve missed any of the programs, you can hear them in the archives at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you appreciate hearing teaching like this? The reason Nancy’s been able to come to you on the radio today is because listeners wanted you to hear it! I’ll explain. Listeners who believe in this ministry and want it to continue provide the funds needed for the ministry to continue. These supporters believe that helping women hear God’s Word is a worthwhile investment. Do you believe that too?

Would you help Revive Our Hearts continue providing practical Bible teaching for women? When you support the ministry with a gift of any amount, we’ll show our thanks by sending you a book by Nancy called The Wonder of His Name. She unpacks many names of Jesus, writing a devotional on each one. She’ll show you why each name is so meaningful and help you get to know Jesus in a deeper way. Each name is accompanied by beautiful artwork from Timothy Botts. This would be a perfect book for your coffee table, especially for keeping your mind centered on Jesus around the Easter season.

Ask for The Wonder of His Name when you make a donation of any amount by calling 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Did you know the moon has no light of its own, but when it reflects the sun it can be a thing of great beauty. That’s what we’re like when we live in the light of Christ. Nancy will explain why tomorrow, on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version. Song of Songs references are from the New King James Version.

Making It Personal

Day 16 – Faltering Love 2: Fed by the Beauty of Christ (Song of Songs 5:9–6:3)

  1. What is your beloved more than another beloved? (5:9). How would you respond if someone were to ask, “What’s so special about Jesus to you?” Make a list of some of the things you most love and admire about Him.
  2. How has talking about Jesus with other believers strengthened your faith?
  3. Where has your beloved gone . . . that we may seek him with you? (6:1). When was the last time you talked about your Beloved (the Lord) with an unbeliever? How did you describe Him? How might desire be wakened in unbelievers’ hearts to know Jesus if we were to speak of Him more freely and faithfully?
  4. What are some possible benefits from “dry” seasons in your walk with Christ? How can you walk by faith even when you don’t strongly sense His presence?
  5. What difference does it make when we choose to fix our focus on Christ rather than on ourselves? 

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