Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 18

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you, if you know Christ, you’re a daughter of the King.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: When you realize that you are a daughter of God, that you are the Bride of Christ, it will change and impact everything about your life and perspective.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

We’ve been in a detailed study of the Song of Solomon. The series is called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus."

If you’ve missed any of this study, you can hear the archives or order the series on CD. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Now, here’s Nancy.

Nancy: We’re continuing today in this last section of the Song of Solomon. We’ve been going through this book for the last several weeks and have been just letting God minister to our hearts about how much He loves His people, how much Christ loves His Bride.

We’ve come to this final section on mature love. We’re going to learn some characteristics of mature love: what it looks like, how you get there, and how you stay there. The last session—if you’re following along with us in the Scripture, we were in chapter 6—the bridegroom expressed his intense, passionate, fervent love for his bride. He is smitten by her beauty and the grace he sees in her.

He said there is no one else like her, not even close. We said this is a picture of how Christ feels about His Bride, the Church, and how He feels about those of us who are a part of that Bride. If you are a child of God, part of the Bride of Christ, He loves you in the way that we’re seeing described here in the Song of Solomon.

When we get to verse 11 of chapter 6, it’s difficult to know who is speaking. You could make a case for it being the bride, as some translations do, or the bridegroom, as—for example—the New International Version suggests. And in one sense it doesn’t really matter which one it is because, by this point in their relationship, they have come to a place of oneness.

They are one. They have the same heart and the same interests, so they both could say many of the same things. I tend to lean toward thinking that this is the bride speaking here, so—if that’s the case—she reveals a whole new set of priorities than when they first met.

At that point, you remember, she was burned out from working in the family vineyard. She just wanted to be with her beloved—alone. She wanted to find rest in him. She wanted to experience and enjoy all the pleasures of an intimate love relationship.

And when he wanted her to go out with him into the world, into those mountains and hills we talked about (him skipping on the mountains and hills), she was not interested at that point. He wanted her to engage in his interests, but she was fearful. She was hesitant and reserved about going out with him from the bedchamber, from the palace, from that place of intimate love. She didn’t really want to go anywhere.

It kind of reminds me of Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, saying, “Lord, this is good. Let’s just stay here and enjoy the glory. Let’s make some tents—we’ll just camp out here for a while.” That’s kind of the way the bride was, earlier on.

But now, in response to her beloved’s amazing declaration of love, we see how her values have changed, how she has a different heart. Let me read verses 11 and 12 of Song of Solomon chapter 6. She says,

I went down to the garden of nuts to see the verdure [or the greenness] of the valley, to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed. Before I was even aware, my soul had made me as the chariots of my noble people.

That’s a mouthful. Let’s just break it apart and unpack it. Let me start with the last phrase, “the chariots of my noble people.” That phrase, depending on what translation you’re using, may look really different. It’s actually a translation of two Hebrew words: Ammi’ nadib’. Those words mean “people” and “willing.”

This phrase could rightly be translated, “the chariots of my willing people or my noble people,” as we have it here in the New King James. But it could be, as the King James Version suggests, that it doesn’t need to be translated. It’s the chariots of “Ammi’ Nadib’” who might be a person who was known for the speed of his chariots.

So she could be referring here to “the chariots of my willing or noble people,” or the chariots or someone who had really fast chariots. Either way, she says, “my soul, before I was even aware, my soul had made me as the chariots of my noble, willing people,” or “these fast chariots.” Whichever way you translate it, you get a picture of a woman who is on a mission.

This is a picture of an eager believer, whose heart is being stirred up by the spirit within to care about the kingdom purposes of her beloved, and to do something about them. It’s like she’s compelled; she’s propelled. His love is so great that she has to share it with others. She has to care about others experiencing the love that she’s experienced.

“Before I was even aware, my soul had made me like these fast chariots. I had to go out there to the garden, to the valley to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed.” We’ve talked all throughout this book about the themes of fragrance and fruitfulness. This is again where those themes reoccur.

She’s now taking an interest in his garden and his concerns in the vineyards. And again, remember that he found her in a vineyard, but at that point she was burned out because she had not cultivated or tended her own vineyard (going back to chapter 1). But now that her own garden, her own vineyard, has been cultivated, she’s ready to go out in union and communion with her beloved, to serve with him in his interests.

She knows that he’s interested in fruitfulness. He’s interested in the vines flourishing; he’s interested in the pomegranates budding. So she wants to go out with him to see how the harvest is doing, how the vine is doing, how the fields are doing. She’s interested in his endeavors and that is a sign of mature love.

She’s not just going to bask in his praise, those words he said to her in the previous session (if you weren’t with us, go back to ReviveOurHearts.com, pull up the transcript and read it), that amazing declaration of love. “My darling, my only, my beautiful, my dove, my precious, my perfect . . . !” What woman wouldn’t want to hear that, and just hear it all the time?

But she’s not going to just sit and say, “Tell me wonderful love language all the time." She has learned the hard way that if you just want to stay in the bedchamber, stay where you are in your private little precious moments with Jesus, that you’re going to miss some things.

So now she has an interest in going out into the gardens and the fields and the other ministries of her beloved. That’s a mark of a lover of Jesus. You don’t want to just sit and soak and enjoy His love for yourself. You want others to love Him; you want others to know Him. You want to see spiritual fruit.

I have a friend who lives in a central Asian country. It’s a very very dark place. There’s a lot of evil, a lot of anti-God religion. He was visiting recently and speaking in a church in our area. At the beginning of his message he said, “When I’m back home in my country, my wife and I pray at night for people we know in that country who need Christ.”

He said, “Could I, before I begin my message now, just pray as we do at home for those people?” And he closed his eyes and he began to pray. He began to name off mostly the kind of names we don’t hear here—some of them would be hard for us to pronounce.

But he just listed one after the other, maybe about twenty of these names. He prayed for them. He said, “These are people that my family has been praying for—people who need the Lord.” And before he got to the end of the list of names, he broke down. He was so burdened for their salvation.

That’s a picture of someone who cares that others come to know the Lord whose love they have received. The bride says, “I care about the endeavors of my beloved.”

In verse 13, the beloved and his friends say, “Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon you!” This is the one place in the Song of Solomon where the bride is referred to as the Shulamite. As we said at the beginning of our study, that may be a reflection of the place she comes from—perhaps a town named Shunem. But it’s also true that Shulamite is a feminine form of the name Solomon. Perhaps it’s a suggestion that she shares his name.

We know from Revelation 3:12 that Christ writes His name on His people. By the way, women, when you get married and take your husband’s name as your own, that’s a picture of what Christ does for us. He gives us His name.

Here we have the beloved and friends who are joyful about the return of the bride. The fellowship was broken, but it’s been restored. She is assured of his welcome and his acceptance. And then, the end of that verse says, “What would you see in the Shulamite—as it were, the dance of the two camps?”

Now, this is one of the most controversial passages, verses, in the whole book. I’m not going to delve into it. People are not sure whether it’s the bride speaking or the bridegroom. If it’s the bride, I think she’s saying, “Who am I that you would take this kind of delight in me?”

If it’s the bridegroom speaking, I think he’s saying, “Let me tell you what I see in this woman.” He takes pleasure in her and in their renewed relationship.

As we come to chapter 7, the first nine verses, again, we have the beloved who is praising the beauty of his bride and declaring the effect that she has on him. Let me read those verses. He says,

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman. Your navel is a rounded goblet; it lacks no blended beverage.

Your waist is a heap of wheat set about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel, and the hair of your head is like purple; a king is held captive by your tresses (vv. 1–5). 

I’m not going to take time to expand on all the details we see in that paragraph, but I will just comment on a few of them. Look at verse 1, “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter.” He calls her a prince’s daughter.

Now, she was a poor peasant girl whom nobody knew, recognized, or cared about when this story started, when he found her out there working in her family’s vineyard. But now she’s been adopted into royalty—she’s become part of the royal family. I want to say that when you realize that you are a daughter of God, that you are a prince’s daughter, that you are the bride of Christ, it will change and impact everything about your life and perspective.

You’ll see all of life through different eyes when you realize you are a prince’s daughter. Read Psalm 45, a great parallel passage that goes with Song of Solomon, where it talks about the beauty of this prince’s daughter.

He goes on to say in verse 6, “How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights!” She is fair, that’s the outward physical beauty, and she is pleasant. I think that refers to the inner spirit, the inner beauty. The point it, she is fair inside and out, fair and pleasant.

As I “tweeted” while I was meditating on this text, it does no good to have the first if you don’t have the second—to be outwardly fair but inwardly not pleasant. There’s something wrong with that picture. What does Proverbs say, “Like a jewel of gold on a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman who is without discretion.” She’s got outward beauty but not inward loveliness.

Today, there’s so much focus in our world on the outward beauty, the outward fairness, to the neglect of the inner woman, the inner heart. I’ve been thinking about this passage. That word, pleasant, has been weighing on me this week, not only outwardly beautiful, but pleasant . . . “you are pleasant.”

I’ve been thinking, what a difference would it make in our world if women were pleasant. What a difference it would make in your workplace—am I right?—in your church . . . what difference would it make in your family if you were a pleasant woman? What difference does it make when you are a pleasant woman, by the grace of Christ in you?

What a difference would it make in our world if women were pleasant.

You see, that kind of beauty is a beauty that can last and increase as you age, unlike the first kind of beauty, which—the only way is down. There are only so many surgeries, there are only so many coats of paint and stuff you can put on top.

As we get older, that outward person is decaying, it’s deteriorating, but the inward person can be becoming even more beautiful. I’ve been thinking about this word pleasant as I’ve been speaking with others.

Yesterday, as I was writing an email, I was exercised about something. I asked myself, “Alright, what is the pleasant way to say this? How can I say this in a way that doesn’t wreck somebody else’s day? How can I say it in a way that, even though I’ve got a concern here, makes them feel encouraged and makes them motivated to respond in a positive way?” Pleasant. “How fair and how pleasant you are.”

He says in verse 7,

This stature of yours is like a palm tree, and your breasts like its clusters. I said, "I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches." Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and the roof of your mouth like the best wine (vv. 7–9).

Let me stop there for a moment.

This thing of palm trees . . . I live in Michigan, and we don’t have a lot of palm trees here in Michigan—none that I know of—so I’m not a huge appreciator of palm trees. I don’t know a lot about them. I love the big, beautiful evergreens here. But I have a sister who should have been born and should live in the tropics. She loves all things about the tropics.

She loves palm trees. She heard I was working on this study, and we were emailing back and forth about palm trees. She said, “Palm trees are one of the most spectacular things God ever created.” I read that statement, and I thought, Do tell! So I said, “Tell me more,” because I just never thought of palm trees as being all that amazing.

She did. She wrote me this email with this long list of amazing things about palm trees. I don’t have that email here, but I did pull up a blog post last night where somebody else obviously had the same perspective. This writer said,

They’re quite amazing trees! For starters, you can cut it, but you can’t kill it. The nutrients that most trees need to survive are found just below the bark, so when you cut them, they die, but not the palm tree. Its life comes from its heart, so it thrives even under attack.

Did you know that? I didn’t know that. And then this one . . .

The palm tree bends, but it won’t break. Monsoon storms and hurricanes can blow most trees away, but not the palm tree. It can bend almost all the way to the ground, and when the storm is over, it straightens up again and is actually stronger.

He says to her, “This stature of yours is like a palm tree.” It speaks of maturity, beauty, and fruitfulness.

It reminds me of Psalm 92, verse 12, “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar in Lebanon.” The bridegroom affirms the bride’s growing maturity, her growing fruitfulness. We’re reminded of passages like that in Ephesians 4 that tells us the goal is that we would all arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That’s the goal, the end goal—the evidence of maturity is when we look like Jesus, when His fruits are produced in us and through us in abundance.

Palm trees not only thrive in the tropics, they can also thrive in the desert, where very little thrives. As I think about that, I know that some of you in this room are living in a desert—maybe in your family, maybe in a church where people don’t seem to have a hunger for the things of God.

When you think about it, this whole world—apart from Christ—is a desert. But God can give His children the grace, the ability, to flourish—to grow, to be strong, to be fruitful, to be beautiful, even in a desert place. The reason the palm tree is fruitful is because its roots are connected down deep to a source of water. They go however far down they have to go to find water.

As we keep our roots connected to Him, as we abide in Him, as we let Him abide in us, we will produce much fruit for His glory.

Then we see in verses 7 and 8, as I just read, that as this woman, this bride, has matured, she has developed a capacity for feeding and nourishing others. She’s not just interested in getting pleasure, but also in giving pleasure, in giving benefit to others. That’s a sign of spiritual maturity.

She’s now capable of supplying and satisfying the hunger of others. It’s not “gimme, gimme, gimme.” A baby does that, right? “Waaah, feed me!” That’s a sign of immaturity. It’s okay to be immature if you’re a baby, but the problem is, so many of our churches are just like big grown-up nurseries.

“Waaah, feed me! Tend to me, change me, fix me, touch me, help me . . . me, me, me.” The sign that we’re seeing a mature love here is that here is a bride who is capable of giving, blessing, supporting others, encouraging others. As Christ fills and satisfies us with Himself, then He wants to flow through us to minister grace and supply and satisfaction to others.

He wants us to become sources, givers of nurture and nourishment to others, out of the supply of grace that He has placed within us.

He says in verse 8, “I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches.” He’s always loved her, but now she’s producing fruit that makes him want to take hold of her. Remember in an earlier chapter where she says she would take hold of him and would not let him go? Well, now she sees that he is taking hold of her.

And in this paragraph, in addition to the palm tree, he also sees her as being like a fruitful vine. That reminds us of John 15—as the branch abides in the vine, it bears much fruit. In all of this, and we’ve just kind of skimmed the surface of this section, he sees in her a reflection of himself. She is being transformed.

This is not the same bride we read about—I mean, she is the same, she just doesn’t look the same as the bride we read about in chapter 1 of the Song of Solomon. Through union and communion with Christ, we too are transformed into His image. That’s the point of 2 Corinthians 3:18 that says, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image [the image we’re beholding, that’s what we’re becoming like] from one degree of glory to another.”

That’s the process of sanctification. As we behold His face, steadfastly gazing upon Him, fixing our eyes upon Him, we become like Him. You become like the people you spend time with. You see this in these elderly couples . . . they’ve been married sixty-eight years—they start to look alike. (Some of you, that makes you a little worried, right?) You become like the people you spend time with, you become like the stuff you spend time with.

If you’re going to ingest a diet of the world’s magazines and radio programs and TV programs and movies and news and pictures . . . if you’re putting that stuff in your system, that’s what you’re going to become like. That’s the worldview you’re going to adopt.

That’s why we’ve got to have time with Jesus, time in His Word, beholding Him, looking upon Him, turning to Him. It's not just in a three-minute, dashed-out quiet time on our way to whatever else we’re going to do the rest of the day. But it's steadfastly beholding Him all the time . . . looking upon Him, looking to Him in the midst of life’s circumstances.

Yes, things pull at us. Yes, things try to divert our gaze. But it's always pulling our gaze back to Christ. “Where is Christ in this? What is He saying? What is He doing? How is He showing Himself?” What do you behold? Yourself? Are you obsessed with your family? Are you obsessed with friends?

These are good things, but are they the primary, supreme focus of your life? Are you being transformed into His beautiful image, from one degree of glory to another? You can be, and that’s His call to us.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been giving us a portrait of a woman growing in maturity. That message, from the Song of Songs, is part of a series called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." I think today’s teaching makes all of us want to mature in Christ.

We’d like to help you get to know Jesus better. So we’d like to send you a book by Nancy that will help you get to know Him through His names. Have you ever thought about how important the names of Jesus are? Messiah. Man of Sorrows. Prince of Peace. Nancy unpacks the meaning of many names of Jesus in this book. Each of Nancy’s devotionals is accompanied by illustrations by the artist Timothy Botts. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll say thanks by sending you this hardcover edition of The Wonder of His Name. It would be perfect to set out in your home around Easter so you can others in your home can pick it up, appreciate its beauty and get to know Jesus better.

We’ll send one book per household for your gift of any size. Ask for The Wonder of His Name when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you want to be effective in doing things to build God’s kingdom? Nancy says, being close to Jesus is the number one way to start doing things for Him. She’ll talk about it tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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 18 – Mature Love 2: Lovely Inside and Out (Song of Songs 6:11–7:9a)

  1. How has your life changed as a result of knowing Jesus and being the object of His love?
  2. What are some characteristics of spiritual maturity in our relationship with Christ? Which of these characteristics are increasingly evident in your life? Which need to be more evident?
  3. I went down . . . to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed (6:11). One evidence of mature love for Christ is that we are not content to just focus on our own relationship with Him, but we have a desire to see others become fruitful followers and loves of Jesus. Are you more of a taker or a giver spiritually? How are you engaged with Jesus in what He is doing in others’ lives? Are you showing an interest in His interests and concerns in the church and the world?
  4. This stature of yours is like a palm tree . . . (7:6). What are some characteristics of palm trees that ought to be true in our lives as believers? In the middle of life’s storms, how can you bend like a palm tree and grow stronger, rather than breaking?
  5. Read 2 Corinthians 3:18). What are you “beholding,” taking in to your mind and heart, on a consistent basis? How are those influences affecting the kind of person are you becoming?  

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