Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 19

Episode Resources

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

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Devotion to the Lord must precede effective service.

Leslie Basham: This is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She says, “Make sure you’re spending time alone with the Lord before rushing in to a new ministry.

Nancy: Once there has been devotion, intimacy with the Lord, the fruit of that devotion will be a passion for service.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, March 17, 2016.

Nancy: Well, if you’ve been following along with us in this series, you know that we’re coming toward the end of our lengthy series on the Song of Solomon, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” We’ve tracked with this bride and her beloved through a whole series of ups and downs—from initial love to now the final section where we’re seeing them in mature love.

We’re in chapter 7 today. We talked in the last session about the first nine verses where the beloved praises the beauty and the maturity and the fruitfulness of his bride. He says, for example: “How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! . . . Let now . . . the fragrance of your breath [be like] like apples, and the roof of your mouth like the best wine” (vv. 6, 8).

And then, right in the middle of verse 9, she interrupts. She actually finishes his sentence for him. He’s saying “The fragrance of your breath is like apples, the roof of your mouth like the best wine.” And she says, “The wine goes down smoothly for my beloved, moving gently the lips of sleepers.”

Now we know she’s the one talking because she calls him “my beloved.” He calls her “my love.” She finishes his sentence for him and it says, “This is all for my beloved. It’s for you. It’s all about you.” And she continues to express that heart through the rest of the chapter. She picks up the conversation now. And she says, “This wine that goes down smoothly is for my beloved, moving gently the lips of sleepers.”

There are a lot of different interpretations of that phrase and the meaning isn’t really clear. But I think it could suggest that as she gives delight to her beloved, as has been describing in the session we heard the last time, there is also an effect on others. They’re referred to as “sleepers.”

I think this could picture those who are spiritually asleep—maybe have never been converted or maybe believers who’ve been lulled to sleep by the world. But as a result of her devotion, her beauty, her fragrance, her fruitfulness, these sleepers are awakened. Their hearts are stirred; their hearts are revived, as they witness the intense joys experienced by this bride and her beloved.

Listen, our lives should not be lulling others to sleep. Our lives should be awakening sleepers. As they see the beauty and the power and the life of Christ within us, they want to wake up and get in on what’s happening in that relationship with Him.

Well, she says in verse 10, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” She’s said something similar twice before and the point here is that she belongs to him. She is possessed by him. She realizes that she exists solely for his pleasure. “I am my beloved’s. His desire is toward me.” Her primary concern is, “What is my beloved’s desire? What will please him?”  She’s renounced all rights to herself. She just wants him to do with her whatever will make him happy. “If it pleases you, it pleases me.”

One writer on the Song of Solomon said, “To live so as to be desirable to the Lord is the highest purpose of a believer’s life. The question is not how I may feel or what I may gain or what service I may render, but whether as a believer I am desirable to Him.” You get to the place where that is all that matters. Again, as we said last time, this preoccupation with how things affect me, that’s a sign of immaturity. A sign of maturity is, “What’s His desire? What will please Him? What will bless Him?”

Then she says in verse 11, “Come, my beloved.” Now, three times previously in this book he has called her to “come.” If you’ve been with us through this series, you remember back in chapter 2 he said, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away” (vv. 10,13). In chapter 4 he said, “Come with me to the tops of the mountain ranges” (v. 8). Both of those times she wasn’t so eager, but now her heart and her priorities have changed. She’s no longer reluctant, no longer afraid to go with him. Now she’s the one calling him to come. 

Come my beloved. Let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved (vv. 11–13). 

Let me go back to verse 11 for a moment. She says, “Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages.” She is ready to be a co-laborer with her beloved. And this is what he’s been after all along. This is the purpose for which he’s in relationship with her, for which he’s been calling her to come.

Once she is filled with his love, satisfied with his love, bringing pleasure to him, then he wants her to go with him in union and communion with him out into the field of the world to serve there with him. She has cultivated the garden of her heart. There’s fruit that’s come out of it, fragrance that has come out of it that is pleasing to him, but now she’s is ready to go with him, out into his field, his work, his ministry, his world.

I love how she says four times “let us.” “Let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages; let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded.” Do you get the impression she’s not going alone. This is not something where she says, “Oh, I’m going to go do this for you. I’m going to go take care of this job. I’m going to go work here. I’m going to go serve here. I’m going to teach this class.” No, she says, “Let us do this.” They are going together.

One of my favorite books is a small book on the Song of Solomon is written by Hudson Taylor, the great missionary statesman to China. He only ever wrote one book, and it’s called Union and Communion. It’s a book on the Song of Solomon. That’s a great title for this whole book—Union and Communion. As we are abiding in Him, one in Him, communing with Him, what happens is there is outflow. There’s fruitfulness. There’s going out with Him, abiding in Him, going out into the field of the world to serve with Him.

You may sense that God’s calling you into some new field of service. I have women write me about this kind of thing from time to time. “I think God wants me to start this new ministry. I think God wants me to start women’s ministry in my church. Or I think God wants me to have a speaking ministry like you do. Or to write books.” 

God may have all of that for you. But let me give you one earnest word. Don’t try to do it without Him. Don’t make up your own mission. Don’t make up your own calling. Let God birth that in you. When you do it, it’s so important that you don’t run out on your own but you ask, “Is this what God wants for me at this season of my life? Is this His calling in my life? Is this where He is leading, where He is taking me, and is He going with me into this?” Because if you go into it by yourself, you’ll be on your own when the heat is on, when the pressure is on.

Before we started Revive Our Hearts radio (many of you have heard me tell this story), I spent eighteen months, having been challenged to do this, spent eighteen months seeking the Lord—seeking counsel, praying, fasting at times, some extended fasts. I really, really, really wanted to know that I wasn’t going out there alone. I had so many fears and apprehensions, all of which to greater or lesser degrees have proved to be true.

There are hard things about this, and I knew there would be. There are hard things about your calling, too. There are hard things about being a mother, right? There are hard things about wherever you serve the Lord. But that’s why I wanted to know, “Lord, are You taking me there? Are we going to do this together?” I knew that if He was with me, leading, guiding, taking me, if we were doing this together, then there would be all that was required to fulfill it. But I knew that if I was off on my own, I’d be on my own. So she says, “Let us go.”

As we see the whole scope and arc of this story, we’re reminded that devotion to the Lord must precede effective service. We saw this woman early on having service without devotion and her own vineyard was in shambles at the start of the book. “I’ve tended the vineyards of others but my own vineyard I’ve not kept.” She needed to pull away out of the vineyard and have that time alone with him where he was shaping her, molding her, loving her. They were developing, cultivating this intimate relationship. But now we see that once there has been devotion, intimacy with the Lord, the fruit of that devotion will be a passion for service.

Devotion to the Lord must precede effective service.

She says, “Let us go forth to the field [the world]; let us lodge in the villages.” Here’s a woman who realizes that she’s a pilgrim, she’s on a journey. This world is not her resting place. She’s not going to put roots down too deep into the palace where she’s been living. There’s a picture of her traveling from one village to another with her beloved to accomplish his purposes. So she’s not going to get too comfortable, not going to put her stakes down too deeply.

As I read this passage, I can’t help but think of Christ who left His home in heaven. He came down to the field of this world and went about traveling from village to village sharing the good news of the kingdom of God. He said of Himself, “The Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20) no place to call his own. 

I thought about that picture of Christ a lot during my twenties and thirties when I was in full-time itinerant ministry traveling for about a dozen years full-time, year-round, twelve months a year. For eight or nine of those years I lived in hotel rooms, one city after another, one hotel after another, one restaurant after another. I didn’t have a house.

Then the season changed. My ministry changed. I settled down here in Michigan, built a home in my mid-thirties. That home has been a great blessing. But one of the things I discovered is that it’s easy to lose a pilgrim heart. It’s easy as we get older to just want to be more comfortable and settled and secure. “Don’t move me.” It's easy to become attached to the things of this world. We want to be comfortable and settled. 

I’m a homebody. I’ll tell you that. Maybe it’s all those years of traveling full-time. If I never had to get on another airplane it would be too soon for me. Travel is hard for me. I’ve often said over the years, “I would not do this for anybody other than Jesus.” But I want to have a life that is willing to be flexible, a life that’s willing to go when He says go and move when He says move. She’s saying, “Let’s go forth to the field. Let us lodge in the villages.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that if you’re following Christ He’s going to make you travel. Maybe for you, you’d like to travel, and He wants you to stay home. It just means whatever He wants—even if it doesn’t feel secure or settled or comfortable, where He puts you outside your comfort zone. And doesn’t that get harder as we get older? We just want what’s familiar, traditional, comfortable, easily definable.

God says, “Oh, no. I’m preparing you for something else. So let’s unfeather this nest. Let’s make it a little uncomfortable. Let’s get you out of here. Go forth! Go forth to the fields. Lodge in the villages.”

Here’s a bride with a pilgrim heart. She’s willing to relinquish comfort and security. That’s the kind of heart I want to have. And I’ll just confess, as I get older, that gets harder. We’re talking right now about an upcoming trip and I, it just seems overwhelming to me—daunting to have to pick up and do this. I can be such a whiner. But I read this passage—I’m not the only one, right? You can whine, too?

I want to have this pilgrim heart that says, “Lord, where do You want to send me? What do You want to do with me? Where do You want to put me? How do You want to use me? Let’s do it together. Let us get up early to the vineyards. Let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom.”

She’s tended her own vineyard, and now she’s ready to go out with him into other vineyards. They’ve established this oneness; they’ve cultivated intimacy. In union with him, she has far greater capacity for ministry and service than she ever had when she was out tending that vineyard on her own. 

We talked about this earlier when he said, “Come with me when I go leaping on mountains and skipping on hills.” And he said, “I want you to come with me and do that.”

And she said, “No. It’s dark outside. I’m scared. I can’t do that.” But now she’s realizing that when she’s in union with him, she can do whatever he is doing in and through her.

I came to a passage in Psalm 18 that relates to what I was reading in the Song of Solomon.

It is you who lights my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. . . . It is God who has equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and sets me securely on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. . . .You gave me a wide place for my steps, my feet did not slip. . . . You equipped me with strength for the battle (vv. 28–29, 32–34, 36, 39).

What is that? It's all His power; it's His strength; it's His ability; it's His energy. It's Him in us doing things that are supernatural—things we could never, ever do on our own.

The Lord keeps me at a place in this ministry where I realize I cannot do this. But He can. And she goes out with this immense capacity for ministry and for service because she is going out in his strength. When we go out on our own apart from His direction and His fullness, we will get burnt out. We will get weary in the ministry.

I’m not just talking about teaching radio programs. I’m talking about whatever God’s called you to do. Some of you have little ones or you babysit grandchildren and you think, I’m getting too old for this. This is hard. And you think, I can’t do this.

You do it on your own, you’ll get burnt out. You do it on your own, you’ll come to resent the very people God has called you to serve. But you do it with Him, you abide in Him, you will have supernatural capacity to go leaping upon mountains and skipping upon hills and out into the fields and the vineyards caring for the needs of others.

So, she goes out with her beloved into the vineyards, into the fields. And what is she doing? Verse 12, she’s looking for signs of spiritual life; she’s looking for growth; she’s looking for fruit. It’s a picture of being attentive to the condition of people’s souls. What’s going on their life?

Are you attentive to the condition of your children’s souls, your mate’s soul, your neighbor’s soul, your friend’s soul, your pastor’s soul? Are you attentive? Are you alert? Are you watching—not that you’re telling them where they are spiritually, but you’re just looking for signs of growth, you’re looking for signs of fruitfulness, you’re looking for signs of God’s grace in the lives of others because you know that your Beloved cares about fruitfulness. That’s what He’s about, and so that’s what you want to be about.

And then she says, “As I go out into these villages, these fields, these vineyards, “There,” this is the end of verse 12, “There I will give you my . . .” your translation says “my love.” But the literal word is “my loves.” “There I will give you my loves.” It’s plural. “In the place of service, I will give you my loves.” 

Now, we tend to think of two kinds of opposite sorts of people: believers who are your more passive, contemplative types. They live a monastic life; they love Jesus; they pray and read their Bibles. That’s all they do, right? And we think of other people who are more activists and they pour their energy into serving the Lord and serving others. It’s the Mary and Martha thing—two different kinds of people. But actually, what we really want to have and what we will have as our love for Christ matures is a Mary heart and Martha hands. It’s both. It’s not one or the other.

As our love for Christ matures, we want to have a Mary heart and Martha hands.

She first gave him her love in the bed chamber in the palace in the intimate place. But now she says, “Out in the midst of service, there I will give Him my loves, too.” It’s easy to love Jesus in our quiet time, right? No disturbances, no interruptions, no burdens, no cares.

But as we mature, we learn to give Him our love all the time as we serve Him and realize that we can love Him in the marketplace as we’re dealing with difficult people, in the midst of homeschooling four kids, in the midst of preparing meals, in the midst of company coming as I had this weekend while I’m preparing for a recording. We can love Him then and others as well. In the midst of cleaning house, changing diapers, refereeing squabbles between your children, preparing to lead a Bible study, teaching children’s church. Whatever you’re doing, you can love Him in the midst of it. “There I will give you my loves.”

It’s a never-ending cycle. We’re loved by Him. We give love back to Him and in the midst of service we’re refreshed because there we give Him our loves. Do you see that?

Well, verse thirteen, the last verse of this chapter, “The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits.” Fragrance and fruitfulness? That’s the theme all through the book. “At our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved.” 

All kinds of fruits—a rich variety of fruits, pleasant fruits. What kind of fruit do you have laid up to offer your Beloved? Is it pleasant? Is it fragrant? Is it ripe? Is it maturing? Do you have a large variety of fruits that you’re offering to the Lord?

Picture here old fruits constantly being revived and new fruits being cultivated—the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Christ, lives you have blessed, younger women you’re investing in, older believers that you’re loving and praying for and visiting in a nursing home, children that you’re raising for the glory of God, people you’re sharing Christ with. This is all fruit that we lay up for Him and remembering always that He is the One who produces that fruit in and through us. We don’t manufacture it. 

And she says, “All of this, all this huge profusion of fruit, I’ve laid up for you, my beloved.” We’re back to where we started in this session. It’s all for Him. That’s the evidence of a mature love relationship. She’s no longer a taker. She’s a giver. She's no longer concerned with what he can do for her or for what she can get out of the relationship. She’s not primarily seeking the blessings and the benefits of knowing him, but she longs to bring joy and delight and fruit to his heart.

She’s come to that place where it’s all, all, all for him. That’s why she’s willing to go out with him into the fields and the vineyards. She’s eager to find fruit for him. She has this enormous capacity for fruit bearing because he is doing it with her. And we have that enormous capacity for fruit bearing as we abide in Christ—the indwelling power of His Spirit. It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me—Christ who bears His fruit in me. And it’s all, all, all for Him.

Leslie: If you want to do great things to build God’s kingdom, start by spending time with Him personally. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been providing that insight from the Song of Songs. The message is part of the series, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.”

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Well, when you focus on what you can get out of a relationship, you’ll be miserable. But when you focus on what you can give, you’ll find joy.

Nancy: We think of that verse in Philippians 2 where the Scripture says, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit," that applies to marriage and every other realm of life. Here's the alternative to that, "in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others."

That would be a great verse to put in the center of a marriage. Then ask yourself the question, Do I count my mate as more significant than myself? Now, there is a fear in our world's thinking today that if you do, you're just going to get obliterated. You'll be a nothing. Who's going to pay attention to you? Who's going to take an interest in you? If you don't look out for number one, who will?

But in God's topsy-turvy divine math, it works just the opposite.

Leslie: Nancy will explain more 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 19 – Mature Love 3: Let us Go Together (Song of Songs 7:9b–13)

  1. What is the bride expressing when she says, “I am my Beloved’s, and his desire is toward me” (7:10)? What would it mean to have that same heart toward the Lord Jesus? Toward your mate?
  2. Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages (7:11). Do you have a “pilgrim heart”? How might you need to relinquish human comfort and security in order to serve with Jesus and pursue His kingdom interests?  
  3. How might your life circumstances and God’s call in your life be helping you become more detached from this world and more attached to Heaven?
  4. Let us . . . see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened . . . (7:12). How can you be more attentive to the needs of others around you (e.g., your mate, children, neighbors, co-workers, pastor)?
  5. Let us go out early to the vineyards . . . . There I will give you my love (7:12). What insights does the story of this bride give us about how to keep from becoming burnt out in serving the Lord and others? Have you experienced refreshment in the midst of service? How so?
  6. Do you naturally tend to be more of a Mary (contemplative) or a Martha (activist)? How does this love story illustrate the balance between the two? Is your life characterized by both devotion to the Lord and effective service? How can you maintain an intimate love relationship with Jesus and serve Him and others without sacrificing that intimacy?
  7. At our gates are pleasant fruits . . . which I have laid up for you, my beloved (7:13). What fruits do you have to offer Jesus, as a result of His grace in your life? Have you settled the issue that your life is not for yourself, but for your Beloved?

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