Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 23

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, we can’t really stand on our own.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: The fact is, we will lean on whatever we really love, and what we really love will be revealed by what we lean on.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

A lot of Revive Our Hearts listeners have a new appreciation for the Song of Solomon after listening so far to the series, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." Nancy’s picking up again in the series.

Nancy: A few days ago, while I was preparing for this session, I was sent an updated copy of my bio-sketch to review for the back of a new book that I have coming out. In light of the passage that we’re looking at today from the Song of Solomon, this particular sentence stood out to me.

Let me read to you what it says: “Nancy’s love for the Word and the Lord Jesus is infectious; it permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs.” I stopped at “her love for the Word and the Lord Jesus are infectious and permeate her whole ministry”—that was a sentence in the context of a longer thumbnail sketch. I read it several times, re-read it, and I had to ask myself, as I was working on this series, “Is this sentence true of me?”

“Do I have that kind of love for Christ and for His Word?” Now, some of you are nodding your heads like you know that I do. Well . . . you don’t know! Because you don’t know my heart. Here’s what I’d say—I think it has been true at times, many times. I know I want it to be true, but it was just kind of a “reality check” moment for me. Do I have that kind of love for Christ and His Word?

I’ll be the first to tell you that my love for Christ and His Word ebbs and flows. It wanes. Thankfully, His doesn’t. But it was a check to me to say, “Is my life reflecting back to the Lord the love for Him that I have received from Him and of which He is so worthy?”

We’re looking at this whole issue of a love relationship, and we’ve walked with this couple through seasons of initial love, growing love, at times faltering love, and now—as we come to the conclusion of this book—they’re in the season of mature love.

In the last session, before we took a parenthesis to talk about intimacy in marriage, we saw that the bride came to the place where her only desire was to bring joy to her beloved and to labor together with him. That represents a change in this bride, because at one time all she wanted to do was stay alone with him in the bedchamber.

She didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything, just, “You and me, nothing else, nowhere else." But now she’s willing, even eager, to go forth with him out into the fields and vineyards. She’s walking in union and communion with him, serving with him, drawing on his supernatural power. It’s a mark of growing in mature love.

As we come to this final chapter of the Song of Solomon, chapter 8—some of you thought we would never get to this chapter—we will see another characteristic of mature love over these next two or three sessions. That is that mature love doesn’t stay static. We don’t stay where we are in our relationship with the Lord or in your marriage.

True love, mature love, is always pressing onward and upward to higher ground. “I want higher ground. I want more of the Lord; I want to love Him more.” You know that old hymn, “More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee. This is my earnest plea—I make on bended knee—more love to Thee.”

I have a friend whom I’ve heard say many times over the years as we’ve prayed together, “Lord, we love You, and we want to love You more.” I guess that’s what I was sensing when I read that bio-sketch: “Lord, I do love You, but I want to love You more.” I want to always be moving onward and upward toward higher ground in my relationship with the Lord. So keep that frame of reference in mind as we walk through chapter 8.

Let me begin in verse 1, where the bride speaks first to her beloved. She says,

Oh, that you were like my brother, who nursed at my mother’s breasts! If I should find you outside, I would kiss you; I would not be despised. I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, she who used to instruct me. I would cause you to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.

Then she says to the daughters of Jerusalem,

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases (vv. 1–4).

Let’s stop there for a moment and unpack that. Throughout the series I’ve been encouraging, if you’re able, to follow along in the text.

We’ve been using the New King James Version. You can pull that up online, or you can follow along in these transcripts. It really helps when you’re studying this, if you can be looking at the text—so let me encourage you to do that, if you can.

She says to her beloved in verse 1, “Oh, that you were like my brother, who nursed at my mother’s breasts! If I should find you outside, I would kiss you.” What in the world is all that about? Let me just say first of all, it reminds us of that passage in the first chapter (five weeks ago), verse 1, where she said to her beloved, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his lips.” She wanted his kisses.

Now that she is in a place of growing, deepening, maturing love, she wants to give back to him what he has lavished on her. He has kissed her, he has blessed her, he has loved her, and she says, “I want to kiss you. I want to give back to you what you’ve lavished on me.”

But what’s all this stuff about, “Oh, that you were like my brother, and if I should find you outside, I would kiss you?” This is where it helps to understand a little about ancient Near Eastern culture, where the only appropriate, public display of affection would be between a brother and a sister.

Even a husband and wife, in the ancient Near East, could not publicly display their affection for each other. That was all to be private. How things have changed! But a young brother and sister could walk around holding hands, or even have a very innocent kiss as a little boy and girl.

She was saying, “I wish you were my brother so that I could express my love to you more freely, more publicly, without restraint, without shame or embarrassment . . . and no holding back.” She just longs for the fullest possible expression of intimacy with her beloved. She feels constrained—restrained—unable to adequately display her affection for Him.

Do you ever feel that way in your relationship with the Lord? God is a Spirit, and how do we worship Him in spirit and in truth when we live in the flesh? Do you feel limited in how you can express your love to Him . . . limited by your flesh, limited by your sinfulness, limited by your weakness, by the fact that you can’t see Him? You’re trying to love somebody that you can’t see.

Do you feel limited by what other people think? Perhaps you, at times, have this feeling that, “I want others to know the depth of my love for Christ.” Maybe you feel that you want the freedom to express your love to Him openly, without people thinking that you’re being excessive or you’re being crazy.

Maybe some of you have family members that just think, You have gone off the deep end because of all this stuff—praising the Lord, loving the Lord. I’m looking at one of my dear, sweet sisters who’s here, who has experienced this from family members who don’t know the Lord and don’t understand her love for Christ.

It’s a reminder that there are limitations now. We do not experience, now, what we will one day. Romans 8:22–23 reminds us of this. The passage says, “The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

There’s a free-ness and a fullness coming later that we cannot experience in its fullest possible expression now. The day will come when there will be no limitation. When we see Him face to face, we’ll be able to love Him in a way that we don’t have the freedom or the capacity to love Him now . . . and to do so without being misunderstood.

So she says, “I long for that day. I want more. I want to be able to express my love to You in more powerful and rich and deep ways,” and I’m even struggling with the wording as I say this, because there’s this limitation we have.

“Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.” But I only have one tongue, so I’m limited. We stumble, and we stutter, and we don’t know how to express ourselves. That’s what she’s speaking of—the limitations of the here and now, because we love Someone that we want to love so much more.

She says in verse 2, “I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, she who used to instruct me. I would cause you to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.” This is not the first time in the book she has talked about the house of her mother. That’s come up before. You remember back in chapter 3, after being separated from her beloved, she said, “I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go, until I had brought him into the house of my mother, and into the chamber of her who conceived me” (v. 4).

What’s that all about? She says, “I want to bring you into the house of my mother." A lot of different things could be said about this, but I think one thing this pictures is how we as believers desire to bring Christ into the fellowship of the church, into the community of faith, into the place where there are other believers, where we have been birthed spiritually in the context of that community of faith, into the place where we’ve received instruction.

We realize we still have so much to learn, but she wants to do all that with him. She wants to move forward with him, to learn from him, to be with him, in the context of the community of faith. This is not a solo faith, it’s a faith that’s experienced and held and cherished and that grows in the context of other believers.

Then she talks about, “I would give you spiced wine with the juice of my pomegranate.” I think all of this is saying that she desires greater fellowship, greater intimacy, greater oneness with her beloved.

Then she turns to the daughters of Jerusalem in verse 3, and she says, “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”

In these words she’s expressing satisfaction with her beloved, satisfaction with his love. She’s content to rest in him. “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.” She’s content to be near him, to be with him. Again, she says, “Don’t stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”

I think at this point she’s saying, “I don’t want anything to happen that could disturb our relationship, that could cause him to withdraw the expressions of his love.” Do you see how she’s always pressing in for more, to know him better, to love him more, to move upward and onward in their love? It’s not a static relationship.

What a sadness it is when so many marriages start to drift and become static, but isn’t it even a greater tragedy when so many Christians stop pressing onward and upward and just settle into a ho-hum, so-so, not-growing, not-thriving faith and consider that “Christianity?” This whole passage, I think, presses us to seek God for more.

In verse 5, the observers, who are probably the daughters of Jerusalem she’s just been talking to, say, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” I love this picture . . . I love this verse . . . I love the phrase, the concept of coming out of the wilderness “leaning upon her beloved.” I want to talk about it for a few minutes.

The bride is coming up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved. If you’ve been with us through this series, you’ll remember back in chapter 3, we saw a wedding procession where he was bringing his bride out of the wilderness. It’s a reminder, as the wilderness comes back into focus here, that our Beloved has brought us out of the wilderness of sin, and He’s taking us through the wilderness of this world, on our way to heaven.

We do live in a wilderness—we’ve talked about that. We live in a desert. For you, it may be the wilderness of your home or church or a work environment that’s fraught with difficulties. They’re a wilderness. Maybe you’re married to a non-believer or your children are not believers, and you’re walking through that wilderness.

The question is not, “Will you have to walk through a wilderness in your life?”—because you will. The question is, “Who or what are you leaning on? What are you depending on to get you through the wilderness?” She’s leaning upon her beloved. It’s the only time this particular word for leaning is used in the Bible, and it has the concept of support, being supported on the arm of—by—her beloved.

To say that we lean on our Beloved is an acknowledgement that we are weak, that we are needy, that we can’t make it on our own. This, I think, describes the relationship that we are to have with our beloved Lord Jesus. “Leaning on our beloved” means coming to the end of our own self-sufficiency and casting ourselves entirely on Him.

That is so counter-cultural, because the world has conditioned us that we’re supposed to be independent. But God’s way is that we are to be dependent, to lean. We’re taught, “You don’t need anyone; you don’t need anything.” A lot of believers, a lot of us, have bought into that philosophy in one way or another.

But God says, “You need me for everything! I am your life, and you have no life apart from Me.” I’ve quoted periodically through this series, my friend Charles Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers” from the 1800s. He has a whole book of, I think, fifty-two sermons on the Song of Songs. I’ve got a copy of it here. It’s called, The Most Holy Place—Sermons on the Song of Solomon.

I haven’t read all of them, but I’ve read a lot of them. They’re just so rich. Let me read to you another quote from my friend, Charles Spurgeon, as he wrote about this thing of “leaning on our Beloved.” He said,

To "lean" implies the throwing of one’s weight from one’s self onto another, and this is the Christian’s life . . . to leave everything that troubles me with Him who loves me better than I love myself . . . to leave all that depresses me with Him whose wisdom and whose power are more than a match for all emergencies.

Herein is wisdom, never to try to stand alone by my own strength . . . never to trust in creatures, for they will fail me if I rest upon them, but to make my ever blessed Lord Christ the leaning place of my whole soul, casting every burden upon Him who is able to bear it.

Leaning, leaning . . . are you leaning on Christ? Are you leaning on Him for your salvation, or are you leaning on your own religion, efforts, works? Are you leaning on His grace to get you through the wilderness of this life? Don’t be afraid when God puts you in positions where you can’t make it on your own.

Don’t resent it when He puts you in a position where you feel helpless—where you need Him desperately. Thank God for putting you in situations where you need Him. Don’t be ashamed in those situations to lean, to press close to His heart. “Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms . . ." There is no safer, more secure place that you could ever be.

I’m leaning on Him today, through a long day of recording sessions, after about four hours of sleep last night. I was leaning on Him at 10:45 last night when my computer crashed, and I still had several hours of prep left. I’m going to be leaning on Him tomorrow and the next day, and every day for the rest of my life.

In every season of my life, I want to be conscious, always conscious, of my own weakness and my need to lean on Him. The text here says that she’s leaning on her beloved, not on “the” beloved or “a” beloved, but “her” beloved. The fact is that we will lean on whatever we really love, and what we really love will be revealed by what we lean on.

If Christ is not truly your Beloved, you won’t be able to lean on Him. You’ll have to settle for substitutes for Christ, but I want to assure that nothing and no one other than Christ can truly support you and get you through this wilderness. If you’re leaning on people, they move, they change, they die, they fail. None of those things can support you. If you’re leaning on yourself, you will fall, you will fail. Learn to lean hard on your Beloved.

We will lean on whatever we really love, and what we really love will be revealed by what we lean on.

One commentator said, “The more the soul is taken up with Christ, the less of a wilderness everything appears, and the less laborious the upward journey to heaven becomes. It is He and His presence that makes the difference.”

In the interest of time, let me skip over to verse 6. These next two verses, verses 6 and 7, are some of the best-known and best–loved verses in this whole song. Let me read them to you:

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.

It’s a beautiful paragraph, and the bride uses several word pictures to try to describe the love that is between her and her beloved . . . the love she’s received from him. I want to look just at the first word picture today, and then we’ll pick up with the others when we continue in the next session.

She says, “Set me as a seal [as a signet ring, that could be] upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm." In the ancient Near East, people would sometimes wear signet rings or stones or seals; they would wear them on their arm, on their wrist, around their neck. That seal, that signet ring, might have engraved on it the name or even the likeness of the person who gave it to them to wear.

To wear that seal meant that you were loved by that person, that you belonged to them. It reminds me that—I don’t what they do today—but back in the day, when I was in high school, guys would give girls their class ring or their jacket with their varsity letter. Girls might give guys some kind of ID bracelet or some piece of jewelry that they would wear—something that identified them as a couple.

When you were given this, you weren’t embarrassed to wear it. You wanted people to know that you were dating. This woman, this bride, wants to be assured that she belongs to her bridegroom, and she wants him to acknowledge that she is his, and that she is on his heart.

As we think about this seal upon the heart and seal upon the arm, it reminds me of those Old Testament priests who bore on their shoulders and on their breastplate, two parts of their priestly garments, the names of the tribes of Israel. They carried those Children of Israel on their shoulders, speaking of strength, and they carried them on their heart, speaking of devotion and affection.

This is a picture of how the Lord Jesus carries us on His shoulders and on His heart. If you belong to Christ, the government of the world is on His shoulders. That means His shoulders are big enough to carry you. He has engraved us on His heart, even—Isaiah says—“on the palm of His hand.” He has set us as a seal. It means that we are loved by Him, we are identified with Him, we are carried by Him.

This bride is saying, “Attach me to yourself, bind me to your heart, so that nothing will ever separate me from your love.”

Leslie: Storms are going to come into your life. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you how important it is to lean on the Lord in every situation

That message is part of a series called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” It’s a study of the Song of Solomon. It’s pretty rare to be able to hear in-depth Bible teaching like this—especially geared toward women and especially on a book that’s often overlooked. Nancy, I’m so thankful Revive Our Hearts has an opportunity to get women into God’s Word.

Nancy: I’m thankful too! We are able to continue only as long as listeners who are benefitting from the program also support the program by praying and through financial support. If you appreciate the way that the Lord uses Revive Our Hearts to point you to God’s Word, to help you understand it and live it out, would you consider helping make this ministry continue? During a series like the one we’re in currently, where we spend several weeks doing an in-depth study of one book of the Bible, donations to the ministry tend to drop a bit . . . so we really need to hear from you at this time.

When you donate any amount, we want to say “thank you” by sending you a book that I wrote called, The Wonder of His Name. In this book we’ll get to know Jesus better by meditating on many of the names He’s been given in Scripture. Ask for The Wonder of His Name when you call with a gift of any size this week. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: The Song of Solomon contrasts two types of women: one is a wall and the other is a door. That might sound kind of strange, but I think it will make more sense when we look at it nex time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss 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 23 – Mature Love 4: Leaning on Your Beloved (Song of Songs 8:1–6a)

  1. Are you pressing for higher ground in your relationship with the Lord, or are you satisfied with a static relationship?
  2. Mature believers desire to grow in their love for and worship of the Lord Jesus. How might you be able to express your affection for Him with greater freedom? In song? In a love note? In praising Him before others? In obedience or sacrifice? Through showing love to others? Praise Him that one Day you will be able to love Him without restraint and with greater freedom and capacity than you have to love Him now.
  3. Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? (8:5). As the Bride experienced the faithfulness and support of her Bridegroom in the wilderness, so we experience the faithfulness of Christ in the wilderness of this world, as we are en route to heaven. How has God shown Himself faithful to you in the past when you were walking through a difficult season?
  4. Are you currently experiencing a “wilderness” in your life? If so, who or what are you leaning on to get you through it? What does it mean to “lean” on Christ?
  5. What difference could it make in your everyday life and perspective to know that you are engraved on Christ’s heart?

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