Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 7

Episode Resources

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

Take the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.

Leslie Basham: Have you slowed down long enough today to just enjoy being in the presence of Christ? Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You can’t enjoy His fruits unless you sit down. Sit down! I’m talking to a lot of active women, and I’m telling you, there is a time to stop and sit down in His shade. Stop rushing around!—I’m preaching to myself—and sit down.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

For the last week-and-a-half, Nancy’s been in a series called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." It’s a study of the Song of Songs. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I have a friend in her twenties who is dating a guy, and they’re rather serious in this relationship. The way I know what I know is because I’m on Facebook. (laughter) Not too long ago, this gal had on her Facebook page a photo of some beautiful red roses with this notice: “These were just delivered to my desk. Pretty sure I have the most thoughtful and sweetest boyfriend ever.”

And then she said to him on Facebook, “Just want you to know that I think you’re the best, and I feel blessed beyond measure to be your girlfriend. Thanks for always being there for me.” Not to be outdone, his response was, “As I said before, pretty sure I have you beat in the ‘blessed’ department.” (“Aaaaww” from studio audience.) And so they go on and on . . .

I saw another one yesterday and the day before—there was a day when you wouldn’t have put all that stuff out there—but they want everybody to know what they think about each other, and it really is sweet. They’re two young people who really love the Lord.

At the end of chapter 1 of Song of Songs, we saw that the bride and the bridegroom were having an exchange of mutual affirmation:

“You are fair.”

“No, you are fair.”

“You are beautiful.”

“You are pleasant” . . . and back and forth, expressing their admiration and their love for each other.

Well, that exchange continues in chapter 2 and throughout the book, and it’s an important ingredient—that kind of communication—expressing admiration, appreciation, affirmation. It’s an important ingredient in cultivating intimacy in any relationship.

In your marriage it’s important that you verbalize the things you appreciate and admire and respect about your mate. And in your relationship with the Lord, it’s called “praise.” We grow as we offer up to Him the perfume of praise, the sacrifice of praise, and as we receive His affirmations of us. We’ll talk more about that in this session.

We finally come to chapter 2—it took us a week or more to get here. In the Song of Songs, verse 1 of chapter 2 is one of the best known verses in the entire book, and you’ve probably heard these phrases used as a description of Christ—maybe, maybe not. We’ll discuss that in just a moment, but let me read the paragraph.

Verse 1, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” And then the beloved says in verse 2, “Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” And she says, verse 3, “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons.”

To this point, she’s been talking to him, now she talks about him, perhaps to the daughters of Jerusalem, who are the observers and the friends who have been a part of this story. She says,

I sat down in his shade [he’s an apple tree among the trees of the wood] with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases (vv. 3–7).

Again, let’s just walk through those phrases. If you’re at a place where you can pull out a Bible or pull up an online version of this text and follow along, you’ll get even more out of this study.

Verse 1, “I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.” First of all, Sharon is not a girl’s name in this verse. It refers to a plain in Judea on the Mediterranean coast. It’s a fertile place, and it’s famous for roses. This description is commonly ascribed to Christ. We have songs about it, poems about it.

You may remember that old song, “He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star.” Many commentators think the bridegroom is speaking in this verse. And a case can be made for that point, but I happen to favor the view that others take, and that is that it’s the bride who is speaking in this verse. “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”

According to this view, the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys are just common, ordinary wildflowers. If this is the bride speaking, she’s saying in essence, “I’m just a lowly, everyday wildflower.” She doesn’t feel herself to be anything special. There’s nothing in her that is worthy of his notice.

And then he comes back in verse 2 and says, “Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” You see, his estimation of her is different than her estimation of herself, and we’ve seen this before in the book. The key to a healthy self-image is coming to see ourselves as He sees us.

The key to a healthy self-image is coming to see ourselves as He sees us.

He says to her, “You are choice to me; you are special to me. You stand out from the others.” A lily speaks of purity; it speaks of simplicity. It speaks in this story, I think, of those who are in Christ. “You are a lily among thorns.” So if the lilies are those who are in Christ, what would the thorns be? Those who are unconverted, those who are not believers in Christ.

Those around us who do not know Christ can sometimes be “thorny,” right? Rough, unpleasant, painful, and sometimes, unfortunately, Christians can act that way, too. That can be a sad thing when Christians who are supposed to be lilies are acting like thorns.

The lily is supposed to be pure and beautiful and simple, but lilies are found sometimes among these thorns. This is a reminder that we were once thorns, but now we are a new creation. We’ve been transformed by grace. He has made us into a work of beauty, a lily, and we are precious to Him.

Then, a reminder that as long as we live here on this earth, we’re going to be surrounded by thorns. Don’t expect to just be in this beautiful hot-house environment where there are only lovely flowers. We live potted among thorns, those who don’t know Christ, those who don’t love Him, those who have no resemblance to Him and are not lovely. They can be prickly, right?

Those people may be in your home, they may be in your workplace, they may be in various places in our culture. But remember that He has planted us right here in this thorny earth to make a difference, to reflect His beauty by how we respond to the thorns.

It reminds me of that passage in Philippians 2, beginning in verse 14, where the apostle says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Now the natural way is to grumble and dispute, but the supernatural way is to do all things without grumbling or disputing . . . why? “So that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God [lilies] without blemish, in the midst of [thorns] a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

See how we’re supposed to stand out? We’re supposed to be different. Our goal here on this earth is not to blend in. Our goal is to stand out, but to stand out—not by being weird, not by being obnoxious—but with our love, with our purity, with our Christ-like spirit and response to trials.

If this world rejected Christ—they crucified Him—do you think they’re not going to reject us? They will—don’t be surprised by that—but keep in mind the end of the story. One day the lilies and the thorns will be separated, and we will be transplanted to our eternal home with Him, no more thorns forever and ever.

If you thought you were going to have to be with the thorns forever, it would get kind of discouraging, wouldn’t it? Keep in mind, He’s put us here for a reason, because He is transforming thorns into lilies, and part of what He uses is our lives. He wants our lives to bring Him glory, to reflect His beauty, so those thorns say, “I want to be like that.”

Well, to “be like that” you’ve got to be like Jesus. To become like Jesus, you’ve got to have His righteousness instead of your own. That’s our means of evangelism; that’s our means of reaching the “thorns” around us, so they can be transformed by His grace into “lilies” as well.

So He says, “You’re like a lily among thorns." Then the bride, as if not to be outdone, verse 3, says,” Like an apples tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons.” Now, the apple tree here—there’s a lot of discussion among commentators as to what this is. A lot of people think this is not really an apple tree, but an evergreen citron tree, which has big, leafy shade.

It could be either, but the fact is, you don’t expect to find fruit trees in the middle of the woods, right? And that’s what she’s saying, “You are unique. You have an unexpected beauty in unexpected places. You stand out from all the others.”

Again, let me just take a little parenthesis here and remind us of the importance of two-way communication and interaction.

When you love someone, you want to talk with them. The importance in a relationship—whether it’s in your marriage or your relationship with God—of cultivating intimacy by means of expressing your admiration . . . that’s how a love relationship grows.

Some of you have heard of the thirty-day challenge here at Revive Our Hearts, and you've taken the challenge: Don't say anything negative about your husband for the next thirty days, but every day express to him something you admire and appreciate about him. We've had more stories come back to us, gazillions of them, where women talk about how the chemistry in their home and marriage was changed. The tone, the atmosphere, when they began to speak words of appreciation and gratitude. It's so important. And then in our relationship with the Lord, it's hugely important.

We need first to receive His expressions of love toward us, His affirmations toward us. We need to find in the Scripture, “What does He say is true about us?” Listen to Him say it. Receive it as He speaks to us. We saw this bride and groom. He says, “You’re like a lily,” and she says, “You’re like an apple tree." They speak their words of praise and admiration to each other.

What are some of the things Christ says about us in the Scripture? Don’t try and jot all these down—they’ll be on ReviveOurHearts.com along with Scripture references so you can look them up for yourself, but let me just list some of these for you.

He says we are:

  • saints (1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2)
  • faithful brethren (Col. 1:2)
  • beloved of God (Rom. 1:7; 1 Thess. 1:4)
  • sons of the living God (Rom. 9:26)
  • dear children (Eph. 5:1)
  • children of God (John 1:12; Rom. 8:17; 1 John 3:1–2)
  • children of light (Eph. 5:8)
  • heirs of God (Rom 8:17)
  • fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17)
  • heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14)
  • heirs of the kingdom (James 2:5)
  • friends—of the Bridegroom, Christ (John 15:15; 1 John 2:1)
  • vessels of mercy which He has prepared beforehand for glory (Rom. 9:23)
  • vessels for honorable use (2 Tim. 2:21)
  • a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • His workmanship (Eph. 2:10)

Let this sink into you.

  • members of His body (Eph. 5:30)
  • God’s elect (Titus 1:1)
  • God’s chosen ones (Col. 3:12)
  • holy and beloved (Col. 3:12)
  • a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation of people for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9) 

Several times through the Scripture, He says we are:

  • His treasured possession (Mal. 3:17; Deut. 14:2; 26:18)
  • a kingdom (Rev. 1:6)
  • priests to His God and Father (Rev. 1:6)

And then, I love that verse in Isaiah 62, “You shall no more be termed Forsaken . . . you shall be called my delight is in her . . . as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (vv. 4–5).

What do you think God thinks about you? How does He see you? Is it different than the way you see yourself? What's all the self-talk that you do to yourself? What do you tell yourself about who you are? Do you keep pointing out the flaws, the inadequacies, the imperfections? Do you compare yourself negatively? We're not just talking about positive self-talk here. We're talk about, what does God's Word say is true about me? How does He describe me? Those of use who are His children, those of us who are related to Him. He says all these things about us that are true. Do you receive those affirmations?

You have all know people who can't take a compliment. You say, "Oh, you look really nice." And they say, "Oh, it's just a cheap little thing I got at Target for $4.00. No, I don't really look good." And you want to say, "Just take a compliment." Well, can you take one from God? Not just one. I just read a bunch of them to you.

Have you received that and believed those things are true of you? That you are His treasured, cherished possession, to name one? And then as you receive His expressions of affirmation, that results in our responding to Him, as we saw this bride do here in the first part of chapter 2 of the Song of Songs, expressing our admiration for Him . . .  responding back.

He says, “You’re like a lily among thorns.”

She says, “You’re like an apple tree among the trees of the wood.”

What do you love and appreciate about Jesus? Do you tell Him? That’s what praise is; that’s what worship is.

She says in verse 3, “My beloved is like an apple tree among the trees of the woods.” And then she says, “I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” It’s not enough to just know about Him, to just talk about Him. We need to experience Him, to enjoy His presence.

She finds in him a resting place. At the risk of stating the obvious, you can’t enjoy His fruits unless you sit down. Sit down! I’m talking to a lot of active women, and I’m telling you, there is a time to stop and sit down in His shade. “I sat down in His shade with great delight.”

Some of us have been “eating on the run,” and that’s the only way we get our spiritual life with Jesus nurtured. There’s no fellowship, there’s no lingering in His presence. Stop rushing around—I’m preaching to myself—and sit down. Sit down. Put away your iPad, put away your iPhone, put away your laptop, put away . . . I get in the presence of the Lord, and it’s amazing what kind of distractions surface.

I get a whole new burden for housecleaning when I sit down in His shade. I don’t have any interest in housecleaning any other time . . . but of all a sudden, the distractions . . . I see all the things that need to be done, I think of all the things that need to be done. Stop! Put those things aside.

“Go into your closet,” Jesus said, literally or figuratively, that quiet place, that private place, and sit down. Sit! Stop running around. Sit in His shade with great delight and find that His fruit will be sweet to your taste. “I sat down in his shade,” or in His shadow, as some translations say.

He provides covering, protection from the elements, from the heat of the day.

Psalm 57:1: “In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge.”

Isaiah 32:2: “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness. . . . [He will be] a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm . . . the shade of a great rock in a weary land.” That’s what Christ is to us.

For those who belong to Him, He provides refuge and protection from the storms of God’s judgment and God’s wrath, from the assaults of the enemy, in the midst of life’s trials. Sit down in His shadow; sit down in His shade. Let Him protect you and cover you.

“I sat down with great delight.” That’s an intense word, “great delight.” He offers delights that you will not find anywhere else or in anyone else. Ladies, if you’re trying to get your greatest delight on earth out of your husband, you’re looking in the wrong place.

God wants you to have great delight in your marriage, but you won’t find it by looking there first. You’ll find it by finding that great delight, first, in Christ. And then you’ll be able to come to your marriage as a giver, and will be a source of refreshing. Then God can use you to be a source of motivation to your mate, to want to give that kind of love as well.

“His fruit was sweet to my taste . . . O taste and see that Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). Those who belong to Christ, those that love Him, those that delight in His presence, find Him to be sweet. They find Him to be desirable and satisfying. So He provides shelter and rest and refreshment and food for those He loves.

You sit down in His shade, His shadow, and you will find in Him protection, provision, and you will find the greatest delight ever to be found anywhere in this world.

Verse 4, “He brought me to the banqueting house and his banner over me was love.” Earlier in this book, chapter 1, verse 4, we saw that the king brought her into his chambers. Now he brings her to his banqueting house, and this is the place of feasting. There’s a fullness and abundance, delight, joy and gladness. This is enjoyment.

There’s no obligation here. This is not, “I have to have my quiet time.” This is, “I want to be with Him. I delight to be with Him, because He is sweet and He strengthens me and He sustains me. His love satisfies me, and His banner over me is—not all His great exploits as a king—but it’s His love."

Psalm 36 says it this way, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights” (vv. 7–8). Would you agree with me that most Christians are not experiencing that kind of life in Christ? Why not?

I think it’s because so many of us are trying to satisfy our hunger and thirst in other places, in other things, in other relationships. Perhaps in the case of some believers, they don’t even realize that there is more to be had in Christ; that there can be this place of sweetness and abundance.

Well, the bride is overwhelmed with his love. She’s an ordinary country girl, peasant girl. She’s not used to all of this. She knows that she’s not worthy to have this kind of access into his presence, to feast at his banquet table, to be covered by the banner of his love.

So she says in verse 5, “Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick.” She’s saying, in effect, “This is too much to be contained. This is too much for me.” She has a powerful sense of being loved. Have you ever been there with Christ?

That’s not something you’re going to sense in that way, to that intensity, every day—and we’ll see that through this story. But have there been moments when you’ve realized the sense of His love is so powerful, so great, that you think, “I can hardly stand it. It's overwhelming!"

Verse 6, “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me." He sustains her; he upholds her. The protection and the support of his love is obvious there, and nothing or no one can steal her joy. She is pressed to his heart.

Of course, all of this is the picture of the feast and the consummation of this wedding that is awaiting us in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb. We will have that ultimate intimacy, uninterrupted, forever.

Let me take just a moment on verse 7, and I’m going to take just a moment, because there are so many different perspectives here from various commentaries on whether it’s the bride or the bridegroom who is speaking and what is meant. But let me just make a few comments about this verse.

“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field. Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” It could be the bride speaking and saying that she doesn’t want anyone to disturb or interrupt the communion that she is enjoying with her beloved at that moment.

It could be the bridegroom speaking—I won’t go into all the background of why it’s confusing—and in that case, he may be saying, “Don’t stir up her emotions. She’s come from the bedchamber to the banqueting house. She’s exhausted by all this ecstasy, so let her rest for a while.”

It seems to imply, “Don’t stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” There is an appropriate time for affections and emotions to be expressed, and they’re not to be aroused—stirred up—until that right time. So, just one comment—many we could make here. As it relates to our relationship with the Lord, are you desiring intimacy with Him, greater intimacy with Him? Then wait patiently for Him to bring that.

You can’t force or manufacture those feelings. Sometimes I get around people who just have this passionate love for Christ, and it oozes out everywhere. I can feel like, “Am I pagan or what?” And maybe you’ve had those feelings.

There are seasons and stages of any love relationship. It’s not all emotional ecstasy and intensity, and that’s okay. But know that this is what we’re heading toward. This is what we’re pursuing—this is what we’re seeking. One day, by God’s grace, this is what we shall have for all of eternity.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray. She’s been walking us through the Song of Songs in a series called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." Nancy has written some follow-up questions for today’s program. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to go through them. These questions will help you evaluate your passion for Christ and make any necessary changes to be closer to Him.

You’ll find Nancy’s "Making It Personal" questions in a booklet called “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” The entry that goes with today’s program is called “Sit Down in His Shade.” It includes questions like these:

  • Have you been rushing around rather than taking time to sit down and linger in Jesus’ presence?
  • In Song of Solomon 2:2 the beloved says his bride is “like a lily among thorns.” How can your life make a difference and reflect Christ’s beauty to the “thorns” that surround you?

We’ll send you this booklet full of follow up questions when you make a donation of any size.

Your gift will help us keep this podcast coming to you without interruption. To get a copy of this booklet, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus," visit ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1–800 –569–5959. 

All compelling stories include some conflict, including the Song of Songs. We’ll see what this book has to say about dry times . . . times you feel far from the Lord. Please be back again tomorrow. Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Thank you, thank you, Lord, for Your amazing love. There aren’t words to express all that You mean to us. But we want to take that place with Your left hand under our head and Your right hand embracing us and in Your banqueting house. We want to experience the fullness of all that You have for us in Christ. Help us to keep pressing into that until the day we see His face. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV. Song of Solomon passages are taken from the NKJV.

Making It Personal

Day 7 – Initial Love (Sit Down in the Lord’s Shade—Song of Songs 2:1–7)

  1. What phrases in this passage describe how the bride enjoys just being with her bridegroom? Have you been rushing around rather than taking time to sit down and linger in Jesus’ presence?
  2. His fruit was sweet to my taste (2:3). Where do you tend to go to try to satisfy your heart’s hunger and thirst? What are some of the “sweet fruits” that are available to us in Christ?
  3. In this session, Nancy shared a list of scriptural affirmations of God’s love for us and how He sees those who are in Christ. What are some of those expressions that mean the most to you (e.g., “beloved of God,” “His treasured possession”)?
  4. The Beloved says His Beloved is “like a lily among thorns” (2:2). How can your life make a difference and reflect Christ’s beauty to the “thorns” that surround you?
  5. What do you see in this passage that makes you long for heaven?
  6. Take time to express your admiration for Christ. What do you love and appreciate about Him? Tell Him! 

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