How to Fall and Stay in Love with JesusUnheeded Love 2: Your Heavenly Bridegroom is at Work
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss encourages you to seek the Lord’s face. One reason? He wants to spend time with you.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you ever stop and think as you go into that time with the Lord that He wants to see your face? He wants to hear your voice? It will give your devotional life a whole different perspective.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, February 25. If you’ve never come to know Christ personally, I hope you’ll stay with us. Our current series will show you what it means to develop an intimate relationship with Christ.
If you’re in a relationship with Him, this series will make you draw deeper. This series is called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus."
Nancy: As we’ve been saying through this series, Song of Solomon is the story of a bridegroom and his bride. We’ve been reminding each other that human marriage points to a greater, ultimate Story (capital “S”). It’s the story of God’s love for His people—the story of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church, and for those of us individually who are members of that Bride.
Anybody who’s married, and even anybody who isn’t, knows that marriage has ups and downs. It has seasons. There are seasons of great honeymoon love and intense, sweet, fervent passion, and then there are times when it’s not quite so special—when the relationship is challenged.
There are seasons when things come into the marriage or family, or circumstances into lives that just make marriage hard work and a lot of effort and can make it difficult. In the first several sessions of this series, we’ve seen this bride and her groom in a season of intense, ecstatic passion and love, with a great intimacy between the two—just some really sweet language describing the intimacy between them.
You’d think at those points that nothing will ever interfere in this really special relationship—kind of the way you felt when you were standing at the altar saying, “I do,” right? You weren’t thinking about when it would be worse in sickness and poverty and all those things you were vowing to be faithful through.
In the last session, the bridegroom—as you remember, if you were with us—called out to his beloved to leave the bedchamber (the place where she was alone just with him) and he wanted her to join him in his endeavors outside the chamber.
Let me just re-read that passage to catch us up, then I want to pick up where we left off last time. Song of Songs 2:8:
The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; he is looking through the windows, gazing through the lattice.
My beloved spoke, and said to me: "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!” (vv. 8–13)
Let me stop there and remind us that we saw this groom—she sees him leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
We said that those mountains and hills represent challenges that are humanly impossible. You and I cannot leap on mountains and skip on hills. Gazelles can, deer can, but we can’t. We’re not wired for that—we’re not made for that. I think it’s a picture of difficult circumstances that require faith to conquer.
We get into those mountains and hills of life, or we contemplate them, and we feel, “There is no way I could possibly overcome this.” Yet Christ wants us to experience His supernatural power, His resurrection life—not just when we’re sequestered alone with Him and our Bible, having our sweet little quiet time but also when we go out into the mountains and hills—the reality of life in a fallen, broken world. He calls us to come away with Him into those circumstances and experience His supernatural power.
So in verse 10, the bridegroom calls the bride to join him. He says, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” And then again in verse 13, at the end of the passage we just read, he repeats that very same call. As I’ve meditated on that passage, I’ve asked myself, “Why does he feel the need to repeat that call?”
The only thing I can conclude, it seems to me the only reason he had to repeat that call was because she didn’t respond to the first call. She’s still inside the palace, savoring the memories of their honeymoon love, their time together alone. He’s standing outside the palace calling to her, but she is apparently hesitant to respond.
She’s not so sure about going out with him to those mountains and hills of life. Can you relate? Think about those times when God gives us an assignment or challenge, and we’re hesitant to go for it. I spend a lot of my life in that place. It seems like most of what God has had me doing seems way far beyond what I can do.
It looks like mountains and hills to me, and I say, “I can’t do that.” I tell the Lord fifteen reasons why I can’t do this, why it just won’t work. I give in to my emotions and my feelings about my limitations rather than saying, “Lord, I can’t do this—but I know You can. So, yes, I’ll rise; I’ll come away with you.” We’d love to be able to live the Christian life without ever having to face those real-life issues . . . the mountains and the hills, tough circumstances, difficult relationships.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just stay in that chamber with the Lord all the time? “Sweet hour of prayer . . . Don’t take me into those mountains and hills.” I’m sitting in some of those relationships right now—some of those difficult things, some of those things that I just have no clue how to deal with.
It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard, it takes faith. I would much rather just sit in church or attend True Woman conferences . . . or stay at home and listen to podcasts and read my Bible and listen to Christian radio. It’s easy to be spiritual in those settings, right? You can just coast.
But our heavenly Bridegroom is at work doing His work in those mountains, in those hills, and He causes us to rise up and join Him in working in and dealing with those circumstances and those challenges.
The bride doesn’t respond to the first call, so the bridegroom repeats his call. He’s persistent in his appeal. I don’t know about you, but I am so grateful for God’s mercy and grace in pursuing me so many of those times when I was hesitant. We wouldn’t have Revive Our Hearts radio if God had not pursued me . . . when I would say, “I can’t do this. There is no way I can do this!”
But He was gentle. He was persistent. He pursued. He appealed, and He has given grace to move into those mountains and hills. You see this persistent appeal as we move on into verse 14: “Oh, my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Earlier he had called her his “fair one.” Now he calls her his “dove.” She’s his fair one, his dove. “Oh, my dove . . .” She belongs to him—he calls her his dove. Philippians 2 tells us that we are to be blameless and harmless as doves. There’s something meek and tender and gentle about doves.
He sees her as beautiful, chaste, meek, tender. Aren’t you glad that He sees us positionally, as we are in Him, rather than what we see ourselves to be apart from Him? She is fair. She is his dove. She’s in the clefts of the rock. I won’t take time to go into that whole concept—it’s a beautiful one—but I think how we are hidden in Christ, the Rock, who was cleft for us. It brings to mind that old hymn, “Rock of ages, cleft for me [broken for me on the cross], let me hide myself in Thee.”
He says to his dove, his fair one, that he wants to see her face. He wants to hear her voice. Her voice is sweet to him, her face is beautiful to him. I don’t know about you, but that is an astonishing thought to me, as we think about Christ, our Beloved. As you go into your quiet time in the morning, you want to hear His voice; you want to see His face, right?
But have you ever thought, as you go into that time with the Lord, that He wants to see your face; He wants to hear your voice? It will give your devotional life a whole different perspective—the fact that we’ve been invited by Him to come into His presence by grace through faith, washed in His blood, clothed in His righteousness.
He sees us as His dove, His beautiful one. And we say, “O Lord, why would You want to hear my voice? Why would You want to see my face?” The fact that He wants to see and hear us, I don’t understand that. It’s almost fifty years now that I’ve been walking with the Lord, and I still don’t get that.
I don’t understand it, but that’s part of His love—the fact that He isn’t drawn to us because of anything natural or inherent in us, but because of who He is, because He is a lover.
In this whole passage we see the importance of two-way communication, both in marriage—you know how important that is—but also in our relationship with the Lord. Go back to verse 8 and you read, she said, “The voice of my beloved . . ." She’s listening to his voice, she’s listening for it. When he speaks, she listens. This leads me to ask, “Are you taking time to listen to your Beloved speak?”
Do you sometimes shut out the other voices so you can listen to His voice? You ask, “How do I hear His voice?” Pick up this Book! This Word is God’s voice to us. This is Christ’s Word to us. Are you picking it up? Are you turning off your phone, turning off your computer, turning off your television and taking time to listen to the voice of your Beloved?
Then in verse 14 he says to her, “Let me hear your voice.” He wants us to pray to Him, to respond. Are you speaking to Him? Does He hear your voice in prayer? I love listening to God’s voice in the Word, but I’ll tell you, it’s the second one that’s more convicting to me, because prayer is hard for me.
I would rather just listen to Him, but to realize that He wants me to speak to Him . . . He delights to hear His children, His Bride, His Beloved ones speak to Him in prayer. When you hear, how do you respond? Are you too busy with other things when He speaks and He says, “Come away with me”? Do you say, “Come back later,” or “I’ll come back later,” and later never comes.
You get to the evening, you’re tired, you’ve put Him off, you’ve delayed and “later” never comes. Maybe you’re hesitant to go into the presence of the Lord, to spend time with Him, to let Him hear your voice and see your face because you’re ashamed, you’re embarrassed, you’re afraid.
You’re trying to get yourself fixed up and all pretty first before you go into His presence . . . trying to make yourself worthy first. Let me say, you can’t make yourself worthy to come into His presence. We come into His presence because He is worthy, and His worthiness is what makes us worthy—that He invites us to come. That’s what makes us worthy.
Well, he’s issued this invitation: “Let me hear your voice, let me see your face.” What an important thing to do at the start of the day and throughout the day . . . before we go to serve with Him, and as we go with Him out into the mountains and hills. So we hear the invitation.
Then we have this exhortation: Verse 15, the bridegroom says to his bride, “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” You remember, back in chapter 1, the bride said to her groom, “My own vineyard I have not kept.”
Her vineyard was in a state of disrepair, and maybe it was because of some of those “little foxes” she had not dealt with in her vineyard. The point here is that we need to be diligent to preserve and protect the intimacy of a love-relationship—whether it’s your relationship with your mate or your relationship with Christ. We need to be willing to deal with every breach in that relationship, no matter how small it may seem.
When it comes to vineyards, the big foxes aren’t the problem. The big foxes attack the fruit, but the fruit can grow back. It’s the little foxes that get down underneath the fruit and gnaw away at the roots, gnaw away at the vine—the heart of the relationship.
For most of us, it’s not the big foxes that are most likely to destroy our relationship with the Lord—or for that matter, to destroy your marriage. It’s not so much those big sins of the flesh. Most of the women seated in this room, you’re not going to run off on your husband, go commit adultery, you’re not going to embezzle thousands of dollars from your church.
That doesn’t mean we don’t all have the potential to sin in those ways, but for most of us, that’s not the greatest threat to our love relationship with the Lord. In most of our lives, it’s the little foxes—the sins of the spirit, the things that go undetected that we don’t deal with, because we think they’re so insignificant. But they eat away slowly but surely at our relationship with the Lord.
Those unseen little foxes of pride, discontent, complaining, murmuring, a competitive spirit, self-absorption (being consumed with myself, my needs, my desires), bitterness, unforgiveness, neglect of God’s Word, neglect of prayer. These are “little foxes” that destroy your relationship with God and with others. What are the little foxes in your life?
I’d encourage you to write down that question and spend some time, over the next day or so, thinking about it. Ask the Lord, “Show me, what are the little foxes that are eating away at my relationship with You?”
The response of the bride in verse 16 is, “My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” Some commentators see this as a glad, willing response to the invitation of her beloved. “Yes, Lord!” But I actually think this response is a disappointing one, when you look at it in the context, especially as we get to chapter 3 in the days ahead.
Think about it . . . what has this beloved said to his bride? He’s said, “Rise up, come away. Let’s go leaping and skipping together on the mountains and the hills . . . the circumstances of life.” And she finally responds, when she does respond, by saying, “My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” What’s she saying?
I think she may be saying, “I’m comfortable right here where I am. I’ve got him; he’s got me.” She doesn’t want to move; she doesn’t want to change; she doesn’t want to leave the peace and security of this chamber relationship with her beloved. She enjoys being the center of his world, but he wants to become the center of her world.
He doesn’t want her to just enjoy him for her own sake, for her own delight. He wants her to go out with him into the circumstances of life, into the vineyard of the world, and to be fruitful with him out there. Don’t you find that it’s easy for us to be satisfied with things just as they are?
“I’ve got Him. I’ve got heaven coming. I’m saved. What else do I need? Let Him go out in the vineyard of the world and do His work. I want to just stay here alone. Don’t rock the boat, don’t make me leave my comfortable little Christian cocoon here. I’m just fine.”
She fails to respond, I think, to the requirements, the demands, the appeal of His love. She says in verse 17, “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away [it’s dark outside—I don’t think I can handle those hills and mountains in the dark], turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of Bether.”
That word, Bether, means “separation” in the Hebrew. We don’t know of a geographical place in Palestine by this name, but I think the writer may be using a figure of speech. I think she may be saying, “It’s okay for you to go onto those mountains and those hills, but I’m not ready for this. I’ll stay here—you go out there. Maybe, when morning comes, I’ll be able to go out with you into the mountains and the hills—but not now. It’s too dark. It’s too hard. I can’t do this.”
She wants him to come to her, but she’s not prepared to go with him. “Wait until the shadows flee away. Wait until these life circumstances clear out, wait until things aren’t so difficult. Wait until I’m older, wait until I’ve enjoyed life a little bit more. Wait. I’m willing to have a mountain of Bether, a mountain of separation, between us. I just am not ready to go with you now. Later, I’ll go with you, later.”
Now think how different that is from what we read about earlier in their relationship. Remember in chapter 1 where she said, “Draw me away, and I’ll run after you.” Well, now he’s drawing her away, and she is reluctant to follow after him. She’s hesitant.
I think about my own journey, my own relationship with the Lord. I can remember as a young girl—a little girl—a teenage girl, a young woman . . . how many times I asked the Lord to call me. I had such an earnest, fervent heart and love for the Lord.
I would ask Him to draw me to Himself, to send me, to use me, to just draw my heart. I wanted to walk by faith. I was eager to step out with Him and to do whatever it was He was about in the world. But I found that as I get older, I’m not so eager to take risks. I’m not so eager to step out into the unknown. I’m not so eager to step out into that which is difficult. I’d rather stay where it’s comfortable, where it’s secure . . . the known rather than the unknown.
Well, in chapter 3 we’re going to see that we lose the joy of the chamber, the joy of our intimacy with the Lord, when we’re not willing to leave the chamber, step out by faith, and go in union with Him out into the circumstances of life into His vineyard and serve Him there.
If we refuse to go out with Him, if we hesitate, if we say, “You go,” and we want to stay where we are, we’re going to lose that sense of intimacy in our relationship with Him. We’ll lose the joy that we had in that young honeymoon love.
Is the Lord Jesus calling you today to rise up and come away with Him out into the mountains and hills of life? Maybe He’s given that call multiple times. Maybe there’s something He’s asking you to do and you’re saying, “There’s no way I can do that!” You’re right . . . there’s no way I can do what He’s called me to do. But He’s wanting us to go with Him, in union and communion with Him, out into the mountains and hills of life, to leap on those mountains, skip on those high hills.
If He’s calling you, say, “Yes, Lord! I will come away. I will go with You.” Are there some little foxes He has spoken to you about? Things that are eating away at your relationship with the Lord? He says, “Let’s deal with those. Don’t ignore them, don’t pretend they’re not there. Let me show them to you, let’s deal with them together. Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.”
Maybe He’s saying to you, “I want to see your face; I want to hear your voice; I want to have communion, fellowship with you.” He’s calling you to arise, come away, enter into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.
Oh, Lord, our hearts want to say, “Yes. Yes, Lord! Call us, draw us, and we will run after You, by Your grace.” I pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.
Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She’s been encouraging you to set aside any distraction that keeps you from a deeper relationship with Christ.
To help you identify what some of those distractions might be, Nancy’s written some "Making It Personal" questions. When you spend a few minutes answering these questions, you’ll see how to better apply today’s message from the Song of Solomon.
You’ll find the "Making It Personal" questions at ReviveOurHearts.com. Just look at the bottom of today’s transcript.
Maybe you want a more intimate relationship with Christ and are ready to spend more time in His Word, but you don’t know where to start. We’d like to help you by sending you a copy of Nancy’s workbook, A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. Nancy writes about some of her favorite psalms and leads you through them.
The workbook includes questions so you can dig in and discover these psalms for yourself. We’ll send you A 30-day Walk with God in the Psalms when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Every marriage goes through dry times. The same is true in our relationship with the Lord. Tomorrow, Nancy will show you how to seek the Lord when you feel far away. Please be back for 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 is taken from the NKJV.
Making It Personal
To get the most out of this verse-by-verse study of the Song of Songs, try to read through the entire book several times during the course of this series. You should be able to read this short book in approximately 15 – 20 minutes. This will give you a birds-eye view of the whole story. (This study is based on the New King James Version. You may want to print out the text at www.BibleGateway.com, so you can follow along.)
As you read, make a note of any observations or questions that come to mind. Also, record your thoughts in relation to these two questions:
- What insights does this book give you in relation to human love and marriage?
- What insights does this book give you regarding God’s love for His people and the relationship between Christ and His church?
Day 9 – Unheeded Love 2: Your Heavenly Bridegroom is at Work (Song of Songs 2:13–17)
- Let me see your face, let me hear your voice (2:14). Does your schedule keep you from spending quality time with Jesus? What can you rearrange or eliminate?
- Does your relationship with the Lord include two-way communication?
The voice of my beloved (v. 8)—Are you taking time to listen to Him speak through His Word? When you hear, how do you respond?
Let me hear your voice (v. 14)—Do you often speak to the Lord in prayer?
If you are married, are you listening and speaking to your mate?
3. My beloved spoke, and said to me: Rise up, my love . . . and come away (2:10). Is there an area where you are hesitant or reluctant to respond to Christ’s call in your life? Something He is asking you to do that feels too difficult or risky? An area of the “unknown” where He wants you to step out and trust Him to enable you?
How are you responding to His call? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and follow Him?
4. Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines (2:15). What are some of the “little foxes” that threaten your relationship with the Lord? How can you deal with them?Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
Topics: The Son