How to Fall and Stay in Love with JesusUnheeded Love 3: Missing, Seeking and Finding
Day 10 of "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus"
Leslie Basham: Have you drifted away from a close relationship with the Lord? Nancy Leigh DeMoss encourages you to seek after Him.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Don’t be content until you can say, “I have found the One I love.” And when you have found Him, purpose in your heart to hold Him close and not let Him go.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, February 26.
If you’ve missed any of Nancy’s teaching in the Song of Solomon so far, I hope you’ll hear it by visiting the archives at ReviveOurHearts.com. She’s continuing today. The series is called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.”
Nancy: Now, as we continue our journey through the Song of Solomon, I want to remind us that this book is not necessarily a chronological narrative. It’s not a plot as if we were watching a movie or a play. This is poetry. It’s a love song. It gives us intimate glimpses into a love relationship.
Throughout this book we see amazing, wonderful, practical, precious insights in relation to human marriage. But as I’ve said through this series, we’re reminded that human marriage points to another marriage—the spiritual love relationship between Christ and His Church.
And in the first section through chapter 2, verse 7, we saw what we’ve called initial love. It was fresh. It was vibrant. It was passionate. It was ecstatic. It was initial love.
Now we’re in a section that began in chapter 2, verse 8, and continuing through chapter 3, verse 5, that we’ve called unheeded love. You remember, in the last couple of sessions that the bridegroom called his bride to rise up out of the chamber where they had enjoyed this special intimate relationship and to go with him into the mountains and hills—the circumstances of life, the place where he was at work.
Then at the end of chapter 2, in the last session, we suggested that she didn’t respond to his call, to his initiative. She preferred to stay where she was, to be safe, secure, comfortable—not to take a risk.
We talked about how we experience that in our walk with the Lord as He calls us to leap on mountains and skip on hills with Him, and we say, “Uh-uh. I can’t do that. You go. I’ll stay here.” We don’t want to take the risk.
Now, today, as we come to chapter 3, the first five verses of chapter 3, we’re going to see some of the fallout, the consequence of the bride’s reluctance.
Now, many understand this paragraph we’re looking at today as the bride recounting a bad dream, and that may be the case. But whether it is something she dreamed or something she actually experienced, it’s clear that this passage describes a disturbance in the relationship that she has enjoyed with her beloved. You see a real contrast between this scene we’re going to be looking at today and the much more intimate scenes that precede it.
Let’s look at chapter 3 of the Song of Solomon, the first five verses: “By night on my bed I sought the one I love.”
Now, let me just stop there and say, notice that phrase, “The one I love,” because you’re going to see that phrase four times in the first four verses of this chapter—“The one I love.” And when you’re doing Bible study, by the way, highlight repeated phrases or concepts. It will help you notice what’s being emphasized. He’s the one she loves. She calls him that. And she says:
By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him. "I will rise now," I said, "And go about the city; in the streets and in the squares, I will seek the one I love." I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, "Have you seen the one I love?" Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go. (vv. 3–4)
Let’s stop right there for the moment. If we were to outline this paragraph, we could do it, perhaps, with three words: Missing. Seeking. Finding. Missing the one I love, seeking the one I love, and finding the one I love.
I think this paragraph gives us insight into seasons in a marriage when intimacy has been broken—missing the intimacy, seeking intimacy, and finding intimacy. It gives us insight into seasons of life when our fellowship with Christ can be broken, when we’re not experiencing with Him the intimacy that we once knew.
So, verse 1, we find this bride in bed—“By night on my bed.” We don’t know whether she’s dreaming or if she’s awake, but she’s realizing that something is wrong. “By night on my bed, I sought the one I love.” The implication here is that something has come between them; something has separated them.
Now, at the end of chapter 2, remember we talked about the Mountains of Bether? That word means separation. “You go out on the mountains. I’ll stay right here.” Well, he does go out on the mountains. She doesn’t arise and come away immediately as he has called for her to do. So here she finds herself alone on her bed, missing her beloved. And she’s really missing him.
She’s lost this companionship, this sweetness of the fellowship that they experienced at one time. And in the English, it says here, “By night on my bed I sought the one I love.” The actual word is plural “nights.” Night after night—this wasn’t just one moment. This was a season of time. “By nights on my bed—over a period of time—I sought the one I love.”
She missed him. The fellowship was not as sweet and intimate as it had been at one time. She had thought it was so wonderful to be here in the bedchamber with him, but now he’s gone out into the mountains and hills and circumstances of life, and she has stayed behind, and she realizes that she has lost the intimacy that she cherished.
And so she begins to pursue restoration of that intimacy—missing, seeking—missing the one I love, seeking the one I love. Love will always seek the loved one. When you lose the one that you love, you will seek after restoration. She is not content to be without him. She’s not content to stay separated from him.
Listen, an evidence that we belong to Christ is that when you lose the sense of His presence, you go seek Him. You go looking to have that intimacy restored.
Charles Spurgeon said it this way: “Love cannot bear to be a distance from the loved one. Where there is true love to Jesus Christ, we cannot bear to be away from Him.”
Well, she says, “By night on my bed I sought the one I love.” Now, you say, “It seems pretty obvious he’s not there. Why are you seeking on your bed?” Well, she starts where she is, and this is the first part of the search that’s convenient. It’s easy. There’s no great effort required. She can just roll over to see if he’s there. “Have I just missed him somewhere? Is he on this great big bed somewhere?” She’s concerned, but she’s not really desperate yet.
And so she says, “I sought him.” Where did she seek him? On her bed, “but I didn’t find him. He’s not there.”
Now, throughout this passage I see a bride who’s honest. She’s not pretending to have something that she knows she doesn’t have. “I sought him, but I did not find him.”
We’ve all had times like this. I know I have—many times—when my heart is cold. It feels distant from the Lord. There’s a breach in my fellowship or my relationship with Him. We all know what it is to go to church services, to be in our quiet time, and to come away feeling that we’ve not met with Him.
When that’s the case, don’t pretend. Be honest. Be honest with the Lord. Be honest, perhaps, with a few close friends and say, “I’m seeking for Him, but I’m not sensing His presence in my life right now.”
Now, notice in this passage that when we delay in responding to His call, as she did in the previous passage, you may find that it’s more difficult to find Him once you do go seeking. It’s better—so much better—to respond to Him when He first calls.
This bride doesn’t immediately experience the restoration of the intimacy. And once we have lost the presence of our Beloved, we don’t always find Him as soon as we start searching.
I’m convinced, looking back over years of my Christian journey, that disappointment and unfulfilled longings for Christ make us more desperate for Him. They press us to seek Him more earnestly.
So here’s a bride who is not satisfied to go on without him. She’s not willing to continue in that separated condition. And so she says in verse 2: “I will rise now.” She doesn’t give up. She doesn’t go back to sleep or say, “Wait till morning, and I’ll go find him.” She gets up. She resolves to do whatever it takes to find him.
Now, remember in the previous chapter, he said to her, “Arise, my love, my fair one. Come away.” She’s finally willing to rise, willing to move, to get up off her bed—during the night. She’s willing to have her sleep disturbed. She’s willing to take intentional steps to find him.
It reminds me of the Prodigal Son in Luke chapter 15 saying from his position in the pig pen, “What have I done? I will rise now and go back to my father.” It’s a repentant heart. “I’ll get up. I will do whatever it takes to find him.”
As I’ve been meditating on this passage, I wonder: Don’t you think that she must have been wishing that she had risen sooner, when he first called her?
But, if you haven’t risen sooner, rise now. She’s finally responding. “I will rise now.”
I wonder: How many times has God wanted to be found by us, but we just rolled over and went back to sleep? Listen, we’re not likely to find Him as long as we’re unwilling to rise—to rise up out of our current circumstances and go out and take intentional steps to seek Him.
That’s what she does. “I will rise now and go about the city. In the streets and in the squares, I will seek the one I love.”
Now, you see in this passage an intensified search. She starts looking on her bed. She can’t find him there. So she says, “I’ll get up, and I’ll go into the city, in the street, and in the squares.” You just have a feeling that she’s putting out this full-scale, all-out search, APB missing person. “I’ve GOT to find him!” This is a determined, resolved search. She’s saying in essence, “I am not going to stop until I have found him!” She’s going to keep seeking.
It’s the middle of the night, remember. That’s not exactly the easiest time to find someone who’s lost! But that’s not going to deter her. It deterred her in the previous chapter, where she said, “It’s night time. Till the shadows flee away, you go up on those mountains.” But now it’s night time, and she’s saying, “I’ve got to do whatever it takes. I can’t be without my beloved.”
She wants to check out every place where he could be. It’s a thorough search, a focused search. “In the streets, in the squares, I will seek the one I love.”
And that kind of thorough, focused, intentional, intense search is often required when we are seeking restored intimacy in our relationship with the Lord. It doesn’t just happen that you just find Him when you’ve lost the sense of His presence.
We have to be willing to turn our attention away from other competing desires, to focus on finding Him. You can’t seek the one you love while you’re seeking other things.
I’m convinced that so much of the noise and technology and games and toys that we have are, I think, a huge reason why so few Christians are experiencing intimacy in their relationship with the Lord—watching television, watching movies, Facebooking, news junkie. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with those things, but the perpetual input of those things into our lives is, I think, a big part of what is keeping us from really hearing His voice and experiencing His reality in our lives.
Listen, this is my own story, my own testimony. I think of how often I am multi-tasking (or trying to.) You really can’t. You really can only do one thing at a time. But when I’m trying to multi-task, I’m not really focusing well on any one thing. But it’s so hard for me to sit still, to be quiet, to pursue the Lord intentionally and earnestly.
I’m finding I’ve got to be willing to put down my iPhone—put it in a different room if I have to—put down Facebook, put down the remote control, put down the iPad.
I have a teenage friend who posted on Facebook recently that she was going off Facebook so she could play soccer. Well, I talked to her mom and found out that the reason she had to go “off Facebook so she could play soccer was that she needed to get her grades up, and Facebook was proving to be a distraction in getting her grades up. If she didn’t get her grades up, she couldn’t play soccer.
I read that, and I thought, “But we won’t go off Facebook so we can seek Him, find Him, and know Him?”
Now, I’m not slamming Facebook . . . unless it becomes a distraction that keeps you from knowing Christ, walking with Him, seeing Him.
There’s a devotional book that I’ve loved and read numerous times over the years called, The Seeking Heart. Do you have a seeking heart? Or are you content with where you are, what you have, and what you know of Jesus?
- How badly do you want Him?
- Are you desperate to find Him?
- Are you willing to leave your bed and go about the city?
- Are you willing to go to greater lengths to find Him?
- Are you willing to make sacrifices, to extend yourself, to be inconvenienced?
What are you willing to deny yourself in order to have a more intimate relationship with Christ? Food? Sleep? Pleasure? Friends at times? Is anything too great a price to pay in order to find the supreme treasure—Christ?
Now, I’m not saying never eat, never sleep, never have pleasure, never have friends. But I am saying so many of us are so full of all those things that we don’t have an intense appetite for Christ. We’ve got to be willing. God’s been speaking to me about this, as I’ve been in this study, about the need to put down some of those things, put away some of those things for seasons, for times . . . maybe just minutes or hours or days perhaps . . . in order to seek Him.
Well, her search is still unrewarded. She says, “I went in the city. I went in the streets and in the squares searching for him. I sought him, but I did not find him.” It’s the second time she says that. “I sought him.” She’s seeking.
Do you ever feel that way? I’m seeking, but I’m not finding Him.
Let me again quote my friend Charles Spurgeon who says: “Sometimes the most eager search does not at once obtain its end. For wise reasons, Christ sometimes hides himself from his seeking people.”
You ever think about that? I think He wants us to realize how much we need Him, and how much He really does mean to us. And perhaps He wants us to realize that we have been filled with other things for so long that we need to get them out of our system. Some of us need to get de-toxed from the IV that the world has been pumping into our hearts and minds. We need to get re-focused on seeking Him.
Well, the bride doesn’t find him immediately. It requires a process. It requires time and effort. I can imagine at this point it must have been tempting for her to give up, but she doesn’t give up. I love that about her.
It reminds me of a mother searching in a mall for a lost child. Is that mother going to give up? No matter how long it takes . . . some of you said, “No way!” That’s the picture of this bride. “I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to be deterred.” Are you that way in seeking for the Lord, in seeking your Beloved, in seeking Christ?
She says in verse 3: “The watchmen who go about the city found me.” The watchmen in the Song of Solomon, I think, is a picture of spiritual leaders, pastors, godly men and women who care for our souls. And she asks them, “Have you seen the one that I love?” So she inquires of others who know him, and of those who were entrusted with the spiritual care of the flock of God. She solicits their help.
I love that she’s not ashamed, not embarrassed to ask for help. “I need help! Can you help me find him?” She’s not embarrassed to declare her love. “Can you help me find the one I love? Have you see him?” She declares her longings.
But we see as we go on in this passage that not even these watchmen can solve her problem. I’m reminded that spiritual leaders have their place. They’re important. They can be helpful. It’s wise to go and seek counsel and input from them, but ultimately you cannot expect any other human to restore your relationship with Christ. Those people are only meant to lead or point us to Him.
When you’ve read all the books, and you’ve been to all the seminars, and you’ve spoken to all the counselors, if you really want to get intimacy restored with Christ, you’re going to have to get past all of those resources, those people—wonderful as they may be—and get to the Wonderful Counselor.
She says to the watchmen, “Have you seen the one I love?” Apparently she’s still not able to find him at that point. But then she says in verse 4: “Scarcely had I passed by them . . ." She went on just a little further, just a little bit further "when I found the one I love.” Her search is rewarded!
It doesn’t say where he is. It doesn’t say how she found him. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that those who seek, and those who keep seeking, will find Him. It makes me wonder: How often do we give up just short of finding Him? What if she’d stopped at those watchmen? I love that phrase: “Scarcely had I passed by them.” What if she’d stopped ten minutes earlier?
Some of us just stop short of finding that place of intimacy with Christ that He wants us to experience. She says, “I found the one I love. I found him!” She’s not satisfied with anything or anyone less, nothing else.
It’s not enough to find sound doctrine—important as that is. It’s not enough to know more about Him or just to be with people who know Him—as great as all that is. None of those things can take the place of personal, intimate communion with Him.
I think about a song we used to sing when I was a young girl—I haven’t heard it in a long time—but:
All my life long I had panted
For a draught from some cool spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings;
Through His life I now am saved.
("Satisfied" by Clara Tear Williams)
Well, she says, “I found him. I held him, and I would not let him go.”
In the earlier passages, when they were together alone, I think she must have thought: “I couldn’t possibly love him any more than I do now.” But now that she has missed his presence, sought his presence, and found his presence, he is much more precious to her than ever. She doesn’t want to ever lose him again. So she clings more tightly, with greater fervor than previously. Before, she might have taken him for granted. But not again. “I held him and would not let him go.”
Isn’t it the mercy and the kindness of Christ that, when we fail to heed His call, when we allow barriers to come up in our relationship with Him, He still promises that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him.
Tthen when His presence is restored, don’t you find that you hold more tightly to Him? You don’t want to be without Him again. You want to cling to Him, not let Him go. And you want to be willing now to go out with Him into the mountains and hills. We’re going to see in the next section that she does go out with him into the mountains and hills and vineyards.
Would you say today that perhaps you have lost a sense of His presence and the intimacy that you have experienced with Him in the past? I know that numerous times during my study of this series I have had to say to the Lord, “My heart is dry. It’s barren. It’s cold. I don’t love You like I did at one time and like I want to.”
You know that you’re in union with Christ—you belong to Him—but you’ve lost your communion with Him. Maybe because there’s a call that you’ve not heeded, maybe because of little foxes that you have allowed to eat away at the root system of your relationship with Him, maybe there are things that stand between you and Him.
Don’t be content until you can say, “I have found the one I love.” And when you have found Him, purpose in your heart to hold Him close and not let Him go.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering you an invitation. If you’ve drifted from the Lord, seek after Him like a bride seeking a husband that she misses. Nancy’s teaching on the Song of Solomon is part of a series called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.”
So how do you pursue the Lord if you’re not as close as you’d like? We’d like to help you by getting you into God’s Word. Nancy has written a workbook called, A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. You’ll seek after the Lord in some of Nancy’s favorite psalms, and you’ll follow up your reading with questions to help you understand the passage you’re reading and to make it personal to your life.
We’d like to send you A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. It’s our gift when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Ask for it when you make a donation of any size. Our number is 1-800-569-5959, or get the workbook by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.
When Christ called you to Himself, He took joy in you. Now, you know how imperfect you were. Why would you bring Him so much joy? Nancy will explain that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
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 10 – Unheeded Love 3: Missing, Seeking, Finding (Song of Songs 3:1–5)
1. I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him (3:1). Is there a breech or a barrier in your intimacy with Christ? Have you lost the sense of His presence you once had in your life?
What steps have you taken to seek Him?
Do you ever feel that you are seeking Christ, but you can’t find Him? What do you think keeps you from finding Him?
2. When was the last time you were desperate for Christ? Do you have a seeking heart, or are you content with where you are with Jesus? How badly do you want Him?
How could you cultivate a greater longing for intimacy with Him?
3. I will rise now. . . . I will seek the one I love (3:2). What are some steps you could take to experience restored fellowship with Jesus?
4. I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” (3:3). What is the difference between asking others to help you get closer to Christ and looking to them to restore your relationship with Him? How can you get past them and get to your Beloved?
5. I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go (3:4). Have you found Him? If not, keep on seeking! Don’t be content until you can say, “I have found the one I love.” When you have found Him, purpose to hold Him close and not let Him go!
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Topics: The Son