The great man of this love song calls the glorious woman of his heart by many beautiful names. She is his love, his sister, his bride. These are not unexpected. But he also calls her his garden. This is unusual but wonderful. A garden is a special place to live and to enjoy. It is not the public square, but a place where no one can enter without invitation. He has been given happy permission to explore her.
In a lovely garden there is much to see, but our sight is not the only gift that God has given to us. All of the man’s senses are able to enjoy his garden. He looks not at a two-dimensional representation of the one he loves. He comes to his garden. He breathes in the spices that fill the air. He eats and drinks all that is delightful. Everything there is pleasant and truly good.
Though the garden is private, there is some communal awareness affirming the beauty of all that takes place. The others address the man and the woman as friends. They tell them to eat and drink, yes even to be drunk with love.
Suddenly we are inside the dreaming mind of the woman. Where are we in her dreams? When is this happening? How can we sort out what she describes? In her dream she is full of desire for her man, her beloved. She is at the door of some place. Is it her mother’s house again? Is it a memory of what life once was like, something that needs some resolution? She hears a knock on the door. Is it he? O, how she wants to be with him. She hears his voice, “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one.” But can she see him? Can she feel his embrace? He too wants to be on the other side of the door, to be inside her room, out of the rain and the night.
The dream continues. Should she open the door? She has already taken off her garment, washed her feet, and is prepared for bed. Yet he puts his hand to the latch, and her heart is thrilled within her. She rises up to open the door. Her hands are dripping with liquid myrrh as she moves them to unlock the bolt that protects her from the outside. But now the great man is gone! She seeks him but cannot find him. She calls to him, but he gives no answer.
Now she is outside, and the dream becomes strange and dark. Why can’t the watchmen, the leaders in Jerusalem and the women of the city tell her where the great man of her heart can be found? No, the ones who should be shepherds and ambassadors of the king beat her badly. They take off her veil of modesty. What will the true king, the lover of this beautiful woman, do when he returns? But then this is a dream, or is it a remembrance of the days when those who should have been directing people to the Lord were instead abusing those who sought Him? Someone find the man and tell him that the perfect woman of his desire is sick with longing for him!
Suddenly the women of Jerusalem need to be reminded about the great king, the lover of this glorious bride. Why is he so much better than all the rest? She now testifies to all those who will hear about the wonder of this shepherd, this king. He is shining and strong, and there is no one like him. His head is the finest gold, and his hair is black and full of life. He earlier had said that her eyes were like doves, but now His are the same. They are holiness and peace to her as hers are to him.
She will not hold back her praise. She is not ashamed to speak of him to all who will hear.
What would it smell like to lie down on a bed of fragrant spices? It is just as overwhelming even to kiss his cheeks. His lips are lilies dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are strong, mighty, and beautiful, gold ornamented with jewels. As he earlier saw behind her veil and even beneath her garment, she speaks boldly about his body of polished ivory. Everything is better than the best, most precious and beautiful. His mouth is most sweet. He said that she was desirable, and she readily testifies to the truth that he is altogether desirable.
She calls this great man her friend. We do not need to fear even death if that enemy is the road that leads us to a closer embrace of this best of all men.
Is the existence of our Husband just a dream of our lovesick souls? No, we have heard of the cross by which He proved His love. We have received His words, and we have the report of His life in the world that is beyond misery. His love for us is a proven fact, written in the testimony of his own blood. His disciples witnessed His glory and saw Him ascend into heaven. We shall be His garden. He desires us, and He will not be denied. Behold, He stands at the door and knocks.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, we have heard of our Husband and our Redeemer. We dream of Him, yet we walk in a world of danger. We long to wake in Your presence on a glorious day. Where is Jesus now? We need to hear His voice. Why are Your ministers hurting Your church? Will they beat us because we are lovesick for Jesus Christ? Can they not celebrate the love of Christ with us? Please teach them to speak to us of His greatness. Show them the One that we must have, for we only want to know the glories of our Husband.