We take up this song of perfect love again as we listen to the words of others who have heard the woman extol the delights of her man. She has said great things about him, but he does not appear to be with her.
Others are not always entirely welcome in a special relationship between a man and a woman. They can be very helpful and supportive. Sometimes they do that by staying away and letting the two lovers be by themselves. Sometimes their presence, their advice, and their questions can be a problem, even when they want to present themselves as those who are only trying to help.
This is especially the case when there is an appearance of some difficulty. A subtle question is not always as innocent and supportive as the one asking it may pretend. Remember this one? “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” To respond to a question rightly may require more insight than we possess into the heart of the person asking it.
“Where has your beloved gone?” Where indeed? These others claim that they are asking this question in order to aid in the search. Maybe, but maybe not. Where is her beloved? Will she allow herself to believe some lie? Does she lack a sense of his presence because he has abandoned her? Has he changed his mind about her beauty or about his love? Has he found someone else? Is he confused about his intentions?
These suggestions are entirely false. She knows her man, and she speaks faithfully about him. If he appears to be gone, it must be for some good reason consistent with his love and dedication. He has gone down to his garden. He is gathering good things. Earlier he had said that she was his garden. Do the others understand this? Never mind… She will just reiterate these great words with confidence for anyone who wants to know: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
Suddenly, whether in her dream or in the world of wonder where these lovers meet, he speaks! Has her statement of their union in love prompted his response of assurance? She is still beautiful to him. His word is her assurance. His love for her has not diminished in the least. Listen to what he says: “Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me.” He has not changed his thoughts about even one part of her body. Her faith in him is certainly justified. In his eyes there is simply no one else like her.
As far as others who would like to gaze at her, if other women want to acknowledge that she is praiseworthy and that she is greatly blessed, who can deny them that right? If they wish to sing of the greatness of her man who speaks to her from on high, they can do so. If they did not praise him then surely the rocks themselves would cry out about his glory. And of course, she herself is perfectly free to speak of the love that is already theirs, and to anticipate the glory of what is ahead of them in the full consummation of their holy passion for each other.
But if there are others who must be told to stand back, if there are men who would suppose that they could look on her as one who is less than holy, as their own love interest, like some girl who does an enticing dance before two armies, they will be turned away by his command. He will protect this relationship as it grows. Others may praise, but they will not be able to destroy.
She is his, and he is hers. He protects His garden from would-be friends who may have evil intentions. Their words will not be accepted at face value. He knows his own plans, and he is able to test those who claim to be celebrating this love but who may secretly seek to lead her into fear and unbelief.
Communion with the Lord in this present age is not without complexity. We who have been claimed as the bride of the great Man of heaven must not allow ourselves to listen to other voices than His. He speaks to us in His Word, even when His glorious body may seem uncomfortably distant in the midst of our own nightmares and the threats of deceivers.
There is so much that we do not know. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted and led into the murky waters of unclean spiritual exploration. We can trust the Word of Christ. His promises are certain. We should speak out the truth. “We belong to Jesus, and He belongs to us.” Don’t be afraid to speak up. Let that declaration of faith in worship be followed by an ear that is eager to hear what your Beloved has to say to you as His Word is proclaimed. Listen for His unchanging love. The glorious wedding of Christ and the church is a certain reality. No enemy can snatch you out of the hand of your King.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Holy Father, Your Son has gone to be with You, yet He is with us even now somehow. We hear His voice of love in Your Word, and feel our communion with Him in the supper of love that He gave to us. We are greatly blessed. Your Son calls us back to Himself moment by moment. Why would we ever wander from Him? We anticipate the great day of our love even now. Our Husband is somehow with us, though our soul yet longs for Him as if He were gone. We will wait for our great Husband. No other lover will do. No crowd of admirers could every satisfy us.