Rise Up, My Love (112): The Chains God Puts around our Necks

Chains of Gold. British MuseumSong of Solomon 4:9 “Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.” Solomon’s bride was adorned with golden chains about her neck (1:10; 4:4). The chains were doubtless very exquisite works of art, but could any ornament—no matter how elaborate and beautiful—arouse a man to passion?…especially a necklace that was most likely a gift from Solomon himself?

Efforts to entice a man by ornamentation alone (particularly those which he’s provided), would probably be destined for failure…as is so aptly described in Proverbs 11:22, “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” But, when the outward adornment is preceded by the first fruits of godly love, as revealed by the look in her eyes, the bride’s jeweled neck served to heighten the king’s passion. Why? Certainly the brilliance of the jewelry would attract him, particularly against the backdrop of her beautiful neck, but perhaps he was even more aroused by what the chain symbolized.

There were likely many chains about the bride’s neck, but the king says that just one chain was enough to impassion Him. What about the chains stirred him? What did they represent in his mind that so aroused Him?

As a woman, I have discovered a special sense of possession that comes to a man when you wear things he has given. What woman has not felt the flush of appreciation when a man offers her his sweater on a particularly chilly day? She feels foolish for failing to have given proper forethought to prepare for her own needs, but she feels very grateful for the man’s sacrifice and provision to care for her. The man also feels a sense of nobility…and rightly so…for having “rescued a damsel in distress.”

Any man may care for any woman in such a gracious fashion (or vica versa!), but the more a man provides for a woman, the more he develops a sense of protection…which may gradually turn into a sense of possession. Caring for basic necessities is part of our calling as believers: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Offering—and receiving—gifts is an entirely different matter. A gift says something more than “I am concerned about you as a child of God’s creation.” It says, “I care about you in a special way.” The more extravagant the gift, the stronger the statement.

I wear a wedding ring as  a symbol of my husband’s honor and protection. And, my husband loves my ring as much as I do…if not more…because it reminds him again of his love for me. I have seen him reach down and admire it sometimes when he sits beside me at church, and then he smiles at me. This, I think, may be one of the things that so delighted the king when he saw his beloved adorned with a beautiful golden chain about her neck. He may have been reminded of all the love and passion that first inspired him to give her such a gift.

There is something else which might have aroused the bridegroom’s passion: the contrast between the bride as he was enjoying her at the moment, and the bride as he could remember her from their first meeting. Do you remember one of the bride’s first pleas? “Look not upon me, because I am black” (1:6). Look at the description our Lord gives in Ezekiel. 16:1-14. He takes us as (spiritually) unwanted, unwashed orphans, causes us to live, brings us up tenderly, and then marries us when we’re of age and in need of a husband! “I washed thee with water…I clothed thee also with broidered work…I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck…and a beautiful crown upon thine head…And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.”

May we ever contemplate his amazing grace—although I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand it—and may we never lose our adoration and appreciation for him. May we never, ever fall into the terrible treachery of “trusting in our own beauty” or of going astray because of our success, as happened to Israel in Ezekiel. May we never forget that the development of anything of beauty in us comes only from the Lord’s “comeliness, which I had put upon thee.”

When our Lord finds us, we are black with sin and bond slaves bound by the chains of Satan. But, what is the joyous call of God? “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments…shake thyself from the dust…loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 52:1-2). Like Zion of old, we are the bride of Christ…awakened from the dead, released from the chains of sin, and to be beautified like “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).

The chains of sin have been broken, and the chains of Christ’s love are gracing our necks! Yes, we are bound, but with the “bands of love;” Christ is to us “as they that take off the yoke on their jaws” (Hosea 11:4) and has invited us instead to “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:29).

What are the chains of love Christ provides for our neck? One is the way of wisdom, which “shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Proverbs 1:9). Another one is the “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (I Peters 3:4). It is all the graces with which our Lord has enriched our spirit, provided by his precious blood and fashioned together like links in a golden necklace: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, faith, hope, wisdom, and on and on! The graces of his Spirit sparkle like links in a golden chain, adorning our necks and arousing our Lord’s ardor for us! Oh, the treasures he has provided for his beloved. May we wear his gifts with head erect and eyes aglow, ever gazing in adoration at our Lord and Savior!

 

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