Song of Solomon 4:12 “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” What a beautiful metaphor our Lord gives us! We are his garden. From the inception of the world, God was a gardener, and although he originally made a garden for man’s home, where man might enjoy communion with him, since the fall God has been making each of our hearts into a garden home where he may dwell and commune with us.
Such an enclosed, secret garden is private. It is not common ground: it is set apart for a special purpose. Gardens are not left to random circumstance but are planted with careful forethought and design. The produce from a private garden is not generally for commercial sale the way farm produce is sold; the fruit is for private enjoyment. Finally, the purpose of a private garden is the pleasure of the owner. There may be trees of great beauty in the garden that could be sold for timber, but the sound of the ax will not be heard. There may be fruit trees that honey the air with their fragrance when they burst into springtime blossom and hang heavy with succulent fruits in the fall, but no migrant workers will camp under their boughs and strip away the fruits. There may be beds of prize roses, but the roses will not be sold at the market in town or auctioned off at a county fair.
Oh, the master of the garden may pick a choice apple now and then, and his children may scramble up a nut tree, shaking the branches until enough walnuts tumble down to fill their pails, but there will be no strangers tramping the grounds. It is a “garden enclosed,” private. The master’s wife may gather some of the sweet smelling flowers to perfume her hair; the cook may bring in some of the herbs to season his roast for dinner; the gardener may gather an offering of flaming roses to adorn the table…but all under the auspices of the one who owns the garden, and only as he allows.
“A garden…” We are the Lord’s garden. We have been set apart for a special purpose—not left to random circumstance, but planted with careful forethought and design. God does not intend that the talents he has given us will be sold at the marketplace of the world. Everything we are and have should be dedicated to him, for his use and his pleasure. Are you a great walnut tree? Do not long to become fine furniture; be content to please the master and provide nourishment for his children. Are you a prize rose bush that could be sold for a great amount in the market place and admired by many? Can’t you see that the greatest privilege in life is to delight the heart of the gardener who planted and lovingly developed you into all that you are? Allow your blooms to gladden his heart and perfume his path.
“A garden enclosed…” The Hebrew word translated “enclosed” is na’al and means “locked and bolted; barred” (Brown-Driver-Briggs, 653). It is accessible only to the one who has the key. “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself” (Psalm 4:3). We are His garden, walled off from the world by the Lord himself.
Do you enjoy gardening? A garden without a wall will soon be a garden in ruins. We have a six foot wire fence around our garden to keep out the deer and rabbits, but wire fencing won’t keep out the weeds, and what a battle we have to keep ahead of the weeds which creep in from every side and blow in unseen as tiny seeds on every gust of wind! We have a gate on our fence, but there is no lock on the gate, and strangers could enter and steal some of our lovingly developed produce.
What a picture of our hearts! We need a high wall—a solid wall—a wall with an entrance which is barred and locked—to keep out all that would destroy: the creeping weeds of this life’s business…the “better” things that keep us from the “best;” the seeds of sin, so deep within the soil of our hearts, but also blown in on every wind of contact with the world; the marauding animals of temptation that burrow under and squeeze through the cracks under cover of night; the strange women and evil men who would steal into our hearts and through covetous actions (theirs and ours) strip away the fruits of love, joy, peace, and every good thing, leaving us barren and devastated.
Instead, the Lord has made us “a garden enclosed,” walled round about by himself (Zechariah 2:5), with God the Father as the husbandman. A garden needs constant care, and God himself is the one who so tenderly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). God himself will make us “paradise regained.” He will set us apart and root out the weeds of sin until we are at last chaste and pure…protected like the New Jerusalem: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth” (Revelation 21:27).
“A garden enclosed,” a hidden garden…a secret place of beauty and refreshment…an exotic setting in nature for relaxation and delight to fill up the senses of the one who enters there. This is what we are to our heavenly lover!!