Song of Solomon 4:13-14 Last week we discussed the characteristics of the nine plants which grew in King Solomon’s (metaphorical garden) wife. This week, let’s consider the fruits of the Spirit, which are grown in the King’s garden of our heart. There are nine fruits describing the delights to be found within the bride: pomegranates, camphire, spikenard, saffron, calamus, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, and aloes. Spiritually, there are nine fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Today, let’s consider the first five mentioned in each list and note the parallels.
How is love like a pomegranate?…in fact, “an orchard of pomegranates”? First, just as the pomegranates were most to be desired, and the whole center of the garden was an orchard showcasing these magnificent fruits, so love is the greatest fruit of the Spirit, for God himself is Love, and “the greatest of these [gifts of the Spirit] is love” (I Corinthians 13:13). Love is the hallmark of the Christian, and the whole center of our heart’s garden should be a wondrous orchard of beautiful, colorful, fragrant, delightfully satisfying love.
Camphire—intensely fragrant; found at weddings and celebrations, clustered at the breast, or perfuming a home… As the pomegranate of love sustains life, so the camphire of joy adds fragrance to every celebration, heart, and home. Joy beautifies those who apply it to their hands and feet, their faces, and even those about them! Joy is the “bath salt” that makes the every day necessities (like cleansing) become a pleasant experience. I wonder—am I radiant with joy?
Spikenard—not native to most of the world, but found growing free, high up on remote mountain sides; rare, costly, and very precious; given as a special anointing to our Lord before he faced the cruelty of man and the wrath of God. What is more rare or more precious than peace? What is it that we find when we climb the mountainsides with God? What makes it possible for us to face the lions’ dens and walk on in faith, though our lips may tremble and our feet may falter? What did Jesus give us when He left? “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). May our hearts’ garden always keep some high ground where peace flourishes.Saffron—subtle but distinct; requires 4,000 blossoms to produce one ounce of spice. Is it easy to see how “longsuffering”…“patience” is like saffron? Think of the patience required to gather 4,000 blossoms! The next time we are enduring a trial, let us remember the 4,000 single flowers that are required to gather an ounce of saffron and hope that it takes fewer than 4,000 trials to develop an ounce of patience in us!
Calamus—made from a broken, crushed reed, used in combination with other ingredients to prepare those who ministered at the temple, mentioned only rarely in Scripture…are there metaphorical similarities to the fruit of the Spirit known as gentleness? Yes! Gentleness is also mentioned only a handful of times in Scripture, but it is one of the necessary “ingredients” found in a man prepared for service in the church. “But the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men…” (2 Timothy 2:24); “Put them in mind…to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Titus 3:1-2). Like calamus, gentleness comes from being broken and crushed—not our spirits, but our wills. God breaks our wills like a horse trainer breaks a young stallion…not to discourage us, but to make us useful. But, “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth” (Isaiah 42:3). Our precious Lord takes our wills and allows them to be ground to powder, so that we might become gentle under his hand, but he does not break and crush our spirit. He revives our bruised and smoldering spirit, and with a gentle touch, draws us into his likeness: “Thy gentleness hath made me great” (Psalm 18:35). “So tender and precious is He; Contented with Jesus I’ll be! (From “The Way that He Loves,” by W. Elmo Mercer)
How is the garden of your heart coming? I’m afraid mine needs quite a bit of work. May the fruits of the Spirit grow and abound in our hearts!