Song of Solomon 5:7 “They smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.” The bride refused the bridegroom’s call and waited until it was too late to respond to him. Then, when she sought him, she could not find him. Think of the stern warning Wisdom gives in the first chapter of Proverbs: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded…Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me” (Proverbs 1:24,28). Surely the bride was experiencing the grim result of disregarding Wisdom’s way.
But, there was worse to come. Not only had the bride lost what she wanted, she found what she did not want: abusive watchmen. The foolish person not only misses out on the blessing of wisdom’s ways; he also exposes himself to great ruin. Listen to the solemn edict found in the last verses of the warning: “For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil” (Proverbs 1:32-33).
How true this was in the life of the bride! Her “turning away” from her husband in his time of need led to her wandering around in the darkness and being beaten. Her “prosperity” led to her downfall, for she was too taken with her own comforts—her clean feet and sweetly scented hands— to be bothered to care for the one who cared for her.
By God’s mercy, she was not “slain” and “destroyed,” but she was “smitten” and “wounded.” Only unbelievers are totally destroyed by their rebellion; believers are chastened and restored. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compasssions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). She was not destroyed, but she was a living example of one who did not “hearken” to her husband and experienced the pain of not living in safety. No quiet peace for her! The bride was in terror because of the evil befalling her.
Here is another thought worth considering. Have you ever noticed who hurt her and who robbed her? The watchmen found and wounded her; the keepers of the wall robbed her. Do you see the oppositional parallelism? Those who were hired to watch and safeguard, instead found and hurt her; those who were hired to maintain the safety barriers, instead heartlessly robbed her of the small safety barrier she possessed…her veil…her only fragile “wall” of protection from exposure and cold.
What a striking picture of the false shepherd spoken of by Jesus in John 10, who ends up stealing and destroying instead of giving his life for the sheep. Woe to those who claim to be shepherds of God’s sheep, watchers and keepers of his children, but who act unfaithfully and unscrupulously. Woe to those who attempt to do the work of God in the power of their own flesh. They will fail and hurt many others in the process, “because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).
I have a dear friend whose pastor absconded with the church funds and left him feeling so terribly burned that he never wanted to risk serving on a deacon board again. I have a very close relative who has never set foot inside a church door since the day the minister at her church was arrested for showing up dressed as a woman and tried to pick up a man (who turned out to be an undercover agent) in a gay bar. In this day and age, it seems that everyone has a story about the minister who took off with his secretary.
These are false shepherds…wicked watchmen who abuse and steal…who dishearten and drive away the tender, wounded souls that are searching so desperately for their Lord. Oh, God, deliver us from such men! Please deliver us from evil…from temptation…from ever becoming such a person! Please help us to always hear your voice and follow only you, recognizing and turning away from those who would fleece instead of keep us. And, please teach us true wisdom and compassion so that we miss the sin and error of becoming false watchmen to those who look to us for guidance.