Song of Solomon 6:2 “My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.” Notice the bridegroom’s love. He was the one who had been rejected and mistreated. How did he respond? Did he spurn her, reject her, lecture her, or exact a clear confession of her sin to him? The restoration of their fellowship was not primarily based on her sincere repentance—although her brokenhearted actions give mute testimony to its existence; the focus of their reunion is the fact that the husband did not turn away from her. Despite her careless rejection, he still loved her and desired her!
He didn’t give her a cold shoulder when they met again; he welcomed her into the warmth of his embrace! Only rarely does the world seem to give some insight into true love, but there is a beautiful quotation in Shakespeare’s much loved Romeo and Juliet that seems to capture a hint of God’s love for us, and I can almost imagine the bridegroom whispering such a reassurance to his bride at this time of reunion: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”
He didn’t need to scold her, because he was too overjoyed to see her. He didn’t need to hear her confession, because he’d already forgiven her. What love our Lord has for us! It is pictured so perfectly in the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son, who demanded his inheritance early, left home, wasted all his money, and then returned in rags and remorse to his father. The son’s heart cried, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son” (Luke 15:21). But, what was the Father’s heart?
Before the son had a chance to get close enough to speak, “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). And, what was the father’s response to his son’s confession? “Yes, boy, you were a real fool, and I’ve regretted ever having you. You’ve humiliated me in front of the whole village and all our friends think I must have been a terrible father to have such a wicked, shiftless son. You’ve caused your mother endless grief…she’s cried every night since you left. You should be ashamed of yourself. You don’t deserve to be called our son anymore, but I guess if you want to be like one of our hired servants, I won’t turn you away. You can sleep in the barn until you find some place to stay, and I’ll find you some leftovers from our supper to tide you over until you can earn enough to feed yourself. I hope you appreciate my generosity and compassion.”
You may laugh, but that is actually what the son deserved to hear…even from a “good” father. The letter of the law would have refused to have anything to do with such a rebellious, wicked son. Human goodness would have probably gone as far as the lecture above. But, look at grace, wonderful grace! What did Jesus say the father (Father!) really said? “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him: and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again: he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:22-24).
Oh, dear brothers and sisters, stand with me, amazed in the presence of such divine love! Comprehend with me a glimmering of the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ. Have you refused him at some point? Have you sought him with your whole heart? See him running toward you with arms outstretched, eager to hold you again in his embrace! Come home. Know again the rapture of his love!
“Driven to the desert, to seek the Lord apart,
His Spirit touched my spirit, His whispers reached my heart—
“Far, far on that untrodden shore, God’s secret place I find,
Alone I pass the golden door, the desert left behind.” —L.M. McPhee