Rise Up, My Love (141): Who are Christ’s Beloved Friends?

CreationSong of Solomon 5:1 “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” The term “beloved” is the Hebrew dodim, which is plural; literally, “beloveds” or “beloved ones.” The entire verse is one sentence, which is spoken by the husband in response to his wife’s invitation. The earlier portion of the verse speaks of the husband enjoying all the pleasures of his wife and is almost universally considered a metaphor for the physical union of marriage.

In this context, the last portion of the verse presents some challenging questions. Who are the friends of the bridegroom, and what exactly is his invitation?

Who are the “friends” of Christ? Some have suggested that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are the friends of Christ, and that this is his invitation for them to enjoy the bride with him, but I don’t think this can be right. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are truly a tri-unity, and as such they are inseparably one. In that sense, they are already one and therefore not “friends.” I would not address myself after I had just enjoyed a wonderful banquet with an “eat, O friends” invitation to eat again!

Contrarily, to whatever extent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate persons, the bride of Christ is always and only given to Christ alone. Scripture is uniquely monogamous from Genesis through Revelation. There is never, ever, a hint of anyone sharing his wife with anyone else (as a morally good thing). Throughout the ages of eternity, we shall be part and parcel of the body of Christ. Nowhere in Scripture is there any inference to being united as part of the “body” of God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Father and the Spirit are not bodies at all. Christ is the physical manifestation of God, and his bride, in some mysterious way, will become a part of that “body.” This is a mystery, but it is a mystery between Christ and his church.preparing-lunchesWho are the friends of Christ? Who are his beloved ones? This must be an invitation to the individual persons who have put their faith and trust in him. As individuals, we are his friends…his beloved ones. I cannot help but think this is an invitation for us as individual believers to enjoy the blessings and benefits of the church corporately and personally. I believe this is Christ’s invitation for us to enjoy all the fruits and fellowship of the church at large, and all the blessings and benefits of marriage as individuals.

“Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” Enjoy the church—partake of her fellowship and divine nature, her fruits and goodnesses, her charity and comforts. Drink in her kindness. Be blessed by communion within her gates. Bring the sacrifice of joy and praise our God together. The Church is for Christ, but it is also ours to benefit us as members together of one another, so don’t be reticent! Join in the banqueting and enjoy all that Christ has provided for us! Candle lightThen too, as individual believers, we may each take unto ourselves one mate to have and to hold. “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” See how Christ enjoys his bride! Imitate his love! Fill yourself with the love of your mate. Don’t hold back. Don’t hesitate. Understand that in love we may eat the honey and the honeycomb together…and drink the wine and the milk. It will not diminish the supply! There is an infinite supply of love flowing from the throne of God, and we may enjoy our mates with total abandon. “Drink abundantly!” Don’t fear you will love too much! Follow the example of Christ in enjoying all you’re offered! This is the liberty and privilege of believers. He has come to give us life, and life “more abundantly” (John 10:10)! Accept his offer and enjoy all he has given us.

(Since a notoriously perverted book and movie have come out recently in the U.S., I must add that marital relationships should always and ever be governed by genuine love, which includes the parameters found in Philippians 4:8, “ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.“)

Rise Up, My Love (139): Not Just the Honey, But the Comb

Honey. morgueFile by hotblackSong of Solomon 5:1 “I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk:” The honey is the elixir; the comb is where the honey is kept. Those who keep bees normally extract the honey from the comb but keep the honeycombs intact. The bridegroom’s saying he has eaten the honeycomb and the honey is like saying he has eaten everything. It signifies the completeness of his enjoyment. Carleen's honeycombThis is universally understood as a metaphor for the husband taking pleasure in his wife during sexual union. He has not simply partaken of her sweetness…he hasn’t just dipped his rod into the comb for a taste, as did Jonathan during battle (I Samuel 14:29). No, our Lord’s enjoyment of his bride is not a simple pass through. He did not sample her sweetness and then go on to look for something more to satisfy his taste. The picture is of one who has carefully scooped out the entire comb as it drips with sweetness and has delighted in every delicious morsel. It is a picture of lavish abandon. He did not have to take care to separate the honey from the comb; He was free to take it all—everything his wife was and produced—and make it a part of himself. He allowed her to completely satisfy his need for sweetness!SamsonAndLion_Francesco_HayezAnd here, pause for a moment to consider Christ. Isn’t he himself the essence of sweetness?! It is Christ who dwells in us like the honeycomb within the carcass of the dead lion that Samson found by the wayside (Judges 14:9). We were as dead as the lion…dead in “trespasses and sins,” but God’s Word, “sweeter also than honey and the honey comb” (Psalm 19:10) entered into us by his dear Spirit and produced the divine honey of love within our lives!Bee, goldenrodChrist produces the honey in our lives, and Christ freely imbibes the honey at our request. How our Lord longs to be invited to enjoy all that he has created in and from us! We are his garden, filled with his sweetness. “Let my beloved come!” we invite, and he responds at once, “I am come…I have gathered…I have eaten.” Jesus never asks for more than we have, but when invited, he takes all that we are. Not just the honey, but the comb! He eats it all and takes pleasure in all. In our communion, He takes us unto himself and makes us one with him. Bee

(Second picture of honey in comb from my bee-keeper daughter-in-law. Thanx!)

Rise Up, My Love (140): The Mystery of Christ’s Taking Pleasure in Us

LoveSong of Solomon 5:1 “I have drunk my wine with my milk.” Again, the metaphor conjures up visions of perfected fullness. He has drunk his wine and milk together. Milk is for a child…wine for an adult; milk is for nourishment and growth…wine is for the fullness of joy; milk is the natural outflow of reproduction, and speaks of that which is by God’s natural design…wine is distilled and speaks of God’s heavenly purposes. In taking his bride unto himself, the bridegroom imbibes that which meets the needs of both youth and age, that which nurtures and strengthens as well as bringing joy, that which satisfies the natural and the spiritual man. In his wife he experiences the satisfaction for his longings and the fullness of joy. Oh blissful, precious thought that our Lord could find such satisfaction in us!Jesus with woman at wellCan it be? If we could only grasp the reality of Christ’s love for us, wouldn’t we love sitting at his feet like Mary and communing with him above all other earthly delights (Luke 10:38-42)? It is a mystery to me that he could find such delight in his people, and yet I believe this is exactly what he is saying. We are to him more than the sweetest and the best physical pleasures. This is the “meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). Christ bringing his bride to himself meant more to him than physical food. In John chapter four, we see that he was more refreshed by a transformed life than by a drink of water! His enjoyment of his own is a greater delight than feasting on honey and wine. “O taste and see that the Lord is good,” and then invite him to enjoy the sweetness that he has also produced in us!


Rise Up, My Love (138): Blessings after Trials

Classic Downy Pose 2.19.15 copySong of Solomon 5:1 “myrrh with my spice…” (Written in 1998) Speaking of God’s blessings after our trials, our baby woodpeckers have since grown up. Although two died without our understanding what was wrong, three survived and have been returned to their wonderful outdoor home. But, the three who grew to adulthood have become permanent friends! I hear them singing right now, and they still fly down and sit on our heads and shoulders when we go outside! They know that they’ll get a free ride inside and some fresh mulberries or a few bits of tasty walnut, and a little companionship before being taken back outside. If we’re too long in answering their calls, they’ll hop on the railing of the deck or land on the screen of our sliding back door, and look inside to see who might come out to play! For the children—and for all of us—it has been a great delight to watch a batch of babies grow up. We’ve learned together lessons we’ll never forget: how demanding and tiring it is to supply the needs of babies; how challenging it is to teach “teenagers” to fly and feed themselves; how emotionally difficult it is to release young adults and let them fly free; and how thrilling and comforting it is to watch adults become independent, but still love to come home for visits!

My father, who was a retired English professor, always wanted to write a book on “the good life,” and one of his chapters was to be on “the good life is varied.” Variety is truly the ‘spice of life.’ How dull our lives would become without the “divine interruptions” that the Lord puts in our path! It is the unexpected that is often so trying; but it is also the unexpected that produces the most change and growth. Was James insane when he wrote, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:3)? Of course not! He was divinely inspired to see things from God’s perspective, and he understood (at least for that moment…I’m sure he struggled to live out the truths he knew just the way we all do) that, “knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4).

Oh, precious heavenly husband, who gathers into our bundle of sorrow and suffering his spice, those little unexpected variations that bring out flavor and make our life experiences deeper and richer…His blessings, which make our lives full and cause us to overflow with thanksgiving and praise for his goodness! Our spice, our blessings—given by him, become his spice, our thanksgiving—given to him! Thank you, thank you, dear God, for you do all things well!



Rise Up, My Love (137): What Puts Spice in our Life?

SpicesSong of Solomon 5:1 “I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.” He adds to our suffering his spice—that which brings out the flavor. What brings out the flavor in life? Do you know? I think it is thanksgiving.

There was a news interview with missionary Benjamin Weir who was held hostage in Lebanon and suffered great deprivation for over a year, and when asked how he coped with his suffering and kept from despair, he shocked the world by responding, “I counted my blessings!”

Blessings? In prison? Yes, he recalled that some days he was allowed to take a shower, and sometimes there were a few vegetables mixed in with his food. In The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom mentions feeling an overwhelming thrill over the sight of some tiny ants scurrying across the barren concrete floor of her cell, where she was imprisoned for helping the Jews escape from the Nazis during World War II. Yes, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), and frankly, all who live at all shall suffer, but Christ will add to our sufferings His spice…all the little blessings along the way…so that if we will only open our eyes and see them, there will always be flavor in our lives.

Some years ago during the recent electrical storm and power outage, our family marveled at all the provisions the Lord had in place to make our lives easier. We had a lake for washing up, a swimming pool for a ready supply of chlorinated water (for washing hands and dishes), and free access to drinking water at the retirement center where my father lived. We had a woods for an “out house” and an old five-quart ice cream pail for an “in house.” We had flashlights for getting around at night, and weather that wasn’t miserably cold without our furnace. We had the convenience of a lovely grocery store for buying ice and food. In fact, when we counted up all our blessings, we had way more than we needed to be content and happy!

We imagined how devastating it would have been to have had our home blown away and our family injured. How thankful we were for that! The very first night after the storm, we gathered in our living room for a special praise service. We looked for the silver linings in the clouds. Yes, some of us got poison ivy from not watching carefully enough when we strayed off the path in the woods looking for “just the right spot” to water. But, we all learned to recognize poison ivy, and the importance of not straying off the path and avoiding poisonous things…even if they do look harmless! Yes, the children got computeritis from missing their daily dose of computer time, but we found that there were plenty of other fun things in life instead of just “the same old things.”

We thought about the simplicity of life when we go tent camping, and we appreciated all the comforts of our home that were still in place. Even though we didn’t have water, toilets, or lights, we had a dry roof over our heads, comfy beds, and no bugs or mosquitoes with which to contend! We considered those who were more unfortunate than we, and we helped our elderly neighbor clean up her yard. We noticed the blessings that arose from the situation, and there were many! After the electricity came back on, we had a new appreciation for the convenience of being able to flip on a light switch or…and especially…how nice it was to run to the bathroom and be able to flush the toilet! 🙂Pepper

Rise Up, My Love (135): To Love and Be Loved

Jesus holds usSong of Solomon 5:1 “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse:” What a tender response to His bride’s request! How often we have trouble ascending to our Lord; and yet, he has no trouble condescending to us! No sooner does she invite Him to enjoy her than he responds: “I am enjoying you!” It brings to mind Isaiah 65:24, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

One of the most striking beauties of this verse is the sovereign possessiveness of the husband. Solomon uses the possessive pronoun “my” nine times! Is there any other verse in the whole of Scripture that speaks of such undisputed ownership? Lucifer and Nebuchadnezzar may vie for how many I’s they can cram into their monologues, but no one claims possession of his loved one any more ardently than our heavenly lover! He says “my” garden, “my” sister, “my” spouse…and goes on to speak of all that he enjoys therein as his.

Have you ever longed to possess and be possessed? To love and be loved? To own and be owned? Have you ever longed for someone to claim you as their own? Our Lord makes us into a beautiful garden and then responds to our call of love: “Come claim me! Come enjoy me.” He answers, “I am, and I have! You are my nearest and dearest…my next and best of kin…my sister and my spouse.”Jesus Knocking at our heart's doorHe takes all that is his…but only what is his. He never takes by force; he never plunders at will. He ever waits patiently for an invitation…even to enjoy that which is rightfully his! Revelation 3:20 explains: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” For those who open the door, Christ stands ready to enter and share a love feast! “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”