Rise Up, My Love (306): Of Spices, Mountains, and Endings

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” The bride desires for her husband to be like a young stag and make haste…to what location? “The mountains of spices.” This is the last picture painted for us…the last “snapshot” in the bride’s album…the last poetic rose in the bride’s bouquet…the last lilting melody in this song of all songs.

What are the mountains of spices? We are! I blush to consider that we should be given such a beautiful name, but we must remember that the Song of Solomon was a love song written by Solomon (and our greater than Solomon) for his bride, and “mountains of spices” is the name God chose for his bride to use in describing herself at the end of this book, so let’s consider all that it means and aspire to fulfill this high calling.  The words “mountains” and “spices” are used multiple times earlier in the Song, and these references give the clues we need to understand what the bride is saying. First, let’s consider what the spices represent. From 4:12—16 we learn that the bride is like a protected garden, designed by the master gardener, watered by the Word, filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and whose aroma wafts out like heavenly spices. In 5:1 we find the husband enjoying his garden wife and taking pleasure in the spicy fruits found in her.

In Song of Solomon 5:13 we hear the wife likening her beloved’s beard to a soft bed of spices. Oh, to be able to look into the face of God and with the touch of faith feel the very presence of the fragrant Holy Spirit upon him. The lush physical and spiritual imagery intertwines beautifully to portray the exquisite delights of both physical and spiritual communion. The spices are physically the scents and textures of the wife’s body, but spiritually the spices are the tangible evidences of the Holy Spirit’s fruit developed in our lives, fruits which the Son relishes and which also feeds the souls of others (see 5:1). So, the “spices” are the fruits of the Spirit.

What are the “mountains”? Twice earlier, the word “mountain” has appeared in reference to something other than the bride, and twice earlier the term appears in reference to the bride. In 2:8 the husband comes leaping over the mountains to join his wife and calls her out to enjoy, explore, and reign over his kingdom with him. In 4:8 the king invites his wife to climb to the top of the mountains with him and gain a heavenly perspective. In the first instance, the mountains are huge obstacles which the husband overcomes with ease in order to reach out to his beloved; in the second instance, the husband invites his wife to conquer great things with him so that she will share his passionate vision.  What is a mountain? It is something massive, grand, impressive. Mt. Everest is so big it can reach through the clouds and kiss heaven’s feet. Mountains are spectacular: they fill people with awe and a sense of wonder. Mountains are a force to reckon with…to be conquered by or to conquer. Mountains are immovable apart from the work of God in response to faith. Mountains are majestic. Mountains should humble us and cause us to praise this one whose massive hand is so large that the whole world could fit inside, and Mt. Everest wouldn’t even look as big as a hangnail. What a mighty God we serve!!

Yet, this infinitely great Creator calls us his “mountain of myrrh” in Song 4:6, and the bride invites her beloved to enjoy her as “a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether” in Song 2:17. In this last poetic picture, we see the wife calling her husband to come unto her and enjoy her…no longer upon the mountains of “Bether” (separation), but upon the mountains of spices. She has grown from a garden into a mountain…a mountain of spiritual delights.  Oh, beloved, are we mountains of spiritual delights? Massive. Immovable. Majestic. Abounding. Able to feed the soul of our mate? Notice that the bride, after a timeless length of time, still refers to her husband as a “young stag.” Dear wife, is your passion for your husband as fresh and fervent as it was at the marriage altar? In your heart, is your love still young? Does our longing for our Savior still burn as hotly as it did at first? Though we may have found our true loves (if we have indeed found both a spouse here on earth and our bridegroom in heaven), we must ever seek them still! “Let her be as the loving hind and the pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love” (Proverbs 5:19). As we close the study of this greatest of all love songs, may this picture linger like a sunset in our hearts. May we be like mountains of spices where our beloved spouse can graze with abandon and be always ravished with our love! Amen!

Source List:

Berry, George Ricker, Ph.D. The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.

Brown, Francis, D.D., D. Litt. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1997.

Carr, G. Lloyd. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984.

Chapman, Gary D. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1995.

Cowman, L.B. Streams in the Desert. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.

Criswell, W.A., ed. Criswell Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979.

Davidson, Francis. The New Bible Commentary. Great Britain: Billing and Sons Ltd., Guildford and Esher, 1953.

Delitzsch, Franz. Commentary of the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950.

Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. V. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1991.

Glickman, Craig S. A Song for Lovers. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1976.

Gordis, R. The Song of Songs and Lamentations. KTAV, 1974.

Green, Jay P., ed. The Interlinear Hebrew-Aramaic Old Testament. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985.

Grolier Inc. The Encyclopedia Americana. . Danbury: Grolier Inc., 1995.

Guyon, Jeanne. The Song of the Bride. Auburn: The Seed Sowers, 1990

Harley, Willard F., Jr. His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-proof Marriage. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse/Revell Audio, 1995.

Henry. Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. McLean: MacDonald Publishing Co., 1706. (Can’t find current date)

Hirshberg, Arabic Etymologies. VT 11, 1961.

Hocking, David and Carole. Romantic Lovers: The Intimate Marriage. Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, OR. 1986.

Ironside, Harry A. Addresses on The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1973.

Lockyer, Dr. Herbert. Love Is Better Than Wine. Harrison: New Leaf Press, 1981.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997.

MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

McPhee, L.M. The Romance of the Ages. Grand Rapids: Gospel Folio Press, 1939.

Murphy, Roland. Toward a Commentary on the Song of Songs. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 39, 1977, pp. 441.

Nee, Watchman. Song of Songs. Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1965.

Origen. The Song of Songs Commentary and Homilies. Translated and annotated by R.P. Lawson. Vol. 26 of Ancient Christian Writers, edited by Johannes Quasten, S.T.D. and Joseph C. Plumpe, Ph.D. Westminister, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1957.

Patterson, Paige. Song of Solomon. Chicago: Moody, 1986. Phillips, John. Exploring The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1987.

Richmond, Gary. A View from the Zoo. Waco, Texas: Word Book Publisher, 1987.

Smalley, Gary. Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships, Seminar, 1993

Spence, H.D.M., and Joseph S. Exell. The Pulpit Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950.

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Morning and Evening. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. The Most Holy Place. Pasadena: Pilgrim Pub., 1974.

Taylor, J. Hudson. Union and Communion. Edinburgh: R. and R. Clark, Limited, 1929.

Tenney, Merrill C., ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977.

The American Heritage Dictionary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.

The Encyclopedia Americana. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc., 1995.

The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book—Childcraft International, Inc., 1980.

Torrey, R.A. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. New Kensington: Witaker House, 1996.

Trent, John. Love for All Seasons. Chicago: Moody Press, 1996.

Truth and Praise, Inc. Hymns of Worship and Remembrance. Belle Chasse, LA: Truth and Praise Inc., 1950.

Webster, Noah. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language: College Edition. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1966.

Wilson, William. Old Testament Word Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978.

Young, Robert, LL.D. Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Zlotowitz, Meir, and Scherman, Nosson. Shir HaShirim. New York: Mesorah, 1977.  

“This dwarfish age is not likely to esteem this book [The Song of Solomon] as it ought to be esteemed; only those who have lived near to Jesus, have drunk out of his cup, have eaten his flesh and drunk his blood, only those who know the fullness of the word ‘communion,’ can sit down to this book with delight and pleasure; and to such men these words are as wafers made with honey, manna, angels’ food: every sentence is like gold, and every word is like much fine gold.” —Joseph Iron, quoted by Spurgeon in, The Most Holy Place, p. 295.

Afterword: I would be happy to hear your response and welcome any insights or comments! Thank you, and God bless you as you continue to pursue our heavenly bridegroom!

Rise Up, My Love (301): Some of the Many Names of God

Song of Solomon 8:14 “My beloved.” From Solomon’s song, we’ve seen many reasons why the king is our well beloved, and we’ve learned a few of his names. The bride calls him her “king…thou whom my soul loveth…my well beloved.” She likens him to a cluster of camphire and an apple tree, and she asks him to be “like a roe or a young hart.” But, throughout the Bible there are dozens of names given to our Lord, and each one expresses some aspect of his character that makes him beloved. Let’s consider a number of them.

Wow! So many thoughts flood my soul that it’s hard to organize them into transferable images. I can’t develop one before another comes bursting in like the grand finale of a fireworks display. Why is he our beloved? Below is just a sampling of the things that are said of this one whose name is “above all names.”  Jesus is like a huge diamond, and each of his names is like a brilliant flash of colored light reflecting one facet of his amazing personality. Please read the following list slowly, considering these questions: What does the name mean? How does that aspect of his being impact me? Have I learned to utilize this aspect of who he is? Do I love and appreciate him for being this in my life?  Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”  Deuteronomy 32:15 “Then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” (May we never forsake God…may he be the Rock of our salvation always!)  Psalm 78:35 “And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.”  Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.”  Isaiah 8:14 “And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel.”  1 Corinthians 10:4 “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”  So, there are many verses about God being our Rock. He is also our Redeemer (our Lord and King, our God, our creator, the Holy One of Israel, our Savior, our Maker, our father, etc…all found in these verses):

Isaiah 44:6 “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

Isaiah 44:24 “Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.”

Isaiah 47:4 “As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 49:7 “Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and of the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.”

Isaiah 49:26 “…all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”

Isaiah 54:5 “For thy Maker [is] thine husband; the LORD of hosts [is] his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”

Isaiah 63:16 “Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.”  Well, that’s probably more than enough for one day’s meditation, so I’ll continue on next week! May we be amazed and blessed this week as we remember God, our Rock, our Redeemer, and so much more!

(Most of the photos are mine, but the photos of the  magnificent red rocks are from Arizona, compliments of Bob Hardee. Thank you, Bob!!)

 

Rise Up, My Love (298): Deep Calling to Deep

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved…” A few weeks ago in Alaska my husband and I watched the pulsing flow of two great V’s of snow geese and heard their urgent cries calling their fellows on as the rose above the clouds and disappeared into heaven. In fall the whole world seems to become restless…waiting, watching…preparing to fly away…where? Can’t you feel the pull in your own heart? “Deep calleth unto deep.” I think it’s the deep, inarticulate longing within the heart of man to escape this sin-cursed earth and fly up into the bliss and rest of heaven.“Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away;
To a land where joys shall never end, I’ll fly away!
I’ll fly away, O glory, I’ll fly away” (Albert E. Brumley).

And, for those of us who love God passionately, it is the longing to be
“Face to face with Christ, my Savior, face to face—what shall it be?
When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me”
(Carrie E. Breck).

“Make haste, my beloved!” When will our Lord return? Do you wonder? I know that “of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). But, whenever God the Father gives Jesus leave, our heavenly bridegroom will indeed “make haste!” The swift appearance of our “Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 2:16) will turn night to day in an instant, surely in a blaze of glory more stunning than the sunrise I enjoyed this morning!   “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:28). “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him” (Revelation 1:7). Christ will come “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27).  Beloved, our Bright and Morning Star is coming back, and it is my fervent prayer that he comes soon, not only because I want to be with him forever, but also because nothing else can end the pain and suffering all around us! My husband and I recently saw an IMAX film at the science center in Vancouver, B.C. called Forces of Nature dealing with the tremendous activity of natural disasters, including volcanoes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. This magnificent film from the field of science made no mention of the Bible, but I couldn’t help but remember the verse: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mark 13:8).

I was filled with awe as the documentary discussed the fault line in the Middle East that is producing a series of earthquakes at an ever-accelerating rate. Could this fault line be related to the splitting of the Mount of Olives that will occur when our Lord returns? “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, with is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4).

Dear Father, we cannot know the day or hour, but we know that Jesus, your son, is coming, and our hearts long for him to “make haste!” “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22) waiting for Christ’s return to set all things right. Help us to “be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7) and to “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33), so that when Jesus returns we may share the Apostle Paul’s testimony: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

 

Rise Up, My Love (297): Is “Maranatha” The Cry of Your Heart?

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” The last request of our beloved is that he may hear our voice. What is our heart cry back to him? Hurry back! Maranatha! Oh Lord, may you come today! Fly to me with the speed with which one might flee from his enemies.

This verse is the poignant closing to Solomon’s song. Interestingly, once the introduction to the book was given, the book both begins and ends with expressions of the bride’s desire for intimacy with her husband. After all the experiences of first love, their marriage, and now mature love, her greatest desire in life is simply to be with him. Not surprisingly, we find this same urgent desire expressed at the end of Revelation: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come… Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:17,20).

Oh, isn’t this what we’re longing for…to see his blessed face? To behold him in his beauty and dwell with him forever? If you’ve experienced the joy of marriage, stop a moment and remember the longing with which you anticipated that event! Together always. It was going to be too good to be true! I remember discussing length of engagement with my mother and saying, “It’s like asking, ‘So when do you want to inherit a million dollars?’ As soon as possible, of course!” (My husband was working as a mechanic his father’s garage at the time, so I was not referring to money!)  When will he come? As I’m writing, the clouds in the eastern sky are just beginning to pink up, and our little lake is awash in mottled pinks and blues…very like Aurora’s wedding dress in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. When I walked my husband out to the car and waved goodbye to him just a half hour ago, the stars were still like bright, shiny diamonds on a black velvet dress.  How suddenly and gloriously day broke this crisp fall morning! (Well, today is only the end of July, but it was late October when I wrote this years ago.) The trees are beginning to emerge from the darkness, and they’re crowned with shaggy heads of crimson and gold. A touch of frost is on the grass, and wisps of mist hover here and there across the lake on thin, translucent wings. Yesterday a long, southbound train of ducks pulled in to rest here at “Shadow Lake Station,” but they’re gone now, and all is still save one pair of great blue herons who summer here every year. I just watched them circle and fly away. I don’t know when they’ll leave for their winter home…or maybe that’s what I just witnessed. How true it is that autumn flies on colored wings! Dear Lord, when will we fly away?

When you hear the expression, “Maranatha!” it usually means, “Come, Lord!” I think the words to this Vineyard song written by Brenton Brown and Glenn Robertson expresses it so well:

“All Who Are Thirsty”

“All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Just come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As the deep cries out to deep, we sing…

“Come, Lord Jesus come
Come, Lord Jesus come
Come, Lord Jesus come
Come, Lord Jesus come.”