Rise Up, My Love 262: The Mary Lesson

Song of Solomon 8:4 “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” As we end the Thanksgiving holiday in America and begin preparing for the Christmas holidays around the world, here is a precious thought to help us focus our minds and keep our priorities straight. It’s fresh from the heart of God to you today…even though it comes from Solomon’s 4,000 year old song!

The bride warns: “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” This is the third repetition of that refrain. The first was in 2:7 after the bride had become secured in her position as the true object of her husband’s singular desire and affection and was luxuriating in the rest of their love. The second was in 3:5 after the young wife feared a loss of that intimacy and had gone on a desperate search for her husband, stopping at nothing until she felt the wonderful peace of communion restored. This third time the refrain is heard in the midst of the busy-ness of their mature and very productive life together. It is not out of contentedness that she demands uninterrupted slumber for her husband, nor is it out of insecurity and possessiveness.

This time, the wife is demanding rest primarily for the sake of her husband, not herself. She has initiated their working together at what she knows he loves and needs to do; she has offered her love to him; she has prepared gifts for him; she has desired to give him her body and the sweet offerings of her mind; and now she protects him from those who would trouble him before he’s completely refreshed.

Three times the bride exclaims her charge: “stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” Three times, the symbolic number of fullness in Scripture…the completion of perfection. Throughout their marriage the refrain is heard: At the first bud of secured love and loyalty, during love’s early testing and blossom, and now when their love is truly in full bloom and more beautiful and fragrant than a summer rose! When wrapped in love’s embrace and resting in love…do not end those precious moments until your Lord so please! If only we could learn this lesson…thrice repeated.   This is the “Mary Lesson.” Of course, Solomon’s bride had learned the secret centuries before Jesus walked on the earth, but it was demonstrated for us again in the New Testament when Mary sat unperturbed at the feet of Christ. The “Mary Lesson” is learning to love Christ above all else. Actually, it is nothing more than learning to maintain the intuitive understanding shared by passionate lovers of all generations. It is learning how to appreciate your greatest treasure while you have it!

God wants us to be like Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him. She did not care that there were other people milling about. She did not care that her sister was anxiously trying to play the perfect hostess for all the visitors wanting Jesus’ attention…and was frustrated because Mary wouldn’t help her. In fact, Mary did not care one whit about who wanted her to do what when or why! All she cared about was being with Jesus and listening to the things he wanted to tell her. Their time together meant more to her than anything or anybody else in the world, and well it should have, because this was likely the last quiet moments they had together before Jesus’ death.  Did you know that? Have you thought about what that would feel like? The supper that Lazarus, Martha, and Mary had invited Jesus to was just six days before the Passover…the night before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and beginning of his “week of passion” which ended just five days later in his crucifixion. This was the night that Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with spikenard, and Jesus defended her, saying that she understood this was preparation for his burial. Other than the mention of women weeping at the foot of the cross, there is no record of Mary seeing Jesus again before his death.

How would you feel if you knew it was the last night you would be able to spend with the one person you loved more than anyone else in the world? No wonder she wept as she anointed his feet! But, bless Mary! Many had come to the feet of Jesus to be healed and receive miraculous help, but she alone of all mankind came to express her love and gratitude. Oh that we might so love Jesus, coming to sit at his feet in the quiet of the morning…or in the heart of night when we awake.Can you hear him calling you? Can you visualize his arms opening wide for you and feel the power of his love drawing you? What an incomprehensible privilege! “Come,” he calls. So may we come! Haven’t you experienced that passionate power of love? Is there anything you long for more than time communing with the one you love above all else? Do you protect your time “sitting at the feet of Jesus” drinking in His Word each day? That should be our first priority in life. If we learn to abide in the Vine and open our hearts to the flow of his Spirit at the beginning of each new day, we will be wonderfully nourished and revitalized…filled with “sap” and plump again like a limp flower rejuvenated after a refreshing rain!

Just as Prince Jonathan—weary from pursuing his enemies all day—was refreshed by dipping the end of his rod into the honey comb “and his eyes were enlightened” (I Samuel 14:27), so our hearts will be refreshed and our eyes enlightened to discern good and evil if we satisfy our souls by feeding on honey out of the Rock each day (Psalm 81:16). If you glean nothing else from this book, please learn the “Mary Lesson”…learn to be intimate with God by sitting daily at the feet of Jesus, listening to and obeying his Words…loving him, and gratefully expressing that love to him.

“Stir not up nor awake my love until he please.” Sit still at his feet… and in his embrace …until our lovely Lord Jesus is pleased to send us forth again into the heat of the new day.