Tag Archives: Ephesians 5:25

Rise Up, My Love (305): Pictures of Jesus as a Deer

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart…” What are the roe and the young hart like? The NIV translates these animals as “deer and gazelle.” Earlier in this book we discussed the Middle Eastern cousins to the North American members of the deer family with which we are so familiar. What are their outstanding characteristics?

These two animals are only mentioned a half a dozen times outside of The Song of Solomon, but in each instance the context offers valuable insight. In Deuteronomy 12 we learn that the Israelites loved the delicious meat of the hart and roe, and two chapters later we learn that these prized creatures were among the clean animals that could be eaten. In 2 Samuel 2:18 we learn that the wild roe was “light of foot”—a fast and graceful runner, and in Proverbs 6:5 we learn that the roe was quick to deliver itself “from the hand of the hunter.” Psalm 42:1 reveals that one whose heart is like God’s own heart will pant after God “as the hart panteth after the water brooks.” Isaiah 35:6 describes the lame man who is healed as leaping for joy “as an hart.”

What can we learn from these word pictures that will help us understand the bride’s request? She longs for Christ to be quick and fleet-footed like the roe in escaping the hunter and coming to her. Although this book was written a thousand years before Christ came to earth, we can now see that he did indeed escape from the hand of the evil one who hunted his soul. Jesus rose victoriously over the grave and is now sitting at the Father’s right hand in heaven, awaiting the Father’s bidding to make haste and come again to gather us unto himself!

Jesus proved that his soul exceeded the hart’s passion for water when he suffered the agonies of death and hell for love of us, his bride. Near the beginning of the Song of Solomon the bride says that her husband is indeed “like a roe or a young hart” (2:9). “Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (2:8). What beautiful pictures the Scripture paints of the husband returning brilliantly, passionately, and joyfully to join his wife again!  All this, and yet there is more to be learned about Christ in the bride’s simile about the deer. It is hunting season in Michigan today (or at least it was when I wrote this years ago!). There is no more prized game in this state than the wonderful taste of flash-fried, fresh venison. (No, you don’t have to simmer it for hours to make it tender; overcooking is what makes it tough in the first place.)  One of the men in our “care group” (a group of families from our assembly who met weekly for Bible study, prayer, support, and accountability when I was writing this) shot an eleven-point buck while bow hunting. This friend is in the ministry overseeing a Christian “growth center” for young people who have finished a rehabilitation program and are now trying to find jobs and reintegrate into society, so you can bet that deer will be a great blessing to the folks struggling to make ends meet there. (By the way, I was later treated to some venison stew for my birthday…so I was one of the beneficiaries as well!)  “Be thou like to a roe…” Picture Christ as that great eleven-point stag…whose life was forfeited so that others could be sustained. Surely the bride did not have in mind that her husband would give his life for her, but he did. Jesus fulfilled her request in a most unexpected way. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Like the desirable “clean,” innocent deer, our Lord Jesus Christ gave up his life so that spiritually we could “take, eat; this is my body..this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus sacrificed himself so that he could impart to us his own eternal life and through a great divine mystery make us “bone of his bones and flesh of His flesh.”

As the Deer
(—Martin J. Nystrom, 1984)

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

I want you more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

You’re my friend and You’re my brother
Even though you are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

(The first and last photos of deer are from my home, but the middle three are used by permission by my friends Dennis and Frances and their son Amos. Thank you, dear friends, for being willing to share!!)

Rise Up, My Love (261): Supernatural Love

Song of Solomon 8:3 “His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.” Let’s think more about how to develop the type of desire for your mate that the bride expresses here. If your natural first response is to blame your spouse, then join the huge club of people (myself included) who like to deny our own faults.  “Well, if he were more —————(fill in the blank with whatever he’s lacking), I would be more drawn to him.” I’ve used the same excuse.  But, let’s stop ourselves right there. None of us is perfect, and most of us are far from it. As certain as the day is long, King Solomon—like every other person living on the face of the earth—was not a perfect man. This bride didn’t simply love Solomon because he was perfect, and even if we study the story with Solomon as a type of Christ—who was perfect—we see that the wife did not always have such a passion for her husband. Remember? She was the one in chapter 5 who couldn’t be bothered to get up and open the door for him!  No, if we want to grow to really love our spouses with passion, we must come from another perspective. Rather than asking God to change our mates into such attractive people that we can’t help but have a passionate desire for them, we need to ask God to change our hearts so that we truly have a pure and fervent passion for our spouse today and every day, not based on our spouse’s perfection, but based on God’s miraculous love.  How does that occur? Well, first, I’m not suggesting that every woman should (or that it’s even possible to) feel ravenous sexual passion toward her husband every moment of her life. As humans, we have natural rhythms of emotion and sexual desire. But, I am suggesting that passion can be both a natural and a supernatural response. There have been many times in marriage when my passion was a natural response, but there have also been many times when my passion was a supernatural response in order to enable me to meet the needs of my husband.  Where did it come from? It was the direct result of prayer. Have you ever prayed or sung the song, “Give me a passion for souls, dear Lord…” In the same way, we can pray for a passion for our mate. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” In Colossians 4:12 we see the example of Epaphras, who was “always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”  If Epaphras could pray fervently for the Colossians to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God,” then certainly we can labor fervently in prayers so that we might love our spouses fervently, which is also the known will of God for us! Isn’t that true? I am not suggesting that husbands use this as a club to hang over their wives’ heads: “If you’d just pray hard enough, God would make you amorous tonight!” The Bible is clear that the husband is to love the wife and live with her “according to knowledge,” (and I presume that means a knowledge of her needs, capacities, and natural desires as well: Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19; I Peter 3:7). But, I am suggesting that the wife, out of a desire to love her husband, can utilize the resource of prayer and may discover (as I have on many an occasion) that God will supernaturally grant her a passion that is not naturally within her.  It is an amazing experience to feel the miraculous filling of the Lord to become a conduit of his love. What is the spiritual application? Know and rejoice in the fact that what you have done for “the least of these my brethren” you have done unto Christ. Do you love Christ? Then you have every reason to love your spouse, regardless of the limitations in your relationship. You can love him as a way of living out your love for Christ and mirroring to the world the love of the church bride for her heavenly husband. (PS—I hope these photos made you smile, but I didn’t intend for them to in any way be demeaning of men!  Most of the images—including the mastodon—are from the Rochester Museum and Science Center in New York, taken during a recent trip to visit our son Stephen, who’s at Eastman School of Music [hence, the bust of Beethoven].  There is also one of our son Michael, who was [at the same time] visiting Martin Luther’s home in Germany and posed behind one of Martin’s robes. The stained glass of Jesus and the Lamb is from Stephen’s church, where he serves as pianist.)