Rise Up, My Love (113): Most Exclaimed

Sun behind PalmsSong of Solomon 4:10 “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!” I do not think there is another verse in the entire of the King James’ translation of Scripture—perhaps in the entire world of all great literature—where there are three exclamation marks punctuating one sentence! This verse comes near the midpoint of The Song of Songs, and it stands as a great proclamation of God’s love for us. If we could fathom the meaning of this one verse and allow it to permeate our souls, we would understand perhaps the greatest mystery of the universe…and comprehend “what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge,” and “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

So, just exactly what does this great lover of our souls say to us?

“How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse!” The king looks into his beloved’s eyes, sees her love, and is totally overwhelmed. This time it is not her beauty that he praises; it is her love. Oh yes, beauty attracts, but beauty alone will never sustain a relationship. “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:30-31). Solomon’s bride has proven her love through tireless acts of devotion. She is not only beautiful, she is full of the beauty of goodness.

“How fair!” Notice, he does not tell her “how fair”…he does not explain it, he exclaims it! How fair? More fair than words can express. Have you ever received something so thrilling that you just couldn’t think of the words to describe your excitement? What did you say? “How wonderful!” “How thrilling!” “How beautiful!” This is what the bridegroom is saying: “How fair!” Sun behind palms close upThe Hebrew word for “fair” is yapeh which means “delightful; sweet; beautiful.” The King sees His beloved’s love and finds it too delightful for words. The Hebrew word translated “love” is the word dod which is frequently used to describe the physical expressions of love. It is reasonable to assume that the King has gone from being delighted by the love he sees in her eyes to being delighted by the experience of her love.

The love of Christ for us is beyond comprehension. That he should so delight in our love for him is beyond imagination. Is it possible that he could be as overwhelmed by our love as we are by his? Even though our love for him is truly just grateful appreciation for all he is and does? “We love him because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). “Christ is the center to which all response to the love of God moves” (Watchman Nee). As we understand more fully the mystery of God’s love, we are drawn into greater depths of love for him. This is understandable. But, that Christ is just as thrilled with our love—no, even more thrilled—that is unfathomable. How could he be sublimely happy with our love, which at best is a dim reflection of appreciation for all he is and does? Sun behind palms closerIt is because he loves us with an infinite, perfect love. His love is greater than ours, and his understanding is deeper than ours; likewise, his joy in us is greater even than ours in Him. In I Samuel 20:41, it says that Jonathan and David “wept one with another, until David exceeded.” David, as the type of Christ, felt even more deeply than his beloved friend Jonathan. His love was greater, so his tears and pain over their separation were greater.

I remember the day my toddling firstborn son (over 35 years ago) brought me a beautiful yellow flower as a gift. I recognized the flower immediately as the bloom from a zucchini plant. Worse, it was a zucchini plant from the neighbor’s garden. But, I also recognized the love that went into the gift. I gave him a kiss and thanked him. Then, we found a little vase and put the fragile bud into some fresh water on the table. Finally, I explained what type of flower it was, and to whom the flower belonged. He helped me wash up the breakfast dishes to earn a dime, and then we took the dime over to the neighbor as recompense for the flower.

Isn’t this the way the Lord deals with us? So often, our best efforts are “all wrong” by his perfect standard, but does he trample on us for trying to love him? No, he is gentle and kind. He sees our heart and is touched by every tiny step in the right direction. A wilted dandelion in the hand of a young child given with love may bring more joy to the heart of a parent than a whole bouquet of roses given without love. This is why our Lord says in I Corinthians 13 that no amount of eloquence, knowledge, or self-sacrifice can compensate for a lack of love, and that true love is the greatest gift one can give. Close up of sunChrist wants our love, recognizes our love, and is thrilled by our love, no matter how feeble. We despise our imperfect graces, but Christ rejoices over them. Our greatest insight into our spiritual richness is to see our own poverty. Our greatest attempt at love only makes us see how little we love; our greatest step toward humility is to recognize our own pride; the closest we become to being Christ-like is to understand how hopelessly unlike the Master we truly are. We tug at our little treasure of a dandelion until it is torn and crushed, and if we’re spiritually “old” enough, we’re almost ashamed to bring it to our Lord at all. But, he reaches out and lifts us into his arms. He is not ashamed to call us brethren! He is not ashamed because we are so clumsy and have no resources for buying roses. He is thrilled with us! He holds us to himself and weeps tears of joy that we have come to him and have brought our feeble gift. Can you feel his almighty love?! His love is infinite. It is the magnitude of his love rather than the perfection of ours that makes him exclaim, “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse.”