This chapter begins with Jesus – the Heavenly Bridegroom – giving a description of the beauty of holiness that He sees in His Bride, the Church. In verse 6, we read of His gracious designation of a place where He wishes the souls of each believer in His Church to meet with Him – even now! – until the day of glory in heaven causes the shadows of earth to flee away. Six reasons are then given, by which Christ persuades us to meet with Him in that special place that He has appointed. The effect of these truths and reasons upon our hearts is that we prayerfully seek the influences of the Holy Spirit, for nothing else can properly prepare our souls for such meetings with our Lord.
The detailed description of the beauty of the Church – and of all gracious souls within that Church – consists in the beauty of holiness. Surely our Lord Jesus is the most competent judge of beauty! We know that His opinion is according to truth; and therefore, the whole world – willingly or unwillingly – must acknowledge the truthfulness of His statement when He says of His Church, “Behold, thou art fair!” No matter what others think of her, she is amiable in His eyes. All the beauty of the saints is derived from him, and they shine by reflecting his light; it is the beauty of the Lord our God that is upon us (Ps. 90:17). The Bride is espoused to Him, and that makes her beautiful.
While we remain in this world, we are in preparation for the coming day of our heavenly marriage-feast with the Lamb. And yet in the meantime, we are not cut off from communication with Him. His love makes Him wish to have us with Him even now, although it must be in a different way from that in which we shall be with Him hereafter. And so He has appointed a place for us to meet with Him, even now; and in this place, He may always be found. He reveals Himself to us as we study His written Word; and we may always approach Him in prayer. This is the place where the cloud of the Holy Spirit’s influence abides in dews that are richer and more refreshing than the dews upon the mountains of spices (verse 6). And in order that we may have no hesitation in coming to meet with Him on this “hill of frankincense” – until that glorious Last Day dawns, and the earthly shadows flee away – our heavenly Bridegroom gives us six reasons for our encouragement.
1. “You are all beautiful in my eyes, without spot or any such blemish!” He says (verse 7; Eph. 5:27). “Thou art all fair, my love!” Christ’s admiration of His Bride is very wonderful, and His description of her beauty is very glowing. She is not merely fair, but “all fair.” He views her in Himself – washed in His sin-atoning blood, and clothed in His meritorious righteousness – and He considers her to be full of beauty. Her deformities of sin are removed; and now, even better, she has obtained her Savior’s perfect righteousness – by which, actual beauty is conferred upon her, and He now views her as the “fairest among women.” She has real worth and excellence which cannot be rivalled by all the queens and empresses of the world.
2. “Here alone you can be safe!” (verse 8) The choicest spots of this world – although they may be beautiful – are full of peril. There are lions’ dens and leopards everywhere. “Therefore,” says the Savior, “come away with Me from the world – however inviting it may be! Come away to the mount where I meet with My loved ones.”
3. “Come away with Me to this mount, for my heart is enraptured and blown away with only the partial development of your loveliness that now appears!” The Bride’s graces are not yet perfected, sanctification is not yet completed, and her spiritual body is not yet prepared; but even the little that is now seen in her of the glory that shall be revealed enraptures Jesus’ heart (verse 9).
4. He wishes us to be with Him because our love – which is planted within us by the Holy Spirit – is beautiful in His eyes (verse 10), as are all those graces of the heart which are the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 5:9).
5. The language of our heart that is thus filled with love distils in tones that are as pleasant to Him as drops of honey are to our tongues. He sees a fountain of this loveliness within our heart, which is not soon exhausted (verse 11).
6. Just in case we were wondering why our Savior wishes us to come away with Him, He states that His delight in the soul of the believer is as great and as pleasing as what is felt by us when we enjoy the most beautiful garden! (verses 12-15) This garden is enclosed and sealed off from the outside world. It abounds in all kinds of pleasant fruits; it is full of trees of frankincense and all chief spices; and it is not only watered from an unfailing spring in its midst, but also with cool and refreshing streams from the snowy mountaintops of Lebanon. Thus precious in the eyes of our Lord is the soul which Jehovah has set apart for Himself (Ps. 4:3), which yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
What is the effect of such manifestations of Jesus’ love? It is the creation of the desire within us, that He may come into our hearts and make His abode with us (verse 16; Rev. 3:20). We wish, however, to prepare for such a meeting with our Lord; and therefore, we pray for the influences of the Holy Spirit to revive our graces. “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out!” When the soul has been thus prepared by the Holy Spirit; then we may rejoice in finding Jesus coming into our hearts, and enjoying the pleasant fruits of our sanctified graces!
O Holy Spirit! Breathe Your gracious influences upon the gardens of our hearts, and prepare them for Jesus’ visits! Amen.
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