SONGS OF SOLOMON 4:1 – 6:13 and 2 TIMOTHY 3:1–17
Here we have the king citing several different qualities concerning the Shunamite woman. What we see are the qualities that the Lord looks for in His Bride. We need to note how captivated the king was with the woman and understand that the Lord so loves His people in much the same way. His attention is especially drawn to the beautiful characteristics that we see mentioned here. The Bride has “dove’s eyes” meaning that she has a singular focus of attention upon Him. The first of the Ten Commandments is that we are not to have any other gods before Him. Our God is a jealous God; He desires all of our attention and focus. There are so many points of distraction in today’s world but one who has an ability to keep their heart and mind stayed upon Him will get His attention. Such a person will know the perfect Peace of God (Isa 26:3).
The hair is mentioned next as being likened to a flock of goats. Here is an interesting contrast; a goat speaks of rebellion but long hair speaks of submission. One gets the sense that the Shulamite has that quality of submission which distinguishes her from the others. The teeth mentioned in verse 2 speak of the feeding upon the Word of God which is the Bread of Life. The Shulamite demonstrates a love for Truth and it is this feeding that better prepares her for a closer level of intimacy with the king. In verse 3 her lips are likened to a thread of scarlet which results in a fruitfulness that brings joy and life. The words of a woman who is out of order can render great damage to her husband and his associated ministry. The speech and talk of the Shulamite was edifying and sweet which only served to draw more attention from the king.
In scripture and in the last days you will see two kinds of women. The strange, loose and vulgar woman contrasted with the woman of wisdom and virtue who speaks goodly words (Gen 49:21). In the Book of Esther you have the two women consisting of Vashti and Esther. It was Esther who prepared herself in being able to effectively approach the king. Vashti shamed her husband and if not for the wise counsel of the king’s aides she would have infected the whole of the nation with her rebellion (Est 1:15-19). Let us not forget that it was Esther who was able to approach the king at a crucial time in Israel’s history. It was her demeanour, manner of speech and approach that enabled her to gain access to the king as well as be able to speak into his life (Est 5). Jesus was often known for the gracious words He spoke. One can take Truth that cuts to the heart and yet present it in a way that can make it easier to be received. Our words and how we speak them carry tremendous power and influence. The king was captivated by the speech of the Shulamite and it is a quality that we all should seek to emulate today. Let us not forget that it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (Math 12:34-37).
Still in verse 3 we see the mention of her temples being like pomegranates. The temple is upon our head and it speaks concerning the thoughts and meditations of the mind. What is it that is filling her mind? It is thoughts of love which is represented by the pomegranates. The king recognized the love and admiration she had for him. What are the thoughts that occupy our minds? The more we focus on the Lord in the seeking of His ways and determining to be more like Him the more inclined we will be in having thoughts of love. The mind is a battleground and we need to guard carefully as to who will be its occupant. The Apostle Peter exhorts us to have a disciplined mind, one that is girded and focused and not left wandering. It really does require a discipline and focus. In verse 4 Solomon speaks of a neck likened to the tower of David. This speaks of strength. Christ desires that His Bride be strong and able to stand against trials and adversity. It speaks of an inward strength of character that a husband can lean upon and draw strength from. It takes a very strong woman to properly administrate a home. The husband is called to be the head but it is the wife who primarily does the nurturing. It takes a very strong woman to be able to stand against the many challenges seen in today’s families.
The two breasts speak of nourishment and they can be linked to faith and love which are consistently found together in scripture. Peter exhorts the church to build upon the foundation of Faith. He then mentions 7 other steps or divine attributes that are to be added ultimately leading to the pinnacle of agape love (2 Pet 1:5-7). You have faith as the foundation and agape love as the capstone. In Paul’s letter to Philemon it is reversed. You have faith being released from a foundation of agape love.
Phm 1:5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
Phm 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
We cannot do anything to please God outside the realm of faith (Heb 11:6). By faith we are able to grow in the steps that lead to agape love (virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-kindness and then love). It is a process of coming into that level of intimacy with the king. It is from this position of love where faith can be released as seen in Philemon. The Shulamite has progressed from the foundation of faith into a higher realm of relationship with the king as illustrated through the two breasts (faith and love) mentioned in verse 5. The king continues with his expressed love for the woman by speaking of her as being likened to a garden. In verses 13-14 there are nine spices mentioned which line up with the 9 fruits of the Spirit seen in Gal 5:22-23. These interpretations help greatly in being able to understand the meaning of various anointing’s such as the anointing oil for unity spoken of in Psa 133 (See Exo 30:23-25).
This chapter closes with two directions of winds which speaks of the balance of adversity and refreshing. It speaks to the seasons that one may go through in their walk with God. In order for the fruits of the Spirit to come alive and have meaning there needs to be a contrast of both pleasant and adverse experiences in the life of a believer. I remember well my upbringing in a city where we had much cold and snow. It was such a blessing when the southern winds of refreshing would begin to blow causing the leaves and buds to come forth. Yes, there was many a winter where the cold and snow would seemingly never end. Once the south winds began to blow everything changed and life began to return afresh.
The last chapter ended with an invitation for the king to come in and partake of the fruits of the enclosed garden. We shared a bit on the cultivation of the inward work required in order for there to be an outflow of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. In our life as believers this is what the Lord is ultimately seeking after. He is longing to partake of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Do you recall Mark 11 where the Lord was hungry for fruit from the fig tree? The level of relationship between the king and Shulamite is at a maturing level and it is about to be taken to an even higher plain. The king in chapter 5 accepts the invitation to come into the garden. He comes with His myrrh which we know speaks of meekness. He then comes with a honeycomb of honey which speaks of life (1 Sam 4:29). The Lord comes into our garden and into our lives to give us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). He also comes into the garden with His wine and milk. The wine speaks of joy and milk speaks of the Word of God. It is not only the purpose of the Lord (the king) to come into the garden to partake of the fruits of his beloved (Shulamite) but it is to build upon the fruits that have developed. Jesus mentioned that those who bear fruit will be pruned so that they bare much fruit (John 15:8). This is a relationship that is beyond the outer court type of Christian. The way the King interacts with the woman is far different than the others; the woman has shown her measure of love and affection for the king. He is pleased and drawn to her.
In verses 2-5 she is in anticipation of the king coming to her door and spending time as He has done on previous occasions. We want to take note that the Shulamite is in a position of Rest. This is a most misunderstood subject as it pertains to the Kingdom of God. There are times when we have to cease from our own labours and it is at such times when God often does His greatest work. Abraham fell into a deep sleep and what was accomplished during that time? God established an eternal covenant with Abraham. It was also disclosed to him what was going to happen with Israel throughout the ages (Gen 15:12-18). A season of rest can seem perilous because we become well aware of our inadequacies. We are used to doing ministry and life in a certain way and it is during times of Rest where God moves supernaturally, oftentimes in ways we cannot reconcile. Paul writes of the benefits and truths concerning Rest in his letter to the Hebrews (Heb 4:7, 11). There is a labouring to enter into Rest and it is a season that God desires to bring to man. It is important to know what the Rest of God entails and how we can enter into Rest. This is what the Shulamite woman is about to experience.
She had expectation of Him coming into her arena, her comfort zone as in times past. This time it is different as He stands outside her place then withdraws Himself as she opens up the door. Notice in verse 5 that the door handles are covered with the fragrance of myrrh. This quality of the king is now beginning to be a developing quality being seen in the Shulamite. As mentioned in the very beginning of this commentary this is a most crucial moment. Is she living for Him or for an experience? It is here where many cease to go onward in their walk; they seek to live by the blessings of a previous encounter that was had with God. To live for Him will require the decision to step out into unfamiliar territory. It is a test to see how much love she truly has in her heart for Him. The test intensifies when He cannot be found in the early stages of seeking. She goes beyond boundaries into the highways and byways to seek for the one she is deeply in love with. Her seeking is causing others to take note; they ask questions as to what it is about Him that captivated her so much (vs 9)? She responds in verses 9-16 with several descriptions of whom she is seeking after. The Bible makes mention that the Lord takes interest in the things we say about Him (Mal 3:16). The Shulamite who represents the Bride of Christ in this exchange is quite descriptive of the Lord; one can only imagine how drawn to the Shulamite the king would be after hearing such things being spoken. Here are but a few of the qualities she shared concerning Him to the others:
In verse 10 she speaks of him as “white and ruddy”. This speaks of the purity and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is all together pure and holy. In a world that is filthy and vile it is so refreshing to be able to look upon Him who is purity personified. He is also very strong unlike several of the characterizations we see of Christ and how He is portrayed. He is anything but weak! He is the chief among 10,000 meaning that there is no one like Him anywhere. Can we say that about our spouses; do we have the same love and affection for our spouse and for the Lord as spoken of here? In verse 11 he has a head likened to gold which speaks of divine wisdom that governs every aspect of His life. In verse 15 he has legs likened to pillars. This speaks of great strength in being able to stand against great opposition while demonstrating stability of character. The Lord was tested in many areas during His earthly ministry and we can see how he was able to stand up against the evil onslaught. As we reflect on all that the Lord accomplished during His earthly reign we cannot help but echo the words of the Shulamite. Jesus is a man’s man and He has all the attributes of the beauty, majesty, power and authority of His Heavenly Father. He is greatly to be praised and admired.
The Shulamite has provided a dynamic witness of the bridegroom that others are now intrigued. They now want to go follow after the king as well. This is speaking of believers who have had a relationship with God but are now seeing the Lord with fresh revelation. It is all due to the testimony and witness that was given by the Shulamite. If we truly love Jesus, our witness should come naturally. She then answers their question in verses 2-3. Where can he be found? Once again it is in a garden. It should be rather obvious to all that the Lord has a certain affinity for gardens. This is where he planted man and established him. Throughout the word of God there are many references to gardens directly and indirectly. The principle of sowing seed and having a harvest is all part of a garden experience.
The king now speaks of His beloved and you can see that the love continues to grow. There are three divisions or groups of women mentioned in verse 8. These three groups can be likened to the three divisions of Moses Tabernacle. Each group is distinguished from one another by their respective level of commitment. The three-score queens would speak of those who dwell with the king in the holy of holies. Their qualities resemble the ones who are able to ascend Zion’s Holy Hill (Psa 15, 24). The four-score concubines are those who would dwell in the Holy place. These are priests unto God who are able to experience Christ as the Bread of Life and the anointing’s of the seven Spirits of God.
The virgins without number would refer to those in the outer court. These would be those who have come to know the Lord as Saviour and have come into the reality of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Still in relation to all these groups it is the bride who is preferred above them all. In verse 9 the king singles out His beloved above them all. It is important to understand that God has love for all His own but he is especially drawn towards those who seek to know Him and be like Him. This helps us to understand the distinction between the attendants of the marriage supper of the Lamb and the bride. It is a high privilege to be a guest at this special banquet but a much greater honor in being part of the company of the bride.
In verses 10-13 we have a picture of the bride of Christ likened to an army. In verse 10 it is the daughters of Jerusalem who are now speaking concerning the bride who is anointed in her accompanying the king. There is nothing but admiration for the distinguished bride who stands out amongst all others. At the time of the 2nd coming it will be the Lord descending with His warring bride for the purpose of taking the kingdoms of this world to himself. The descriptions of the Shulamite, the Bride in this Book provides the needed insights and qualifications as to how we can be part of that great company. The Bible story is encapsulated within the 8 chapters of the Song of Songs. Solomon is writing under divine inspiration about an event that will take place in the last days. He is at a stage in his walk with God where he can give this measure of revelation of what is to come. His love for God at this stage in his life was strong. Once again, it is with sadness to see what can happen, how a little fox can enter in and spoil the vine in a most destructive way. May we be instructed by the wisdom and allegorical references from this beautiful love story.
2 Tim 3
Paul returns to some of the themes of what will take place in the last days. Remember, he shared similar thoughts to the Thessalonians in his first letter but had to send a corrective letter to assure then that its warnings were for a time well into the future. Paul did encourage them to live each day as if it would be their last as opposed to waiting for the actual end of times. If we die at the end or long before the end it is how we die and the condition of our heart at the time of death that will ultimately matter. Today we can take special note of what Paul writes because it points to the very days we are living in. Still, we need to approach each day as if it is our last. This proactive approach will help ensure that we are better prepared to stand before the Lord whenever our respective course in life is finished. What are some of the signs that Paul speaks of concerning the last days?
Paul lists about 19 characteristics of a last day rebel in verses 2-5. These characteristics give a good definition of lawlessness. These would normally be restrained in a law keeping society but there is no restraint when laws are broken down. Any of the characteristics cited can serve in a message all its own. In the midst of all this lawlessness will be a revival of holiness and righteousness. I personally feel the example of Josiah’s revival is a clue to what the last day revival will look like. The church today, like Israel in Josiah’s day was heading towards the consequences of Babylon. Prior to this pre-determined date of captivity and judgement was a revival that brought a temporary stay for the nation. How did this revival come about? The Book of the Law was found in the house of the Lord. As it was read before the king he immediately rent his clothes and cried out to God resulting in a mighty move of God. Here was a king functioning as a priest in his upholding of the law. In actuality he was fulfilling one of the vital laws of the kings from Deu 17.
Deu 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
Deu 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Deu 17:20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
In verses 7-8 Paul warns Timothy of the kind of people who will arise to oppose the work of the ministry. There will be those who are “ever learning” but not able to come to the knowledge of the Truth. You will find that there are many Bible institutions that fall into this category. There can be an over emphasis on theology at the expense of the work of the Holy Spirit. We also need to understand that the reverse of this can also be true. Paul then speaks of Jannes and Jambres who sought to duplicate the miracles of Moses and Aaron. There will be many counterfeits seen in the kingdom in the last days. One of the best illustrations of this is in Revelation 13 where you have the counterfeit trinity. (The Dragon-Satan, beast-antichrist and false prophet) Paul makes abundantly clear the need for discernment in the last days.
In verses 10-12 Paul wants Timothy to take note of the manner of life that he lived; his teaching, the way he lived, his purpose, faith, patience and long-suffering and to learn from them. This was the pattern for leadership that can be seen as Moses was being prepared to lead Israel through the wilderness. He cried out to God to know His ways and God responded by giving Moses a revelation of His character. Moses drew from this experience and was able to effectively lead Israel as a result (Exo 34:6). Paul wants Timothy to adapt and learn from his example as he carries the work forward. It is not just the things we say and teach but also the way we live that best serves as an example to others. Paul is certainly a standard for Timothy to glean from. Paul also lets Timothy know that those who seek to live godly will suffer persecution. Paul was no exception to this but through his persecution he brought forth such life while portraying a pattern of the long-suffering of Christ.
Paul instructs Timothy to continue in the things that he had learned and be assured that the Lord is able to bring all those things to pass of which he spoke (vs 14). He reminds him of the good foundations he had as a child being taught the Word of God. This should serve as a reminder to all of us regarding the importance of teaching our children the Word of God. The Bible can be taught to children at any level; the importance is to put a premium on the Word and get the Word into their spirit. The Word of God is inspired and is the means by which one can understand doctrine, bring correction and reproof when needed and lead into the ways of righteousness. The Word of God has the potential in bringing a people unto perfection and holiness. We must allow the Word to be inspired and to be “spirit” unto our lives. The letter killeth but it is the Spirit that quickens and makes alive. Paul was a student of the Word and was one who taught and lived by it. He desires nothing less for his beloved son.