SONGS OF SOLOMON 7:1 – 8:14 and 2 TIMOTHY 4:1–8
It is the bride being described by the king as this chapter unfolds. The beautiful feet with shoes are the description of her as an evangelist. We already saw this on display in chapter 5 when she sought fervently for her beloved which captured the attention of those who observed her. This is a reflection of what Isaiah speaks of in Isa 52:7. We evangelise by communicating the gospel with our mouth but even more so by the way we live our lives. Her beautiful feet have provided a wonderful witness of the attributes of the king. She was able to draw the attention she had for the king due to the love she had for him. The joints of the thighs speak in how fluently she was able to flow in the ways of the king. Our walk in the Spirit should allow for us to flow and move as He moves. This fluidity was not seen in Israel throughout their journeys in the wilderness and in the taking of their inheritance. They moved, stopped, moved again, and complained while becoming bitter along the way. The king is drawn to his bride by her graceful movements and ability to flow in any situation. The same should be true for us. In verse 2 you see joy and purity woven together as illustrated by the goblet which holds wine and the lilies. Is this not how the Lord Jesus Christ is characterized? The adulterous pleasure seeking generation that we live in can be countered with these Holy Spirit qualities. A person who seeks to ascend Zion’s holy hill and live by its standards will stand out amongst the others. This is one of the reasons why the Shulamite excels above all others. As mentioned before we see a picture of Esther as setting a similar standard.
In verse 3 we have the description of the two breasts which we cited earlier as speaking of faith and love. This was covered in SOS 4:3. In verse 4 the description of neck being like an ivory tower is given which speaks of strength. There is the statement that speaks of being given the necks of thine enemies. This means that one’s strength has been broken (Psa 18:40). What a blessing it is to have a woman of such quality; it’s another characteristic that so stirs the heart of the king. As the bride of Christ we must realize that God has given the church the ability to triumph over its foes (Psa 149:8-9). Christ has already achieved the victory and now gives us the privilege of putting the necks of the enemy under our feet (Rom 16:20). He describes her nose which speaks of her ability to discern and smell out danger. This is a tremendous strength and asset to have in a marriage relationship. A husband and wife should always move together especially in areas of great importance.
In verse 7-8 the king cites her stature as being likened to a palm tree. The palm tree clearly denotes the righteousness of God. This is not an imputed righteousness that a believer experiences at salvation but rather a righteousness that has been worked out and developed. We have noted the process throughout the chapters of this book. The Shulamite has grown and developed in her pursuit of the king. The same would be true for us provided we seek the Lord with all of our heart and choose to walk in His ways. She has the quality of righteousness that will adorn the bride of Christ when He returns at the time of the 2nd coming.
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
In verse 10 we see the third stage in this developing relationship. The first stage was in SOS 2:16 where she saw Him as her beloved and that she was his. She saw Christ as belonging to her and that whatever was needed it would be granted her. The 2nd stage is seen in SOS 6:3 where she says I am my beloved and my beloved is mine. There was a realization that she really did belong to Him and that He was hers. In this 3rd stage we see that all possessiveness is gone. She now knows that she was created for His good pleasure. This is the group that sings around the throne of God in Revelation (Rev 4:11). This is a beautiful position to be in. She knows her identity and is secured in His love. We live in a world today that struggles with identity on so many fronts, even in the church there is a great measure of insecurity, especially amongst many in leadership. They seek to find their validation through man-made systems instead of God Himself. You can tell the world struggles today in the area of identity by way of the need to be validated by Facebook likes. Our identity and affirmation needs to come from the heavenly Father; when it does there is security and rest. In much the same way the king is validating and affirming His beloved bride. She no longer needs to prove anything due to being secure in his love. This is the place to be in our relationship with God, especially in these unique days.
In this concluding chapter we see the union between the Shulamite and the king growing to the point where it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. This is the way it should be in a marriage. Have you noticed older couples who seem to flow so well together? You can tell the enjoyment they have in being with one another. This is because of the familiarity that has been gained through the years of marriage. It is something that is not achieved overnight. The same applies for our respective walks with God. It is a daily nurturing that results from a strong devotional life and embracing of the Word of God. You will find an alienation begin to take place between those who are intensely passionate about God from the others. This is what we see with the Shulamite in verse 1. She is feeling despised because others do not share her level of love and intensity for the king. The Lord Jesus did not have problems with his enemies because of the miracles and healings that He performed but more for equating Himself with the Father. An intense love and union between a people and God will reveal a deficiency in others that provokes to jealousy and envy. There is a reproach in serving God with such intensity and this is what the Shulamite is experiencing here.
In verse 2 the Shulamite desires to bring this experience to her home and to others whom she is close to. She cannot contain this measure of love to herself, she wants to share and testify to others. We saw her evangelistic gifting’s earlier when she went forth into the highways and byways looking for her king. The two great commandments are that we love God with all our heart, mind and strength and to love others with that same measure of love. In doing this we fulfil all the Law and Prophets. This is the position that we find the Shulamite in here in chapter 8. She has an all-out love for the king and she desires to share that love and experience with others. She is likened to one who has broken into the presence of God and she does not want to leave or be disturbed until He moves. This should be our aim as well; to enter into His presence and allow our lives to be touched and made whole by Him.
In the remaining verses (8-14) we see pictures of the abundant harvest to come. It is a picture of the last days when the greatest harvest of souls will be seen. There will also be a harvesting of the tares that will be taking place (Math 13:25-30, Math 13:47-49). The relationship between the bride and her king is now one of unity and great love. We see them sharing the same burden for those in need. In the Song of Songs, we see two wilderness experiences in the life of the Shulamite woman. The first one is referenced in chapter 3 (vs 6). She comes out of the wilderness triumphantly in a chariot which can be likened to the children of Israel under Moses in coming out of Egypt. She could sing a similar song to Miriam’s as she led them in song after passing through the Red Sea. The 2nd wilderness experience referred to in chapter 8 (vs 5) is quite different. You see the woman broken and leaning upon her beloved. She is void of natural strength but fully empowered under the loving care of her king. It is a picture of Jacob when he encountered God at Peniel (Gen 32:26-27). It was here where Jacob was broken of his old nature but empowered with a new name and authority. His thigh (strength) was touched resulting in his having to lean upon God. This is the place where God desires to bring us. We are His and we exist for His pleasure. It takes a long period of time before one comes into that position with God. It requires a breaking of pride and natural strength. This is only achieved by a close harmonious walk with our king of kings. The life of the Shulamite vividly portrays the keys in coming into that position.
She desires to be sealed upon his heart. Once again it is an acknowledging that she is His (SOS 7:10).There is no asserting of personalized rights; she is content and desires to be at rest while trusting Him in all things. When a seal is given it is complete and it is done. It is here where you have true love and jealousy which becomes inseparable. It is a picture of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In verse 8-9 the Shulamite expresses concern for her sister who is likened to one who is yet a babe in Christ. She asks a question and then answers her own question as to what can be done for her. She shows wisdom in how she can be ministered to and it showcases well the relationship that she has with her beloved. She knows the mind of the king and knows how best to go about in the handling of this matter. One of the blessings of Restoration that is seen in those who hearkened to the Lord was that they were given a heart to know His heart (Jer 24:6-7). There was a price that had to be paid for this level of relationship and so it is with us today. God desires intimacy at a very high level; the very level of intimacy seen in this love story. He longs for a people who loves Him wholeheartedly and desires to know His heart. It is the pleasure and joy of God to share His heart with such people. Will we be the Abraham’s of our day?
The Shulamite has come to see and appreciate the maturity that has developed in her life (vs 10). She recognizes that it was the drawing and wooing of the king that has brought her to this pace. This is key because the balance of the verses speaks of the vineyard and of the harvest to come. We all long for revival and rejoice when we hear about the move of God to come. The question is, are we ready? Will we be like the wise or unwise virgins (Math 25:2-3, 9)? Will our nets be able to hold and properly facilitate the harvest or will they break (Luk 5:6, John 21:11)? The 7th kingdom parable which can be linked to the 7th Feast of the Lord (Tabernacles) speaks of a great net that is to be cast out. It represents a window, a minimal period of time where we have opportunity to secure and minister to both the good and bad fish that will be brought in (Math 13:47-49). The key in securing and maximizing the harvest is to observe the King and the Shulamite in the closing verses of the Book. They are in harmony, they are flowing in love one for another and they both have the burden for the harvest. The Song of Solomon serves as a blueprint in preparing the church of the last days for revival. It is hoped that each of us can come into that same level of relationship so as to maximize the harvesting opportunity before us. He is worthy to receive the fruits of the harvest which serves as His reward.
2 Tim 4
We now come to the very last chapter of the last epistle of Holy Scripture that was written by the Apostle Paul. He begins by exhorting Timothy to preach the Word, being instant in season and out of season. He prefaces this by letting it be known that we all will be one-day standing before the Lord Jesus Christ as judge at the appearing of His kingdom (vs 1). We should ever be mindful that we will one day give an account for our work done here on earth. One of the criteria will be based on our witness and preaching of the Gospel. Our walk with God should enable us to adjust to any situation so as to share the Gospel to anyone at any time. There will be instances when you may be called upon to give a Word without notice; will be able to take advantage of such opportunities? Our daily devotional life should provide a deep reservoir of truth that can be summoned and proclaimed at any moment. This does not mean that we do not study and prepare for messages it is meant for those unexpected times and situations where we may need to speak a Word. We should be proactive and look for opportunities to share.
As referenced previously Paul warns that in the last day’s men will not endure good sound doctrine. The difference in doctrine may be subtle at first but once the truth of God is held in any measure of unrighteousness it opens the door for greater deception (Rom 1:18-30).
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
There will be clear lines of demarcation that will become increasingly evident in the last days. God will allow for deception to come into his church for those who refuse to allow their hearts to be circumcised. They will be cut off from the pure stream and will slowly segue into the stream that leads to filthiness and uncleanness (Rev 22:11). The bottom line is that the Lord is going to allow us to be led by what is in our heart. If we want an easier Gospel message, the way to an accommodating church will be provided. If we tend to compromise standards a way will be made for us to find a church that makes allowance for it. This is scary and should put the Fear of God in each of us. The result from such teaching is an eroding and turning away from the Truth.
Paul knows that his time of departing this life is at hand and he states so clearly to Timothy in verse 6. Paul is now entering into that moment that Jesus came to know when He knew his work had been finished and accomplished. There was the knowing that all that God had apportioned for Paul to do has been accomplished. Though his execution was still to come there had to be great satisfaction and pleasure that his work was about finished. He elaborates in verse 7 as to running his race and finishing the course that God established for him before the foundations of the world. He then goes on to encourage Timothy and the others to live their life in a similar way so that they too can obtain a crown. We see here in Paul the importance of finishing well and strong. This is in contrast to what we have seen with Solomon in our parallel Old Testament reading, particularly in Ecclesiastes.
There is one further reminder that Paul gives about finishing well. He speaks of Demas in verse 10 as one who has departed from the faith. Why did this happen? It was a love for the things of the world that captivated him. Demas is a sobering reminder of the parable of the sower where seed fell among the thorns. It flourished for a time only to be choked by the thorns of this world. Remember it was only a few short years earlier where Demas was cited for his being a blessing to Paul. He spoke of him in a positive light in his letter to the Colossians and in his letter to Philemon (Col 4:14, Philemon 1:24). Let us constantly be reminded on the importance of finishing well.
Paul was an avid reader and desired that the parchments and books would be brought to him while he was in the prison. He sought to take every advantage of any opportunity to pray, read and study. These are healthy exercises that help to provide strength right up to the end.
In verses 14-15 Paul warns Timothy of some of the opposition to expect as he goes forward in preaching the truth. Many of the enemies that will confront the church of the last days will be those from within the church itself. Paul was aware that the Lord always stood by him in all of his journeys. He found Him to be faithful in allowing his preaching to be fully known. It is an amazing testimony in seeing how the Lord used Paul in the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles. There were many obstacles along the way, many adversaries and seasons of imprisonment nonetheless the Word of God prevailed through Him. He encourages Timothy with these words as the mantle and baton is now being passed. Paul lived a life worthy of emulating; it is a model for true succession leadership and it’s one we would do well to learn from. In the past week we have had the opportunity to examine the lives of two men who were nearing the end of their lives (Solomon and Paul). There lives started very differently and ended very differently. There are lessons to learn from both. We are without excuse because we have laid out before us the pitfalls and potentials of what can happen in one’s relationship with God. May we seek to press toward the mark of the high calling while we still have opportunity. Let us finish our race well.