3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem
4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. 5 Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick (Song of Solomon 2:3-5).
Likewise, the Shulamite describes her beloved with wonderful words of visual love. Trees in the woods normally are not flowering trees. An apple tree, usually shorter than trees that make up the forest, would be lost in the shade of the larger, stronger trees, but she sees him as “one in a million,” someone extraordinary, flowering and fruit producing in spite of the circumstances. Wouldn’t our own loved ones flower and produce fruit if we held the opinion of them that she does of her beloved?
She speaks well of him to her friends and neighbors, describing his love for her to them. Words spoken produce an effect. It never hurts to brag about the ones we love. Here’s a snatch from an old song. It would do well for us to accomplish this:
“Latch onto the affirmative. Eliminate the negative. And don’t mess with Mr. Inbetween.”
1 I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters (Song of Solomon 2:1, 2).
In verse one of chapter two, the Shulamite woman is speaking. Because she is loved by her beloved, she speaks well of herself. So often we speak negatively about ourselves, but if we’ll take the time to see ourselves through our Beloved’s eyes, we will see our good points instead of our bad. We are taught not to do this. The thinking behind such teaching is that it is arrogant to speak well of oneself, making positive words a sin. But our Beloved never speaks negatively about us. He does not think it a sin to encourage ourselves in Him like David did. A positive assessment about ourselves makes the difference between victory and defeat.
How can she speak so well of herself? Look at what her beloved says about her: she is a lily among thorns. In other words, she exceeds all those around her. How can anyone think badly about themselves when the opinion of our Beloved holds us higher than all others? Of course, we can’t get into a competition here. He thinks that about everyone He loves. We will never lose (in our own inner competition with ourselves) if we will simply look at ourselves through the eyes of Jesus. He loves us so much he went through torture and died for us. Did anyone else ever love us like that? He paid for our sins, for our sicknesses, for our poverty. We are the lilies of the valley in His eyes. See it for yourself. Being loved like that causes us to love others as well. That raises us even further in His eyes!
Behold, you are handsome, my beloved! Yes, pleasant! …The beams of our houses are cedar, and our rafters of fir (Song of Solomon 1:16, 17).
This is you and/or me speaking to our Lord Jesus. Some people like to say that Jesus was not handsome, but I think they take that from the description of Him after He had been tortured. I see Him just like this verse says: Handsome. Pleasant.
As our beloved, He builds our lives for us. Cedars are heavy and durable. Houses are where we live, tightly wrapped up by Him with His very best materials, safe and secure. Fir trees have a very pleasant aroma. He causes us to live in pleasant places.
Because of my vocation, I have lived in many, many abodes—51 to be exact. Each house was placed in my life by Jesus, and each house had an adventure waiting for me. I praise Him for my life! Let’s praise Him together!
Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes (Song of Solomon 1:15).
This is Jesus, our lover, speaking to us. He calls us fair. Let me quote Webster for the definition of this word, “fair.”
What I like about being compared to a dove, at least to its eyes, is that birds’ eyes are phenomenal. Look at how sharply they see! A worm wiggles its way out of the ground and a bird from fifty feet sees the head emerge and swoops down to pull the rest of the worm from the earth. I’d like to be able to see my objective that clearly, and then so easily obtain it. But, wait, the Bible says we have that!
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things (1 John 2:20).
While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance (Song of Solomon 1:12).
This line is being said by you and/or me. Both men and women go to great lengths to be noticed. In this case it is perfume that the Lord can smell even while dining across the room. I can think of many stupid things I’ve done to be noticed, and, well, yes, there were a few successful things I did.
My mother tells me of a party she gave before which she put me firmly to bed. No, I could not attend the party! When all the guests had arrived, I came screaming out of my bedroom in my pajamas and slid across the living room floor like a baseball player sliding into Home Plate. The guests thought I was adorable, even as my mother, with every muscle in her body bristling, took me back to bed. I didn’t mind. I’d made my entrance.
So, the question is, what can we do to capture and maintain the attention of God? That’s easy because He never takes His eyes off of us. But if we want to really arrest His attention and retain it, what does the Bible say to do?
Follow His Commandments. That is how God knows that we love Him.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him (John 14:21).
We will make you ornaments of gold with studs of silver (Song of Solomon 1:11).
The Daughters of Jerusalem are saying this line, the chorus on the stage of life, singing of our spiritual home. Angels have been assigned to us. Did you know that? Thousands and thousands of angels wait for our commands. How do we command an angel? By speaking God’s Word. They are to listen to His Words coming out of our mouths and then rush to perform them.
Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word (Psalm 103:20).
Does it seem strange that angels would be preparing ornaments of gold with studs of silver for you and me? Aren’t we the recipients of His blessings? The answer is yes, you know it is. So, we should not be hesitant to put voice to this Word:
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22).
Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold (Song of Solomon 1:10).
I’m doing some facial exercises lately, one of which is to smile as if I really mean it. Then I am supposed to press into my cheeks to deflate the smile, somehow. I don’t think my cheeks have any muscle in them at all. There’s nothing to resist when I press. I don’t think my cheeks have any use whatsoever. Oh, yes, I know, they keep the food in my mouth while I chew, but what kind of ornaments could possibly be on my cheeks?
What does God see on my cheeks? Maybe they look like Christmas ornaments. Maybe my dimples are more pronounced than I think. Maybe He takes my cheeks between His thumbs and forefingers and chuckles at me like we do to children. The thing I am left with in this contemplation is that God calls a portion of my body, that I never think of on a daily basis, as being lovely. Every cell of my being is a building block that makes me like I am. God shaped each one of us according to His design and will, and He sees you and me as being lovely.
I don’t see the ornaments. I don’t see the chains of gold. In ancient days there were no safety deposit boxes in which to store wealth, so the women wore wealth: gold chains around the neck, gold coins sewn into headdresses, etc. The ornaments and the chains of gold are invisible in this natural realm. I must look with my spirit to see my value, and my neck is laden with wealth. So is yours.
I have compared you, my love, to my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots (Song of Solomon 1:9).
Sometimes we are forced to stand back and look deeper at the significance of what we are contemplating. If a suitor compared me to his horse, I might not take that as a desirable expression of love. But when it is God, and I know He created that horse, that graceful, gentle little female filly, I can see the love and admiration in His eyes. I don’t think anyone disagrees with me when I say that the horse is an admirable, noble creature. A horse’s allegiance to his or her master or mistress is a study for our own allegiance to the Lord.
My daughter, as a little 7-year-old, had the meanest pony on the planet. Daphne would bite or kick, whichever end happened to be closest, anyone who came near her—especially me. That pony terrified me. But when Jolie came into the stable, Daphne would put her nose in Jolie’s back, and my daughter could walk anywhere, in the fence, outside the fence, and that nose stayed fixed on the very center of Jolie’s back.
I hope God can compare me to His filly among the chariots: loyal, persistent, following, loving Him wherever He goes, whatever He does, whatever He says, I’m right there. All my senses are fixed on Him.
(THE BELOVED) If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow in the footsteps of the flock, and feed your little goats beside the shepherds' tents (Song of Solomon 1:8).
The answer is so simple. Don’t bother finding souls in their place of relaxation as they won’t listen to our testimonies there. Go to their homes. Go to where they live as there they are not veiled, and they are more open to hear what we say. That only makes sense. If we try to reach people for Jesus when they are busy having fun, not even eternity can draw them away from their sports and leisure. But where they live, that’s where they have needs that only God can fill. We may be the fairest among women, or the fairest among men, but that doesn’t stagnate us, it empowers us to speak openly. It’s just a matter of choosing our venue. To address people’s needs in the place where that need is greatest, that is wisdom. They need to know, above all else, how much they are loved, just as they are. When they grasp that, anything is possible.
(TO HER BELOVED) Tell me, O you whom I love, where you feed your flock, where you make it rest at noon. For why should I be as one who veils herself by the flocks of your companions (Song of Solomon 1:7)?
What a perfect picture of the reluctant Christian! How often do we get into groups for relaxation and veil ourselves so no one sees the real person, the beloved of Jesus Christ and God His Father? We turn to Jesus and ask where we can go. Where does He have relaxation with His flocks so we can go there and not hide ourselves?
But that’s not what He wants for us. Tomorrow you’ll see what He does want. Until He answers that question we are in a quandary. We know we’re supposed to witness and tell everybody about Him, but even in our best intentions we put a veil over our Christianity.
Yet we love Him. We want to share Him with His companions, those He loves, and we don’t. What a terrible dilemma!