There is an interesting phrase early in the Song of Solomon. Chapter 1 verse 4 begins with the phrase “Draw me away!” There is ardour inherent in this expression of a desire for the heart to be drawn to following the one we love. Whether we view the focus or intent of the Song of Solomon as being primarily about Israel and Yahweh, Jesus and the church or a bride and bridegroom, we can know one thing, as believers we are called to passionately love Jesus with everything we have (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30). Thus, the Song of Solomon can teach us about the love relationship we are called to have with Jesus.
The bride begins by expressing a heart cry, the desire to be drawn away by her beloved, to be with him. Later in the book we find her desire compromised by inconvenience.
2 I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one; For my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.” 3 I have taken off my robe; How can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; How can I defile them? 4 My beloved put his hand By the latch of the door, And my heart yearned for him. 5 I arose to open for my beloved, And my hands dripped with myrrh, My fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handles of the lock. 6 I opened for my beloved, But my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. Song of Solomon 5:2–6 (NKJV)
In this scene the bridegroom came for the bride but she found it inconvenient to respond even though she longed for him. As a result, she lost out. If we carry that over to our relationship with Jesus, He sometimes calls our hearts to engage with His at inconvenient times. I know at times I have not responded because I was ‘busy.’ What a foolish choice. Other times my heart has simply responded to His drawing and I have rested in His presence, even in the midst of activity. I don’t need to stop and assume the right posture or breathe the right way to know and enjoy His presence. I can simply let my heart encounter His.
In the above scene the bride was left with myrrh on her fingers, scented oil. In our walk with Jesus the scented oil represents anointing and the fragrance of His presence. We can be left with a measure of anointing even if we miss responding to His presence but it will fade over time. We need more than a reminder of His presence; we need to daily walk closely with Him knowing His heart.
The danger of not responding to His call is found in Revelation and Hebrews. In Revelation Jesus commends the church at Ephesus for many things but chastises them for their failure in their call to love Him.
2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelation 2:2–4 (NKJV)
The primary message in this warning is that good works are no substitute for a good relationship. Jesus may be pleased with our works but what He desires is our hearts. Similarly, in Hebrews 2:1 we are warned of the danger of drifting away. Not walking away, drifting. We see that with the bride in the Song of Solomon. Her passion was intense in her desire to be drawn away but then when the bridegroom came for her later, she failed to respond with the same intensity. She had to some extent drifted away.
We too can drift away simply by becoming caught up in other things or being busy doing things ‘for Jesus’ rather than being with Him. The good news for the bride in the Song of Solomon is that she came to the place where her one desire was the bridegroom and she gave expression to it when she asked not to be drawn but to be set as a seal upon his heart (Song of Solomon 8:5-6).
For us, we may start by asking to be drawn and we may then drift. Yet, if we look at the pattern in the Song of Solomon, when we renew our pursuit of Him we find Him and again find ourselves in the place of intimacy with Him. I don’t know if can we be sealed in this lifetime, I do know we can always reorient our heart to pursuing His presence and thus His purpose. I pray we all remain sensitive to His call and respond when He calls.
As I reflected on what I had written He brought a well known hymn to mind, here are the last two verse of an 18th century hymn by Robert Robinson, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, they capture what I have tried to write quite well.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Here’s my heart
Oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above