Throughout scripture we are given beautiful descriptions of the love which Christ has for His bride. But the church has somehow seemed to have dismissed this passionate desire Christ has for His bride. There is a spiritual longing that God put in our hearts to desire Him. Why would He do that if He wasn’t passionate about His bride?
What does true passionate love look like? I believe it is found from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. Everything God created was good. But as good and perfect as it was, there was still something missing. There was a purpose in the order that God created the universe and everything in it. Think about it, the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, Everlasting One, the Uncreated One, our BRIDEGROOM, GOD THE SON (Colossians 1:16), created everything that was necessary to sustain us, as well as beautiful to give us pleasure! God is outside of time, He has no beginning and He has no end. Everything that was created was already created before He laid the foundation of the world! God knew the end of things before there was even a beginning! (Isaiah 46:10) I don’t know about you, but I stand amazed as I consider these things. In the natural state of mind it is without understanding, but in the spiritual mind it is overwhelmingly exciting and amazing! Our God is an awesome God!
God considered relationship with His bride so important that He designed the first living human creatures (beings) out of the soil and breathed His own breath into the nostrils which created life! Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27) We were created in the likeness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
The Lord wants to challenge us today with some verses describing how God sees His bride and then His desire to be in intimate relationship with us. As you read the following, please focus on the scriptures and not on your thoughts; enter into His presence and allow Him to speak truth into your life. The Song of Solomon is the most descriptive in describing the intimate relationship desired by the Lord. Today’s devotion is only a small picture of His love. I encourage you to go to www.songofsolomondevotional.com and download the devotional in which you will be taken on a journey that will open the eyes of your heart to new understanding you never imagined! This devotion is not taken from the study but one in which the Lord shared His heart with me so that I would share it with you, and hopefully entice you to delve deeper into the Song of Solomon Devotional.
“A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.” (Song of Solomon 4:12) When I read this scripture I picture a garden filled with beautiful and exotic flowers and plants. Some I recognize and others I have never seen before. There are colors of every sort and more shades than I can ever imagine. There are no weeds anywhere to be found in this garden because the caregiver carefully tends to each plant so that it thrives where it is planted. Rock gardens can also be quite beautiful. Rocks can provide a firm foundation, they can form natural formations in which the flowers can be planted and are protected from the elements which may harm them. God hid Moses in the cleft of the rock when He passed by so that Moses could see His back walking past him. (Exodus 33:22) (Remember that this was in response to Moses’ asking to know God as he was known by God.) Have you ever asked God to know Him in such intimacy? YOUR BRIDEGROOM THE LORD JESUS WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOU ASK THAT OF HIM! Jesus is the Rock of our salvation. He is our firm foundation and He cannot be shaken. (You may also want to go to the devotion titled Steadfast Love of the Lord under the Narrow Road heading for more on Jesus being our Rock.)
A spring is a naturally formed area of fresh water found underground and has not been contaminated with harmful chemicals. Jesus is the fountain of living water. And when we are filled with the Spirit at our rebirth scripture tells us that we will have rivers of living water flowing! “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38) Fresh, refreshing and quenching water. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “...Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) All three, the garden, the rock garden and the spring, are beautiful creations of our Creator. But as we read the scripture again I hear the Lord speaking gently, holding His bride’s face in His hands, gazing into her eyes and warning lovingly that while He has created her to be this beautiful garden, the circumstances of life have caused her to shut down and lock up the beautiful garden. The living water has ceased to be allowed to flow. The garden is not being tended and the foundation is in danger of developing cracks and becoming unstable.
Are you able to hear what the Spirit is saying to you, right now? Are you one of the locked gardens? Has the spring of living water seemed to have dried up? Are you maybe just going through the motions? Have you lost your joy in the Lord? Dear beloved, look upward and behold the glory of the Lord! “The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD is over many waters.” (Psalm 29:3) We are told “for we walk by faith, not by sight—” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Are you dear bride walking by faith or have you allowed the storms of life to shift your foundation?
You may be thinking that you know the scriptures, but sometimes those precious words of life of scripture become only a source of knowledge and need to move from the head to the heart. This is why we are minded in scripture, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
You may be asking what God sees when He looks at you. That’s a very important question and as you sit with the Lord in solitude the Holy Spirit will begin to minister to you and open your eyes to see what God sees. God sees a very special person that He longs to be in relationship with! I am not referring to your salvation experience but the total surrender experience He desires from you His bride. He wants you to freely enjoy the garden that He has created you to be, as well as to open for others to be drawn in and meet the GARDNER! I would be very amiss if I also didn’t warn you that in order for the garden to retain it’s beauty that the gardener must prune the plants daily and pull any weeds so that it will continue to produce beautiful fruit in your life. Are you willing to be pruned? Are you submitted to the Lord’s authority? Not sure? Pray this scripture daily and allow the Holy Spirit to begin to weed your garden, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Now let’s take a peek at the next couple of verses and see a description that will surprise you. I encourage you to just receive these words and say “thank You” to God’s amazing love!
“Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, henna with nard plants, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices. You are a garden spring, a well of fresh water, and streams flowing from Lebanon.” (Song of Solomon 4:13-15)
Did you notice He stated “shoots”, plural? Those are the many areas of ministering to the needs of others. These refer specifically to the specific plans the Lord has for each of us, (“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10), in which we will be judged as to how well we submitted to His plan. “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
Pomegranates have a very significant meaning in this passage. Pomegranates were woven onto the bottom hem of the priests garments. Are we not called to be priests unto the living God? (1 Peter 2:5) “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:9 emphasis mine) Pomegranates are also red and represent the blood of Jesus Christ that has washed us clean. “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Choice fruits represent the many gifts that God has given to us that we might allow Him to flow through us to draw others to Himself. When you open up a pomegranate you will find many seeds, that is what God sees as He looks at us and who He created us to be! Where are your seeds being sown?
Henna in Hebrew means a price of a life, ransom. You are a new creation! You were ransomed by Jesus Christ! “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.” (Isaiah 53:10) (emphasis mine) (Also read Isaiah 53:12) “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28) (emphasis mine) You are precious in His sight!
Nard plants are very fragrant. So as we hear the Holy Spirit speak to us we hear that we are priceless to Him and we were created to be a sweet fragrance that draws others to Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Giving your life totally to Him as His bride will release His fragrance in you for others to be touched. The oil of the nard plant is very expensive. This is the oil that Mary used to pour over Jesus’ feet, “Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (John 12:3) This was only a few days before the crucifixion of Christ. While He was being beaten and scourged and hung on a cross, the sweet fragrance of the nard oil still hung from Him. Oh dear bride, do the sweet fragrances of the Lord still pour out of you even when being persecuted?
I find it interesting that nard is repeated twice. Did the Lord repeat it to get our attention because it is so important? How often are people turned off by the actions or words of “believers”? I am often saddened to listen to someone quoting scripture who is not even close to living by it. Scripture is clear as to how we are to be fragrant, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;” (2 Corinthians 2:15) I once heard a pastor say “preach the gospel everywhere you go and use words if you must”. Think about it, our actions and attitudes often reveal more about us than our words. Is the fruit of the Spirit very evident in your life? 2 Corinthians 3:2, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;”
Saffron is a costly spice as well and it used medicinally to keep the heat of our bodies regulated properly. Could it be that the Lord is warning us that as beautiful as the flower is that we are not to be concerned with outer appearances but to have the peace of God in our hearts so that is what others see? I am reminded of the story of Esther. When she was taken into the king’s court she was required to go through the purification ritual. For a prolonged period of time, all of the maidens of the court were required to soak in a pool that was filled with these precious fragrances. By the end of the time of their purification they did not need to spray themselves with a fragrance because the oils had soaked into their pores and now emitted their fragrances naturally. “...twelve months under the regulations for the women—for the days of their beautification were completed as follows: six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and the cosmetics for women—” (Esther 2:12) That is the picture of how we are to be because the Word of God and the blood of Jesus has transformed us from the inside out.
Calamus is a fragrant water plant or reed and is also used as a measuring rod. A reed is usually quite sturdy. In this instance I believe the Lord is sharing how He has created us to be steady so that we can run the full race. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
Cinnamon is actually a bark and some cinnamon is very expensive. Besides the wonderful fragrance that cinnamon releases, it is delicious and thought to have healing attributes. As true followers of Christ, we are to be growing steadily so that we too are “seasoned”. We should be not only walking the narrow road that the Lord has us on, but we are to be “mentoring” and helping younger believers in their walks. Unless we have been willing to allow the Lord to “heal our minds” and be delivered from the false doctrine of the world and the hurts we experienced, we cannot be a testimony of His healing power to others. It is because of the refining we have gone through in our lives we, like cinnamon, bring a delightful fresh breath of air of encouragement and hope to others.
Frankincense and myrrh were two of the costly gifts that the wise men presented to Mary and Joseph at the birth of Jesus. They are also two of the ingredients in the oil the priests were instructed to make for the oil lamps in the temple. In order to extract the scent of the myrrh it has to be crushed to release its fragrance. It also is used to help alleviate pain and was put into the vinegar that was offered to Jesus when He was hanging on the cross to dull His pain. He refused to drink of it because of His amazing love for you and me. He wasn’t willing to take a drug that would dull his senses. There were no shortcuts on this path of redemption that He was on. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul in asking the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh”. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) (emphasis mine) If Jesus had used medicines to reduce the pain, we could not then boast in “the power of Christ”!
This next verse is VERY important for all of the above to be real in us. “Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!” (Song of Solomon 4:16) This is what the bride of Christ longs for! The north winds are the difficult circumstances and seasons in our lives that bring out the sweetness of the fruit and cause the tree to become strong. The north winds must come first so that the south winds can now “mature” the fruit that is beginning to be formed. It is now that the discipleship (learning how to follow Christ), we had received becomes “real”, we own it from experience. Continued discipleship (learning how to follow Christ) is critical because it is the water of the Word that will bring new life. The Word itself is the “fertilizer” that will nourish us and provide the food by which we live by. We will also require pruning so that those gifts in us will be made strong by the Lord. If we produce “shoots” that are weak and running every which way, we will have no impact for the Lord but will create havoc. It may look like we are doing something but that would be for our glory, not for the Lord’s glory! As our Beloved is now allowed into the garden of our hearts He will now tend to it and through the Holy Spirit speak to us so that we stay in alignment with Him. Oh how He delights to be in our heart garden! As the fruit ripens He now invites us to join Him in ministering to others! Do you see it? Can you see yourself in the valleys as well as on the mountaintops running with the Bridegroom, ministering to the lost, the hurting, the abused, the dying, the hungry? Oh what joy!
We tend to think in our natural mind that because we believe in Jesus Christ that our lives should be a little easier. In fact, it is just the opposite and we can see that in scripture. Because of sin that entered through Adam and Eve, man has a natural opposition to want to be submitted to a greater power than himself. But yet, God placed a longing in our hearts that can only be filled by Him. That creates quite a power struggle for many people. Through these scriptures I pray that you would begin to see God’s heart of love for you in a whole new way. Don’t give up. Find a prayer partner or someone to have a Bible study with that you can seek Him together. If that isn’t possible, write to me and we will join you in prayer and help you by ministering through His Word.
Remember what was said at the beginning of this devotional article:
God considered relationship with His bride so important that He designed the first living CREATURES out of the soil and breathed His own breath into the nostrils which created life! Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27) We were created in the likeness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
WHAT DOES THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD LOOK LIKE? The scriptures tell us
clearly that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Note that it does not say God has love, even though that is very true, but that God IS love – His whole being IS love!!! He created two human beings
to be just like Him. Adam and Eve were filled, totally filled with that LOVE. He wanted someone to be totally intimate with Him to converse and share with Him on His level. There was only one way that could happen. Because God is love, Adam and Eve experienced His love. God demonstrated His love in everything He had created and in every interaction He had with them. The Apostle John reminds us “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Before sin came entered in that love flowed back and forth from God’s heart to their heart. They were TOTALLY IN LOVE! It was lost when sin came in and that is why our Bridegroom, God the Son, has to create a whole new person to be His bride and feel that precious love again. He longed for a Heavenly bride made in His image having His heart.
What did He do when we received Him into our heart (spirit)? Romans 5:5 “...the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” The only thing that is missing is our new body which will be just like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21) “who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” When we receive that new body and no longer have a sin nature we will love Him as His bride 100% because we will be love personified!
After reading these scriptures we would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord if the following verse could be said of you. Song of Solomon 8:5 “Who is this coming up out of the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved?”
Abba Father, thank You for Your gift of Your Son and His passionate love for His bride! As You walk through the garden of my heart today I ask that You show me any weeds that need to be pulled. Prune the shoots that are not the direction of ministry that You desire for me. Holy Spirit speak to the hearts of those reading this devotion. Open the eyes of their hearts to hear and feel Your presence, Your longing to be in intimate relationship with them! Lord I ask for You to begin to bring together two or more in Your name to meet together, encourage one another to study Your Word together that they may grow in the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank You that You long to tend our gardens, to deliver us from the bondages of the past and to flow through us as living water to those living in the desert plains. We need Your wisdom and love to direct our steps daily. We submit ourselves to You to be led by the nail scarred hand of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in whom we ask all these things. Amen!