Song of Solomon 4:7 to 5:1
In the first article in this series we considered the importance of maintaining the hedges in our lives based on examples from the history of the Children of Israel. In this article, we shall examine the importance of hedges in our personal lives and consider ways in which we can maintain them.
The references to a garden found in this reading provide many lessons about hedges in our personal lives. The background is about a bridegroom, who appears to be a lonely shepherd, and his spouse, a Shunamite woman whose heart he is wooing. We may liken ourselves to the bride because we have been wooed by the good shepherd, our Saviour and Lord. His love to us should exclude every distraction which the world presents to us. We should have ears and eyes only for our Beloved and reject the world which is always seeking a place in our hearts.
Our Lives as a Garden
In chapter 4, the bride is preparing a special place for her shepherd bridegroom. It is a pleasant enclosed garden. The hedge protects it from intruders and preserves it for the enjoyment of her beloved alone. In a similar way, the Lord desires us to make our lives a special place of fragrance and enjoyment meant for Himself alone.
First, we can note that the bride was preparing a garden. Although both involve the earth, a garden stands in marked contrast to a mine. Miners try to remove everything of value that they can from the ground. In contrast, a garden yields fruit by drawing nutrients from the ground and provides fruitfulness year after year without the ground becoming depleted.
Although we have been redeemed, our lives may not always be a pleasant garden for the Lord. Our communion with the Lord may be broken or limited to only asking the Lord for blessing in some general way. However, just as a garden grows and gives something back to its owner, so our Lord desires that we will be a garden for Him, producing fruit and beauty in our lives.
In Songs 4:11, the groom is looking at his bride and rejoicing in her lips, her tongue, and her garments. The relationship between our souls and the Lord is a very personal one, and He delights in that which reflects His glory in our lives. The Lord considers our lips, reminding us of the joy He finds when we are in close contact with Him in communion. The groom delighted in the garments of the espoused, picturing our Lord who delights in our characters when they are upright and fully committed to glorifying Him alone. Furthermore, He delights in our speech when we speak well of Him. Paul understood the nature of the life that was a suitable response to the Saviour's love for he wrote, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ... I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
The Garden's Enclosure
The garden described here was located in a private place surrounded by a hedge, where the bridegroom could enjoy the devotion of his beloved in privacy. It was enclosed or barred, indicating that the hedges were in place. The bride groom desired to keep his garden for his own enjoyment. Without a hedge, anyone could take the fruit leaving nothing for its owner.
The Lord has placed a hedge around us to mark us out as His purchased possession. He is jealous over us and desires our affections and our commitment. Do we spend time in His presence rejoicing that we belong to Him and that we are His valued possession? He has taken us unto Himself so that we would bear fruit and a special fragrance for Him.
The Sealed Spring
The groom described his spouse as a spring that is shut up or closed off. In those times a spring was sealed when the owner desired to maintain its purity by eliminating the possibility of any defilement. The Lord desires that we would be separate from the world and its defilement. However, the spring was only temporarily sealed, so the owner could access its refreshing water whenever he wished. The Lord desires that our affections would flow out to Him alone, so that He could be refreshed by our hearts. If we are separated from the world and its defilements and attractions we will not be contaminated by them. May we know the truth of the words,
"Saviour Thy dying love, Thou gavest me,
Nor should I aught withhold, My Lord, from Thee;
In love my soul would bow, My heart fulfil its vow,
Some offering bring Thee now, Something for Thee."
When they are properly directed, our affections are a source of sweetness and refreshment to the Lord. Furthermore, this sweetness does not come from great sermons or public acts of service, but He finds it in our faithfulness and our appreciation of Himself.
The Fruits and Pleasures of The Garden
The garden's eight pleasant fruits were for the groom's delight, reminding us that our lives should also be places of fruitfulness. In addition, the Lord comes to commune with us, seeking beauties and fragrances which He can enjoy. Among the fruits of the garden was the pomegranate, a layered fruit that is very sweet to taste. The Lord is looking for little acts and words of kindness which will be sweet to Him. He appreciates those acts and attitudes that may not be apparent to others because His eye penetrates to every comer of our lives and to the deepest layers of our hearts.
Camphire, a sweet smelling substance that spreads its fragrance widely, was also found in the garden. The Lord is looking to us for actions and words that will show the sweetness of a Christ-like character. Other spices in the garden included the aromatic spikenard, the odiferous saffron, the fragrant calamus, cinnamon, myrrh and aloes. Frankincense, another spice found in the garden, is known for the fragrant smell it releases when burned, just as the groom appreciated each unique fragrance in the garden, so our Lord delights in the diverse personal traits of each believer who lives for His glory
To be continued.