For the guardians of the walls.
For the wounded bride.
Is there a better line in all of Scripture than the bride’s proclamation, “I am my love’s and his desire is for me”? (Song of Songs 7:10). It’s full of theological meat—she appropriates the covenant language that reverberates throughout Scripture. That is fabulous in itself. But none of it matters if you don’t get it deep down in your bones, if you don’t follow through with what it really means, and if you don’t sing it with her.
Are we perhaps guilty in our theology of upholding a Savior who gave his whole life for us, but not seeing him as the Groom who absolutely desires and delights in us? This isn’t a lustful desire to reduce his bride, the church, as an ends to his pleasure—it is pure and good to the core, elevating her dignity and personhood. It fructifies her. It is eternal and unchanging. In the Song, we not only see this, but his desire arouses our own. And we long for that day when we will consummate that.
Just meditate for a moment on this. Is there anything more desirable, more delightful, than “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word”? (Heb. 1:3). Isn’t this what our desires should be cultivated towards?
The obstacles for the bride in the Song are not what we would expect. Along with the exploitation of her brothers and the mocking from the daughters of Jerusalem, there are two night scenes in the Song. The bride is searching frantically for the one whom her soul loves. In both scenes, the guards/guardians of the walls find her. In the first, she seeks out their help and they neglect her. In the second, they abuse her. She describes this in nightmarish fashion. She names it. But her focus isn’t on the guardians of the walls. They are exposed in their darkness. Her focus is on finding, and clinging to, the One whom her soul loves.
The imagery she uses to describe him doesn’t tell us what he looks like, but who he is (5:10-16). Some commentators see an echo of this wasf in John’s description of the risen Lord in the beginning of Revelation (Rev. 1:12-16). It is an unveiling. She ends saying, “He is absolutely desirable. This is my love, and this is my friend, young women of Jerusalem” (Song 5:16). What honor and value she must feel from her Groom to call him her love and her friend.
This desire leads to delight, as he does not withhold himself from his bride. But the most wonderous part is that he delights in her—us. In writing about communion with the Son, Jesus Christ, John Owen cannot help but go to the Song, as he teaches:
This is the first mutual consequential act of conjugal affection, in this communion between Christ and believers:—he delights in them and they delight in him.(Communion with God, 132)
In the Song we see many echoes from Isaiah. We see all kinds echoes in the Song from Isaiah 62, where Zion/Israel/Bride figure together, as the bride enfleshes this restoration. Along with the echoes from Isaiah 62 of bright light, flame, a new name, a glorious crown, a rejoicing groom, new wine, a banner raised, wages, and a city not deserted, the Song picks up on being called “My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married, for the LORD delights in you” (Isaiah 62:5). Delight is all over the Song. The Groom mirrors the bride’s language (1:2), saying “How delightful your caresses are, my sister, my bride. Your caresses are much better than wine” (4:10). But we really hear the echo when he proclaims, “How beautiful you are and how pleasant, my love, with such delights!” (7:6). The day of his wedding is “the day of his heart’s rejoicing” (3:11). Owen adds, “And every day whilst we live is his wedding-day” (118). He then quotes from Prov. 8:31, saying, “The thoughts of communion with the saints were the joy of his heart from eternity. On the compact and agreement that was between his Father and him, that he should divide a portion with the strong, and save a remnant for his inheritance, his soul rejoiced in the thoughts of that pleasure and delight which he would take in them, when he should actually take them into communion with himself” (118). Totus Christus.
It takes me to his prayer, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation” (John 17:24). Jesus is praying as if he is already in heaven longing for that Great Day which we see in Song 3:11. Owen speaks of how our conjugal communion is his glory and honor, “It is the day of his coronation, and his spouse is the crown wherewith he is crowned. For as Christ is a diadem of beauty and a crown of glory unto Zion, Isa. xxviii.5; so Zion is also a diadem and a crown unto him, Isa. lxii.3.” Does this not signify our value to Christ and the rejoicing that is mutually ours in its consummation? How wondrous to imagine! So Jesus prays for us to know the Father, and in this we will love the Son as the Father does, and he will dwell within us. We are persons made for personal communion with a personal God. Scott Swain reminds us that “In this the Father is glorified; in this the fruit of the Spirit is exhibited; in this our joy is made full (John 15:8, 11).” (The Trinity, 126).
And so Christ reveals to us, “all his love, his good-will, the secrets of his covenant, the paths of obedience, the mystery of the faith” (Owen, 120). The King is bringing us to his chambers (Song 1:4). And behind the veil, we find delight.
For the guardians of the walls—help us find the One whom our soul loves. Tell us about this delight that he has for us. Treat us with the value that the Bridegroom bestows on us.
For the wounded bride—keep your eyes and heart focused. Get back on your feet. He is worth it, for our “beloved is white and ruddy, Chief among ten thousand” (Song 5:10).