“Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” (Song 1:7-8).
I realize you have been wandering, dear one. The many buildings or places that are called churches are places where you can lose your way. I know you are looking for Jesus, so I hope you will pay attention for a few brief moments. Previously in this chapter, the Shulamite woman is awakened, convinced and longs in her heart for her beloved to, “kiss her with the kisses of his mouth for thy love is better than wine.” She has never experienced this before and she desires his affectionate kiss. She insists in so many words if anything is going to happen in their relationship he must kiss her first. In her eyes, the first act of love must be his right from the beginning because not every girl can kiss the King.
Is this not true of Christ and his bride? God has loved us as he loves Christ and that love was before the foundation of the world (John 17:23-24). That is the love of God that chooses us to be his own. His foreknowledge is not his omniscience alone, it is not based on what he sees is going to happen and bases his choice on the choices people make. He did not see us choosing him, we could not and would not (Rom 3:10-12)! Sin made us slaves without strength to reach out to the only one who could save us (Rom. 5:6). But Jesus saw us, he took pity on us! He loved us first! He fore-loved his people in Christ. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). It also is reminiscent of the cry of Augustine who said, “My whole hope is in thy exceeding great mercy and that alone. Give what thou commandest and command what thou wilt.” (Confessions, Book 10, Ch. 24:40). How we must pray, “Lord, you must start the work in my heart or I will be lost, wandering forever in a far more confusing place than the world, but religion which has no power or truth!”
Like Israel who he found abandoned in the wilderness, he desires to take us from being infants in peril and nurture and clothe us with security and then develop us into “exceeding beautiful” womanhood so we are ready to mature ”into the time of love.” (Ezekiel 16:1-13). There is a certain turning point in a persons life after regeneration where we begin to understand the Sovereignty of God in our lives as far as our sanctification is concerned. I am not speaking of another class of Christian but one who is growing in Christ. The scripture teaches this is a point of maturity that develops in the life of a Christian where the milk of the Word is not enough, they must have meat, solid food (Heb 5:12-14). They also put away childish things because they are growing up. They become stable. Everything changes from babyhoodto adulthood (1 Cor 13:11). This woman is ready to know Christ as the lover of her soul and Christ hears her cry and will show her great and mighty things that she has not known! (Jer. 33:3).
She calls him, “O thou whom my soul loveth…” This is where wandering screeches to a halt. This kind of love is is so beyond any human love because it is birthed by the Spirit of God. It is a love where any rival or competition to Christ begins to be put down by the increase of his government that is conquering the heart (Isaiah 9:6-7). Christ is loved by the Christian with their very heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:4-5) but like the conquering of Cannan sanctification takes time. The child of God wants to love God more as they mature and this love must come from the deepest part of us. It is God who loves us first, and in turn we love him and that love makes us want to be near him and we learn to love him with the love he loves us with in some small measure.
She asks him, “where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.” She looks for the place where her soul can rest and she can eat “the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:3-4). God requires us to have faith in his provision and not wandering around attempting to find other secondary or tertiary sources rather than from Christ himself. Sadly, this is a common practice among people who profess to be Christians. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer 2:13). Christ offers them the children’s bread and to eat from the food off of the Masters table. He calls us to come and dine! Christ is a good shepherd (John 10:11) who feeds his sheep and those who love him are only satisfied with him and the authentic spiritual food he offers! That is the whole mystery of John chapter 6. Christ offers himself as food for the soul, only he can satisfy.
Mature believers recognize how much they need the guidance and protection of God because they are more aware of the dangers around them, wandering is not an option. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) and he feasts on wanderers. While Jesus is the tender shepherd that carries his little lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11) the person who desires the meat of the Word needs more. The Bible says, “And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.” (Micah 5:4). God allows the soul to go through greater trials and snares-sometimes we are at our wits end. So the greater the test, the greater the care and power God places at our disposal. His great Sovereign power is shown by his provison for his people. He never grows faint or weary in doing this!
When a believer matures they stop their wandering in the emptiness of performing mere external service to God they will begin to seek out a place where the LORD feeds his flock and gives “a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9). This woman labored under the harsh rules of her mothers brethren and almost withered under the blistering hot sun and their constant anger farming their fields and neglecting her own vineyard. She left them behind for love of her King and now she does not want to be seen as one wandering aimlessly.
“For why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” This is where the idea of protection from evil comes into play. Maturity results in the senses being able to discern between both good and evil. This scripture shows how much she hates the idea of being seen as a wandering woman. We should also hate the idea of being carried away by our own desires. Like her we should say “Why?” It makes no sense when I belong to the King and I am supposed to be under his care. Why should we substitute that relationship by looking even to his close companions when we can say “I am my beloved’s and he is mine!” I have the One himself? Why? WHY?
These companions of the Lord could fall into two classes: they could be true men of God who people look to rather than directly to Christ. Like the Corinthians they divide into parties that say, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12). People have their preferences and their tastes and each on of these men preached the gospel but people separated and created division in the churches based on these men’s distinct ministries. They may have loved the down home values of Peter, the writing abilities of Paul had or the eloquent speaking ability of Apollos. These is a subtle idolatry. But people became distracted from Christ and were on their way back to the house of their mothers brethren because man centered religion is a cruel taskmaster.In these days we will hear many different religious authors, churches, movements, ministries, saying, ”Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not.” (Mk 13:21). He is in that church, that revival, or this movement. No, he is always where he has been- in his Word.
“For thy love is better than wine.”I wanted to complete the verse we started with. She loves her beloved with all her soul because his love is makes earth’s sweetest substance inferior to his love. It is actually plural or loves. He constantly lavishes and demonstrates his love for his own. Paul speaks of the mercies of God (Rom. 12:1) or his many mercies (Psalm 51:1). His compassions never fail (Lam 3:22). Jesus is all you need and he satisfies you souls need for rest and refreshment. How sweet is the love of Christ for his people. It is like wine. The bread of his body and the wine of his blood are real food for the soul (John 6:35-63). The spiritual presence of Christ that we celebrate in the Lord’s supper is where we can lift up our hearts to the Lord and seek those things which are above where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). Do not waste your time, money and energy on religious products that attempt to sell you a better, deeper relationship with God but enslave you to condemnation and guilt. God offers you the free wine and milk that is offered to those who are thirsting for Christ (Isa. 55:1). All Christ offers us for free is also better than those who sell us religion. He has found you dear soul, desring to feed and care for you and your heart cannot rest until it rests in him
Your wandering is over.