(Song of Solomon 2:1-7)
“I am the rose of Sharon,
And the lily of the valleys.
Like a lily among thorns,
So is my love among the daughters.
Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,
So is my beloved among the sons.
I sat down in his shade with great delight,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.
Sustain me with cakes of raisins,
Refresh me with apples,
For I am lovesick.
His left hand is under my head,
And his right hand embraces me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.”
Let’s begin by turning to Song of Solomon 2:1-2. “I am the rose of Sharon, And the lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns, So is my love among the daughters.” Who is the object of love that our Lord is speaking of here? The beloved here refers to God’s workers laboring in His vineyard.
We Are God’s Beloved
The verses that we just read are actually speaking of God’s true workers. So, the appropriate way to interpret today’s Scripture passage is to read it as a dialogue between the Lord and God’s workers. It’s written in today’s passage of Scripture that God’s saints and workers alike are the objects of His love. The Bible says that in God’s sight, His workers are “the roses of Sharon and the lilies of the valleys.” This means that even though God’s workers endure hardship in their lives for the sake of His work, the gospel is preached even more on account of their self-sacrifice. As we know, there are countless people born in this world every day, but among these many people, it is God’s special workers who have put on His special love.
Sharon is a geographic name, referring to a plain in Israel. There is a hymn titled, “Jesus, Rose of Sharon.” The flowers blossoming in the fields and valleys of Sharon were very special. That’s why God described His workers as roses and lilies of Sharon. The spiritual meaning of this Scripture passage is as follows. Our Lord loves us, and we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit which the Lord has given to us. We are now carrying out God’s work. What kind of people are we then? All of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and who are carrying out God’s work, are like the roses and lilies of Sharon before the Lord. That’s how God sees those of us who faithfully preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
However, even we can also feel empty in our hearts at times. We can lose our hearts in times like these, and we can also be discouraged by our weaknesses. But we can renew our strength when we think about the fact that God sees each of us as a rose of Sharon and a lily of the valleys. As we are preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the world, we are that much beautiful in God’s sight. And we cannot thank God enough for choosing us as His beloved. We are filled with the Lord’s love because God has made us the objects of His love by saving us and choosing us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So let us never forget the fact that we are God’s beloved, and let us all be encouraged by this. God is saying to us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that He loves us all.
It’s absolutely important for us to realize who exactly we are, grasping that we are chosen and loved by God. Who are we in God’s sight? Although sometimes we fall into despair when we see our weaknesses, at least we have become the Lord’s beloved. God sees us as His beloved. We must realize this clearly as we carry on with our lives of faith. When we think about God’s love and trust in it, we can feel our hearts warming up. Even though our work sometimes does not go well for us and we struggle as a result, we are still very happy, for we are carrying out the Lord’s work in His presence. We the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are the truly happy people.
As the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we are all very thankful to God that we have become His beloved. It’s so amazing that God has chosen us as the objects of His special love and saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Who are we to deserve this love? It’s all thanks to God’s grace, and words cannot express just how grateful we are.
Although we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, there still are many people standing against the righteousness of God. Their number is so large that it’s impossible to count them all. It’s only fitting then that all such people who don’t believe in the righteousness of God should face the condemnation for their sins and be destroyed in the last days. We, too, had belonged to such doomed people at one time, but now, we have been chosen as God’s beloved, and we have also received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We can’t help but thank God for this. It’s a miracle that we have put on God’s love in this world. We ought to give all glory to God for blessing us to receive the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and become His own precious children. It’s such a wonderful blessing that we can live as God’s beloved and never be shut out of His love.
So, it’s not by the things of this world that we are carrying on with our lives, but only by the righteousness of God. It is written: “For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them” (Hebrews 13:9). It’s because of God that we are so joyous. It’s so wonderful to establish our hearts by God’s grace. Our hearts are not established by the material things of the world. It’s not the food of the world that comforts our hearts, but it is the God-given grace of love that establishes our hearts. I am so happy that God loves us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and that we have become God’s beloved. It’s so wonderful that we can all thank God for this by faith. Words fail to express just how happy I am that God has chosen all of us, God’s workers and saints alike, as His beloved.
Like this, the Song of Solomon has so much to say about the relationship between God and His workers. What God is saying in the Song of Solomon is actually spoken to God’s workers who are planted in His field. I can therefore assure you that all of us carrying out God’s work in His Church have become the objects of God’s love in His sight.
From Whom Can We Obtain Everlasting Water for Our Hearts?
Let’s turn to Song of Solomon 2:3. “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons.” Verse three here implies how God’s workers see the Lord. It’s thanks to the Lord and His righteousness that God’s workers can refresh their hearts. How were God’s workers able to find the righteousness of the Lord? And how were they able to drink everlasting water for their hearts from the Lord? We could drink the everlasting water offered by the Lord because we believed in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit.
That is why the Shulamite woman said: “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste” (Song of Solomon 2:3). This passage means that by receiving the remission of sins as offered by the Lord, we have come to drink everlasting water and live in the Lord’s Church. It’s the Lord who gives us everlasting water, and this is all because of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What kind of fruit, then, has God given to the righteous that are carrying out His work? He has given them the fruit of salvation. So, to us, the Lord is like an apple tree among the trees of the woods. As we are abiding in the Lord’s Word of righteousness by faith, we have quenched our hearts thanks to the fruit of righteousness which the Lord has given to us.
Have you ever seen an apple tree while hiking in the woods? How would you feel if you came across an apple tree? Apples are not only pleasing to the eye, but they are also refreshingly tasteful. Apple trees that grow in the woods are even sweeter and fresher. That’s why the Shulamite woman said: “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste.”
We are joyful for the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit which was given to us by the Lord through the Holy Spirit and by His Word as well. While carrying on with our lives in this world, we were able to meet the Lord and receive the remission of sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit; and we are now living as the redeemed. Moreover, we are also living as God’s workers in His Church, and thanks to the Lord, we can all find great comfort for our hearts and in our lives. Indeed, we would have had absolutely no joy were it not for the righteousness of our Lord; but because of the Lord giving us the true faith, we have received the blessing of everlasting life.
Who, then, is the Lord to all our saints and God’s workers, men and women alike? Truly, He is like an apple tree among the trees of the woods. The Lord is our indispensable Savior, like an oasis in the desert. He is categorically indispensable to us, and we all need Him absolutely. It’s because of the Lord that we are so overjoyed, for He has not only met us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit but has also given us the blessing of eternal life. Our Lord came looking for all of us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and thanks to this we were able to find the righteousness of the Lord by faith. We should all realize here what a blessing this is. This world is full of trouble, and we may have many preoccupations, but we ought to ruminate on the righteousness of the Lord and the love He has bestowed upon us, trust in Him, and live by faith like this.
We shouldn’t think of our Lord as someone who is just driving us to do God’s work. If we let our thoughts go astray, we will be ruined in both body and spirit. When our thoughts wander off, we may regret that we received the remission of sins so early, or we may feel that God is too demanding in asking us to carry out His work. The Lord is not someone who just keeps on pushing us to work for no reason. On the contrary, the Lord is giving us a lot of God’s work so that our hearts would not go astray. Unless we carry out God’s work, our hearts are bound to decay and end up being seized by the thoughts of the flesh. That is why it’s so imperative for us to continue to carry out God’s work. Otherwise we may go astray in our mistaken thoughts.
Who, then, is the Lord to us? What does He mean to you and me? Is He really our Beloved? Is He really the fountain of all our blessings? Or do you feel this is not who the Lord is to you? When we ruminate on the love of the Lord and His righteousness carefully, we are all compelled to thank Him, for we can all realize what He really means to us. Like this, we ought to ponder on the Lord’s love and righteousness profoundly and give all thanks and glory to God that He deserves. I can’t emphasize this point enough.
Having invited us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to His banquet hall of righteousness, the Lord is clothing us in His love. Not only this, the Lord is also offering us all kinds of wonderful delicacies in His banquet hall, so we can’t help but thank the Lord. It’s written in Song of Solomon 2:4: “He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love.”
Our Lord is indeed a joy to us the righteous, and He is indeed our strength. He is our joy, our strength, our power, our blessing, and our love. That is what the Lord means to us all. Do you not agree? The Lord has invited us to the Banquet Hall of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and He has blessed us to feast on God’s love to our hearts’ content. When the Bible says here, “His banner over me was love,” it means that the love of the Lord and His righteousness are the source of our strength. In other words, the Lord’s righteous love is a tremendous blessing and a great source of strength for all of us.
It’s because the Lord loved us that we were able to receive His salvation of righteousness, and it’s because of the Lord’s love that our souls are strengthened so greatly. It’s because the Lord loves us that we have been saved from all our sins, and that’s why we are so grateful to Him beyond all words. So, whenever we read the Word of God, we can grasp the Lord’s love and this love strengthens us. And that is how we have come to realize what our Lord wants from us. Because the Lord loved us first and continues to love us, we cannot help but obey His will on account of this love. It’s precisely for this reason that we are now spreading the Lord’s love.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This is what God said to us. God truthfully loved us so much like this, and it’s because of this love that we are preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit to everyone throughout the whole world. Like this, God’s righteous love gives us the greatest strength. It’s because of the Lord’s love that we are carrying on with our lives in this world dedicating ourselves to the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We could never do this without the love of Jesus.
We Are the Brides of Christ
Although I am a man, spiritually speaking, I am a bride of Jesus Christ. You may wonder how I could consider myself a bride when I am a man, but in reality, whoever believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is a bride of Jesus Christ. Once I found the righteousness of the Lord, I’ve been very proud of the fact that I am Christ’s bride. I am absolutely certain that I am a spiritual bride of Christ. That’s because of the fact that I have married Jesus Christ spiritually.
So there is no doubt that you and I are the Lord’s beloved and His brides. Just as a bride finds her strength and joy in her groom’s love, so do we also find our strength and joy in Jesus Christ our Groom. Words cannot express just how thankful I am to the Lord that He has made us His brides. The Lord has not only given His heavenly blessings to all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but He has also blessed us to enter and live in His Kingdom.
The Lord Is Our Comfort
Let’s turn to Song of Solomon 2:5-6. “Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me.”
We find comfort in the things that our Lord has done for us. Indeed, it’s when God’s workers serve and preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit that they find comfort for their hearts. When we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, listen to this gospel Word, and hear our fellow brothers and sisters giving their testimonies of salvation, we all find a great deal of comfort and encouragement.
Our hearts are uplifted because of the Lord. It’s in what our Lord has done for us that our hearts find comfort. That’s how our hearts are refreshed and strengthened anew. It’s all thanks to the Lord’s work. We are comforted by the remission of our sins because the Lord has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit that constitutes His righteousness. The very fact that we have received the remission of sins from the Lord is in itself so uplifting to us. It’s such a great comfort to us that our Lord came to this earth and blotted out all our sins. The gospel of the water and the Spirit, the gospel with which the Lord has eradicated all our sins, is what is refreshing our hearts. And I can’t thank God enough for this wonderful blessing.
Whenever our hearts are weakened, we must remember that the Lord renews our strength through God’s Church. We are strengthened anew when we think about what our Lord has done for us and what He will do for us in the future. It’s the Lord Himself who keeps watch over us, comforts us, and works in our lives, just as the Bible said: “For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me” (Song of Solomon 2:5-6).
In short, it’s all thanks to our Lord’s love that we are carrying on with our lives. Were it not for the Lord’s love, it would be simply impossible for us to carry on with our lives. Even though we have received the remission of sins, we can’t lead a righteous life if we were to live without the Lord’s help. What is the relationship between the Lord and us? It is a relationship defined by love. That’s just how much the Lord loves us. And we, too, love Him very much. Because God’s saints and servants in His Church all love the Lord, the Lord is also embracing us in His arms and protecting us all. And that’s why it’s so uplifting for our hearts to read the Song of Solomon.
As we carry on with God’s work, there are times when we feel that things are not going well. It’s not necessarily the case that everything goes well while carrying out God’s work. Nor is it the case that the result of our labor is always commensurate with our effort. Nevertheless, we must still continue with God’s work.
Whenever I feel weary in my heart and I find myself struggling, I think about God’s love manifested in the Song of Solomon. Every time I do this, my strength is renewed from remembering how the Lord loved me so much, how He continues to love me so much, and how He will always love me so much. My heart is uplifted when I think about what the Lord has done for me and what He will accomplish through God’s Church. The Lord is our strength, and it’s His love that gives our hearts the strength to carry on with our lives. It’s all thanks to our Lord’s love that our hearts are refreshed and uplifted.
We could never carry on with our lives without our Lord’s love. A bride lives in her groom’s love. Can any wife live on her own without her husband’s love? If the Lord were to say to us, “I don’t need such an ingrate like you. You are so useless to Me that I would be better off without you,” then this can only mean that we have a serious spiritual problem at hand. This may happen when it comes to our human relationships. That’s because each and every human being is selfish without exception, so perhaps it’s only natural for people to be constantly quarrelling with one another. However, when it comes to our relationship with the Lord, there should be no uneasy feelings. The Lord is our Groom and we are His brides. If we the brides were to forget all about the love our Groom has for us, then we will end up losing our faith.
In contrast to the people of this world who live on the bread of the flesh alone, the workers laboring in God’s Church live on God’s love. Strictly speaking, it’s because God loves us that we exist, all thanks to this love. If God were to stop loving us, it would be impossible for us to have any hope. We would then have no joy, and our lives would be over in hopelessness. Whenever we think about God’s righteous work, we should all remember that God loves us unequivocally. That’s why He has saved us the believers by being baptized by John the Baptist and dying on the Cross, so that He could blot out all our sins. God indeed loved us so much. And He still loves us all. God loves all of us endlessly. It’s because the Lord loves us that our hearts can find new strength. He has blessed us to rest our heads on His arm. He is embracing us with His right hand, loving us, comforting us, and renewing our strength. That is why you and I are able to carry on with our lives now. It’s for this reason that we are so grateful to God for His love. We should all realize here what a great blessing it is that God allowed us to be born in this world and put on His love.
You Were Born to Be Loved
There is a gospel song in Korea called, “You Were Born to Be Loved.” God indeed loves each and every human being. You and I are the objects of God’s love. Of all the countless people living in this world, it’s you and I who have become God’s beloved, and it’s you and me whom God has clothed in His special love, just as the Song of Solomon depicts us as “the roses of Sharon and the lilies of the valleys.” Before, we had been just thorn bushes before the Lord, but now, we have become the roses and lilies of Sharon. So we can’t help but love the Lord also, as the Lord is giving us all the strength, helping us, encouraging us, and uplifting our hearts. He is embracing all of us in His loving arms.
Who, then, is the Lord to all the servants of God, His workers, and His saints? He is our Helper who loves us; He is the One who has blotted out all our sins; He is the One who is blessing us and embracing us; and He is the One who is guiding us to everlasting happiness. The Lord loves us in so many ways that we could never list them all. Our Lord is guiding us to His everlasting Kingdom. He has saved us all, He loves us all, and He is blessing us all abundantly.
Unfortunately, this righteous love of God becomes tiresome to those who refuse to accept it into their hearts. If anyone ever finds himself blaming the Lord for anything, it’s all because this person doesn’t realize God’s love fully. It’s because of his failure to grasp just how much the Lord loves him. Likewise, the people of this world suffering under the yoke of their sins are miserable all because they do not realize that the Lord loves them. If they really come to know that the Lord loves them, then all the days of their lives would not be enough for them to give Him all the praise and thanks He deserves.
Therefore, it’s very important for us to remember and ruminate on what the Lord has done for us, as this is how our hearts are uplifted and we come to thank God. God constantly intervenes in your life and mine to help us. He gives our hearts new strength, refreshes our hearts, comforts us when we get weary from our work, and blesses us in all kinds of wonderful ways. The Lord loves all of us wholeheartedly.
It’s written in Song of Solomon 2:7: “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases.” The Lord can let us be alone. He can choose not to awaken us if we don’t want to be awakened. It can be said that if we don’t love the Lord, He does not coerce us to love Him, but this is not what I want to talk about at this hour; rather, we should neither shake nor awaken the Lord if that’s not what He wants. In our lives of faith, all too often we try to move the Lord around to our own liking.
Of course, it’s perfectly okay for us to ask the Lord to listen to our requests and meet our needs. However, it’s not because we keep on pestering the Lord incessantly that He answers our requests. Rather, He grants us our wishes because He loves us willingly and He wants to shower us with His pure love. This means that the Lord’s love is not contingent on our own efforts. Instead, the Lord loves us unilaterally irrespective of what we do, and His love is not something that’s earned through our own merits.
It’s the Lord who loved us first. It’s because the Lord loves us that we have put on His love. Those who are leading a mistaken life of faith try to do something on their own to make the Lord love them. But this is totally wrong. Could anyone force the Lord to love him? No, of course not! This is not something that we can do on our own, but rather, we are loved by the Lord if and only if the Lord loves us first.
If the Lord were to love us just to get us off His back, then this would not be true love. The Lord ought to love us because we are lovely and delightful to Him. It’s only when we are loved in this way that we can find genuine love. Of course, we ought to be the objects of the Lord’s love. Strictly speaking, however, it’s the Lord’s unilateral love that is genuine love. We shouldn’t try to do something on our own to obtain this love through our own efforts.
To conclude this morning’s sermon, let me reiterate in no uncertain terms that it’s because the Lord wants to love us that we are loved; it’s because the Lord loves us that we have put on His love; and this is how we have become so precious to Him. Moreover, we have not only become precious to the Lord, but we continue to be loved by Him. The Lord loves us endlessly. We are God’s beloved forever. Remember this whenever you are confused about your identity. Remember that all the saints in God’s Church and all the workers carrying out God’s work are His beloved. So let us all realize who we really are, grasp the Lord’s love, know that God loves each and every one of us serving the gospel in the Church, and live by faith in this love of the Lord.
We will pick up from verse 8 later on this evening.