(Song of Solomon 6:1-13)
“Where has your beloved gone,
O fairest among women?
Where has your beloved turned aside,
That we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone to his garden,
To the beds of spices,
To feed his flock in the gardens,
And to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s,
And my beloved is mine.
He feeds his flock among the lilies.
O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah,
Lovely as Jerusalem,
Awesome as an army with banners!
Turn your eyes away from me,
For they have overcome me.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
Going down from Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep
Which have come up from the washing;
Every one bears twins,
And none is barren among them.
Like a piece of pomegranate
Are your temples behind your veil.
There are sixty queens
And eighty concubines,
And virgins without number.
My dove, my perfect one,
Is the only one,
The only one of her mother,
The favorite of the one who bore her.
The daughters saw her
And called her blessed,
The queens and the concubines,
And they praised her.
Who is she who looks forth as the morning,
Fair as the moon,
Clear as the sun,
Awesome as an army with banners?
I went down to the garden of nuts
To see the verdure of the valley,
To see whether the vine had budded
And the pomegranates had bloomed.
Before I was even aware,
My soul had made me
As the chariots of my noble people.
Return, return, O Shulamite;
Return, return, that we may look upon you!”
We just read the Song of Solomon chapter 6 for today’s Scripture reading. Here the Lord is speaking to His brides. When the Lord saw His brides working in the vineyard, they looked so lovely to Him that He praised them. Today, I would like to share the Word with you on the following question: In whom is God interested in? Today’s Scripture reading from the Song of Solomon can be broken down into three main messages.
First, in Whom Is God Interested in?
We can see that God is keenly interested in His workers laboring in the vineyard. Let’s turn to Song of Solomon 6:1-3 here: “Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women? Where has your beloved turned aside, That we may seek him with you? My beloved has gone to his garden, To the beds of spices, To feed his flock in the gardens, And to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, And my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.”
From this passage we can see that the Lord and His workers are united by faith. God’s workers are taking care of His flock in His Church. We can see that the Lord is interested in those who are working hard to support the gospel ministry in this age.
The Lord Is Interested in the Ministers Supporting the Gospel Ministry for the Sake of the Lord’s Work
Why is the Lord so keenly interested in those who believe in and preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit? The Lord’s interest lies with us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for we are carrying out His work. There are certain things that the Lord wants to achieve for the entire human race on this earth, and it is saving the souls of those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
His purpose is to save them from this world, its sins, and its condemnation, so that they would live happily forever with Him. Having come to this earth with such a purpose, the Lord fulfilled the salvation of the human race through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He then entrusted His workers with the task of spreading the gospel to people all over the world. That’s why there are many servants of God supporting the gospel ministry in His Church, and the Lord is pleased with them. And that’s why the Lord is so keenly interested in them.
God said in Song of Solomon 6:2-3: “My beloved has gone to his garden, To the beds of spices, To feed his flock in the gardens, And to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, And my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.”
The Shulamite woman was one of the servants ministering in God’s Church. So she belonged to our Lord, and the Lord belonged to her. Now, we can see the Shulamite woman carrying out the Lord’s desire in wholehearted unity with Jesus Christ. God’s workers are those who are capable of doing His work. What the Lord wants to achieve through us is saving many souls, and we are carrying out this work right now. That’s why the Lord is interested in those who are now laboring hard to support the gospel ministry. I keep emphasizing this point because just as I am one of such workers supporting the gospel ministry, so are you. God is keenly interested in all the servants dedicated to His gospel ministry. So I also cherish each and every worker supporting the gospel ministry.
We Are Supporting the Gospel Ministry Now Because We Cannot Afford Not To
It’s because if we really want to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world, we must do so right away. As the Apostle Paul chose to support himself when preaching the gospel, we have also chosen to follow his path in our lives. Just like us, the Apostle Paul also engaged in a self-supporting ministry to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
It’s said that Jewish Rabbis have at least a few skills to support their livelihood. They do so because through their skills they can not only meet their basic needs but also volunteer their service to others. When the Apostle Paul was a strict adherent of Judaism, he had a skill. So, whenever he went to other regions such as Corinth, he met and worked with someone who was in the same profession.
As I said, the Apostle Paul had at least one skill to support himself when preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He met all his basic needs by working as a tentmaker. With this profession he was able to support himself in his ministry. He put food on the table and a roof over his head out of his own earnings. God’s Church is contributing to the spreading of the gospel by supporting its ministry. Why must we continue to support the gospel ministry? It’s because we cannot contribute to the spreading of the gospel unless we support its ministry.
We cannot afford not to support the gospel ministry, which is God’s own work, otherwise His will cannot be fulfilled. And it’s also, unless we meet the basic needs of life by ourselves, it can be very detrimental to the spreading of the gospel. As the servants carrying out God’s work, we are offering to the Church the money we made to make a living, and it’s with this money that we are printing our sermon books and spreading the gospel. Unless we do this work, countless souls will wither away and die of thirst.
We can serve the spreading of the gospel by supporting God’s work. That’s why it’s our ministers’ goal to work themselves to make money, and use this money to not only meet their basic needs but also assist in spreading the gospel. Think about it. If you and I weren’t supporting ourselves with our own hard work, would we be able to preach the gospel as we are doing now? Frankly, if our workers weren’t working voluntarily, our ministry would be facing a lot of obstacles. We would then not be able to obey the Lord’s commandment.
The saints here in the Church have to take care of their own families, ensure that their children get an education, and put food on the table for their loved ones. They are already hard-pressed as it is, so how could we as God’s workers expect them to also serve us and meet our own needs? How much offerings could the saints make to God’s Church? Their offering wouldn’t even be enough to meet the operating costs of the Church. How could God’s Church then fulfill its calling to spread the gospel all over the world? Should we ask our saints to do this for us as well? No, of course not.
That is why God’s workers have volunteered to support the gospel ministry with their own hands. And that is why God is so keenly interested in His workers laboring in His Church. The Lord cares deeply about all the servants laboring hard today in supporting the gospel ministry of the water and the Spirit. Why would the Lord be so interested in us? It’s all because we are doing His work. It’s because we are spreading the gospel all over the world just as God wants us to. That’s why God is so overjoyed with us, and that’s why He cherishes us so much.
It’s for this reason that the Lord said, “I am my beloved’s, And my beloved is mine.” This means all of us who are supporting the gospel ministry of the water and the Spirit have become one with our Lord. We belong to the Lord. Just as the Lord loves us, we, too, love the Lord. He has saved us out of His love, and according to His desire, we are now working hard to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world. We are therefore one body with the Lord, and we live for the same one purpose. And that’s why the Lord is so interested in us. Words cannot describe just how keenly God is interested in us. After all, how could anyone express God’s heart with words?
Let Me Tell You a Story about a Certain Young Woman
Long ago, there was a young woman working at a company. Her work began at 8 in the morning and lasted until 6 in the evening. Every day, she left work at 6 o’clock sharp. And so it happened, she somehow ended up getting married to the son of the company owner. What time do you think she got off work from then on? Before, she used to go home at 6 in the evening, but after she got married to the owner’s son, she worked late into the night until 11pm. Why do you suppose she did this? It’s because now that she was married to the owner’s son, everything in the company had become her own work. In other words, when she first worked at the company as an employee, she was working just for the paycheck, but now, the whole company was her own business, so that’s why she worked so late into the night.
This is what it means to work with a sense of ownership. This illustrates the difference between ownership and just an employee. Why are we so eager to do so much work of the Lord? It’s because the Lord Himself is our Groom. It’s because what the Lord wants to do is our job. That’s why we are working so hard like this, this is why we are so attached to our work like this. Why do we work so hard, when we could just as easily slack off? It’s because we belong to our beloved Lord, and our beloved Lord belongs to us. It’s because we are married to the Lord. That’s why what belongs to the Lord our Groom is ours, and what’s ours is the Lord’s.
This is the kind of relationship we have with the Lord. So, those who have received the remission of sins by believing in the Lord are joyous and delighted when the Lord’s work goes well. There is no other way for us to live but by working towards the fulfillment of the will of the Lord. It makes absolutely no sense to live in any other way. If we did not work for the Lord, life would no longer be worthwhile.
Does God Really Cherish His Workers?
As I said, God is keenly interested in His workers, but does this then mean that God also cherishes His workers? Of course, He does! Let’s turn to Song of Solomon 6:4-10 here: “O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, Lovely as Jerusalem, Awesome as an army with banners! Turn your eyes away from me, For they have overcome me. Your hair is like a flock of goats Going down from Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep Which have come up from the washing; Every one bears twins, And none is barren among them. Like a piece of pomegranate Are your temples behind your veil. There are sixty queens And eighty concubines, And virgins without number. My dove, my perfect one, Is the only one, The only one of her mother, The favorite of the one who bore her. The daughters saw her And called her blessed, The queens and the concubines, And they praised her. Who is she who looks forth as the morning, Fair as the moon, Clear as the sun, Awesome as an army with banners?”
Like this, the Lord is saying to us how much God loves His workers. The Lord cherishes each and every one of His workers. The gist of this passage is that the Lord’s workers are indescribably precious to Him. That the Lord cherishes His workers so much like this can mean only one thing: He loves us beyond words. We can all see here just how beautiful we are in the Lord’s sight and just how much He loves us.
My fellow believers, as we carry on with the Lord’s work, there are times when it goes well and times when it does not go so well. Sometimes, we get so tired and worn out in both body and spirit that we can end up just going through the motions thoughtlessly. From time to time, we may even wonder if we are on the right path and if the Lord really loves us and is actually guiding us. While carrying out the Lord’s work, sometimes we get too exhausted and fall down. In times like this, we can still renew our strength if we remember that our Lord loves His workers. As long as God’s workers and His brides know that their Groom loves them, they can all renew their spiritual strength and carry out God’s work full of energy.
On the other hand, if we are unable to fully realize the Lord’s love and begin doubting it, then we cannot carry out the Lord’s work. Without God’s love, how could any of us claim to be carrying out His work? Sapped of our spiritual strength, we would not be able to do God’s work. What all of us must realize here is that our Lord loves us. It’s because God loves us with all His heart that He had the Song of Solomon written and handed over to us. That’s how we can appreciate what’s in our Lord’s heart, and that’s why we can carry out His work by faith. When our Lord sees His workers, He marvels at our beauty, just as He said in Song of Solomon 6:10: “Who is she who looks forth as the morning, Fair as the moon, Clear as the sun, Awesome as an army with banners?”
The word “she” here refers to none other than God’s precious workers. My fellow believers, in God’s sight, we are like “she who looks forth as the morning, Fair as the moon, Clear as the sun, Awesome as an army with banners.” All of us carrying out God’s work are bold, clear, fair, clean, and transparent before both the Lord and man. Who in this world can live such a bold life? They are none other than God’s workers who have put on His love in their lives. What a bold life are we all living? As long as we really know that God loves us, we can all live a courageous life. We do not live in fear, nor do we tremble before anything in the world. We have a clear purpose in life. Even though we are facing many hardships while living on this earth, we are still determined to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Everything we do, we do it for this purpose, and that’s precisely what explains our boldness.
As most of you know by now, this world is not an easy place to live in. Survey after survey show just how fearful people are about losing their jobs. In contrast, we have no such fear. As God’s workers, we never have to worry about losing our jobs. Instead, we lead a bold life. Even though it’s not a glamorous life, we live courageously by our unwavering faith, aboveboard and free from the mundane constraints of everyday life. Countless people are struggling just to make ends meet, buried deep in debt. At least we are not debtors. As God’s worker, none of us in God’s Church is a debtor to this world. Although we are spiritually indebted since we have not yet finished preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we do not owe anything to this world. In reality, we are in fact rich both in body and in spirit. To be exact, our Church does owe a small bank loan, but this can easily be paid off in no time.
There are many people in this world who are heavily in debt. In developed countries, it’s not unusual for people to carry an average debt load of around $40,000-$50,000. In Korea, for instance, it’s said that the average household debt is close to $40,000. So many people are living under this heavy burden. In contrast, we don’t worry about meeting our basic needs or lose sleep over being thrown out in the streets. It’s true that in the past we used to worry about such things. When we first began our Church, it was a struggle for us just to pay the rent and put food on the table.
However, the Lord told us to first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and He would then provide for all our needs. We believed in this Word from God. We had every confidence that as long as we lived according to God’s pleasure, He would not abandon us to live a craven life. That’s why we did God’s work, determined to never be obsequious and instead lead a bold life in spite of our poverty. God then blessed us all, and thanks to these many blessings, we are now living without ever worrying about meeting our basic needs.
It’s a wonderful blessing for you not to have to worry about your livelihood or lose sleep over debt. Nearly everyone is heavily in debt nowadays. This is the sad reality today. In contrast, we are blessed like the Shulamite woman, as it’s written here in Song of Solomon 6:10: “Who is she who looks forth as the morning, Fair as the moon, Clear as the sun, Awesome as an army with banners?” This passage is speaking to us of none other than you and me. Who is this woman who is awesome as an army with banners? It’s none other than you and I.
From today’s Scripture reading, we have learned just how much God loves and cherishes His workers with all His heart. Let us once again remind ourselves of this wonderful blessing at this hour, and let us resolve ourselves to live with this assurance. We owe our lives to God’s love; we are carrying on with our lives because we know that God loves us. The fact that you and I are doing God’s work is also because we know that God is on our side and He loves us. We know that God has given the gospel to all who cherish Him and He has bestowed His love on them, and we know that this love of God is forever unchanging. I give all my thanks to the Lord!