(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 Song of Solomon 6:1-14 for today’s Scripture reading. This Song of Solomon is a poetic expression of the loving relationship between God and His workers. The key protagonists in this Scripture are Solomon and the Shulamite woman. The love whispered by these two manifests the love between God and His servants. The Song of Solomon makes no mention of the name Jesus Christ. However, God included it in the Old Testament in order to explain to us what kind of relationship God has with His servants.
Put differently, the Song of Solomon was canonized because it does an excellent job of describing the love between God and His servants. We should also note here that this particular Scripture does not explain or teach us about the gospel of the water and the Spirit in any substantial detail. Rather, it is teaching us about the loving relationship between God and His servants, explaining to us just how much the Lord loves His workers.
In God’s Sight, His Servants Are Exceedingly Beautiful
Let’s begin by turning 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.”
This passage shows us how the Lord works with His servants, and how God’s servants are to carry out His work to take care of the flock and nurture them. It also teaches us that God’s workers belong to the Lord, the Lord belongs to God’s workers, and the Lord and His servants are working together in one body. God’s workers are indeed laboring with God. By preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they are making it possible for everyone to receive the remission of sins. Accordingly, God’s workers are carrying out God’s work together with the Lord, not by themselves. The servants of the Lord work together with the Lord for His glory.
Sadly, nowadays too many pastors are preaching with a fleshly purpose in mind, so much so that it’s quite embarrassing to hear such sermons. The ultimate message of their sermons usually boils down to building a bigger and better church building. All too often, we see many pastors claiming in their sermons that God would bless the congregation if they were to build a bigger church building. In the end, these sermons are nothing more than a means to wring out money from the congregation. These false pastors’ goal is gratifying their greedy desires by invoking the Word of God. It is then little wonder that the church-goers listening to this kind of sermon would frown. In today’s Christian communities, we can see that many pastors are bent on building a bigger church and amassing much worldly riches.
In contrast, God’s true servants never preach for such a carnal purpose. God’s servants are not interested in building a house of the flesh; far from it, they are seeking to build a house of truth to save each and every lost soul. As the true servants of God, our goal in preaching the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit is to bring the remission of sins and everlasting life to everyone. In other words, our ministry is all about providing the bread of life. That is why the fruit of God’s servants is so different from the fruit of the false prophets.
We have the Lord inside us, and we are inside the Lord. For those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and are now carrying out the righteous work, their hearts are always thankful to God. How about you then? Are you someone working with God, serving His work in joy and obedience? Today, in God’s sight, it is the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit carrying out God’s work that are His true servants.
Today’s Scripture reading shows us how God sees His workers. It’s written in Song of Solomon 6:4: “O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, Lovely as Jerusalem, Awesome as an army with banners!” In the eyes of God, His workers are His love. “Tirzah” here is the name of a magnificent city. This implies that in the Lord’s sight, the righteous are as magnificent, beautiful, and majestic as the city of Tirzah. That is how the Lord sees God’s workers.
Let’s turn to Song of Solomon 6:5-6 here: “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.” This is how beautiful we look in the Lord’s eyes when He sees us doing God’s work in His vineyard. It’s also written: “Like a piece of pomegranate Are your temples behind your veil” (Song of Solomon 6:7).
This is such a wonderful expression of how much the Lord loves us. Just as the temples of the Shulamite woman were so beautiful to Solomon that he likened them to a piece of pomegranate, so are God’s servants beautiful and lovely to the Lord. He is completely smitten by the beauty of His servants. In our Lord’s eyes, we are beautiful beyond words.
It’s written 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 shows us how courageous and bold the Lord’s servants look to Him when they carry out His work in this world. When the Lord sees His servants, He sees nothing but beauty. So wonderful are the Lord’s workers. Whom, then, is the Song of Solomon really singing about here? It is singing about all of us who have now become God’s workers. Therefore, as you and I are now preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world, it is none other than we who are so lovely in the Lord’s sight.
It’s extremely important for all of us to realize that we are such blessed people before God. It’s when we grasp who we really are that our hearts are strengthened spiritually. In God’s sight, we are the precious, beautiful, and honored people carrying out God’s work. When we look at ourselves, we sometimes think that we are so unworthy that we mean nothing to God, but in reality, we are in fact beautiful and honored. Given the fact that we have received the remission of sins and become God’s own people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and that we are now carrying out God’s work, wouldn’t we look honorable and wonderful when God sees us?
In the Lord’s sight, we are clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and awesome as a proud army with its banners. Like a military honor guard marching for a review, our ministry is majestic and beautiful in God’s eyes. When the Lord looks at the work of God that we are serving, that is how stalwart and wonderful it looks. And that is how beautiful all of us God’s workers are in the Lord’s sight. Such beautiful people are none other than we, who are now serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we look at ourselves through our own eyes, we may seem flawed and worthless, but that’s just our mistaken judgment. In reality, when the Lord sees us, we are all wondrously beautiful.
We are simply majestic and beautiful, like Jerusalem and an army with banners. Every worker of God has this beauty. As those who have become God’s workers, you and I are such beautiful people. It is therefore absolutely indispensable for us to live out our faith with a clear realization of the fact that we are precious, beautiful, and honorable in God’s sight. As we read the Song of Solomon here, what impresses us the most and comforts us the most is the realization that our Lord loves us so much. From head to toe, we are just that beautiful in the Lord’s eyes. Yet, even though we are so precious in the Lord’s sight, when we look at ourselves, sometimes we disparage and abuse ourselves. There are times when we inflict abuse on ourselves. This, my fellow believers, is absolutely wrong. Instead, we ought to see the beauty of our faith and recognize ourselves in the same light that the Lord sees us.
Why Do So Many People Fall into Depression These Days?
Many people fall into depression because they look at themselves and think they are worthless. It’s because they have no self-esteem and feel so depressed. So it’s very important for you to recover your spiritual self-esteem through faith. Remind yourself of who you are in God’s sight. You are one of God’s own people and His servant. You are God’s own worker serving His precious gospel. When God looks at us, He sees His workers, and this is how we ought to see ourselves. It’s then that we can restore our spiritual self-esteem and avoid falling into depression.
Once we have the right self-esteem, we can be free of depression. One of the most common symptoms of depression is that the patient dwells on their flaws too long and they end up inflicting abuse on themselves. Once they lose all self-esteem, they come to think that their lives are not worth living. They constantly think about nothing but their flaws and shortcomings. That’s why their hearts get so depressed, and as they become ever more despondent, some of them end up committing suicide. As we can see clearly from the Song of Solomon, this is absolutely not who we are. God cherishes each and every one of us carrying out His work by trusting in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. You and I are precious to God. As such, now that we have become God’s own people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we should never fall into disappointment and despair over our weaknesses.
Let’s turn to Song of Solomon 6:11-13 here: “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!” This passage also heaps praise upon praise upon the righteous. With the arrival of the spring, King Solomon went down to his garden to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed, and there, he saw the Shulamite woman about to leave on a chariot.
So Solomon said, “Return, return, O Shulamite; Return, return, that we may look upon you!” King Solomon said this when he saw that his beloved Shulamite was about to leave the vineyard instead of working there. Saddened by this, he said with a heavy heart, “Return! I want to see you! Let me lay my eyes on you! It’s my joy and pleasure to see your beauty. Why are you leaving me? You are so beautiful and precious to me, so why are you leaving me, thinking that you are not good enough?”
This, my fellow believers, is what God is saying to you and me, God’s workers laboring in His vineyard. There are times when some of us loathe ourselves so much due to our flaws that we wish to leave God’s Church, thinking that we are too worthless to stay on. Convinced that we mean nothing to God, we fall into despair. There was a time when I, too, thought in this way. We are all potentially liable to such feelings of insecurity. But what is our Lord saying to us here? To all of God’s workers laboring by faith, the Lord is saying, “Return, return, that we may look upon you!”
Our purpose in life is not necessarily to depart from this world and go to the Lord as soon as possible. There is much work in this world that each of us must still do to carry out the Lord’s work. This is not easy on us. Like all of you, I, too, sometimes get exhausted and have a stomach ache while grappling with God’s work in this world. When I’m too preoccupied with something, I can get so weary that I wish I could just finish the task God entrusted me with and go meet the Lord. However, I know that there is so much more work to do than what we have done so far. There is so much more glory of God waiting to be seen. We must all persevere a little longer. There is far more work to be done. Therefore, it’s only fitting for us to work just a bit more and glorify God, rather than wanting to go to the Lord as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter that all of us are flawed; what pleases the Lord is that we are fulfilling our duty on this earth and carrying out God’s work as much as possible.
That is why King Solomon shouted out to the Shulamite woman repeatedly to return when she tried to leave the vineyard in a chariot. As we read Song of Solomon chapter 6, we can hear God telling us His workers just how much He loves us all, even though in our own eyes we are not worthy. Yet, when the Lord sees us, we are all beautiful, for we want to fulfill our duty to support the gospel ministry of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, we should never consider ourselves to be worthless. We all want to do God’s work together with the Lord for many more years to come. We want to work with the Lord until the day He returns to this earth.
I’m nearing 60, but my heart is still young. I have absolutely no desire to fall behind when working with our younger ministers. It’s not just my heart that’s young, but my body is also young to me. I have so much more work to do than what I have done so far, and I am determined to fulfill my duty for the glory of God. I am also convinced that it is beneficial to God’s Church for me to remain in my position. I can do anything the Lord wants me to do, even though I disparage myself for my flaws. Despite my shortcomings, the Lord is saying to me, “Stay where you are and do My work for many more years to come.” Whenever I feel weary, I remind myself of this admonishment from the Lord. In the same way, the Lord also wants you to stay where you are and faithfully carry out the task God has entrusted to you. God wants all of us to continue to do His work from each of our stations until the day the Lord returns.
Take a moment here and look at yourself. Think about what it is that God is admonishing you about. He is admonishing you about the very same things that He is admonishing me. You need to realize here that despite your shortcomings, it is only fitting for you to fulfill the task that God has entrusted to you within His Church. Always remember this as you carry on with your lives. Even though we may not be able to do great things before God, and even though we may be more talk than action, it’s still absolutely indispensable for all of us to work in God’s Church.
For a while, I used to think that God’s work would go well even without me. I thought that someone else would step up and carry the torch in my place. Yet, I am now seeing false prophets trying to undermine God’s Church and throw it into disarray. As I can attest, our gospel ministry has seen some dangerous crises over the years, and such crises has not been just physical in nature. Rather, they have been spiritual crises triggered by our spiritual enemies. Every time I see them blaspheming the gospel, I am shocked beyond words. Threats of physical violence are not the only things that are shocking, nor are they the only things that we need to defend ourselves from. Far from it, what’s really dangerous is when spiritual wrongdoings occur within the Church. This must be corrected immediately without fail, as any failure to do so could lead the Church to ruin.
As some of you do, from time to time I can sense a spiritual crisis unfolding in the Church. Yet, even as God’s Church is facing a dangerous crisis, all too often I see that too many people do not even feel how serious it is. Spiritual corruption does not end with just the destruction of the individual in question, but it can also ruin God’s Church. I can overlook everyone’s personal weaknesses. But I can’t overlook when someone succumbs to spiritual corruption and seeks to take the whole Church down with him. That’s because tolerating such corruption would ruin all the members of God’s Church and detract the glory of God. I can never allow anyone to ruin the members of God’s Church. So, I’ve now come to realize that in your interest and for the sake of everyone else in God’s Church as well, I need to stay in my position and continue to work and minister to you. With this realization, I’ve begun to pay a lot more attention to my heath than I used to, so that I may carry out God’s work until the day He calls me home.
I live with the will of God in mind, not this world. Because you and I are precious in God’s sight, we are all honorable. Given the fact that God Himself treasures us so much, how could we look down on ourselves and think that we are worthless? From our individual points of view, it may be good for us to go to the Lord as soon as possible, but this is not so good when it comes to spreading the gospel of God. As God’s workers, each and every one of us is precious, for all of us are precious to God without any exception. After all, if we were not to support the gospel ministry, who then would do this work?
There Are Countless People All over the World Who Have Received the Remission of Sins Through Us the Believers in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit
There are many people throughout the whole world carrying out God’s work by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Their number is not by any means small. The sheer number of testimonies that we have received from every corner of the world shows us just how many people have received the remission of sins through our ministry. If we add to this all the people who have not got in touch with us, that number is even greater. So, in this light, we are doing something amazing. We are doing a tremendous job carrying out God’s work by faith. Would there then be anyone more precious to God than us? Is there anyone on this earth doing anything as important as what we are doing, that being, preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit? No, of course not! Indeed, we are the last workers of God preparing for the coming of the Lord.
You and I are now running a race of faith. This run of faith is like a relay race, with the baton being handed to another runner and to the next one. Importantly to note, we are the last runners in this race, having received the baton from our predecessors of faith for one last time. If we throw aside the baton in the middle of the race, there is no runner behind us to pick it up. Of course, we know that God can achieve whatever He wants even without us. But the fact is God works through those who are trained. An untrained army is useless no matter how large it is. We are the last runners carrying out the Lord’s work. We are the last generation in this world to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit and support its ministry.
As we are spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit through our ministry, whether through the print or electronic media; the day that God’s will is fulfilled is getting closer and ever closer. If we were not to fulfill this task all over the world, who then would do this? The time is almost up, so whom would God save and train all over again to carry out His work? Of course, even now, God is training all those who have heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit and received the remissions of sins into their hearts. But do you know how long it would take to turn these people into someone like you and me? We should realize here just how much we have gone through by faith, how much training we have had by faith, and how much we have grown in the Lord by faith.
How much time would be required to train someone who has just been saved from his sins and turn him into God’s faithful and dedicated worker like us? Would this be possible in these last days? No, it’s not possible. Not just anyone can minister as the Lord’s disciples like you and me. You may think on your own that the Church can appoint anyone to do what you are doing. Of course, all of us ought to be humble like this before God, but even so, it’s very difficult for anyone in this age to reach where we are as God’s trained workers. This may not be so difficult if there still were plenty of time, but there isn’t much time over.
This is why God is working with each and every one of us and holding us steadfast. God Himself is holding you and me steadfast, and it is through us that God is carrying out His work. Therefore, we should never underestimate ourselves as God’s workers. God loves each and every one of us His workers. We are so beautiful in God’s sight that He likened us to Tirzah. He said that we are as lovely as Jerusalem and as awesome as an army with its banners. When God looks at our spirits, faith, thoughts, and faith as we run forward, He sees that we are beautiful, lovely, and courageous.
We are running boldly by faith towards a dominion that’s invisible to our naked eyes, as though we could actually see it. Not just anyone can do this. What we are doing to support the gospel ministry is not something that just anyone can do. We may think that anyone who believes in the righteousness of God can do what we are doing, but that is in fact not the case. Would you be able to do God’s work right away even without all the training that you’ve gone through over all these years? No, of course not! It’s not so easy to carry out God’s work as though one can see what is invisible. One must have faith in God, and one must also have the wisdom of faith. God must give us wisdom, blessings, and power.
In the Old Testament, when Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt, he was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and told him that the harvest would be abundant for seven years, but this would be followed by a severe famine for the next seven years. Upon hearing this, Pharaoh made Joseph prime minister and asked him to prepare for the coming famine. Soon afterwards, Egypt indeed had abundant harvest for seven years. In anticipation of the famine to come, Joseph built large storage facilities all over Egypt and stockpiled the grain.
Many Egyptians probably criticized Joseph for this, arguing that with the harvest being so good year after year, there was no need to incur so much cost to store the grain for a famine that they didn’t think was coming. Regardless, Joseph stockpiled a great deal of grain over that seven-year period. After seven years went by, a severe famine broke out starting on the eighth year. The famine was so bad that people all over Egypt struggled to put food on the table. So they had to turn to the grain that Joseph had stored in anticipation. To make matters worse, this famine had actually ravaged the land for seven long years.
To avoid starving to death, people sold everything they had from their land to houses and exchanged it for food. We can easily imagine how the real estate in Egypt must have collapsed during the famine. In return for such property titles being surrendered, Joseph released the grain from the storage houses, and in the process, he not only saved the whole nation from the famine, but he also accumulated nearly all the wealth of Egypt into Pharaoh’s hand. Given this, how do you suppose Pharaoh regarded Joseph? Would he have held Joseph in high regard, or would he have looked down on him? Of course, Pharaoh gave his complete confidence to Joseph. In those days, Joseph was the absolute ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.
There was no one in Egypt who could disobey Joseph. How did Joseph achieve this? Did he do it with swords? No, he achieved it all, thanks to God’s wisdom. Because Joseph exercised such great power in Egypt, the Egyptians treated his family with a great deal of respect and reverence. They were even given land to settle down. And as Joseph’s family prospered there and multiplied, the great people of Israel were born.
Right now, it is you and I who are preaching the gospel all over the world. We are the ones sharing the spiritual bread of life throughout the world. If not through us, would anyone in the world be able to have this bread for the soul? No, of course not! Just as our work is absolutely indispensable like this, so are we absolutely precious in God’s sight. So I ask you to take good care of yourself. The young among the people of God should grow strong and healthy by faith, and the old should also live a healthy life for many more years to come and carry out God’s work faithfully. The weak should be healed and restored to health. Because we are precious to God, the Lord wants us to carry out His work on this earth for a long, long time to come, rather than going to Him so soon. We will all go to the Lord sooner or later, so we might as well serve the Lord as much as possible for as long as possible.
We are beautiful to the Lord and honored in His sight. So, my fellow believers do not succumb to self-loathing. Have faith instead, change your heart and mind, and renew yourself. There are so many more blessings waiting for us in the years to come. So I want you all to receive all these blessings from God, enjoy them all, and preach the gospel as much as you can, and then go and meet the Lord. I want each and every one of us to do as much righteous work as possible before standing in the presence of the Lord. I hope and pray that we would all share in this wonderful blessing together. Hallelujah!