“At His Table”
This is the second of five references to the King in the Song. The Shulamite Bride has been in the secret of His presence in His inner chambers. Now she sits at His table in the enjoyment of royal bounties. Solomon’s table was magnificent. There was a daily provision of oxen and sheep, goats and deer, and fowl, in abundance. It all so impressed the Queen of Sheba there was no spirit left in her (1 Kings 4:22-23; 10:4-7). She could only exclaim that the half had not been told her.
But Solomon’s table is just a pale reflection of the believer’s provision in Christ. In Him there are riches of grace, riches of mercy, and riches of glory inexpressible. There is peace and joy, there is refreshment and rest. There is happy fellowship and complete satisfaction. The riches of Christ are indeed unsearchable. What privilege is this, to sit at such a table in the enjoyment of the King’s bounty! It is the Lord’s table.
Doubtless, however, what makes the scene so complete is that the King is there. “The King sitteth at His table.” His presence is the chief blessing. To feast in that royal presence is joy indeed, and this is our joy who appreciate the divine provision in Christ for us. And at what cost He has provided all for us! He gave Himself. He gave His all! By suffering and death, He obtained for His Bride all that she now enjoys.
This suffering and death our Lord Jesus would have us ever remember, and for this reason He has instituted a remembrance supper to be observed by His people until His return. He sat, on that last evening, at a table with that little remnant company of disciples, and said so simply, “Remember Me.” It was the night of His betrayal. The hands which handled the loaf on that evening were soon to be pierced at Golgotha. Thirty-three wondrous years were coming to a close. He had lived for the pleasure of His Father, delighting to do the Father’s will. On the morrow He would lay down that life. His blood would be shed and the days of His flesh would be ended. But His people would never forget and the world must not be allowed to forget, and so, in the utmost simplicity He introduced a loaf and a cup, symbols of His holy body about to be given for them, and of the new covenant in His blood.
These men must often have sat at a table with their Master, but this was different. This was unique. It was special. They would, as He asked, remember Him always in the way of His appointing, breaking the loaf and drinking the cup together, and instructing others so to do, so that the holy remembrance would be perpetuated during His long absence. They would, in this simple fashion, proclaim His death. A divine Person had been in the world, in flesh and blood, for those days of His incarnation. Now He has gone, and week by week, as Lord’s Days come and go, those who love Him fulfil the request of that last evening, “This do in remembrance of Me.”
The Supper is a priceless privilege. We sit together, in His presence, yet in His absence, and as we remember we worship. How could we truly remember and not worship? And like the Bride in the Song, those are blessed occasions when our adoration ascends like the aroma of spikenard. “While the King sitteth at His table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.” Of the five references to spikenard in our Bible, three are in the Song (1:12; 4:13, 14) one is in Mark 14:3, and the other in John 12:3.
Spikenard was a most precious fragrance. It was a juice or resin extracted from a plant which grew mainly in Arabia and in India in the foothills of the Himalayas. The base of the word is “nard” (Heb.nerd; Gk.nardus), but there is some uncertainty regarding the significance of the prefix “spike.” Some think this may mean “pure or genuine” and others suggest it means “liquid.” Whichever is true, there is no doubt that spikenard was, as John says, “very costly” (John 12:3). It was imported in sealed alabaster flasks or urns, kept intact until the moment of usage, and then, when the flask was broken, the perfume exuded, filling the room with its fragrance. It was a precious commodity indeed, and a most fitting emblem of the worship which rises from redeemed hearts as we remember Him.
It is interesting to note that although John devotes five of his twenty-one chapters to the events of the Upper Room on our Lord’s last evening, he does not record anything of the Lord’s Supper. There may be a practical reason for this of course. Three other Gospel writers had already recorded the details, and Paul had, by this time, written 1 Corinthians 11. Also, since John is writing towards the end of the first century, believers everywhere would be familiar with these truths. However, if John does not mention the Lord’s Supper, he does give us an account of two other suppers (John 12 and 13). Perhaps believers, in the spirit of these two suppers, would be well fitted to eat the Lord’s Supper.
Of these two, the supper in the home at Bethany is so very like our text from the Song. The King is at His table. Lazarus sits in quietness, and, as a risen man, in the enjoyment of fellowship with the Lord, while Martha serves without complaint and Mary pours out her appreciation. Such is our privilege, and responsibility, on the first day of the week, to sit together and quietly remember Him. We shall not wish to speak much of ourselves. We will certainly not speak of our need on such occasions, and we may not even be occupied with our blessings, but with Him whom we love. Such worshipful remembrance will rise in preciousness to heaven itself and fill the house with fragrance, and we shall be able to say, “While the King sitteth at His table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.”