“The Progress of Love”
The reader cannot fail to notice how many times the Bride exclaims, “My Beloved!” More than twenty times throughout the Song she uses this lovely expression. It makes her relationship with the King so very personal, “Mine!” It is reminiscent of those words of David, and Job, and Mary, and Paul, and others, who exclaimed, “My Redeemer! My Shepherd! My Savior! My Lord! My God!” It is often pointed out that in the Song of Solomon there is no reference to pardon, or forgiveness of sins, or salvation. These great blessings are expounded in other parts of the Word, but in the Song they are assumed. The Bride is in the possession of these by reason of her relation to her Beloved. The Song is about her enjoyment of, and progress in, the knowledge of His love.
His pre-eminence among the sons, His excelling virtues and beauties, have drawn her to Him. Every believer has recognized the greatness and uniqueness of Christ, and in varying degrees, according to our capacity, we rejoice in that greatness. We do not, and cannot, progress in our acceptance in Christ, but we can, and should, progress in our knowledge and appreciation of Him. Our standing in Him is stable and secure. The youngest and weakest saint is equally accepted with the oldest and strongest. However, it must be our constant desire and prayer that our affection for the Beloved should increase. Notice that three times the Bride uses an expression, with a little, but important, variation:
“My Beloved is mine, and I am His” (2:16).
“I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine” (6:3)
“I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me” (7:10).
The three phrases are so very similar, but the priorities are different and this seems to suggest a progress in love which is so desirable.
The initial joy of the new-born soul is, “He is mine!” What I have found in Him is my first thought, my priority. Some souls have struggled towards salvation through long periods of anxiety and conviction, and what joy for such when, in that moment of recognition, the Savior becomes real and personal! With the assurance of salvation and the realization that all is well now, how many could exclaim, “My Beloved is mine!” The fact that He has claims upon us may yet be a secondary thought. It is enough for the present that we have found Him, and this, literally, was the cry of those earliest disciples, “We have found Him” (John 1:41, 45).
Of course, this is right and proper, that there should be joy in having found the Savior, and so believers sing heartily –
O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found,
And found in Thee alone,
The peace, the joy, I sought so long,
The bliss till now unknown.
It was a glad moment when we found Him, but, sadly, some of us perhaps took a long time to recognize that He had desires and claims too.
So the Bride now adds, “I am my Beloved’s,” and this is progress indeed, to know that I am His. As Paul later says, “Ye are not your own” (1 Cor 6:19). The Savior has paid a heavy price for His Bride. He has given His all, His life, Himself. It is incumbent then upon every believer to know that He has just claims upon us. This, however, for many of us, was a secondary consideration, and so we could say, “My Beloved is mine,” only adding later, “and I am His.”
Observe then how her priorities change. Now she is happy to say, “I am my Beloved’s,” putting His claims first, before adding, “and my Beloved is mine.” But what, in practical terms, will this mean to me, this recognition of His claims upon me? It will of course be a claim on my obedience. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” He says (John 14:15). This means that I will obey, first in the matter of baptism to identify myself publicly with Him. Then I shall seek fellowship with a local assembly of believers in bearing testimony to Him. I shall then want to remember Him in the way of His appointing in the Lord’s Supper. And I shall order my life according to His Word, for His pleasure. That He is mine brings great joy, but that I am His brings great responsibility. While rejoicing in what He means to us, may we never forget what we mean to Him.
Obedience, however, is no chore when it is born out of love to Christ. It is no burden to the heart that truly loves Him to do those things which please Him. That great three-fold commission to Peter on the lakeshore was given after he avowed his love for the Master. “Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee.” “Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:15-17). And to the man who loved Him, the Savior committed that shepherd ministry.
But now, at the last, the Bride says, “I am my Beloved’s.” And what of her own claims? It appears now that such is her progress that she is content if His claims are paramount and hers pale into insignificance. It is enough for her that He should have thoughts about her, that His desire should be towards her. The believer has advanced towards real spiritual maturity who can say, “I am my Beloved’s, and I know He thinks of me.” To know that the Beloved has found that which has brought Him pleasure is our pleasure too. Nothing else really matters but this, that the One Who has bought us at such a price should see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. May we sing sincerely,
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my will, and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart – it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store;
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
F. R. Havergal, Believer’s Hymn Book 446