“The Voice of My Beloved”
There are three references to the voice of the Beloved in the Song. In the first reference, He is calling His spouse to be with Him (2:8-10). In the second, He is asking that she give Him a place with her (5:2). In the last reference, she briefly prays that she might be sensitive to hear His voice, and with this the Song closes (8:13). There is only one reference to the voice of the bride (2:14). Her voice is sweet to Him and He longs to hear her speak.
It is often remarked that there is no quotation from the Song in the New Testament, and this might indeed be true. However, there are three words here, one little phrase, which will be found repeated exactly in Revelation 1:7, “Behold He cometh.” “It is the voice of my Beloved,” the spouse exclaims. “Voice” may equally be rendered “sound,” as the sound of footsteps; but whichever rendering is preferred the meaning is the same.
The Beloved is approaching, calling, saying, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” He is calling her to be with Him as the dark night of winter comes to a close and a new summer day dawns. How applicable and how precious this will be to the suffering remnant of the future! The dark days of tribulation and persecution will give way to a bright millennial dawning when Messiah comes. How blessed for them to hear His voice when He appears!
However, believers today rejoice in the same hope, listening for the voice of the Bridegroom to call His Bride to Himself after the night of testimony. For many individual saints it has indeed been a cold dark winter of suffering. There have been sorrows innumerable for many. There have been disappointments and grief, sickness and pain, physical infirmities, bereavements, and days of mourning, the sadness of parting with loved ones, the deep grief over families not saved. All this has made it a long winter of sorrow. But soon, there will be “the voice of my Beloved!” He will come. He must come! And the eternal summer of His presence will dispel forever the darkness of the night.
But even before He reaches her she sees the tokens of His appearing. He is standing behind the wall, looking in through the windows, glancing through the lattice. This is the only occurrence of the word “lattice” in the Scriptures, meaning simply a hole or aperture in the wall. Is our Beloved not, even now, showing Himself through the lattice of world conditions, through His dealings with Israel and the nations? How rightly do we sing –
I can almost hear His footfall
On the threshold of the door,
And my heart, my heart is yearning
To be with Him evermore.
Soon we shall hear His voice, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Maranatha!
Until that day, though, we must be sensitive to His voice in another respect. In the second reference to the voice of the Beloved (5:2), the scene is reminiscent of that in the letter to Laodicea in Revelation 3:20. He is outside. He knocks, saying, “Open to me.” He longs to be admitted to a place with His Bride and gives five compelling reasons why she should open to Him. The same conditions obtain today and the same reasons are sufficient for making room for a rejected Lord.
He addresses His spouse as “My sister; My love; My dove; My undefiled,” and then speaks of the pain of being outside. “My sister”; here is a pure and loving relationship. On this ground He appeals. In a world that has excluded Him from its affairs she is all that He has. Surely for this reason she must open to Him. Here, too, is the remembrance of His deep affection for her, “My love.” And here again is the tenderness of all this when, not for the first time in the Song, He calls her, “My dove.” Then, in a scene of moral decadence He calls her, “My undefiled.” How precious today must His people be to Him, displaying something of His holiness in a defiled and defiling world!
But is this the most compelling reason of all, when He says, “My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night”? He is outside! It was ever so with Him during the days of His flesh. Someone said, “No room,” at Bethlehem, and He was born outside. He was cast out at Nazareth after His gracious ministry (Luke 4:28-30). Unbelief rejected Him at Capernaum in spite of His mighty works among them (Matt 11:23). Eventually great Jerusalem itself cast Him out and He suffered “without the gate” (Heb 13:12). It is still the same. “Our Lord is now rejected, and by the world disowned.” If He is to be given place anywhere it must be with His people, and to us He appeals, “Open to Me.” “If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”
In practical terms this means a place in our hearts, in our homes, in our lives, in our meetings, in our ministry. And when He is in the midst, then other things will fall into place. Once, when men believed that planet earth was the center and that everything moved around it, their predictions and calculations were in disarray. But when they discovered that not earth, but the sun, was the center, then things moved orderly. They had found the right center. And so with us. He who was crucified “in the midst” (John 19:18), rejected by the world, now desires a place in the midst of His people.
“The voice of my Beloved!” One day He will call us to a place with Him. Today He asks for a place with us. May our prayer be that of the Bride, “The companions hearken to Thy voice: Cause me to hear it” (8:13).