This final installment of our review of the Song of Songs as an allegory of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church stands apart from the others. The last step down in the chiastic poem, chapter 8 summarizes the beauty seen in the previous chapters and binds together many thoughts expressed throughout the book. It is the happily ever after with the lover of our souls!
Joined eternally with her loving bridegroom, the bride pauses for a moment at the end of the Song to look over her new life of fruitful service to Him. In my mind, she pauses on a sunlit rooftop veranda in the center of his vineyard. The light is soft and peaceful. There are flowers climbing strong limestone columns. She looks out over verdant hills, wanting for nothing. He has provided for her every need. Her spirit, her soul and her person are fully satisfied and sanctified with him. Clean and bright, she wears his glory. A perfect picture, she is nourished and cherished by Solomon in the way Christ loves the Church (Eph 5:25-27,29).
The first few verses of this summary remind us of her earlier innocent longing for a relationship with him: “Oh, that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” (SoS 1:2 HCSB). From their first meeting, she was ever in love with him, with purity. Now, his forever bride, she enjoys a holy relationship untarnished by sin or shame. “I would find you in public and kiss you, and no one would scorn me” (SoS 8:1 HCSB). Dear believer, this is the great mystery of Christ and the Church. Everything we were created to be in Eden, everything sin ruined, is met and fulfilled beyond our comprehension in our eternal relationship with His person!
She recalls his arrival in the vineyard on their wedding day: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” ask her attendants (SoS 8:5 KJV). Thoughts of their engagement stir in her memory. There is the apple tree symbolizing strength, safety and the peace that “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Joh 10:28 KJV). His signet, or seal, from verse 6 carries the same declaration as “his banner over me is love” in chapter 2. Remember that her very name, “Shulamite,” is a feminine version of Solomon himself; she bears his name and will do so forever!
Her next verse reminds us that nothing can compare with His love. With a view of the cross, that great cost of our salvation, we read that love is as strong as death, and ardent love as unrelenting as the grave! The strength of divine love overcomes all the terror of death, the turmoil of flood, and triumphs over all riches. Its overwhelming force has changed her life, and ours. With deepest compassion for our souls, and the power of divine love, our Lord Jesus overcame the fierce flashes of fire and met the very flame of the Lord in the darkness at Calvary to secure His eternal relationship with us (SoS 8:6 NASB).
“But can all of this be real?” others seem to ask in verse 8. They are ready to leap into action and protect the bride should this love prove false. They cannot grasp his grace or his glory, and the depths of his love are lost on them. Some have suggested that these guardians are her brothers, those who leased the vineyard for a thousand silver shekels to have a part in Solomon’s harvest. They sent her to work the sunburned fields where she first learned of her beloved Solomon. They saw her fruitless efforts there: “but mine own vineyard have I not kept” (SoS 1:6 KJV). Their concern is honest, but misplaced.
The tone of her response seems soft and pensive, perhaps a muse more than a correction aimed at them. “Solomon had a vineyard that stands alone among the multitudes,” she breathes with a contented sigh, and surveys the thousand green hills rolling on before her (SoS 8:11). The garden is a magnificent place to behold, and its work is most satisfying. It is as if she says, “Rest assured, any who question my Love! His compassion is true, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light!” (Mat 11:30).
“My vineyard, my very own, is before me,” she continues (SoS 8:12 ESV). No longer fruitless because of Him, it is hers to give, and He is worth every shekel! The thousand shekels are for you, Solomon! Nothing she could dream could be better than eternity made perfect with Him. In a previous article, we noted how the bride shares her master’s joy and will have eternal delight in the responsibility of the vineyard. Can you envision the bride and her love walking, abiding and rejoicing together on picturesque garden paths? This is us, dear ones!
In Eden we read of a garden, a tree and an unusual river that flowed from one stem into four (Gen 2:8-10). In heaven, there is a pure crystal river, the water of life. A tree of trees is there as well (Rev 22:1-2). As His bride, I have no doubt that we will one day enjoy the tangible delights of heaven’s garden. But what will make them most beautiful will be that they were prepared for us by His divine hands, for our eternal pleasure. “O you who sit in the gardens, my companions are listening for your voice.” He cries, “Let me hear it!” (SoS 8:13 NASB).
He and I, in that bright glory,
One deep joy shall share
Mine, to be forever with Him,
His, that I am there.
Gerhardt Tersteegen (1697-1769)