Sunday, April 28, 2013

Song 3: Getting Ready for Groom's Arrival

Song 3:1-7 
The Bride's Dream (ESV's subtitle)
On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not. I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not.  The watchmen found me as they went about in the city. "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?" Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her who conceived me.  I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field,that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. 
Solomon Arrives for the Wedding (ESV's subtitle)
What is that coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of a merchant? Behold, it is the litter of Solomon! Around it are sixty mighty men, some of the mighty men of Israel (ESV)

The refrain, "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" is the chorus of the song. It also serves as a marker for the end of a section and the beginning of the new one. This refrain occurs in three  places in the Song of Songs (2:7; 3:5; and 8:4). The one found in 3:5 marks the end of the courtship phase of Solomon and the Shulammite's relationship and the beginning of the married life signaled by Solomon's return to bring her home as his wife: "What is that coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all fragrant powders of a merchant? Behold, it is the litter of Solomon!"

The Jewish wedding has some parallel to the Chinese wedding, when the groom must go to the bride's home to fetch her with his entourage (bestmen). The bride waits anxiously at home with her bridemaids for the groom's appearance at the door. In the Jewish tradition, there is a one-year betrothal period when the bride and groom are considered legally married though not consummated until the wedding night. That explains why Joseph thought about divorcing Mary when he found out she was already pregnant with a son. Though their marriage was not consummated, they were legally man and wife.

The betrothal phase is marked by the longing of the bride for the groom's return. Apparently, she misses her beloved so much that she dreams that she is searching for him high and low "in the city, in the streets and in the squares"  (3:2). She finally finds him in her dream. This is the longing of the bride for "him whom my soul loves" (3:1, 3, 4). When the groom finally appears, her longing turns into fulfillment.

Again, we can draw parallel between the bride's longing for her groom and the church's longing for the return of her Bridegroom and Lord: "not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Tim 4:8). Just as we miss those whom we love when they are away and long for their return, so the Church's love for her Bridegroom should be marked by her longing for His return. She should be dreaming about it, and living in preparation for His return to consummate their love relationship: "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word" (Eph 5:25-27). Jesus has shed His blood and given us His word so that when He returns, the Church, His Bride, may be presented to him as a "radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:27.)  

The Bridegroom has made all the necessary provisions to make His Bride beautiful at His coming. And the Bride should be busy getting herself ready for His appearing so that she might be "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2, ESV). Our nuptial home is the new heaven and new earth that one day we will inherit and inhabit. Like Solomon coming for the Shulammite, Jesus Christ is coming back for His Bride to bring her home to celebrate at the Great Wedding Supper. There will be great rejoicing when the Bride finally comes home: "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." (Rev 19:6-9, ESV).

Notice that the Bride will be adorned with fine linen, which is "the righteous deeds of the saints".  So, the true Church will be one who is marked by "righteous deeds/acts" after being rescued from the Kingdom of Darkness through the work of Christ on the Cross and now cleansing ourselves daily through the "washing of the Word". Are we having our daily bath in the Word to prepare for the Wedding Day? Or are we just taking weekly communal baths on Sunday--or even none at all? If we fail to bathe daily in the Word of God, we will not be a fragrance to the world but will be a stench. 

Father, thank You that You have betrothed  us to Your Son as His Bride. May You help us prepare ourselves for His coming by daily washing in the Word so that we may produce righteous acts and deeds to adorn our bridal grown. Amen.

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