Wilderness times in life are difficult. The first step in traversing it is to realize where we are and draw near to God Who can lead us out to the cool of His garden place. I pray you discovered any wilderness places in your life, beloved, and that this first step is behind you. The days ahead, journeying with God to the end of the Wilderness Road, is full of glory that God will reveal as He leads you forward. Though it is a hard road to travel, the end result is worth the trouble. I am excited for you.
Be warned, the path ahead will most likely be rough, and you need to make sure to keep eyes on God, hand in His. You will know the instant you lose connection with Him, as confusion, fear, and weakness overtake your life. When it happens, stop where you are and wait. You will find Him faithful to reconnect with you as you wait patiently for Him, watch for His hand, and listen for His whisper, “This is the way; walk ye in it.” Sometimes what seems to us a delay is actually God providing a “Selah” moment: an Oasis where we rest a bit and calmly think on the things He is showing us while He refreshes us and prepares us to go forward. Though it may take time, be faithful to stay close to the side of your Good Shepherd and you will soon find yourself…
Walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
SOS1: “Awake, O north wind, And come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits” (SOS 4:16).
When time on earth began, God set a garden within it where His chosen ones thrived. In the cool of the day, He came into the garden for a leisurely walk with His beloveds. We can still have that walk with Him today. In Song of Solomon, several things stand out that instruct us concerning time in the garden.
Here in chapter 4 we see that the wind of God’s Spirit comes into the garden and breathes out the fragrance of His presence and the scent of fruit bearing. He flows through the lives of those who know how to commune with Him in His garden, like the fragrance of the finest spices, ministering to us at the area of our need. From His garden, of which we are to Him, as He is to us, He enjoys its produce and bears it forth to nourish those around us.
Beloved, the fruit born out of our lives because we know how to abide in the Secret Place of God and walk with Him in the cool of the garden pours in two directions. First God pours to us as nourishment and through us to feed those around us. Then we flow out of that fruit bearing to produce a fragrance that blesses the Lord, causing His heart to rejoice over us.
Coming out of a wilderness experience is not the only garden God provides for us. God is an Oasis along the wilderness path. With Him at our side, we have frequent garden experiences, pauses on our wilderness journey where He feeds us and refreshes us so we may press onward and upward. Even out of our wilderness areas, His produce comes out of us to touch those around us and bring Him glory and gladness.
SOS2: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; there your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth. …” ~ SOS 8:5-7. Selah ~ Pause and calmly think on that.
The wilderness is a place where we discover complete reliance on our Beloved. We leave the wilderness leaning on God who is our companion, bringing us safely to the garden. Beneath the tree of life, He awakens us. Hardship and struggle, like a mother, have birthed new life in us, giving us a ministry to use on His behalf. God never wastes the wilderness, but works in us to make us ready for the next phase of life as part of His Royal Priesthood.
SOS3: “…Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised” ~ SOS 8:5-7.
From wilderness’ starting point to garden’s quickening, the ultimate purpose is our unity and commitment to the Beloved and our coming to understand His for us. Walking with God as our first most vital love, we realize our need of Him and are fully committed to Him, sealed shut to any other would-be god. Having our Beloved’s scent upon us, bearing the fruit of His love, He marks us with the seal of His image, making it clear to all that we are His.
Marked by the assurance of this love, we know that no other love will satisfy like His love, none else will fill the banks of our being to produce the flow of love that we have with Him. Any attempt of some other suitor trying to break the seal of our commitment to our beloved and lure us away we despise. We have danced with our beloved in the garden having come through the wilderness victorious, and no one can steal us away.
SOS4: “‘We have a little sister, and she has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.’ I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace” ~ SOS 8:8-10.
Breasts are instruments of nourishment. The little sister represents those still young in their faith who have yet to find the Secret Place of His presence, giving their full commitment to Him, seeking sustenance only from the garden of His provision and pleasure. As the young in the Lord find their relationship with God and keep it pure, not giving self to another god, they make of her a “dowry” or “battlement” of silver.
Transcripts that translate the Greek word to “dowry” give rise to instruction that such a person has something to give to the Beloved: something to add to their union. Battlement speaks of security and trust. One whose life is a battlement has no other God. Kept safe behind the parapet of Love’s rampart, they live fully satisfied. Such love is greatest treasure, worth protecting at all cost.
The young who are loose, like a swinging door, easily swayed by every passing whim, God encloses for their own protection. God often will hedge us in until we mature in our relationship with Him.
Once mature, we enter fully into our union with God and rise up as a tower where love is secure, treasured and made to thrive, being lit up for all to see. There God’s peace is the produce for life. Safe in the arms of our Beloved, fear and insecurity gives way to love made sure and pure. No matter what goes on around us, we always have our tower made bright with love’s unity, useful in drawing others attention, desiring to see what powers the Light within us.
SOS5: “Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers. Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit. My very own vineyard is at my disposal; the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit. …” SOS 8:11-14.
As with the woman of our text, it is our choice how we use our garden and whether we keep it for Him alone. Solomon, in our analogy, represents God. God has a vineyard in the world: our lives. We are the caretakers of our area of His vineyard. He expects to receive the produce of the vineyard.
We are each responsible for our vineyard: it is our choice whether we cooperate with God and glorify Him with our lives. We do so by bearing fruit that makes us breasts of nourishment: first to God, feeding His need for our love through relationship: giving praise, worship, our attention and commitment to Him. Second, to others who, like babes in arms, are in our sphere of influence. Together we help and encourage one another to find our Secret Place with Him and to come to His garden where fruit is born to His glory.
Note that God’s due from our vineyard is five times that we are to give to others. The majority of our attention, focus, and energy must go into our relationship with Father. He is our life, abundant and full. He is our joy and delight, bringing strength to our existence. He is with us and for us 24/7. We must be with and for Him in kind. Then we will have what we need to live fully with surplus to give to others in helping them at the point of their need.
SOS6: “… O you who sit in the gardens, My companions are listening for your voice—Let me hear it! Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices” ~ SOS 8:11-14.
Beloved, Father longs for us and seeks after us, desiring us to be His beloved in a one on one, personal and intimate relationship that cannot be broken. Are you watching for Him, listening to hear His voice; calling out “Come quickly, my beloved”? If we will faithfully seek after Him, He will come to us in the fullness of His glory. With the fragrance of His essence permeating us, He readies us for life and ministry as part of His Royal Priesthood, making us productive of the fruit of His garden.