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Biblical Gardens (2): The Garden of Love

I Affleck, Lossiemouth

Solomon is credited with writing many proverbs and songs. The Song of Songs is the choicest, the sweetest of them all, and in it he portrays his beloved graphically as a fruitful garden.

Description of the Garden (4.12-15)

Solomon describes his beloved as a garden where he enjoys the delights of her love and companionship. We will consider this garden as it is, the story of two lovers, and simply apply it to our relationship with our great Lover, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The exclusiveness of the Garden (v.12)

This garden is enclosed and locked. But is it not the exclusive possession of the bridegroom? What a challenge to every husband and wife. Have you eyes for each other only, and is your love firstly to one another?

We ought also to consider our relationship with the Lord. We know that His love for us is never in question, but sometimes ours for Him is suspect. Our love should be to Him a place of enjoyment and refreshment where His soul is satisfied.

The fruitfulness of the Garden (v.13)

The bride speaks of his plants; the word comes from the root indicating a missile of attack or a spear. We can relate to this, for she longs that the heart of her beloved will be pierced, thus breaking his resistance until he is completely overcome with her disarming beauty. The garden has much fruit to satisfy him for it is an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits. The pomegranate has been named the "death fruit" since it was the last to be harvested, but the word means upright, straight and righteous. This shows us how we can bring delight to the heart of our great Lover.

The fragrance of the Garden (vv.13-14)

We have eight principal spices mentioned in this verse, each with its own peculiar fragrance. All but the frankincense are mentioned in pairs, with the spikenard mentioned in two of these pairs. That which characterises the frankincense is its whiteness, speaking of purity. This is the vital feature of every believer so that our beloved has no fears in relation to our fidelity to Him. Then we have the first of the pairs - camphire and spikenard. The spikenard always speaks of what is genuine and true, and the camphire speaks figuratively of redemption’s price. How wonderful to think we have been genuinely redeemed.

The next pair is that of spikenard and saffron. The saffron is probably from the crocus family and is the costliest of all spices by weight. How enlightening, for not only was a ransom price paid for our freedom, it was paid at infinite cost.

Then we have calamus and cinnamon. Both give the idea of that which is upright, a measuring standard. Surely we can see this in our blessed Lord for He is the standard against which all are measured. We all fall short, yet in 2 Corinthians 5.21 we read, "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him". In the light of our new state, the Lord Jesus can delight in His beloved.

Last, we have myrrh and aloes, and they allude to the bitter experience of the Lord when the extent of His love for us was seen in His death at Calvary. Surely this would draw out our hearts to love Him more.

Three of these spices, calamus, cinnamon and myrrh, were used in the blending of the holy anointing oil which would, among other things, anoint the garments of the high priest. Two of them, myrrh and aloes, were used to anoint the dead body of our Saviour, and they also describe the fragrance of the garments of the king in Psalm 45. The fragrance of the Saviour, the High Priest and the King, marks our Beloved whether it be as a man upon this earth, where He now is on the Throne of Grace interceding on our behalf, or when in that future day He reigns over the kingdoms of this world.

The freshness of the Garden (v.15)

The fountain reminds us of the source of all love, for God is love, and the well speaks of its fathomless depths. We can but bathe as in a vast ocean when we meditate on the condescending grace of the Lord Jesus when He stooped from heaven to die the death of the cross. From death came life and so it is a well of living waters that can heal and satisfy all who drink from it.

The streams flowing down from the snowy peak of Lebanon teach us of the wonderful blessings of love that pour from the pure unsullied heights of heaven.

Desire and delight mutually expressed (4.16-5.1)

The bride’s desire is twofold. First, that the wind would blow and cause the fragrance of the spices to flow out over the wall, and second, that her beloved would come into his garden and enjoy the beauty of it. She longs to draw him into the centre of her affections that he may be satisfied with his pleasant fruits. Whether the north wind of adversity blows, or the warm balmy south wind, it matters not to her as both cause the exquisite scent of her affection to draw him into the garden. She longs to be in his embrace.

What a challenge to our hearts as we ponder our love for the Lord Jesus. Do we accept the wind blowing from any direction as it produces a beautiful fragrance that draws the heart of our Beloved to us in a sweet intimate relationship? Only then may we lie upon His breast, like John, and listen to the strong heartbeat of One whose love for us cannot fail.

The beloved comes into his garden being allured by the fragrant scent of the one he loves, and gathers her to himself in loving ecstasy. She also appeals to his sense of taste, and he enjoys the fruits of her love. It is satisfying like the honeycomb, sweet as honey itself. It makes his heart sing like a bird and the fragrance is becoming stronger with each passing day. He now invites his friends to share their happiness and for his bride to drink her fill. No doubt his desire is that the day would never end. There will be such a day for our Beloved when He presents the Church to Himself with no spot marring her beauty, nor wrinkle showing her age, as she radiates glory and that not her own.

Discourse in relation to the Garden (6.1-3)

The dialogue begins with the daughters asking, "Whither is thy beloved gone?", and this seems strange for the bride had acknowledged that she could not find him. She charged these ladies that if they should find him they should tell him how much she was missing him (5.8). So why do they now ask her this question? The answer is simple yet sublime. The daughters had replied to her, "What is thy beloved more than another beloved" (5.9), and as she contemplates and describes the one she loves he becomes the centre of her affections once more and thus she now knows exactly where he is. He has gone down into his garden and is enjoying the fruits of love again. He reclines by the beds of spices and feeds as a shepherd taking in the beauty of the scene around him and simply gathering lilies for his own pleasure. This is now the third time that mention has been made of the lilies: their setting is the valley (2.1), in the field (2.2), and here in the garden.

The final comment needs little explaining for this is what thrills her heart: "I am his and he is mine". Surely we can think of our Beloved who comes down into His garden (the assembly), plucks a lily here and there, and the sorrow which fills our hearts as we note the empty space. Perhaps a reader is experiencing the heartbreak of bereavement and loss. If so, please remember that you are His and He is yours for this is a great comfort to sad hearts.

Delightful expectation in relation to the Garden (6.11-12)

The bridegroom goes down into his garden of nuts with delightful expectation of the promise of fruit. He fully expects the fruit to be protected and preserved, and to see the vine flourishing. He understands that the vine procures the wine which is symbolic of communion, and we are reminded of this for we read in 2.4 that "He brought me into his banqueting house (house of wine) and his banner over me was love". Then again he also expects to see the buds of the pomegranate that would suggest the fullness of the harvest of the love of his bride.

In v.12 we note his eagerness as his soul moves as swiftly as a chariot of willing people, such is his anticipation. I suggest that our eternal Lover is no less expecting to see fruit in His garden as He comes down to be at home among those who love Him. And despite our faltering and failings He still appreciates what little display of love and affection we have for Him.

To be continued.


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