The Awakened Bride

The Awakened Bride

Turn in the word of God to the book of Song of Solomon in the first chapter please. It’s easier for you to find Isaiah and then work back from there. I had mentioned last communion service that we may just progress through this book and we’re going to do that. Last time, we looked at opening seven verses of this book and we’re going to continue on, verses 8 to the end of the chapter, the Lord giving us help. I’m going to read from verse 8. The opening few verses have the bride recognizing that there is a distance between her and the bridegroom, the king. She recognizes this distance and she longs to correct it. Verse 4 brings that out very clearly. “Draw me and we will run after thee”. She wants to be brought into his chambers, and so on. Again, verse 7: “Tell me O Thou whom my soul lovest where thou feedest”: she wants to know where he is. She wants to be where he is. So verse 8, let’s read the word of God:

8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.
10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
13 A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.
16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

Amen. We have this privilege of hearing the Word of God read before us today. Let us profit from it and may the blessing of God be upon us in our meditation. Let us all pray and seek him:

Lord we come to thee again, thankful that we may hear the words of love. Glad that, though our love may ebb and flow, there is no change in our God. That having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. Oh blessed Lord Jesus, let us know more of Thy love. Even as we come to sit at the table that Thou hast instituted and given to us for our good, for our benefit and for Thy glory. We pray that that even now our hearts would be prepared. That souls would be knit to Thine, as it were, and we would know the sweetness of fellowship with Thee, our Savior. Come by Thy Spirit. Come in Thy fullness. Come and feed Thy flock, and come and encourage our hearts. May there be an effectual work done even through the declaration of the Word of Truth. So hear us. Let the Word run. Fill this preacher with the Spirit we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

As I said, last month, I figured it would be somewhat helpful for us in our communion services to take time to study through this book. I said that because of the context of it and the purpose of the book being very much focusing upon the fellowship that the church enjoys with the Lord Jesus Christ. I made mention of the fact that that is sometimes disputed and debated that various individuals, especially in these days have different ideas about the purpose of the Song of Solomon. I sought to argue before you, at least briefly, not in too much depth, that we are really in our understanding of it, following in the path of the Reformers and the Puritans, who recognized that in the canon of Scripture, which is all designed to be a means of exposing us to the great plan of redemption and God‘s love for sinners, in that context, it only makes sense in the sense of understanding it as a relationship between Christ and the church. If we see it as some manual for marriage or some other way of putting it, as is so often the case today, then it really stands out as an anomaly within Scripture that has no place or purpose. The Spirit of God has told us and recorded for us, even in Luke chapter 24, that the Lord Jesus opened up the Old Testament scriptures and beginning at Moses spoke the things concerning himself and the understanding is that the word of God of the Old Testament Scriptures are full of Christ and designed to show us the wonder of God‘s love through his Son. And his plan to save sinners, his desire to her reconcile the lost to himself. Paul makes it plain in Ephesians 5 that marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church. I say, the history of the Protestant church is replete largely with those that understand this book therefore to draw our minds to see the intimate fellowship of the believer with their God, through Christ. Of course I think part of our problem today is that, and I am not despising scholarship, but part of the problem is, I feel that, and I think I made mention of this a month ago, that many just do not have the fellowship with God that believers once had. They do not see the beauty and the glory of the relationship that Christ has with his people the way they once did. That becomes abundantly clear when you compare modern literature with the literature of the past. Just read some of the language of Richard Sibbes and you see something that you will not find in these days, at least largely speaking. So, in looking at the opening verses, as I said, the bride conveys a sense of being at a distance from the king. She’s not as close as she wants to be nor as she needs to be and reflects a common experience that believers have that our love ebbs and flows, and at times we’re just not as near to the Lord as we need to be. Yet the Lord is always willing to receive us and encourage us to follow after him and when we come to sit at the table of the Lord, wherever our hearts are from one month to the next, it should be a time of really recollecting his mercies and causing ourselves very deliberately to apply ourselves to a fresh endeavor to appreciate what Christ has done and then to live in the light of that. It is not some mere activity that is to come and go and have no impact upon our hearts. We should sit at the table remembering, remembering that which we so often forget. I mean, is it not true that really, the reason why our hearts grow cold, the reason why we grow distant from the Lord and the distance begins to develop in our Christian experience is because, day by day transpires and follows the other and we are not considering the cross and we are not thinking about what Christ has done and we are making decisions and we are sinning in ways that we are not considering the great penalty for sin paid for by Jesus Christ and the debt of love we owe to him and service that we can never repay. So, as we come to verse eight through to the end of the chapter, we saw the backslidden bride before and now we see the awakened bride. Because she has been awakened and really we saw that already in the previous verses, but in her being awakened we begin to see her pursuit after the king. So it has instructive language for us. I want us to consider then, as we see the awakened bride, first

1. The counsel she receives: verse 8 – 10 are as counsel that is given to her from the king: “ If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents. I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.”

What is going on here? Well you’ll see first of all, in verse 8, that he is pointing out to her a certain direction: “If thou know not, o thou fairest among women” if you’re not sure where to go, she has asked this question in verse 7: “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon”. The response comes: “If thou know not, o thou fairest among women go thy way forth.” There is a way that you need to go. A way in order for you to find where he makes his flock to rest at noon, as it were. And so he responds by directing her. You see, the Lord does want to give his direction. He does desire to get us in the right path. He doesn’t become silent to her desire as she makes this request. “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest” and so, “where are you?” basically, we might say. It doesn’t leave no response. There is a response for her, just as every believer in a time when they are distant from the Lord and they are saying, “Lord, I want to be where you are. I want to be back where I have once enjoyed fellowship. There is no reluctance in the Lord to bring you back. If that is where you are today, know the Lord is speaking to you. He has a word for you that will instruct you in the path that you need to follow. He will show you the right way. Of course, the direction is given, “Go, thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock.” He confirms her perspective, “If you are looking for me, follow the footsteps of the flock.” She has said, “Where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.” Where is your flock at? Where does your flock rest at noon? The response comes, well go your way and go and see the footsteps of the flock. Find the footsteps. See the trace that has been left behind concerning where the flock has gone and follow the footsteps.

It’s not too difficult, you know, to get back to the right place where we ought to be. Not too difficult in the practical sense. There is a trail. There is a path that is left before us. It is a path that has brought other believers into fellowship in an intimate sense of knowing the Lord Jesus and it’s the same path for every Christian. They don’t have to find a novel way or a new way or some unique way to them. The path to getting into a sense of being near to the Lord is familiar. I mean, we have trod that path before ourselves, but in this instance, as she is looking for direction, he’s saying, “Look, the flock have already gone the right way. Just you follow in their footsteps. Go where they have gone. See how they have walked and follow in their path.”

This is why believers can edify one another. It’s why they can come alongside another believer and give them counsel to bring them back into the place they need to be with God; that we can restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering ourselves lest we also be tempted, there is an ability of every believer to do that. Because each believer knows the tendencies of their own heart and they know how they themselves have got right into that place where they enjoy fellowship with the Lord and when they find another believer that has gotten by the wayside and isn’t where they need to be, they know how to instruct them. It’s not, again, some new or novel way. They can come alongside and say, “Look brother/Look sister, here is what you need to do. You follow the same path that we all have taken.” But there is a sense in which it indicates that in order to be where he is, and ultimately then, where the flock is, it requires us to get amongst the right company, doesn’t it? We can’t follow an individual path on our own. If I’m going to be near the Lord, I’m going to have to follow the path that all Christians follow. That I am not walking this kind of isolated independent walk. I mean, I think the church often loses a sense of this; something that was very, very ingrained in the Jew; that the Israelite was very aware of, and that was the sense of deep community and the fact that they are all in this together. We are all dependent upon one another and we are not living as an island to ourselves but there is this sense of connectedness between all the people of God. The Jews understood that; at least they ought to have. I think there’s a sense of that covenant community, one people under God, and we’re all looking out for one another and living in order to help one another unto God. That’s why as she desires to get where he is, she has to follow the same path. It’s the same path the rest of the flock has taken.

If we want to know the Lord Jesus and get to know him better, the easy way to do that is to simply to follow the footprints that the church has left for us down through the years. The 21st-century has not brought a new challenge to the church, whereby now we need to find a new way to really get to know God. It’s the same way that those who have gone before have gone. And so we can lift Christian biography, church history, and read the lives of other saints and we can equip ourselves better by understanding the challenges they faced, the struggles they went through, and be encouraged then, this is how they continued on with God even in spite of all of their afflictions. I just came across something, a comment made by a man that said that on average, the Puritans had about 9 or 10 children. On average, they lost about half of them before they got into adulthood. When you think about that, therefore, “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all”. Therefore you can go back in history and see the afflictions of God’s people down through the ages. You can see the tremendous discouragements that they faced. Some of them faced not half their children but nearly all their children. I think of Rutherford watching one child after another being taken into eternity and the afflictions upon the soul and the sense of testing that brought to their faith. But they continued on. The gospel was sufficient for them. The nearness of the Lord Jesus Christ was all that they needed. We are the same. We can’t isolate ourselves from the church if we are going to go forward with God. We need the help of the church, presently and in the past. We go our way forth by the footsteps of the flock. Whatever they have endured, whatever they have experienced, whatever they have expressed, we can learn from it. And you’ll see that it’s “feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents”; this sense that she is to go to a place beside the shepherds tents. In other words, it’s even more specific as to where we are to be. Where are the shepherds tents? Well, let’s go where the shepherd’s are found. And where the shepherds are found tending the flock. Understanding this, you have this wonderful application to how there are the flocks and there are the shepherds and if the people of God, the child of God, wants to get back to where the Lord is, that there are certain places to go. It’s where the flock is and where the shepherds are. The shepherds and the flocks tend to be in the same place, namely, in the body of Christ, in the church and even what we have even visible here this morning. The undershepherds of the Lord Jesus Christ are always tending to the flock. They are seeking to help the flock, to feed the flock, to encourage the flock. So if there is some sheep that has gone astray, often it’s because they have not only distanced themselves from the Lord, but in their distancing themselves from the Lord, they’ve actually distanced themselves from the body of Christ, from the shepherds that tend to their souls. This happens all the time. God‘s people begin to drop out of meetings, drop out of the worship of the Lord with the body of Christ. They think that it’s OK. It’s just a temporary thing but it is one step after another that leads them into spiritual despair and spiritual poverty and before you know it, the last person you thought would ever be backslidden away from the Lord is.

In Hebrews chapter 13, the chapter that deals with brotherly love, it is very instructive for us, in terms of some of the practical aspects of the community of church in what we are to do and what we are to be and so on. Let’s turn there for just a moment to Hebrews chapter 13. It begins in verse 1: “Let brotherly love continue” like many others I see a kind of elaboration of that very truth in the verses that follow. “Let brotherly love continue”. Well, what does brotherly love look like? “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.” That’s one thing. There’s hospitality involved. There is remembering those that are in bonds, as bound with them. Those are in times of affliction, we don’t forget them. We come alongside them. There is marriage as well. Then there is the behavior in verse 5 that is pointed out. Verse 7 then, another aspect of true brotherly love is “Remember them which have the rule over you who have spoken unto you the word of God.” OK, so remember them. They have a certain rule over you they care for you they are shepherds to care for your soul. They speak to you the word of God. Then it says this, “whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation or their behavior”. So, as you watch those that God has appointed over your soul, you can actually not only listen to the words they speak but actually follow their faith. Now. This brings a challenge to every leader. Every elder here, every aspiring elder or anyone who thinks that there may be a possibility in the future that I might be in some form of eldership or leadership in the church. You have to live in such a way that your faith can be followed. That, if souls actually follow how you conduct your Christian life, it would be good for their souls. It would be an encouragement to them. It would strengthen them. It would benefit them. Now, that’s a challenge to us all. To wives of elders, encourage your husband to be as godly as he can be to have a life that others can follow, of course for your children, but even for the flock of God as well. But then, of course, it’s a challenge to those who are to do the following. They are to follow them. “Whose faith follow”. Again, you’re not living a Christian life on your own. You are to get by the shepherds tents. You are to see where the flocks are being tended. Be there where the shepherds can care for your soul and nourish you upon the Word and who are living in such a way that they can lead you into such a deeper knowledge of Christ, and when you get sidetracked, or are going through difficulty, they will have a word for you. They’re watching for you. They know when you’re not present and are checking up to see where is that soul and how are they going on with the Lord. “Whose faith follow.” There needs to be a following of the faith of those that are strong, those that we can depend upon, those that have a rule over us and really all this is, as many passages are, but this is just an apostolic exposition of the Fifth Commandment. That’s it. The Fifth Commandment already requires this: honor your father and mother. Honor those that are your superiors, church leaders, government authorities whatever. There’s an honor in their office and what God has called them to do. Really, this is just this working out of the Fifth Commandment.

Now, just as an aside, in the day in which we live, where it seems as if something is not novel, then it needs to be put aside. When you think about it, and I just put this seed out there and plant it in for you to meditate upon yourself: if every generation truly follows the Fifth Commandment and if every generation actually, actually lives out what the Fifth Commandment requires: the honoring of the generation before them or the elders that are over them, if they actually lived that out, how much change will there be, in terms of how one generation lives to the other? Almost none. Almost none. They will honor their parents. I mean, this is one way I deal with young people when they come and say, “What do you think about this kind of music? Do you think a Christian can listen to this music?” I have my opinion and I’m quite happy to give it to them, and the reasons for it but sometimes the fastest way to deal with that is simply this: “What do your parents think?” They’ll say, “Well, that’s actually why I am asking you because I like it. They’re not so into it.” I say, “Well, their opinion is God‘s will for your life. You want to know the will of God? It’s their desire. Their opinion is the will of God, even when it seems unreasonable, as long as it’s not unbiblical, as long as it’s not going across the grain of Scripture and the exhortation of the Word of God, then that God‘s will for you.” You don’t get to say, when driving, that I don’t think that should be a 30 mph zone. You don’t get to say. The government says, “That’s a 30 mph zone”. If you think you’re going to go your own way, someday there’s going to be an officer waiting for you and will tell you otherwise and you’ll have no power or authority over his word and what the courts dictate. It doesn’t matter. “I think it’s a wide road. I think we could quite easily do 50 down that road.” It won’t matter a jot. Your opinion matters zero. And if we understood this in the way I think the Lord is honored in our understanding of it. What changes from one generation to the next? Very little. Go through the millennia of God leading his people, Israel and the Old Testament. What changes from one generation to the next? What is their constant example set for their kings their constant example over the centuries past? The example is, “He did not do that which his father David did.” Or “He did all the things like his father David did.” I mean, they are being compared to lives lived centuries prior and God doesn’t expect there to be any real change. Nothing significant. And yet, look at the church today. If it’s not new, if it’s not different, no one is interested. I tell you, it’s a breach of the Fifth Commandment. It’s not “Whose faith follow”. It’s not following as the Lord has instructed. You are to be following the flocks who have gone before you. Following the sheep who have gone the way and you are to be beside the shepherds tents. You see that? You can feed your kids there. That’s what verse 8 says “Feed thy kids beside the shepherds tents.” In other words, those that are under your care, those that are under your care, they can be tended to there. “Feed thy kids beside the shepherds tents.” This is very applicable, of course, to parents or those who have responsibility for other lives. What are you to do? You are to bring them to the house of God. Bring them to where they will hear the Word. You are to take care of them in this way and as a whole family you are to worship together; not on your own but where the shepherds and where the sheep are.

Even that word “tent”, the “tents” in the plural, is the word “tabernacle”. Even that has a sense of a place of worship, familiar to the Old Testament believers. Beside the shepherds tabernacles. Yes, where the Lord is known. Where He is worshiped. In verse 9 then, I have compared thee O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. What a word! First, you see the exclusivity of the love shown to her, “I have compared thee, O my love. There’s a real love shown to her. And “I have compared thee”. Compared her to what? “To a company of horses and Pharaoh’s chariots.” Now if you read through the Word of God and even secular history, you will discover that Egyptian horses were seen as some of the best available in the ancient world. They had the breeding practices right down to a fine art. When you read through the Scriptures you will find certain exhortation given to Israel, “Don’t go to Egypt for horses.” You’ll find language like that! “Don’t go there.” The temptation is, when it comes to times of warfare, or you’re looking for help, or you’re trying to shore up your ability to stand, in terms of warfare and you think you could do with more horses and the best horses available are down in Egypt, God says, “Don’t go!” “Don’t go!” You might say, well that’s not very practical, because they have the best horses. Why would the Lord not want us to do that? Very simple. He doesn’t want them to trust in their horses. Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we remember the name of the Lord our God” Even when they went forth to battle, God did not want them trusting in the fact that they bought 200 of the best horses available in Egypt. He wanted them trusting in His name, in His power. That has application even to us today: not going down to Egypt, not seeking for the philosophy of the world, not trying to identify “what’s the world doing to attract crowds, or to make people interested and to gain their attention. What’s the world doing?” No, we have to come before God, not going down to Egypt. Trusting in the Lord.

But it wasn’t just horses in Egypt that she’s compared to. Do you see this? “I have compared thee O my love, to a company of horses and Pharaoh’s chariots.” Not just the Egyptian horses. These are the best Egyptian horses. These are the horses that are used by the Egyptians and not just any Egyptian, but Pharaoh himself. The best of the best of the best. In other words, I compare you like how they select the best horses for Pharaoh’s chariots. It’s the very same. You’re chosen. You’re selected. I have put my love out toward you in a very particular sense. Particular redemption. It’s right there. Chosen in Christ, from before the foundation of the world. The way they would choose out those horses for Pharaoh’s chariots. He said, “I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses”. You’re selected. You’re selected. You are chosen. What a wonder of wonders! That God should love a soul like me, How Can It Be? Here we are in this place this morning, Beloved, and it is very easy for us to go, and I am guilty of the same, to go from one week to the next and you’re not overcome by the love of God in Christ. You say, “Are we meant to be all emotional all the time?” No. I don’t think we are meant to be emotional wrecks every day, but we do have emotions. We certainly apply them in other areas of life. We find out that someone is expecting, we are elated. We find out a couple is getting married, we are happy for them. We see our team is winning, we rejoice in that. Many things in life, we don’t just kind of look at it and receive it as information. It actually draws out our affections. If anything ought to draw out the affections of the believer, it must be the love of God. If you get really excited when your sports team wins, then you should be really excited that God loves you. I mean, if it’s in your nature to be excitable or to express emotion, then why should it not be the case when you think about the gospel? Think of what the psalmist said in Psalm 149:4: “For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people”. Do we take pleasure in him? Do we? Do we take pleasure in the Lord? Have we come this morning to delight ourselves in Him? I want to delight myself in Him. I want my heart to be drawn out after him. I want my affections to be engaged toward him. Or are we just sitting there as numb as can be?

Verse 10: “ Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.” So, she’s been chosen like the horses of Pharaoh’s chariots, but there is a beauty about her. There is something to note about this beauty. This is not a beauty that is inherent to her, is it? This is an imputed beauty. These are things that have been added: the jewels, the chains of gold. At one point they were not there. They did not belong. They were not present, but now they are and so there’s a comeliness in her appearance by something that has been added, by something that is not inherent. Beloved, this is the same for ourselves. The beauty we have before the Lord is not our own beauty. The beauty we have before the Lord is that imputed righteousness of Christ. It is that life that we did not live. It is all that He has done in order to give to us a righteousness that enables us to stand before God and be loved and to be appreciated and to be cared for and to be his child and be accepted. It is all imputed. It is all given to us. That same verse we read in Psalm 149 goes on to say, “He will beautify the meek with salvation.” That’s it in verse 10, is it not? The beautifying of the meek. Making them beautiful with salvation. What salvation? The Salvation of Christ. Not by what they have earned. Not by what they have done. Not by what they have attained. Not by something they inherited because of their family; something that has been given to them by Jesus Christ. An imputed beauty. It’s that very same beauty that allows us to come to the Lord’s table today. I mean, are you going to come in your own robes? Are you? Are you going to come and sit at the table in those filthy robes of how you have lived in the past week or the past month since the last you sat at the table of the Lord? Are you going to bring that and offer it to the Lord? I know there is not one child of God would dare. You come meditating upon the fact your cheeks are comely with rows of jewels your neck with chains of gold. There’s a beauty on you that has been given, that the Lord Himself has given to you and it’s in that beauty that you come before Him. “Jesus thy blood and righteous, my beauty are my glorious dress.” It’s not mine. It is His that has been given to me. We have also secondly, the counsel she receives, but:

2. The help she is promised. Verse 11 says, “We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.” We will make thee. In other words, we have a shift of who is talking here. It’s not the king talking to her anymore, it is the daughters of Jerusalem. It is the people of God, as it were. It is the collective body of the Lord’s people who come and say to her, “We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.” In other words, the people of God contribute to the beauty of the bride. They do not add to her imputed beauty. They do not add extra rows of jewels or gold about her neck, but they do add a certain beauty to her. They have a sanctifying influence, you might say. I mean, that’s what the church does. That’s why we are to collect together. It actually is part of how we are sanctified, how we are preserved from the world and its temptations, and encouraged as we provoke one another to love and to good works. It actually has an impact upon our character to be amongst one another. I mean, if we are actually living how the Lord would have us to live, it will impact each one of our lives. Now this is what we need to consider individually, first, what am I contributing to this body? How am I having a sanctifying influence upon other believers? Through my speech and through my conduct, through the way I live, am I an encouragement to other believers? Do I help lead them on to the Lord? Am I the kind of person they’re going to remember as a help to them in how they walk with the Lord Jesus Christ? If a young believer comes in here and is just growing in their first knowledge of the Lord, am I the kind of person that they say, “I want to be like that person?” And then of course, to ask ourselves collectively, are we as a collective body having a sanctifying influence upon one another? Beloved, have in your heart, a desire to be an encouragement and a benefit to other believers. Not the opposite. Not a discouragement. Not a hindrance. That means that we are not constantly engaged in worldly activity that causes believers to stumble and invites into their lives, things that will not do them good. I want to see them go on with the Lord Jesus and that means of my activity in this thing will hinder them, I ought not to do it. I want to beautify them. I want to make borders of gold and studs of silver so they’re even more glorious before the Lord in how they live for Him. 

You know our works do follow us and when we glory in the justifying grace of our God through Christ completely unmerited by ourselves, but our works do follow us. They’re not irrelevant, come the day of judgement. If you haven’t come to understand that, you’re gonna find out and you’re gonna be horrified. Because our lives matter how we live as Christians. Read Matthew 25, 24, wherever, where the Lord at the end of that chapter, he starts to talk in terms of the kind of person that we are meant to be in light of the judgment. Did I visit those that are in prison? Did I go to those that were in need? It’s actually brought under the microscope of how we lived. Our activity. We are not justified by it, but it matters. It actually matters. How I live my life makes a difference. Am I having a sanctifying influence? Do I help add to the beauty of other believers? This is the help she is promised. She is promised this help. She is promised it by the church. This church should be able to make the promise that if someone comes in here who knows the Lord Jesus Christ, they’re actually the better for having been here. They’re the better for it. They actually grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ and not just through the preaching but through the living of God’s people. I mean, people remember both. They do. They say, “I went there and I heard the truth.” They also say, “I saw the love that the people had.” Or conversely, it may be said, “I did not hear the truth and I saw no love.” This ought not to be the case. The church is to have a wonderful influence and ministry toward the bride in general, helping one another. Look up the “one another” texts and do a study for yourself on that very point.

3. The worship she offers, verses 12 and following. See the worship she offers. “While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me. He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphor in the vineyards of Engedi.” You’ll see his position. The position he has before her. He is sitting at his table. He is the king sitting at his table. That’s how she sees him. The king sitteth at his table. There is his position. It’s a place of authority. The place he has there is at his table and he’s sitting there at the table and that’s how she sees him. The king sitteth at his table. While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. So you have this scene where she sees him sitting there. She sees him as king; The one with all authority. He is sitting at his table, a place of fellowship, place of communion, place that we are coming to today.. And what does she say? “My spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.” Does that remind you of any other scene in the Scriptures, does it?

Turn to John Chapter 12 in case it’s not coming to mind. John Chapter 12. In the opening verses, here we have a King who is at a table and we have the spikenard that comes forth. John 12:1 “Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead and was raised from the dead. There they made him a supper. Martha served. Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.” So there’s the king. It’s the Lord Jesus. He’s sitting at a table. Then you have Mary verse 3. “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” Is that not similar to what we have in verse 12 in Song of Solomon chapter 1. The king at his table? I wonder if this verse came to Mary’s mind. I wonder. I wonder at other times when he sat at the table and she saw him there. “There’s the king sitting at my table!” And she thought to herself, then, “You know, wouldn’t it be wonderful? I have that spikenard. He’s worthy of it. He’s worthy of it!” And it comes to this particular occasion this day and she has it all planned out in her head. She has this desire to show the love that she has for him; how he is viewed in her perspective and signifying that he is her king. She wants the spikenard to smell to be sent forth. It’s a wonderful scene. Of course, in the presence of the Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, she just wants to show an attitude of worship. I mean, there’s not really much in this except an expression of adoration and worship. And this is why it comes under criticism when you read on down in the rest of John chapter 12. It comes up to be criticized. Judas is the one that begins: “This could have been sold for 300 pence and given to the poor.” In other words, for about a year’s wages. The average annual wage at that time, that’s how much it cost. It could have been sold for that and could have been given to the poor. Of course, he didn’t speak that because he had any consideration for the poor, but he was a thief and had the bag. But of course, the disciples, they all jump in. They think that’s a good idea, Judas. You’re right and they all start criticizing her. They all enter into murmuring. The Lord comes and he stops it immediately because he sees it for what it is. They’re backbiting. They’re speaking ill and he sees in her heart a real sense of worship before her King and He defends her. So the Lord actually cultivates this kind of worship; expressions of giving abundantly to him. You imagine, taking a year’s average annual wage or salary in this part of the world and you just put it at the feet of the Lord and say “There you are Lord. You are worthy of it.” I mean, that’s a big ask of any generation at any time. I don’t know all the whether she had certain sentimentality toward this box of spikenard. It could have been in the family for years so it’s not just the value of it. It’s the sentimental connection to it. All of that could be going on as well. But Christ is worthy. That is the point! She shows this love for Him and Beloved, and that is the kind of worship he is worthy of today from our hearts. There is no holding back. There’s no saying, “Well he can have this but he can’t have that.” Whatever we have to offer. Like Mary, we bring it before him. Of course, she pours it upon his feet, even on his very feet, worthy of this precious ointment. Tremendous love. Tremendous example. See, Mary understood the sacrifice the Lord Jesus was about to make. She grasped it, to some degree. She knew she could never repay the Lord for what he had done. Never. She understood that there’s nothing, absolutely nothing that could ever measure up to what He is doing for her and is going to do for her. So she simply comes with an attitude, “Eeverything I have. All that I am. It is yours.” Beloved, is that the frame of mind we all have? Is it? Because if it’s not, it’s part of our confession as we come to the table this morning. “Lord I am not where Mary was. I’m holding back. I am not living in the light of your sacrifice. For some reason it does not move me or motivate me or bring me to such a place of worship where I can just surrender everything and you can have it all. I have not been brought to that point. Lord give me more grace. Forgive me this day.” Dear child of God, it is a sin, you know. It’s a sin to continue on living as we thought of last Lord’s Day evening, reaping all the benefits of salvation all the benefits of what the Lord has done, but not, like the other Mary, mother of our Lord, not being prepared to just put our lives before him and say “Whatever you want.”

This is a constant battle. Paul knew it. Paul was well aware of it. It’s the first thing that he applies after he has dealt with the gospel. Romans 1:1-11. Here’s the gospel. Here are the indicative realities of the Christian. The first imperative, Paul’s first instruction on the basis of what we have in Christ is what? “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies.” You present your bodies. There is only one logical outcome from the work of Christ for the believer who receives the benefits of his salvation. It is the presenting of the body a living sacrifice. Can you argue it? I can’t. The table of the Lord is the time to come and say Lord, again, “I present my body, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto the Lord for it is my reasonable service.”

Our time is gone. There are many other thoughts in the remaining verses I’ll not get to them. We can come back to that another time. But I think the Lord has given the word for us even as we come to the table even just to end on that note. While the king sitteth at his table, yes, the king in a certain sense, sits at this table. He gave this table. He said “Do this ‘til I come. Keep remembering.” Keep remembering what? “Keep remembering my sacrifice”. Do you not see how Paul understood the connection that with the sacrifice of Christ, with Romans 1-11, the sacrifice of Christ, the work of Jesus Christ comes the sacrifice of ourselves. Present your bodies. Therefore, when we come to the table and we are reminded of the sacrifice of Christ, it is also a reminder that we are called to sacrifice ourselves to present our bodies as he presented His for the redemption of our souls. Beloved, hold not back today. Hold nothing back from the Lord. If you’ve been walking afar off, if you’ve been keeping distance between you and the Lord Jesus, you and his people you and anything he has called you to be a part of, make up the distance now by the grace of God present yourself afresh. Sit at this table and feast in the delights of the forgiveness of your sins and then, like Paul, when he realized the call of the gospel on his life, his first response was simple, “Lord what wilt thou have ME to do? What wilt thou have me to do?” May the Lord give us grace. Let us bow together in prayer:

I have said already, we will observe the Lord’s table. All of the Lord’s people, all of those washed in the blood of Christ, all those in fellowship have a right to participate here today. If you are at a distance from the Lord, you can make that right even now. Don’t hold yourself back from sitting at the table of the Lord and remembering him through the emblems He appointed. Unless you’re harboring great sin, unless you’re in a real bad way in your walk with Christ, and if you cannot come with any penitence here today, if that’s the case you may and you ought to hold back, but if you have any glimmer of penitence and desire to be forgiven, put all your sins under the blood of Christ, then this is the place you’re called to be and the Lord will meet with you here.

Father we ask that thou wilt bless what we have considered this morning. It’s a challenge to us all. Lord forgive me. Forgive me in any way in my life from being somewhat half-hearted. Forgive me for not seeing and beholding daily the glories of the cross, the wonders of the sacrifice so that days may pass and we do not really consider what Thou hast done for us. Forgive me Lord. Forgive us all. Meet with us around this table. Meet with us around this table. We would see Jesus. We pray in His name. Amen.