Fourth Song: 3:1-5

The bride searches in the night for her beloved

Bride3:1 By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
3:2 I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
3:3 The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
3:4 It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: 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 that conceived me.
3:5 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the eld, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

The last Song left the bride in a state of glorious expectancy as she awaits the call from her groom to come away, but the time is not yet. Now the mood turns melancholy as the bride expresses her sadness and yearning for her missing Lord.

The joyous excitement and note of confidence found throughout the previous Song gives way here to a feeling of depression. The high hopes of the bride that were stimulated by the signs that indicated that her beloved would soon appear, are dispelled as night after night goes by and he fails to come. (The word “night” in chapter 3:1 is in the plural, i.e. night after night goes by.) However, she does not succumb to her sadness. Her love for her beloved drives her to action. She rises to renew her spirits and seeks him in the “city, in the streets, and in the broadways,” but she finds no answer there. He cannot be found in the broad way.

Whilst she was searching she was discovered by the watchmen who provide direction, advice and support. She says, “it was but a little that I passed from them.” This is better rendered “scarcely had I passed from them” (Roth) and they provide the answers. The watchmen are aware of her need and encourage her in it.

How the bride’s continual searching reflects life’s present experiences! We are buoyed up with confidence one day and then cast down the next as frustration and problems threaten to overwhelm us. At one moment, we are sure that our Lord is at the door, and the next, we are dejected by his delay and sometimes we may even entertain doubts within ourselves. Our love wanes, until we find comfort in the signs of his imminent appearing abounding before us. As watchmen, we encourage one another in this “night of Gentile darkness,” strengthening ourselves and each other as the day draws closer and closer.

From our standpoint, the watchmen also represent our fellow labourers, our ecclesial watchmen, whom Yahweh hath set upon the walls of Jerusalem and who never hold their peace day or night till Jerusalem is made a praise in all the earth (Isa 62:6-7). They can encourage us to watch and wait for our Lord’s return and it is these faithful watchmen who can enliven out hearts during our Lord’s absence. Their constant encouragements, together with our own personal meditations on the Scriptures, can make the Lord so real to us that we will never want to let him go.

The bride, however, did not allow herself to lose faith in the coming of her beloved. She gave herself to activity in his service. Arising from her bed, she went forth to seek the bridegroom, like the virgins in the parable of Matthew 25. When she found him she was determined not to succumb to her doubts, so she took him into her inner chamber and made him the focus of her most devoted thoughts.

Living at the epoch of Christ’s second coming, we can enter fully into the feelings of the bride as expressed in this Song. Does our Lord delay his coming? Certainly not. But may our God strengthen our faith in his appearing.

By the roes and by the hinds of the field (Song 3:5)

The Song concludes (as did the 2nd Song and later the 10th Song) with the charge not to stir up and awake love until one is ready to delight in it and accept the commitment that it brings. This is the burden and wonder of the love of God; hence it is so appropriate for the bride to remind us of the groom’s love for his bride during this period of yearning for his presence.

Today’s world is full of challenges that can so easily overcome us. At any time we may experience intolerable stress, tragedy and sickness, and sometimes we know that relief from such pain will only materialise when our Lord returns. For this reason we need to encourage ourselves with the comfort of appreciating that great love that binds us to our Lord and make a determination that nothing will separate us from that love (Rom 8:35-39).

(to be continued)