Well, let's pray once again. Father, we come to You, Lord, we thank You. Just singing these songs... the hope that we have as those who have been bought by the blood, You'll never, no never forsake. And we stand in that confidence that our sins have been washed. Lord, we recognize, we gather together here, , the east side of San Antonio. We're here. We're here collectively. We're here as a people because there is a Redeemer; because Christ came into the world; because He saved a people and is continuing to save a people. And it's real. Salvation is real. And we are the fruit of that. We thank You, Lord. We thank You that there is such a thing as salvation. We thank You that we're not left like the demons; we're not left like the angels who fell with no hope; only the certainty of a lake of fire. But there is a promise of salvation to those who will flee to Christ, and we thank You that there is such a hope for the sons of man. We have our brother Matt here today, and the church in Saltillo is without their leader, and we pray, Father, may You encourage the brethren there and I imagine Ernesto is speaking. Lord, whoever it is, I pray that You would help down there. Brother Matt reminded us of our brethren in Poland. And Lord, we think about our brethren there fondly and remember our recent visit, and Adam and Alisa. Lord, we pray for that little work there. May Your hand be upon them for good. We want to see that church grow and be a real light and influence in Poland. We remember our brother there in Manchester and the church. Lord, we have fond memories there too, and I pray for those brethren. Please do remember our brother Kevin as he's sick today. Father, I pray that You would give him rest. Rest for his physical body and rest for his soul. We pray that You would be with us now as we seek to open up the Word. I ask in Christ's name, Amen. Okay, brethren, Ephesians 3. We're just going to be there momentarily. We'll read the text that we've been looking at there over the past weeks. Ephesians 3:14, "For this reason..." Ephesians 3:14. The Apostle Paul speaking to the church at Ephesus. "For this reason..." Really, the reason is because these people are the chosen of God. They're the ones that God is at work in. They're the ones that Christ has brought near by His blood. Because of that, "I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." Or "from whom the whole family..." I think the ESV is probably not best there. But the whole family in heaven - there's one family. There's one temple. There's one people. "That Christ might unite all things in heaven and earth" is how this book started back in chapter 1. "From whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory, He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love may have strength..." This is what we're dealing with. "...Strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." And I've been thinking, okay, how do we do this? Where are we going to go to try to span some of these depths of the love of Christ? And you know, as I've thought about it, as I've walked and prayed and just tried to contemplate this love of Christ, personally, I keep coming back. It's almost like the Lord is saying take them to the Song of Solomon. Take them there. Brethren, if you look, if you just Google the love of Christ, probably what you will find - at least one thing you'll find is a sermon by Paul Washer. "The Love of Christ." Where could you imagine that he preached from? (incomplete thought) How many of you have listened to that message? Yeah, a number of you. Song of Solomon. That's where he was. There's a Puritan paperback. Most of you know the Puritan paperback series? This is nice because you know, if you got the full John Owen set, it's big. Plus Hebrews - it's real big. This one is by Richard Sibbes. If you got everything that Richard Sibbes wrote, it's a lot. What's beautiful about the Puritan paperback series - Wendy, did you all buy the whole set for the women's Grace House? Do you have all of them? Yeah, the set's pretty wide, but the beauty of that set is it's all of the best known Puritans and their best-known writings. This one - a lot of you probably can't see it. The Puritan Richard Sibbes. It's called "The Love of Christ." Now, just try to guess what book he was preaching from that became this book. Yes, the Song of Solomon. Listen to this. Listen to what it says on the back cover. I love this, because this is what I want for us. "The Song of Solomon does not simply mouth a doctrine. It's sensuous imagery sings its message. It is as if this love story is played on violins. The reader is thus brought not simply to understand, but to taste and share the delights of the lovers. This is precisely what Christ's people need as Sibbes knew. It's not enough to be aware of Christ's love. We must sense, grasp, and enjoy it. Only then will we truly love the Lord our God with all of our hearts." I'm convinced of that. This book does not simply mouth a doctrine. It's sensuous imagery sings its message. See, that's what I want. Somehow to be able to speak to you in a way that you feel the love of Christ is being sung to you by Him, not from me. But through me, you would hear Him singing to you. The Song of Solomon. Let's go there. And this is where I want to be for a number of weeks. The Song of Solomon. Obviously, it's in your Old Testaments. It's comes after the Psalms and the Proverbs. Ecclesiastes. It's right before the major prophet Isaiah. The Song of Solomon. I suspect that it is probably one of the least known, least traversed Old Testament books in our day. In fact, if there were a whole number of you that had never read the book through from end to end, that would not surprise me. The Song of Solomon. I just want to read the first seven verses. Let's read these together. "The Song of Songs which is Solomon's. Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is better than wine. Your anointing oils are fragrant. Your name is oil poured out. Therefore, virgins love You. Draw me after You. Let us run. The King has brought me into His chambers. We will exult and rejoice in You. We will extol Your love more than wine. Rightly do they love You. I am very dark, but lovely. O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon, do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother's sons were angry with me. They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept. Tell me, You whom my soul loves, where You pasture Your flock? Where You make it lie down at noon? For why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?" Now, I recognize that perhaps there's one obstacle for us to get past before I attempt to preach on Christ's love from this book. The question is this, is the Song of Solomon an allegory? Are we to believe that this book is symbolic? Are we to believe that? Where Solomon really isn't Solomon? But we're to look past Solomon and see Christ? And the bride is indeed the church? That's a good question. Because just recently, we were having a fellowship over at the women's Grace House, and one of the brothers asked me this question: (Kind of out of the blue) He said, "Song of Solomon. Is it allegory?" And I said yes. Not that I'm the authority on that, but that's my conviction. And I want to show you why over the next coming weeks, I am going to preach with such conviction and enthusiasm from this book, that this is indeed Christ's love for the church being exhibited here. And it shows us desires about the church as well. But I want to seek to convince you. Washer thinks so. Richard Sibbes thinks so. And let me just tell you a little bit historically. Spurgeon in his New Park Street pulpit and Metropolitan Tabernacle pulpit, he preaches 63 - that's interesting, because there's 63 volumes in that entire series. And in that 63 volume series, he preaches 63 sermons on the Song of Solomon. Every single one of them: Christ and the church. I know he's not the authority either, but we like to say what Spurgeon does, right? The well known missionary Hudson Taylor. He wrote a book called, "Union and Communion" or "Thoughts on the Song of Solomon." He sees Christ and the church on every single page. The old Calvinistic Baptist John Gill wrote an exposition of the book of Solomon's Song. Again, he sees Christ everywhere. Now, here's something very interesting. Martin Luther - now see, Luther would not be the first guy that I would be thinking would take me to the Song of Solomon. But listen to this. When Martin Luther first explained - you remember where he was? He was in Romans actually. And I believe it was Romans 1:17. And he says it was like the doors of heaven were opened. And he saw and he embraced the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. Justification by grace alone. And you know what? It was to the Song of Solomon that he turned for an illustration of the reality of this doctrine worked out in the life of Christians. You see, in medieval Roman Catholicism, Christ was a distant figure. Christ was not approachable. Mary was approachable. But you always needed mediators to get to Christ, whether it was priests, the saints, Mary. But for Luther, the understanding that the relationship between Christ and His people is a marital one. It changed everything for him. If Christ is the church's loving Bridegroom, what place is there for mediators? I mean, if that is indeed the imagery God wants us to have - husband and wife is Christ and the church. He saw right away. Luther got married. He married a former nun. He knew - he knew in the intimacy of husband and wife, there's no place for a mediator. In fact, listen to his words. Here's a quote from him. "Let us often think of this nearness between Christ and us, and not be discouraged for any sin or unworthiness in us. Who sues a wife for debt when she's married? Therefore, answer all accusations thus. If you have anything to say to me, go to my Husband." Jonathan Edwards argued that the very title was enough in his estimation to confirm that this is allegory. You say what do you mean? Probably a lot of you just looked down at the title. I'll get to that in just a second. But first, before I get to that, I want to just have you think about a number of things. History aside. Yeah, I like the fact John Gill, Hudson Taylor, Charles Spurgeon, Paul Washer, Richard Sibbes, Martin Luther... I like that there is historical weight behind this interpretation. But history aside, I want to explain to you some of the reasons that I am going to preach this as an allegory. First, do you remember when Jesus was speaking to the Jews in John 5? You know, one of the things He said is this. He said, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life..." But what did He say after that? "They testify of Me." Now here's the thing. Here's the thing. We're taught by our Lord Himself to see Christ throughout Scripture. And you see, this is the thing that He was saying to the Jews. He said, "You search..." And you think you found certain things in here, but let Me tell you something, that if you have eyes to see, it speaks of Me. You should find Me everywhere. Do you remember the two on the road to Emmaus? You know when their hearts burned within them, what was it He was telling them? You know what He was telling them? He was showing Himself all over the Old Testament Scriptures. That's what it says there in Luke's Gospel chapter 24. "Beginning with Moses and all the prophets He interpreted them in all the Scriptures things concerning Himself." Brethren, when you see Adam, you should see Christ. Not exactly - in some ways it's the anti-type, but the figures in the Old Testament, have you ever read in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus is called "the last Adam"? Scriptural authors tell us Christ is the real Adam. Or, Christ is David. Now, not literally, but symbolically. Have you ever read in Ezekiel? Ezekiel was a prophet. He came along long after David was dead and yet listen to Ezekiel. "God says, 'I will set up over them (His people) one Shepherd.'" Who? "My servant David." Jesus is called David. Why? "He shall feed them. He shall feed them and be their Shepherd, and I the Lord will be their God and My servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord. I have spoken.'" See, brethren, if we have eyes to see, Abel, a righteous man. His blood is shed and the blood speaks. Christ is the true Abel who has blood that speaks. Or you think about Seth. You see, it was said that the seed of the woman, and Seth is the idea of another seed - the replacement for Abel. Christ is the true seed of the woman. In Moses, what do you have? The lawgiver. Christ is the true lawgiver. In Joshua, the conqueror. But we are supposed to see Christ in there. Boaz. He is the kinsmen redeemer, but who is the truest kinsmen redeemer? Brethren, as you go through the books, you see Mordecai. You see Boaz. You know, you read these books and it's like some of them God isn't even mentioned. Why are they even in Scripture? What's the purpose? It's because you're supposed to find Christ there. Joseph. Who is Joseph? He was the one who was hated by his brothers and yet God raised him up to save his brothers. There is Christ if we have eyes to see. Jeremiah. A man of sorrows. Ever weeping. Was Christ not that Man of Sorrows? David. God calls Jesus David. King. Shepherd. Now think with me about Solomon. Because Solomon is the one that we have to do with in the Song of Solomon. And I'll have you turn here. Look at 2 Samuel. Turn to 2 Samuel 7. Or you think of Jonah. Jonah, three days and nights in the belly of the whale. Three days and nights in the darkness. Don't see Jonah. See one greater than Jonah. That's the intent of the Scriptures. It's like everywhere in Scriptures, arrows. And they're all pointing in the same direction: to Christ. Christ. Solomon. Are we to take Solomon as a type of Christ? Look at 2 Samuel 7:12. God says to David, "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you." Now who would that be? "...Who shall come from your body." Going to be direct bloodline here. "And I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house..." Who's going to build the temple? Who builds the temple? Who builds the true temple? "And I will establish the throne of his kingdom..." forever? That sounds not so much like Solomon. "I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a son." Now listen to this, "When he commits iniquity..." Now, that's not our Lord. That is Solomon. "I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you and your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me. Your throne shall be established forever." We can look at this and we can say God's going to raise up an offspring after David. Is this Christ or Solomon? Solomon? Yes. Christ never commits iniquity. But I will establish his throne of his kingdom forever? Are we to see Solomon here? Yes, we're to see Solomon, but our eyes are to go beyond it to One who's kingdom is established forever and forever and forever. David's son must build the house of God. The temple. But who builds the true temple? One who is greater than Solomon. One who is greater than the temple itself. From my Hebrew lexicon, listen to this: Solomon - the meaning. I know many of you know that it means peace, but much more than the mere absence of war. It means completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment. Listen to this: "implicit in shalom..." which is the word, "is the idea of unimpaired relationships with others." And I think to have Solomon, "the king of peace" is what that means. Christ is the true Prince of Peace. And to really focus in on that: "unimpaired relationships with others." What is the Song of Solomon about? It is about moving in the direction of an entirely unimpaired relationship between God's people and Christ. That's what we're going to find in the letter. Do you know if you go to the book of Revelation you find that Jesus Christ is portrayed as a Lamb who was slain. And He has horns. Do you remember how many horns He has? He has seven horns. That's kind of strange imagery, but it's not strange if you recognize that the number seven has significance. It means perfection. It means fulfillment. It means completion. He has seven horns. And do you remember what else He has seven of? Eyes. Seven eyes. That's the idea of all-seeing, perfect vision. Which it goes on to say the seven spirits of God. Seven is symbolic. Could anybody take a wild guess at how many times the name Solomon shows up in the Song of Solomon? Guess. Maybe seven? And then, here's another thing. You know, the New Testament authors seem to draw on this allegory. And we could go to a number of places, even here in Ephesians where we started. But you just listen to John the Baptist. Do you remember these words in John 3? He said, "The One who has the bride is the Bridegroom." "The One who has the bride is the Bridegroom." He's referring to Christ and His people. Or you think of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11. He says this to the Corinthians, "I betrothed you to one Husband to present you as a pure virgin to Christ." Again, we have this imagery. You are the virgins. What Paul was doing in his ministry is what we do in our ministry today. It's to present you as pure virgins to Christ. That's the imagery. Or you have it in Revelation: "The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." Now also think about this. Don't turn here, but just listen to this. In 1 Kings 11, "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women." That's bad. "Along with the daughter of Pharaoh, he loved Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonian, and Hittite women from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, 'You shall not enter into marriage with them. Neither shall they with you, for surely, they will turn your heart away after their gods.' Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 who were concubines, and his wives his turned his heart away." Now, here's the thing. I find it hard to believe that God would set forth Solomon to lecture me on the love I should have for my wife. I can much more easily accept that the Holy Spirit has used Solomon in inspired fashion to write not of himself and his intimacy with one of his harem. But rather that he's writing of another - a greater than Solomon. This is just kind of a practical little aside point. But you know, if you actually had 1,000 wives and you wrote a song indicating you preferred one above all the rest, you're going to have 999 other people that you probably just alienated. But here's the thing about the letter as well, there's certain aspects about the Song of Solomon that you'd be really hard pressed to make true of King Solomon himself. You say, what do you mean? Just this - look at the letter. If you turned with me to 2 Samuel, go back to the Song of Solomon. Just park yourself in the Song of Solomon for the rest of the sermon today. But I want to show you something. In Song of Solomon 1:7, we're going to find a recurring theme show up for the first time. What is that? Namely this: The repeated references to the fact that whoever this King Solomon is, he is a shepherd. Do you know you find nothing at all about Solomon being a shepherd? David? Yes. But never Solomon. Solomon was not a shepherd. But listen, Solomon 1:7, "Tell me..." This is the bride. This is the church. "...You who my soul loves, where You pasture Your flock, where You make it lie down at noon?" Now here's another thing that's interesting. Notice 1:4, "Draw me after You..." It doesn't say, "let me run." "Let us run." But keep reading. "The King has brought me into His chambers. We will exalt and rejoice in You." This would be very, very odd language if we were talking simply about a man and a woman and marital intimacies here, because they're bringing the crowd in. And that happens repeatedly through this letter. I mean, notice verse 3. Go one verse before this. "Your anointing oils are fragrant. Your name is oil poured out, therefore..." Now, this is the bride. Brides, let me ask you this. Would you extol your husband this way? Would you extol your husband as one who the virgins love? I mean would that be something that I don't think you would find a good thing, if a bunch of young ladies were desiring your husband. Song of Solomon 6:1, "Where has your Beloved gone?" Yeah, go over there. This is from a group of women. "Where has your Beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your Beloved turned that we may seek Him with you?" Now, see, this makes lots of sense if this is your relationship with Christ. And you're saying, "draw me," "let us run." If we collectively are the virgins that are here and the virgins love Him. See, that's imagery of 2 Corinthians 11:2 that I read for you. We are the virgins - all of us collectively. You see, the beauty of this is it takes us each personally into this relationship with Christ, but it's constantly looking up and wanting to draw the others in as well. Wanting the others to pursue Him as well. Wanting the other virgins to love Him as well. Also, you have this: Some of these things written in here, could you imagine that they would have actually been true of one of Solomon's wives? I mean, I'll just go to one of them. There's various things here, but Song of Solomon 5:7, "The watchman found me. As they went about in the city they beat me, they bruised me." Could you imagine one of the watchman, one of the guards, one of the military entourages in Solomon's day beating one of his wives? That probably wouldn't be a good thing to do. And then there's this repeatedly. If you look at chapter 4:9, you can find this over and over, maybe six different times throughout this book, but He says, "you have captivated My heart, My sister, My bride." Now, see that would be an odd thing for him to say as well. "My sister." But then, let's go to what really convinced Jonathan Edwards - the title of this book. The Song of Songs - now think with me here. Think with me of the places in Scripture where we have this kind of language. The holy of holies. The King of kings. The Lord of lords. The Song of Songs. Think about when Scripture uses that kind of terminology. For one, just put it in the category with those other realities where Scripture would say something is "the" holy of holies. The Song of Songs. The song of all songs is what's being said. And at first glance, that may not mean much to you. But consider this in light of another verse. Listen very carefully. In 1 Kings 4, it says this about Solomon, "Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men. Wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahal, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations." And listen to this, "He also spoke 3,000 proverbs." Now we know about his proverbs. We have a book called "Proverbs." But listen to this - this sometimes goes unnoticed. "And his songs were 1,005." Scripture records for us that he had over a thousand songs. But of all those songs, this is the Song of Songs. What do we mean when we say the holy of holies? Or the Lord of lords? You know what Solomon is saying? This is the greatest song of all. Now, I'll tell you this, that alone ought to confirm to us that this is more than an ordinary love song. Listen, if this is simply about Solomon and one of his harem, that's not a very impressive song. But if this is meant to take us beyond - listen, if this is a book that shows us the closest intimacies with Christ and His church, that is a song above all other songs. Listen, it doesn't just say: "Song of Songs" in some secular writing. It says that in the Bible. (incomplete thought) This is inspired. What God is telling us - it's not just Solomon saying, you know of all the 1,005 songs I wrote, this is the best one. It's God saying, this is the chief song. And if this is about a king who wrongly and sinfully took a thousand wives from all sorts of pagan nations, that is not an impressive song. That is not a song above all songs. That drives the thing home. And here's the thing, if you're in Song of Solomon, just let your eyes go back to the book right before this. Look at the last chapter of Ecclesiastes v. 8. Just right before this. Probably most of you, you can see the beginning of where it says, the Song of Songs, and you can go back to Ecclesiastes 12:8 and notice how that verse starts. What does it say? What does it say? Vanity of vanities. And now just turn back in Ecclesiastes to chapter 2. Because I want you to see something. This ought to convince everybody. Look at v. 1. Solomon says this, "I said in my heart, come now, I will test you with pleasure." You know what some of the pleasures were he tested himself with? Having a thousand wives. He tested his pleasure with women. You say, how do you know that? Just look down in v. 8. Yes, silver, gold, treasure. Singers - yep. Many concubines, the delight of the children of man. He's saying I gave myself to all that. V. 10, "Whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure." Including this one: the concubines, the women. "For my heart found pleasure in all my toil and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it. Behold, all was vanity." Now for him to say, you know what, I gave myself to love. I gave myself to sensuality. I gave myself to women. And in the end, it was vanity of vanities. All is vanity. For him to now turn around and describe a relationship with a woman and say, but, this is the song of all songs. It would be a contradiction if he's saying, oh, but, there was one thing out of all of it that wasn't vanity of vanities. I did find one woman who actually... no, you don't want to buy into that. John Gill discovered where the ancient Jews - the ancient Jews tried to reckon with this book too. What is this all about? John Gill found that the ancient Jews said this: "They saw in this song their redemption..." They actually saw in this song the resurrection of the dead. "...The Sabbath of the Lord which is and which was and which is to come." That's perceptive - the Sabbath, the rest. Our rest in Christ. That's even what the ancient Jews saw. This, in other words, is the greatest song that could be sung to you. This is the song of all songs. This is inspired language. It's like God is saying, "Not even I can give you a song that trumps this song." And it is the love that Christ has for you. It's the love that God has for you. It doesn't get any better than this. This is the highest. Let's look at it just briefly before we wrap up today. Now, if you have an ESV like I do you're going to notice right after v. 1, I have a title. There's a heading there that says, "The Bride Confesses Her Love." How many of you have that in your Bible? Yeah, quite a bit of you. I bet some of you don't. If you don't have it, don't worry about it. I know that's not inspired. I know that the ESV folks that put this Bible together, they stuck that in there, but I just want to mention that perhaps that's not the best expression for describing these next six verses. Is the church really expressing her love here? I mean, don't miss me here. There's obviously love involved, but is this really the best way to express what's happening here? It seems to me that what the bride is expressing most of all is her desire, not her love. She's saying, not, "I love You." She's saying, "I want You." "Let me have You." It's not just that I love Him, I want Him. Draw me - you see that in verse 4. Draw me. You see verse 2: "...Kiss me with the kisses of His mouth." Let me drink of that love which is better than wine. She isn't so much saying, "I love You," as much as she's saying to the one she loves, "Give Yourself to me." That's what the Christian wants. Yes, she loves Him, but she greatly, greatly desires Him. Brethren, you know what I find here? You know what I find in those words right there? "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth." What I find there is God telling us it's okay to be discontent if you're not experiencing His kisses. It's okay to want not just like Sibbes was talking about, not just theory, not just doctrine. You want to experience it. You want sensible manifestations of His presence, but more than that, of His love to you as an individual. Not enough that He loves this church collectively. Not enough that He died for others here or even that He died for you - you don't just want forgiveness. You want more than that. Lord, don't just forgive us and then be at a distance. We want You to come to us. We want You to be close. And we want to feel that. We want You to speak. We want You to come to our ears over and over and over again and say, "I have forgiven you and I love you," and to feel His embrace. Oh, do you remember, some of you? Martyn Lloyd-Jones would describe the Christian life - this wasn't so much of a bride and the Groom as much as the Father and a child. And he said so often the Christian life is like this. He said you know how a father can walk with the child and be holding the hand and they're walking along, and every once in a while, the father reaches down and he pulls the child up into his arms and he gives him a great big embrace. That's what we want. Who wants dead, dry religion? And what this does, brethren, is it gives us a warrant to say it's okay to be discontent if I'm not experiencing as much of Him as I want. It's okay. It's okay to desire heartfelt experiential communications of Christ's love. You know what, some people may say, that sounds fanatical. That sounds so mystical. You're just looking for an experience. You know what this says? It's okay to look at that person and say, yes, you're exactly right. That is what I want. I don't want dry doctrine alone. I want the doctrine to so explode. You don't want doctrine-less Christianity because whatever experiences come there, be careful. You want Christ to break forth from truth and to ravish your soul. It's okay. But you know another thing that I find about this letter? It brings out one of the great realities - maybe even we could call it one of the great frustrations of the Christian life. And it's basically this: He is not always with her. What I mean - look, He promised never to leave us or forsake us. I'm not talking about whether His presence is ever removed. That's not what I'm talking about. I am talking about His sensible presence. I'm talking about feeling His presence. Experiencing His presence. And the truth is in that way, He's not always with her. What we find here is she's often looking. She's often aching. Look at Song of Solomon 3:1. "On my bed by night, I sought Him whom my soul loves. I sought Him, but found Him not." Or you go over to chapter 5:6. "I opened to my Beloved, but my Beloved had turned and gone. My soul failed me when He spoke. I sought Him, but found Him not. I called Him, but He gave no answer." Or look at chapter 1:7. That's closer to home; closer to where we're at right now. This again is the bride, and she's speaking to her Groom. "Tell me, You who my soul loves..." She's basically asking, "where are You?" Where are You with Your flock? "...Where You pasture Your flock? Where You make it lie down at noon?" Now notice this, "For why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flock of Your companions?" Now listen, in that day, if you search through the Old Testament Scriptures and you just look for that concept of veiling, we know something about veiling. Do you know why people veil themselves? In Scripture, you can find that those who are harlots might veil themselves. Those who are mourning might veil themselves. But the thing about a veil is it hides. It basically hides somebody; makes them unknown. The truth is that whichever one, whatever the meaning here, they all imply estrangement from the Bridegroom. I mean, for somebody to be veiled and seem like a harlot, that's somebody who seems as though they have no husband. For somebody to be veiled and be seen as a mourner, that's like somebody who's lost a husband. For somebody just to be veiled in the sense of veiling where they're unknown - she's saying, "Why?" "Why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flock of Your companions?" You notice v. 4. "The King has brought me into His chambers." I take that as salvation. This is it. Lord, You saved us. Why should we be like one who has to wear a veil. Why, Lord? Why? When You've saved us. Why? Can you see the true Christian? Look, there are many people in this world who simply say, you know what? I just want to be forgiven. I just want to figure out how to get away from this hell thing. But they're quite content that Christ's presence be absent. All they really want is a ticket out of the fire. Other company, other preoccupations, they suffice. But you know what? Not for the Christian. Not for the true Christian. Not for the one who knows that they have been swept up in the arms of Christ and taken in to His chambers. It's like Lord, I am thankful there's no hell. I am thankful to be forgiven. But what? Shall I be then like one who has to go about wearing a veil? One who's estranged? One who's far off? Tell me where You are. Where do You pasture Your flocks? I want to be there. I want to be where You are. The world can never be to such a person what it once was. No other society can compare to the kisses of His lips, His love. You see what it says there? "His love (v. 2) is better than wine." What's wine? I mean, wine is a picture of just the good and joyful things of this world. Better than wine. Wine is a Scriptural emblem for the richest earthly joys. His love is better. And like her, once you've tasted these things it creates such a discontent. Before you ever tasted it, when you were content with His absence, you remember how things used to satisfy? They really didn't. There was an emptiness. But boy, you were just so convinced, and we chased after these things. But now there's such a hollowness in all of it. And notice v. 2. I was telling one of the brothers just recently. We should always when we're reading Scripture have other translations - English translations, cross referencing. I highly encourage you all to have an old King James, a New King James, a New American Standard, maybe even a Holman Christian, an ESV, and cross reference. I often cross reference the old Tyndale, the old Geneva, the NIV, the New English translation, Holman Christian. But one of them that is one of my favorites to cross reference is Young's Literal Translation. The YLT. He doesn't so much go for making it the most readable translation, but he tries to give you the words in close to the order they're found in the original. And he tends to translate things more accurately. You can't see this in any English translation that I looked at except his. You see there in v. 2 where it says, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth"? (incomplete thought) Well, I was reading it from Young's. "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth. For Your love is better than wine." In the original, this is the way that Young's Literal Translation - "for better are Thy loves..." "S" on the end. It's plural. And that is the way it is in the Hebrew. It's plural. "Thy loves." "...are better than wine." Christ's love is plural. I mean, why could we imagine - it's easy to imagine. Why? Because He manifests His love towards us in so many different ways. I mean, we're just starting this series now. That's what we want to look at is all the ways. But you just think, eternally He manifested it. We were chosen. He set His love on us in eternity past. We come to think of His redemptive love towards us. Brethren, you just start thinking about the cross. He's borne our griefs, carried our sorrows. Stricken, smitten by God, afflicted, pierced for our transgressions. He loved us so that when we looked up and we beheld Him crucified, those wounds... I mean, the blood washed us. What love there is in that! Your conscience. Remember, Scripture talks about that cleansing of the conscience. But there's His love. The incarnational love. Humbling Himself and becoming a man. Enduring. You think about, He mediates for us. He speaks to us: "My sheep, they know My voice." And He speaks to us. He made the Word alive for us. He sent the Spirit of God for us. He actually lets us take part like Matt talked about. The Lord could have caught all those fish by Himself. He let Peter catch them. It's not just that we have a duty. He is letting us enter in to the very workings of His Kingdom. And we're His bride. And He's going to take us to be with Him. And there's going to be the love that He's going to transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorified body. Loves. You can write that right in your Bible. Just put it's plural. Draw an arrow to it. "Loves." So that every time you read that from now on, it will just jump out at you. That's better than wine. Wouldn't you say? His name. V. 3, "Your anointing oils are fragrant. Your name is oil poured out, therefore virgins love You." If you think about even what "Christ" means, it's the idea of oil poured out. Anointing with oil. That's what Messiah means. It conjures the image of oil. Therefore do the virgins love Thee. Why? I mean, certainly, because of the preciousness of His person. That's the reality. And it says there, "...anointing oils are fragrant." To be in His presence - that word that Bunyan uses: "delectable." The delectable mounts. To be in His presence, it smells good! That's the issue. It's desirable. "The virgins love You." And there we are. "I betrothed you to one Husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ." And I just want to end with this today. Look at verse 4. "Draw me after You. Let us run." The KJV says, "We will run after You." "Draw me and we will run after You." You know what? This verse right here, I came across it as a young believer. Of all of the things that are said in the Song of Solomon, this verse is most indelibly inscribed in my mind. I pray this verse on a regular basis. I feel this one. It means more to me than I think any other. Now if we go through this book that may change. But you know what? This is a different sort of cry than what you have in v. 2. When you say, "Let Him kiss me..." that's different than saying, "Draw me." You feel the difference? I mean, when all your heart aches for Him and aches for some experiential manifestation of His kisses, you don't need to be drawn. (incomplete thought) There are times that's not our cry. We're not saying Lord, draw me. We sang it: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. You know what? It's when you feel that. Lord, I don't ache for You enough. I don't ache for manifestations of Your love to the degree that I should. I find my heart cool. My first love has faded. That's when you cry that. You see, you cry "let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth" when your heart is very much aching for Him. When it wants Him, you cry "draw me." When you want it to ache for Him and you know that it doesn't ache for Him. This is so like us. Like the ever changing tide. The experience of the bride here is one that ebbs and flows. Do you know what? There are times He kisses us with His mouth and it is satisfying. In fact, it can actually be overwhelming. Like Lord... I don't know if I can contain all this. There's other times when that's not the case, but the ache, the panting after the water brooks, the hunger, the thirst is so strong that you're looking for Him: Where is He? So you say let Him kiss me. Let Him embrace me. Let Him come. Then there's other times where it's: Lord, I've got my feet too muddied with the world. I've been distracted. My ache in my heart has cooled for You. Please, Lord, draw me. If You draw, Lord, we - we'll run! All of us. We'll go. Please draw us. Lord, draw us. Draw our hearts to You, Lord. Draw us. We'll run. We'll run - not the other way! We're going to run to Him. We're going to run to find Him. We're going to be like the bride here. We'll run. This is an allegory. Lord, draw me. And let all of us run. No one says that about an earthly husband. No wife says to the husband, "Draw me... and then a bunch of people are going to run after you." But of Christ, it's perfect. Of Christ, it's obvious. Of Christ it makes sense. Let's pray. Father, this is the cry, as we're looking at Your love. Lord, we want to ache for it. We want it. We want what the old Puritans said. We don't simply want to mouth the doctrine of the love of Christ. We don't want that to happen. We want such imagery that sings its message. He said it's like a song being played on violins. Lord, we don't want it to be dry. We want it to be a song as one sung on the most beautiful of instruments. We want it to resonate in our souls. Lord, I pray that You would do such things as we go through this series that would make us - Lord, make us despise this world and the things of this world, and not to love the things of this world, but to be very much enamored and seeking and aching for the love of Christ. May it be so. Lord, draw us, and we will run after You. Draw me. Draw my brothers. Draw my sisters. And we will run. Lord, why should we be like one who wears a veil - like mourners - when we are the very bride of the Bridegroom Himself. The Song of all songs. The joy of all joys. Lord, we pray that it should be so. We pray it in Your name. We pray it according to Your blood. Amen.