We Love Because He First Loved (Song of Solomon Part 2)

Category: Full Sermons
Bible: Song of Solomon

There was once a day when we saw absolutely nothing attractive in Jesus Christ. But now we see everything our soul could ever long for bound up in Him. But how did we come to see Christ as lovely? It’s only because His love toward us opened our eyes to see His beauty. Our love toward Him is a result of His love toward us.


Let's pray. We heard about it in the song; we heard about it in the first hour - the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. Grace and truth. Lord, we pray for that. Please deal with us in a way that is not according to our sins. Grant us grace. And truth - sanctify them with Thy truth. Thy Word is truth. We pray for that cleansing, purifying, sanctifying reality to be in this place today. Father, please. You sent Your Son to this earth. The Word became flesh and He dwelt among us. And because He did and because He has and because He died and because it is finished, because there is salvation to be had and there is a room full of saved people in this place, we would appeal to that blood by which we were saved and that cross work that was finished and made complete, so that we don't have to stand here in any of our own doings or works or accomplishments or merits. We stand here based on that sacrifice - the Lamb of God, who, we thank You, has put away - many of this in this place can say You've put away our sins. And we stand here forgiven - a forgiven people. And Lord, because of the kindness that You've shown to us, we pray, Lord, we want to appeal to Your past mercies to give us fresh ones. We ask in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. The love of Christ. I would take you once again to the Song of Solomon. This is a little bit of an aside for a number of weeks to the Song of Solomon. But the purpose is to keep in the spirit of Ephesians 3, "and that we would have the 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." And as we're seeking to explore that love of Christ and to span some of the depths of it, as I told you last week, my thoughts have come back to the Song of Solomon again and again and again. The Song of Solomon. It's in your Bibles right before the major prophet Isaiah. Isaiah's typically easy to find even though the Song of Solomon may not be so easy. The Song - Solomon's Song. The old preachers called it: Canticles. Found right before the prophet Isaiah. I want you to look at 2 verses in chapter 1 of the Song of Solomon. Verses 15 and 16. Some of your Bibles don't supply this. Some do. The ESV has actually separated this letter into parts. And you can tell in the original language there are indicators as to who is speaking. You can see it in the flow of the song as well. But in v. 15, it says, "He." And He says, "Behold, you are beautiful, My love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves." V. 16, she says, "Behold, You are beautiful, my Beloved, truly delightful. Our couch is green." Now, I am not going to preach on "our couch is green." You can take your own meanings with that one. I don't know what that means and I haven't really thought about it. But hear me. Look back at v. 1. The Song of Songs. This is a song. Yes, we say, the Song of Solomon, but it's a song. It's meant to be sung. God gave it to us to sing it out. This is inspired. Don't miss that. This is in your Bibles. This is inspired. God gave a song for us to sing. And I can tell you this, that if you went up and down this road singing a song about Solomon and one of his harem, I would think you were pretty weird. That is not the kind of song He wants us to sing from this. That is not the song of songs. "Holy of holies" is used for the most holy. "King of kings" for the greatest King. "Lord of lords" for the highest Lord. And so this is the song of songs, being the most excellent of songs. You know what that means? Never has man spoken or written a song to excel this song. It surpasses all others. Not only human songs. Remember, if Solomon was simply saying this; if a man walked in here and said: of all the songs that I ever wrote, this is the song of all my songs. But you have to hear God's voice. This is inspired. The Holy Spirit is saying, Christian, this is the song of all songs not only humanly speaking, but divinely speaking. Again, if you were to say that's simply Solomon and one of his harem, that is not an impressive song. And remember just how fitting the placement of this book. You come out of vanity of vanities into song of songs. The emptiness, and then, Solomon turns us to the fullness. And as I reminded you last time, this isn't one woman with one she loves. If you look at chapter 1, v. 3, "Your anointing oils are fragrant. Your name is oil poured out. Therefore, virgins love you." Or you look at v. 4. "Draw me after You..." Not, let me run, let us run. As I said before, there's no woman who glories in the love other women have for their own husband. But if the virgins are those in the spirit of 2 Corinthians 11:2 where Paul says that he's betrothing us as virgins to Christ, the whole thing makes sense. Each of us as individuals can glory in the love of Christ, but we can glory in the fact that other people run after Him as well. That's the flavor of the Song of Songs. Now, when we come to v. 15 and 16, the reason I want to take you here is you have mutual expressions. What jumped out at me first was what He says to us, we say to Him. What we say to Him, He says to us. It's the same language. Do you see it there? "Behold, you are beautiful." Both say that to each other. There's a mutual expression of admiration and attraction. Now, we know how we feel about Christ, because the truth is, we feel it. We know the attraction. What makes the Song of Songs so precious is that we hear God-inspired words as to how Christ feels about us and the attraction that He has for us. And the truth is it's something we would hardly believe unless it was written here. And watch this, in v. 15, "Behold, you are beautiful, My love." She never calls Him by that terminology. Those are His words for her. "My love." As you go through here, do you know what He calls her? My beautiful one, My perfect one, My dove, My bride, My sister. And that possessive pronoun: Mine. You know what that reminds me of? You kind of come across this and you must maybe shoot past it. You're reading Revelation. You know when Jesus is speaking to the churches in Asia Minor? Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation? He says something. He gives a promise to the people of God who overcome. Listen to what He says. He says, "I will give you..." if you overcome, "I will give you a white stone." What's that? Well, it's not so much the stone as what's written on it. Do you know what's written on it? A name. Does anybody remember what name? What was it? A new name. And listen to how it says it. "A new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it." Jesus has personal intimate names just between you and Him, and no one else knows it. He says these names, "My love," "My dove." Mine - not just love - My love. "My beautiful one," "My bride," "My dove." So what are we talking about? We're talking about the love of Christ for His people. A love that surpasses knowledge. And as we're looking at these two verses, v. 15 and 16 of chapter 1, I want to say something that might at first not register with us. If I were to ask you, which of these two verses seems to most capture Christ's love for us? Which one would you pick? You'd probably say that's easy. Yeah, v. 15. And undoubtedly it does express His love for us, but you know what? As I looked at these and I read through the whole book again, I found myself struck by how much v. 16 reveals His love to us. And yes, you heard me right. V. 16. V. 16 expresses Christ's love to me. Think what Christ has done for you that such expression should ever come from people like us. Think about the expressions here. Think about what Christ has done and how He's responsible and what expressions of love it is from Him to us that out of our mouth should ever come such expressions as these. If you think about where you have come from: the miry clay, the pit - if you remember the things you've done, if you remember the things you've thought, if you think about the stock. Look at chapter 2:3. , "With great delight, I sat in His shadow." Now, here's what I want you to feel. I want you to feel the expressions of the church to Him. Think about these. I find the most amazing expressions. She is saying, "Behold, You are beautiful." In 2:3, she says, "With great delight, I sat in His shadow." Now see the delight. Look at 2:5, she says, "I am sick with love." Now think. We're talking about the Christian. Think about the Christian. Think about you. Think about you going through this life, living in this world. We heard "love not the world," but you're actually going along and your mind is working as you go through your day and go through your life, and such feelings well up in you that you could say I find beauty in Him. Or that you're even speaking to Him on an intimate level. You are beautiful, my Beloved. Not just that: truly delightful. "With great delight I sit in His shadow." I'm sick with love. I mean there's an ache to have more of Him, to see more of Him, to hear His voice more clearly, to have a visitation. Look at chapter 5:9-10. Here you have others in v. 9. Others say to her, "What is your Beloved more than another beloved?" I mean who is this? Who is this that you talk about Him like this? "O most beautiful among women, what is your Beloved more than another beloved?" And in v. 10 she says, "My Beloved is radiant." The NAS says "dazzling and ruddy." "Distinguished among 10,000," or "Chief among 10,000" in KJV. Or the New American Standard, "outstanding among 10,000." Look at v. 16 of Song of Solomon 5. "He is altogether desirable." Or as the KJV says, "He is altogether lovely." And here's the thing. I would say to you, Christian, when you have felt the most, when you have seen Him most clearly, when you've heard His voice with most audibleness, when you've smelled the fragrance of His presence, when the power of the Word has opened up, when He has come across most beautiful to you, I would say where's the pen? Where are the thoughts? Who is the poet? Where is the songwriter? Some of the songwriters are fantastic in the way they're able to bring out what we feel, but who can put what a Christian feels into words? But the Song of Solomon seems to capture it oftentimes. And look, right now, I am not speaking to everyone. I'm speaking to you who know what I'm talking about. You who have felt this. Have you ever considered what Christ's love has done for you that you could even be delighted in Him? I mean, do you hear what I'm getting at? Christ finding me beautiful? I mean, that should blow us away. What sort of expression of love is that to me! But here's the thing, me finding Him beautiful, that too is a massive expression of His love to me. All these, I mean, they are vehement expressions of affection to Christ. Look, think with me. If you go looking around the world, go looking on the Internet, go through the channels, do whatever, do whatever gives you a picture into this world. Go through the radio stations. You know what? To find men who are attracted to women on the computer screen, that's common. To find young men attracted to computer games, that's pretty normal. To find young ladies that are interested in being attractive, addicted to their cell phones, trying to make themselves pretty, that's average. To find people grasping for money, movies, popularity, clothes, food, fame, power, there's nothing unusual about that. You think with me here. To find a man, a woman, or a child whose heart jumps when they hear the name of Christ, that is rare. That is special. That is a mark of God at work in somebody in an absolutely miraculous way because that is not common. Not at all. The thing to ask is this: Where do such people come from? Go back there. Go back to Song of Solomon 1:16. Now I recognize that for a man to actually speak with some of these words and speak them about Christ - I don't know, maybe it would cause some people to be uncomfortable. But I can tell you this, the manliest of men - and Christians should be men. "Quit you like men." Be men. But you know what? The purest men in this world, they may not walk around using terminology like this, but God's man, he feels this in his heart. He feels v. 16. When he feels the realities of Christ, he can say, "Oh Christ, You are beautiful. You are truly delightful." He feels it in the very fabric of his soul. And the thing to ask is where do they come from? Where do people who truly feel in the depths of their being that Christ is beautiful and desirable - where do they come from? Seminaries don't make them. The truth is churches don't make them. None of us have a mother that makes people like these. Listen - in fact, turn there. You're very close to it. Turn to Isaiah 53. Isaiah's right after Song of Solomon. Go to the well known Isaiah 53. All I have to do is take you here and take you in your mind back to former days. And here we are. Isaiah 53:2. "Like a root out of dry ground..." A root sticking up out of dry ground. "...He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, no beauty that we should desire Him." That statement right there given the chapter of Scripture that it's in, man in his fallen state is so backward. "No beauty..." and look at v. 3. "Despised, rejected by men, as one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not." Do you remember? Pilate said to the Jews, "Behold your King." And they did. They looked. They beheld Him. See Him standing there with His crown of thorns. His robe of purple. I mean, never, never had they stood in the presence of one pure or more beautiful or more pleasing to God or more willing to save, and they cried out. You know what they cried out. "Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!" You know what that songwriter said. "Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers." Do you remember? Do you remember those days? That was your voice. That was my voice. Ashamed. Ashamed. I can hear my voice in that crowd. I can listen for it. Clint was telling me that when he's over on the oil rigs, he sometimes watches us livestream. I said you listen for Caroline's voice in the singing, don't you? And he said, yeah, I do. But you listen for your voice in this crowd because it's there. We didn't esteem Him. We despised Him. Despised Him. That any of us should find Christ attractive is only shocking to the degree that we realize it is not natural, it is not normal. Do you know what normal is? "They hated Me without a cause." You know what normal is? "He came to His own and His own received Him not." You know, we get these guys. They want to write these stories about the end times; tell us about the antichrist. You know, he's going to come from the European Union. He's going to have 666 stamped on his forehead. You don't have to look to Europe, because the reality is all we had to do is walk into the bathroom and look at ourselves in the mirror. You know what John said? He said, "Now many antichrists have come." We were the antichrists. Anti means to be against. We were them. We would have never admitted it, but that's precisely... Man's natural disposition is such that the Song of Songs is a foreign language. The lost man - it is unintelligible. It's basically a parable. And you know how in the New Testament, the disciples asked, why do You speak to them in parables? And Jesus said this is why I speak to them in parables: "Because seeing they do not see, hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." You see, that's the thing with this. The Song of Solomon to the unconverted: what's that? It is in a foreign language. But I know we have a whole number of people in this room that do have eyes to see and ears to hear and you do understand. And when you hear these expressions come from her to Him, something jumps inside you and says, yes, that's how I feel. You see the thing is Christ is not ugly. He is not unkind. He is not cruel. He is the Savior of the world and robed in the beauty of holiness. He's altogether lovely, altogether desirable. Man's great problem? Newton said it in his most famous song: "I was blind, but now I see." Do you recognize that when Adam took that fruit and he brought it up to his mouth, you can just imagine two daggers right there. The moment his teeth broke the skin on that thing, those daggers took his eyes out. And the problem was they took all of our eyes out as well. They were gone. We could see the ground, the fields, the weeds that now were in the world. We could feel the pain that came, the age. We could see the sun, the moon, and the stars. But we couldn't see. Our eyes had been put out. We sang this too: "Something lives in every hue, Christless eyes have never seen." Beloved, do you remember when you carried around in your head Christless eyes and Christless ears? I remember it. You remember how it was? Jesus said it. Jesus said it this way, "those who are well have no need of a physician." Do you know how it was? No need. We didn't need Him. We were okay without Him. We could walk around. We could smile. We could joke. We could laugh... without trembling. We could casually sin without screaming in terror. We could go to sleep each night. We could talk about death and hell as if they were fairy tales. I mean, here we were walking through life, this great big mouth of hell underneath us waiting to swallow us. And we were so casual. So careless. So confident. No thought ever crossed our minds: "Oh, may He kiss me with the kisses of His mouth." Things like that - what? Christ? We sang "Joy to the World." He's a little baby in a manger. I would see it. Yeah, that crucifix up on the wall. Yeah, that's Christ. For me it was a word of cursing and swearing in my mouth. Some effeminate looking picture of probably some Catholic priest. Isaiah is spot on. Look at it. V. 2, "No beauty." Isaiah 53:2, "No beauty that we should desire Him." What Christless eyes we had! "One from whom men hide their faces." We don't want to look at Him. We hide our faces from Him. We don't want to look His way. We don't want to look at Him. We don't want to regard Him. We don't want to esteem Him. And just see where Isaiah takes us. Look at v. 4. This is what's so amazing about it! It's not as though you continue reading here and you look at it and you say, oh yeah, yeah... yeah, there was no beauty. He was ugly. Listen to it. "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." V. 5, "He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace. With His wounds we are healed." Or v. 6, "The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all." V. 8, "Stricken for the transgression of My people." V. 11, "Out of the anguish of His soul, God shall see and be satisfied. He shall make many to be accounted righteous. He shall bear their iniquities." V. 12, "He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors, yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." What Christless eyes! Do you remember? Well, I have no memory of these verses because I doubt I ever saw them. I didn't care. In the midst of my life, if somebody would have read those verses to me it's like clear them aside. I lived for the weekends. I just existed during the week. I lived for the weekends. Make money during the week to live it up. Words like this meant nothing. Don't bother me with that religious nonsense. We had it figured out, right? I mean, most of us, we kind of come from the same stock. A bit of religion - that was me. Just a bit. A lot of superstition. A good dose of self-love. A portion of self-righteousness. We were good. We were good! Jesus? We had a manger thing growing up. Or my dad had a crucifix on the wall. Yeah, He's either a baby or He's dead, but don't bother us with that. We're pretty good. We esteemed Him not. And that is the world around us. This idea, this Song of Solomon is so foreign to this world. People - yeah, show me how to miss hell. But the idea, this is what it means to be saved. So often, people just think no lake of fire in the end. That's not really being saved. Yes, yes, that's not suffering the consequences and the punishment that our sins deserve. But to truly be saved, to truly have life is to know God and to know His Christ. To know - intimacy - to have this love. We know this. Listen, the greatest thing about the way God has designed us; the thing that causes the greatest joy and expression in who we are as human beings is when we are madly in love. There's no getting around that. This is what we find here. Brethren, how did we ever come to esteem Him? What happened to us that we looked up one day? I can remember that time in my life. It's like suddenly the fog was gone. How did I never see Him before? Who is this? I was stunned. (incomplete thought) How did this even happen? John tells us. We love Him because what? You see, the thing is, we're incapable of loving Him - and you say, I didn't get that. What did he even say? , "We love Him because He first loved us." What John is teaching is this: The one has to come before the other because the one is responsible for the other. The one produces the other. We're incapable of loving Christ apart from what He does to us. Left to ourselves, the reality is, there's nothing in us to call forth love for Him. I loved everything else. Many other things. What did our Lord teach us? He said this - He said one day after He had fed those 5,000 people, He was talking about the true bread. He said, "No one can come to Me unless My Father who sent Me draws..." What sort of drawing was that? It wasn't chains of a slave. It's something else. Something pulled us to Christ. This is how He saves. He saves by causing us to behold Christ. Christ asked the question: What think ye of Christ? How you answer that says everything about you - not about Him. What you say positive or negative doesn't change Him. But how you answer that question says everything about you. And it says everything about the love that Christ has expressed to you, what He has done for you, what He has done in you. And we can go back to Song of Solomon now if you're in Isaiah. Song of Solomon - you remember this. Chapter 1:4 - I mean, yes, you have there in John 6, "No one can come to Me unless My Father draws..." Here it's the church herself saying - she's coming to that recognition. "Draw me. Draw me." We will run. Let us run. Draw, draw, draw. (incomplete thought) Look, this is appealing to Him to do something to us. Pull me. We are so willingly hard, so willingly blind, so willingly do we not want to find anything beautiful in Christ that unless there is this powerful, effectual drawing of the soul to Christ, both at conversion and afterwards, we will gladly run right into hell. We will. A soul's coming to Christ for life is not the product of any power or free will of man - power found in man - it's the result of Christ giving us life. Have you ever read this? "Whoever does not love abides in death." Think about that. To love is to live. To live is to love. We looked up one day and we can't explain how it happened. But Christ was increasing. He was growing brighter. And everything else was growing pale. Everything else was decreasing. You know. The Apostle Paul comes along to the Philippians and he says, there was a day my circumcision, my Jewishness, my belonging to one of the premier tribes - the tribe of Benjamin - that was one of the two tribes that stayed loyal to the Southern kingdom. A Hebrew of the Hebrews. He says but I saw Christ. I saw Him. I mean, the Christless eyes were taken away. And what does he say? I count it all loss that I might have Christ, that I might know Christ. For the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. We looked up one day and we began to have such thoughts as like we find in the Song of Solomon. Do you notice? Do you remember how that happened? Out at Community, we used to sing a lot - we sing it sometimes here, but from Revelation 5 - , they both have the words: Worthy. Can you remember when you were lost, you never, unless you were lost and your parents made you go to church where they sang Revelation 4 or 5 - you never put the word "worthy" in the same sentence with Christ. Ninety-nine percent of the time when His name came out of my mouth, I was simply cursing and swearing. Never did the term worthy fall in the same sentence with Him. Or the term "precious." Or the term "beautiful." Therefore - this is the KJV, the New King James Version, but you know this from 1 Peter 2:7. "Therefore to you who believe, He is precious." And the thing that was amazing is that once you have the eyes to see - because I remember this - I could see and I suddenly looked around, and all my friends - all the comrades that I hunted with and drank with and lived my life with and my co-workers, my family - and you look around, and they're like the deer caught in headlights. I had such revelations to my soul. I said oh, I am certain that once I tell them, they are going to see what I see and they are going to jump on board. And one after another, they looked at me like I had three heads. Unwilling to come to Christ for life. But this is what He says, "You refuse to come to Me that you may have life." All day long - the book of Romans - "I have held out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people." But here's the thing, those Christ sets His love upon are made willing in the day of Christ's power by some secret, invisible power. He slays that enmity that was in us. That that despised Him; that that didn't esteem Him; that that was repulsed, that hid our face. We didn't want to see. We didn't want to know. Give me a small christ, a weak christ, a dead christ - not the Christ of Scripture. I can't tolerate Him. Not the one that says that I have to die to self and carry my cross and follow after Him. And unless I forsake all that I have, I can't be His disciple. And unless I repent, I'm going to perish - not that Christ. I don't want Him. Not the Christ that deals with me about my sin. Not the Christ that's going to make me holy. Not the Christ that's going to love me so much that He's going to remove every single idol from my life. I don't want that. But we were made willing. Christ exercised such a power on us. He killed that enmity that was in here. It was in the heart, in the brain, in the thoughts, in our discernment. (incomplete thought) Something way beyond our power. But we weren't forced. It was like it was a sweet drawing. It was us beholding that He was desirable that makes us run. He captures us by capturing our affections, changing the desire. That's precisely what happened. I was thinking as we were listening to Jeff in the first hour. Those words: We have seen His glory. But you know, what glory? He didn't walk around shining. I know on the Mount of Transfiguration, but I don't believe that is at all what John is talking about. His glory - we have seen His glory. But that "we" right there, that is not everybody. There are many people who with their eyes they saw Christ do His miracles. They didn't repent. They didn't believe. Jesus appeals to them in John 5. We'll see that when our brother gets there. He says they bear witness. My works bear witness that I am Him. It is a gift of all gifts that you stand in the crowd and Christ does His miracles and you say, I need Him more than I need anything else. I've got to have Him. There's a beauty, there's a power, there's forgiveness. This is what my heart has been looking for forever. When the crowd is big and you look around and most in the crowd: what's for dinner? And away they go. This is a phenomenal gift. Brethren, do you count it one of the greatest gifts of Christ's love to you that your heart aches for Him? Because it is. And it's special. And He doesn't just haphazardly and randomly throw that gift around. They are for His loved ones. He said this, that drawing - He said you lift Me up and I will draw all men. That doesn't mean all without exception. It means men from all the nations. There were Greeks there. That's the context in which He said that. The thing that is so beautiful about Christ is not like the beauty that we would find in a woman necessarily or in a sunset. Actually, that which Christ Himself says has that drawing efficacy is lift Me up and I will draw. Do you realize His death, His blood, the gore, the agonies, the shame of that cross, that's where so much of His beauty is found. It's found in those words we read in Isaiah 53. That is the most precious thing imaginable. "The Word became flesh and He dwelt among us." But He took His humanity - the God-man, to do what He did. Would you not say it is one of the greatest gifts He has ever given you to find Him whom you have never seen - this is what Peter says. Peter says though you have not seen Him, you love Him. I mean, can you imagine it? Can you imagine that you have been given a gift to ache for, to worship, to long after, to feel the need of, to have a love for, to find desirable this Christ. And you love Him more than anything else. More than father or mother or husband or wife. And you've never seen Him. That is a miracle. That is a gift. And that is altogether an expression of His love that you can look up and say, You are beautiful, my Beloved. Altogether desirable and precious. That is a manifestation of His love. Now next week, what I want to look at is Him looking at her - looking at us; looking at His people and saying, "You are beautiful, My love." "You are beautiful." Because we often don't feel it. But I want you to see His heart expressed to you, Lord willing, next week. Father, I pray, help us just to delight in the fullness, the realities of what it means to be loved by Christ. This love that surpasses knowledge. Help us, give us according to the riches of Your glory, Lord, enable us to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth. We ask this in the name of our Savior, Amen.