Do you long for Christ's company?

Discussion in 'Daily Devotional Forum' started by jambo, Feb 15, 2009.

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  1. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    My beloved is mine and I am his (Song 2.16)

    Do you long for Christ's company? If ‘my beloved’ is indeed mine, I shall want to see him; I shall want to speak with him; I shall want him to abide with me. How is it with you? There is a great deal of religion in the world which only consists of shells, or husks; the kernels are not there at all. A man goes upstairs, and kneels down for a quarter of an hour, and he says he is praying; yet possibly he has not really prayed at all. Another opens his Bible, and he reads a chapter, and he says that he has been studying the Scriptures. Perhaps it has been a mere mechanical act, and there has been no heart or soul in it. John Bradford, the famous martyr, used to say, ‘I have made a point of this, that I will never go from a duty until I have had communion with Christ in it.’ Hence, when he prayed, he prayed till he did really pray. When he praised, he praised till he did truly praise. If he was bowing in humiliation before God, he humbled himself till he was actually humbled. If he was seeking communion with Christ, he would not go away with the pleasure of merely having sought, but he kept on seeking until he found, for he felt that he had done nothing aright till he had come into communion with God and into touch with Christ.
    (CH Spurgeon sermon, My Beloved is Mine)
     
  2. PresbyDane

    PresbyDane Puritanboard Doctor

    Thanks for sharing that.
     
  3. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Ouch. Spurgeon knew how to step on toes. Thanks be to God that He sends faithful ministers like that.
     
  4. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Seems kind of awkward to take that sort of imagery from the Song of Songs and apply it that way, but perhaps that's just me...
     
  5. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    This verse was beautifully cross-stitched by my wife. We framed the finished product and have it centered on a wall surrounded by pictures of us together.

    This may profoundly offend some of you, but I'm convinced that this verse is more about my wife's celebration of our union than it is about Spurgeon's quote. :2cents:
     
  6. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I would counter (to those who disagree with Spurgeon) that the marriage between men and their wives is merely a temporary symbol of the eternal marriage of Christ and His church. This is God's purpose in marriage. This godly romance being displayed in Song of Songs is like all marriage, symbolic of Christ and His bride, and on that basis the correct interpretation. I have a hard time believing that God inspired scripture for no other reason than to provide temporary benefit to a temporary institution. I could be wrong and am open to correction.
     
  7. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    If [since] earthly marriage is but a shadow of the joy to come, then an unthinkable joy awaits us indeed.

    Theognome
     
  8. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I certainly agree, though with a level of ignorance because I have never been married.
     
  9. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    There's no "merely" about it. Marriage is important. Really important.

    But for the imagery to have any effect in terms of highlighting the awesomeness of the relationship between Christ and the Church, it must first resonate at the level of the image. That is, if marriage isn't beautiful and itself worthy of celebration, then it wouldn't be a good vehicle to convey a relationship even more lovely. So there's no denigration of the union between Christ and Church to acknowledge that this book is about - a man and woman.

    And I have a hard time with this insipient Platonism which manifests itself in these apparent notions that the created world is less real (bad!) and the spiritual world is more real (good!). This real world is of value. Your physical body is of value. Human relationships are significant. They are not trivial. And God's word speaks of the goodness of these things. They were made by Him and for Him. It is good to glorify God by enjoying creation. It is good to glorify God by enjoying the simple things in life. It is good to glorify God by celebration that most amazing of human relationships, namely, marriage.
     
  10. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I didn't mean offense by using the word "merely", I was using it for relative comparison. I was not saying that temporary marriage is unimportant but that the eternal marriage of Christ and His Church is so much more important.

    I am not advocating any kind of Platonism. "Bad" does not equal "less real" and I didn't say marriage is bad (I am wanting a wife very badly). There is a consistency in scripture's devaluing things that are temporary relative to things eternal. Temporary blessings are never an end to themselves but pointing to eternal things. The more that the Song of Songs honors a beautiful earthly marriage the more it points to the eternal, perfect marriage of Christ and His Bride.
     
  11. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    That still doesn't mean that the Song is primarily about something other than what it appears to be about... I've always been amazed at the offense some people take to the idea that God would celebrate marriage - and specifically the marriage bed - with it's own book of the Bible.
     
  12. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I don't feel that way at all. I don't hold to a purely allegorical interpretation but a typological. I believe it was written with a earthly marriage in mind but beautifully displays the eternal. I guess kind of a "both" view. That's what I meant when I said the more it displays godly, temporary marriage the more it displays the eternal. I was defending Spurgeon, not saying Song of Songs has no value to marriage and romance.
     
  13. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    :2cents:The marriage covenant should be held as a sacred covenant. It seems to me that people who treat marriage lightly do the same with Christ. In my humble opinion it is about marriage but can be applied to both. If we love someone we will never leave or forsake them.
     
  14. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    I have always found the Song of Solomon some thing of an enigma. For Solomon to pen these words I find the strangest thing. If you did not know Solomon was the author, you would never have guessed that it came from a person with 700 wives and 300 concubines.

    Although the poem was written in Solomons day for the people of Solomons time you can see the underlying picture of love, joy in each, the desire for the lovers to be together. We can see the affection the bridegroom has for his bride and the brides desire for her husband. And this is the principle theme of the book: true love shared between husband and wife.

    Then reading with our NT specs on the picture of Christ and the church is filled out a bit more. I think one is justified in looking at the book in this way as Christ is in all the scriptures. Solomon may have had no notion of Christ to come nearly a thousand years later but just as the sacrifices, the festivals, the high priests clothing, the temple etc all gave little illustrations of Christ, so does this book help us to see the definition of our joy in the Lord.

    By and large the Song of Solomon is neglected today. I once did a series of sermons from this book but I cannot ever recall hearing a sermon from this book. Yet one contrasts that with previous generations and the sermons and allusions to the book such as Samuel Rutherford, M'cheyne etc.
     
  15. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I hope no one here would "treat marriage lightly". The question is "what is the primary importance of marriage?" Is the importance primarily the joy we get in the relationship with our spouse? I say it is secondary because even the pagans will do things for the relational benefit. The primary importance of marriage is that we can display to the world a symbol of the eternal marriage of Christ and His church. That is the motivation for a husband to love his wife even when she isn't treating him the way she should. That's the reason a wife should submit to and respect her husband even when he isn't being a good husband. When both fulfill their roles to the glory of God then it also brings about a happy marriage. Since Song of Songs is the biblical description of a godly and happy marriage life, it's most primary purpose (like earthly marriages) is to symbolize the perfect, eternal marriage of Christ and His church.
     
  16. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Manley,

    I want to address this persistent notion of what marriage is for. You repeatedly justify your denigration (!) of the Song of Song's very obvious physical - sexual - references by spiritualizing them to mean something "more pure" or "more true" or "more primary" or "more Christian" (you pick the phrase you find most palatable).

    (Ok, that phrase "your denigration..." may be a little over the top, but I'm trying to make a point that I think in your attempt to be God-honoring, you're interpreting his Word in a way that dishonors him by its minimizing the very thing He is celebrating)

    Where, exactly, did you learn that the primary purpose in marriage is that it is a mere temporary symbol (your words!) of Christ's union with the Church? Of course it is a picture of the relationship of Christ's relationship with the Church, but where did you learn that this picture is the primary reason for marriage?

    I ask because it certainly wasn't from the Westminster Standards.

    Incidentally, the WCF, when it gives the purposes for which marriage was ordained, gives three purposes... and guess what... imaging Christ's relationship with the church to the world isn't even mentioned.

    WCF 24.2 says: "Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife,(1) for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed;(2) and for preventing of uncleanness.(3)"

    Now, of course the Divines were not ignorant of Eph 5, because they make mention of it - in passing - in WCF 25.1 when they write, "The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."

    (I underlined the reference for your convenience.)

    Anyway, I bring this up because I think you are so eager to be Christocentric - which is a good thing in general- that you are over-realizing the spiritual imagery of marriage with the result being that your rhetoric in this thread has come across to me as revealing that you may be missing the inherent goodness in the relationship between the man and his wife and you may not fully appreciate the "mundane" aspects of marriage as instituted by God. The Song celebrates the relationship between a husband and wife, as exemplified by the sensuality of their relationship. It's ok and God-honoring to enjoy the physicalness of your relationship.

    Well, once you're married it will be. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This assumes that the lovers were married and monogamous in the original context, whereas those who take it literally have to deal with the multiplicity of personalities involved.
     
  18. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I don't want to minimize all the great things about the marriage relationship. I hope that God blesses me with it more than you may realize! I don't believe it insults that relationship in any way to say it's primary purpose is to point to something much greater (the eternal union of Christ and His church).

    I know the WCF (and the LBC1689) doesn't expound on it but it possibly wasn't trying to speak of marriage on that level but keeping to the more practical benefits of marriage (which I completely agree with the WCF and yourself about). I believe many of the reformers interpreted Song of Songs the way I am. Though I couldn't find anything by Calvin on the Song of Songs I do believe he held my view of marriage in general.

    Calvin's commentary on Ephesians 5:25-
    25. Husbands love your wives. From husbands, on the other hand, is required love; but by giving them the example of Christ, he implies this should be no ordinary love. If they have the honour to bear His image, and in a sense to represent His person, they ought to imitate Him also in their duty.
     
  19. No Longer A Libertine

    No Longer A Libertine Puritan Board Senior

    Do i long for Christ? Some days i sure do, other times I'm pretty happy with my sin and am ashamed of the judgment i would deserve to receive.

    The times my longing is pure is not just when the times are rough, the circumstances unsavory, the people unbearable but on the good days when creation reveals His majesty and stillness permits thoughts of Him to wash over you, on those days heaven is tangible and the longing is not corrupted by distraction or shirking the evil of self and the world.
     
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