James Patrick - Contrasts in the Songs of Solomon - Eagle Bend Convention - 1939

The Lord often draws contrasts, like in the Songs of Solomon.  There are some chapters in the Bible that if you hand them to a carnal-minded person, they will give you a carnal interpretation.  In that 2nd chapter of the Songs of Solomon, it shows us the kind of affection the bridegroom has for the bride.  Some say Solomon wrote the Songs of Solomon when he was young, Ecclesiastes when he was middle-aged, and Proverbs when he was an old man.


Romans 8, the condition for proper prayer is to be submitted to His will and mind, but we are not always submitted to God's mind and will as we should be. Verse 26 says, “…but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"  Many a time we can think or pretend we are serving God, but there are other things that creep in that prove that our hearts are deceitful and not to be trusted.  Solomon proved his wisdom by asking God for wisdom, “In all thy getting, get understanding above all things.”  When Solomon prayed for the wisdom of God, he got it.  We are told by Paul that knowledge puffeth up.  I like to put education where it belongs and salvation where it belongs.  You can take a child and educate it, then what do you have?  In one graveyard we saw the inscription on the tombstone of a young girl:


“Could beauty, culture, virtue save

From the dark confines the cruel grave,

Then she who lies beneath the sod

Would not have known this dark abode.”


The very thing people pride themselves in can be a snare to them, like beauty - like the horns of an animal up north which is proud of its horns.  These very horns often get caught in the trees and you see the skeleton of the animal there, its horns caught in the tree.  So, the very thing that was beautiful became a snare to them.  A woman came to some meetings and she was proud and did not want to do what she should do.  She spoke of her son, 15 years of age, who was an infidel.  An infidel is someone who goes as far as to accept some points of the scripture but not all of it, like the Pharisees.  They read the parts that suited them and the parts that didn't, they jumped over them like frogs.  That boy had said at breakfast, “There is no God,” and his mother asked him where he got that idea.  In many of our school books, theories are taught with regard to evolution that puts infidel thoughts in the minds of the children.  One boy said, “I have to either believe my Bible or turn a deaf ear to my professors, or the other way around.”  I talked with that 15-year-old boy one day and he said, “I don't believe there is a God.  I don't believe there is one because I never saw one, and neither have you.”  I asked him if he had a stomach.  He said, “Yes.”  Then I asked him, “Did you ever see it, John?  Did you ever see your brains?  Have you got any?”  There are two things you and I should pay attention to and that is, while you and I may have a lot of knowledge, even of the Bible, there is a possibility that even with all that knowledge, we may perish.  Solomon, when he was asked what he wanted, did not say, “O Lord, give me knowledge,” but he said, “Give me wisdom.”  Someone said that knowledge knows what to do next, but wisdom is doing it.  God made Solomon wise on account of his request.


This second chapter of the Songs of Solomon gives the relationship between the church and the bridegroom.  “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”  Verse 2 is the kind of treatment Jesus got in this world, “As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”  A lily among thorns would be out of place naturally.  It would be a stranger.  Wouldn't it be a sad case that when the winds would blow, it would be blown from side to side and be pierced by the thorns.


Verse 3, “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.”  Taking a walk through the woods one day with my companion, we came upon an apple tree.  The proper place for an apple tree is in an orchard but here it was in the woods.  It was a stranger there.  So was the life of Christ in this world a stranger, too.  That verse in Peter says, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”  Although that song puts it pilgrims and strangers, the Bible says strangers and pilgrims.  If you are not a stranger here in this worldly atmosphere, then you are no pilgrim for the heavenly country.  Some seem perfectly at home in convention, but when they go back to the city, they feel perfectly at home in the world, too.  Some people even go as far as to have one kind of dress for the fellowship meeting and for convention, and another kind for the street.  I want to ask you, "Are there any like that here?"  If so, you are still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.


“I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”  We sit down under His shadow in these meetings and we can almost feel the difference in the atmosphere as He draws near.  When His presence is felt, it isn't just all nice things, but as it says, “It is a fearful thing to be in His presence.”  The nearer we are to God, the more we abhor ourselves in sackcloth and ashes.  “He brought me to his banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”  There is an awful contrast between love and hatred.  The love of God controlling the hearts of people makes it possible for them to meet together as one.  The power of love reigns when we are under the control of God; the love of power when we are out from under His control.  Love for power is where strife is.  “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples.”  Wine makes the heart glad and God makes us glad here with the wine of the kingdom.  Jesus, talking to those two going to Emmaus gave them flagons of wine, for He talked to them about the scriptures all the way.  We may die and never see the fruit of our lives and testimony.  Stephen bore a good testimony and died bearing it, “…to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord.”  When I die, I expect a quick transition to heaven.  When Moses and Elias came down to the Mount of Transfiguration, they weren't asleep as the Advents would tell us--they were wide awake.  “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.”  This speaks of support.  Did you ever feel conscious of God trying to hold you up?  Woe betides the child of God who has not His right hand protecting him.


“I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love till he please.”  I sometimes think that the thought in this verse is that of trifling with your affections.  Do you think you can trifle with the Lord's affections and He not feel it?  You say, “I love you Lord; but I love the world, too.”  This is what the Bible says about it, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship with the world is enmity with God.”  James 4:4, James believed in firing a shot straight there, not whitewashing, but washing white.  Marble, when it is rained on, gets whiter.  Whitewash washes off.  People with marble qualities, the world can wash against them and they only shine better and brighter.  We read in the Psalms that when David began to mistrust God's care, he went down and hid among the Philistines.  But in Psalm 120:5, he said, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!”  If we think we can leave the Lord for awhile, we trifle with the Lord.  “The voice of my beloved! Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.  My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.”  We sometimes imagine that God will never get anybody saved until He has sinless people in this world.  The word “perfect” means “perfect in heart” - look up Genesis 6:9 (“These are the generations of Noah:  Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God”), Genesis 17:1 (“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, 'I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect'”), and Job 1:1 (“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil”).  Upright is the interpretation of perfect - a perfect love for God.  Perfect love casts out fear: there are not two motives, just a single purpose to love and serve God.  He showed Himself through the latticework of our imperfection.  Verses 10-13, “My beloved spake, and said unto me, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.  For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.  Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.'”  Verse 11 is like the Christian who had done wrong in the sight of God - it is like wintertime to him, but now it is gone and past.  In all the rush of the world, there is danger of the people of God becoming contaminated with the spirit of rush, for there is no time for the secret place to talk and walk with God.


Verse 14, “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”  Put forth the effort to get into the secret place and climb the stairs.  Verse 15, “Take up the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”  There is a story in a school book about a man in India who was a hunter.  He found a baby tiger and made a pet of it but that little tiger didn't stay young - it grew to be a big tiger.  One day it was licking his hand and he suddenly noticed it had drawn blood.  The taste of blood brought back, or aroused, his old savage nature.  The hunter knew that if he moved, that tiger would kill him, so he called to his servant to shoot straight at the tiger's heart and kill it.  Some of you are trifling with little things, nice little things.  Look up in your Bible when you get home, and find out the little things that cause trouble.  God's purpose is to make us fruitful grapes.


It is not the trees that block the trail,

It is not the ash or pine;

But if you fail and fall, my friend,

It was some hidden vine

That tripped you up and threw you down

And caught you unawares.

The big things we can walk around

But watch the path for snares.


Verse 16, “My beloved is mine, and I am his:  he feedeth among the lilies.”  We can feed the heart of God today just by keeping our hearts in purity.


Verse 17, “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a rose or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.” Bether means division - people that are not destroying the young foxes will get into difficulties.  Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you and thereby many be defiled.”  Strife in the little church is because of failure in some heart to have the grace of God.