JESUS CHRIST IS ALTOGETHER LOVELY
SONG OF SONGS – Vss. 10-16
In my view, with the advantage of over 7 thousand years of inspired and completed canon of Scripture, our Holy Bible, the Song of Songs which is Solomon’s, is a messianic excursus that reveals a deeper exposition of prophetic truth written in allegorical language. It express, in a figurative way, the great love that the Lord Jesus Christ has for His espoused Bride, the church. The author, however, could not have had this in mind, in the time that it was written, in that it was composed some 900 years before the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the head of the New Testament church, which is His body. But God did!
I. HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY CANONICITY
Was the book truly a work of King Solomon’s thoughts toward the love of his life? Was it even written by him? The title, Song of Songs is like saying Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Day of days, Night of Nights, and so on. I imagine that the title was to magnify its importance in the minds of the purchaser, as to say: “the most beautiful of songs, by Solomon.” Or, “This is Solomon’s greatest song, greater than any others.”
It was common practice, in the age in which Song of Songs was written for unknown writers to put the name of a more famous person as the author, who sought to gain a larger audience.
Is this book a series of poems or just one? If it is one long Psalm, a Poem, or some other kind of literary form. Solomon, you will remember, also wrote the Proverbs. But nowhere is the book called, the “Proverbs of Proverbs.”
We do know that many psalms of the Bible have been taken by contemporary hymn writers put to music. For example, the hymn, we just sang: The “Lily of the Valley” was no doubt inspired by the Song of Solomon (2:1). We sing about the “Lily of the Valley,” as the “fairest of ten thousand to my soul,” it is easy to see how the hymn writer must have been greatly influenced by the description of the One “altogether lovely” while reading this precious book. (I believe the Lord loves this Song of Songs).
I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me, He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul; The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole. In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay; He tells me every care on Him to roll. He’s the Lily of the valley, the bright and morning star, the fairest of ten-thousand to my soul. (2:1) (5:10).
“The Rose of Sharon (2:1) is depicted in the 1911 Hymn of the same name gives us another example of the power of this Song of Songs to inspire contemporary composers sensitive to its imagery.
It has been debated that the Song of Solomon should not have been placed alongside other Books of Holy Scripture. “Determining the canon was a process conducted first by Jewish rabbis and scholars and later by early Christians.
Ultimately, it was God who decided what books belonged in the biblical canon. A book of Scripture belonged in the canon from the moment God inspired its writing. It was simply a matter of God’s convincing His human followers which books should be included in the Bible.”
1. The Jews regarded the allegorical treatment as about God and His People, Israel.
2. Origen, in the 3rd Century regarded this as a Psalm, or poem concerning Solomon and a Shulamite woman, probably, Pharaoh’s (1:9) daughter, but later he expanded his interpretation to include Christ and His Church.
3. During the Middle Ages, when Roman Catholicism was at its height, Mary was considered by Rome as the “Bride” of Christ.
4. During the Reformation Jean Calvin viewed the Song as lascivious and overly sensual in nature, unworthy of canonicity, yet he still saw it as inspired.
5. Martin Luther who rarely agreed with Calvin saw the Song in the same light, and though it not worthy to be in the Canon, but also agreed as to its inspiration.
6. Modern non-Catholics, Protestants, and Baptists, view the Song as being an allegory regarding Christ as the Bridegroom and His Church (Catholics) others as the Bride meeting their criteria.
II. WHAT IS MEANT BY “ALTOGETHER LOVELY”
1) To be altogether lovely excludes all un-loveliness. An ancient theologian, whose name I do not remember, wrote concerning the One Altogether Lovely, Jesus Christ, “there is nothing in him which is not lovable.”
Christ, Altogether Lovely, is unlike others whom we admire as having characteristics of loveliness, because whatever loveliness we may see in a person, there will exist something not lovely. Gold is lovely, but encompassed by dross until removed by great heat. Our church, I see as gold, yet encompassed with dross, needing great heat (fervent love for her), She will, one day, be with all dross purged, pure. Jesus Christ, will present her to His Father. She will be clothed with a clean white wedding gown, without wrinkle, spot, or blemish.
All great works of art have some flaw that only an expert might spot. The earth with its vast and colorful Grand Canyons and rolling and deep seas and towering snow-capped mountains, we must remember that are the result of a terrible curse.
The heavens (Universe) are vast and what we can see, beautiful in every respect, though full of wonder and mystery were corrupted and cursed.
But fast approaching is the day when time no longer shall be. Revelation 6:14-17 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
2) There is not one spot or blemish in the HUMANITY of the Altogether Lovely One.
The Proverbs records: Proverbs 8:11 Christ is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it (Him). In Him “all fullness dwells.” When comparing Christ to anyone or to all things, “he is before all things,” Col. 1:17. Christ Jesus is “Altogether Lovely” and need not to draw from any other thing for loveliness.
AS TO HIS DIVINITY, John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There is not one shadow of a doubt as to the ETERNAL SONSHIP of the Altogether Lovely One. 1 John 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Luke 22:70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God ? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. John 1:34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
Matthew 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son , in whom I am well pleased. 2 Peter 1:17-18 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son , in whom I am well pleased.18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
3) Christ is Altogether Lovely in His Office as Lord. .
A) He is Altogether Lovely as our ADVOCATE in Heaven pleading our cause – He is the only One able to plead for us before His Father, for He is…
B) Altogether Lovely as THE FATHER’S LAMB OF GOD, who gave Himself for as a sacrifice of Himself in our behalf, and…
C) In putting Himself in our place he became OUR SUBSTITUTE who stood in our place and suffered for us by bearing our sins in His own body on the cross. He was made sin yet knew no sin. John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? D) No sin was ever charged to him, yet, all of our sin was laid on him. He is Altogether Lovely, the personification of the OT Mercy Seat, the PROPITIATOR upon which His own precious and pure blood was sprinkled, covering our sins.
E) Therefore, He is Altogether Lovely in his office as SAVIOR. He is as in Hebrews 7:25– able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Five: He is Altogether Lovely in his office as our GREAT HIGH PRIEST: Hebrews 7:26-28 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
III. INTERPRETATION AND EXPOSITION OF CHAPTER 5:10-16—Read!
The main difficulty in interpreting these verse is that we want to see the Altogether loveliness of Christ as pertains to the church.
I will allow myself this only and and say that, in preaching from the Song, every man is entitled to his own interpretation. Throughout the book, the inspired author wrote with very suggestive language. We should see nothing filthy in his use of language (which is much less descriptive than you will find in the Hebrew). Try to see the spiritual and holy passion in the inspired words expressing the essence of the One, Altogether Lovely.
See how the author, “labors to express the inexpressible; it pants to the unutterable.”
Exposition of chapter five, verses 10 through 16,
Note that the description of this “Altogether Lovely” One was written hundreds of years before the incarnation of Jesus and cannot be properly taken as literal, but certainly we can see the same loveliness in a figurative sense. For example:
Verse 10 – My beloved is white (more as dazzling) and ruddy (red).
First Samuel 16:12 speaks of Saul as being ruddy of complexion, ruddy meaning red or darkened by the Sun, and of being “beautiful in countenance and goodly to look at.” The giant Philistine looked upon his challenger, the youthful David, and saw him as “ruddy, and of fair countenance. The same description is said of Joseph and Daniel.
We see Christ in the NT, transfigured in Matthew 17:2 He, was transfigured before them (Peter, James, John): and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. He is the fairest, the chiefest, of ten thousand. One day we shall see Him in all His beauty.
• To the church He is indeed dazzling (changed) and ruddy, as was the color of His blood by which He purchased her.
Verse 11 –the beloved’s head is as the most fine gold (probably from the sun), his locks (the way cut) are bushy (thick and full) , and black as a raven. Josephus, the Jewish historian, writes that his hair was short cut and curly; his countenance fair, his coloring ruddy or olive skinned.
Pilate himself wrote to his Caesar, His golden colored hair and beard gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about 30 years of age. Never have I seen a sweeter or more serene countenance. What a contrast between Him and His bearers with their black beards and tawny complexions!
See His countenance as bright as the sun, and meditate on the words of the Beloved Disciple in the Revelation where John adds: His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire (Revelation 1:14).
Verse 12 His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly (large) set. Ancient historians describe him as resembling his mother’s features, but with a longer and stronger face, high cheek bones, large eyes and a square jaw, a head covered with bushy but cropped hair.
The eyes of our Lord go to and fro about the earth searching for His peculiar people.
2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. 1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
Verse 13—His cheeks, a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
In Christ we see His goodly and comely appearance as being Royal, in nature, honorable, in character, excellent in all ways.
In the Revelation John saw the Alpha and Omega man in similar light. He wrote of this singularly beautiful vision: And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
As to His lips being like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh, No more beautiful words have been spoken than those spoken by our Lord. His were the words of eternal life (John 6:64-68).. Remember the beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12 when he saw the multitudes and called his disciples to draw near he spoke some pretty wonderful words:
Verse 14—His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. Let us consider the works of our Lord’s hands. They were strong and no doubt calloused, him being a carpenter and all. One day in the midst of a mob wanting to stone a young woman caught in the act of adultery, all crying for her blood, he stooped down to the ground and writing with His finger in the sand He said to the mob, John 8:7 He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. See as he rises from slumber in the small fishing boat with his disciples frightened out of their wits, his hands raised in the air and with a word, calmed the raging sea. “What manner of man is this they cried out in fear, that the wind and sea obey him?” Witness Him tenderly grasping the hand of Jairius’ daughter , and saying unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise ( Mark 5:41).
Remember how He made the blind man to see. He spat upon the ground, making mud, and rubbed it on the eyelids of the man blind since birth and saying in John 9:6-7, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
The Lord, while standing at the grave of his friend Lazarus, peering into the darkness of the tomb, his own tears streaming, and cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth . And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go ( John 11:43-44).
Soon, our Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout , with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
Verse 15—His legs are as pillar of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent and straight as the cedars –All speak of His stature, His integrity, strength, and beauty as the great cedars of Lebanon.
Verse 16—His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. I have given you but a poor rendering of the portrait of the God-man, the Divine and human person of Jesus the Christ. In the beauty of the physical there is also equal beauty of the inner man—his personality, strength of character, integrity , moral and artistic Divine with yet human values, His incorruptibility, unimpaired thinking and purpose, soundness i.e. freedom from fault, fallacy, or misapprehension, complete, and undivided in his work, walk, and way of life! History knows of no other man that would anyone describe as, “Altogether Lovely.”
IV. THE APPLICATION
The urgent necessity of our church to linger at each expression and think of Christ and see Him as:
The Christ, the chiefest of Ten Thousand, The Desire of all nations, The Glory of the whole earth, the Delight of all the saints of God, the Light of the world, the light of men, the manna from heaven, the satisfier of our thirst, the Hope of the whole world, the Way of Salvation, The truth and the life, our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption. The First Fruits of them that sleep, and Should we not be expecting His return? Are we not told that our Redemption draweth nigh? Is He not the One Altogether Lovely?
Spurgeon comments on the One who is Altogether Lovely and says, “Not only is His teaching attractive, his doctrine persuasive, his life irreproachable, his character enchanting, and his work a self-denying labor for the common good of all his people, but he himself is altogether lovely.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.(1 John 3:2-3).
“Lord Jesus, my sweet Rose of Sharon/my Prophet, my Priest and my King/To thee I will sing all my praises/ For blessings Thy mercy doth bring.” And, the Church is as a “Lily among the thorns,” (2:2). Amen