Lesson 7: The Consequences of Little Foxes

Being with Jesus was delightful! But would the maiden get rid of the “little foxes” and follow Him?
2:16 My lover is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies.

He is hers! He is hers to lean upon, to bear all her burdens, to provide all her needs, to enjoy. What a glorious realization! She is sincerely enjoying this magnificent truth but she lacks maturity. She mentions herself first. He is her lover. The focus is on the fact that their relationship is only for her enjoyment. She sees no danger, and there’s a hint of self-centeredness in her words, “My beloved is mine.”

It seems she thinks she has a secure position and doesn’t need to be concerned about the little foxes. It is as though she is saying, “He is mine and I am His and nothing can alter that relationship. I can find Him at any time; He feeds His flock among the lilies.”

Notice she did not obey the Lord’s request in 2:14, “Let me see your face and hear your voice.” She is less interested in what pleases Him than in what pleases her. She fails the first test of practical surrender although there is no question that she loves Him.

In Hosea 14:5, the prophet calls God’s people a lily, so when He was browsing among the lilies, He was enjoying His people. Jesus delights to dwell and be nourished in His heart with the praises of His people. She would find His presence when she worshiped with them.
When I’m with a group of other believers, I love to think of Jesus browsing among the lilies. He is delighting in our fellowship.

Selah: What are the first words that come to mind when you think of your devotional life?
How might it benefit your daily time with Jesus if you thought of it as your response to His words, “Let me see your face and hear your voice”?

2:17 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills.
With sadness she acknowledges that Jesus must go and be like the gazelle of 2:9. There are areas of her life that are not fully in the light, so she says that until the day breaks and the shadows in her life flee, He must turn and go. She lightly dismisses Him with the thought, A little later I will go with Him. Refusing to destroy little foxes resulted in hardness of her heart. The grieved Bridegroom departs.

The words “rugged hills” are sometimes translated “the hills of Bether.” Bether means separation or division. She wants Him to stay with her, but she is not ready to get rid of the little foxes, the shadows in her life that separate them.

Isn’t it amazing that she is asking the Lord to turn? It is as if she is saying, “I know what is best for us. You need to turn and change Your mind about my little fox. These shadows are but a small thing.”  

Christians often want to have the fullness of Jesus’ Spirit in their lives plus compromising sin. We can’t walk with the Lord and have sin continue in our lives once He has made us aware of what displeases Him.

Even though she had begun to walk the surrendered life, she had things buried deep within her heart that needed to be dealt with. Why didn’t He make her go with Him? If he had coerced her, the little fox of selfishness would still remain. Although hidden for a while, it would rise again in another circumstance.

The Lord will allow her to see all the ugliness and damage caused by a little bit of her will mixed into the surrendered life. This decision to not go with Him unreservedly will cost her dearly.

In the solemn night she discovered her mistake. It was dark, and she was alone. Retiring to rest, she still hoped for His return.

Selah: Notice how easily she chose to not respond to Jesus. Why is it often easy for us to ignore the still, small voice that warns about a “little fox”

3:1 All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him.
One moment of willful, deliberate selfishness cost her dearly. The trap set by the enemy caught her. The joy, peace and contentment of chapters one and two have fled.

Now she is on her bed hoping to find rest; it used to be their bed. Their partnership was disrupted. Still she is sincere when she calls Him the One she loves.

It is night when He is gone. On her bed she searched her heart to see how she had offended him. She finds out those little foxes were really a trick of the enemy. What she thought she needed turned out to bring separation from the One who alone truly satisfied her.

For her good and her restoration, she is experiencing Hebrews 12:6: “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Godly sorrow has come and is doing an amazing work in her. Now she understands what it cost her to not fully obey. We often think of the cost to obey but conveniently forget the enormous cost of disobedience.
Selah: Consider what the cost of failing to get rid of your “little fox” might cost you.

3:2 I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.
The pain of losing His presence motivates her to arise off her bed and leave the comfort zone. Perhaps she seeks Him through the spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditation on the Word as she did in the past. But prayer and fasting are no substitute for obedience. Now it appears that she is willing to pay the price of getting rid of what keeps her from His presence. No more will the little foxes spoil her vineyard.

Why did she not find Him? She wanted Him in her own way, her own time. She needed to learn that His invitation to come with Him was not to be taken lightly.

Once we ignore His call to obey Him or His prompting to pray, we may try later but find that to do what He asked without His help is either impossible or unfruitful.

We should allow God to search our hearts and put His finger on any hindrance. Is there someone who hurt you long ago who needs your forgiveness? Is there a wrong attitude that Jesus does not approve? This humbling time seems difficult. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful” (Hebrews 12:11). Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and brings refreshing peace.

Selah: When God seems distant, what should we do? See Isaiah 59:20, Ezekiel 14:6, and Acts 3:19.

3:3 The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. “Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
The maiden still loved Him even though she had not responded quickly to His invitation. She is seeking Him with her whole heart. She does not care who in the city knows, as long as she finds Him. She will confess to others that He has withdrawn Himself from her; she will speak to the watchmen—those who are to watch over her soul—and ask them if they can help her. She must be honest. What matters is not what people think of her! She must find Him! He promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart...I will be found by you” (Jeremiah 29:13).

She had humbled herself by letting her overseers know she had lost Him. Jesus quickly responded to her humility and earnestness.

Selah: Is the Spirit leading you to humble yourself by letting others know you need spiritual help and asking them to pray for you?

When you confess and forsake your sins and failures, how does that help both you and others?

3:4 Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.
She had told others of her heart’s longing, had spoken of her love for Him, and He could not resist coming to her. She said she would not let Him go, but Christ is not eager to leave us. It is always we who let Him go.

Her “mother’s house” refers to those who brought her to Jesus. She now wanted to share her joy with those who had helped her find Him.

Jesus told of a woman who searched diligently for her lost silver coin:  “And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin’” (Luke 15:9).

Selah: Take a moment to write a prayer of thanksgiving for the one who helped you turn to Jesus. Email your prayer to that person if possible.

3:5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
Once again she is delighting in Him. The Holy Spirit very gently reminds her to continue to enjoy His communion as long as she likes.

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (Psalm 63:5-6).
Selah: Write a list of at least 50 loving things Jesus has done for you. Take time to praise Him and to receive His love.