Lesson 6 The Lover’s Invitation

He overcomes the hills of irritation, mental tiredness, physical weakness, busy schedules, and family difficulties. No obstacle can prevent us from enjoying sweet relationship with Christ if our hearts long for Him. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (1 Peter 1:3).

We may be like Mary and have a Martha who doesn’t appreciate our sitting at Jesus’ feet. Or our Martha may be our own voice within us telling we do not have time to “waste” at His feet or that we don’t know how to spend time enjoying Him. But when we determine to seek Him, He will say to our Martha as He did to Mary’s sister: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). He will overcome every difficulty when we seek to be near Him.

If we desire the inner joy that results from communion with Him and seek Him with all our heart, He will protect our schedules and will teach us how to draw near. He will skip over every hindrance Satan has designed to detract us from our love relationship with Jesus.
Selah: What things hinder you from spending regular time in His presence? Schedule, lack of desire…?

2:9 My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.
He is coming to invite her to arise and go with Him, but for the first time there is a wall between them. She now sees that she is not as close to Him as she once was. Even though He is her Lover, she has allowed something to separate them. Perhaps her faith has dwindled, her earnestness in prayer has decreased, or the Scriptures have been neglected.
He comes to us with great desire and He comes quickly like a gazelle because He is deeply in love with us.
Selah: Could there be a wall keeping you from sacred intimacy with Jesus? On a scale of 1 to 10, how sincere is your desire for Jesus’ fellowship?

2:10 My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.”

He has answered her prayer to draw her, and she enjoys Him, but is it truly necessary to go on a mission with Him?

She has been resting under the apple tree and then in His embrace. Her enjoyment of Him pleases Him, but now He is asking her to arise and come with Him. She had thought He was simply for her personal pleasure. But He is about to tell her of His higher purpose for her—to live for His pleasure.

So when He says, “Arise!” He is asking her to do more than sit and enjoy His blessings. Would His beautiful darling be a partner with Him? He longs for lost and broken people to experience His love.

Selah: With words such as “my darling, my beautiful one,” why do you think she hesitates? What kinds of things often hinder us from responding to Jesus when He challenges us to leave our comfort zone and do something for Him?

2:11 See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
2:12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
2:13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.

To encourage her to trust Him, He reminds her of the transformation that has taken place in her since that first cry of her heart. The dark times in her life are past. The springtime has come; it’s the time of singing. The earth is blossoming again and flowers appear on the earth.

This is a picture of what takes place in the heart of one who falls in love with Jesus. The cold winter of loneliness, misery, and selfishness is past, and the time of singing has come.

He tells her that the season of harvest is close. The voice of the dove is heard in Israel when it is time to gather crops. Green figs appear just before the mature figs. The fragrance of the young grapes indicates the harvest is near. He is continuing to answer her prayer to draw her to Himself by inviting her to join Him in the vineyard. He speaks tenderly and repeats, “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Surely she will be motivated to obey Him when she has such assurances of how loved and beautiful she is in His eyes.
Selah: The maiden had ears to hear His call to arise and come with Him after her time of resting in His arms. How are you to know when the Lord calls you to arise and follow? Have you begun to see a need that you had not noticed before or repeatedly had an idea of something you could do for Him?

2:14 My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
Her Lover reveals His tender affection for her as He calls her “My dove.” A dove is gentle and faithful. The dove hides on the mountainside rather than seeking to be noticed. He admired her for avoiding all needless attention to herself.

For her to want to arise and come with Him she must be in close communion with Him, so He asks to hear her adoring worship and her prayer. This is an invitation for her to intercede and cry out to Him. He is telling her, “You have focused on your satisfaction and what I am to you. Now let me take pleasure in you.”

Listen to the tone of His voice. He doesn’t brow beat her but encourages her. He comes as One who yearns for her fellowship. He does not remind her of all she previously said concerning Him—how He was her bundle of myrrh, her delight, the special tree among all other trees. It is amazing that the Sovereign One deals with His loved one in pleading tones. He says, “Let me hear...”

Jesus finds delight in His times of fellowship with us. He says, “I enjoy you. I call you delightful and I love you! Give Me your worship, for it is sweet.” Jesus calls your prayer life sweet!
Selah: He desires close communion with you—He stoops to see and hear when you look into His face and speak to Him! Will you praise Jesus, either with your outer or your inner voice (silent whispers of your heart)? It is fragrant incense to Him.

Take a few moments to whisper words of praise using the alphabet. “God, You are Amazing, Beloved, Creator....” See Appendix C.

Or “Sing to him a new song” (Psalm 33:3). Use new words and melody to praise Him.

2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
Before she can go with Him, though, there is something she must do. She must get rid of those little foxes that caused a wall between them. Foxes are cunning animals that will destroy a vineyard during the night. Our vineyard refers to our fellowship or connection with God that produces fruit. Foxes destroy fruitfulness.

He is addressing the subtle areas that seem so minor, yet capable of wounding our love for Him. Foxes are known for their crafty, devious natures, so we use the expression “sly as a fox.” The difficulty is that when foxes are little they appear so innocent. But little foxes, if not destroyed, grow up to be big foxes. We get used to them when they are small and we may fail to notice the damage they are doing to our relationship with Jesus.

What are some of the little foxes that will ruin our spiritual vineyards? Susanna Wesley wrote to her son John:

"Take this rule: whatever …impairs the tenderness of your conscience...or takes off your relish of spiritual things… that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself."

Jesus is very sensitive to anything that makes Him feel second-place. A friend had prayed fervently for God to answer his prayer, but it seemed God was not listening. One day God spoke clearly. “The hindrance is the idol in your life.” He had no idea that he had an idol. “Your idol is playing games on the internet.” A little fox takes our time and attention away from Him.
Is something other than your time with Jesus your priority for your day? Is there unforgiveness buried deep in your heart over something that may have happened years ago? Does the Spirit have access to your money, both to limit your spending and to prompt you to give? Are you excusing a critical, complaining, or impatient spirit—any unChristlike attitude? Is there a secret sin in your thought life or in what you look at on the internet? Too much secular reading or hours watching TV or a lustful habit all grieve the Holy Spirit and threaten to ruin the whole vineyard unless dealt with.

One day Jesus showed me a little fox in my vineyard. He gave me the sad feeling it gave Him. He was jealous of that “little fox.” “...the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).

Jesus says, “Catch for us;” it is a joint project. He will help us and show us where the foxes hide when we pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23). He does not bring the little fox to our minds if He does not have plans to destroy it. He can always enable us to be rid of anything that hinders us from enjoying intimacy with Him.

Selah: Is there a little fox robbing you of intimacy with Jesus? Right now confess it, determine to forsake, and trust Jesus to forgive and restore you. “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me” (Psalm 26:2-3).

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 57:1).