The maiden has passed the ultimate test. She trusts and loves Him even after she has been unable to find Him and has been mistreated by others.
When her friends imply that He is no better than any other (5:9), her soul is stirred to its depths. She begins to pour forth a portrayal of Him that is comparable to the descriptions of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9-10 and of our risen Lord in Revelation 1:13-16. Her words guide our praises. As we praise Him, we, too, enter into His presence.
5:9 How is your beloved better than others, most beautiful of women? How is your beloved better than others, that you charge us so?
The maiden’s remarkable response to testing is not lost on her friends. They cannot understand such devotion. She has been mistreated by others and seemingly ignored by her Lover. Yet she refuses to be offended. In fact, she pleads, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick!” (NKJV).
In amazement they ask, “How can you be so in love with One who treats you like this? Tell us the secret?”
They call her “most beautiful of women.” They have a deep respect for her because she has remained loyal during the most difficult time in her life. During our most severe testing is often the time others see Jesus in us most clearly. They recognize that our response is not what theirs would be in similar circumstances.
If we had been mistreated as she was and we were asked to describe Jesus, what would be our response? Would we give a wholehearted praise of His faithfulness? If we speak of Him with unwavering love, we will find, as she did, that we have the joy of being restored to His presence.
The best way to maintain faith during our trials is to focus on Jesus and to praise Him for His unfailing love and to think deeply on His supreme superlatives. And this is what she does. While she is telling others, she is engrossed in the wonder of Him. Nothing brings us through the dark times better than to have our eyes on the attributes of God and His matchless qualities.
Selah: Think of a difficult period in your life. If you had been asked to describe what Jesus meant to you during that time, what would have been your response?
Do you know someone whose faith during testing has been an inspiration to you?
5:10 My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.
Instead of doubting His love because she does not enjoy a sense of His presence, the maiden begins to think on what she knows to be true of Him. At God’s chosen time, He will make her aware that He is very near.
She names ten things mentioning first a general statement. The qualities she mentions guide our praises.
How is it possible to describe the One who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being (Hebrews 1:3)? The word “radiant” means dazzling white. White is a combination of all colors. Jesus is the culmination of all perfections.
He isn’t just one of many. He is the best, the indescribable among tens of thousands. In the Hebrew ten thousand is used as a superlative. In everything He has the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18 NLT)
The word “ruddy” was used of a garment stained with blood. Jesus’ sacred body was reddened with His precious blood. We praise Him for the perfect beauty of His holy life that was a picture of holiness such as the world had never seen and such as no human intellect could have imagined. But it was His death that He said would draw all men to Himself (John 12:32).
What follows are the holy descriptions of why she finds Him to be everything to her.
5:11 His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.
His head of pure gold refers to the Divine leadership He has over everything. “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake” (Psalm 23:3). She joyfully exclaims, “He loves me and He has absolute authority over me! He guides every detail of my life!”
Black hair portrays His eternal and unfading power. When the Bible describes a man’s condition as degenerating, it speaks of his gray hair (Hosea 7:9). But our Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). “I am the LORD, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). His love, wisdom and power will never fade. When He gives us a promise, He has already seen the future and knows He can keep it. He cannot be talked into answering selfish prayers. God never changes moods or cools off in His affections. He never loses His enthusiasm for us.
Selah: Praise Him for His ability to lead and rule every detail of your life. What are specific times you know He led you?
5:12 His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk mounted like jewels.
She remembers that He looks at her with great love. His eyes are pure and clear with a moistness in them that expresses loving tenderness. Her heart melts as she remembers that even when He discerns her hidden sins, His eyes fill with compassion.
Scripture says that even though the rich young ruler would not follow Him, “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21). We often underestimate the love Jesus has for us when we fail.
His eyes are washed in milk. Milk is nourishing and refreshing and the look of love in His eyes nourished and refreshed her. In His eyes, she saw gentleness, purity, and the love of the Holy Spirit. Just as a dove fixes its eye only on its mate, so the maiden sees that the eyes of the Lord are fixed on her. He made her feel that she was the most special one in the world.
His eyes have ability to see everything about us—even our hidden motives, thoughts and desires. He sees our past and our future, but His eyes always look upon us with love.
Others may change their attitude toward us, but His attitude toward us never wavers. We can go to Him at any time without wondering whether we’ll find Him in a receptive mood.
Selah: What expression do you think Jesus has when He looks at you?
Is Jesus pleased with your concept of His attitude toward you?
5:13 His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume.
Many interpretations have been given to the word “cheeks,” but I especially like the reference to it in Pulpit Commentary as meaning “countenance.” The priests were to bless the Israelites with these words:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
“The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
“The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV).
The word “countenance” refers to God’s face repeatedly in Scripture. “Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD” (Psalm 4:6). When the light of God’s face shines upon us, we have His favor.
Selah: When God told the priests to bless the Israelites with the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 (above), He promised, “Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them” (Numbers 6:27). Pray this blessing for those in your family, and praise Him for the peace His favor gives.
His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.
Lilies have a sweet fragrance. “Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips” (Luke 4:22).
His lips drop myrrh; every gracious word He speaks is based on His death. Whether he says, “Your sins are forgiven,” (Luke 7:48) or “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48), His death made those statements possible.
His words always encourage us to embrace the Cross and die to self. Yet, even when He speaks convicting words, we sense loving concern.
One night when I was a teenager, strong accusations filled my mind telling me I was not really the Christian I professed to be. The words came so forcefully to my mind, that I was confused and frightened.
The next morning in tears I told an older lady about the accusations. She calmed my fears by teaching me how to discern between Satan’s voice and God’s. “Satan’s voice comes with force, often demanding an immediate response. God’s voice is gentle.”
God’s voice gives us clear direction, but Satan’s causes confusion. “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV).
If we are seeking to discern God’s will and lack clear direction, we should wait. God gives us time. God says, “This is what you ought to do.” Satan demands, “This is what you have to do!” If there is intense pressure associated with the thought, reject it as either your own mind or a satanic tactic.
When thoughts bring a helpless, hopeless, all-is-lost feeling, that is not God’s voice.
Selah: Have you sensed Jesus speaking to you regarding a needed change? If so, were the words harsh or tender?
At times are you confused about who is putting thoughts into your mind? If so, which of the points above can be helpful?
What are other ways to discern if thoughts that come to us are from God, Satan, or our own mind?
5:14 His hands are rods of gold set with beryl.
How comforting to remember that no one can snatch her out of His hands (John 10:28). She alone had the power to leave His loving hold. His holy hands are rods of gold. Everything His hands accomplish is pure, powerful and glorious.
Beryl is mentioned several times in Scripture including Ezekiel 1:16 and Daniel 10:6. In these places, the meaning is stability.
His hands have you, your loved ones, and all that concerns you firmly in His care.
His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires (NKJV).
The Hebrew word for “body” means inward parts and is sometimes used figuratively to represent emotion or compassion. So His “body” speaks of deep feelings or tender concern. There is no one like Jesus who is filled with kindness for each of us.
“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat” (Mark 8:2 NKJV). The Bible speaks five times of Jesus’ compassion for the multitudes. He had pity on the individuals also, such as the bereaved (Luke 7:12-13) and the sick (Mark 1:40-41).
Selah: Worship Him as you recall times His compassion made a difference in your life. Who has He used to express His loving concern to you?
5:15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold.
Jesus’ legs speak of His steadfast strength. Their pure gold bases are the foundation of His Divine power. He does not fail to accomplish all He desires. Nothing can stop Him when He is determined to act!
His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.
His appearance is as full of majesty and beauty as the cedars of Lebanon. Looking at Him was truly awe-inspiring—both to herself and to her friends who were listening to her.
We, too, are changed as we look on Him. As we remember His unsurpassed beauty, the enemy’s lies become faint. We begin to sense, as she did, that He is not far from us.
Selah: Since He loves to hear our words of love to Him, take one minute to write down all the words you can think of to describe Him. Then read or sing them as a prayer of worship.
5:16 His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103). Every other pleasure fades in comparison to one kiss of sacred intimacy. It is the most pleasing experience known to the human spirit. His Words transform us. Even the temple guards said, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). His words are full of truth and loving-kindness.
By the end of her speaking, her words are full of feelings. It is as if she is joyfully singing, “He is altogether lovely. This is my lover; this is my friend.” She has learned the power of speaking His praise. Her mountain of despair had disappeared!
The daughters of Jerusalem must have been amazed. She came to them in shame, but now they can see that just speaking about her Lover has lifted her head, and she rejoices as she thinks of how wonderful He is.
Isobel Kuhn tells in her book Green Leaf in Drought of the Matthews who were missionaries in China when Communism overtook the country. Other missionaries were allowed to leave, but they and their small daughter were left alone with barely enough money to survive. Their clothes grew ragged, and their food supply became so poor that even the Chinese felt pity. For months they prayed earnestly for release and claimed God’s promises for deliverance. But this “claiming” only wore them out and made them restless.
Then one day it occurred to Arthur that Jesus had left heaven, not just to fulfill the will of God, but also to delight in doing what His Father wanted. Up to now they had not really submitted. Instead, they thought they should be claiming His promises. Their prayers had selfishly centered around shortening their days in China.
They knelt before the Lord and joyfully abandoned themselves to do His will. They would gladly stay in that little room as long as He wished them to.
The peace of God poured in like a flood. Arthur wrote to people who had been praying for their release and quoted the words, “Thou hast kept the best wine till now.” Delighting in Jesus gave them more joy than a mere deliverance would have provided. Arthur and Wilda began to praise God and to gladly cry with the psalmist, “I delight to do thy will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8 KJV).
Selah: Why is the best gift during testing often not relief from the situation, but grace to endure joyfully as the Matthews did? Have you experienced such a time?
Has there been a time when you praised God while you were going through a deep trial? What were the results?