When Fellowship With Christ Is Broken
Sermon Manuscript on Song of Solomon 5:2–6:3 by Brian Mann
Sigmund Freud is famous for his psychoanalysis which offers no solution at all to ills of the mind. Others took Freud’s philosophy further by offering ways to curb guilt through instincts and others to destroy guilt by electric or chemical control of man (Rushdoony). Freud represents a battle against Moses, to destroy guilt and Moses himself if he could. No wonder the devil searched for the body of Moses and contended with the archangel Michael for it. When fellowship with Christ is broken, guilt must be dealt with through Christ our priest, with confession and repentance.
In Song of Solomon 5:2–6:3 offers us immense hope that when fellowship with Christ is lost due to our sin, all is not lost, but in fact hope is actually being built even through communion with Christ in this experience. Even when fellowship with the Shepherd-lover is lost…
The Bride is forgiven.
The Shepherd-lover is found on the outside at night, knocking to come in (v.2). This is reminiscent of Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says to the Laodicean church in the first century,
Revelation 3:20 ESV “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
The context of those words is helpful. In the preceding verse, Jesus said,
Revelation 3:19 ESV “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
This makes clear that the matter was not one of losing forgiveness, but losing fellowship. Moreover, hope was not lost, but just begun, as v.21 states,
Revelation 3:21 ESV “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
As Rushdoony wrote,
Jesus had to overcome, and only so He could reign. His people are saved by His atoning work but not spared from life thereby, and life means, in this fallen world, struggle and trouble. Acceptance into Christ’s army means, not deliverance from battle, but deliverance from defeat. There is a necessity to do battle, to overcome, and only so to reign. The condition of victory is always battle. The modern lust in religion and all of life for a battle-free victory is only escapism of the ugliest sort. Salvation is never deliverance from conflict but the assurance of power and victory in the conflict.” (Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come, p.125–26)
So, we see that the bride may have lost fellowship, but she did not lose forgiveness. Psalm 32 says,
Psalm 32:1–11 ESV “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
She did regret, but regret is no sign of loss of forgiveness, but perhaps the presence of such. She recalled her reasoning behind her reluctant response saying,
Song 5:3 ESV “I had put off my garment; how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them?”
She felt herself to be like one of the foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1–13. She offered reasonable explanation for her not running to the door. She had put offer her garment. Much like the foolish virgins of Matthew 25, she became drowsy, and she was found unprepared. The Christian has a white garment to wear, but that doesn’t mean it is not put off when we sin. When it is, we are not a little reluctant to run to the door to let Christ in, go to church, and fellowship with other believers who are intent on being holy.
She offers another reasonable excuse. She had bathed her feet, how could she soil them! (v.3b). It was Jesus himself who taught Peter that his whole body did not need to be clean, because it was clean already. However, his feet needed to be washed. So, it is for the Christian that we may be quick to quit going out into the world where our feet are sure to get dirty; where we are sure to make mistakes. But does not God promise us that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness? (1 John 1:8–9) Yet, the temptation is there to remain home, yet we have both put off our garment as well as been reluctant to go to the door in the name of two fallacies. The first fallacy is that of thinking we do not have to actively wear our garment of righteousness in the event of Christ’s coming to us. The second fallacy is that of thinking we keep our garment clean by keep our feet from dirt; or perhaps better we think that there is not enough grace in Christ to cover us as we go about obeying him in this world. So, the bride did not come to the door though her Shepherd-lover knocked. He was soaked outside in the night. Nevertheless, losing fellowship with him, she did not lose forgiveness! Furthermore, though she lost fellowship with him,
The Bride is Feeling.
She is feeling something toward him now, even though she feels awful about her own reluctant actions. And in v.4 she recalls,
Song 5:4 ESV “My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me.”
She lost fellowship, but not feeling! The word “thrilled” is a strong one, meaning to roar. It is used of a yearning not only of man but of God. In Jeremiah 31:20 God yearns for Ephraim, he cannot forget his feeling toward his chosen ones. Neither can the bride forget her feeling for her shepherd-lover. She may have lost his presence, but she never lost his pardon.
The Bride is Faithful.
Throughout the Song is a testimony of the faithfulness of the bride under the circumstances of captivity to the world in Solomon’s harem. She utters the refrain repeatedly to not do love the way Solomon did, but the way the Shepherd-lover did. However reluctant she was to open that door due to her own foolishness, she felt something so strong toward her shepherd-lover, that though late, she would arise (v.5). Her faithfulness was sure. She would arise remembering her Shepherd’s call in 2:10, 13; 3:2. But this did not immediately restore the fellowship. She found him still missing. Her soul fails her (v.6b). As David writes in Psalm 32,
Psalm 32:3–4 ESV “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah”
Elsewhere David says that his heart and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of his heart and his portion forever! This is why it is likely everything this Shunnamite learned was from David himself before he died. She was likely the woman of 1 Kings 1:1–4.
Her search led her into the city, which Owen allegorizes as the Church, and the watchmen as the officers of the church. Whatever the case she is headed toward the walls. She instinctively knew before her time that her Shepherd would be outside those walls and she was called to go fellowship with him (Hebrews 13). Yet, she pays dearly for her sin in the city, there was only one place safe for her and it was with her Shepherd, though a terrifying and deathly and dangerous place, it was the safest with her Lord! She’d rather be outside with Christ than inside with the world. Church discipline may seem painful, but it is often the price to experience because of your sin. It will be productive in the believer’s life because though fellowship is lost, forgiveness is not, but it is a means to making one faithful. Correction from your pastor is one thing, but some have to experience what it is to be put without, outside with the world before they will properly testify of their Lord. This is what she does next in v.8, she testifies to the worldly daughters of Babylonian Jerusalem that she is looking for her beloved! This would not have taken place without the pain of correction in the church, and confrontation with the world, but now it has. It was again testimony that she lost her fellowship with God, but not forgiveness.
The Bride is Fruitful.
She goes on to testify of her Shepherd-lover in contrast to Solomon (vv.10–16). She gave answer to the hope within her even when she herself was at her worst. Her shepherd-lover was still sanctified in her heart, though not by her life at the time. She describes him similar to David, as ruddy (v.10). If you recall that David was chosen among the brothers of his family, and described as such. Then, unlike Solomon who was hiding behind his 60 bodyguards of mighty men, the true Shepherd was “distinguished among ten thousand” (v.10b). The description in v.10 brings to mind Daniel’s statue in Daniel 2. This one is described like a god, because He indeed is God, the God-man. his locks are the third in the series of ten items named here. We can’t necessarily be exhaustive here, but the point is that these describe the Lord. His locks are literally wavy palm branches (LXX). His eyes are just like hers, “doves” (v.12). They were what Solomon wanted, but only what the Shepherd had. They were what Solomon longed for behind the veil, but this Shepherd had the veil removed through means of the officers of his church, standing and preaching Christ (v.7). His cheeks and lips are cited as most experiential to her as they belonged to her betrothal kisses in the beginning of this Song. She speaks of his mouth in v.16 again. She knows this man in committed terms. Moving from the smells and tastes of her Shepherd-lover, she also speaks of his arms, body, legs, and appearance in terms of glory like the Temple (vv.14–15). It was as if she was saying that Solomon’s palace was not a palace for her, she wanted to be in God’s house! All this being said leads to the world asking her in 6:1 where he may be found! Note they questioned her love for this Shepherd-lover in v.9, but now after hearing about him, they want to go too! They want to seek him as well. This of course could be a Matt. 2:8 Herod type seeking that is ingenuine, but it seems the intent is to show that he loss of fellowship that could not lose forgiveness or feeling or faithfulness toward her Shepherd-Lord gave way to a search that bore fruit not only for her own life to assure her, but to lead others to him!
She could thus say exactly where he was, close at hand. She could name the place, and she closes with confidence that she is still (if not even more surely) his and he (if not even more surely) is hers. The reference to lilies at the end reminds us of Luke 12:27, in a section that teaches us not to be anxious.
So, let us then learn that when fellowship is lost, forgiveness is not, feeling is not, faithfulness is not, fruit is not! Hope is not lost, it may have just begun! It is being built at all times, even in times when we are at our worst, the truth is stronger still!
The sermon delivered using this manuscript may be found at sermonaudio.com/sermon/52222164492087