“Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,
So is my beloved among the sons.
I sat down in his shade with great delight,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:3,4)
[Should the believer just desire God’s love or enjoy His love?]
Many Christians spend much of their lives desiring the love of Christ, and still more in desiring to love Christ…There is love to Christ, but a sense of distance. …
How many of us have felt a well-known line in a hymn suit the real state of our souls—”Oh, draw me, Savior, after Thee”—and may have wondered why a dear servant of the Lord, more deeply experienced in the love of Christ than ourselves, should have altered it to, “Lord, Thou hast drawn me after Thee.” Is not the difference immense?
The difference would not be greater than if you saw a child looking eagerly through a shop window at various kinds of delicious fruit within. Yes, that child loves grapes, and pears, and plums, and greatly desires them, but not one does it enjoy; it is outside, and they are all inside. A kind hand opens the door, and a loving voice says, “Come in, my child. Freely I give you all. Eat and enjoy whatever is for your good.” How real the difference between the desire of that child, and the enjoyment of the fruit!
And has not that One with the wounded hand opened the door? Or does He leave us outside still, only to desire? It is, or was, the true place of a Jew outside the holiest; he could only earnestly desire. That is not the true place of a Christian…
“God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him” [1 John 4:16]. Yes, He has not only brought us into the banquet of love, and spread His banner over us, but this is our dwelling, abiding place. Is it not written, “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end”? [John 13:1]. The banner of love ever floats over us. The fruit is ever sweet. The perfect rest is ever secure. Not a sin did He fail to bear. Never can He cease to love or intercede for those whose sins He bore [Heb. 7:25].
…The believer has not to desire peace with God, and rest to his soul. “I sat down” (v.3). He has not to long for repose of soul in the presence of Christ. No, he rests under His shadow in sweet repose. He has not to desire the love of Christ; that love is sweet to his taste. He has not to say, “Oh, draw me”; [rather] he is brought into the banqueting house. He can say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feeds among the lilies” [Song 2:16].
There is no [self] effort to love; all is deep, perfect, full enjoyment. [“We love Him because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19.]
[For example] A miner in a deep pit, on fire, and about to perish in the suffocating fumes, may well cry out, “Oh, draw me out; draw me out into the bright day and pure air!” But if a nobleman sent his own son as volunteer to rescue him from that pit of death, and then made him joint heir with that son, of a large estate, his desires would be entirely changed [Rom. 8:17]. His one desire would be to be with that one who had saved him, walking and talking with him, sharing all the delights of the estate together.
Is this an overdrawn picture? Far from it. Every illustration fails to set forth the eternal love of God in Christ. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you: continue in My love” [John 15:9]. Surely then He could not love us more. “So have I loved you.” Note, we have not to keep His commandments to cause Him to love us, or to attain to His love, but to abide in His love. “If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” [John 15:10].
And why does the Lord speak this way to us? He says further, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” [John 15:11]. He would not have us remain outside in the continual disappointment of mere desire, but come into the banquet of
- full joy in the everlasting possession of His love,
- with the conscience purged,
- and in perfect repose, through His precious blood;
- the heart forever satisfied, dwelling in His unchanging love;
- the affections now free to act and flow forth from Himself to all the objects of His love.
For this is the desire of His heart. “This is My commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you” [John 15:12]. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” [John 15:13].
Have we to desire Him to do this? Surely not. Who could have conceived such a thing? No, “God so loved.” Jesus so loved. It is done. “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” [Eph. 5:25]. “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” [Rev. 1:5].
…Just think of the glory given to Christ, already given to us. And shortly the world shall know that the Father has loved us, even as He has loved Christ!! Oh, yes, the blessed One, with those wounds in His hands, says, “Come unto the banquet; My banner over you is eternal love.”
Excerpt from The Love of Christ
Charles Stanley 1821-1890 (British Bible teacher and author)
Title and bracketed content added, some old English words updated – JBW