Dear radio friends,
Today we continue where we left off last week. We were talking about a verse in the Holy Scriptures, Song of Solomon 2:3, where Jesus Christ is referred to as the apple tree. We saw that the child of God views Him as the source of all strength and the source of all sweetness and refreshment in this world.
We come today to verse 4, where the bride, again speaking of her husband, says: “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” So today I speak to you on the theme “His Banner of Love Is Over Us.”
Again, it is important for us to remember that we look at the book of the Song of Solomon in the Scriptures as a book that is intended to be the picture of Christ and the church. Though it is the poetic love-song between Solomon and his wife the Shulamite, yet we believe that the Holy Spirit has shown us that this is intended to be a picture of that mystical and wonderful and mysterious union between the Lord Jesus Christ and His bride, the church.
The words that we are looking at today are these: “He brought me into the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” In those words Solomon’s wife is recalling the time when Solomon had brought her to his banqueting hall. At that time she was seated right next to him as he sat upon his throne in all of his regal power and glory as king over Israel. And to her amazement and delight, she looked up and saw that Solomon had arranged to have a banner hung from the rafters over where she sat. And emblazoned on the banner was the word “love.”
As I said, the Song of Solomon represents the truth of Christ and the church. So, leaving Solomon and his wife the Shulamite woman, we will look at the reality of Christ and His church today. For Jesus Christ is the greater than Solomon, said Jesus. And King Jesus has brought His church into His banqueting house where we might rejoice in all of His blessings.
The banqueting house is His church. He has brought us into His church. And within the confines of the church (the body of Christ) we rejoice in all the blessings of Jesus Christ. Every time we enter into the church and come together for congregational worship His banner of love is unfurled over us. His banner at that time is a banner of love. Whenever we worship and the gospel of grace is preached, whenever the glorious truth of the cross (the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ) is preached, the truth of the Scriptures is preached. Then over us is hung and unfurled the message (Gal. 2:20): “The son of God loved me and gave himself for me.” Over the church, especially as the church worships Him within His house, there is hung a banner of love.
And when we look up by faith, we cry out in delight and amazement. And the wonder of His love warms our soul.
So let us look at this a bit.
The Song of Solomon is the song of king Solomon and his wife the Shulamite woman. Solomon loved her deeply. We read in the first chapter that she had come from the lowly class of people and she had been at one time a servant in a vineyard. And she had done much work, so that under the sun she had been blackened, sunburnt. She thus came lowly. Yet she was the object of the love of Solomon.
The banquet house that Solomon has brought her to is the house where marriage is celebrated — a wedding reception. And over her is the word “love.” Love is that ardent desire whereby God holds to us and cleaves to us and cherishes us. We read earlier (chapter 1) that Solomon looked upon his wife as fair. He says, “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair.” And in chapter 2:2 he says, “as the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”
Christ does not love all. He loves His church, and that church, the elect body of Christ, the church that His Father has elected for Him, is as a lily to Him among the thorns. Jesus Christ has an exclusive love for His church. He rejoiced in that love. He wanted to display that love. As Solomon wanted to show his love to his wife, so Jesus Christ shows His love to the church. As Solomon brought his bride into the reception hall and unfurled a banner over her where she was sitting and that banner said, “Solomon loves the Shulamite woman,” so Jesus Christ unfurls over us His church the banner: “King Jesus loves His church.”
Hear these words, Eph. 5:25: “Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it”; Eph. 1:4, 5: “In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children”; Is. 43:4: “I have loved thee”; Jer. 31:3: “With lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
All too soon the wonder of the love of God in Jesus Christ loses its effect upon us. Let it not lose its effect. That love is the most amazing and glorious thing that there could possibly be — glorious even unto all eternity. That love of God in Jesus Christ for His church was an eternal love. It was a deep love within His own heart. It existed with God eternally. From eternity to eternity. In love (Eph. 1) having predestinated us. In love before the worlds were formed. That love was a sacrificial love. We read: Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. He gave Himself to the cross, to the agony, to the suffering, to the bearing of our eternal hell. That love was a saving love. It was a love whereby He drew us to Himself. In lovingkindness, Jeremiah says, God draws us.
The love of God is not impotent. God does not love without an ability to bring the object of His love to Himself. Oh, the love of God is a mighty power. Everything must give way to that love. In love He brings the church to Himself. And that love is a faithful love. He will never go back on His love, for He is God. He is not as a man, who is fickle. So He has loved the church. And in that love He has washed the church from all of their sins and made them righteous and pure in the Son of His love. Through His love He has given the Holy Spirit, whereby we are brought to repentance. Do you have that repentance, that sorrow of heart before God?
And through all of these things He takes us to Himself in the covenant. Jesus Christ loves His church. He loves me. He loves every child of God brought to Him by grace. He loves repentant believers. Say that, repentant believer. “The Son of God loved me.”
This is the great good. The great good is the love of God in Christ for me. And with Solomon’s wife we stand in amazement and delight. For we are utterly undeserving. Nothing else really matters except that Christ loves the church. Nothing else really matters except that Christ loves me. We can come again to church on this day with many burdens. We examine ourselves and we see how often in the past week we have failed our Lord and how quickly we have sinned and how we have turned to anger and jealousy and hatred and bitterness and resentment and lust. Then we come to church and, perhaps, we feel all alone, or we are wrestling with a great anxiety, or we are filled with fear over the future. Or we may have been going through sickness and great pain of body. Or we have great pain in our heart over our children. And we have many struggles and many burdens. Yes, that is all true. But this is what matters: Christ loves me. Christ loves His church.
I may say that that is the only thing that matters. That is the thing that is the most important because Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And having His love, I am assured of all things, through Him, with God.
What is the anchor of the soul that is given to us as we look to the Scriptures? We ask the Scriptures: What is that place where we might stand, that great good that is surpassing all else, and that is greater than all evils that could ever come to me? Where is that place? I must have that. If I have that place, then all is well. That place is this: The love of Jesus for me. Who shall separate us, asks the apostle, from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus? That great chapter (Rom. 8), the pinnacle of our security and confidence. Christ hath loved me.
Jesus Christ, to assure the church of His love, places a banner over His church. And the whole point of the passage from the Song of Solomon today is that the love of Jesus Christ is made visible to His people. His people come to know about it. Solomon placed a banner over his wife. It was very conspicuous. She blushed. He brought her into a banqueting house and he raised up a great banner over her. Everything is very visible.
She sits beside him as his wife. And amid all the laughter and merriment of the wedding reception, she gazes up and sees the testimony of his love for her in that beautiful banner made of velvet and purple and blazoned with color. Solomon loves his wife.
So also we know the love of Jesus for us. We know that. How often in the Scriptures do we not find the words, especially the words as they are inspired through the apostle Paul, “For we know” — not we guess, not we hope, not maybe, but by the Holy Spirit we know!
Still more. That word comes to us in the gospel. In the preaching of the Word of God the Holy Spirit brings that word to the heart of the believer. And that word, made powerful by the Holy Spirit, is a word of assurance. When you sit under the preaching of the gospel you begin to feel, as a child of God, that God is speaking to you. This is the living Word of God. Why do you feel that way? Because the Holy Spirit is working in you, because God has loved you.
Then, within the church, we come to a table. It is called the table of the Lord’s Supper. And at that table again a banner is lifted up over the church whereby the church is given to rejoice and to see the evidences of the love of Christ for her. The church is given at that time bread, which is broken, and wine, which is poured out. And with the breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the wine comes an oath, an oath from the Lord, an oath from the King, an oath from Christ: I have loved you and have given Myself for you that you might live. And I, now, live in you.
Christ raises over His church a banner of love. This is of grace. He brought me to His banqueting house. He did that. The love of Jesus Christ is the seeking power. The irresistible love of Jesus Christ goes forth always to conquer. It is irresistible. All those who are given to Him the Son shall bring to Himself.
That banner of love is unfurled over the believer. The believer is given to know the love of Jesus Christ for her, for him, for the church. Does not a husband who is living in the love of God want his wife to be certain of his love for her? Does he not understand that she needs to know this? Do you not understand that a woman, a wife, needs to know that you love her?
Jesus Christ is not a careless husband. He does not say, “Well, she ought to know. Of course I love her. She ought to know that!” No, Jesus Christ makes very sure, by the Holy Spirit, that the child of God does know the love of Jesus. It is not the will of Jesus Christ that you go through your life doubting. Doubting, piously worked in the heart, is not piety. It is shameful. To foster doubts, that is not piety. That is shame. We must not question His love. But, by grace, we must be humbled under that love.
That love of Jesus Christ comforts us. If you read again the Song of Solomon, the first chapter, you will discover that Solomon’s bride had enemies. They came from her ownhousehold. She had critics. And she had people who would persecute her. Being a king’s wife did not shield her from the abuse of those who hated her husband. And she had her own defects. She admits them in the first chapter. So also the church on earth today has many critics, many enemies, and many shortcomings. We have the guilt of our sin. We are sinful. We need protection. We need comfort. Here is our comfort: Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son, has loved us.
But this not only comforts us. This honors us. How tremendously honored Solomon’s wife felt. She sat next to the king. And everyone knew that the king loved her. Think about that. Think about it this way, as a girl. What might it be like to be brought to the right hand of a king who sits upon a throne, in all of his royal power. And then, in a beautiful garment, to be told to sit next to him. Then, over your head is unfurled a great banner in royal blue, on which are written the words that he loves you.
But all of that is nothing. That is, the earthly story of that is nothing. There is One who sits upon the throne. There is One who is surrounded by the angels. There is One who is radiant in power. There is One by whose power all things happen both in heaven and on earth. The stars in their courses and the movement of nations. All men do that which He decrees. Sin and evil flee from His presence. He is the Lord Jesus Christ enthroned in glory. There is a young lady sitting by His side — the church. And His glory is not only over Himself, but over her. We share in the honor of the King of kings and Lord of lords. And He, unashamedly, says, “I love my church.”
This moves us. This moves us to love Him. The deep, mighty love of Christ moves us, it works in us, it controls us so that we love Him. It works in us so that we are devoted to Him. It works in us so that we delight in Him. It moves us not only to love Him, but to love one another as children of God. It moves us to lay down our life for each other. It moves us to forgive each other. It makes us compassionate. It makes us tenderhearted. We reason this way: If Jesus Christ has so loved us, we ought also to love one another. It makes us reason this way (II Cor. 5:14): The love of Christ constrains us. It gets a grip on us. It gets a hold of us. Read what the apostle says in II Corinthians 5:14, 15 — that we should no longer live unto ourselves but unto Him who has loved us, who has died for us and is risen again. We love Him, by His grace. We will obey Him, by His grace. We will follow Him. We will serve Him. He loves the church. And, by His grace, the church loves Him.
This is amazing. This is wonderful. This is comforting. He has brought us into His banqueting house. And His banner over us is love.
May this Word of God be your comfort, your strength, your light in this week.
Let us pray.
Father, we do thank Thee again for Thy Holy Word, a Word that is sure, a Word which is amazing. We praise Thee, for it is all of Thy grace. Ever work within us that consciousness of the eternal and wonderful love of Christ for us, His people, His church. In Jesus’ name do we pray, Amen.