2469. The Incomparable Bridegroom And His Bride

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No. 2469-42:277. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, June 10, 1866, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, June 14, 1896.

What is the beloved more than another beloved, oh you fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us? {So 5:9}

1. This morning, we had the great privilege of preaching on the doctrine of substitution, and of directing the minds of God’s people to the solid rock of the meritorious sacrifice of Christ on which all their hopes of heaven must be built. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 694, “Sin Laid on Jesus.” 685} What we have to say tonight is less doctrinal, and more practical; therefore let us guard ourselves at the outset. If we should, with very much earnestness, urge believers to good works, let no one suppose that, therefore, we imagine that men are saved by works. Let no one for a moment dream that, in urging the believer to produce righteous fruit, we are at all teaching that salvation is the work of man. I have no doubt that all of us who know anything about true religion are of the same opinion as that famous Scottish divine, old David Dickson, who was asked, when dying, what was the principal subject on which his thoughts were engaged, and he answered, “I am gathering up all my good works, and all my bad works, tying them into one bundle, and throwing them all equally down at the foot of the cross, and am resting only on the finished work of Jesus.” It is related of that mighty master in Israel, James Durham, that his experience at the last was very much similar to that of his friend Dickson, for he said, “Notwithstanding all my preaching, and all my spiritual experiences, I do not know that I have anything to hang onto except this one sentence spoken by Christ, ‘Whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out.’ ” “Ah!” replied someone who stood by Mr. Durham at the time, “you might well risk a thousand souls, if you had them, on the strength of that one precious text.”

2. Having said so much by way of caution, I want to address some earnest words to the people of God on certain practical truths that arise out of our text; and the first thing I have to say is this, that the daughters of Jerusalem recognised in the spouse an excellent beauty, which dazzled and charmed them, so that they could not help calling her the “fairest among women.” This was not her estimate of herself; for she had said, “I am black, but beautiful.” Nor was it the estimate of her enemies; for they had struck her, and wounded her. But it was the estimate of fair, candid, and impartial onlookers.


4. You will observe that it was as a result of thinking her the “fairest among women” that they asked the spouse, “What is your Beloved more than another beloved?” They thought that one so fair might well have her choice of a Bridegroom, that one so lovely herself would be likely to have an eye for loveliness in her Husband, and consequently they considered her judgment to be worth some attention, and they asked her the question concerning why her Beloved was more than another beloved. Take it for granted, dear friends, as a truth which your own observation and experience will make every day more and more clear, that your power to spread religion in the world must mainly depend on your own personal character, of course, in absolute reliance on the Holy Spirit. I suppose it is the earnest wish of every Christian to win for Christ some new converts, to bring some fresh province under the dominion of the King of kings. I will tell you how this may be accomplished.

5. Your power to achieve this noble purpose must largely depend on your own personal consistency. It little avails what I say if I do the opposite. The world will not care about my testimony with the lip, unless there is also a testimony in my daily life for God, for truth, for holiness, for everything that is honest, lovely, pure, and of good report. There is that in a Christian’s character which the world, though it may persecute the man himself, learns to value. It is called consistency, — that is, the making of the life stand together, not being one thing in one place and another thing in another, or one thing at one time and quite different on another occasion. It is not consistency to be devout on Sunday and to be dishonest on Monday. It is not consistency to sing the songs of Zion today, and to shout the songs of lustful mirth tomorrow. It is not consistency occasionally to wear the yoke of Christ, and yet frequently to make yourself the serf of Satan. But to make your life consistent is to make it powerful, and when God the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, then your testimony will impact those among whom you live. It would be ludicrous, if it were not so sorrowful a thing, to be spoken of even with weeping, that there should be professed Christians who are through inconsistency among the worst enemies of the cross of Christ. I heard, the other day, a story which made me laugh. A poor creature, in a lunatic asylum, had gotten it into his head that he was some great one, and he addressed a person who was visiting the asylum in the following words: — “I am Sir William Wallace; give me some tobacco!” What a ridiculous contrast between his proud assertion and his poor request! Who but a lunatic would have said such a thing? Yet alas! we know people who say, by their actions, if not in words, “I am a Christian, but I will take advantage of you when I can; I am one of the blood-royal of heaven, my life is hidden with Christ in God, and my citizenship is in heaven, but — but — I like worldliness, and sensual pleasure, and carnal mirth quite as well as other men!” I say again, that this kind of thing would be superlatively ludicrous if it were not ineffably sorrowful, and it is always utterly contemptible. If your life is not at all consistent, the world will soon learn how to estimate your testimony, and will consider you to be either a fool or a knave, and perhaps both.

6. But it is not enough to be barely consistent; what the world expects in Christians is real holiness as well as consistency. Holiness is something more than virtue. Virtue is like goodness frozen into ice, hard and cold; but holiness is that same goodness when it is thawed into a clear, running, sparkling stream. Virtue is the best thing that philosophy can produce, but holiness is the true fruit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of that alone. There must be about us an unworldliness, a something out of the common and ordinary way, or else, that uncommon gospel, that heavenly gospel, which we hold, will not seem to be producing its legitimate fruit. If you are just barely honest, and no more, if you are barely moral, and no more, it is of no use that you should try to speak of Christ; the world will not consider you as the fairest among women, and it will not enquire anything about your Well-Beloved.

7. But, brothers and sisters, I feel as if, instead of exhorting you like this, I might better turn to confession myself, and ask you to join me in confessing how far short we come of being anything like the fairest among women concerning character. We do hope that we have something Christ-like about us; but oh, how little it is! How many imperfections there are! How much is there of the old Adam, and how little of the new creature in Christ Jesus! Archbishop Ussher was once asked to write a treatise on Sanctification; this he promised to do, but six months rolled away, and the good Archbishop had not written a sentence. He said to a friend, “I have not begun the treatise, yet I cannot confess to a breach of my promise, for, to tell you the truth, I have done my best to write on the subject; but when I came to look into my own heart, I saw so little of sanctification there, and found that so much which I could have written would have been merely by rote as a parrot might have talked, that I did not have the integrity to write it.” Yet, if ever there was a man renowned for holiness, it was Archbishop Ussher; if ever there was a saintly man who seemed to be one of the seraphic spirits permitted to stray beyond the companionship of his kind among poor earthworms here, it was Ussher; yet this is the confession that he makes concerning himself! Where, then, shall we hide our diminished heads? I am sure we may all say, with good Mr. Fletcher, of Madeley, who was another bright example of seraphic holiness, that what we need is more grace. He had written a pamphlet on some political matter, and Lord North wrote to know what he could give him in return. His answer was, “I need what your lordship cannot give me, — more grace.” That is also true of us, we need more grace. It is to be had; and if we had it, and it transformed us into what we should be, oh, what lives of happiness and of holiness we might lead here below, and what mighty workers we should be for our Lord Jesus Christ! How would his dear name be made to sound to the utmost ends of the earth! I fear it is only a dream; but just conceive that all of you, the members of this church, were made to be truly saintly, saints of the first water, saints who had cast off the sloth of worldliness, and had come out in the full glory of newness of life in Christ Jesus, oh, what a power might this church become in London, and what a power to be felt over the whole wide world! Let us seek it, let us strive after it, remembering that it is a truth never to be denied that only in proportion to the sanctity and spirituality of our character will be our influence for good among the sons of men.

8. II. Advancing now a step, our second remark will be, that WE SHOULD CHARGE OTHERS CONCERNING CHRIST. “What is your Beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?”

9. The “fairest among women” was asked why she had spoken this: “I charge you, oh daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved, that you tell him, that I am sick with love.” By this “charge” is meant, I suppose, that the spouse adjured them, and spoke solemnly to them about her Beloved. Christians, be troublesome to the world! Oh house of Israel, be like a burdensome stone to the world! You are not sent here to be recognised as honourable citizens of this world, to be petted and well-treated. Even Christ himself, the peaceable One, said, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and how I wish that it were already kindled?” What I mean is this, we are not to be quiet about our religion. The world says to us, “Hold your tongue about religion, or at least talk about it at fit times; but do not introduce it at all times so as to become a pest and a nuisance.” I say again, and you know in what sense I mean it, be a nuisance to the world; be such a man that worldlings will be compelled to feel that there is a Christian in their midst. An officer was walking out of the royal presence on one occasion, when he tripped over his sword. The king said to him, “Your sword is rather a nuisance.” “Yes,” was the officer’s reply, “your majesty’s enemies have often said so.” May you be a nuisance to the world in that sense, troublesome to the enemies of the King of kings! While your conduct should be courteous, and everything that could be desired as between man and man, yet let your testimony for Christ be given without any flinching and without any mincing of the matter.

10. This afternoon, I was reading a sermon by a certain divine, whose subject of discourse was, why the working classes do not go to a place of worship, and the preacher seems to have made up his mind that, whatever is preached in this Tabernacle, is especially obnoxious to labouring men and women. The reason he gives why the working classes do not attend places of worship is that we preach such dreadful doctrines. It is very remarkable that places where these truths are preached are crowded, while places where the opposite things are proclaimed are often empty! It is curious, if the doctrine of the gospel is such a very horrible thing that it drives people away, that at the places where it is preached there are more people than can get in, whereas where some of the modern doctrines are declared, you may see more spiders than people! It is an exceptional circumstance, certainly, yet one for which we can easily account. A Socinian {a} minister was once asked by one who preached Evangelical truth, “If I, who proclaim doctrines which you say are obnoxious to common reason, have my place full, and you, who preach such pretty, reasonable doctrines, can get no one to hear you, do you not think it is because the people have an idea that what I teach is true, and that what you preach, though it is very pleasant and palatable, is not true, and therefore they do not care to hear it?” It is not by altering our testimony that we are to hope to win an audience, and it is not by hiding the light of the gospel under a bushel that you or I shall discharge our obligations to our Lord. We must speak up for Christ, and so speak up for him that men will be moved to ask us the question, “What is your Beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?”

11. I have read that Mr. Kilpin, of Exeter, had every pew in the chapel where he preached sketched out on a plan, and the names of all the occupants of the pews written on it, so that he might pray for everyone, and, if possible, speak to everyone. Such a plan might not be practical in so large a building as this, but it is an excellent method; and if we cannot adopt it, let this place be mapped out in your own mind, and let every believer, wherever he sits, consider that there is a little district allotted to him, and let him seek to have a word of courteous Christian conversation about divine things with all who sit near him. I suggest this as a very excellent mode of beginning to “charge” others about Christ; and then in your daily business, in the workshop, at fit times and seasons, at periods when Christian prudence and Christian zeal would give their voice together, introduce Christ, and begin to talk about him, and hold him up as the great cure-all for human diseases, the great staff and support for human weakness. We shall never see as much blessing as we might until the work of the Church becomes far more general than it is at present. There is something which every believer can do for his Lord. He must be able to tell of what he has tasted and handled of the Word of Life, and if he has not tasted and handled it, then he is not a child of God at all. The best teaching in the world is practical; nothing wins men over like personal witnessing, not merely teaching the doctrine as we find it in the Book, but as we have felt it in its living power on our own hearts. When we begin to tell about its effect on ourselves, it is wonderful what power there is on others in that testimony. A person talks to me about a certain medicine, how it is compounded, what it looks like, how many drops must be taken at a dose, and so on. Well, I do not care to hear all that, and I soon forget it; but he tells me that for many months he was bedridden, he was in severe distress and in great pain, and close to death; and, looking at him as he stands before me in perfect health, I am delighted with the change, and he says that it was that medicine which restored him. If I am a sick man in the same state as he was, I say to him, “Give me the name and address of your doctor, for I must try that medicine for myself.” I believe that the simple witness of converted boys and girls, converted lads and lasses, especially the witness of converted fathers and mothers and beloved friends, the witness that comes of the grey head that is backed up by years of godly living, has a wonderful power for the spread of the gospel, and we cannot expect that God will give us any very large blessing until all of us shall be at work for our Lord. We need not all climb up the pulpit stairs, but each one of us can proclaim Christ according to our ability, and according to the circumstances in which he has placed us. When we shall do that, then we may expect to see “greater things than these.” Days that shall make us laugh for very joy of heart, and almost make us dance like David did before the ark, will come when all the rank and file of the army, and even those who halt on their crutches, shall march unanimously against the foe.


13. You perceive that the question of the text is not, “What is your Beloved that he should be equal to others?” It is, “What is your Beloved more than another beloved?” The idols of the heathen are all made to stand in the Pantheon face-to-face, and there is no quarrelling among them; but as soon as you introduce Christ there, they must all go down, or he will not stay. The principle of the toleration of every form of doctrine — I mean not, of course, civil toleration, which we hold to be always necessary and right, but I mean mental toleration, — the principle of the mental toleration of all forms of doctrine, and all forms and shades of action, is heathenish, for where Christ comes he comes to reign; and when once he enters the soul of a man, it is down, down, down with everything else.

14. There is a text which is often misunderstood. I heard it read like this only last Sunday: “No man can serve two masters.” I very much question whether he cannot; I believe he could serve, not only two, but twenty. That is not the meaning of the text; the true reading of it is, “No man can serve two masters.” They cannot both be masters; if two of them are equal, then neither of them is really master. It is not possible for the soul — to be subject to two master passions. If a man says, “I love Christ,” that is good; but if he says, “I love Christ, and I love money, and I love them both supremely,” that man is a liar, for the thing is not possible. There is only one who can be the master-passion; and where Jesus enters the soul, love for him must be the master-passion of the heart.

15. It strikes me that a Christian, living fully up to his privileges, would be such a man as this; — if he had, on one side, the opportunity to enjoy pleasure, and, on the other side, a painful opportunity of honouring Christ, he would prefer to honour Christ rather than to enjoy himself. If, on the one hand, there were gain, even lawfully to be had, and on the other hand, Christ could be honoured in a way that would bring no monetary gain, the man would prefer the glorifying of his Master to the obtaining of the advantage in cash which was held out to him. And if it comes to this, that by soft speeches he may get himself into good repute, and that by sternly speaking out and rebuking error he may honour his Master but bring much contempt on himself, if he is a genuine Christian he will always take the latter course. The first question he will ask will be, “How can I most honour my Lord? How can I best glorify him?”

16. It is clear that Christ is not first in every nominal Christian’s heart. No, alas! he is not first, and he is not even second, he is very far down on the scale. Look at them, — good honest tradespeople, perhaps, but from the first dawn of Monday morning to the putting up of the shutters on Saturday night, what is the main business of their life? It is only, “What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or with what shall we be clothed?” Now, where is Christ in such a case as that? Look at others; with them the question is, “Where shall I invest such and such an amount of spare cash? How shall I best lay by such and such a sum? What field shall I buy next? What house shall I add to my estate?” As for the Lord Jesus, he is put off with the cheese-parings and the candle-ends; he gets a little now and then dropped into the offering box, but it is only a mere trifle compared with what he ought to receive. The man’s words are nine hundred and ninety-nine for himself, and perhaps not much more than half a one for Christ; almost all his time goes to the world, and not to his Lord; his whole self goes to himself, and not to the Saviour to whom he professes to belong.

17. This is not the case with the truly Christ-like man. With him, Christ is first, Christ is last, Christ is midst, Christ is all in all; and when he speaks about anything connected with Christ, his words come with such a solemn earnestness, that men are impressed with what he says, and they turn around to him, and ask, as the daughters of Jerusalem enquired of the spouse, “What is your Beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?”

18. IV. Our last thought is this; if ever, through the grace of God, we should possess such a character, and bear such a testimony as we have been talking about, so that men shall ask us the question of the text, IT WILL BE GOOD FOR US TO BE PREPARED TO ANSWER IT.

19. This is an age in which the world asks many questions, and from some Christians it cannot get an answer. I will say one thing which some of you may not like to hear, perhaps, but I cannot help that. There are some of you who are Baptists; but why? Well, I suppose, because I happen to be one, and you have followed me without carefully studying the teaching of the New Testament on the question. I fear it is so with some of you, and there are others of you who are Wesleyans, or Independents, or Church people, but the only reason you can give for being so, is that your grandmother, or your mother, happened to be of that denomination. This is an age in which people do not estimate truth as they should do. A good earnest controversy seems to me to be a very healthy thing, because it turns men’s attention somewhat more than usual to divine things; but you know how it is, even with many professing Christian people. They think it would be wicked to read a novel; but if it is written on a religious subject, it is a very proper thing then. There is hardly a weekly newspaper, nowadays, or even a penny magazine, that can live without having a novel in it; and there must be a market for all this rubbish or it would not be supplied so plentifully. Why, sirs, in Puritan times, men read solid books like John Owen “On the Mortification of Sin”; they studied such works as Richard Gilpin “On Satan’s Temptations,” or Stephen Charnock on “The Divine Attributes”; but, in these days, people who ought to read these solid books, so as to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, are often wasting their time over poor stuff which only addles the brain, and does the soul no good. I wish that we could again see a race of sturdy believers, who would hold to nothing but what they had tested by the Word of God; who would receive nothing merely because it was taught by their minister, or by their parents, or by any human authority, but who would accept with unquestioning faith everything that is revealed in the Inspired Book. Our motto still should be, “To the law and to the testimony: if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” We want to cultivate again — and oh, may God give us grace to do so! — a race of men who shall be rooted and grounded in the faith, and who, when they are asked for a reason for the hope that is in them, shall be able to give it, not with fear and trembling and hesitation, but with holy boldness and determination, because they have tested and tried the matter for themselves.

20. See how the spouse does; she does not pause for a second before she gives her reply. She is asked, “What is your Beloved more than another beloved?” and she has the answer, as we say, at her finger tips, and why was this? Why, because she had it in her heart. So she says, “My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.” She does not say, “Wait a bit, I must read up on that question; I must get myself well-instructed on it,” but it is such a vital point, and one so dear to her, since it touches the person of her Lord, that she answers at once, “Is my Beloved better than any other beloved? Certainly he is, and here are the reasons.” She puts them together one after another without a pause, so that the daughters of Jerusalem must have been convinced; and I commend her example to you also, my beloved in Christ Jesus. Do study the Word, so that your faith may not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. I beseech you, if I have taught you anything that is not revealed in the Scriptures, or if you have received anything only as by my authority, give it up until you have tested and tried it by the Word of the Lord. I am not afraid what the result will be, for if in anything I have erred, I pray the Lord to teach me and also to teach you, so that we may grow together in the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of the faith. Let us all seek to be taught by God; and then, with a holy life added to this divine instruction, and a clear testimony for Jesus Christ constantly borne by us, our witnessing must impact the age in which we live.

21. Oh, that the Lord would send us times of true revival once again! Run your finger down the page of history until you come to the Reformation; what was there in Luther, in Calvin, in Zwingli, that they should have been able to shake the world any more than there is in men who are living nowadays? Nothing but this, that they believed what they did believe, and they spoke with an awful earnestness, like men who meant what they said, and immediately there arose a noble race of men, men who felt the power of faith, and lived it out, and the world was made to feel that “there were giants in those days.” Then, again, in later times, when the Church had fallen into a fatal slumber, there came the age of Whitfield and Wesley. What was the power of the early Methodists? Why, simply the power of true sincerity combined with holiness! What if I say that it was the power of intruding religion on men, of forcing men to hear God’s voice, of compelling a sleeping world to wake out of its slumbers? As I sat, last week, in the hall of the Free Church Assembly in Edinburgh, just beneath the Castle, I was startled in my seat, I thought the whole hall was going to fall, for at one o’clock the timegun {b} on the Castle was fired from Greenwich by electricity. It startled every one of us, and I noticed that nearly everyone took out his watch to see whether it was right by the gun. I thought to myself, “That is just what the Christian Church ought to do. It ought, at the proper time, to give a loud, clear, thundering testimony for God and for truth, so that every man might examine his own conscience, and get himself put right where he is wrong.” Our testimony for Christ ought not to be like the ticking of an ordinary clock, or as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, but a mighty booming noise that commands and that demands a hearing. Only let our soul be linked with heaven, let the Spirit of the Lord flash the message along the wires, and our life may be just as accurate and just as startling as that timegun at Edinburgh. So, when men ask us, “What is your Beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?” we shall have an answer ready for them, which may God bless to them, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Jesus” 386}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — Jesus Our Choice” 807}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — Beauties Of Jesus” 802}

{a} Socinian: One of a sect founded by Laelius and Faustus Socinus, two Italian theologians of the 16th century, who denied the divinity of Christ. OED. {b} Timegun: The One O’Clock Gun is a time signal, and is fired every day at precisely 13:00, excepting Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day. The gun was established in 1861 as a time signal for ships in the Firth of Forth, and complemented the time ball, which was installed on Nelson’s Monument in 1852, but which was useless during foggy weather. The gun could easily be heard by ships in Leith Harbour, 2 miles (3.2 km) away. Because sound travels relatively slowly (approximately 343 metres per second (770 mph)), maps were produced in the 1860s to show the actual time when the sound of the gun was heard at various locations in Edinburgh. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Castle" For video clip. See Explorer "http://www.timegun.org/"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {So 1}

We will this evening read in the one Book of the Bible which is entirely devoted to fellowship; I allude to the Book of Canticles. This Book stands like the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and no man shall ever be able to pick its fruit, and eat it, until he first has been brought by Christ past the sword of the cherubim, and led to rejoice in the love which has delivered him from death. The Song of Solomon is only to be comprehended by the men whose standing is within the veil. The outer-court worshippers, and even those who only enter the court of the priests, think the Book to be a very strange one; but those who come very near to Christ can often see in this Song of Solomon the only expression which their love for their Lord desires.

1, 2. The song of songs, which is Solomon’s. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for your love is better than wine.

The Person here alluded to is not named; this omission is very common and usual to all-absorbing love. The spouse is thinking so much of Christ Jesus her Lord that it is not necessary for her to name him; she cannot make a mistake, and she is so oblivious of everything else, that she does not think of them, nor of those who would ask, “Who is this of whom you speak?” The communion is so close between herself and her Lord that his name is left out: “Let him kiss me.” By the kiss is to be understood that strange and blessed display of love which Christ gives from himself to his children. Inasmuch as the word “kisses” is in the plural, the spouse asks that she may have the favour multiplied; and inasmuch as she mentions the “mouth” of her Bridegroom, it is because she wishes to receive the kisses fresh and warm from his sacred person.

“For your love is better than wine.” It is better in itself, for it is more costly. Did it not flow out in streams of blood from a better wine-press than earth’s best wine has ever known? It is better, too, in its effects; more exhilarating, more strengthening, and it leaves no bad results.

3. Because of the savour of your good ointments your name is as ointment poured out, therefore the virgins love you.

The spouse surveys all the attributes of Christ, and she compares them to individual and precious ointments. Christ is anointed as Prophet, Priest and King, and in each of these anointings he is a source of sweetness and fragrance to his people. But as if jealous of herself for having talked about the “ointments” when she should have spoken of him, she seems to say, “Your very name is as an alabaster box when it is opened, and the odour of the precious spikenard fills the room.”

    Jesus, the very thought of thee
    With sweetness fills my breast.

“Your name is as ointment poured out,” and the spouse adds, as a note of commendation, “therefore the virgins love you.”

4. Draw me, we will run after you:

She feels, perhaps, as you do now, beloved brethren, heavy-hearted; she cannot fly, nor go to reach her Lord; but her heart longs after him, so she cries, “Draw me, we will run after you.” While she prays the prayer others feel it suitable to them also, so they join with her. When Christ draws us, we do not walk, but “run” after him; there is no heavy going then. When Christ draws us, how swiftly do we fly, as the dove to the dovecot, when Jesus’ grace entices us.

Running soon brings the spouse to her Lord; for notice the next clause: —

4. The king has brought me into his chambers:

It is done: “The King has brought me into his chambers.” Come to him in prayer, and maybe, while you are still speaking, he will hear; while you are musing, the fire shall burn, and you shall be able to say, “Yes, he has brought me near to himself, to the retired chamber where I may be alone with him, to the chamber of riches and delights, where I may feast with him.”

4. We will be glad and rejoice in you,

This is the sure result of getting into the inner chamber with Christ.

4. We will remember your love more than wine: the upright love you.

Not only the just in heart, those pure and lowly ones who, wherever the Lamb leads, from his footsteps never depart, but the upright, those who love moral excellence and virtue, they must love Christ.

Now the singer’s note changes: —

5. I am black,

Ah, my soul, how true is that of you! “I am black,” —

5. But beautiful,

Oh, glorious faith, that can, through the blackness, still see the beauty! We are beautiful when covered with the righteousness of Christ, though black in ourselves. “I am black, but beautiful,” —

5. Oh you daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar,

Smoke-dried, foul, filthy, poverty-stricken.

5. As the curtains of Solomon.

Bedecked with embroidery made with gold and silver threads, and fit for a king’s tent, so strangely mixed is the nature of the believer: “black but beautiful,” … “as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.”

6. Do not look at me, because I am black, because the sun has looked on me:

Perhaps you are afraid, beloved, that the Master should look at you, for you feel yourself so unworthy.

6. My mother’s children were angry with me;

You have been persecuted until your spirit is broken.

6. They made me the keeper of the vineyards;

Perhaps you have been put to some ignoble work; you have toiled under the whip of the law; but you have a worse sorrow even than this, for you have to add: —

6. But my own vineyard I have not kept.

You are conscious that you have restrained prayer, that you have neglected searching the Word, that you have not lived as near to God as you ought to have done; and all this seems to make you feel as if you could not come into close communion with Christ. Come, my brother, my sister, shake off your unbelief, may the Master shake it off from you! Then once again you can change the note, as the spouse does here: —

7. Tell me, oh you whom my soul loves, where you feed, where you make your flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one who turns aside by the flocks of your companions?

There are other shepherds, though they are false ones, and these pretend to be companions of Christ; but why should we turn aside to them? And yet we shall, oh our Beloved One, unless you tell us where to follow you, and how to remain close by your side, or tell us where you make your flock to rest at noon! Here comes the answer: —

8. If you do not know, oh you fairest among women, —

Just note that; she said that she was black, but Christ says that she is the fairest among women; in fact, there is a passage in the Song where he twice over calls her fair; as Erskine puts it, —

    Lo! thou art fair, lo! thou art fair,
       Twice fair art thou, I say;
    My grace, my righteousness becomes
       Thy doubly-bright array.

Oh you faithful ones, what joy is contained in this high note of praise which your Lord gives to you! “If you do not know, oh you fairest among women,” —

8. Go your way by the footsteps of the flock, and feed your kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

There are two ways of finding Christ; first, follow after true believers; most of you know some experienced Christians; follow their footsteps, and so you shall find their God. Or else, go to the shepherds’ tents; wait on the ministry of the Word; the Lord is often pleased to reveal himself to his people when they are willing to hear what messages he sends through his ambassadors.

9. I have compared you, oh my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.

True believers are as strong, as noble, as beautiful as the horses in Pharaoh’s chariot, which were renowned throughout all the world. Let us be like those horses, let us all pull together, let us draw the great chariot of our King behind us, let us be content to wear his harness, so that we may be partakers of his splendid triumph.

10. Your cheeks are beautiful with rows of jewels, your neck with chains of gold.

Here Christ praises his Church. Orientals were in the habit of wearing jewels in such abundance that their cheeks were covered with them, and then they multiplied the chains of gold on their necks; and the graces which Christ gives to his people, and especially the various parts of his own finished work become to them like rows of jewels and chains of gold.

11. We will make you borders of gold with studs of silver.

As if Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would all work together to make the believer perfectly beautiful.

12, 13. While the king sits at his table, my spikenard exudes its perfume. A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved to me;

Not a sprig, notice that, but a bundle of myrrh.

13. He shall lie all night between my breasts.

Christ, as a bundle of myrrh, shall always be near our hearts, so that every life-pulse shall come from him.

14. My beloved is to me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.

He is not, I say again, one sprig or spray of camphire, but a cluster of it. The spouse, you see, multiplies metaphors to describe her Bridegroom, and even when she has done so, she cannot reach the height of his glory.

    Nor earth, nor seas, nor sun, nor stars,
    Nor heaven, his full resemblance bears;
    His beauties we can never trace,
    Till we behold him face to face.

16. Behold, you are fair, my love; behold, you are fair; you have doves’ eyes.

So Christ speaks of his Church, she has the soft, mild, tender eyes of a dove. Besides, she has the discerning eye by which the dove can distinguish between carrion and fit food; and then she has a clear eye like that of the dove. You know that the dove, or pigeon, when it is taken far away from home, and wants to reach its dovecot, flies around and around until it gets up high, and then it looks for miles, perhaps for hundreds of miles, until it tracks with unerring eye its own resting-place, or some familiar landmark, and then, with cutting wing, it flies through the air until it reaches its home. So, every believer should have doves’ eyes, — eyes that can see from earth to heaven, and see Christ in his glory, even when his cause is disowned by men.

16, 17. Behold, you are fair, my beloved, yes, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

We have the word “rafters” here, but it should be “galleries.” The “bed” expresses the close fellowship which Christ has with his people. The “house” is a larger expression, and perhaps denotes the whole Church; and the “galleries” indicate the ordinances of grace. You notice that these are made of unrotting wood, the one of cedar and the other of fir; and truly, dear friends, in closing our reading, we can say to our Lord, —

    No beams of cedar or of fir
    Can with thy courts on earth compare;
    And here we wait, until thy love
    Raise us to nobler seats above.

Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
386 — Jesus
1 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
   In a believer’s ear!
   It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
   And drives away his fear.
2 It makes the wounded spirit whole,
   And calms the troubled breast,
   Tis manna to the hungry soul,
   And to the weary, rest.
3 Dear name! the rock on which I build,
   My shield, and hiding place;
   My never failing treasury, fill’d
   With boundless stores of grace.
4 By thee my prayers acceptance gain,
   Although with sin defiled;
   Satan accuses me in vain,
   And I am own’d a child.
5 Jesus, my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
   My Prophet, Priest, and King;
   My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
   Accept the praise I bring.
6 Weak is the effort of my heart,
   And cold my warmest thought;
   But when I see thee as thou art,
   I’ll praise thee as I ought.
7 Till then I would thy love proclaim
   With every fleeting breath;
   And may the music of thy name
   Refresh my soul in death.
                        John Newton, 1779.

The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
807 — Jesus Our Choice
1 Though all the world my choice deride,
   Yet Jesus shall my portion be;
   For I am pleased with none beside;
   The fairest of the fair is he.
2 Sweet is the vision of thy face,
   And kindness o’er thy lips is shed;
   Lovely art thou, and full of grace,
   And glory beams around thy head.
3 Thy sufferings I embrace with thee,
   Thy poverty and shameful cross;
   The pleasures of the world I flee,
   And deem its treasures only dross.
4 Be daily dearer to my heart,
   And ever let me feel thee near;
   Then willingly with all I’d part,
   Nor count it worthy of a tear.
                  Gerhard Tersteegen, 1731;
                  tr. by Samuel Jackson, 1832.

The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
802 — Beauties Of Jesus <8.7.4.>
1 White and ruddy is my Beloved,
      All his heavenly beauties shine;
   Nature can’t produce an object,
      Nor so glorious, so divine;
         He hath wholly
      Won my soul to realms above.
2 Farewell, all ye meaner creatures,
      For in him is every store;
   Wealth, or friends, or darling beauty,
      Shall not draw me any more;
         In my Saviour,
      I have found a glorious whole.
3 Such as find thee find such sweetness
      Deep, mysterious, and unknown;
   Far above all worldly pleasures,
      If they were to meet in one;
         My Beloved,
      O’er the mountains haste away.
                  William Williams, 1772.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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