“His Hand Upon the Door”
If we are “asleep”
spiritually only a direct
experience of Christ
Himself can rouse us
As we saw in our previous Note, at a certain point in the Song of Songs the Seeker entered into rest apart from her Beloved, and so he departed from her. (SS. 5:2-3. That Note was “Asleep, yet Awake”; if you missed it, I’d encourage you to read it before going on here).
It was not that she no longer loved him; she surely did. Rather, as C.A. Coates points out, the problem was that, even though true affection was present, it had ceased to be an energizing factor in her being.
And so she was at rest, even though she had lost his presence.
Hudson Taylor, the great 19th century missionary to China, in his commentary on the Song of Songs, Union and Communion with Christ (the only commentary he ever wrote), states of these verses:
Self-occupied and self-contented, she scarcely noticed his absence….And more than this, the door of her chamber was not only closed, but barred—an evidence that his return was neither eagerly desired nor expected.
What could save the Seeker from such an enervated state?
Not the Beloved’s “voice” and “knock”; even these are not enough to stir her at this point (5:2). Coates likens this to ministry which may be very much of the Lord, but which still cannot stir us from our rest. A believer may have been in many genuinely helpful church meetings and ministry gatherings, and been profited by them, and yet not be touched by the Lord in the deepest way.
Only a direct experience of her Beloved could reach her now; only by seeing him, even just “his hand,” is she roused to seek him anew:
My beloved put his hand
By the latch of the door,
And my heart yearned for him.
I arose to open for my beloved.
— Song of Songs 5:4-5
His hand being put in by the hole of the door is evidently a further and more direct action of his love. His voice and his knock were heard before, but he was hidden….It is now, in a peculiar way, himself, and this changes everything….Now it is himself. And the depths of her soul are moved: “My bowels yearned for him.”
— Coates, page 128
And so, finally, she rises up and opens to him.
The Song of Songs 5:6-8 goes on to show us that she will need to pass through a painful trial before she is restored to her Beloved; only this can bring her to the repentance she needs. Nonetheless, she has, at this point, risen up to seek her Beloved again. As Coates states:
He is now so real and attractive that selfish ease no longer detains. There is revival, movement, a quickening of the heart in relation to him.
— Coates, page 127.
Many of us, after being in the Lord for so long, may find ourselves in such a state of spiritual complacency, and need to be revived. Yet, like the Seeker in the Song of Songs, “our heart is awake”; we do still love the Lord. May we, then, seek for a fresh vision of Christ Himself. (This has surely been my own prayer lately!) May we ask Him to reveal Himself and His love to us anew, in such a way that we cannot but rise up to pursue and serve Him once again in a living, energetic way.
The comments from C.A. Coates that are summarized in this Note are from pages 124-129 in the printed version of his commentary.
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— 15 February 2022 —