“Go Forth on the Footsteps of the Flock”
To enter into the
genuine experience of
Christ we need to be in
the fellowship of
A recent Note mentioned that, if we take a name for ourselves other than that of being simply a Christian or a believer in Christ, it will be difficult for us to go on with the Lord in the best way. This is because, to the extent we do that, we cut ourselves off from “the fellowship of God’s Son” (1 Cor. 1:9; see “You Have Not Denied My Name” • 1)
We see a picture of this in the Song of Songs; even though it is presented in the form of an allegory, this love poem is the preeminent book of the Bible that shows us the way to grow in Christ and in our relationship with Him. (If you are not familiar with this view of the Song of Songs, I would encourage you to read
The Seeker in this book signifies one who is pursuing the Lord, while her Beloved signifies the Lord Himself. Not long after her first experience of His love (1:2), however, the Seeker becomes somewhat frustrated, and is not sure how she can follow Him. So she asks her beloved:
Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
Where do You feed your flock?
Where do You make it rest at noon?
For why should I be as one who
Beside the flocks of your companions?
— Song of Songs 1:7
So, here she feels she is somewhat covered, or “veiled” from her Beloved, because she is beside “the flocks of His companions.”
In the New Testament, of course, there is only one unique flock, as the Lord Himself tells us:
“And I have other sheep which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one Shepherd.”
— John 10:16
This “one flock” is the unique New Testament fellowship of the Body of Christ. But if that is the case, then what are “the flocks of His companions” spoken of here in the Song of Songs?
These signify the different flocks, so to speak, that have been raised up by various servants of the Lord over the centuries. For example, we may say that Martin Luther was a “companion” of the Lord; so the Lutheran church raised up by him (or actually, by his followers) is one of “the flocks of His companions”; the Methodist church is the flock of the Wesley brothers, and so on. And so often today, different brothers will serve the Lord and raise up their own flock as a free group. These are all “the flocks of His companions.”
So, how does the Beloved respond to the Seeker? He tells her to leave all these flocks behind to follow in the way of His unique flock:
If you do not know,
O fairest among women,
Follow in the footsteps of the flock,
And feed your little goats
Beside the shepherds’ tents.
— Song of Songs 1:7
In fact, this is the first time the Beloved speaks to the Seeker in the Song of Songs. The fact that she was so perplexed, and did not know where to turn, caused her to cry out to Him, and this in turn gave Him the ground to show her the way to go on. And the very first word He gives to her is to “follow in the footsteps of the flock.” No doubt, many Christians can see in this a picture of their own spiritual history with the Lord.
One of the striking characteristics of the Song of Songs is how many turns the Seeker needs to have in order to follow her Beloved; this, her turn from the companions’ flocks to her Beloved’s unique flock, may be the first, and all the subsequent dealings she has with her Beloved in this book depend upon this turn.
This picture shows us, then, that to be genuine followers of Christ, we must leave denominational and sectarian Christianity behind and follow in the footsteps of those who are gathered to the Lord’s name; this is the real “going forth” of our Christian experience. For it is only when we have such a turn that we enter into the genuine fellowship of God’s Son, where we will experience the direct dealings with the Lord as we pursue Him, and ultimately, gain the blessing of life the Lord bestows upon the believers dwelling in the genuine oneness of the Body of Christ (cf. Ps. 133).
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— 30 August 2023 —