Finding The Presence of God In Community

January 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

searching binocularsToday’s Wednesday morning inductive Bible study was based out of Song of Solomon 2:10-3:11. I’ve written about chapter 2:14-15 of the song extensively in the past, and have been blessed with a powerful insight into it that many have encouraged me has blessed them immensely when they’ve heard me teach on it.

I’ve got quite a history spending time meditating and camping out in this one passage, until a few weeks ago in our study someone suggested something I had never thought before. Or at least, I had never noticed and given the thought of seeing it any differently.

In our study we tackle the book as though the Shulamite woman is representative of the people of God, and that the man spoken of is representative of the Bridegroom, Jesus.

That being said, beginning in the tenth verse of the second chapter we’re given the idea that the man has invited the woman to ‘rise up’ with him and go spend time alone together privately. Then around verse 14 he iterates that he wants to see her face and hear her voice. I had read different translations many times over the years, and never until the last study–and upon looking at the New Living Translation — given thought to the idea that the woman is not actually present with the lover at this point. She’s resisting him and he’s trying to persuade her to come out of hiding.

That being said, verse 15 is ambiguous as different translations indicate they believe the man is speaking, while others portray it as the woman. The third chapter begins with the woman either waking up in the middle of the night or laying in bed having just laid down to rest. She realizes he’s missing and gets up to go looking for him.

I never realized before that he was missing since Song 2:10.  This understanding didn’t fundamentally change anything I’ve taught on the second chapter before, but adds a layer to it that’s worth considering.

And that’s why I’m writing it down like this before I forget.

God very often is a gentleman and leaves us to our disobedience if we absolutely will not do what He asks of us (Romans 1:24-28 indicates this in extreme rebellion to Him). In this particular instance, the man seems to have backed off and disappeared, causing a yearning in her soul to motivate her to get out of her place of peace and comfort and go outside to look for him.

At this point in the song, she’s gotten up and is either looking with the daughters of Jerusalem (v.6) or they happen to be around when she approaches the watchmen to ask if they’ve seen the one her soul loves. Verse 4 indicates that around the time she had given up and was about to leave, he shows up.

All of us, at various points of our Christian lives can relate to the feeling that God seems as though He’s away when we’re looking for Him. Oftentimes He feels far due to our own disobedience or lack of reciprocating when He’s inviting us into the higher levels of intimacy with Him. We need to cultivate our personal times of intimacy with Him, but notice also that when He “showed up” at this point in the song was when she was in the midst of community. That’s to say, when she was with the daughters of Jerusalem, a type of other believers and ‘sisters’ in the Lord at varying levels of maturity, along with the watchmen, representative of other intercessors or pastoral figures more mature than us.

Her lover showed up not only in the nick of time, but when she was seeking counsel from others possibly wiser and more mature than her. He showed up when she was being observed by those who may have been younger than her, and whom she invites throughout the song to enter into relationship with him for themselves. She gets through this time of testing and grows through this seemingly dark night of her soul, reunited with her lover.

There’s something to be said here that we are not an island and need not be isolated from others in the Body of Christ, for that’s where we see Him do mighty things. Granted, we need to cultivate our own intimacy with God and others can merely give us advice or prophetic words to encourage us but they cannot replace our intimacy with the Saviour.

Likewise our personal alone time with God cannot replace the work He does in community with other believers.

Steve Bremner

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Steve Bremner is a Canadian missionary to Peru, who is called to raise up disciples who flow in the power of the Holy Spirit within a missional community named Oikos. He is passionate about blogging and podcasting, and is general editor of Fire Press, and also produces & co-hosts its podcast called Fire On Your Head. If you like Steve's blog, you'll also like his Kindle books. Note: this post may have contained affiliate links of which I receive a small commission if you purchase something I recommended.