Keeping the Vineyards
Our maiden has been an active worker, a “keeper of vineyards” (Song 1:6), but — vineyards appointed by others. It seems that she has thought more of service than of conformity to the image of Christ. Like Martha, she was distracted by all the serving that had to be done (Luke 10:40), and, in caring for everyone else‘s needs, she failed to sit at his feet to hear his word. She was so caught up in the doing of works that she neglected her own personal relationship with the Lord. Jesus told Martha that only a few things were necessary, and really only one (Luke 10:41-42) and that we should do it without neglecting the others (Matthew 23:23).
Our maiden is now beginning to feel the pain of being misunderstood and misjudged by other children of God. “My mother‘s sons were angry with me . . .” (Song 1:6). Whoa! They thought she was one of the most consecrated workers, and couldn’t understand her bitter self-condemnation and her cry that she is black. Didn’t she walk in victory? Wasn’t she used by God? Then what in the world is this sudden exclamation? You see, they never knew how she had suffered in secret under the increasing conviction of utter failure. They never saw what was passing between her and her Lord. It was true she had laid aside every weight, and had walked in victory up to the light she had. Now — all that she had thought was beautiful, looked black, and all of her consecrated activity was nothing but a hideous, loathsome self.
“Don‘t even look at me,” she cries, “because the sun has scorched me!” “God is a sun, a consuming fire” — He has scorched me with his terrible holiness. “Woe is me, for I am undone; I have seen the King” (Isaiah 6:5).
The maiden is so conscious of what she is in herself, she feels as if she had been laid bare to every human eye, as well as the eyes of God. She cannot stand any praise or esteem from those around her. Every desire to be looked up to, or honored, is gone. Her only desire is a deeper abasement so that her Lord alone may be seen.
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