The Shulamite will now learn the conditions of abiding in the light of her Lord’s countenance. She is not there, yet. but she is close. However, she has not established herself in this degree of union, nor does she know all its special dangers — or the wiles of the adversary at this stage of the spiritual life.
The hidden one quickly learns how not to abide, because she says, “I went down to the garden to see . . .!” (Song 6:4). This, in practical experience, means self-introspection, which immediately brings a cloud on her heart. She is the Lord’s garden. It is not her place to go down to see how the Lord’s plants are growing. In other words, she must not look at her own experience or be occupied with how she is “getting along,” but, instead, she must be obediently “fixing her eyes on Jesus.” This is her only responsibility.
It is not without reason that the Lord always mentions first the “eyes of the heart,” because they indicate where the heart is, and her abiding depends on her faithfulness. Jesus told us that if “your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). The Shulamite must learn that the single eye is blind to everything else but the will of God. She must be content not to see other things if she is to abide in her Lord.
We can also think of the garden as Christian work with which the hidden one is deeply concerned about. She wanted to see whether there were signs of fruit, so she “went down to the garden.” She has yet to be taught that she may not act independently of her Lord in even the smallest things. Because little things can have very great consequences. The right thing may be done at the wrong time. Yes, he wants her to be concerned about his gardens, and in the budding vines, but she must not go until she is sent. She must learn to walk in step with him, and to know that “the one who trusts will never be disturbed” — or be in haste (Isaiah 28:16).
The Shulamite tells us frankly what she did, and how quickly she discovered her mistake. “I went down to the grove of nut trees to look at the new growth in the valley, to see if the vines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom. Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal chariots of my princely people” (Song 6:11-12). Maybe it was the chorus of the onlookers that distracted her from the still small voice of her Lord. Whatever caused it, she went down to have a look at how things were going in the “work!” Maybe it was because of her natural activity and energy that she was one of those that find it difficult to bring itself into the stillness and rest of God.
“Just a peek,” she said to herself, and before she knew it she found herself swept into a whirl that she compares to chariots. She had missed the Lord’s path and had lost her deep, centered calm.
But who are the princely people who were the immediate cause of this? Possibly those knit to her in a special spiritual tie, her own children, who have become princely souls (Psalm 45:16). Or others who had been changed from Jacobs to Israels, spiritual princes having power.
Brothers and sisters, we have to learn to be both blind and deaf if we are going to walk continuously in the will of our God and to abide in the Holiest of All.
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