Song of Solomon 3:9-11. King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon, he made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.
It is easier for the devil to be behind the statement, “I found Him”, than it is for him to be behind, “I found Him not”. There are thousands upon thousands today in Scotland whose cry is, “I found Him”. But there is a great danger that the devil is behind the statement. It is a good thing for a soul to have been made lonely, brought down in itself to the brink of hell. It is good for the soul to whom the Holy Ghost has discovered Christ. It is good for such a soul the day he can say with assurance, “I found Him”. But I say to you it is very difficult for Satan to get behind, “I found Him not”. That is not his way or his object. Yet he would certainly like to add another sentence to it: “You will never find Him”.
You have here the spouse of Christ telling us the exercise she had on her bed at night. It was dark with her. The sun had gone down and the light of the moon or stars is not mentioned. But her mind went out to her Beloved and she sought Him. “I sought Him but I found Him not.” What a mercy that she was not given over to delusion! What a mercy to you in Dingwall today if you are not given over to delusion, and if this is a miracle of personal experience with you today: “I found the Saviour”. The Church here said, “I will arise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him”. And so she did; she got up and went through the streets, and after she had gone through every street of the city her conclusion was: “I found Him not”.
Mr Tallach was speaking about the Saviour’s clothes, and I was thinking that the child of God will feed upon what the ungodly trample under their feet. They trample under their feet the invitation from God to turn and live – such an invitation as Mr Tallach mentioned: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth”. The ungodly are trampling that invitation under their feet as a worthless thing. The child of God may not be able to put his hand on the promise, but he will seek to lay hold on the invitations that God in His grace gives to the ungodly world. Many a time the believer gets a little ease just through the invitations that God has made to sinners, to the careless and ungodly world. He cannot put his finger on the promise, but he is encouraged when God says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon”.
She tried the broad ways too; she sought Him but she found Him not. The Holy Ghost made her honest with her soul. The Holy Spirit did not allow her to rest in any feelings, but made clear to her that she had not found Him who alone could make up time and eternity to her. “I found Him not.” It is good to be seeking Christ and not to be satisfied with anything less than finding Christ. The watchmen themselves could not help her in her extremity, “to whom I said, Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?” She does not tell us what answer they gave her, but she had to go past them. Yes, you will have to learn that salvation is of free grace; you will have to know what it is in your soul’s experience to pass from everyone and everything.
But He will meet you. He met her. “But I found Him.” The day is coming, and coming soon, when you will have to pass from everyone and everything. “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” The Lord teaches His people that they will have to pass by everybody and that, if He will not be theirs, they will have nothing. Then she said she found Him and would not let Him go – and that was her wisdom. You have also in the context the Church compared to one coming out of the wilderness, coming up from Egypt, from the wilderness, like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant. The chapter concludes with the glory of the Saviour Himself in His relation to His Church and to His people.
I want to say a little on three things:
- Zion’s King – King Solomon.
- The preparation He made for coming up through the wilderness. He made Himself a chariot to come up out of Egypt through the wilderness to Zion. He made it of the wood of Lebanon; the pillars of it were of silver, the bottom of gold, and the covering of purple, and the midst of it was paved with love – all for the encouragement of the daughters of Jerusalem.
- Our duty and privilege in connection with Him and His glory. The Holy Ghost says, “Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals and in the day of the gladness of his heart”. Behold Him in all His glory and in His relation to His Church and people, to each one of them.
1. Zion’s King – King Solomon. Let us not spend time on the literal Solomon. In all his glory he was very, very insignificant in comparison with the King whom the Holy Spirit is setting before us here. The Saviour said about Solomon that he had less glory than the lilies and the grass of the field. It was tinsel glory that Solomon had, so that the Saviour said, “Behold the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”. It is the fingers of the Lord that make the lilies. But we have a greater than Solomon here, even King Jesus, the King of whom Mr Macfarlane was speaking to us last night, the King of Glory. He is the King of Glory in His mediatorial office, as it is written: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”. That is the person you have here.
King Solomon got his name because of his peacefulness. He was to be the king of peace. Jesus also is the King of peace, but He is first of all the King of righteousness. As we were singing in the psalm, He loved righteousness and hated iniquity. This brought Him between the two thieves on Calvary, and thus He brought in peace by the blood of His cross. He is our Solomon; we have no peace but what we have in Jesus when we are out and out against the devil and sin and ourselves. We have no peace – no, not when we are seeking to worship God – but fighting against an evil heart and wandering thoughts. There is no peace in ourselves, but Christ is our peace. He made both one and He cast down the middle wall of partition. He destroyed the enmity, making peace by the blood of His cross. You view Christ today as the King of peace and accept peace from Him too, although you do not need to expect to be at peace with yourself and the devil and the world as long as you are here. Accept peace from Christ, who is the King of peace. “I will hear what God the Lord will speak; for He will speak peace unto His people; and to His saints; but let them not return again to folly.”
Now the King here is certainly Jesus, the King of peace. He got a name from the Lord along with the name that was given to Him by Mary and Joseph – the Darling of Jehovah, God’s Beloved. O friends, Christ is that in a way that transcends all – His only begotten Son. That tenth chapter of John is wonderful; He says there: “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again”. Along with the love that the Father had to the Son from all eternity, the mediatorial office of Christ was, so to speak, another channel for the love of the Father to go out to Him. He loved Him as the only begotten Son in His bosom, but Christ’s work as mediator and Saviour had been from all eternity a channel for the love of the Father to go out to Him. Along with His love to Him as His only begotten Son, He loves Him, as He said, “because I lay down my life, that I might take it again”.
O dear friends, He is the wisdom of God. Solomon was the wisest King who ever lived; the Lord bestowed wisdom upon him. Our King is the wisdom of God; in Him dwells all the fullness of the riches and the wisdom of God bodily. It is in Him and by Him that God has given every display of His wisdom in the salvation of souls. In the Church is revealed the manifold wisdom of God in an infinite way by an infinite Being. That wisdom is revealed in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, in our nature; in Him is made certain the salvation of a people that no man can number.
Our King has infinite riches. “The unsearchable riches of Christ” is a term the Apostle uses. That is what you need today, on a day of preparation, and you could then glory in your poverty. We ought to be content to have nothing so that we may depend altogether on Jesus Christ. “I’m poor and needy”, said the Psalmist. It is good for you, Psalmist, for you have a rich Lord and a rich King, and you are welcome to come and draw out of His riches. To His people, He is made of God wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. The infinite mercy of God goes out through Him to lost, ruined sinners in the world. He is the channel of God’s love and mercy and grace. Lovingkindness pours out in the person of Jesus Christ to poor, needy, lost sinners in the world. Ought we not to wait a while in our poverty so that we might receive grace for grace out of that fullness?
Solomon went down to Egypt for a spouse. It would have been a source of wonder to all Judah that King Solomon would set his face on Egypt to bring one out of the cursed family of Ham to be his spouse. But that is what he did. And this is what our King did; He went down to the cursed family of Adam, for His love went forth to the Church – however black, filthy and corrupted she was. The glory of the Saviour is that He set His face on the family of Adam and would have a spouse from no other. Christ, our King, set His face on Egypt, on a land flooded with uncleanness and idolatry. He would take His spouse from that dark country; such is the glory of the Saviour. There is no other hope for you, my friends, for Christ is taking His Church out of that cursed family – as the scripture says, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”.
Who would go after them if Christ would not? Who but Jesus Christ would look on you, under the curse of the law, and as black as hell after contracting with the devil – the sworn enemy of God? “Ye know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”, that it was for us sinners – enemies of God by wicked works – He condescended to become what He was, “when we were sinners”, rank enemies venting our spleen against holiness, willing slaves of the great slave, the devil. No one is altogether given over to be a slave of sin like Satan, and we by nature are all in that terrible service. The love of Christ is a wonderful thing. The love of the Father went out to the Church from all eternity as He viewed her made one with His Son Jesus Christ, the Mediator, electing them in Him. And the love of the Son went out to the Church united to Himself, as He viewed her sanctified and washed with water in the world, and presented to Himself a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. From all eternity, He loved the Church, filthy and vile as she was. Just as Solomon brought his black bride from Egypt, our King brings His black bride from the Egypt of this terrible state of sin and misery, and brings her to be with Himself for ever and ever. My friends, it is wonderful to think of this: “In our low state who on us thought, for He hath mercy ever”.
2. The preparation the King made for coming through the wilderness. How is He going to bring His spouse home? He is going to come up out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. How is He going to bring her out of Egypt to Canaan? It says here that He made Himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made Himself a suitable conveyance, and it was worthy of the King. When the Philistines in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan would see His chariot, they would ask, “Who made that chariot?” The gold and purple about the chariot marked it right away as one which belonged to the King. The provision that Jesus made to convey His bride from Egypt to Canaan is worthy of Him. The instrument by which He saves His Church is worthy of the God of heaven, although the world does not see that. It is no wonder that the world does not see it; the world is blind. How can they see the glory of the King’s chariot when He Himself is to them as a root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness. When they see no beauty in Him that they should desire Him, how will the chariot of the gospel appear glorious to them? O friends, you will have to see the instrument of salvation in its relation to Him that wrought it out. You will never see the glory of the gospel except in its glorious relation to God in the persons of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Now the chariot that King Solomon sent down to Egypt was so regal and so glorious that the Egyptians and Philistines who saw it would be amazed at its glory. That was so literally, and it will certainly be true of every soul whose eyes the Holy Spirit will open to see the wisdom and glory of God revealed in the gospel. There we have the greatest manifestation of the greatness of God, the infinite fullness of His being, of His love and wisdom. Every soul whose eyes will be opened in a day of mercy will certainly say with Paul: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”.
The King made this conveyance then and, although the bride is altogether black and vile, there was a glory about the King’s chariot which would obscure the blackness of the bride. In fact her blackness would only show forth more and more the glory of the chariot. When a teacher is going to teach a lesson to children, she will write on a blackboard with white chalk; and God in His grace takes the very vileness and blackness and disreputableness of the creature in order to reveal the glory of His mercy and grace. And, dear friends in Dingwall today, ask the Saviour to reveal the glory of His grace in you, in connection with your own blackness and vileness. His glory shines forth in this: they shall be all to the praise of the glory of His grace, whereby they are made acceptable in the Beloved, having redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of their sins, according to the riches of His grace. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the occupant of that chariot, as it travelled from Egypt to Canaan, was the object of Solomon’s love and favour. Dear friends, you have a token of the love of Christ in your soul if you have no way to get to heaven but by the gospel of Christ. You have a token of His favour in your soul when you are closed in to Him as He is revealed in the gospel, the one name given under heaven among men whereby you can be saved.
He made the chariot of the wood of Lebanon – durable, substantial timber. His chariot had much to do. It was not something painted over for a temporary purpose. No, he made a durable, substantial preparation. He made His chariot of the wood of Lebanon; and the gospel, by which your soul is saved, is according to the purpose of God as set forth in the covenant of grace: “I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David”. It is an everlasting gospel. Everything about it and about those who are saved by it is according to His purpose of grace and salvation. It is according to the purpose of Him who made the chariot of the wood of Lebanon, and the pillars of it of silver.
The gospel sets this forth in the great doctrines of grace and the promises of the Word. “He made the pillars thereof of silver” – the doctrines of election, of man’s utter ruin by the fall, of the Saviour coming into the world to seek and to save the lost, of the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, and of the call of the gospel going forth to the very ends of the earth.
“He made the pillars thereof of silver and the bottom thereof of gold.” It had a bottom of infinite value. The salvation of sinners does not depend on anything in themselves; it depends on what God is in Himself and on what Christ is in Himself: “I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed”. It is the gospel of the blessed God, in which a triune Jehovah reveals Himself as the portion in Christ of all His people.
The covering was of purple. The chariot required a covering of purple while going through the wilderness; it needed a protection in the wilderness. The gospel covering is the atonement of our Lord. There is much in the Bible about that. “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” All His people are brought under the shelter of the blood; they are covered by the blood. “The Lord shall cover thee all the day long.”
“His feathers shall thee hide, thy trust under His wings shall be.
His faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler unto thee.”
He brought you under the shelter of His atonement and He covers you all the day long.
“The midst thereof was paved with love.” There were engravings and artistic work on this chariot, and these are also in the gospel chariot. It is paved with tokens and assurances of love. This is what the Lord was giving His Church from the beginning. Holy men of God of old spoke as they were led by the Holy Ghost, in order that in the gospel chariot of the revelation of God there would be tokens and assurances of the mercy and love of God to lost sinners. What a paving of love was revealed in the Garden of Eden when the Lord spoke to the serpent and cursed him above all the beasts of the field! He was to go on his belly all the days of his life. The Lord said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed, I will bruise thy head but thou shalt bruise His heel”. This paving of love went on right down until in the last chapter of Revelation you have: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come . . . . And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely”, which is an encouragement to poor sinners.
There are two great enemies to the revelation of the love of Christ in the gospel. Who are they? Your own heart first, and then the devil. Your own heart is a sworn enemy to the love of Christ. If your evil heart and Satan will get their way, you will not believe the love that God has to your soul. This chariot of the King is paved over with expressions of love – with types of love, or with figures that set forth love. The lamb that Abel offered up set forth the love of God in the gospel. The lamb that was sacrificed in Egypt – whose blood was the means of the children of Israel marching out of Egypt, from bondage to freedom – was another token of love. And the whole ceremonial law was so many figures of the love of God. But when you come to Calvary and see the Lord nailed to the cross between the thieves and hear Him say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” you have love in reality, not symbols but the real thing – the love of God in His Son, in His crucifixion and in His death.
Every encouragement is given to the spouse of Christ to put her trust in her heavenly husband, black and vile although she is. What a provision He has made for her safe conduct from a spiritual Egypt to a heavenly Canaan! Surely she should be encouraged here this day. But she will say, “I am so dead and dark”. Never mind, see Christ in the provision He has made to meet your condition. He says to you, “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee”. The Saviour has made ample provision. He loved the Church, not at all according to her worth – for she is worthless in herself – but according to the value and worth that He puts on her: “Thou wast precious in My sight”. The provision of the gospel is according to the value that the Saviour puts on His Church, and the provision is in all aspects worthy of Himself. It will set forth His glory to all eternity.
3. Our duty and privilege in connection with Him and His glory. It is: “Go forth and behold” the King. We have to use means in order to honour the King. That is the first thing you must have before your mind in view of tomorrow – His honour and glory, not your own comfort. You are called to go forth from your fears and doubts. As we are in ourselves, we have every reason to have fears and doubts. We have every reason to distrust ourselves – our hearts, our strength, and everything about ourselves, but the Saviour gave no reason to anyone to distrust Him or to doubt His word. And you are called to go forth this day to view Christ and the fullness that is in Him, the glory that pertains to Him and His suitability for yourself as a poor sinner.
“Go forth.” That is your duty. You are a sinner, and it is your duty to close in with the Saviour. It is as much your duty as this command: “Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me”. “This is His commandment that ye should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.” But you say, I am like this and like that. So you are; do not doubt it. But although you are like this and like that, come and close in with Christ. That is your duty. You cannot refuse that duty without heinous sin. Go forth, behold your King. Behold Him in an exercise of faith and obedience to Christ. What a provision it is that the God of all grace is putting this at your disposal, that the Saviour of sinners should be yours in the Word, and in the sacraments too! That is your privilege. Christ is offered to you as your own. Take Him and be thankful for Him. He is offered to you in the sacraments: “Go forth and behold the King”. By the time this black spouse will have reached the heavenly Jerusalem, she will have lost her blackness. She will be white there. Let us make use of the gospel. Let us close in with Christ in it. And you to whom the Saviour has become precious, who have closed in with Him as your own Lord and Saviour, do not deny Him tomorrow, for He allowed Himself to be hung between heaven and earth in order that He might save you.
1. This sermon was preached at Dingwall on 5 August 1939, the Saturday of a communion season. It has been edited. Mr Gillies (1885-1945) was then minister in Stornoway.