Faithfulness II

by Peg Rhone

“First Love”

We are taking an in depth look at faithfulness and the figure of speech “for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (II Cor. 11:2).

A figure of speech is not literal, but it communicates a truth more clearly than a literal statement. “I am thirsty” is literal. “I am so parched that my tongue is on fire!” is a figure of speech that communicates more clearly and emphatically how the person actually feels.

The figure used in II Corinthians is a brief allegory, which is the figurative treatment of one subject matter under the guise of another. It is a presentation of an abstract or spiritual meaning under concrete or material forms. Referring to the believer as “espoused” and a “chaste virgin to Christ” expresses more clearly how deep our commitment to God needs to be, and how much God desires our fidelity to Him. This truth is literally expressed in the first and great commandment.

Mark 12:30
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

God wants to be our first love. The church is warned time and time again to remain faithful to that love. One such warning was given in to the church at Ephesus,

Revelation 2:4,5
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

When the Ephesians first entered into a relationship with God and his Son they were excited, devoted, willing participants. But, as time went on the relationship became stale, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen”. They had fallen away from that love relationship and they were in danger of losing it altogether.

The remedy was to repent, to get themselves to the place where they were once again “hot for the Lord”. They were exhorted to remain faithful until the end, when the groom comes to “consummate” the relationship at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Revelation 19:9
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

GOD WANTS YOUR WHOLE HEART!

There is a beautiful illustration of faithfulness in God’s Word in a rather obscure book, the Song of Solomon. It also is an allegory regarding a faithful woman, espoused to one man, and how she stayed true to her first love in spite of the allure of the world.

The King – the multitude of alluring seductions in the world, they only use us.
The Shulamite – a virtuous woman, an espoused virgin (like the analogy in II Cor. 11)
The Shepherd – her “beloved” – like Christ to whom we are to be a “chaste virgin”

Song of Sol. 8:8-14 – A family living in Shulem, honest farmers; a widowed mother, several brothers and one sister (who is chaste).

Song of Sol. 1:7; 2:16; 4:8-12 – One day she meets a shepherd to whom she becomes espoused.

Song of Sol. 1:15-2:6 – The Shulamite and her Shepherd speak of their love and longing for each other

Song of Sol. 6:6-11 – One evening she happens to come into the presence of the King.

Song of Sol. 1: 2-4 – Struck by her amazing beauty the King conducts her into the royal tent and tries to gain her affections through alluring flatteries and promises, (the world) v5-8 using the court ladies to try and sway her, but to no effect v.6-11. All the Shulamite would gain from succumbing to the King’s advances is to be one of hundreds of concubines. In essence she would simply be a trophy to the King.

Song of Sol. 3:1-11 – Even with all this flattery she desires only her shepherd, but the King takes her to the capital hoping to dazzle her with even more enticements.

Her Shepherd comes to town to see her and is granted permission, whereupon she tells him how she would rather be with him, this “simple shepherd”, than all the King’s wealth and grandeur!

Song of Sol. 4:7-16 – The Shepherd praises her for her constancy and faithfulness.

Song of Sol. 7:10-8:4 – The King then throws even more flattery and opulence at her, endeavoring to win her for himself. But finally the King is convinced that he could not possibly prevail, and allows her to leave (resist the devil, and he will flee from you).

The faithful Shulamite returns home and rejoins the Shepherd under the tree where they first met. There they renew their vows of fidelity to one another.

Song of Sol. 8:8,9 Upon her arrival home (the hope) she is rewarded greatly according to her brothers’ promise, for her fidelity and virtuous conduct.

Please note that the Shepherd’s faithfulness is NEVER challenged.

Synopsis of Song of Solomon; it is a book on faithfulness. It is about one’s first love, and the heart and commitment it takes to keep oneself pure. The faithful Shulamite kept a pure heart towards her shepherd, her first love. She was praised and rewarded for her fidelity.

Remember when you first loved the Lord, and His love seemed this magnificent? God wants us to keep the fires of that love burning for Him, for He is a jealous God.

Song of Solomon 8:6
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

Song of Sol. 8:5-7 – the Shulamite was to seal her heart for the Shepherd, otherwise the jealousy that would be stirred would have a most vehement flame. The Hebrew text reads –shalhebeth-yah – which is rendered:

The flames therof are flames of fire,
The vehement flames of Jah!

Jah is the Divine title used for God as THE ONE WHO DESERVES ALL OUR PRAISE! This is so fitting in an allegory about faithfulness. “Hallelujah” literally means, “Praise the Lord”, the one who deserves all our praise and deepest affection. How long are we to worship and serve God? Jah is He who was and is and is to come. He wants our praise forever! That is why we are to remain faithful now, and then He will equip us to remain faithful throughout eternity.

Song of Sol. 8:9,10 – note that the Shulamite stood faithfully against the world and with her shepherd, her one true love. She was rewarded and praised for her faithfulness. Her words are:

Song of Solomon 8:10
I am a wall [I have been faithful], and my breasts like towers [I have stood against the allure of the world]: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.

We are “espoused” to Christ —GOD WANTS OUR WHOLE HEART!
He wants us to be “virgin” territory for Him and Him alone.
He wants us to remain faithful to Him for a lifetime.

The application of Song of Solomon is an incentive to loyalty and fidelity to the Shepherd, who is Christ, who has loved us and has given himself for us. It should motivate us to stand fast in our love and loyalty to him in the face of the fiercest temptations and severest trials on this earth.

God sees us as espoused to Christ, but do we see ourselves there? He wants us to give ourselves wholly and totally only unto Him, not committing adultery with any other gods. He wants to be our first, last and foremost love. He does not want us to be seduced by the world or to put anything in His rightful place. He wants all the affection that is rightfully due Him, for he is a jealous God!

Let us follow the example of the faithful Shunamite and never depart from our first love!