The Flesh and Spirit
Songs 5:2
I sleep, but my heart wakes: it is the voice of my beloved that knocks, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love…

I sleep, but my heart waketh. The body sleeping, the heart awake.


1. Here it was the spirit.

(1) This fact an argument against materialism, which insists that the spirit is altogether dependent upon the body. Hence that death ends all. But, as here, the body may be weighed down with sleep, but the mind is active; the body is dead, but the mind alive. Surely, therefore, the mind is something more than some special arrangement of the molecules of the brain.

(2) It is well that, if the spirit be willing, the flesh should be weak. As a general rule it is well, for else, unless the wholesome drag of the body were put on, brain workers would not live out half their days.

(3) But it is at times the occasion of much harm. It was so here. It was so to our Lord through his disciples yielding to the sleep that weighed on them. And the flesh is a tyrant which will, if allowed, enslave the spirit. Hence we need to "keep under the body." For:

2. Often it is only the flesh that is awake. This a fearful condition. Cf. St. Jude, "These be sensual, not having the Spirit." Men may, do, sink down into gross animalism. It is horrible as well as disgraceful. It was that which led to the destruction of Sodom, of the Canaanites, etc. It is a dread possibility threatening very many. God keep us therefrom!

II. SOMETIMES NEITHER ARE AWAKE. There are many people of whom one would have much more hope if they were a little better or a little worse than they are. They are such as we have just named. They are generally decent people outwardly; they never offend against the conventionalities; they are to be found in all Churches, more's the pity; for they are but caricatures of the Christian character. They are dull, cold, selfish, hard, and spiritually dead. What is to be done with such? They are the despair of the earnest Christian, who would almost be willing that they should fall - were it possible - into some miserable sin if so only their present self-content could be shattered and they made to wake up.

III. SOMETIMES BOTH ARE AWAKE. This the ideal condition. It is that, and more than that, which is meant by the "Sana mens in corpore sano." For wherever this condition is, the spirit will, as is right, rule the flesh, having it well in hand, causing it like a properly trained dog to come to heel at once at the word of command (Huxley). The body will be the active, faithful servant of the master will, the spirit of the man. And when that spirit is inspired by the Spirit of God, then that is salvation, which means "health." May such health be ours! - S.C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.

WEB: I was asleep, but my heart was awake. It is the voice of my beloved who knocks: "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, and my hair with the dampness of the night."

The Dream of Gethsemane
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