What is your beloved more than another beloved, O you fairest among women? what is your beloved more than another beloved…
A man is always greater than his works, for his best work is only a part of himself. As there is more virtue in the tree than ever comes out in the fruit, so there is some quality in the man that has not come forth in his deed. The same is true in larger measure with respect to God. If there is sublimity in his works, how much more in himself! The redemptive work of Jesus is stupendous, yet his love is more stupendous still. That love of his was not exhausted in the great atoning act; it was only disclosed, and made visible. We admire his incarnation, his benevolent labour, his voluntary suffering, his humiliating death, his strange ascension. We love him in return for his great love to us. Yet his greatest claim to our admiration and our praise is, not his deeds of kindness, but himself. His character is so inlaid with excellences that it demands all the worship of our hearts. "He is altogether lovely." Not simply is his doctrine nourishing, his example inspiring, his self-sacrifice attractive, his compassion winsome, but his very Person is an enchantment and a charm. At the outset of our acquaintance we "shall love him, because he first loved us;" nor will his compassion ever fail to be a spiritual magnet, which shall win and hold our hearts. Yet we gradually rise to a higher level of appreciation. We prize him for what he is in himself, even more than for what he has been unto us. Our best love goes out to him, because he is so transcendently good; so worthy to be loved. Love of gratitude comes first - an early fruit of the Christian life; but by and by, under the culture of the Divine Husbandman, there shall be the sweeter, richer love of complacent delight.
I. WE HAVE HERE A PERTINENT INQUIRY. "What is thy beloved more than another beloved?"
1. This may be the language of intellectual curiosity. The inquiry about Jesus is more eager and widespread today than in any epoch since his birth. During the last twenty-five years more than twenty-five lives of Jesus Christ have appeared in the English language. Some inquiries are of a sceptical sort - are not honest searches after truth. Some inquirers hope to reduce Jesus of Nazareth to the level of a common mortal. In a past age, Lord Lyttelton and Gilbert West essayed to demolish the Divine credentials of Jesus; but they were conquered by the evidence, and became disciples. Many inquirers simply attempt to solve an old and curious question, "Is Jesus more than man?" They are not seeking any practical issues. Hence they obtain no success.
2. Or it may be the language of simple surprise. The kingdom of Christ hath in it many nominal adherents. For earthly advantages come from professing an attachment to Christ. It wins respect from men. It brings good reputation. It aids success in our worldly calling. Therefore many persons avow outwardly an indolent belief in Jesus Christ as Lord who yet can give no reasonable account of their belief. These see with wonder the ardour and zeal of genuine disciples. They smile when they hear the effusive and familiar language of true saints. They deem it religious extravagance. They label Christ's friends as fanatics. "Our Christ," say they, "is a Being far removed from us. We offer him our set praises and our set prayers on the sabbath. We hope for his rewards by and by. What is your Beloved more than ours?
3. Or it may be the language of nascent desire. The speaker has seen what a real and present Friend Jesus is to his adopted. To them his friendship is sweeter far than the friendship of a thousand others. His name is music, fragrance, health, life. His help is a real blessing, which gladdens every hour. His favour is a present heaven. They consult him in their distress, and he brings to them prompt sympathy and unerring wisdom. They find in him a restfulness of spirit under every circumstance, a peace of soul no one else can impart. Having Jesus within them, their life is transfigured. This is a mystery to the bulk of men. So one and another yearn to attain this joyous life, and they ask in a spirit of sincere desire, What is thy Beloved more than another beloved?"
II. WE HAVE HERE A PARTICULAR DESCRIPTION OF THE BRIDEGROOM'S PERSON. "My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand;" "He is altogether lovely."
1. Generally, he is pre-eminent. "Chiefest among ten thousand." Among all the tribes of men he stands alone, for he is sinless. He is pre-eminent among the angels, for they are only servants of the great King; and, when the Father "brought his Only Begotten into the world, he said, Let all the angels of God worship him." Among the gods of the nations he stands pre-eminent in power and in righteousness. They are dumb vanities, while he is absolute Power, eternal Righteousness, essential Love. In respect of the Godhead, he is eminent for condescension, for tender sympathy, and for self-sacrifice. Among all friends he stands pre-eminent, for "he is a Brother born for adversity." Among all orators he is preeminent for eloquence, for "never man spake like this Man." Among philanthropists he takes the highest place, for "he gave himself for us." "For our sakes he became poor." "In all things he has the pre-eminence."
2. He is altogether lovely as the Son of God. Such perfect Sonship was never before seen. His reverence for his Father was unique, was beautiful At the tender age of twelve, his delight was "to be about his Father's business." His spirit of childlike trust was perfect. He is "the Leader and Finisher of faith." During all the year's of his busy life he "had not where to lay his head," yet he declared that it was his meat and his drink to do the will of his Father in heaven. His own explanation of his ceaseless benevolence was this: "I do always the things that please him." As he entered the black cloud of the final tragedy, he interrogates himself thus: "What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour?" But instantly he adds, "Father, glorify thy Name." Filial reverence, filial trust, filial love and submission in him were complete - things till then unknown on earth. "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Upon such sacred Sonship the Father expressed audible and public approbation - expressed it again and again: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." "My Beloved is white and ruddy" the quality of perfect health.
3. His personal qualities transcend all comparison. Every virtue, human and Divine, blossom in his soul. There's not an excellence ever seen in men or in angels that is not found, the perfect type, in Jesus Christ. For nearly nineteen centuries shrewd men have turned their microscopes on the Person of Jesus, if haply they could find the shadow of a spot. The acutest eye has failed, and Jesus stands before the world today a paragon of moral perfection. His character is better known and better appreciated today than in any previous age, Modern criticism confesses at the bar of the universe, "I find no fault in him." As all the colours of the prism meet and blend in the pure rays of light, so all noble qualities blend in our beloved Friend. As in a royal garden or in the fields of nature there is unspeakable wealth of flowery bloom, all forms and colours composing a very paradise of beauty, so is it in the character of Jesus. Other men were noted for some special excellence - Moses for meekness, Job for patience, Daniel for constancy; but Jesus has every quality of goodness, and has each quality full-orbed and resplendent. "Whatever things are true, pure, just, lovely, honourable, of good report," they all unite in Jesus. Ransack all the homes of humanity if you will, cull out all the excellences that embellish the seraphim, and you shall not find a single grace that does not adorn our Immanuel. Yea, his soul is the seed bed of all the goodness that flourishes in heaven or on earth. "He is the Firstborn of every creature." The unfallen, no less than the fallen, adore him as worthy to be worshipped. "He has by inheritance a more excellent name than they." As the stars of heaven pale their ineffectual fires when the sun rises, so in the presence of Jesus Christ even Gabriel veils his face and bends his knee. Human thought fails to reach the height of this great theme, and. we can simply repeat the ancient words, "Altogether lovely."
4. He is incomparable in all the offices he fills. A splendid theme for contemplation is Jesus in his manifold offices. As a Teacher he has no rival, for he still speaks "as one having authority." "In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;" and, with infinite patience, he unfolds these treasures to us in picture and parable, as we "are able to bear them." Who is so competent to teach us heavenly things as the living Truth? "The words he speaks are spirit and life." "His lips are as lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh." As a Priest, does he not excel all who went before him? Other priests had to offer oblation first for their own sin. Jesus had no personal sin. Other priests "could not continue by reason of death." Jesus has no successor; his priesthood is perpetual. The best of earthly priests could only appear in material temples, gorgeous in marble and in gold though some of them were. Our great High Priest has gone on our behalf into the very presence of God. Our Advocate with the Father cannot fail, because he is "Christ; the Righteous." And, as a King, Jesus has no compeer. The sceptre belongs to him by eternal right. He is a King by birth. He is a King by reason of inherent fitness. Every fibre of his nature is kingly. He is a King through conquest. Every foe is, or shall be, vanquished. He is a King by universal acclamation. Angels and men combine to accord to him the highest place - "King of kings, and Lord of lords." As the good Shepherd, he has given his very "life for the sheep." As the Husband of the Church, he is perfect in fidelity; for "having loved the Church, he gave himself for her, and has cleansed her for himself a glorious Church, not having spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing." View our Master in any aspect or in any office, and he is fall of inexpressible charm. "He is altogether lovely."
III. WE HAVE HERE THE IDEA OF INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP. "This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
1. This means high appreciation. The believer in this passage means to say, "I have endeavoured to describe my heavenly Friend, but I have failed. I have mentioned some of the features of his character, yet I scarce think that these are the most precious. The theme is above me. I cannot do it justice. Mayhap I shall only lower Jesus in the estimation of mankind. Still, I have said enough to establish his superlative excellence, and to account for my enthusiastic love." Ah! who can adequately portray the Person of God's dear Son? Can Gabriel? Can Michael? Can Paul, after centuries of sweet companionship with him in heaven? I trow not! "What think ye of Christ?" is a question, likely enough, often asked one of another among the dwellers in glory. By and by we "shall see him as he is." At present we have only imperfect glimpses of his glorious Person; nevertheless, we know enough to warrant our profound admiration, to awaken our unfaltering faith, and to excite into activity our most passionate love.
2. This means appropriations. This Being of transcendent excellence I claim as "my Friend." Many of his august perfections seem to forbid my bold familiarity. Sometimes it seems like presumption to say this. But then his simple condescension to me, his genuine sympathy, his unlimited grace, his covenant with the fallen, "without respect of person," his repeated assurances of love for me - yes, for me - encourage me to call him mine. He has said to me, "Thou art mine;" is not, therefore, the converse also a fact? Must he not be mine? And if at present I am quite unworthy to claim this relationship, will he not, by his great love, make me worthy? His love would not find full scope for its exercise, if it were not for such an unworthy object as I. Though deserving of hell, I should east fresh dishonour on his royal goodness did I not believe his promise, did I not accept his friendship. Yes, "he is mine."
3. This means the public avowal of Christ. "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend." It is as if the Christian meant to say, "I have chosen Jesus to be my Friend, and I call the universe to witness the fact. No other being was competent to save me, and I publicly pledge myself loyally to serve him." Such avowal is a fine trait in a renewed soul. To profess loyalty to Jesus while no love glows for him in the breast - this is an offence to him, a smoke in his eyes, a spear thrust in his heart. Nothing to him is so odious as hypocrisy. But when there is sincere love to our Immanuel, though it be accompanied with self-diffidence and timidity, there ought to be an open avowal of our attachment. It is but little that we can do to make the Saviour known and loved by others, therefore that little should be done with gladness of heart and with unwavering fidelity. Nor can we ever forget the words of our Well-beloved, "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will 1 also deny before my Father which is in heaven." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?