I sleep, but my heart wakes: it is the voice of my beloved that knocks, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love…
This dream, so significant of fervent affection, and so full of tender pathos, is emblematic of the relation between the Divine Saviour and Lord and those whom he approaches in his grace and kindness, to whom he proffers the blessing of his presence and his love.
I. THE SUMMONS.
1. Its nature. There is the knock which demands attention, and there is the speech which articulately conveys the appeal. Christ comes to the world, and comes to the heart, with such tokens of Divine authority as demand that heed should be given to his embassage. The supernatural arrests the attention even of the careless and the unspiritual. That in Christianity which is of the nature of portent, the "mighty works" which have been exhibited, summon men to yield their reverent attention to a Divine communication. But the miracle is a "sign." The display of power is revelation of a wisdom, a love, which are deeper and more sacred than itself. The knock that arouses is followed by the speech that instructs, guides, comforts, inspires. Authority is not blind; it accompanies the appeal to the intelligence, to the heart.
2. The danger of neglecting it. To give no heed to the Divine appeal, to sleep on when God himself is calling, - this is to despise the Highest, to wrong our own soul, to increase our insensibility and to confirm ourselves in spiritual deadness, and to tempt the departure of the heavenly Visitor.
3. The duty of welcoming and responding to it. This appears both from the dignity of him who knocks, his right to the affection, gratitude, and devotion of the soul; and from the complete dependence of the soul upon his friendship for its highest welfare.
II. THE RESPONSE. When Christ "stands at the door and knocks," there is but one thing to do - to open wide to him, the Beloved, the door of the heart. This is the true response, and it should be:
1. Glad. His absence is mourned, his presence is desired; his summons, therefore, should be joyfully acknowledged. The heart may well beat strong with gladness, high with hope, when the voice of Jesus is heard; for it is "the voice of the Beloved."
2. Grateful. The picture is one of poetic pathos and beauty. The head of the Beloved is filled with dew, his locks with the drops of the night. How suggestive of what the Saviour has endured for our sake, of his earthly humiliation, of his compassionate sacrifice! The contemplation of Christ's weakness and weariness, distress and anguish, all endured for us, is enough to awaken the strongest sentiments of gratitude on our part. To whom are we indebted as we are to him? Who has such claims upon our heart's gratitude and devotion? What language can justly depict the moral debasement of those who are unaffected by a spectacle so touching as that of the Redeemer, the "Man of sorrows," appealing for admission to the nature he died to save and bless?
3. Immediate. Delay is here altogether out of place. The sensitive and responsive nature is forward to exclaim, "Apparitio tua est apertio!" - "To see thee is to open to thee!" The hesitation and apologies described in the dream are introduced toshow, by suggestion of contrast, how utterly unsuited they are to the circumstances and the occasion.
4. Eager and expectant. "My heart was moved for him; I rose to open to my Beloved." The hope is fulfilled, the prayer is answered, the vision is realized, Christ has come. With him all Divine blessings approach the soul The prospect of his entrance into the spiritual nature is the prospect of a fellowship and intimacy fraught with purest joys and tenderest consolations - a fellowship and intimacy which will never fail to bless, and which no power on earth can avail to darken or to close. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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."