Christ’s Distinguishing Love for His Lily – the Church
“As the lily among thorns, so is My darling among the daughters.” [Sos 2:2]
He styles her, “My darling.” An exquisitely sweet name; as if His love had all gone forth from Him, and had become embodied in her. The first point then of her relation to Christ is that she has His DARLING. Think of it, and let the blessed truth dwell long and sweetly in your meditations. The Lord of life and glory, the Prince of the kings of the earth, has such a loving heart that He must have an object upon which to spend His affection; and His people, chosen from among men, whom he calls His church, these are they who are His “love,” the object of His supreme delight. “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
He looked on His people and he exclaimed, “as the Father has loved me even so have I loved you.” Every believer, separated from mankind, and called unto the fellowship of Christ, is also the peculiar object of His love. Not in name only, but in deed and in truth, does Jesus love each one of us who have believed on Him. You may each one of you say with the apostle, “He loved me”; you may read it in any tense you please- He loved me; He loves me; He will love me, for He gave Himself for me. This shall be your song in heaven, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory.”
This love is DISTINGUISHING love, for in its light one special object shines as a lily, and the rest, “the daughters,” are as thorns. Love has fixed on its chosen object, and compared with the favored one all others are as nothing. There is a love of Jesus which goes forth to all mankind, for “the Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works”; but there is a special and peculiar love which He bears to His own.
As a man loves his neighbors but still he has a special affection for his own wife, so is the church Christ’s bride, beloved above all the rest of mankind, and every individual believer is the favored one of heaven. The saint is united to Christ by a mystical union, a spiritual marriage bond, and above all others, Christ loves the souls espoused to Him. He said once, “I pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me;” thus indicating that there is a specialty about His intercession.
We rejoice in the largeness and the width of Jesus’ love, but we do not therefore doubt its specialty. The sun shines on all things, but when it is focussed upon one point, ah, then there is a heat about it of which you little dreamed! The love of Jesus is focussed on those whom the Father has given Him. Upon you, my brother or sister, if indeed you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Lord’s heart is set, and he speaks of you in the words of the text as “my love,” loved above all the daughters, precious in His sight and honorable, so that he will give men for you and people for your life.
Observe that this is a love which he OPENLY AVOWS. The bridegroom speaks and says before all men, “As a lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters.” He puts it upon record in that book which is more widely scattered than any other, for he is not ashamed to have it published on the housetops. The love of Christ was at first hidden in His heart, but it soon revealed itself, for even of old His delights were with the sons of men, and he bent His steps downward to this world in divers forms before ever Bethlehem’s song was sung. And now, since the incarnate God has loved, and lived, and died, He has unveiled His love in the most open form, and astonished heaven and earth thereby.
On Calvary He set up an open proclamation, written in His own heart’s blood, that He loved His own people even unto the end. He bids His ministers proclaim it to the world’s end, that many waters could not quench His love, neither could the floods drown it; and that neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. He would have it known, for he is not ashamed to call His people “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” He declares it that His adversaries may know it, that He has a people in whom His heart delights, and these he will have and hold as His own, when heaven and earth shall pass away.
Note, too, that He who gave the beauty is the first to see it. While they are unknown to the world Jesus knows His own. Long before anybody else sees any virtue or any praise in us, Jesus observes it, and is pleased therewith. He is quick to say, “Behold, he prays,” or “Behold, he repents.” He is the first to say, “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.”
Love’s eyes are quick, and her ears are open. Love covers a multitude of faults, but it discovers a multitude of beauties. Can it be so, O my soul, can it be so that Christ has made you lovely in His loveliness? Has He shed a beauty upon you, and does He Himself look complacently upon it? He whose taste is exquisite, and whose voice is the truth, who never calls that beautiful which is not beautiful, can he see a beauty in your sighs and tears, in your desires after holiness, in your poor attempts to aid His cause, in your prayers and in your songs, and in your heart’s love towards Him.
Can He see a beauty in these? Yes, assuredly He can, or He would not speak as He does in this text. Let His condescending discernment have all honor for this generous appreciation of us. Let us bless and love Him because he deigns to think so highly of us who owe everything to Him. “You are,” says He, “my darling, as the lily.”
“As the lily among thorns” wears also another meaning. Dr. Thompson writes of a certain lily, “It grows among thorns, and I have sadly lacerated my hands in extricating it from them. Nothing can be in higher contrast than the luxuriant, velvety softness of this lily, and the withered, tangled hedge of thorns about it.” Ah, beloved, you know who it was that in gathering your soul and mine, lacerated not His hand only, but His feet, and His head, and His side, and His heart, yes, and His inmost soul. He spied us out, and said, “Yonder lily is mine, and I will have it”; but the thorns were a terrible barrier; our sins had gathered round about us, and the wrath of God most sharply stopped the way. Jesus pressed through all, that we might be His; and now when he takes us to Himself he does not forget the thorns which girded His brow, and tore His flesh, for our sakes.
This then is a part of our relationship to Christ, that we cost Him very dear. He saw us where we were, and He came to our deliverance; and now, even as Pharaoh’s daughter called the young child’s name “Moses,” “because,” said she, “I drew him out of the water,” so does Jesus call His chosen “the lily among thorns,” because such she was when he came to her rescue. Never will he forget Calvary and its thorns, nor should His saints allow the memory thereof to fade. Amen!