The Approbation of God
Wade E Taylor
“As the lily among thorns, so is My love among the daughters.” Song of Solomon: 2.2
The Lord uses this highly contrasting and compelling imagery to emphasize His love for His Bride. This speaks of the “Approbation of God,” or, the fact of His “singular attention and favor” being uniquely toward her, and resting upon her life. She has touched the heart of the Lord and He has become singularly interested in her.
In the midst of others, she stands out before Him, as though she were the only one.
The most important compliment that we could possibly receive from the Lord would be to receive a similar expression of “His approbation,” concerning us. This would mean that we have become the recipient of His personal interest, concern, and activity - We have become His friend.
It is possible for each one of us to attract the attention of our Lord in such a way that He becomes both interested in, and active, within our life experience and activities, as if we were the only person in the universe. This is a divine mystery that we cannot begin to understand. However, it is very wonderful and rewarding to experience.
After the Lord had singled out the Bride from among the Daughters of Jerusalem, by comparing her to “A lily among thorns” (Song of Solomon 2:2), she responded and told Him that He was as an “apple tree among the trees of the wood” (Song of Solomon 2:3). Then she added:
“…I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste.” Song of Solomon 2:3
Notice, that to her, His presence was but as a “shadow.” She had not yet become interested in the reality of His personal presence. At this time, the center of her interest was in the things that she desired to receive from Him, rather than in Him as a person, and in seeking to personally know Him.
“Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich… Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:17-18, 20
Thinking that all these gifts and blessings that He was able to supply would satisfy the hunger that was within her, she asked Him for even more:
“Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples….” Song of Solomon 2:5
He responded to this expression of her desire and gave her so many gifts and things, that she later said to Him:
“...I am sick of love.” Song of Solomon 2:5
After she had received from Him all that she wanted at that time, she told Him that He could leave and do as He pleased. Her only concern was where He would be, in case she had a need.
“…He feeds among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be You like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.” Song of Solomon 2:16-17
At this time, her interest in the Lord centered around the things that she was able to get from Him. Thus, her testimony exposed her selfish attitude. The reason she desired the Lord’s involvement in her life was so He could provide for her wants. Therefore she said:
“My Beloved is mine…” Song of Solomon 2:16
If we listen carefully, our testimony will reveal the level of our spiritual experience and expose to us the desire, or intent of our heart, in relation to the Lord.
Still, the Lord continued to bless her. Later, when He felt she was ready to go beyond her initial self-seeking, He began, in a determined way, to attract her attention away from all these things, and direct it to Himself. It is important that we notice the method He uses in doing this.
While she was still very occupied within the “realm” of her self-satisfaction, enjoying all of the gifts that He had given her, He began to position Himself in ways that would provoke her to notice Him as a person, apart from anything that He could do for her.
“…He stands behind our wall, He looks forth at the windows, showing Himself through the lattice.” Song of Solomon 2:9
This “wall” speaks of the accumulative build-up of all those things, which hinder or separates, the Bride (us) from the Lord’s presence. The “materials” that make up this hindering wall include, among other things, a preoccupation with material things, a lack in spiritual perception, and an indifference, or unwillingness to respond to the presence of the Lord.
“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear (reverence) Him; and He will show them His covenant.” Psalm 25:14
“He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” Psalm 103:7
This spiritual “dullness” will greatly hinder our ability to experience the deep inner satisfaction that results from an on-going “cooperative” relationship with the Bridegroom, in which He makes His “ways” known to us, and we experience His “approbation” resting on our lives. And, it will blind us to the possibilities of our progression into a fully committed, Holy Spirit-led, overcoming life, into which the Bridegroom (Jesus) desires to bring us.
“Come, My beloved (us)... let us get up early to the vineyards... there will I (Jesus) give you My loves.” Song of Solomon 7:11-12
It is very important that we cultivate within us a spiritual sensitivity, which will enable us to both notice and rightly respond to the Lord, when He comes to take us further.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
These “windows” represent the Brides’ “spiritual vision.” She became aware of these “openings” that lead into His chambers through being quickened, or “touched” by His presence when she, from time to time, had momentarily recognized that there was “something more” (the Lord Himself) beyond all that she presently possessed. However, she had not yet fully responded to this “open door” into His presence.
Therefore, He remained without, seeking her attention through this window (door) that leads into His manifest presence. She was still indifferent to His desire to come within to be with her, because she had not yet experienced the lasting, inner satisfaction of intimate communion with Him.
The “lattice” speaks of the fact that His presence is always, in some measure, veiled. God is Spirit, and can only be known through spiritual perception and recognition. Along with this, we cannot abide the full glory of His presence, until we come into the purity of life that is required for us to draw near to a holy and righteous God.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.
“For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” I Corinthians 2:7-12
The Heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord of all creation, stood alone, outside of all that He desired, patiently waiting for her to notice Him. He longed for her fellowship as He looked through the windows, gazing upon her in such a way that she could see His eyes. Finally, His patience met its reward. She saw Him and felt the intensity of His desire to be with her. All else faded as she responded to this, and invited Him to come into the “room” of her spiritual experience.
Immediately, He came within (His manifest presence) and began to teach her concerning the way of entrance into this new realm of spiritual life that He so desired for her. Then He invited her to come with Him into His chambers that she might begin to experience this new relationship of an abiding communion with Him.
“…Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away.” Song of Solomon 2:10
His intention was to take her beyond the unsatisfying relationship that she had maintained with Him, which was built upon her desire for all of the gifts and provisions that He had been giving her. As in the past, He desired to please and to satisfy her, but He had something far better to offer to her. Therefore, He waited until she noticed Him, and invited Him to come within.
It was necessary that she recognize her need for Him alone. Only then would she be able to see her true spiritual condition, and rightly respond to Him, and to all that He intended for her in becoming His Bride.
“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land: The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell…” Song of Solomon 2:11-13
The “winter” represents the time of spiritual barrenness she experienced while she was content with all of the blessings she had received, apart from the Lord Himself. The “rain” had showered all of these blessings upon her, but is about to be removed from her. It is now “over and gone,” as she enters the “night season” of her spiritual experience. It is here that she receives the “treasures of darkness.”
The resultant “flowers” speak of the “fruit of the Spirit” that develops as a result of her coming through this night season, and of being birthed into the realm of fellowship and identification with Him in His purposes.
The “voice of the turtle” speaks of her receiving a prophetic anointing that abides within her, and enables her to better express her love and worship to Him, as she comes into this new area of experience. The “fig tree,” refers to Israel, and the “vines,” to the Body of Christ. The present intense level of activity in each of these indicates that we are living in the last days of the Gentile Age.
First, the Lord acknowledged her single eye toward Him:
“O My dove, that are in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see your countenance, let Me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is comely.” Song of Solomon 2:14
Then, He expressed His love for her and told her how much He longed to hear the expression of her love toward Him, and how beautiful it sounded to Him. This is a divine mystery, that we could bring such joy and satisfaction to the Lord, who has all of the hosts of heaven to enjoy.
After she had received and accepted these expressions of His love for her, she responded in thanksgiving and in worship. Then, He replied and told her that her voice was sweet. The Lord longs for us to personally express to Him our love for Him, and our desire to have His manifest presence abide with us.
The Lord greatly desires to hear our audible expression of worship toward Him.
Then, He placed her in the security of the “clefts of the rock,” so her newfound, singular eye toward Him could be strengthened by expanding her personal knowledge of Him through a further revelation of His person, presence, and glory.
“O My dove, that are in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs….” Song of Solomon 2:14
Soon He will hear an even sweeter expression of thanksgiving and worship from her voice, as she begins to realize all that is happening to her, and how much better this is than her past, limited experience.
“It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found Him whom my soul loves: I held Him, and would not let Him go…” Song of Solomon 3:4
As these “qualities” developed within her, and she began to seek the Lord for Himself, He repeated to her the second time:
“…Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away.” Song of Solomon 2:10
Now comes the problem that she, along with all of us, must face. He must wean her from her past satisfaction with the gifts and blessings of the Lord, alone (the winter is past, the rain is over and gone).
She had been more interested in His blessings (stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples), than she was in being with Him. She is still not willing to respond to His urgent call to “rise up” with Him, even though He has repeated it to her twice.
Therefore, He has no choice except to chasten her and further “tighten the rope,” limiting her freedom to do as she pleases. There is only one way that this can be done. It must be done at “night,” or in a time of spiritual darkness, when (seemingly) He withdraws the feeling of His presence, along with all of the blessings and things that He had given her, at her requests.
After He did this, we find her to be very upset.
“By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loves: I sought Him, but I found Him not.” Song of Solomon 3:1
The blessings are gone, and she is unable to find her way in the spiritual darkness that has settled upon her. All at once, the methods that she once used to receive a spiritual blessing, along with the way the Lord used her in ministry, no longer worked. She was not able to feel, or sense the presence of the Lord, yet she discovered that she had never been so desirous for the Lord to reveal Himself to her as she was now.
Her reaction to the withdrawal of His presence and blessing was panic.
“I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loves: I sought Him, but found Him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw you Him whom my soul loves?” Song of Solomon 3:2-3
These “watchmen” are a type of the ministry. Before, she was content with all that she had received through them. Now, she is intensely hungry for the Lord Himself, and begins to look for Him. She said, "I will rise now and go about the city." She sought Him in all the places where she had been previously blessed. She searched in vain, for she could not find Him.
She found a minister to whom she said, “Saw you Him whom my soul loves?” However, the Lord did not permit this minister to help her, for the Lord was seeking to draw her to Himself. He desired to “sup with her” alone in His chambers, and also to “renew” her according to the potential that He had seen to be within her. Therefore, the only thing that this minister was able to say to her came from His own thoughts: “You are probably backsliding; you need to read your Bible and pray more.”
In obedience, she did as she had been told, but nothing happened because the Lord did not permit it to happen (the rain is over and gone). Therefore, she felt all the more as if the Lord had “gone on a vacation,” or had forsaken her. No matter to whom she spoke, or what advice they gave, none of these things worked or helped her in any way. The Lord had, insofar as feelings are concerned, withdrawn Himself from her.
In her distress, she sought all the more for Him. The intensity of this seeking, without seemingly receiving any results or satisfaction, caused her to cry out all the more for the Lord Himself. Now, the very thing that the Lord has been waiting patiently for is beginning to form, deep within her. She is recognizing her need for Him, apart from things. She is desiring Him above all else. The “single eye” that the Lord had seen to be buried within her is beginning to surface and to focus.
She had prayed and said to the Lord:
“Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, where You feed, where You make Your flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turns aside by the flocks of Your companions?” Song of Solomon 1:7
In the past, she had been satisfied with being nurtured only by others. Now, she intensely desires the Lord to personally come that she might “sup with Him” (Revelation 3:20). She is beginning to realize that only the Lord Himself is able to meet her need and has asked where she can find Him. The Lord heard this prayer and has begun, step upon step, to draw her to Himself.
It will greatly strengthen and encourage us, in our seeking after the Lord Himself, to understand the necessity of the Bride’s going through this experience of “night.” She had been content with the blessings that were readily available to her through an under-shepherd and had no desire to go further, until the Lord removed these from her.
There is a time in our spiritual growth when we should begin to hear from the Lord Himself and receive directly from Him. We are to be “under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father” (Galatians 4:2). This “appointed time” had come for her. Therefore, even though she sought out one “watchman” after another, she did not receive what she was seeking. Finally, in desperation, she turned to the Lord Himself, who had been patiently waiting, but veiled behind the “lattice.”
“It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found Him...” Song of Solomon 3:4
There had been a time when she was to receive from the Lord through others, but now, the Lord caused their wells to dry up concerning her, as it was time for her to mature.
“I found Him.” He had been there all along, but now she sees (Jesus) in a different way. He is no longer the “shadow” that she had been accustomed to being near in the past. Now, she clearly sees Him. During their renewed time of communion together, the Lord began to teach her concerning her ascent into all that He had for her.
After she submits to this process, and it becomes a personal reality within her by being tested, the Lord again says to her, “Rise up and come away,” knowing that now, she understands. She is ready to experience His approbation, or singular attention, and be further changed through her times of personal intimate communion with Him alone. The “shadow” with which she had once been satisfied, has become the Lord Himself.
Now, she has found the source of the satisfaction for which she had longed - the Lord Himself. As she communes with the Lord, and as He leads into a new spiritual plateau, there is a further disclosure of “His ways” to her. These unfolding cycles of revelation and spiritual understanding will open to us, as we spend quality time in His presence.
The Lord has led her through this period of darkness, in which it was very crucial that she not become discouraged and turn aside. She has been faithful and searched until she found Him.
“…I held Him, and would not let Him go...” Song of Solomon 3:4
She might have been turned aside by others, or become discouraged, but she had caught a glimpse of Him and could no longer be content, until she brought Him into her mother’s house.
There, she has become wonderfully satisfied, as His approbation now rests upon her life.
“…Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3: 8