The Challenging Leader
In the life of every believer comes a time that is often very disconcerting. It is the time when the Holy Spirit chooses to reveal to us that the Lover of our souls and the King of the universe are one and the same Person. We are gripped by a sense of awe and wonder that is pleasant and exhilarating on one hand yet terrifying on the other, because we begin to see the implications of intimacy with this Man, Christ Jesus. Our Beloved is tender and gentle, but He is also the Challenging Leader, the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
To the surprise of the Shulamite, her Beloved appears one day in a thoroughly unexpected persona. She describes his coming in this way:
The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills.
In these delightful phrases we are informed of the sovereign power of the King over all the obstacles of life, the hills and mountains that seem to us unconquerable hindrances to a life of faithful and single-minded fervency for the Lord. Her response to the king’s activity is filled with wonder and delight, and there is an initial sense of enjoyment at what he is doing:
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall;
He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice.
Suddenly, though, her mood changes, because as the king draws near to the Shulamite in disclosing his sovereign authority over difficult things, he invites her to join him in the exhilarating dance of victory over the seemingly undefeatable realities of her life:
My beloved spoke, and said to me: "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!
“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face,
let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” Song 2:10-14
In our parallel relationship with Jesus, we must confront a crucial question: Will He be allowed to draw us past the things that have regularly defeated us in our attempts to be faithful in following Him? But the wondrous emphasis here is clearly on the majesty of the king, his beauty and power, and his ability to take the Shulamite with him as he leaps and dances over the mountains of her life. He draws her after him, reminding her that she is hidden in the cleft of the rock—a euphemism for the riven side of Christ on the cross. It is in the context of his sacrifice and redeeming power that she is safe, and his voice draws her to come and follow.
In our next article, we will see how the Shulamite responds to this invitation from her Beloved.