Prophetic Pictures of the Bridegroom God
In the next several articles I will focus on a number of snapshots of the bridegroom king in The Song of Solomon that are fulfilled in the Person of Jesus, as documented in the gospel accounts of the New Testament.
The Inviting Shepherd
The dimension of Jesus’ character that I call “The Inviting Shepherd” is found in the prophetic picture of the invitation of the king (the picture of Jesus) to the Shulamite shepherd girl (the picture of the Bride of Christ) in the first chapter of the allegory. The young maiden opens the text of this Song with a startling expression of desire: “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth—for Your love is better than wine.”
It is essential right from the beginning to understand that the imagery here is symbolic. Our interpretation is allegorical; the story is a picture of Jesus’ relationship with the Church. Therefore, “the kisses of His mouth” refers to the touch of the Word of God upon the human heart, empowered by the Holy Spirit. When His Word pierces through the emotional and theological barriers of our hearts, and touches us with the truth of His love, it is a kiss that is better than any other, the reality of which a human kiss is merely a dim reflection.
As the Shulamite speaks about the king, she inquires concerning His presence (v. 7): Where is that predictable place in which she might feast upon His beauty? She has decided there is no reason she should remain veiled in His presence. Why should she hold herself back from intimacy when he is present specifically to release such a dynamic? It is in the king’s reply that we see the face of the Inviting Shepherd:
If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow in the footsteps of the flock,
and feed your little goats beside the shepherds' tents.
We contemporary evangelicals must fact the fact that throughout history countless human beings have experienced the reality for which our hearts are longing. In the king’s invitation to the Shulamite, I too am being solicited to join the procession of those who have pursued Him with extravagance and passion, and my answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Jesus extends the same invitation to real men to come and join Him in living out this relationship. John 1:35-39 gives the account of two disciples of John the Baptist. These men see Jesus walking along and they begin to follow Him. He notices, and turning to them, asks what they want. In their response we find the poignant echo of the heart of the Shulamite, spoken by men of the first century: “Teacher, where are You staying?”
Can you hear the reverberating sounds of her heart-cry? “Tell me, O You Whom I love, where do You feed Your flock?” And the incredible reality is that on an actual day in history, at about four o’clock in the afternoon, the Bridegroom-God Who from ages past has desired intimate relationship with human beings—gazed upon these two men, men like me, and gave the Bridegroom’s answer: “Come and see.” And so they followed, and their lives were never the same.