The Pleasures of Refined Society

Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant…”
Song of Solomon 1:16a
WE love Him because He first loved us; we presume to call Him our beloved, because He first calls us His love.  It is much for such unworthy creatures to have the right of saying this; much to have the feelings and desires which prompt this language.  When Jesus speaks to our heart, as in the 15th verse (“Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.”), there arises the trepidation of warm affection; and we would gladly give utterance to the strongest expressions of love; but we are so overwhelmed with His grandeur, and our unworthiness, as to hesitate in using words our emotions would justify.  Hence the Holy Spirit has indited this language, and assures us we cannot do wrong in thus speaking of our Lord.  Jesus is well pleased to have us call Him our beloved.

“THOU art fair.”  How fair?  Fairer than the sons of men; adorned with greater beauty than any of our fallen race; fairer too than the angels. (Hebrews 1)  “Grace is poured into thy lips;” and when, in consequence of this, we wonder at the gracious words which proceed out of His mouth, we delight to add, “Yea, pleasant.”  The pleasures of refined society, of society ennobled by intellectual culture and polished manners, in combination with the grace which purifies the heart for seeing God, are the most delightful possible for man.  The society of Jesus, far from being gloomy and irksome, is captivating and delightful.  In Him are united all conceivable charms, princely dignity, mind of infinite compass, illimitable influence, beauty, knowledge, and wisdom divine, a nature that is its self love.  When in the form of a slave, in the flesh, emptied of His glory, there was a wondrous charm about His person, His presence, His conversation.  “Never man spake like this man.” (John 7:46)  What, therefore, must be the charm investing Him now in glory.  Those who have been admitted to the gatherings in which the hospitality of high rank loved to assemble the courtly, the powerful, the learned, and the influential, delighted in those privileges as their happiest hours, and cherish the remembrance of them fondly in declining age.  Of such privileges the humble saint may be deprived; but he mingles intimately in a more refined, more intellectual, more fascinating society — a gathering wherein He who presides as the King in the circle of His friends.

How pleasant is the society of Jesus, when He unfolds to us the way of salvation, opens the promises, encourages in difficulty, comforts in trouble, and speaks of the blessedness of heaven!

How rich the influence around His presence!  In His presence is fullness of joy.  When on earth, He must have possessed great attractions, to draw multitudes after Him into the wilderness, and retain them there for days without food.  The indifference of the believer to the highest society among the irreligious, is the result of a deep and intelligent conviction of the superiority of the society of Christ.  Entranced with His pleasantness, enchained with His wisdom, and rapt by the glorious visions of the ideal world unfolded by His promises, we exclaim, “This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell.  Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.”  (Psalm 76:25)

The Song of Solomon
George Burrowes, c. 1853
Published by Banner of Truth Trust
1958, reprinted 1973

* * *
Nevertheless I am continually with Thee:
Thou hast holden me by my right hand.
Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel,
and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth:
but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
For, lo, they that are far from Thee shall perish:
Thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from Thee.
But it is good for me to draw near to God:
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Thy works.
Psalm 73:23-28


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