Rev. Jeremy Stopford, Semi-Retired Pastor

(Song of Solomon Chapters 4:16-6:3

Last week we finished our most recent series of lessons – in that case, the Sermon on the Mount. Our esteemed editor has encouraged me that for a season I should write for his wise readers some individual lessons. This should be fun! Thanks for praying for God’s blessings on this new venture.

The following is one of the first messages I ever gave in a church! When I was in Bible School, one of my professors – who at the time was also President of the college – was a dynamic educator named J. Allen Aardsma. Believe it or not, he was graduated with my mother-in-law from the class of 1946 from Baptist Bible College and Seminary when it was located in Johnson City, New York (which college has since changed the name to Clarks Summit University and is now located in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania).

He had found some amazing notes which had been made by his deceased brother, Walter, on, of all subjects, the obscure and mysterious Biblical book, Song of Solomon! Pastor Aardsma presented a series of lectures during chapel using his brother’s notes as his guide.

Each lecture was recorded (cassette tape recorder, mind you!). Eventually all was transcribed to become the wonderful book, “BLACK, BUT COMELY WONDERFUL STORY OF LOVE”. Pastor Aardsma self-published the book, and copies are hard to find (or keep – I loaned mine out a while ago!). I encourage you to find your own copy of Pastor Aardsma’s book.

More importantly, I encourage you to find a NKJV Bible and go to your spouse. Together, READ this book TO EACH OTHER, using the wonderful gender defined divisions which the NKJV provides. Your relationship with each other will not be the same!

I first gave this sermon in a small church in South Edmonton, New York, back in the 1970’s. When I was candidating at my first church – Beaver Meadow (NY) Christian – I revised this message to give the church a taste of the wonderful beauty of God’s Word. And on my last Sunday at the church, 20 years later (!), I gave the same message using the same sermon notes, bookending an amazing ministry in a small country town in central New York.

With that introduction, here for your perusal and edification is “The Beauty of Christ”, taken from the Song of Solomon Chapters 4:16-6:3.

Allow me to introduce you to this oft forgotten book. The characters are few but lively. There are three of most importance: the “Beloved”, the “Shulamite”, and the “daughters of Jerusalem.” The “Beloved” is believed to be King Solomon himself who has revealed himself to a commoner (the “Shulamite”) NOT as a king but as a shepherd man. Per the insights of the Aardsma’s, isn’t that how the Lord Jesus reveals Himself to us? We may first be attracted to Him as a Man Who knows all about us. He is a Shepherd. But before long we know – we KNOW! – He is also the King of kings and Lord of lords. The “Shulamite” is a young girl who represents the seeker who finds that her “Beloved” is worthy of her daily as well as her eternal trust. And the “daughters of Jerusalem”? They are the Shulamite’s encouragers, the ones who make a most unusual inquiry!

There is a question that everyone who names the name of Christ as one’s personal Savior should ask himself/herself frequently: Is Jesus as precious to me now as in my first steps with Christ? I began my “first steps with Christ” in my bedroom in my parents’ Ft. Lauderdale (Florida) house on July 26, 1971. From that moment on, as a “new creature in Christ” my life was a whirlwind under His control! Within one year I had transferred from a good liberal arts college in upstate New York to a Bible College in lower Ontario, Canada. The first day of school I met a sophomore who within a year would be my bride (that was almost 49 years ago!). Within 5 years I was serving the Lord at my wife’s local church as a teacher for the “Love Class” – the 18 students were all mentally handicapped to some degree. The class enabled the “students’” caretakers to attend Sunday School and Church! And within 15 years of my profession of faith in Jesus, I was pastoring my first of 2 churches. God is so good. But throughout these 50 plus years in the faith, I must regularly ask myself, “Is Jesus as precious to me now as in my first steps with Christ?” These verses in the Song of Songs will help us all answer that very personal question.

Note that 4:16 begins with “Awake!”. The English Baptist pastor and Puritan theologian John Gill (1697-1771) used this word to describe how the Church view of Christ can be clouded, to the point of needing to be aroused from sleep (just as our main character the Shulamite will soon discover!). Pastor Owen gives these insights as to the causes of the “clouding”, “putting to sleep” of the Church:

* The non-exercise of faith, hope, love – resulting in the Church being luke-warm and out of shape!

* The lack of fervency in devotion and in prayer

* Worship becomes formal, not from the heart. For example, the individuals of the church may neglect the simple adorations of saying a prayer of “Grace” before meals. This may be an indication of the cloudiness of one’s devotion to the Savior.

* Carelessness of concern for the cause of Christ: family devotions as well as personal devotions are no longer a priority

* This cloudiness shows up in falling into world-like-ness without being affected, without having the conscience troubled.

* Finally, Dr. Owen notes that there is a willingness to so remain in sleep, casting aside attempts to be wakened.

There is a flow in the actions of the opening verses of Chapter 5. The Beloved lets the Shulamite (who he affectionately calls “my sister, my spouse”, 5:1) know that he is in his most favorite place of spiritual repose, the Garden. Our trained minds immediately go to that early New Testament place of spiritual repose for the Savior and His first disciples: the Garden of Gethsemane. It was such a wonderful spot that just over 3 years later Judas would know where to look for the Savior in order to betray Him before the Pharisees and their cohorts. Note John 18:2:

“And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples.”

HOWEVER, while sleeping (or slumbering, in a light sleep, v. 2), she hears her beloved’s voice – his request for her to open the door. In her confusion (v.4-5), by the time she gets to the door he is gone (v. 6). Wearing only her night clothes (apparently!), she goes out looking for her beloved (v. 7), for which the watchmen of the village discipline her impropriety (v. 7). She asks the “daughters of Jerusalem” (v. 8), to look out for her beloved.

In verse 9, these “daughters of Jerusalem” ask the pivotal question of the entire passage: “WHAT is your beloved MORE than another beloved…that you should so charge us” to look everywhere for him?

THAT’S the question that we all should be able to answer! Remember 1 Peter 3:15:

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…”. [my emphasis]

Beginning with verse 10, the Shulamite gives HER defense. She gives his (His?) qualifications:


He is “white and ruddy”, the “chief among ten thousand”. This makes him a champion, an excellency, a standard bearer for everyone to see. I am encouraged to read Hebrews 1:1-3, especially verses 2-3:

[God] “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;  who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”

Look also at 2 Corinthians 5:21:

“For He [the Father] made Him [Jesus the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

His gloriousness sets Him apart!

* HIS APPEARANCE SETS HIM APART (verses 11, 13, 16)

“His head is like the finest gold; His locks are wavy, and black as a raven.” (verse 11)

This is an appearance of youth, in contrast with the white-haired eternal One of Revelation. He is totally fit, “able to save to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25). The tongue (verses 13 and 16) shows His power, love and humility. In Psalm 29, His voice THUNDERS upon the waters. He spoke as One having authority (Matthew 7:29). Yet in contrast, his love and compassion were on display in His concern for the blind and for children, And His humility? Except when His deity was in question, His mouth was silent before His accusers prior to the cross. “…as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:6).


His eyes are like doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.” (verse 12).

His hands are rods of gold set with beryl.” (verse 14a)

His eyes show an omniscience. Remember when David was advising his son Solomon on how to be king (1 Kings 2:1-4; 1 Chronicles 22:11-13)? He told him to be sure to listen and obey the ALL-KNOWING God. And His hands show a security, as evidenced with the truth of John 10:27ff. The believer is secure in Jesus’ hands. The Son is secure in His Father’s hands. And Jesus and His Father are one!


His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of fine gold.”

For man, there can be no other foundation in this world but the one which we can have in Jesus Christ alone (1 Corinthians 2:11). And for God, all things – ALL THINGS! – are always to be to His glory, “…to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36c).

After finishing her description of her beloved, the Shulamite gives a wonderful summation: “He is altogether lovely” (verse 16). The Shulamite has expressed her adoration for her beloved. In essence, she is saying “I cannot be content in life without him!”.

Now when she has focused her all upon Him, several amazing thing happen (6:1-3). First, the “daughters of Jerusalem” get really excited too! They want to meet this special One Whom she calls her “Beloved”. They want to seek Him, too! Shouldn’t those who meet the Christian today hunger to know where OUR heart lies, where OUR confidence lies, where OUR hope lies, where OUR love lies? Her testimony is restored to its former self before her mind got foggy at the start of our story

And then? Having focused her mind on her Beloved, and excited that her friends recognize as well His uniqueness, why the Shulamite’s mind is suddenly wonderfully clear (v.2)!!! “Why, it all comes back to me now! My Beloved has gone to His garden!”

AND THEN? “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” (verse 3).

Her love for Him is no longer luke-warm but rather is cherished! She is hungry to be with Him, to fellowship, to sojourn with Him in the garden!

We need to ask ourselves daily:

Is Jesus precious now?

IF NOT…think on His Beauty!

As the old time song goes…

He was there all the time, waiting patiently in line.”