By J.P. Thackway
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers. Song of Solomon 1:4
The Song of Solomon is a sacred allegory of our union and communion with Christ. Our heavenly Bridegroom is called “my beloved” (2:3), and He calls us His bride “my love” (2:2). The prophets echo this understanding of the book, where the Lord says to Israel, “I am married unto you” (Jeremiah 3:14). And again, in Ephesians 5, where Paul likens human marriage to the union between Christ and His Church (verse 25).
As the book opens, we find these choice words: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (1:2). This can only be the believer’s desire for Christ, the Beloved of our souls. He longs that He would come in a particular way: “kiss me with the kisses of His mouth” (cf 5:16). What does this expression mean?
Thomas Watson gives the clue, “The two Testaments are the two lips by which God hath spoken to us.” This, then, is our Lord speaking to us in Scripture. A kiss tangibly expresses love – and when the Lord speaks in His word, He communicates His love to us so that we spiritually taste that He is gracious.
Then, in verses 2 and 3 we see that He has answered the prayer, the kiss has been given, for the spouse declares: “thy love is better than wine … thy name is as ointment poured forth, etc.” This is,
…the soul-refreshing view
Of Jesus and His word,
and nothing warms the heart more, as the two on the Emmaus road found (Luke 24:32).
And yet in verse 4, we see the church still longing for Christ. Now, however, it is in different words: “Draw me, we will run after thee…” It is the same desire but expressed in another way.
a] It reminds us that we can never have enough of Jesus.
One love-visit, although comforting and sanctifying, never suffices. We want more, for we know that in Christ there is unlimited spiritual delights. We long for His manifested presence repeatedly, although we know that can only fully be given us in heaven.
b] These different words put it the other way around.
With “the kisses of his mouth” He has come to us; with “Draw me,” we want to go to Him. It is not enough that the Lord is there – we want to be closer and enjoy Him yet more.
c] We acknowledge that we cannot come ourselves.
This accounts for the request, “Draw me.” Only He can bring us to that nearer place: “lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). In human love, the husband draws his wife to him, and this is what we want our heavenly Husband to do,
Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Saviour, so precious Thou art;
Fold me, O fold me close to Thy breast,
Shelter me safe in that Haven of Rest.
And when we our Lord brings us here, we feel we are in a place of safety: beyond the reach of the devil, temptations, fears, and this present world. It is a foretaste of heaven.
So, this prayer is the longing of the soul to have more of Christ. And we find that He grants the desire: verse 4 “… the king hath brought me into his chambers.” The prayer is answered. The Lord has become to the believer like Noah and the restless dove, when he “took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark” (Genesis 8:9, margin, caused her to come). We have come to our soul’s true rest.
None of us knows what this new year of 2021 will bring. For some, great joys may in be store, for others sharp trials that will require special grace. For yet others, it may be very much like the year that has passed. However, to experience more of a Saviour’s love must be our ultimate comfort and strength for as long as the Lord keeps us in this world. As this must be the desire of every believer’s heart, let us consider this subject together now.
- THE FELT NEED
“Draw me.” Why do we need this gracious drawing? For reasons which every exercised believer will recognise.
1] We can feel distant from Christ.
This is not concerning our union with Him – that can never change – it is about communion. A husband and wife, united in marriage, can nonetheless sometimes feel remote from each other. It can be like this from our side toward our Beloved. There are degrees of closeness to Christ. The apostle John lived nearer the Master than, say, Philip. It is not favouritism, but as one has said, “The Lord does not have favourites, but He does have intimates.” And we long to be numbered among those enjoying that degree of close communion.
2] There is our inability to come.
We need the Lord Jesus to “draw” nearer us because sin has weakened our faculties and biased them away from Him whom we love. We feel a strange disinclination toward the Lord and spiritual things. Prayer, for example, is sometimes the last thing we do, anything else is easier. Reading the Word can be seeing words but not hearing His voice. The ordinances of worship can become “weariness” (Malachi 1:13). Self-denying service for the Master can seem like joyless labour, making self-pleasing preferable (Philippians 2:21). Spiritual progress is often like walking underwater.
3] Scripture teaches that this is so.
It is the truth of Galatians 5:17: “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” It also reveals that there is a great enemy at our right hand to resist us (Zechariah 3:1). This reassures us because it is saying that it is the common experience of all who love Christ and long for closer communion with Him. It is not a worrying sign but a good evidence of grace.
4] Scripture also promises us help.
The Lord Jesus is pleased to “draw” us. By His inward work upon our hearts He strengthens us to come to Him. We then agree with Wesley’s lines,
We cannot think a gracious thought,
We cannot feel a good desire,
Till Thou, who call’st a world from nought,
The power into our hearts inspire.
We can come to Christ if we are enabled. Therefore, we can either give in to the weaknesses of the flesh and hindrances of the devil – or seek the grace that counteracts them all. The believer depicted here seeks that promised grace: “draw me.”
- THE HEART CRY
“Draw me, we will run after thee.” In this prayer we ask the Lord to do what we cannot do ourselves.
1] There is an encouraging precedent.
When we came to the Lord at conversion it was because He drew us: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” and “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (Jeremiah 31:3; John 6:44). Thankfully, His drawing us did not end with effectual calling. He still draws us by His constraining love (2 Corinthians 5:14). When we ask Him to, we are only responding to His desire to do it for us. Having brought us into salvation, He delights to bring us closer to Him as: “his saints … the children of Israel, a people near unto him” (Psalm 148:14).
2] How do we know that He is drawing us?
We know it from what comes next in our text: “we will run after thee.” When He helps us, we feel eagerness in the soul.
a] In prayer.
“We will run after thee.” As we pray, the Lord can warm our heart, soften us, grant a little melting. Our desires will become focussed toward Christ. As we begin to pray, we find we can pray and we “go in the strength of the Lord GOD” (Psalm 71:16). Then we “run” in our prayers to Him who draws us.
b] In obedience.
“We will run after thee.” The same holds true of our obeying the Lord’s word. The psalmist found, “I will run in the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32). When the Lord moves us, obedience is a labour of love and “his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:4). We find we can gladly do His will. As Thomas Adams put it, “True obedience hath no lead at its heels.”
c] In serving the Lord.
Moses is an example of when the Lord calls us to do something we naturally shrink from. He found he could “run” after the Lord despite his fears. God called Moses to demand that Pharaoh let Israel go from slavery (Exodus 3:10). Moses made every excuse (verse 11; 4:10-13). In doing so, he was seeing no further than his own weakness: something we all are prone to do. However, the Lord assured him with this promise: “Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain” (3:12).
Here, the Lord promised Moses enabling (“Certainly I will be with thee”) and guarantees the outcome (“When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God on this mountain” – Mount Sinai was where this was fulfilled). This drew God’s servant into a bond of fellowship whereby he would be a “labourer together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9) and he “ran” with Him. It illustrates Paul’s words, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5;24).
Are you facing a daunting prospect this New Year? Is God making your way clear over something, but you dread going forward? You need not feel like this; God’s commands are His enablings. He is drawing you and if you follow you will find Matthew Henry’s words true: “If we be found in the way of obedience, the Lord will be found by us in the way of help.”
Notice that it is not, “If you draw me, we will run after thee.” We are not passive, waiting for something to happen before we do anything. Rather, as we prayerfully venture – “Draw me” – we find that all we need comes to us: “we will run after thee.” He is faithful that promised.
3] This blessing goes further than us.
“Draw me” becomes “we will run after thee.” How often we find that when the Lord helps us, others notice. It encourages them, so that before long they seek and find that help too. What blesses one can bless many. This was the case when the Jews heard Cyrus’ decree allowing them to return to Jerusalem. Certain leaders were “drawn,” and before long “all them whose spirit God had raised” (Ezra 1:5) went forth from their exile and returned home. The “me” becomes the “we” and they all “ran after” God.
- THE BLESSED PLACE
“The king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, etc.” Here, the believer enlarges upon the answer to prayer the Lord has given. When the Lord draws His people, and they run after Him, certain consequences follow.
1] Nearer intimacy.
“He hath brought me into his chambers.” These were the inner part of the palace, where the king only brought his favourites. In Esther 4:11 it is called “the inner court.” To that place people had to be invited by the king, and if not, it was death! Queen Esther could enter, and she “drew near” to the king and knew his love. The Lord wants us with Him like this “in the secret of (his) presence” (Psalm 31:15). At such times we tell Him things, and He speaks to us, and it is sacred intimacy.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
2] We are more taken up with Christ than ever.
“We will rejoice and be glad in thee, we will remember thy love, etc.” There can be nothing better in all the world than this. Only heaven, and the fullness of Christ forever, can better it. May the Lord bring us to this nearness to Christ and His love this new year. The words of James Smith express this well,
“What subject is so sweet as the love of Jesus? The goodwill of His heart towards us, which He fixed on us sovereignly, immutably, and eternally. Let us remember this love of Jesus, for it is sufficient to fill us with joy, peace, and love. O, how it condescended to look upon us, come and die for us, and now to dwell with us! What benevolence it has and does display, giving everything that is necessary for life and godliness. How it dignifies its objects, raising them to glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life. Let us remember His love, to comfort our hearts amidst changing friendships; to encourage our souls in seasons of darkness; to produce confidence in times of trial; to inspire with fortitude in times of danger; to beget patience when burdened and oppressed; to reconcile the mind under bereaving dispensations; and to produce zeal and devotedness in the Lord’s cause and service. O, love of Jesus! be Thou my daily subject and constant theme! Beloved, let us remember His love, if we forget everything beside; there is nothing so sweet, so valuable, so excellent as this! It will profit, please, and sanctify us.”
God only knows the love of God;
O, that it now were shed abroad
In this poor stony heart!
Give me to know this love divine,
This heavenly portion, Lord, be mine;
Be mine this better part!
by Rev. John Thackway, Pastor of Holywell Evangelical Church
Used with kind permission of the author