This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
His Banner Over Me Was Love
Song of Solomon 2:4 - “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”
Many of us have been cooped up in our homes, unable to socialize or worse, not able to enjoy the fellowship of the saints worshiping together in God’s house. Oh, how good it is now that we can once again go to church twice on Sundays.
This book is a song sung between King Solomon and the Shulamite. As they sing together of their great love for each other, they are a picture of the love between Jesus Christ and His church. It is an intimate love, longing for each other and delighting in one another. The bridegroom’s left hand is under her head, and with his right hand he caresses her. He whispers his love to his bride, and the bride expresses her love to him. We have a celebration of Christ’s love for His church and every individual believer personally. “His banner over me is love.”
Can we know this love, not only intellectually but also experientially? Do you know it? We can! He tells us of His love. That is what make worship so joyful. At the beginning of the worship service, He says to his bride, “Beloved.” The gospel is preached, and He tells us that though we are black, we are comely (Chap. 1:5). We are black or dark with sin. We are black with suffering persecution, as one forced to work long under the hot sun; compared to the dwellings of nomadic Arabians in the desert. Outwardly, the true church is not glorious but suffers in this world, especially from hypocrites; yet she has true, inward beauty. She is washed from her sins, delivered from the power of sin, clothed with the righteousness of Christ Jesus.
The relationship between Christ and His people is not merely one of faith or service, important as these are. Believers are loved by Christ , and they in turn, love their Lord. We know that love because the gospel reveals it. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:9,10). We know it through the preaching of the gospel. We know it when we celebrate the sacraments. Oh, how we love coming back again to worship in church!
“He brought me into the banqueting house.” How did he bring us? He chose us in eternity to be the bride of Christ. Christ Jesus suffered and died to purchase us as His bride. By His Spirit and by His Word He draws us to Himself in faith and love. The literal wording in Hebrew for “banqueting house” is “house of wine.” Wine is the symbol of joy, happiness, fullness, and exuberance. The wife of Solomon says, “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love” (Chap. 2:5). This expression means ‘love sick’—being full of and satisfied with His love. This must be the song of Christ’s bride, the church, and every individual believer within her.
God reveals in His Word and sacraments His great love to us. By faith, we know that love. Faith is a sure knowledge of all that God reveals in His Word, and a hearty confidence, that not only for others, but for me also is by His grace forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and the hope of eternal life. There is certainty because it is Christ that brought me to the banqueting house. It is not I who with a fickle love chose Him. It is not I who by my own beauty allured Him. It is not by my works performed that drew His attention. No, He, by His grace and mercy, sought me and bought me and brought me to His house of wine. By faith, I experience this love and break forth in singing! There is no doubt or fear in the child of God regarding Christ’s love for us. It is certain!
But we do not always walk on that high plain, do we? There are times that we wonder and even question His love. The Shulamite woke up in the night and did not find Solomon in bed with her. She stated “I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.” So also, the Church and individual believers at times question, “Where is my beloved?” It seems that He is gone from us, gone from the bed of intimacy. When we walk in the way of sin, we will not experience God’s favor or love. He will seem far from us, just as we do not feel the sun’s light and warmth when a cloud covers it.
David surely experienced this when he was walking in sin. By withdrawing from us, Christ causes us to seek Him, to seek Him diligently.
How delightful is knowledge of Christ’s love for His bride, the church: more lovely than the earthly love of a husband for his wife. We read in vs. 5 and 6, “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.” The result of knowing Christ’s love is comfort, satisfaction, joy, and peace. Completely satisfied, more so that any other comfort can bring. We go up to God’s house feasting, feasting on Christ Jesus in the word preached and the sacraments portrayed and enjoyed. May you and I be overwhelmed as we worship and live before Him.
Read The Song of Solomon. The expressions used in this wonderful book speak of physical love and describe the gestures and attitudes that are familiar to us in our human understanding of marital love. God has seen fit to represent His love for His people in the institution of marriage (Eph. 5:22-33). Yet the love of God in Christ Jesus transcends all earthly relationships. His love is eternal, infinite, and unchanging.
Experiencing Christ’s love for us, my we sing:
Thy love to me, O Christ, Thy love to me,
Not mine to Thee I plead, Not mine to Thee.
This is my comfort strong, this is my joyful song,
Thy love to me, thy love to me.
Thy record I believe, Thy word to me;
Thy love I now receive, full, changeless, free-
Love from the sinless Son, Love to the sinful one,
Thy love to me, Thy love to me.