A WALLED GARDEN
Song of Solomon 4:12-15
A picture that I saw in my mind’s eye during a worship time at our congregation has stayed with me now for days. I was at the entrance to an enclosure that was very green and garden like. I could not identify the kind of leaves or trees, I was just impressed with the stillness and the very deep rich forest green tones. I sensed the presence of the Lord, and an invitation to enter. I felt freshness and quiet protection there from the noise and chaos outside, and from all the mind patter within. It was a place of rest from “doing” and a place of just “being”.
Moments later in the service, almost an affirmation, the worship leader said, (which does not often happen):
“I believe the Lord is calling each of us into a place of greater intimacy”.
This confirmed to me the sense I was having. It was His invitation to the place within, set apart, surrounded and protected into which He was calling.
As I continued to meditate upon this picture, the verses in Song of Solomon 4:12-15 “A garden enclosed my sister, my spouse…sealed! (v.12)
This garden of the inner man was the hidden place of the heart dedicated to the Lord.
Further on the passage recounts the rich array of fragrant shrubs, trees, and sweet fruit in the garden. And streams of water!
The passage culminates by the call to gentle winds to move back and forth on His garden (v.15) releasing the fragrance that it may be spread abroad.
I ask myself, is this not what we are called to be? With our inner “man” fresh and rich with the scent of heaven?
I recalled events of many years ago here in Jerusalem.
But first, to more fully appreciate the story, a bit of background on our conditions is the Middle East. Everything is dry for most of the year. For months on end there is barely a cloud, let alone rain, from May to November.
The Land, green and fresh in early spring, soon becomes brown, and parched by the relentless days of heat and sun.
Architecturally, there are many walls and enclosures for protection from the marauders over the centuries, so the streets may appear all stone faced alleys. In fact, just steps from where I am sitting, in Nachlaot, one of the earliest neighborhoods built outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, each block has the houses built in row style like a box, with outside walls having tiny windows, and a huge courtyard in the center for the whole block to enjoy.
Now the story!
There was a young man, a Jewish Believer, who decided to seek his roots in the Yeshiva, even though he had to conceal his faith in Messiah.
After some months, he was found out as a Messianic Believer, and the enraged rabbis called him a traitor, pulled his beard and threatened him. He fled the city and found a position as handyman, safely behind the thick walls and gates of a monastery in Ein Kerem.
We visited him to see how he was doing. After we pulled the long cord outside on an ancient brass bell within the walls, a tiny door within the great gates was opened for us. Once inside our friend showed us around and we were amazed to find the most wonderful of gardens. Within the walls were raised stonewalled beds with a fine array of herbs, flowers, and tender vegetables being cultivated. Fruit trees and grape vines shaded the pathways…a virtual paradise.
We did not return to visit for some months, but when we did we asked our friend to take us into the gardens.
He said, “I am afraid you will find it much changed!”
While he had warned us, we were not prepared for what we were about to see. It was devastating. Dry beds devoid of any growth, coarse dried up weeds looking like straw, trees with shriveled fruits.
“What has become of the garden?” we asked.
“The monks decided it cost too much for water, so they turned it off.”
All that remained of this amazing oasis was dried up and barren.
I am reminded now of this story as I contemplate each of us as the Lord’s sealed enclosed garden. Only he knows what is within.
Is that inner place green and cultivated with a rich variety of life?
When the winds of the Spirit come to blow on us, what fragrance wafts to those around us?
Or has the stream of living water been cut off and there is barrenness within.
I, for one, am responding to the call at the beginning of Song of Solomon … “Draw me and I will run after you…the King has brought me into his chambers…”