Summary: Physical tiredness is often a foe to the Christian, and to the church.
A RESTLESS NIGHT.
The Song of Songs is a wonderful piece of poetry, a love song often used to illustrate Christ's relationship with the Church.
This kind of double application of human love, and of the love between Christ and the Church may be seen also in Paul's discussion of husbands and wives, where he gives his instructions for the ideal marriage. “This is a great mystery,” he says, “but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32)
In fact, the Song of Songs might be interpreted on several levels: as a song of loves it is quite beautiful; to many Jewish scholars, it was a picture of the relationship of God and Israel; to Christian scholars, both in the primitive and in the reformed churches, it spoke of Christ and the Church; but in a much more individualistic age, we might also see here a demonstration of the relationship of our Lord and the Christian.
The man in this story is simply named “the Beloved” - but he has already introduced himself at the beginning of the book - “The song of songs which is Solomon’s” (Song of Songs 1:1).
The bride is not named, but in Song of Songs 6:13 she is addressed as “the Shulamite.”
There are various exchanges of adoring words between the couple in this historical poem. Some are very intimate indeed.
But, bearing in mind the various levels of interpretation which I have suggested, I want us to look in particular at one incident within their relationship which we find here in Song of Songs 5:1-16.
Firstly, in Song of Songs 5:1, the Beloved took leave of his friends to join his wife. She had already withdrawn to her chamber, and it is only natural that he desired her company rather than that of the young men.
Meantime, in Song of Songs 5:2, the Shulamite had been having a restless time, neither fully awake nor fully asleep. Her body was weary, but her spirit was excited in anticipation of his presence. “I sleep, but my heart is awake.”
Physical tiredness is often a foe to the Christian, and to the Church. When Jesus prayed with great anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, He returned only to find His closest disciples asleep!
“What? Could you not watch with me one hour?” He asked. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41).
But for the Shulamite, the moment she had longed for at last arrived. She heard the voice of her beloved. But by now, we see in Song of Songs 5:3, she was too tired to get up to open the door to him.
How like Israel!
The Israelites longed for their Lord to come to their aid. He delivered them out of captivity in Egypt, but they could not be bothered to serve Him in the wilderness. He delivered them into the Promised Land, but they found His service made them weary there. For 490 years He sent His prophets to recall them to Himself, but they would not hear. After the captivity in Babylon, the LORD delivered them again - but when Christ came at last to His own, they would not receive His words or His Person!
How like the Church!
Within the lifetime of the Apostles there were those who distorted the truth of the Gospel. As the centuries passed, the church fell into an ever deeper slumber, requiring the Lord on several occasions to give a major wake-up call. There were plagues and pestilences, wars and disasters. There were men of God in all generations calling people to repentance, but often these very men were rejected by the Church!
How like the individual person!
The non-Christian is on the very threshold of eternity, and God is calling.
They hear Him calling, but will leave the matter of their eternal well-being until some more convenient time! Oh how foolish people are: what guarantee have any of us that we will ever have another opportunity?
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” says the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 6:2), but people will content themselves with lies rather than respond to the call of God in our Lord Jesus Christ.
How like the Christian at times!
We hear His call, but we can‘t be bothered to respond. We are challenged about some sin, but refuse to wake up to its dangers. We know there is some area of service to which we should be applying ourselves, but find it all too much of a chore. We prefer sleep to prayer, and recreation to Bible study.
The Shulamite had heard her Beloved’s voice. She had made her excuses to herself for not rising to him - but in Song of Songs 5:4 her heart melted for him when he put his hand onto the latch of the door.