the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple-tree
among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down
under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste" (Song of Solomon 2:2, 3).
an unconverted man were taken away into heaven, where Christ sits in glory,
and if he overheard Christ's words of admiring love towards the believer, he
could not understand them, he could not comprehend how Christ should see
a loveliness in poor religious people whom he in the bottom of his
heart despised. Or again, if an unconverted man were to overhear a Christian
at his devotions when he is really within the veil, and were to listen to
his words of admiring, adoring love towards Christ, he could not possibly
understand them, he could not comprehend how the believer should have
such a burning affection toward one unseen, in whom he himself saw no form
nor comeliness. So true it is that the natural man knoweth not the things of
the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him. There may be some now
hearing me who have a rooted dislike to religious people,
are so stiff, so precise, so gloomy, you cannot endure their company! Well,
then, see here what Christ thinks of them: "As the lily among thorns,
so is my love among the daughters." How different you are from Christ!
There may be some hearing me who have no desires after Jesus Christ,
who never think of Him with pleasure; you see no form nor comeliness in Him,
no beauty that you should desire Him; you do not love the melody of his
name; you do not pray to Him continually. Well, then, see here what the
believer thinks of Him,
how different from you,
"As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among
the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was
sweet to my taste." Oh that you would be awakened by this very thing,
that you are so different from Christ, and so different from the believer,
to think that you must be in a natural condition, you must be under
The believer is unspeakably precious in the eyes of Christ, and Christ is
unspeakably precious in the eyes of the believer.
Inquire what Christ thinks of the believer.
"As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."
sees nothing so fair in all this world as the believer. All the rest of the
world is like thorns; but the believer is like a beautiful lily in his eyes.
When you are walking in a wilderness all overgrown with briars and thorns,
if your eye falls upon some lonely flower, tall and white, and pure and
graceful, growing in the midst of the thorns, it looks peculiarly beautiful.
If it were in the midst of some rich garden among many other flowers, then
it would not be so remarkable; but when it is encompassed with thorns on
every side, then it engages the eye. Such is the believer in the eyes of
Christ. "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the
See what Christ thinks of the unconverted world. It is like a field full of
briars and thorns in his eyes. First, Because fruitless. "Do men
gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" So Christ gets no fruit
from the unconverted world. It is all one wide thorny waste. Second, Because,
when the word is preached among them, it is like sowing among thorns.
"Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." When the
sower sowed, some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked
them; so is preaching to the unconverted. Third, Because their end
will be like that of thorns
they are dry, and fit only for the burning. "As thorns cut up shall
they be burned in the fire." "For the earth, which is often rained
upon and only bears thorns and briars, is rejected, and nigh unto cursing,
whose end is to be burned." My friends, if you are in a Christless
state, see what you are in the eyes of Christ thorns. You think
that you have many admirable qualities, that you are valuable members of
society, and you have a hope that it shall be well with you in eternity. See
what Christ says, You are thorns and briars, useless in this world, and fit
only for the burning.
See what Christ thinks of the believer: "As the lily among thorns, so
is my love among the daughters." The believer is like a lovely flower
in the eyes of Christ. First, Because justified in the eyes of
Christ, washed in his blood, he is pure and white as a lily. Christ can see
no spot in his own righteousness, and therefore He sees no spot on the
believer. Thou art all fair, my love, as a lily among thorns, so is my
love. Second, A believer's nature is changed. Once he was like the
barren, prickly thorn, fit only for burning; now Christ has put a new spirit
in him, the dew has been given to him, and he grows up like the lily.
Christ loves the new creature. "All my delight is in them."
"As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." Are
you a Christian? then never mind though the world despise you, though they
call you names; remember Christ loves you; He calls you "my love."
Abide in Him, and you shall abide in his love. "If ye continue in my
word, then are ye my disciples indeed." Third, Because so lonely
in the world. Observe, there is but one lily, but many thorns. There is a
great wilderness all full of thorns, and only one lonely flower. So there is
a world lying in wickedness, and a little flock that believe in Jesus. Some
believers are cast down because they feel solitary and alone. If I be in the
right way, surely I would not be so lonely. Surely the wise, and the
amiable, and the kind people I see round about me, surely, if there were
any truth in religion, they would know it. Be not cast down. It is one of
the marks of Christ's people that they are alone in the world, and yet they
are not alone. It is one of the very beauties which Christ sees in his
people, that they are solitary among a world of thorns. "As a lily
among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." Do not be
discouraged. This world is the world of loneliness. When you are
transplanted to yon garden of God, then you shall be no more lonely, then
you shall be away from all the thorns. As flowers in a rich garden blend
together their thousand odours to enrich the passing breeze, so, in the
paradise above, you shall join the thousands of the redeemed, blending with
theirs the odour of your praise; you shall join with the redeemed, as living
flowers, to form a garland for the Redeemer's brow.
Inquire what the believer thinks of Christ. "As the apple
tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat
down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my
Christ is more precious than all other saviours in the eye of the believer.
As a traveller prefers an apple-tree to every other tree of the wood,
because he finds both shelter and nourishing food under it, so the believer
prefers Christ to all other saviours. When a man is travelling in eastern
countries, he is often like to drop down under the burning rays of the sun.
It is a great relief when he comes to a wood. When Israel were travelling in
the wilderness, they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water and
seventy palm-trees, and they encamped there by the water. They were glad of
the shelter of the trees. So Micah says that God's people "dwell
solitarily in the wood;" and Ezekiel promises, "they shall sleep
in the woods."
if the traveller be hungry and faint for lack of food, then he will not be
content with any tree of the wood, but he will choose out a fruit-tree,
under which he may sit down and find nourishment as well as shade. He sees a
fair apple-tree; he chooses it out of all the trees of the wood, because he
can both sit under its shadow and eat its pleasant fruits. So is it with the
soul awakened by God. He feels under the heat of God's anger; he is in a
weary land; he is brought into the wilderness; he is like to perish; he
comes to a wood; many trees offer their shade; where shall he sit down?
Under the fir-tree? Alas! what fruit has it to give? he may die there. Under
the cedar-tree, with its mighty branches? Alas! he may perish there, for it
has no fruit to give. The soul that is taught of God seeks for a complete
Saviour. The apple-tree is revealed to the soul. The hungry soul chooses
that evermore. He needs to be saved from hell and nourished for heaven.
"As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among
souls, remember you must not sit down under every tree that offers itself.
"Take heed that no one deceive you; for many shall come in Christ's
name, saying, I am Christ, and deceive many." There are many ways of
saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. You will be tempted to find
peace in the world, in self-repentance, in self-reformation. Remember,
choose you a tree that will yield fruit as well as shade. "As the
apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the
sons." Pray for a choosing faith. Pray for an eye to discern the
apple-tree. Oh! there is no rest for the soul except under that Branch which
God has made strong. My heart's desire and prayer for you is, that you may
all find rest there.
Why has the believer so high an esteem of Christ?
Because he has made trial of Christ. "I sat down under his shadow with
great delight." All true believers have sat down under the shadow of
Christ. Some people think that they shall be saved because they have got a
head-knowledge of Christ. They read of Christ in the Bible, they hear of
Christ in the house of God, and they think that is to be a Christian. Alas!
my friends, what good would you get from an apple-tree, if I were only to
describe it to you tell you how beautiful it was how heavily laden
with delicious apples? Or, if I were only to show you a picture of the tree,
or if I were to show you the tree itself at a distance, what the better
would you be? You would not get the good of its shade or its pleasant fruit.
Just so, dear brethren, what good would you get from Christ, if you only
hear of Him in books and sermons, or if you see Him pictured forth in the
sacrament, or if you were to see Him with your bodily eye? What good would
all this do, if you do not sit down under his shadow? Oh, my friends, there
must be a personal sitting down under the shadow of Christ if you would be
saved! Christ is the bush that has been burned, yet not consumed. Oh! it is
a safe place for a hell-deserving sinner to rest.
may be hearing me who can say, "I sat down under his shadow." And
yet you have forsaken Him. Ah! have you gone after your lovers, and away
from Christ? Well, then, may God hedge up your way with thorns. Return,
return, O Shulamite! There is no other refuge for your soul. Come and sit
down again under the shadow of the Saviour.
2. Because he sat down with great delight.
Some people think there is no joy in religion,
it is a gloomy thing. When a young person becomes a Christian, they would
say, Alas! he must bid farewell to pleasure, farewell to the joys of
youth, farewell to a merry heart. He must exchange these pleasures for
reading of the Bible and dry sermon books, for a life of gravity and
preciseness. This is what the world says. What does the Bible say? "I
sat down under his shadow with great delight." Ah! let God be true, and
every man a liar. Yet no one can believe this except those who have tried
it. Ah! be not deceived, my young friends; the world has many sensual and
many sinful delights, the delights of eating and drinking, and wearing
gay clothes, the delights of revelry and the dance. No man of wisdom
will deny that these things are delightful to the natural heart; but oh!
they perish in the using, and they end in an eternal hell. But to sit down
under the shadow of Christ, wearied with God's burning anger, wearied with
seeking after vain saviours, at last to find rest under the shadow of
Christ, ah! this is great delight. Lord, evermore may I sit under this
shadow! Lord, evermore may I be filled with this joy!
Some people are afraid of anything like joy in religion. They have none
themselves, and they do not love to see it in others. Their religion is
something like the stars, very high, and very clear, but very cold. When
they see tears of anxiety, or tears of joy, they cry out, Enthusiasm,
enthusiasm! Well, then, to the law, and to the testimony. "I sat down
under his shadow with great delight." Is this enthusiasm? O
Lord, evermore give us this enthusiasm! May the God of hope fill you with
all joy and peace in believing! If it be really in sitting under the shadow
of Christ, let there be no bounds to your joy. Oh, if God would but open
your eyes, and give you simple, childlike faith, to look to Jesus, to sit
under his shadow, then would songs of joy rise from all our dwellings.
Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!
Because the fruit of Christ is sweet to the taste. All true believers not
only sit under the shadow, but partake of his pleasant fruits. Just as when
you sit under an apple-tree, the fruit hangs above you and around you, and
invites you to put out the hand and taste; so when you come to submit to the
righteousness of God, bow your head, and sit down under Christ's shadow, all
other things are added unto you. First, Temporal mercies are sweet to
the taste. None but those of you who are Christians know this, when you sit
under the shadow of Christ's temporal mercies, because covenant mercies.
"Bread shall be given you; your water shall be sure." These are
sweet apples from the tree Christ. O Christian! tell me, is not bread
sweeter when eaten thus? Is not water richer than wine, and Daniel's pulse
better than the dainties of the king's table? Second, Afflictions are
sweet to the taste. Every good apple has some sourness in it. So is it with
the apples of the tree of Christ. He gives afflictions as well as mercies;
He sets the teeth on edge; but even these are blessings in disguise,
they are covenant gifts. Oh! affliction is a dismal thing when you are not
under his shadow. But are you Christians? look on your sorrows as apples
from that blessed tree. If you knew how wholesome they are, you would not
wish to want them. Several of you know it is no contradiction to say, These
apples, though sour, are sweet to my taste. Third, The gifts of the
Spirit are sweet to the taste. Ah! here is the best fruit that grows on the
tree; here are the ripest apples from the topmost branch. You who are
Christians know how often your soul is fainting. Well, here is nourishment
to your fainting soul. Everything you need is in Christ. "My grace is
sufficient for thee." Dear Christian, sit much under that tree, feed
much upon that fruit. "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples,
for I am sick of love." Fourth, Promises of glory. Some of the
apples have a taste of heaven in them. Feed upon these, dear Christians.
Some of Christ's apples give you a relish for the fruit of Canaan for
the clusters of Eshcol. Lord, evermore give me these apples; for oh! they
are sweet to my taste.