"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. From a multitude of these, I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a wise, warm-hearted, careful Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year chapter-by-chapter study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here are the fruits of that timeless study—summarized, illustrated, and amplified—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).
GENESIS, EXODUS, LEVITICUS, NUMBERS, DEUTERONOMY, JOSHUA, JUDGES, RUTH, 1 SAMUEL, 2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS, 1 CHRONICLES, 2 CHRONICLES, EZRA, NEHEMIAH, ESTHER, JOB, PSALMS, PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES
Song of Solomon 1:6 "They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept." This book is introduced as "the Song of Songs, which is Solomon's" (verse 1). Some treat it only as a song of human love; others consider what the lovers symbolize: God's love for Israel or Christ's love for the church. Perhaps it is best to see it with a combination of both approaches. If it has no symbolic, allegorical, or mystical intentions, it is invaluable as a song of love between a man and his bride. If this Song does have mystical intentions, they are conveyed by the highest figurative vehicle of pure love. Notice what the bride says to the women who help and encourage her throughout this Song: "I am very dark, but lovely" (verse 5). She explains she got that way by doing humble farm work in the sun at her family's request. As we see in the highlighted verse above, she also sacrificed care for herself to serve others. The bride declares that those things are lovely in the sight of her beloved, for they are symbols of what he most values in her. To a great man, the chief things of beauty in a woman are those that testify to her greatness of soul. Often the apparent disfigurement of what is superficial and external is evidence of great character. In the realm of biblical types or symbols, the Bride of Christ (the church) is beautiful in His eyes in proportion as she bears the marks of real fellowship with His sacrificial service. He who "emptied Himself" rejoices with those who, in their devotion to the vineyards of others, rise to the heights of neglecting their own.
Song of Solomon 2:2 "As a lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the young women." This is the language of the bridegroom. He adopts the description his bride gave of herself in the preceding verse: "I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys," which is much humbler in Hebrew than it comes across in English. "Rose" is better translated "crocus" but sadly is perpetuated by hundreds of years of an English tradition favoring beauty and familiarity over accuracy. The bride is saying she is like the commonest of the most common flowers where she lives: crocuses and day lilies. To this the bridegroom replies by accepting her description of herself as a lily, but not as one among many, but as one with whom all others in his eyes are as thorns. He sees her as full of beauty when others, growing in the same soil, are devoid of it. This is also true of those whom Christ loves. They flourish and become truly beautiful in soil that also produces thorns. The graces and beauties of the Lord's beloved ones are not those of plants nourished in hothouses, but in storms, frost, and unpromising soils.
Song of Solomon 3:4 "When I found him whom my soul loves, I held him and would not let him go." The bride is remembering when her beloved was wooing her, describing when he came (2:8-14) and then left (2:15-17). Night now falls and she dreams of him, but it is a disturbing dream: she fears she has lost him so she rises in her dream and searches for him diligently. At last she finds him and holds onto him for dear life. On a human level this is a very natural and beautiful expression of the power of love when it masters a life. Love creates a perpetual dread of the loved one's being lost. This dread, often only subconscious during the day, takes the form of actual experience in dreams of the night. Then follows the search and a renewed grip on the beloved when found. When contemplating the highest relationship of the soul to God through Christ, think of a sensitive and watchful love attuned to His presence. But if in a dream or in reality we lose our sense of it, let us search for Him diligently and in the finding, hold Him. With new devotion, may we refuse to let Him go.
Song of Solomon 4:16 "Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits." This is the bride's response to her ardent bridegroom's tender words at some point during their wedding. It is the language of her yielding herself to him and wholeheartedly accepting his call, highly poetic and pictorial in the fine spirit of the Middle East. In the first part of it she describes herself and her personality as her garden. In the second part she thinks of her whole self as belonging to him; she is now his garden. Her desire is for the double blessing of the north and south winds, representing that which is cold and healthful or the spirit of principle, and that which is warm and comforting or the spirit of passion. Under this double ministry, her beauty is perfected as passion is governed by principle, and principle suffused with passion. To this garden, so prepared and enhanced, let the beloved come and enjoy its choicest fruits! The dominant desire of the bride is the satisfaction of her beloved. This theme readily rises to higher realms. The overwhelming desire of those who love the Lord is to give His heart satisfaction, to provide for Him the precious fruits for which He in love is seeking. That we may do that, we call for the north wind and the south: winter and summer, adversity and prosperity, that by their varied yet crucial service in our lives, we may become to Him a garden of delights.
Song of Solomon 5:16 "This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." This is the climax of the bride's answer to a question her supportive friends knew she would love answering: "How is your beloved better than others, most beautiful of women?" (verse 9). It is a perfectly natural question. The bride initially replies with a wealth of Middle Eastern imagery that other women could use as well, but at last—almost unconsciously—the plain, essential fact is out: "This is my beloved, and this is my friend." That is the truth and no description of the beloved is satisfactory, except to the one employing it, who all the while sees more than words can adequately convey to others. Similarly, no believer can fully describe the Lord, for every description breaks down. For example, that is why no artist has ever satisfied any other in portraying Jesus. He is altogether lovely to His Bride, and so to all the multitude of believers who constitute that Bride. Every one of them can say, "This is my beloved, and this is my friend," and if each could portray to the others what that means, the wonder of the revelation would be the many-faceted grace and glory of the Lord. And that is what they will do in the future when Christ returns personally "to be glorified in His saints," which is "to be admired among all those who believe" (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
Song of Solomon 6:10 "Who is this, arising like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun, as majestic as an army with banners?" This pinnacle of praise arises from the bridegroom as he muses on the grace and beauty of his bride from the fourth verse of this chapter through the ninth verse of the next. He just noted in the previous verse that other women praise his beloved, and that seems to have elevated him to this level of praise. Because of the poetic language he uses, it seems best to take this as referring to her compelling character. The word picture is of the dawn moving to noon, when a majestic army sets out, glittering in the sun. Think of the freshness of the morning, where the purity of the moon gives way to the clarity of the sun. War hosts bearing banners and standards move out confident of victory. Such is the bride's whole appearance, although she is unconscious of it. The bridegroom's heart is completely vanquished by her. Thus Christ sees His Bride as she will be in that fair morning when the triumph of His grace is complete in her. He will then "present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:27).
Song of Solomon 7:10 "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me." This is the voice of the bride, following the high praise of her bridegroom. She expresses complete satisfaction, rest, contentment, and peace. There are two joyful elements in what she says here: the first is her abandoning herself to him ("I am my beloved's") and the second is her realizing he is satisfied ("his desire is for me"). What a simple declaration of the highest experience in human love! It is also the language of the soul when it has found its final rest and satisfaction in the love of God—both His love for the soul and the soul's love for Him. God's love and desire for humankind is most profoundly displayed in Christ's work on the cross: "While we were helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. For ... God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.... We also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:6-8, 11). That reconciliation brings about a profound and deep relationship of love between God and each man and woman who abandons himself and herself to Christ.
Song of Solomon 8:4 "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until the time is right." This echoes a call made twice before, in Song of Solomon 2:7 and 3:5, telling us something about its importance, especially in this last, climactic chapter of the book. It echoes back further to what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 8 about Lady Wisdom's passionate warnings. Here the warning is that love is so sacred a thing that it must not be trifled with. It is not to be sought. It stirs and awakens of itself. To trifle with one's capacity for love is to reduce that very capacity, which clearly unmasks the evil of all philandering. Young men and women who take that truth to heart spare themselves great misery. How might it apply in the higher realm we have taken into consideration throughout this book? Think about the peril of endeavoring to force an experience of love for God and Christ in others. It is a great privilege to introduce our family, friends, and anyone else to Christ, but they must fall in love with Him for themselves. When Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God," Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:15-17). God the Father is revealing the truth of Christ's identity to people today as well. We wrong the souls of the young, and indeed of any, when we endeavor to force an experience. Let us lead them to Him, trusting Him and praying to Him, that He will awaken love.