A PRODUCING GARDEN
By this time she had enjoyed the Lord richly, but she had never produced anything for the Lord’s enjoyment. She had satisfaction, but she had not produced anything for the Lord and for others. She must become a garden to grow out something for the Lord and for His people. Hence, she did become a garden producing all the things she enjoyed of the Lord in the past. She enjoyed myrrh; now she grows myrrh. She enjoyed frankincense and the henna flower; now she grows frankincense and the henna flower. She enjoyed all of the powders of the merchant; now she grows all of the spices for making the powders. Whatever she had enjoyed, she now grows. In her enjoyment the Lord entered into her, and now in her growth the Lord comes out of her. The Lord firstly wrought Himself into her, and now He is producing Himself out of her.
This is not mere doctrine; it is the real experience of the spiritual life. So many will tell you that this is exactly what they have been experiencing of the Lord. We all must be such a garden to the Lord, growing out all we have enjoyed of Him. The day we were saved we became, in a sense, a garden, producing something for the Lord and for others. But that was not so adequate. We have to grow, step by step, stage by stage, until we reach the stage of being a garden. In a sense we have been a garden, but we are not in the stage of a garden. We must go on until we arrive at the stage of being a garden.
A FURTHER DISCREPANCY
After the seeking one reached the stage of a garden, according to the poetry, she became contented again. She was so satisfied with her spiritual attainment that it created a kind of discrepancy between her and the Lord. Every time we are contented with our spiritual attainment, this satisfaction becomes a discrepancy between us and the Lord. We are satisfied, but the Lord would have us go on. We must not stay with what we have attained. It is wonderful to be a crown, but do not stay there. It is marvelous to be on the top of Lebanon, but do not stay there. It is splendid to come down and become a garden, but do not stay there. Once we are content, we lose the presence of the Lord.
OUTWARDLY SLEEPING, INWARDLY LIVING
Because of her contentment, the seeking one has a repetition of the experience in chapter two. She is within, and He is without. But this time the situation is much different. She says, “I sleep, but my heart waketh.” This is a fact; by this time she is really resting from all her activity. This is a real improvement in her spiritual life. We are always wanting to do too many things. But the more we grow in the Lord, the more we give up natural activity; we rest from all our activities. Outwardly we sleep, but inwardly we are living! We are very much on the alert for the Lord’s presence and for His voice. We can hear the Lord immediately whenever He speaks, and we can realize whether His presence is with us or not. It is by this she discovers a discrepancy between her and the Lord.
When we are away from the Lord, He will always call us back to Him. When we come back to Him, we become exceedingly active to do many things for Him. But gradually, especially as we get into the church life, all our activities will be slain. Eventually we will simply say, “I sleep.” There are no more activities. But we are not dead! We are very living within!
Many times those outside of the church condemn us by saying that the church life stops many good activities. So many missionaries, after contacting the church, ceased going to the mission field. All the denominations encourage Christians to go to the mission field. But the proper church life stops them from going. This is true. So many missionaries, pastors, and Christian workers have become captured by the church life from all their natural activities. The more we stay in the church, the more we are dead to our activity. Then we rest from all our activities outwardly. But inwardly we are exceedingly living, always listening for the voice of the Lord.
When we are active, the Lord will tell us to be quiet. But when we become quiet, resting from all our activities, the Lord will say, “Don’t be so quiet. I’m still under the dew and the drops of the night.” He is still working and suffering to fulfill God’s purpose. In a sense, He has accomplished everything and has ascended to the heavens where He sits at the right hand of God. But in another sense, He is still working and suffering to build His corporate Body. The Lord shows the seeking one that while she is resting, He is still working. This reveals to her the discrepancy between her and the Lord.
This is a real picture of the incarnation. The Lord was God, but He became a man. As God, it was not necessary for Him to be under the dew to suffer in the night. But He became a “man of sorrows,” continually suffering for God’s purpose. The Lord was asking her to relinquish all her spiritual attainment and to suffer with Him for God’s purpose. Her reply was, “I have put off my coat. How can I put it on? I have washed my feet, how can I defile them again?” This poetry shows how she had put off all her natural life and washed away all her defilements from the world. She was so spiritual, so undefiled, so pure, and so holy. How could she go back?
(Life and Building as Portrayed in the Song of Songs, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)