Who or what is this [she asked] that comes gliding out of the wilderness like stately pillars of smoke perfumed with myrrh, frankincense, and all the fragrant powders of the merchant?
[Someone answered] Behold, it is the traveling litter (the bridal car) of Solomon. Sixty mighty men are around it, of the mighty men of Israel. They all handle the sword and are expert in war; every man has his sword upon his thigh, that fear be not excited in the night.
(Song of Songs 3:6-8 Amplified)
Previously from Winter House:
Everything changes when He is found, held onto, and brought in
to take up His government in our heart … He’s about to rearrange the furniture.
In Jewish culture one of the most intriguing and challenging perspectives to our Western weddings mindset is the tradition of the bridegroom being the one held in highest honor. He is the one ‘on parade’, so to speak.
Not where I live. In America the bride is considered the resplendent one and the groom her tuxedo’d escort. A handsome companion whose shoulder she may languish appealingly against, radiantly basking in all the attention directed her way. This is her day to show off some serious eye candy.
Oh yes, the groom gets his turn at photo-ops with his groomsmen while also being goaded into shoving wedding cake up his new wife’s perfectly powdered nose. He’s congratulated for being the other half of this marital twosome. But when it comes to all eyes on the bridal couple, it’s not him being stared at.
In this story of the Shulamite bride, that’s about to change.
Welcome to our nearing the end of chapter three of the Song.
The two are joined as one, but becoming one occurs as the Bridegroom grows to be, in her eyes, the one who is ‘altogether lovely’. (Songs 5:16) Becoming one begs an answer to the question on her lips, “Who is this?”
In this spiritual pledge of matrimony the Bride does not precede the Bridegroom. He must come first – and does – in His beauty and majesty, emerging from the wilderness like stately pillars of scented smoke.
Before He ever leads His bride out leaning upon Him (Songs 8:5), there is first an ongoing wedding of two hearts in the wilderness.
If we don’t want to acknowledge what’s in our heart, how in the world will we come to know His?
Salvation is the ceremony. Public declarations are made. But the at-one-ment of the relationship comes as we enter into the intimacy of working out what He is working in: nothing less than His own nature.
This is not accomplished in the public eye though it’s frequently deemed the most important venue. Instead, public becomes the proving ground of that which was worked through in secret.
I am reminded of a video clip in which Omar Sharif, the Hollywood actor famous for his roles as Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago, was being interviewed. The talk turned to the failure of his seven-year marriage to a wife he so loved and with whom he had a son.
Omar’s somber countenance accentuated his brief reply: “Fame put an end to our wed-ding.”
I wonder if Omar understood the concept of marriage as an ongoing wed-ding of two hearts beyond the verbalized nuptials. But fame and publicity, as they are wont to do, put asunder two once in love.
In the case of the becoming Bride becoming one with her Bridegroom, the setting often means a season – however long He deems necessary to accomplish the be-truthing – spent in the backside of the desert.
He knows this is where resides a bush that burns but is not consumed, before which we stand in bare feet on holy ground. It’s harder to run away long distances when your shoes have been removed in response to the living word of the Lord.
He also knows the way to the cool oasis of His heart for our heart’s rest and refreshing in the working out of this at-one-ment in the heat of the day.
And what is a desert abode for a Bridegroom King without a palanquin (a bridal bed / bier)? It is both His means of conveyance to the Spirit’s holy ground of refining fire, and the intimacy of the bridal bed. Visited frequently, together they serve to birth new life where death once reigned.
In this relationship fame is found in the bier’s flame of dying to this self-life and awakening to Love. (Songs 3:5)
Love, like stately pillars of smoke gliding out of the wilderness.
Join me next time for part 2.
~ Gracefully Free
bridal bed / bier: the meaning of palanquin = traveling litter, bridal car, means of conveyance