If we could imagine the love of one who loves men purely for their own sake, and not because of any need or desire of his own, purely desires their good, and yet loves them wholly, not for what at this moment they are, but for what he knows he can make of them because he made them, then we should have in our minds some true image of the love [Agape] of the Father and Creator of mankind. – O.C. Quick*
Confession #3 – Agape
“ I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me.”
Song of Songs 7:10 NASB
With these few words, the Shulamite’s third confession of love conveys her transformed mindset. Near the end of the seventh chapter of the Song, she has returned to a one-way love. But this love flows as much from the opposite spirit of Eros love (the other one-way love), as the removal of our transgressions is as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12)
This one-way love is an outgoing, selfless, giving expression of love that looks for nothing in return. It flows above and beyond the two-way giving of Phileo love. It is sacrificial. It is divine. It is God. (I John 4:8)
How long her journey of ascending up the stairs to the point of this confession, we do not know. Instead, the overview of her three confessions gives clear indication that at every level she was changed. And that, my friends, is the point. Not how long it takes but rather the outcome of “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance (meaning to think differently, reversal of [another’s] decision).” (Matthew 3:8)
How she got to the point of her third confession is the ongoing message of Vineyard Days. The Shulamite’s story provides the looking glass for pondering and challenging our own spiritual growth.
Before we return to the vineyard in upcoming posts, let’s enjoy some broken bread and poured-out wine of truth at this Agape level of the beloved’s story…
Between the last verse of chapter 6 and the first verse of chapter 7, she moves from being known as the Shulamite (incidentally, the only verse in scripture naming her so and by which she is known to the Daughters of Jerusalem), to being heralded by Shepherd Lover as a prince’s daughter. Over the next nine verses He praises her beauty with descriptions that would make a virgin blush. But then…her third confession:
“ I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me.” (vs. 10)
She is aware that His desire stretches out after her with a longing like unto an overflow of water. The Shulamite has journeyed her way back to the very Source. And in this place – in Him – she can now live and move and exist (literally are [or be]) as He compels and restrains.
She has learned there is no one or nothing else that can be her all in all. Trying much has yielded little.
She has had to practice being in His presence, to the exclusion of lesser things, to reach the point of abiding in Him. It has required the discipline of intentionality to learn how to remain rather than flee, wander off, or allow distractions.
Time and again, His Agape love has tempered and tested her own. Through her willingness – every time she has made the hard choice of Thy will over I will – His love has transformed hers so that she now shares in His selfless, outgoing love with no expectancy of return.
It has not been easy being transformed by Love. It has meant walking the way of narrowness to be brought forth with riches that will benefit a broader world. Devotion is no longer just a concept; it has been demanded by this highest of Loves in order to become His Bride. No other lovers, vain or glorious. Yet, His rest has become her mainstay, her filling station, the source of her bellyful of living water.
She has come to understand obedience at a deeper level. It is simply response on her part that He seeks, whether moving with Him in ministry to others’ needs, or abiding alone with Him, drinking in new facets of communion with Him. Over time, coming into agreement with this One has had the effect of simplifying her choices and decisions. She can be in movement with Him; she can be at rest in Him. In either mode, peace; for He is the common denominator. Not people, places or things, all of which are subject to change.
It was as though she had bought a one-way ticket on the Endurance Train. But because of hope that does not disappoint, the time has come when everything she has endured – all the pain, all the losses – has faded and given way to the purposes and plans of her life entwined with His.
She has learned that to give forth life she must be first partaker of His Life. There is no other way. And now, there is no other will; only His. As she delights herself (is soft and pliable) in the Lord, she rests, trusting He will grant the petitions of her heart, for two hearts have now become One. (Jesus in John 17)
The Shulamite’s third confession is testimony to the miraculous, healing, restoring Agape love of our Bridegroom King. May it become the true-hearted confession of all who follow in His footsteps.
Longed after by Him…Gracefully Free
Shammahs Field LLC/Shammah Ministries is the biblical counseling, life coaching, and spiritual growth ministry entrusted to Wayne & Nancy Bentz. You can learn more about the resources they have to offer at www.shammahsfield.com.
*Doctrines of the Creed, Scribners, 1938 p. 55