Thursday, April 20, 2017
My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely. Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!
Song of Solomon 2:14-15(NLT)
Many scholars agree[ii] that this love poem of Solomon’s, while it accurately depicts intimate details of the romantic life of an adult man and woman in love, also points to the deeper aspects of God’s covenant with His vineyard (Israel) and His bride, the New Testament church.
In these two verses it is the man seeking out his beautiful “dove” who is playfully hiding behind the rocks. He wants to see her and talk with her, listening to the voice that enchants him. This couple is crazy in love!
But abruptly the voice changes…catch all the foxes! Catch those little devils before they spoil everything! What could spoil this intense love affair? And what does it have to do with the church?
Again from literature and the lore of Middle East life, foxes are particularly fond of the young ripening grapes. They ruin the grapevines by gnawing at the tender roots until the branches fall on the ground. Left alone they leave a vineyard devastated. [iii]
The young lover is cautioning his bride to pay attention to little enemy foxes that might ruin the blossom of their relationship; he warns her to exterminate any foe from the vineyard of their love, so their harvest of love will not be spoiled.
Now, all that is very picturesque for lovers, and important for keepers of vineyards. But, once again, what does it have to do with the church?
If we are the bride, then the groom is talking to us about whatever would spoil the relationship between Christ and His church.
If you are part of the bride, you must learn to be a tracker of foxes! And what are the foxes? These fox-enemies of the church are those damaging, gnawing attitudes and habits that nip off the young fruit of mercy and ministry on God’s vine.
To get an idea of the extent of the foxes that are after the young fruit in the vineyard, just consider the list of seven deadly sins: greed, lust, sloth, anger, pride, gluttony, and envy. Those are the primary foxes, and they feed all sorts of offspring: child pornography, gambling, substance abuse…well, the list goes on. In short, responding to the love of God means Christians must care for God’s vineyard. Now, that’s a lot of work, and it means God calls all of us to be part of his workforce.
All of us!
Now, that’s a joint project for all Christians because it’s a big vineyard. There are multiple millions of Christians in the church, and with each redeemed believer there are numbers of foxes that lurk near the blossoming fruit.
If a follower of Jesus Christ is going to be a worker in God’s vineyard, alertness is required. Foxes show up quietly and move quickly.
I Title image: Daniel Schultz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament Vol. 6: Proverbs-Song of Solomon, et al