by Wade E Taylor
“A garden enclosed is My sister, My spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” Song of Solomon 4:12
Her first testimony had been:
“My Beloved is mine, and I am His: He feeds among the lilies.” Song of Solomon 2:16
Her only concern is in knowing where the Lord is, and that He would respond if she needed Him. The Lord accepted this, and allowed the Bride to have all of the things she desired. At the same time, He began to draw her to Himself, by causing her to notice His interest in her.
“…Behold, He stands behind our wall, He looks forth at the windows, showing Himself through the lattice.” Song of Solomon 2:9
As she noticed that the Lord was looking through the window toward her, longing to be invited into the “room” of her spirit, there arose within her a deep stirring toward Him. She began to intently desire “Him,” rather than all the “things” that she had been seeking.
He (Jesus) acknowledged her “single eye” that is beginning to look toward Him, alone. In a penetrating expression of love, He said to her, “O My Dove…” (Song of Solomon 2:14). Because of her “single eye” (she now desires Him, rather than all the things that He can give), He can begin to inwardly change her into the Bride that He desires her to be.
In the first confession of her spiritual condition, she said:
“…My mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept.” Song of Solomon 1:6
She had been a very dedicated worker “for” the Lord. Even in the heat of the day, while others rested, she worked until she became burned by the sun, (I am black, but comely). During this time, she did not personally know the Lord; neither did she know His voice or His leadings. She did only as others told her to do (They made me the keeper of the vineyard).
She had been so faithful in doing all that was required of her, that her own vineyard was being neglected. This neglected vineyard speaks of the “ground” upon which the Lord works in order to change us. This “ground” speaks of the totality of all that we are and have, being consecrated to the Lord. It encompasses all that the Lord uses to bring about our spiritual development and growth.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
It is encouraging to know that the Lord will come to meet us, even in the place of neglect, when we confess our need to Him. It becomes “good ground” when we place the Lord in full control of all that pertains to us, and invite Him to come within the “room” (a set apart place) where we meet with Him, and He with us.
“But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:8-9
This “good ground” is quality time that we set apart to meet with the Lord for intimate fellowship with Him. It is very important that we have a special place (closet) that we have sanctified and set apart for our times of fellowship with the Lord.
“But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6
Along with this “set apart time and place” for intimate communion with Jesus, we should make the total area of our “life experience” to be as an “open door” for Him to enter. We can do this by keeping the “poise” of our spirit upward toward Jesus, no matter where we are, or what we are doing. It is this that encourages and releases the Lord to become active in making of us the Bride that He desires.
“…Let the Bridegroom go forth of His chamber, and the Bride out of her closet.” Joel 2:16
The Lord will always use us to minister to, and meet the needs of others. However, our times of communion “with” Him are more important to Him than anything that we could do “for” Him. He is to have the first place in our lives.
“Come, My beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give you My loves.” Song of Solomon 7:11-12
Notice that we are to “come” before we “go” forth in ministry. Our ministry will be much more effective and productive when it is the result of, and flows out from, our times of communion with the Lord. Our spending time with the Lord will greatly affect our relationship to Him, and to others.
Many servants of the Lord, who fail or get into serious problems, do so because of negligence at this very point. They work so hard for the Lord that they become spiritually weakened and succumb to temptation, or to side issues that take them from the center of the Lord’s will and purpose for their lives. This happened to the Bride. Thus, she confessed her failure, “My mother’s children were angry with me.”
It is very important that we maintain quality times of worship, prayer, waiting upon the Lord, and devotionally reading the Word. She had neglected her own spiritual development and growth, along with her times of intimate communion “with” the Lord, through being busy working diligently “for” Him. We must keep in mind that our ability to impart spiritual substance and life to others, results from that which we have first received.
We are called to work “with” the Lord, rather than “for” Him.
“And He goes up into a mountain, and calls to Him whom He would: and they came to Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” Mark 3:13-15
I learned a principle many years ago that greatly affected my life: “If we build God a house of devotion, He will build us a house of ministry.”
If we are faithful in our part, which is “being with Him;” then He will be faithful in His part, “to send us forth.”
“That I may cause those that love Me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” Proverbs 8:21
This “substance” is the very nature and life of God imparted into our lives, so it can be given to others. We cannot give what we do not have.
The Bride had asked the Lord to “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples” (Song of Solomon 2:5). In response to her desire, He brought her to the banqueting table, and blessed her so abundantly with all she wanted, that she became filled beyond the capacity that she had at that time.
“…For I am sick of love.” Song of Solomon 2:5
We are to enjoy the blessings, and use to the fullest all of the gifts that the Lord has given. Yet these are not meant to be our goal. Rather, they are to be the means of meeting the needs of others, and of enlarging our capacity, and our desire for Him.
Outwardly, she seemed to be satisfied and content. However, the Lord knew that inwardly, she could not continue to be satisfied and fulfilled by just having these things. She had seen Him, and was moved deep within her being toward Him. Now, He was ready to show her that there was something “better” that He desired for her, beyond all these “things” that He was able to give to her.
He was waiting for her to invite Him to come within “the secret place,” to commune with Him alone.
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
To accomplish this, He allowed her to enter into, or experience, a time of spiritual darkness.
“By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loves…” Song of Solomon 3:1
During this time of darkness, all that was spiritual seemed to become elusive or obscure. She realized the emptiness of the possession of things alone, and frantically began to search for Him.
“I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loves….” Song of Solomon 3:2
During this time of searching, she began to understand how incomplete she had been without Him. By the time she found Him, a transformation had taken place within Her. She saw beyond the limitation of the “things” she once sought after, and was able to say:
“It was but a little that I passed from them (all these things), but I found Him, whom my soul loves: I held Him, and would not let Him go….” Song of Solomon 3:4
The Lord expresses this same spiritual principle to the Church at Laodicea.
“Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich….” Revelation 3:17-18
The Laodicean’s sought after and were satisfied with possessions. Therefore, the Lord spoke to them concerning their true need, “gold tried in the fire.” Gold speaks of the divine nature, His image and likeness being wrought out within our being. We will become like Him, as we spend much time with Him.
Now the Lord is ready to take her a step further. In order to make a deep and lasting impression within her concerning Himself, He brought before her a glorious revelation of His person and presence, as He came forth from the wilderness, clothed in all of His manifest glory and sovereign power.
“Who is this that comes out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant? Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.” Song of Solomon 3:6-7
Through this experience, she realized her need for Him, and she felt the security and comfort of being with Him. She saw the portrayal of His love for Her, along with the display of His ability to protect her and bring her through even the most difficult of situations.
Immediately after the excitement and glory of this experience, the Lord made an arrangement where she became as a “garden enclosed.” Here, she was separated, for a time, from all material influences and outside activities, to the Lord Himself. During her time of “separation” within the Garden, all that she had come to know about the Lord (facts and information) will be made an “experiential reality” within her. Then, in the Lord’s time and way, that which she had become while separated to Him within the Garden, will find its full expression and outworking through her life experiences and relationships to others.
She is about to experience what the Lord meant when He said:
“Buy of Me gold tried in the fire.” Revelation 3:18
This “gold” is the very “substance” of the nature and character of God imparted within her being.
This “Garden enclosed” is designed to bring forth the very best from the potential that the Lord has seen to be within us. Although this “garden” is situated in a very beautiful setting, it represents a realm of intense “personal dealings” (wilderness – a place where there is nothing but the Lord), so she hesitated in entering.
The Lord knew she would attempt to leave before He could accomplish within her all that He desired. He therefore built a high wall around the Garden, making it completely “enclosed” so she would not be able to leave. The Lord is able to keep us where He has placed us.
This high wall also hindered all, except the Lord, from entering. It separated her from all her past involvements, and the fellowship of her friends, and from those who would attempt to occupy her time, or divert her to a lesser realm of spiritual life experience and attainment.
Also, during this set-apart time, her gifts failed to operate, and her ministry was cut off. She is now separated from all of the people, and things that she had become accustomed to, and dependent upon. She has become as a “Garden enclosed,” separated to the Lord, Himself.
The nine plants (Song of Solomon 4:13-14) that are mentioned as being in this garden are types of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit. These represent the “quality” of life that is beginning to develop and become manifest within her, during this time of separation. The Garden in “bloom” speaks of the spiritual maturity now unfolding within her – a beautiful display of righteousness, peace, and joy, as she grows in spiritual understanding and wisdom.
During this time of being set apart, there was often a desire within her for expression, or ministry – “If I could just get out and share this.” But the Lord had made her a “Garden enclosed.”
Through being shut in by the Lord, for a season, she became much more sensitive in her ability to recognize His presence, and she is able to respond more promptly to His desire for her fellowship. We were created for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). There are times when the Lord desires to be personally alone with us that He might sup with us, and in turn, we with Him (Revelation 3:20). This will lead us into the experience of “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10) in which He shares His burdens with us.
There are many “levels” of separation. There are those who are primarily called to a ministry of intercession. Being an intercessor requires much more from us than our times of prayer. It involves our becoming personally identified with a need, or problem, in order to pray it through. Intercession is born of the Spirit and operates through inner travail. It means getting alone and wrestling with a burden until it is brought to birth through the agony of birth pains. A ministry of intercession produces far greater results than most may realize.
There are those that are called to this “hidden ministry” of intercession who are not known to man, but known only to the Lord, and have become as a “Garden enclosed” to Him.
There are others who are shut in with the Lord in “hidden” ministries, who have a part in bringing to birth those who desire to go beyond their present spiritual experience. Some of these had a vital part in the forming of my spiritual life. During times when I was going through some very intense struggles, through the agony of their prayers, intercession, and words of wisdom, God was able to accomplish something special within me. Without them, I could not be where I am today. There is much responsibility and reward in a hidden ministry of this type.
The Lord is looking to and fro across the earth for those who will “stand in the gap;” someone who will stand between the need and the Lord, and then travail until the Lord is able to move upon the situation and accomplish His purpose.
There are those whom the Lord leads into this “Garden enclosed” to remain there. Some of the Lord’s choicest saints have been separated from all spiritual activity, and are enclosed within this Garden, that the Lord might come to them, as He desires, to enjoy times of fellowship and communion with them. These the Lord has reserved for Himself.
The extravagance that our Lord expressed in His creation is evident to us, which we all enjoy as we witness the manifold and multi-colored flowers of spring, and then the rich brilliance of color in the departing leaves of each fall. So also, the Lord can afford the luxury of being extravagant in setting aside “whom He will” for His purpose and glory. Thus, within this “Garden enclosed” are those who are so completely given to Him, that they are known to Him alone.
There are still others whom the Lord draws into this Garden to stay for only a limited time. He leads these to leave the “garden of His intimate presence” to become a witness of all they received while there alone with Him, whom they intensely love. These reluctantly leave His presence to minister to those without, who desire more of the Lord, but are not yet ready to be drawn into this Garden experience. As these pick “fruit” from the lives of those who have been within the garden, they also will be stirred to come within this Garden enclosed.
As Jesus entered the Garden of old to walk with Adam (Genesis 3:8), He yet comes into this “Garden enclosed” to commune with His Bride. Here, as she basks in the warmth of His presence, she prayed that the wind (Holy Spirit) would come and blow upon her spiritual experience. She desired this new inward beauty that is developing within her, to become as a beautiful fragrance that will flow out from her being, and fulfill His need for intimate communion.
“Awake, O north wind; and come, you south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out….” Song of Solomon 4:16
This “wind” is a type of the Holy Spirit. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, the Lord dealt with him about entering the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus asked if this was comparable to re-entering the “womb.” Jesus responded by likening it to the “wind.”
“The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell from where it comes, and to where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
The north wind represents chastening, or correction; the south wind speaks of edification and blessing. This two-fold working of the “north wind” brings first, a correction to our spiritual walk by teaching us an application of the Word to our need; and then, secondly, blessing and edification. The desire of the Lord is to bring us through as quickly and painlessly as possible.
When the Bride prayed, “Awake, O north wind,” she was giving the Holy Spirit permission to bring about the needed changes within her life, that she might be in alignment with His desire for “communion” with her, and for her “involvement” with Him in the outworking of His purposes. Whatever the cost might be, she desired to flow in harmony with Him. The Lord’s chastening hand upon our lives is truly a great blessing when we understand the purpose for it, and feel His love, as it is applied. As the Bride, we should say, “Awake, O north wind, come and chasten (correct) my relationship and walk with you.”
“For whom the Lord loves He chastens.” Hebrews 12:6
As the Holy Spirit worked within her in answer to her prayer giving Him permission to chasten her, she noticed the changes that were beginning to take place within her. Now she understood that the purpose of the “north wind” was to change her, that she might become a Bride who could truly please the Lord. This caused worship and thanksgiving to rise up within her, and flow out to Him. Now, she was able to ask with confidence, and respond to His correcting hand, as it was applied to her life experience.
“…Come, you south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” Song of Solomon 4:16
As she felt the warmth and comfort of the south wind, she was able to enter a place of rest in His presence, knowing that He would do what was right in her behalf, and that her response was pleasing to Him.
There is a “lifting” quality to the presence of the Lord. As we respond to His presence, we will begin to flow with it, as being lifted by the south wind. As we continue to wait in His presence, we will be quickened by the Holy Spirit and empowered to move with Him, as He leads.
This is the “wheel within the wheel” in Ezekiel 1:16-17. As this takes place, it will be confirmed to us through a further unfolding and understanding of His Word, which will cause us to more deeply love and trust Him. As these “north” and “south” winds each had their effect upon her, and accomplished their purposes within her; she cried out:
“…Let my Beloved come into His garden, and eat His pleasant fruits.” Song of Solomon 4:16
He quickly responded to this and said:
“I am come into My garden.…” Song of Solomon 5:1
This speaks of His “manifest presence.” The Lord is omnipresent; that is, He is everywhere. He fills heaven and earth (see Jeremiah 23:24). But the manifest presence of the Lord is something more than this. The word “manifest” means that His presence becomes localized, and is made consciously apparent to one or more of our physical five senses.
Through His “omnipresence” we are made aware of the sovereign power of God and receive a sense of Divine presence and power. However, through His “manifest presence,” the Lord comes to us in such a way that we not only sense His nearness, but also are made consciously aware of His Person and personality. This brings us into an awareness and knowledge of His mind, and of His feelings. Jesus said:
“…If any man hear My voice, and open the door (the point of transition from His omnipresence into His manifest presence), I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 (comment added)
This “supping,” means an intimate, personal exchange. Thus, the Lord comes to us in this intimate and personal way to share His personality and thoughts with us.
“I am come into My garden, My sister, My spouse: I have gathered My myrrh with My spice; I have eaten My honeycomb with My honey….” Song of Solomon 5:1
Then He adds:
“…Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” Song of Solomon 5:1
Notice the exchange, “Drink abundantly, O beloved.” Then, “Eat, O friends.” Paul understood this principle and applied it to his ministry.
“For we which live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then, death works in us, but life in you.” II Corinthians 4:11-12
Paul ministered his very life to others. All true ministry includes the giving of the spiritual substance of the minister’s life, along with the Word that he ministers. Many come to feed upon the lives of those who have this quality of “spiritual substance” within them, and then go away, leaving them drained. This is especially true of those who are heavily anointed and have a ministry of spiritual impartation. Thus, ministry works death (being spiritually drained) in the one who is giving, but life in all those who receive. Jesus said:
“Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink of His blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53
After a time of giving out in ministry, we must come back to the Source of all life – our Lord Jesus Christ, and partake again of His life, in order to regain that which has been given out to others.
The Lord comes to fellowship with us, and also, to change and strengthen us, while we are alone with Him in this “Garden enclosed.” Then He shares us with others, who presently are not able to come into this place of intimate communion with Him. We feed on the Lord, then “others” can come and feed on us, and thereby receive His life through us. This places a great responsibility upon each of us, that the true source of our life be Jesus. Others must not be drawn to us, but directed to Jesus.
As others partake of our spiritual life and experiences, a spiritual hunger will be created within them. As this partaking continues, these will begin to become discontented, and will realize that there is something better than continuing to be satisfied with “feeding” on the experiences of another. Then, they will begin to look for the Lord Himself. Now, they also can ask the Lord:
“Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, where You feed, where You make Your flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turns aside by the flocks of Your companions?” Song of Solomon 1:7
The Lord will answer and say,
“If you know not… go your way forth by the footsteps of the flock….” Song of Solomon 1:8
That is, “find one who knows and has experienced the way.” It is very important at this point, that we ourselves know the way, and then are able to lead those who are seeking “something more,” to the Lord Himself. Many will be enabled to come into a greater experience in the reality of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, and into a deeper personal relationship with Him, because we have been spending time with Jesus, and have learned to sup with Him.
Through our times of communion and prayer, as we continue to sup with the Lord, we receive much spiritual “substance” into our being. Now, the Lord will allow others to come and feed on us, because we have fed on Him.
“…Eat O friends; drink, yea drink abundantly.” Song of Solomon 5:1
Notice that the Lord gladly tells others that they can come and feed on our spiritual life and experience.
There is a tremendous need in our day for those who have a “quality relationship” with the Lord, and have “spiritual substance” within their lives. These, in turn, will be able to feed others, whose spiritual hunger has not yet found a place of satisfaction.
If this is your desire, allow the Lord to lead you into the “garden enclosed” that He has prepared specifically for you.
Only then will you be ready to enter into a cooperative relationship with Jesus in all that He is about to do among the nations at this present time.