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Finding Rest in the Shade of God – Song of Solomon 2:3

April 12th, 2010

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‘As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.’

This verse uses the symbolic language of finding rest and relief from the heat in the shade of a tree. Although the book of the Song of Solomon is about romantic love between a man and a woman, it can also be interpreted as symbolic of Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

People often view Christianity as hard work and loading on extra burdens of guilt and shame – but in fact, Jesus does the very opposite. He does precisely what this verse describes – He is like a tree that provides shade from the “heat” of life. Jesus came to give inner rest, as He says very clearly in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The qualification for receiving rest for our souls from Jesus isn’t “you who are spiritual/perfect/righteous” or “you who have it all together” – the qualification is “all who are weary”.

Sitting down

  • you actually have to sit under tree and take advantage of the shade
  • this means letting go, taking the weight off your feet, relaxing

Be still and know

  • we need to stop, to cease striving, to let go of our anxieties and fears
  • it is like God says “Enough!” – that He is in control and cares for us
  • it is when we know that God is God, that we find that shade and inner rest in Him
  • Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ – the point is that we have to know this, otherwise we won’t benefit from the shade God has for us

Being saved

  • we don’t just need a one-time salvation from Jesus – we need saving from Him daily, to save us from the “heat” of life, from the fears and anxieties and pressures we face all the time

Example of Joseph

  • Joseph faced so much hardship and suffering and injustice, constantly being sinned against – but the fact is that everything that happened to him was a step leading closer to his destiny – to rule over Egypt
  • we are not simply at the mercy of other people and their sin – God is in control and He works all things together for our good and to get us to the place He wants us to be in

The shield of faith

  • Ephesians 6 – the armour of God – says ‘In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one’
  • we need to keep holding our faith up, trusting God and standing our ground, so as to extinguish the fiery darts that the devil sends our way

Breaks & holidays

  • we have missed the point when we view rest as simply having a break or a holiday, where we abandon everything, including spending time with Jesus
  • true rest is found in the presence of God!

The “giants” of life

  • when we merely focus on and are intimated by the giants, we do not trust God and therefore are effectively rejecting Him and treating Him with contempt
  • you’ll never arrive at your destination unless you understand that God provides rest, and that you learn to rest in His shade

The “heat” of a guilty conscience

  • the blood of Jesus cleanses all of our sin and guilt and shame
  • God is just – He will not punish us as well if He has already punished His Son in our place

The presence of Jesus & the fruit He provides

  • ‘in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11)
  • Jesus also provides us with “fruit” in His presence – the closeness His affection and love and tender mercy

The example of Paul

  • Paul lived with a tremendous amount of hardship and suffering and pressure – but it was all so that he could learn that God’s grace is sufficient
  • it is not about the power of “positive thinking”
  • Paul ends up boasting in his weakness because it shows that Jesus is enough for him
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