Tuesday, October 07, 2008

...guarding the vineyard and the fruit thereof with love

When pride of self fills up the soul, there is little room for Jesus; but when Jesus is fully loved, self is subdued, and sin driven out of the throne. If we think little of the Lord Jesus we have very great cause to account ourselves spiritually blind, and naked, and poor, and miserable. The rebel despises his lawful sovereign, but the favored courtier is enthusiastic in his praise. Christ crucified is the revealer of many hearts, the touchstone by which the pure gold and the counterfeit metal are discerned; his very name is as a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap; false professors cannot endure it, but true believers triumph therein. We are growing in grace when we grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let everything else be gone, and let Christ fill up the entire space of our soul, then, and only then, are we rising out of the vanity of the flesh into the real life of God. 
-CH Spurgeon on Song of Solomon 2:16

"Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”
-Song of Solomon 2:15

by John Gill
Catch the foxes for us…
Of which there were great numbers in Judea; see (Judges 15:4) ; these words are directed not to angels, nor to civil magistrates, but to ministers of the word; but whether the words of Christ, or the church, is not easy to determine; some think they are the words of the church, who had hitherto been relating what Christ said to her, and who, having neglected her vineyard, (Song of Solomon 1:6).

And now stirred up by Christ to a greater care of it, expresses her concern for its flourishing; and therefore calls upon her attendants and companions, to assist in taking and destroying those which were harmful to it: but rather they seem to be the words of Christ continued; since they not only show the care of his vines, the churches; but express power and authority over those they are spoken to: and perhaps they may be the words of them both jointly; since the church, with Christ, and under him, has a right to stir up her officers to do their work, and fulfil their ministry, they have received of Christ for her service.

By foxes may be meant false teachers, to whom the false prophets of old were compared, (Ezekiel 13:3,4). Foxes are crafty and subtle creatures, malignant and mischievous, hungry and voracious, full of deceit and dissimulation, are of an ill smell, and abominably filthy; so false teachers walk in craftiness, use good words and fair speeches, and thereby deceive the hearts of the simple; their doctrines are pernicious, their heresies damnable, and they bring destruction on themselves and others; they are hungry after worldly substance, are greedy of it, and can never have enough; devour widows' houses, and make merchandise of men, to enrich themselves; they put on sheep's clothing, transform themselves into angels of light, mimic the voice of Gospel ministers, use their phrases and expressions, that they may not be easily discovered; and are abominable in their principles and practices, and to be shunned by all good men. 

Now ministers of the Gospel are ordered to take these, to detect them, and refute their errors, and reprove them sharply for them; and, after proper steps taken, to reject them, to cast them out of the vineyards, the churches, and keep them out. 

Even the little foxes;
heresies and heretics are to be nipped in the bud, before they increase to more ungodliness; otherwise errors, which may seem small at first, soon grow larger and spread themselves, and become fatal to the churches: that spoil the vines;

as foxes do, by gnawing the branches, biting the bark, making bare the roots, devouring the ripe grapes, and infecting all with their noxious teeth and vicious breath: so false teachers make divisions and schisms in churches; disturb their peace; unsettle some, and subvert others; sap the foundation of religion, and corrupt the word of God; and therefore by all means to be taken, and the sooner the better; for our vines [have] tender grapes:

Or "flowers". The "vines" are the churches; the "tender grapes", or "flowers", young converts, which Christ has a particular regard unto, (Isaiah 40:11) (42:3) ; and these, having but a small degree of knowledge, are more easily imposed upon and seduced by false teachers; and therefore, for their sakes, should be carefully watched, and vigorously opposed, since otherwise a promising vintage is in danger of being spoiled. Christ, in this address, intimates, that not only he and the church, but, he ministers also, had an interest in the vines and tender grapes, as they have; see (Song of Solomon 8:11,12) ; and therefore should be the more concerned for their welfare; hence he calls them "ours"; interest carries a powerful argument in it.


Jmancalle said...

Hey Steve,

So judging by the post, do you take a allegorical approach to the Songs of Solomon? Just curious.

Take care and God bless!


willducote said...

Hey great post Steve..the comment by Doctor Spurgeon "When pride of self fills up the soul, there is little room for Jesus; but when Jesus is fully loved, self is subdued, and sin driven out of the throne" really hits home. Our friends Vee and Karen Tanner visited from Georgia go to Soverign Grace in Athens and shared the the vision of CJ Mahaney work..a focused on humility..then I remembered Ive seen that stuff on the Camponthis before..I shared your blog and Audience1 as well as Adrian from London..small world...Vee has been workin on me for a while in the reformed area..we come from strong Plymouth Brethern back ground...we are comin around lol..thanks again

SJ Camp said...

Great question...

I hold to both.

SoS is a wonderful book on the fidelity of love between a man and a woman in marriage; AND, there are also passages within SoS that are wonderfully representative of the Lord and His church as well.

After all, ultimately the whole of Scripture unfolds and points to our Lord Jesus Christ whether in shadow and type or in direct reference - SoS being no exception.

That is why I feature some portions of sermons by Spurgeon, Gill, Calvin, etc. as they exposit its truths for us today. In saying that, the other extreme IS a concern. I don't think that every verse in SoS is to be taken or seen in the cloak of sensuality only - that would be a shallow treatment of this piece of divine revelation.

The work of any exegete and expositor of God's Word is to "give the sense of it" (Neh. 8:8); and this book os SoS is no exception.

Hope this helps clarify a bit more and I thank you again for your question.


The Blainemonster said...

Funny how things work out . . . today as I was listening to some tunes and checking my feeds, I clicked the link for this post and began reading it as "The Agony of Deceit" came over the computer speakers. Cool, no?

Very good insight about the "little foxes". This will be an encouragement to my wife who is currently trying to help steer a friend away from some "iffy" areas (aberrations...) of belief.


The Seeking Disciple said...

Good word brother Steve.

SJ Camp said...

the blainemonster
Very cool :-).

I appreciate greatly Gill and Spurgeon on this great section of Scripture. We can only hope that the dignity and expositional skill they present to us as workman unashamed approved unto God will be a strong witness of the sacred charge of any pastor to cut straight His truth, preach the Word and give the sense of it.

Thank you for weighing in on this...


SJ Camp said...

What an encouragement... Thank you for sharing these words that testify to God's grace in our lives.


Coram Deo said...

Sadly it would seem that today many of the "little foxes" are wearing sheepskin coats in our very midst.

But instead of outright and blatant heresy and opposition to God's revealed Word these are spiritual apothecaries who are adept at blending just the right amounts of truth and error to slowly poison Christ's little flock and turn it out of the way. Their battle cry? "Unity! Peace!! Doctrine divides!!!

In fact I wonder if there aren't more little foxes in sheep's clothing than outright ravening wolves, after all the serpent was (and is) subtle.

In his sermon entitled "Fundamental Christian Attitudes: Unity" John MacArthur well said:

"We are one body...one body. Not at the expense of truth and not at the expense of iniquity, we do not unite around confusion, we unite around the truth. It is a unity built on truth. It is the unity of the faith...the unity of the faith, as well as the unity of the Spirit. It is that unity which belongs to us because we possess the same life of God...the same living Christ...the same Spirit of Christ, as Paul identifies Him in Romans 8. It is the unity of a common understanding of Scripture and the Word of God.

There is a drive today in evangelicalism...and what a bland term that has become. But there is a drive in evangelicalism for an ecumenism that ignores sound doctrine, that overlooks error and accepts even what we would deem as heresy. There is a kind of evangelical ecumenism that says we're all one and we need to enjoy one another without regard for any of our doctrinal differences. That is a false and unbiblical and displeasing unity, if indeed it is unity at all in the sense that it dishonors and displeases the Lord.
There is another kind of striving for unity that wants to disregard iniquity and embrace everybody no matter whether they are walking in obedience to the Word of God or not, overlooking their sin and their iniquity.

But quite the contrary. The Scripture says if there is someone in your midst, according to Titus chapter 3, teaching error, if there is a heretic there, admonish him once, admonish him twice and then put him out. He's forfeited a right to lay any claim to acceptance within that unity. And if there is a brother or sister in iniquity, you go to him or her and you go through a process calling them to repentance. And if they do not repent, you put them out. And the Apostle Paul reminds the Thessalonians of what that's like. He says this in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, "We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you stay apart, or keep aloof, from every brother who leads an unruly life, not according to the tradition which you've received from us." That tradition not being some rabbinic tradition, but that tradition established by the revelation from God.

If you have someone in your church who is teaching error, you cannot have unity with that individual. If you have someone who is leading an unruly or sinful life, you cannot have fellowship with that individual. So what we're talking about here is the pursuit of the true unity of the Spirit that belongs to those who surround the truth and affirm it and who live godly lives."

jen elslager said...

Excellent post, Steve. Thanks for your explanation to jmancalle. "ultimately the whole of Scripture unfolds and points to our Lord Jesus Christwhether in shadow and type or in direct reference" -- stellar.

I agree with coram deo too. So many subtle little foxes today.