Glance – a flash, a quick look
Captivate – to capture/seize the attention and affection of
The Heart of God
There is much debate about how we should view the book of the Song of Songs/Song of Solomon but we will not discuss that here. Whatever anyone's view, all Scripture is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and communicates to us the heart of God. Whatever else may be the meaning and context of this passage, as the bride of Christ, we have every reason to see these verses as God's heart toward us. He says to us, “let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet and your face is lovely. (Song of Songs 2:14)”. God longs for our fellowship. He longs for our attention and affection. He loves us immeasurably and loves just to be with us. This is the whole point of salvation and will finally be fully realized in eternity. Scripture says of that day, “Now the dwelling of God is with His people, and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes... (Revelation 21:3-4)”. What do we think Jesus means when He says to us, “I am going to prepare a place for you... that were I am there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)”, or “Father, You have given them to Me and I want them to be with Me where I am and to see My glory. (John 17:24)”. We can talk about God's love all we want, but too often it is merely an abstract and not something that saturates our hearts – if it did we would love Him and reflect Him better and more often than we usually do.
Too often, we tend to think that if we are not spending large chunks of quiet time alone with God in Bible study and/or prayer that we are somehow therefore a disappointment to Him. Our (as we see them) “small efforts” to do these things leave us with a vague feeling that they somehow don't count or even aren't noticed, but this passage out of Song of Songs clearly indicates differently. He says, “You have captivated My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one sparkle of your necklace. (Song of Solomon 4:9)”. What makes a jewel sparkle? It's light reflecting and refracting off of and out of the gem, but this only happens when there is movement – either of the light source or the jewel. Therefore, the last part of this verse which would almost seem to be a non-sequiter can be seen as a more poetic expression of the statement just previous to it, “...you have captivated My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one sparkle of your necklace”. In general, most people move their heads at least a little bit to glance in the direction of something. Likewise, to cause a jewel on a necklace to sparkle, movement of the head and, consequently, the neck is required.
God's heart is touched by every move we ever make in His direction, no matter how small – even if it's only a glance. Even the most brief and fleeting flash in His direction thrills the heart of God. If a simple glance, a “quick look” captivates His heart so, imagine how He reacts to a lingering look – or even better, imagine how God feels when we truly “fix (our) eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)”. When a couple is madly in love, it doesn't take more than a look or a smile to set the heart racing. Though plenty of quality time is necessary to truly build a satisfyingly intimate relationship, it takes very little encouragement to evoke/wake passion and affection for the beloved in the one who is already in love. Hear the love of God for His own as Scripture says, “...as a man rejoices over his new bride, so your God will rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:5)”, and, “The Lord your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy. (Zeph. 3:17 God's Word Translation)”.
How do we ever miss this ?!? We know that Scripture says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son... (John 3:16)” and we even refer to Christ's suffering in our place as His “passion” - yet somehow, in our daily life and deep in our hearts, we tend to think of God's love as some kind of disinterested benevolence or even an obligation. Somehow, because it is God and His love that we are talking about, we end up stripping it of all passion and fire until it is as tame and lukewarm as our own love for Him can be. Yet Scripture says to us, “You must worship nothing else. For the Lord, whose very name is jealous, is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you (Exodus 34:14)” and “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this – while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)”. Oh, may we allow His love and the truth of His Word to capture and captivate our hearts as much as we have captivated His! His love is poured out into our hearts by His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), we have only to be still in His presence.
Be Open with God
Some people hesitate to be completely open with God in prayer – especially if they're feeling angry or let down. But if we cannot open our hearts up completely to God, who already knows better than we do what's inside, then who can we open up to? Don't think for one moment that you have to clean anything up before you can come to God. You're not fooling Him and you're not going to shock or disappoint Him. He knows not only all you've ever done, but all you will ever do.
In Psalm 139:1-19&23-24 David says:
“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you...
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The East From the West
When we are in Christ, God forgets our sins and our failures. Scripture says, “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)”. Scripture says, “The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 Amp.)” for, “as high as the heaven are above the earth so great is the Father's love. As far as the east is from the west so far has He taken our sins from us (Psalm 103:11-12)”. He also says, “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more (Hebrews 8:12)”. Never allow what has happened in the past to weigh you down today. God does not remember or consider your failings because, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never comes to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)”. God's enjoyment of us each day, each moment, is undimmed by the shadows of the past. As long as we repent when He convicts us, our relationship with Him need never falter for a moment. For just as, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10)”, so too does God rejoice over us when we are tender-hearted toward Him and earnestly seeking to live for Him.
Sometimes we get so caught up in every one else's idea of what we should be doing – what makes us “godly” or “spiritual” or “a good christian” - that we start to believe that God thinks that way too. So we struggle to meet all their expectations but fail continually, because even if we manage to do it all, we know that our attitude toward it is not what it should be. We can get so caught up in performance and what we're “doing for God” that we forget that more than anything our Christian life should be marked by an intimate love relationship with the One who loved us more than His own life (John 10:11). God is not concerned with our form of worship but our heart in worship. God is always after our hearts and not merely lip service. He says, “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is based on merely human rules that they have been taught. (Isaiah 29:13)”. So if you're angry or hurt or disappointed, don't be afraid to express your feelings to God. He knows all about it, but He likes for us to tell Him anyway. As you open your heart up to God you will find that He is understanding (Hebrews 4:15), compassionate (Deuteronomy 4:31), and full of mercy (Nehemiah 9:17, Hebrews 4:16).
We need to remember that God is for us (Romans 8:31) for He, “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all (Romans 8:32)”. When God looks at His children, all He sees is the perfection of the Son. He says to you, “You are altogether beautiful My love – there is no flaw in you. (Song of Songs 4:7)”. He knows that we're not perfect and He “remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14)” - but like anyone in love, He chooses not to see our flaws. Hold that truth in your heart and don't let the ways of the world or the murmurings of others steal that truth from you. Real love can never be earned, only reciprocated. That is all that He has ever truly asked of us. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' for this sums up the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40)”. Augustine Said, "Love God and do as you please.”
We all concern ourselves with the “outward appearance” of our actions too much at times, but we must always refocus on the heart for that is what God looks at (1 Samuel 16:7). Instead of worrying so much about conforming to some standard set by men, we should concern ourselves with being transformed (by the renewing of your mind – Romans 12:2) into the likeness of Christ. The more we become like Christ, the more we will behave like Christ as a natural expression of His divine nature that God has already made us participators in (2 Peter 1:4). We do this “in view of God's mercy” to us by offering ourselves “as a living sacrifice” as an “act of worship” (see Romans 12:1). Love is not satisfied until it is returned as equally as possible. Though God is infinite and therefore loves us infinitely and we cannot return His love equally in that sense, yet we can in this: in giving our life to Him as He gave us life for His, in giving our hearts to Him over everything else in this world as He emptied and humbled Himself to come down to us and save us. This is our only appropriate response to the kind of love He has showered on us. He will not accept anything less because anything less is an insult to God and is to disregard, disparage, dismiss, depreciate, and dishonor the great love He has shown to us on the cross along with the price of our redemption. You have not truly received His love if you have not returned it.
Point to Ponder
First, have you received God's love by receiving His forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus shed for you? You will never truly understand or experience real love until you have received God's love for you by entering into a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Second, have you allowed the standards of the “religious leaders” around you to “load you down” with all you should and shouldn't do (Luke 11:46) until you've lost sight of God's unfailing love and the relationship He wants to have with you? Remember that God is not impressed with empty rituals and forms of religion. Lastly, do you struggle to really internalize God's love for you? Then keep with you the Scriptures in this message and meditate on and memorize them until they permeate your thoughts, asking God to make them real to your heart.
Let's pray, “Lord, thank You for giving us Your Word and Your Holy Spirit so that we can know You personally and intimately. Thank for the way that You showed Your love for us while we were still sinners by dieing for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus, we believe that You are, “the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)” and we come to You for forgiveness, salvation, and to be restored into a relationship with God. And now, Lord, help us to know Your love that surpasses all understanding that our hearts may be filled with You (Ephesians 3:19). Every day may we return Your love with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength (Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). Amen!”