The verses in Song of Solomon 3:1-4 reveal the value of the Beloved being separated for a period of time from his Love. This separation teaches some valuable lessons in the Bride; it teaches the value of the Watchman in the process of finding her Beloved; and it causes intense desire for her Beloved, which carries them to consummation.
A. The Place of the Lesson (verse 1)
“By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.” (Song of Solomon 3:1)
First we look at this verse in the physical sense. The time is “By night”; when the Bride sleeps. The where is “on my bed”; where she and her Beloved make love. Then her desire is defined in the phrase, “I sought him.” And her frustration is described by the phrase, “but I found him not.”
This situation causes the Bride to set a course to go and search for her Beloved “in the streets, and in the broad ways” (verse 2). She is later found by the Watchmen; and just past them, she finds her Beloved, “whom my soul loveth”; she is overwhelmed with her emotions and would not let him go; then she takes him to the bed chamber (verses 3-4).
God is not telling husbands to go on a planned separation to bring your wife to intense desire. But He is showing the effects a separation brings. It reveals the true love of the Bride for her Beloved; and it also shows others of her deep desire for her husband.
Second, in a spiritual sense, there are times in your Christian journey that you will not be able to feel God’s presence. This situation is not because you don’t love Christ. It is not to punish you. But it is used of God to increase His Bride’s desire for intimate communion with Christ in her daily life. It is also used of God for His Bride to learn the value of His Messengers (the Men of God, the Pastors, the Watchmen of His Flock).
The phrase, “By night on my bed I sought him,” may have reference to times of trials, tests, or even chastisement. These are times when, because of her situation, she is caused to seek Christ, her Beloved, above all things.
In Isaiah 26:1-21, Isaiah describes the effects on His people during a time of judgment.
“Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.” (Isaiah 26:8)
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)
In a Child of God’s journey, there will be times of testing, of trials; to bring about growth and maturity in his spirit. These bring proof to himself that he indeed will keep the Commandments of God (Deuteronomy 8:1-8). They produce experience, which produces hope (Romans 5:3-5). They work patience, “…that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3). And chastisement “…yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
“LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.” (Isaiah 26:16)
When these times come upon the Bride, the text reveals the results, which stand as proof of the above statements.
First she says, “I sought him.” When Christ is absent, it causes the Bride to seek Him. This is an earnest seeking; not a mere wondering where He is, but a diligent search, beginning in her mind. She begins to pray and examine herself as to sin, etc. This is the first step in finding communion with Christ, for unconfessed sin will separate your fellowship with Christ:
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
You have to come out of the world’s evil system for Him to count you as sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
Next, the Bride adds, “whom my soul loveth.” This reveals the intense desire for her Beloved. It is not a mere attraction, but a deep, deep love for Christ. I know I am His and I know He is mine. The Bride makes this statement to Christ in her method of seeking Him; and she says it to herself.
Third, the Bride says, “but I found him not.” All that I have done (I have prayed, confessed my sin, changed my life style; I have studied His Word; I have meditated on Him day and night), and still I have not found His sweet fellowship.
She concludes I must do more; this has not worked (as she sees it). But it is working as God sees it. These things are a necessity for sweet communion with Christ. But this communion is on Christ’s schedule, not on the Bride’s schedule. God knows exactly what the Bride needs, and how long to keep His presence from her, to accomplish in her what is needed for her growth and maturity in the knowledge of God.
Christ is not playing games because He is God and we are the created. No, Christ is carrying out the appointments assigned to us in God’s Eternal Purpose for us. It is not that we have not kept His Word, for Job said of his great trial:
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.” (Job 23:11)
“Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12)
“But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” (Job 23:13)
“For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.” (Job 23:14)
God’s appointments are individually assigned; for each Child of God has his own set of appointments that will conform him into the Image of Christ in his words and deeds. Even though they are different for each Child of God, the design is the same: to conform you to the Lord Jesus Christ in attitude and actions and attire. Even though the valleys, tests, trials, and chastisements all have different faces, duration of time, etc.; the goal is the same.
The lesson here in verse one is that the error is not in seeking her Beloved according to God’s revealed will in His written Word (prayer, confession of sin, submitting to His Word, and obeying His Word), for this is right. But the problem lies in not waiting upon God; not being still to hear His “still small voice”; but seeking Him in your own way.