Sermon 1463A. The Gazelles and the Deer

(No. 1463A)



"By the gazelles, and by the deer of the field." Solomon's Song 2:7.

THE spouse was in the full enjoyment of fellowship with her Beloved. Her joy was so great as almost to overpower her and yetso nearly does fear tread upon the heels of joy, she was filled with dread lest her bliss should come to an end. She fearedlest others should disturb her Lord, for if He were grieved, she would be grieved, also, and if He departed, the banquet ofher delight would be over. She was afraid even of her friends, the daughters of Jerusalem. She knew that the best can interruptfellowship as well as the worst and, therefore, she entreated even Zion's daughters not to sin against Zion's King. Had theyawakened her Beloved and broken His sacred peace, she would not have found a recompense in their company, but would ratherhave regarded them with scorn for having robbed her of her chief delight.

The entreaty which she used is a choice specimen of Oriental poetry-she charges them, not as we should prosaically do, byeverything that is sacred and true-but "by the gazelles, and by the deer of the field." So far as we understand her meaningwe will endeavor to profit by it during our brief meditation. It touches one of the most mysterious points of the secret lifeof the Believer and we shall much need the guidance of the Holy Spirit while we endeavor to open up its meaning. "The gazellesand the deer of the field" are creatures of great BEAUTY. Who can gaze upon them as they wander among the ferns without aninward admiration?

Now, since nothing can be more lovely than communion with Jesus, the spouse exhorts the daughters of Jerusalem, by all theloveliest objects in Nature, to refrain from disturbing it. No one would wish to drive away the gazelle, but would feast hiseyes upon it and yet its graceful elegance can never be compared with that beauty of holiness, that comeliness of Grace whichis to be seen in fellowship with Jesus! It is beautiful from both sides! It is a lovely display of condescension for our belovedLord to reveal Himself to us and, on the other hand, it is a charming manifestation of every admirable virtue for a Believerto enter into fellowship with his Lord. He who would disturb such mutual communion must be devoid of spiritual taste and blindto all which is most worthy of admiration.

As one delights to see the red deer in the open glades of the forest and counts them the finest ornaments of the scene, sodo men whose eyes are opened rejoice in the saints whose high communion with Heaven renders them beings of superior mold tocommon mortals. A soul in communion with its God is the admiration of angels! Was ever a lovelier sight seen than Jesus atthe table with the beloved disciple leaning on His bosom? Is not Mary sitting at our Master's feet a picture worthy of thechoicest art? Do nothing, then, O you who joy in things of beauty, to mar the fellowship in which the rarest beauty dwells!Neither by worldly care, nor sin, nor trifling, make even the slightest stir which might break the Beloved's repose. His restfulPresence is Heaven below and the best foretaste of Heaven above-in it we find everything that is pure, lovely and of goodreport. It is good and only good! Why, then, O daughters of Jerusalem, should you stir up our Beloved and cause His adorableexcellence to be hidden from us? Rather join with us in preserving a joy so fair, a bliss so comely!

The next thought suggested by-"by the gazelles, and by the deer of the field"-is that of TENDER INNOCENCE. These gentle creaturesare so harmless, so defenseless, so timid, that he must have a soulless soul who would do them harm or cause them fright.By all, then, that is tender, the spouse beseeches her friends not to disturb her Beloved. He is so good, so kind, so holy,harmless and undefiled that the most indifferent ought to be ashamed to molest His rest! About Him there is nothing to provoke

offense and everything to forbid it. He is a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. He gave His back to the smiters andHis cheeks to them that plucked off His hair. He hid not His face from shame and spitting. Being reviled, He reviled not again,but in His death agonies He prayed for His enemies.

Who, then, could find cause for offense in Him? Do not His wounds ward off the blows which might be challenged had He beenof another character? Who will wish to vex the Lamb of God? Go elsewhere, you hunters! "The Gazelle of the morning" has alreadysweat great drops of blood falling to the ground! When dogs compassed Him and the assembly of the wicked enclosed Him, Hefelt the full of grief-will you afflict Him again? In fellowship with Jesus there is a tenderness which ought to disarm allopposition and even command respectful deference! A soul communing with the Son of God challenges no enmity! The world mayrise against proselyting zeal, or defiant controversy, or ostentatious ceremonialism-for these have prominence and power andare fair game for martial spirits-but fellowship is quiet, retiring, unobtrusive, harmless.

The saints who most abound in it are of a tender spirit, fearful to offend, non-resistant and patient- surely it would bea superfluity of cruelty to wish to deprive them of their unselfish happiness which deprives no hearer a drop of pleasureand costs no eye a tear! Rather let even those who are most indifferent to religion pay a generous respect to those who findtheir delight in it. Though the worldling may care nothing for the love which overpowers the Believer's ravished spirit, lethim tread with reverent care when he passes the closet of devotion, or hears a stray note from the song of meditative gratitude.

Rough men have paused when they have suddenly come upon a fair gazelle grazing in a secluded spot-they are so charmed at thesight of such tender loveliness, they have scarcely dared to move a foot lest they should alarm the gentle animal! And somesuch feeling may well forbid the harsh criticism or the vulgar laugh when even the infidel beholds a sincere heart in conversationwith its Lord. As for those of us who know the blessedness of fellowship with Jesus, it behooves us to be doubly jealous ofour words and deeds, lest in a single instance we offend one of the Redeemer's little ones and cause him to lose, even foran hour, his delight in the Lord! How often are Christians careless about this, till at the sight of some professors the morespiritual may well take alarm and cry out in anguish, "I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and bythe deer of the field, that you stir not up, nor awake my love, till He pleases."

A third thought most certainly had place in the mind of the anxious spouse. She meant to entreat and persuade her friendsto silence by everything which sets forth LOVE. The lilies and the gazelles have always been sacred to love. The poet of theCanticles had elsewhere used the symbol of the text to set forth married love. "Let her be as the loving gazelle and pleasantdoe" (Prov. 5:19). If ever there was true love in all this selfish world, it is the love of Jesus, first, and next the love of His people.As for His love, it passes the love of women-many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it. And as for thelove of the Church, He who best knows it says, "How fair is your love, My Sister, My Spouse! How much better is your lovethan wine! And the smell of your ointment than all spices!"

If love, therefore, may plead immunity from war and ask to have its quietude respected, the spouse used a good argument whenshe pleaded, "by the gazelles and by the deer of the field," that her royal Bridegroom's rest of love might not be invaded.If you love, or are loved, or wish to be loved, have a reverent regard for those who commune with Jesus, for their souls taketheir fill of love-and to drive them from their bliss would be inexcusable barbarity! O you who have any hearts to feel forothers, do not cause the bitterest sorrow by depriving a sanctified soul of the sweetest of delights! Draw not near here withidle tales, or wanton speech, or empty mirth-the place where you stand is holy ground-for surely God is in that place wherea heart, enamored of the altogether Lovely One, delights itself in the


O that all Believers were so anxious to retain the enjoyment of Divine love that they would warn off every intruder, whoeverhe might be! The daughters of Jerusalem were welcome to visit the spouse at fitting times. She, on another occasion, badethem carry a message for her to her Beloved One and gave

them a full description of His surpassing charms. But when her Lord was with her at the banquet, she only asked of them thatthey would not come between her and the sunshine of His Presence. Nor do we wonder at her jealous fear, for we have had asip of those sweets which she had tasted and we would sooner lose all else than lose the luxury of Divine Love! It is suchjoy as cannot be imagined by those who have never partaken of it! It is such joy as can never be rivaled even in the Paradiseabove, if in that place there is any other joy than that which springs from Divine Love! Let none, then, deprive us of itscontinued enjoyment. By the sanctities of true love let every friendly mind assist us to preserve the hallowed quiet so essentialto communion with our Lord.

Once more, upon the very surface of the figure lies the idea of delicate sensitiveness. The gazelles and the deer of the fieldsoon disappear if anything disturbs them. In this respect they represent the speediness with which the Beloved departs whenHe is annoyed by sin. He is as a deer or a young gazelle for this quality, among many others, that while He comes leapingupon the mountains, skipping upon the hills, He also soon withdraws Himself. The Lord our God is a jealous God. In proportionto the fire of love is the heat of jealousy and, therefore, our Lord Jesus will not brook a wandering affection in those greatlybeloved ones to whom He manifests Himself.

It needs constant watchfulness to maintain constant fellowship. Hence the spouse entreats and beseeches those who came nearher not to give offense to her Lord. They might do this unwittingly, hence she warns them. They might do it in wanton carelessness,hence she "charges" them. She would have them speak softly and move gently, lest He should be disturbed. Should we not feelthe same anxiety that nothing in our families, or in any of our relations or connections should be tolerated by us so as toenvelope us in the wrong and grieve our Lord? Should we not especially watch every thought of our mind, desire of our heart,word of our tongue and deed of our hand lest any of these should offend Him and break our rapturous communion?

If we would be favored above others we must be more on our guard than others are. He who becomes "a man greatly beloved" mustkeep his heart with sevenfold diligence, for to whom much is given, of him much will be required. Kings will bear from commonsubjects behavior which could not be endured in favorites. That which might cause but slight pain from an enemy, will sorelywound if it comes from a friend. Therefore the favored spouse may well use, in her entreaty, the name of the most tenderlysusceptible of love's favorites and plead, "by the gazelles, and by the deer of the field."

Dear Friend, do you know what communion with Jesus means? If so, imitate the spouse whenever you are in the enjoyment of it.Be jealous of yourself and all around you, that the Well-Beloved may not be vexed. Aim at the maintenance of life-long communion.Remember how, for centuries, Enoch walked with God-our lives are but a span compared with his-why should we not always comeup from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved? The Holy Spirit has almighty power. Let us ask and receive, that our joy maybe full! If you do not understand this precious secret, may the Lord reveal it to you even now. You must first receive theLord Jesus as your Savior, or you can never know Him as your Bridegroom. Faith must trust Him before love can embrace Him.

You must be brought to be washed, or you can never be brought to be banqueted. Pant after the Redeemer as the deer pants afterthe water brooks and when you have drank of the Water of Life, then shall you be as a gazelle let loose! Then, too, your feetshall be like deer's' feet and you shall be set upon your high places. When this shall have been made your own by experience,you shall understand the text and shall also breathe the prayer of another verse of the same song-"Make haste, my Beloved,and be like a gazelle or young stag upon the mountains of spices."