“Because of the savour of thy good ointments
thy name is as ointment poured forth,
therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers:
we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine:
the upright love thee.”
Song of Solomon 1:3-4
I imagine that our Lover spoke these verses during a long stretch away from her Beloved (this theme of separation will be reoccurring). Separated from those ecstatic and unifying kisses, she longs for her missing Beloved but soon discovers that remembering their times together help her to deal with the separation. By simply speaking the Beloved’s name, it becomes like a cool, healing balm to this fiery yearning, for the Lover will be faithful to the Beloved alone! The very mention of the name of the Beloved raises such peace to the lovesick soul! In this short verse, I can almost hear the Lover singing, “There is a balm in Gilead / To make the wounded whole; / There is a balm in Gilead / To heal the sin sick soul.”
When I read these verses, I cannot but help think of the notorious sinner with the alabaster box, interrupting a dinner party thrown by the Pharisees (Lk. 7:36-39). While Christ is reclining at the table, she stands behind him and begins to wash his feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair. Then, she kisses his feet and anoints them. The expensive ointment in that most expensive alabaster jar was probably the fruit of her prostitution – perhaps, even a direct gift from a satisfied client. In this unbridled and passionate act of worship, she anoints Christ with tears as a sign of repentance. The fruit of her sinful labors are transformed into something truly beautiful as the ointment is poured forth.
Yet, our Lover says that the Beloved’s name like this ointment poured fourth onto the Lover. Perhaps, we should consider the woman with the alabaster box as a type of Christ’s love; she was acting like Christ in her sacrificial act of repentance. In a similar way, perhaps, it is her act of worship that Christ does for his Lovers all throughout history. This woman shows a type of the love of God that is radically given to us in Christ, as her act is very much like his act of washing the feet of his disciples.
Perhaps it is we who are reclining at the table of the Pharisees and Christ who walks in, cleaning our feet with his tears and anointing us. The very name of Christ is like this ointment from an alabaster jar that he pours on our feet with a scandalously extravagant act of love. Thanks be to God that there is a balm in Gilead!
The Lover remembers this and the Church remembers this as they both proclaim with one voice to their respective Beloveds, “Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee!” And Christ answers this plea – this yearning of our hearts – with an prophetic answer, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Those kisses of his mouth that are his cross draw us to him.
And our souls are glad in the fact that we are drawn close to God, through the cross of Christ. Indeed, through the same, we have boldness to enter into the very chambers of God (Hebrews 10:19). The consecrated virgins who are the Church rejoice in this extravagant love that is like an ointment poured fourth upon our sin sick feet. The upright who are the Church rejoice in the love of God that draws us unto himself. We are glad in the love that makes good wine into a better sacrifice and transforms it into the best blood of the first-fruit of all creation.