Text: Song of Songs 6:1-13, Psalm 48:1-14, Romans 12:1-2, 12:9-13
The word “garden” gives me heart palpitations. Although I come from a long line of green thumbs, I only remember to water the plant sitting on my coffee table approximately once every three weeks. The friends who gave it to me as a birthday gift promised it was a low-maintenance variety, heavy on the grace. Unfortunately, I’m heavy on forgetfulness.
We seem to be doing okay so far, this little plant and me. But the thought of having a whole garden has me pre-grieving the blooms that would be under my care. I did once live across the way from the most wonderful garden—one that made me set aside my preconceived notions and wish for a greener thumb. It was in the center of a thriving artist community, and quickly became my favorite place to gather my people. We spent afternoons sprawled out on blankets, surrounded by those who came to make art with their hands, their paintbrushes, or their conversation.
God loves to gather His people in gardens, too. And not only that—it’s also where He does His best art, growing up glory as only The Creator God can. From Eden, the garden of sin; to Gethsemane, the garden of suffering; to Golgotha, the garden of victory; and to eternal paradise, or “garden of delight”—we see that clearly, God faithfully waters what He plants.
Matthew Henry tells us, “Christ’s church is a garden enclosed, and separated from the open common of the world; it is his garden, which he has planted as he did the garden of Eden, which he takes care of, and delights in.” I think that was my favorite part about my own neighborhood garden: because someone else delighted in it and cared for it, I could enjoy its beauty. I’m still in awe of that individual who was so fruitful in an area where I was so lacking.
While gardens are a recurring theme in Scripture, Song of Songs highlights just how lush and beautiful gardens—and love—can truly be.
My love has gone down to his garden,
to beds of spice,
to feed in the gardens
and gather lilies.
I am my love’s and my love is mine;
he feeds among the lilies.
-Song of Songs 6:2-3
The garden is a delight, but what we see happening inside its walls is even more beautiful. The couple is lavishing honor on one another, making clear their love by the way they hold one another up above themselves. The self-sacrifice of the One who is love does the same for us—His bride, the Church. He cares for us and tends to us, but even more than that, He reconciles us to Himself.
It was in a garden that paradise was found and lost.
It was in a garden that we are lost and found.
In gardens, God calls His Beloved in and teaches us about Himself. He reminds us of the ways He has provided for the soil, so that we might remember He is also tending to our hearts. Only when we learn more about the Gardener and the soil of redemption we’ve been planted in, do we begin to see that our broken seeds of faith will grow into holy and living sacrifices after all (Romans 12:1).
We are His Beloved, and His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 118:1). Hallelujah.