The Loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ

John Owen saw in the Song a type and shadow of the mutual love between the Lord (Christ) and his Church.

“Lovely in his whole employment, in his great undertaking,—in his life, death, resurrection, ascension; being a mediator between God and us, to recover the glory of God’s justice, and to save our souls,— to bring us to an enjoyment of God, who were set at such an infinite distance from him by sin.”

 

It’s an assumed point of hermeneutics today that the grammatical historical meaning of the Song of Songs is that it merely a love song, a poem between a husband and wife. John Owen reminds us of the ancient method of Christological exegesis, seeing in the Song a type and shadow of the mutual love between the Lord (Christ) and his Church. At the end of chapter 3 in his devotional classic, Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Owen inserted a “Digression” in which he exposited Song of Songs chapter 5. At the end of this chapter, the Shulamite said of her beloved, “he is altogether desirable” (Song 5:16). Owen then concluded his exposition with a description of the loviness of Jsus Christ:

When the spouse hath gone thus far in the description of him, she concludes all in this general assertion: “He is wholly desirable,—altogether to be desired or beloved.” As if she should have said,—”I have thus reckoned up some of the perfections of the creatures (things of most value, price, usefulness, beauty, glory, here below), and compared some of the excellencies of my Beloved unto them. In this way of allegory I can carry things no higher; I find nothing better or more desirable to shadow out and to present his loveliness and desirableness: but, alas! all this comes short of his perfections, beauty, and comeliness; ‘he is all wholly to be desired, to be beloved;'”—

Lovely in his person,—in the glorious all-sufficiency of his Deity, gracious purity and holiness of his humanity, authority and majesty, love and power.

Lovely in his birth and incarnation; when he was rich, for our sakes becoming poor,—taking part of flesh and blood, because we partook of the same; being made of a woman, that for us he might be made under the law, even for our sakes.

Lovely in the whole course of his life, and the more than angelical holiness and obedience which, in the depth of poverty and persecution, he exercised therein;—doing good, receiving evil; blessing, and being cursed, reviled, reproached, all his days.

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