Pastor Debra Isenbletter
Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
The Valley of Thorns (Song of Solomon 2:1-2): “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” Two aspects of the child of God, and especially the overcoming saint or the Bride are seen in this description. She is the rose of Sharon, which grown upon the plain, but she is also the lily, which grows in the valley, and not only is the lily found in the valley, but it is found growing and thriving among the thorns! Jamieson, Fausset & Brown comment on this lily saying: “The lily is both scarlet and white, but only the scarlet lily grows wild and delights in the valleys and grown among the thorns.” It is one thing to find ourselves in the valley because of some crisis and know that it is only for a brief time, and it is another to come to a place where we are dwelling in the valley.
What does it mean to dwell in the valley or delight in the valley and have the ability to grow, even among the thorns? It means we have come to a place of absolute acceptance, of utter submission where our will is swallowed up in the will of our Lord. We have come to a place of delighting in the place the Lord has put us, like Jesus who said, “I delight to do thy will, O God” (Ps. 40:8). When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, which means “oil press,” His cry was “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt. 26:39). There are times when we come to this place where we accept the thorns, as Jesus accepted the cup His Father gave Him to drink, and we surrender our will utterly to the Lord. Absolute surrender and absolute submission is the attitude of the lily of the valley who has chosen to dwell among the thorns.
The overcoming saint is pictured as both a rose and a lily and she is growing in two places, the plain and the valley. Both experiences are necessary, and both flowers have a beauty and fragrance and both are accepted and acknowledged by her, for she begins with, “I am the rose of Sharon (plain) and the lily of the valleys” She knows who she is! So also does her Bridegroom, and in acknowledging her, He comments especially on one aspect of her life, for He says, “As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”
Notice the plurality of her experiences, valleys are mentioned, it is not just a single valley, but her life is filled with these valley experiences. And it is not just the valley that brings forth her fragrance and beauty, it is where she is growing in that valley, it is among the “thorns.” Again, it is not a single thorn, but many thorns. It reminds us a little of the crown of thorns that pierced our Savior’s brow. It is one thing to come to a place where we are willing to delight in the valleys, but will we also embrace the thorns? The growth among the thorns shows that we have come to a place where we, as joint-heirs with Christ, are willing to “suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17). The thorns don’t hinder us, they actually help us, and it is the pain and the pricking that does this.
It is as though the thorns, by their very pricking, help release fragrance that would otherwise be hidden, and it is a fragrance that is unique to this valley and it accumulates so that over the years, each valley experience stores up a sweet fragrance that is always remembered by the Lord. David said to the Lord, “Thou tallest (count my wanderings) put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book” (Ps. 56:8). The Lord knows every experience, every pain, every suffering, and every affliction and he remembers them, He writes them down, and He stores up every tear we have shed. Our experiences as the lily dwelling among thorns in the valleys are precious to the Lord, and remembered and recorded by the Lord. How wonderful to say, “I am the lily of the valleys” and not be ashamed of the valleys but rejoice in the fact that we are the lily, His lily and His love.
There is a wonderful result that is seen from willingness to dwell in the valley and grow among the thorns, and that is fruitfulness. “I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded” (Song 6:11). Solomon came into his garden and it was to see the fruits of the valley, there is the positive side of our suffering, there will be a fruitfulness that will be found by the Lord when He comes, and the fruits He finds are “fruits of the valley,” they are unique to the valley. Both fragrance and fruitfulness is found. The fragrance (our suffering) and the fruitfulness (our growth) will be a testimony of our love and of His work in our lives; it is the testimony of the overcomer!