For Thy Love Is Better Than Wine


For thy love is better than wine.—Wine is the highest of the luxuries of earth, and is here used to comprehend them all; even as the ‘banquet of wine’ at which Esther entertained her consort and king was obviously a feast of the choicest delicacies, ‘the banquet which she had prepared,’ though wine alone is expressed. The love referred to is not simply the everlasting love of the Lord Jesus Christ to his Church, but is rather the enjoyment of that love in its free communication, when the soul tastes and sees that the Lord is good; for it is the experience of the love that is characterized as excellent above all earthly delights. ‘In whom though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ Neither is it the future enjoyment of Christ’s love in heaven, but the present enjoyment of His love on earth, that is better than all the joys of earth together—‘thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.’ Without corn and without wine, the bride of Christ rejoices more in His love than in all abundance: ‘Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither fruit shall be in the vine, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation’ (Hab. 3:17, 18). Nor is it simply that the love is purer and more lasting, and therefore better; but at the moment, and in reference to mere delight, divine love is better far than wine. More cheering and reviving to the sorrowful or the fainting soul than strong drink to him that is ready to perish, or wine to him that is of a heavy heart, is the love of Christ in the believer, when he drinks and forgets his poverty and remembers his misery no more. More also in the season of gladness than wine to the animal spirits, is the love of Christ exhilarating to the spiritual man, and, through the inward spirit, to the entire person in mind and body; making men forget adversity, making them forget prosperity, by the overflowing of its joys. Yea, Bride of the Lamb, if thy Lord fills thine earthly cup, and thine eye is so fixed on the giver as to overlook the gift; if, captivated with His beauty, and ‘counting all things loss for his excellence,’ the wine is spilt in thy hand; the world will mock thee, for they see not Him who replenished the cup, but the King will never forget the devotion of thy heart, when deed rather than word declared, ‘Thy love is better than wine.’

The love here commended is specially the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost given to us; and when the Holy Ghost was thus given of old to the afflicted Bride of Christ, their enemies saw it and said, ‘These men are full of new wine;’ yet wine of earth it was not, but ‘love better than wine.’ To the believer the command is issued, ‘Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit,’ because the Spirit inebriates not, yet exhilarates and overcomes the soul. One single luxury alone did Christ create during his whole sojourn on earth, it was in the first of all his miracles, and that luxury was wine—better wine doubtless than earth had ever tasted. At the marriage in Cana of Galilee, he thus manifested forth His glory as the Bridegroom of the Church; and while the governor of the feast, arrested with its surpassing excellence, exclaimed, ‘Thou hast kept the good wine until now,’ his disciples through the miracle believed on the Lord, and the inward language of their hearts was, ‘Thy love is better than wine.’ At his first marriage supper on earth, the Bridegroom made the wine for the children of the bridechamber; at his last supper he opened the emblem, by explaining that the true vine is Himself, and the juice of its grapes his own most precious blood; that love cannot go beyond laying down the life, and that his life-blood is the good wine kept until now, the love better than wine.—How sad thy case, O reader, if thy highest joy transcend not the wine of earth; because when that is drunk with all its poisoned sweets, then ‘in the hand of the Lord there is a cup full of mixture, its wine red, and the dregs thereof shalt thou wring out and drink for ever.’”

Stuart, A. M. (1869). The Song of Songs: An Exposition of the Song of Solomon (pp. 98–100). Philadelphia: Wm. S. Rentoul.(Commentary on Song 1:2)

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