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Thy Name Is as Ointment Poured Forth

As I was reading in the Song of Solomon, a phrase caught my attention. In the KJV it reads, “thy name is as ointment poured forth.”* (Song of Solomon 1:3) Or as the NIV has it, “your name is like perfume poured out.” Since the marriage relationship of this song is a representation of Christ’s relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:32), how appropriate is this description of Christ!

A name represents the person, and in that sense it embodies their character and attributes. Who has more embodied in their name than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? In fact, while a single name evokes Him in our thoughts, it takes a multitude of names and “nicknames” to express Him well. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the lists that have been compiled of the names of God. Each one of those is a study in itself, but my current thought is looking at the whole scope of what that represents. Really, it is beyond our comprehension, for if we consider what God has revealed to us about Himself, how much more is still a mystery? What will heaven be like—an eternity spent as we get to know the infinite God in a way we never can down here!

Again, the “ointment poured forth” brings to mind the instances of women who poured ointment upon Jesus. One account in Mark 14:3 says, “there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.” Another account in John 12:3 says, “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” Does not this add to our understanding of the text? It is “very costly,” so much so that verse 5 indicates it would have cost the rough equivalent of a common laborer’s yearly income. Would you or I save up a whole year’s income, hold it in our hands while we consider all the sweat and toil and very life it represents, and then in one swift act of selfless love, lavish it upon our Lord to His honor and glory? Not even hoping for the reward of others’ praise and honor for our selflessness, but only the warm approval of Jesus.

But these illustrations merely hint at the treasures hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3). “Very precious” and “very costly” still falls short of the measure of this treasure. Oh, if we could but see how much was contained in the simple words Christ spoke to His disciples, to us: “This is my body, which is broken for you”* (1 Corinthians 11:24); “my blood… which is poured out for you.”* (Luke 22:20)ASV The act of pouring implies giving freely and abundantly, without restraint, without reserve or calculation. Nor will there be any restraint when the vessel has been broken thus. God, whose “right hand hath spanned the heavens,”* (Isaiah 48:13) “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”* (John 3:16) “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”* (Romans 8:32) “His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”* (2 Peter 1:3) To the God who inhabits eternity, this was not merely a year’s worth of wealth—this was His very self, His “only begotten,” “the Word… made flesh.”* (John 1:1,14) Thirty-some years of human life, yet prepared for such a sacrifice “from the foundation of the world.”* (Revelation 13:8)

He held back nothing as He lavished His love upon us. Upon you. Upon me. Why?

Oh, sure, we know why, of course, for most of us have had this truth drilled into our heads from our youth. But how deeply has this love penetrated our hearts? Is the One who yearns to bring “many sons unto glory”* (Heb. 2:10) fully satisfied with the results of His sacrifice? Have the sufferings of the Captain of our salvation been repaid? The price paid was sufficient to redeem every sinner that has ever lived, but the actual return on such an enormous investment seems pitiful indeed, seeing that the vast majority of us spurn such an offer (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 13:46). Yet the prophesy of Christ still proclaims, “when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”* (Isaiah 53:10-11)

Yes, for when the final cry from the cross rang out, “It is finished!”* (John 19:30) the mystery of mercy was satisfied. That shout, heard but feebly on a Judean hilltop, yet penetrated the very courts of heaven, which has re-echoed the good news back to us ever since. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”* (Ephesians 1:17-23)

This is that Christ, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”* (Philippians 2:6-11)

What a Name! What costly ointment poured out upon us! What powerful perfume that can wake the dead and breathe life into the slain! For as many as receive Him are given power to become sons of God. What does it mean to receive this Man of sorrows, this One whom our ego so disdains? From Him comes no positive affirmation of what we think is so special about us. Yet God does see something very special about us—the fact that we were made in His image—and He wants to restore us to the family circle. Here is promise and hope unparalleled. It is a free gift… that costs everything, because to receive it we must to relinquish everything else. To receive Him is to receive His spirit—that same essence of His character that was poured out from on high. It requires humility unto humiliation, acknowledging that what we have within us is simply not good enough even to make a deal and keep it. Yet even though sonship is in truth a gift that comes not “of the will of man,”* (John 1:13) it requires our complete willingness to cooperate with God.

But we are so short-sighted that we think we want both the pleasures of sin along with the peace of salvation. Is there any solution for such double-mindedness? Yes, when we’re willing to have our eyes anointed with dirt and spittle, we will see things as they are. Jesus calls us to run the heavenly road with Him. Dragging our heels on the way is a good recipe for getting left behind. “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth…. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”* (Revelation 3:16,18) If our vision or lack of it is still causing us problems—if we still see “men as trees, walking”* (Mark 8:24)—go to Jesus and beg Him to restore your heart’s vision to a single-hearted focus (Luke 11:34), being willing to part with anything that hinders your devotion.

And what is to be seen? “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”* (Matthew 5:8) What more could we ask? “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”* (2 Corinthians 4:18) There is a world of reality just beyond our earthly sight. This reality includes the fact that it is world at war, and the blind who wander in no-man’s-land make you yearn to call out and warn them of their peril. But we see Jesus, invincible, conquering—and those that follow Him unconditionally never know defeat. Their white uniforms are the wonder of the world—and yet no wonder, for the power of Him who poured out His blood for us all without reserve keeps them spotless in His service. There are gates of glory and crowns awaiting, for our King who came from heaven unimaginable is taking us back with Him! “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”* (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Eloquent visions are beautiful and inspiring, but what about the practical reality of having to deal with the daily trials large and small? When it’s hot and I feel irritable. When I interact with folks who seem to have Christ in their head, but not their heart. When I need to humbly apologize for something I did. When the way people dress leaves a lot of room for dangerous thoughts. When my children seem utterly inconsiderate and rebellious. When gloom peers in the room and depression darkens my door. When something needs doing that I just don’t want to do. When some glitzy gadget comes along and wants my attention. When I come face to face with the living Word of God, and it contradicts what other people say I can or should do. When I would rather withdraw than confront wrong and contend for truth. When I would rather press the point instead of meekly letting the issue rest in God’s hands. When I have an opportunity to bless someone I would rather avoid. When the fields are white to harvest, and the laborers few. When a door stands shut before me, and I must knock… and knock… and knock again. When God has opened the door—and I find there are many adversaries. In all these situations and more, how can we really overcome the many temptations that sneak up on us as part of Satan’s plan to get us to turn aside and succumb to sin? To all this there is but one answer, and it is here that I put my confidence and earnest desire—and I hope it is yours as well:

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it…. [H]e that is entered into [God’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief….”* (Hebrews 4:1, 9-10)

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”* (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Grace? Just for me? In my need right now? Yes, even “abundance of grace”* (Romans 5:17) to reign in life with my Lord! A power that instructs me in the joyfully disciplined life of godliness. Not the journey of pursuing an emotional high, but the march of Christ within retracing the footsteps of the Anointed One, “who went about doing good”* (Acts 10:38) through the crucible of suffering. Yes, suffering, for perfume must undergo the ordeal of heating and straining to achieve its potential for blessing. “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.”* (Romans 5:3-5) That is triumph. That is fragrance.

Prepared. Broken. Poured forth. Only then will the full fragrance of Himself be realized, and His house be “filled with the odour of the ointment.”

O my soul, open wide and wider yet to receive the working of the Father in His fullness. Let the narrow bands of self be completely broken. Then the outpouring of Christ from on high becomes my infilling and overflowing unto the glory and praise of God.