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DESPISED BUT LOVELY!

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Rev. John Samuel Cagan
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, May 13, 2018

“He is altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16).


I have never preached a sermon from the Song of Solomon. Looking at the Complete Index of Spurgeon’s sermons, I found that the Prince of Preachers gave 63 sermons on the Song of Solomon during his ministry in London. So I come to this text today.

“He is altogether lovely.”
“He is altogether lovely.”
“He is altogether lovely.”

Dr. McGee said, “The Jews called the Song of Solomon the Holy of Holies of Scripture. Therefore, not everyone was permitted inside its sacred enclosure. Here is where you are dwelling in the secret place of the Most High...if the Lord Jesus means a great deal to you and you love Him, then this little book will mean a great deal to you. The Song of Solomon is poetic and practical. Here God is speaking to His people in poetic songs which unfold a story. We need to take our spiritual shoes from off our feet as we approach this book. We are on holy ground. The Song of Solomon is like a fragile flower that requires delicate handling. There have been four different and important meanings found in this book” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, volume III, p. 143).

First, the Song of Solomon is a picture of the love between a husband and wife. Second, it is a picture of the love of God for Israel. The ancient rabbis gave these two interpretations. But there are two more applications for Christians. Third, it is a picture of the love between Christ and His church. Fourth, it portrays the love of Christ for the individual Christian, and the soul’s communion with Christ. Many great saints of God have experienced this. The Song of Solomon was the favorite book of Robert Murray McCheyne, the Scottish preacher who saw mighty waves of revival during his ministry. It was said of McCheyne, “He preached with eternity stamped upon his brow,” although he was only 29 years old when he died. The Song of Solomon was his favorite book in the Bible. When Robert McCheyne preached from the Song of Solomon strong men fell weeping to their knees, and hardened sinners bowed their hearts to Christ. It was also the favorite Bible book of the great Scottish preacher Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), D. L. Moody (1837-1899) and Harry Ironside (1876-1951), and as I said, Spurgeon preached 63 sermons from the Song of Solomon. Revival came to the Isle of Lewis when Duncan Campbell preached from the Song of Solomon.

Now, then, we come to the text. The bride said of her husband, “He is altogether lovely.” Thus, also, true Christian saints say of Jesus, “He is altogether lovely.” As I considered preaching on this verse I thought, as did Spurgeon, “It is high, I cannot attain to it.” Deep texts like this sometimes overwhelm me. But if I cannot bring out all of its meaning, I will at least try to bring out some of it this morning. It is better to have a brief look at Jesus than to see all the glory of the world for a lifetime, for He alone “is altogether lovely.” Let me for a few moments bring you two contrasting views of Jesus – that of the world and that of the true Christian.

I. First, the lost world does not think Jesus is lovely at all.

Have you noticed how the world is shutting Him out today? It seems that they do not even want to hear His name. I have heard that chaplains in the United States Air Force are no longer permitted to pray in Jesus’ name. When pastors are asked to pray at civic functions, they are now specifically asked not to end their prayers in the name of Jesus. This dislike of Jesus’ name is not new, but it grows more intense each year. Far back in the early days of motion pictures, whenever Christians were portrayed in prayer, the moguls at the studios prevented them from ever saying, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” I suppose those moguls thought we wouldn’t notice when they removed the name of Jesus. But since we always ended our prayers “In Jesus’ name” we did notice, and it did cause us to realize how much those men hated Jesus.

Their hatred of the Saviour became even more apparent when they trotted out that blasphemous movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ,” portraying the Saviour as a sex-crazed fool. Our pastor Dr. Hymers sat in his chair in his living room and thought about that movie when he read that it was coming out. And God said to him, “Are you going to let them get away with this?” Dr. Hymers said, “Father, I can’t do anything.” And God said, “If you don’t, no one will.” And so we went and defended Jesus. They put our demonstration on every channel on the evening news. They put it on the front page of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. They put it on Nightline, on the Tonight Show, on Crossfire, and even put a photograph and story about our demonstration in TV Guide! It was internationally reported in England, France, Italy, Greece, Australia, and in Israel, where a friend called and told Dr. Hymers it was on the front page of the Jerusalem Post. There is a book titled “Hollywood Under Siege” by Thomas R. Lindlof (2008, The University Press of Kentucky). On the front cover is a color photograph of my father, Dr. Cagan, with about 125 people from our church holding up signs protesting that filthy, blasphemous movie. The main sign, about thirty feet long, said, “Wasserman – Lay Off of Jesus!” Lew Wasserman was the man who produced the movie. Dr. Hymers was quoted in thirteen different places in that book. They not only hated Jesus, but they hated Dr. Hymers and my father, and our church, for even daring to defend the Saviour! The book is called “Hollywood Under Siege.” Think of it, 125 little Baptists had all of Hollywood “under siege”! The great and mighty movie moguls were “under siege” from a few dozen little Baptists from an inner city church! But Dr. Hymers knows how much Hollywood, and the elite of Beverly Hills, New York and Washington hate the Lord Jesus Christ. From Bill Maher to George Clooney, from Anderson Cooper to Wolf Blitzer – they despise and reject the Son of God. And I do not think it will end until there is open persecution against the churches, and I believe you will see it in your lifetime.

Worst of all, Jesus is put on the back burner in many of our churches today. He is not welcome even in the house of His friends! Dr. Michael Horton has written about that in his powerful and penetrating book, Christless Christianity (Baker Books, 2008). It says on the jacket, “Horton argues that while we haven’t yet arrived at Christless Christianity, we are well on our way. Though we invoke the name of Christ, too often Christ and the Christ-centered gospel are pushed aside.” But we should not be surprised that Jesus is treated so badly today. The Bible says,

“He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:2-3).

That is the way the natural man, in an unsaved condition, sees Jesus. “There is no beauty that we should desire him” and so they “despise and reject” Him. That’s the way it was with Dr. Hymers. When he was a little boy he used to wander into a Catholic church nearly every day. They kept the doors open all the time back in the 1940s. And he would go in because it was quiet and peaceful there. There was a lifelike, full-sized statue of Jesus in that church, bearing His cross, with blood running down His face. Dr. Hymers saw Jesus as a tragic figure, a martyr, who died for no reason other than the hatred of His enemies. That view of Jesus went with him until a few days before he was converted, on September 28, 1961, at the age of twenty. Until then Dr. Hymers thought of Jesus as a horribly misunderstood, tragic figure who was nailed to a cross and died, for no particular reason. But on the day Dr. Hymers was converted he saw Him for the first time as a living, resurrected Saviour who triumphed over death, and was alive at the right hand of God in Heaven, who would save him from his sins and transform his life. When he saw Jesus that morning, Christ was for the first time altogether lovely!

II. Second, the true Christian sees that He is altogether lovely.

Jesus is the sweetest name I know,
   And He’s just the same as His lovely name,
And that’s the reason why I love Him so;
   Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know.
(“Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know” by Lela Long, 1924).

It may come to you suddenly, as it did to our pastor. Or you may gradually see how lovely He is, until you fall before Him and trust Him as your Saviour and your God. The moment Dr. Hymers trusted Jesus he could sing with Charles Wesley,

My chains fell off, my heart was free;
   I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! how can it be
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
(“And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

In fact, they sang that hymn the morning that Jesus saved Dr. Hymers!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
   Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
   I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
   I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! how can it be
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

At that moment our pastor could have shouted with McCheyne or Spurgeon, “He is altogether lovely!” He could have sung at the top of his lungs that old German hymn,

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
   O Thou of God and man the Son!
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
   Thou, my soul’s Glory, Joy, and Crown!

Beautiful Saviour! Lord of the nations!
   Son of God and Son of man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
   Now and forever more be Thine!
(“Fairest Lord Jesus,” 17th century German hymn,
       translated by Joseph A. Seiss, 1823-1904).

“He is altogether lovely.”

This is Jesus,

“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:15-22).

Hallelujah! That is Jesus! “Yea, he is altogether lovely!” We turn from despising and rejecting Him to falling at His feet in thankful praise – because He died on the Cross to save us, and rose from the dead to give us life! Hallelujah! “He is altogether lovely!” “Yea, he is altogether lovely!”

Jesus is the sweetest name I know,
   And He’s just the same as His lovely name,
And that’s the reason why I love Him so;
   Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know.

Come as that wicked woman did who “kissed his feet” (Luke 7:38). And Jesus said to her, “Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). “Kiss the Son.” The Bible says to do so! “Kiss the Son...Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). Will you kiss the Son of God this morning, and put your trust in Him? “Kiss the Son of God?” you say. Yes! Yes! Kiss Him by faith and trust Him, for He is altogether lovely! Spurgeon said,

      You need not be afraid to come to Jesus, for “he is altogether lovely.” It does not say that he is altogether terrible – that is your misconception of him; it does not say he is somewhat lovely, and sometimes willing to receive a certain kind of sinner; but “he is altogether lovely,” and therefore he is always ready to welcome the vilest [of sinners]. Think of his name. It is Jesus, the Saviour. Is not that a lovely name? Think of his work. He is come to seek and to save that which was lost. This is his occupation. Is not that lovely? Think of what he has done. He has redeemed our souls with his blood. Is not that lovely? Think of what he is doing. He is [praying] before the throne of God for sinners...Is not this lovely? [Any way you look at Him] Jesus is attractive to sinners who need him. Come, then, come and welcome, there is nothing to keep you away, there is everything [calling you] to come. May this very Sabbath day in which I have preached Christ, and lifted him up, be the day in which you are drawn to him, never again to leave him, but to be his for ever and for ever. Amen. (C. H. Spurgeon, “Altogether Lovely,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1977 reprint, volume 17, pages 407-408).

“Yea, he is altogether lovely.” And He calls you to come to Him and trust Him, and be saved from sin for all time, and all eternity – because He loves you so! Because He loves you so! Because He loves you so! Come to Him – because He loves you so! He will not turn you away – because He loves you so!

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
   Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
   Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
   Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
   Jesus, I come to Thee.

Now listen to another verse of that hymn,

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
   Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
   Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
   Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
   Jesus, I come to Thee.
(“Jesus, I Come” by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

Jesus loves you. Come to Jesus this morning. Trust Him. You will find Him “altogether lovely.” His Blood will wash away all your sin. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, when the rest of us go upstairs to have lunch, you come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
    “Fairest Lord Jesus” (translated from German by Joseph A. Seiss, 1823-1904).


THE OUTLINE OF

DESPISED BUT LOVELY!

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Rev. John Samuel Cagan

“He is altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16).

I.    First, the lost world does not think Jesus is lovely at all,
Isaiah 53:2-3.

II.   Second, the true Christian sees that He is altogether lovely,
Colossians 1:15-22; Luke 7:38, 48; Psalm 2:12.