TOO MUCH TO DRINK?
Song 5:1 ¶ “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”
That is a question people always ask, especially when it refers to driving, “Have you had too much to drink?” Or even worse, the police officer asking “Have you been drinking sir (or ma’am)?” Everyone knows it is possible to drink too much alcohol, everyone has a different measure for what is defined as too much. For me, I think any amount is too much. But there is a different kind of drinking that can cause a kind of intoxication. Actually, on the day the church was born, that first prayer meeting ended with accusations of public drunkenness. Actually, those disciples had been drinking, but not like everyone had supposed, they had been drinking the new wine of the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit began to be poured out on all of mankind, everyone who was in that prayer meeting was filled with the Spirit and began to come under the influence of the Spirit. Some of the characteristics of spiritual intoxication can easily be mistaken for people drinking alcoholic beverages. Sometimes the symptoms are extreme joy, loud singing and rejoicing, and in extreme cases, individuals unable to stand. You can easily see how one could come to the wrong conclusions. Jonathan Edwards spoke about this strange phenomenon he had seen in his church. Check this out.
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit”. As much as to say, in this there is no excess. It is no matter how full you are of the Spirit. A being full of wine, or being “drunk with wine” were expressions of the same import in those days. Thus when the apostles were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, some ” mocking said, these men are full of new wine”. There is excess in being full of wine, but no excess in being filled with the Spirit. There is no excess in spiritual enjoyments. We may be drunken with the Spirit and there is no excess in that, as said in SOS 5:1, “Drink and be drunken, O beloved.”
I love that, there is no excess in spiritual enjoyments. Edwards was describing one of the most attractive aspects of Christianity, it is okay to pursue joy. Actually, it is more than okay, it is our duty. A Christian is charged to be as happy as he can, the only stipulation is this, our pursuit of joy is the pursuit of joy in God. We can find happiness and extreme occasions of joy in the person of the Holy Spirit. Throughout church history there have been outpourings of this extreme joy. I think of Wales in 1904, Northampton in 1734, Azusa in 1906, and New Orleans in 1994. There may be seasons when there is a more widespread outpouring on certain regions, but He is always available for the thirsty. So I join with Solomon and Jonathan Edwards and say “Drink and be drunken, o beloved”.