Little Foxes

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Friday, May 29, 2015
(Song of Solomon 2:15) Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. In the engaging romantic dialogue between Solomon and his beloved spouse many commentators have seen a tender, passionate exchange between Christ and His beloved bride, His church. I suspect that one reason they have done so is that there are some “delicate” expressions in this book that they have deemed necessary to allegorize for modesty's sake. But allegorizing everything in this book to make it speak of Christ and His church would require inventive interpretations in some of the verses. Whatever could, for example, be the “Christ and church” interpretation of “I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley...” (SON 6:11)? Perhaps this was a depiction of Christ examining very liberal churches? Let us rather simply make some observations from the language of this book (specifically our text today) that compare with Christ and His bride, the church. God's church in this world is an imperfect microcosm of the perfected “...church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven...” (HEB 12:23). She is a vine which He has planted, a tender vine brought out of Egyptian bondage in a natural sense (PSA 80:8-15), out of bondage to Satan and sin in a spiritual sense. She was of old described as a noble vine (JER 2:21) but in reality she is only so because she is in Christ, the true Vine (JOH 15:1-5). Her fruit is delightful and peaceable when it is in righteousness (JAM 3:18) and becomes most serviceable when it is pressed by tribulation or chastening (ROM 5:3-5; HEB 12:11). Then it is a choice vintage, a fine wine that cheers God and man (c/w JDG 9:13). Therefore, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (JAM 1:2) and “...glory in tribulations also...” (ROM 5:3). Saints are sometimes troubled by little foxes that come from without: persecutors are foxes (LUK 13:31-32) and false prophets are foxes (EZE 13:3-4). But Scripture and experience show that persecution does not necessarily spoil the vine of God's church; rather, it makes it hardy and fruitful. False prophets or false teachers may trouble the saints with their heresies (2PE 2:1) and must be dealt with while they are still little foxes, lest they “...increase unto more ungodliness” (2TI 2:16). But even they are used of God “...that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1CO 11:19). But believers must be ever on guard for little foxes from within themselves. The grapes of grace are tender and may be spoiled if the vine that bears them is ravaged by these. How many saints have been hindered or rendered unserviceable to God, not by the behemoth or leviathan temptations like murder, witchcraft or adultery, etc., but by the “little fox” temptations like envy, sloth, an untempered spirit, an ungoverned tongue, self-will, given to pleasures, etc.? King Saul ran well at the first but his impatience and political expediency purchased God's disfavor (1SAM 13:8-14; 1SAM 15:24). This had a “domino effect” that resulted in envy of David (1SAM 18:8-9), murder (1SAM 22:17), witchcraft (1SAM 28:7) and eventuated in his disgraceful death (1SAM 31:3-6). Instead of producing fine wine for God's elation, he fell into the winepress of the wrath of God (REV 14:19) to gloriously stain the garments of His vengeance (ISA 63:3-4). David's “little fox” was a lingering look at a foxy woman (2SAM 11:2) which became lust, then adultery, then deceit, then murder and “...great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme...” (2SAM 12:14). But for the covenantal mercy of God, David's grapes would have joined Saul's. Later, David would write, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes...” (PSA 101:3). He determined to avoid a repetition of what had nearly destroyed his vine's usefulness to God by cutting off sin in its infancy. Paul wrote, “Flee youthful lusts...” (2 Ti.2:22). Run from such before they mature, while they are still little foxes. Those in positions of honor or reputation, such as ministers of Christ, must be especially careful of little foxes. “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour” (ECC 10:1). Ministers are held to a higher level of accountability, for “...unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (LUK 12:48). They are the object of public scrutiny and the target of the terrible who love nothing more than to “...watch for iniquity...(and) make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought" (ISA 29:20-21). Few things delight the devil's disciples more than to be able to capitalize on some “little fox” of a slip in a minister of Jesus Christ and so discredit his message. It is too easy to be brought low by little temptations or little sins which we deem tolerable and sometimes even excusable. But their end is not fine wine, only vinegar or rancid juice. Unchecked, unforsaken, those little foxes such as bodily desires can undo us. Paul resolved to “...keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1CO 9:27). Of an ungoverned tongue, James says, “...Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (JAM 3:5). It only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole lump (GAL 5:9). Let us not despise "...the day of small things..." (ZEC 4:10), the day when little foxes threaten the vine.

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