A Bride In War Boots

Our beloved old friend CL Moore, who years ago came up from Oklahoma from time to time to minister in our midst, told us once he’d seen a vision of the bride of Christ.  She was dressed in pure white linen, and her beauty was breathtaking.  But then CL noticed something very incongruous.  She was wearing army boots!

Now, there are several places in Scripture that reveal it is not in the least strange that this bride is prepared for war.   But let us get the emphasis right.  It is the bride who is prepared for war.

First this:

Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honour unto Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His bride hath made herself ready.
And to her was given that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white [or, bright]: for fine linen is the righteousness [that is, righteous acts] of saints (Rev. 19:7,8).

Immediately following this word about the bride of the Lamb is the prophecy of Faithful and True mounted upon a white horse and going forth to war with the armies of heaven following Him (Rev. 19:11-16).  The armies of heaven also ride upon white horses, and are “arrayed in fine linen white and clean.”  Quite the garb for an army, wouldn’t you say?  Fine linen?  Great for a delicate bride, but for an army?

What does fine linen signify?  Fine linen was the material of the garments of the priests of old.  They were not to be arrayed with wool, nor “with anything that causeth sweat” (Ezek. 44:17,18).  Now, those holy ones did a lot of work, even on sabbath days.  But it was not considered work, for they had ceased from their own labours.  That is the significance of the fine linen.  What they did was “no sweat,” was not of their own doing.  Their righteous acts were prepared beforehand by God for them to do, just as Paul says the works of the present-day saints are not to be our own works, but “good works, which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).  They are prepared beforehand; we just put them on like fine linen pure and bright, unsoiled by our own toil and strivings.

And so it is this bride in fine linen who is at the same time an army.  We see her also in Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians to husbands and wives.  He says that their unity speaks a great mystery—of Christ and His church (Eph. 5:32).   This is followed shortly with the call to heavenly warfare (Eph. 6:10-20).  Who is called to this warfare?  The bride of Christ, the Church, whom He presents to Himself “the glorious church not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing…” (Eph. 5:27).

So we have come to “the Song of songs, which is Solomon’s,” for Paul’s words in Ephesians surely reflect Song 4:7, which says, “Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.”  The Song of songs, then, is a love song about Christ and His bride, His church.

And we discover there too that this bride is prepared for war.

The bridegroom says to her:

 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible [fearsome] as an army with banners (Song 6:4).

Tirzah (meaning beautiful) was an ancient Canaanite city that became the royal city of the kings of Israel.  Jerusalem, “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth,” is the city of the great King.  You mean Solomon compares his bride to a city?  Where else do we find this?

 And I John saw the holy city new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:12).

The bride, then, is not one individual, but a city.  And she is an army with banners, which we come upon again a few verses later in the Song of songs.

 Who is she that looketh forth [draweth near] as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Song 6:10).

Are not these astonishing verses?  “Who is she?”  It is beyond astonishing that this is speaking not only of two who are one, a bride and a bridegroom—the moon and the sun, one the reflection of the other—but of a great host who are in perfect harmony with one another—an army… yet spoken of as one person.  “Who is she?”  Would this not inspire utter dread in the enemies of the Lord—to see His bride, His church, completely one with Him… and with one another?  They will yet see this as the dawning of the morning—this bride, this army—and fear.

Again three verses later we have this:

 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee.  What will ye see in the Shulamite?   As it were the company of two armies (Song 6:13).

Who is this Shulamite?  The name more literally is Shulameth, meaning “peaceful.”  Solomon’s name, more literally, is Shelomoh, meaning “peace.”  And so, just as we have Henry and Henrietta, Robert and Roberta, we have Shelomoh and Shulameth.  Here, then, are Mr. and Mrs. Solomon, Mr. and Mrs. Peace, going forth to war together—fair as the moon, clear as the sun—feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and terrible as an army with banners.

Let’s paraphrase this last passage a bit.

Oh, where did she go, this bride of devastating beauty?  Oh, how we mourn for her in this desperate late hour!  We long to see her!  Return, return, O Shulamite!  Return, return, that we may look upon thee!

Why do you want to look upon her?  What do you expect to see in her?

Let me tell you what you shall see.

As it were the company of two armies—literally, the dance of Mahanaim, as other translations have it.  For, “company” is literally, dance, and “two armies” is literally Mahanaim.

Remember Mahanaim?  This was the place where Jacob saw the angels and became aware he was not alone; there were two hosts—the heavenly and the earthly (Gen. 32:1,2).

This, then, is what shall be seen in the Shulamite—the dance, the harmonious movements, of two hosts, the heavenly and the earthly, going forth together to such war as will inflict irrecoverable defeat upon the forces of darkness, just as David received counsel from the Lord that he was not to venture forth in a certain battle till he heard the sound of a marching above the mulberry trees.

 For then shall the LORD go out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines (2 Sam 5:24).

The thing I hope to drive home is this.  The emphasis is so often on the army boots of the bride, and it is responsible for a lot of activity that is a display of carnal bravado that accomplishes absolutely nothing.  Tramping around in our war boots doing our own fighting will accomplish nothing more than sweaty feet… and chronic defeat.  The effectual warfare God has in mind is accomplished by one who is wearing the beautiful fine linen garments of a bride in love.  She is totally absorbed with Her beloved, as He is with her.  They belong to one another.  He is hers, and she is His.  She has eyes for none other than Him, a heart that beats for Him alone.  She wants nothing more—nor less—than to be with Him, to be one with Him, to dance with Him, to respond to His leadings, to move as He moves, to flow with Him, to be His counterpart.

You can’t read the Song of songs and not know that this is all about a love relationship between the Bridegroom and the bride.

It’s because of this love relationship that her prospect strikes utter terror in the hearts of her enemies.

It’s because she is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” that she is prepared for battle.

She has put on her fine linen.

She is “terrible as an army with banners.”


24 responses »

  1. Allan, this was very good, my brother! You got so much meaning out of these verses and tied it all together so well. The first thing I noticed in the passage you quoted,

    And to her was given that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white [or, bright]: for fine linen is the righteousness [that is, righteous acts] of saints (Rev. 19:7,8).

    What are the righteous acts of the saints? Jesus said that One is good, and that is His Father… our acts in and out from ourselves will never be righteous. Yes, it is our love relationship with our Lord that leads us to do all things with and of Him alone.

    “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 RSVA)

    Our ONE God is above ALL and IN ALL that HE might alone work THROUGH us ALL. While we rest IN Him and cease from our own labors. ONLY He can do any righteous acts among us. Amen.


    • Michael, earlier I got thinking about Jesus’ call to the Ephesians who had left their first love. He said to them, “Repent and do the first works…” They go together hand in hand– first love and first works. What are first works? They are works that the bride does “in fine linen,” you might say, works (meaning simply all the things she does) that are the outflow of her love relationship with her bridegroom.


      • Allan, your article is a worthy read and I prayerfully will do it more than once that it might soak in deeper and become a greater reality in my heart. “The greatest of these is love.” For the Bride to be doing her works without sweat is because “a labor of love is no labor at all.” Along this same topic Susanne Schuberth wrote on your blog back in 2013 something that really hit home and connected the pieces together or me…


        “Hi Allan,
        One might also say, being drawn in and tied with your heart so that you’re fastened to His Love as a special slave – as a bondslave, exactly 😉 . Isn’t it a miracle that belonging to God makes impossible things possible…and that only this kind of slavery with its easy yoke and those “commandments” which “are not grievous” (1 Jn 5:3) results in present, future, and eventually in eternal freedom?”

        Since she wrote on your blog back then she has put up her own blog and it can be found here: https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/ I am glad you two found each other, for it was through her that i found yours, my brother.

        Love you dearly in Christ,


        • Michael, that is right. Paul talks of “your labour of love…” (1 Thes. 1:3). This, in spite of the “works” the Ephesian church was involved in, is what was missing. They had left their first love, and were no longer doing “the first works.” The Lord was prepared to remove their lampstand from their midst because of it.


          • Allan, this “Easter” morning, I find myself in deep heart longings for Him to fill me up with His love and restore the heart of His Bride within me. The message to the church at Ephesus is a message which Jesus has be working into my heart. It has been almost 45 years since my first year in which I spent totally in love with Jesus. It did not take long for me to fall under the leadership of well meaning men (who knew nothing about God’s rest) and for them to harness me into the labors of “doing ministry.” In that state I lost sight of THE Greatest Servant of all. Please pray for me, my brother.


          • Michael, what I find fascinating about the bride of Christ is that she is a corporate reality; scripture never speaks of any one individual as being “the bride of Christ.” Individually, we are her children, as Paul points out in Galatians. “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26). Of course individually (as you are experiencing) our hearts pulse with the love and devotion that is hers. But it is staggering to read the Song of Solomon and bear in mind that when the bride speaks, this is a corporate people speaking with one voice! Impossible, I know. God will yet have the desire of His heart!


          • Yes, Allan, Bride is corporately made perfect, “the Bride has made herself ready.” As we fellowship in Christ’s love around Him, the Bride is making herself ready. The New Jerusalem which comes down from above is a city which also is the Bride. Paul wrote,

            “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!”
            (Galatians 4:19 RSVA)

            Again, we see that Christ is to be formed in a body of believers, not an individual only. You wrote, ” But it is staggering to read the Song of Solomon and bear in mind that when the bride speaks, this is a corporate people speaking with one voice! Impossible, I know. God will yet have the desire of His heart!” Yes, Allan, this has been a long time coming and all hell is arrayed against it happening, for HERE is the witness that Jesus is the Christ… the unity of the saints focused on Christ and the Father because of their love. Jesus’ final prayer was for this very thing.

            “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:20-24 RSVA)

            Here we see her perfection, “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,” The many becoming one in HIS glory. And they are made perfect in the Love of God, “that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.”

            With all this in mind, Allan, I will read the Song of Songs once again, for it is truly rich and no man has fully seen the depths of its riches, yet. The Shulamite woman has a singleness of focus because of her love for the king and that love continues to mature as this book unfolds. His coming and going and her times of searching and longing for His return sharpens her hunger for more of Him. But in the end we see her coming forth from the wilderness on arm of her Beloved and THIS gives me great hope both individually and for the final glory of the Church, His Bride. Amen.


          • Amen, Michael. You quoted, “…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” I hadn’t made that connection before– that it is the love wherewith the Father loves the Son that brings into being this “they” who are “perfectly one.” That is, with Him– and with one another.


  2. Allan, this is wonderful. Beautiful. Thank you!


    • Thank you, Lori. Welcome to A Mending Feast!


      • Okay, I’ve got to ask: What is so terrible about ‘an army with banners?’


        • Lori, in the days when the KJV was written, “terrible” meant “fearsome.” The enemies of this bride see her coming, and are terror stricken, for the banners she carries picture not bears and eagles and lions (as the flags of the nations do) but a bleeding Lamb. That turns the knees and the loins of her enemies to jelly.

          Edit to add this: Also the very sight of this bride– a great host in perfect unity– puts her enemies in great fear. I think we see the same thing in Psalm 48, where “the kings” are assembled and see this City (this Bride), and marvel, and haste away in great fear.


          • A great host in perfect unity — pure and spotless because of the Lamb who gave Himself for us. Sounds like something worth waiting for! Oh . . . and seeing the ‘kings’ beat a hasty retreat!! Too bad (for them) they won’t be able to outrun the terrifying wrath of the Lamb!
            Thanks for explaining it.


          • It’s worth waiting for, Lori, and some of us have found ourselves waiting for a long time. It’s not just idle waiting, putting in time. True waiting does a deep work within. In fact it’s not something you can do in your own strength. You find yourself in a wilderness, and having to lean on Jesus for all you are worth, otherwise you know you will never make it. No doubt that is why the bride comes up out of the wilderness “leaning upon her beloved” (Song of songs 8:5).


          • I really like this answer to Lori J”s question. What a Good Question!
            A people whose very LIVES have become THE BANNER!


          • Amen, Robert. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their WITNESS, and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Their witness, their testimony, is a demonstration of what the blood of the Lamb has accomplished.


  3. A very timely article! A very potent message!


    • Allan, I just read again this post and the comments. I’m struck with the bride coming up out of the wilderness “leaning upon her beloved” — contrasted with the fearsome eyes and mouth of the “Lord our God, the Almighty” (Rev. 19:6). It is the difference between His love and grace poured out on His beloved and His fierce wrath against those who side with His enemy of old.
      As I view the ‘landscape’ of all that is going on in the world these days I understand the words of one of my favorite teachers: Grace comes to an end in this world. There must come a time when righteousness takes over and evil is put away forever.
      I enjoy leaning on my Beloved, and look forward to being in His presence with all the saints from all the ages. I can imagine that. I have a harder time imagining being part of His army — but I know it will thrilling!
      It’s a blessing to read this post again. Thank you Robert for resurrecting it!


      • Hi Lori. Yes, I felt the same inspiration reading it over again that I felt when I wrote it! So we know where this one comes from. It’s very timely for this hour.
        I would just add to your comment that this army “in heaven” is a “now” thing, and a “here” thing. (Remember that old song? We’re in the army now.) For, the apostle calls us to put on the whole armour of God in order to wrestle against the forces of darkness “in the heavenlies.” (Eph Ch. 6). In fact, the heavenlies is our present heritage in Christ Jesus; it is from our vantage point in the heavenlies that we wrestle against principalities and powers in the heavenlies. This is Paul’s theme in Ephesians, where he uses the word “heavenlies” five times, stating first that God has blessed us “with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.” Are we in Christ? Then we are in the heavenlies– the field of our heritage, and our warfare.

        Edit to add this: Just rethinking this, and keeping my heart open to further revelation. If “the armies in heaven” refers also to the saints who are now with the Lord, it means that there is much more for us to look forward to than sitting on a cloud playing a harp!

        Another edit: But verse 19 says, “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army.” So His army is here in the earth.
        …It may well be that this battle is taking place in the heavens and on the earth at the same time, as we see in Rev. 12:7-11. “There was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels…” But the overcomers in this heavenly battle are here in the earth, overcoming the accuser of the brethren “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death.”


        • Hi Allan. We may be seeing two different things here (maybe three!). Here’s what I understand from my studies: Paul writes to saints who are living on earth. They are influenced by and subjected to the ‘world, the flesh and the devil.’ He shows them that their position is ‘seated in the heavenlies with Christ’ and it is from there that they receive all that they need to glorify God (display His image in them) while they must make their way as pilgrims in the wilderness. This seems to be an expansion on the vine and branch teaching of the apostle John. All we have is from Him — we rest and He fills us with all that He is. Our current war is with principalities and powers as they try to undo us in our relationship/fellowship/work in the Lord. Paul writes to the Church as the body of Christ, physically living on earth.

          The language for the Church changes in the book of Revelation. There the Church is the Bride of the Lamb, no longer on earth. And here is why I so eagerly look forward to the change of my location from earth to where the Lord is. We cannot make that change unless we have our resurrected bodies and we cannot be in the ‘physical’ (face to face) presence of the Lord without that body. In that place and in that body I will be free from the constraints of my old nature and my fallen body (my sinful heart and the limitations of this fallen mind which is housed in this fallen body). I’m not clear about how the war in heaven goes or the war on earth, but I do know that when all that is over and done, we will be with Him for all eternity — seeing Him, worshiping Him, knowing Him without one single thing to hinder us. We will be His Bride forever — the trophy of His infinite, amazing grace (for how could we be His Bride were it not for His grace?). We will see Him as He is!! I long for that. I mean I am so happy every day that He is near and we are His ‘brethren’; in Christ and He in us while we are here . .. but I don’t really like being here.

          Like Paul who desired to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far — but it was necessary to remain in the body for the sake of the progress of the gospel. Like Bill who has some work to do before he goes. We all want to be with Him where He is — where we (the Church) will be transformed into His pure and spotless bride!


          • An interesting comment, Lori, thank you. Where we differ, I think, is in this that you said: “The language for the Church changes in the book of Revelation. There the Church is the Bride of the Lamb, no longer on earth.” I see the Church all the way through the book of Revelation. There is much “tribulation” described, and I don’t espouse the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. The church goes through the tribulation, according to 1 Thes. Ch. 5. Goes through it victoriously, that is.
            Also, while the word “church” does not appear after the third chapter of The Revelation, several references are made to “the saints.” “The prayers of the saints…” the beast making “war with the saints,” etc. In the New Testament, the saints are God’s New Covenant community, the Church.
            So it’s my conviction that it is here in the earth that the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place. The bride “arrayed in fine linen clean and white” is the same bride Paul speaks of as being “the glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish…” right here in the earth. Of course there is much interaction with the heavens in all this.
            Oh, the wonder of it all!


  4. Hi Allan, I can see why we differ in the way we see the Church, since I hold the pre-tribulation rapture view. Nonetheless, we hold in common a deep love for our Lord and for His word — filled with the desire to know Him intimately and allow His life to abide and flow through us! Thank you for holding me up in prayer as a sister in Him, as I do for you my brother!


    • Thank you, Lori, and a very sincere Amen to what you have just said. Would that all God’s people had the same gracious attitude toward one another!



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