“My soul followeth hard after thee.”
The Lord (we would speak with reverence) does not suffer himself at first to be overtaken. The more the soul follows after him, the more he seems to withdraw himself, and thus he draws it more earnestly on the pursuit. He means to be overtaken in the end: it is his own blessed work in the conscience to kindle earnest desires and longings after himself; and therefore he puts strength into the soul, and “makes the feet like hinds’ feet” to run and continue the chase. But in order to whet the ardent desire, to kindle to greater intensity the rising eagerness, the Lord will not suffer himself to be overtaken till after a long and arduous pursuit.
This is sweetly set forth in the Song of Solomon, 5:2-8. We find there the Lord coming to his bride; but she is unwilling to open to him till “he puts his hand in by the hole of the door.” She would not rise at his first knocking, and therefore he is obliged to touch her heart. But “when she opened to her Beloved, he was gone;” and no sooner does he withdraw himself, than she pursues after him; but she cannot find him; he hides himself from her view, draws her round and round the walls of the city, until at length she overtakes, and finds Him whom her soul loveth. This sweetly sets forth how the Lord draws on the longing soul after himself.
Could we immediately obtain the object of our pursuit, we should not half so much enjoy it when attained. Could we with a wish bring the Lord down into the soul, it would be but the lazy wish of the sluggard, who “desireth, and hath not.” But when the Lord can only be obtained by an arduous pursuit, every faculty of the soul is engaged in panting after his manifested presence; and this was the experience of the Psalmist, when he cried, “My soul followeth hard after thee.”
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869