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Even More Song of Solomon Trivia

The early Jewish rabbis taught that the book pictures God’s love for Israel. Early Christian writers took the same approach, but they replaced Israel with the Church.

One writer in the third century wrote a ten-volume commentary on Song of Solomon, telling how the book describes God’s love for Christians.” (Estes)

Bernard of Clairvaux preached not less than eighty sermons on the first two chapters. 

“The chief speakers are not Solomon and the Shulamite… but Christ and his Church.” (Trapp)

The book is not mentioned in the NT at all.

The song mentions 22 names of plants and 15 names of animals. 

The Song of Songs is a book of oriental poetry that is marked by special pictorial language. Here it is the pictorial language of love, full of flowery, sentimental and sometimes very vivid expressions. 

Figures of speech that the lovers use may seem strange to people of a different language and culture, but in their original setting they were no doubt regarded as compliments of the highest order. The language of lovers is always extravagant, and in the Song of Songs the beauty and power of the language displays the intensity of human love in a way not found elsewhere in the Bible.

The book before us is called in the Hebrew השירים שיר Shir Hashshirim, “The Song of Songs;” or, “An Ode of the Odes:” which might be understood, “An Ode taken or selected from others of a similar kind;” or, “An Ode the most excellent of all others;” this being an idiom common to the Hebrew language: e.g., the God of gods is the supreme God; the Lord of lords, the supreme Lord; the King of kings, the supreme King; the heaven of heavens, the supreme or highest heaven. It may therefore be designed to express “a song of the utmost perfection; one of the best that existed, or had ever been penned.” (Clarke’s Commentary)

There is a considerable resemblance between the language of Solomon’s Song and that of the Book of Proverbs — especially the first nine chapters and those from Proverbs. 22. to 24.. 

Compare the following verses to the Book of Proverbs. Song of Solomon 5:6, with Proverbs 1:28Song of Solomon 4:12, with Proverbs 5:15Song of Solomon 4:5, with Proverbs 5:19Song of Solomon 8:7, with Proverbs 6:34-35Song of Solomon 6:9, with Proverbs 31:28; also for analogies of diction comp. in the Hebrew, Song of Solomon 4:9, with Proverbs 1:9Song of Solomon 4:11, with Proverbs 5:3Song of Solomon 1:2, with Proverbs 27:6Song of Solomon 7:2, with Proverbs 25:12Song of Solomon 4:14, with Proverbs 7:17.

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Raisins and Apples, 2:5, #15

She

Sustain me with raisins;
    refresh me with apples,
    for I am sick with love.

What would a more modern translation sound like? “Make me stronger–feed me pizza. Strengthen my heart, buy me a cup of Starbucks, for I have the hots for you.”

No. Just plain raisins and apples.

Healthier, I suppose, but not tastier. Raisins however, were the premier energy food of the day–she recognized their usefulness. And apples were a real pick me up, they would help her through this moment.

She was sick–with love. Love-sick.

She really is making a point however; that decision to place our faith in Christ is a remarkable thing. Our burden of sin has been taken from us, the guilt and shame we had with us for so long is no more. At last we have a true peace with God, and for the very first time we have a real hope.

We must keep reminding ourselves this is ancient Hebrew poetry, so we should try to adjust our interpretative prowess to fit the moment. I think that she seems to dwell on this is to emphasize her neediness in the face of such a divine pursuit. The love of the king completely overwhelms her.

And how overwhelmed do we get when we reflect on what Jesus has done for us? Have we really understood how much He loves us. Maybe I need a spiritual Red Bull right now? Will our lives have “wings?”

Perhaps heaven will make all that He has done even more real? I think so.

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The Tribe of Love, 2:4, #14

She

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
    so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
    and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
    and his banner over me was love.

Concentrate on verse four–a “banqueting house” was a room, or even a building set aside for special parties and festivals. It was a place of good food, warm friendship and a real joy. He has brought her to this place! All of these good things? They are given.

There are two different words used for banner in Hebrew. The first is a word for a “military” flag; the second is used of the twelve tribal banners over Israel. Here it might be said that she lives under the tribe of love!

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Malus Domestica, 2:3-4, #13

She

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
    so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
    and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
    and his banner over me was love.

Botanist’s call it malus domestica. In American English it’s just “apple tree.” If the malus part of this phrase seems vaguely sinister–the root stem for malus is “bad.” People long ago discovered the seeds and leaves contained the toxin hydrogen cyanide in their seeds, but not in their fruits. (I’m sure they figured this out pretty quickly.)

I suppose you’d need to eat a bushel or two before you dial 911.

The shepherdess knew every apple tree on her flock’s feeding circuit. She knew where you could find the good apples, and which trees on her journey were producing and when. She’d figure out how she would find the best ones at the perfect time. Good apple trees were prizes on her path, as she led her flocks to greener pastures.

Her Shepherd made her apples to eat. She loved Him, and the fruit he always had was his evidence. Firmly rooted in her life, he would always have the fruit that she desired.

She made sure to sit close by Him, leaning on his trunk in the cool place of the shadow. She happily munched away the hottest part of the day. He watched as she sat.

As believers we can roll right by many wonderful spots. We can overlook the quiet, restful places, green pastures, the shady spots. We must understand that Jesus sees my walk. He arranges, and superintends every step, and every stop I take. He goes before me and follows behind me.

“You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Psalm 145:16

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Among the Thorns, 2:1-2

She

I am a rose of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.

He

Like a lily among thorns
    is my darling among the young women.

Let’s focus directly on verse two. The shepherdess has an understanding of how the king sees her. It’s the King who has been telling her that she’s incredibly special, she’s simply has been listening to him. She is starting, oh so slowly, to believe all that He has said about her. She is beginning to put some steady faith into all that he says concerning her.

When the king sings, everyone stops to listen, (at least if they value their lives.) He eloquently compares her to a “lily” that has been planted in a patch of “thorns.” The issue here is one of comparison and value. She’s not like the others, she doesn’t have any thorns, so she doesn’t prick or poke him. She’s completely different.

She’s beautiful, a unique and special flower living smack dab in the middle of those who live to defend themselves by jabbing away at all who might try to touch them. The lily on the other hand, has no such defenses, she is vulnerable and open.

The lily has a built-in beauty, the thorn has none. The lily has a scent, thorns have nothing. A comparison is made, and the value and worth of having just the small flower exceeds all the burry bushiness of many a bramble.

When Jesus gazes on the hearts and souls of men, what does He really see? What is He looking at? Perhaps He really does see something beyond our own understanding. Maybe Jesus understands the true value of things, far beyond our simple perspective.

He sees a flower growing in the middle of a bramble patch, thriving in a difficult place. She thinks she is nothing, something without value, worthless. What He sees and what she sees, are worlds apart. She feels she is in the worst possible place, he thinks she’s right where she needs to be.

She is a lily indeed, and her special kind of beauty surpasses everything around her.

“The bridegroom had just before called her fair; she with a becoming modesty, represents her beauty as nothing extraordinary, and compares herself to a common flower of the field. This, in the warmth of his affection, he denies, insisting that she as much surpasses all other maidens as the flower of the lily does the bramble.”

(Clarke’s Commentary)

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Rose of Sharon, 2:1, #11

She, or He?

I am a rose of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.

Some Bible expositors see the rose of Sharon as Christ and the lily as the church, His bride. I don’t think it’s confusion so much as it’s a sharing of identities. When we’re in a relationship with Him, we share in His person. That’s the reason behind becoming, “Christlike.”

If we interpret it as she speaking, we see a tremendous confidence, a real boldness. She isn’t boasting. She knows her value, but not in arrogance, that would be presumption, but rather in what the shepherd has already told her about herself. She knows who she is, because He already said so.

The “rose of Sharon” is actually a hibiscus, and it grows in grows in dry, unfavorable places. It likes the arid desert, and its one of the few plants that doesn’t need favorable conditions to flourish. That botany lesson is a metaphor for our faith.

If it’s He who is speaking to her, we see that He is aware of who He really is to her. He becomes that certain something that is both beautiful and desirable. A rose that grows in the harsh desert. Something outrageously special.

“Lily of the valley,” describes a beautiful flower that is can be found growing in low areas. Like the Rose of Sharon it’s also found in another difficult place, and quite often that’s when Jesus comes most precious to us. We may not perceive Him in the desert or the valley, but that’s when His presence is the closest to us.

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He’s So Handsome, 1:16-17, #10

She

 How handsome you are, my beloved!
    Oh, how charming!
    And our bed is verdant
,

the beams of our house are cedar;
    our rafters are pine.

Who do you think is handsome? If you’re a girl: maybe Brad Pitt, or George Clooney. Guys find Julia Roberts, or Halle Berry sexy. We all seem to admire the cute, beautiful or the handsome. Each of us have this ideal portrait in our minds, and although we’ll often settle for less, we know what ‘zings’ us in a person.

The shepherdess blushes when this handsome man looks at her. She gets a bit discombobulated whenever he comes close. Her heart jumps and flutters. It’s obvious that she is attracted to him, and it’s something intangible and as time goes by she still can’t explain why. All she really knows is that she loves him.

But it’s the tone of this verse that intrigues me. She’s speaking directly to her “beloved.” She isn’t reflecting, or merely talking to others about her attraction to him, rather she is actively and directly speaking to him. Big difference.

No doubt about it folks, she is truly smitten. Read the verse again–she calls him, “beloved,”– dear, darling, sweetheart, precious or babycakes are great too. (My wife calls me “Ace Tiger” and it drives me crazy!) When we find an expression that communicates our love, we’ll use it to spark up something between us.

A thought about the Hebrew word for “beloved” though. The root part of this is word is used to describe something that’s “boiling.” There is a kind of love, a “first-love,” that is always bubbling up and out at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Passion stirs in the heart of the beloved, and it’s this kind of love that needs to energize the believer.

Now tell me, is this how we are supposed to see the face of Jesus? I really wonder if I’m that captivated by Him? Is my spiritual connection to Him that strong? There are some blessed saints who have these ecstatic experiences where they are immersed in the love of God. Me? Not so much.

I’m guess I’m just a spiritual pygmy. When I finally do sit in His presence He often overwhelms me, even in by His outrageous love for my faltering anxious soul. Sometimes I wonder if it’s “love” that scares my carnal mind who only understands lust.

Oh, the ESV uses the word “verdant.” The word is often translates as “green.” In Psalm 23 we see the sheep is led to green pastures. Green means life, freshness–our Shepherd leads us to something that is always the best, and stays the best.

This has been a tough post to write. The intimacy that jumps out of this verse is intense, and I’ve struggled to be faithful to express it. I hope I haven’t muddied up the waters for you.

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Dove’s Eyes, 1:15, #9

He

15 Behold, you are beautiful, my love;
    behold, you are beautiful;
    your eyes are doves.

Doves have Single vision. They can only see one thing at a time, that makes them unique. They are one of a kind. Doves are also the emblem of the Holy Spirit in scripture, and when they are mentioned we should be alerted that something spiritual is happening.

What the Shepherd is proclaiming is “she only has eyes for me, she sees no one else.” For the true believer there isn’t anything that can take the place of Him. Political involvement, Eastern mysticism, vain philosophy or stifling materialism should never take the place of the Lord Jesus. Never, ever.

We need “dove’s eyes.” We must see Jesus only. There are a lot of noble things we can get involved in. Good things, yes, but not the best, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. I have personally seen brothers, sisters, and whole churches lose their vision, and focus on something other than their “first love.”

Satan HATES our intimacy with Jesus. Every time we move into direct contact with our Savior he goes crazy. He wants to diminish and erode our number one love. He detests that relationship, and he short circuits our connection with Jesus. The devil diverts believers to take the good, and leave behind the best.

There are many preachers and teachers in the Church who no longer have “dove’s eyes. Satan has blurred their vision, and they have lost the intimacy they once had with Jesus. Most of the time, they don’t even realize it. This saddens me.

I’m thinking specifically of a certain worship leader, who is a teacher of Bible school students, she has somehow lost her first love for Jesus, and her stance on a particular political agenda has gradually replaced her wild passion for His presence. She is now teaching things she no longer possesses. I grieve for her.

I remember a once blazing church in Pacifica, California who once closed down whole blocks in San Francisco. They worshiped Jesus intensely. They took the Church into the streets and brought with them a passion I’ve seldom seen. They were people on fire. It was a pleasure to work with them, they were in love with Jesus.

Within two years they lost it. They adopted a political stance that was quite commendable, but it diminished their first love for Jesus, and Satan was pleased. The church split in a dozen different ways. This isn’t a new thing, the apostle Paul saw it and was afraid for the church in Corinth.

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:2-3 

In the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 emphasize the level of intimacy each Church possess’. “Angels” come and carry the message of repentance and turning to that “first love.” I have to think that “dove’s eyes” come as a result of being filled with God’s Spirit. We now see things, look at things, through Jesus’ eyes.

“Return dear one, come back to the Lord Jesus. Let your first love blaze again. Don’t allow Satan to sidetrack you into something that is good, but not the best. Have “dove’s eyes” that only see Jesus.” –Amen and amen.

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The Scent of His Grace, 1:12-14, #8

She

12 While the king was on his couch,
    my nard gave forth its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
    that lies between my breasts.
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
    in the vineyards of Engedi.

This passage really stinks! These three verses carry its own special scent to the reader/smeller. Nard, myrrh and henna blossoms, are quite concentrated, they insist on being used carefully in order to give us each an understanding. These three contribute something unique to the reader.

Perhaps we must ‘smell’ our way through this passage. Maybe that’s the secret way to understand it–through the humble sensation that comes through our nose! We see the shepherdess describing her King’s qualities by things that smell pleasant. She uses these particular fragrances to express her love to Him.

And all of this ‘olfactory’ business is found here, and it can direct the interpreter through these strange verses. We need to entertain these ideas, to allow God to enter into new areas of our discipleship. He brings us to Himself through our nose.

Nard:

Or “Spikenard,” in some translations. Nard is comparable in smell to an essential oil used today. It had a strong odor, distinct from anything else. It clung to the hair, skin, and clothes for a long time. A few days before Jesus’ crucifixion, a jar of concentrated nard was poured on His feet. Undoubtedly that scent would’ve clung to Jesus while He was being whipped. Perhaps smelling this nard must of comforted Jesus as He was being nailed to the cross. I only hope so.

Nard only grew in the Himalayan Mountains of India, and because of that it was very much esteemed–it even became its own form of currency! It had the reputation of being the very best, much like the “gold standard,” or Tiffany’s, or as a Rolex watch is valued today.

It was used by the women who anointed Jesus (Mark 14:3, John 12:3.) And it was a jar of Nard that created issues with Judas as well– somehow Judas felt the jar should’ve been sold, and all the money should’ve gone to the poor, (John 12:4-5.) If Judas was nothing at all, he was certainly relevant.

Nard was believed to have special medicinal qualities. Ointment made from the root was highly valued. It became the “go-to-guide” for many physicians of the day.

Myrrh:

Myrrh is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the three gifts, (with gold and frankincense) that the magi, “from the East” presented to the Christ Child (Matthew 2:11). Myrrh was a fragrance present at Jesus’ death, and burial. Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh at his crucifixion, in order to dull the pain. (Mark 15:23).

Myrrh was used to make medicine. It was used for indigestion, ulcers, colds, cough, asthma, lung congestion, arthritis pain, cancer, leprosy, spasms, and syphilis, and so on. It was also used as a stimulant, and to increase menstrual flow. It had a wide acceptance as the ‘cure-all’ for many different health issues.

Henna blossoms:

The Hebrew word “copher” [henna] signifies ‘an atonement or propitiation’ and so may very well be applied to Christ, who is now the ‘propitiation for our sins.’ He has made full atonement for them by ‘the blood of his cross.’

Rashi, who was a Jewish scholar from c. 11th France, interpreted this passage that the clusters of henna flowers were a metaphor for forgiveness and absolution, showing that God forgave those who tested Him (the Beloved) in the desert. (Haven’t we all done this?)

All three scents describe a certain understanding that we can’t really grasp. Nard represents worship that reveals our heart’s focus. Myrrh most definitely speaks of the sacrifice that Jesus must make for our many sins. Henna declares the present peace we have with God.

And yes, all of these ideas are left open for your consideration. I really won’t insist that are strictly absorbed as true. These three only explain qualities that must be considered. Could it be that these verses mean something?

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Some More SoS Tidbits

There are some who feel this book should not be in the Bible; however, it is in the canon of Scripture. By far, these issues are never about inspiration, but inclusion.

Rabbi Akiva famously defended the canonicity of the Song of Songs, reportedly saying when the question came up of regarding its inclusion,

“God forbid! For all of eternity in its entirety is not as worthy as the day on which Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy, but Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”

The speakers and speeches are not identified by name in the song, and that leads to 4 or 5 interpretations. Looking at different study Bibles often shows different headings for different people. It takes a lot of study to identify who is speaking and when. This can create some controversy.

This book is the festal scroll for ‘Pesaḥ,’ or Passover, which celebrates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. It is read out loud on the Shabbat of the holy feast of Passover.

Solomon also wrote the Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Both Solomon and Shulamite are derived from the same word in Hebrew. One is masculine, and the other is feminine. This might help a little: “Beloved” is the name for Him; “love” is the name for her. I’ll make things easier.

S of S isn’t so much a song as it’s a poem/play. Understanding this form of Hebrew poetry is difficult, partly due to being totally unfamiliar to the reader. Compared to the other oriental poetry, (i.e. Persian,) the tone of S of S is pretty tame.

The Song of Solomon is also called the Book of Canticles. A canticle is a little song, and that means that in this book we have several canticles, several little songs. Many feel that there are five different canticles in this book. That’s the consensus.

The setting of the drama is the palace in Jerusalem, and some of the scenes are flashbacks to a previous time. There is a reminder here of the Greek drama in which a chorus talks back and forth to the protagonists of the play. The daughters of Jerusalem carry along the tempo of the story. These dialogues are evidently to be sung.

“Few portions of the Word will help the devout student more in the pursuit of this all important knowledge of God than the much-neglected Song of Solomon”

-Hudson Taylor (English Missionary to China)

Among Jews, they see the book as an allegory of God’s love for the Israelites, with whom he has made a sacred covenant. The Church has often regarded it as applying it to believers in Jesus because of the New Covenant.

 “Song of Solomon has no charm in it for the unspiritual ears. The truth is, this book requires a sober and pious, not a lascivious and foolish reader”

-Matthew Poole

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Ornaments of Grace, 1:11, Entry # 7

Others

11 We will make for you ornaments of gold,
    studded with silver.

It’s difficult to receive gifts sometimes. It seems it takes just as much grace to receive something from another as to give it. Recently I stayed at a beautiful home here in the hills of western Colorado. It was a much needed break, I had a beautiful room on gorgeous property with a ‘personal’ balcony overlooking the Colorado River.

It was really hard to receive this gift. I felt an odd sense of ‘unworthiness’ staying in such a great place. I guess I should’ve enjoyed it more, but it seemed to be a little ‘unmerited.’ It was really generous of my hosts to open up their home to my “intrusion.” I do wish I could have really enjoyed what was freely given.

There were those who were witnessing the love story between this king and shepherdess. They weren’t jealous–they we’re impressed. They wanted to do something special for her. They really wanted to bless her somehow, and do something extraordinary.

The Song has them keeping this theme of a sleek and beautiful horse. Granted, she didn’t eat hay or oats. And the analogy seems a bit odd–but it’s Hebrew poetry after all. But she is a horse in the minds of those who focus in on her. And to them, horses are quite grand.

A lavish gift was made. Silver and gold ‘ornaments’ had to be fabricated to declare her new status. She would be different, and she would excel any other horse around. What she would display would set her apart from any other. She was to walk in undeserved honor.

God has given the Christian a very special gift–it isn’t deserved or earned. It is grace, and it comes to us totally ‘out of the blue.’ It gives us a unique status among all others. We are ‘ornamented,’ most definitely by God Himself, but by others as well. It seems to me the believer is now living a ‘charmed’ life of salvation, mercy and forgiveness.

We are ‘graced’ and our lives become the visible place where His gifts are now on display.

We are different than others. Unique, special, and it does seem we’re charmed. We now trot through life with God’s touch–His authentic blessing on our lives. We are ‘graced’ and our lives become the visible place were His gifts are now on display. And often it’s through other Christians–the Church that does this.

“Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit of others, just as other people were given gifts for your benefit.”

-Rick Warren

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She’s a Real Horse,1:9-10, Post #6

I compare you, my love,
    to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.
10 Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments,
    your neck with strings of jewels.

We make comparisons constantly. We estimate the issues before us in order to decide what is best. Solomon looks at his beloved and considers her value, but I know it’s far more than that. He is enthralled by her, but admittedly he certainly uses language we see as awkward or funny. “A mare?” Really?

And that’s his description that impresses him most. Solomon is very much entranced by her beauty, and in his mind that describes her perfectly. A horse after all is strong and sleek, and this particular one pulls the Pharaoh’s chariots,” a place of honor and the very pinnacle of “horsey-dom.”

Her cheeks and neck are what he zeroes in on. They’re covered with jewels. As this mare trots along, pulling the chariot, she gleams with sparkly ornaments. She is the epitome of gracious beauty, and she carries it quite well. This I think describes her beauty. She is set above any other, distinct and set apart.

Is this how you see yourself? Do you realize the value you are to Him?

“I will make people more rare than fine gold,
    and mankind than the gold of Ophir.”

Isaiah 13:12, ESV

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

1 John 3:1 

“The one, true authority on our self-worth is Jesus Christ, and since He gave His own life up for us by dying on a cross, that should tell us just how valuable we really are.”

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Some SoS Tidbits

The Jews called the Song of Solomon the Holy of Holies of Scripture. Therefore, not everyone was permitted inside its ‘sacred enclosure.’

Origen and Jerome tell us that the Jews would not permit their young men to read this book until they were thirty years old. The reason was that they felt there was the danger of reading into it the salacious and the suggestive, the vulgar and the voluptuous, the sensuous and the sexual. 

Outside the book of Revelation the Song of Solomon is probably the most controversial book of the Bible. Both books–Revelation in the New Testament, and Song of Solomon in the Old, are easily the most challenging in all of scripture for commentators.

It’s one of the shortest books of the Bible. It’s just eight chapters long and has only 117 verses. It’s one of two books in Scripture that does not mention God at all. In case you’re wondering, Esther is the other.

The garden motif we see is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden in Genesis, where Adam and Eve enjoy God’s creation prior to the emergence of human wickedness.

 “We see our Savior’s face in almost every page of the Bible, but here we see His heart and feel His love to us…We cannot appreciate the spirituality of this book unless God’s Spirit shall help us”

-C.H. Spurgeon 

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The Tracks of the Flock,1:8, Post #5

Solomon and His Bride Delight in Each Other

He

8 If you do not know,
    O most beautiful among women,
follow in the tracks of the flock,
    and pasture your young goats
    beside the shepherds’ tents.

Most beautiful. Is that how you see yourself? It’s said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but I admit I don’t understand what Jesus sees in me. Am I that ‘pretty?’– am I really that pleasant to look at? It intrigues me how truly valuable the soul must be, that both God and Satan are vying for it.

Spiritual beauty isn’t something that comes naturally. When I examine myself, all I see is a bundle of short-comings, sins and a certain touch of perverse iniquity. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, desirable in me; I have nothing to give Him. And I’m still trying to figure out what He sees in me.

“Following the tracks” is God’s way to emphasize a walk of discipleship. There are many who have gone before me–men and women of God who have shown the way I must walk. I’d never make it on my own, chopping a way out–rather, it seems like I’m part of a ‘discipleship continuum,’ a long line of believers who have traveled far ahead–who have blazed out a path for me. I must follow them.

I’m headed to a “pasture,” something lush and green, that’s absolutely perfect for me. It’s a place of feeding, resting and safety. There’s a Shepherd there who watches over my soul. (I’m one of His goats!) The most well known Psalm is #23, it speaks beautifully of a Shepherd who provides everything his sheep might need.

“The shepherds tents” speaks of the residence of those who are there to help me–mostly I suppose, the Church. I think it also speaks of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence. For He has taken up His home (tent) close to the flock. He is always nearby. And yet, a tent is easily moved, kind of a temporary dwelling that moves with the flock.

26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26, ESV

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I Want His Flock, Chapter 1:7, Post #4 (b)

She

Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
    because the sun has looked upon me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
    they made me keeper of the vineyards,
    but my own vineyard I have not kept!
Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
    where you pasture your flock,
    where you make it lie down at noon;
for why should I be like one who veils herself
    beside the flocks of your companions?

Being “dark” is the sad state of every person who walks on this dirty planet. Everyone, without exception, is estranged from God. I know that this is a very hard truth. But each of us have sinned in our own way. We’ve become peculiar sinners with our own particular sins.

Members of the Shulamite’s family have more or less contributed to her darkness. She has been consigned to tend their vineyards; and that action only intensifies her darkness. I tend to think this explains a legalistic religion–it only condemns, and never really leads one to being ‘white.’ It only pulls one into even more darkness.

She is looking for the Shepherd (v. 7,) her heart is attracted to that wonderful place where the flock is gathered together as one. They’re being watched over by a shepherd that really does care for his flock. He leads them to a rich pasture and protects each of them.

The last 1/2 of v.7 explains the danger of being diverted into another flock. She desperately wants to be under the Shepherd’s oversight, and most definitely not to be consigned to something second best. She wants to come under the care of the true Shepherd. She wants Jesus to stand watch over her.

Lots of meaning here, and I hope it’s more than my own weird perspective on these wonderful verses. But I do think it applies to every believer and his/her walk with God. In our heart of hearts we long for Jesus’ care and love for our souls. We don’t want to settle for someone or something less.

We only want Jesus. Nothing but Him can really satisfy us.

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Being Dark, 1:5-7, Post #4

She

I am very dark, but lovely,
    O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
    like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
    because the sun has looked upon me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
    they made me keeper of the vineyards,
    but my own vineyard I have not kept!
Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
    where you pasture your flock,
    where you make it lie down at noon;
for why should I be like one who veils herself
    beside the flocks of your companions?

(There is too much here for one entry. I intend to use the next few posts to cover these verses as well).

Being “dark” is the state of every person. Each of us have sinned, terribly so, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23.) We are not “white,” instead we each in our essential state, are enemies of the Gospel, and we really don’t belong to the King. We are completely dark, and we walk in darkness before He redeems us.

And yet we’re “lovely.” The power of God has the outrageous ability to transform us, to make us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). The Shepherdess understands this, she is absolutely convinced that God can and will change her.

We each are a funny blend of darkness (sinfulness) and of beauty. In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) we understand our dark sinfulness, seeing it for what it really is, and this now becomes the beginning of a true spiritual life.

When we understand Matthew 5:3-4, we discover this odd mixture of spiritual poverty, and possession of God’s Kingdom.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

There is a spiritual poverty that truly mourns over sin, and it becomes the very first step toward the King and the Kingdom of God. You will never be really holy until you first see your unholiness. We must mourn over our darkness, and it’s only then we can be comforted. That’s the way it works.

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Wine is Good–Love is Better, 1:4, Post #3

Others

“We will exult and rejoice in you;
    we will extol your love more than wine;
    rightly do they love you.”

The other women are directing their comments to the King. They see his love and they understand it to be far superior to anything they have ever seen. That seems to be the main thrust of their comments. That is the glaring idea behind their words and observations.

They use spectacular words–exult, rejoice and extol. These words are potent, and each are infused with the concept of “love” (used 2x in this 1/2 verse). Love is the main idea here. It is the strong principle of the Kingdom, and the exquisite nature of God’s very being.

This idea of love first is directed at the Shepherdess, but the second use is now reversed. It is a love that is then ‘mirrored’ back to the King. Because He loves us, we then love Him in return. We give back what He has given.

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Juicy Smackers, 1:2-4, Post #2

She

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;
    your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
    therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run.
    The king has brought me into his chambers

The life of a Christian begins with a kiss! And not just an ordinary humdrum kiss, but a smacker right on His mouth. A kiss par excellent, far superior to any other.

“Love better than wine.” Again, we are being told that a relationship with Him excels anything that we understand as better than the best. This verse is using poetic imagery, but it communicates clearly and precisely.

Verse 3 describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Fragrant, given quite abundantly (poured out). There is a true power behind the “name,” Jesus tells us that we are to pray in His name–a name declares authority and power. It seems “virgins” describe the status of the faithful believer, pure and set apart for Him.

Verse 4 speaks of His pull on the believer, “draw me” must be the cry of the true seeker. He always initiates, and we merely respond to His call on us. We must ask and wait for Him to act.

“Run” in verse 3 reveals the joy of the called. We sprint to be His, we respond to Him quickly and joyfully. We always must react decisively to His presence. We run out of joy to be with Him.

“The chambers” are the place of true intimacy. These chambers are always the scene of closeness, of nearness and true affection. It is the closest of intimacies. We are always being drawn into this spot.

“Chambers” as found in the Hebrew text is “a chamber inside a chamber.” It strikes me that the temple had a “Holy Place” where much of the sacrificial effort took place; but yet there was the “Holy of Holies” that was inside–the inside! It was the center of the Jewish religion.

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The Very Best Song,1:1, Post #1

“The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.”

I suppose this introduction is one of the shortest. It’s brief and right to the point. Perhaps that’s the way Jesus comes to us. I’ve discovered that there are no frills or ornamentation to the good news: Will you receive His love, or not–you and you alone must decide if Jesus is going to be your ultimate song.

This is the best song. Out of all of them,

“He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.”

1 Kings 4:32

That’s a whole lot of songs. 1,005. (Even Bob Dylan isn’t that prolific). In your Bible you’ll find the very best one Solomon wrote! The very, very best one.

Our relationship with the Lord Jesus needs to be the ultimate relationship. You see, He needs to be the best “song.” He must become our “first love.”

The Song of Songs, which is Jesus!

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”.

Revelation 2:4

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