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The Conclusion: The Spice Mountains, #66

“Run away with me, my love, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.”

Song of Solomon 8:14, CSB

Well, this is the final post in our study of the Song of Solomon. We’ve traveled together through many thoughts and ideas. I hope you’ve discovered a real sense that Jesus has been pursuing you through your entire life. All that has happened has been part of his plan to bring you closer to him.

Verse 14 ends with a touching word picture of a love that’s always seems to be moving. Running like a gazelle, it jumps all over piles and piles of spices. There is nothing static and stolid about our relationship with Jesus, we walk with him and he’s always moving us up and closer to the Father.

Spices are things of beauty and fragrance.

The idea of spices here is they declare her satisfaction and happiness over her marriage to him. Their relationship has a wonderful scent, and she’s profoundly blessed. She understands that. Mountains here declare immensity, and the word picture is really wonderful, it fits quite well here.

They are running together.

The hard and difficult path that ascends is made easier when we understand he’s running along side of us. The road can be difficult. I know that being his follower is a challenge sometimes, but every step is precious when he’s with us. As we keep in step with him, he moves us up to the mountain peak.

“The Lord my Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!”

Habakkuk 3:19

If you really want to understand this book deeper, I would suggest “Hind’s Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. It’s easy to read, but it’s packed with things that are simple, and yet profound.

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He’s Listening, #65

He Speaks: 

“You are in the garden with friends all around. Let me hear your voice!”

Song of Solomon 8:13, CEV

He’s listening. He wants to hear her voice. The things she says are important to him, and he’s all ears. Read something recently along these lines:

“God speaks to those who are listening. And he listens to those who take time to pray.”

No doubt about it, he is talking. And more mature believers tell me he’s speaking all the time. Perhaps that’s true, but if it is I’m only picking up 1% of what he’s saying. I must learn to listen for his speaking voice. It’s necessary for me, it’s needed in my discipleship.

But that’s not the point of this verse.

The passage tells us that it’s he who is listening. Sometimes my very patient wife says things, and I’m not really listening. Maybe halfway tuned in. I nod my head and pretend that I heard her. (I’m a bad husband and she puts up with me anyway.)

God fully listens to you.

He listens as if you are the only one on this planet. He’s big enough to do this. He’s not preoccupied with what’s going down in Haiti, or Abdul in Egypt. No. He’s fully into me, and he wants to hear what I have to say. He’s always aware, alert and anticipates hearing me.

All my noble sounding religious gobbledygook won’t (or can’t? be heard. He has to hear my heart. Yes, certainly we must listen for his voice. That dear one, is critical. But we also must realize that he really, really wants to hear us speak to him, the things that really, and true. The things that truly matter.

He wants to hear us, and definitely not what we think we should be saying to him, rather, speaking what we really are.

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1000 Pieces of Silver, #64

Pieces of Silver

“Solomon owned a vineyard in Baal-hamon.
He leased the vineyard to tenants.
Each was to bring for his fruit
one thousand pieces of silver.”

“I have my own vineyard.
The one thousand are for you, Solomon,
but two hundred for those who take care of its fruits.”

Song of Solomon 8:11-12, CSB

This is one of the more obscure passages of the book. It mystifies a lot of pastors and commentators. I’ve found a lot of different interpretations but they all vary. But that’s ok. We just need to do our best, and allow the Holy Spirit to use it anyway. After all, he inspired this passage and knows it perfectly.

The issue seems to be one of value.

The vineyard seems to be a productive one, and it’s worth owning. It most likely was a prime one that produced a ton of grapes. Solomon decided he would not be directly involved, but decided to lease it to tenants that would supervise and cultivate it. The tenants paid Solomon 1000 pieces of silver.

The lesson seems to focus on those who serve the bride.

The work is serving Christ’s beloved–the Church of Jesus. The workers in the vineyards are simply tenants. They labor and work hard (at least if they love their work) and many, if asked, would pay for the privilege of serving this way. Ask any pastor, elder or teacher–most embrace this work.

Personally, to serve Jesus in the Church is my calling. It’s my joy. Yes, at times I sweat (and may even complain a little) but I love to serve him like this. I seldom need a great deal of motivation, (a break now and is ok, when needed) but I wake up every morning thrilled that I can serve, even in a small way.

My real work is mostly prayer.

I recognize this and I must make it my priority. When I pray for the Church, it mixes others who are praying–like paint gets stirred up in a hardware store. It becomes true intercession. My voice, and my Baptist brothers, and Methodist sisters, blend into something that does vineyard work.

“Give yourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. If you do not pray, God will probably lay you aside from your ministry, as He did me, to teach you to pray.”

     Robert Murray McCheyne

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Breasts, Like Towers, #63

She

I am a wall,
    and my breasts are like towers.
Thus I have become in his eyes
    like one bringing contentment.”

Song of Solomon 8:10

She now understands her new situation to her protective brothers. She explains that she’s capable of handling herself. Up to now, she’s been supervised. But she now realizes she can handle things on her own. In a sense she has become mature, she understands self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)

She is now a wall (verse 9) that her brothers had protected when she young. There seems to be something confident in her. She understands that she’s protecting herself. As a wall, she’s unassailable, a fortress that stands against anyone who would take advantage of her.

“Breasts like towers” has nothing to do with a physical attribute, rather is a continuation of the previous thought. She now defends herself–she’s quite capable. Her brothers need not worry about her. She is, and intends to be, very much chaste.

Her marriage is a good one. Because she has protected herself, she now enjoys a healthy and peaceful place in her beloved’s eyes. Because she’s been a wall when it counts, her present state is blessed.

Premarital sex destroys future relationships. Being a chaste person brings rewards. As believer’s we need to be a wall against certain sins. Being a chaste person is a key to peace with Jesus. Sin of any kind separates us from him.

If you are pure in heart, you’ll get to see God.

(Matthew 5:8)

In my own walk I’ve discovered that I must stay chaste and abstinent from anything that would destroy my peace with my Father. That has been a vital key in working out my own discipleship. This is the key to applying this passage.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

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I’ve got a new blog based on the parables of Jesus, just started it, please check it out: parables 101.com.

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She’s Safe, #62

Christianity.com

Others

“We have a little sister,
    and she has no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister
    on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall,
    we will build on her a battlement of silver,
but if she is a door,
    we will enclose her with boards of cedar.”

Song of Solomon 8:8-9

She isn’t of age, she’s young and immature. She’s got a lot to learn yet. Verse 8 is a bit jarring–we’re a bit prudish when it comes to breasts, and their size (are they big or small?). In ancient times, the readers of this book wouldn’t have issues like we do. It seems it was more acceptable to talk about it back then.

The little sister is young. She’s still growing. And perhaps, she signifies the Church, we’re still developing, and we trust the Father that he’ll give us the things we need.

Things are not in their final state yet.

The brothers are quite protective. They keep a close eye on all that concerns her. I believe that the Holy Spirit watches over every believer, we belong to Jesus–and that means each Christian has a bodyguard that follows us– he intends to escort us into his presence, quite holy and true.

The “wall” and the “door” seem to advance this idea of protecting the believer. A wall keeps out any intruders that might enter in and defile. A door is an entry point that would separate her, but it’s a controlled entry. She isn’t totally inaccessible, but nevertheless, she’s to be under supervision.

“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ.”

2 Cor. 11:2, (context 2-4)

Again, I believe this speaks pretty clearly about the growing Church, and God’s watchful eye over us. We’ve got no idea of the dangers that we might’ve encountered but for God’s protective hand over us. Perhaps when we arrive in heaven we’ll see these things that could’ve been.

Car wrecks, diseases, dangers–all have missed their attack on us. I believe each will see those things which have been blocked by the Father. He fully intends to keep us protected, and pure and undefiled from every sin and satanic attack. We’re his bride–we belong to no one else but him.

“Anytime we give our hearts to something other than God, we are committing “spiritual adultery” during the period of our betrothal.”

David Guzik, notes on 2 Cor. 11

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Quenching Love, #61

roadaffair.com

“Many waters cannot quench love,
    neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
    all the wealth of his house,
    he would be utterly despised.”

Song of Solomon 8:7, ESV

You can’t buy love. You might try to “buy” love from someone, but even a million dollars (although very nice) couldn’t do it. Love is something that you can’t purchase. Wealth can’t acquire love itself. At best, maybe, wealth just might improve ones chances, but it’s not a given.

Love isn’t a piece of merchandise that can be obtained by one’s wealth.

The passage also tells us that love is durable–no matter how you try, true love can’t be stopped. It’ll survive even in the worst of conditions. There’s nothing that can put a stop to it. Love, if it’s real and authentic, will last, it’ll endure.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13:7

We need this kind of love today. I believe our love for Jesus can’t be stopped. And I know his love for his bride isn’t just infatuation or halfhearted. There is romance at the heart of the gospel–“For God so loved the world….” The Father is passionately in love with us, and that love is what drives him to us.

“To love God is the greatest of virtues; to be loved by God is the greatest of blessings.”

-Unknown

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Permanent, #60

“The rings please”

“Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death;
jealousy is as unrelenting as Sheol.
Love’s flames are fiery flames—
an almighty flame!”

Song of Solomon 8:6

Now this is a goody. She stresses the idea of a “seal.” That suggests that she is looking for something–a stamp of authenticity, of permanence that makes things official. This is not to be a “fly-by-night,” a flitting kind of love. But rather something concrete and solid–something real that won’t evaporate when life gets really miserable.

Seal is mentioned twice–and I know I sound like a broken record–but I believe that it’s there for emphasis. In a sense, it’s permanence, but doubled. We don’t use a seal so much; instead we use a ring of gold which marks us as belonging to someone else. And it reminds us that we’re taken.

“Her love is so total and so strong that she wants their mutual possession of each other to be as lasting as life. It is a strongly poetic demand for ‘until death do us part.’”

Dennis Kinlaw

“Love as strong as death,” and death is pretty much permanent. You could say it’s final, and unless you’re Lazarus, you can’t return from it. It’s the ultimate experience which can’t be escaped. It’s going to happen to you, like it or not. You can’t escape it, no matter how many vitamins you take. Ha!

Jealousy here can be a positive trait, and that seems to me to be its best sense. We get jealous when we think that our love for someone else is threatened. We’re only protective over the things we deeply care about. If it’s really that solid, firm and indissoluble–then we will safeguard it. It’s very valuable.

“He that is jealous is not in love.”

Augustine

God’s love for us, and our love for him–is a forever kind of love. The New Testament uses the word αγάπη, or in English, agape. It’s a God kind of love that’s unconditional. A forever kind that always gives and always protects–it refers to a pure, willful, sacrificial love that intentionally desires another’s highest good.

That’s the love he has for us, and it’s the love we return (or supposed to anyway.)

“Whom should we love, if not Him who loved us, and gave himself for us?”

Augustus Toplady

 

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The Old Apple Tree, #59

Under the Tree

“Under the apple tree I awakened you.
There your mother was in labor with you;
    there she who bore you was in labor.”

Song of Solomon 8:5, ESV

It’s all about family. She’s reminded of her connection to her roots. She understands what she’s all about, and she’s reaching out to her people. The Shulamite is part of a line, and somehow that comforts her.

We simply don’t understand this. It’s an alien concept to us. Why the emphasis on being part of a line? We very seldom think of our ancestors, at least not like the Jewish people did, and maybe that’s an issue, IDK. Just maybe we’re missing something that’s very good.

I recently found my grandmother’s Bible. It’s an old Thompson Chain, KJV of course, and a first edition I think. When I read it I was astounded by the connection that the promises there were in my ESV. They were the same, and what she read and believed were identical to my faith walk. IDK, but that was sort of an epiphany.

Somehow I realized that I was connected.

And in a weird kind of way that gave me a peace and a joy. What she read and believed, was also my faith too. We were connected, and in a strange way I saw that I was part of a lineage of faith in Jesus.

I use a wide margin Bible, and I’ve filled it full of notes I’ve taken over the years. Someday soon, it won’t be mine. It’ll be passed on to one of my kids. Will it minister to them? IDK. I hope so, but honestly, I have no idea. I desperately want it to.

Adam Clarke commented on this particular passage, and it certainly brings us an understanding that we need:

“The bridegroom found her once asleep under an apple tree, and awoke her; and this happened to be the very place where her mother, taken in untimely labour, had brought her into the world.” And here the bridegroom, in his fondness and familiarity, recalls these little adventures to her memory.”

There are many profitable things we miss, and trust me when I say this, but that can be a tragedy. It really doesn’t effect our salvation, that’s a done deal. But it does cause us to disconnect from something real–something from those who have come before us. They endured much, but they walked their faith out through a lifetime, and yet we sometimes minimize this, and we forget their walk.

The text tells us that the mother had labored to bring out a baby. Watching my Lynnie give birth was an amazing experience for me. Her pain was intense, and I was humbled by what she was doing. When Esther was born, I had to stand in a awe–I saw the next generation of Lowes through her pain. Although there were many lessons given that day, I must consider that this was the best.

This verse should leave us a bit undone, especially as we consider it. It’s a bit distant from anything we know and grasp. That’s true. Our spiritual genealogy isn’t really something we consider. But, maybe we need to think about this?

I must consider Hebrews 11–and perhaps the tedious listings that we find in 1 Chronicles. Whether we want to believe it or not, we’re part of a faith continuum. We will certainly die, but we also will leave a legacy to our children, which will be passed on to our grandchildren. Hopefully anyway.

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Leaning Hard, #58

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
    leaning on her beloved?”

Song of Solomon 8:5, ESV

What is your personal wilderness? (Mine has been really incredible–lots of brush and prickly things.) But I’m convinced that you’ve got one too, and it’s not easy, is it? The journey is hard sometimes, and yet there’s a real joy in it (or so they tell me).

Maybe joy becomes our compass through this mess? IDK, maybe it is.

The word for “wilderness” in Hebrew fascinates me. It’s a word to describe the “no-mans-land” between a pasture and woods, it’s a semi-arid chunk of land, full of big rocks–it only grows thistles and thorns, and not much else. It’s hot, and there is no shade to be found anywhere. (Think poison ivy, nettles and a terrible thirst for ice tea.)

It’s difficult to follow Jesus sometimes.

I spent some time on a remote island out in the Gulf of Alaska. There was a narrow stream coming through the rocks, trickling down a steep hill. I saw thousands of red salmon trying hard to swim upstream to spawn. I grabbed one, and my fingers basically smooshed through its body. They were rotting while they struggled up the stream!

Sometimes, we might be just like these salmon.

We’re swimming upstream, driven by an impulse we don’t understand. We follow him because our spirit knows we must follow. We’re driven back sometimes, but still we keep walking. We’re drawn to him, and we can’t escape his call. The salmon have a physical instinct, and we’ve got a spiritual one.

Brennan Manning once said that “those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured.” We follow him, and we don’t know why sometimes. His Spirit draws us to himself–and most of the time we don’t really understand. We just do it. We realize that only Jesus can save us (John 6:67-68).

Two steps forward, one step back–but we shake it off, and keep moving. Why is this?

We’re walking through a real hard wilderness. But he never leaves us. We limp, and we get tired. But, if anything–we’re starting to know how to lean. (Sometimes, it’s the only thing we can do at this point.)

But we’re finding our rest in One who never criticizes or finds fault with us. He matches our limp, and doesn’t get frustrated by our slowness. We walk through the difficult, but we’re leaning on him who loves us so much.

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.”

    C.S. Lewis

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His Right Hand, #57

His Right Hand

“His left hand is under my head,
    and his right hand embraces me!
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    that you not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.”

Song of Solomon 8:3-4, ESV

This is pretty intimate stuff. And honestly I don’t quite know how to present it. Verse 3 is repeated from 2:6, both describing the art of love-making; at least from the man’s point-of-view. The left hand under her head–the right hand is caressing her intimately. Maybe I’m a prude at heart (?) but it’s a stretch for me.

The challenge in verse 4 is the “adjure” thought. BTW, this is the third time this phrase, with this word is used. Many translations use the word “charge.” The phrase is directed to the “daughters of Jerusalem” which often comes across as her witnesses/advisors.

I suppose the thought here deals with the Shulamite’s desire not to be interrupted; whether she’s dreaming or wide-awake, she certainly doesn’t want any intrusion. Whatever, she certainly doesn’t want her daydream them to get involved. She’s insisting that whatever happens, that they stay out of her love-life.

For the believing Christian there should be a definite intimacy. Someone once asked A.W. Tozer what his devotional life was really like–he basically replied that it was too intimate to share it–that, like his relationship with Mrs. Tozer, some intimacies were entirely too private.

George Campbell Morgan once wrote concerning these verses, and it seems to fit here:

“Love is so sacred a thing that it must not be trifled with. It is not to be sought. It stirs and awakens of itself. To trifle with the capacity for it, is to destroy that very capacity.”

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Kisses in Public, #56

“If only I could treat you like my brother,
one who nursed at my mother’s breasts,
I would find you in public and kiss you,
and no one would scorn me.
I would lead you, I would take you,
to the house of my mother who taught me.
I would give you spiced wine to drink
from the juice of my pomegranate.”

Song of Solomon 8:1-2. CSB

They’re wildly in love with each other–for all to see, something quite public (perhaps some might whisper and gossip.) No matter. Love isn’t constrained by things like that. They’re definitely in love, and honestly, the world watches them in amazement. They’re obvious and oblivious, and everyone can see the depth of their passion. It’s truly out of the ordinary, and it can’t be hid.

Get used to it.

In verse 2 we see that they really do belong with each other, and there isn’t a thing that anyone can do about it. That’s really is the power of true love. Nothing is going to get in the way of them being together. They won’t, or can’t be separated. They both realize that they’re connected. (That’s really the only way this verse can be understood.)

The idea of spiced wine is a drink that is fortified, something extra, quite potent and strong–it’s way more intense than the average plonk. It’s wine with a wallop. They really do realize that what they have is special, something that’s quite out of the ordinary. It’s their love that truly intoxicates, and exhilarates them.

Jesus is drawing you to himself.

It’s more than logical, doctrinal or coldly volitional. It’s pure passion, plain and simple. He’s so in love with you; and it’s truly an everlasting kind of intimacy. He gave his life to make you his own. Throughout eternity you’ll be with him. Only then will you start to really understand.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT

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A Weekend of Love, #55

“Come, my love,
let’s go to the field;
let’s spend the night among the henna blossoms.
12 Let’s go early to the vineyards;
let’s see if the vine has budded,
if the blossom has opened,
if the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my caresses.
13 The mandrakes give off a fragrance,
and at our doors is every delicacy,
both new and old.
I have treasured them up for you, my love.”

Song of Solomon 7:11-13, CSB

Young lovers definitely look to the weekends when they’re with each other. There’s something quite precious here, it’s a sweet and precious love, and trust me, nothing ever comes close.

They realize that the Father has brought them together. They can’t imagine being closer, and living out something that’s even more intense than it is. They’re walking out a real passion, sometimes appropriate–and maybe sometimes not so much. Oh well.

This passage has to be understood as a ‘crazy-love’ in mind, or it’ll never be accepted or appreciated at all. No one can explain it, it’s certainly not reasonable, you can’t dissect it, or arrange an autopsy. It’s a bit wild, to be honest. And maybe somewhat out of control–who really knows.

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Fine Wine,#54

Is this enough for you?

“Your mouth is like fine wine—”

Woman

“flowing smoothly for my love,
gliding past my lips and teeth!
10 I am my love’s,
and his desire is for me.”

Song of Solomon 7:9b-10

I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” –W.C. Fields

Wine is often a good thing–in moderation of course. The Scriptures teach this, and although there are some who need to abstain (which is needful), wine is pretty much a good thing. We drink it, cook with it, and pay thousands of dollars for wine that is aged. (Vintage, of course–not the Costco brand.)

The Song of Solomon rejoices in fine wine, and here there’s a comparison between its wonders and the connection to her “mouth.” Wow. What do we do with that? What exactly is King Solomon saying here? (I’ll let you figure that one out.)

Verse 10 is recognized as the key to the entire book/poem. Commentators pretty much agree on that. If you understand this verse, you’ve got everything in a nutshell.

The Message Bible of verse 10 brings much to the table, in a small glass, of course:

“I am my lover’s.
    I’m all he wants. I’m all the world to him!”

Self explanatory, and it carries a tremendous amount of significance. She understands what’s now hers, and maybe most of all, she’s secure in his love.Below is one thought from an old commentary that I think could be helpful when thinking through this verse:

“It is the full, final, ultimate word of love. It expresses complete satisfaction, absolute rest, and uttermost of contentment and peace. There are two elements in it. The first is that of complete abandonment; ‘I am my beloved’s.’ The second is that of the realization that the beloved is satisfied; ‘His desire is toward me.’”

Both Jesus and the believer have a wonderful connection with each other. We are the finest wine to him; and to us, he’s all that we ever need.

There you have it, and I can say nothing more.

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Thy Mouth Like Wine, #53

“How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!
This thy stature is like to a palm tree,
and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
I said, I will go up to the palm tree,
I will take hold of the boughs thereof:
now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine,
and the smell of thy nose like apples;
and the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved,
that goeth down sweetly,
causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.”

Song of Solomon 7:6b-9

For as a young man marries a young woman,
so your sons will marry you;
and as a groom rejoices over his bride,
so your God will rejoice over you.”

Isaiah 62:5, CSB

God is passionate about his people. Love is not strictly a human emotion or characteristic. Its origins begin with God himself. It’s his essential being, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

The passage in Song of Solomon 7 tells us of the king’s love for his Shulamite bride. He is incredibly attracted to her. Using poetic imagery (which is a great way to communicate passion btw) and he weaves something that seems a bit strange to us–but his readers grasp his description, even though it isn’t something we would say.

Each line, every image he uses, explains the why behind this spiritual magnetism. He’s drawn to her, (pulled maybe a better word) but the king delights in her. She’s become extraordinary to him; standing out and incomparable to any other.

We’re pretty much losers. In our own humanity, we are fallen from our truest state of holiness and purity. We’re not attractive in our truest essence. In the spiritual sense there is an ugliness about our fall from grace, and we’re subsequently sinners. We’ve lost something when we made a decision to turn from him.

But St. Augustine made an incredible statement when he said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” I believe that this is solid and true. He understood something.

God loves his church, and it’s not logical.

That’s your your real purpose and reason for existence. You’re meant to explain his love to every person and all of creation. And that love he has for you is meant to transform. Only his love can change you. It starts from him, and then proceeds from us. “We love because he first loved us,” (1 John 4:19).

Receive this love. He finds you beautiful–he’s exhausted the human language to communicate that love in words so you would understand him. He’s sent his son to restore you to himself. The blood of Christ has been shed just for you and your sin. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him has eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Whom shall we love, if not him who loved us, and gave himself for us.”

Augustus Toplady

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Fruit, #52

Vitamin C

“How beautiful you are and how pleasant,
my love, with such delights!
Your stature is like a palm tree;
your breasts are clusters of fruit.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree
and take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes,
and the fragrance of your breath like apricots.
Your mouth[c] is like fine wine—”

Song of Solomon 7:6-9a

Vitamin C. The emphasis in this passage seems to showcase “fruit.” Not only is it mentioned directly twice but we get it obliquely through these verses. Solomon chooses that metaphor to describe her worthiness to him. He sees her as something quite special to him–he is nourished by her presence.

I know it seems odd, but we can grip this passage a little bit tighter if we get somewhat basic. The good old dictionary defines fruit as:

“The sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food. The tropical fruits such as mangoes and papaya.”

That’s simple stuff, for some. But it does help to get the basics down. What she “grows” in her life is nourishment–and not just that, but something tasty, and good for you. Out of her essential being, she gives out good things.

We really should consider what it means to be someone like that. Jesus repeatedly uses the idea of “fruitfulness” as the mark of a true believer. John 15 is loaded with fruit, verse 5 for instance:

“My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.”

The “fruit of the Spirit” is mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. So many references exist, I can’t even “pick” them all!

As believers we produce something, but it doesn’t save us–that is purely the grace of God. But the evidence of being saved is the evidence of fruitfulness.

“What, then, is fruit? In the New Testament we find that fruit is all the things that we may reasonably expect to follow upon our knowing Christ. The good works and godly attitudes that spring from our salvation are our fruit. And the Spirit who fills us is their author. Paul gives us a partial list in Galatians 5:22-23.”

   Tom Wells

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So Funny to Us, #51

“Your neck is like a tower of ivory,
your eyes like pools in Heshbon
by Bath-rabbim’s gate.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel,
the hair of your head like purple cloth—
a king could be held captive in your tresses.”

Song of Solomon 7:4-5

He’s moving up–neck, eyes, nose, head and hair . If anything, he’s definitely methodical. I suppose we need to look for an explanation. He uses language that would make sense to the readers, or listeners of that time. It’s alien to us living in the 21st century, and seems odd, and quite peculiar–but it is, what it is.

Her neck isn’t so much as long, as it’s more to declare her stateliness–jewelry (i.e. necklaces of gold) were draped around it. Her eyes were deep, and maybe blue, and perhaps even mysterious (?). Her nose? I have no idea. Head and hair–maybe a bit more understandable.

But he was very much in love–and that does funny things to people. When you truly love someone, it seems that everything about them is a bit magical, you see things about them that others can’t. That’s the beauty of it all. That’s how God engineered us to be.

Verse 5 seems more interesting to me. “A king could be held captive in your tresses.” What an incredibly powerful statement, and this becomes a bit more understandable to us. The idea of him becoming lost in the way her hair looks–it, I suppose, next to the eyes, is the first things we see about someone. She is a stunner–to him anyway.

How does Jesus see his Church?

Does he focus on the dirt; the smudges and the grime? Or can he see beyond, or through all that? I’m not minimizing sin here–that’s not my intention at all (trust me–I know it all too well), but does he see us as white, and shining? I think scripture supports the latter–I really do.

I still haven’t grasped the enormity of it all–perhaps, maybe, someday I will. But in the meantime I intend to look and consider all of this.

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What Does He See In You? #50

wikipedia.org

“How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
    O noble daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
    the work of a master hand.
Your navel is a rounded bowl
    that never lacks mixed wine.
Your belly is a heap of wheat,
    encircled with lilies.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle.”

Song of Solomon 7:1-3, ESV

You must excuse my enthusiasm about verse 1. For me, it’s all about the sandals. When the prodigal son finally had enough, he decided he needed to go home. His intention was to volunteer to be a simple servant. At least he would have something to eat.

He was a wreck. He arrived with nothing to speak of–nothing, wearing rags.

“But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” (Luke 15:22).

Do we really understand what has happened to us? Is the Father’s love for you really that intense?

I really do digress, and I apologize. But it’s all about those darn sandals. She’s wearing them, they are worth noting. Solomon seems to start at her feet and work up. She is dancing for him–it is private, just between him and her. We dare not intrude in such matters.

“There are also some reasons to believe that this was a private dance for the beloved; mainly, the description suggests that the maiden’s thighsnavelwaist, and breasts could all be seen (at least partially). There is nothing in Biblical or ancient Hebrew culture or in the Song of Solomon itself to suggest that it was a practice for a maiden to dance provocatively before a public group. Given this, it is probable that this is merely a poetic image and not a news report, or a private display for the blessing and benefit of the beloved.”

That’s David Guzek’s take on these verses, and I certainly won’t argue with him. He seems to nail down this passage quite well, and he supports the integrity of the passage.

All I will say is that she is a stunner, a perfect 10. He seems to walk in a continual amazement that she would give herself completely to him. When she dances–delicately twirling with her fans and silky gauzes, he becomes a trainwreck.

How does Jesus really see his bride? Is he as enthralled with you as Solomon was with his Shulamite shepherdess? That, dear one, are two questions that really must be answered. They’re beyond me. What do you honestly think?

“See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are!”

1 John 3:1, CSB

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Return, Return, #49

Others

“Return, return, O Shulammite,
    return, return, that we may look upon you.”

He

“Why should you look upon the Shulammite,
    as upon a dance before two armies?

Song of Solomon 6:13

Don’t worry, this entry will be short (and hopefully sweet).The first part of this verse we see “return” declared three times. The “others” are speaking, we identify the as the “daughters of Jerusalem.” Once in awhile they crop up in our study of this book.

They don’t want her to leave them. The “others” call out to her, and they want her to return to them. They’re appealing to her to quit chasing king Solomon, and come back to them.

I hope I’m not over-spiritualizing this, but there seems to be a pull back to where we started from. Sometimes, even from those that we least expect it, will want us to return back from our walk of discipleship. It seems that Jesus madeit clear that we can’t love mother or father, wife or son more than him, (Matthew 10:37). Probably this is a good idea when we consider our first-love relationship with him.

The second part of this verse is a bit of a challenge, I’ve heard different interpretations of this thought. Perhaps the best is that this deals with the internal battle we have within as we begin to follow him. It does seem that fits best. The first part of this verse has dealt with the external, and now this deals with the internal.

(I disavow any interpretation of this verse.)

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It’s Springtime, #48

She

11 “I went down to the nut orchard
    to look at the blossoms of the valley,
to see whether the vines had budded,
    whether the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 Before I was aware, my desire set me
    among the chariots of my kinsman, a prince.”

Song of Solomon 6:11-12

What a wonderful time of the year–springtime! I grew up in Northern Wisconsin, where the winters could be brutal. There was something truly wonderful when the snowdrifts melted and the daffodils poked their heads up. When spring rolled in, I was pumped.

I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years, and I loved it–mostly. Around Christmas time I must admit I chafed at putting lights on a palm tree. There were no discernable seasons, and although that may seem wonderful, it had its downside. I needed seasons. I must have a winter to appreciate the spring. (I know that seems weird.)

The trip to the nut fields were her breakout from winter to spring. She had been looking ahead, and really wanted to see if spring had finally arrived. She was tired of snow drifts and the below zero weather. (It really never got that bad in Israel, but it could be miserable nevertheless.)

Spring was about to roll into her life; her relationship with her boyfriend was coming to life–finally. Her long winter was over, and she looked forward to the blossoms and blooms. The Message translation brings a wonderful clarity to this passage:

“One day I went strolling through the orchard,
    looking for signs of spring,
Looking for buds about to burst into flower,
    anticipating readiness, ripeness.
Before I knew it my heart was raptured,
    carried away by lofty thoughts!”

(vv. 11-12)

In our walk with Jesus, we’ll go through seasons, (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). I know that this isn’t always understood, but it isn’t always “springtime-in-Jesus.” I only wish it were different–but at times it can be a long, hard winter–and it seems like it’ll never end. The spiritual walk isn’t always fresh-flowers easy, it’s not quite that predictable.

Let’s not deceive ourselves. At times it just might be a miserable walk, and not quite what you expected–but I encourage you to recognize this, and try to understand where you are today in your discipleship. It may not be daffodils quite yet, but they’re getting ready to pop out of the cold ground. Just wait and see!

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime.”

     Martin Luther

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An Army With Banners, #47

“There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
    and virgins without number.
My dove, my perfect one, is the only one,
    the only one of her mother,
    pure to her who bore her.
The young women saw her and called her blessed;
    the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.

10 “Who is this who looks down like the dawn,
    beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun,
    awesome as an army with banners?”

Song of Solomon 6:8-10

She is the best, the prettiest and Solomon’s ultimate companion. She is beyond comparison–think Proverbs 31 and you get the idea of the worth she brings him. The Shulamite can’t be compared to other women. King Solomon realizes that marriage to her is the ultimate honor he will ever receive.

“An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.”

Proverbs 31:1

This passage (vv, 1-10) explain what she is to him. Verse 8 tells us of her uniqueness. There seems to be levels of intimacy here: Shulamite; queens; concubines; to virgins. All four levels belong to Solomon–but they’re not really equal.

Verse 9 repeats the thought “of my only one” three times!

Both dove and pure are her distinct qualities. Both are obviously referring to a standard of being sanctified, or completely set apart from the others. The dove is special, as it only can see one thing at a time. That speaks intensely of having Jesus as one’s first love (Revelation 2:4-5, MSG).

But this is not a competition. There isn’t envy we see among the four levels. Each understand the degrees of the Christian walk. There are levels here of intimacy and closeness that each understand. Also, it doesn’t mean you’re forever cemented in a spot–you can move up, and hopefully never down.

Verse 10 though is one of my favorites. Again, she’s quite special. Solomon seeks to describe her to us–he states things about her character that reveals why she is so highly esteemed.

The dawn–the presence of light overcoming darkness. The moon–no light of its own, but reflecting his glory to a watching world. The sun–providing warmth and light to all. An army with banners–spiritual warfare and a glorious obedience to him.

There you have it, my interpretation–feeble as it is.

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Eyes That Overwhelm Me, 6:4-6, #46

He

“You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
    as lovely as Jerusalem,
    as majestic as troops with banners.
Turn your eyes from me;
    they overwhelm me.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
    descending from Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep
    coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin,
    not one of them is missing.

Song of Solomon 6:4-6. NIV

Her beauty stuns him. He’s completely overwhelmed and totally undone, he’s looking for words to describe her. He chooses metaphors that we really don’t get, descriptions that seem a little odd. But the emotions of the human heart haven’t changed. Love is still love, and beauty is still beautiful. Even if our words have changed.

He chooses concepts that we do understand though–words like beautiful, darling, lovely and majestic. But we really don’t understand the nouns–Tirzah, Jerusalem and troops carrying banners (and that’s just verse 4!) And yet that’s how he communicates his love to her.

But we do get verse 5, at least the first half. “Turn your eyes from me; they overwhelm me.” Love still does funny things to each one of us–but “eyes” still convey love. When we’re really in love we obviously see the outward, but true love sees the inward too.

Again, his descriptions are funny, and believe me–they get stranger–goats, sheep and a mouthful of teeth!? And yet he carefully weaves these ideas that still have concepts that are vaguely relatable, but still, I have to admit, they are hysterical. If I tell my wife that her hair is like a “flock of goats” she is liable to punch me.

The metaphors maybe outdated, but the ideas behind them are not. We still understand the real life concepts like beauty, love and true sight. These are concrete–they still ring true today. Time has not diminished them. They are bedrock solid.

But notice, it’s the eyes that get him. He sees her eyes, and that’s all it takes–they overwhelm him. A person’s eyes still reveal love and kindness, they reveal the person that’s really inside, which is something we can’t really hide. Girls still wear mascara, and sometimes we’ll use eye drops, and sunglasses; especially if we’ve partied too hard the night before.

He sees her love, and I really believe that Jesus does see the love that a believer has for him. Often preachers make love a one-way deal. God loves me (John 3:16). That is true–I know that God loves me, that is indisputable. But, do we really ever return his love? Just maybe, he’s overcome by my gaze at him? Is that heretical?

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.”

1 John 5:3, NLT

Is Jesus overwhelmed by your loving gaze at him?

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Together in the Garden of Love, 6:2-3 #45

She

2 “My beloved has gone down to his garden
    to the beds of spices,
to graze in the gardens
    and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
    he grazes among the lilies.”

Song of Solomon 6:2-3, ESV

The garden in the Song of Solomon always has represented true intimacy. It’s a quiet, gentle and a cherished place, and most importantly, the favorite spot of true rest and gentle communion. It’s also the place the Lord went to pray, with his band of sleepy disciples, John 18:1.

It’s a place of wonder and joy for the believer (at least, that’s what it supposed to be) and where there is a “bed of spices.” In the “garden,” which is mentioned twice for emphasis in these verses, we discover that the Shulamite is drawn to this place of “spices.” A major component of the anointing oil used in the temple was made up of spices, (Exodus 25:6).

He leads his flock–he after all is the good shepherd, and he’ll assemble them together, and keep a watchful eye over them, (John 10:4).

Lilies, again are mentioned twice in these two verses (13x in the Bible). These lilies seem to connect with the sense of beauty as well. For the true believer it’s more than a place of cozy fellowship–it’s the place where righteousness is given out freely. Jesus uses this idea (using the example of king Solomon himself) as an example to us of his total care for each one, (Luke 12:27).

Verse 3 is a pivotal verse, it implies an “ownership” or commitment to each other. I think it takes on a feeling of consecration. The real believer who is intimate with the Lord Jesus understands that they are fully connected to him, and wonder of wonders, he is completely committed to us.

This is critical. We’re completely his, and he intends to be our total provider–he meets us–both justifies, and sanctifies us. We are his, and he is ours. And no one can pluck us out of his hand. What a wonderful thought of total and complete commitment. We are his!

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:27-28, KJV

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Getting Help, 6:1, #44

Others

“Where has your beloved gone,
    O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
    that we may seek him with you?”

Song of Solomon 6:1

Sarcasm is defined “as the use of irony to mock or convey contempt” (Merriam-Webster.). Maybe that’s what these ladies are doing, but, it could also be a statement of support. IDK. But, personally, I tend to think that the first one is correct. But I’m rather cynical when I look at fallen people. Different commentaries say different things.

Sometimes we do and say things that we regret later. Maybe these women who attacked the Shulamite regretted their words? We reveal a depth of our spirits when we say things without really thinking. It seems sin effects both the accuser and the accused in different ways.

“The words of a person’s mouth are deep waters, a flowing river, a fountain of wisdom.”

Proverbs 18:4

I suppose the tone of the words–maybe the perceived emotion is the clincher.

But it does seem that they want to help her find him. The last part of this verse there seems to be a willingness to get involved in her search. And probably that’s why we need the body of Christ. Gifted (and not so gifted) people who will reach into our lives and help us out.

That’s what the Body is for. We need encouragement at times to find our beloved (Jesus) and to enter into deeper levels of intimacy.

“I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.”

   Charles Spurgeon

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My Beloved–My Friend, #43

“His cheeks are like beds of spice
    yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies
    dripping with myrrh.
14 His arms are rods of gold
    set with topaz.
His body is like polished ivory
    decorated with lapis lazuli.
15 His legs are pillars of marble
    set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
    choice as its cedars.
16 His mouth is sweetness itself;
    he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,
    daughters of Jerusalem.”

Song of Solomon 5:13-16

This longer passage seems to be a continuation of the previous thought. It more or less describes the “attributes” or characteristics of the girl’s beloved. She finds connections with the precious things–the things that she has see or can identify with.

Spice, lilies, gold, topaz, ivory, etc. All are precious in their own particular way–all have beauty, and all are valuable. We do well to see our beloved in this same way. Jesus is beautiful to the first-love believer. He’s one of a kind, and we’re blessed when we see him in this way.

I’d like to focus on the last verse though–it sort of sums up this entire passage.

There is something wonderful about the way Jesus speaks to our soul–perhaps we hear his “sweetness” through his promises. Those promises that we find in scripture feed the heart.

We grow when he speaks those pleasant promises.

“He is altogether lovely,” is the bride’s revelation of who he is to her. It’s what he is to her spirit. The believer realizes that Christ is supreme over everything. They’ve learned that his promises are the intimate ways he speaks to our scrambled hearts. That seems to be the way he changes us!

“God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. “Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.”

2 Peter 1:4

“This is my friend.” When we think of friendship we most often think of something earthly, or human. But there is much more to this–he is more than our savior, he is our friend! John 15:15.

She “witnesses” to everyone; she can’t help it. He’s so wonderful that she can’t stop speaking about him–this is ‘first-love’ discipleship. Many believers don’t witness because they’ve lost their true love somewhere down the line. But it seems to me anyway, it really does come down to that–when you truly love someone you glow, and you can’t help but talk to others about that one who you love.

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He is So Handsome, 5:10-12, #42

She

10 “My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
    distinguished among ten thousand.
11 His head is the finest gold;
    his locks are wavy,
    black as a raven.
12 His eyes are like doves
    beside streams of water,
bathed in milk,
    sitting beside a full pool.”

Song of Solomon 5:10-12

He’s so handsome! He truly is.

There’s a beauty seen by the believer in Christ. He has become our focus, and if he isn’t, we must take a second look.

“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.”

Hebrews 12:2, GW

The world can’t understand–it mystifies, and maybe intrigues them. Many declare it’s nonsense, others believe it’s psychological. But for the true believer it’s how we live. We should be in love with him–he needs to become our first love all over again.

Some Christians get confused. They have assimilated a lie–they look to politics, philosophy or religion to direct them. They’ve become confused by a satanic induced lie. These things twist their faith into something that doesn’t quite attain a “first love.” Jesus said that he will “spew them out of his mouth,” whatever that means–IDK.

I’ve found that these are the hardest to reach. And actually, unbelievers are easier to talk to. I remember working with a church in the inner-city of San Francisco. We would do street closures, and this particular church would lead us in worship. They were anointed, and we looked forward to working with them.

But over time they lost their “first-love.” They became heavily involved in politics and began to pronounce a guilt ridden message instead of lifting up Jesus. Perhaps the evil one focused his attention on them–specifically because he hates the worship of Jesus. This church disbanded soon after. I still grieve over them.

Often true worshipers become the focus of much evil and unmitigated hatred.

I regret to inform you that some believers have lost their first love for the Lord. They have gotten involved with other things–even good things. I know that there teachers of the Word who no longer center on Jesus. I know Bible college teachers who have become so wrapped up in political involvement that they have lost their passion. As gifted as they are, they have abdicated their love, and they probably should not be teaching young believers true worship.

Please dear ones, return. I pray for you to discover him again.

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The Beauty of the Beloved, 5:9, #41

We Look to Our Beloved

Others

 “What is your beloved more than another beloved,
    O most beautiful among women?
What is your beloved more than another beloved,
    that you thus adjure us?”

Song of Solomon 5:9

What exactly makes Jesus so special? This verse is a reminder that her beloved is more precious than anything else. The daughters of Jerusalem ask some pointed questions–they are not being critical, they want to understand. Who is he, and why are you so in love with him?

I like how Eugene Peterson translates this in the Message–it clarifies and simplifies:

“What’s so great about your lover, fair lady? What’s so special about him that you beg for our help?”

(v. 9).

The world is incapable of understanding our love for him. They’re mystified about the believer’s devotion. They can’t understand why we adore a man who we can’t see.

The ESV repeats itself, for emphasis I think. “Beloved” is used 4x which stresses the importance of this idea. My dictionary defines beloved as “a much loved person.” And for the believer that’s what he is–a love that is superior to anything and everything.

We look to the cross, where the son of God died for our souls. He has given us forgiveness of every sin–and eternal life to boot. We have found our truest love. And that’s why he is so precious to us.

“Whom should we love, if not Him who loved us, and gave himself for us?”

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Lovesick, 5:8, #40

“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    if you find my beloved,
that you tell him
    I am sick with love.”

Song of Solomon 5:8

Her name was Arla, she was the first girl I ever kissed, we were on a field trip and we were in the sixth grade. I will always remember that kiss.

Up to now, the Shulamite has known an extreme love for him–but now it’s the absence of love she must deal with.

This really is a continuation of 5:2-7, (entry #39). In that passage we’ve learned that she resisted his presence, and refused him entrance.

Being lovesick is something that we all go through, at least once anyway. It’s never pleasant but it’s part of being human I guess.

There is a spiritual component here–there are times when he withdraws from us–usually because of sin or disobedience. Some call it dryness. Jesus waits for us to respond to him. He never forces his love on us, it’s a choice we must make.

He loves us all the time, but we can ignore him. We must want his love in order to walk in it.

To love God is the greatest of virtues; to be loved by God is the greatest of blessings.

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Beaten, 5:6-8, #39

“I opened to my beloved,
    but my beloved had turned and gone.
My soul failed me when he spoke.
I sought him, but found him not;
    I called him, but he gave no answer.
The watchmen found me
    as they went about in the city;
they beat me, they bruised me,
    they took away my veil,
    those watchmen of the walls.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    if you find my beloved,
that you tell him
    I am sick with love.”

Song of Solomon 5:6-8

She was too late. Her beloved had left, and it devastated her. Her negligence in vv. 2-3 was evident. He left without seeing her, and she had missed her chance at being with him.

Verse 6 explains the Shulamite’s reaction to his withdrawal. She missed her chance. She changed her mind, but it was too late. We see her reaction, and her heart is broken. She now wants desperately to be with him, she “sought” and “called” out his name, but it was too late.

Apparently she left her house, went out in the streets where she hoped to find him. She became a real seeker. Verse 7 is disturbing. The watchmen found her, and we see their brutality. Rather then helping her, they attacked her. She was beaten by those who were supposed to protect her.

In verse 8 we see a dramatic response. Rather than dwelling on her mistreatment by the watchmen (and her bruises) she seeks help from the “daughters of Jerusalem.” She realizes she needs help from them, and asks for their assistance, which I suppose took a fair amount of humility.

“She is sick with love.” That is her motivation. She really endured a lot, but she continues to seek him. She refuses to give up her search–she’s quite persistent. She seems to regret her laziness and hardness of heart.

There are consequences to her negligence.

The implications to all of this are clear. Sin and selfishness can infect a Christian’s life. We know that Jesus never abandons us. We can grieve him, and refuse his intimacy, but it comes at a terrible cost to our souls. When we ignore him, find foolish excuses, it comes at a great cost.

Being near to him is paramount to the believer. We dare not diminish his presence. He often withdraws when we ignore him. We become vulnerable (and bruised) when we try to justify our actions.

I don’t think he ever falls out of love with us. His absence can be a good thing–it clarifies and focuses. We now realize that to be separated from him is a terrible thing. We now realize that to ignore him is a grief to our hearts and spirits. The believer needs his presence.

“Remember that if you are a child of God, you will never be happy in sin. You are spoiled for the world, the flesh, and the devil. When you were regenerated there was put into you a vital principle, which can never be content to dwell in the dead world. You will have to come back, if indeed you belong to the family.”

     Charles Spurgeon

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Liquid Myrrh, 5:4-6, #38

Solid and Liquid Myrrh

“My beloved put his hand to the latch,
    and my heart was thrilled within me.
I arose to open to my beloved,
    and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with liquid myrrh,
    on the handles of the bolt.”I opened to my beloved,
    but my beloved had turned and gone.
My soul failed me when he spoke.
I sought him, but found him not;
    I called him, but he gave no answer.”

Song of Solomon 5:4-6

Myrrh was significant. It was used in different ways, and it was mentioned in several places in the scripture. In Genesis 37:25 we find the first mention of it. Exodus 30:23–25 specifies that Moses was to use 500 shekels of liquid myrrh as a core ingredient of the sacred anointing oil in the temple services.

Although it was rare, it was used to prepare the dead before burial. It was also given to those who were condemned to death by crucifixion. Myrrh is a low grade opium. Drugged wine was probably partaken of by the two who were crucified, but when the Roman soldiers wanted to give it to Jesus, he refused it.

“And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.”

Mark 15:23

The “bundle of myrrh” was essentially a “bag” worn by some women as a perfume.

“My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts.” (1:13).

Today, liquid myrrh is commonly used as an essential oil in a diffuser for health purposes.

The issue in this passage is one of seeking. She finally responds to him, but it’s too late. He has already left her doorway.

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Almost Asleep, 5:2-3 #37

“I slept, but my heart was awake.
A sound! My beloved is knocking.
“Open to me, my sister, my love,
    my dove, my perfect one,
for my head is wet with dew,
    my locks with the drops of the night.”
I had put off my garment;
    how could I put it on?
I had bathed my feet;
    how could I soil them?”

Song of Solomon 5:2-3

She’s not quite awake–stuck in that half-way zone, in between sleep and awareness. Suddenly, she’s alerted. Someone is knocking at her door. Someone is speaking to her.

Jesus is always seeking. He keeps knocking, and knocking.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

Rev. 3:20, NLT

Those wonderful nouns: sister, love, dove and perfect one. All quite descriptive of the believer’s relationship to the Shepherd. His love isn’t something token, or casual. He loves her very much. However, she could care less.

He stands gracefully stands outside, even if he gets soaking wet. Jesus has come at a great personal cost. How valuable our souls must be to him. He will continue to knock, over and over.

But there seems to be a lot of excuses. Rather than opening the door to the the One who really loves her the most, she finds “reasons” for not getting up and letting him in. There seems to be a contrast between his discomfort and her lackadaisical attitude.

Much of our responding to his persistence is a lack of desire. She proves that her love really isn’t love–but basically a lack of desire. She rather stay in bed with her electric blanket. He knocks–she dozes.

There are many excuses to refuse him entrance. Rather than rejoicing and fellowshipping, she seems to care less about his love. We can always find “reasons” for not getting out of “bed.”

There is a kind of gospel being proclaimed today which conveniently accommodates itself to the spirit of the age, and makes no demand for godliness.

     Duncan Campbell

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My Garden, His Garden, 4:16, #36

“Awake, O north wind,
    and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
    let its spices flow.

She

“Let my beloved come to his garden,
    and eat its choicest fruits.”

The garden thought continues. When the wind comes, the scents spread. Perhaps that’s what trials accomplish. They were never meant to destroy us, but properly understood and accepted, they widen the scent to everyone who can understand.

 “As the breezes of spring are the fragrant messengers of a garden sent to lure the outside world within, so now she requests those breezes to blow upon her garden and bring her lover to her… With poetic beauty and propriety she asks her lover to possess her.”

Glinton’s Commentary

The “choicest fruits” suggest the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” that flow out from the life that is really submitted to him. The sign that you’re authentic, is his presence inside you now.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

“Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.”

 Charles Spurgeon

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Orchards of Pomegranates, 4:13-15, #35

Pomegranates

Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty
He

“Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
    with all choicest fruits,
    henna with nard,
nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
    with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
    with all choice spices—
a garden fountain, a well of living water,
    and flowing streams from Lebanon.”

Song of Solomon 4:13-15

She’s compared to a garden, and what is listed here are those things that have an aroma all their own. The list in this passage is broad, and there’s a personal poetic inventory of

Her shoots are loaded, well-tended orchards of different fruits. Variety is her She’s a garden of wonders

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The Locked Garden, 4:11-12, #34

Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty

He

“Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
    honey and milk are under your tongue;
    the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
    a spring locked, a fountain sealed.”

Song of Solomon 4:11-12

It wasn’t the French who introduced french kissing. Don’t be surprised! It’s been part of romance for thousands of years. Looking at verse 11, we find nectar mentioned–it’s what the flowers produce to attract the bees that pollinate–and it’s what they bees use to make honey. Her lips dripped the stuff.

He discovers that “honey and milk” are under her tongue–now whatever that means? And, if we dig out the musty old commentaries, we find the Hebrew word for her clothes is not the outer garments, but instead they mean the undergarments, or negligee that she wore. (It was her wedding night, after all.)

The whole scene is one of powerful intimacy. We see much is made of sights, smells and tastes–his senses are pretty much on overload. He’s a poet, and a writer–so much connects with him on this visceral level. And love of course, is what matters here. And my goodness, Solomon is smitten.

Our words are a critical part of our lives. What we say brings life, or causes death. For the transformed believer, we’ve hopefully come to understand this. The book of James in the New Testament, clearly explains the power behind the things we say. Go and read James 3, the next time you need a jolt.

Notice these three phrases–she is “a garden locked”, and “a spring locked” and “a fountain sealed.” These speak very wonderfully, mind you, to her virginity. She has set herself apart for her husband. She is someone who has learned how to be chaste, set apart exclusively for her lover.

Being chaste is a mindset, and we find that it’s far more than physical effort, or hormones. It’s learning how to walk in abstinence, mentally–and that seems to be the real humdinger for us today. We’re saturated with “unchasteness”, and sometimes it’s really hard to be set-apart people in our culture.

Christians get it turned around I think. We believe that if we can be disciplined enough, we’ll become holy. But the opposite is true; if we are truly in love–chastity, or obedience for that matter, isn’t a real problem–as a matter of fact, it becomes easier. The deeper Christian life is one of ‘first love’ passion–discipleship you could say, is merely an after-thought–our response to being his bride.

Authentic, real-deal holiness, is what you get when first-love commitment is present. Holiness comes from the heart’s passion to be his alone. It really doesn’t come any other way. We must fall in love, again and again. Every single day from now on.

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” 

2 Corinthians 11:2

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A Man in Love, 4:9-10, #33

Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty

He

“You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
    you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
    with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
    How much better is your love than wine,
    and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!”

Song of Solomon 4:9-10

She blew him away— he uses the word “captivated” twice–perhaps for emphasis? Solomon can’t get enough of her. It’s her eyes that have captured him, they are like flashing jewels, they only intensify the light –“Lucy in the Sky, like Diamonds,” seems to be the 60s version? (And I’m definitely showing my age).

The “glance” really needs to be thought through. King Solomon recalls the moment when their eyes met from across the room. She only takes a quick peek at him, but he sees her, and that look she has–man–it drives him crazy.

Sometimes, when we come close to him, we never see him in all his true and magnificent glory–and it’s just a little bit more than we can handle. We only get a tiny peek (for now anyway.) Perhaps one of the lessons from the transfiguration of Jesus was when the three disciples got their crash course in glory.

In 1 Corinthians we start to understand our spiritual sight.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

Verse 10 is crucial. Love is mentioned twice, for emphasis. Tasty wine, enchanting fragrances and precious oils are the only thoughts that come close to expressing his heart. It’s how he sees her. These are clear poetic metaphors, and we need to acknowledge that, but what she communicates –with just a peek, mind you–is simply more than he can handle.

We see him short-circuiting–a melt-down, sort of. There’s no doubt in my mind that Solomon could tone it down, and pace himself–but he can’t help it. I’ve tried over and over in this silly blog, to emphasize the great love that Jesus Christ has for your soul. You must learn to accept it.

It’s outrageous to really believe that Jesus is lovesick for you, and I know that can be very, very hard to understand. But you must, if you’re going to follow him.

He really, really loves you.

“One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side.”

John 13:23

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Absolutely No Flaw, 4:6-8, #32

Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty

He

“Until the day breathes
    and the shadows flee,
I will go away to the mountain of myrrh
    and the hill of frankincense.
You are altogether beautiful, my love;
    there is no flaw in you.
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
    come with me from Lebanon.
Depart from the peak of Amana,
    from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
    from the mountains of leopards.”

Song of Solomon 4:6-8

I admit that this passage can be a bit obscure. But in verse 6 the day comes alive, and the troubles of the long night of the shepherdess are completely dismissed. She wakes up to find the sun up, and Solomon coming up from the wilderness in a glory she has never seen before. And everyone is staring at him.

Keep in mind these are his words, and not hers–that helps us figure things out. A trip to the mountains is necessary, and he wants her to travel to tall spires of myrrh, and look down on hills of frankincense. There is a sense of seclusion here, a trip with her to quiet places–they’re fragrant, and they’re alone.

Verse 7 is the real zinger though, as Solomon now becomes the inspector general–he sees her up close, and he’s got to admit that she is flawless. I suppose it’s a bit like God seeing the simple believer clean, pure and holy because of the blood of Christ.

 “The word [flaw] is used only eighteen times in the Old Testament… generally in describing the perfect sacrificial animals which were required.”

Carr’s comments on verse 7

The key to verse 8 is “come with me,” is and it’s repeated twice for emphasis. The places mentioned are all found in the north country. Solomon wants her to follow him out of the danger of lions, and hungry leopards (it’s a wild country, sort of a Serengeti!). She needs to move out of this danger, and join him.

There’s much here that speaks in a kind of code to us as believers. Jesus has cleansed us, and he wants to take us to a place all alone with him. He’s calling us to follow him, from the wild to a place of safety. That really is the core of our walk, isn’t it?

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Matthew 10:38, ESV

Discipleship is good for us, it’s our true calling, and it’s where we belong. We are created for this. We are built to be his disciples, and we follow him because he loves us so much.

“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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The Hard and the Gentle, 4:4-5, #31

Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty

He

“Your neck is like the tower of David,
    built in rows of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
    all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle,
    that graze among the lilies.”

Song of Solomon 4:4-5

Leather and lace. The hard and the gentle–there’s a holy contrast of warrior’s shields and soft breasts here; we see walls of solid stone, and graceful gazelles. All reveal to us something about her character, and he picks his words gracefully and thoughtfully.

I see real muscle here, something that stirs me up deep inside. I see grand and heroic shields hanging on stone walls. Each one gold and shiny, reflecting the Judaean sun. They speak to me of strength, might and honor. (Maybe it’s a man-thing?)

Think the number two here–in all of this testosterone we suddenly find there’s two breasts that are very much like two fawns–and two very wonderful gazelles! Solomon doesn’t seem very prudish about any of this. He boldly (and descriptively) picks out these strange metaphors– I sort of wonder about his salvation!? (Just kidding, folks!)

I see a spiritual meaning here that might be nutty to some. But the division in this passage seems to describe the Church who is walking his path. There are shields on the walls–and which alert warriors who constantly patrol. There’s a definite militancy here.(Ephesians 6).

But there is also tenderness and gentleness available as well to us as well, it seems to me that is one of the ministry of his Church; there are many hurting people who really struggle. There is too much pain in the world that we need to touch.

The body must find them and bring them–the lost ones can be too spiritually sick to find the grace and healing power of Jesus. There were some who were carried by friends into the presence of him. (Mark 2:2-5). Most of the time it’s the last thing we’ll consider though.

“Please God, make your followers strong, and gentle to all we meet. Let your Church display both–may we become full of power, and oh so very gentle. Teach us how to be a shield; and may we also show off your kind grace to the lost. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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She’s Got Such Lovely Teeth, 4:2-3, #30

Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty

He

“Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
    that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
    and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
    and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
    behind your veil.”

Song of Solomon 4:2-3

She still has all her teeth. I suppose this is amazing since there was absolutely zero dentists to be found in Israel. No fillings, no braces, no dentures–and yet this shepherdess’ teeth were an astonishing thing to Solomon. He makes the observation that her teeth are white and are perfect.

It seems like her face (very pretty) is Solomon’s focus, teeth, lips and cheeks (the facial kind) are what he notices about her. Scientists tell us that our faces are what other’s see first. I suppose that is why women wear make-up? IDK.

Flocks get washed; this causes the wool to be cleaner and much more valuable. Each ewe has twins, and they don’t ever miscarry. Her lips are beautifully scarlet, and her cheeks are like pomegranates. Ooh, la la! What a knock-out she must have been.

Please be convinced about this—the Father is very much aware of us–every detail is noticed, nothing escapes scrutiny. He sees us completely and thoroughly, and even the smallest hidden feature is seen. And, it spite of him knowing us completely, He still loves us–he is love (and we aren’t.)

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!”

Psalm 139:17, ESV

Jesus sees us, and he knows us fully. His love has caused him to give his life for you. He looks over our somewhat wretched lives, and still is crazy about us. And yes, he hates our sin and wants us to give it up. But even in our fallenness, his love is still can’t be measured.

“God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”

C.S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain”

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Doves Eyes–To Someone Who Thinks She Teaches Others to Worship God, 4:1, #29

Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
    behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
    behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
    leaping down the slopes of Gilead.”

Song of Solomon 4:1

Well here we go–doves and goats. Wonderful poetic topics, but if we compare them to today’s metaphors and similes, they’re downright silly. We can only try to understand, but my wife will not be happy with me if I compare her to a goat. (I’ve been married for many years–and I’m somewhat wiser than that.)

In the first sentence is a repeater–an idea is being emphasized for our consideration. “You are beautiful” highlights his heart and passion. He finds her incredibly attractive–and the following two sentences are his main focuses.

“Dove’s eyes.” In scripture we understand that a dove describes the Holy Spirit. If that’s the case here, we start to grasp that the bride understands things that are supernatural, she sees the true Kingdom, things that many others can’t see.

It’s interesting, but a dove can only see one thing at a time.

I’m thinking of a person who’s teaching Bible students how to worship God, but she’s caught in a political agenda. She’s confused by what the Kingdom of God is, and what will be, and what is coming–his Kingdom is the real “storm.” She’s become lost in politics, and hasn’t realized that the Kingdom is real, and it’s all that counts.

The Lord Jesus, not your political stance, is all that really matters.

Your politics doesn’t quite cut it, your philosophy is trashed. He needs to be your first (and only) love. Please dear one, consider what I’m saying. There are those who influence others in the body–some are pastors, and some teach in a Bible college, but most love Jesus.

You think you’re doing good things for God, but without a first love for him, you can produce nothing that’ll really last. You’re not really touching hearts for him anymore. You’re not really reaching others for God, instead you’ve minimized a sincere love for him. You have influence, but it’s not a dove’s eyes kind of influence!

You need “doves eyes.” You’ve lost your vision, you’ve misplaced your first love. You’re now pushing others away, whether you realize it or not. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve lost any real impact that you once had.

Please, I beg you, return to your first love.

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He is Crowned, 3:11, #28

Solomon Arrives for the Wedding

“Go out, O daughters of Zion,
    and look upon King Solomon,
with the crown with which his mother crowned him
    on the day of his wedding,
    on the day of the gladness of his heart.

Song of Solomon 3:11

Bathsheba is Solomon’s mother. Her story is a fairly grim reminder of David’s sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11). And yet from this illicit marriage between King David and her–Solomon would be born. And you know, that whole affair is rather ugly, and yet, somehow, God turns it all into good.

In the first part of this verse we see that Solomon becomes the center of attention. And rightly so. The ladies are called to see him, “look upon King Solomon,” and view the crown that he’s wearing. A spiritual view is significant–Jesus, who sits on the throne of the total universe now wears the King’s crown–and he has total authority over all there is.

The crown is mentioned twice. The wedding day was also a semi-coronation for Solomon, with Bathsheba (!) performing the honors. Again I suppose, God always brings good from the bad. He redeems what we consider as loss and sin. We must believe that he is can redeem even our worst sins; and he uses repented sin to build us, and his Kingdom.

God takes even our mistakes and brings good out of them.

It’s important to note that this is Solomon’s second crowning. He had already made a king before this, but now he wouldn’t be crowned with a jewel-studded one–that had already happened. Many assume that this second crown was a flowered wreath. But who knows? Maybe this prefigures his omnipotence. But he is also our gentle and gracious Savior. Perhaps he qualifies for both?

The wedding was a wonderfully glad one. Solomon’s heart was profoundly affected by the whole experience. Between the crowning and the wedding it was one of those remarkable days you can never forget. It’s good when God blesses us that way.

And of course there is a spiritual application here as well–Jesus is not a dour, or grim Savior of sour saints. Rather he rejoices over us, he has won us for eternity–the Church is fully his forever and ever. I imagine him to be excited, and just maybe doing cart-wheels upon the golden floor of his throne room.

“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

Isaiah 62:5

“The joy of the Lord is [now] your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

A good-hearted study on the joy God has over us: Zephaniah 3:17; Luke 15:23-24, 32; John 15:11.

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Posts of Silver, 3:9-10, #27

Solomon Arrives for the Wedding

“King Solomon made himself a carriage
    from the wood of Lebanon.
10 He made its posts of silver,
    its back of gold, its seat of purple;
its interior was inlaid with love
    by the daughters of Jerusalem.”

Song of Solomon 3:9-10

Here comes the entourage, arriving in glory. This particular passage is somewhat detailed–it describes the interior of the litter primarily. Wood, posts, roof and seat are all seen and admired. There’s a glory to the king, and it’s definitely not just on the outside, but it’s on the interior as well.

There’s silver and gold and purple, all the emblems of a king who is aware that he is indeed royal. He exudes power and authority, and yet, he intends to marry a lowly shepherdess. We see him coming up through the wilderness, just to be with her.

In all of this opulence we must understand that she would share it with him. As a king, she is about to be a queen. She will share (to a degree anyway) the glory of being royal.

“It also shows that the maiden respected and honored her beloved and saw his strength and authority as a good thing, not a threatening thing – because now it was also, in a sense, her strength and authority, because she would be one with him.”

David Guzak

There is a whole lot we can pull from this passage.

  • Our King is powerful. He reigns and none can dispute his rule.
  • He is seeking us. He will come to us through a wilderness even, but he does come.
  • He shares his royalty and purpose with each of us. The believer walks in the authority he shares with us.
  • The shepherdess becomes significant because of the Kings love for her.

We belong to him. He shares all that he has with you, the simple believer–the shepherdess who is living close to the wilderness, and yet our King meets us. He will do whatever it takes to find and bless you.

The thing that strikes me the most is that he seeks us out. Too often I view my discipleship as a “Bryan thing.” I think that following him means me doing all the work, and yet it is he who is the active seeker. I forget that far to often. He is actively trying to find me.

Jesus loves even me, he seeks me until he finds me. When he finds me I share his power and authority, but you must understand, all of this really belongs to him. He is looking for me, searching and seeking. Scripture is full of verses that reinforce this wonderful truth. He will leave the 99 to find me.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

John 4:23

Please consider these verses. They deal with him seeking you: Psalm 147:11, Isaiah 43:21, Matthew 18:12, Luke 15:4, 19:10, 1 Peter 2:9.

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He Finally Arrives, 3:6-8, #26

Solomon Arrives for the Wedding

What is that coming up from the wilderness
    like columns of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
    with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?
Behold, it is the litter of Solomon!
Around it are sixty mighty men,
    some of the mighty men of Israel,
all of them wearing swords
    and expert in war,
each with his sword at his thigh,
    against terror by night.

(vv. 6-8)

Finally! Solomon makes his grand entrance. He arrives on the scene in gorgeous splendor and magnificence, as any king should. There was the perfume–myrrh and frankincense that was burned ahead of him. There were 60 highly trained soldiers riding around his litter. He must’ve been a sight.

Apparently the dream life of the shepherdess has ended, and it all is coming true. She awakens to find this procession coming towards her. “Of all places, the wilderness?” Sometimes the King meets us in savagely difficult places. The wilderness is no fun, believe me!

And yet it’s him! “He comes to me so wonderfully.” In the proceeding paragraph I mentioned the wilderness; but here, we dwell on his glory. Again, we see another way that he chooses to bless us. Both are necessary though. But we must see his face, no matter what.

There is power and strength revealed in this passage. And perhaps that’s what we need to understand about the Father. He is totally omnipotent and that wonderful strength is saturated with an abundant mercy; he will carry you all through the hard times.

“We are a long time in learning that all our strength and salvation is in God.”

David Brainerd

David Brainerd (April 20, 1718 – October 9, 1747) was an American missionary to the Native Americans who had a particularly fruitful ministry among the Delaware Indians of New Jersey. During his short life he was beset by many difficulties. 

Wikipedia.com

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Velcro Love, 3:4-5, #25

Microscopic Velcro

“Scarcely had I passed them
    when I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and would not let him go
    until I had brought him into my mother’s house,
    and into the chamber of her who conceived me.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.”

(3:4-5)

Her dreamy diligence is now rewarded. She desperately searched for him, walking at night in the city streets. In verse 4, “I found him whom my soul loves” explains that love is the shepherdess’ exclusive motivation. “Love endures all things,” (1 Cor. 13).

The watchmen are now longer a factor. Perhaps in a wider analysis we realize that although our pastors and elders help us, ultimately/completely it’s our own desire that drives us, deeper and higher. I’ve nothing against pastors, I have been one. But I do know that your desire for God must come from within. If you won’t seek him on your own, nothing your pastor says will matter.

She clings, holding on to him. I suppose that velcro kind of faith is necessary to a first-love kind of discipleship. She holds on, and she shows us what is necessary to be true to him–the essential element to holiness is always passion and desire. Who do you love, and who are you clinging to?

Discipleship, and I’m talking about the real authentic kind, is always predicated on love. Do you love the Master so much that you cling to him?

Jesus must be first, always. If you’re frustrated by your walk–it seems terribly hollow and hypocritical, then the issue isn’t re-doubling your efforts. (That’s what we think we should do.) Rather, it’s a matter of latching on to the beloved, and never letting go.

We shouldn’t complicate our discipleship, rather we need to simplify. It all comes down in the final analysis, to clinging, and not letting go. Releasing him is never a real option, that if it’s true love.

It’s not ‘holiness,’ and then comes Jesus. It’s Jesus, and then comes holiness. That is the difference. Let’s not muddle things up by confusing the order of this crucial truth.

“Nowhere can we get to know the holiness of God, and come under His influence and power, except in the inner chamber. It has been well said: “No man can expect to make progress in holiness who is not often and long alone with God.”

-Andrew Murray

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The Watchmen, 3:3, #24

Watchman on the City Walls

The Brides Dream

“The watchmen found me
    as they went about in the city.
“Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”

It was the watchman who were assigned to guard the city at night; they were pretty organized, and given authorization to act on behalf of the leaders. They protected the city, like a police force would. They did public safety things–crime intervention, fire watch and public assistance.

There is an urgency and passion that infects her heart. She’s become assertive, maybe impulsive, but she needs him close, she refuses to wait. She’s dreaming here, but his love has penetrated her dreams even. Maybe that’s when you know it’s true love.

So she chooses to step out into the danger of the night. Fortunately, the watchman are an observant lot, and they come to the shepherdess’ aid. This seems applicable to the elders and teachers that help us grow, they should be loving, correcting and vigilant. They’re to look over us, or I’m afraid they’re not doing their jobs.

They can’t help her find him, even at her request. Below is from an old commentary I found:

“It is probable that, lighting upon these watchmen, she promised herself much counsel and comfort from them, but was disappointed. It pleaseth God many times to cross our likeliest projects, that himself alone may be leaned upon.”

There you have it–most likely the best wisdom there is on this passage. Perhaps the Father does develop these circumstances, just so he becomes our complete and concentrated focus. It wouldn’t surprise me.

I must touch on one thing–I believe that our faith needs watchmen who have been blessed to see through things. The principle is from Ezekiel 3:17, and a goodly portion of chapter 33, where the prophet is given this responsibility/ministry. They are “watchers” and typically they’re able to speak directly to kings and priests. They are influential this way.

We need to listen to them, they’re vital to our health. The N.T. “see-er” doesn’t just speak of God’s real issues with sin, but they also proclaim the grace that Jesus brings. These faithful men and women, by their presence and their prayers, seek to keep the city from suffering the ravaging effects of evil.

“We do not see our signs;
There is no longer any prophet,
Nor is there any among us who knows how long.”

Psalm 74:9

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I Sought Him, 3:1-2, # 23

The Bride’s Dream

“On my bed by night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
    I sought him, but found him not.
I will rise now and go about the city,
    in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.
    I sought him, but found him not.”

The verbs are wonderful here: Sought–Rise–Seek (and sought for the 3rd time.) They seem to be synonyms; they all describe someone who is really looking, actively trying to find someone or something. She wants the one “whom my soul loves.”

She will do whatever is necessary to find Him. She puts the verbs into action. She intends to find him, which means going into the city, walking the streets and going to each square.

We will look at what happens to her in the next post. So get ready to be shocked!

“I” is used five times in these two verses. She seems assured that she will find him. “I” becomes her spark, it reveals a definite action and effort. She is spurred on by desire. She is committed and intensely aware of her shepherd.

The city, streets and public squares not only dark at night, but they were a potentially dangerous place. We see her so in love, she leaves her bed to seek him.

But she can’t find him. In spite of a seeking heart, he doesn’t draw near. She seems somewhat frantic, and there is something quite deliberate and “active” in her actions. She is decisive.

I believe that there are solid seasons in our walk as Jesus’ disciple. They’re there to reveal spiritual desire and commitment. He withdraws, not because he’s mean or callous to our needs, but because he wants us to understand our spiritual need. His love is constant and unfailing.

“Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.”

-C.S. Lewis

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A Young Dancing Deer, 2:16-17, #22

“My beloved is mine, and I am his;
    he grazes among the lilies.
 Until the day breathes
    and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
    or a young stag on cleft mountains.”

She continues to daydream about him. She seems to be a poet, and shes a passionate woman, her longing for him is her chief thought; she’s completely absorbed by him. She calls the shepherd “beloved.” She couldn’t believe her heart could contain so much love.

She belongs to him exclusively, and there isn’t any other. And the commitment is truly reciprocal and mutual. He loves her. There’s a real joy when we consider how much the Shepherd loves us. We belong to Him, and He deeply cares and keeps us.

Verse 17 might be a little difficult to interpret, the ESV which I use slightly confused me. I needed another translation, so I went to my Contemporary English Version (CEV) to get a little different understanding:

“Pretend to be a young deer dancing on mountain slopes until daylight comes and shadows fade away.”

(v. 17.)

We are children who belong to the “deer who dances.” I believe that where He goes even the darkest shadows disappear. I believe that His joy for us is contageous. I really think that He will teach us to dance. I’m certain of this. We will jump and bow–and we will celebrate! (Malachi 4:2.)

There’s an old French fable about Jesus. It was said that wherever He walked flowers would grow in His footprints. He carried beauty and life all over the place. Wherever Jesus went life flourished.

Sometimes that makes some sense.

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Those Pesky Foxes, 2:15, #22

“Catch the foxes for us,
    the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
    for our vineyards are in blossom.”

These foxes are emblematic, they are ideas that settle deep inside. They are spiritual insights into the hard life of a Christian becoming holy. The vineyard must be defended, however the Hebrew tense is the imperative–“go out and catch them!”

We shouldn’t really be defensive; rather the idea here is to play offense–to take the initiative against these varmints and to be aggressive. The temptation is to tolerate dark things, to put up with sin. Seldom do we even consider the deep danger we’re in when we indulge any kind of evil.

” Little foxes,” seem somewhat insignificant, they appear minor. Yet it’s those unimportant foxes that are the culprits. They’re the ones who ruin the vineyard. Sin isn’t always “big.” The issues that the disciple must face are ever-present, they only bring guilt, pain and sadness. And these seem trivial, but our Shepherd thinks otherwise.

“And how numerous the little foxes are! Little compromises with the world; disobedience to the still small voice in little things; little indulgences of the flesh to the neglect of duty.”

Hudson Taylor

It’s the little sins that we need to watch out for, as they are the most active. It seems we sin little sins most of the time. Most of us aren’t drunks or murderers or fornicators–we seldom sin big. It’s the little ones we must worry about–envy, anger or greed. These little foxes can destroy us. We must be aware and proactive:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Galatians 5:16-17

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The Crannies of the Cliff, 2:13-14, #21

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.”

He is calling the shepherdess to “come away.” That can be a hard thing, first we must leave behind something, second we must step out into something we’re not sure about. But he is insistent, vv. 13-14 are his language to her.

He knows that she will grow only if she agrees to follow him.

She is a “dove,” and that is what he sees. Clefts and crannies are what he calls her to. These rugged places are where she follows him. Hard spots–bumps and scrapes are part of her walk. If she goes out to meet him, it will very often will be in the difficult places.

Her “face” and “voice” are the shepherd’s special joy, it’s what he’s really looking for. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus really wants to meet me, in prayer and worship are the special places where we encounter him. We need contact with Him, we’re “built” for that. It is our place in this universe.

“Do you find a single occasion in which Christ ever acted independently of God? If you walk in the same path it will be sweet to you to feel your entire dependency, finding in all difficulties the everlasting arms underneath.”

-G.V. Wigram

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Arise My Love, 2:12-13, #20

When movies were movies

“The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree ripens its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.”

I love to give flowers to my wife, but sometimes I forget. When I do give them to her she truly glows, and I usually get a massive kiss. But within 2 minutes she’s hacking off the bottom of the stems. She then will explore the cupboards for a vase that works. I can count on her doing this every single time. She loves the flowers, but I must tell you, she is a practical girl.

Flowers, singing and the cooing of doves–they’re now part of their thinking, the land was filled with good things. It was springtime, and when the sun is shining it’s time to walk in the park. In verse 11 it does say that “winter is past,” It was a special time, a moment that, unfortunately, rarely finds us.

When doves coo, it meant that spring had officially arrived. And also doves are pretty much ’emblems’ or types of the Holy Spirit. When you hear the “dove,” you’re in a very good place!

Figs and vines. Figs trees are always (well, almost always) producing figs–two crops a year, double crops–and when the climate was good, maybe more. You will never find a healthy fig tree totally bare.

More than 1,200 species eat figs, people of course, but also one-tenth of all the world’s birds, nearly all known fruit-bats and dozens of species of monkeys. The fig tree is regarded by biologists as a critical core of food in the forest. It’s fruit provides food, but also the fig seeds in the droppings is a wonderful way to spread the “good news’ of even more fig trees. The animal kingdom rejoices.

-Wikipedia, I think

The During Solomon’s reign Judah and Israel, every tribe lived in safety, each man “under his own vine and fig tree” (1 Kings 4:25), an indicator of national prosperity.

Vineyards, with a good crop meant a wonderful wine. Surely grape juice would be given to the young children, but wine was the drink of choice for adults. Coming to know Jesus deeper and deeper, I’ve found my spiritual wine in Him. There is something greater than the grape–His gift of a thrilling grace.

“You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

Psalm 4:7, ESV

I’ll try to pick-up more of verse 13. Those verses spiritually explode; so I’ll try to think through them, and then post next time–#21.

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Winter is Past, 2:10-11, #19

fineartamerica.com

The Bride Adores Her Beloved

The Bride Adores Her Beloved

10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
11 for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.”

She is daydreaming about him again. Even though she is present, her thoughts are always on him. Sometimes I wonder about using a sanctified imagination, an idea of spiritual passion or fascination. Someone once said that to be spiritually bland was a sin.

She calls him, “beloved,” and other versions use darling (CJB,) lover (NET, NLT) or well-beloved (GNV.)

The speaker is NOT the shepherdess, she is telling us from her heart the things the Shepherd is telling her. This is important to know, and it’s fairly significant.

She is “beautiful.” The New Testament gospel is that God is very much in love with the world, He had died for believers–

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it.”

John 3:16-17, the Message

“Come away” (v. 11) is critical counsel for every believer. We must spend time with him, and follow into many different places. Some will be wonderful lush places, with shade and fresh lemonade–and others not as easy. He chooses. She follows.

“Winter is past” Ecclesiastes 3 describes seasons, (lit. “appointed time,”) which explain the time groups or facets we journey. I maybe going through a harsh winter–and you a hot summer, but there does seem to be a “cycle” that we journey through.

“If winter is here, surely spring cannot be too far.” 

~ Shelley

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Contact Me

Me, on a good day

I’ve been a full time street preacher in San Francisco with SOS Ministries, a classroom instructor at the Alaska Bible Institute, missionary to Mexico and pastor of Kachemak Bay Christian Center, Homer, Alaska. I taught Song of Solomon for several years at the Alaska Bible Institute.

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I have three other blogs:

Brokenbelievers:

A devotional blog for Christian believers who are struggling with physical and mental issues. It’s meant to explore discipleship issues and be an encouragement for those in difficult places. Our ministry focuses on “Serving Rascals, Clumsy Disciples, and Mentally Ill Believers with the Unconditional Love of Jesus Christ.”

Gospels101:

A site that looks at those who encountered Jesus. This blog is different as it’s a first-person account of meeting Jesus face-to-face.

Red Letters Study:

A walk with Jesus through the “red letters” of scripture, examining the words and miracles of Jesus Christ. It’s also a devotional study with simple entries that are short, and hopefully a blessing.

Parables 101:

A quick devotional look at the parables of Jesus. Each of these gives us insight into the kingdom of God, the Church and our own walk of discipleship. Parables were Jesus’ favorite way of teaching, and each one is jam-packed with spiritual truth.

You can always email me at: slowe@yahoo.com

Hope to hear from you soon.

Love in Jesus,

Bryan

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