3

Many Waters - SoS header

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?

Song of Songs 8:8 NASB

When the Groom spoke of His bride's breasts earlier in the song, He spoke in terms of their beauty and symmetry. This is not what the bride is concerned with here.

No breasts, in this context has to do with the inability to nurture. The bride has those in her sphere of influence who look to her as mentor, or teacher. They look up to her as a role model. These disciples of hers are not mature enough as yet to make their own disciples.

Her own progress from young maid to mature bride was quite a journey. She’s come through fear and failure, discouragement and persecution. Now her heart’s desire is to bring others to full maturity, marked by their own ability to bring life to others.

Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, wrote a booklet called “Born to Reproduce.” The subtitle of this document is “A Passionate Call to Maturity, Spiritual Reproduction and Spiritual Parenting to Help Fulfill The Great Commission.” You can read it here.

It may sound down right darwinian, and there is so much more to the new birth than just reproduction. But at some level, reproduction is our big purpose.

The subtitle make clear that it's not just babies we want. We don’t really just want to make baby christians who make baby christians. We want to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

I have the deep joy of being a dad. I didn’t think there could ever be a greater joy than having kids and seeing them laugh and play (aka bicker and whine?)

Now my baby is twenty-one, and my oldest has a baby of his own. I’ve learned of the greater joy. Seeing your baby’s become mature adults, living their own life, starting their own families.

I was made for this.

And that’s the heart of the Bride of Christ. I want to see my spiritual children come to a place where they can raise their own brood.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by.

Walk in the blessing God has poured out on you.

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

"I want you to swear, O daughters of Jerusalem,
Do not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases."

Song of Songs 8:4 NASB

This couplet comes up three times in the Song. The first two times there is a third line added:

"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,
That you do not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases."

Song of Songs 2:7 and 3:5

Each time this injunction follows the embrace of the Lord. He’s not speaking to her, but to the daughters of Jerusalem.

As she grows in her love and trust of Him, after each new demonstration of her faithfulness to Him, He lavishes affection on her, and then sets her aside for a time. Not out of circulation, but safely set in a place of intimacy.

It’s important that we never lose this place of intimacy.

She entered into life with her Lord way back at the beginning, when she knew nothing of Him except His embrace. He let her stay there, in the chamber for a while, before He set her to work in his kingdom. Then she was full of fear and alarm at the idea of leaving this holy place.

Those who saw her, who interacted with her, found her to be fully consumed with this Lover. She was useless to the kingdom, but desperately in love with the King.

Now that she has taken her place in ministry, taken her rightful position as full partner in ministry with the King, it would be easy for her to get caught up in ministry—to eat, drink, and sleep ministry, and forget her first love.

The Lord brought this very failing to the attention of the Church of Ephesus. In Revelation 2:1-3 we see that the Lord is pleased by her actions:

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. Revelation 2:1-3

But there is a problem:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. - Revelation 2:4

They needed to go back to the chamber—back to that intimate place that led them into all those wonderful acts.

We go through seasons in our Christian walk, but our seasons should be punctuated by His presence. It’s more important that the work itself.

If we allow ourselves to drift away from the secret place, our works slide from being the outworking of our intimacy, to something religious and dead. As Paul warns Timothy, one of the dangers of the last times would be people who looked like they had it together but had no power:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. ... holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. - 2 Timothy 3:1, 5 NASB

The ‘power’ comes through connection to the vine—intimacy with the Lord.

Is this a time when you need to reconnect with the the power source—the vine? Don’t let Christian activity lull you to sleep in your relationship with the Lord. Now that our maiden is mature, it’s more important than ever for her to stay connected to the Lord, and bask in His embrace.

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping in.

Shine

Ben

3

Image Credit - graphicstock.com - licensed for use
Image Credit - graphicstock.com - licensed for use

Let us rise early and go to the vineyards;
Let us see whether the vine has budded
And its blossoms have opened,
And whether the pomegranates have bloomed.
There I will give you my love.

Song of Songs 7:12 NASB

The Song teaches us time and time again about the importance of intimacy in our relationship with the Lord. It shows us how our ability to minister effectively is birthed in the bedroom (closet) of one-on-one worship and time spent gazing into the eyes of the Savior.

But worship is so much more than spending ‘alone time’ with the Lord.

Our bride now woos her Lover out into the vineyard where their activities will be nurture and care for that which was birthed in that bedroom (closet.)

What happened within this maiden? What happened to the girl who would not follow her Lord out into the hills and mountains for fear of what might lie out there—in the wild?

What happened to the young woman who had her own garden, and tended it alone?

Do you remember when she gave Him her garden? (SoS 4:16)

When we give our lives to Him, He shares His heart with us.

When your heart cries out to Him, “What’s mine is Yours,” He responds saying “What’s mine is yours.” All those who call on His name—His vineyards—His flocks—now fall on your heart. As you minister with Him, nurturing, pruning, helping to graft in other branches, you find that there is an exchange of love, a fulfillment beyond what you have known in the secret place.

Life becomes an act of worship and worship is life. [Tweet This]

The secret place remains a priority, but it’s not the only place your love is expressed.

The Lord’s plan for us is full of wonder in every step.

Thank you Lord for drawing us, for sharing your heart with us, for the life we would never know without you. Blessed be Your great name.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Walk in the light.

Ben

7

Your stature is like a palm tree

Song of Songs 7:7

Growing up in the north, palm trees always seemed exotic. We took one vacation in South Carolina when I was about four, and so my memories of that consist mainly of a few snapshots we had to commemorate the trip and an incident with an alligator and a brick - but that’s a tale for another day.

It was not until I was in highschool, and a choir trip to Florida, that I have any real memories of palm trees in the wild.

Since that time, I have headed south more often, usually via family laden mini van. I would load my groggy but excited kids in the van with the luggage on the roof, and a vat of coffee near the driver’s seat. At about 10 PM we would pull out of our New Jersey drive way and head to Route 95. Next stop - palm trees and paradise for a week.

Again it was South Carolina where we knew we had reached the south. It wasn’t just the accents that had changed, the landscape declared our departure from the north. “We’re not in New Jersey any more, Toto.”

But what is it about the palm tree that lands it here in the Song of Songs?

The Lord Jesus is speaking to His beautiful bride and says she has the stature of a palm. Why? What’s special about a palm? What set’s it apart?

There is a reason we find them in tropical and in very dry regions. First, these trees love the heat. When other plants and trees might be scorched they stand and produce fruit.

Remember the parable of the soils.

Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. "But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. ...

The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. - Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21 

Our girl has faced afflictions and persecutions and what did we observe? Her faithfulness blossomed, her life bore fruit. Rather than whither at the hand of adversity, she grew in spite of - or perhaps because of - its presence in her life.

Palms do well in extremely dry climates as well. Their roots dig deep down to find nourishment, even when it’s in short supply. They are able to bring forth fruit in a parched and dying land.

Palms grow straight and tall. The psalmist says that the palm declares righteousness.

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. - Psalm 92:12

The palm also signifies victory. We see Christ welcomed into Jerusalem with the crowds waving palm branches and laying them down before Him. (John 12:13)

The heavenly scene that John describes in the Revelation of a multitude has us all holding palm branches in our hands. (Revelation 7:9)

What does it all mean?

The Shepherd King (Jesus) has just heard the maids declare ten characteristics of His bride that describe her spiritual maturity and He sees it too. He speaks into the life of His bride. Can you hear it:

You, my beautiful bride, grow straight and true. You not only survive adversity, you thrive. Where others are searching for food, you become a source of life for them. I can count on you to nourish others in times of drought. Your righteousness can be seen from afar. Your victory over the trials and temptations of life demonstrates that I am your source. Your roots dig down deep and find the rivers of living water, and there you abide.

Let your roots dig deep today.

Ben NelsonWalk in the light.

See you again soon.

Ben

7

Many Waters - SoS header

Your eyes like the pools in Heshbon 
By the gate of Bath-rabbim;

Song of Songs 7:4

Does this sound just a little cheesy to you? It reminds me of the old line — Your eyes are like limpid pools … - what the heck is limpid anyway.

OK - had to get that out of my system. (By the way limpid means completely free from anything that darkens - completely clear.)

In reality - Heshbon was a city famous for it’s pools. Once a royal city of the Amorites, it’s name has at it’s root “reason and understanding.”

Bath-rabbim is a gate of this city - Heshbon. Bath-rabbim means daughter of a multitude.

So what do we learn of our maiden’s eyes?

Her depth is revealed in her eyes. When you look into her eyes, you find a depth of understanding. Solomon himself was the one who told us "with all your getting - get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)

The mention of the gates demonstrates more than just reason, more than understanding, but influence. City gates are populated by the elders. There they meet to reason through the problems of the day. There they decide on who should have access and who should be excluded. It is the seat of government.

These who observe our bride, see her depth, and confer upon her the honor usually reserved for men alone.

Finally - daughter of a multitude - now many claim to have mentored her. Now that she walks in maturity, and influence, there’s a lot of “I taught her everything she knows” going on. It’s not that they’re lying, or bragging, just that she carries qualities they can all identify, and many have added to her character.

The mature believer walks in understanding and learns and grows through every interaction. When she rubs shoulders with any believer, or for that matter, and person, it adds to her. And so - they see their influence in her, and it spurs them on.

Maturity doesn’t mean arrival.

Maturity does not mean there is no further to go.

Maturity does not mean there is nothing further to learn.

The writer to the Hebrews complains of the immature believer that they can only take in milk, and not meat.

The ear-mark of the mature believer is that he or she is able to eat the stronger, deeper foods and grow by them. She is able to feed on the deep lessons of grace, and grow in the riches and treasures of the word.

She has gone beyond the study for the sake of knowing and is digging into the understanding of things.

She has not arrived, she has simply learned to travel with greater expertise.

Her eyes are not puddles of facts, but deep pools of understanding.

Ben NelsonWalk in the blessings before you today.

See you again soon.

Ben

PS - I know it’s not Saturday, but someone took a blender to my calendar, and so I’m a little behind.