As he lies there, the king, Jehoash, comes to visit him and weeps over this great man of God.
What follows is striking.
Elisha tells the king to pick up a bow and arrow, open the window and shoot toward the East, toward their enemy, Aram. Elisha held his hand over the hand of the king while he shoots. Israel had been warring against Aram and losing territory to them for generations, with a few small victories here and there. Elisha tells the king, this arrow is the arrow of the Lord’s victory.
Then the dying prophet tells Jehoash to take the arrows and beat them on the ground. The king picked up the arrows and hit the ground three times and stopped.
The kings lack of enthusiasm angers Elisha.
So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times." - 2 Kings 13:19 NASB
Do you see how the Lord’s desire, as express by the prophet, was for the complete eradication of their enemy, their oppressors? It was in God’s plan to completely deliver Israel from the bondage and constant struggle against this enemy. But the Lord God Almighty’s deliverance would only come through the partnership with the king’s passion.
I often hear Christians talking about God’s ability to intervene in their circumstances. They think along these lines.
God is sovereign and in control. If He wanted to heal me, he could. He could let me win the lottery. He could fix my relationships, or get me a job, or—insert your solution here.
But in the case of king Jehoash, God was looking for the king to be as passionate about this victory as The Lord was.
God tells us to pray, and we throw up a two-second, “oh Lord help,” prayer.
God puts on our hearts to give, and we drop five bucks in an offering plate.
God stirs us to love our neighbor and we wave to them over the fence.
What would it look like for us to be all-in? How much greater could the Lord’s victories be if we completely gave ourselves to this partnership?
Take those arrows and beat the ground with them till there is nothing left of them.
Go after what God has put in your heart with everything you have and everything you are.
I hope this stirs you up. It’s stirring me up. I’m guilty of half measures, but I’m turning that around. Join me, will you?
For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;
Song of Songs 8:6 NASB
This couplet is loaded. Were there ever two stronger statements about the love Jesus has for His bride. As you probably have noticed, I'm intrigued by words. And these two lines carry six strong words.
Striking, aren’t they?
Other than love and death each is translated in many ways, and we’ll take a look as some of those variations.
But first - to love.
Remember, we’re in the Hebrew here, so this is not one of the Greek words for love - though in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) a form of agape is used here.
I am no Greek or Hebrew scholar (I’m no scholar at all (I had to look up the word scholar)) but what I can tell you is that the word love here is the word used for Jacob’s love for Rachel - it’s a form of the word used to describe Abraham's love for Isaac when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac on the mountain. It’s as close to agape as we’ll find in the Hebrew.
Now in 1 Corinthians 13, agape is defined for us:
Love is patient, is kind is not jealous; does not brag is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB (tweaked)
But this love Jesus has for His bride as described in Song of Songs 8:6—well—is this the same animal?
Let’s look at these compelling words and how others have translated this verse:
So, for today, my paraphrase would sound something like this:
The love Jesus has for us is as invincible as death.
His passion for us is as unrelenting as hell itself.
Last week we looked at Paul’s declaration of how invincible divine love is from Romans 8:
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39 NASB
And incase you are wondering how unrelenting hell is—Solomon put it this way:
Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied. - Proverbs 27:20 NKJV
All the power of heaven and hell are wrapped up in the Father’s love for us. Let this sink in. A revelation of this love will change you completely. It will complete ruin low self-esteem. It will destroy doubt. It will drive out fear, and flood your heart with assurance and confidence in the one thing we can surely count on for all eternity. Jesus’ love.
Thanks for coming by
See you again soon
Here are a few of the many ways this is translated. I used one of my favorite tools for this study - BibleGateway’s “Every English Translation” tool. Look up any single verse in BibleGateway.com and there is a link at the bottom that will show you every translation they have for that verse. It’s a great way to see how the scholars have positioned the verse you are studying.
Love is as overpowering as death.
Devotion is as unyielding as the grave. (GW)
Love is as powerful as death;
passion is as strong as death itself. (GNT)
For love is as strong as death;
ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. (HCSB)
Love is as strong as death.
Desire is as strong as the grave. (ICB)
For love is as strong as death,
passion as intense as Sheol. (ISV)
for love is strong as death; jealousy is hard as Sheol; (JUB)
for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: (KJV)
for love is strong as death;
passion is fierce as Sheol; (LEB)
Love is invincible facing danger and death.
Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. (MSG)
Love is as overpowering as death.
Devotion is as unyielding as the grave. (NOG)
For Love is strong as Death,
longing is fierce as Sheol. (NABRE)
For love is as strong as death,
its jealousy as enduring as the grave. (NLT)
For love is as strong as death,
and jealousy is as relentless as the grave. (Voice)
for love is strong as death, envy is hard as hell; (WYC)
For strong as death is love, Sharp as Sheol is jealousy, (YLT)
So ladies – you just spent the last hour and a half getting ready to head out on a date with your honey, and when he feasts his eyes on you the first words out of his mouth are:
Your hair reminds me of a herd of goats.
But that’s where the Shepherd King goes with our maiden, and not for the first time. As I mentioned last week, these same declarations of her beauty (yes – goat hair is beautiful – you’ll see) are a repeat from Chapter 4, then in anticipation, now in realization.
Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Gilead.
Long flowing hair speaks of dedication or devotion. We gather this from both Old and New Testament. In the Old we read of the Nazarites who would not cut their hair during their times of dedication to the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul, talking about coverings, says that the woman’s long hair indicates that she has a covering in her husband. So it is with our Shulamite. Her long flowing hair points to the covering she has in her Groom.
But Ben, what about the goats.
Well, I wonder if you knew that the Bible says they are:
There are three things which are stately in their march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
The lion which is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king when his army is with him.
Now, I personally might have gone with the lion, but in any case this devotion we see in her hair is not just beautiful, but it is orderly and disciplined – stately!
Why Gilead? Gilead was a place of plenty, and great place to raise your herds. (See Numbers 32) Beauty was not seen, as it often is depicted today, in the gaunt and emaciated. Rather beauty was well fed at the table or her Lord and under His banner of love.
Your teeth are like a flock of ewes Which have come up from their washing, All of which bear twins, And not one among them has lost her young.
My dear, what big teeth you have… The better to ... feed on your word.
Much is said about her mouth in the Song, mouth, lips, tongue and teeth. Some of it relates to her words, her praise, her testimony. But when He speaks of her teeth, it is her ability to eat what is put before her.
If we are honest, we would say, not everything the Lord speaks strikes us as honey to our souls at first bite.
Remember how one minute Peter was on top of the world with Jesus patting him on the back and saying He was getting ready to build His church on the very idea Peter just opened up. The next thing Peter knew he was rebuking the Lord, and Jesus was calling him satan (or at least it must have felt that way to him.)
Perhaps he was a maiden with out twin teeth – top one was right in place, but it had no twin to meet it on the bottom.
She has demonstrated great maturity by coming through the valley time with praise on her lips, and desire for only Him. She said “yes Lord” to the good stuff and the hard stuff.
Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate Behind your veil.
Finally, He remarks about her temples or cheeks. She is flushed in His presence. She is passionate for Him. Her desire for Him reddens her countenance.
Jesus loves passion in His bride. In fact he would rather have you completely cold to Him than for you declare yourself for Him and then live half-heartedly toward Him.
Welcome to Spewsville, population … (oh my)
'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. - Revelation 3:15-16 NASB
And notice one final thing today.
Behind your veil.
Her beauty, her devotion, her hunger, her passion, flow from the secret place, behind the veil.
Oh Saints. (oh Ben) will you give yourself to Him in the secret place today? Tomorrow? All your (my) tomorrows?
He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
Isaiah 53:2 NASB
This One prophesied to break the power of canceled sin and set the prisoner free was not to be the obvious choice.
Our Sunday school pictures may have it wrong.
Not sure He had chestnut hair and blue eyes. If His hair was shoulder-length, it was probably not so beautifully washed and waved.
He was not much to look at. Part of His condescension was to come as one of us. Not a glorious version of us, but as one of us – the form and fashion of a man.
He may have been a good solid average in the looks department during His ministry, but by the time He was dragging that vile tree through the streets of Jerusalem who could but turn away from this wreck of a man?
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, And the fragrance of your oils Than all kinds of spices!
Song of Songs 4:10
It was all the way back in the second line of the Song that our Shulamite maiden called out to her heart throb, this Shepherd King that His love, then just an imagination to her, was better than wine.
She looked at Him from afar, dreamed of a day when He would hold her, when she would breathe Him in, when they would spend luxurious mornings together talking, laughing, loving.
Now they are married, on their honey moon, and the dream is a reality, and the words echo back to her from her past, and from His lips.
This wonderful Shepherd King has taken His place in her life as her King, her Love, her Brother, her Everything, and He breaths those words back to her.
How much better is your love than wine.
This brings me back to the realization of how far Jesus travels to make our relationship work.
Many speak of the Christian life as though it is hard work to keep up our relationship with the Lord, a struggle, a striving, just to keep your faith.
But in this wonderful Song, this picture of the relational nature of faith, we see that her (our) moves are slight, and He (Jesus) is the one leaping over mountains, bringing army’s to bear, and making call after call, pursuing us relentlessly.
One turn of her head, and glance of her eye toward Him and His heart beats faster.
I love that the Lord travels all the distance that separates us when we turn our desire toward Him.
The work of faith is to look to Jesus, turn your eyes on Him.
What a great Savior!
Thanks for coming by today.
Walk in blessing in 2014.
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He pastures his flock among the lilies. ~ Song of Songs 2:16
Earlier in the Song our Maiden asked the Shepherd King where He pastured His flock, and He gave her some specific instructions.
Today, she has learned something specific about Him, and I think you are going to love it.
Let’s talk about the lily. The lily points to purity and beauty.
Jesus speaks of this purity in the Sermon on the Mount when he compares the lilies of the field to Solomon.
Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. ~ Matthew 6:28-29
His first instruction about where He feeds his sheep had to do with finding community, basically follow the sheep prints down the trail to where my shepherd helpers keep the flocks and hang with them there.
We saw at the beginning of Chapter 2 that she was realizing her own purity before the Lord. Her self-perception has shifted from dark but lovely, to I am a lily of the valley.
O Church, you need to hear this. Because of the blood of Christ, and His work in you, you are no longer the dark but lovely maiden; you are the lily of the valley, the rose of Sharon in His eyes. Your passion for Him translates to true purity. Your hunger and thirst for righteousness leads you to a deep mercy and a completely satisfied pure heart. [Tweet This]
So where does He feed His flock? Among the lilies. Notice we have moved from a lily to lilies. You are His passion-flower, but there are others. There are other pure lilies in the field, and passion for Him draws them together, where they feed at His wonderful table.
Sometimes that feeding is in His chamber; some times it is in the presence of your enemies.
The idea here is that those who love Him will grow in their passion and purity as they band together.