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His left hand is under my head,
and his right hand embraces me!

Song of Songs 8:3 ESV

We’ve seen this sentiment before. Our dear bride repeats her desire for her beloved’s embrace. At the beginning of her relationship with the Shepherd King, she calls out for his enfolding presence.

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me! - Song of Songs 2:6 ESV

We have seen her grow in so many ways.

In the beginning her own filth distressed her. She was afraid to leave the chamber and run through the hills and mountains with Him. She faltered time and time again.

Now she is confident in her relationship with Him. She see’s herself as a partner, calling on Him to act on behalf of others, and ever suggesting the desires of her own heart to Him. In the beginning, her only desire was to have Him for herself, but what has blossomed in her is a desire to see others—all others—bound to Him and His love.

What has not changed is the Shepherd King’s care for her.

As I said nearly two years ago, when we came across the first instance of this verse, His left hand behind her head, speaks of His unseen protection and care for her. His working of all things—ALL THINGS—to and for her GOOD. His right hand embracing and holding her, out there where she can see it, are the tangible ways the Lord cares for her.

She has grown, and the Lord’s love stands unchanged.

Yoked

This image of the Lords arms encircling us makes me wonder if this is not, in fact, the yoke of the Lord.

The Lord says in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

The Lord calls us to yoke ourselves to Him. What if that yoke is actually His embrace.

I look at the burden Jesus bore, and think, how can He say His burden is light? Yoking myself to Jesus would be sharing His burden - wouldn’t it? Talk about unequally yoked! My sin simply adds to His burden, and how am I to bear all that?

I feel like the maiden in the fifth verse of the song, “I am very dark, but lovely.” I’m filthy with sin, but He somehow desires me.

But His embrace has changes us both, the maiden and me. Through His unseen care for us, and His lavish demonstrations of love for us, I—we—are changed. He has washed me in His precious blood and filled me with His own Spirit. He has given me a new heart, and written His law—His love—upon it.

As I get close to Him, His left arm reaches around the back of my head, out of sight, and His right arm reaches around to encircle me. He has yoked Himself to me by the power of His embrace.

He has declared me worthy—by virtue of His own righteousness and His cleansing blood—to be His partner in life—His co-laborer in the harvest—His joint heir, possessor of all that belongs to Him.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? - Romans 8:32 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, - Ephesians 1:3 ESV

Oh how I love the Lord’s embrace.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Don’t forget to shine.

Ben

Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.
~ Song of Songs 2:6

What can we see in the Savior's embrace?

The maiden calls out here for both the left and right hands or arms of the Shepherd King.

The left hand is under my head – it is out of my sight.

How much does the Lord do in your life that you never see? How much is behind the scenes? How often do you walk into a situation or circumstance and find that the Lord has laid all kinds of groundwork before you ever arrived?

Ever have a close call, where one minute, or even second of difference in timing may have meant life or death?

Paul tells us:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

How much of that working is done out of your line of vision?

That is His left hand behind your head.

Then there is His wonderful right arm. Those times you can actually feel His love in every fiber of your being. You see His hand of protection and provision, His answer to you desperate prayer, and your deepest longings.

His right arm’s embrace is manifest love, manifest actions on your behalf, provision, healing, help in time of need.

It is His deliverance. Five times in the book of Deuteronomy you find mention of the Lord’s mighty hand and outstretched arm rescuing Israel from the hand of slavery.

Let’s not forget this wonderful comfort in Isaiah:

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

In short, there is no better place than the Lord’s embrace.

Oh dear ones, press in with me, and let’s seek His face together today.

Deb at Deb's Blog posted a related poem last week - check it out :

“You Open Your Hand”

BenThanks for going on this journey into intimacy with me.

See you next week.

Ben

His banner over me is love. ~ Song of Songs 2:4 NASB

I can’t read this without having the song we sang as kids run through my head. I guess when, as a child, I sang the song,

He lifts me up to His banqueting table, His banner over me is love.

I was picturing a big party with a long sign hanging across the wall “LOVE” and me sitting as the guest of honor.

But as I do a little digging, I find that everywhere else this word banner is used it is translated “standard.” This is not standard in the sense of a measure of conduct, but this standard is the flag or banner an army uses to rally the troops.

Raising the flag at Iwo Jima

This banner or flag is what calls the troops together, it unites them, it reminds them of what they are fighting for, it swells their chest with pride, and unifies them toward one purpose. It actually stirs such great commitment, that those who rally to this standard or banner would lay down their life in it's service.

In fact – the root word from which this is derived shows up twice in the Song, and both times the phrase is

As awesome [terrible – KJV] as an army with banners. ~ Song of Songs 6:4

So here is what I am taking away today as I picture myself in that House of Wine, just outside the door of my hideaway with my Lover, is His army (that would be the army of the Lord of Hosts) standing guard carrying a banner. This banner, perhaps with a cross, or an open grave, or a dove, or a flame of fire – all good images, states in no uncertain terms that all of my Lord’s considerable forces stand in my service at the ready to defend and protect me from all the power of the enemy.

Consider this:

And the seventy returned with joy, saying,

“Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

And He said to them,

I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” ~ Luke 10:17-20 NASB

And this:

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. ~ Psalm 34:7

There is no safer place that in the arms of our Beautiful Savior under His banner of love and protection!

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you next week.

Ben

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men.
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
(Song of Songs 2:3 NASB)

Picture this. You are hiking in the forest, and you have been at it for hours. Your stomach is feeling the hunger that comes from both the exertion and the fresh air. Your body is running low on fuel. It’s time for a little break and a snack.

Rather than digging a Nature Valley bar from your backpack, you come upon an apple tree, clearly well maintained, with low hanging fruit ripe for the picking. There is even a sign welcoming travelers to help themselves.

photo credit: eLKayPics via photopin cc
photo credit: eLKayPics via photopin cc

You grab an apple or two; give them a rub on the sleeve of your flannel shirt. You can feel the first bite all the way down to your boots. The apple juice spurts onto your cheeks and runs down your hand.

As you sit on the ground with your back resting on the trunk and stretch your legs you feel more relaxed and refreshed than you did lying in your bed this morning.

The apple tree is a picture of the refreshing that come through intimacy with the Lord Jesus. Religion does not refresh. When we are constantly trying to please an angry and vindictive God, as many religious groups position Him, it is anything but refreshing.

I have often heard folks speak of a God who engendered fear, and not with a healthy ‘fear of the Lord’ fear, but an assurance that because they messed up today, God is shocked and angry. Yep – it sure caught your Creator and Savior by surprise that you failed today.

This is no apple tree. Religion is not helpful.

No, biting into the apple brings joy and pleasure, fulfillment and reassurance. You find that Jesus knew you were headed to this very place, so He planted an apple tree (50 years ago) so it would be ready for you today. You find He has prepared this place for you, with nourishing refreshment.

It is also a place of protection from the Sun’s intense rays. In the shade of this tree, you are impervious to the persecution and affliction the sun represents. (see  Matthew 13:5-6, 20-22 and “The Rocky Soil”) Don't get me wrong - persecution and affliction will still come, but when you know you are safe, and they can not damage what is real and important.

It is not simply a place of protection, and a source of refreshing, but it is a place of rest. It is one of the strange paradoxes of scripture that we enter into the rest of salvation in order to do the work God has ordained for us to fulfill, but that is the way it is – strange but true.

Have you found that when you are walking in the will of God, and you know it, though you certainly get tired, you don’t get fatigued? I know this is true. By the same token you can be running from thing to thing doing “good things,” even church things, and find yourself burnt out in short order.

We must find this tree – this apple tree – and rest under its branches.

One last thought on these lines.

He is one tree – The One Tree – in the forest – a unique tree – The Only Tree – of its kind. Just as He has observed that we are lilies among the thorns, He is a tree of refreshing in the dark forest of life.

One more last thought (sorry – I can’t help myself.) This makes me think that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden could not have been an apple tree – this is not the forbidden fruit.

No – in fact – Jesus is the Tree of Life!

Ben

I love the images in this song!

See you next week.

Ben


Jesus said:

But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:17-18 NASB)

Let me set up the scenario. Israel has been in captivity for decades. King Cyrus comes to power and is moved to allow the Jews to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem and so he sends them and equips them.

The work progresses quickly and Israels enemies are threatened. The complain to the next King (reading the book of Ezra we seem to be cruising through kings at quite a pace) and he halts progress.

Then yet another King – Artaxerxes – gives Ezra commission to move forward with the rebuilding yet again.

It is quite a task to get all the names and who’s who straight here, but for the purpose of this post here is where we stand. Ezra needs to travel to Jerusalem with a fairly large group of people, and he has some pretty serious opposition.

What does he do? (you probably guessed by now)

He calls a fast! Hear Ezra tell it:

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty. (Ezra 8:21-23 NASB)

Another example from almost the same time in history comes from the wonderful story of Esther.

This one is probably a bit more familiar to most of us. Hayman (you may boo and hiss right here) convinces the king to sign into law the right of the common citizen to kill Jews at will.

Queen Esther is of course a Jew, and so determines to go before the king and make this right, but as you can imagine she is afraid for her life.

“Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him. (Esther 4:16-17 NASB)

As you probably know, God honored Esther’s entreaties, and used her to save the Jews. This is one of the greatest stories in the Word, and well worth a read if you are not familiar with it.

So here we have 2 great hero’s of the faith, and the Bible faithfully showing the fear they had to overcome in order to be great hero’s of the faith. Fasting was a key part of overcoming the fear they faced.

Thanks for reading today. I really love reviewing these OT stories. Hope you are getting lots from these musings.

See you tomorrow

Ben