4

I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon. (Song of Songs 1:5 NKJV)

Our girl spent the evening in the King's courts and experienced His personal care for the very first time. Now she knows what Isaiah learned in the year that King Uzziah died.

Leonard Ravenhill

Leonard Ravenhill, the revivalist from the last century, often preached a sermon from this text (Isaiah 6) using the outline, Woe, Lo, and Go. You can listen to it, or even download it, at SermonAudio.com. It's wonderful.

He outlines Isaiah chapter 6 like this:

"Woe is me! For I am undone." (vs 5) When I get into the presence of the Lord the first thing that strikes me is how I really don’t belong here. I am filthy, dirty, DARK and unfit for the Kings Presence.

"Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." (vs 7) The blood of Jesus purges opens the way for me to enter this place, and not be consumed.

"Go, and tell this people." (vs 9) Intimacy leads to productivity. When I see how consumed my Holy Savior is with His people, I am drawn into His vision and His mission. My only response can is, "Here am I, send me." (vs 8)

So let's look at our maiden. She spends the evening in the King's presence and when she gets home she begins to examine herself. One look in the mirror tells her the whole story. She is earthy, from working outside and from the years in the hot sun of the Middle East.

She is dirty from "everything under the sun." This is the phrase Solomon used in Ecclesiastes to talk about the world's influence. Jesus told Peter to sit still while He washed his feet. Peter did not need a bath—just the cleansing from the dust of the roads of life.

Then she remembers His words to her—He says I am lovely—I picture this like the scene in West Side Story. Maria dressing for the dance. “I feel pretty,” and our dark beauty dances about the dressing chamber remembering her evening with the King.

Tents and Curtains

The tents of Kedar she speaks of dot the white sands of the wilderness. Made from dark animal skins, they stand out in stark contrast to the white sands. She highlights the dramatic contrast of life in the sands and dust of these base tents, to the pristine curtains she observed in Solomon's courts. These spectacular curtains adorned what was possibly the most beautiful palace of all time.

Dark and dusty on the outside, beautifully adorned on the inside.

So it is with you and I. Any time spent in introspection, gazing into the mirror of the Word, will turn up dirt—things you know you need to change—places you know you need to do better—things that stir up shame.

It leads you to repentance—to a clearing of yourself.

Then you take the bread and cup of God’s love and see that He has made you lovely and perfectly acceptable in His sight—more than acceptable—desirable! You are the apple of God’s eye, the rose of Sharon, the lily among thorns. You are the object of His passion. In the bread and wine, you can see the immense value the Savior has placed upon you, and the love lavished without regard to cost.

Like the coal from the altar in Isaiah's vision, the bread and wine remind you of your purged state. You may have the outward appearance of filth, but you have been washed in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb.

Hallelujah!

O the joys of the presence of the Lord!

Come back again next week, won’t you?

Ben

2

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

What is fragrance?

What does it do?

Here’s the thing. When our Song speaks of fragrance it is not talking actions. Not the visible actions of a Shepherd King, but rather the invisible features of thoughts and emotions – His passions.

When we talk about God and emotions we (the Church) have a strange box for God. We feel like God has this amazing joy when we are born again, and He spends the rest of our lives angry with us.

There is even a theological argument out there that says that God does not change so He cannot have emotions.

This is all so messed up. We are created in the image of God, emotions and all. If we learn nothing else from the Song of Songs, it is that we have an emotional Father.

There is, however, action in this verse and we don’t want to miss it. The fragrant ointment is poured forth.

Here we see the internal essence of Jesus, His thought life, His emotion, His passion, poured out by the declaration of His name. Last week we looked at His name, but today I want to draw your attention to this idea.

As His name is declared, His passion is revealed. [Tweet This]

Observe:

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-TSID-KENU  "The Lord is our righteousness" He was demonstrating His passion for transforming you into the righteousness of God in Him.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-SHALOM  - Our perfect peace - He was demonstrating His passion for creating peace between you and God as the Prince of Peace.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH RAPHA  - I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer – He was demonstrating His passion for healing you to the uttermost.

Interestingly enough Paul talks about fragrance too.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)

The fact is, as our life declares by word and deed the name of Jesus, His passion is poured forth on our circle of influence, and it has an impact. It may draw some to Christ, and it may push some away. In any case, when you stand for Christ your life will no longer be neutral.

Do you need that ointment poured forth in your life today?

Do you need that healing balm, that peace that defies understanding?

Let the name of Jesus wash over you even now. Declare His name out loud over your circumstances today.

If you are sick say out loud something like “I am yours, Jehovah Rapha – the Lord who heals me”

If you are stressed instead of blessed – declare “I am yours, Jehovah Shalom”

Hey – we are not talking magic words, or secret formulae here. But there is power in the name of Jesus.

That’s good, isn’t it? Share what you learned, or what fresh revelation you received, or even what made you mad here today. Has His name poured out in your life changed your reality? Share!

Come back next week for more of the Song. Believe me, we are just scratching the surface here.

Ben

3

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV

I have written about the fact that God reveals Himself by His name throughout the scriptures. At the bottom of this post are some links to other posts going through some of the Old and New Testament Names of God and what they reveal about Him.

But today I want to share 2 things from other sources about that Name that is "as ointment poured forth."

My previous Pastor, Chet Klope, and I were chatting about the book Les Misérables by Victor Hugo a while back. It is one of his favorite books of all time, and I had never read it. My son had given me a 3 month audible.com subscription for Father’s day, so I got it in my head to download the audio book and give it a listen.Les Mis

Just a few chapters in I ran across this:

"Oh, you who are!

"Ecclesiastes calls you the All-powerful; the Maccabees call you the Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians calls you liberty; Baruch calls you Immensity; the Psalms call you Wisdom and Truth; John calls you Light; the Books of Kings call you Lord; Exodus calls you Providence; Leviticus, Sanctity; Esdras, Justice; the creation calls you God; man calls you Father; but Solomon calls you Compassion, and that is the most beautiful of all your names."

Victor Hugo. Les Misérables (Kindle Locations 642-645).

Isn’t that wonderful? Chet told me that I would hear the gospel on every page, and I am so in love with the Bishop today. It is now one of my favorite books of all time too!

This short passage made me think again of the sermon I have somewhere on audio cassette. I know - old school, right? It's Oral Roberts preaching a sermon called the 4th man. Today I found a website that had a transcript of a portion of the message that thrills me every time I hear it.

Check this out:


Who Is The Fourth Man?

Oral Roberts Sermon (c. 1956)

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Who is the Fourth Man?

I tell you that…

In Genesis He is the Seed of the Woman.

In Exodus He is the Passover Lamb.

In Leviticus He is our High Priest.

In Numbers He is the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night.

In Deuteronomy He is the Prophet like unto Moses.

In Joshua He is the Captain of our Salvation.

In Judges He is our Judge and Lawgiver.

In Ruth He is our Kinsman Redeemer.

In I and II Samuel He is our Trusted Prophet.

In I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles He is our Reigning King.

In Ezra He is our Faithful Scribe.

In Nehemiah He is the Rebuilder of the Broken Down Walls of our human life.

In Esther He is our Mordecai.

In Job He is our Dayspring from on high and our Ever-Living Redeemer.

In Psalms He is the Lord our Shepherd.

In Proverbs and Ecclesiastes He is our Wisdom.

In the Song of Solomon He is our Lover and the Bridegroom.

In Isaiah He is the Prince of Peace.

In Jeremiah He is the Righteous Branch.

In Lamentations He is the Weeping Prophet.

In Ezekiel He is the Wonderful Four-Faced Man.

In Daniel He is the Fourth Man in the burning fiery furnace.

Who is the Fourth Man?

In Hosea He is the Faithful Husband, forever married to the backslider.

In Joel He is the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost and Fire.

In Amos He is our Burden-Bearer.

In Obadiah He is the Mighty to Save.

In Jonah He is our Great Foreign Missionary.

In Micah He is the Messenger of Beautiful Feet carrying the Gospel.

In Nahum He is the Avenger of God's Elect.

In Habakkuk He is God's Evangelist, crying, "Revive thy work in the midst of the years."

In Zephaniah He is the Savior.

In Haggai He is the Restorer of God's Lost Heritage.

In Zechariah He is the Fountain Opened in the House of David for sin and uncleanness.

And in Malachi He is the Sun of Righteousness, rising with healing in His wings.

Who is the Fourth Man?

In Matthew He is the Messiah.

In Mark He is the Wonder-worker.

In Luke He is the Son of Man.

In John He is the Son of God.

In Acts He is the Holy Spirit.

In Romans He is our Justifier.

In Corinthians He is the Gifts of the Spirit.

In Galatians He is the Redeemer from the curse of the law.

In Ephesians He is the Christ of Unsearchable Riches.

In Philippians He is the God Who Supplies All Our Needs.

In Colossians He is the Godhead Bodily.

In I and II Thessalonians He is our Soon-coming King.

In I and II Timothy He is our Mediator between God and Man.

In Titus He is our Faithful Pastor.

In Philemon He is a Friend that sticketh closer than a Brother.

In Hebrews He is the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant.

In James He is the Great Physician.

In I and II Peter He is the Chief Shepherd who soon shall appear with a crown of unfading glory.

In I, II, and III John He is Everlasting Love.

In Jude He is the Lord Coming with Ten Thousands of His Saints.

And in Revelation He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Who is the Fourth Man?

He's Abel's sacrifice. He's Noah's rainbow. He's Abraham's ram. He's Isaac's well, Jacob's ladder, Issachar's burden, Judah's scepter, Samuel's horn of oil, David's slingshot, Hezekiah's extension of life, Isaiah's man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He's Peter's healing shadow. He's Paul's mighty wonders and miracles. He's John's pearly white city. He's the pearl of great price. He's a rock in a weary land. He's the prince of Peace and the Government of our life is upon His shoulder.

Who is the Fourth Man?

He's the root system of our life. The source of your total supply. The one who is able to deliver you from the flames of human life. The one who enables you to live by your faith and empowers you to obey Him and gives you the strength to refuse to compromise. He's the restorer of your total life. The healer from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. The one who enables you to survive. He's the saying one, who created you in His image, after His likeness, who says we are Whosoevers, receiving Whatsoever we say. He's the one who resides in your heart. The one at the point of your needs. The one that's closer to you than your breath. He bears no greater title than a Friend of Sinners. The Friend of the now. He's wrapped in your spirit, in your soul, in your body, and in your circumstances of life around you everywhere. He's here in the now. He is the one of signs, wonders, many mighty miracles, and marvelous works. There is no other that can deliver after this sort.

Who is the Fourth Man?

I tell you…He is the God I serve. The Written Word of God manifested in the Flesh and Spirit. He's JESUS CHRIST, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS! He's my Savior, my Lord

I found this here: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/donniemcclurkin2/message/31445

There is more to the sermon before and after, but this so ministers to my soul.

If you want to hear a recording of the whole sermon, I found it on YouTube. This is only a small portion right at the close of the message. It's a real faith builder of a sermon! The portion above is found at about 37 minutes.

Next week will open up why ointment and perfume, but for today – just soak in the wonderful fragrance of His Name!

See you next week

Ben

Post Script:

The first time through Song of Songs, one reader, Debbie, left this video in the comments, and I felt it needed to be added for keeps here -


Some other posts about His Name:

Thy Name, Part 1

Thy Name,  8 (well 9) Old Testament names of God 

Thy Name, 7 (well 8) New Testament names of God

Les Mis books photo credit: mgstanton via photopin cc

As I promised – today we start in earnest.

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's. - Song of Songs 1:1

Song of Songs

At first glance, it seems as though we are looking at the title and author. Well—yes and no.

Check out the word pattern—Song of Songs. Does that remind you of anything? George Frederick Handel used John's words when he wrote his own Song of Songs, the Hallelujah Chorus—King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:6)

King of Kings—the high King of heaven

Lord of Lords—the one Master of all.

Clearly, 'Song of Songs' doesn't say good song. It's more—much more.

This Song isn't a good song and it's not a great song, it's the pinnacle of all songs.

Hey—even if it was Solomon’s best work—and he wrote 1005 songs, (1 Kings 4:32) it would be amazing. (I was impressed when I heard that Fanny Crosby of  “Blessed Assurance” fame wrote 80 hymns.)

NO—this is THE SONG of ALL SONGS. 

An interesting contrast here – just 7 verses before the Song of Songs in another of Solomon’s writings, Ecclesiastes, we have this pattern again:

"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "all is vanity!" - Ecclesiastes 12:8

…which is Solomon’s

So, who is Solomon? You can read up on him on your own. His story is the first 11 chapters of 1 Kings. For our purposes, here is what we need to know.

  • He was the third king of Israel.
  • He was the son of David (of giant killing fame) and Bathsheba (of roof bathing fame)
  • He ruled Israel in its best and most glorious days. He reigned for 40 years of peace and prosperity. Israel extended its borders without a day of war.
  • Oh, did I mention he had 300 wives and 700 concubines?
  • He amassed riches unequaled in history, the stuff of legends and Hollywood extravaganzas.
  • Perhaps most notably, he was given a greater measure of wisdom than any man before or since.

Even as a young man, when given the opportunity to ask the Lord for anything, he didn't choose long life, or riches, or even victory over his enemy. He asked the Lord for the ability to rule his people well—for wisdom.

It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.

God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words.

Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.

If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days." - 1 Kings 3:10-14 NASB

And so we embark upon a journey to discover the greatest song ever written by the wisest man who ever lived. Are you ready?

Come back next week and we will take a look at a Kiss that will rock your world.

Thanks so much for reading today.

Ben

photo credit: vlaaDnet via photo pin cc

4

This beautiful 8 chapter love song known as the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs can be interpreted in various ways. Many of these approaches hold great value. No single point of view captures all that the Song has to offer. Since the song's writing about 3,000 years ago, there have been more commentaries written about the Song that any other book of the Bible save Romans. So there are a great number of ways to approach this book and they vary greatly.

It's as though the Song were a beautiful diamond cut by a master jeweler. Each time you look at this masterwork from a different angle, you discover a new facet of its beauty.

These many interpretations fall into two major categories.

Natural interpretation

The natural interpretation sees the song as an actual account based on a historical relationship. For instance:

  1. A Shulamite maiden and King Solomon (perhaps his first love)
  2. A Shulamite maiden, her shepherd lover and King Solomon–in this case, Solomon is the antagonist.

Allegorical interpretation

In the allegorical interpretation, the characters in the story are fictional representatives of real people and places. This is by far the more common way to interpret the song. The Allegorical comes in many flavors.

Hebrew commentators approach the Song in many ways. Here are a few of the more common views:

  1. God and the Messiah
  2. God and Israel
  3. Messiah and Israel
  4. Torah and Messiah
  5. Torah and Israel

Over the centuries, the Church created its own library of interpretations.

  1. God and the Church
  2. Jesus and the Corporate Church
  3. Jesus and Mary
  4. Jesus and the individual believer
  5. Jesus and a select group of believers – this can be dangerous, and even cultic.

There are some hybrid approaches as well suggesting that the Song contains actual accounts recorded for our example. Paul, of course, tells us that all the stories from the Old Testament also serve as examples for our lives.

My approach will be allegorical. I will assume the Shepherd King represents Jesus and the Shulamite depicts an individual believer.

As we approach scripture with allegory in mind, it is important to lay down a couple rules. It's a little dangerous to approach any scripture as allegory. It's important that we proceed with caution and hold on to some interpretive hand rails.

The first of these handrails is the red letters. Jesus' word's become the plumb line by which we measure all scripture. This will ensure we are not jumping into lines of thought that will lead us astray. Jesus says this:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me. (John 5:349 NASB)

This approach turns the table on us, men. How often have we smugly insisted that the women in our lives suffer the indignity of being called 'Sons of God?' In the Song of Songs we get to be the bride of Christ. (I hope you can tell my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.)

One other thing to note about this approach. While the Song is, for the most part, sequential, it is not entirely so. I have been born and raised in North America, and so I tend to think in timelines. But from what I have observed, much of Middle Eastern thought runs more like spokes and hubs. So there may be times when things seem a bit out of order, but stick with it. All will come together by the end of the Song.

It may take me some time, but if you dig into this little book, I promise you will get more out of it than you ever expected.

Come back next week and look with me at how unique this song is in so many ways.

Thanks for reading today.

See you next week.

Ben
photo credit: Tyler.Meyer via photo pin cc

 

This beautiful 8 chapter love song known as the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs can be interpreted in many ways. Many of these views hold great value. No single approach captures all that the Song has to offer. Since the song's writing about 3,000 years ago there have been more commentaries written about the Song that any other book of the Bible save Romans. So there are a great number of ways to approach this book and they vary greatly.
You might think of looking at a beautiful Jewel from a variety of angles, or on different backgrounds.

Here are a few possibilities.

Natural interpretation

An actual account based on a historical relationship. For instance:

  1. A Shulamite maiden and King Solomon (perhaps his first love)
  2. A Shulamite maiden, her shepherd lover and King Solomon (in this case Solomon is a villainous character.)

Allegorical interpretation

Here the characters in the story are fictional representatives of real persons and places. This is by far the more common way to interpret the song historically. The Allegorical view can be broken down further.

In Hebrew thought historically the Song has been approached in many ways:

  1. God and the Messiah
  2. God and Israel
  3. Messiah and Israel
  4. Torah and Messiah
  5. Torah and Israel

In the Church there have been various ways of looking at this as well.

  1. God and the Church
  2. Jesus and the Corporate Church
  3. Jesus and Mary
  4. Jesus and the individual believer
  5. Jesus and a select group of believes – this can be dangerous, and even cultic.

There are some hybrid approaches as well suggesting that the Song contains actual accounts that are written (as Paul says of all Old Testament stories) for our example that we may learn from them.

My approach will be allegorical. and I will assume the Shepherd King is Jesus and the Shulamite is every individual believer.

As we approach scripture with allegory in mind, it is important to lay down a couple rules. Much of the Bible is not intended as allegory, and it can be dangerous to go this way without some important hand rails to hold onto.

The first of these hand rails is the red letters. As you can read in the article "Why the Red Letters" Jesus' word's become the plumb line by which we compare all scripture to ensure we are not jumping into lines of thought that will lead us astray. Jesus says this:

You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me. (John 5:349 NASB)

My approach will be predominantly looking at the 4 option in the last set - Jesus and the individual believer.

All you women who are sick and tired of being called "sons of God" in the New Testament, take heart. All you men - get ready to learn to be a bride and wife!

One other thing to note about our approach, while the Song is for the most part sequential, it is not entirely so. I have been born and raised in North America, and so I tend to think in a linear way, but from what I have observed, much of Middle Eastern thought runs more like spokes and hubs. So there may be times when things seem a bit out of order, but stick with it. All will come together eventually.

It may take me some time, but if you dig into this little book, I promise you will get more out of it than you ever expected.

Come back next week and look with me at how unique this song is in so many ways.

Thanks for reading today. Come back next week. If this is your first SOS Saturday, check out the Why page for this theme above.

See you next week.

Ben
photo credit: Tyler.Meyer via photo pin cc

Your neck is like a tower of ivory.

Song of Songs 7:4

Thrice before in the song we have heard about the Bride’s neck, or necklace. Each time from her Lover’s point of view. Today we see the view of her companions. They see her neck as an ivory tower.

Ivory is an interesting choice here.

Today, due to the fragile nature of the elephant population and global condemnation of the ivory trade, ivory has to a great extent fallen out of favor. Throughout history it has been a highly sought after commodity, and a symbol of wealth and honor.

In telling of the kings of the world who came to honor Solomon we read:

For the king had ships which went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. - 2 Chronicles 9:21

Solomon made himself a throne of ivory overlaid with pure gold. (2 Chronicles 9:17)

Ahab (ok - stop that boo-ing in the peanut gallery) built a house of Ivory. (1 Kings 22:39)

The point is, an ivory tower is not a tower of strength, but a tower of honor and beauty.

The neck, as we have seen before in our study is that part of us which turns our affections toward the Lord. Our maiden does not have a stiff neck from the Lord’s vantage point as the prophets said of Israel who refused to give the Almighty their focus and attention.

However, from the outside view, from the view of her admirers, her neck is immovable. Her face can not be turned from following the Lord. Her eyes are fixed on His.

It’s beautiful.

It’s elegant.

It’s magnificent.

Your single hearted devotion to the Lord, and unbending attention to His face, His call, the glance of His eye is a tower of ivory. Your neck - set toward Him - not in hopes of gaining honor or an attempt at self beautification, none the less brings you honor among the faithful and is beautiful to behold.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Blessings

Ben

If you want to read about the neck from the Lords point of view, check these earlier posts:

What’s In A Neck

What Do You See In Her

5

Many Waters - SoS header

The Shepherd King has been silent in the Song for quite a while. We have not heard His voice in the Song since the middle of chapter two when He was wooing her to come with Him, out into the hills and mountains, out of the cocoon and into ministry, out into the fulfilling of her initial prayer, “Draw me, and we will run.”

Now that He has demonstrated in no uncertain terms His incomparable ability to protect and defend her, and care for her needs, He is going to speak into her life.

So I ask Jesus today, what do you see in me? He steps closer and replies:

How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves behind your veil;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead.

Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built with rows of stones
On which are hung a thousand shields,
All the round shields of the mighty men.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle
Which feed among the lilies.

Song of Songs 4:1-5 NASB

His answer rocks me, because He sees in me, what I can’t even see myself, and more than that, He sees in me the design of my Maker. When Jesus looks at me He sees what I am created for, He sees my potential! He sees how the Father knit me together from various skeins, with strands of talent, and various colors of passions and desires.

He speaks into my life what it can look like. He sees my love for Him and my care for what pleases Him as mature, not as they are today.

So what does He see in me? What does He see in you?

You are beautiful!

We understand that because of the cross of Christ, we have been washed, we are clean. That which was so ugly in us, that which pursued Christ to His horrible death, is gone. Your sin is not what Jesus sees when He looks at you. Your sin is not your defining character trait. Your sin does not even enter into the conversation, when Jesus is describing you.

As Solomon’s Song describes eyes, hair, teeth, lips, mouth temples, neck and breasts, those things that create a vision of great physical beauty, Jesus is looking at seven areas of inner beauty, and draws us to Himself, and to our own potential.

So what does He see in me? What does He see in you?

Dove’s eyes:

What Jesus sees in our eyes is faithfulness. One thing that sets the dove apart from many other birds is it’s monogamy, it mates for life, it is uniquely faithful.

The other aspect of a dove’s eyes that is significant is that that dove has a sort of tunnel vision. It can only focus on one thing, and has virtually no peripheral vision.

So the Lord looks at us, and counts us faithful to Him, to have eyes only for Him. The call to the maiden is to fix your eyes on Jesus.

If you are new to Song of Songs Saturday, you might want to check out the post from earlier this year that goes into much more depth about dove’s eyes here.

Long Flowing Hair:

Aside from bringing attention to her youth and vigor, this reference to her long flowing hair harkens back to the Nasserites of the Old Testament. These men would completely dedicate themselves to the Lord for a period of time. During the time of their vow, they would not cut their hair or shave. They would also stay away from the fruit of the vine, and keep away from anything that could make them unclean. They were considered holy unto the Lord for that season.

Jesus is seeing in the maiden a dedication to Him and the life and ministry that He had created for her/them to walk in together.

Teeth:

It interests me how focused He is on her mouth. There are actually three features of her mouth that attract Jesus, and draw out His comments.

The first is her teeth. I am pretty sure, though I have not done primary research on this fact, that in the day of Solomon, the better part of a millennium before Christ, dentistry was not what it is today. To find a woman with a full mouth of bright white teeth, each one with its match on the bottom, and its companions on each side would be fairly remarkable all by itself.

But the real point here is the function of teeth. Her teeth speak of her ability to eat. It sounds funny as a romantic comment this way, but the idea is that it is beautiful to the Lord when we chew on, or meditate on His Word. The word used for meditate in the Old Testament give the idea of the cow chewing it’s cud. In Psalm 1, David contrasts the blessed man to the one who does not embrace the Word. He says of the one who is blessed, that he meditates, or chews on, the law of the Lord day and night.

Lips:

Lips speak of her speech, and the strand of scarlet points to the fact that her speech is redemptive. It is said that there is a scarlet thread that runs through the Bible from front to back. This gospel thread is God’s redemptive plan devised from before the Father breathed the breath of life into Adam.

This scarlet thread is first seen when the blood of an animal was shed to cover the nakedness and shame of Adam and Eve in the garden. Notably, when Israel attacked Jericho, Rahab was instructed to hang a scarlet threat out her window as a sign that she and her household were chosen, and so they were saved. So these scarlet lips are lips that constantly speak the gospel and share the redemptive message of life.

Mouth:

Here we look at another use for the mouth. One character trait that distinguishes a Christian is his vocabulary of praise. The praises of our mouth are so attractive to the Lord that it beckons His presence in our lives. Consider:

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. - Psalms 147:1 NKJV

and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself'?" - Matthew 21:16 NASB

And thou art holy, thou that dwellest amid the praises of Israel. - Psalms 22:3 DBY

As you can see from these passages, praise is beautiful, attractive to the Lord. He is drawn to it, dwells in the midst of it. Psalm 100 tell us that it is our method of entry into the presence of the Lord.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise. - Psalms 100:4 NASB

Temples:

Her temples or cheeks display our emotion, or passion for Him. There is still an excitement, a thrill in our heart when we see Him.

There is a convicting passage in Jeremiah that speaks of Israel’s spiritual leadership, and how they were not helping the flock, but rather placating them with empty words. In the midst of this rebuke is this declaration:

Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush. –

Jeremiah 6:15 NASB

This may be the other side of the equation, but the heart of the Lord for us is that we would be able to feel – feel passion for Him – feel the hurt and need of those around us – and feel our own need for Him when we fall, so we would run back to Jesus for restoration.

Neck:

Our neck speaks of our will. The neck turns our head, and so sets our direction. The inclination of our neck toward the face of our Savior, demonstrates our will to follow Him.

In the writing of the prophets, Israel is spoken of as having a stiff neck, meaning it’s will was set against Him. Here we see just the opposite, She has strength of will, but it is turned toward Him. Even when she was resistant to obedience, her desire was toward him

Solomon says of her neck that it is built as an armory (NKJV) and set about with the shields of a thousand men. Her resolve is set toward Him. There is no shadow of turning in her will.

I love that He speaks this prophetically into her life right on the heals of a fall and a failing of her will. If you will remember with me:

  • She wanted to follow Him
  • He invited her to follow Him
  • She was fearful and pulled back

But here what He sees in her is a will that is set only on Him. I love that the Lord looks at us and sees His design for us, and His character in us, as we walk out a life that ebbs and flows.

Breasts:

Ok – honestly – the fact that Solomon mentions breasts in the Song is why a huge chunk of the church does not look at the Song. But let’s not be shy here.

There are two senses in which Solomon speaks of her breasts. Sometimes he speaks of her ability and desire to nurture, but here he is speaking of pure beauty. Jesus highlights the beauty of the Christian life, when grace and truth are in equal measure. John 1:14 says of Jesus.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

This marriage of grace and truth, of mercy and judgment, create a tension through out the Word, and when they are in equal measure they are beautiful.

Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. - Psalms 85:10

It is a beautiful picture of our Lord. And this is what He is looking for, and sees, in us. He wants His people to be a people in whom Mercy and Truth dwell in equal measures, neither one trumping the other. When truth rules without mercy, we miss the Spirit of the law, and when mercy reigns without the restraint of the truth, we have lawlessness, and lasciviousness.

Another beautiful paring in the Christian life would be faith and love. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, it does not matter how great our faith it, without love we are just noise. The writer to the Hebrew Christians tells us, right on the other hand, that without faith it is impossible to please God.

These marks of the blending of seeming opposites are what bring true beauty into the life of a Christian.

I know there is a lot to chew on here, but I hope you will here the Lord’s voice calling out in you the beauty that He has given you, and called you to. He sees you as you will be, not as you are today, and there is great hope in that calling.

You are beautiful! Take a step back today, and see yourself the way that Jesus sees you.

  • Faithful
  • Devoted
  • Given to His word
  • Ministering life
  • Full of Praise
  • Full of Passion
  • Will set on Him
  • Full of grace and truth – faith and love

Can you see it? He does!

Sorry for the length of this post. I know it is way more than usual. I hated to break this passage us, though I suppose many more people would have been likely to read smaller pieces. Thank you for reading all of it.

Ben NelsonHave a great weekend.

Stay Calm and Keep Shining!

Ben

 

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Many Waters - SoS header

I thought I was done with Song of Songs chapter three, but then I ran into this beauty, and realized there is a ton of buried treasure here. So stick with me one more week, won’t you?

Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
And gaze on King Solomon with the crown
With which his mother has crowned him
On the day of his wedding,
And on the day of his gladness of heart.

Song of Songs 3:11

Our maiden is finally married to the man of her dreams. She has entered into a covenant relationship with this Shepherd King. No longer is she the invited dinner guest who comes for a visit and stays in the guest chambers, but now she is family.

No longer does she look at what her Husband is doing and wonder if she is worthy or up to the task. Now she is part of His life for keeps.

She has come through some trials and testing to get to this place, hasn’t she?

In chapter one she was faced with her own sin. She plugged into ministry and failed to keep her own house in order.

In chapter two, along with an increase in intimacy, she also faced the fear and timidity it took to step into the life she longed for.

Remember her two part desire, draw me and we will run.

He has drawn her to His side, and now they are ready to run.

We see her response to this vast outpouring of love and protection He has lavished on her on their wedding day, is to turn her eyes toward ministry. She is now the one doing the drawing, and this outward facing posture will continue and grow as her life with the Master endures and as her intimacy deepens.

She calls to the “daughters of Zion” and invites them to “gaze on King Solomon.”

We have seen this man depicted as first Shepherd and now King. This is an interesting contrast. Solomon as the third real king of Israel would understand the concept of a shepherd king since his earthly father was of course the classic shepherd king of all time, David.

David demonstrated as a boy, standing before then king, Saul, that when Israel thought they needed a king what they really needed was a shepherd. When they thought they needed a warrior with sword and spear, what they really needed as a boy with a sling and a stone. I digress.

Today we see a King, Solomon to be exact, standing here as a type of Christ at His own wedding, the wedding of the Lamb, to His beautiful bride the Church, and in particular, you, His beloved.

The maiden, now bride, calls to those in the Church, and in her circles of influence to come and gaze on the beauty of this King.

The term Christian is falling out of favor in our day, possibly due to the way we have tossed the name around and put it on everything from music and tee-shirts, to TV channels and news services. Many have turned to the title Christ follower, and I’m OK with that, or perhaps Jesus lover, which I like too. But in reality what we used to call a Christian is a person who has entered into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. The only real Christian is one who is the bride of Christ, a full partner in the ministry in which Christ walked and into which we are commissioned.

As our maiden enters into covenant, she takes up the cause, and begins to see others and their need to enter into this covenant as well. So her call to the others in her circles – come gaze on my Wonderful Husband!

This verse reminds me of what the writer to the Hebrew Christians says:

photo credit: helgabj via photopin cc
photo credit: helgabj via photopin cc

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

1 – It has the same exhortation – fix your eyes on Jesus

2 – It explains one of the joys set before Jesus; the day we would say “I do.”

There comes a day when we sit at a heavenly wedding feast! In the mean while, let’s partner with the Lover of our souls, and bring many brothers and sisters to that table.

Lord, I am so glad you called me, and allowed me to hear your call. Use me to call others to this wonderful covenant.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you next week.

Meanwhile… Shine where you are plugged in.

Ben

 

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.

You say, how will I find those of like passion?

Let your passion show, and it will draw others.

Let your passion show!

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

Ben

Many Waters

For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. ~ Song of Songs 2:11-13

We have been camped here for a couple weeks looking at the season change described here in the Song. Last week we looked at some signs of life, signs that the seasons in life were changing.

In the Song winter is turning to spring. It’s interesting because if I suggest to you a spiritual winter, you might think cold and dead, and many Christians do go through a cold dead winter. However in our Song we actually see that our maiden has been snuggled in by the fireplace, so to speak, in a calm and intimate place. She has definitely been in the “comfort zone.” The Lord is calling her out of the comfort zone and into ministry now that spring has sprung.

Turtledoves - Photo Credit Wikidedia

So back to the signs of life.

Turtledoves singing:

The Turtledove is a migratory bird, and one of the last such to show up on the scene. Once this dove is cooing from the trees it is full on spring. The turtledove is traditionally a lovebird, faithful to one mate, and it's low mournful cry can be heard when it arrives from the south.

The turtledove played a part in the sacrificial system and in fact Jesus’ earthly parents offered a pair of turtledoves at His birth. Jeremiah speaks of the turtledove in much the same way as Solomon does here, as a sign of the season change.

There is however a reference to the turtledove that I love in Psalm 74, a Psalm of Asaph.

This Psalm is a cry to the Lord to return and rescue Israel. It starts out like this:

O God, why hast Thou rejected us forever?
Why does Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture?
Remember Thy congregation, which Thou hast purchased of old,
Which Thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of Thine inheritance;
And this Mount Zion, where Thou hast dwelt. ~ Psalm 74:1-2

Sounds like winter to me. Asaph cries out to the Lord later in the Psalm:

Do not deliver the soul of Thy turtledove to the wild beast;
Do not forget the life of Thine afflicted forever.
Consider the covenant; ~ Psalm 74:19-20

This winter for national Israel is clearly not the cozy winter by the fire of the Lord hearth.

Our maiden experienced a safe warm winter by the fire, yet there are times (and she will face these times too) when it just feels like God has turned us over and left us for dead.

I love the references in this Psalm, I love how Asaph calls out to the Lord, and how he refers to God’s people.

We are:

The Sheep of His pasture
His Congregation
That He purchased
That He redeemed
His inheritance
His dwelling place
His turtledove

And finally – Consider the covenant.

Remember, Lord your great and precious promises to me.

Do you hear the singing of the turtledove today as you move through the seasons of life? Are you in a soul winter?

Remind the Lord  - call upon His name.

He made you, then purchased you, then redeemed you. If that does not demonstrate your great value, you’re missing it. You are the Lord’s turtledove, His lovebird, the apple of His eye.

I got a little rambly this morning, forgive me.

Come back next week, and we will finish these signs of life.

BenBut for now – cry out to the Lord, He is listening.

See you soon.

Ben