My Beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms In the vineyards of Engedi. (Song of Songs 1:14 NASB)

Ok – here we go again with these cryptic references to things and places we don’t know.

Let me start today with another “I’m no scholar” disclaimer. I will say that there is great value in scholarship, so please don’t take my admission as any dishonor to the scholars in our midst. Not at all!

That said – here is what I understand:

Engedi was famous for it’s gardens and vineyards. They were mature and well maintained, and famous far and wide for their beauty and sweet fragrances.

Here is the thing – the beauty and fragrance of her Lover point to the fact that unlike her first encounters with religion  - (remember the bucket brigade?) – which were burdensome and full of stress, when she actually gets up close to her Shepherd King it is a sweet fragrance and beauty that can only be compared to this world famous garden.

Throughout the Song we are going to view the vineyard as the personal spiritual life of the believer. As she gazes on Jesus, she sees that a relationship of this kind is nothing like religion.

Sadly, it is all to easy for the most rigorously spontaneous of us to fall into religious patterns, and lose sight of the fact that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

O beloved, there is such a wonderful freedom and blessed joy that comes with our yoking ourselves with the Lord Jesus.

I pray the Spirit that anointed Jesus for the liberation of each of us would set you free today.

Breath deeply of the fragrance of freedom today.

Ben
Come back next week.

Ben

My Beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms In the vineyards of Engedi. (Song of Songs 1:14 NASB)

Today I am going to take a little time to point out a progression in the life of the believer that we are going to follow through the Song of Songs.

It has to do with the focus of our relationship with the Lord.

Our Maiden began the last two statements about her beloved with the phrase “My Beloved is to me…”

Many, if not all of us start here, focusing on what the Lord has done for us. Oh, and by the way, we are in good company, It is, of course, David who tells us “forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2)

How much of our worship has to do with what the Lord is to us.

Let me say again, this is not a bad thing, but it is not the end. There is a higher form of love. And our maiden is going to change.

Consider these other 3 verses spread across the Song.

My beloved is mine, and I am his; He pastures his flock among the lilies. (2:16)

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, He who pastures his flock among the lilies. (6:3)

I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me. (7:10)

Do you see the progression? As her relationship with Christ matures, her focus slowly moves away from herself, and onto Him. [Tweet This] It is no longer what Christ offers her in their life together, but what she can offer Christ.

Check it out:

  • My Beloved is to me
  • My beloved is mine, and I am his
  • I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine
  • I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me

Do you see the move from self-centered to Christ-centered life?

Christianity is a continuum for sure, and we are all on a journey. I believe you will love the transformation you will see in our Maiden, and if you will lean into your relationship with the Shepherd King, I believe you will love the transformation in your own life.

BenLet’s walk this out together.

See you next week.

Ben

While the king was at his table,
My perfume (spikenard) gave forth its fragrance.
(Song of Songs 1:12 NASB)

I don’t know about you, but when I read this line I cannot help but think of the woman – Mary – who crashed the Pharisee’s party and washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair, and then broke open her alabaster box of ointment and lavished it on the Saviors feet.

Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3 NASB)

I know that there are markers in each account that might make them seem like more than one story, but I choose to blend them into one telling.

The story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet is the essence of the transformed life.

Mary has a history, probably a woman of the night, demon possessed, and given over to sin. She may well have been the woman caught in adultery.

But there is more to her history than her past. (I like the sound of that) [Tweet This]

She was forgiven! Her past sins were unwritten, blotted out.

Those in the room with her could not see it. They still saw the loose woman.

But that woman no longer existed.

Now, in the shell that used to hold a whore, there was a worshiper.

The heart that used to shut down for a one night stand, was now a heart that poured out a life savings, wasted, squandered, lavished upon the feet of one man, her heart forever His.

Have you known this transformation?

Do you know this love?

Throw yourself at the feet of Jesus and hear those words whispered to your heart – Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.

BenThanks for reading today.

See you next week.

Ben

Related articles:

The scent of Jesus

One Act of Worship

photo credit: Fergal of Claddagh via photo pin cc

 

We will make for you ornaments of gold with beads of silver. (Song of Songs 1:11 NASB)

The two most precious materials of ancient times – Gold and Silver.

This is how the Shepherd king intends to deck out his maiden fair.

Can you imagine how our maiden feels when she hears this from the mouth of the one she adores? Remember we are still looking at her recovery from feeling dark and frustrated by her inability to keep her affairs in order.

When her Man sees her, He sees a fashion model, who should be wearing the finest jewelry.

But what does the silver and gold represent?  Are they simply a sign that the Lord wants to lavish us with good things, wants to deck us out in splendor and majesty?

Perhaps.

Mike Bickle says the gold represents divinity and the silver salvation and I like that. Peter tells us in one of my top 10 favorite verses:

…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4 NASB)

We are adorned in gold – partakers of the divine nature – and sparkling with silver – rescued from the corruption of the world though His marvelous salvation.

So I am good with that.

Then as I was getting ready to write this I was doing a bit of a search and found this little passage in Zechariah.

Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,” Declares the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ (Zechariah 13:7-9 NASB)

In this little parable the Father allows the sword (the Cross) to destroy the Shepherd (Jesus) and those who lightly follow Him are scattered.

The gold is tested and the silver refined.

Gold is your faithfulness when tested by adversity. As in the Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13 where the sun come and scorches the seedlings with no root – so it is with the fire used to test the believer. We will go through the fire, and your faithfulness will be tested.

As this happens, silver is refined. Your purity of character is enhanced by the testing you walk through.

Back to the Song – so it is with our maiden. Her initial encounters with adversity have not shaken her love for the Shepherd a bit, but intensified them. This demonstrates that she is worthy of adornment in gold.

These trials of her faith have purified her, and so she is worthy to be decked out in silver.

So it is with you, beloved. Remain faithful as circumstances and people attempt to separate you from the Lover of your soul, and He will adorn you with silver and gold. And this is a good place to start with Jesus.

Paul uses the same metaphor in 2 places:

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NASB)

And again

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. (2 Timothy 2:20 NASB)

So you see, though we start our walk with Christ in crisis over our own failure, and our inability to keep our spiritual house in order (our unkempt vineyards) He sees our faithfulness and adorns us with the most precious of goods.

God is so good! What a wonderful salvation!

BenThanks for coming by

See you next week!

Ben

“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads.” (Song of Songs 1:10 NASB)

As we look at the Shepherd King’s[i] words toward our maiden fair we are going to see Him use dozens of word pictures. Last week we looked at an example of an image from nature, this week we see Him muse about her appearance.

He will get pretty explicit as the song goes on, and I will attempt to make some sense of how it applies to the believer’s life.

Today we look at cheeks.

What good are cheeks?

Read the Cheeks!
Read the Cheeks!

They are like the emotional thermometer God has installed in each one of us. They rise and fall with our moods, and flush and pale with our passions.

Emotions are a funny thing in the church. For many years, centuries perhaps the church has frowned upon any display of emotion. I can remember as a 20 something singing a song in church where the lyrics said “I lift my hands up, unto Thy name” and looking around to see 8 hands in the air, in a room of 150 people.

We, the Church, have a limited view of God’s emotions as well. We have a God who is happy and smiling the day we repent and come to Him, and then angry with us every day after that, because we are not walking in complete submission to His will.

This is messed up.

God created us with a broad range of emotions and passions, and they are intended to bring the most out of our lives. There are ways to experience each of our God-given emotions in a way that pleases Him. [Tweet This]

When He looks at our cheeks he is pleased. When we look on Him, He sees the flush of our excitement to be in His presence, and our passion for Him and His will for us.

What about these ornaments?

Ornaments are adornments made for us by skilled artisans to bring out the beauty in our cheeks.

This may sound crazy, but I believe one adornment is worship. When we worship the Lord we engage our emotions, and take the skillful work of others – Poets, Songwriters, Musicians, Artists – and let it bring out the beauty in our emotion. We let our emotions do that for which they were created – bring Glory to Jesus.

Does that make sense?

I know it helps me.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you next week.

Ben


[i] For the purposes of this series the Shepherd King represents Jesus in our reading of the Song, and the maiden is the individual believer. You can see the discussion on this in my earlier post – “Interpretation – Song of Songs Saturday

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 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 to make you the righteousness of God in Him.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-SHALOM  - Our perfect peace - He was demonstrating His passion to come as the Prince of Peace and demolish all that stands between you and peace with God.

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 to heal 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 declaration of His Name changed your reality?

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

Ben