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

1

vineyard with workers
photo credit: Winter pruning Granton Vineyard Tasmania via photopin (license)

Today we hear the voice of one who has spoken little in this Song of Songs, the narrator. For the most part the song is a dialog between Shepherd King and the Shulamite, with some soliloquy sprinkled in and a chorus giving us the color commentary. But here as we near the end, a neutral voice comes in to give us a statement of fact.

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers.
Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.

Song of Songs 8:11 NASB

Let’s break it down.

Solomon is the king, and we’ve considered him a type of Christ in the Song. He is our Shepherd King.

Baal-hammon literally translates as “lord (possessor) of abundance” or “lord of a multitude.” There is no such place mentioned anywhere in the rest of the Bible, nor has any reference been found elsewhere to such a place, so it might be better to look at it for its meaning than for its location.

This is my take: King Jesus has a fertile global vineyard.

Israel is known as God’s vineyard.

Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.

Isaiah 5:1-2 NASB

Jesus has a vineyard, and it’s the Church. We are His vineyard.

Next we see that He entrusted His vineyard to caretakers. Now he’s talking about you and me. You’ve been placed in His worldwide vineyard and set to tend to His fields—vines.

Perhaps your saying to yourself, I’m not a pastor. I’m no leader in the Church.

In God’s design for the Body of Christ, we are all in places of responsibility. You may not be a mouth in the body. You may not be in any “up-front” type position, but you are set in the body with a purpose.

Perhaps you’re not involved in a formal church at all. That’s fine too, but you still are called to be part of a community, and you have a role to play there.

One of the problems organized churches face is believers tend to become attenders. A sort of audience whose only role in church life is to fill the pew. There is no way this is God’s intention for His vineyard. The whole 80%-20% thing is anathema, a horrible deformity in the body. The idea that we expect four fifths of those who name the name of Christ to show up on Sunday (or Saturday night if it’s more convenient) and make their weekly (or monthly) appearance is insane.

I’m not saying they need to be busy doing church work. What I’m getting at is that each of us has a calling to be at work in the Lords fields—the world—scattering seed, turning soil, watering, maybe even spreading dung.

The kingdom of God has no place for attenders. It’s just not that kind of kingdom.

Let’s talk about the thousand shekels next week.

For now, let’s consider what part the Lord has equipped you for, in His vineyard. Who has He placed before you? Who are you encouraging to grow? Who are you drawing into the vineyard? Who are you training up in your role?

Lord, help me see clearly today, the work you have set before me. That mission You had in Your mind's eye when You spoke my name and placed me in my mother’s womb. I want to walk in all You have for me.

Thanks for coming by today.

Have a great Saturday.

Ben

4

I went down to the garden of nuts
To see the verdure of the valley,
To see whether the vine had budded
And the pomegranates had bloomed.

Song of Songs 6:11 NKJV

OK – I confess – I laughed when I read that –

I went down to the garden of nuts.

But what is she talking about now?

These nut trees are good:

Good for food

Good for shade

Good for oil

Good for wood

Very good

Next we see when she comes to the garden what she observes is that which is blooming.

The vines are blooming.

The pomegranates are blooming.

The garden given to the Lord has become fruitful.

She took her garden and turned it over to Him, and now it is flourishing.

Not only that, she, now mature, is a partner in its tending. She is the one coming and caring for the blossoming vines and growth.

Her garden was once over run foxes and vermin, but now in His hands she is entrusted once again with the garden, and she tends it well.

This garden is His body – the brothers and sisters she touches, and she is instrumental in their growth and tending.

But she had to give it to Him to ever see it truly flourish.

When she held it, it was …meh

But when the work of our hands is left in His control, we look like geniuses – LOL! What a crazy plan. In the end, He gets the glory and we get to do what we love, and have it blossom.

I love you Jesus!

nora and papa at the table, benThanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben

9

Many Waters - SoS header

Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Gilead.

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.

Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

Song of Songs 6:5-7 NASB

Today we find the Shepherd King once again describing His maiden. In fact this description is one He has used before. You can find the exact words mingled with another description from Song of Songs 4:1-3

The last time He spoke these words was directly after their wedding. We saw the wedding procession in the end of chapter 3, then chapter 4 begins with the Grooms enthralling description of His beautiful bride.

It was also before the testing she walked through in chapter 5.

At their wedding, He was affirming what He knew was within her, even though it had not been tested by fire, it had not been given a chance to grow. He gave her credit for these marks of maturity (as we will see) before they were visible, even to her.

What this means to us is that God calls those things that are not, as though they are.

He speaks into our future.

And not only into our future circumstance (because that is what consumes our attention)

but

He speaks into our future character (because that is what consumes His attention.) [Tweet This]

The day that He breathes the breath of life into our spirit
The day He calls us His own
The day He adorns us in His wedding garment
The day He burns the filthy clothes we arrived in
The day He chooses us out of the liar’s orphanage
The day He gives us His own name

That is the day He plants His character in us.
That is the day He grafts us into the tree of life.
That is the day He clothes us in Christ.

And that is the day His view of us is 100% Christ and 0% us.

But now we find our maiden, our bride, (ourselves) having come through the fires of trial and what was...

germ
seed
vision
prophecy

...on our wedding day, now is blooming and bearing fruit.

She is (your are) no longer a dark but lovely stranger to grace

Not simply in possession of a promise and a future

She is becoming the image of Christ, being fashioned by the hands of the Potter into something beautiful.

Next time we will look at the specifics of this declaration of Christian maturity Christ sees in His bride, but for today know this.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 1:6 NASB

IMG_2337Thanks for coming by today.

Walk in the light.

Ben

 

 

4

Her Gaze - Connie Chadwell
Her Gaze - Connie Chadwell

If you have been around the Church for any length of time, you many know the chorus, ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” It’s great counsel. When life gets out of control, and you can’t see your way through – turn your eyes upon Jesus. When you feel like you are about to sink, like Peter walking on the water, turn your eyes upon Jesus.

The song tells us:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Helen H. Lemmel

Today, we hear Jesus’ reaction to our eyes turned toward Him.

Let me recap just a bit.

The Shulamite (in my view – an individual sold out in pursuit of Jesus) has been through some trials of her faith, and rather than her faith fading or failing, she came through desperately seeking the face of her Beloved (in my view this Shepherd King is Jesus.) She gives Him high praise from the dark place of the soul. He breaks His silence in her life with high praise for her.

Today we hear Him say

Turn your eyes away from me,
For they have overcome me.

Song of Songs 6:5 NKJV

When you turn your eyes upon me, I am overwhelmed. He is not actually asking her to stop looking. He is saying that her gaze, her steadfast looking to Him from her point of need melts His heart.

Check out these other translations of the phrase:

  • for they overwhelm me! CEB
  • they make me melt. CEB
  • Your eyes excite me too much! ERV
  • They enchant me! GW
  • they are holding me captive. GNT
  • for they captivate me. HCSB
  • for they stir me up. NABRE
  • For they have confused me; NASB
  • They overpower me. NIRB

[Thanks to BibleGateway.com’s “every English translation” feature]

This statement the Shepherd King makes is another over the top declaration of His passion for His bride.

There is a common misconception in the Church that the Lord barely tolerates us and is so frustrated with our failure that He is always on the verge of assigning us back to hell.

Ok – if your life is so full of compromise, guilt and shame that you are not really sure if you belong to Jesus at all, you need to deal with that.

But if you are in fact a soundly saved,
a son or daughter of the living God,
bought by the blood of Jesus and
saved by His amazing grace,
living in covenant with Him and
walking daily in communion with Him –

Hear this now:

HE IS CRAZY ABOUT YOU!

When you turn your eyes toward Him

In times of trouble
In times of temptation
In times of victory and
Even in times of failure and repentance.

He is overcome by your gaze.

He said it before

You have ravished my heart,
My sister, my spouse;
You have ravished my heart
With one look of your eyes,
With one link of your necklace.

Song of Songs 4:9 NKJV

And He is saying it to you today.

Lord, I turn my eyes on you today, and I sense your love and passion for me. By turning my eyes toward you, I keep myself in your embrace. I am so glad that I’m not ‘just barely’ in Your grace, but I am the apple of Your eye.

My Wonderful Bride and I
My Wonderful Bride and I

Thanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

Image Credit: Connie Chadwell
http://hackberrystreetstudio.blogspot.com 
http://conniechadwell.com

2

photo credit: sjdunphy via photopin cc
photo credit: sjdunphy via photopin cc

Last week we looked at ten character traits our Maiden loves in her Shepherd King. She explains to her girl friends why she is so willing to search for and wait for her Lover.

Today the other maidens, these who have been questioning her have another question.

Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
That we may seek him with you?

Song of Songs 6:1 NASB

Her ten-fold praise of Jesus has had two profound effects.

First – Praise makes you beautiful.

This is easy to miss. Have you ever met someone who outwardly is completely beautiful but had a bad attitude? They complain about everything, or are contentious. Their constant criticisms turn them from a beauty into something awful.

By the same token, take a plain person with a heart full of praise, and before too long, you will find that she/he is beautiful in your eyes. You will desire to spend time with them.

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

I love that – Praise is pleasant and praise is beautiful.

You are beautiful when you enter into wholehearted praise. When you worship with abandon, you are irresistible to the Lover of your Soul, and you are beautiful to those in attendance too.

Next – Praise is the most genuine form of evangelism. Her passion, her adoration for the Lord turns into pure evangelism. This evangelism is not motivated out of fear or guilt. It is not stilted nor does it seem pre-planned. This is true evangelism, that which is a simple outflow of what her heart knows of Him. Her words are not an argument, or a defense, but rather they flow from her heart, and express how the deep love of the Father has touched her and changed her, until He is her whole desire.

Her love for Him just pours out. This looks nothing like religion, which has motions to go through to keep accounts up to date. She has been deprived of closeness to Him, and has been deprived of ministry and that which fulfills her and yet, her contact with others still flows in ministry.

After sitting and hearing her speak of Him, they want to know Him too. They want to find Him, they want to follow Him.

Praise is great evangelism. No advertising budget can beat a satisfied customer.

BN Writers Page 150Will you come and follow my beautiful Jesus with me?

He is worthy.

Ben

 

5

Irises from Presby Memorial Iris Garden
Irises from Presby Memorial Iris Garden

When Jesus take ownership of His garden (formerly your life) what does He do?

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, friends; Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.

Song of Songs 5:1 NASB

This garden in the Song of Songs is the soul of the believer, prepared for the Master, and then given to Him. We have seen the Shulamite mature to the place where she gives her life to Him and holds nothing back.

Once He takes ownership of her life, what does He do?

Comes

Jesus comes into His garden.
He takes up residence.
He makes her His dwelling place.

One thing about giving your life to the Lord, you will never be alone again. As Jesus came to the Garden of Eden and walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, so Jesus comes to us as we give ourselves to Him.

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. – John 14:23

Gathers

That which pleases the Father is the fruit we bear. As we begin to display the fruit of the Spirit, it demonstrates more and more our likeness to Christ. As our garden flourishes with godly character the Father is glorified more and more.

The common knowledge of our day is that ‘people don’t change.’ That’s why when a man or woman is born again, when the Spirit of God begins to change a man from the inside out, the world takes notice. God is glorified since the world cannot deny the hand of God in this great work.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. ... My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. - John 15:2, 8 NASB

Eats and Drinks

The Lord said to the multitudes,

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. - John 6:56 NASB

The fact that the Lord partakes of the sustenance and in fact the sweetness that the garden offers, demonstrates that He has become one with the believer. Life in Christ is not a one-way street. It is intended to be a partnership. We eat the bread and drink the wine of His blood and He eats of the honeycomb and drinks of the fruit of our vine and the milk from our herd.

The Father’s intention is that we become one with Christ, and He becomes one with us. We hear this and say it all the time, but do you understand what is offered here. If we are one with Christ, and He is one with the Father, it is God’s will and intention that we become indistinguishable.

I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. - John 17:23 NASB

As we grow, the world’s ability to distinguish between Christ and the Christian grows ever smaller.

John the Baptist prayed that Jesus would increase and He would decrease. How does that work? The difference between Jesus and His bride grows ever smaller.

Invites

Though our relationship with the Lord, to a great extent, is carried out in private, He shares us with His Body. The body of Christ is the household of faith. We cannot have Him without Him sharing us with His Church.

In Ephesians 4 we see that Christ’s gifts to the Church are people. The Spirit gives the believer abilities and fills them with power as described in 1 Corinthians 12. Jesus Himself gives people. You are a gift to the body of Christ.

Life Wasted?

As we give ourselves fully to the Lord, He will have more and more to do with our lives. Perhaps we should call it active intimacy.

I have heard folks contrast a life of worship or intimacy, with that of working in the kingdom. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we press it, as we give ourselves fully over to the Lord, He is going to make full use of our life. You were created unto good works, which the Father designed for you.

My prayer today: Lord,

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Frances R. Havergal, 1874

 

Ben NelsonBlessings,

Ben

4

Many Waters - SoS header

What is it that the Lord finds so irresistible about you? Why does He want to spend time in your – no – His garden?

It is the fragrance wafting abroad -

Awake, O north wind,
And come, wind of the south;
Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my Beloved come into His garden
And eat its choice fruits!

Song of Songs 4:16 NASB

To stir it up – to get that fragrance moving, she looks to the north and south winds.

If you are like me, and if you live in the northern hemisphere,  you love that south wind, the breeze which blows in the warm air. Believe me, after this winter, I am looking forward to the sweet warm southern air to blow in and stir up my garden.

The wind of the south speaks of good times, perhaps precious times of fellowship with the Lord. There is a certain beauty that is stirred up by those pleasant times of love, and peace.

But then there is that old north wind. It blows in the chill of adversity, the chill of hardship, the chill of loss. What happens in your garden when the north wind blows? Does it stir up the delightful fragrance of love and gratitude, or does this ill wind stir up the stagnant, putrid smell of complaint and bitterness?

in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB

Paul does not tell us we have to give thanks FOR everything, but our lips should ALWAYS be carrying thanksgiving and praise.

Can you pray with the maiden – “Awake O north wind and come, winds of the south, Make my garden breathe out fragrance…”

Ben NelsonHear us Lord!

Blessings

Ben

10

Many Waters - SoS header

Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits, Fragrant henna with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron,
Calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief spices

Song of Songs 4:13-14 NKJV

These few lines are packed full of meaning for us today.

The Lover of our souls, the Shepherd King is speaking in wonderful word pictures painting a description of what He sees as He surveys the garden of your life with Him.

In Verse 12 that He calls his maiden bride an enclosed or locked garden. She is to Him a place prepared.

This is it self is a wonderful turnabout. We know Jesus says to the disciples in John 14:2

for I go to prepare a place for you. - John 14:2 NASB

As you press in to your relationship with Him, you begin to create a place for Him.

First this word, translated orchard, is interesting. It is not Hebrew in origin, but probably Persian or some other eastern source. It may be where we get our word paradise. It speaks of cultivated parks or forests that were kept near the Asian King’s palaces. It makes me thing of the garden God created for Adam and Eve.

Today as I ponder this idea, I keep coming back to the really awesome realization that we are to the Lord a paradise, and that we have prepared a place for Him.

Just as in the Garden of Eden, Jesus came and walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, so it is with the garden – paradise – you are preparing for Him.

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. - John 14:23 NASB

As you give your life to Him in faith and obedience, in trust and love, His grace runs through the garden of your life. The living water of His Spirit flows through your garden, in wells and fountains, springs and streams, and supplies life to this forest, this orchard of fruit bearing trees, trees of life that grow within you.

I must go and tend to my garden. I must prepare a place, because the Lover of my soul is coming to meet me here. [Tweet This]

I go to prepare a place for Him.

Will you do the same?

Ben NelsonBlessings,

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

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!

Your lips, my bride, drip honey;
Honey and milk are under your tongue,
And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

Song of Songs 4:10-11

The Song started with the maiden talking about the sweet smell of her wanna-be lover. As He walked by her in the square, before they had met, and long before they were intimate, she made mention of His fragrance.

Now having spent time in His presence, in His embrace, she comes away with the same sweet savor.

He now sees in her – or should I say senses upon her a sweet fragrance.

She does not smell like a novice shepherdess, rather like all kinds of spices and like the expensive fragrances of Lebanon.

In our day it would probably sound something like this.

My darling, your fragrance is like the kitchens of the best restaurants, your clothes remind me of expensive French perfume.

OK – so I should leave the sweet talk to Solomon – I get it – but I hope you get the idea.

My real point today is if you spend time around Jesus, you will start to smell like Him. You will take on the sweet savor of life.

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. And who is adequate for these things? - 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NASB

Do you remember the woman who poured out the ointment at the feet of Jesus.

The jar was broken – the ointment, costly spikenard poured out – the whole room smelled of the stuff. Just a few days later with Jesus on the cross, there would be a woman in the crowd from whom there still arose a fleeting reminder of spikenard. They shared this scent – this fragrance.

Her worship left a mark on her Savior, and when they left the room, they BOTH smelled like HER worship! [Tweet This]

WOW – yep – just WOW

Worship Him with me, won’t you?

Thanks for coming by.

Ben NelsonLeave your mark on Jesus today!

See you again soon.

Ben