1879.) Song of Solomon 8

July 14, 2016

Song of Solomon 8   (NIV)

   She

1 If only you were to me like a brother,
who was nursed at my mother’s breasts!
Then, if I found you outside,
I would kiss you,
and no one would despise me.
2 I would lead you
and bring you to my mother’s house—
she who has taught me.
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
the nectar of my pomegranates.
3 His left arm is under my head
and his right arm embraces me.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind,
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple
we should take him at his word,
and our lives would be all sunshine
in the sweetness of our Lord.

4 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

Friends

5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness
leaning on her beloved?

She

Under the apple tree I roused you;
there your mother conceived you,
there she who was in labor gave you birth.
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

LOVE IS . . . faithful.

True love is naturally true. Love wants to be faithful. It wants to give all of itself to one, not to disperse and divide itself upon many. 

Thus, “my bride is a garden locked, a fountain sealed” (Song 4:12). Love is sealed against intruders:  “Set me as a seal upon your heart” (Song 8:6).

It is impossible to give the whole of your self to more than one person. You cannot give the whole of yourself to a group of two or more. If you multiply the recipient, you divide the gift — and the giver. And a divided giver, a divided self, is a terrible thing, like a split personality. Only God can give the whole of himself to more than one, to each one of us, because God is in eternity in full perfection, and his love is without limits.

–from Three Philosophies of Life,  by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

Music:

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.

Dr. Rene Clausen is an American composer, conductor of The Concordia Choir and professor of music at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. His timeless composition, “Set Me as a Seal,” was performed  HERE  by The National Lutheran Choir on February 14, 2009 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

There is a story behind this particular piece of music:  Dr. Clausen and his wife had been trying for a child over five years’ time and had had four miscarriages. The fifth pregnancy was a success. At around six months a procedure called amniocentesis was done, where amniotic fluid is tested to make sure the child is healthy in a risky pregnancy. The doctor mistakenly hit the umbilical cord, resulting in the death of the baby. His wife had to birth the child — and after the intense labor of their lifeless child, Dr. Clausen wrote this piece. He said it took him only forty-five minutes to write it and he never made a change to it. “Love is strong as death.”

_________________________

Friends

8 We have a little sister,
and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
on the day she is spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
we will enclose her with panels of cedar.

She

10 I am a wall,
and my breasts are like towers.
Thus I have become in his eyes
like one bringing contentment.
11 Solomon had a vineyard in Baal Hamon;
he let out his vineyard to tenants.
Each was to bring for its fruit
a thousand shekels of silver.
12 But my own vineyard is mine to give;
the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon,
and two hundred are for those who tend its fruit.

He

13 You who dwell in the gardens
with friends in attendance,
let me hear your voice!

She

14 Come away, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
on the spice-laden mountains.

SONNET 116
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

_________________________

Do you want to hear the end of this Song?

Revelation 21:1-7 (New Living Translation)

The New Jerusalem

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
butterfly.    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3046/2932832001_0d5c08d3c1.jpg
Jesus loves you.  http://powerofamoment.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/jesus-loves-you.jpg
50th wedding anniversary cake.    http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_DYYJvE60SI4/TOMbxRmo54I/AAAAAAAAAdU/0Q7gszsGciM/th_wedding_anniversary_cakes.jpg
New Jerusalem.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/new_jerusalem1.jpg

1878.) Song of Solomon 7

July 13, 2016

Please don’t imagine the metaphors literally!

Song of Solomon 7   (NIV)

He

1 How beautiful your sandaled feet,
O prince’s daughter!
Your graceful legs are like jewels,
the work of an artist’s hands.
2 Your navel is a rounded goblet
that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
encircled by lilies.
3 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon
by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses.
6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
my love, with your delights!
7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
9 and your mouth like the best wine.

She

May the wine go straight to my beloved,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.
10 I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me.

LOVE IS . . . exchange of selves.

Something extremely simple yet incredibly mysterious is said in Song of Songs 2:16 and again at 7:10:  “My beloved is mine and I am his.” Love exchanges selves. When I love you, I no longer possess myself; you do. I have given it away. But I possess your self. How can this be? How can the gift of the giver be the very giver? How can the hand that gives hold itself in itself as its own gift? The ordinary relationship between giver and gift, subject and object, is overcome here. The simple-sounding truism that in love you give your very self to your beloved is a high and holy mystery.

Its ultimate explanation is an even higher and holier mystery, the Trinity itself. Lovers belong to each other because love is the nature of God, and the Persons in the Divine Trinity give themselves to each other. The Son is the very Word, or thought or mind of the Father given so totally that he is another Person; and the Spirit is the very love between Father and Son given so totally that he too eternally becomes a third Person.

The image of this ultimate Fact in human love is that lovers can really give themselves to each other, so that “the two become one” without ceasing to be two. 

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.
12 Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom—
there I will give you my love.

LOVE IS . . . alive.

All the images for love in this poem, as in most love poems, are images of living, growing things:  a garden (Song 4:12, 16), a vineyard (Song 7:12, 8:11-12), a well of living water (Song 4:15). Love grows like a plant.  t does not merely grow in us, with us, as a function of us; we grow in it, with it, as a function of it. It has a life of its own — ultimately because it is a seed of God planted in our lives. “He who lives in love, lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

13 The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my beloved.

cowslips

Sonnet XI
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Not in a silver casket cool with pearls
Or rich with red corundum or with blue
Locked, and the key withheld, as other girls
Have given their loves, I give my love to you.
Not in a lovers’-knot, not in a ring
Worked in such fashion and the legend plain-
Semper fidelis,
where a secret spring

Kennels a drop of mischief for the brain:
Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring you, calling out as children do:
“Look what I have! – And these are all for you.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  Celine Dion sings “The Power of Love,” which I think is a pretty good match for the Song we have been reading!

The whispers in the morning
Of lovers sleeping tight
Are rolling like thunder now
As I look in your eyes
I hold on to your body
And feel each move you make
Your voice is warm and tender
A love that I could not forsake

‘Cause I am your lady
And you are my man
Whenever you reach for me
I’ll do all that I can

Lost is how I’m feeling, lying in your arms
When the world outside’s too
Much to take
That all ends when I’m with you
Even though there may be times
It seems I’m far away
Never wonder where I am
‘Cause I am always by your side

We’re heading for something
Somewhere I’ve never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I’m ready to learn
Of the power of love
The sound of your heart beating
Made it clear suddenly
The feeling that I can’t go on
Is light years away

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
literal metaphors.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/songsolomon.jpg
cowslips.   http://kokoskisclasses.weebly.com/uploads/9/5/6/2/9562752/3504863_orig.jpg

1877.) Song of Solomon 6

July 12, 2016

Song of Solomon 6   (NIV)

   Friends

1 Where has your beloved gone,
most beautiful of women?
Which way did your beloved turn,
that we may look for him with you?

She

2 My beloved has gone down to his garden,
to the beds of spices,
to browse in the gardens
and to gather lilies.
3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he browses among the lilies.

My True Love Hath My Heart
by Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given;
I hold his dear and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his.

He4 You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
as lovely as Jerusalem,
as majestic as troops with banners.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Beautiful art thou, my fair one, majestic as bannered hosts.
— Song of Solomon 6:4

Just now a tree on the very top of the hill is all tipped with the crimson of young leaves. Through the field glasses it is like an army with banners, and every single little crimson banner is held out and waves in the wind.

Beautiful art thou, my fair one, majestic as bannered hosts. That is what our Lord calls us, thinking of us as so much better than we really are, for that is His loving custom. If we truly love Him it is impossible to hear such words without wanting to rise to them.

Are we like an army with banners? Or are we slouching along anyhow? It would spoil a bannered host if a single banner-bearer trailed his banner in the dust, and marched out of step, and slacked. Don’t let any one of us think, “It doesn’t matter about me.”  It does matter about you. Stand beautiful!

5 Turn your eyes from me;
they overwhelm me.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from Gilead.
6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin,
not one of them is missing.
7 Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
8 Sixty queens there may be,
and eighty concubines,
and virgins beyond number;
9 but my dove, my perfect one, is unique,
the only daughter of her mother,
the favorite of the one who bore her.
The young women saw her and called her blessed;
the queens and concubines praised her.

Friends

10 Who is this that appears like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
majestic as the stars in procession?

LOVE IS . . . power.

The imagery in Song of Songs is startling.  It is never weak and wimpy, sweet and swoony.  The imagery is so strong and active that it is military.  What woman has even been flattered by her beloved’s comparing her to an army and a fortress?  There is no chauvinistic passivity here.  The bride is not a shrinking violet, nor does the groom want her to be.  She is as active as he is but in a totally feminine way.  She is the dawn, and the dawn “comes up like thunder” here.  When God our groom comes to us with his love, we are not flattened but straightened, not turned off but turned on, not made passive but made active. 

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

He

11 I went down to the grove of nut trees
to look at the new growth in the valley,
to see if the vines had budded
or the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 Before I realized it,
my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people.

Friends

13 Come back, come back, O Shulammite;
come back, come back, that we may gaze on you!

He

Why would you gaze on the Shulammite
as on the dance of Mahanaim?

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “If Ever I Would Leave You”  —  from Camelot, sung by Robert Goulet.  I had the privilege years ago of seeing Goulet as King Arthur in a Camelot production at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.  It remains an enchanted memory.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
I am my beloved’s . . .    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/200f8-i2bam2bmy2bbeloved2527s.png
two hearts.   http://www.clker.com/cliparts/4/d/5/d/12065573741668753765egore911_2_hearts.svg.hi.png
red tree.    http://staytondailyphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/dennyb_redtree.jpg

1876.) Song of Solomon 5

July 11, 2016

“Song of Solomon” by Darlene Slavujak, 1994.

Song of Solomon 5   (NIV)

   He

1 I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.

Friends

Eat, friends, and drink;
drink your fill of love.

She

2 I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night.”

Wild Nights

    Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
    Were I with thee
    Wild Nights should be
    Our luxury!

    Futile – the Winds –
    To a Heart in port –
    Done with the Compass –
    Done with the Chart!

    Rowing in Eden –
    Ah, the Sea!
    Might I but moor – Tonight –
    In Thee!

    –Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

3 I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?
4 My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.
5 I arose to open for my beloved,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the bolt.
6 I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.
7 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
they took away my cloak,
those watchmen of the walls!
8 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
if you find my beloved,
what will you tell him?
Tell him I am faint with love.

LOVE IS . . . ready.

When the angel appeared to Mary, she was ready with her response:  Yes, let it be, “Be it done to me according to your word.” That is why Mary is considered by some to be a perfect saint:  a perfect saint has perfect love, and perfect love is perfectly ready with its simple Yes.

But the bride in the Song of Solomon, like our own soul, is not perfectly ready. She makes excuses, and because of this fear, withdrawal, or double-mindedness, the longed-for consummation of their love is postponed, and she suffers immeasurably, as the verses above show.

We are always doing that with God. The divinely whispered invitation to turn immediately to him, to follow the first breath of his Spirit, is seldom heeded. When we have more time, when we are in a better mood, when these Martha-like many things are taken care of, then we can attend to the Mary thing, the “one thing needful.” But tomorrow never comes, and if we do not turn today we simply do not turn, for today is the only time there is. “Now is the time of salvation.” Be ready for all the joy of Now.

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

Friends

9 How is your beloved better than others,
most beautiful of women?
How is your beloved better than others,
that you so charge us?

She

10 My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.

LOVE IS . . . individual.

The object of love is a person, and every person is an individual.  No person is a class, a species, or a collection.  There is no such thing as the love of humanity because there is no such thing as humanity.  If your preachers or teachers have told you that the Bible teaches you to love humanity, they have told you a lie.  Not once does the Bible say that; not once does it even mention the word humanity.  Jesus always commands us to love God and our neighbor instead.

How comfortable “humanity” is!  “Humanity” never shows up at your door at the most inconvenient time.  “Humanity” is not quarrelsome, alcoholic, or fanatical.  “Humanity” is never slimy, swarmy, smarmy, smelly, or smutty.  “Humanity” is so ideal that one could easily die for it.  But to die for your neighbor, to die for Sam Slug or Mehitabel Crotchit — unthinkable.  Except for love.

One of the saints said that if you had been the only person God ever created, he would have gone to all the trouble he went to just to save you alone.  When he died on the cross, he did not die for humanity; he died for you.  “Behold, I have called you by name,” he says.  “I have engraved your name upon my palm.”  When he welcomes you into your heavenly mansion, he will not address you as “comrade.”  Lovers love to whisper each other’s names because the name stands for the person, the individual.

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

11 His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.
12 His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels.
13 His cheeks are like beds of spice
yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh.
14 His arms are rods of gold
set with topaz.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with lapis lazuli.
15 His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars.
16 His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.

“There is nothing that can surprise our Lord in our unworthiness; He knows us through and through. But it must surprise Him sometimes that we ever stay even for one minute in the dark and cold, when we have such a Beloved and such a Friend that we have only to think of Him (instead of ourselves) to find ourselves with Him, embraced by His warm love on every side.”

–Amy Carmichael

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “All I Ask of You”  from Phantom of the Opera, sung by Michael Ball and Sierra BoggessSo beautiful.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Slavujak.   http://www.heqigallery.com/GALLERY%20OT%20A/images/09_the_song_of_solomon.jpg
“The Ocean by the Night” by angelcheto.   http://s71.photobucket.com/user/angelcheto/media/Dark/512.jpg.html

1875.) Song of Solomon 4

July 8, 2016
Aishwarya Rai, a star of Indian Bollywood films, is considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world today.

Aishwarya Rai, a star of Indian Bollywood films, is considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world today.

Song of Solomon 4   (NIV)

   He

1 How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.

SoS4 kiss

Jenny Kissed Me
by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.

Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.

LOVE IS . . . natural.

Love is supernatural, but love is also natural — like Christ, who is both fully God and fully man. Love “moves the sun and all the stars,” as Dante and the ancients knew. Love is the theme of nature’s song.

That is why the poet of this song, like all traditional love poets, finds and uses analogies throughout nature for human love. But modern sensibilities are more materialistic than those of the ancients, and so we need to be reeducated into at least one crucial feature of traditional imagery. These images are often based not on an empirical, visible likeness but on an emotional one. Consider the passage we have just read, for instance.  Not one of the seven natural images is one of visible resemblance, except very remotely. If the reader thinks the writer is attempting that, the spell of the poetry not only will not work but also will work a counterspell of scorn and laughter. But if the reader understands the emotional equivalence, he will be able to enter into the poet’s secret world of fittingness.

Everything in nature can symbolize love because everything in nature was designed and created to manifest the God of love. “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Every blade of grass is a blade of grace, a grace note in God’s Song.

–from Three Philosophies of Life,  by Peter Kreeft

6 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “You are so beautiful (to me)”  by Joe Cocker.

_________________________

8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
come with me from Lebanon.
Descend from the crest of Amana,
from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon,
from the lions’ dens
and the mountain haunts of leopards.
9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice!
11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.

13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,
14 nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.

“When a spice is used raw, as is, you get one flavor,” says Raghavan Iyer, eminent Indian food writer and chef, who speaks with the precision and clarity of a veteran instructor. “When it’s ground, you get a second flavor. When it’s toasted, you get a third flavor. When it’s ground after it has been dry toasted, you get a fourth flavor.”

He pauses for a moment, and then presents the remaining options.

“When it’s sauteed in some kind of a fat, you get flavor number five,” he says. “If it’s ground after it’s sauteed, you get flavor number six. If it’s soaked in some liquid while it’s in the seed form, you get flavor number seven. If it’s ground after it has been soaked in liquid, you get flavor number eight.

“These are not subtleties, these are very distinct flavors,” he adds, emphatically. “All of a sudden… you take that and multiply it by the hundreds of different spices out there, and you’ve peeked into the world of Indian cooking. It’s that sophistication of flavors that come through from using the same ingredient in different ways.”

One spice — yet many delicious flavors. One spouse — yet many shining facets. One marriage — yet many glorious qualities.

15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.

She

16 Awake, north wind,
and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
that its fragrance may spread everywhere.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and taste its choice fruits.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

There are two pots of lilies in my room. In one the flowers are large and perfect; in the other the bloom has missed something. It does not reach perfection.

A glance discovers the reason. Its leaves are dusty.

Awake O north wind — sharp, cold, unwelcome — and come, thou south — welcome by all — blow upon my garden. Round about us day by day these winds blow. They breathe the very breath of life upon us, for they come at the call of Him who is our Breath of Life.

Are we receiving all that they carry to us? Are we missing the blessed good of either the sharpness or sweetness, the desired or the undesired? Are those secret doors of the spirit, hidden from all eyes like the stomata on the underside of the leaf, wide open, clean, free from the dust of earth?

O Breath of Life whose winds blow about me now, let me be all open to Thee today.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Rai.   http://cdn2.stylecraze.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Aishwarya-Rai-Beauty-Secrets.jpg
Jenny kissed me.    http://img3.goodfon.su/wallpaper/big/2/52/children-boy-girl-kiss-dress.jpg
spices.   https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-raMWEoTUipg/TkIZOpaxeTI/AAAAAAAAcF0/YrufD_mAaU4/spices.jpg
lilies of the valley.  http://ddeventdesign.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/lily-of-the-valley1.jpg

1874. Song of Solomon 3

July 7, 2016

I will get up now and go about the city; I will search for the one my heart loves.

Song of Solomon 3   (NIV)

Dear readers — My apologies for unintentionally sending out two postings yesterday; my fault entirely. Here is a repeat from yesterday but it was meant for today!

Rebecca

She

1 All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
2 I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.

LOVE IS . . . work.

Love is not passive. Love is singing a duet, and that is work. Joyful work, but work nonetheless. Young lovers first fall in love passively, but if they are to stay in love they must actively work to keep it and grow it, like a seed that is first received into the ground but must then be tended and fertilized or it will die. So the bride sings, “I sought him . . . I will rise now and go about the city . . . I will seek him whom my soul loves.” Life is a quest for love and a quest for God.

Freud says that the two most basic needs everyone has are “love and work.” That is a wise saying. And these two are one, for if work is to be fulfilling, it must be a work of love, and if love is to live, it must be a work. As Kierkegaard points out, love in Christianity is not a feeling, as it is for Romanticism; rather, “love is the works of love.” That is why Christ can command love. Only a fool tries to command a feeling.

The strangest thing about our work of love is that it is both work and rest, both weekday and sabbath. Jesus made this clear when the Pharisees got angry at him for his work of healing on the sabbath. His answer told them, in effect, that you could no more stop this work than you could stop the sun from shining, for it is the very life of the Father, which eternally reaches out from the sabbath of eternity into the work week of time, as he did at the Creation. Jesus’ answer to them was:  “My Father is working still, and I am working” (John 5:17). What has this to do with us human lovers?  ike Father, like Son; like Christ, like Christian. Our work of love participates in the dual nature of Christ:  divine and human, eternal and temporal, sabbath rest and weekday work, Easter Sunday and Good Friday.

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

So I looked for him but did not find him.
3 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
4 Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room of the one who conceived me.
5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

Beautiful Dreamer

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;

Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d a way!

Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life’s busy throng, —
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea
Mermaids are chanting the wild lorelie;
Over the streamlet vapors are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.

Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E’en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart, —
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

— by Stephen Foster

_________________________

Music:

Looking for love?  HERE  is one of my favorite love songs.  “Some Enchanted Evening,” from a concert from Carnegie Hall in 2005 — Reba McEntire & Brian Stokes Mitchell.  “Once you have found him, never let him go . . .”

_________________________

6 Who is this coming up from the wilderness
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and incense
made from all the spices of the merchant?
7 Look! It is Solomon’s carriage,
escorted by sixty warriors,
the noblest of Israel,
8 all of them wearing the sword,
all experienced in battle,
each with his sword at his side,
prepared for the terrors of the night.
9 King Solomon made for himself the carriage;
he made it of wood from Lebanon.
10 Its posts he made of silver,
its base of gold.
Its seat was upholstered with purple,
its interior inlaid with love.
Daughters of Jerusalem, 11 come out,
and look, you daughters of Zion.
Look on King Solomon wearing a crown,
the crown with which his mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
the day his heart rejoiced.

LOVE IS . . . triumphalistic.

Love is, simply, superior. It belongs on a throne. It rightly brags, praises, exults, celebrates, sings its Song of Songs. It deserves silver and gold and robes and crown. Heaven will be full of it (if the symbolism of Revelation means anything at all); had we not better practice living with it?

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
woman alone.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/alone460.jpg
dreamer of the sea.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/7b/c2/3e/7bc23edd24711decf33198f024ad5dfd.jpg

1873.) Song of Solomon 2

July 6, 2016

“Song of Solomon” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

Song of Solomon 2   (NIV)

   She

1 I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.

He

2 Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.

She

3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.

Exodus 17:15 (New Living Translation)

Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”).

5 Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.

SoS2 fruit

I am lovesick: The maiden described a feeling familiar to many who have known the thrill of romantic love. She feels physically weak and perhaps even somewhat disoriented because of the strength of attraction and infatuation she has towards her beloved.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Schloss, there is a brain hormone that mediates the feeling of being in love or being infatuated. One of these neurotransmitters is known as phenethylamine, and it floods our brain when we fall in love (it is also in fairly high quantities in chocolate). This chemical gives us feelings of exhilaration and thrill and well-being, and in high amounts can lead to a loss of appetite. This chemical works somewhat in a cycle, at least in a relationship. At the beginning of the relationship it spikes up; after four or five years it begins to decline. Across cultures there is spike in the rate of divorce at about 4.5 years of marriage.

This leads some scientists to say that we are made for monogamy, but only in the sense of one partner at a time, and then changing partners every five years or so. Yet Dr. Schloss says that we know this is not true. In the brain there are completely different pathways, with completely different chemical mediators. These begin to form at about the four-year point in a relationship, and they contribute to different feelings. Instead of feelings of thrill and “I can’t eat,” they are feelings of deep contentment and gratitude. One of the chemicals that mediates these feeling is oxytocin, which is the same chemical related to the bonding of a mother together with her infant.

Some suggest that relationships have two major phases: attraction and attachment. The attraction phase is powerful, and the kind of condition that makes one say, “I am lovesick.” Yet the key to a long-term fulfilling relationship is staying with it past the attraction phase into the attachment phase. There are some counselors who devote almost their entire counseling practice trying to help what they call “love junkies”; people who are so addicted to the phenethylamine phase that they bounce from relationship rush to relationship rush without ever really coming into a greater, longer lasting relationship fulfillment.

One could say that we are engineered for the longer lasting attachment phase, and the attraction phase is meant to be a portal into the attachment phase, and not something unto itself. The good news is that as a relationship moves into the attachment phase, the attraction phase recycles, and long-married couples often experience the sense of falling in love all over again – several times through their marriage.

–David Guzik

6 His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.
7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

8 Listen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.

LOVE IS. . . a surprise.

Love is not calculated, controlled, predicted, or expected. Love is a “good catastrophe” (to use Tolkien’s words). It is the mark of God’s presence, and so it takes us by surprise, as he does. The God of the philosophers is simply “Being,” but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob creeps up behind us and says, “Boo!”

And the bride is surprised by his voice:  “Listen!  The voice of my beloved!”

Love elopes. God calls us, as he called Abraham, away from the security we knew, out of our old, familiar, little room, down the ladder of faith and into his arms. Jesus called his disciples that way — just as a lover elopes with his beloved. Whenever we think we have got him planned, he blows away our plans like the clouds of smoke they are, and stands in front of us in place of our dreams, our cloudy expectations, and forces us to choose between him and ourselves, between the God of surprises and the idol of same old self, between God the gazelle and self the slug. It is ultimately the choice between Heaven and Hell.

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.

13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

LOVE IS . . . Gospel.

Love is news, good news, Gospel.  Love is promise of future bliss, hopeful of future reward, forward looking to future ratification.  Love speaks wonderful and mysterious promises.  Will the human bride believe them?  Will she have faith in her divine bridegroom?  Will she chooses life?

The response must be a “coming away” from the past, from death and darkness and the womb and sleep.  The imagery is of morning and springtime.  Love is alive.  Love is not an abstract ideal; love is a wedding invitation.  Love is not something for us to approach; it is something that approaches us. 

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

Mark 8:34-35 (NLT)

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.”

He

14 My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!

15 Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.

She

16 My beloved is mine and I am his;

SoS2 beloved is minehe browses among the lilies.
17 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
on the rugged hills.

_________________________

Music:

All this talk of gazelles leaping and stags bounding reminds me of a song that David sometimes sings to me.  HERE  is Frank Sinatra and “I Get a Kick out of You.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
He Qi.   http://www.heqiart.com/store/p124/21_The-Song-of-Solomon_Artist_Proof_.html
banner.   http://d5tjh8coh0tpm.cloudfront.net/files/banner21.jpg?7489a8
bowl of fruit.    http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/4405/109064684.164/0_91da4_e6651fa1_XL.jpg
She Walks in Beauty.  http://readytogoebooks.com/LB-SWB42.jpg
My beloved is mine.   http://www.bibleverseofthedaypictures.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Song-of-Solomon-2-16_Bible-Verse_speckled-wood-butterfly_red-admiral-butterfly_daisies_corn_cornflower_wild-flowers_watercolor_nature-painting_artwork.jpg