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ARISE MY LOVE (The Song of Songs) Lesson 8.

In the forty-eight years since I was first ambushed by Jesus…and in literally in the thousands of hours of prayer, meditation, silence and solitude over those years, I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question, and only one question: “Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?” [See Song of Songs 2:14]

BRENNAN MANNING

This week’s passage in The Song of Songs should help to persuade you of the Lord’s love for you. He calls to each of us, asking us to come away with Him.

mybelovedspeaks

This week may we respond to Him, and come away, contemplating His words of love to us

in Song of Songs 2.

I see myself in the bride in The Song of Songs — moving in and out of the wilderness, trusting and then retreating. What is so encouraging to me is the bridegroom’s faithfulness to her. So often it amazes me that God loves me, for He knows the darkness in my heart, my wilderness wanderings, my infidelities. Yet in Him, I am beautiful. So He asks me to arise and come away with Him, for, incredibly, my voice is sweet to him, and my face is lovely.

I know last week was challenging. Jonathan Edwards is not an easy read, and yet some of you got through it and had rich comments! C. S. Lewis said The Song of Songs is for the more mature — and some of you may find this overwhelming, but I  hope you’ll give it one more week. Come away with Him each day this week, read these verses aloud, and respond as a cherished one would respond to the wooing and words of this Lover who is beyond beautiful and whose word is trustworthy. The Song of Songs is key to our trust in God’s love. If after this week you feel it is still too hard or not the right time for you, then I encourage you to find another study during this time.

We will also hear a fascinating panel of three men from The Gospel Coalition talking about preaching Christ from the Old Testament — and they address their struggle with the Song of Songs at length. Each of these men believe that Christ is the heart of the Bible, and the gospel is the heart of Christ — and yet, there is still this struggle because The Song of Songs is so sexual. (My favorite on this panel is Alistair Begg who said he was simply afraid to preach on The Song of Songs for he wasn’t sure he understood it. I’d so rather have that in a pastor than an arrogance that rushes headlong and misinterprets a passage.) Because there is so much controversy on The Song of Songs, we must be discerning. I have been so excited to see you each asking the Lord, “What is true here?” I was so encouraged by responses from both those who have been with us for years and newcomers that show me you are really thinking, contemplating, and discerning truth. Here are two perceptive comments from two newcomers who each gave persuasive reasons for seeing The Song of Songs as starting with Christ and his bride before applying it to earthly love:

Jill: Can we really apply any concept to marriage (or any loving relationship) without first understanding who we are and what love is?

Staci: I had been taught most of my Christian life that this book was strictly for dating leading into marriage. It wasnt until this bible study did I see the meaning of God’s love for us. It’s like my own veil has been lifted, I was the dark one seeking for true love. So for that, I feel so many are missing out by only viewing Song of Songs as relating to marriage. I honestly can not look at the book any other way now other than God and his love for me. I talk about it every chance I get with other women.

I have loved how you are comparing Scripture with Scripture, how you are reading with discernment, and not just assuming that even respected theologians are right all the time. None of us are! But what I am seeing is a confidence in God’s love for you rising, like the morning sun.

morningsun

Sunday/Monday

1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you. You may also want to listen to this to warm your heart. Imagine the Lord singing to you:

Monday/Wednesday: Bible Study

3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride?

The Song of Songs 2:8-9 reminds me of a scene from Ever After, for indeed, the gospel is a Cinderella story. Drew Barrymore, who plays the Cinderella in Ever After, appears at the ball. She has been transformed but does not yet believe she is beautiful. She is unsure of how the prince will respond to her, and tells herself: “Breathe, just breathe.”

drewjpg

Yet when he sees her, his world stops. The dance floor parts, as if in obedience to his gaze, and then he runs, like a gazelle, leaping and bounding. Nothing can keep him fromn her.drew24. Read The Song of Songs 2:9-14 (Aloud!)

      A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10?

branch
The flowers appear on the earth
turtledove
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land
figtree
The fig tree ripens its figs
vine
and the vines are in blossom

Richard Wurmbrand, with Voice of the Martyrs, has a commentary on The Song of Songs (The Sweetest Song) in which he tells how those being tortured and martyred found strength in The Song of Songs to face their suffering. He tells story after story of saints clinging to verses from this book — and then faced horrible deaths with joy, knowing they were going to their wedding feast with their Savior. Concerning the above passage, Wurmbrand writes of the comfort of knowing sin is forgiven and the time of flowers and spring has come. He talks of the comfort of knowing Jesus stands and listens, hearing not only your earnest pleadings, but your anxious thoughts, the ever attentive Lover of your soul.

In John Eldredge’s Epic he quotes Song of Songs 2:11-13 in the context of the time when Jesus will return to earth and make all things new. It doesn’t seem a stretch to me at all to see symbolism in the turtledoves, who were the sacrifice (instead of a lamb) of the poor. As we become turtledoves, presenting our bodies, our lives, in surrender to him, then the fig tree blossoms, and the vine is filled with glorious fruit. One day this will be made complete. We are only glimpsing His power and love in us now, but there is coming a time when the winters of depression, rebellious children, terminal illness, death, and broken hearts will be over and we will be glorious and sinless. Can you even imagine? Trusting these promises helps us surrender now, like a turtledove on the altar.

B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see?

C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14? How does this speak to you?

5. Dialogue with the Lord in prayer. He wants to hear your voice. Read what He says to you — and then respond. If you think our reading over your shoulder will alter your response, then do it privately.

       A. He says: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” You respond:

       B. He says: “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” You respond — with however His Spirit leads you.

6. What danger is there to our relationship with the Lord, and to the fruit that will come from that intimacy? (Song of Songs 2:15)

foxes-vine117. What little foxes are endangering your love relationship with the Lord?

Thursday/Friday

Listening to a Panel on Christ-Centered Preaching. Elizabeth gave me this link to three men I respect from The Gospel Coalition talking about preaching Christ from the Old Testament. They talk about The Song of Songs starting at around 20 minutes. But the whole discussion is fascinating, if you have time. They obviously feel Christ must be in it, yet struggle. I have wondered if men struggle more than women, as their sexual passion can be so physical, whereas women tend (and I know this is a generality) to see more of the intimate relational side. Yet obviously there are men from the past, and from the present, who believe it is first and foremost about Christ and the church. (Link)

8. If you had time to listen, what are your thoughts?

Saturday

9. What is your take-a-way and why?

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190 comments

  1.   1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
     

    The Song of Songs is key to our trust in God’s love.

    -It isn’t that we will be able to fully comprehend the depth of His love, but we can grow in our trust and confidence of His Love. This is so important because as Dee said, we WILL go in and out of the wilderness-we WILL struggle and that is when the evil one slips into our vineyard and hisses in our ear that we can’t trust His love-Surely he doesn’t care-surely He is aloof-you must take control-you must find comfort elsewhere..But He isn’t aloof and He wants us to trust that He loves us in the mystery of suffering- He deeply deeply cares and He will turn these things around for His Glory-maybe here on Earth-but for sure in the new heavens and new Earth when we will radiate Him perfectly.
     

    …what I am seeing is a confidence in God’s love for you rising, like the morning sun.

    This is IT! I love this statement and the picture Dee posted-and the Manning quote! His heart is that our confidence in His love for us would rise like the morning sun overcoming the hisses of doubt from the evil one..I love the picture of the sun literally engulfing the land. Reminds me of one of Susan’s post when she talks about drinking Him in-letting Him ravage her with the fury of His love.

  2. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
    From Dee: “I see myself in the bride in The Song of Songs — moving in and out of the wilderness, trusting and then retreating. What is so encouraging to me is the bridegroom’s faithfulness to her.”

    It’s so easy to forget He remains faithful because it goes against everything I am, every way I act when I am rejected, hurt. But He remains. And it’s so important for me to remember that—because that is how we know we are never alone. I think the times I feel most alone, are when I am struggling, and inwardly I retreat. I may still cry out to Him at first, but inwardly I have already not believed He hears, He really cares. In those moments, the switch has already been flipped. Am I making sense? Yesterday, I was writing in my prayer journal—and it had been a LONG while since I had actually written my prayers. But I felt so distant within. I knew I had been critical, edgy, I was struggling with some pain. And at first as I wrote—I didn’t feel Him there. Even as I wrote to Him—I did not sense Him, I was distant. Then, being the 28th, I opened to Psalm 28 and just in the first 2 verses—“ To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me,  I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,  when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.”
    And I thought—no, I have not really called out to Him lately. I have cried my woes to my husband, to friends, I have quickly offered up prayers, but not really allowing myself to cry out first to Him, and listen—lifting up my hands, releasing all my burdens.
    So I realized when I feel I have wandered, when I do not sense Him—it is me, not Him. He remains. Faithful. I MUST believe that. He always loves me. Oh, this week looks good!

    1. Elizabeth, it appears you and I are on a similar page…I didn’t read prior posts before posting my own and see that largely the same text stood out to both of us.  Sorry that your pain is flaring up again…hopefully it will subside (and subside for good).  You mentioned journaling…I have been doing circle journaling for the last month or s and really like the practice. I was inspired to do this method by a Midday Connection podcast…http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=113582…it might be something useful for you.

      1. Love Midday Connection and have heard of circle journaling, I will have to give this a look. Praying for you Elizabeth and Nanci!

    2. Elizabeth and Nancy, 
      I SO wish I could post our pastor’s sermon this morning..oh my..especially the end when he so emphasized Jesus love for us-and it was so GOspel centered-He talked in detail about God’s suffering on the cross-how our darkest days can’t hold a candle to Jesus’ suffering on the cross, and that because of what He willingly embraced on the cross for us-when you embrace that reality how can we not believe He loves us to the sky..and that when we don’t believe we aren’t believing truly that it is finished. :)))-Yes we struggle-and I did last night! but I believe His heart so desires us to come to the place in our struggle- what Elizabeth said: “He remains..He is Faithful..He always loves me-I must believe that”
      I believe the Psalms so depict this for there is heavy lament-yet there is praise and adoration and trust-there is crying out for help to believe-to trust His Love and to Cling to Him..This so pleases Him. It doesn’t mean He will intervene and make all our painful situations go away-but we really do need to bathe in the truths in SOS of His love-we need to bathe in the truth of the Cross-I SO NEED to remind myself for my thoughts do wander as does my heart-so prone-yet He is so faithful to draw me back. Yes..He loves us! 

    3. I like your thoughts, Elizabeth. Just this week I have been tempted to take my woes to a friend, or to my sister…instead of “really allowing myself to cry out first to Him, and listen-lifting up my hands, releasing all my burdens.” As I prayed this morning, I felt like I was giving Him all my “junk”-my disappointment, resentment, etc…not a “pretty offering” to God. But He says I can take it to Him-after all, He is really the only One who can DO something about it.

    4. Elizabeth so sorry to see you are still not feeling well. I will continue to pray for relief from pain for you.

  3. 1. What stands out to you/why?
    From Dee’s first paragraph

    I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question, and only one question: “Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?”

    This stands out because “yes, I believe.”  I know; I am convinced, and yet my understanding is so meager.  I’m stopping here for now; neither my heart nor brain is ready to move on beyond soaking in his amazing love, his desire, his longing for me.
    My heart is broken for some who are experiencing far greater hurts; neither the situation nor hints of it are mine to post here.  Please pray for them; our Lord loves them so very very much.   (still out of town)

      1. Dee,     🙂   
        Will post more later; scrambling now to get classes online and cover mtgs for next couple of days.  I’m going to try to go to a funeral visitation, if I can cover commitments by noon tomorrow.  This is actually quite relevant to being captivated by His love.  I think my reluctance to be so open to His love was/is related to fear of emotional pain.  And by attempting to have so much control, I “control” both love and pain rather than accepting His love and trusting that He won’t allow more pain than I can handle. 

        Not sure that I can describe it but somehow I think that He has made me able to be captivated by His love by walking with me through pain.  Years ago, I would “grin and bear it,” sometimes without the grin and it backfired with severe consequences.  I’ve leaned into pain enough in recent years that I think a few people have been scared by the contrast with my former stoicism.  Now I see that trusting Him in pain (even when I felt as if I had no choice) has been healing, and is part of what is opening my heart to God’s love — and even verbally share His love with others so much more easily.

        I think that deep down I have been convinced that if I let Him love me, I would be wide open to letting people hurt me.  I guess I still believe that, but I’m starting to trust that He will protect me.   Ugh!  Sometimes I prefer being a “tough cookie!”

      2. C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14? How does this speak to you?
        HE wants ME, asks me to come out of hiding.  This strikes me, in part, because of the preceding verses.  I very literally could (do) hide in the winter, and sometimes that winter feeling stays in my head in the spring and starts early in the fall because I know winter is coming. But with Him, spring, new life is here.  Sometimes I don’t see it because I am hiding.

        This just jumped out at me: “show me your face,let me hear your voice;”   I’ve been feeling as if I’m only able to experience his love in small doses; that experiencing all of it would destroy me.  In this verse, he isn’t asking me to step out of the rocks and jump off the cliff, yelling on the way down.  He is asking me to stick my head out and simply to let him hear my voice.  He is wooing me out, and is patient with me and is waiting for me to trust Him, to believe that Spring has come. (I want summer!)

        Because of the similar words, I’ve been thinking about this hymn, He Hideth My Soul.  At first it wasn’t making sense to me because in SoS, it seems that He is wooing me out from hiding, and in the hymn, He is the one who is hiding me.  And yet, I’m beginning to see a fit between the two because of God’s Sovereignty, His LOVE for me:  He protects me, is with me, He hides me, allows me to hide, is with me in hiding, and the locations to which He woos me are safe because I am with him  — in death or in life, in winter 🙁 or in summer.

        A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
        A wonderful Savior to me;
        He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
        Where rivers of pleasure I see. A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,

        Refrain:
        He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
        That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
        He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
        And covers me there with His hand,
        And covers me there with His hand.

        He taketh my burden away, He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,He giveth me strength as my day.

        With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,And filled with His fullness divine,I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God!For such a Redeemer as mine.

        When clothed with His brightness transported I rise To meet Him in clouds of the sky,His perfect salvation, His wonderful love, I’ll shout with the millions on high.

        Except for the clouds part in the last verse 😉  this hymn is comforting right now.
        I don’t know that I can explain this in words that make sense.  I’ve felt as if I am hiding and when I really THINK about it, I do want to pull my head back into the rock.  But when I don’t analyze my fears and, instead, rest in Him, I realize that He is wooing me out/has wooed me out of my own self-protection.  I still feel hidden and safe because I AM HIDDEN — IN HIM.  I’ve read the verses and listened to the hymn several times.  He is so great that a single image (me hiding FROM my lover) cannot capture His essence.  He is SO loving, so patient, so pure that He woos me in a way and a pace that fits and surrounds my broken heart.  And He is with me IN my hiding and my brokenness.  In my brokenness and pain, I can’t generate the energy to love Him or others.  He knows my pain and brokenness and still loves me.  It seems that it is the brokenness itself and the love He is pouring into me that seems to put a spotlight on my brokenness is what He is using to encourage  others.  His love is so pure, so strong that he has freed me to love in a way that is possible because of how He has woven His power, His love, and my pain.

  4. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
    “moving in and out of the wilderness, trusting and then retreating”
    I can relate to this pattern…most times I know without a doubt that I am loved by the Lord, despite all my failings; at these times I can see so clearly the Lord’s messages for me and feel His presence in scripture, devotionals, song, nature… and then other times this confidence and “knowing” seems to allude me.  Frequently the “other times” tend to be those where I am tired, overwhelmed, discouraged, blue…i.e., vulnerable to the evil one’s attacks, of which he takes full advantage.

     
    I look forward to listing to the Gospel Coalition panel discussion regarding SoS. 

    1. this is so good, Nanci “where I am tired, overwhelmed, discouraged, blue…i.e., vulnerable to the evil one’s attacks,”. And the circle-journaling looks really neat–thank you!

  5. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
    Dee’s words and quote from Brennan Manning, “I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question, and only one question: “Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?” [See Song of Songs 2:14] 
    I have been contemplating this question as my “sorrows like sea billows roll”, I have come to see that this question is KEY. Do I believe that He loves me, desires me, even when suffering does not make sense and every alternative is dark? 
    Today in church we sang this hymn, More Love to Thee. The third verse says, 

    Let sorrow do its work,
    Send grief and pain;
    Sweet are thy messengers, 
    Sweet their refrain, 
    When they can sing with me:
    More love, O Christ, to Thee,
    More love to Thee, More love to Thee.

    This is my prayer:
    That I may see Christ and worship Him even when I cannot understand what He is doing;
    That I may bow my knee and submit and rest in Him in this pain;
    That by faith I will believe deep, deep in my heart that this song of suffering is God singing His love song over me;
    That I will hear His still small voice saying, “Do you know how much I love you?”
     

    1. oh Diane, I have tears rolling down my face. This post–this is why I have always been so drawn to you, your faith. You have suffered much, and it continues.To watch your child and grandchildren go through such turmoil, and feel you have no ability to stop it or fix it–oh, it sounds gut-wrenching. But then your heart–longs to feel His love  “even when suffering does not make sense and every alternative is dark? ” The hymn you quoted–I believe that is Elizabeth Prentiss who wrote the book Stepping Heavenward that I loved. Oh, I will pray your prayer for you. You do stay on my heart. Sometimes I see someone who looks like I imagine you, or a few days ago when I meat a “Diane”, or when my husband and I watch our favorite show that is taped in Canada…the Lord keeps you on my heart and I do continue to pray. I believe with hope that we will see things renewed, things restored in some way for your family–and I pray as you once asked, for laughter. I thank Him for the ways He is already using you to minister to others in similar trials. I imagine He will do so much with this long-suffering. You are a beautiful example to me of steadfast faith. Thankful for you here.

    2. Diane, l feel about you as others have expressed…your faith is compelling, and we do see Him in you. Your prayer is beautiful, especially that you could say, “…this song of suffering is God singing His love song over me.” This is a hard-fought-for faith. Keeping you in my prayers.

  6. Oh Diane, I am speechless-in your suffering I see Him in you-and I know this is daily and so hard for you in this high tide season-but I see Him! We need to pound the Gospel in deeper-that He loves us-but He helps us and is faithful-even when we doubt-He comes to us in His Word and through others like the Spring rain ..it seems such an elementary thing-the ABC’s-but oh my..it ISN’T..The Gospel isn’t just the ABC’s of Christianity, but the A-Z. And He draws us back when we are in the wilderness..
     

    That I may see Christ and worship Him even when I cannot understand what He is doing;That I may bow my knee and submit and rest in Him in this pain;That by faith I will believe deep, deep in my heart that this song of suffering is God singing His love song over me;That I will hear His still small voice saying, “Do you know how much I love you?” 

  7. testing

  8. oh SO many Sundays I have wished we could worship together–and we WILL one day! Rebecca, your sermon sounds in line with what ours was today. We also sang one of my favorites (I’ve posted too many times here!) “All Things New”–Red Mountain’s version from Horatius Bonar (Andrew’s brother, who we read a few weeks back–wrote much on Psalms). I just love the words, I’ll just post 3 stanzas!
    Come Lord, and tarry not;
    Bring the long-looked-for day;
    O why these years of waiting here,
    These ages of delay?
     
    Come, for Thy saints still wait;
    Daily ascends their sigh:
    The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come”:
    Dost Thou not hear the cry?
     
    Come, and make all things new;
    Build up this ruined earth;
    Restore our faded Paradise,
    Creation’s second birth.
     

    1. Elizabeth, me too! :)) Yes we will..and the stanzas you posted…oh my..so good.

  9.  What is so encouraging to me is the bridegroom’s faithfulness to her. So often it amazes me that God loves me, for He knows the darkness in my heart, my wilderness wanderings, my infidelities. Yet in Him, I am beautiful. So He asks me to arise and come away with Him, for, incredibly, my voice is sweet to him, and my face is lovely.
    “I have felt many times this very thing.  I am amazed and awed by the love of Christ.  I am learning to open and vulnerable before and know that He is amazed by me and loves me just as much.”
    Lover who is beyond beautiful and whose word is trustworthy.
    “I agree so much with this stmt.  For Jesus is beautiful and totally trustworthy.  I can rest in His arms and know that He will take care of everything.” 

    The flowers appear on the earth and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land

    “I have this saying.  It hangs on my wall.  It was given to me by a group of ladies.  I must admit that I am wrestling with God awhile.  I see Him in my spirit.  He is walking beside me.  I believe in His love and I trust Him.  I am willing to be whole.  To be set free by His love.  To acknowledge and know that I am loved.  I know that He is tender and gentle and that I can call out to Him.  That He sees me and understands all things.  That I am not less than.  That I am perfect in His gaze.  I guess that is wht my prayer will be.  That during this study I will know His gaze and walk hand in hand with Him and know that I am perfect in Him.” 

    I have had many distractions during this study but I have kept up with my writing.  My sister has been admitted to VGH.  My dtrs. were up with her all night.  It was a gong show for them.  Too much to share.  She has been committed under the Canadian Mental Health Act b/c she is refusing care, her behaviour is erratic/irrational, her anger is spiraling out of control, her heart and breathing are not good.  She is requesting legal counsel etc. 

    It is so sad and heart wrenching and unbelievable.  I feel so powerless/helpless but I know that God is sovereign and that it is not about me.  Last night at our church our Pastor was speaking on suffering and u can never really ask the question “why” but u can trust and believe God works out all things for good.  

    B just refuses to cry out to Jesus.  She knew Him when she was younger but has walked away since.  Her mind is deteriorating and so is her heart, her lungs etc.  Can someone really make themselves ill??  I was reading in John Bevere book “the bait of Satan” that people can make themselves bitter through unforgiveness.  Our background was terrible but God has been so faithful to our family.  B needs Jesus and professional help but at the end of the day B needs Jesus. 
    All she has in her life are her birds and her increasing erratic/irrational behaviour.  I love her but it is Jesus that redeems, restores, and renews.  I cannot save her but Jesus can.  I am praying for peace, and I am asking all of u ladies to pray as well.  This is a difficult journey for B but I know God is faithful and will continue to draw her.  I trust Jesus in all of this. 

    Quite frankly I am at peace, listening to my music, working on an afghan for one of Chuck’s dtrs. I have been making afghans this year for all of Chuck’s grandchildren and dtrs.  I am singing to Jesus as I am crocheting and just resting with Jesus.   

    Dee thank u for this study.  I have not been able to do all of it but wht I have gleaned from it was been worthwhile.  Quite frankly until this study, besides the wall hanging I have I have never thought of SOS.  I guess I never really believed that people or God really loved that much.  It is slowly dawning on me that Jesus does love me that much.  That revelation is making me sit down and gaze up at Him in wonder.  I accept His love but I just never believed that He loved me that much.  It takes awhile for things to sink in for me.  I am digesting and pondering and how I long to be made whole in His love. 

     

    Blessings

    Mellany 

    1. Mellany, I’m so sorry about your sister…please know that I am praying for her.

    2. Mellany, continuing to pray for Belinda. I am glad she is getting the medical attention and care she so desperately needs, even though she resents it.

    3. Mellany I’m so sorry for your sister, and I will be praying for all of you to find some peace and comfort.

  10.  
    I  am sorry I have been MIA for a few weeks.  My husband and I have experienced four deaths among friends and family within 12 days.  Certainly it sounds like a weird comment for me to make, but going to funeral home visitations and memorial services, etc., all take quite a bit of time!  It can also be emotionally draining, so I just had to take a break. I would come on occasionally and read material and a few comments, so I don’t feel completely left behind.  I think I am ready to jump in again!
    1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?   The end of Staci’s comment that Dee quoted:  “I talk about it every chance I get with other women.”   I felt excited for Staci, as this is such a great opportunity to witness to her friends.  How wonderful when it just bubbles out of you like that!  We should all be talking about the things we learn here.
    Also I picked up on Dee’s remark not to assume that “even respected theologians are right all the time.” I smiled, as I think I am pretty skeptical of theologians most of the time!”   I agree with Dee that I would rather someone would say “I don’t know.”  I think that is much preferable to just going ahead and blowing out some words to fill the silence.  No one can be an expert on everything.
    2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you.
     
    Verse 15:

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

    Can’t you just imagine the little foxes running around, knocking the blooms off of the vines prematurely which would eventually result in diminished fruit production. 
    My Bible commentary pointed out that “the little foxes” are the kinds of problems that can disturb or destroy a relationship.  It is often “the little foxes” that cause the biggest problems in a marriage.  These irritations must be identified so that together the couple can deal with them.  I think it is easy to apply this to Christ and the church as well.  There are the “little foxes” of church administration which can threaten to derail a church’s connection to its Lord.  For instance, I have witnessed  capital campaigns behave this very way.  Pretty soon it isn’t about the Lord, it is all about the building! Yes, God still loves the people in that church, but it must make Him terribly sad! 

    1. Sorry to hear of all you have gone through with so many deaths Deanna, prayers and hugs to you.
      I found the scripture on the little foxes ruining the vineyards very interesting too. I kept trying to read through it and God kept bringing me back to it. I knew what the meaning was…but you said it so simply and perfectly… My Bible commentary pointed out that “the little foxes” are the kinds of problems that can disturb or destroy a relationship”. So true, and I added to idols we may have in our hearts or what we allow as well.

    2. good to have you back Deanna–so sorry for all the loss. Good insight to the “foxes”!

    3. Missed you Deanna…so sorry about all the deaths:(

    4. I was wondering the other day what had happened to you, Deanna! I am glad you’re back, but am sorry for the loss of family and friends…so many at once.

    5. Oh Deanna, I’m so sorry for everything. I know how hard that can be, I had that a couple of years ago. Glad you are back.

  11. Shouldn’t this be lesson 8?

  12. I’m looking forward to hearing the panel discussion later in the week. I love Alistair Begg!

    1. I love Alistair too Dawn 🙂

  13.  
    1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
     
     But what I am seeing is a confidence in God’s love for you rising, like the morning sun.

    This spoke to me since watching the sunrise this morning, for I love sunrises and I often get up to go photograph them. A beautiful analogy of God’s love arising for me everyday, like a good morning wake up kiss from God. He is eager to see me…to warm my soul and heart.
    2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you. You may also want to listen to this to warm your heart. Imagine the Lord singing to you:
    I read the scriptures and so many things jumped out at me:
    Just the first verse alone Song of Songs 2:1~ “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys”~to me valleys are hard and sometimes dark times, and God still views me as beautiful, even in the valley I am considered a beautiful Lily among the ugly thorns.
    Versus 2:3-6 talks about God’s love and He is refreshing to me but the one verse 2:7~ really makes a lot of sense now having heard Keller’s sermon on Love and Lust. The world has it so backwards, we are all searching for ‘love’, it is what we were made for, to love and be loved…like God and from God; but when we search for it in the wrong context, not seeking God’s love first…we get the love that the world gives us and it wont fill or sustain us truly like God. So when God says in 2:7~ Do not awaken love until it so desires…to me we should all be seeking God’s love first. I can see in my own life where I have really messed this one up, even as a Christian. Turning to man instead of God for love.

    Verse 2:8 “Listen! My lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains bounding over the hills.” This is like a sunrise from God, his rays of love “leaping across the mountains bounding over the hills.”

    2:10-13~ I love the beginning in verse 11 See! The winter is past ~winter is a time of sleep, or time of rest, sometimes a time of healing, meditation and growing. Sometimes winter can seem like the valley or wilderness too, so desolate, dreary and alone. To me God is saying you have found Me, your true love, you have come back to Me. Arise, your wilderness, searching, sleeping, growing…has gone…you have found ME, the Lord, the true love. I just envision myself running and embracing Jesus with this whole chapter 2 in Song of Songs.
    2:14~Jesus is calling to us, to come out from our hiding places, our idols we have placed in hearts instead of Him. He is asking to lay our vulnerabilities down, He doesn’t care. Jesus sees us as beautiful, flaws and all.
    2:15~ Catching the foxes that ruin the vineyards that are in bloom, Im not exactly sure, but God kept making me go back to this one, and I do believe God is saying He will be our protector, he will take away the things from our hearts that so easily ensnare us, our idols, our hangups, our weaknesses, our sin. HIS love can do no harm, but to protect and heal and keep us. He loves us, even in our darkest times, 2:16~  Until the day breaks and the shadows flee ~He wont give up or stop loving us, He will see us through….covenant love. The kind of love God wants us to have in our marriages as well.

     

     

  14. 2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you. You may also want to listen to this to warm your heart. Imagine the Lord singing to you:
     
    “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. Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.”
     
    This stood out to me-The vineyards! He seems to take delight in her vineyards-that they are in bloom. I believe they are the fruit of the spirit-His nature, and the fruit is in bloom-and He finds her lovely. They delight in each other in the vineyards and he says they are ‘our’ vineyards. He is fruit that is sweet to her taste, and she is lovely-a lily among thorns. I see Him tending her vineyards and she letting Him-they are delighting in one another. 

    He tells her to catch the foxes that ruin the vineyards..this stands out to me..I was thinking that part of tending a vineyard is pruning which can be painful..that is when the foxes come in, or perhaps they come in anyway even when the fruit is in blossom and everything is beautiful? I see the foxes as idolatry or satan’s hisses that tell us God is not good-surely He won’t fulfill or satisfy your needs-you need to find fulfillment now-find it elsewhere.
     
    later she says: “My beloved is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee…”

    I don’t know why, but maybe this connects somehow-and I could be really reaching here..That the lilies are her and He is with her in the night-the dark times, the trials when the foxes can come in and tempt and it is dark and scary but He is with her until the dawn-until the day breaks and He makes the shadows flee-and she is clinging to Him. Okay, so now THIS is REALLY quickening me now..I need to pay attention. sweet kiss. 🙂

    1. Rebecca,
       
      I felt the same way about the night-dark times, trials and foxes. Awesome!

  15. This is on Desiring God today–from Keller’s new book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, thought it may encourage others. There are so many good quotes listed–
    “Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took that so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.” (180–1)

    have I said how I love that linky thing? it just makes me smile…i feel so “techy” 🙂

    1. Loved the quotes from the new Keller book. Need to get this book for sure.

    2. Gotta say, you really make me smile, Elizabeth. 

      have I said how I love that linky thing? it just makes me smile…i feel so “techy” 🙂

    3. Thanks for the link, Elizabeth…the quotes are wonderful…I didn’t realize that Keller had a new book; another to add to the “wish list”…:)

  16. Elizabeth, I saw this too on my f.b. I get Desiring God posts..can’t wait to read his new book! 🙂 Had to post this on my F.B.
     
    Oh-and something tells me that you have ‘tech’ bones in you Elizabeth-you are smart and can figure things out quickly.. 

  17. Laura-d, you have been heavy on my heart, sister. I pray for you and wanted to encourage you. Sometimes in the dark wilderness we just need to keep choosing God. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. In fact He is standing right behind you, right now, pouring over you, giving you grace to get through this time. Even if we don’t FEEL like it. But our feelings are not God. He said He would not leave us and so we have to CHOOSE to believe that. Which can be a very mental, rote act. Just repeating that He is there. And you still see His work in your life, even if only past tense, so praise be for that. Don’t give up. I hope that this song will be an encouragement to you (and perhaps to others going through rough times right now). It is one of my favorites and has helped me through my dark times. Peace, Sister.
     
    Also thought Psalm 42 and this commentary on it that I “stumbled” upon may be of encouragement to you. ” Trial and anguish do not create longing, they reveal it.”

    1. Thank you Jill. I cried through the whole song. Very touching and what a beautiful voice she has! I will read the commentary later when I have a few minutes. Just hanging on now. You are kind to pray. Thank you.

      1. Jill, I love that song very much.  Laura, I’m praying for you and Sarah too.

    2. Jill, thanks for the commentary on psalm 42. This stood out to me:
      He is my God – because I have chosen him. Stick with it.
      He is my God – because he has chosen me, and will never fail me.
      He is God – Elohim – the Almighty One. Things over your head are still under his feet.

      It reminded me that dee had a study on this psalm a year or two ago. It was very meaningful to me. I also danced this psalm a few years ago. How quickly we forget. Thanks for reminding me 🙂

    3. What a beautiful song, Jillwithaj!

  18. Just a FYI Girlfriends in God devotional from Biblegateway.com was on Song of Song 2:14 today…how awesome is that!
    Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely, (Song of Songs 2:14

  19. 3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride?    
    As I began reading this passage, immediately I could see connections with the 23rd Psalm. 
    “He has taken me to the banquet hall”  — “You prepare a table before me.”
    “and his banner over me is love”  — “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
     
    “Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples” — He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”
     
    Actually both Psalm 23 and SOS 2 bring images of the lesser one being cared for and coddled by the greater one.  It is like one person bending over another to wipe their brow and soothe that person in their care.
     

    1.  
       Deanna, I LOVED this post!! Great parallel with Psalm 23.

    2. I like too how you worded this and the parallels you see, Deanna…”Actually both Psalm 23 and SOS 2 bring images of the lesser one being cared for and coddled by the greater one. It is like one person bending over another to wipe their brow and soothe that person in their care.”
       
      I really like this b/c often in our world today, the “lesser one” is seen as a bother, a burden, an object of contempt or ridicule.

  20. 4. Read The Song of Songs 2:9-14 (Aloud!)
          A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10?
     
    First of all the Bridegroom cannot wait to see his beloved, so he comes leaping and bounding to get near her.   He wants to “feast his eyes” on her, so while he is still on the other side of the wall, he is gazing through the windows and peering through the lattice. Can’t you imagine her spotting him as he looks through the window at her?  She would probably be thinking “How cute is this fella anyway?”  Finally he is with her and he speaks “Arise, my Darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.” His words could not be sweeter, they are nearly like honey dripping from his lips!

  21. 3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride?
    I see protection in being taken to banquet hall.  A place of safety and belonging.  I see in my spirit Jesus standing over me, His love like a banner makes me feel welcomed and safe.  I know that God loves all people and that He is love.  That is who He is. 
    On a side note that was one of my favourite movies that my daughters and me loved to watch.  I have not seen it for years but I remember that scene vividly.  She was so vulnerable and willing to take a risk.  I admire that trait in her.  I imagine Jesus admires that trait in us.  To be willing to be vulnerable and take a risk.
    On side not Father God led me to Rick Warren and his wife speaking on their son’s suicide.  He is doing a series on grief and suffering.  When he spoke that sometime God allows suffering/pain for God’s purposes.  It gave me hope.  When Rick spoke on mental illness and how we in evangelical circles just believe in prayer and bible study.  I am reassured b/c I know there is something wrong with my sister.  I love her so much but not as much as Jesus.  I am resting in the fact that she is safe and being assessed this am.  My dtr. Jessica who is a nurse said mom ” I know that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against spiritual things in high places” but she said also (she is a nurse) we need to get a proper diagnosis in order to help B.  She is very wise. 
    Also I know that the Lord said that this is a journey with B.  My brother bears the brunt b/c he is closer but eventually all things will even out.  I rest with God.  That He is sovereign and in control.   God is so loving and so gracious and so perfect.  He speaks words of love to me.  Whispers of hope, whispers of remembrance, whispers of B and her laughter.  So precious to him and me.  He kisses me with his words and Jesus stands over me and welcomes me at the banquet table.  He is my strong tower and I rejoice in that.  I am listening to Rita McNiel (Canadian artist) singing old gospel songs.  I am rejoicing and dancing with the Lord in the spirit.
    Good morning and blessings
    Mellany 

  22. 3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride?   
    “Let him lead me to the banquet hall”…the Lord’s guidance; He will lead where He has us to go.
    “and let his banner over me be love”…it is a vision of joy and rejoicing in love.
    “Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples”…He nourishes us, giving all that is needed (e.g., strength when weak, refreshment when distressed).
    “for I am faint with love”…His love is beyond comprehension.

  23. 4. A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10?
    The bridegroom rushes to be in the presence of His bride; He thoroughly enjoys the sight of her as He gazes through the window and lattice.  His references to her are loving and intimate…i.e., “darling”, “beautiful one”; He calls her “My” beautiful one.  The bridegroom encourages her to “come” with Him…He extends an invitation to her to be with Him.

  24. B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see?
    I see the transformation of the earth from Winter into Spring.   The rains have gone, flowers bloom, birds sing and coo.  There is the early fruit of the fig tree and fragrance from vines. Spring has sprung!   It is a time to enjoy the world God has created.  It is a season of love!  Actually, judging by the quotation marks,  this is still part of what her Lover  is telling her.  His words begin and end with “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”  In between,  He is luring her with these images of Spring.
    C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14?    That my voice is sweet and my face is lovely  — that’s news to me!  I would never describe myself in this way. 

    How does this speak to you? 
    It lifts my spirits to learn that He views me in such a wonderful fashion–so different from my self-perception, and He is calling me away from Winter into Spring.  I find Winter to be difficult.  In fact, I can hardly enjoy autumn because I now what comes next 🙂  He is calling me away from that which is hard and beckoning me and join Him in the joy and sunshine of His world.  

      1. Oh, Dee…Wisconsin winters have a loveliness too.  You’ll have to get yourself some snowshoes…I would imagine Peninsula State Park would have some wonderful trails…I go snowshoeing with my dog, only thing is that she occasionally steps on my snowshoe…love her anyway…:)

  25. 2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you. You may also want to listen to this to warm your heart. Imagine the Lord singing to you:

    Tonight, v.8-10 stood out to me. In 8, He is calling, He is leaping, bounding—“like a young stag”—there is so much energy–so I picture Christ at work in our lives. Then verse 9-“Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice.” The lattice stopped me. He is there, He sees her, and she knows He is there—but she cannot clearly see all of Him. This “lattice” between them, not quite a wall, but enough obscurity that keeps her from seeing what all He is doing, and yet He is there.

    And then in 10, He speaks, He calls her to come away, the winter has passed. I am sure I really am off here, but I am just seeing this picture of her (me), on the other side of the lattice, living as if the winter has not passed—and He is reminding me the rains are gone —it is finished! Go away with Him and enjoy all He has to show me!

  26. 3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride?
    To me the Bridegroom is celebrating His love for His bride. A banquet is for celebrating…to me God celebrates us in love all the time. That is how much he loves us, His love refreshes us at all times, His love never disappoints or lacks anything. His love overwhelms us in such a good way. There are no strings attached with with God’s love. He loves us unconditionally, even in our darkest hour. Something I have a hard time comprehending with my mood swings I go through…

  27. http://youtu.be/iXSJy6APD38   This song by Misty Edwards came on when I was doing this bible study… she sings “I will set you as a seal upon my heart…for there is a love as strong as death….” the words are included in this song…beautiful. He wont relent until He has it all, our hearts…

    1. Wow Staci, thank you, that song is so beautiful…love the message it gives!

    2. I love this song…one of my favs ever since the first time I heard it at church! =)

  28.   A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10?
    He is excitedly searching for the one he loves, like a young school boy is the image of the gazelle to me. He anxiously awaits  peering and  calling the bride his darling, beautiful one to arise and come with Him.
     
    B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see?
    Winter has past, our darkest days are numbered, we will become new in Him, refreshed, no more sorrow or pain. I can only dream and wait with excitement for that day.
    C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14? How does this speak to you?
    He is calling me,even though I had and refrain at times from turning or running to Him. He calls me lovely and wants me to communicate to Him. He desires my prayers and longs to hear my voice, even though I feel like hiding and unworthy at times.

  29. 2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you. You may also want to listen to this to warm your heart. Imagine the Lord singing to you:

    While looking for a new place for Sarah to live this last weekend, we met the neighbor who had a fig tree. I never knew anyone who had one and didn’t realize that they could be grown in America I had never eaten a fig straight off the tree, but he gave me one and I ate it; it was delicious.

    I went to our study and this verse caught my eye:

    “My beloved spoke and said to me,
    “Arise, my darling,
    my beautiful one, come with me. The fig tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
    Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.” (Song of Solomon 2:10, 13 NIV)

    The fig. Interesting. Is it His reminder that He is near? I don’t know. So sad today; life is hard.

    1. Laura, first off, good to see your post…I’m so sorry these days are difficult.  I’m a listening ear (so to speak)…please feel free.  How are your Mom’s treatments going?…I’m sure that is heavy on your heart as well as issues with Sarah.  Take care, friend……you all are included in my prayers.

    2. Laura, the fig seems like a sign to me!   I pray things go better with Sarah in the new place.    My aunt use to have fig tree’s in CA and each year she would bring back jars of fig jelly (was colored red and had seeds in it) and it was the best jelly I had ever had…couldn’t wait for her to bring more each year!     I think God has given you a kiss with this verse.  Praying for you, your mom and Sarah~

  30. Pondering on Song of Solomon 2 today, verse 3.

    As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
    so is my beloved among the young men.
    With great delight I sat nin his shadow,
    and his ofruit was sweet to my taste.

    Thinking about God’s shadow. In the context, it is His protection, shade, but it is also a place of darkness at times. May we delight in his shadow. It reminded me of this old hymn, Beneath the Cross of Jesus. This link is a variation of the old tune and is slow at the beginning, but listen to the words and plaintive melody.
    I especially pray the last verse.
     
    Here are all the words, though first verse and last two are the only ones I have ever heard before. Words are by Eliz­a­beth C. Cle­phane

    Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
    The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
    A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
    From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.
    O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
    O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
    As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
    So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.
    There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
    The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
    And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
    A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.
    Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
    The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
    And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
    The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.
     
    I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
    I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
    Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
    My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

    1. Sorry that the above hymn doesn’t have the verses divided properly and that the verse has so much gibberish.

  31. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
     
    I am always riveted by this quote from Brennan Manning, “I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day, the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question, and only one question: Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?”
    As I continue in our study here, I am beginning to believe this more and more, and it gives me such encouragement and hope.
     
    Secondly, Dee’s identifying with the bride in Songs, “…moving in and out of the wilderness, trusting and then retreating.” That is so like me, too. I get hopeful, I feel His smile on me, I move toward Him…but then I begin to doubt, I see my own dark heart, I retreat, unsure. From Dee, “What is so encouraging to me is the bridegroom’s faithfulness to her. So often it amazes me that God loves me, for He knows the darkness in my heart, my wilderness wanderings, my infidelities. Yet in Him, I am beautiful.”
    This made me think of James 1:17-18, where God the Father is described in this way: “…the Father…with whom there is never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency.” (Phillips)
    NO inconsistency on His part…what a relief to me who can be full of inconsistencies, doubts, and fear. His feelings for me do not waver based on my behavior.
     
    The glorious picture of the rising of the morning sun, and Dee’s seeing a confidence in God’s love for us rising, like that sun…that is so encouraging!

  32. 5. Dialogue with the Lord in prayer. He wants to hear your voice. Read what He says to you — and then respond. If you think our reading over your shoulder will alter your response, then do it privately.
           A. He says: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” You respond:  Oh my Lord, I have always been the serious one, always mindful of my responsibilities (almost tethered to them).  Now you are calling me away into some unknown Spring, calling me to let go of all that would hold me here and follow you.  Part of me is so excited to go, but part is reluctant to trust.  I will come with you, please forgive my hesitancy!
           B. He says: “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” You respond — with however His Spirit leads you.
    Yes, how silly of me to try to hide from you, because you have always been able to see me, even in the clefts of the rock or in the crannies of the cliff.  Until now I have never known how much you have cherished my presence, how much you have wanted me to let go of my other distractions and just focus my life on you.  I have always hoped that you loved me, but now I know for sure.  You tell me that my voice is sweet and my face is lovely.  I am blushing, because I know my imperfections, and have thought of myself as unlovely in your sight.  What a fantastic relief it is!  I just want to give you a hug!

  33. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why? – Dee your comments about how you see yourself as the bride and going back and forth from believing and trusting in the bridegroom but the bridegroom does not fade away, he stays right by our sides. Love this and it is so helpful to know how much the bridegroom is committed to his covenant and loves us unconditionally. 
     
    2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you. You may also want to listen to this to warm your heart. Imagine the Lord singing to you: 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. Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. (Song of Solomon 2:14, 15 NIV) – This speaks to me  in a way that I continue to hide from things so I don’t get hurt but he continues to call out to me that it’s ok, He is there for me. He wants me to find the things, the idols that are ruining our relationship and deal with them so our relationship can grow strong. I’m not sure if this is what its meant to be saying but this is what it says to me and is very encouraging to know that he will be there while I face those foxes.

    1. Julie, this is so true for me, too. I don’t want to admit to the idols and deal with them, but I need to and He will be there every step of the way.

  34. Am I missing something, there doesn’t seem to be any new posts from the evening?

    1. Wow, Dee…have never heard of this before…what a unique way for ranchers to support missions! Will be praying for your speaking!

    2. Praying too Dee!

    3. Praying, Dee. That Convention sounds interesting! Do they actually have steers there or do they just promise to send the money to missions? 🙂

      1. Diane, your question cracked me up (although I guess it wouldn’t surprise me if they really have steers there). 🙂  Your question made me wonder if there will be a rodeo!!!

        1. Steers at a Missions Conference is a great visual. I get weird pictures in my head sometimes. Maybe that is because when we lived in Kenya people would literally bring chickens, eggs to church to donate. At our church here in rural Canada, we actually do bring vegetables and pickles to church on Canadian Thanksgiving (October) to donate to the local food bank.

    4. Praying, Dee! I’m familiar with it 🙂  SO COOL!

  35. Dee no everything I posted is there, I guess I was just looking for others posted from the ladies. Thanks! I will be praying for your trip.

  36. 2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you.
     
    Paying special attention to the Bridegroom speaking, I hear, over and over, his entreaties, his trying to reassure her, again and again, to come with him. First, he says, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.” (v10) He repeats this again in verse 13. Is she hesitant? In verses 14 he really encourages her to show herself…
     
    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 lovely.
     
    To me, the Bridegroom speaking as if she is in the “clefts of the rock” or in the “hiding places on the mountainside” is not a literal place she is in, but perhaps where she is in her perception of Him, in her perception of how He sees her, in their relationship with each other. This is me when I feel like I’ve made a complete mess of everything again, when I’ve failed again, when I’ve sinned again, when I’ve gotten a glimpse of the selfishness of my own heart. I want to hide from Him…I am sure He doesn’t want to hear me speak to Him or pray. I cannot believe that He would find my voice sweet, or my face lovely.

  37. 4. A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10? The obvious: him hurrying to his beloved! Oh, that I would pursue Him the same!
     
    B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see? I read this to be Him pulling me out of a valley, a very difficult time. Perhaps because that is where I am right now, slowly emerging from nightmares of 2 1/2 years. Emerging, not only because difficulties have slowed/eased/been dealt with, but because I am finally being built as the woman He would have me be. Like in the movies where they do a musical montage of the individual working really hard at a goal and then at the end they “emerge” into success, changed, renewed, confident, successful, (and with a better hairstyle, haha) but still with the last challenge of the movie to overcome. I see her in a dark lower level dwelling and he is reaching down the steps pulling her our of the dank and darkened doorway (“Come!”), up the steps and into the light. And she (I) look around and suddenly, you are different, you see.
     
    C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14? how does this speak to you? “your voice is sweet” What a revelation! We are so quick to assume that we are lowly. that we continually have to “earn” our presence with the Father, that He ‘tolerates’ us because it is who He is. Oh, my sisters, this is NOT the picture of salvation by grace, of relationship or of the Song of Songs, and it makes me smile. He likes me. *swoon* My roots grow deep and thick in the joy and contentment with this knowledge of His love (LOVE!) for me! Lord, let us love others as you love us, and to always strive to tell them of that sweet, freeing love.

    1. “We are so quick to assume that we are lowly. that we continually have to “earn” our presence with the Father, that He ‘tolerates’ us because it is who He is. Oh, my sisters, this is NOT the picture of salvation by grace, of relationship or of the Song of Songs, and it makes me smile. He likes me. *swoon* My roots grow deep and thick in the joy and contentment with this knowledge of His love (LOVE!) for me!”
       
      Jill, your responses make me smile…thank you for the encouragement and your levity…:)

  38. 5. Dialogue with the Lord in prayer:
    A. “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” I rejoice in going with you, in your hand that is taking mine, I delight in all that you show me. Your creation is amazing, your story even more so, Lord God, I am in awe and will keep my eyes on You, ecstatic with the vision you have given me to begin to see what You have been proclaiming to Your people for generations.
    B. “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” I can do nothing but blush, because this is the first time in my life that I chose to believe You. You tell me it is true, that you delight in me despite my infidelity, and so I bask in your declaration and pray that it would continue to change my heart (and mind) that I would be a worthy vessel for the work of Your kingdom….that the light I now allow into my heart from these promises would shine forth so that all men may see and know.

    1. Jillwithaj–your 5B is precious, beautiful. Thank you for sharing here

  39. 6. What danger is there to our relationship with the Lord, and to the fruit that will come from that intimacy? I find it interesting that SHE is being told to catch the foxes. Does this refer to our free will the choices that we have to make? When you look at this in context of a pursuing loving God it makes all the difference. As if my husband asked me to please fancy up for a date, it is a sweet request, a romantic pleading to do everything I can to make the relationship all that it could be ‘please, catch the small things that will distract you and focus on me and what I have for you, for NOW is the time, I love you, I want to pour over you’. In the ten commandments it seems very demanding, but here, a sweetness accompanies it that further ignites my heart to please Him.
     
    7. What little foxes are endangering your love relationship with the Lord? Dangers: distractions (I’ve often thought if we pursued Him like we pursue our smart phones the whole world would be a better place! haha), idols (of course!), that kind of sums it up in a broader sense. For me personally I am still new at laying aside my idol and loving people. Honestly, there is a lot to say here, but my very specific conviction right now is that I need to get up earlier. Its something God has called me to for awhile and I have done it kind of, but not really, things keep happening, kids sick, me sick, my husband has all different missions, we only have one car….what was that I was saying about distractions?! Anyway. I’ll leave my answer at that. So y’all can ask me: did you get up early? =)

    1. Jill,
      I thought it was interesting (strange!) that she was asked to catch the foxes, too.   Hmmm ???

    2. “I find it interesting that SHE is being told to catch the foxes. Does this refer to our free will the choices that we have to make? When you look at this in context of a pursuing loving God it makes all the difference.”
      Such an interesting thought to ponder…”free will”…our “choices”…are these “the foxes” we/she is to catch?…likely, yes…many of those foxes are ones I have allowed to enter the vineyard and now must catch to avoid potential devastation of my vineyard. Deep thoughts to contemplate…

  40. Hmmm… just posted… and it was linked to a reply from a couple days ago.  I’m wondering if I should be closing my browser between posts ???  I leave this open all the time 🙂

  41. Dee,  praying for you also

    1. Hi Joyce 🙂    Praying for you!

  42. 3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride? – He leads, he’s walking in front of me leading me thru where I’m to go. He loves, his banner surrounds me announcing he loves me. He provides me with strength by giving me raisins full of iron (I think) which is something we need to function properly, apples are another source of vitamins that help us stay healthy. The love that he shows to us is so wonderfully amazing and abundant and so overwhelming that we become dizzy trying to absorb it all.

  43. 4. Read The Song of Songs 2:9-14 (Aloud!)
          A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10? – He was trying to get to her leaping and bounding not wanting to be away from her any longer. 

  44. B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see? – I see a new birth, a revival. The “old” is gone and a new beginning is ahead.
    C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14? How does this speak to you? – It tells me that I don’t need to hide from what I did or was in the past. He sees me as I am today, forgiven and clean. The “new” refreshed and loved by Him me.

  45. 3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride?
    “He brought me”—it is Him who calls me to Him, who first loves me, He is the active pursuer. His banner over her is love—there is a celebration, He is carrying her to the banquet. She is so overwhelmed by his love she feels faint!

    4. Read The Song of Songs 2:9-14 (Aloud!)
          A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10?

    He is leaping, bounding over obstacles to get to her. I see Him pursuing her, calling to her—telling her the winter is gone, she is free,  to enjoy all the blessings He has to show her. I sense urgency in Him to awaken her to the depths of His love—like she has missed it. I still see what I wrote above (though I’m not sure of my theology here!)—but I see that He finds her, He pursues. She sees Him, peering through the lattice, behind a wall. Sometimes He is not clearly visible, but He is always there. And then she hears Him tell her the old is gone, the new has come—rejoice! He has made all things new, all things beautiful. But the key to me, is that He had to tell her. It is easy for me to get stuck in what doesn’t seem to be going right—tiny things in view of eternity…and I need to be reminded, no, it is finished! No more trying to justify myself or be my own righteousness. Turn to Him, listen to His call, and follow—see what He wants to show me. I think these are my favorite verses of the passage.

  46.  
    1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
    “a confidence in God’s love for you rising, like the morning sun.”
    This and the picture stood out to me, the why is because I have felt recently a turning, a little change, an understanding of my self, my God, and my enemy. There have been some moments when I am dissappointed in myself, when I normally would pull away, I am leaning more towards God, believing more that I am loved in spite of me. 

    1. oh Chris, your words just really spoke to me, where I am–thank you…so wise “an understanding of my self, my God, and my enemy… leaning more towards God, believing more that I am loved”. This makes me SMILE for you–His beauty is so evident through you, and oh how it encourages me! Keep going the path you are on, keep believing that deep love He has for you dear Chris.

  47. B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see?
    OK, just now seeing the Eldredge portion (I need to start reading the entire post first!)

    The winter is past. Winter does bring a picture of death in many ways—evidence of life in creation is mostly hidden in the winter. The rains are gone. Rain always seems cleansing to me. The sun has come.  Flowers—new life, beauty, fragrance, color. Doves-peace. The fig tree—sweetest fruit. This is a simple thought, but it just occurred to me that what is each of what is mentioned will bless a different one of our senses. The flowers for our sight and smell, the fig tree to taste, the doves to hear. There is a completeness to the beauty of the New Earth.

    C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14? How does this speak to you?
    Oh, this verse just made my eyes tear up for some reason. I think this verse is hard for me today. I think I need to sit with Him with it, I feel my “confidence” waning rather than rising. I still struggle to hear (and truly believe) the part of being beautiful. I don’t feel beautiful—outwardly or inwardly, most of the time.  I have always reminded myself it is His beauty, not mine, and that can make it more believable—yet I think He also wants me to feel He really loves me, as I am. It is so difficult to believe, when I know He knows my every thought and weakness—yet I know it is truth.

    1. “it just occurred to me that what is each of what is mentioned will bless a different one of our senses. The flowers for our sight and smell, the fig tree to taste, the doves to hear.”

      wonderful insight, Elizabeth…I didn’t think of this…incredible…(thank you.)

  48. Me and my linky tool again–Gospel Coalition has a 45 min. video of Tim Keller speaking on his new book “Walking with God through Pain and Suffering” -it is REALLY good. Also appreciated Joni E. Tada’s review (it’s on the GC site also)

    1. This was really good! Thank you. My favorite quote “Don’t walk away just because you can’t fit an ocean of meaning into your thimble sized brain.” This is how I feel about God, so much beyond my understanding! =)

  49. B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see?
    Winter is a time of rest, sleep, hibernating at times. Hibernating in the Lord.
    Rain is God nurturing us, slowly, lovingly wooing our hearts with His refreshing ‘waters’~rain, sometimes his rains come hard like life pounding at our hearts, but He is changing our hearts in those times to become like His. The rains dont last forever. (Thank God!)
    Flowers appearing to me represent life, new beginnings, singing represents celebrating and joy. A new day has come and He has changed us, on the inside. Flowers are beautiful and to me that is us, the flowers,new, refreshed and beautiful in Him.
    Cooing of Doves, with doves I always feel peace. There is a peace in the land with the cooing of the doves that can be heard, I see the Holy Spirit all over this passage, its the Holy Spirit through out the land.
    Fig trees spread their early fruit, God is nurturing us, even with early fruit, never late, right on time and sometimes He surprises us with early refreshing.
    Blossoming vines spreading their fragrance, the fragrance is God’s love, His sweet peaceful aroma. Like lavender, His aroma soothes, and brings peace. I always think of smells I love, like Fall leaves, the first smell of a wood fire burning on a cold day, Christmas trees…the smell of the woods on a beautiful walk…these smells always make me smile and I always say thank you to God for those smells, for He knows I love them.
    Arise, come, my darling my beautiful one, come with me~after all that, how could I not want to go with God…. 🙂

    1. Oh, Staci…I agree with Dee, “beautifully written“…it was like reading dark, silky chocolate…if you can imagine that…:)