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LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE

SHE SAYS, “YOUR LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE.”

THEN THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM ECHO THIS, TURNING TO THE SHEPHERD/KING

AND SAYING “YOUR (masculine singular) LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE.”

THE HEBREW WORD TRANSLATED “LOVE” IN EACH CASE IS “DOWD.”

IT IS DERIVED FROM A WORD FOR”BOILING POT”

IT IS PASSION.

IT IS USED IN SEXUAL WAYS, BUT THIS IS A METAPHOR FOR INTENSE LOVE.

EVEN CHRIST’S SUFFERING IS CALLED HIS PASSION.

LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE.

bending
https://chelseyrogers.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/loves-like-a-hurricane/

IT TOOK “DOWD,” LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE, TO SAVE US.

WE ARE SO BAD IT TOOK HIS DEATH ON A CROSS TO PAY OUR DEBT.

BUT WE ARE SO LOVED THAT HE SET HIS FACE LIKE FLINT TO ACCOMPLISH IT.

LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE.

THE HURRICANE OF GOSPEL LOVE.

jesus storybookSally Lloyd-Jones opens The Jesus Storybook Bible explaining the Bible isn’t a book of rules or heroes…but rather: “The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

This is the gospel — and this is the whole story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. So of course this love story of a great shepherd/king rescuing a peasant maiden would mirror the big story. But can a beginner understand it? That was the question you helped me wrestle with last week as I worked on my intro to the upcoming book. YOU WERE SO HELPFUL. One of my favorite comments came from Cynthia, a silent blogger.

Even though a skilled musician will appreciate a well-played symphony more deeply than a first time concert-goer, the untrained ear can still soar with the beautiful music.

concert_2464934b

How true. It is the same with the gospel — a child may not see many of the breath-taking colors of this multlfaceted diamond, but he can understand the most important facet, that he can be fully forgiven. In the same way, even a beginner can “soar” with the Song, realizing God sees her as beautiful, though the nuances of poetry may have to wait.

This month I’m returning to the prisons of Texas to speak, and many of these women are babes, but I know the Song can cause them to soar.

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It was Linda Strom, (you can see her in the middle above — only woman not in white) who is the founder of this life-changing ministry (Discipleship Unlimited) that convinced me that The Song of Songs might bless the women in prison.

“Really, Linda?”

“They are so thirsty for the love of God. I think they’ll drink it in.”

“But will they get it?”

“I think they will. God will meet them.”

Many of you have heard the story of how God did meet us the first time I braved the Song in prison. I’ll tell it in full in the upcoming book (over a year away) but here is a summary, and I’d love input into the part in red, in particular. Because the Song is poetry, and not everyone understands that, they may jump to the conclusion that when she says she is “dark,” she is referring to ethnicity — and I want to be so clear she is not.

That night in the prison I shared:

The peasant woman becomes very self-conscious when this shepherd/king comes to her and looks at her. She says, ‘Do not gaze at me because I am dark.’” I looked out at their faces, all the beautiful skin colors that our Creator made, and wanted to be very clear. “This is certainly not talking about ethnicity, but is a metaphor for feeling unclean and unattractive, for she also compares herself to the dirty and weathered tents of Kedar. She’s been working all day in the vineyard under the hot sun. It’s a little like you feel here when you’ve been working all day, sweaty, without deodorant, and dressed in shapeless prison garb. If the man of your dreams walked in, you’d feel self-conscious too.” They nodded and laughed. (All they have to make themselves presentable is a sliver of soap. No shampoo, deodorant, make-up, or even a comb – for the fear it could be a weapon.)

 “But,” I said, “I want you to see how the king sees her—how the King sees you! He has cleansed her, made her as clean as the new fallen snow, as pure as a lily, and so he reassures her, as He does each of us:

            Behold, you are beautiful my love,

            behold, you are beautiful.              

Julia, one of the women, began weeping so loudly I had to stop. I asked her to share. She said:

All of my life I wanted my mother to tell me I was beautiful, but she never could. Then, here, in prison, Christ found me and I understood the gospel. This morning I told the Lord how beautiful he was, and I thought he said, “Julia — you are beautiful.” I was so astonished I asked him to say it again — but he didn’t. Until tonight, when you opened the Bible and said Jesus says: “You are beautiful, my love, there is no flaw in you.” 

Yes, she was soaring. She caught the heart of the Song. This time she didn’t just hear the gospel, but felt it. So many of you expressed that last week as you caught the value of poetry — that it helps you feel the truth! (And, by the way, you were remarkable with John Donne’s poem which indeed, captures the essence of The Song.)

WHAT HAVE WE LOST?

Scholars like Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and Matthew Henry all saw Christ as central in the Song. However, many of the ancients may have been too prudish to first see the earthly picture of marriage. R. C. Sproul said the church of old was embarrassed by the sensual imagery of the Song, and tried to get around it. They went to great lengths to avoid it, interpreting her breasts, for example, to represent the Law and the Prophets, or the Old and New Testaments!

But in the 19th and 20th centuries, we slid to the other end of the pendulum. We developed a more serious kind of myopia – becoming so sexualized we could no longer see Christ. Some contemporary preachers have turned the book into soft porn and have even used it to pressure wives to perform acts that make them uncomfortable. As Professor James Hamilton said, “This is the exact opposite of what is taught about marriage in the Song.”[2] The bridegroom, instead of using his wife for selfish purposes, protects and cherishes her, as Christ does the Church. I am so thankful for voices speaking out against this misuse of the Song, for honestly, after nearly every picture has been decoded to represent genitals or sexual positions, it is hard to see Christ any longer. For those who are off-put by the metaphor of sexual passion that The Song uses (and which John Donne used in his poem: Batter My Heart Three-Person’d God) it might be helpful to see that the Hebrew word used often in the Song for “love” is derived from the Hebrew word for “boiling pot.” It means intense. In English, we might say “the English have a passion for their gardens.” The word passion has also even come to mean the suffering of Christ – His love was so intense for us that he went to the cross. If we are so sexualized, as is common in our culture, it might be hard to see the metaphor, but it is vital to treat the Song with respect. Perhaps that is why The Talmud asserts that anyone who treats this song lightly (as a mere drinking song) forfeits his place in the world to come and will bring evil into the world and imperil the welfare of all humankind.

 I so appreciate you and am so pleased to see several new participating bloggers. Welcome!

Sunday Icebreaker:

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

2. Would love your comments on the paragraph in red.

Monday – Thursday Bible Study

This song made popular by the David Crowder Band will prepare your heart:

               OH HOW HE LOVES US

(Lizzy and Elizabeth posted the back story to this song on our Facebook page.)

      3. How would you say that The Song of Songs fits into the big story of the Bible?

4.  Finding everything you can, how does the Shulammite describe herself in the following verses?

A. Song of Songs 1:5 

B. Song of Songs 1:6

5. Describe her insecurities, her emotions.

6.  The peasant maiden has feelings of unworthiness. How do you see this in S. of S. 1:6? Turn forward to the next book of Isaiah, and describe the feelings of unworthiness that Isaiah had when he came close to the Lord in Isaiah 6:1-5. Can you identify with this? If so, share. (Leave a bookmark in Isaiah.)

7. Describe how this shepherd/king feels about her and sees her in Song of Songs 1:15. Now, turn forward to Isaiah again, and describe the parallel in Isaiah 6: 6-7.

8. In the Song, he says she is “like a lily.” What parallel do you see in Isaiah 1:18?

9. Another theme in the Song is that the bride keeps comparing herself to a vineyard. (See S. of S. 1:6) Read Isaiah 5:1-3 and see if you can discern whom the vineyard represents. What do you learn?

10. The Gospel is hidden in pictures and stories in the Old Testament, bu revealed clearly in the New Testament. How does 1 Peter 2:24 clearly explain the gospel?

11.  Do you remember a time when the good news of the gospel first became clear to you? If so, share what you remember in a sentence.

12. Challenge Question: What multifaceted aspects of the gospel have become clearer to you as you have matured in Christ?

13. The gospel tells us that we are so bad that Christ had to die for us, yet so loved that He did, and that fully trusting this cleanses us and makes us beautiful. How do you see both of these aspects of our character in S. of S of S. 1:5? If you are His child, do you believe you are lovely in His eyes? Why or why not?

Last week I gave you a challenge question that I could see, from your responses, was not clear! And I see why, for discovering the Hebrew for the words “love” and “your” is critical. So, I’m trying again, if you don’t mind tackling it again!

      14. In Song of Songs 1:2 and 1:4, first, “she” says his “love” is better than wine, and then “they” say his

           “love” is better than wine. Read Song of Songs 1:2 and 1:4.

           A. The Hebrew word translated love is derived from a word meaning “boiling pot,” and refers in other

               places to sexual passion (see Pvbs. 7:18) Knowing that, and also considering the comparison to

               wine, what do you think she, and then they, are saying about the king’s love?

 

                Though some will be put off by the comparison of the Lord’s love to sexual passion, perhaps the

                metaphor can be received when you realize that this has to with intensity, the kind of intense

                passion that Hawkeye had in the Last of the Mohicans when he offered to die in her place, crying

               “Me for  her!”

mohicans5

 

                 B. When you think of the Lord being as passionate for you as a lover is, or as passionate as a lover

                   who would die for his maiden, how might that affect your concerns and your behavior today?

    C. If you would limit the interpretation of the Song only to earthly marriage, what problem might you

         find in interpreting verse 4?

Friday: I’m going to give you two weeks to listen to this sermon — for those who wish to get started, here it is!

James Hamilton Song of Songs 1

15. Share any notes or thoughts for the above.

Saturday

16. What is your take-a-way this week and why?

 

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  1. 3.  How would you say that the Song of Songs fits into the big story of the Bible?  
    Simply put, the Song, like every other book of the Bible tells  the story of a Holy God seeking sinful human beings to be in the most intimate, exuberant and freeing relationship we have ever experienced.  The darkness of our sin is not glossed over…..but the sacrificial power of a Holy Bridegroom taking that weight of sin upon Himself and defining love for us ……yes, the poetry and the passion  (loved learning that new word “dowd”!) of the gospel IS the Song of Songs!!  

    1. Jackie, I love your answer, so accurately and exquisitely stated!

  2. 7. Describe how this shephard/king feels about her and sees her in Song of Songs 1:15. Now, turn forward to Isaiah again, and describe the parallel in Isaiah 6:6-7. Both passages say “Behold…” Which means that the individual is being seen. In both passages, the individuals are concerned about their wickedness, but they are Eventually seen as wickedless… As in their sin is not seen. In Isaiah this is a direct result of being refined by the fire, in SoS it is from the groom’s love. I can’t help but equate doves to Holy Spirit but don’t know if that is reading into it what I want to be there. Doves do represent purity, yes? If her eyes are like doves represents the Holy Spirit then it is perhaps a symbol of Christ’s atonement for us, and that is why she is beautiful despite her darkness.
     
    8. In the Song, he says she is “like a lily.” What parallel do you see in Isaiah 1:18? Same thing here. Sin as scarlet turned to white as snow. The bride’s darkness black turned white as a lily.
     
    9. Another theme in the Son is that the bride keeps comparing herself to a vineyard. (See SoS 1:6.) Read Isaiah 5:1-3 and see if you can discern whom the vineyard represents. What do you learn? It seems that the vineyard is Israel. This is Isaiah speaking to Israel and Jesus uses the same picture in the gospels. If the vineyard is Israel then the vineyard is God’s. However, despite choice vines the land is corrupted and yields only wild grapes which are not desirable.
     
    10. The Gospel is hidden in pictures and stories in the Olt Testament, but revealed clearly in the New Testament. How does 1 Peter 2:24 clearly explain the gospel. Well, that about sums it up! He himself bore our sins on the cross that we might die to sin and live in righteousness. By HIS wounds we have been healed.

  3. 10-12 the vs. in Peter is one that is SO often used to say that we will be healed if we just believe enough…such a damaging thing to say to people who are ill! of course we know that it means his wounds have covered all our sin..not our physical ailments. our HEARTS AND SPIRITS ARE HEALED. 
    I remember at 7 knowing that God loved me and was some how living inside of me, that he was my light and my joy. 
    15 years into our marriage I realized how very prideful I was and that If I could not see myself as the sinner that I was I was never going to be able to live at peace with my husband or with myself. I always loved Jesus with all I was, but I never really understood how much I NEEDED HIM, that it was what HE did on the cross that was my salvation. I never thought that my good works could not get me into heaven….but I thought that MY LOVE for HIM could.  I was always very proud of how close my relationship with Jesus was, I would always thing things like “I don’t have to have a good marriage, Jesus fills that hole for me” well, what I have grown into is that my relationship with HIM is a result of HIS WANTING A RELATIONSHIP WITH ME SO BADLY THAT HE BECAME HUMAN AND SUFFERED AND DIED FOR ME….. not because I have some super natural connection with HIM. this made it possible for me to be humble enough to love Paul where he was at and stop trying to fix him. 

  4. Sorry I am jumping in SOOO late! Been suffering health woes. This is so timely though. I praise God.
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why? The intense boiling pot of water love. That is beautiful.
    2. Would love your comments on the paragraph in red.
    I like the read. I like the comparison if the man of their dreams walked in, it would be how they feel. Many of us are afraid to feel lovely, especially if we know the darkness of our sin.

  5. 3. How would you say that The Song of Songs fits into the big story of the Bible?Honestly if we are the bride and Christ is the church, it is a sub story of the bigger story. Like genesis 1 to Genesis 2. Google earth view and then the street view. More detail. Perhaps Song of Solomon is like this to the entire story of the Bible.
    4.  Finding everything you can, how does the Shulammite describe herself in the following verses?
    A. Song of Songs 1:5 – She realizes she is dark BUT lovely…I like that security. Describing herself though as tents or curtains. I must look up the relevance here.
    B. Song of Songs 1:6- She again realizes she is dark…Maybe a bad thing because she was made to be in the sun too much. Hard worker because she was not provided or cared for by her brothers. This would make one insecure if the men who were to look after her instead exposed her to hard work and tiring hard work because she could not even take care of herself. Long hours if the sun stained her skin permanently dark. Very hurtful.
    5. Describe her insecurities, her emotions.Ha!!! She sounds like a tired mom describes herself!!! Taking care of everyone else’s vineyards but her own. 🙂 But I described that more above on B. Still the poetry is lost on me. I look forward to knowing more.

  6. Susan, your answers are wonderful.
    As the Shulamite woman describes her insecurity, I can also identify. My sinful past made me “dark and unclean”.
    Thank God for the gospel and being washed “white as snow.” Love I Peter 2:24

  7. 6.  The peasant maiden has feelings of unworthiness. How do you see this in S. of S. 1:6? Turn forward to the next book of Isaiah, and describe the feelings of unworthiness that Isaiah had when he came close to the Lord in Isaiah 6:1-5. Can you identify with this? If so, share. (Leave a bookmark in Isaiah.) Yes! Isaiah is at the end of Himself and we would do good to see that too if we were to be before the Lord. i have felt that way in the ocean, looking at a strong storm, looking up at the stars. Feeling so little and unworthy before these magnificent things the Lord made.
    7. Describe how this shepherd/king feels about her and sees her in Song of Songs 1:15. Now, turn forward to Isaiah again, and describe the parallel in Isaiah 6: 6-7. She is beautiful. In Isaiah, God takes away the reproach he feels in an appropriate way that is personal to that text or experience. Just as he did with the maiden in S of S.
    8. In the Song, he says she is “like a lily.” What parallel do you see in Isaiah 1:18? beautiful white and cleanliness because of the blood of Christ. Because of the King we are clean.
    9. Another theme in the Song is that the bride keeps comparing herself to a vineyard. (See S. of S. 1:6) Read Isaiah 5:1-3 and see if you can discern whom the vineyard represents. What do you learn? hmm. Not sure. God’s vineyard. His care. Though some wild grapes develop.

  8. 11.  Do you remember a time when the good news of the gospel first became clear to you? If so, share what you remember in a sentence. 
     
    I have always known that God loves me. However, I truly only understood the gospel in the past few years….I think it was when Dee used Fiddler on the Roof to help us understand the love Jesus has for us. Oh Dee! Can you remind me the content of that lesson? That song between Golde and Tevye hit home with me! I cry just thinking how much He loves me!
     
    http://youtu.be/h_y9F5St4j0
     
     
     

    1. ..and what a privilege and beauty it has been over the years to see this happening in you on the blog sweet Laura! 

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    2. Wow LAURA!!!!!  Gives me chills to see how the Spirit used Dee in this work of grace in your heart!!!!  His wooing and the ways He leads us to the people and places we need constantly amazes me!!  Have you ever heard the song “Lord I’m Amazed by You….”??  I think you would love it!  

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    3. Oh Laura thanks for sharing this made me cry. I just sent it to my husband.

  9. I really enjoyed the Isaiah passage with the Songs! 
    5. Describe her insecurities, her emotions.
    She feels insecure with her outward appearance and vulnerable about her appearance.The way she mentions it upfront like this—makes me think, it is always at the forefront of her mind. When she walks through life, she feels it is what people notice about her, the way they think of her is tied to her imperfections. For her, it defines her. But the Lord re-defines us—what a gift.  
    6.  The peasant maiden has feelings of unworthiness. How do you see this in S. of S. 1:6? Turn forward to the next book of Isaiah, and describe the feelings of unworthiness that Isaiah had when he came close to the Lord in Isaiah 6:1-5. Can you identify with this? If so, share. (Leave a bookmark in Isaiah.)
    Isaiah comes upon the holiness of the Lord and he faces his own depravity. Humility overtakes him. He feels completely dirty, unclean, unworthy. 
    7. Describe how this shepherd/king feels about her and sees her in Song of Songs 1:15. Now, turn forward to Isaiah again, and describe the parallel in Isaiah 6: 6-7.
    He doesn’t say anything about her insecurities, like ‘your darkness doesn’t bother me’ or ‘it’s not that bad’–He doesn’t try to cover or excuse it—He simply calls her beautiful.That one declaration both overrules her insecurities and defines her as already being what she longs to be—His beauty. 
     
    And then in Isaiah 6—He addresses, heals, purifies, the very part that Isaiah had declared unworthy of the Lord—his lips. My deepest sin, my greatest weakness, my heaviest insecurities—those broken places, He makes new. 
    Just made me think of John Piper. In Future Grace, he says he used to have a paralyzing fear of public speaking. I think of how the enemy attacked the very area he would use to later proclaim the Gospel, because God healed what had been broken.
     
    Now I’m going to try to catch up reading all these great comments!!

  10. 12. Challenge Question: What multifaceted aspects of the gospel have become clearer to you as you have matured in Christ?
    One, that I truly am far more sinful than I ever dared believe. I can remember in high school, thinking I wasn’t ‘that bad’ and that I would just keep getting a little more and more ‘cleaned up’ as I grew until one day (on earth) I would be ‘pretty good’. (My stomach turns along with anyone reading this!) By His mercy, He opened my eyes, and instead, with every hour, minute really, I am more and more aware of my own selfish, self-righteous, pride-filled heart. I am daily saddened by my choosing to sin with words and actions, and grieving my Father. And more, I have had to accept that there is no “cleaning up” that I can do—but nor do I need to, that is the great gift! Oh how many nights have I spent lying in bed, rehearsing my failures, confessing, repenting…and then, end. I have stayed with the heaviness of my conviction, and vowed to try harder tomorrow. But the second gift of the Gospel is that I am not left alone in my wretched state, He has embraced my dirt, my messy state…He who entered this world in the smelliest, filthiest of places, welcomes me, as I am. And cleanses me, Himself. So while I continually see a deeper layer of sin in me, it no longer paralyzes me with guilt because I also see Him look at me and say, “Behold, you are beautiful, my love” (Song of Songs 1:15), and that breathes new life into my bones…”Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” (Ezekiel 37:5)

    1. This is beautiful (not stomach turning) Lizzy.

    2. Lizzy- “”Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” (Ezekiel 37:5)”  oh!

  11. 9. Another theme in the Song is that the bride keeps comparing herself to a vineyard. (See S. of S. 1:6) Read Isaiah 5:1-3 and see if you can discern whom the vineyard represents. What do you learn?
     
    Is the vineyard God’s people? The Israelites? The Isaiah passage seems to metaphorically describe how God specially chose the Israelites to be His people; He “planted” them. The line “He dug it up and cleared it of stones”, though I may be going off-track here, reminded me of the passage in Ezekiel, I think, where God says that He will remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. Then He expectantly looks for a crop of good fruit, but there is none. In the Song, she says she hasn’t had time to take care of her own vineyard. I know some commentators believe the vineyard here is the Church.
     
    10. The Gospel is hidden in pictures and stories in the Old Testament, but revealed clearly in the New Testament. How does 1 Peter 2:24 clearly explain the gospel?
     
    This verse clearly answers the question of what can be done with our/my sin? How can it ever be taken away? The answer is that Jesus Himself “bore our sins in His body on the tree (Cross).” He was mortally wounded for our sins; we are healed by His wounds. We can die to our sinful nature because it really was killed on the Cross.
     
    11. Do you remember a time when the good news of the gospel first became clear to you? If so, share what you remember in a sentence.
     
    The gospel became clear to me in a Bible study in 1998, when I took my sins before the dying Jesus on the Cross, understanding that He was dying for my sins, and I asked Him, what would you say to me now, as you died for my sins, and He said “Now do you see how much I love you?”

  12. 12. Challenge Question: What multifaceted aspects of the gospel have become clearer to you as you have matured in Christ?
    That when I am unfaithful, He is faithful for His mercies never come to an end for His love is ‘steadfast’. So when I am unfaithful-He is faithful which melts me to be faithful.. and when I doubt and feel like He has forgotten me, (which I felt two days ago when my oldest son devastated me with ‘spiritual’ news that I can’t share here-so there is a knife sticking through my heart right now-and it IS worse than if his health issue ends up being deadly.)  I am reminded of Lamentations: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,  “therefore I will hope in him.” ~ Oh.  He melts me-HE came to lose His portion so He could be mine. Even my wayward heart is NEVER out of His hands . 🙂 I feel more needy of Him than I did before..I need Him to console and comfort me with His presence instead of running to food like I did last time-and I am not running to food for He is my portion. I CAN come to HIM all dirty and broken and instead of backing away like I did in the past, I can be honest and cry out, ‘where are you!’ because I am HIS-and He is my portion! When I press in, He won’t turn his face away!  HE WON’T LET ME SIT IN MY PAIN ALONE FOR HE IS WITH ME-He is my joy in the midst of feeling like a knife is sticking through my stomach right now. He is upside down, truly..yes I am upset but it can’t make me faint because He has me.
     
     

    1. Rebecca…..this is the first thing I saw when I came here to post just now.  I just wanted to say “I’m with you…..I know…..”.  I have a child with a terminal illness….who also delivered “spiritual news” to me many years ago…..that is worse.  Much worse (than the terminal illness).  From the perspective of quite a few years down the line…..though you will always be walking around with a knife in your heart (not disregarding the words in Mark that I just read “with God all things are possible”)….but oh, the rest of your BEAUTIFUL post!!!!  Those eternal truths….His enduring and forever love….the hope IN HIM that we have that is otherworldly…..THOSE things – CHRIST – will become your life.  As He is now…..so much MORE He will continue to be…..day by day by day……He HAS YOU!!!  And you have Him!!  Amen and hallelujah!!  Praise the Holy name of Jesus Christ now and forevermore.  

    2. Oh, Rebecca, my heart bleeds with you! Praying for your eldest and for you. God is WITH you! He is your portion! 

    3. oh sweet Rebecca–I am just seeing this–wish I could hold you in a hug and just pray face to face, but I am continuing to lift you up dear sister–calling to Him to rescue!

    4. Rebecca, I believe all of us mothers have, at different times and for different reasons, felt that knife in the heart, that pain because of our children. It hurts because we love them so much. I can only imagine how much more magnified is that pain in the heart of God, in arms reaching out to embrace, yet His love being spurned, ignored. Even so with believers when we doubt His love for us.

      1. Susan, so encouraging. I love the wisdom I am getting from my sister-moms here with older children who have walked this road! HE IS GOOD. 

    5. Rebecca,
      Yes, he has us.  He knows our hearts as moms.
       
      In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.  Psalm 18:6
       

    6. Rebecca Amen He will not let us sit in our pain alone. I too know that knife thru the heart feeling.  Praying you feel His comfort and keeps your eyes on Him

  13. 11. Do you remember a time when the good news of the gospel first became clear to you? If so, share what you remember in a sentence. Reading Idol Lies I saw that I cannot control God’s approval of me, nor earn or grow His love for me. It was a paramount realization in order to begin understanding true GRACE. 
     
    12. Challenge question: What multifaceted aspects of the gospel have become clearer to you as you have matured in Christ? That I can do nothing to MAKE Him love me, nor can I do anything to MAKE Him stop loving me. He loves me, He just does! and His gospel story started at creation when He created us anyway, despite knowing we would fall away and hurt Him.
     
    13. The gospel tells us that we are so bad that Christ had to die for us, yet so loved that He did, and that fully trusting this cleanses us and makes us beautiful. How do you see both of these aspects of our character in SoS 1:5? If you are His child, do you believe you are lovely in His eyes? Why or why not? Verse 5 contrasts darkness with loveliness. We are dark with sin, but through His grace we have been given His righteousness to make us lovely. Does He see me as lovely? I really struggled with this question the last time we did this study and again when I read Captivating… To the point of tears and anguish. I do not think that I am lovely and this has been affirmed to me by many who have not liked me, stop liking me, or betrayed me. I felt like a mistake that God would remember sometimes. I felt largely forgotten and that I had to work my way to blessing. Work for approval. For me I had to not only come to see the loveliness given to me by Christ’s sacrifice but I also had to accept that God made me… On purpose … And if He made me on purpose then He made me with purpose… And if He made me with purpose then He put loveliness in me to be me. This is different in everyone and for sure we have marred and stained and dirtied this loveliness with sin…. But it is there. Every single one of us has been made lovely! Not to my credit but to His credit, His glory, His work. So yes, I DO believe that He sees me as lovely because I am the work of His hands and because His Son has clothed me with His righteousness.(A side note: I think it takes awhile, especially in this culture of “be-better'” for this knowledge to shake down from our head to our heart and then to our hands and feet.)

    1. Thank you for openness and honesty, Jill.

    2. Jill, the wounds that others inflict upon us can take a long time to heal. I am really encouraged to read of how you replaced lies with His truth, though. I see you here reaffirming these truths to your soul. Thank you for your honesty, Jill.

    3. Jill,
      Thank you for these honest, heartfelt words.  I am so moved.   
       He loves me, He just does!

  14. 5. Describe her insecurities, her emotions.
    Insecurities: her appearance gave the impression that she was of a lower social class; her skin was darkened from the sun which was not viewed as desireable in the beauty realm.  Emotions: she regards herself as beautiful, but is distraught that her appearance does not reflect beauty; she is not to the level she deems necessary for desireabiliity.
     
    6. The peasant maiden has feelings of unworthiness. How do you see this in SoS 1:6?
    She does not want to be gazed upon because of her darkness; she recognizes that she has fallen short in the care of self while succumbing to the cares of others.
    Describe the feelings of Isaiah (6:1-5).
    Isaiah was overwhelmingly aware of his unworthiness, his sin, his lack in the Lord’s presence.  He understands the vastness between the Lord’s goodness and purity and his wickedness and sin; he is not fit to be in the Lord’s presence and this is fully known to him.
    Can you identify?
    Indeed…there are times when I wonder why the Lord doesn’t simply give up on me; I seem to make the same mistakes, fall in the same traps and pits, succumb to the same temptations, etc., even on my very best days I fall woefully short.
     
    7. Describe how this Shepherd/King feels about her (SoS 1:15).
    She is beauty in His eyes…He loves her.
    Describe the parallel verse in Isaiah 6:6-7.
    Isaiah’s unworthiness/sin is forgiven by God; Isaiah is cleansed by the Lord; the Lord provides “standing” (worthiness) for Isaiah that without the Lord he would have no hope in attaining.

  15. 8. He says she is “like a lily”…what parallel do you see in Isaiah 1:18?
    In the Ellen Davis WBC commentary, it says that the lily in the prophetic books is viewed as a symbol of restoration.  I see the parallel in Isaiah 1:18 when it speaks to the restoration of the deep, penetrating scarlet and crimson stains (sin) being transformed to pure, snow white, clean woolen (being made worthy through Jesus).  

  16. I still have not be able to read through all the comments yet, so this may have been addressed–and I trust you all to please correct me if my thoughts are off here (not a good sleep night)! But in regards to vs. 1:2 and 1:4, I think the danger of applying this to only an earthly marriage is the plural connotation-? As the Bride of Christ, I welcome other believers to join me in the intimate fellowship I share with the Lord…I think of “virgins” as those without other loves,forsaking idols…we want others to join in the beauty of His love, with us “let us run…”. Clearly, to apply that concept to earthly marriage is dangerous and not desirable!

  17. 11. Do you remember a time when the good news of the gospel first became clear to you? If so, share what you remember in a sentence.
    What captured me when I first heard the good news of the gospel is realizing I would never be alone (when I had felt alone all my life).  In reading Idol Lies, I realized when I was first saved I had loved the Lord for what He could give me not for Him only. 
    12. Challenge question: What multifaceted aspects of the gospel have become clearer to you as you have matured in Christ?
    The aspect of my King coming to pursue me, rescue me, searching high and low for me like the hero who searches for his fair maiden.  Oh how He loves me, I am only grasping this in part.
    Realizing I have to “preach the gospel” to myself every day otherwise the noise of this world muffles it.  Seeing it as my daily bread, my sustenence, not food, people, busyness, my schedule, fill in the blank….

    1. Liz VH-love your #12: “my King coming to pursue me, rescue me, searching high and low for me”–beautiful

    2. Liz VH Yes preaching the gospel to ourselves daily!

  18. 13. The gospel tells us that we are so bad that Christ had to die for us, yet so loved that He did, and that fully trusting this cleanses us and makes us beautiful. How do you see both of these aspects of our character in S. of S of S. 1:5? If you are His child, do you believe you are lovely in His eyes? Why or why not?
     
    She confesses that she is not worthy (she is dark), yet the tents and the curtains represent protection. The tents are moveable; she trusts He is always with her. She can hide in the tent if needed….it covers her as He does when she needs to feel hidden. The curtains shade her from the light that provided her tanned skin. They block the “bad” in her. He is so radiant that she needs to block the beam because it pierces to be in its path. But, it penetrates her and reminds her how much He loves her when it touches her skin. He is the light.
     
    She is ladened with sin, but forgiven and loved by Him. 
     
    I’m not sure I answered that question, but I was on a roll this morning!
     
    I think He loves me, but it’s hard to realize just how much He does. I look at my ugly flabby thighs and my straight flat hair and wonder who could look at me and love me? Lovely? Not quite… It is all surficial though, not deep. I have to look through the first layer, underneath to see what I think He would love. But, even there, there is trouble. I am whiny and harsh; judgmental. Not a beautiful thing indeed. He did make me though, spicy as I am ?! Maybe I entertain Him? I hope my dancing does….I have learned I need to keep my mouth shut more often. I bet He likes that! I suppose if He made me then He probably thinks I’m lovely.

    1. Laura, you were on quite a roll this morning! Af first glance at the first paragraph, I thought those might be Dee’s words! And furthermore, I have seen you in person and did not see the imperfections you mentioned…I found you beautiful, intelligent, scientific-straightforward, and then was blown away by the “Laura-dancer” side, your gracefulness. I think we as women are so trained, unfortunately, to see our bodies imperfectly…all we see on every magazine cover is airbrushed perfection. It’s unattainable! But I just had a thought…that unattainable perfection of being perfect, clean, washed, a “pure and spotless bride” is attainable because God declares us so!

      1. Susan, this is good! “…that unattainable perfection of being perfect, clean, washed, a “pure and spotless bride” is attainable because God declares us so!”

  19. 12. Challenge Question: What multifaceted aspects of the gospel have become clearer to you as you have matured in Christ?
     
    I must admit that years ago, the good news to me was simply that I was an unworthy sinner forgiven by God’s grace. Jesus took my place and died for me and now I could go to heaven. Do you know that I actually struggled several years ago, though, with the thought of living forever in heaven, because i looked at myself and the sins that I still struggled wtih, my “me-ness”, and I would think, I can’t stand myself for all eternity, really? I have to live on forever as “me”?
    I have come to understand the facet that the gospel is the double cure for sin. I have not only been rescued from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin over me. And I learned that here. I also learned here that sin isn’t just breaking God’s commands and rules, but it is breaking His heart. I remember when we looked at Hosea and those moving paintings by Martin French, and especially the one where Hosea (although in my mind that could be Jesus) is spreading his cloak over Gomer, whose eyes are downcast and she is so ashamed. I mentally could put myself in that picture.

    1. This helps me SO MUCH to understand Dee’s question. Thank you!

  20. 13. The gospel tells us that we are so bad that Christ had to die for us, yet so loved that He did, and that fully trusting this cleanses us and makes us beautiful. How do you see both of these aspects of our character in S. of S. 1:5? If you are His child, do you believe you are lovely in His eyes? Why or why not?
     
    I am looking at this verse metaphorically, as the woman here is speaking of her physical appearance not being up to the standard of what would be beautiful. She is dark, tanned by the sun. Maybe she even has some sun damage already on her face, those lines and wrinkles caused by the sun. Maybe her complexion looks a bit weathered. Yet she says she is lovely. When I translate that to my character and do I believe I am lovely in His eyes, immediately I am not thinking of what I see reflected in the mirror. I am seeing my shame and guilt that I wear because of my sin. Not only “wear it” but it’s like the bad things I’ve done ARE ME, they’re all over me, it’s WHO I AM. I can’t separate myself from my guilt, sin, and the shame. So when I think of how God sees me, it seems so impossible that when He looks at me He isn’t thinking “Susan who did such and such when she was in college…” that He doesn’t identify me according to my sins. How can He not see them? That He sees me as lovely means to me that He is not even thinking of the bad things I’ve done, as if I’m a different person who never did those bad things (and some of those sins aren’t in the too distant past…and a lot of my sins now may not be actual behaviors, but my thoughts and attitudes that only He can know). Just this morning I was beating myself up over something I didn’t do; didn’t handle a situation right, concerning a situation I’ve posted about the the FB site. I worry that I should have said this, or not said that, etc… I have a hard time not feeling guilty about something. Sometimes it’s because I’m made to feel by someone else that I’m doing something wrong, or my motives are wrong. I still struggle in this area.

    1. Susan,
      I surely identify with you in this struggle to not feel guilty.    May the Lord continue to help us to see that He Is Enough, that he truly does take our rags and give us his riches, moment by moment, hourly, daily, consistently.

  21. 6.  The peasant maiden has feelings of unworthiness.  How do you see this in S. of S. 1:6?  Turn forward to the next book of Isaiah, and describe the feelings of unworthiness that Isaiah had when he came close to the Lord in Isaiah 6: 1-5.  Can you identify with this?  If so, share.
     
    There is a world of hurt and shame in the phrase “Do not gaze at me because I am dark…”.  I couldn’t help but see that this is immediately followed up with her casting about for the reasons she is dark…..the poor and unjust treatment she has suffered at the hands of others……and “my own vineyard I have not kept”.  In my own life this is so often the “yes, but….” syndrome.  Yes, I am dark…..BUT ….look how others have been treating me….THAT’S why I am dark!!  Even if it is true….it seems to be a natural symptom of shame that I need to (like Adam and Eve) desperately get the spotlight off myself somehow.  Facing down the illumination of the Spirit in my own dark heart is a kind of death.  
     
    Isaiah was certainly experiencing a kind of death when he saw the Lord – “Woe is me….” The very first words we hear the prophet speak in the book of Isaiah are of woe onto himself.  It was only in seeing the holiness of the King  of Kings that Isaiah saw himself rightly – unclean.  When I think of the OT connotations of being “unclean”….it was to be entirely without hope…..cast away…..it was a slow but certain death sentence.  Isaiah also has such a sense of identity with his people…..he did not see himself as “above” the people who he dwelt in the midst of  (the ground is level at the foot of the cross).  
     
    I have shared here before of an experience with the Lord that I had in 2013.  It was costly and life changing.  when death came to someone I loved as my own children….and I had no inkling whatsoever that he had ever come to faith in Christ as Messiah…..and dozens upon dozens – at least – of brothers and sisters had been fervently praying him through three weeks of miracles….and then death snatched him very quickly…..and then I learned immediately that my own grieving child had a terminal illness….well….months of agony and wrestling with God ensued.  Nothing can touch those months of trying to see my Jesus in the rubble.  Of even feeling that He must despise me indeed…..that maybe even all of this was due to me, to my lukewarm life of faith.  Feeling personally responsible for the horrific….and yet, like Martha and Mary saying “Lord if you had been here….”    WHERE WERE YOU????????    As it turns out….He was with me through it all.  My personal shattering came through the book of Job….maybe most specifically Job 42:5&6  “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye see you;  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”  I have no words for the actual experience of how the Lord came to me in those words….but He did.  Oh, He did.  Shalom flooded my soul.  Grief continued to be my moment by moment companion for quite some time….and often, even now.  But it was a grief wrapped up in Shalom.  I do not understand.  But I can trust this Holy God.  My eyes saw Him.  All else pales and rests peacefully in His arms.  I don’t have to carry the weight anymore.  I am loved.  
     
     

    1. This is a beautiful post, Jacke. You are so insightful and certainly a woman of depth, who ponders things very deeply. Your last paragraph needs to be read, and re-read, and read again.

    2. Oh Jackie.    How life-giving your last paragraph is.   Beauty for ashes.

    3. This is beautiful, Jackie. So amazing and incredibly comforting that God met you in your grief through the book of Job. Beyond words really!
       
      Job 42:5 & 6 “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye see you;  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” 

    4. Jackie, I know this type of pain, and I also read and studied Job. I, unfortunately wasn’t ready to know and understand that God didn’t “have it out for me.” It came later, when I became a big girl in Christ and left behind the child who was learning about His love. Thankful for Nancy Demoss Woglemuth and a colleague who is a missionary now, getting me through it all. Dee helped me understand the depth of His love for me. I am so thankful God was caring for me by putting these sisters in my life. I have a long way to go, but am enjoying the journey. Life will hit me over and over again. The one thing I know for sure is that He remains steadfast for me. Love you sister ?!

  22. 7.  Describe how the shepherd/king sees her and feels about her in Song of Songs 1:15.  Describe the parallel in Isaiah 6:6&7.  
     
    The king sees her as beautiful.  He calls her “my love”.  Phew!  Not just a beauty to be gazed upon….but a tender, personal love.  He KNOWS her.  And He loves her fully.  He doesn’t deny the darkness…..but it does not come between them!!  How can it be??  
     
    Isaiah clues us in to that:  “your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”  Yes, my lips are unclean.  I am dark.  I have no hope.  BUT…..my guilt is taken away, and my sin atoned for!  (And how I love that Isaiah’s immediate response to his cleansing is….”here am I, send me”.  I find my own heart crying out to Jesus…”here am I, send me”.  

  23. 8.  He says she is “like a lily”.  What parallel do you see in Isaiah 1:18?
     
    Thanks to Nanci for sharing from Ellen Davis’ commentary…..that the lily is a prophetic symbol of restoration.  That was so helpful to me.  Restoration is an incredible, lovely word….filled to overflowing with HOPE!!!  I often think of how even the natural beauty of this earth around us will one day be RESTORED….WHAT will that be like??  For you New England girls…..imagine your autumn leaves in the new earth – oh we WILL need new eyes and new bodies to appreciate all that is in store for us there!!!  
     
    Isaiah 1:18 speaks to the “how” of this restoration – the Gospel!!  We don’t just need a covering for the scarlet stain of sin – we need a whole new pure nature!  Snow and wool are white by nature.  My mind cannot bend around how the scarlet, HOLY blood of Jesus cleansed the scarlet sin that defined my nature.  And now His holy, white as snow nature has been imputed to me.  His righteousness for my sin.  
     
     

  24. 9.  Another theme in the Song is that the bride keeps comparing herself to a vineyard….read Isaiah 5:1-3 and see if you can discern who the vineyard represents.  What did you learn?  
     
    Well….to be consistent with earlier passages in Isaiah it seems to me that the vineyard is Israel.   (some commentaries point back to Isaiah 1:8,  3:12-4:1)  My thoughts are flying off in a million directions just now and time does not allow me to zero in on some of what I have been looking at…….
     
    There is so much throughout all of Scripture that is consistent in both God’s relationship to Israel – as a Husband and wife – and also to Christ and the Church ….a Bridegroom and His Bride.  Hmmm.  Much more study required here!  🙂  But I really liked the direction of Susan’s thoughts in her paragraph referencing Ezekiel and other OT passages….I didn’t think you were digressing Susan – I liked where you were heading!!  

  25. 14 A. The Hebrew word translated love is derived from a word meaning “boiling pot,” and refers in other places to sexual passion (see Pvbs. 7:18) Knowing that, and also considering the comparison to wine, what do you think she, and then they, are saying about the king’s love?
     
    I have no idea the answer to this question so I am “punting.” 
     
    Wine makes you feel giddy and loose; sometimes overflowing with emotion. She says she is overflowing with emotion, bubbling over with love, if you will. I’m not really sure about the others (daughters of Zion?) since they aren’t really included in the marriage. Who are they anyway? Are they bubbling over as she is? Kinda creepy.

  26. 10.  How does 1 Peter 2:24 clearly explain the Gospel?  
     
    This is the great exchange of the Gospel clearly put:  He (who knew no sin) bore my sins in his body on the cross.  THAT we might die to sin and live to righteousness….oh boy.  I have gotten myself into some “conversations” with some of my friends at times over this matter of whether or not someone can in good faith commit themselves to Christ….and never really “change” in their daily lives……though the Scriptures do reference carnal Christians it does seem to be an aberration rather than the norm.  I’m not sure all that “by his wounds you have been healed” references,  though I think Peter was very likely lifting this phrase straight from Isaiah 53.  To go from 1 Peter 2:24 to Isaiah 53 is to see the fleshing out of the severity of the suffering of Jesus our Messiah ….the Father’s hand of scourging and judgement upon MY sin.  “My Jesus I love Thee….I know Thou are mine…for Thee all the follies of sin I resign….” Amen and amen.  

  27. 11. Do you remember a time when the good news  of the gospel first became clear to you?  If so, share what you remember in a sentence.  Driving to Maryland from Wisconsin, after my mom’s funeral…..like a lightening bolt I was undone to “see” that the gospel was real and true….my mom was not dead, but alive with Christ in glory!!  

  28. 12. Challenge Question: What multifaceted aspects of the gospel have become clearer to you as you have matured in Christ?
     
    I see my idols quicker. I have been getting overwhelmed by all the things there are to do getting ready for the refugee family to arrive. My controlling and approval idols have been rolling at full tilt. Then someone jumped on my parade and I reacted in anger. Fortunately, God is gracious and I am learning. When God shows me my sins, I can repent quicker because I know that God forgives, loves me.
     
    13. The gospel tells us that we are so bad that Christ had to die for us, yet so loved that He did, and that fully trusting this cleanses us and makes us beautiful. How do you see both of these aspects of our character in S. of S of S. 1:5? If you are His child, do you believe you are lovely in His eyes? Why or why not?
     
    This questions reminds me of 1 John 1:8,9 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
     
    “I am dark but lovely”. I am full of sin, but what God sees is that Christ has died for my sins, and through Christ, he sees me as lovely. Furthermore, God is changing me into something beautiful in Him. As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” This is such a hope-filled verse. Whether or not, I can see it. This verse promises that God is transforming us. Oh, I need this today. I am so aware of my darkness. I am so glad he sees me as lovely because I am forgiven and a child of the King.
     

  29. I can’t seem to keep up here at all.   I begin on Sunday/Monday and the rest of the week I don’t make it back.  Two other studies to prep for, volunteer things and a lot of medical appointments lately.   Whenever I tell my husband I’m way behind, he tells me.  ‘Maybe you should quit your job.’  (insert WINK here)   That’s totally tongue in cheek  as I resigned 8 years ago and have only had very casual employment  since.   I totally admire all of you who persevere through each study.  Just wanted to say I am thinking of you all.  Praying, as I see requests.  
     
     

    1. Me, too, Wanda! School is crazy busy right now among other things. I do appreciate the “tie that binds” us as Nila so aptly alluded to in her FB post. 

    2. Wanda I share your thoughts here. I go thru thru study but cannot post. Read what I can and it is all good……

  30. 4. In Song of Songs 1:2 and 1:4, first, “she” says his “love” is better than wine, and then “they” say his
               “love” is better than wine. Read Song of Songs 1:2 and 1:4.
               A. The Hebrew word translated love is derived from a word meaning “boiling pot,” and refers in other
                   places to sexual passion (see Pvbs. 7:18) Knowing that, and also considering the comparison to
                   wine, what do you think she, and then they, are saying about the king’s love?
    The great reputation of the King/Shepherd/Bridegroom preceded His coming. We know in our head the love of Christ for His bride. And we (the Shullamite and the other virgins) extol Him in our heads but when He does come and we really recognize Him for who he is, we realize in our hearts that He REALLY has come for us and His presence is so awesome, we stand in awe and wants His touch in our lives. (kisses from the King)
    Funny application:
    Since I do not drink wine as a result of an unfortunate incident/bad allergic reaction in my childhood (spiked punch that I was not aware of at a great uncle’s party for government officials-served me right for trying as a 9 year old-imagine me and my cousins prancing around hither thither among the “old” politicians.), I was grasping for understanding of “better than wine”. I couldn’t listen very well to James Hamilton for the volume was very low on my laptop and I was working in the kitchen so couldn’t stay seated for too long. I did find Jim Hamilton on youtube (who I think is a different person). He pointed out that wine brings pleasure (not for me! Hah!) and wine can mean anything that brings pleasure to us of the world. And nothing can surpass the pleasure that Jesus’ love can offer.
     
    Now, I often think God has a great sense of humor. When Jim was elucidating on the phrase” better than wine”, it happened that I had just put a big morsel of fresh from the oven cinnamon roll in my mouth. And hmmm…it was very, very good. Voila! AS I closed my eyes and savor the treat, it dawned on me that His love is better than my best day’s cinnamon roll. I almost choked on my tears as the realization of a little foretaste of Jesus’ love came to me. Lord, you are MORE! Much, much more! And no pleasures of this earth can compare with your love for us. Let me experience you day by day.
     

  31. What is your take-away?
     
    I’m still pondering the challenge question…the reference to wine. Wine can be intoxicating and some people seem to turn to alcohol when they want to escape pain, boredom, or to remove their social inhibitions, as in they can’t have fun without drinking. But here, the bride and the other women say that His love is better than wine, and this love is an intense love, a love that sacrificed all. Too much wine can deaden our senses and we can’t even think clearly; it’s a false savior. Even when properly enjoyed, the glass will become empty. His love will always fill us to brimming full, and gives life, and invites us to come when we are hurt, and celebrates our joys with us?
     
    My take-away is still processing this contrast between dark, yet lovely. Julia’s story ties in so beautifully with this. I have no idea what incident sent her to prison; certainly a dark time in her life. Yet Jesus declared her to be beautiful. I’ve been having other thoughts this week that how I see God is affecting how I believe He sees me.