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THE LUKEWARM BRIDE

THE PARALLEL BETWEEN

THE LUKEWARM BRIDE IN THE SONG

AND THE LUKEWARM BRIDE IN LAODICEA

IS STRIKING.

HERE IS OUR PASSAGE:

I slept but my heart was awake.

A sound! My beloved is knocking.

“Open to me, my sister, my love,

my dove, my perfect one,

for my head is wet with dew,

my locks with the drops of night.”

http://allwallpapersfree.blogspot.com

 I slept, but my heart was awake.

A sound! My beloved is knocking

“Open to me, my sister, my love,

my dove, my perfect one,

for my head is wet with dew,

my locks with the drops of the night.”

           (Song of Songs 5:2)

 

What does it mean when she says, “I slept, but my heart was awake”? Some think she is dreaming but I think it is describing spiritual sluggishness, as when the disciples fell asleep in Gethsemane and Jesus said, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We are dark but lovely. Both of these conditions reside in us simultaneously, and that should alert us to our depravity, to our capacity for being deceived and sluggish – but it should also give us the assurance that we can never fully fall from grace. Even when we quench His Spirit, we have not put that Spirit out. Christ is right there, knocking, and ready to revive our flame and rescue us from ourselves.

Revive_Web

I had put of my garment;

how could I put it on?

I had bathed my feet;

how could I soil them?

My beloved put his hand to the latch,

and my heart was thrilled within me.

Jesus knocking

I arose to open to my beloved,

and my hands dripped with myrrh,

my fingers with liquid myrrh,

on the handles of the bolt.

I opened to my beloved,

but my beloved had turned and gone.

My soul failed me when he spoke,

I sought him, my found him not.

I called to him, but he gave no answer.

PsycheenteringCupidsGarden1903jpg

In a commentary published by Crossway, Douglas O’Donnell sees marriage as the primary focus of the Song, but does also see it as a pointer to our relationship with Christ. He writes:

Just as your desire for intimacy with your spouse is a reliable indicator of your marital health, so too your desire for intimacy with Christ is a reliable indicator of your spiritual health.

In a commentary by Puritan Richard Sibbes, (who inspired Michael Reeves), he said that two warning signs that indicate a believer is preferring sleep over wakefulness are:

  • Preferring to be alone (withdrawing from fellowship)
  • Preferring to draw the blinds and shut out the light (withdrawing from the Word and the Lord)

withdrawalshutting-curtains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to thank you again for your participation here, for it helping me so with the book and study I am writing. I am so excited about this week, for I have found some wonderful new resources, including some short you tube videos from Joseph Stovall (a past and wonderful President of Moody Bible Institute) filmed in Laodicea.

Sunday Icebreaker

1. What comments do you have on the above and why?

2. What comments do you have on Douglas O’Donnell’s thought? Does either describe you?

3. What comments do you have on Richard Sibbe’s symptoms of spiritual sluggishness? Do either describe you?

Monday – Wednesday Bible Study

4. Read Song of Songs 5:1-3

A. How do you see passion in verse 1?

B. What two conditions reside in the bride in verse 2? What do you think this means? Compare to the account of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-42. Do you see any parallels?

gethsemane%203

C. What excuses does she give for not unlocking the door?

D. Consider what the root idol might be for spiritual lethargy and what the solution might be.

5.  Read Song of Songs 5:4-9

(In his message on this chapter, which is excellent, but focuses more on earthly marriage, James Hamilton said he left a gift of fragrance to show her grace, and exhorts men to show the same grace when their wives refuse them, and exhorts women to consider their motivation for refusal.)

A. When your earthly or spiritual husband gives you grace in response to unkindness or selfishness, how do you feel?

B. The phrase “my guts churned within me,” is also found in Jeremiah 31:20. What does this tell you about His heart for you — and for what He longs for from you?

C. What does she do and how do the watchmen respond? What might be some possible explanations for this?

6.  Read Revelation 3:14-22

A. What similarities do you see between this scene and the one you have just studied in the Song?

B. What are the three things Jesus tells His Bride to get and what might each of these represent on a spiritual level?

Thursday-Friday: Three Very Short and Helpful Videos (Joseph Stowall at Laodicea)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBJ5ElEilxQ
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUrHpwNaiJY
www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMrBNLfOYJg
 

7. Share your comments and thoughts.

Saturday: Pray what you learned into your heart

A. What did you learn about Jesus to help you adore Him?

C. What did you see about yourself to confess?

T. What might you thank Him for?

S. What supplication might you make because of your need?

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163 comments

  1. 1. What comments do you have on the above and why?
    This captured my attention:
    We are dark but lovely. Both of these conditions reside in us simultaneously, and that should alert us to our depravity, to our capacity for being deceived and sluggish – but it should also give us the assurance that we can never fully fall from grace. Even when we quench His Spirit, we have not put that Spirit out. 
     
    Simultaneous darkness and light in me.   Continuously needing the light to expose the darkness.   Continuously needing his tender mercies.   
     
    I am gleaning from Robert Gelinas’s book entitled The Mercy Prayer.   He says, “Mercy assumes we are sinners….. Transformation happens best in an environment of mercy……true transformation only happens when we exchange our shame and fear for his mercy.”  (the great exchange that we talked about a few weeks ago)
     
    And it is a moment by moment, hourly, daily exchange.
     
    Gelinas goes on to say,  “If fear is driving your life, seek his mercy.  If friends are causing you pain, seek his mercy. If the things you’ve done and the things you shouldn’t have done are ever before you, seek his mercy.    His mercy will transform you.”
     
    Yes, Dee, He must rescue us from ourselves, when we would rather hide than be exposed, when we would distance ourselves rather than seeking intimacy.  I can certainly be my own worst enemy at times.   So very grateful for the ways he draws me back.
     
    This song by Sandra McCracken tells it best.  I especially love the second and third verses.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUEgqGNFiMs
     
    Without Thy sweet mercy
    I could not live here;
    Sin would reduce me
    to utter despair;
    But, through Thy free goodness,
    my spirit revives,
    And He that first made me
    still keeps me alive.

    Thy mercy is more
    than a match for my heart,
    Which wonders to feel
    its own hardness depart;
    Dissolved by Thy goodness,
    I fall to the ground,
    And weep to the praise
    of the mercy I’ve found.
     
     
     

    1. Nila, thanks for sharing the song. I love the third verse “dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground, And weep to the praise of the mercy I found” Hallelujah, indeed!

    2. Nila, love what you shared from Gelinas’ book…whatever we face, seek His mercy.

    3. Nila, I just listened to the song-oh..I love it!
      “Continuously needing His light to expose our darkeness-continuously needing his tender mercies”..  SO good Nila. May we always be needy for Him!

  2. Sunday Icebreaker
    1. What comments do you have on the above and why?
    The picture of Jesus knocking on the door (of my heart) Rev 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.”
    Eating with somebody is a sign of closeness and fellowship. I just realized too that some of my deepest conversations with my husband have been around the table.
     Interesting the door is without the knob or latch and implies the person on the other side will have to turn and open the door. Jesus will not force himself on us. He wants us to come to Him willingly.
     
     

  3. I am SO glad to be back on the blog-back with you and Him on the blog! I missed you all!  It was disheartening when I couldn’t access the blog on the ship.
    O’Donnell’s quote stood out: 
    Just as your desire for intimacy with your spouse is a reliable indicator of your marital health, so too your desire for intimacy with Christ is a reliable indicator of your spiritual health…. The symptoms that show we are in the wilderness and have backed away from God are withdrawing from fellowship with other believers and withdrawing from His Word.-  I have been in this wilderness and I don’t want to go back for I will break His heart again-THE One who sings the highest song over me-THE Lover of my soul.
    When she said “My Beloved put his hand on the latch and my heart was thrilled within me.” I am grateful that His Mercy’s are new every morning! He is faithful and won’t leave us out in the wilderness forever but will pursue us…May that melt our hearts to respond and not stay in bed! 🙂

  4. 1. What comments do you have on the above and why?  What primarily stood out to me is addressed in the next two questions 🙂   I also am stuck on “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” My flesh IS weak, and I’m having difficulty separating that from spiritual sluggishness.  In the morning, I’d rather be alone than have fellowship, and I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open now.  But I don’t think the challenge is fellowship with other believers; it’s the time of day.  I like fellowship later in the day!  I’m not depressed, but I am dragging; it’s hard to separate the physical from the spiritual.

    1. Renee, this is a good insight. Some people are just wired to be up in the wee hours of the early morning, eager to meet with the Lord. Others do better to have that time in the afternoon or evening.

  5. 2. What comments do you have on Douglas O’Donnell’s thought? Does either describe you?  For years, I tuned out those who primarily focused on marriage in SoS.  So, maybe I’d tune him out, too 😉    But I do like his quote — makes sense that the longing is a sign of relationship health, although I suppose that can be qualified in that there may be some types of longing that aren’t healthy.  I do long for intimacy with Jesus, and I also long for sleep and warmth.
    3. What comments do you have on Richard Sibbe’s symptoms of spiritual sluggishness? Do either describe you?
    They make sense; I think they are accurate, although they possibly could be misinterpreted.  It’s important not to mistake introversion for avoiding fellowship an extroversion for liking fellowship.  Well, I like light, but I also like to be alone, so I guess I have a tendency to prefer sleep over wakefulness, especially if I am tired. Probably obvious, but I am confused trying to distinguish spiritual from physical. Maybe caffeine will help. 

    1. Renee ~   Love your honest pondering here.   Yes, caffeine definitely helps!   🙂
        Your post reminds me of Mark 14:38:  The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.

    2. Renee, I so identify with you about the longing for sleep and warmth. I do want to spend time with Jesus but there are mornings I am so tired all I could say is good morning, Lord and then I turn over and grab some more zzzz’s. (Smile). 

  6. I love the parallels between the lukewarm lover in SOS and the garden of Gethsemane and the church of Laodicea.  It makes the personal application hit harder. We so often are disciples sleepy, lukewarm, making excuses.

  7. I am struck by the danger of the deadly sin of slothfulness, of not turning to Him, and also by the tension I see in vs. 2 “I slept but my heart was awake”. There is a sense of laziness and yet a flicker remains of the light He began, the heart is awake—yes, Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. My heart wants to be with Him, trust in His sovereignty alone—and yet I find in my flesh a turning again to fear and control, wanting to figure out life’s messes. 
    I like too what Spurgeon says on this passage. “A Christian man should not say, “I feel dull, careless and inactive,” and make the confession as if he almost deserved to be pitied for a misfortune which was no fault of his.” 
    But he also points to hope: “when a man feels hardness of heart but groans about it and wishes to be softened; when a man laments the stubbornness of his will and cries to God to give him full submission; when a man mourns a sluggishness of heart and strives after quickening—then he has marks and signs of spiritual life… There is life where there is pain! There is growth where there is a yearning of desire!”
     

    1. But he also points to hope: “when a man feels hardness of heart but groans about it and wishes to be softened; when a man laments the stubbornness of his will and cries to God to give him full submission; when a man mourns a sluggishness of heart and strives after quickening—then he has marks and signs of spiritual life… There is life where there is pain! There is growth where there is a yearning of desire!” 
      This Spurgeon quote sure gives me HOPE, Lizzy. Some days I wonder how I can just pass up time with Jesus in the morning yet He is so faithful in coming alongside me later during the day. He is indeed our HOPE.

    2. Lizzy-so good..There is life where there is pain, growth where there is a yearning of desire! SO good. I am going to print the whole quote.

  8. 1. What comments do you have on the above and why? 
     
    I think she misses him when she says “I slept but my heart was awake.”
     
    2. What comments do you have on Douglas O’Donnell’s thought? Does either describe you?
     
    I dont know if I agree with this statement. I love my husband, however, as a woman, I don’t desire the sexual aspect of marriage the way men seem to. I would rather dance together, hold hands  or even just talk about interesting things. I feel like many women feel the way I do too. My husband would agree with him. As far as intimacy with Christ, I may agree. It seems that He is often elusive, so to get to know Him you have to study His Word hard. That might mean daily, hourly, minute by minute at times.
     
     
    3. What comments do you have on Richard Sibbe’s symptoms of spiritual sluggishness? Do either describe you?
     
    When he says “wakefulness,” does he mean studying the Word? I will say that I don’t get enough sleep, and I do try hard to study the scripture daily. I think it’s really hard to get up early in the morning and stay awake enough to do any true soaking in of His Word. I try to slip it in all through the day so I am more immersed in it all day (and night) long. It works better for me. It is definitely easier to sleep than study!
     
     

    1. Yes, Laura. I am one of those many women who feel like you do- ” I love my husband, however, as a woman, I don’t desire the sexual aspect of marriage the way men seem to. I would rather dance together, hold hands  or even just talk about interesting things. I feel like many women feel the way I do too.”
      I especially like just sitting next to each other and talking about interesting things, like the future.

    2. Laura–I would agree with you too–BUT, I don’t take “intimacy” here to only mean sexual. Maybe I’m wrong, but I consider that I do desire intimacy with my husband as much as he does, but in a different way. For me, it is more relational–real, meaningful, deep conversation…and times of fun, laughing too, for him–it’s more of the other,but each leads to deeper closeness, we just define intimacy differently…thankfully in all these years we’ve finally learned that 😉

      1. Wow, Lizzy, great pulling together of all of the threads of this exchange!  I would only add that, in learning that together as a married couple, as the years go by and we “practice” this ……I do think that a husband begins to actually enjoy his wife’s desired paths to intimacy just as a wife begins to actually enjoy  her husband’s path to intimacy!  Just as Jesus said…..in the laying down of our lives…..more LIFE comes pouring in!  🙂  

        1. Jackie–I wrote a reply to you earlier but don’t see it, I must have forgotten to enter my name, and I’ll take it as protection because I may have said to much! But I so agree with all you said, and I am amazed at how much He has transformed this area for us to bring a mutual desire and oneness. Truly something only He could do in my marriage!

  9. In a commentary published by Crossway, Douglas O’Donnell sees marriage as the primary focus of the Song, but does also see it as a pointer to our relationship with Christ. He writes:
    Just as your desire for intimacy with your spouse is a reliable indicator of your marital health, so too your desire for intimacy with Christ is a reliable indicator of your spiritual health.
    I think it has always been a head knowledge only for me to see my relationship with my husband as akin to my relationship with Christ. An invisible line had invariably been placed between the 2 where at times a haze of doubt/uncertainty passes through that line or a vague certainty or desire in my heart that it is so.
    This study has pricked my heart and has forced me to examine it. I grieve over what I see or maybe have refused to see because I am downright selfish. Now I have said it. Like the lukewarm bride, I have taken my husband and Jesus for granted knowing they will always be there for me. “My beloved is mine and I am His”. I want my husband and my Jesus but they can wait while I pursue other loves-significance at work, friendships with other women, my own hobbies and pursuits, etc.
     
    I have been feeling convicted lately about my priorities and I am thankful to God for His patience with me. I have almost missed His call to “come away”. Thankful He has used this blog.

    1. Bing–I so love your honesty here, and I echo your thankfulness of His patience, His grace to us, in conviction of our hearts

  10. 5C.  She goes out to seek him and the watchmen beat her.  I’ve felt like that when I’ve searched for Him, not only coming up empty but mocked and beaten for it.  Is it because He knows that if it is too easy, even when we’ve not responded to Him as we should, that we will grow more and more abusive toward Him and treat Him as a genie instead of as our Lord and Master?
     
    6A. Similarities to Rev 3:14-22.  I think the biggest similarity is not recognizing our need.  The disciples didn’t get it in Mark because they couldn’t see ahead to the next few hours.  I don’t get it either, and don’t usually trust that He does see ahead and know what I need.  
     
    7. Danger of affluence.  True for Laodicea and true for us, even spiritually.  We have more resources than at any time in history or any other part of the world. It is easy to think that we have no need.
    Joseph Stowall said he wasn’t sure it was true that the best things in life are free.  I can see what he is saying.  It cost Christ the cross to come for us.  It costs us to follow Him in terms of time, effort, and affection.  It costs us to get up from our comfort, our bed, and open the door to Christ, which is also opening up to the cold and dark of the world in night.
     
    again, Dee, thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in these studies.  I really look forward to each Sunday!

  11. Dee, you mentioned Jer 31:20 and the phrase – my gut churned within me.  I looked in five different versions and did not find that phrase.  Just thought you would want to know that it is a little obscure.

      1. Dee!   I CANNOT stop laughing!!!  REALLY??  “Bowels Unleashed”????   Oh my.  

        1. Just want to join the friendly banter here about the use of the word bowels. I had to look it up as I have vaguely remembered some reference to it in past bible studies I have participated in. I found this: In the Greek poets from Aeschylus down the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion… 
          I thought it interesting that this reference consider love as violent passions. As a nurse, I have seen female patients literally “unleash” their bowels AKA as vomiting (not a pretty sight) because of love scorned. They have loved the other person so much (they think) and the yearning is so great, their bowels feel the pain and therefore needs “unleashing”.
          Should I say LOL here? Smile.

        2. Bing!!   Yes, I think LOL is certainly appropriate here!  Leave it to “the mind of a nurse” to get a little more technical on the subject!!   Love it.  The “seat of violent passion” part was really interesting.  🙂  

  12. I have just returned from a women’s retreat titled “Intentional Living”.  The speaker based her input on Intentional Living by John Maxwell.  I had a spiritual struggle over exactly trying to separate spiritual sluggishness vs physical exhaustion.  I work for an accountant and so I am very busy at work, but realize that I am struggling with more than physical exhaustion when I come home.  I have felt like a spiritual war has been going on in my home and could not put words to what I was struggling with.  Coming home to read this weeks study is mind boggling because I believe this is exactly what I needed to formulate the struggle of what is going on in my life.  I praise God for the gift of your Bible study, Dee.  The gift of your guidance through SOSongs is wonderful for me because it is a book that is hard to understand and the insight is life giving.  I long for The desire for my spiritual health to be strong enough that I follow thru and search and study, but when it is not, may I receive God’s grace and mercy.

    1. Becky – just wanted to add my amen to all of Dee’s words to you here.   And I wouldn’t even be able to go to a retreat entitle “Intentional Living” right now – I am way too fatigued!  It sounds like climbing a mountain when I need to rest by a stream…..lifting up a prayer for you in this moment that you will seek and find the rest He has for you.  🙂  

  13. 4 B. What two conditions reside in the bride in verse 2? What do you think this means? Compare to the account of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-42. Do you see any parallels?
    She is asleep, but her heart is awake. Her flesh is weak, uninterested, feeling lazy, wanting comfort. Her heart is stirred, hungering to be with Him.
    Mk. 14:38 “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation”—He refers to falling asleep as falling into temptation. He has called them to stay awake with Him, to be a comfort by their presence, to be His companion in His time of anguish. Similarly here with His Bride, He calls her to be His companion, and she is tempted by sleep. 
    C. What excuses does she give for not unlocking the door?
    She has already gotten ready to rest, she doesn’t want to do what is required to be near Him, she doesn’t want to give of herself anymore.
    But what also strikes me in this passage is that she KNOWS His voice, she knows it is Him knocking. I keep thinking of John 10:3–“The sheep hear His voice” and then also of Psalm 95:7-8– “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts”. So she hears Him, but does not respond and follow Him. He has made us to respond, but He is gentle and will not force Himself upon us. 
    D. Consider what the root idol might be for spiritual lethargy and what the solution might be.
    I think sleep is a physical comfort that can be a tempting lure from physical demands. Here, I see spiritual sleep tempting us from spiritual “fitness”. There is an idol of comfort. An unwillingness to be faithful when it’s hard. I was just talking with my 9 year old about this. He said “I want to want to pray more”! I told him I think there are times in our spiritual life that are the “mountain tops”, when it’s easy to bask in the joy of our love for the Lord. Worship songs stir our hearts, we see Him beauty in nature, and we feel a desire for His Word. Then there are times that I feel tired, weary. I don’t really want to read my daily passage, and I tell myself that God does not “require” it, so it’s ok to miss…and while it’s true that I cannot lose my salvation and God does not require daily Bible reading, I know my own selfish heart. I know that the more days I give myself a “pass” the less likely I am to get back on track at all. And so this year, I am pressing on through the tired days, and reading when I feel like passing. I think that is key for getting through a comfort idol—I cannot base my actions on my “feelings”. I remind myself of the truth of the Gospel, and that I do want to love Him more, know Him more, and that deeper faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the Word. It is discipline. Half the time I exercise, I don’t feel like doing that either, but I press on because I know once I start giving myself a “pass”, I’m doomed!
     

    1. Lizzy, your answer to “D” – I felt like I was reading the words of the apostle Paul!

    2. Really love your honest responses, Lizzy.

  14. 4. Read Song of Songs 5:1-3 
    A. How do you see passion in verse 1?
     
    He is taking her all in; all the senses are present here. He is touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, and hearing all at once.
     

  15. 1.  What comments do you have on the above and why?
     
    Oh, the tender mercies of our God!  I enjoyed listening to the programs that Nila had recommended to us last week on “The Mercy Prayer”.  Dee, as I read these words of yours:  “Even when we quench His Spirit, we have no put that Spirit out.  Christ is right there, knocking, and ready to revive our flame and rescue us from ourselves.”, I clearly saw this in light of God’s MERCIES to us, new every morning!  
     
    I also especially appreciated the well known painting of Jesus knocking on the door.  The Lord so sweetly reminded me that this picture was hanging behind the organ at the Methodist church that I attended as a young girl.  Though my parents had not come into a personal relationship with Christ yet at the time we attended this church, I DO remember being so very drawn to this picture.  I just couldn’t seem to keep from gazing upon it, week after week…….as I look back, I’m beginning to believe that Jesus was speaking to my heart even then……creating in me an undefined yearning for Himself!  Oh, how precious to ponder!
     
    Also….my heart leapt to see that we will be getting to listen to Joseph Stovall – a name I hadn’t thought about in many years.  But, oh how I remember his gentle, humble leadership at Moody in years gone by.  What a treat!  

  16. 4. Read Song of Songs 5:1-3
    A. How do you see passion in verse 1?
    I am with Laura. I am thinking of the end of chapter 4 she says, “Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.” and He starts Chapter 5 with. I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk.”  (I am assuming this is his response to the end of chapter 4? I could be mistaken.)She invites him into their garden-so different than in chapter 1. 
    Then in chp. 5 when the ‘others’ join in and say “eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love,” it is evident there is intimacy here-like before the fall-His passion is her for she reflects Him-they share the garden!  
     
     

    1. Rebecca–love that you brought out “they share the garden”. I already feel one take away for me in this lesson is how my presence matters to Him, it makes a difference, I’m not just one more sheep in the flock, I, specifically, personally, matter. He sees ME, and wants ME with Him. (simple thought I know, but hitting my heart deeper, you know?)

      1. Lizzy-yes..I relate..  So simple, yet so profound! I am glad you got what I meant. After I posted I thought the sharing part might not be a great way to say it..She is becoming like Him for His overflow in her is her beauty…it is the dance, but He leads it and she responds letting Him fill her up with His Love and the overflow is fragrant and beautiful! Yes, our presence SO matters to Him-as you said earlier, He wants us to sacrifice our idols, our comfort and turn and go to Him and let Him fill us with His Love-His beauty and it will overflow to others. :)))  I want a heart that more and more-burns for Him. 
         
         

  17. 1. What comments do you have on the above and why? I grew up with that picture of Jesus knocking on the door in my room. I still have it in a keepsake box. However, today when I gazed at it pondering the bridegroom in SoS I was struck that the door does not look like the door to a residence but perhaps a garden. I really do not know much about archetecture of the time era, but the plants surrounding it, the door with lattice, the stone with wood overhang…. The more I look at it the more I wonder if it is intended to be a picture of SoS….
     
    Even when we quench His Spirit, we have not put that Spirit out. Christ is right there, knocking, ready to revive our flame and rescue us from ourselves.” Oh how it strains us to live in low-light, though! And what a relief and joy it is to have a revived bright flame to see!
     
    2. What comments do you have on Douglas O’Donnell’s thought? Does either describe you? I agree, however, I do think it is a bit complicated, too. I have great desire for intimacy with my husband (and I whole-heartedly agree with LIZZY here that intimacy is not just sexual! In fact, Bing‘s desire to talk is a great example of non-touch intimacy!) but there is fear, and challenges to be worked through, and as a human I retreat and want to avoid the pain. It is only in the last few of years that I have been able to start being forthcoming and honest with my internal struggles and fears that have developed through my life. (And my husband is patient and kind through it.) All that to say, the desire is there even if my fears keep muting the flame, but Christ is a melting all that, slowly, and the flame becomes a bit brighter…All the same can be said of my desire for intimacy with Christ, and He is kind and patient and gracious as He keeps melting those fears to free me to act on my desire (that He has given me) for intimacy.
     
    Even after all that is said, rereading the quote, actions (or lack thereof) do effect our relationship and actual level of intimacy regardless the reason… Eventually my desire must outweigh the fear to prompt action and experience intimacy…
     
    3. What comments do you have on Richard Sibbe’s symptoms of spiritual sluggishness? Do either describe you? I had a slight moment of panic because I do seek to be alone. BUT I am a homeschooling mom of boys who also teaches a co-op, AWANA, and children’s church. I am NEVER alone. And so I do have a tendency to look for alone time and not frequently initiate getting together with others. I think this is a sanity measure not a sluggish thing…however I will say I tend to shy away from interactions with people who I think may be a ‘time-stealer’…. If I invest in them, will they ask too much? This I think is sluggishness, not trusting the Lord for what He brings and being over protective of “my” time…. Yes, there is wisdom in not over committing but there also can be lack of interaction for fear…not good.
     
    Alone time is not really alone time, It is precious time with just me and God, without interruption or distraction to worship and prayer.

    1. Jill, so good: “Eventually my desire must outweigh the fear to prompt action and experience intimacy…”

  18. 4. Read Song of Songs 5:1-3
     
    A. How do you see passion in verse 1?  Vs 1 shows huge desire if I think of it from an abstract perspective.  But when I look at the details, part of it seems odd:  Drinking wine with milk doesn’t even sound good, though maybe that carries through to the next part of the verse, being “drunk with love.”  Although it seems to me that a chorus of observers impact passion, my attitude may be due to my own cultural bias.
    B. What two conditions reside in the bride in verse 2? she slept, but her heart was awake.  What do you think this means? maybe selfishness related to her own wants, but she still had some desire? Compare to the account of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-42. Do you see any parallels?  1) Love by the King (if Jesus hadn’t loved his disciples, he wouldn’t have taken them with him at such a vulnerable time); 2) they fell asleep, as did the bride in SoS.  “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”

  19. 1. What comments do you have on the above and why?
     
    When she says “I slept but my heart was awake,”   it reminds me of times when I am sleepy, and I really want to sleep, but what I get is not “good sleep.”    The thoughts of my dreams keep rambling over the same phrases, because my heart has not given up on its yearnings and concerns.    It is a state that is not awake enough to get up and move, but it is not a deep enough sleep to be restorative.

    2. What comments do you have on Douglas O’Donnell’s thought? Does either describe you?   
     
    I agree that the desire for intimacy is an indication of spiritual health.  If one is seeking — “seek and ye shall find” — then one is likely to be in good spiritual health.

    3. What comments do you have on Richard Sibbe’s symptoms of spiritual sluggishness? Do either describe you?
     
    Yes,  I agree with Sibbes.   I think that one of the big mistakes people make is to withdraw from the fellowship (particularly if they are hurting), and that only makes matters worse.    I have always liked the analogy of the pile of burning coals — that if you remove just one coal out to the side, away from the warmth of the other coals,  it will eventually totally lose heat and become cold.   Fellowship is so important.      Also when I allow myself to drift away from Bible Study and being in the Word, my spiritual life can become bland (or lukewarm).   To bring in another expression:  “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”   It is easier to tend and keep my spiritual life moving in a steady forward motion than it is to get me going again once I have come to a stop.   

    1. Deanna, I so relate with what you said about sleep. ” ...because my heart has not given up on its yearnings and concerns.    It is a state that is not awake enough to get up and move, but it is not a deep enough sleep to be restorative.” I have had many of those nights because of my inability to give my concerns to the Lord.

  20. B. What two conditions reside in the bride in verse 2? What do you think this means? Compare to the account of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-42. Do you see any parallels?
     
    She is sleeping but yet awake at the same time. I think it means she is restless.
     
    I suppose both she and the disciples have good intentions, but they cannot carry it through. They are weak. 
     
    C. What excuses does she give for not unlocking the door? 
     
    She he took off her clothes already, she had removed her shoes.
     
    D. Consider what the root idol might be for spiritual lethargy and what the solution might be.
     
    I’m having a hard time figuring this out. It might be control because she has other ideas and he is interfering with her plans?
     

  21. B. What two conditions reside in the bride in verse 2? What do you think this means? Compare to the account of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-42. Do you see any parallels?
    She is asleep yet awake..She is clinging to her comfort idol-yet desires Him..Her heart is aflame but not burning yet. She is lukewarm because she is pressing into her idol instead of Him.
     
    Lizzy really nailed this passage and God is quickening me through her. I see the disciples not pressing on through their comfort idols but giving in….Yet I see Jesus lamenting, pressing into God with his fears and pain instead of backing away.
     
    I am learning that part of pressing into God is also crying out for help against the temptations of my idols-being honest in lament-which isn’t as hard as it used to be for me for He is helping me to trust in and delight in His love more and more.  when I do, there is this confidence that comes, and The Gospel melts me-He melts me, helps me push through those desires to be lazy and stay in bed.  I am in process!!
     
    He has been melting me over the years with this blog..with other believers I am with-like being with Twila on the cruise and at the same time spending mornings with Him in the Song of Songs.Twila said one thing, and I can’t repeat it because I don’t want to give it away, but it was the beginning of God taking me to another level with Him-all in that instant..I won’t forget the place, in Haiti eating lunch on a picnic table with His body-deep calling to deep through Twila…It was so simple, yet so profound. SO, again He has me ‘in process’ of going higher up and deeper in. It is a process!! I AM SUCH A SINNER-CHIEF OF SINNERS WHO CAN SO EASILY IN A SECOND GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION from my idols like Peter, James and John did in Gethsemane! 
     
    I am just so sick about my propensity to sleep, which is every day, yet overwhelmed how He comes through His word and His body to make my heart burn more for Him and less for my idols.  It is like the rocks in the stream are boulders and He is removing them one by one and filling me with His Love. I’m in process and the sacrifice of my idols is painful-that makes me sick too, but it is true! but His love, His Word is SO beautiful. 
     
     

      1. Dee-you heard it too and are going to post about it in a future blog post and I didn’t want to spoil it. 🙂 

  22. One thing I struggle with when answering questions here-well I am praying and hoping I am not sending the message of–“instant transformation” for I am a MESS-daily…He enters into my mess though and is changing me SLOWLY-day by day…it amazes me how patient He is with me!! How perfectly He knows me and just what I need so the Gospel can melt me taking me deeper into Him.  I can be helping someone else by speaking the truth in love-maybe about their propensity to be critical-and then right after that, have a critical thought about them-or have a strong pull in me to control them to fix them (control idol).. Oh the deceitfulness of my heart. So pray I would speak to my soul..to catch the foxes.

    I have to add that I am SO glad He has me for He will never let me go, even when I am lying in bed and that melts me to get out of bed!!

    1. Oh Rebecca…..I can so relate!  So often I share what I’m pretty sure is the Spirit’s nudge….and my own heart.  Then I read it and think “well…..that sounds a whole lot more godly than my life actually looks!”.  It is one of the reasons that, from day one, I have a dear, dear friend (a “Twila”?) who silently reads and “spot checks” my words!  She has known both me and my family members so well for so long…..it sounds counter intuitive, but I find GREAT freedom in knowing she is on this journey with me!  Of course, that said, NO ONE but the Lord knows my deepest heart – not even me.  🙁  He will be revealing and convicting me of heart idols until the day I go to be with Him in Paradise.  Yesterday was so lovely here….springlike!  My “work” with the dogs had me outside in a large, pleasant, sunny paddock with them…..and I spent most of the day reading a little devotional work that Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth had mentioned in her study on SOS, which I am also working through just now.  The book is entitled “The Seeking Heart” by Fenelon.  It is a compilation of some of his personal letters written to a seeking heart…..and I have no words for how powerful this little gem is.  Run, don’t walk, to get your hands on a copy, Rebecca!  I truly feel that you will feel as though Fenelon is writing to you, his friend.  It is amazing food for the soul on the journey.  🙂  

        1. 🙂  Yay!  
           

      1. I have Amazon prime now too so I am going to get it too. :))) 

        1. Just ordered it!

  23. 2.  What comments do you have on Douglas O’Donnell’s thought?  Does either describe you?  
     
    I absolutely agree with O’Donnell on both counts.  Both in my marriage and in my relationship with Christ…..there have been extended seasons when my desire for intimacy was below zero, if that is possible!  I am SO GRATEFUL TO GOD that in this moment, both relationships are growing in intimacy and deep, deep love.  My husband and I had come to the brink of a separation not so very long ago.  Whatever the Lord is doing in each of us remains His and His alone.  But the season is sweet indeed!  And this in the midst of the hardest years we have ever known in “circumstances”.  My husbands’ work, our finances, our adult children’s issues and illnesses…..our walk has been grueling when looking at the stark reality – the “things that are seen”.  And yet…..”things that are unseen” seem to be the driver behind our relationship these days….praise God!    As for my relationship with Jesus and intimacy – I suffered much when what I desired from Him was an easier path!  Like Martha and Mary when Lazarus died (but without their humble faith), I asked Him “Lord where were you??????”.  When all He had done was love me faithfully through it all.  I begin to slip back into that old pattern often – I daresay, daily.  But the little taste of the bitter way causes me to cry out for His mercy and begin again to seek Him.  Him only.  Right along with what Rebecca shared, I can say that daily I am “a mess”.  But I know, I know, I know…..I am loved by Him.  My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  Thank you Jesus.

    1. Jackie,   
      Amen to your words in response to Rebecca’s post:    Daily I am “a mess”.  But I know, I know, I know…..I am loved by Him.  My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  Thank you Jesus.

  24. 3.  What comments do you have on Richard Sibbe’s symptoms of spiritual sluggishness?  Do either describe you?
     
    I do agree with Sibbe’s assessment of the symptoms of spiritual sluggishness.  All of these have characterized my life at different times.  By His grace, I do believe that I “see” the slide a bit earlier these days.  He truly showers His mercy upon us in reminding us of days past and hard lessons learned.  But there are so many “heart tells” that alert me to my need to return to my first love…..less eagerness and joy at the thought of fellowship perhaps.  A “let down” feeling after fellowship…..a critical spirit…..and I am smitten that “It’s me, It’s me O Lord, standin in the need of prayer…..”  Yes, I do sing it!  I went through a season of some months just recently where the Word and prayer were drier than dust.  I knew – and so tried to justify – that it was a disobedience on my part.  The Lord has been asking something of me in a relationship that was VERY hard.  I chaffed.  I could easily find many Christian friends who would tell me that I was being too hard on myself.  On the surface this looked like a gray area.  In my heart I knew that for me it was black and white.  What finally broke me was seeing that I was NOT loving Jesus when I would not follow Him in this obedience.  My love for Him (or lack of love for Him) was the ENTIRE crux of the matter – NOT the relationship and the hard thing.  I repented, I obeyed…..sweetness like I couldn’t believe…..all over the place!!  WHY am I so stubborn?  So stupid?  Ugh.  But He loves me!!  I will yet walk in hope!!!!
     

  25. 4 D. Consider what the root idol might be for spiritual lethargy and what the solution might be.  Ok, I have been thinking about this for the last couple of days, because the most obvious answer seems to be comfort — but I didn’t want to write the most obvious answer 😉    And, it seems too obvious that, as a single woman at that time in history, she may have experienced much more comfort being with her King (I have to double check…was she married to him yet?).    Another idol could be control, i.e. wanting to control her time and energy.  I was reading some Keller online way too late last night, and he said that our idols are related to our culture and time (or something like that).  So, I am curious what I am missing about her time/place that have influenced her idols.  The solution to any idol is replacing it with love for/by the King.

      1. Dee, that is very helpful… She either could have been a complete jerk or making excuses for physical or emotional pain, shame, embarrassment, which could be related to multiple idols

    1. Renee–I know what you mean, I think (at least for myself!) on some level, my idols all bind together like an icky family and it’s hard to tell which one has the loudest voice at the moment, but in any case it’s Myself on the throne! 🙁 icky

      1. I know — sometimes I can pick out one a predominant, but other times they either are all mushed together or I don’t have a clue!

  26. The Rev. passage with Songs 5 is really powerful, brings a lot of weightiness to the sin of spiritual lethargy-wow! I’m going to give a guess at 6–no time to wade through Spurgeon right now 😉
    6 A. What similarities do you see between this scene and the one you have just studied in the Song?
    She has become sure of herself WITHOUT Him. She is not dependent on Him, in the same way the church in Laodicea had become stagnant, complacent, lazy.
    B. What are the three things Jesus tells His Bride to get and what might each of these represent on a spiritual level?
    Gold refined by fire: genuine, tested faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sin
    White garments to clothe their nakedness and shame: His righteousness, the only thing we can have confidence in.
    Salve to anoint their eyes: the indwelling of the Spirit to open our eyes to our proneness to wander
     

  27.  
    3. What comments do you have on Richard Sibbe’s symptoms of spiritual sluggishness? Do either describe you?         I’m coming in late this week and might not do much commenting, but this has been rolling around in my mind.    Sibbes says  that 

    Preferring to be alone (withdrawing from fellowship) is a sign of spiritual sluggishness.     

    I do understand the intent behind this statement.  I’ve seen withdrawal leading to spiritual sluggishness in many and maybe there are times when I’ve seen it in myself as well.  But I need to offer another side of being alone.   
     
    I see so many who ‘live for fellowship’ and being with others of ‘their kind’.   They don’t mix with ‘the world’ and seem to be drawing their spiritual strength from other fellow pilgrims instead of from alone time with the Lord.    When I was going through such a deep struggle with the direction my previous church was taking,  it was my alone time that was my source of strength.  Of course, I am meaning my alone time with the Lord.  (and that eventually came to mean my time HERE on the blog; which was also very life changing for me).  What kept happening to me, was that during my times at home (sitting right here in this very chair I am sitting in now!) as I read the Word and the writings of other believers, my relationship with Him was sweet and I felt so close to Him.  But when I attended church and was almost always ‘feeling on guard’ I would come home so discouraged, that I felt like I had taken many steps backward.  I had to ‘undo’ the unpleasantness of my ‘fellowship time’ of Sunday by coming back to my ‘alone time’ on Monday morning.   I thank God that this is not the case now that we have attended a different church for the past year.  Now, I really look forward to Sunday worship and to my women’s Bible study during the week.  So…..OH what a difference it can make to be in a fellowship where you feel you belong.  I ‘fought it for years’ (while in our old church), saying over and over to myself that it was wrong to ‘……forsake the assembling together’  but it came to a point that I had to have more time alone and less time with the body.    
     
    I’m not dismissing Sibbes’ thought.  But I guess I’m expanding it as not being a ‘one size fits all’ in every situation.  And I’m grateful that for me,  even though it seemed like it was going on forever  (the aloneness while I was IN fellowship),  it was only for a season.  God used that ‘dry spell’ of church involvement, to really speak truth to my heart.  As Evie’s song, UnfailingLove, proclaims,  ‘….unfailing love flows from His heart….to heal my soul.’    
     
    (thanks, Bing!  Ever since you mentioned this last week, I’ve been listening and singing it.  A song I hadn’t thought of for many years.  It is beautiful.)

    1. Thanks Wanda for the food for thought here.  I truly could relate.  Prior to joining my “new” church – now nearly four years as I recollect – I had been at my church for about 18 years and had been very involved in several ministries there, had many, many dear friends there…..that said, I had “known” for several years that the time had come to move on.  It was heartwrenching.  Every time I would visit a new church I would inevitably end up in tears.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Looking back, I chose my “18 yr church” when we first moved back to MD based primarily on the lively kids’ programs – it was a megachurch with a whole lot of bells and whistles and trendiness!  As one man I respected a lot who also had attended that church for many years put it:  “The teaching is a mile wide and an inch deep.”……..I could go on and on about the way things were “behind the scenes”…..but it was truly sad and I stayed too long.  🙁  The last few years were beyond difficult, but I was determined not to be a “church hopper”!  The church I am a part of now is, of course, anything but perfect!  However…..Sunday mornings have become again a time of WORSHIP!!  There is a palpable sense that we are worshiping a Holy God.  The teaching is rich and deep.  The fellowship is truly meaty at times!  I stand amazed at His goodness.  But you make a very good point – much of what we call “fellowship” is anything but!  There IS a time to walk away.  But only because we DO long for true fellowship.  

    2. Wanda, your response makes me want to better understand the definition of fellowship, especially of true Christian fellowship.  I think there’s a difference between fellowship and a Christian club where everyone thinks alike.  And, I don’t think fellowship and “involvement” in bunches of church activities are the same thing either.  Christian fellowship should make churches different from every other organization that needs bodies to perform their numerous activities.  Anyhow, I don’t have a good definition but sometimes what occurs in churches is primarily organization.  But because churches also involve a spiritual and emotional level, messed up organizations impact us spiritually and emotionally.  I used to think I was afraid of fellowship, but after experiencing some exact same patterns in a secular organization setting (which brought back church-setting memories), I realized that characteristics of SICK organizations scare me off –and those characteristics impact fellowship and relationships in any setting. At least, I’m trying to tell myself this!

      1. Renee and Jackie:  I can relate so much to many things both of you said here.   Some similar feelings about ‘to leave or not to leave’ and wishing it had been so much sooner (that ‘hindsight thing!).  I really like what you said about fellowship vs. ‘organization’  Renee.  That is precisely what it is sometimes.  (I even heard that our old church is now using a web format for all of the ministries/groups to be able to share information with each other.  I cringed when I heard it was called ‘Church Builder’.   I feel like the impersonal nature makes it more likely to detour true ‘church building’.   Not sure of this….but it made me wonder.)  

        1. Wanda, I don’t have a problem with the web format for sharing info & prayer requests (I prefer to get my church info in email rather than phone calls: less gossip, more accuracy, & I actually get it!), plus we are in an ONLINE Bible Study here 😉    I don’t think fellowship and the Internet are mutually exclusive; whether face to face or online, “organization” or group does not necessarily mean fellowship.  Or sometimes, there IS fellowship but it is so buried in bureaucracy that it is hard to recognize!

        2. Renee:   I do agree that organization or group does not equal fellowship.   But as for moving more and more toward online communications,  the benefits are a  ‘yes and no’…..in my experience.   Email for prayer requests: yes.   It does keep things accurate and is a better way to reach many in a short time.  Replacing face to face meetings so everyone can share input online?  Not sure of that.  I think it’s kind of like how my daughter’s friends come into the driveway and text her to tell her they are there.  They used to come to the door.  She told me this week that she hates that about her generation.  No more face to face.  Or in that case, she will eventually be in the car with them, but the social manners of ‘saying hello to the old folks’ (us!) is gone without a trace.  I used to like that!  You can get a lot done efficiently online, but you can’t always read the emotion of the other person, take the time to share a human kindness or human touch or bring the relationship to a deeper level.  That used to happen as a side benefit to face to face meetings.  Not always, but it surely gave more opportunity.   We are in this online study, true.  But then, we are not in the same local body. This group could not exist if not for the internet.    I don’t know when the line is crossed in using the internet for local church bodies.  I just feel like personal contact is taken away in so many other arenas,  ( patient/doctor,  employer/employee,  consultant/client to name a few)  …… I cringe to see the church going more and more in that direction.  I’m sure ‘logistically’  people today could conduct all of their day to day ‘business’ without ever seeing or talking to another human being.  But is that psychologically/emotionally/spiritually a good idea?   I struggle with that fine line.  And then there’s my mentally disabled friend who picks up the phone all the time because she has no other way to connect.  And it may be the only personal phone call I get in a weeks time, but I can find myself feeling like it’s an intrusion.  That’s the scary part for me.   

  28. A. When your earthly or spiritual husband gives you grace in response to unkindness or selfishness, how do you feel?
     
    I breathe a sigh of relief! Oh how I need grace! 
     
    B. The phrase “my guts churned within me,” is also found in Jeremiah 31:20. What does this tell you about His heart for you — and for what He longs for from you?
     
    I don’t see that phrase in my translation  or either passage,  but I’m guessing it means he is unsettled  inside. 
     
    I suppose it could mean that He’s unsure of whether I am really His.  He wants me completely. 
     
     

  29. A. When your earthly or spiritual husband gives you grace in response to unkindness or selfishness, how do you feel?
    I feel loved and very grateful
    B. The phrase “my guts churned within me,” is also found in Jeremiah 31:20. What does this tell you about His heart for you — and for what He longs for from you?
    yearning, my guts churning within me-my Lord loves me so much that he/He is jealous for me with all the other loves I have. The Lord knows that He is the only one who can ever fulfill my every need and He so longs to meet those but I am in slumber or being sluggish. Matthew 23:37 comes to mind when Jesus said “O Jerusalem…how I longed to have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…but you wouldn’t let me.” Oh, how many times I have spurned the unfailing love of my Lord! So guilty!

  30. ·         6.  Read Revelation 3:14-22
    ·         A. What similarities do you see between this scene and the one you have just studied in the Song?
    Our lukewarmness as the bride to the love of Christ is similar to that of the Laodicean church. Both I and the church are trying to straddle the fence because we want the best of both worlds with the scale tipping more towards what we would call the tangibles-what we could see, hear, touch and feel. We want to have “2 kings” in the throne of our hearts.
    ·         B. What are the three things Jesus tells His Bride to get and what might each of these represent on a spiritual level?
    Gold refined by fire-godly character produced by the trials of life
    White garments to cover our nakedness- righteousness in Christ
     
    Salve for the eyes-God perspective-to see with eyes of faith 

  31. 1. What comments do you have on the above and why?
     
    I’ve been doing the study but not posting, and each day I re-read the opening. I believe I sensed something today as I re-read the opening passage…what is coming to mind is “separateness” instead of one-ness. Dee said, “We are dark but lovely. Both of these conditions reside in us simultaneously…” Yes, we have the new nature, yet the old nature within. But as I re-read about her unwillingness to get up and let him in, I see a (spiritual) failure on her part to recognize that she and he are now ONE. So, she makes the decision not to arise. Spiritually, the reality is that He lives within me each and every moment…there is no separation, but as I go about my day, or evening, I can live as if He is “somewhere else”. I can commune with Him on Sundays at church and fellowship and then act as if He is somewhere else the rest of the week. I can live in a Christ-like way or a flesh-like way. His having to ask her to open to him was perhaps a result of her starting to drift, to forget their one-ness, and she started to behave as if she was separate from him. I find it intriguing that he knocks and it is as if the door is locked. Profound that spiritually, He is living on the inside of me yet I can put up a “door” of separation between myself and Him, requiring Him to “knock”…and I can be lazy and have my mind, heart, and affections set on other things, my own comfort, wanting control of my time. Why do I choose separateness instead of oneness? Or choose to ignore that He wants to live His life through me?

    1. Appreciating your words here Susan.  Our union with Christ is something that has long been overlooked in our teaching I think…..I’m starting to hear it more now and crave to live in the moment by moment  awareness of what is REAL – my union with Christ!  “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20.  

      1. Jackie, yes, and what has been soaking in to me more and more is that union also means oneness with the BODY of Christ.  Cuz it would look kinda weird just to have a kidney hanging off of a head.

        1. Renee, my friend, no one can say it quite like you do!!  🙂  That is a vivid word picture, not easily forgotten…..

    2. Susan,
      I really appreciate your post on this.   It is continually amazing and humbling that he continues to pursue us in spite of ourselves.

  32. What stands out to me?
    The subject of spiritual sluggishness…hits home. Life takes us all around the place I find. As much as I love my early morning time alone with the Lord, I have recently had a detour. Though it may have been a necessary place for me to be to miss my time with Him.
    My problem is selfishness, wanting my comfort and my choices. The scripture of Christ in Gethsemane with Peter, James and John is so touching as he agonizes and they fall asleep…My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, and he pleads, Stay here and keep watch…
    The beauty of Song of Songs and the deep meaning has brought me back to see this scripture pointing to Christ. Today I listened to Morning by Morning and the reading for today, Yea, he is altogether lovely. Spurgeon’s description of Christ is wonderful and I want to focus on him this day!
    “Christ Jesus is gold without alloy, light without darkness,glory without cloud, Yea, He is altogether lovely.”
    I can identify my root idol as selfishness and I confess my sinfulness. I know that my marriage also suffers when I put self first. Watching War Room again and taking the time to pray, confess and put my hope in God to be at work in my life and marriage.

  33. 5.  Read Song of Songs 5:4-9 
    A. When your earthly or spiritual husband gives you grace in response to unkindness or selfishness, how do you feel?
    Thanks for including spiritual husband 🙂   My answer:  It varies.  Sometimes I feel grateful, relieved, loving.  Other times, I stay stuck and become defensive because I don’t want to acknowledge I was wrong.  Other times, I am fearful, believing that because it seems to good to be true, it is too good to be true (i.e., I’m not trusting).
    B. The phrase “my guts churned within me,” is also found in Jeremiah 31:20. What does this tell you about His heart for you — and for what He longs for from you? It’s visceral, his whole being, ALL of Him.  I do remember, as a kid, when I first saw the word bowels in the Bible, and thought it was very weird.  But not, it makes sense to me (more than the word “heart” does).  My guts are more sensitive than my heart.  When there is something noticeably wrong with my heart, I’ll either drop dead or be very aware; and if I am aware, it probably will show up in my guts.  I feel stuff in my guts (and finally was asked a question by another specialist last week about my guts that I have been suspecting for months was related to the kidney problem).  Guts are central and symptoms that we can’t easily ignore spring from the guts.  Makes complete sense that guts are the seat of passion!  I wish more people talked like that 🙂
    C. What does she do and how do the watchmen respond? What might be some possible explanations for this? She went out looking for him at night and the watchmen found her, beat her, and removed her veil. One would be that women weren’t supposed to out alone at night and that it was the cultural norm for men to beat women who disobeyed.  Maybe they removed her veil to shame or to make sure she really was a woman (ok, I got that from something I read in the past several months about the middle east– men disguised as women.  But the reason they can do that is because it is very rare for a man to remove the veil of a woman that isn’t his wife).  I DON’T KNOW.I just read this in the notes of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible “But then, the chasm of the lovers’ separation (perhaps caused by selfishness and symbolized in the strange aspect of the bride’s dream [5:6–8]) is bridged by self-denial (5:16; 6:2–3, 10–12).”  Could this mean that “slept by my heart was awake” means this whole thing is a dream about what she would/could/might do, in order to prevent her from doing it.
     

      1. Dee – have we talked at all about the “Watchmen”?  I’m feeling fuzzy this morning, but I do know that some feel that the watchmen are spiritual overseers.  If that is so, this portion is especially confusing!  I guess it could fall under “discipline”, but it seems a bit brutal for that……

    1. Renee –  all this talk of “guts” (and there is SO MUCH that could be said!) made me smile to remember one of my all time favorite jockeys, a Hall of Famer named Pat Day.  He is an amazing man of God and lover of Jesus….and also one of the best jockeys ever….he used to use a phrase when interviewed after a race …..speaking about an incredible gutsy effort by a horse he would use the phrase “intestinal fortitude”!  I first heard him use the phrase well over 20 years ago…..and I have used it all throughout the years since……

  34. 6.  Read Revelation 3:14-22
    A. What similarities do you see between this scene and the one you have just studied in the Song?  Wow, those similarities are VIVID.  Being half-asleep, in bed, not wanting to get up does sound similar to lukewarm, comfortable, not needing anything.  Also, the King knocking at the door and Jesus knocking at the door are similar, as is the need to open the door to fellowship with the King/Jesus.   I had heard that Rev 3:20 has been misused to refer to salvation; this passage in SoS sheds much more light on that.
    B. What are the three things Jesus tells His Bride to get and what might each of these represent on a spiritual level?
    1) gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich — hearts refined/purified by suffering?
    2) white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen — forgiveness, grace, and His righteousness
    3) salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see  — knowing Him better, more clearly, seeing accurately and through His eyes

  35. Video #1.  Laodicea reminds me of many places in the U.S.  Even the no-water part:  Water increasingly becoming more spare in some parts of the country; we pipe in potable water, and we don’t appreciate the water we have — to the extent that many support an oil pipeline (with histories of leaking) going through an acquifer.  The similarities get me in the GUT (feeling might decrease if I stop to eat lunch!).

  36. 5A.  When your earthly or spiritual husband gives you grace in response to unkindness or selfishness, how do you feel?
    I feel loved.  Not sappy, romantic love, but real, true, nitty, gritty Jesus-like love!  Sacrificing the opportunity to (justly!) strike back and returning kindness instead is a cold heart melter, for sure!
     
     

  37. This isn’t an answer to any questions that we have had so far and it may have been brought up already and I missed it, but this is something that I have been thinking about lately in regard to the Song of Songs and Christ and the church.
    Since the bible plainly says in Ephesians 5:31-32 that in marriage and the becoming one flesh is a mystery that refers to Christ and the church and in 1Corinthians 12:12-27 we are each individual members of the body of Christ (Christ being the head Eph. 5:23) then when SOS speaks of each feature of her body individually as being beautiful and loved couldn’t it be saying how God loves us each individually rather than looking at it as if we were the whole body, i.e. the whole Shulamite woman?

  38. 5 C. What does she do and how do the watchmen respond? What might be some possible explanations for this? 
     
    She wanders the city looking for him and is found by the watchmen (police?). They beat her and take her veil.  Seems a bit harsh for just being out after dark! Not sure why they would do that to her other than a case of misidentifying?
     
    6.  Read Revelation 3:14-22 
    A. What similarities do you see between this scene and the one you have just studied in the Song? 
     
    Hmm, this one is tough ?. Do you mean compare to SOS 5:4-9? In SOS, she is hesitant to open the door and then regrets it and goes searching for him. In Rev, the church in Laodecia is “lukewarm” in their belief/study/faith. They could take it or leave it. They are told that they need to seek Him fervently to obtain the prize of life with Jesus in the end.
     
    B. What are the three things Jesus tells His Bride to get and what might each of these represent on a spiritual level?
     
    He says they need a white robe, gold coins (refined by Him) and salve to see.
     
    The white robe might be His covering of them from their sins.
     
    The gold might be the gift of everlasting life?
     
    The salve is so they can actually see and understand the importance of their actions and not miss out on the gift of Our Lord.

  39. B.  The phrase “my guts churned within me” is also found in Jeremiah 31;20. What does this tell you about His heart for you – and what He longs for from you?
    These are piercing questions and have been rolling around inside me all week long.  I haven’t finished ruminating on this, but this does leave me wondering what on earth am I letting take His place in my life?  His yearning for me, that deep guttural churning kind of yearning, juxtaposed alongside meditating on Him hanging on the cross…….He moves me more deeply than I have words for.  
     

  40. ·         7. Share your comments and thoughts.
    Joseph Stowell captured the very essence of the message of Jesus to the Laodicean church. It captured my heart as I think of my lukewarmness at times to Jesus. So many earthly loves!
    My notes:
    Materially wealthy but spiritually impoverished
    Gold refined by fire character developed under trouble; built you up as person let me make something out of you
    Robes of white righteousness- hidden in Christ have access to God; godly lives only Jesus Christ can give them the commodity
    Eye salve blinded by affluence to be able to see the treasures of God’s wisdom
    Only Jesus can give these. The best things in life can only come through Jesus Christ.
    Rev 3 Jesus gives out an invitation to come and dine-an intimate time/fellowship which would last for hours
    Whosoever…open invitation to all; it is non-exclusive
    When you have Jesus, you have everything you need
    Our material gifts are a bonus not a distraction.
    Only Jesus can satisfy.
    Will you open the door to Jesus?

  41. 5C.  What does she do and how do the watchmen respond?  What might be some possible explanations for this?  
     
    I did look at my ESV Study Bible notes on this one:  “If this were an actual event, it would be unclear why the watchmen did this.”  That is not helpful!!  I do know that this portion will be covered in Revive Our Hearts tomorrow…..looking forward to seeing how N. Wolgemuth exegetes the watchmen’s behavior here!  🙂  I guess the identity of the watchmen is pretty crucial to how one sees this playing out…..if the watchmen are “Spiritual overseers” it is completely different than if they are some other authority figures……and as I mentioned before, if one sees this as spiritual discipline it seems pretty brutal and harsh.  ???  Flummoxed here. 

    1. Me, too, Jackie. Flummoxed with the beating part.

      1. Bing, 🙁  

      1. Dee, it IS the Reformed one and I too have been greatly disappointed in their coverage of the Song.  

      2. Yes, the Reformed one.  The commentary part wasn’t showing up for me for the first chapters (online) — maybe a good thing because I wasn’t in the habit of looking at the notes.  Then, when I wondered…  yup, saw that same info.  But at least, it made me think!  It’s too easy to treat commentaries as “truth.”

    2. Jackie, no answers here… Is it possible that in that culture this was discipline? Just as slaves and children were beaten for disobeying, horrifying practice in our culture, but was it commonplace “back then”? (Prov 20:30 comes to mind – blows that wound cleanse away evil strokes make clean the innermost parts.) Wish I had time look up language etc…..

      1. Jill, good point about Scripture (your Proverbs reference) often using blows and other terms of physical discipline that our Western ears find unpalatable.  Hmmm.

        1. yes jackie it is awful; think of how the ISIS group is treating those who aren’t like them now though…arent they justifying their killings with their religious beliefs?

  42. I hope this is OK to copy and paste here. But just want to share from Charles H. Spurgeon again. So much providence in 2 days in a row devotion from 2015 that aligned with our study-this one in relation to the dangers of affluence such as what the Laodiceans were rebuked for. And Nila, the last line talking about mercy brought you to mind. I have been listening to Discover the Word “Mercy Prayer”. The following was taken from this website-https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/morning-and-evening/2015/03/10  
    Morning
    “In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved.”Psalm 30:6
    “Moab settled on his lees, he hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel.” Give a man wealth; let his ships bring home continually rich freights; let the winds and waves appear to be his servants to bear his vessels across the bosom of the mighty deep; let his lands yield abundantly: let the weather be propitious to his crops; let uninterrupted success attend him; let him stand among men as a successful merchant; let him enjoy continued health; allow him with braced nerve and brilliant eye to march through the world, and live happily; give him the buoyant spirit; let him have the song perpetually on his lips; let his eye be ever sparkling with joy–and the natural consequence of such an easy state to any man, let him be the best Christian who ever breathed, will be presumption; even David said, “I shall never be moved;” and we are not better than David, nor half so good. Brother, beware of the smooth places of the way; if you are treading them, or if the way be rough, thank God for it. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy.
    We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial.
    “Afflictions, though they seem severe,
    In mercy oft are sent.”

    1. Bing ~  Spurgeon has long been a favorite.     Thank you for posting this.    
      Psalm 119:75  In Faithfulness You have afflicted me.  
       Found this gem yesterday ~ A story called Hope Heals.  Such a poignant expression of covenant love in the midst of heart-rending circumstances.   I posted the short version on facebook, and then Jackie told me about the 22 min. version.    If you scroll down a bit, you will find the video to this story of God’s faithfulness in deep affliction.     http://www.hopeheals.com/our-story/

  43. 4. Read Song of Songs 5:1-3
    A. How do you see passion in verse 1? He is partaking of all the senses. He is in the garden and there is no more hindrance of fully experiencing his bride. There is instruction to “be drunk with love” which implies allowing the love to take over their hearts and minds and lead their actions. After the bride’s wisdom to not awaken love until it so desires, this must now be ok, it is passion within the boundaries of marriage.
     
    B. What two conditions reside in the bride in verse 2? What do you think this means? Compare to the account of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-42. Do you see any parallels? She is asleep but her heart is awake. I honestly think this is laziness. She has gotten married, he has come into her garden, why must she get up and let him in again, he can open it himself. The beauty of opening the door to him the first time has given way to laziness. It was supposed to be easy now, they’re married! The hard part is over now we can coast?! (Tongue in cheek here)  Her body is sleepy, set on resting but her heart is awake, stirred by the voice of him asking her to show love to him. The beauty and passion found in the first few verses has seemingly satisfied hr and she needs no more. She has forgotten how it felt to want it so much that she searched for him (Chapter 3). She has already forgotten how good he is. 
     
    “The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.” This lends some grace to the bride. Just as the disciples did not realize how paramount the moment was, neither the bride until she loses him. When Christ speaks to the disciples he indicates that a.) there is grace b.) flesh weakness is tied to temptation and c.) prayer is the remedy, seeking God for the strength to overcome temptation.

  44. C. What does she do and how do the watchmen respond? What might be some possible explanations for this? They hit her and took away her veil.
    Maybe they thought that she was a prostitute and felt justified in treating her that way. They assumed that a decent woman wouldn’t be wandering the streets alone looking for “her man” at that time of night.
    Sometimes in our search for a deeper relationship with Christ our actions and motives are judged incorrectly even by other Christians. Those who are supposed to protect us and help us fail and make things harder.  People make incorrect assumptions all of the time.

    1. Wow, Dawn, your words here are surely worth considering!  Your last paragraph is indeed gold.  So, so true that others’ – and me myself WITH others – are too quick to judge all too often.  

  45. C. What excuses does she give for not unlocking the door? She would have to get dressed and wash her feet again. 
     
    D. Consider what the root idol might be for spiritual lethargy and what the solution might be. So many. I think any idol could cause spiritual lethargy. The first that comes to mind is fear, probably because I see that in my life a lot. Just like the bride assumed the pleasure of her bridegroom’s company would not be enough to outweigh her inconvenienpace of rewashing her feet and dealing with garments, I, too, assume that the reward for obedience will not be enough. This is awful! When I type this out…wow…. It seems plain that while comfort or approval or control can be the idol, the truth is me disbelief that He is enough leads my laziness. Which takes me back to what Dee said – if I REALLY understood how much He loved me, it would change everything.
     
    Solution: to trust him, this is a lot of times action before feelings. Someone here was speaking of this…. Not to let our feelings guide the actions but to act in truth. If He calls me to open the door, I may not feel like getting up, I may not relish the thought of rewashing my feet, but I DO IT because the truth is He is good and my purpose is not to seek indulgence but to give glory to Him! I am created to respond to Him, not to me! (Preaching to myself this morning….)

    1. And to me Jill. I really need this today.

    2. Jill, So good:” If He calls me to open the door, I may not feel like getting up, I may not relish the thought of rewashing my feet, but I DO IT because the truth is He is good and my purpose is not to seek indulgence but to give glory to Him! I am created to respond to Him, not to me! “

  46. Videos:
    Sometimes, what I am learning needs to soak in overnight.  SoS 5:4: The Bride responds with gut-wrenching desire.  Jesus’ response to Laodicea’s lukewarmness also was gut-wrenching, to the point which he wanted to vomit when he thought of them.  I’ve usually had access to good water, but when I have had BAD stuff, I have spit it out — and gagged with the aftertaste. That was/is Jesus’ response to lukewarmness.  The parallel between lukewarm water and spewing out has never really soaked in before, because I primarily have had drinkable water.  Of course, some bad water totally can mess up the guts — but even bad-tasting but “safe” water may come up or at least make me gag.  This morning, I listened again to the first two videos — and oh dear, I was gagging at the thought of the bad water!  Jesus’ response to Laodicea was much stronger than dislike; the church there made him feel like vomiting.  The Bride was lukewarm at first, but when her husband wasn’t there, her response also was gut-wrenching.

    Video 3:  THIS IS A MUST WATCH AND LISTEN!  I appreciated that Stowell fleshed out the 3 things they were told to buy.  Laodicean was a wealthy shopping center (5th ave, banking center), so buying made sense for them. He was speaking to those who got a rush out of shopping.  Surprisingly, I had figured out/guessed the meanings of the 3 things.  Yet, listening to Stowell’s descriptions made them come alive.  Specifically, this speaks to me with what I have been wrestling with currently (regarding gold refined by fire): “Maybe your stand for Christ here that would be more overt that would cause pressures on you that would be fine, I want to build you as a person. You can’t buy that in this marketplace, let me make something out of you.”
    “the best things in life only come from Jesus Christ”  Rev 3:20  Dining in those days was deep intimate fellowship that lasts for hours (not dinner in front of TV!).

     This was written to people who have pushed Him out of their lives because of their wealth; Jesus, the conquering King, was marginalized by them. Material stuff is (should be) a bonus, not a distraction. Nothing satisfies like Jesus and he is ready, willing and waiting.

    WHAT A CONTRAST!  Jesus felt like gagging when he thought of the church in Laodicea — and yet continued to humble himself, to knock at the door.  He’s the conquering King; He could break down the door if He wanted.  Yet he humbly, gently, lovingly knocks, waiting (but not indefinitely) for us to respond so that he can give us EVERYTHING.  THIS IS LIFE!  This study is making other passages more meaningful to me, too.  Here are a couple of examples:John 17:3  “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
    2 Corinthians 5:4-5 : “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”  (too much pondering on this to post!)
     
     
     
     
     

    1. Renee, I haven’t listened to the videos yet, but I appreciate your comments. I find your last verse very close for me; “groan, being burdened — not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life …”

    2. Renee – I loved these videos and was tracking so much with your response here!  Although video #2 was the MUST WATCH for me!  I guess He just zings us where we need the zinging!  So faithfully…..  😉  

  47. 4. Read Song of Songs 5:1-3
    A. How do you see passion in verse 1?
     
    He has come into the garden and has gathered fragrance, food (honey and honeycomb), and drank both wine and milk.    The friends say “Eat friends and drink, drink your fill of love.”   So all of the “consuming” may be  indicative of passion.
     
     B. What two conditions reside in the bride in verse 2? What do you think this means? Compare to the account of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-42. Do you see any parallels?
     
    She was asleep but her heart was awake.   It means she was just barely under in her sleep.  It was not a deep sleep.  She was still half awake.  Her heart was anxious about things.     I think there could be a parallel between this passage and the one in Mark, as Jesus says his “soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”   Both passages indicate a high degree of anxiety. 
     
    C. What excuses does she give for not unlocking the door?
     
    She says she has already taken off her robe and washed her feet.   It occurs to me just now that the floors were probably dirt floors, so if one got back out of bed and stepped down, you would get your feet dirty.   It would be an aggravation.

    D. Consider what the root idol might be for spiritual lethargy and what the solution might be.

    I think comfort would be the root idol in this case.

    5.  Read Song of Songs 5:4-9
    (In his message on this chapter, which is excellent, but focuses more on earthly marriage, James Hamilton said he left a gift of fragrance to show her grace, and exhorts men to show the same grace when their wives refuse them, and exhorts women to consider their motivation for refusal.)
    A. When your earthly or spiritual husband gives you grace in response to unkindness or selfishness, how do you feel?
     
    I feel so very relieved, and also a bit ashamed and unworthy — I am very aware that it is “grace.”

    B. The phrase “my guts churned within me,” is also found in Jeremiah 31:20. What does this tell you about His heart for you — and for what He longs for from you?
     
    I am not finding that phrase in Jeremiah 31:20.   I find “my heart yearns for him;  I have great compassion for him, declares the Lord.”   Ephraim was one of the tribes of the northern kingdom.   Although the northern kingdom had sunk into sin,  God still loved the people of that tribe.  If they were repentant, God would forgive them.   The same is true of us.  No matter what sinful thing we do, if we repent and ask forgiveness, he will forgive us.   
     

  48. C. What does she do and how do the watchmen respond? What might be some possible explanations for this?
     
    She goes out searching for her beloved, when she realizes that he has left due to her delay in responding to him.    The watchmen find her and abuse her — beating and bruising her.    In Old Testament times a woman alone at night would be looked upon as a low-life, a prostitute.  
     
    6.  Read Revelation 3:14-22
    A. What similarities do you see between this scene and the one you have just studied in the Song?
     
    In each case, the “bride” is apathetic and lukewarm.   The church in Laodicea had become bland or tepid  — she is not excited about her Lord.  

    B. What are the three things Jesus tells His Bride to get and what might each of these represent on a spiritual level?
     
    (1)  Gold refined in fire,  (2) white clothes, and (3) salve for the eyes.     I turned to commentaries on this one.    Laodicea was a wealthy city and the church there was also wealthy (with earthly wealth).   They should buy gold refined in fire (in other words, they needed to seek spiritual wealth coming from the Lord).  The city was also known for its cloth, but Christ is telling them to seek white clothes from him (his righteousness),  and Laodicea prided itself on its precious eye salve , but Christ tells them to come to him for healing of their eyes so they can see the truth.    The true value was not in material possessions but in a right relationship with God.