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SET ME AS A SEAL

We’ve come to the close of this love story,

of this Song of all Songs.

Important things are said when time is running out.

 

She has come “up from the wilderness”

leaning on her Beloved.

She is experiencing the whole point of life:

intimacy with her Beloved.

But He must leave her for a time.

And so he tells her:

“Set me as a seal upon your heart.”

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Listen to this carefully– and may it prepare your heart for this Sabbath day, and review for you where we have been.

There are three love stages in the Song:

First Love, Wilderness Love, and Invincible Love.

pink-rose-sequence-15024989Do you remember how He “awakened her under the apple tree” in the first love time?

undertheappletree.jpgWe were dead in our sins. But He awakened us and told us to taste and see that He was good. He loved us, not because of our character, but because of His. He wooed us and won us, and dressed us in a robe of righteousness, making us as fair as a lily. He gave us new life and we were enthralled. With great delight we sat under His shadow for we knew “His banner over me is love.”

His Banner Over Me

Yet our “curvature of the heart,” as Martin Luther described it, led to taking our Beloved for granted. We lost our first love passion, and left Him standing at the door and knocking.

Jesus knockingWe then could not find Him,

though we sought Him in the night.

photolibrary_rf_photo_of_sleepless_woman_in_bed

The wilderness.

But even His leading us into the wilderness is a gift,

for so often, it is in the wilderness that we grow,

that we discover what is transitory and what is eternal.

And if we press in, we come up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved.

whoisthiscoming-300x168

Yet the close of The Song does not have them walking off into the happily ever after. Charles Spurgeon writes:

“The thought strikes her, that he that has sustained her is about to go from her, to depart and leave her for a season, because it is expedient and more useful for her, and she prays that since he is no more in the earth, but has entered into the ivory palaces where her God dwelleth, that he would be pleased to make a covenant with her never to forget her, and that he would give her some sign and mark by which she might be well assured that she is very near to his heart, and still written upon his arm.”

Sunday

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

Take some time with this next question — you may want to do it tomorrow. But I’d love your answers to be thoughtful.

2. Reflecting on The Song:

    A. How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life? Can you give a specific illustration 

         of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage?

    B. If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a  

        few sentences?

 

 

Monday-Friday Bible Study

We are beautiful to the Lord because we are covered in the righteousness of Christ. It is nothing of ourselves, but the beauty of Christ. Jesus said, amazingly, the the Father loves us as He loves Jesus. (See John 17:24) And it is also true that as we fall more deeply in love with Jesus, as we abide in Him, that His Spirit (His seal upon us!) produces fruit. Again, it is not of us, but it is what happens when His Spirit flourishes in us. I will often quote Jonathan Edwards this week. He was attracted to his future wife Elizabeth because of this beauty he observed in her: He wrote:

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They say there is a young lady from New Haven who is beloved of that almighty Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him.

 

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3. Read Song of Songs 8:1-4.

Some have interpreted verses 1-2 to mean that she wishes she could show affection in public, like was possible then between a brother and a sister. In the Song they relate to each other both as brother and sister and husband and wife. (He calls her “My sister, my bride.”) Michael Reeves says that if this was just earthly love, it would be incestuous. But these relationships, instead, are meant to shine a light on the whole point of the Song: Jesus wants an intimate daily relationship with us. He uses many metaphors, including the marriage bed, to open our eyes.

In this passage, what do you see?

 

4. In Song of Songs 8:5a, observe using the who, what, why, where questions to see what you can discover.

 

Jonathan Edwards was convinced the Song was no common love song. Famously he said,

1360206 The psalmist says: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:6) Here, in Song of Songs 8:5, he remembers when he “awakened” her under the apple tree. How did he do that?

5. Read Song of Songs 8:5b, comparing it to Song of Songs 2:5.

      A. By meditating on 2:5, how did he awaken her to His goodness?

    B. Can you remember the moment you were awakened and moved from head knowledge to heart

         knowledge?

     C. How have you recently tasted the goodness of the Lord?

 

6. Read Song of Songs 8:6.

     A. What does he tell her to ask for before he leaves?

     B. What is our seal according to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22?

     C.  There are so many ways to become more conscious of the Spirit in our lives — but this article is 

           valuable. It is brief, but should be read thoughtfully: Practicing the Presence of the Holy Spirit

The phrase “love is as strong as death” means many things to me — it makes me think of how Christ’s love overcomes death. It also makes me think of what Jonathan Edwards said when he was dying and realized Elizabeth might not make it to him before he died. He wrote to his daughter Lucy:

“Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever…” I have that hope too with Steve, that our love was such that it will continue forever, a love as strong as death.

      D. What thoughts do you have on a “love as strong as death?”

      E. Jealousy is allowed only to God, or perhaps to a spouse. What does it communicate to you that 

          God is jealous for you?

 


7. Song of Songs 8:8-10 has both an earthly and a spiritual application. What do you think each is?

 

8. Compare the close of the Song to the close of Revelation (Revelation 22:20) What do you learn?

 


Saturday:

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

 



 

 

 

 

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104 comments

  1. This: She is experiencing the whole point of life, intimacy with her Beloved….. But He must leave her for a time. And so he tells her: “Set me as a seal upon your heart.”
     
    Beautiful-intimacy with Him is the whole point of life. To have tasted His sweetness-there is no other. And those waves of sensing His presence..YET those waves of not sensing Him- as if he is gone..I am sick of my curvature of the soul-:(( yet His Holy Spirit quickens me. He has sealed Himself in me and that is His mark in me-That still blows my mind!! And, not just about me-but us, His Church-THE BEAUTY of His Body..oh my.  
     
    I can’t really put my finger on it..BUT there is this longing inside even though I have tasted Him..I want Him to reign in my heart over other things that vye for my affection every day..Hmmmm…Yes, His love is strong as death-I have to say!
     
    Any desire for Him inside me comes from Him-again, this blows my mind! This security, this confidence in His Love for me He has given me these past 5 years and lately through studying The Gospel in the Song-THIS is what His Love looks like. Amazing Love, how can it be?  
     
    Lately I have asked myself this question, “Does this really mean more than You to throw all my cares or affections upon?” The distractions create such a struggle inside!! In these areas of my life-DAILY- where there is WAY too much distraction from Him..I want to hear Him in those important distractions-like loving and caring for others….so just in knowing what distractions to let go of and which ones He wants me to behold Him in. I hope that makes sense!
     
     
     
     
     

    1. Rebecca, I am with you in thinking “Amazing love, how can it be?” It seems like I go back and forth in the wilderness and tough I am “leaning on the Beloved”, I find my affections waning on and off. I can not and should not rely on my feelings for the truth prevails whether I feel it or not.

    2. Rebecca – I could not help but respond to your words of life here.  🙂  “I can’t really put my finger on it..BUT there is this longing inside even though I have tasted Him..I want Him to reign in my heart over other things that vye for my affection every day..Hmmm…Yes, His love is strong as death – I have to say!”  SO WELL SAID!!!  And then those distractions….wanting to hear Him in the noise of the daily.  “…knowing what distractions to let go of and which ones He wants me to behold Him in…”  I too want to see Him there…..in the oh so ordinary and oh so hard sometimes.  I just finished reading “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens” by Larry Alex Taunton.  In many ways it was a frustrating read for me, but ultimately I was humbled at the friendship between these two men to the end of Hitchens life….and their private conversations over the gospel of John are priceless!  Taunton had to endure MUCH vitriole along the way to “get to” those nuggets of precious time in God’s Word together….and he did so in such a steadfast way that I could only see Jesus there.  Between your comments here, just finishing the book and so much more….I hear Jesus saying to me….”Just let Me delight you, surprise you today.  Hear Me, see Me in the ordinary.  In the conversations that make you think ‘here we go again’….rest in Me.  Trust Me.  Behold Me.”  Yes.  Amen.  

  2. 1.What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    First, I think just being reminded of the three love stages in the Song: First Love, Wilderness Love, and Invincible Love, is really helpful. 
     
    And then this, may be my favorite in the Songs, I don’t know, I just love the seal—Dee wrote, “But He must leave her for a time. And so he tells her: “Set me as a seal upon your heart.”

    I love that the seal is possessive, it marks us as His, “taken”, chosen, we are His, and we want the daily reminder–for ourselves, and as a witness.
    Makes me ponder this morning…how does my life, my actions, my love–reveal my seal? We just celebrated our 22nd, and after much thought, I decided to replace my husband’s wedding band–his was really worn, and he wanted a wider band…so this new one, shiny, wide…boldly proclaims ‘he’s taken’! Oh that my actions, my thoughts, my life would even more boldly proclaim, I am taken, I am His!

    Also, I love how obviously this points to Christ. He, seated at God’s right hand, making all things ready for us, is not physically with us now. But He has given us His Seal, the Spirit. 

    I really liked this from Spurgeon on the request for His seal: “Their prayer is that they may see Christ’s love visibly; that they may discover it in their experience; that it may be beyond a question, and no more a matter of doubt—that His hand and His heart are engaged for their eternal salvation! … Oh, let me know, my Lord, that I am Yours, bound to Your heart, and let me know that I am Yours, protected and preserved by Your arm!”
     
     

    1. Lizzy!!!!!   OH – what a HEART connection you have given us with your illustration of your husbands new wedding band!   Love, love, love this….and is a great illustration of question # 7 from LAST week’s study – holding those pictures of intimacy with Christ and intimacy in marriage sided by side!  When looking at a wedding ring in the way that you have shared here, it takes on incredible depth!  THANK YOU.  🙂  

  3. Lizzy, what a lovely thought for your husband, one that I have been thinking about as well for my Richard. 28 years for us in August! God is faithful! And we are “taken”! Yes, we are!

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

    “There are three love stages in the Song:
    First Love, Wilderness Love, and Invincible Love.”

    This is a helpful reminder of a good way to understand the Song. And though I do not see yet where in the last chapter the Beloved indicates that he is going away, I can see how Spurgeon could imagine that, as the Church, we too must understand that we must love Jesus and be confident in him, though we do not see him now. 
     
    Also, there are many levels that I can identify with the wilderness love, both in earthly relationship levels, and on the spiritual level in my relationship with my Lord. “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” What started out with such joy and promise has gone through such dark nights of turmoil and stumbling. Oh, I am so grateful for the “Love that will not let me go”, or I would have given up a thousand times. “I lay in dust, life’s glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red, life that shall endless be. O Love that will not let me go, O Love that will not let me go.”
     
    As Dee neatly summarizes it:

    But even His leading us into the wilderness is a gift,
    for so often, it is in the wilderness that we grow,
    that we discover what is transitory and what is eternal.
    And if we press in, we come up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved.

    1. Thank you, Diane, for what you wrote.  And George Matheson’s hymn is so appropriate for this study, and one of my very favorites.  I rest my weary soul in this Love that will not let me go. 

  5. This reminds me of Hymn 219 in Christian Worship (WELS)
    Lord, when Your glory I shall see, and taste Your kingdom’s pleasure, Your blood my Royal robe shall be, My joy beyond all measure.
    When I appear before Your throne, Your righteousness shall be my crown; with these I need not hide me. And there in garments richly wrought, as Your own bride I shall be brought, to stand in joy beside you.

    1. What a beautiful hymn!  And so rich in meaning! 

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

    The wilderness.
    But even His leading us into the wilderness is a gift,
    for so often, it is in the wilderness that we grow,
    that we discover what is transitory and what is eternal.

    This statement about the wilderness stands out to me, because it is something I feel I have experienced.  Though I don’t think I have ever been in a complete wilderness experiences, there are so many times, when a big part of my life feels undone.    The Lord has met me many times in these places that are dark and dry.  Sometimes, I wonder why I spend SO much time reading about sorrow, grief and pain from a biblical perspective.  But then I realize that it is through these, that God has given me the greatest sense of His presence.   I love the following quote and have thought about it many times since I first read it.  (I don’t know anything about the source or the writer.)
     
     
     
     
    Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
    It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.  – Mary Oliver

    1. Wanda, the quote you shared from Mary Oliver – she is a contemporary poet. I first learned of her last year while listening to a podcast in which an author said that when she’s not writing, she reads a lot of poetry, and particularly Mary Oliver. My mom loves poetry and used to love to read, but because of the Alzheimer’s, can’t read chapter books anymore. But, for Christmas last year, I bought her one of Oliver’s poetry books, and she really enjoys reading the poems. I’ve read some, too, and find her poems are very different and thought provoking.
       
      The Sun
      Have you ever seen anything in your life more wonderful
      than the way the sun, every evening, relaxed and easy, floats toward the horizon
      and into the clouds or the hills, or the rumpled sea, and is gone– and how it slides again
      out of the blackness, every morning, on the other side of the world, like a red flower
      streaming upward on its heavenly oils, say, on a morning in early summer, at its perfect imperial distance– and have you ever felt for anything such wild love– do you think there is anywhere, in any language, a word billowing enough for the pleasure
      that fills you, as the sun reaches out, as it warms you
      as you stand there, empty-handed– or have you too turned from this world–
      or have you too gone crazy for power, for things?
      – Mary Oliver
       

  7. What stands out to you and why?
    1. …But even His leading us into the wilderness is a gift,
    for so often, it is in the wilderness that we grow,
    that we discover what is transitory and what is eternal.
    And if we press in, we come up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved.
    If it were not for the wilderness, I would not have recognized my helplessness and need for God. The fact that He continued to woo me despite my lackadaisical attitude made me stand in awe of His agape love. I am learning to not doubt the security of that love!
     
    2. …that he would be pleased to make a covenant with her never to forget her, and that he would give her some sign and mark by which she might be well assured that she is very near to his heart, and still written upon his arm.”
    Today, I experienced a kiss from the King! We are presently in Chicago visiting our daughter. My husband and I attended a Filipino-American Church. We were so blessed by the sweet fellowship (not to mention Filipino food for breakfast) and the SO timely message of the pastor. Although his message was based on Jude 24, a portion of it alluded to the seal of the Holy Spirit found in Ephesians 1:13-14:
    13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal,the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
    “We are kept in Jesus, by Jesus and for Jesus”. The seal signifies ownership, a finished transaction, safe delivery.”  God is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into His glorious presence WITHOUT A SINGLE FAULT! (Jude 24)

  8. 1. Initial thoughts.  “If we press in, we come up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved”.  O, yes.  The dry times, no matter how deep or long, eventually end and if we have not wandered away in our discouragement, we come out leaning on Him.  It is there in the wilderness that we most often grow and figure out the difference between ‘transitory and eternal’.  Doing all this is so very costly.  But what you stand to gain is even more valuable.  I want to press in all the time.  Yes, I want all He has for me, but mostly I just want Him.  To really know Him and to point others to Him.  To be with Him all the time, becoming more and more like Him.  Then the quote from Charles Spurgeon, where she looks for the assurance that she is still written upon his arm.  The immediate picture for me is the nail holes in Christ.  How can He forget me when my name is written in His scars?  
     
    2a. How has this study impacted your heart and life?  The material in this study and the blog format itself have been a large part of my ‘coming up out of the wilderness’.  I was in the wilderness for several years, sensing more of Christ absent than present.  I realize looking back that I had started taking Him for granted.  Since He was always there, I was not putting in what I should have been.  From March 16, the best things in life are not free.  It cost Jesus the cross to pay for the church.  And it costs me my idols and complacency to have the intimacy with Him that I really want.  When I get up out of my comfort zone to open the door to Him, I also open it to this world in the cold and dark of spiritual night.  Maybe if He had stayed at the door I would never notice the world in need.  When He ‘leaves’ us, it shows us for what we truly are and puts us in a time of testing and trying.  Not to let Him know where we are, since He already knows, but so that we can see it and make the right changes.  Christ asks us to continually choose Him, and to choose to bring Him to the world.  How can I explain to non believers what is so special about Jesus?  I don’t know.  But I am wanting that more now than what I did at the begpinning of the study.
    2b. How to briefly explain the S of S?  Layers of literary technique showing the relationship between husband and wife, but also Christ and the church.  And as Paul says, it is a great mystery.

  9. 1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?  
     
    What stood out to me was that you gave us a simply GOLDEN review of our weeks of study in SOS together Dee!  I smiled as followed some mental rabbit trails that reminded me of how deeply we have delved into the beauties of Jesus….the Bridegroom, Lover, Warrior…EVERYTHING!!  Time after time I felt myself standing in the shoes of David….”One thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”  You have led us so well gazing upon the beauty of the Lord, Dee!   I am so grateful.
     
    This reminds me of Twila’s reply to you that you shared with us Dee…..when you asked her why she so loved to memorize the Scriptures…..”Because when I do I experience His presence.”  Surely that same response can be made when deeply studying and pondering the Scriptures as well!  The Word, the Spirit and the sisterhood here…..helps us to truly experience His presence in our daily, mundane, oftentimes difficult lives!!  Hallelujah!!  The SOS study has drawn down deeply into the wells of our emotions as well as our minds!  Leading us straight into Jesus’ words in Luke 10:27….”Love the Lord you God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”  
     
    Like Wanda,  the wilderness section probably stood out the most.  I love her sharing on that and would simply dovetail into the next sentence following the one that states that it is in the wilderness that “we discover what is transitory and what is eternal”.  “And if we press in, we come up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved.”Oh yes!!  I want to shout it from the rooftops – we CAN come up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved!!  Resting in His arms.  

  10. 2. Reflecting on The Song:
    A. How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and your life? Can you give a specific illustration of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage? On my, where to start…I have studied this book twice now with Dee here on the blog. My first experience was definitely more ‘revolutionary’ for both relationships but the second has been much deeper, nothing particularly new (tho His Word makes itself new all the time…) but a driving deeper, pushing further in. 
     
    My relationship with Jesus: before the Song I was a works based Christian without even knowing it. I did NOT believe that you had to do works to be saved, that is by grace alone, a gift, but I did, in the heart of my heart, believe that for God to like me I needed to prove my worth, I needed to make myself worthy for the gift. I did not believe that God liked me, let alone love me, unless I did something to earn that love And that love was fragile, lost in an instant if I took a misstep. At best I believed, without being able to articulate it, that God begrudgingly had to save me because that was what was right, not because He wanted to. The Song showed me that as a faithful bridegroom He desires the creation of His hands and that is unchangeable. He wants me to be close. I will not easily forget the day that I realized that God both desires me and that rest is found in His intimate embrace because I can let go of my works and rely on His work that is finished. I can come to God through Christ. The Song has helped me walk in His sweetness, just enjoying His presence and the fact that I am His.
     
    My earthly marriage: I did not understand sex before the Song. It was a earthly passion that seemed to find its way shamefully into marriage under the guise of “Well, it’s okay as long as you are married.” The Song illustrated for me the shadow that intimacy (sexual and otherwise) in marriage portrays of heaven and our intimacy with our savior. The Keller sermon on sex in marriage and its purpose forever changed my mind and opened a beautiful door for me to understand vulnerability and intimacy. Studying the Song and the picture of Christ therein enabled me to fully give and fully receive the covenant renewal of being one. One other note… Understanding who Christ is and that I can fully trust Him, come what may, eases the burden on my marriage. Whereas before I expected much (too much) from my marriage to “make me happy.” I now try to expect nothing but the opportunity to bless someone I love, love is forward giving, not standing taking. If Jesus is my all, then my husband is ‘extra,’ a blessing…
     
    The Song has literally shatterred my world and built it anew in the garden of His presence.

    1. Jill, I agree with Dee. This is beautiful. What you have written here speaks to me of someone who has done the hard work of massaging the truth into your heart, replacing lies with truth, and opening your heart more fully to Him (and to your earthly husband), taking the truths you have learned and putting them into action and living them out. 
      You have expressed many of my feelings, too; places where I still get stuck, like “And that love was fragile, lost in an instant if I took a misstep”, and “It (sex) was a earthly passion that seemed to find its way shamefully into marriage under the guise of “Well, it’s okay as long as you are married.”
      I believe Dee is going to use this in her book and I believe it will be an eloquent testimony to help many who read your words.

  11. 2. B. If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a few sentences?
    As I pondered what I wrote above, it has alot of “I” in it and I just finished telling a friend the other day that the Song is all about turning to Him. I tried to articulate that when we see how good He is we follow, we respond, we want to love. It isn’t about what to do or what not to do, it’s about how to bless Him, how to love Him, it’s about Him changing our hearts to be soft and seek after Him. Not quite being able to say what I want to say…. My mind just keeps going back to Mike Reeves, “It’s HIM. We want Him.” Yes. The Song is about Him. The beauty of Him. The goodness of Him. It’s just about Him.

  12. What stood out to you and why?
    The song by Matt Maher rings in my heart, the waltz tempo, going round and round, gives me the sense of dancing with my Beloved.  He loves me , delights in me and leaves a seal, an imprint of ownership on me.  Arise, come away with me….  Zephaniah 3:17

  13. 2.  Reflecting on the Song:
     
    A.  How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life?  Can you give a specific illustration of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage?
     
    I shared last week a bit of how this book has impacted my earthly marriage.  Jesus has moved in exciting ways over the past few days to show me new paths into the future in my marriage – but the response has been decidedly mixed!  Even in the disappointments …..Jesus has reminded me, called to me, to remember HIS LOVE.  To follow Him to challenging places on the mountains and in the vineyards….where His fragrance is intoxicating!  And so the journey continues….and no matter what the earthly journey might seem to be, His beauty has a deeper pull power on my life than ever before.  
     
    B.  If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a few sentences?
     
    If you desire greater intimacy with Christ this book is for you!*   Though we may know in our heads that God loves us, in SOS we see Him heading straight for our hearts!  Here His own heart is laid bare.  The entire book is poetry in motion….we see Christ in all His incomparable magnificence…..truly there is none like Him!  And yet….for all of His majesty, He is here shown to us as a bridegroom fo tenderness like we cannot fathom.  He sees us as we are.  And He sees us as beautiful, desirable. He pursues us to the ends of the earth.  We begin to taste what love really is….for we begin to KNOW that HE IS LOVE!  And we see the adventure of a life with Christ.  He calls us to dance upon the mountains!  But first there will be First Love, Wilderness Love and oh, then, Invincible Love.  Testing and trials.  We will begin to see a fresh fragrance and frutifulness in our lives….  but we will see it all as Him.  Only Him.  Have you wondered how on earth it is possible to have head knowledge of God’s love drop into your heart?  Study SOS.  It is visceral and it reaches places that might otherwise go untouched for a lifetime.  He longs for us to dance in the freedom of His LOVE.  This gem, studied carefully and prayerfully, will take you there!  

    * I could have stopped at this comment! 🙂

    1. Jackie–this is so evident in you and makes you so beautiful “and no matter what the earthly journey might seem to be, His beauty has a deeper pull power on my life than ever before”

  14. 3.  Read Song of Songs 8:1-4.  …….   In this passage, what do you see?
     
    What I see here is a delightful, GROWING, settled love for her Beloved!  She longs to be able to GIVE BACK TO HIM FREELY!  Way back in the very first chapter of SOS, she asks him to kiss her ….now it is SHE who wants to do the kissing!!  She longs to “go public” with her love for a lifetime.  Not only that, but she longs to bring Him into her closest circles(“the house of my mother – she who used to teach me”)…..I would think that could be her church, her small group, our study here?????  And the list goes on…..her love for her Bridegroom is far from static or stalled.  It is a fragrant, fruitful garden that invites others in to “taste and see that the Lord is good!”.  Her exuberance for Him cannot be contained….she desires to give, give, give!!  She longs for others to see His beauty, that there is NONE LIKE HIM!  
     
    Just a tiny little recent example in my own life:  Many of you saw that I shared on the prayer page that Laura-Dancer and her family were able to come and worship together with me at my little church this past weekend.  Standing together with Laura, her precious grandson, her husband and my son…..lifting our hands and hearts in worship, drinking in the teaching of the Scriptures…..sharing the Lord’s supper with my warm and welcoming brothers and sisters……well, it was a little taste of heaven for me!  All throughout I kept saying “Jesus, thank you, thank you….You are HERE….we LOVE you…..”.  Priceless!  Amazing Love…how can it be??  

    1. Jackie! Perusing your responses here. Wow! Your enthusiasm is infectious! I am so happy to watch you grow deeply in Christ. I am so glad to hear, as well, that you had a time on the weekend with Laura-dancer and her family. So lovely! “Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love!”

      1. Diane – you are such a “Barnabas”…..an encourager!  As I so often see you encouraging so many of us here….I am keenly aware that you encourage OUT OF your own hard places.  You and my mom would have shared a deep kinship.  You both have been/were called to walk some of the same hard paths.  You both are/were (my mom!) amazing in how you press in to Him and lean on Him!  Thank you.  🙂  

        1. Jackie, you are kind. I have just finished reading your post about your mother “laboring” for you – both physically and spiritually. So touching! I truly am NOT worthy to be compared to either her or Barnabus. If you only knew how much I have hurt those close to me with my selfish, critical spirit! So much pain, I have caused! Thankfully, God is still working on me and does not reject me when I push him away and run to my idols seeking security, control and/or approval.

  15. 5.  Read Song of Songs 8:5b, comparing it to Song of Songs 2:5.
     
    A.  By meditating on 2:5, how did he awaken her to His goodness?
     
    The couple of verses preceding this one set the table for this verse!  She has been sitting in his shadow under the apple tree, tasting his fruit with great delight….and then he has brought her into the banqueting house……I see this as though she has been stopped in her tracks.  Distractions have paled.  She is so overwhelmed with him that she can hardly stand it(“sick with love”)!  And yet what does she need in this lovesick condition??  MORE OF HIM!!  More of his substance and sustenance (“sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples,…”).  
     
    B.  Can you remember the moment you were awakened and moved from head knowledge to heart knowledge?
     
    Initially, this was upon my conversion…..driving through the long, long midwest…..grieving deeply over my mom’s death.  Even over long years of rebellion and selfish living, I knew that “it”, the Gospel was true – in my head.  (I firmly believe, by the way, that many of our own wandering young adult children “know” in this head knowledge way as well!  No matter WHAT their lifestyles may say about their hearts….God in His great, great mercy may even yet “drop” that head knowledge into their hearts!!  Amen – may it be.).  But somehow, in His amazing grace….sitting in that car mile after mile…..became sitting under the apple tree…..tasting his fruit….delighting in his presence!  Just moments ago, He brought me to a place of awesome gratefulness….for I saw something “different” in SOS 8:5.  “There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.”  I am stunned to think about that image….my own dear mom indeed HAD been in labor with me in the most spiritual of ways!  For many, many years her prayers poured forth on my behalf….her life overflowed to me with the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living…..and then….He took her home….and I was born into His Kingdom!!  Her long labor on my behalf had so miraculously been used to bring forth a new child of the King!!!  ME.  Who am I that such a thing could ever be?????   I am dark….but lovely.  And He loves me.  He loves me.  

    1. oh Jackie!–tears started as I read your “B” here–gives me such hope for my child–what an incredible testimony of His gracious love! This encourages all!

  16. 2. Reflecting on The Song: A. How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life? Can you give a specific illustration of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage?
     
    In studying the Song, I have felt more of how by His grace, God woos me—away from sin, and back to Him. I have noticed in myself not just a loving Him for my salvation, but a desire to be near Him, to know Him more—to be one who, as Edwards said of his wife,  “hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him”. I’m more aware of my sin than ever before, and He graciously uses my awareness to bring greater appreciation of His righteousness, and faith in His invincible love for me.And so His grace is s much sweeter to me now, and I feel a freedom to love Him fully, because I finally do feel accepted—as I am. I am emotionally messy and complicated and needy—and I am loved by Him.
     
    In Piper’s Momentary Marriage, he says “the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display.” As my understanding of Christ’s love for His Bride deepens, the importance and beauty of my own marriage has been magnified in my eyes. 
     
        B. If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a  few sentences (oops!) ?
    It is the Song that surpasses all other songs—the Song of Christ’s love for the Church. Because I believe marriage is to ultimately reflect our union with Christ, there is room for application to earthly marriage and much that can be gleaned in that way. However,I believe it is, as is all of Scripture, primarily about Christ. The Song is our reminder, our love letter from Him with a promise of a future, so that we never forget how deeply He loves us. It tells the great love story of the Gospel. He first woos us to Himself and we are able to love Him only because He first loved us. But in our sin and selfishness, we turn away. We are distracted by lesser loves, and we lose sight of Him. And yet, He continues to pursue us, to reminds us of His love. He renews our passion for Him, and though the time has not yet come, He promises a return to a new Eden. We look forward to the Day we will be face to face, at our wedding feast with our Groom. 
     

      1. Lizzy-I agree with Dee. 🙂 

  17. 2. Reflecting on The Song:
        A. How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life? Can you give a specific illustration  of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage?
    My relationship with Jesus-The song surely has opened my eyes to the deep, deep love of Jesus. I feel more confident in who I am because the one and only love that really matters is His and I am “taken” as Lizzy so aptly said. J My heart is more like “play-dough”-softened by the constant drip of the sweetness of His love. My life has taken a God-perspective as I grow older each day knowing He loves me from Day 1 to infinity.
    My earthly marriage-I am starting to look at the marriage bed as a holy place. A place where 2 unite in heart and mind and body in ministry to one another. In gratitude for its symbol for the intimacy I can have with Christ. In joy for its gift to us as a couple from God knowing there is joy beyond and inexplicable awaiting us when we reach the heavenly shores.
     
        B. If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a few sentences?
    I would say the Song is the place where you can find true love and the true lover of your soul-Jesus Christ. The place where you are called beloved without conditions attached. A place where you can come just as you are

  18. 3. Read Song of Songs 8:1-4.
    Some have interpreted verses 1-2 to mean that she wishes she could show affection in public, like was possible then between a brother and a sister. In the Song they relate to each other both as brother and sister and husband and wife. (He calls her “My sister, my bride.”) Michael Reeves says that if this was just earthly love, it would be incestuous. But these relationships, instead, are meant to shine a light on the whole point of the Song: Jesus wants an intimate daily relationship with us. He uses many metaphors, including the marriage bed, to open our eyes.
    In this passage, what do you see?
    v. 3 His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me. Such a loving, comforting, sweet, intimate posture of lovers. A picture of tenderness and strong protection.
    4. In Song of Songs 8:5a, observe using the who, what, why, where questions to see what you can discover.
    Who- the beloved Shullamite
    Where- out of the wilderness
    What -2 people leaning on each other
    Why- leaning and not standing side by side or hand in hand
     
     

  19. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    I really liked the “Passion Translation” of Song of Songs 2:3. I read it in my NIV and then above; I have never heard of that translation but as that is one of my favorite verses in the Songs, I really like how they translated it as it makes it come alive. I like how they say, “Sitting under his grace-shadow, I blossom in his shade.”
     I also can well relate to Luther’s explanation of curvature of the soul. In fact, just a few days ago I was confessing to the Lord my tendency to take things for granted and to forget to be thankful and grateful. I can operate with a sense of self-entitlement and take for granted the everyday blessings I have.
     
    Like Jackie, I enjoyed the “rabbit trail” of review through the past several weeks!

  20. 2. Reflecting on The Song:
     
    A. How has the study of The Song impacted your heart and life? Can you give a specific illustration of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage?
     
    My relationship with Jesus: I don’t know why the words “macroscopic and microscopic” came to mind, but while the Song can also be seen as the relationship between Jesus and the corporate bride, or the church (a “macroscopic view”), the lens does seem to zoom in on the “microscopic view” of my individual relationship with Jesus, too. I feel that as we’ve studied the Song, I’ve discovered so many new truths and layers and that is exciting to me, yet I also need to remind myself that it isn’t about having more head knowledge but knowledge of Him and getting it into my heart. Paralleling this with my earthly marriage is where I struggle and get disheartened. The lines between the two are not parallel. I struggle to experience intimacy with my husband, and have come to realize that I am afraid to open myself up to others, too, often not expressing my deepest feelings. The Song has helped me see Jesus in a new way, as the Beloved, and then, through His eyes, has helped me to see myself. The shyness of looking up at Him still through lowered eyes, knowing that I am “dark…yet lovely”…the hopefulness in that, because He reassures me that I am found to be lovely by Him. Yet it would be a mistake to remain self-focused. The Song shows Him, and His beauty, His patient love, the doorknob dripping with myrrh, His delightful shade. Focusing on Him and His beauty truly leads to the “freedom of self-forgetfulness”. I would like to camp here in the Song because I haven’t “arrived” yet in feeling totally secure in His love. The faith and trust that seems to come so easily to some is hard for me.

    1. Susan! I have had the exact same words come to mind, “microscopic and macroscopic.” ?
      Praying for you this morning. The struggle of a wounded heart is real, very real. It seems that you are down on yourself for what you feel you should be? If so, take heart, your journey, while not what it ‘should be’ or what you ‘wanted’ is what God has ordained….for you, on purpose for a purpose (my mantra). You WANT Him and that, blog sister, is the beauty here, despite your feeling not quite secure in His love (as Bing reminded us) our feelings do not prevail, His truth prevails and the truth is that you ARE secured in His love, now and forever more! That doesn’t change the struggle or the feelings but could perhaps change our gaze? 

      1. Jill – your closing words about where we choose to gaze brought to mind Colossians 3: 1  “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”  

      2. Jill, that’s neat that we both thought the same thing! Thank you for your prayers, too. I don’t know…sometimes I think my problem might be called “failure to thrive”? I find it hard to flourish in the environment in which I live. I struggle to somehow rise above circumstances, instead allowing my circumstances to keep me underneath them. If that makes any sense at all:))

    2. Susan – your use of the phrase “the freedom of self-forgetfulness” makes me wonder if you have ever read Tim Keller’s book with that title?  It is a very short book – pithy and punchy.  I was able to share this book with my nephew in prison – he found it incredibly helpful in general, but most specifically within the walls of the world he now inhabits!  But I am thinking that maybe you HAVE read it and that’s where the phrase bubbled up from .  🙂  

      1. Jackie, that’s exactly where I got that phrase; I have Keller’s book and have read it. I almost went into that but then decided not to make my post too long. Now you caught me in my plagiarism!

        1. Oh no, Susan!  I don’t think that Keller “owns” the phrase!!  🙂  Really!  And my main take away from your comment anyway was how deeply thoughtful you always are….which is so helpful to me!  

    3. Susan, I have tried earnestly to be here with everyone this week for I love His presence here!! :))))) Then I saw your HONEST post and yesterday tried to respond but my husband called to talk-sometimes that happens while I am here and I know God just wants me to remain silent. 🙂  
      I was thinking of you and how much I appreciate and love you. I am right there with you and for years struggled with embracing His Love for me even though I know He does. I even heard a dear friend say she has never struggled with doubting His love and I couldn’t believe it..BUT I will have to say that because of The Song I am experiencing the security she is now for if we stay camped in SOS He will come and set us free from our insecurity in His love. It is like He stripped me of these hesitations to open up to Him..I can’t explain it-wish I could but it amazes me because all I can say is in every desert valley of intimacy I have had with Him-MY pulling away in the arms of idols, or hesitating to trust His love for me-HE always makes the first move to draw me out and into Him-sigh. I don’t want to make this sound like a neatly wrapped present-everything is now hunky dory..nope..not true..actually a few areas in my life are awful with more than one hard trial that is going on right now-and believe me, satan is active..but the more satan does what he is doing in my family, the more God’s beauty is being revealed for He is much more beautiful than anything this world offers-that is for sure!! Trust Him..I can’t see much but I can sense He is desiring to embrace you-to make you fly with Him resting under the shade of Him even though you are walking in the worst of trials. 🙂

      1. Rebecca, I’m so glad I saw your post! I’ve been reading and re-reading this week.  Thank you for your encouragement! I too am thankful that when I run to my idols, He makes the first move to draw me out and back to Him. I am going to try to “camp” in the Song. I just got Sibbes’ book, The Love of Christ, and have started reading. It’s not easy reading! I also have Nancy DeMoss’ CD and study guide that she did on her program on The Song. I’ve had it for like two years now, sitting on my shelf. I think it’s time to dive in!

  21. 3. Read Song of Songs 8:1-4. In this passage what do you see? If the wedding has already happened then they are now husband and wife. Was it culturally inappropriate to show affection to your husband? When speaking of giving affection her beloved she says, “no one would despise me” is this a jealousy thing? If they were brother and sister no one would be jealous of her affection towards him… Or maybe it has to do more with her station in life – maybe people despise her affection to the king because she is not worthy to be married to him? Other translations elude to her wanting this to have been a long standing intimacy – from infancy (at the mother’s breasts) through childhood, sharing affection and life together for a longer time. So the no one would despise me would have part of this daydream of showing affection and having intimacy earlier in life before the wedding.
     
    Verse 3 I think is explicit to physical intimacy. “His arm is under my head” indicates they are laying down. Many translations have verse 4 as an imagining or longing for it but not a current happening. 
     
    What do I see? Again, intimacy. A longing for sharing more, not less, of life and experiences and affection. Intertwining their lives, enjoying one another.
     
    4. In Song of Songs 8:5a, observe the who, what, why, where questions to see what you can discover. 
    Who: The bride and her lover.
    What: Leaning on each other while emerging from…
    Where: The desert.
    Why: The passage doesn’t say specificslly but I see two options (both of which may be true simultaneously).
    1. She needs him. She is leaning on him because she cannot walk alone or come out of the desert alone.
    2. She adores him. She just wants to touch him and be as near as possible while walking.
     
    What did I discover: That the lover was with her in the desert, or went to get her from the desert, that she is not angry with him but receives him, he is patient allowing her, enjoying her, on his arm. The desert does not override his presence, she is still enraptured with him, taken by him, loving him…and he is loving her.

  22. I have absolutely loved adding everyone’s responses to 2a&b! It’s like a bunch of newlyweds back from the wedding day gushing about it! ? He is so good!

  23. 2. Reflecting on The Song:
        A. How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life? Can you give a specific illustration 
             of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage?
     
    A faithful bridegroom who adores his beloved.  I have really begun to see with my heart that this is my life.  Jesus is the ONE who loves me with an everlasting love.    He gives me the sweet joy and fragrance of His presence.   I can honestly say that I spend more time just thanking and loving Him (not just asking Him for things) than I had done for quite awhile.  God has brought these truths of HIS character and love to me in multiple ways this past year.  The Song has been such a catalyst for my response of love toward Him.  He does desire my absolute faithfulness, yet He also comes running to love me with open arms, even when I fail Him.  When I am in frustrating situation, I’ve seen my first reactions and words change.  My judgments of others have been less harsh because I see the image of HIM in my mind; leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.  In spite of who I am, He is coming to me.  And meeting me when no one else knows my innermost pain, hurt and failure.  And surely, HE loves all.   All; even though I see so many as unlovely.  HE is ever faithful:  ‘appearing as the dawn‘  (always.  never failing) … fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars…’   (6:10)   I cannot find peace, joy and contentment in anything, anyone else.
     
     B. If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a  
     
            few sentences?
     
    Well, I did use parts of the message on Song of Songs twice since we began this study.  When I shared some devotional thoughts at a bridal shower in early Spring, I used a couple of analogies from The Song.  Particularly, the picture of the bridegroom adoring the bride.  And how that is shown in Christ’s great love for us. Especially in the concept of exchanging crowns.  (from Mike Reeves)   We give him a crown of thorns (His crucifixion for our sins)  and He gives us His crown of righteousness.    I don’t know if there were those at the bridal shower who don’t know Him as Savior, but I know this picture touched hearts.  Many told me so.
     
    Also, a friend who questions much in the Scripture asked me if there was any place in the Bible that specifically forbade pre-marital sex.   I agree that it isn’t so easy to ‘spot’ when the NIV and ESV and other more readable translations have changed the word ‘fornication’ to ‘sexual immorality’.  This person had looked for clear evidence.   I told the inquirer that while I was not a Greek scholar, I did believe that those passages did refer to pre-marital sex that were previously translated ‘fornication’.   (and I myself, do wonder why the translators  didn’t just say ‘pre-marital sex’ instead of immorality if this is the precise meaning?)    But I also said, that a greater evidence for me is the many places that Christ refers to believers as His bride.  And it is marriage that is an analogy of Christ’s faithfulness and His redemption of us.   And He is completely faithful.  And we are exhorted to be faithful to Him.  I mentioned that I had been studying The Song.  

    1. Wanda – as I read your response to the Song….I don’t know why, but the little poem by John Bunyan popped into my head:  
      “Run John, run, 
      The law commands
      But gives me neither feet nor hands
      Tis better news the gospel brings
      It bids me fly
      It gives me wings”
       
      Your words are so well written …..I can see your wings!!  Your Bridegroom has given you wings to fly!  It is lovely, for He is lovely.  

  24. I just want to say how much I have enjoyed reading all of your answers to question 2 “How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life?” Such wonderful testimonies!!!
     
    I too have become much more aware of Jesus as my (our) Bridegroom. This has been especially evident when I have failed and I can get REALLY down on myself and ready to give up. He has come gently when I am in hiding, leaving myrrh on the door and running to meet me without condemnation when I search for Him. He is helping me rewrite the “tapes” in my head from “I am worthless” to “He is my Beloved and I am His”.

    1. Love this, Diane! I can get down on myself, too. I have found the picture of leaving myrrh on the door one of the most meaningful word pictures, too!

  25. B. If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a few sentences?
     
    I would say, “Take your Bible and open it to The Song of Songs. Settle down in your favorite chair, preferably near a window so you can pause to look outside at the beauty of His creation. Bring along all of your senses, because you are going to meet and experience Him in a way you never have before. Inhale deeply, and smell His fragrance as you would perfume. Sense that His very Name is like perfume poured out. Are you weary, tired, bruised by life? Feel your skin, and read that His Name is also like a soothing medicinal ointment. Close your eyes and imagine Him as an apple tree, and you are resting in His shade, cooling you from the heat of the hot sun. His fruit is the sweetest you’ll ever taste, and you will taste it by obeying Him and staying close to Him. All other fruit that you bite into, attempting to satisfy your hunger, will leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Have you ever grown cool towards Him, too busy, too tired, or even too lazy to give Him much time or thought? Hear Him knocking at the door of your heart, asking you to open the door. Think of His great love and sacrifice for you even when you loved Him not, and feel with your hands the myrrh that He has left on the door knob. See HIm with your eyes in all His splendor as He comes up from the desert like a column of smoke, powerful and strong with arms like rods of gold, yet gentle and tender as you slip your hand in His. Then, imagine walking with Him, hand in hand, through the vineyards and gardens as He shows you your future with Him in a time when the winter will be over and everything will be in bloom.

    1. LOVE this description to someone who has not studies the Song, Susan. I want to pass it along to a friend who loves Scripture but has never really studied or understood the Song.

    2. Susan-ooohh….He is coming to you!! :))))))) 

  26. 3. Read Song of Songs 8:1-4. In this passage, what do you see?
     
    When I read verse 1, I can see how some could interpret this as meaning it would be acceptable for a sister to show physical affection to her brother, as she says, “Then, if I found you outside, I would kiss you, and no one would despise me!” For some reason (maybe a strange reason), this is reminding me of Psalm 2:12, in which the kings and rulers of this world are warned to “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way…blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” There’s something about “kissing Him” and not being despised for it. The fact is, the Bride, or the church, is despised by some for “kissing Him”, or declaring love for and allegiance to Christ.
     
    I see Mike Reeves’ point that if taken too literally, verse 1 and then leading into verse 2 it sounds wrong, incestuous. In verse 2, to say “I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house” makes me think of, for example, when a young man or woman meets that “special someone”, they want them to meet their family; to bring them home to meet mom and dad. They don’t want to hide the person from their family (well, sometimes that happens!) but are anxious to bring them to the family. I see that she wants those dear to her to meet Him? Or the corporate Bride wanting to introduce others to Jesus?
     
    “I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates” – this may represent intimacy but along the lines I’ve been thinking, maybe making Him feel at home, too? If I brought someone to my home, I would offer them something to eat or drink. She is attending to him. I may be way off base here…
    “His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me” is the same as Song of Songs 2:6, as she pictures him as the apple tree and says “he has taken me to the banquet hall and his banner over me is love.” It speaks of closeness, safety, protection. Then the warning about not arousing love too soon is repeated in verse 4.

  27. 4. In Song of Songs 8:5a. observe using the who, what, why, where questions to see what you can discover.
     
    “Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?”  WHO: it is she, the bride, with her Bridegroom.  WHAT: what is she doing – she is leaning on her lover.
    WHERE – they are coming up from the desert  WHY – why were they in the desert? Is she coming out of a wilderness time? I found an interesting cross-ref to Isaiah 35:2, but backing up to verse 1, it says, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” This makes me imagine that if the Lord walked through a dry, parched desert, it would burst into bloom because of His presence. In any case, He was with her in the desert, and while being in a desert without any food or water can be fatal, He sustained her with His presence in the desert.
    I find it interesting that the first reference in 3:6 about who is this coming up from the desert refers only to Him, and now they are coming up from the desert together. The first time, He was coming for her. Going back to Exodus, God led His people by the pillar of cloud and fire. He was in front. Now, they are side-by-side. So many layers here!

  28. I’m getting more and more intrigued by all the places this “couple” are in – their house, outdoors, in the vineyards, rocky places in the hills, gardens, she is in her room, the desert, her mother’s house, under the apple tree. This coming up from the desert, leaning on her lover is such a picture of oneness, dependency, of His strength and her weakness, but also that she survived the desert with Him. I am seeing that when all I can see around me is desert, I need to seek Him out even more. He alone can make the desert beautiful, instead of seeing it only as a wasteland.

    1. SUSAN-I just read this…OH.. :)) :))

    2. SO rich, Susan.    I love how you pulled together all of the places and how much depth there is in their oneness during the hard times.  Especially true when we count on Jesus to be with us always.  One with Him.  
       

  29. Oops…

  30. 2. Reflecting on The Song: 
        A. How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life? Can you give a specific illustration  
             of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage? 
     
    I had only studied this book as a guide to marriage in the past. I didn’t know it was a picture of love between Christ and the church. Learning this, and reading with it in the back of my mind makes for a productive read because of the dual meaning presented. I am sure there is more meaning that I haven’t even considered, making the book something to return to over and over again. It is a complicated story; but, love is that way in life, isn’t it? It is not a straight forward thing at all. For example….
     
    My son is currently going through a difficult break up with his girlfriend and he is so devastated. It is hard to know the right words to say. He has been through those stages; perfect love and now the wilderness. He won’t experience the true, mature love because it is cut short. I try to explain if it is meant to be it will happen. He feels life is over. I think we had another young man in this boat in the recent past. Susan’s son? I can’t remember. I wonder how it is going for him?
     
    How has it impacted me? Without giving too much detail (it’s private!), I will say I am reflecting on some of the “story” as I deal with my husband these days. I guess you could say I am putting myself in the shoes of the bride more often. The picture of the myrrh on the doorknob really impacted me; my senses. The poetry is extremely difficult to wade through, and a commentary to assist is necessary (unless you have Dee to explain!). 
     
    I have also tried to realize how much God loves me; this is still hard. Over and over in the Song, it is revealed that they are beautiful to one another; they are perfect in every way. I can’t imagine God seeing me this way but it is what it says here in writing. I don’t know if I will ever realize this on earth. I am a tough cookie to break! He is beautiful, He gave His life for me. I remember Mike Reeves saying something like….He gives us the King’s crown and robe when He gets the thorns and the cross….
     
     
        B. If you were to try to explain the Song to someone who hasn’t studied it, what might you say in a   
            few sentences?
     
    The Song is a beautiful love story of how much Christ loves us; loves you. It is sensory; it awakens every part of you when you read it carefully.

      1. Thanks Dee!

    1. Laura, how the Song has weaved itself into your life is beautiful! I was in the same boat as you; I previously thought the Song was only about marriage. How surprising to discover Jesus is “hidden in the shadows” and WE are in the story, too!
      I’m sorry to hear your son is still having a hard time over the break-up. Yes, it was my son whose girlfriend broke things off with him, quite unexpectedly. He was sad and depressed for many weeks, and homesick because he’s away at school. I don’t think he’s completely over it, though. He is very busy in graduate school and doing research for his advisor, which helps him not to have too much time on his hands. I will keep your son in my prayers. Is he still out in California?
       
      Also, it seems that the “myrrh on the doorknob” was a powerful picture for so many. It does seem that one can almost feel the liquid myrrh on your hands, dripping all over the place!

      1. Susan, I’m glad your son is keeping himself busy; that helps I’m sure. My son is back from California, but had to get his things from the girl on Wednesday and was totally wiped out from that meeting. I feel so sad for him ?, but we have all been there and somehow have made it through. I appreciate your prayers!
         
        The myrrh is such a word picture!

        1. Laura, I’m glad your son is back home and that will help him, to be surrounded by those who love and care for him!

  31. 5. Read the Song of Songs 8:5b, comparing it to Song of Songs 2:5. 
    A. By meditating of 2:5, how did he awaken her to His goodness? He strengthened and refreshed her. He is the apple tree, so the apples are his fruit. The raisins (per Dr. Hamilton) are an aphrodisiac, giving the desire for love, and then that appetite is satisfied by the fruit from the tree. He awakened her to his goodness by first, being good, then giving her appetite for his goodness, and then having her taste his goodness.
     
    B. Can you remember the moment you were awakened and moved from head knowledge to heart knowledge? Yes. Idol Lies showed me who I was (an idolator) but Song of Songs showed me who He is. We were studying how the bridegroom calls the bride beautiful and without fault (v 4:7) and this really sifted out the true cause of my insecurities – I didn’t truly believe I could ever BE this because there was still that working for approval deep inside. I felt that for it to be true I had to make myself into that, without fault. If the song had just left it at “beautiful” it would have glossed over as a confused bridegroom looking through rose-colored glasses but because it was “without fault” this pushed the issue till my heart was bared. I trusted Dee and the other women on here saying this was true, so I had to either walk away or figure out how this could be true….and of course, it is only through Christ who is without fault and covers us…but there was a moment when the Holy Spirit whispered, “God LiKeS you…He delights in you…He wants you…” I sat staring at the screen. The truth had dropped to my heart. SoS 2:14 is now one of my favorite verses…”Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely” (I do want to say, tho, that while I do remember the ‘moment’ it dropped it has been a process, just like the bride in SoS…He keeps working on my heart pushing this truth deeper and calling me to trust it more …)
     
    This video also helped release my working for approval https://vimeo.com/7253613
    To work for His approval is self-salvation, it’s a focus on me. To focus on Him and what He has done and why releases me to just rest in His arms.
     
    C. How have you recently tasted the goodness of the Lord? Just now! ? Recounting His goodness in drawing me close… He is so good! Most notably, the weather has gotten such that I can go onto my back porch  sit in the stillness of His creation and listen to he song that it sings to its Creator. And He presses into me and I can delight in His presence. He refreshes and strengthens me there.

  32. I have been on vacation and need to catch up this week. I got to meet Jackie and attend church with her lovely church family! It was a blessing, and I can’t wait to meet others in the future as well ?. Special times for sure! 
     
    3. In this passage, what do you see?
     
    This is a repeat of chapter 2….
     
    “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
     
    His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me! I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”
    ‭‭The Song of Solomon‬ ‭2:4, 6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
     
    I have heard when God repeats Himself we need to listen! It’s important. So, at first she gets to meet his family and celebrate their love together, and then later she takes him to her family for celebration. (?) the reference to his right hand being under her is interesting to me because this “right hand” is mentioned over and over in scripture and has captivated me! My favorite scripture is Isaiah 41:13
     
    “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    There are many throughout scripture. So, does the “right” hand mean the right way? Or is it literally your right hand? Do these passages mean he embraces her and it is right that he does, or is it just saying the right hand embraces her, with no hidden meaning?
     
    The last bit, spoken to the daughters, I believe is a warning to those who are young. She is saying, “don’t force love where it doesn’t exist because you will miss what I am experiencing.” Oh how I wish I could convey this to my son who is so heartbroken right now?.

  33. 8. Read Song of Songs 8:6
    A.  What does he tell her to ask for before he leaves?
    Place me like a seal on your heart ; a seal on your arm
    B.  What is our seal according to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22?
    The Holy Spirit
     …set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
         C.  There are so many ways to become more conscious of the Spirit in our lives — but this article is 
               valuable. It is brief, but should be read thoughtfully: Practicing the Presence of the Holy Spirit
     
     
    I often marvel at the timeliness of the workings of God. If I would just listen to the Spirit’s prompting and moving in my life. But I often don’t.  Even as I sit here ruminating over the questions on this blog, the Spirit is speaking to my tendency to “run away” and to “ just get it over with” attitude. I have lost but am trying to reclaim that  {making} of “ a deliberate effort at the outset of every day to recognize the person of the Holy Spirit, to move into the light concerning his presence in our consciousness and to open our minds and to share all our thoughts and plans as we gaze by faith into the face of God.” (Lovelace quote)
     
    This week is a case in point. I had a not so good encounter with one of my students this past Tuesday which left me fuming. (Today as I met with 2 other colleagues to pray, I pulled out my Moms In Prayer sheet that we used last week and was reminded we used the teacher attribute of God to focus our prayer time.  That He will lead and guide our ways as we go about our day as teachers. We had specifically prayed for this student and what do you know? We had a run in with each other!) I had my case against him all presented in a neat outline but the Spirit would not leave me alone until I surrendered my “rights” as a teacher. He has allowed me to “cool off” these past 2 days and I am trying to wait expectantly how He would redeem this situation tomorrow as I meet with this student for his final clinical evaluation. I don’t think I have handled this situation very well but God is merciful and gracious to let me start all over again. The article by Justin Taylor is very timely and I so need to practice the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and be dependent on Him. 

    1. oh Bing–I so love your honest heart “I had my case against him all presented in a neat outline but the Spirit would not leave me alone until I surrendered my “rights” as a teacher”. I pray it went well today and that you can find His peace in the situation. So thankful with you for His mercy and grace towards us–it’s really amazing how He loves us!

  34. I really enjoyed the article, Lovelace’s thoughts on the Holy Spirit. This quote: “We should make a deliberate effort at the outset of every day to recognize the person of the Holy Spirit, to move into the light concerning his presence in our consciousness and to open our minds and to share all our thoughts and plans as we gaze by faith into the face of God”, reminded me of what Dee has taught so well here. Reminded me too of Dee’s post on George Mueller, who says: “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.”
     
    My own voice is loud on the inside. I must make a choice to quiet it, at the start of my day, if I want to hear the Spirit, and I so want that.Today I didn’t. I have been overloaded lately, and today I only said a quick prayer and thought–I’ll have to get to my reading later. I took care of errands, details, kids, housework–and then squeezed in the Word. And I feel it. I feel this irritation, impatience creeping in. Feel like I need a bath on my insides. I’m not saying there’s a formula here, but I do know that I must make the choice, to quiet the distractions, and welcome Him in.
     
    I liked too how much it emphasized the personal aspect of the Spirit. It is a “dependent fellowship with a person”. How quickly, easily, I forget He is there when I am talking and dealing with stressful relationships. He is there, for me to depend on, to guide me, to extinguish the desire of my flesh. That alone motivates me to welcome Him in at the start of each day! 

    1. Lizzy-me too! :)) 

    2. Yes, Lizzy… me, three with Susan! Dee, this is the close of our study in the Songs. But, oh, it so much pulled all the loose ends together for me. Thank you to God for using you and the ladies here in the blog. He has spoken loud to my wandering heart and have gotten it back in focused dependence on the Holy Spirit and a greater awareness of my being loved by the greatest LOVER of all! 🙂

  35. 4. In Song of Songs 8:5a, observe using the who, what, why, where questions to see what you can discover.
     
    In this passage I think the “who” is the bride. She is with her beloved and leans on him. They are in the wilderness first and then they go to the apple tree where his mother gave birth to him. Is she trying to understand who he really is? Is she trying to get to know him better?
     

  36. 2. Reflecting on The Song:
        A. How has the study of the Song impacted your heart and life? Can you give a specific illustration 
             of how it has impacted either your relationship with Jesus or your earthly marriage?
     
    Relationship with Jesus: Dee, do you remember when Christy said she never doubted God’s love? It was when we both came to see you. We were in the car and I was reading your manuscript out loud. I asked her, “surely you have doubted God’s love before.” I was jealous of her confidence-I was wondering if she was being truly honest! I get it now-She WAS being honest! Christy is secure in his love and you can see she doesn’t struggle with an approval idol. She lives and loves freely for His love and joy are so evident in her.
     
    In the Song, He has battered my heart making me more vulnerable but willingly vulnerable.  When I saw His passion for the Shulamite, how He adored her, even in her mess-He melted me. SO, in the Song HE battered my heart and then ravaged me. Believe me, this is better than the honeymoon time with Him back in 1988. :)) Like how love in a marriage grows deeper and better after the honeymoon time-but HE is better than an earthly marriage. He is my life..My heart meditates more on Him now-desires Him more than before I studied the Song. 
        
    Earthly marriage- I can’t give much detail here but His Grace poured out on me in the Song amazes me for I find myself going back to Chapter 4 to read this: You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes; with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! …He is making her like Him-their oneness-oh..and He is long suffering..The Gospel has spread onto my marriage. I haven’t been holding my husband’s short comings, or slights against me, against him. (we are thinking he might have a higher functioning form of Aspergers -he can get wordy and struggles with turn taking in conversation-hence where our boys get it) The Song beautifully portrays His Grace! This beautiful one-ness with Him has helped me see He wants my husband and I to have this beautiful oneness IN HIM together too. His Love in me enables me to love my husband like He loves me in my messiness. 

    1. this is so beautiful rebecca, “His Love in me enables me to love my husband like He loves me in my messiness.”–oh how I learn from your humble, teachable heart!

  37. The psalmist says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:6) Here, in Song of Songs 8:5, he remembers when he “awakened” her under the apple tree. How did he do that?
     
    Song of Songs 8:5 goes on to talk about her being “conceived” and through labor, she was given birth. Is this therefore perhaps talking about “awakening” in the sense of being given spiritual birth? Back in 2:3, she is comparing him to an apple tree, and she is delighting in his presence. We don’t delight in Him until our spiritual eyes are opened, we place our trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sin, and then a new relationship with Him begins.
     
    5. Read Song of Songs 8:5b, comparing it to Song of Songs 2:5.
     
    A. By meditating on 2:5, how did he awaken her to His goodness? – It says that she was “faint with love”, and He strengthened her by giving her food – raisins and apples. This could be a spiritual metaphor and not talking about actual fruit, as when Jesus said of Himself that He is the Bread come down from heaven, that the food that He has to give is real food and real drink. So perhaps awakening her to His goodness means that He reveals more of Himself to her, draws her closer to Himself, and she is enjoying and “tasting” the fruit of a real, intimate relationship with Him. She draws very real sustenance from Him, just like food sustains the body.
     
    B. Can you remember the moment you were awakened and moved from head knowledge to heart knowledge? – I do vividly remember the first time I realized that He died for me because He loved me, because that day as I confessed my sins to Him and pictured myself at the foot of the Cross, knowing that He was hanging there for my shameful sins, and I wondered what would He say to me because I put Him there, He spoke (in my mind) to me, saying, “Now do you see how much I love you?” And over the years there have been other times when He has awakened me, through His Word, through sermons, through other believers. Another memorable time was when Dee came to Ashland to speak, and afterwards, several of us from the blog were enjoying a meal together at a B&B. As I sat there, I remember looking across the table at Dee, and she smiled at me with that twinkle in her eye. It was as if Jesus was saying to me, “See, you belong at the table; you are included here.” This was so important to me because a lot of the time I feel as if I am “starving” for fellowship. And then, not too long ago, this was confirmed to me as I was listening to a Chip Ingram podcast, in which he was saying that when we need encouragement, it’s not like God sends a couple of angels who appear and say, “Does somebody need a hug today?” Instead, we get “hugged” by the Jesus in another believer.
     
    C. How have you recently tasted the goodness of the Lord? – I have tasted His goodness right here with all of you! We are growing together, and not only is it exciting what He has shown me through this study, but when I read others’ posts and see how He is working in all of your lives, it is all good! I recently have tried to spend some of my prayer time beginning by focusing on His attributes. When I learn and reflect on His character, I learn about Him and it focuses me on how great and wonderful He is. The Psalms are a place to taste the goodness of the Lord. When I attended a women’s conference a few weeks ago where I learned that I can invite Jesus to be my Healer, and that I need to come out of hiding and that He will be right there for me.

    1. wow, Susan–I’m seeing such new hope and life in you, this speaks to me too “I can invite Jesus to be my Healer, and that I need to come out of hiding and that He will be right there for me”

  38. 6. Read Song of Songs 8:6.
     
    A. What does he tell her to ask for before he leaves?
     
    I’m not seeing where he tells her to ask him for something? He tells her to place him like a seal over her heart, like a seal on her arm. Unless this is a veiled way for her to ask for assurance that their love will endure separation?
     
    B. What is our seal according to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22?
     
    This passage says that God has “set His seal of ownership on us”. I would say that seal is the Holy Spirit in us. Ephesians 1:13 says that “you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.
     
     

  39. A.  What thoughts do you have on a “love as strong as death?”
    There is such a finality to death that cannot be reversed. So love if as strong as death means love of this kind is permanent, no waning, no changing, unyielding of the one so loved.
    B.  Jealousy is allowed only to God, or perhaps to a spouse. What does it communicate to you that God is jealous for you?
    That I am exclusively His and He should be mine! He does not want me to go after other lovers. Because He is the perfect, wise, good Lover of my soul, I am secure now and forever.
    I am reminded of some of the lyrics in this hymn by Daniel Whittle:
     
    Moment by moment I’m kept in His love; Moment by moment I’ve life from above; Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine; Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

  40. 6.C. There are so many ways to become more conscious of the Spirit in our lives – but this article is valuable. It is brief, but should be read thoughtfully.
     
    This was a very good article, and has made me think of some questions. The article states that christians have not “necessarily made a deliberate point of getting to know Him (the Spirit) personally” and that the Spirit is “not continually experienced as a personal Guide and Counselor.” I have heard it taught that as Jesus taught us to pray, my prayers should primarily be directed to the Father. But, sometimes I pray to Jesus. If I am distressed, I will ask Jesus to help me. To me, if I am to get to know someone, I need to talk to them. Am I supposed to, at times, “talk”, or pray, to the Holy Spirit? As in, “Holy Spirit, I am feeling tempted right now and there is such a battle going on in my flesh. Please help me to walk in Your ways and not in my flesh”? Or, am I to ask the Father to help me listen to His Spirit? Exactly how do I get to know the Spirit better?

  41. D. What thoughts do you have on a “love as strong as death”?
     
    It gives me a picture of the shadow of death creeping closer and closer, determined to snuff out completely and finally the love of God, and forever envelop men and women in total blackness. Probably Satan was happy the day Jesus died on the Cross, thinking that this is what happened. No more hope. But God’s love for His Son was stronger than death, and with a mighty power, the Father raised Him. If anyone could have seen that day what was going on in the unseen spiritual world. it would have been fearful. It was a great battle I am sure. Jesus said of His own that He would not lose one of them, that no one could ever snatch us out of His hands. Amazing, but He held onto us, even through death.
    I wish I could remember because I think Tim Keller talked about this in one of his sermons.
     
    E. Jealousy is allowed only to God, or perhaps to a spouse. What does it communicate to you that God is jealous for you?
     
    Jealousy is mainly sinful in humans and can lead to terrible abuse. We read about it in the news a lot, how men will stalk and even murder their wives, ex-wives, girlfriends. God’s jealousy is not tainted by sin. He desires me to be faithful to Him and not to worship idols, or to love other people or things more than Him. While it breaks his heart when I do, He doesn’t strike out at me to hurt me. He may bring unpleasant consequences or discipline but it is for my good and to turn me around and bring me back to Him.
     
     

  42. 7. Song of Songs 8:8-10 has both an earthly and a spiritual application. What do you think each is?
     
    I read some commentaries online about these verses. Some think verses 8-9 are the brothers of the bride speaking. In any case, these verses speak of her purity being guarded and protected during the time when she hadn’t yet physically matured; some commentaries suggested this could have been during the time of her betrothal when temptation can be at its greatest. Verse 10 speaks of her being matured into a woman and the peace in their relationship because she did remain pure for him.
    Spiritually? I’m guessing here – it could mean helping a new believer who isn’t mature in their faith yet, guarding them from false teaching. Of course, the Holy Spirit gives discernment, too and can serve as a “guard”. Then verse 10 could mean the spiritual maturity of the individual believer and even the corporate Bride. 
     
    8. Compare the close of the Song to the close of Revelation (Revelation 22:20) What do you learn?
     
    Revelation ends with “Yes, I am coming quickly.” and we reply, “Come, Lord Jesus.” The Song ends with the Bride saying “Hurry, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.” She is anxious for him to hurry back to her. I think she/we can only say this when we love him more than this world, when we are convinced that nothing compares to Him.
     
    9. What is your take-away this week and why?
     
    The image of her coming up from the desert leaning on her lover is sticking with me this week. If all I can see around me is a “desert”, then I am not seeing Him. The image of God’s provision in the desert is powerful. God’s presence with me can make flowers bloom even in a dry desert. I replied to Jill that I often feel like my problem could be called “failure to thrive” in the environment in which I live. That shows me that the environment isn’t my problem. I am not leaning on Him. I am still trying to find relief in other things which don’t satisfy or too busy feeling sorry for myself. I remember Dee saying once something like the Christian life isn’t meant to be like having an occasional picnic in the desert. God didn’t keep His people in the desert forever.

  43. Dear Dee,

    First of all, A Very Blessed and Happy New Year!
    I came upon this page “accidentally “ tho we know nothing better! I wouldn’t be honest if I picked out one part or the other of your share here, because all of it touched my heart so deeply and so resonates with all the seasons of my life! I have in the “be still” phase now and so hungry for the deeper things of God and how precious are the gems and treasures along this stillness as in the 23rd Psalm! Thank You Precious Jesus for leading me here! Blessings, hugs and love from The Netherlands! Judith 🌷

     

     

      1. Thank you, Dee 😊🌷