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THE DANCING SHULAMMITE

ONCE SHE SAID, “DON’T GAZE AT ME!”

NOW SHE IS DANCING BETWEEN TWO ARMIES!

DANCINGSHULAMMITE

ONCE SHE WAS ASHAMED OF HER “VINEYARD.”

NOW SHE IS WALKING WITH HER BRIDEGROOM

INTO THE VINEYARDS TO SEE THE CHOICE FRUITS.

vineyardbest

When my friend Twila was in her forties and the mother of five, she went into a severe clinical depression that lasted ten years. She tried everything under the sun to be delivered: various anti-depressants, alternative medicine, confessing and repenting of any known sin, counseling, eating right, exercising… all, it seemed, for naught. She was roller blading ten miles a day, but whenever she got to the five mile mark to turn around, she would plead with God: “Please, Lord – just let me die.” Her counselor kept stressing the love of God to her and had her constantly in the Word and reading books about God’s love such as Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. One of the things that her counselor told her is “Women are responders.” So Twila had to allow God to show her His love so that her soul would respond to Him. I believe that this is one of the great values of The Song of Songs — God shows us His love for us. We are loved not because of anything we have done, but because of what He has done.

For Twila, it wasn’t a quick fix, but slowly, as she contemplated God’s love in His Word, His love moved from her head to her heart. Today, Twila is one of the most joyful women I know. She memorizes whole books of the Bible (Hebrews, Romans, Ephesians, 2 Corinthians…). When I asked her why she so loved to memorize, tears came to her eyes and she said, “Because when I do I experience His presence.” Mysteriously, because Jesus is the Word, His presence inhabits His Word. And in His presence is fullness of joy.

Recently Twila and some other dear friends came on a cruise where I was speaking. Twila would walk round and round the whole ship on “Deck 4,” for that was where the lifeboats hung, so it was empty of sunbathers. At night she’d go back, skipping around as she exalted in the sea, the stars, and the sense of God’s presence. This woman who once struggled to put one foot in front of another was skipping like a little girl. On that cruise Twila shared her story of being delivered from depression in a workshop. It so blessed the women there that it was requested she share it again to the whole group on the final night. This is Twila in front of the group that night: fuzzy picture, but it captures her joy.

Twilalaughing

Twila explained that in Psalm 18 “David had a literal army chasing him, but my enemy was depression. And truly, the cords of death were wrapped around me!” But this is what happened to me:

 

            I love you, O Lord, my strength…

            The cords of the grave coiled around me;

            The snares of death confronted me.

            In my distress I called to the Lord;

            I cried to my God for help.

            From His temple he heard my voice;

            My cry came before him, into his ears.

 

And then she says, with grateful tears springing up: “And this is what He did:”

            The earth trembled and quaked,

            And the foundations of the mountains shook;

            They trembled because he was angry…

            He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

            he drew me out of deep waters.

            He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

            From my foes, who were too strong for me…

 

            He brought me out into a spacious place;

            He rescued me because he delighted in me.

          

                                    Psalm 18: 1, 5, 6, 7, 16, 17, 19 (NIV 1984)

 

When we draw near to the Lord and want Him and not just Him to fix our problems, we experience His presence and He turns our mourning into dancing. He did it for Twila, He did it for the Shulammite, and He can do it for you.

MOURNINGINTODANCING526606_10151556780431469_1376690455_n

On a personal note I want to thank you for your encouragement last week. I expressed the thought that because this study is challenging it will not have a broad appeal, for I have noticed less participation than in most studies, especially last week. Many of you came on with encouragement or (alas!) with feeling guilty. Please know I never want any of you to feel you must be here or are not free to drop out for a season. I loved Jackie’s analogy of God reducing Gideon’s army to 300. I still feel this will have a narrower appeal, party because generally speaking the Western church is not deep. But I know  God can work mightily with an army of 300! It is with the remnant that revival begins. The last two weekends I spoke at churches of depth and their response was amazing — and that was a sweet kiss from the King. Let me say that this group is amazing, and I so thank God for you. You have helped me so much in crafting this study. We will have one more week after this. Pray please for me to hear from Him as to where to head next! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Sunday Icebreaker:

  1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
  • Monday-Wednesday Bible Study:

2. Contrast the Shulammite from when we first met her in Song of Songs 1:6 to how we see her in Song of Songs 6:13-7:1 and 7:13. Find everything you can.

Compare Song of Songs 7:1 to Isaiah 52:7. What light does this give you?

 

This brings to mind not only the song from Handel’s Messiah, but this by Twila Paris:

James Hamilton said, in last week’s sermon, that if this was just a description of an individual woman, he would have done a better job. He saw, as does Ellen Davis, descriptions of the beautiful land of Israel, of the Garden of Eden, and of fruitfulness and fertility. As you read this next section, what can you see?

4. Read Song of Songs 7:1-5

 

Now I am going to delve in this blog where I did not delve in the book — for I feel it is “meat” that isn’t suitable for everyone. I could still change that during the editorial process, so I’m eager to hear your responses.

5. One of the most astonishing aspects of the Song is that indeed, there are sexual aspects — not in a pornographic way, but with subtle beauty. First, read Song of Songs 7:6-10, viewing it from the earthly perspective of the marriage bed. What beauty do you see and how does it impact your view of the marriage bed? 

6. Challenge Question: Now, I want you to compare Song of Songs 7:8 with Psalm 92:12-14. What do you see and what insight on the spiritual level does this give you?

 

This is from Hudson Taylor, the Founder of China’s Inland Mission (Now OMF):

Grace has made her like the palm tree, the symbol of uprightness and fruitfulness. And this tree’s fruit-bearing powers don’t end as it goes older. Instead the fruit becomes more perfect as well as more abundant.

(I love that! As my body is getting less sexually alluring with age, how wonderful it would be if simultaneously my soul was bearing better spiritual fruit.)

7. Another challenge question. In the beginning of this study, Ellen Davis said that holding both pictures (intimacy in marriage and intimacy with Christ) side by side enhances both. Has that been true of you? If so share. (Warning — I’m looking for some pithy quotes!)

 

Thursday-Friday Sermon

Jim Hamilton does a good review of Song of Songs 1-6 and then goes into 7.

Song of Songs 7 – Jim Hamilton

 

8. What are your notes or thoughts on the above?

Saturday:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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125 comments

  1. What stood out to you and why?
    3 things, Dee. Twila’s testimony has given me hope for people I love and know who are battling depression. One of them is my daughter, Ruth Ann. I love the verses Twila shared during the cruise. Indeed, only the Lord can do a mighty deliverance from the “cords that entangle”. I continue to pray Philippians 1:6 for my daughter. He who has started a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
    Jackie’s metaphor of the 300 remnant struck a chord in me. There are a few significant changes in my job description for next year including more students. I am excited with the possibilities of impacting more lives. Nevertheless, the mention of the remnant here reminded me a small “army” of committed health care workers can do MUCH good.
    The prayer group among staff members that I started only has brought one other teacher. Again, the remnant metaphor. Although I am praying for more teachers to come, the 2 of us can be the “army”. Praying to be faithful in prayer with my colleague, Jill  and for others to join us.
     
    I so appreciate being in the blog though my participation was erratic. You have helped me to be thoughtful and not afraid to get deep with the real me.  I also feel much kinship with everybody and look forward to meeting in Heaven if not here on earth. Oh, that would be joy!

    1. Bing–I love how faithful you have been in starting your prayer group with your colleagues, I will pray this morning for the Lord to bless it and use as He wills. And praying again now for Ruth Ann. I love your heart, your thoughtful sharing is part of what allows such real bonds to develop here in this cyber place–and I too look forward to the Day, here or There, oh I imagine a good long hug! 🙂

  2. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Absolutely Twila’s testimony. OH. What a moving, inspiring work of our Lord! I will always think of Twila as the one who came to help you get your car from stuck in the snow, how God used her to rescue you! But hearing this beautiful testimony of how He reached in and rescued her from the quick sand of deep depression, just amazing. And her memorization of Scripture, I kept thinking–she lives out Matt. 4:4– ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ And His Word is her life line, truly her source of strength. 
    Secondly, that’s one of my very favorite Twila Paris songs : )
     

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

     
    Twila’s story. Unfortunately I know that feeling – the pain, she describes in my life, but I am not willing to do some of what she did to help (drugs and doctor). I stumble through life wondering why I am here at times.  Lately has been some of the worst of the times I’ve had. I dance and exercise, I try to be as engaged with God as I can be, but the devil does have his days. I have asked God to just let me die, as Twila did. I think I am really saying that I want the pain to stop. Somehow I trudge through and make it through these times. It’s a wave and I am in the trough. I would never willingly harm myself, but I don’t know why I can’t be happier with my life. I guess I need what Twila has; the presence of Jesus at all times. I need to know He loves me. It’s hard to know that at times. I am not asking for any “sympathy” or even advice. I have been this way a very long time. I think others are probably like me too. I won’t change; its part of who I am, I guess. I am willing to dig deeper to find out why I have to feel like this, and I do keep Job in mind often (he never knew why). I am looking forward to no more pain one day.

    1. Laura, I’m on my phone and can’t type much but just had to tell you I am lifting you to Him in prayer today, asking Him to break through with new hope and let you feel overwhelmed by His love for you, my sister ?

      1. Dee, I meant to also say how much your studies have helped me cope. The people here are amazing! I stsy here because it is therapeutic in its own right. I’m afraid to leave ?. Thank you!

    2. Laura, you’re just staying heavy on my heart…so I keep lifting you up! We sang this hymn (Beams of Heaven, c.1916) this morning, I wish I could post a link to the way we sing it, our worship guy wrote his own music to it and it’s amazing–but this last stanza I think it hope-filled:
      Burdens now may crush me down, disappointments all around; Troubles speak with mournful sigh, sorrow through a tear-stained eye. There is a world where pleasure reigns, no mourning soul shall roam its plains, And in that land of peace and glory I shall be home someday, I shall be home someday, I shall be home someday, I shall be home someday, I’ll be home
      Depression is hard and lonely, and one thing that has helped me is to know their is no shame for a believer in depression–so many of the great men/women of faith suffered deep depression–we are made for something more, and our hearts are at times more aware, and more Homesick for it. Scripture-based music also helps me, and getting in nature. Praying for Him to lift you up today. 

      1. Thanks Lizzy! It is a beautiful song; I would love to hear it sometime. 

    3. Laura, you said you didn’t want advice, so I won’t give any.  But I will tell you my story.  Looking back, I cannot remember a time that depression was absent from my life.  Even as a young child, the thought of death was always welcome to me.  I learned to cope with it with nature, and waiting it out at times, and once I knew Christ with scripture and His presence.  But menopause hit me and knocked me off my feet.  All day every day, all I wanted was to die.  Finally I snapped at myself.  If you were a diabetic, would you refuse insulin?  If you had heart disease, would you take the medicine that allowed you to function?  My answer was a reluctant admittance that my depression was not spiritual or situational or a failure on my part to cope well.  It was biological.  Something familial I’d had since birth.  I could feel good about the fact that I had managed so well for so long.  But now it was time to take available help.  I’ve been on medication for a couple of years now.  It hasn’t changed who I am, but it has taken away those insistent death thoughts.  I consider it a gift from God.  Praying for you.

      1. Mary, thank you for praying for me. i didn’t mean to sound harsh with my statements; I just know myself pretty well! I probably have depression in my family genes too, I’m just someone who doesn’t even take medicine for a headache! You did bring something up though that I didn’t think of before….I have to take tamoxifen because I had breast cancer a few years back. It suppresses estrogen (my cells were estrogen fed), and gives menopausal symptoms too. I wonder if the buildup of that in my body is causing the depression to be worse than it normally is? Hmmmmm….I may need to go talk to my onccologist now! I am afraid of taking medicines though. I’m glad you are not suffering these days too.

      2. Mary, thank you for sharing your testimony here with regards to depression. It is helping my soul deal with my own daughter’s experience with it.

    4. Laura, I guess I must have missed your sharing in the past about your depression. Praying for you. 

    5. Laura, just want to let you know I am praying for you. 

    6. Oh, Laura, my heart cries for you!  You are in a difficult spot.  I don’t want to claim to have answers that can “fix” things for you, but maybe you could try this….just rest in Jesus.  Let Psalm 62 sink into your soul….”My soul finds rest in God alone.  My salvation comes from him…..One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard.  That you, oh God, are strong and that you alone are loving!”  A book that really helped me was “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning.  Praying for you!
       

      1. just seeing this Twila because I have been on vacation. Thank you for your encouraging words! Others have mentioned that book so I may just need to get a copy ?. I am struggling to get back on track and doing better this week. Your story is inspiring to me! Thank you for sharing with us.

        1. Blessings!  🙂
           

  4. A PERSONAL NOTE FOR DEE:
    Dee, I am a silent sister who has faithfully followed and participated in your studies for over four years. I am 64 years old and was raised in a Christian home and attended wonderful Bible-believing churches all my life.  As I read some of your comments in last week’s study and again this morning, I just felt that I had to let you know that your work is touching more lives than you know.  Your studies (in combination with a recent move to a new congration led by a sincere man of God) have led me into a new and incredible understanding of God’s amazing love for me.  I have spiritually grown more the last four or five years than ever before.  The Word has become more of a love letter than a rule book to me.  This is all by the God’s Grace.  I thank Him almost daily for your faithfulness.  In these days I can see the truth in the analogy of God reducing Gideon’s army.  Please be encouraged dear sister as you continue on with Him!
    God bless you, Louise

    1. Louise, your encouragement breathes life!! The Word has become more of a love letter than a rule book to me.”  That happened to me too once I started Dee’s studies around the same time you did.  :))) 

  5. Twila’s memorization of entire books of Scripture, for in those books, she experienced the very Word of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and thus can draw ever closer to Him, penetration of His very being. How beautifully this was written. Thank you so much Dee and Twila. These words are encouragement during trying times.

  6. Hi Dee – I, like Louise, am a mostly silent participant. I read your studies here. I, along with my bible study ladies, did all of the Jesus studies that you did with Kathy Trocolli. We came to see you in Dalton, GA. a few years back. You are correcI that we as western Christians don’t want deep studies. I tried to do Idol Lies with my group, but they wanted to continue drinking milk, so I gave up. Ironically, a few months ago, a lady who had been in that group called to ask if she could borrow my copy of Idol Lies because she realized heart idols were the root cause of her problems. I crave deep studies!! I’ve only heard one other teacher teach the correlation between Song of Solomon and our relationship with Christ. I also truly believe that our marriage relationship is a reflection not only of our relationship with Christ, but also helps us to understand the Oneness of God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. So, take heart. We are out here, but we don’t always have time to write what we think or feel. (Sometimes it’s exhausting to see it typed out!) I’m excited to read the finished book when it comes out, but I feel extremely privileged to have access to these studies as well. Love in Christ, Kristy

    1. Dee, “two women on the cruise threw Idol Lies into the trash and wouldn’t come hear me speak about it!’
       
      Yet they were on the cruise with you?! I am sure there is a deeper story there! Wow!

  7. 1. What stood out at the beginning…. The song How Wonderful.  How could I have missed it until today that it is praising the Bride of Christ?  It completely blows me away that the church would be worthy of praise!
     
    4. I’ve heard it said that Solomon lifted more than her veil to find out all he writes about.  But God knows each of us intimately without lifting anything.  I think He does not bring it to our attention until we are ready to give Him that level of access or intimacy.  He is a gentleman.  So when we hold ourselves tight and closed, we lock Him out of what we think are our secrets.  But they are already known to Him.  And what He most wants to show us is how He loves us and thinks us beautiful.
     
    5. Earthly marriage and spiritual intimacy?  Oh, yes!  There is the same tender, comfortable intimacy, where we can really be ourselves.  I’ve always felt the most beautiful in our marriage in those intense moments of intimacy.  My view of the way sex is meant to be is a picture of communion.  The bride accepts the husband into her, (the bread) and then the fluid (the wine, the blood, the life).  In the same way that there is a mutual ectasy there, I believe that there is in store for us a spiritual ecstasy unlike anything we can even dimly imagine.  Oh, to be one with Him!
     
    7. Intimacy is enhanced both spiritually and in marriage, yes, they are meant to mirror and grow as they mature.  Physically, I lost all ability to enjoy sex for myself at menopause.  But I still desire for him to want me, and for me to give to him.  It isn’t all about me.  I willingly and eagerly give because I know he needs it.  I believe that in some unfathomable way, God needs us to give Him our intimacy and love, even when we “don’t feel like it”.  Romans calls it a sacrifice, yet I gain from it.

  8.  
    1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    Your description of Twila’s behavior on your recent cruise.    “At night she’d go back, skipping around as she exalted in the sea, the stars, and the sense of God’s presence. This woman who once struggled to put one foot in front of another was skipping like a little girl.”      She was feeling like she was alone with God.  There have been a few times in my life when I have felt like that, and it is marvelous.  This type of experience only seems to happen when one has total privacy — and when out in nature in some way.   I think that is why retreat agendas almost always include “morning watches.”   Sensing God’s presence with us can be such a powerful feeling –life changing!    The Psalm 30:11 photo illustrates it so well.  

  9. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    What stands out is all of it!
     
    First, Dee, you are so precious; and God has used you so much in my life over these past 4 or 5 years as I have walked through deep waters with my family. You are a lifeline to me. I may not “get” all of the Song of Songs but I get enough that this book has become so precious to me. I want to dance with the Shullamite with all my might for the Lord, my Beloved! It is the deepest desire of my heart! Right now, however, I am not dancing. My heart is heavy-burdened; deep issues; but my Lord walks through me in this valley as well, when many times the sun is hidden.
     
    Secondly, I too have and do struggle with depression. I have been on medication, but am not on any now, having found most meds dull my joy as well as my sadness. It is hard to know whether medication is right or not; everyone is different, and medications vary so much. Also, my struggle gives me deep compassion for many who also struggle – depression seems to be rampant these days!
     
    I can identify, though not fully, with Twila’s years of depression (“my enemy was depression. And truly, the cords of death were wrapped around me!”) and am so encouraged by how she found her answer in God. Her sharing of Psalm 18 in this context is so beautiful.
     
    Thirdly, Laura-dancer, my heart so goes out to you. You have so much on your plate and with depression as well wrapping itself around you, oh my heart! I will be crying out to the Lord for you that you will find relief. Your perseverance in turning to the Lord in this hard time and watching you grow is a true inspiration to me, as I know it is to others.

  10. Dee – I thought this also might encourage you. We bought this picture (actually bought two) from you in Dalton, Ga. The story you told about this painting Sally did has touched many. This hangs in my step-daughter’s bedroom:

  11. Hmmm…doesn’t seem to have posted the picture I attached. Maybe I did something wrong. 

  12. Dee, please don’t believe that low participation is because we don’t want deep teaching!  I’ve been very caught up in the huge adjustment and busy-ness of adopting a 15 year old internationally, but, OH, I SO much need and crave the deep study you are in with the Song of Solomon!  I love it, and thank you so much for all the time and effort and study you put into it. 

  13. 1. What stands out to you and why?    
    Twila’s story is stunning and so very hopeful.  Her willingness to tell her story is life-giving.   Thank you, Twila.
     And it is timely as two of my children have been struggling with depression, and one of them, significantly so,  in recent weeks. Years ago my husband and I did a bible study on the four basic temperaments:    Choleric, Sanguine, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic.    It helped me understand that a person usually tends to be more strongly one of these temperaments, with all of its strengths and weaknesses.   And certain temperaments can lend themselves more easily to depression.   I have always been more of a melancholic temperament and have had many bouts of depression (usually associated with loss), although I was never diagnosed as clinically depressed.    
    Last week, I listened to an interview with singer/songwriter/author Andrew Peterson where he described a very, very long time of depression that he went through.   His most recent CD was born out of this dark, dark time.     This song describes it best:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ-ur29jGMc
    Another singer/songwriter that I love and respect, Sara Groves, also released a CD last fall that was born out of a low season in her life.   The title song is Floodplain:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivd7hBLmjqM
    And this was such good encouragement, Dee:   When we draw near to the Lord and want Him and not just Him to fix our problems, we experience His presence and He turns our mourning into dancing.   Hanging on the wall beside my bed are these words:    Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  Its about learning to dance in the rain.      And the only way that is possible is to know how He loves me.   I’m still learning.
     
     
     
       
     
     
     

      1. Dee,
        This 2 minute clip of Sara Groves is a beautiful explanation of her heart about the song Floodplain.     
         
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra3lh0DCIDY

  14. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? A kiss from the king. The Lord has been whispering to me, driving a truth deeper… This introduction highlights that. To look on Him, to adore Him for Him is to not concern myself with me. There is no manner or way that I can convince myself that I am lovely, there is no manner or way that I can stir up in me adoration by merely obeying or following His rules. No. But I can gaze on Him and as I see His love I want to bless Him back. My obedience becomes much much less about doing the right thing, or trying to make myself right, no it has to do with love and relationship. It is His love wooing me to love Him… Nothing in that hasn’t been said here before but I am seeing more and more how much I look to ME instead of Him…even with ‘good’ motives…but still ME-centered. “Change me, God…make me more___, God…”  And yet He is patient and pulls me from those deep waters….
     
    I also am feeling bad that of all weeks I took last week away from the blog… I am sorry Dee that I wasn’t there to encourage you. You are a true friend of the bride, pointing us..me!.. to Christ, asking good questions to turn our eyes to Jesus. I cannot wait for your book to be published for myself and for others that I pray will see Him.

    1. Dee, I went back and looked at last week and I remember why I stepped away last week…I read the study and the article last week but had a hard time processing the picture of the girls…so never quite got to commenting….. just providing feedback….

      1. Jill – the picture of the girls stopped me in my tracks as well.  “A picture is worth a thousand words” comes to mind, for I felt that this picture expressed VERY hard truths that we do need to remember……as the love of Christ compels us to reach out, to PRAY.  Something about their shame, their faces hidden made me think about their hair – I know, weird.  But I could not help but think of how He knows every hair on their heads……and every drop of their deepest heart’s distress.   I so love how Dee uses everything at her disposal to not let us “off the hook” even as we gaze upon Christ…..for that amazing love we find in Him draws our hearts out into the vineyard!!  

        1. Jackie, wanted to clarify a touch… The truth, difficult and horrifying as it is, wasn’t the part I couldn’t quite get past but how I feel stuck. I pray, frequently, for these girls, children, but I want to GO, DO but the Lord has not yet provided that open door and meanwhile they suffer…not that I can be their savior, only Christ, but my hands feel idle in this chapter of life…yet I know He has me where I am for a purpose on purpose. Clear as mud? I also appreciate that there is no sugar coating here, we do need to be brutally honest…

        2. Jill – good clarification and that does help me see what you are saying better.  And, ugh, I see where my comment about dear Miriam only amplified your struggle!!  I wish I had words to explain how much I relate to your clarifying statement…..the Lord has, for His glory and purposes, laid some very personal and severe constraints upon my life over the past several years.  Much to my astonishment and bewilderment.  I would love, love, love to be boots on the ground in Beirut, Lebanon….at a Christian orphanage there and in particular at “The Oasis”, a specific ministry to Syrian and Iraqi refugee children…..but instead of “going”….I am finding that Jesus is “bringing” to my very humble door those who need Him so.  My own daughter who is very ill.  A client who is even more desperately ill with the same disease.  My farm landlady, a dear, dear Jewish woman who now desires to speak of Jesus and learn of Him (though still very resistant too!  )  …..some really, really rough around the edges horse people…..and don’t we all have “our people” that He has chosen us to serve?   Being “stuck” can very well be exactly where God has placed us!  But then again…..He may be using this time to grow a very real and vibrant heart within you for a particular new path of ministry……??  Before I made this entry I went to my journal and wrote in what you shared here as a more specific prayer request…..I noted Isaiah 30:19-25 and on ….prayers for your walk in freedom today in the “now and the not yet” of the Gospel!  🙂  

        3. and I like your  “a purpose on purpose”!  

      2. and Jill, it also reminds me of our dear Miriam here with us on the blog…..how Jesus led her to a very hard place to adopt a 15 yr old precious, precious one…..who might very well have otherwise been one of the girls in the photo.  Praise His Mighty Name!!  What a RESCUER He is!!

  15. 1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    Because I am getting on here a bit late, I’m stunned by the AMAZING responses from so many here already – including how many “silent followers” have chosen this moment to step forward and share a bit!!  My heart is dancing!!!  What heavenly encouragement and breathtaking honesty about our brokenness.  He is here in our midst.  How can it be?
     
    Twila’s story stands out.  Therein I see the incredible FAITHFULNESS of God!  Even in the darkness….YEARS of darkness, He was there….He was wooing her…..He never left her in her misery and despair.  And the inverse relationship…..the deeper the darkness, the BRIGHTER He shines!!  Twila’s story makes me think of His Word in Zephaniah 3:17:  “The Lord you God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you by his love, he will exult over you with loud singing.”  A couple of verses later we read:  “I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise.”  This is our God.  

    1. Jackie,
       
      Wow!  I was just pondering Zephaniah 3:17 on Saturday morning, so when I saw your mention of it here, I recognized the kind expression of the Lord to remind me again.    And even last night as I was selecting a card for my daughter’s 30th birthday out of my stash of cards, the one that expressed my sentiments also had this verse on it.    He is so patient to repeat Himself, at times, in order to remind me of His presence.  

  16. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    The confidence the Bride in The Songs displays by the end of the book. No longer ashamed of her “vineyard”, but joining Him to walk together through the vineyard. No longer afraid of His steady gaze. This so describes when the love of God through Christ drops from our heads to our hearts. I also can relate to Twila’s story. While I do not think I suffer from clinical depression because I don’t have trouble functioning, I do have some signs/symptoms of depression such as persistent sadness, not enjoying things I used to like to do, or just feeling kind of numb. Two weekends ago I attended a conference held by Linda Dillow and Juli Slattery. Their ministry is called Authentic Intimacy, and this conference was based on their new book, Surprised by the Healer. They went through steps in our journey of healing, and the first step, they said, was to “come out of hiding”, as we will never heal in hiding. This caused me a great deal of distress, though, as later, at home, I was processing all of the notes I’d taken. I thought, “Who do I have to be there for me if I come out of hiding?” So many times, even at church, someone will ask me how I am, and I say oh, I’m fine, and then I ask them about themselves. But I may be having inner pain because of loneliness, or sadness, or going through a bad time in my marriage. I believe that one reason we/I suffer is a lack of real, unmasked, deep and meaningful connections with others – one or two really close friends to “do life with”.
     
    I love what Twila’s counselor told her, “Women are responders.”  And this: So Twila had to allow God to show her His love so that her soul would respond to Him. I believe that this is one of the great values of The Song of Songs – God shows us His love for us.” 
    Before studying The Songs with Dee in the past and now, I would have never known to look there in my Bible for encouragement and to grow in my understanding of His love. The Song of Songs seems to connect with me on an emotional level, a heart level, like nothing else. It’s full of His love but in a different “language” – not preachy, or an exercise in theology (though deep theology is there), or on an intellectual level. It speaks right to my heart.
    I think the truth that God created women to be responders needs to be kept in mind. I know how I respond to harsh, unloving, critical treatment. It makes me shrink away, withdraw, and build a stony wall around my heart. God’s message of love in The Song is meant to draw me out, draw me closer to Him, and even to protect me from the assaults of those who would be unkind.
     
     
     
     

  17. Dee, I did want to respond to what you posted last week. I have also been “spotty” the last two or three weeks. At times, I’ve been doing the study on my own but not posting much. Last week, I didn’t get beyond the beginning of the study. I love being here and feel what is offered here is truly amazing and wonderful! I have loved this study of The Songs as I like it when your questions make us think and dig deeply. I don’t care a lot for studies with questions that you just fill in the blank with a word! I’ve been trying to keep up but not always able to…even this morning I am stressing as I need to finish cleaning at home and then get over to my parents’. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.
     
    What I posted above reflects my thoughts and feelings about this study. The “language” of The Songs is different, and will speak to those in tune with it. I don’t want to be judgmental, though, of those who may not really resonate with it. We are all wired differently and God speaks to us in different ways. What may be meaningful to one person may not get through to another. I think I’m more of a “ponderer” and so I love to find the hidden truths in The Songs, to flesh-out where Jesus is hidden and to experience His tender love. On the other hand, I remember many years ago trying a few Precept studies, but all the marking with colored pencils and making lists seemed like a real chore to me! 
     
    But I do want to THANK YOU, Dee, for all of your time, energy, creativity, and sensitivity as you create these blog lessons for us. I’m glad two “silent bloggers” chose to post this week to encourage you, and there are many more women out there who are reading and studying along with us, though silently!

  18. (I meant for this to go under your post to question #1)oh Susan, I’m sitting in carpool line and bad at phone typing but this is SO rich I had to respond! Thank you for how you think deep and then share so real, you are a model for me and oh how you would bless a friend with your heart, I so wish you were here (your state is too cold for me to wish I was there!) praying for you dear friend ??

    1. My state isn’t too cold for you, Lizzy…we had a very mild winter this time…near 70’s a few days in December!! Then, the snow came in April:))

  19. 2. Contrast the Shulammite from when we first met her in Song of Songs 1:6 to how we see her in Song of Songs 6:13-7:1 and 7:13. Find everything you can.
     
    1:6: she lacks self assurance. She has not taken care of herself. She is dark and ashamed. It is all about her! 
     
    In 6:13-7:1  it seems as if everyone wants to look upon her, both the daughters of Jerusalem as well as King Solomon.  She is lovely to look upon, her thighs are like jewels,   Her feet are beautiful. Only the best is for her king. The best fruit and fragrance. She is only concerned for him now. 
     
    Cross referencing the “mandrakes” I found this scripture in Genesis:
     
    “In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night.”
    ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭30:14-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
     
    Mandrakes are defined as “love plants.” 
    In SOS 7:13, she describes the mandrakes and their scent. I’m supposing she is talking about love here.
     
     

    1. Laura-I am blown away by you. I wish I could contrast a comment when you first stated you couldn’t get poetry years ago with this post!! You are dancing with Him and He is showing you. I love to see this!!!

      1. yay!  I just tried to be patient with myself more these days ☺️… Trying to do a little bit more research to help me understand. 

    2. Laura, what you saw in these passages is helping me see more, too – that her eyes are no longer on herself (all about her) but she has shifted her gaze to Him. It makes me think of many people who don’t feel they can come to Jesus because they think they have to somehow clean themselves up first, not realizing that is impossible, but that they need to get their eyes off themselves and onto Him and let Him change them.

      1. Yes! That is so true! People do need to look outward ? and they will change!

  20. 2. Contrast the Shulammite from when we first met her in Song of Songs 1:6 to how we see her in Song of Songs 6:13-7:1 and 7:13. Find everything you can.
     
    Beginning in Song of Songs 1:6, speaking of herself, the Shulammite calls herself “dark” and asks to not be stared at. (“Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun.”) She explains that she was made to work the vineyards and didn’t have the time to care for her own vineyard. This is a reference to her appearance, her face, and having neglected to take care of herself. This gives me the mental image of a woman who is “earthy”, “outdoorsy”, a worker at physical labor. You get the sense that she feels self-conscious, uncomfortable with her appearance, inferior, and not seeing herself as lovely to behold.
    I didn’t see it this way before, and I don’t want to misinterpret the text, but when she says, “I am darkened by the sun”, it made me think of the sun being like being in the presence of God, as He is Light and reveals everything. Next to Him, our “darkness” is exposed.
     
    In Song of Songs 6:13, the friends are entreating her to come back so that they may gaze at her. They want to look at her, but I don’t get the sense that this is out of curiosity or wanting to “look her over” but because she is pleasing to look at; there is something special about her. This hints of a transformation having taken place. Something has happened – she has been made beautiful. Here in 7:1 she is called a “prince’s daughter” and praised for her beautiful feet and graceful legs. Her status has been elevated. I think this could refer to an individual believer and also the corporate Bride. When we face Christ initially and our darkness is exposed, we feel the shame of our sin – but as He exchanges our sin and shame for His robe of righteousness (all that we have becomes His and all that He has becomes ours) we are different.
     
    In 7:13 it says that the “mandrakes send out their fragrance”. Not sure, but do mandrakes have something to do with fertility or fruitfulness? In Genesis, Reuben brought mandrakes to his mother, Leah, and Rachel wanted to have some of them. In exchange, Rachel agreed to let Jacob be with Leah that night.
    Here, the Shulammite seems confident as she says “at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover.” It seems she feels the confidence to say that now she has something to offer to him. It sounds something like a new beginning – they have made their home together, it is filled with good things and the future lies before them.

  21. 2. Contrast the Shulammite from when we first met her in Song of Songs 1:6 to how we see her in Song of Songs 6:13-7:1 and 7:13. Find everything you can.
    -The first thing I noticed was how in 1:6 she was pointing to herself…in SOS 6:13-7:13 she is pointing to Him-it’s all about Him and His fruit spilling out of her and she is rejoicing in that!  I heard Twila respond to someone who said they see Jesus in her..She said, “I’m glad you see Him in me!”  
     
    -There is shame in 1:6, but delight and joy in the other passages
     
    -This isn’t in 1:6, but prior to 6:13, I noticed her friends were in observation mode with her-I’m not sure they desired her presence as much as in 6:13 for there it says they wanted her to return so they could look upon her. They didn’t want her to go for His presence attracted them to her. THIS REMINDS ME OF HOW I FELT AROUND TWILA-and when we had to depart I felt this way!
     
    -in 1:6 she neglected her vineyard..when a vineyard is neglected it doesn’t produce fragrant fruit-or fruit in abundance-and spiritually, our vineyard will get neglected if we try to tend it instead of Him-so that means if we think we can create the fruit of the spirit-love, patience, kindness-it will inevitably rot. In 7:13-HE pruned and tended to her vineyard-and oh when she let His love melt her and she responded loving Him back-oh the fragrant fruit that abounded.
     
    -The contrast in 1:6 is Her sin-her darkness..but in 7:1 She is beautiful-and it isn’t by her hands but His hands making her beautiful.  What struck me is that she wasn’t someone who came to Him with prideful pasted on fruit..someone who was lovely in the world’s eyes..she was ashamed of her darkness, so while I know God can melt even the most prideful hearts and turn that ugly into beautiful..the preciousness of a humble and contrite heart..God will not despise.

    -It also seemed early on she longed for him but there was this retreat to self-this battle with darkness inside-these chains like in Twila’s testimony..later I see this gladness-this delighting with Him in Him…this freedom to fly with Him not bound anymore by the chains of her darkness. Even though I am sure her sin struggles are still there-she hasn’t been drug under the water in chains. She is free.

      1. Ha! 🙂 

    1. Rebecca, I loved meeting you on the cruise!  Jesus radiates from you!!

  22. 2. Compare Song of Songs 7:1 to Isaiah 52:7. What light does this give you?
     
     
    “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O noble daughter! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand.”
    ‭‭The Song of Solomon‬ ‭7:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬
     
    “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.””
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭52:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
     
    Ohhhhh, now I get it!! She is the peacemaker….she brings the good news!
     
    I have  come to realize that even when I can’t find a reason for me being here on earth, that there is a true reason I am here! It is so I can spread the news of Him!!! The GOOD NEWS! We Christians are becoming a rare breed here in America ?…..we need to disperse through the country and make His name known! Arise my love! Arise! Revival as Dee (and others) suggest!! People need to know! The British are coming! The Bristish are coming!  Oh, sorry…..that was a different revolution….! 

    1. Laura you helped me understand this…and made me laugh (the British are coming…?)

      1. Laura-You are rare! You ask great, hard questions and are honest when you don’t get it and sincerely ask for help, and so your tender heart is willing and God is opening your eyes in the Song. :)) 

      2. So, I sometimes start my mornings with this video because it is SO good!
         
        http://youtu.be/hjZ_IlP9c5A
         
        I know I have posted it before, but it struck me how it talks about “preparing the way for the Lord,” and I thought it was apropos for our discussion here. Plus it just pumps me up! I meant to post it this morning but ran out of time. Enjoy!

    2. Oh Laura! I love your post – yes, there IS a reason you are here! (For some reason, “Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!” came to my mind:)) Maybe because of your “The British are coming!”… I do believe that you spread the news of Him in your family, to your children, to your students, through your dancing…through your interest and passion in nature and science, even your passion for politics! God has gifted you in so many ways, Laura!

  23. 2. Contrast the Shulammite from when we first met her in Song of Songs 1:6 to how we see her in Song of Songs 6:13-7:1 and 7:13. Find everything you can.
    In chapter 1 she does not want to be looked at, she is self-conscious of her faults. She has asked him to draw her close but she is very aware of those gazing at her and she does not like it. She does not feel worthy. In chapter 6-7 the bride groom is praising her beauty…there is mention of her dancing but it seems to be an illustration, not what she is actually doing. In 7:13 she does not refute his praises but instead invites him to enjoy the fruit…in the last part she says, “…which I have laid up FOR YOU…” She is no longer focussed on her, what she wants, who she is, but on wanting to give to him, bless him, love him.
     
    6:13 is him saying to the others, “why should you look upon the Shulammite…” Trying to figure out why he would seemingly rebuff the others for wanting to see her beauty? Reading all the different translations it seems this verse is unclear who is speaking, him or her. But the dance between two armies can mean a dance of peace or just ‘a sight to behold.’ Some translations translate is not as “why should you look upon her” but as “what do you see in the dance of the shulammite?”  So the “why” is not a rebuff but a question of intent to motive, ‘why do you look at her?’ In chapter 1 there is a strong implication that she does life alone. Her friends join her here and there but now she is a key piece in the peace of two armies. 
     
    Compare Song of Songs 7:1 to Isaiah 52:7. What light does this give you? Beautiful feet bring good news, peace, who claims our God reigns. The Shullamite has beautiful feet and is dancing between two armies – she brings news of peace.

  24. 4. Read Song of Songs 7:1-5
     
    Oh! how he blesses her with kind words of her beauty! He likes her feet in sandals, her rounded (!) thigns, he says she is made from the hand of a master workman (reminds me of Proverbs 8:
      “then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭8:30-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬)
     
     Her belly and naval are fruitful  and productive. Does he mean fawn as a young unweaned deer, or does he mean fawn as to fawn over someone?  Maybe he’s fawning over her breast? 
     
    Her neck, eyes, and nose are all compared to cities or places within cities.  He compares her head to Carmel, I’m guessing mount carmel? Her hair reminds him  of nobility.  

    1. Laura – LOVE your Proverbs reference!  

  25. I have been curious about Song of Songs 6:13, the reference to “the dance of Mahanaim”, so I did a little internet searching and found something that helped me understand this metaphor of her “dancing between two armies” a little bit better – though still not completely! This is what one source said:
     
    This is literally “the dance of the Mahanaim”, which means “dance of two camps”. Many interpreters speculate on what such a dance would be like. However, it is not the manner of the dance but the meaning of it that explains the reference to it here. It is quite likely any dancing that celebrates reconciliation. This meaning arises from the origin of the name: Jacob’s division of all his people and property into two camps and their likely celebrating when the twin brothers Jacob and Esau reconciled (Genesis 32).
     
    The original language presents this word in three forms: singular, plural, and dual. But it is the dual form that occurs in the Song. In the dual form, it occurs only thirteen times outside the Song and once within it. Every time it occurs outside the Song, it refers to the place where Jacob reconciled with Esau.
    Shulammite means “a person of peace”. The mention of “two armies” refers back to Mahanaim in Genesis 32:2. This was the place where Jacob met God’s host. The word “company” should be translated “dance”. Hence the answer was given in the form of a dance. You will see from Exodus 15:20 and 1 Samuel 18:6 that the dance was an expression of victory and “two” in the Scripture is the number representing witness or testimony. The sentence may therefore read, “What will you see in the Shulammite? As it were a testimony in the dance of victory.”

    1. Susan – your research here is fascinating and helps me greatly in seeing the “dance between two armies”.  I must admit, I was stymied!  And I had looked at the Exodus and 1 Samuel passages….but it was the Genesis 32 reference that “made the lights go on” for me!  The reconciliation between Jacob and Esau there has always moved me deeply and now is even more meaningful!  Many, many thanks for sharing this nugget …..now I can do my own happy dance!!  🙂  

      1. Jackie, I love that story of Jacob and Esau, too. Esau is depicted as kind of the “bad guy” – selling his birthright so easily for some lentil stew, plotting to kill his brother. But, it always strikes me that when they meet after so many years, it appears that Esau had long ago forgiven Jacob for his deceiving their father and therefore cheating Esau out of the blessing. I don’t see in the text that Esau was harboring any bitterness towards Jacob.

  26. Compare Song of Songs 7:1 with Isaiah 52:7. What light does this give you?
     
    Both passages use the phrase “How beautiful are your feet, or the feet…” I think this is not literally talking about a woman’s feet but it is a metaphor describing how His love, peace, the message of the Good News that God has brought about reconciliation is spread, told, to all. The Bride is called the Shulammite – she proclaims peace. Don’t know if I’m on the right trail here, but on one level, her union with Solomon is complete, and together they bring peace to the people. On another level, the Bride of Christ, in union with Him, also proclaims the message that mankind can be at peace with God. Union with Him is the only way to have true peace. And is it significant that during Solomon’s reign, the kingdom was united? (I haven’t listened to Hamilton’s message from last week yet)

  27. 4. Read Song of Songs 7:1-5. What can you see? It seems like the descriptions are those of peace.wealth and riches, abundance of grain and wheat, fawns lying still, towers of security…until v.5 when it says a king is held captive… But this could certainly refer to captivated by beauty, not by guards, that is probably what it means. We see the lilies again, as well, encircling the sustenance…is this the Holy Spirit guarding what is good?
     
    5. First, read Song of Songs 7:6-10, viewing it from the earthly perspective of the marriage bed. What beauty do you see and how does it impact your view of the marriage bed? There is beauty in the whole tree. But the sweetness is in the fruit. Clusters of the vine, apples, and the best wine…the apples were mentioned in one of our first sermons, they are an aphrodesiac (?), they sustain love. These fruits are all things that we want again and again because they are sweet and good, this is the beauty I see, it not something to be had and then thrown away or tossed aside, but the fruit, when the garden is tended, keeps growing and keeps being enjoyed. So, too, the marriage bed. It is not merely “something else to do” or “something we get to do” but sweetness, and if we tend the garden and the fruit grows and we eat that sweetness it sustains, furthers our love for one another. 
     
    6. Challenge question: Now, I want you to compare Song of Songs 7:8 with Psalm 92:12-14. What do you see and what insight on the spiritual level does this give you? They both have comparisons to a palm tree (I almost typed a Psalm tree ?) And to fruit. The fruit is reference to life! As long as the tree is producing fruit it is alive. The key in the Psalm is that they are planted BY THE LORD. By His hand they are planted, by His hand they are sustained to produce fruit. He tends the trees. This also takes me back to Psalm 1 He who meditates on the law of the Lord is like a tree planted by streams of water, it yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.

  28. 2.  Contrast the Shulammite from when we first met her in Song of Songs 1:6 to how we see her in Song of Songs 6:13-7:1 and 7;13.  Find everything you can.  
     
    Compare Song of Songs 7:1 to Isaiah 52:7.  What light does this give you?
     
     
    The first thing I recall is that we seemed to spend quite a bit of time back on chapter 1, verses 5 &6!  There was such a lively discussion that I can’t help but think that many of us were very much relating to this!  In verse 5, the Shulammite has seen herself as “dark, but lovely”.  First of all, this would seem to be an accurate assessment of her condition, a truth telling moment.  Seeing ourselves as “dark” – sinful – need not be shameful….and by that I mean to say that this  can be simply agreeing with God .  I AM dark, sinful.  But in Christ, I am lovely.  That too is truth!  In SOS 1:6 the Shulammite chooses, self consciously, to focus on her darkness.  This kind of self-consciousness seems to me to be a form of pride – the Shulammite has put herself in the center of her universe (ouch – me too) and PRIDE is the result.  In doing some research on this I came across the Greek word hubris:” pride in the sense of putting oneself in the center of the universe.  The strange and terrible thing is that this kind of total self-consciousness invariably ends in self-annihilation.”  (Anne Miller).  In SOS 1:6 the Shulammite is totally self – consumed, prideful.  She is making excuses for her lack of perfection and refusing to hear the words of the one who is the lover of her soul.  She distances herself from her Bridegroom.  Though she has described herself truthfully in v. 5 (dark but lovely), she chooses to focus on a HALF TRUTH…..her darkness….which is a lie.  And in believing the lie she is STUCK….she cannot go into the vineyards, or upon the mountains with her Bridegroom.  She begins to spiral into complacency (comfort?) which leads to a painful separation from her Beloved Bridegroom…..and a perilous and fearful search for him once she realizes this.  (SOS 2:16-3:4 and 5:2-8).  
     
    By the time we get to SOS 6:13 -7;1 and 13….the Shulammite has seen her Beloved for who he is (SOS 5:10-16, for instance).  In the wake of seeing how true his love for her is we see a new security and peace in her life.  No more does she protest when the others say “return….that we should look upon you…” (SOS 6:13).  Her self-consciousness and pride has been blasted away by her Beloved Bridegroom’s love!  It is like seeing Ezekiel 36:26 in front of our eyes!  “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you…”  Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth shared something interesting about the palm tree (SOS 7:7&8), that the Bridegroom now compares the Shulammite to – as the life of the palm tree is in it’s heart, it can bend entirely to the ground in a storm….and then straighten up again stronger than it was before!  And so it would seem to be with the Shulammite.  She is now living from her heart – and in her heart she KNOWS the Bridegroom’s love!  She has an entirely new strength and purpose.  I love how in SOS 7;11-13 we see her eagerly desiring to go out into the fields, the vineyards to see the fruit.  The place she once refused to go – the vineyard – is where she desires to be and to give him her love there!  It is exquisite!  
     
    What SOS 7:1 and Isaiah 52;7 have in common is beautiful feet!  Clearly in Isaiah at least (and quoted by Paul in Romans 10:14), the beautiful feet are those feet who carry the good news of the gospel, salvation and God’s reign.  

    1. Jackie–there is SO much depth in your post. This spoke to me: “Her self-consciousness and pride has been blasted away by her Beloved Bridegroom’s love!…The place she once refused to go – the vineyard – is where she desires to be” To be reminded of how His love for us melts our insecurity and our pride. I have been reading on humility lately and I think it is easy to fall into insecurity that may pretend to be humility but it is not (for they are more 2 sides of one coin!), true humility-the absence of pride, the disposition of emptying our souls of Self, and filling it with Him, and in that is the confidence to go where He calls us…into the Vineyard! 

  29. 2. Contrast the Shulammite from when we first met her in Song of Songs 1:6 to how we see her in Song of Songs 6:13-7:1 and 7:13. Find everything you can.
     
    1:6  – In this verse she is feeling self-conscious and even a touch inferior because her skin is dark from working in the vineyards.   She had to neglect her self, and now felt that others were staring at her because she looked so different from the “city gals” who had pale skin.  
     
    6:13-7:1   –    I’m not sure about this, but it would seem that when it becomes obvious that she is loved by her beloved, despite her weathered appearance, she is elevated in the esteem of the daughters of Jerusalem and others.   They are saying “Come back, come back, O Shulammite; come back, come back, that we may gaze on you!  
     
    7:13  – My Life Application Study Bible commentary says: “ Mandrakes were a somewhat rare plant often thought to increase fertility.”     This appears to me to indicate that the Shulammite was offering the mandrakes – in other words, initiating love-making.   Now, as their relationship matures, she is no longer concerned about her appearance because her Beloved has shown her that he loves her unconditionally and that he sees her as beautiful.  So now she has the confidence to initiate love-making.   
     
    When we realize that Christ finds us beautiful, we no longer need to cower or wallow around in guilt and self-recrimination.   We then can have the confidence to submit to Him in praise, gratitude, and service taking our relationship to the next level.  
     
    Compare Song of Songs 7:1 to Isaiah 52:7. What light does this give you?
     
    Song of Songs 7:1 “How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter!   Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of an artist’s hands.”  
     
    I have a note in my Bible that says “graceful” can mean “curvaceous.”  
     
    Isaiah 52:7  – How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”   
     
    It is a wonderful privilege to be able to share God’s Good News with others, his news of redemption, salvation, and peace.  

  30. I haven’t been able to be present this week either.  But I did just run through the comments briefly.  So much here!   I am grateful for the hard work everyone is putting in.  And grateful for Dee’s leadership and thoughtful lessons.   I really am looking forward to the book!   At the risk of sounding lazy,  I’m ready to just have it all wrapped up and to have someone just ‘tell me’ how it is!  It will be wonderful to have all of these thoughts and truths synthesized in one place!  
    I haven’t been lazy about study though.  I’m just involved in several things right now.  (Two are ending for the summer soon).   I’m also going to say that we also have been touched by clinical depression this Spring.  Someone dearest to me has walked through the initial stages of being ‘re’ diagnosed after years of not struggling with it.  March was a very hard month.  We changed our vacation plans two days into a road trip, because life got overwhelming.  Adjusting to medications was not at all easy.  And then, by the end of the month, when things were beginning to feel more stable and we were going to take a quick ‘make up’ vacation,  I got hit by a virus that kept me housebound for about 10 days. So, it’s been a re-building time here lately.   And now that the virus has finally cleared,  the chronic health symptoms I’ve been trying to understand for 8 months, flared up more again.  So, I’m just weary and ready to put a lot of this behind me.   But it is a slow process.   On the flip side though,  much in life is so, so good!    Many changes within my kids’ lives.  Much for which to be very grateful!  
     I’ve one giant hurdle to get over on May 2nd and I hope to come back here soon after that.  
    Happy Spring to all of you!  

    1. Hi Wanda, I’m so glad you checked in to tell us what’s happening in your life. I’m going to mark May 2nd on my calendar to “pray for Wanda to get over one giant hurdle”! May He give you His power to do just that! I’m so sorry that depression has hit so close to home…I will pray for this one who is very dear to you.

      1. Thank you very much,  Susan.  

  31. 4. Read Song of Songs 7:1-5, what do you see?
    I see strength in the Lord for all to see-a humble confidence..hence the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus? I See them set apart from those who aren’t covered in His righteousness. A holy, beautiful princess wearing His crown..who is humbly confident in Him.
     
    5. One of the most astonishing aspects of the Song is that indeed, there are sexual aspects — not in a pornographic way, but with subtle beauty. First, read Song of Songs 7:6-10, viewing it from the earthly perspective of the marriage bed. What beauty do you see and how does it impact your view of the marriage bed? 
    The beauty is of how they are delighting in one another-He initiates and she responds. It isn’t just about sex or fulfilling one person’s libido as a stress reliever. It is an expression of love for one another, a covenant being renewed. 
     
    6. Challenge Question: Now, I want you to compare Song of Songs 7:8 with Psalm 92:12-14. What do you see and what insight on the spiritual level does this give you?
    I see this as collective-The Palm Tree usually has multiple pieces of fruit on it, and in SOS he says he wants to take hold of the fruit-it is extremely attractive and desirable!  Then it says may your breasts be like clusters of grapes..that is an odd description for breasts so this must mean collective. This has to mean more than taking hold of a woman’s breasts. So when I go to Psalm 92..I see the same thing but explained so I can understand SOS better. I see it as collective rather than singular..The fruit on the Palm Tree is the Church bearing His fruit? Palm Trees are tall standing above everything..I think their Grace for one another-their bearing with and loving one another-obeying Him out of love for him makes them flourish together as a strong army with banners exuding His Love for all to see. Together He is making them Holy and Grace filled. They are an appealing, attractive fragrance of Him to the world. 

  32. I see this beauty in the church..I really do and I remember it back in the 80’s as a new believer when I attended a house church of a strong community of believers who exuded this Grace toward one another.-His Love, His fragrace exuded among them.. Then I saw the same thing when I was with Dee, Debbie, Vicki and Twila on the cruise. The beautiful dynamic of His Grace between them..The love and close knit hearts for Him, for those they meet together in Pickleball..-oh. So organic. What I am struggling with lately is how I long for this kind of community, and it is hard to find in churches here for they are SO program oriented..and it is difficult to sincerely ‘do life together’ like what God gave me as a young believer and what I saw in Dee’s church-The Orchard. 

    1. Rebecca, that is what I so long for, too; to find even just one or two others to “do life together”. I listened to an interesting program on Tuesday, on Chris Fabry Live, and his topic was “If you’re a believer, why don’t you go to church?” And he opened the phone lines and there were some who said they didn’t feel welcomed, couldn’t seem to fit in, to find a place in the church.

    2. Rebecca – I keep thinking of your comment here …..it does hurt down deep when there seems to be such a dichotomy between what we see in the Scriptures and long for….and what our experience (in the church) may actually be!  I do tend to think that your two examples (your early days as a believer and Dee’s fellow believers in the Orchard) are somewhat apples and oranges?  I’ve come to think that when we are babes in Christ, he really does protect us from “seeing” much that would be hard for us to process….just as is the case with children naturally.  I’m not diminishing your experience as a new believer at all – for I too had that same experience, though it was a brief, sweet season!  (We moved).  He provided for me just the right “incubator” for my brand new baby walk with Him!  But as it is frozen in time….I have no way to know how it would have weathered the inevitable growing pains to come!  🙂  Nonetheless, like you, I can look back with great fondness on that time…it sits sweetly on my soul.  The Orchard, on the other hand, sounds truly dynamic and I find it so interesting that several of the new believers you mention I THINK are “older”?  That in itself is such evidence of the Spirit’s hand in it all!  For I have found that folks get VERY set in a lifetime of their “ways” and it is hard to bow the knee after a lifetime of idol worship.  🙁   Our God, who specializes in impossible things, is clearly working powerfully in this tiny WI community!  Aslan is on the move…..Amen!  

  33. I just had a thought about the tower of Lebanon. Do you think it is a stretch to apply Hebrews 5:14? But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. From what I read the Tower of Lebanon could be a Watch Tower. 

  34. 4. Read Song of Songs 7:1-5. (As you read this next section, what can you see?)
     
    I just listened to Hamilton’s sermon from last week. This is still very hard! I wish I knew more about the land of ancient Israel and what it actually looked like. Most of the movies about Jesus’ life show a land that looks dry, dusty, and brown. I see a description of the Bride, the Shulammite, as she is now called, that compares parts of her body to things found in nature or cities. So I am looking for, as Hamilton and Davis see, descriptions of the land of Israel and the Garden of Eden, times of blessing and fruitfulness.
     
    How beautiful are your feet, O prince’s daughter…the curves of your hips are like jewels, the work of the hands of an artist – this just makes me think of how God chose for Himself a people, and they became His treasure, a jewel among all other nations. God “birthed” the nation of Israel – His daughter (?)
     
    Your navel is like a round goblet which never lacks mixed wine; your belly is like a heap of wheat – this sound like times when the harvest of grapes and wheat was plentiful and abundant; the king’s cup was always filled with the choicest wine.
     
    Your two breasts are like two fawns – not sure about this one? Animals were in the Garden…fawns, gazelles…
     
    Your neck is like a tower of ivory, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim – Heshbon was the city of Sihon, the king of the Amorites. Sihon wouldn’t let the Israelites pass through his land, and God allowed the Israelites to defeat him and take possession of his land and it became theirs and they lived there for a time. (Numbers 21)
     
    Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which faces towards Damascus – was the tower of Lebanon perhaps made of ivory? It would have been a very beautiful structure.
     
    Your head crowns you like Carmel, and the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads – Isaiah 35:2 says “the majesty of Carmel”. Is that Mt. Carmel? A majestic mountain? Obviously he’s not actually talking about her hair, as he says it is purple! Maybe the sides of the mountain looked purplish close to sunset?
    I’m really guessing here – would love to one day see the land of Israel with my own eyes! But all these descriptions of natural and man-made beauty and blessings of abundant grain and wine seem to be times of peace and prosperity.

  35. Did an internet search on the tower of Lebanon facing Damascus. One source said that there has never been an archaeological discovery of a tower overlaid with ivory and so it probably didn’t exist. However, one source (from a Puritan sermon) talked about how Solomon did build himself a house in Lebanon, and how Damascus was a city in Syria, and they were the enemies of Israel. David had warred with them during his reign. This source then made a parallel between a tower facing the enemy to a believer keeping watch against her spiritual enemies. The pool of Heshbon was said to be exceptionally clear water so to see one’s reflection, and to say that the eyes of a believer are like pools, or clear, means able to rightly discern, to have knowledge of oneself and spiritual knowledge.

    1. the purple reminds me of “…purple mountains majesty, above the fruited throne…” Probably sunset.

  36. “When we draw near to the Lord and want Him and not just Him to fix our problems, we experience His presence and He turns our mourning into dancing. He did it for Twila, He did it for the Shulammite, and He can do it for you.”
    This is something that I so long for and yet I don’t feel it. I have been avoiding getting too involved in these last few weeks because I feel such a lack of connection with the topic.
    I am going to continue to do the study and read the comments, but I will only answer if I have something to add to what has already been said.
     
     

    1. Dawn – your words so often cut to the chase – and I really like that!  “ I am going to continue to do the study and read the comments….”  I see perseverance in you with this comment!  It speaks volumes that you will “continue” even though you “don’t feel it”.  Feelings come and go and our walk with Jesus is NOT primarily about how emotional we feel as we sit at His feet and learn from Him (through the Scriptures).   And yet, SOS DOES get pretty passionate….and I do think He is calling us passionately and desiring to awaken our own passions for Him, our Bridegroom!  That said, faithfulness and steadfastness when feelings are not quickly following is a beautiful picture of love and devotion to Jesus also…..I fear I am muddying the waters here, but I also have a feeling that I’m preaching to the choir!  You already know these things!  And to hope for “more” – IN HIM! – is a good thing.  I also note that Twila’s depression lasted about a decade – that’s a LONG time to walk in faithfulness without “feeling” it!  
       
      Your voice here is so important, Dawn.   I just KNOW that you are speaking for many others who are experiencing much of what you express here.  I appreciate you so much!  🙂  

      1. You my friend are a balm to my soul! You always have the right words!

  37. And Dee, whether you minister to 1 or minister to 1,000,000 you are being faithful to do the work that He has set before you. Great is your reward!!

  38. 5. One of the most astonishing aspects of the Song is that indeed, there are sexual aspects — not in a pornographic way, but with subtle beauty. First, read Song of Songs 7:6-10, viewing it from the earthly perspective of the marriage bed. What beauty do you see and how does it impact your view of the marriage bed? 
    I really see the wonderfulness (is this a word?) of sex here as the metaphors are innately good and beautiful too- the palm tree, clusters of fruit, clusters of grapes, apples, wine. All my favorite things except I never had wine by itself but I do know that food cooked with it is better than without it! To view the marriage bed as a place of enjoyment, cherishing of one another.
    6. Challenge Question: Now, I want you to compare Song of Songs 7:8 with Psalm 92:12-14. What do you see and what insight on the spiritual level does this give you?
     
    That we can still be fruitful and beautiful even in old age. That our beauty will not be based on the outward but the inward beauty reflecting Christ. There are many coconut (palm family) trees in the Philippines. In fact, my Mom has 30 of them surrounding her house. And I know that as the years go by, they grow taller and more stately and fruitful and sturdier.

    1. Bing – isn’t it wonderful when a question zings right into something VERY familiar to us – like the palm trees in your case??  You don’t have to work hard to imagine such a thing….it’s “obvious” to you!  I wonder….does it make it easier to relate the palm trees old age fruitfulness to your own old age possibilities in Christ??  🙂  That would be a huge kiss from the King!  

  39. Hello!  I am visiting today BECAUSE i need depth and know it is here.  thank you.  I did Idol Lies study a couple years ago with a small group of women, but love the title “Stonecutter Study” so much better, because that’s what i need . . . what most of us need . . . those parts to be excised and removed.  I began a new job about a year ago and it has overtaken my life.  Up in the middle of the night praying and knowing i need to settle in to His word and to a routine in Him and the discipline of study and listening.  And so i come.  Thank you.  will pray for refreshment for you.  

  40. 5. What beauty do you see and how does it impact your view of the marriage bed? 
     
     
    So, this is awkward…  I guess he is saying that  he wants to kiss her all over;  soak her in, imbib in her. I’ve been listening to a little bit of Nancy  Demoss Woglemuths podcasts on SOS, and she talks about the palm tree and it’s many characteristics.  Apparently it has deep roots that seek water and every part of the tree is useful. Here is an article on palms….
     
    http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=120686
     
    He is totally enthralled with every part of her. I remember someone saying here once that she thought her husband saw her as she was when they got married even though she was very old now. He missed seeing all her “bad” parts as she got older. It’s as if she never aged to him. I thought that was a great analogy! It’s hard for me to believe that, but my husband doesn’t seem to mind my newly acquired fat rolls these days, so maybe it’s true!

  41. 5. One of the most astonishing aspects of the Song is that indeed, there are sexual aspects – not in a pornographic way, but with subtle beauty. First, read Song of Songs 7:6-10, viewing it from the earthly perspective of the marriage bed. What beauty do you see and how does it impact your view of the marriage bed?
     
    First, reviewing verses 1-5, I noticed this time how she is seen and admired from “the ground up”…starting with her feet and working his way up to the top of her head. I find that interesting but don’t know the significance of that.
     
    He praises her beauty, says she is delightful, “How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms!” He compares her stature to that of a palm tree, her breasts are like the clusters, or the fruit, of the tree. So she is like a fruitful tree; life-giving. Viewed from the earthly perspective, one could say that sexual intimacy is meant to be life-giving – I would say not only for having children but the enjoyment of it enriches the lives of the husband and wife.
     
    He says in v.8 that he will climb the palm tree, and “I will take hold of its fruit stalks.” This speaks to me of a sense of oneness, and “possession”. It is for him and him alone (the husband) to grasp this “tree” (her body) and enjoy its fruits.  He continues, “Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!” This seems to say that the husband and wife may enjoy each others bodies using all of their senses – taste, touch, smell. It’s meant to be a beautiful, sensory experience. This tells me that the marriage bed is a safe place to do that and God meant for us to be unashamed and comfortable with each other! (Perhaps this is what intimacy was like for Adam and Eve in the Garden? When they were naked and unashamed?)
     
    Verse 9 also says (and I think this is the Bride speaking), “It goes down smoothly for my beloved, flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep” – referring to the metaphor of her mouth being like the best wine, I think. This immediately made me think of the opposite warnings found in Proverbs 5, that the lips of the adulteress drip honey (they seem so sweet), but in the end she is bitter like gall. The marriage bed, when kept pure, will never lead to this kind of bitterness. I see that after their time together, he falls asleep gently with a sweetness in his mouth, so to speak. There is no guilty conscience, no terrible consequences to anticipate.
     
    Lastly, she says, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” This tells me that there is a sense of exclusivity and belonging to each other to be found in the marriage bed. To desire your wife or your husband is a good thing.

    1. Susan!  You’ve done it again!  I was just sitting down to answer question 5….and my notes are SO similar to yours that I’m going to pass.  🙂  One thing I hadn’t considered at all was the “from the ground up” perspective – but I LOVE thinking about how the beautiful feet seem to speak of the foundational nature of the Gospel in our lives…..and it is only when Christ is the foundation of our lives that the fragrance and fruitfulness begin to bloom and blossom!  (That which is spoken of here as “moving upward”!) .  
       
      It is somewhat stunning to contemplate Jesus being ravished by the fruitfulness that His Spirit nourishes in me.  What a picture of His DELIGHT in me!  

      1. Oh Jackie, I would’ve loved to read your thoughts on this one!

    2. Thanks Susan! This really makes sense to me ?.

  42. 7.  Another challenge question.  In the beginning of this study, Ellen Davis said that holding both pictures (intimacy in marriage and intimacy with Christ) side by side enhances both.  Has that been true of you?  If so share.  (Warning – I’m looking for some pithy quotes!)
     
    Spoiler alert – no pithy quotes whatsoever here…..for you have rightly named this a “challenge question”, Dee!  In my own experience, holding both pictures side by side has not magically “enhanced” both relationships.  Unquestionably, there have been MANY miraculous moments in my earthly marraige….impossible things becoming possible.  TOTALLY from God’s hand of mercy.  No other explanation.  It reminds me of my Scripture reading this morning….in 1 Sam. 7:12, Samuel set up a stone as a memorial and named it “Ebeneezer”…..”Til now the Lord has helped us”.  Wow.  But oh my…..what a journey it has been.  The most amazing changes in our marriage have come from my husband, not me.  Yes, my unbelieving husband.  God’s amazing grace has moved powerfully to create true change ….and now I need to become MORE of a “responder” (thinking of Twila’s words here!) to what God has done!  I had been picturing God’s grace in my marriage as coming through my husband’s conversion to Christ…..after all, how can TRUE change happen without the Spirit?  But I presumed to know more than God about how His Grace flows into our lives!  I am trembling as I write these words – so very hard for me to articulate and confess to.  And seeing them in black and white makes me feel sick.  ALL that Jesus has asked of me is to lay down my life and follow Him.  Instead of consistently following Him into the hard corners and crevisses (of my marriage, for instance), I have clung to the idea that “regaining trust takes time”….and I have decided that I must be the one who determines how much time it will take!  Today, by His grace, the story will be different…..the story will begin to reflect more of the beauty of what we have seen in SOS.  So perhaps I will be able to more fully answer this challenge question on down the line!!  To be continued……….

    1. Jackie, my heart goes out to you. As do my sincere prayers, for your heart to trust, not in your husband, but in Christ for what He has, what He has given, what He will allow…I know there is so much more to the story, both in what has passed and what is to come. Blessings, dear sister.

    2. Jackie, I find much hope in your post here as I have had similar experiences/thoughts in regards to my unbelieving husband. God can and does still work through our husbands. I am excited for you, for what “to be continued” will look like in your marriage!

    3. Jackie I have been reading the chronological bible and I read that chapter just before bed last night!!
       

  43. 7. Another challenge question: In the beginning of this study, Ellen Davis said that holding both pictures (intimacy in marriage and intimacy with Christ) side by side enhances both. Has that been true of you? If so, share. I have had a huge shift in my thinking of marriage and the marriage bed because of holding those pictures side by side. I am muddling my thoughts over and over (delete, retype…). 
     
    I don’t know if this is exactly what you mean but intimacy with Christ effects intimacy in marriage. If I merely try to make my self more intimate and vulnerable with my earthly husband I will not have much success because it is still a “should” or “got to.” However, if I see marriage as a shadow (a parallel) of the heavenly marriage then I see that intimacy is not a choice to merely bare myself, both literally and figuratively, but a response. I do not gaze on ME to draw closer to Him, I cannot work at becoming lovely in order to draw close to Him, I look to Him to see who He is and in response I find myself there. Same with marriage. I cannot work harder to become more lovely for my husband, both physically and spiritually, in order to have him love me more and be closer to him, in fact this would create a barrier not break down barriers. I come as a I am and focus on who my husband is and how I want to bless him. It is a response. So, too with Christ, I want to bless Him! Not because I am worthy to or think I should or have to or because I feel lovely but because He IS lovely, and has drawn me to have my heart melted. 
     
    Another thing is trust. I can try to trust my husband…even make a choice to walk out in trust, but my heart still fears. So we hold the two pictures side by side… We can read the contrast between earthly husband and Christ and see that He is the only one we can trust. But we also see a parallel…. I cannot wait till I feel like trusting Christ… This is not something we can just read about and learn about and then have it happen one day, we must walk it. We much actually trust Him not just say we do. Same with our husbands, we cannot merely say we trust them we must walk in that….and in that we are not actually trusting them but trusting Christ for what He has given and will give.
     
    (disclaimer: the above does not apply to abusive relationships!)
     
    When we we hold the two pictures together, the picture of Christ swells because we can apply our earthly feelings to His promises and the picture of earthly marriage swells because we can apply the eternal picture and purpose of giving God glory to it. Both the pictures become three-dimensional. after all those words, maybe that is all that really needs to be said…. =)
     

    1. Jill, your words here are truly beautiful. I especially love this: “I come as I am and focus on who my husband is and how I want to bless him.” As much as I can answer the study questions and ponder the ideal intimacy shown in the Songs, there has been so much hurt and dysfunction in my own earthly marriage that this whole topic of sexual intimacy, deep down, makes me uncomfortable and ashamed because it is not the reality for me.

  44. Jill, Susan, Jackie and Laura your words are so deep. You are not only speaking from your hearts, but I believe the Spirit is working through you ladies to reach those of us who aren’t as “in tune” as you are, always an encouragement.
    It only makes sense that the intimacy in marriage is the earthly reflection of our intimacy with Christ. Everything good that we experience here on earth is just a small glimpse of what we were made for and what we will experience for all eternity. Comparing them side by side definitely enhances both.
    It makes me think just how devastating it had to have been for Adam and Eve after the fall. While we have only a small taste of what is in store for us and are eagerly anticipating it, they had it, they were living it and then they lost it because of their choices.

    1. Dawn, what you wrote here makes me think that you are more “in tune” than you might realize! And to tie-in the experience of Adam and Eve, what they had (perfect intimacy with each other and God) and then to lose it…

  45. As someone who has dealt and is healing from depression, this testimony touched me.  Thanks for your sharing!