Friday, January 18, 2013

The Importance of Communication

Song of Solomon

Chapter 2

In this blog I want to teach through the first portion of chapter two. These verses may seem a little hard to follow at times. It may be hard to follow the terms in which they express their love. I will try to help with these things, but more than all these things I want you to notice the communication between these two. They are not just taking for granted that the other knows how they feel. They are embracing their feelings, and sharing their feelings. Too many times we assume in our relationships. We assume the other knows what we feel. We assume the other know what we are thinking. We assume the other knows what we need for the relationship. It would do all of us good to learn the art of communication again.

Their Talk

Isn’t it funny how that when people begin to fall in love flowers are usually involved. There are many different ways to express ones feelings. Flowers are a choice for many. A flower can mean; I love you, I’m thinking about you, or even I’m sorry.

The same is true for these two. In these verses they talk about both roses and lilies. Verse one begins “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” I am told that Sharon was one of the most beautiful valleys because of its amazing flowers.

There is some debate as to who is actually talking in verse one. While many use this verse to picture Jesus Christ, most agree that the bride is the one talking in verse one. I will not put a great deal of emphasis on who is speaking and neither should you.

Some say this is the voice of Solomon. This would then be a picture of Jesus Christ. Notice that these flowers in verse one is found in the valley. This reminds us of the words of Christ who said:

“For I am meek and lowly in heart.”  Matthew 11:29

Our Lord is the man from heaven, yet He willingly left the glory of heaven and came to this earth. He dwelt here in the valley among mankind, and even died a lowly death as a man.

While upon this earth our Lord made reference to himself on different occasions. He tells us that He is the bread of life. To be the bread of life means that He is something necessary. He is needful to sustain us and keep us going. He said that He was the true vine. In the vine He is something which speaks of glory. He gives us the glory of the Lord. As the rose of Sharon He is not something necessary, but something to be admired. He is something of beauty.

Others believe that the speaker of verse one is the bride. You will recall in chapter one this woman had a very low estimation of herself. She proclaimed “I am black”. This was her opinion of herself when she first got to the palace. She notices that she stood out and was different than the other women.

If she is the one speaking then something has changed between chapter one and chapter two. What is it? The thing that has changed is that she has gone into the chamber of Solomon. She is now beginning to see herself through the eyes of Solomon instead of through her own eyes.

In chapter one she is an outcast, she is different, and she is black. However in chapter two she is beautiful, she is valuable, she is a flower. So many times we look at our lives and we proclaim, “I am black.” Each of us fails God from time to time. We should never lose sight of the fact that while we may fail, in the eyes of God we are beautiful. In God’s eyes you are as lovely as a flower.

In verse two she is the lily among the thorns. Solomon is telling her that when he looks at all the other women of the palace all he sees is a bunch of thorns compared to her.

In the desert it would not be uncommon to find a thorny shrub surrounded by lilies. The fresh green leaves of the lily would be a great contrast to the desert shrub. Solomon is saying that her beauty stands out in contrast to all of the other women.

Have you ever considered that this world is a desert place? God wants His church to stand out and be different than the world. We should be a beautiful lily in a thorny world.

In verse three she responds by telling Solomon that if she is a lily then he is an apple tree. He is productive, flourishing and fruitful. She is telling him that he is sweet to the taste, something to be desired.

“Oh taste and see that the Lord he is good”

Not only is he pleasant in her mouth, but he is like a shade tree. He is refreshing. She can relax and rest around him. This is wonderful picture of Christ. In Christ we find refreshment when we are worn. In Christ we find rest and relaxation from the storms and battle of this life.

His Table

After their dialog in the beginning of the chapter the woman tells us that Solomon has brought her into his banqueting house. Some understand this woman to say that Solomon takes her into a new or different house. This banqueting house was not another house, but a house within his home.

God sometimes does this for us. Each week we gather together in the house of God. All of us are present and accounted for within the house of God. There are occasions however when God, while in His house, will take us to the banqueting house. In these times God allows us to taste His goodness.

I thought about Mephibasheph and how David brought him into his house, and allowed him to eat at his table continually. Just like this woman, Mephibasheph did not belong at the kings table. She was “black”, and Mephibasheph was a “dead dog.”

Can you picture as one of the servants rolls Mephibasheph up to the kings table. I can picture them pushing him up to the table and the table cloth covering his crippled legs. At David’s table no one mentioned his crippled legs. David never brought up his crippled legs. Even Mephibasheph did not mention his legs.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that while we are black with sin, crippled by a fall, and are nothing more than a dead dog, God still allows us to feast at His banqueting house? He is the lover of our soul, and loves us in spite of ourselves.

She also says that he has placed a banner over her. This banner was like a flag. In this day armies would carry a flag, or banner. Today countries march under a flag. The flag show allegiance. It lets others know where our loyalties lie.

She is happy having a banner of his love fly over her. She wants to be associated with his love. She is not ashamed of the relationship she is in with Solomon.

She not only wants to be identified with his love, she doesn’t want to lose his love. She cries out, “stay with me flagons.” I mentioned this verse in my first Song of Solomon blog post. Do you remember what a “flagon” is? It is a cake made from pressed raisins. It is something that she would enjoy and not want to run out of.

She tells Solomon that she is, “sick of love.” Notice that she is not saying that she is sick of being in love. Rather she is telling us that she is lovesick. Do you remember what it feels like to be love sick? I dare say that each of us have went through a period of time when we were so in love that it made others sick just to be around us.

His Touch

The first part of this chapter ends with the happy couple lying in bed cuddling each other. They are lying in bed and he is embracing her. This is what we would call “cuddling.” She is so sick in love that he has to hold her up.

I wonder how often we cuddle ourselves up to God. Do we spend alone time with Him? Do we spend time communicating him? Are we sick in love?

She has no desire to change the situation they are in. She says, “Don’t wake him up.” She is content and happy to lie in his arms for now. I would venture to say that if we ever fell in love with Christ, we would say the same thing. We would always want His arms of protection around us.

You can listen to this lesson taught live here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's My Birthday

It’s My Birthday

Today is a pretty special day for me. If you are reading this on Thursday the 10th then it is my birthday. Thanks to the goodness of God I am 34 years old, and hopefully have many more years to come.

I’m not sure why I do this but on my birthday I tend to reflect back on the past years. This is what I did while driving, and praying on the way to work this morning. If you will hang on for a second I would like to share with you some of the things that crossed my mind.

When I was a kid I had two goals. One was to be a professional baseball player and the other was to be a courtroom lawyer. I wanted to either hit homeruns for the Braves or put bad guys away in the courtroom. Well neither one of these things came to pass, but that does not mean that my life is a failure. It simply means that God had other plans for me.

I didn’t understand it all back then but the decisions that God helped me to make have made me the man I am today. I may not have played big league baseball (trust me I wasn’t good enough) but God has blessed me with three of the greatest blessings I could ask for. God has given me a wonderful wife, two great children and a ministry that I enjoy.

I remember how nervous I was when I quit my high school baseball team. I told my coach that I had to work and pay for my car insurance. The truth was that I was dating a real hottie, who would later become my wife, and I wanted to spend all of my free time with her. I remember how scared I was when my wife told me that she was expecting our first child, but looking back that was one of the best days of my life. I remember moving my church membership to the church where I am currently a member, but I knew God wanted to use me there.

All of those things were scary at the time, but looking back they were some of the best decisions I have ever made. It’s funny how different things look when you are looking back on them instead of worrying about what lays ahead. In each of those situations God knew what He was doing, and He was faithful in each one.

This makes me think of decisions that I currently am making. (I really don’t like change very much.) Looking back on these things does not make the decisions I make today any less scary. It does reassure me that while I may not know what’s going on, God does. With the benefit of time I know that someday I will look back on myself as a 34 year old man and see things that I am unable to see today.

How about you? Some of you may think, “You are just 34 and are still a baby.” Some of you may think, “Dude, you are 34. You are so old.” Well, whether you are 20 or 80 you still make decisions that will impact the rest of your life. Maybe you are making one of those decisions today. If so let me give you some advice. Pray. Trust God. Know that one day this thing will be a milestone that helped mold you into the person God wants you to be.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Intimacy, Inability and Inadequacy

The Song of Solomon
Chapter 1

The way the Song of Solomon begins it can be a little hard to understand. The reason for this confusion is that chapter one does not start with the beginning of the story. We notice two things that are confusing. One, in this chapter we see a great celebration, but we are not told why the people are celebrating. Secondly, we see a woman in the palace that apparently does not belong. The reason I know she doesn’t belong is because everyone is staring at her. How did she get there? To understand these two things we need to turn to chapter eight.

“Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.”  Chapter 8:11

In this verse we are told that Solomon owned a vineyard and has leased it out to tenant farmers. It seems that the woman in the palace in chapter one, is on the farm in chapter 8. Obviously her family was tenant farmers.

We will soon see that this woman was being abused by her family.  Her siblings are making her do all of the work in the vineyard. She is spending so much time outside working that it has affected her appearance.

Someone may ask, “How did Solomon meet this woman?” It seems to me that at some point Solomon decided to go down and check on his vineyard. It also seems that when he did this he disguised himself as a shepherd.

“If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.”   Song of Solomon 1:8

You may wonder, “What did Solomon know about being a shepherd?” Well, have you forgotten who his father was? I can picture Solomon going through some old trunks up in his attic and finding his father’s old shepherd clothing.

Once disguised he goes to check on his vineyard. When he gets down to the vineyard he discovered this young woman is the only one working. More than likely he goes over and starts a conversation with her. Over the next several days they start to become close.

Finally, the day comes that Solomon must leave, and he tells her to come with him. I can almost hear her say “How can I come with you, you are just a shepherd? What would Solomon think if I went with you?” At this point Solomon removed his shepherd clothing and reveals the fact that he is Solomon.

(What a wonderful picture of Christ and his bride. When Christ came to this earth he did not come as a king, but as a shepherd. Each of us fell in love with the shepherd before we fell for the king.)

Now we understand why this woman is in the palace. Solomon has brought her home, made her his bride and is throwing this grand celebration.

Their Intimacy

Beginning in verse two we see the close relationship these two share. She is the first to speak and immediately makes her intentions known. In verse two she asks him to kiss her. This request shows us the intimacy between these two. A kiss is a sign of a close personal relationship.

Notice also that the word kiss in verse two is in the plural form. She wanted more than just one. This woman is not afraid to let it be known the way she feels about Solomon.

The child of God should not be satisfied with God just kissing them with salvation. We should want so much more than that. I don’t know where we get the idea that God only wants to bless us with salvation. God doesn’t just save us and leave us to ourselves. God wants to be part of our lives every day and at every moment.

Notice the way she describes these kisses. She tells us that this kiss was sensitive. She wants him to kiss her with his mouth. This kiss was superior. The woman says that her lovers kisses are better than wine. They were better because of their:
  1. Price – His love was free and wine was costly.
  2. Taste – The more a person drinks wine the more they desire it. The problem is the more wine you consume the worse you become. Likewise, the more we taste the goodness of the Lord the more we will desire it. God’s love will never harm you though.
  3. Results – You hear all the time about a parent abusing their children because of wine. People lose their lives because of drunk driving. God’s love will only do you good. It will cause you to even do well to others.

Not only was his kiss sensitive and superior, but in verse three we learn that it was sweet. His kiss was like the savor of good ointments poured forth. When we think about the life of Christ ointment is a good description.

I want to point something out before we move on. Notice that this woman has not been in the palace long and she already wants a kiss. A lot of people feel like you have to be saved for many years before you can experience the goodness of God. This simply is not true. The moment you become God’s child you are able to experience this type of relationship.

Notice also that she does not care who is around. She wants the attention of Solomon and does not care who knows it. I wish we would learn to say within ourselves, “I don’t care who is around, I want the Lord to kiss me!”

Her Inability

In verse four the bride gives her second request. She wants Solomon to draw her. She is in love and desires close fellowship with Solomon. She is also aware of her inability to obtain this fellowship. Even so, you and I are not able to reach a level of close fellowship with Christ on our own. If we ever fellowship with Him it will be because He draws us to Himself.

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  John 6:44

Maybe she is sensing a distance beginning to form between her and her love. She does not want a distance to form between them so she asks him to draw her. I want to point out that she does not ask him to draw her because she is lazy or indifferent. She is helpless.

Notice three things she says that she will do if drawn:
  1. Run – We see many today who are running before they are drawn. You will never be able to run for Christ until you have been drawn by Him. Notice also where she is going to run. She is going to run after him. That should be our desire.
  2. Rejoice – We cannot even rejoice if we have not been drawn. We can rejoice in our flesh, rejoice in ourselves, but to rejoice in Christ we must be drawn.
  3. Remember – To remember can be a blessing and a curse. If we remember the days we spent in sin without being drawn it can cause us harm. Only once we have been drawn close to Him can we properly look back over our lives.

At this point in the story Solomon has brought her into his chamber. This is a place of his secret love. This is like the cleft of the rock God hid Moses in. It is like the most holy place in the tabernacle. In this secret place she makes a confession.

Her Inadequacy

In verse 5 &6 she gives a confession. “I am black.” She is saying that she does not look like all the other women in the palace. Because of her position as a tenant farmer the sun has darkened her skin. In this day a woman desired to be fair skinned. To have a tan was a bad thing. She is ashamed of her skin.

I would like to point out that she is confessing what everyone already knows. Everyone in the palace already knows that she is dark. She felt the need to confess this anyway. Many of us make the mistake when we sin of saying, “Everyone already knows it anyway. God already know about it.” While this may be true, there are certain things that we need to confess anyway.

Solomon knew that she was “black” yet he still wanted her in his chamber. God knows the failure that I am, that I have been. God know the wrongs that I have done. If you knew me like God knew me you probably would not want to read this blog. God knows, but He still wants me in his palace.

In her eyes she is like the tents of Kedar. The tents of Kedar were made from the skin of black sheep and goats. They were weather beaten, worn and dark. These tents make us think of her pilgrimage. Her journey has resulted in her not being everything she wanted to be.

In the eyes of Solomon we see a different picture. Solomon says that she is like a curtain. This speaks of royalty, luxury and beauty. You may see me as black. I may see me as black, but in the eyes of my heavenly Solomon I am of beauty and value.

Solomon responds to her confession in verse nine by telling her that in his eyes she looks like a horse. Please don’t think this is a crude example. (Please don’t call your wife a horse.)

Remember that this woman has just confessed that she has a very low estimation of herself. These horses were very valuable. Solomon is saying “You may not think you are valuable, but I think you are of great value.”

At this time in history Solomon had just purchased several horses from Egypt. He chose these horses, paid a great price for them. Even so, Christ chose each us. He paid a great price for us.

Notice that he does not compare her to just any horse, but to the horses in Pharaoh’s chariot. He is saying there is something royal about her. He thinks of their relationship as going places.

Solomon not only compares her to a horse in verses 15 & 16 he tells her that while she may be “black” in her own eyes, she is “fair” in his. Many times we are black with sin, but in the eyes of God we are white and clean.

As this book will progress we will see that this woman is far from perfect. She will make mistakes and do things she will later regret. In all of these ups and downs we will see a consistent love on the part of Solomon. Aren’t you glad that God’s opinion of you isn’t your opinion of you? So many times I am disappointed in who I am and what I do, but God sees me through different eyes. He sees me as one who is covered in the blood of Christ and has had the righteousness of Christ applied to my life.

You can watch this lesson taught live at this link

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