Monday, November 30, 2009

A Proverb's Woman Break

Something Jane said made me think of something.

Those who have been with me for a long time know my view of SOS and the Proverbs 31 woman.

Essentially, I feel, that many parts of the church have it all wrong in teaching the Proverb's 31 woman. They use it as a box to confine women when really it is a proclamation of what all women can do when their husband's trust and uphold them. And it is a proclamation to husbands to learn to trust godly women.

Some churches use the Proverbs 31 Woman to heap shame upon women who don't measure up. Many women feel beat down by life and sometimes even by the church. Then to add scathing preaching on how women don't measure up with Pr 31 as the proof text is an improper use of the Word of God.

My belief is that before anyone can really accept the words of Proverbs 31, they need to be healed and delivered. This applies to both men and women.
Men who have issues and wounded areas concerning women really need to get healed. And preachers who have these issues need to refrain from preaching Pr 31 until they get healed. Otherwise they will preach condemnation and shame, taking out their woundedness on women who don't deserve it. May God pour healing on all such men.

The Song of Solomon is the perfect healing book to prepare the heart of a woman to become a Pr 31 woman. Eventually, once going all the way through SOS, I was going to go through Proverbs 31:10-31.

But Jane brings up the point that women who are called to be relief workers need to be release, upheld, and sent out, by the church. And if they are not, these women need to turn to God alone who can release, uphold, and send them out (not her words, but my best paraphrase of what I think she is saying.).

This is in keeping with the words concerning the P 31 Woman. She is defined as one who extends her hand to the poor.

And who are the poorest of the poor?

Oppressed women from ravaged, war torn nations receiving the brunt of the hatred of men.

The church is called to reach those women with healing, deliverance, and whatever protection we can muster up.

If the men will not rise up and do it, this does not mean the women can't. They need to be sent out. And nobody has to wait until I get done with my series on SOS before they act on Proverbs 31.

As a side note. I look upon Proverbs 31 in a similar way as I do SOS. I see that the Pr 31 woman can be an individual woman, all the women of the church, or even the Bride of Christ including the men of the church. Each of us must do with these passages in the Bible as we feel the leading of the spirit.
Paul calls us the Body of Christ, one may be a hand, another an eye, etc. In the church, some are called as relief workers. Not all of us, but definitely some of us. And it is not just men who are called to it. More women than the wives of men called to relief word are call to it. Single women can be called to it. Married women who have husbands that don't feel called to it, and/or aren't even Christian can be called to it.
It is a crime that parts of the Church have worked long and hard to dissuade women from pursuing relief work and other things God has called them to.
For those women who have been prevented from pursuing the call of God in their lives, may they first receive healing and forgiveness. May they forgive themselves. And may they work to get into a position to receive God's call again and act upon it, know that God's blessing rests upon it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let Me See Your Glory

SOS 2:14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret place of the steep pathway, Let me see your form, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely.

Yes, there is more. It gets deeper when you compare similar scripture elsewhere.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me They glory!"
vs 19 And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."
Vs 20 But He said, "You cannot see my face, for no man can see Me and live!"
vs 21 Then the Lord said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;
vs 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.
vs 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see my back, but My face shall not be seen."
Exodus 34:1 Now the Lord said to Moses, "Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the fromer tablets which you shattered.
vs 2 So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain.
vs 3 And no man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.
vs 4 So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.
vs 5 And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he call upon the name of the Lord.
vs 6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loveingkindess and truth (faithfulness);
vs 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

In Exodus chapters 33 and 34 we have Moses calling out to God, asking to see His glory.
It must not have been wrong because God answers.
God reveals Himself and His nature proclaiming who He was, compassionate and gracious, and so much more.
The similarities between the verses above in blue and the one above that in fuchia are noticable. But the one big difference is between who's point of view (pov) it is seen. In SOS 2:14 it is from the Lover's pov. In Exodus it is from Moses's pov. Moses is part of the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel is compared to a bride or a betrothed in other places. Moses, as a representative of Israel would make Exodus 33 and 34 from the 'beloved's' pov. If you follow me.
The similarities, of course, the beloved in SOS and Moses in Exodus is the fact they were both in a high place.
Beloved -> steep pathway/cliff. Moses -> Mount Sinai.
The other thing would be the cleft of the rock.

Am I saying that these two evens are one and the same. No. Not necessarily. I'm just pointing out the similarities.
And from the comparison I'm seeing that God both wants to reveal Himself to us and wants us to reveal ourselves to Him.
In one, He assures us of His compassion, grace, and so much more.
In the other, He assures He really wants to see us, our appearance. He wants to hear us, our voice.

A major serious part of this road of ascent is the revealing of the two parties involved, the Lover and the Beloved to one another. And God encourages us, on one hand, to open ourselves up to Him, and on the other, to open our eyes and ears to see who He really is.

This is why the personal ascent of the believer up the mountain of God is so important. Too many have made God out to be what He was not. They made Him after the image of imperfect men who love imperfectly. Then people, men and women, are called to bow down to the imperfect image thinking it is true. But each believer needs to be on a quest to find who He really is. We can, and SHOULD, compare notes along the way to keep ourselves from getting off balance. But we should NEVER allow another, a preacher, a spouse, a favorite Christian personality... We should NEVER allow another to spell out every detail of God for us. We need to do our own home work. We need to ascend the mountain ourselves and find Him.

I'm not going to lie to you.

Sometimes finding the fullness of God is painful to our sinful nature. Isaiah cried out that he was being undone, torn apart at the seams in God's presence.
But hiding in the shadows and never facing the fullness of God makes fertile ground for error in our understanding of Him.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let Me See Your Appearance

SOS 2:14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your form,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet, And your form is lovely.

This is a very loaded and symbolic verse that I'd like to really dig into. But before we do I want to retype it with my Bible's footnotes added.

SOS 2:14 (words of the Bridegroom) Oh my dove, in the clefts of the rock (or, crag),
In the secret place of the steep pathway (or, cliff),
Let me see your form (Literal - appearance),
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet, And your form (appearance) is lovely.

I put this verse in here twice, the first time without the footnotes for the sake of initial clarity. The second time with the footnotes to add a little deeper understanding.
As I mentioned, this verse is loaded and full of meaning.
First, there is a continuation of the ascending theme of phase two.
She is on that road upward. She's on that steep pathway, climbing the rocks upward.
During this climb, the Lover of her soul wants to see her appearance and hear her voice.

Both of these are significant to women in general and oppressed women in particular. In spite of what a woman's culture tells her, her God, the True Lover of her soul wants to see and hear her. He does not desire for her voice to be take away from her, no matter what her culture or religion says. He does not despise her, hate her form or her voice.

There are some cultures that despise a woman's voice and go to great lengths to cover up her form, calling them both evil, or at the very least a stumbling block.
There are traditions that do not allow women to read the Bible. There are Muslim countries where it is against the law for women to sing.
These are the traditions of men, men who despise women.

But the Lover of women's souls, He thinks women are lovely.
And Christ, the Bridegroom of the church, He loves the praises of His people, male and female. And He loves it when they seek His face.

And this is only the first layer.
We'll have to get to the next layer in a new post or this post would become freakishly long.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Song of Ascents and Ascending

In SOS chapter one the Beloved cries out and asks the Lover to draw her to himself and let them run together.
SOS 1:4a Draw me after you and let us run together.

But what does he do first?
SOS 1:4b The king has brought me into his chambers.

Did you ever notice that. She asks for one thing, and she gets something else first.
He doesn't start answering her first request until well into chapter two.

Why?

Well, it may have to do with the fact that the believer's rest is more important than the believer's activity.

The Lover fully intends to fulfill her request. But AFTER he brings her into a place of rest, healing, refreshing, and safety. Once this is accomplished, then he can move onto calling her to a place of freedom and strength, running alongside him.

SOS 2:8 Listen, My beloved! Behold he is coming, Climbing on the mountains, Leaping on the hills.

First thing, where is he? In a high place, higher than her.

SOS 2:9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he is standing behind our wall, He is looking through the windows, He is peering through the lattice.

Perhaps looking for her? Perhaps seeking her out? She sought him first. Now he seeks her.
Also notice the comparing of him to a gazelle, or young stag. Graceful, agile, strong, wild, and free.

SOS 2:10 My beloved responded and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.

Okay, NOW he is answering her request to draw her after himself so they can run wild and free together.

SOS 2:11 For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
vs 12 The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.

Why is he answering her now and not before? Because the winter of her oppression is over. The spring of her new found freedom has come. The voice of peace has come and silenced the voice of turmoil in their land and in her heart.

SOS 2:13a The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.

Then he repeats himself and adds emphasis.

SOS 2:13b Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!

If she wants him to draw her after himself so they can run together, then when she's ready, that's what he is going to do.
He's drawing her outward and upward to a higher place.
Like the prophet who said that God makes his feet like hinds' feet and sets him in the high places. Habakkuk 3:19
Like the psalmist who said that God sets him securely on high. Psalm 91:14
Like the sage in Proverbs says that the path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter until the noon day. Proverbs 4:18

The Song of Solomon is a song of ascents, both poetically and in its call to the beloved church to arise and shine for our Light has come. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon us. Isaiah 60:1

God is calling us, drawing us to ascend to the place where He is. If we request that He draw us after Him so we can be free and run with Him, He will answer it. He may have to bring some healing first. He may have to bring security and peace to our hearts before we are ready to run at such an exhilarating pace. But we can be assured. As long as we cooperate with Him and His work within us, our winter will past. Our wilderness or desert experience will come to and end. Then we can run with all our might the race that is set before us.

The Song of Solomon is a song of ascending. The strongest call upward appears in this second phase. But when phase II ends, the call upward does not end with it. The call to ascend to the high place God has for us is alluded in the other phases as well.
But we are not done with phase II yet. There are more encouragements and symbolism in this song of ascent.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Trouble With Earthly Kingdoms

As mentioned in previous posts, I was shocked to come across teachings on Song of Solomon (SOS) being put out by well known preachers.

You'll be glad to know, the shock has worn off. I'm past most of the angry stage and have moved more onto the sad stage. I'm going to leave the angry stage posts up because they get across pretty well what has made me angry. But I want to mention a few things that I have thought since there has been a little time and distance from the initial shock.

First of all, in the future I will avoid reading or listening to the messages that MJS and other preachers like him spout off concerning SOS. Lord willing, I'll not slog through another sex saturated teaching on SOS if possible. I'd rather focus on the good things gleaned from SOS during personal study and meditation.

In a way, I feel sorry for these men because they have built part of their ministry/kingdoms on sand. Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith. He's our Rock. Building a church on teachings about sex can't be all that stable. I may be wrong. But time will tell.

But I'm glad I'm not in their position. I'm glad I don't have to maintain the status quo to keep my kingdom going. I very much prefer meditating on the love of God as displayed through His Word. And I prefer helping others learn to seek after the height and width and length and depth of God's unfathomable love.

We seek after the Lover of our souls.

We do this so that we can then turn around and love those around us, even those that are hard to love. Even those who don't deserve it, for we know we don't deserve love but God gives it to us anyway.

With the Love of God growing in our hearts, the day will come when can actually obey God's Word where He says, "Bless those that curse you" and "Love your enemies."

It's not easy to do. And it is impossible to do if you don't 'get' God's love for you in the first place. It takes time to grow in understanding of His love. It takes more than a few hours of meditation on the verses concerning His Love. If people don't care to use SOS in their meditation on God's love, I feel no condemnation towards them.

However, if people want to condemn me for using SOS to meditate on His love, I guess I'll have to just bless those who want to curse me, put me down, marginalize me, scoff at me, etc.

I do not envy men who have built their kingdoms on the sand of over sexualizing SOS.

I feel bad for them because they have ignored a whole entire side to this book and keep others from discovering it, as well. They miss so much. May God help them to find it someday before they die.

It really would bless them if they let it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rainbow Review of First Phase

SOS 1:1 Name and intro of song
SOS 1:2-3 Beloved praises the Lover
SOS 1:4a Beloved longs to join Lover in freedom
SOS 1:4b Choir joins in and amplifies praise.
SOS 1:5 Beloved recognizes her burnt state.
SOS 1:6 Her darkened complexion is a result of brothers' harsh treatment
SOS 1:7a She asks about affairs of the Lover
SOS 1:7b She asks why she must wander or remain veiled among Lover's companions.
SOS 1:8 Lover speaks for the first time. He tells her to seek for answers.
SOS 1:9 Lover compares Beloved to his mare.
SOS 1:10 He tells her she's beautiful with her jewelry
SOS 1:11 Choir joins in to amplify His giving and creative nature.
1:12 Beloved speaks again, this time about her perfume.
1:13 She compares lover to myrrh (healing) near her heart.
1:14 She compares Him to henna (beautifying)
1:15 Lover praises the Beloved's beauty, emphasising her eyes, (the window to her soul)
1:16a The Beloved calls him handsome.
1:16b She notes also that he is pleasant and the couch they recline on is luxuriant.
1:17 She further notes the strength and beauty of the ceiling over their heads.

In chapter one, the Beloved has 11 verses and the Lover has only 5, not even speaking until verse 8. Therefore most of the chapter is from the female point of view, not the male.

SOS 2:1 Beloved compares herself to a common and abundant flower.
SOS 2:2 Lover assures her that she is special to him.
SOS 2:3 & 4 Again the Beloved makes mention of being sheltered and fed by the Lover on no small scale.
SOS 2:4 The Beloved mentions that she is faint with love.
SOS 2:5 She desires an intimate embrace from the Lover.
SOS 2:6 The Lover asks that his beloved, or love, itself, not be awakened before it's time.

This is the end of phase one.
In phase one the Beloved has 16 verses. The Lover has only 7. Also note that after the intro the Beloved is the first to speak and her mouth is filled with praise. The Lover has the last word, but his greatest concern is for the pleasure of the Beloved. He is also concerned about pushing love too fast. He doesn't want to do that.
Also note the foundation that phase one has made for the rest of the book. There is only loving, caring, giving, and sheltering toward the Beloved from the Lover of her soul. A perfect set up for phase II.