Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another "Suggestive" Premarital SOS Verse

There is verse that occurs in Song of Solomon that makes school age children giggle.

It appears in chapter one before both the wedding in chapter three and the verse we looked at in chapter two.

Honestly, I can see how people could read this verse as part of the "Manual for Married Sex" approach to SOS. And I might also take this approach, if I wasn't aware that in chapter one they aren't married yet.

Song 1:13 My Beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh
Which lies all night between my breasts.

I must admit. When I began reading SOS, the first thing... Or I should say... The first two things that jumped out at me was the reference the Beloved made to her own breasts.

How can I help it. Our culture is obsessed with breasts. There are entire magazines that come out monthly completely devoted to breasts, especial large ones.

So I really cannot blame anyone else for seeing breasts as the most important word making the verse rather suggestive.

So, granted, on the surface and through the lens of our culture, this verse seems to be about breasts. And I can see how the take away understanding of this verse is sex, sex, and only sex.

But aren't there any other important words in this verse?

How about myrrh?
Myrrh is a pretty important word.
What is Myrrh doing in this verse? It must have a purpose or it wouldn't be there. Where have you seen myrrh before?
Even people completely unfamiliar with the Bible are aware that the Magi brought baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Besides being real substances used in real worship in the real, earthly temple, they also have symbolic meaning that we will get into in a later post.
But for now just know that my Bible dictionary (Holman Master Study Bible) says myrrh is used as a healing stimulant. And feel free to look myrrh up for yourself.
So it appears that there may be allusions to healing in SOS 1:13.
But now, seriously. Do the Beloved's breasts need healing? What? Was she out in the sun working in the vineyard topless and got sunburned on her back and chest too?
I doubt it.
Yet there it is in SOS. She compares the Lover to a pouch of myrrh between her breasts.
This is where it is sometimes helpful to look just a little beneath the surface. What human organ is under the skin, behind the breasts of a woman?
That's right! The heart!
The presence and knowledge of the Lover that she keeps near her heart is a healing balm to her.
Does meditating on Jehovah Rapha bring healing to the heart of the believer? It does for me. And I would hope it does for others.
One last note before I wrap this up. To any Christian men who may have stumbled onto this site quite by accident. If you can gain anything from this post, remember this. A woman's heart is far more important and precious to God than both her breasts put together. You may be saying "duh, no kidding." But so often this "man's world" cares only for what is on the surface of a woman and makes her into an object. And this bleeds into church thinking. It is my fear that men, even well-meaning Christian men, can lose sight of the hearts of women and their need for healing because all they can see is what lies on the surface.
So also I caution all to not only look at the surface of SOS 1:13. There is so much more meaning to it than a "sex only" approach will allow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Lil' More on SOS 2:3

I had been unsure how to approach SOS since it is such a sensitive and provocative book. I've wanted to handle it with the deep care it deserves. I'm sorry that it has taken shock jock preachers (yes there is more than one) to pull me out of my hesitation. Here is a quote from John MacArthur's four part series that is just shocking. It is not attributed to the shock jock I've alluded to before but an unnamed preacher. http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4168 MacArthur sets the stage for the quotes: "Thus we are told that the Shulammite's poetic language invoking the delights of an apple tree (Song 2:3) is a metaphor for oral sex. The comfort and delight of a simple embrace (2:6) is not what it seems to be at all. Apparently it's impossible to describe what that verse really means without mentioning certain unmentionable body parts. We're assured moreover that the shocking hidden meanings of these texts aren't merely descriptive; they are prescriptive. The secret gnosis of Solomon's Song portray obligatory acts wives must do if this is what satisfies their husbands, regardless of the wife's own desire or conscience. I was recently given a recording of one of these messages, where the speaker said, "Ladies, let me assure you of this: if you think you're being dirty, he's pretty happy." Such pronouncements are usually made amid raucous laughter, but evidently we are expected to take them seriously. When the laughter died away, that speaker added, “Jesus Christ commands you to do this.” That approach is not exegesis; it is exploitation." MacArthur then goes on to call it rape. And he is correct. Bravo, Pastor MacArthur. The woman writing this post who disagrees with you on the allegorical nature of SOS cannot agree with you more on the above quote. Again, thank you for dealing with this ugly dragon that has stolen it's way into the pulpits of America and abroad. In the past, while I innocently meditated on this wonderful, refreshing piece of God's Word, wicked men, men who don't know the voice of the Shepherd have come in and defecated on what is holy. When I heard mention of what these wolves had to say about SOS, it was like pig's blood splattered in the holy place. An abomination. God has hidden rest and refreshment in SOS to women and men individually and the church as a whole. Even if one refuses to accept the allegorical nature of SOS, SOS 2:3 should be viewed as the Beloved describing the presence of the Lover as protection and refreshment. It should not be turned around and made into a command for women to service their husbands like common prostitutes. These shock jocks do not speak for God. The are steeped in the Porn culture's view of women as objects to be used. They are like the Beloved's evil brothers in SOS 1:6 who forced her into service, caused her sorrow, and exposed her to the heat of the sun to be burned. From an allegorical standpoint, they have stripped a verse that speaks about the believer's rest of it's liberating power and turned it into a mockery. Instead of women being allowed to enter the Sabbath rest God promises all believers in Hebrews four, they are pressured into distasteful behavior and then told it is pleasing to the taste. They are told that the bitter is sweet. They are lied to and told it is the command of their Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Hebrew 4:9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Vs 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Vs 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same examples of disobedience. Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In They right hand there are pleasures forever. Friends, let us abide in the Vine and enter His rest. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Enter into to His presence which if full of joy and pleasures. Then out of the abundance of what He gives us freely, we are able to reach the hurting and wounded of this world with God's healing, rest, and peace. We are not able to reach the hurting and wounded if we are hurt and wounded ourselves by the false teachings of the shock jock preachers. These agents of darkness ignore the hearts of women in order to stroke their consuming sex addiction. They oppress and wound the hearts of women on the altars of their raging libidos. They break the two greatest commandments of Jesus for some off-the-wall interpretation of SOS 2:3 Let us guard our own hearts against this wickedness and seek the Lord while He may be found.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SOS 2:3 And Our Relationship With God

Before I get into SOS 2:3 itself I'd like to thank another preacher for coming against the vulgar assumptions the shock jock preacher made concerning it. John MacArthur did a 4 part series refuting the shock jock's teaching in April of 2009. Now, I don't follow MacArthur, but I know his name and know he is a respectable man. He is also in a far better position to refute the shock jock than me for two big reasons. 1. He has a large, established, respectable ministry. 2. He's a man. (The shock jock has displayed misogynist tendencies.) And to MacArthur, the body of Christ is in debt for dealing head on with the debasing of scripture like this. So thank you Pastor MacArthur. But I do respectfully disagree with MacArthur in one thing. He, along with many other men, pastors, and teachers... He holds that the PRIMARY purpose of SOS is the story of Solomon and his bride their mutual love which includes the marriage bed. http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4172 While I agree that SOS is not PURELY allegorical. I disagree with the idea that the love between Solomon and his bride as an example of married love being the primary purpose of SOS. And I'm not alone: http://hupotasso.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/song-of-songs-approval-of-the-harem-is-not-romantic/ Though I don't agree entirely with the above link, I can see where people would come up with this. Solomon was no expert on married love. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines for pete's sake. He was clueless. And yet this book of his, this song of songs made it into the Bible. In the rapture of young love, the Spirit spoke through him and God has used his words to bless the generations that followed him. For me and others, the allegorical relationship between Christ and His bride is a source of wonder and worship that we feel God has called us into. And we see this in SOS as well as other places. So, in essence, as I appreciate MacArthur's defense of SOS, still I feel that he, like so many men have a blind spot concerning this book. Sex is sooo important and held up as such a primary thing that any attempt the make the "biblically accepted marriage/sex manual" into an allegorical springboard to worship is looked upon with contempt and viewed as sacrilegious. Which is very sad. Our highest purpose is worship of our Creator and Savior. Not sex. Anyway, in a nutshell. Many men have a blind spot where sex is concerned since sex is so important to them personally. Many (Can't say all. That would be unfair) men also have a huge blind spot to the needs of wounded women forced to live in a man's world (and church) that favors men and wants women to sit down, shut up, and don't make waves. "Just fit in this little box we have for you. Sorry for past and present abuses but it's not our fault so just get over it since it is your lot in life." Now let's look at SOS 2:3. SOS 2:3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, So is my Beloved among the young men. In His shade I took great delight and sat down. And His fruit was sweet to my taste. Yep, the above verse is the one the shock jock pastor claimed was about oral sex. Just by looking at it can you see where he was stretching it quite a bit?

But from my position, that verse beautifully illustrates God's protection, nourishing and cherishing, and refreshing.

Look at these verses:

Psalm 36:7 How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of They wings. (NAS) Psalm 63:4 Thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy. (NAS) Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes his refuge in Him! (NAS) They are verses of worship and praise that closely parallel SOS 2:3 The Lover is seen as protective and refreshing to the Beloved. A wonderful change from the oppressive brothers who made her work out in the sun. He brings rest and contentment not abuse and drudgery. She can relax and be at ease in the shade of his presence.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

SOS in the Hands of the Perverted...

I have recently been made aware that a shock jock pastor, Mark Driscoll, has a series on the Song of Solomon. I find this distressing to say the least. Whether or not I slog through this preacher's 10 week series remains to be seen. But the assertion that a certain verse is about oral sex as reported in a news piece on him, this cannot be ignored even though this has happened about two years ago and from what I understand he has repented from this and removed this teaching on this particular verse from the Internet.

 But still the damage has been done. The info has gone out as a part of a teaching. This information on this pastor is located at the link below, eighth paragraph down. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30700&ref=BPNews-RSSFeed0617 

 Before we get into how SOS 2:3 can be looked upon as worship to the Lord, let me give you the context and setting of this verse and prove that it is not about OS. Chapter One of SOS is the meeting between the Lover and the Beloved. It's like love at first sight. She is drawn to Him immediately and desires to be with Him.

In addition, she points to her own short comings, as mentioned in the June 10 post. Chapter Two is Him drawing her into his world and finding His way into hers. Their worlds begin to overlap. For example, the famous verse 4 that follows verse 3 talks about Him bringing her into His banquet hall and His banner over her is love. Verse 9 speaks of His visit to her home and the thrill this brings her. Please note, very important: Chapter Three is their wedding day.

Any sex that occurs or is alleged to occur before the middle of chapter three is fornication.

SOS is a progression of love, from meeting through wedding, through troubles that bring maturity until the end which is a deep, mutual, mature, establish love that cannot be shaken. For a shock jock preacher to assert that SOS 2:3 is about oral sex is unacceptable. He shows either his ignorance or his agenda or both by having the Lover and the Beloved engaging in any sexual behavior before they are even married. He has them committing fornication.

For those of us who work in the social services, his rantings sound like a sex addict slapping a "Thus saith the Lord" onto his addictions to make them acceptable rather than a pastor rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Next post we will look more closely at SOS 2:3 and see how it can pertain to our relationship with the Lord.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First and Last Overview, SOS

One of the reasons I see healing in Song of Solomon is through reading about the Beloved in the first and last chapters. In chapter one it says: Song of Songs 1:5 I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon. Vs 6 Do not stare at me because I am swarthy (dark), For the sun had burned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; They made me caretaker of the vineyard, But I have not taken care of my own vineyard. Above she confesses that she has been pushed into the position of a common laborer by her brothers who were angry with her. She worked for them because they made her do it. And they oppressed her to the point that she neglected her own property, her own vineyard. Elsewhere in SOS, the Beloved is referred to as a nobleman's daughter, so it is curious that she was forced to work as a servant by her brothers in the first chapter. Now let's look at a couple of verses in the last chapter of SOS. Song of Songs 8:11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he entrusted the vineyard to caretakers; Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit. Vs 12 My very own vineyard is at my disposal; The thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, And two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit. I read a commentary somewhere that said that the Beloved's vineyard was her face/appearance. That she couldn't take care of her looks and became sunburned. I disagree with this since the last chapter also mentions her vineyard and the money she has made from it. So unless they had super models back then, thinking of the vineyard as being her face and her making money off of it... This might imply she was a prostitute, which we know is not true. So she must have really had a vineyard, like the Proverbs woman did. But the difference in chapter eight is that she no longer talks about the oppression of her brothers or her sunburn. The Lover (whom she is married to at this point) has his vineyard but does not require the Beloved to work in it. He has hired men for that. The Beloved is now in charge of her own vineyard rather than being forced to neglect it. In fact, she doesn't work in her own vineyard but also has hired men that she pays to work in it. No longer oppressed, she is in the position to be generous with her Lover. And out of gratitude or love she willingly hands over money made off her vineyard to him. Quite a change from chapter one to chapter eight. The Beloved has been raised from an oppressed servant to manager of her own affairs. From my reading, the progression from chapter one through chapter eight, is a progression of healing and being raised up from a lowly place to an exalted place by the love, care, and generosity of the Lover. And this, my friends, is why I hold that Song of Solomon is not just about... uhm... sex. It is about healing and is an allegory or picture of God's love, care, and generosity toward the church and individuals in the church, working to raise them from the muck and mire of worldly darkness and into His marvelous light. The Lord willing, I will be able to show some of this progression in the next few posts.