Thursday, October 29, 2009

Closing Out Phase One of SOS

Song of Songs 3:5 Sustain me with raisin cakes, Refresh me with apples, Because I am lovesick.
vs 6 Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me.
vs 7 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, That you will not arouse or awaken my love, Until she pleases.

These three verses together close out the first distinct phase of SOS. Part of verse 5 & verse 7 are repeated elsewhere to close out the third stage. All of verse 6 is repeated elsewhere and All of verse 8 is repeated to close out other phases.

I don't have much to say over verse 5.

Verse 6 is the one others have tried to sexualize, but looking up the words in the original Hebrew, embrace really only means embrace. It is a cry out for intimacy. And other than that I don't have much to say over it except for it's importance in SOS in helping to make distinctions between the phases.

Verse 7, however, is pretty loaded. I mentioned the gazelles already and will go over their significance in a later post when I get started on phase two.

The last part of the verse has been preached on by many as a warning against waking up the sexual side of a person before they are able to do anything about it in marriage. And I believe that is a completely legitimate message from preachers and parents alike to young people at any time.

However, I'm seeing more than just that in the verse. Since it appears in SOS a total of three times, and since the beloved has two dreams between these urgings of not being awakened before her time, AND lastly in chapter eight, the lover, himself, awakens her, then there may be more to the verse than what initially meets the eye.

SOS 8:5b … Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; There your mother was in labor with you, There she was in labor and gave you birth.

Was it not time to wake up in chapter one or two? Apparently not. Apparently the time for being fully awake is in chapter 8 When the Lover does it Himself. So what is going on in chapter one and even in chapter two, later when the Lover begins telling the Beloved to arise and come along?
Well, let’s think about it.
First of all, my Bible has a footnote saying that the last three words may actually be "until it pleases" rather than "until she pleases". This may not mean a thing. But it makes me wonder.
There seems to be no rush in waking up either the Beloved or love in general. What could this mean? At the very least the Lover is expressing, one way or another, that he is in no hurry. He feels no need to pressure. He is satisfied to go at her pace rather than his own. He’s satisfied for the Beloved or their love, in general, to flow naturally. He feels no need to force, coerce, or otherwise manipulate her into anything until she is good and ready to wake up to that area of love on her own, when SHE pleases.

Also, allegorically, it goes along with the idea of God being patient with us as we grow in love and learn to understand it. When we first give our hearts to the Lord, we love Him with all we have, which isn’t much. But HE receives it and loves us back. As we grow in understanding of His love for us we are able to love Him more and more.

Romans 13:11 And do this knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep: for now (our) salvation is nearer to us that when we first believed.
Ephesians 5:14 For this reason it [He] says. "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you."

When we come to the Lord, we come as babes. Babies know very little. Though they are aware, their awareness is limited. They can only take in so much, but they are learning all the time. Just as we grow physically and emotionally, so also we grow spiritually. We go through changes when we leave babyhood and enter childhood, when we leave childhood through the road of adolescence and enter adulthood. These kinds of changes also occur spiritually. We awaken to new levels, new phases all throughout our spiritual development. And these phases should not be rushed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Song of Ascents (intro and explanation)

What is a Song of Ascents?
Well, it seems to be a poetry form used by the Hebrews around the time of David and Solomon.

My dictionary says that an ascent is 1. the act of ascending, rising, or climbing. 2. an advancement, as in rank, fame, etc. 3. a.) a way leading up; upward slope; acclivity b.) the amount of such slope [an ascent of 3 degrees].

My Holman Master Study Bible's [HMSB] encyclopedia says that "A Song of Ascent" is "a phrase occurring in the title of fifteen Psalms, 120-134, inclusive, They may be so called from a certain rhythm which is obvious in several of them, by which the sense apparently by degrees or steps, the first or last words of a preceding clause being often repeated at the beginning of the succeeding one."

So a song of ascents is a song of steps or degrees.
A good example of what my HMSB encyclopedia said is in Psalm 121. It is very strong, almost from verse to verse.

Psalm 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From whence shall my help come?
vs 2 My help comes form the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
vs 3 He will not allow your foot slip; He who keeps you will not slumber,
vs 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
vs 5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
[and so on]

What does this have to do with the Song of Solomon (SOS)? Well, I'll tell you. SOS can be divided into very distinct stages or phases. The first two are 1.) SOS 1:1-2:7 and 2.) SOS 2:8-3:5
Both these sections end with the same verse

SOS2:7 & SOS 3:3 I adjure you, oh daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field that you will not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases.

I had already noted that these two sections existed and ended with the same verse. I also noted that the second section was the next 'phase' that the bride was going through. But what I didn't notice until the other day was that the first couple of verses of the second section does this little 'song of ascent' thing in that it uses a word from the last verse of the first section.

SOS 2:9a My beloved is like a gazelle or young stag.

I already understood that SOS is a definit progression, a definit maturing and empowering process that the beloved goes through as she grows from being an oppressed maiden to being Proverbs 31 Woman material. Looking for a word or phrase to call this progression, the phrase, "A Song of Ascents" came to my mind. I though that there was a psalm called that somewhere so I looked it up and learned about this form of Hebrew poetry. And this has confirmed to me that the Song of Solomon is indeed a Song of Ascents, loosely in a poetic form, strongly in the progress the beloved makes from chapter one to chapter eight.

I have more to say about SOS being a Song of Ascent but feel the need to close out section one (1:1-2:7) before we discuss the strong upward call in section two (2:8-3:5)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boundaries, part III

All this talk about boundaries was leading up to something, as I have warned you.
I wanted to point out that it is no small thing to move a boundary mark where real estate is concerned. It is also no small matter to transgress people's personal boundaries, men, women, or children.
Just as this is true for property and person, so also is it true for scripture.
I am saddened by the fact that a boundary marker has been moved in the Bible book, Song of Solomon (SOS). But I wrongly accused a Major Shock Jock (MSJ) of doing so. Now I know it was moved before, and he just read a book, or two, or several on SOS that led him to believe that SOS is not chronological. I am saddened to say that I also read one of those books. It is called, The Act of Marriage.

I read this book long ago. My husband and I were given this book when we were married. And I thought it was a decent book back then. And for the most part, I'm okay with it now. Except for one thing.
In my opinion, they have moved a boundary marker. It is subtle and for noble reasons. Even so, the moving of this marker is what has opened the door for others to do some serious trampling of scripture in my strong opinion.
The LaHayes wanted to use SOS 2:6 for a euphemism for something sexual. I do not know if it originated with them or with someone else. But regardless, they knew they could not use it for something sexual if the book was written chronological because the couple are not even married until chapter three. Thus, it was declared, 'not chronological'.
Just as I heard MSJ flippantly declare it, with no support, so others make the same claim and find, more secret 'euphemisms' for sex.

Those following this blog know I've brought this up before with a little bit of evidence as to why I strongly disagree with the 'not chronological' take on SOS. I'm bringing it up again for two reasons. One, I'm acknowledging that MSJ didn't come up with this himself. He read others who said it first. He liked what they said and now teaches it as fact.

The second reason I brought this up again is because I want to show more evidence that SOS is, in fact, chronological. That though there may be euphemisms for sex in it, they do not occur before the middle of chapter three.

I will present this evidence later. For now I just want to say, I understand what the LaHayes were trying to do. But what they have accomplished is to move an ancient boundary marker, thus sowing to the wind. Now the body of Christ is reaping the whirlwind with renegade preachers ordering wives to perform certain things in the bedroom that were, at one time, against our nation's sodomy laws.

[I blogged on this June 27, 2009, A Lil' More on SOS 2:3 for those who missed it]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boundaries, part II

In this post we will look specifically at scriptures about boundaries and find out what God had to say about it.
First a couple in Deuteronomy. Note, these verses were spoken and written before the children of Israel entered the promise land to possess it. God was making sure ahead of time that these people understood the importance of respecting physical, property boundaries.

Deuteronomy 19:14 You shall not move your neighbor's boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you shall inherit in the land that the LORD your God give you to possess.
Deuteronomy 27:17 'Cursed is he who moves his neighbors boundary mark.' and all the people shall say, 'Amen'

Then later in the book of wisdom boundaries are brought up again.

Proverbs 23:10 Do not move the ancient boundary, or go into the fields of the fatherless; vs 11 For their Redeemer is strong; He will plead their case against you.

When I read Proverbs 23:10, I cannot help but think about the girls I had in my cottage at the residential treatment facility. If God was concerned about the physical property of the fatherless, how much more is He concerned over their physical body, or their hearts and emotions. And yes, I considered my girls fatherless. They had no fathers to protect them from abuse. And in some cases, it WAS their fathers that abused them, which meant that their fathers were not fathers at all.

Hosea 5:10 The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary; On them I will pour out my wrath like water.

Again, God points out that He is judge and that He takes boundaries very seriously.

Proverbs 15:25 The Lord will tear down the house of the proud, But He will establish the boundary of the widow.

God is the ultimate establisher of boundaries for people and also nature.

Job 38:8 Or who enclosed the sea with doors, when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; vs 9 When I made a cloud its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band, vs 10 And I placed boundaries on it, And I set a bolt and doors. vs 11 And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall you proud waves stop.'?

And when you think about it. That is what the Ten Commandments are all about even though the word 'boundary' never occurs in them. The top Ten Establish boundaries that protect people. Stealing is a definite boundary violation. Adultery violates the boundaries of marriage. And of course, the ultimate boundary and trampling over another individual it murder.
So boundaries of the weak and helpless are important to God. He established boundaries for people to follow, and also for all His creation to follow.
And He takes a dim view of those who ignore boundaries or think they don't apply to them.
He curses them and pours out His judgement upon them. And He fights for those who are weak and cannot defend their own boundaries.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Boundaries, part I

I can't remember if I've talked about boundaries here before. I know I have else where, had discussions and what not with other bloggers over boundaries. I'd like to talk about boundaries as it pertains to something I see in Song of Solomon (SOS) but feel I need to lay some ground work. Thus, this short series on boundaries.

And don't worry, I'll not go over the books written on boundaries by two Christian men. Most of the people who come here most likely have already read them. But in case someone comes along here's a link to their amazon listing.

You don't have to read any of these books to understand what I'm going to write about. But it wouldn't hurt to read them for the sake of the rest of your life.

Okay, enough about that.

For those who don't know, I worked, for a time, in a residential treatment facility for troubled youth. The 'cottage' I worked in had 9 girls (ages 13-17), 7 of which had been prostitutes at one time including the youngest.

One thing I learned was that most of these girls had boundary issues resulting from the fact that those who should have been caring for them growing up did not respect their boundaries. Many, if not all, of these girls had been sexually molested or raped by family members, mother's boyfriends, their own friends or boyfriends. In other words, their personal boundaries had been trampled on by people who didn't know enough or care enough to respect their boundaries.

So one of the things that our treatment facility was trying to train them was how to recognize and respect their own boundaries and the boundaries of others. When someone came too far into their personal space, some of them would put up a hand and say, "Boundaries!" and the others knew what she meant. Sometimes it was a joke, like playing around. Sometimes they didn't take it seriously. But at least someone somewhere was trying to teach them how to protect their own boundaries.

Viewing this in that treatment facility and then reading the Cloud and Townsend books really opened my eyes to what boundaries are and how so many in this world don't respect them, at all.
And this disrespect for boundaries is also present within the church.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October Update #2

Been meditating on a certain section of scripture outside of SOS and wanted to mention it here.

Those interested in my further musings on SOS need not worry. I've not dropped it. I'll get back to it. Things are stirring in my heart again in that area but I have to have time to look up scriptures concerning it. Plus, also, this meditation does actually touch on my understanding of SOS.

But the scripture that's rolling around within me now, I don't need to look up.
I can quote it from memory.
It comes from John Chapter one the first five verses.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being by Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
In Him was Life. And the Life was the Light of men.
And the Light shines in the darkness. And the darkness did not comprehend (or overcome) it.

I memorized this one while still young in the Lord. It has been a source of strength and comfort.

Notice in the last line that I have parenthesis that contain the word overcome. I put that there because that is what the footnote in my Bible says could be used in the place of comprehend. When I was young, the idea of Light overcoming darkness was a more powerful, needed, and even a romantic or heroic thought than the fact that darkness could not comprehend Light.

But lately, I have seen how deep and foundational the truth of darkness not getting/understanding/comprehending the Light. The longer I walk this earth, the more I see people who think they have the Light, walking around in darkness and not really understanding what the true Light is.

As an example, think of the Old South and slavery. Slave owners used to use the Bible to support their practice of slavery. Since their were laws in the Old Testament and Advice given to masters and slaves in the New Testament, this was good enough for plantation owners to continue in this barbaric practice.

But I like the words of Abraham Lincoln. (borrowed from Molly's AIM blog. Thanks Molly!): "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. "

Our 16th president had a better grasp on Light than the plantation owners. He understood 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'
The plantation owners were only interested in the parts of the Bible that they could use to maintain their privileged life style on the backs and sweat of others.

There is another example of a man being completely blinded by the darkness of this world and the darkness of his own mind. Yet he held up certain Bible verses as proof of his privilege and used them to lord it over another. This example can be found in my May 21, 2009 post, "The Big Picture". I'd link it here but for some reason my attempts to link to my own posts never succeed. But it's in my archives.

A friend of mine told me about something her young son said to her one day. He turned to her and said, "Mom, I'm five now. I know everything."
We laughed at this. But really, this boy demonstrated what happens to some Christians when they think they have 'arrived' at some spiritual pinnacle. They think they have a firm handle on truth and Light. But they don't. They don't know that they have some knowledge and knowledge puffs up. It's all around us.

There was a man in our history around the time of the revolution, wish I could remember who he was. Any way, he was a lawyer or a judge or something and a Christian. But people always saw him scribbling on paper. And since he was such a knowledgeable and wise man, people believed he was scribbling down great amounts of wisdom.
One person braved a chance and looking at this man's notes and was shocked to find that all he had written was, "More light, Lord. More light."

This historical figure had it figured out that we live in a dark world and needed light. He didn't make the mistake of looking around and deciding that what he saw and what he thought was Light. He knew better than that. He knew that God's ways are higher than our ways and God's thoughts are higher than ours.

Too many men, preachers included, think that the darkness bumping around in their own heads is not darkness, but light. They err in their thinking and believe it is the truth and even use the Bible to back it up. But they miss the Light altogether. They miss it because they do not comprehend it.

I like how Ezekiel responded to God when God presented him the Valley of Dry Bones. God asked him if those bones could live again. Ezekiel knew better than to say yes or no. He said to God, "Thou knowest" because he knew he had no clue himself.

God invites use to come and reason with Him. Though our sins are like scarlet, He can make them white as snow. Though we live in a world of darkness and are steeped in dark thoughts, He can call us out into the Light. If we humble ourselves and stop thinking we have some sort of corner on the truth market, then He can send His Light to overcome the darkness.
But if we insist on living in the darkness, and calling it light. Our darkness will not comprehend true Light when It shines in the lives of others.

Friday, October 9, 2009


It's been over a month since my last post and I thought I better update people.

It's true I've hit a snag with this blog personally. But I'm sure I'll get through it and post more on this topic soon.

But, as with all of us, we go through busy times and busier times. And I'm going through one of those busier times. But it's good.

I'm teaching a junior high Sunday School class in my church and I love it. I like how our church does it. They divide up the year in quarters and have different teachers every quarter so no one gets burned out. The core group of kids in the jr. high class are an absolute delight and I love preparing lessons for them and teaching them and watching them grow.

This year I've had the privilege of putting together my own curriculum for them based on Dick Eastman's book, The Hour That Changes the World. It's a classic. Even though it's an adult book, my kids are pretty sharp and are able to follow along.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interest in prayer. It covers eleven types of prayer, all mentioned in the Bible. Many of these types of prayer, however, are unknown to the average Christian and not utilized by the Church to their full extent.

Eastman does an excellent job explaining these prayers, using both scriptures and the words of Christians from all ages.

Even if the structure he sets up for prayer time is not to your liking, his teachings on these different types of prayers are a must have for anyone taking prayer seriously.

Okay, enough from me.

If anyone out there is still reading, I'd like to hear about books on prayer that you like. And, in fact, you don't have to limit it to that. If some book you have read recently has really helped you, opened a door for you, made God more real, or something along those lines, I'd like to hear about it. Thanks so much.