The Song of Solomon

Notes: I have removed the chapter and verse divisions to allow the thoughts and phrases to flow, however the text is complete and unaltered. Song of Solomon is a love-story between two young lovers. The Bride is a peasant-girl and her Groom is a shepherd-boy, and even though Solomon makes a brief appearance in the girl’s dream, he is not the groom. I hope that you enjoy this beautiful piece of Hebrew poetic work.

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

Bride
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw me after you; let us run.

The king has brought me into his chambers.

Chorus
We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.

Bride
I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!

Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?

Groom and His Bride Delight in Each Other

Groom

If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds’ tents.

I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels.

Chorus
We will make for you ornaments of gold, studded with silver.

Bride
While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.

Groom
Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.

Bride
Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful. Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar; our rafters are pine. I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

Groom
As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.

Bride
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.

The Bride Adores Her Beloved
The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains.

The Bride’s Dream
On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not. I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not. The watchmen found me as they went about in the city.

“Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”

Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her who conceived me.

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.

Solomon Arrives for the Wedding
What is that coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?

Behold, it is the litter of Solomon! Around it are sixty mighty men, some of the mighty men of Israel, all of them wearing swords and expert in war, each with his sword at his thigh, against terror by night.

King Solomon made himself a carriage from the wood of Lebanon. He made its posts of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple; its interior was inlaid with love by the daughters of Jerusalem.

Go out, O daughters of Zion, and look upon King Solomon, with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of the gladness of his heart.

Groom
Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young. Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David, built in rows of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies.

Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will go away to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride; come with me from Lebanon. Depart from the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed. Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices, a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.

Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow.

Together in the Garden of Love

Bride
Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

Groom
I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk.

Chorus
Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!

The Bride searches for her Beloved in her dreams…
I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking.

“Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.”

I had put off my garment; how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them?

My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.

The watchmen found me as they went about in the city; they beat me, they bruised me, they took away my veil, those watchmen of the walls.

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love.

Chorus
What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you thus adjure us?

The Bride Praises Her Beloved
My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in milk, sitting beside a full pool. His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory, bedecked with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable.

This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Chorus
Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?

Bride

My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies.

Groom and His Bride Delight in Each Other
Groom
You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners. Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of ewes that have come up from the washing; all of them bear twins; not one among them has lost its young. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.

There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number.

My dove, my perfect one, is the only one, the only one of her mother, pure to her who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.

“Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?”

Bride
I went down to the nut orchard to look at the blossoms of the valley, to see whether the vines had budded, whether the pomegranates were in bloom.Before I was aware, my desire set me among the chariots of my kinsman, a prince.

Chorus
Return, return, O Shulammite, return, return, that we may look upon you.

Groom
Why should you look upon the Shulammite, as upon a dance before two armies?

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O noble daughter! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, which looks toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses. How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters.

I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine.

Bride
It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.

The Bride Gives Her Love
Come, my beloved, let us go out into the fields and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love.

The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and beside our doors are all choice fruits, new as well as old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

Bride Longing for Her Beloved
Oh that you were like a brother to me who nursed at my mother’s breasts! If I found you outside, I would kiss you, and none would despise me. I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother – she who used to teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranate.

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.

Chorus
Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?

Bride
Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

Brothers
We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver, but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.

Bride
I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard to keepers; each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver.

My vineyard, my very own, is before me; you, O Solomon, may have the thousand, and the keepers of the fruit two hundred.

Groom
O you who dwell in the gardens, with companions listening for your voice; let me hear it.

Bride
Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.

May God add His blessing to the reading and understanding of His Holy Word!
Steve

A Story of Grace

This is a story of the goodness, love and grace of our Almighty God. While I am part of the story, God IS the story. This is a story of His relentless pursuit of a sinner, who He has wanted to be in His kingdom so much that He has stopped at nothing to bring me into His family. Of course I could write a story about ME, but then it would stop far short of the truth. Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life. NO one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) It was only through His grace that I have been brought into His kingdom. Buckle your seat-belt and hold on tight, because this is going to be a rough, bumpy ride.

I am an only-child, the son of believing parents. I was raised in the church, but unfortunately that also warped my understanding of God. Dad was a perfectionist, domineering and legalistic. Everything was about keeping the rules and measuring up to the standards. Grace was totally unknown in our home, and largely lacking in the church. One of my most vivid memories of church was our pastor reading the Ten Commandments – every week. When communion was served, there was a barbed-wire fence around it, with the Elders as its guards, and only those who “measuredup” were allowed to partake. The table of our Lord wasn’t for sinners…it was for “saints“. Perhaps grace was preached once in a while, but since the law was thundered-out every Sunday, the still, small voice of grace was lost in the din.

While I knew that Jesus loves me, God was distant, scowling, rule-enforcing, and completely unlike our Heavenly Father. It seemed that His belt was always handy, and I felt its sting often. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at an early age, but measuring up to God’s impossible standards was a nightmare. I knew nothing about salvation by grace through faith, and even after I accepted it as theological fact, it took many years to start to sink in, and I am not sure it will completely this side of heaven. I was always striving, striving, striving, but never getting there. Life seemed more downs than ups. If God hadn’t held me up, I would have gone down in flames long ago.

As a kid, we moved too often to develop any real friendships. I became a loner. Dad became a pastor, and I was a lonely PK.

Along the way, I struggled with church-splits, pastors that were wannabe “popes” (never trust a pastor who is an “exCatholic“), power-struggles, and more legalism…even apostasy in the church. When things turned sour in one church, God had another for me. I struggled through four failed marriages, my first wife’s suicide, sexual addiction, porn addiction, and my own inadequacy. As a result of her suicide, I was stripped of my family. Outwardly I seemed to do okay, but inwardly I was a mess. At each low-point in my life, God picked me up, dusted me off, and helped me get back on my feet…for a while. Every time I said “ I am going to make it this time“, I failed again. It seemed to be a never-ending cycle…up, then down, up, then down. “It” was still dependent on me, and I couldn’t get “it” done. Of course that was exactly what God wanted me to realize all along…that I couldn’t do it on my own, but I had to keep trying, because that was all I knew. His grace was there, but I couldn’t see it. Maybe I couldn’t even trust it. Maybe I couldn’t even trust Him…

I have survived four death-threats, three of which were from a brother-in-law. Three years ago, I walked away from a vehicle accident that should have been my last. God’s guardian angel was working overtime that day. Each time, I got a fresh sense that God was still with me and hadn’t given up on me. He must still have something for me to do.

I came to Cypress Ridge in January 2013, at one of the lowest times in my life. My wife of less than six weeks had moved out while I was away tending to a doctor’s appointment. I was alone, in a new area, with no friends or support-system. Googling “Presbyterian Church Davenport” netted a long list of churches, but I knew many were mainline churches. Far down the list was Cypress Ridge, and when I went to the church website, I liked what I saw. The church felt like “home” from the very first Sunday.

This past year has been a time of intense struggle. Everything I have tried, including prayer, has failed to put my marriage back together. The harder I have worked, the more distant my wife became. Now I am in that “no-mans-land” called married-single. I have dealt with loneliness…sometimes intense. I have wondered many times if I even matter, whether if I disappeared, anyone would even miss me. I have felt worthless, because everything that gave me worth has been stripped away. I have also struggled with health issues, which on top of everything else, seemed overwhelming. Finances have been tight, but God has always put food on my table. I have even wondered if I matter to God, when all I get from Him is stony-silence. I have asked “Why” more times than I can count, with no answers in sight. When I have gotten answers, they were all the “wrong” answers. Why has God even put up with me? Wouldn’t putting me out of my misery put me out of His misery? He must not think so…

Through every struggle, there has been some kind of answer for each. Good medical care, from caring health-care providers have made the health issues more manageable. Even as I found my worth slipping away, God showed me my true worth, because as one of His special creations, I have great value to Him, and as His child, I am an heir to His kingdom. Through reading and studying His Word, as well as the writings of wise men He has gifted, I have gained a better perspective on life. The church family has been a much-needed source of caring and love. Thanksgiving and Christmas were made brighter by families in the church who invited me to be part of their families for those holidays. Those were times when I would have been alone otherwise.

Over the last several months, I have been challenged in even what I have believed to be true concerning my interpretation of the Bible. What I have come to see is that I have been reading my cultural perspectives into the Bible. I have been culturally-conditioned to see things a certain way, and yet the last parts of the Bible was written almost two-thousand years ago, and the writers didn’t see things as I do. The writers of Scripture were the ones inspired by God, not I. When we believe a lie from the pit of hell, and think that Scripture teaches that lie, we are deceived by Satan, not by Scripture. God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and we must interpret our culture through the lens of God’s Word, rather than interpreting God’s Word through the lens of our culture. It is hard changing gears. That has been tough sledding, but God wants to make Himself known through His Word, so it is worth the journey. He will always bless our desire to know Him better through His Word.

Christ’s church is no social-club for the “righteous“. Rather it is commissioned to be His field-hospital for the sin-sick, wounded and weary. God Himself is our Great Physician – our Doctor, and we are called to be His nurses and staff…His hands and feet. Had my fifty-eight years on this journey been easy…a bed of roses, I would not understand, but by being a struggler, sin-sick, wounded and weary, I do understand. May God grant me greater ability to do that task in His church, to serve those who are struggling, and bring glory and honor the Him.

God’s grace has ALWAYS been sufficient. It is I that had the problem seeing it. I am still a work-in-progress, and God isn’t done with me yet.