Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 2 September 18:
1. The Song of Solomon: The Song of Solomon is a lyrical poem written to extol the virtues of godly love between a husband and a wife. The title basically means, “The poem of all poems,” or “The best poem of all.” The name implies that the poem was written by Solomon, though the characters in the poem are likely not intended to represent him directly, particularly since Solomon didn’t get marriage right. The poem describes God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman who love each other spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The poem addresses sexual activity directly, countering ungodly notions of ascetism (denial of all pleasure) and hedonism (the pursuit of sinful pleasure), both of which have influenced some church traditions. The book has three sections: courtship (1:1-3:5); the wedding (3:6-5:1); and the maturing marriage (5:2-8:4). In the courtship phase, the poem addresses the demand for restraint and purity while dealing with passions and insecurities. The poem then describes the powerful emotions and passions of the wedding and consummation, not often preached from pulpits. Then, the poem discusses the challenges experienced in a mature marriage – there is conflict and reconciliation. The poem ends by describing a husband and wife who are confident and secure in their marriage and who yearn for each other’s presence. Throughout church history, many have sought to interpret the Song of Solomon as an allegory, a parable, or a metaphor for deeper theological issues. Certainly, the love story of the Song of Solomon has parallels to other spiritual truths, such as the love of Christ for the church, but the Song of Solomon is simply intended to be “a spirit-inspired expression of love between a bride and her groom. A love that is not to be ashamed.” (R.C. Sproul) The Song of Solomon is intended to teach spiritual truths to be practically applied in our lives.
2. Song of Solomon 1:15 – “Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful.” God created us to be attracted to the opposite sex, and He desires us to have physical relations within the bounds of marriage. Sex outside of biblical marriage is sin and destroys what God intends for us. Sin turns what God intended for good into something bad. At the heart of sin is selfishness, substituting God’s command of love for our self-centered desires.
3. Song of Solomon 2:16 – “My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.” Love and fidelity are inseparable, and they are both choices that reveal your character and true heart.
4. Proverbs 2:1-5 — “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” Don’t miss this important if-then statement. What is your treasure? What are you crying out for?
5. Proverbs 2:7, 8 – “…he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” God does not give wisdom to everyone equally or protect everyone equally. God enlightens and protects “those who walk in integrity” as His “saints.”
6. Proverbs 2:17 – “…who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God….” Your marriage covenant is tied to your covenant with God. Your marriage relationship reflects your spirituality. If you are married, how much you really love God is most revealed in how you love your spouse. How much you really value the forgiveness and grace you have received through Jesus is most revealed in how you forgive and show grace to your spouse.
7. Psalm 101:1 – “I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music.” Just as love and faithfulness go together, love and justice also go together.
8. Psalm 101:1-4 — “I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.” Psalm 101 is an oath of allegiance to God, and a commitment to fidelity to the KING. It starts with praise for God’s combined “steadfast love” and “justice” (accountability to Divine Law). It is critical for the reader to understand the Hebrew word interpreted here as “steadfast love” — chesed (kheh’-sed). Modern Christianity has significantly missed the depth of this word because (as Biblical scholars agree) it really has no precise equivalent in our language. This fundamental lack of understanding has distorted our concept of grace: Much has been written and debated about this word, but in summary, chesed cannot truly be understood apart from the words “justice” or “righteousness” because chesed describes a type of mercy and grace that can only be appreciated when compared to God’s passion for and insistence on righteousness and justice. Below offers a great explanation:
– “When we try to estimate the depth and the persistence of God’s loving-kindness and mercy, we must first remember his passion for righteousness. His passion for righteousness is so strong that he could not be more insistent in His demand for it, but God’s persistent love for his people is more insistent still. The story of God’s people throughout the centuries is that her waywardness has been so persistent that, if even a remnant is to be preserved, God has had to show mercy more than anything else. It is important to realize that though the Hebrew chesed can be translated by loving-kindness and mercy without doing violence to the context, yet we must always beware lest we think that God is content with less than righteousness. There is no reference to any sentimental kindness, and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance, in any case where the Hebrew original is chesed. His demand for righteousness is insistent, and it is always at the maximum intensity. The loving-kindness of God means that his mercy is greater even than that. The word stands for the wonder of his unfailing love for the people of his choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between his righteousness and his loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension.” (N.H. Snaith, Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, London, 1944).
– Anyone with a true appreciation of God’s chesed would refuse to take sin lightly – quite the contrary. When king David contemplated God’s chesed, he renewed his vow to “know nothing of evil.” Our church today does not understand chesed, so we walk much like the world. I believe God is calling us to repentance. One of the first steps is to clean out your own house. One thing that has truly surprised me is what Christians will choose for entertainment – scenarios that are abhorrent to God. Our entertainment is a testimony against us. We can no longer ignore what we have allowed into our homes and minds. Be honest. Repent; sin no more.
– Psalm 101:3 – I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
– Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
– 1 Corinthians 15:33 — Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
– Galatians 6:8 — For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
– Matthew 5:29 — If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
– 1 Timothy 4:7 — Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
– Galatians 5:19-21 — Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
– James 4:4 — You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
– Galatians 5:13 — For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
– Romans 12:2 — Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
– Romans 6:1-23 — What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
– Matthew 6:22 — “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,
– 1 John 2:15 — Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
– 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 — Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
– 2 Timothy 4:4 — And will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
– Matthew 5:28 — But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
– John 4:23-24 — But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
– Psalm 119:1-176 — Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
– Revelation 3:16 — So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
– Titus 1:14 — Not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
– Romans 1:32 — Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
– Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Proverbs 13:15 — Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.
– Psalm 1:1-6 — Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
– Proverbs 21:4 — Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
– Exodus 20:7 — “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
– Matthew 10:16 — “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
– Job 31:1 — “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
9. Psalm 101:3 — “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” Time to turn the TV off.
10. Psalm 101:3, 4 — “I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.” Have you separated yourself completely from what is ungodly?
11. Psalm 102:18 — “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.” The Bible should inspire you to praise the LORD.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 Sep 18: Endeavor to see your sin as God sees it, to see your sin in the context of God’s Holiness and God’s chesed (kheh’-sed). The more you truly know Jesus, the more you hate sin. When you understand Jesus’ love, it compels you to obedience and love for others. In worship today, seek the mind of Christ, to see yourself and others from His perspective, to truly develop a reconciliatory heart. (See today’s notes)