20 May 2019

A Few Thoughts on Knowing God's Will

When I was a young man, there were situations where I wanted guidance from those more experience than I. I asked, “What would you do?” Many times the person I asked would respond, “I am not going to tell you what you should do?” I was not asking them to make my decision; I was asking them for some counsel. As a result of this happening a number of times, I stopping asking anybody. I made many errors that could have been prevented, if I would have had some counsel.

Yesterday, I heard of a preacher who was asked by someone (not me), “What would you do?” The response from that pastor was, “I am not going to tell you what you should do.” This grieved me deeply. I so wished I could have listened to that person, and if I had some experience in that area would have given some counsel.

That incident is why I’m writing today’s thoughts.

Some thoughts on knowing God’s will.

I’ve written on this before, but I will just write of this one topic.

God’s will, views, thoughts, knowledge, and wisdom are beyond our understanding: Isaiah 55:9 NRSV For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We might ask fellow Christians and pastors for advice. They may or may not give advice and wisdom, but God always gives wisdom. He doesn’t say when, but He will. He promises it. He will not get upset at us for asking. James 1:5 WEL If any of you lack wisdom, then ask the God, who gives to all profusely and doesn't rebuke, and it will be given to him.

We must be willing, praying, and applying ourselves to be living God’s ways in our thoughts, desires, words, and deeds. Romans 12:1-2 WEL I implore you, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present yourselves as a holy, living sacrifice [which is] acceptable to God [and] your rational service [to Him]. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may discern what [is] the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

We must seek diligently seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness: Matthew 6:33 NASB But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

All we do, think, and say publicly and privately must be to God’s glory: 1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

We must realize that we are influenced by our fleshly desires all too often, so we must implore God to reveal these things to us. There can be no healing unless we acknowledge truth. Psalms 139:23-24 GNB Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts.  24  Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way.

Our decisions must be tested by Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 GNB Put all things to the test: keep what is good  22  and avoid every kind of evil.

We must know that there are things that we must do. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 22 NLT Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ... Stay away from every kind of evil.

We must know that there are things that we must NOT do. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 NLT Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.

We must know principles that God honors. A few examples:
1. Avoiding the many ways of sexual sins: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 NLT God's will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor-- not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.
2. Seeking and admitting the truth: Proverbs 12:17, 22 NLT An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies. ... The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.
3. Faith, that is, believing God. This is believing, reading and studying Bible in its plain, normal sense: Hebrews 11:6 NLT And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

We must know principles that God hates. A couple of examples:
1. Turning from turn to falsehoods. This especially applies to beliefs, philosophies, substitutes, etc., so things that are not true. 1 Timothy 4:3-4 WEL For the time will come when they will not put up with sound doctrine but according to their own sinful desires—[and] having tickling ears—will multiply for themselves teachers, 4 And they will turn away their ears from the truth, turning instead to fantasies.
2. Loving other things, for example, riches: 1 Timothy 6:10 NRSV For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

We can learn from successful actions (God approved):
1. The repentance of the people of Nineveh: Jonah 3:4-5, 10 NLT On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: "Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!" The people of Nineveh believed God's message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. ... When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
2. Being thankful and glorifying God for what He has done: Luke 17:12-19 NLT As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" He looked at them and said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, "Praise God!" He fell to the ground at Jesus' feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Didn't I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" And Jesus said to the man, "Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you."

We can learn from unsuccessful actions (God disapproves):
1. Betraying God, lying about Him, turning against Him, deliberately make Him angry:
a) Luke 22:3-5 NIV Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money.
b) Luke 22:47-48 NIV While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
2. Forsaking God, abandoning Him, turning away from to love and seek something other: 2 Timothy 4:10 NIV for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
3. Pride: 2 Chronicles 26:16 NLT But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the LORD his God by entering the sanctuary of the LORD's Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar.

Hopefully, these basics will help you and me make better decisions. If no one will listen to your issues, then we must pray. But, I pray you can find someone who will at least listen.

God does not say when He will answer, but He will.

Let us seek God.

Psalm 10:4 NLT The wicked are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead.
Proverbs 3:6 NLT Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

God bless.

19 May 2019

A Few Thoughts on Discouragement

We get discouraged. We face spiritual, physical, financial, emotional disappoints and discouragement. Hope seems to fade. We face family issues, church issues, issues at work, with friends, etc. You know what I mean. There are wars, terrorism, societal ills, evil Christian pastors, good pastors who become discouraged, etc. On and on it goes.

What do we do?

Jeremiah, the prophet, faced this very thing, too.

Background: The Septuagint has this introduction to Lamentations: And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said,

Jeremiah is so discouraged, along with all Jerusalem: Lamentations 1:1-7 GNB How lonely lies Jerusalem, once so full of people! Once honored by the world, she is now like a widow; The noblest of cities has fallen into slavery. 2 All night long she cries; tears run down her cheeks. Of all her former friends, not one is left to comfort her. Her allies have betrayed her and are all against her now. 3 Judah's people are helpless slaves, forced away from home. They live in other lands, with no place to call their own—Surrounded by enemies, with no way to escape. 4 No one comes to the Temple now to worship on the holy days. The young women who sang there suffer, and the priests can only groan. The city gates stand empty, and Zion is in agony. 5 Her enemies succeeded; they hold her in their power. The LORD has made her suffer for all her many sins; Her children have been captured and taken away. 6 The splendor of Jerusalem is a thing of the past. Her leaders are like deer that are weak from hunger, Whose strength is almost gone as they flee from the hunters. 7 A lonely ruin now, Jerusalem recalls her ancient splendor. When she fell to the enemy, there was no one to help her; Her conquerors laughed at her downfall.

Jeremiah later states this: Lamentations 1:20-21 GNB Look, O LORD, at my agony, at the anguish of my soul! My heart is broken in sorrow for my sins. There is murder in the streets; even indoors there is death. 21 "Listen to my groans; there is no one to comfort me. My enemies are glad that you brought disaster on me. Bring the day you promised; make my enemies suffer as I do.

The suffering is horrible: Lamentations 2:11-12 GNB My eyes are worn out with weeping; my soul is in anguish. I am exhausted with grief at the destruction of my people. Children and babies are fainting in the streets of the city. 12 Hungry and thirsty, they cry to their mothers; They fall in the streets as though they were wounded, And slowly die in their mothers' arms.

Jeremiah cries to God: Lamentations 3:1-8 GNB I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God. 2 He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness 3 And beat me again and again with merciless blows. 4 He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones. 5 He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish. 6 He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death. 7 He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape. 8 I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen;

He was being tortured: Lamentations 3:52-57 GNB I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me. 53 They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone. 54 Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near. 55 "From the bottom of the pit, O LORD, I cried out to you, 56 And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard. 57 You answered me and told me not to be afraid.

He complains about his enemies: Lamentations 3:60-66 GNB You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me. 61 "You have heard them insult me, O LORD; you know all their plots. 62 All day long they talk about me and make their plans. 63 From morning till night they make fun of me. 64 "Punish them for what they have done, O LORD; 65 Curse them and fill them with despair! 66 Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!"

Society suffers: Lamentations 5:9-12 GNB Murderers roam through the countryside; we risk our lives when we look for food. 10 Hunger has made us burn with fever until our skin is as hot as an oven. 11 Our wives have been raped on Mount Zion itself; in every Judean village our daughters have been forced to submit. 12 Our leaders have been taken and hanged; our elders are shown no respect.

His heart speaks to the pain he feels. He shouts to God: Lamentations 5:21-22 GNB Bring us back to you, LORD! Bring us back! Restore our ancient glory. 22 Or have you rejected us forever? Is there no limit to your anger?

The Psalmist, too, complains: Psalms 13:1-6 GNB How much longer will you forget me, LORD? Forever? How much longer will you hide yourself from me? 2 How long must I endure trouble? How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night? How long will my enemies triumph over me? 3 Look at me, O LORD my God, and answer me. Restore my strength; don't let me die. 4 Don't let my enemies say, "We have defeated him." Don't let them gloat over my downfall. 5 I rely on your constant love; I will be glad, because you will rescue me. 6 I will sing to you, O LORD, because you have been good to me.

In the middle of Jeremiah’s complaints, he remembers something: Lamentations 3:21-25 GNB Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: 22 The LORD's unfailing love and mercy still continue, 23 Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. 24 The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. 25 The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,

Habakkuk feels much the same: Habakkuk 3:17-19 GNB Even though the fig trees have no fruit and no grapes grow on the vines, even though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no grain, even though the sheep all die and the cattle stalls are empty, 18 I will still be joyful and glad, because the LORD God is my savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer and keeps me safe on the mountains.

We can speak in this same way to our counselor: Isaiah 9:6 GNB A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, "Wonderful Counselor," "Mighty God," "Eternal Father," "Prince of Peace." [Emphasis is mine]

The Psalmist praises God for hope: Psalms 16:1-11 GNB Protect me, O God; I trust in you for safety. 2 I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; all the good things I have come from you." 3 How excellent are the LORD's faithful people! My greatest pleasure is to be with them. 4 Those who rush to other gods bring many troubles on themselves. I will not take part in their sacrifices; I will not worship their gods. 5 You, LORD, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. 6 How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! 7 I praise the LORD, because he guides me, and in the night my conscience warns me. 8 I am always aware of the LORD's presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me. 9 And so I am thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure, 10 because you protect me from the power of death. I have served you faithfully, and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead. 11 You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.

Of Messiah, it is prophesied: Psalms 22:1-2 GNB My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come. 2 During the day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer; I call at night, but get no rest.
In the midst His pain, Messiah remembers: Psalms 22:22-23 GNB I will tell my people what you have done; I will praise you in their assembly: 23 "Praise him, you servants of the LORD! Honor him, you descendants of Jacob! Worship him, you people of Israel!

If you are suffering discouragement, you are normal. God has not forsaken you.

He will listen.

He will deliver when the time is right.

So we must pray, “God deliver me.”

We must also pray, “Teach me something from this.”

Then we wait.

We can complain as often as we need to, because

He listens.

Don’t give up hope.

Our souls are safe.

Even if we think we cannot tolerate any more, remember:
He suffered and knows our suffering: 1 Thessalonians 3:3 LEB so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed for this,
We do not know when deliverance comes, but it will happen: Psalms 34:19 NRSV Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.
We can help others: 2 Corinthians 1:4 NRSV who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
God’s love for us is enduring: Romans 8:38-39 NRSV For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Finally, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 GNB For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. 17 And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. 18 For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.

God bless you.

We Christians are in this life together.

16 May 2019

Song of Songs Part 2

Part 2

A brief review
B1 Written by Solomon
B2 Solomon is reminiscing about his marriage. I believe that chapter 1 is their wedding night after the wedding ceremony.
B3 The woman character is Naamah, Solomon’s first wife and mother to 3 children—Rehoboam, his son (1 Kings 11:43 and Matthew, Taphath (1 Kings 4:11), and Basmath (1 Kings 4:15). No other children were listed in Scriptures being fathered by Solomon.
B4 Personally, I feel that, in general, all of Solomon other wives were for political or business reasons. He didn’t become intimate with them.
B5 We learned
C1 Sexual pleasure in normal for both husband and wife. Admiring each other’s beauty is not sinful.
C2 The greatness of being with each other.
C3 Some pointers when you are together, namely
D1 It is a time for just the both of you
D2 Shut the phone off
D3 Shut the TV off
D4 Stop any distraction
D5 It is realistic that interruptions do happen as emergencies or younger children. But, otherwise, you are spending time with your spouse.
D6 Listen to her. Listen to him. Do not interrupt. Do not offer advice or counsel. Shut up and listen. Don’t be reading or doing something when she is talking.
B1 Chapter 5
C1 This is a continuation of chapter 4. Song of Solomon 4:16-5:1 GNB Wake up, North Wind. South Wind, blow on my garden; fill the air with fragrance. Let my lover come to his garden and eat the best of its fruits. 5:1 I have entered my garden, my sweetheart, my bride. I am gathering my spices and myrrh; I am eating my honey and honeycomb; I am drinking my wine and milk. Eat, lovers, and drink until you are drunk with love!
C2 Her husband returns home and knocks at the door. She does not get dressed quickly enough. Opening the door, she finds he has left.
C3 She was worried and longing for him, so she goes out at night only to be assaulted/molested by law enforcement. Song of Songs 5:7 NLT The night watchmen found me as they made their rounds. They beat and bruised me and stripped off my veil, those watchmen on the walls.
C4 The chorus, Daughters of Jerusalem, ask her what is so special about him?
C5 She responds describing his handsomeness.
C6 Note, she identifies him not only as lover but friend. Song of Songs 5:16 NLT His mouth is sweetness itself; he is desirable in every way. Such, O women of Jerusalem, is my lover, my friend.
B2 Chapter 6
C1 The chorus of young women, Daughters of Jerusalem, offer to help find him. “Where should we look?” they ask.
C2 She suggests the garden area. Song of Songs 6:2 NLT Young Woman My lover has gone down to his garden, to his spice beds, to browse in the gardens and gather the lilies.
C3 Solomon sees her and is overwhelmed by her beauty and describes, with joy, her beauty.
C5 She goes to a walnut grove to enjoy nature.
C6 The Daughters of Jerusalem ask her to return so they can observe her grace of movement.
B3 Chapter 7
C1 Her husband, seeing her beauty, is overwhelmed. He describes it honestly.
C2 After his description, telling her why she is so beautiful, she becomes overwhelmed, too. Song of Songs 7:10 NLT Young Woman I am my lover's, and he claims me as his own.
C3 They enjoy being intimate in their private garden.
B4 Chapter 8
C1 There is a time for intimacy and a time to refrain. Song of Songs 8:4 NLT Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. Consider:
D1 A husband can request intimacy, and the wife can refuse (maybe she is sick or too exhausted from work, etc.).
D2 A wife can request intimacy, and the husband can refuse.
D3 Sometimes one hears teaching that a wife must always be available to meet her husband’s sexual needs. This is wrong and evil. It is practically raping your wife.
D4 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 GW But in order to avoid sexual sins, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 3 Husbands and wives should satisfy each other's sexual needs. 4 A wife doesn't have authority over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband doesn't have authority over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Don't withhold yourselves from each other unless you agree to do so for a set time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then you should get back together so that Satan doesn't use your lack of self-control to tempt you. [Emphasis is mine]
C2 The wife explains the strength of love. Let us note it carefully.
D1 Song of Songs 8:6-7 NLT Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.
D2 If a woman is afraid of her husband, then the husband does NOT love his wife. If a man is afraid of his wife, then the wife does NOT love her husband. 1 John 4:18 GNB There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.
D3 If your marriage does not seem to have love, see below.
C3 Entering marriage as a virgin is God’s best. Some do not, so do not freak out about it. You ARE forgiven if you asked God to forgive you. Song of Songs 8:9 NLT If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower. But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar.
C4 Naamah was a virgin when she married Solomon. Song of Songs 8:10 NLT Young Woman I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees.
C5 Solomon is identified as the husband.
D1 He has a vineyard that he leases to tenants.
D2 She has a vineyard, herself, that he can have free. She is the vineyard. Song of Songs 8:12 NLT But my vineyard is mine to give, and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver. But I will give two hundred pieces to those who care for its vines.
C6 Solomon wants so listen to his wife. He wants to hear her voice and opinions. Song of Songs 8:13 NLT Young Man O my darling, lingering in the gardens, your companions are fortunate to hear your voice. Let me hear it, too!
C7 The wife, Naamah, wants to be with him forever. Song of Songs 8:14 NLT Come away, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.

We learn
B1 It is OK to tell your wife how beautiful she is from head to toe. Husbands enjoy your wife’s beauty.
B2 Sex is meant for husband and wife. Both are to enjoy it. Ask her what is pleasurable. Do not be in a rush.
B3 Togetherness is important. This doesn’t mean just living in the same house. This means to worship, eat, work, communicate, listen, pray, etc. together. You must have togetherness. It doesn’t mean having a date. It means enjoying each other’s company daily.
B3 Communication is important.
B4 The spouses need to know the language of love.
C1 A quiz husband and wife should take. The quiz is here.
C2 Take the quiz and discover each other’s language of love.
C3 There are more resources here.
B5 Love is a choice. You choose to love. It is not necessarily an emotion.
B6 The actions of love are found in 1 Corinthians 13. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a WEL 4 Love is very patient and kind; love is not envious; love doesn't brag about itself, is not haughty,
5 Doesn't behave improperly, is not self-seeking; love isn't easily aggravated, doesn’t keep a list of wrongs,
6 Doesn't rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in the truth,
7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends,...

15 May 2019

Song of Songs Part 1

Author: Solomon, King of Israel, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
B1 It is most reasonable that Solomon wrote this.
B2 Consider: 1 Kings 4:29-34 GNB God gave Solomon unusual wisdom and insight, and knowledge too great to be measured. 30 Solomon was wiser than the wise men of the East or the wise men of Egypt. 31 He was the wisest of all men: wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame spread throughout all the neighboring countries. 32 He composed three thousand proverbs and more than a thousand songs. 33 He spoke of trees and plants, from the Lebanon cedars to the hyssop that grows on walls; he talked about animals, birds, reptiles, and fish. 34 Kings all over the world heard of his wisdom and sent people to listen to him.
B1 The plain, normal sense
C1 God is omniscient
C2 God is omnisapient
C3 God can communicate perfectly
C4 Thus, it is most reasonable to read and study Song of Songs in it plain, normal sense.
C5 Don’t interpret it. Read it.
B2 Others’ interpretation
C1 There is the plain, normal sense, allegorical sense, Typological, Bible code sense, symbolic sense and others. Maybe there are 50 different ways people have interpreted it. Much more can be found here.
C2 Criswell (as found here): Criswell rightly comments that the allegorical "approach often finds as many interpretations as interpreters, which shows its dubious value. Genuine allegory will usually yield basically the same interpretation to its varied interpreters (Ed comment: As a corollary thought, keep in mind that even figurative language always has a literal meaning, but as with all Scripture may have multiple valid applications)." (Criswell, W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas Nelson)
C3 Warren Wiersbe (same source): While the Song of Solomon illustrates the deepening love we can have with Christ, we must be careful not to turn the story into an allegory and make everything mean something.
All things are possible to those who allegorize—
and what they come up with is usually heretical.
C4 Henry Morris (Same source: Morris makes an interesting comment noting that "Although there have been a number of interpretations of this book, the most obvious interpretation is no interpretation at all. That is, it is simply what it purports to be--a romantic love poem describing the love of young Solomon and a Shulammite maiden who became his first bride...Clearly Morris' "non-interpretation" approach is a plea for us to interpret this beautiful love poem in its natural, literal sense.
B1 The honeymoon
B2 Day to day life
B3 Marriage growth, marriage matures in time
B4 Sexual love between spouses is not evil; it is to be enjoyed by BOTH.
B1 Solomon, the king, the bridegroom
C1 The king and bridegroom
C2 “Etymology of the name Solomon: The name Solomon comes from the fertile and familiar root שלם (shalem), to be or make whole or complete” (Source)
C3 Thusly, this is Mr. Solomon. Essentially, the same as the Shulammite.
B2 The Shulammite
C1 The bride, Solomon’s first wife, Naamah an Ammonitess (2 Chronicles 12:13).
C2 “Etymology of the name Shulammite: The name Shulam(mite) appears to be based on the familiar word שלום (shalom), meaning peace, which in turn is derived from the verb שלם (shalem), to be or make whole or complete” (Source) Essentially, the same as Solomon.
C3 Thusly, this is Mrs. Solomon.
C4 Naamah means loveliness/pleasantness (Source)
B3 The Chorus (Daughters of Jerusalem)
B1 Personally, I think Solomon was reminiscing about his wedding and marriage to Naamah.
C1 The language of the first chapter is very erotic.
C2 It would seem unlikely that the first time they meet, she wants him to sex with him. Song of Solomon 1:13 GNB My lover has the scent of myrrh as he lies upon my breasts.
B2 Chapter 1
C1 In my opinion, this is the wedding night. It is their first night alone to consummate their marriage.
C2 She was admiring his physic.
C3 She felt that she was not as beautiful as she wanted to be, because of her brothers making her work. Song of Solomon 1:6 GNB Don't look down on me because of my color, because the sun has tanned me. My brothers were angry with me and made me work in the vineyard. I had no time to care for myself. Note, she might have felt she wasn’t perfect, but Solomon accepted her as perfect, just as she was.
B3 Chapter 2
C1 The bride is enjoying his caresses. Song of Solomon 2:6 GNB His left hand is under my head, and his right hand caresses me.
C2 The king had to leave for governmental duties but has returned. Song of Solomon 2:8-9 GNB I hear my lover's voice. He comes running over the mountains, racing across the hills to me. 9 My lover is like a gazelle, like a young stag. There he stands beside the wall. He looks in through the window and glances through the lattice.
B4 Chapter 3
C1 The Shulammite has a nightmare that her husband, her lover, is gone, and she cannot find him. Song of Solomon 3:1 GNB Asleep on my bed, night after night I dreamed of the one I love; I was looking for him, but couldn't find him.
C2 Solomon isn’t just coming home. He is coming in royal style. Song of Solomon 3:6-10 GNB What is this coming from the desert like a column of smoke, fragrant with incense and myrrh, the incense sold by the traders? 7 Solomon is coming, carried on his throne; sixty soldiers form the bodyguard, the finest soldiers in Israel. 8 All of them are skillful with the sword; they are battle-hardened veterans. Each of them is armed with a sword, on guard against a night attack. 9 King Solomon is carried on a throne made of the finest wood. 10 Its posts are covered with silver; over it is cloth embroidered with gold. Its cushions are covered with purple cloth, lovingly woven by the women of Jerusalem.
C3 His wife is excited. Song of Solomon 3:11 GNB Women of Zion, come and see King Solomon. He is wearing the crown that his mother placed on his head on his wedding day, on the day of his gladness and joy.
C4 They are already married.
B4 Chapter 4
C1 They are intimate again.
C2 They are admiring each other’s beauty. She has
D1 Beautiful hair: Song of Solomon 4:1 GNB How beautiful you are, my love! How your eyes shine with love behind your veil. Your hair dances like a flock of goats bounding down the hills of Gilead.
D2 Perfect teeth: Song of Solomon 4:2 GNB Your teeth are as white as sheep that have just been shorn and washed. Not one of them is missing; they are all perfectly matched.
D3 Her face and neck are stunning. Song of Solomon 4:3-4 GNB Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; how lovely they are when you speak. Your cheeks glow behind your veil. 4 Your neck is like the tower of David, round and smooth, with a necklace like a thousand shields hung around it.
D4 The rest of her body is beautiful, too.
D5 The husband admires her beauty, takes time to enjoy it, and makes sure she enjoys this attention too.
C3 His wife is his one and only.
C4 The physical joy of being together intimately.
C5 Personally, I feel that in general all of Solomon other wives were for political or business reasons.
D1 His father King David had a number of wives and many children.
E1 It is believed he has 8 wives. They were Michal, Abigail, Bathsheba, Ahinoam, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah (see here). Maybe he had more as stated in 2 Samuel 5:13 ESV And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.
E2 He had at least 20 sons and 1 daughter (see here).
D2 Solomon only has 3 children listed. Rehoboam, his son (1 Kings 11:43 and Matthew , Taphath (1 Kings 4:11), and Basmath (1 Kings 4:15). That’s it!
D3 If all his wives had 3 children were is the list of names?
We learn
B1 Sexual pleasure in normal for both husband and wife. Admiring each other’s beauty is not sinful.
B2 The greatness of being with each other.
C1 Husband and wife need to be best friends.
C2 They need to enjoy each other’s company.
C3 They need to take time off to be with each other.
C4 Marriage is a higher priority than work.
B3 When you spend time together
C1 It is a time for just the both of you
C2 Shut the phone off
C3 Shut the TV off
C4 Stop any distraction
C5 It is realistic that interruptions do happen as emergencies or younger children. But, otherwise, you are spending time with your spouse.
C6 Listen to her. Listen to him. Do not interrupt. Do not offer advice or counsel. Shut up and listen. Don’t be reading or doing something when she is talking.

12 May 2019

A Few Thoughts on Eliezer of Damascus

Genesis 24:1-4 NET Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in everything. Abraham said to his servant, the senior one in his household who was in charge of everything he had, "Put your hand under my thigh so that I may make you solemnly promise by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth: You must not acquire a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living. You must go instead to my country and to my relatives to find a wife for my son Isaac."

Eliezer was the CEO of everything Abraham owned. He was the chief servant, for Abraham was very, very rich. (See this article and Genesis 13:1-2 NET So Abram went up from Egypt into the Negev. He took his wife and all his possessions with him, as well as Lot. (Now Abram was very wealthy in livestock, silver, and gold.)

Abraham sent Eliezer on a mission, a very important mission. A mission to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Arranged marriages were the norm in those days for both family and financial reasons. Note however, that Rebekah had a choice in the matter: Genesis 24:57-58 NET Then they said, "We'll call the girl and find out what she wants to do." So they called Rebekah and asked her, "Do you want to go with this man?" She replied, "I want to go."

We learn from this
  • Delegation. Abraham did not do this himself
  • Trust in Eliezer to accomplish the mission
  • Importance of knowing the people around you, for Eliezer had to have proven, godly character traits
  • Knowledge of what was needed, because Abraham gave specific instructions
  • Ultimate trust of Abraham in Yahweh to guide Eliezer
  • Importance of knowing the societal standards and characteristics of the people whom a potential wife could be found

Genesis 24:5-8 NET The servant asked him, "What if the woman is not willing to come back with me to this land? Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?" "Be careful never to take my son back there!" Abraham told him. "The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and the land of my relatives, promised me with a solemn oath, 'To your descendants I will give this land.' He will send his angel before you so that you may find a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to come back with you, you will be free from this oath of mine. But you must not take my son back there!"

Eliezer asked some questions of Abraham, namely what to do if she does not agree to come, and could I go to your hometown to search for a wife?

Abraham shows faith to obey God’s instructions concerning where to live. Abraham is in that land.

Abraham trusts God to send divine guidance to Eliezer.

We learn
  • It is wise to ask questions to clarify the mission and of alternate possibilities in case the mission cannot be completed as ordered.
  • Trust in those under our authority to accomplish what is requested
  • Faith in God’s Words. Note, Abraham understood God’s word in the plain, normal sense and determined to obey God. This shows trust and a reasonable faith, for Abraham had many dealings with God.
  • A plan how to proceed, if the initial plan does not work
  • Trust that God will in some way make the mission successful
  • Acknowledgement that humans do have a measure of libertarian free will

Genesis 24:9 NET So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and gave his solemn promise he would carry out his wishes.

The servant takes a vow. We don’t need to take vows today, for Jesus said: Matthew 5:37 NET Let your word be 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no.' More than this is from the evil one. Nevertheless, if we are required to take an oath, it must be an honest oath. The difference between an oath and a vow. An oath is a solemn promise that one is telling the truth. A vow is a promise to perform some act.

We learn
  • Sometimes a situation is very formal, and we give our promise with a vow.
    • An oath, a formal, legal affirmation of telling the truth: Hebrews 7:19-21 WEL For the law made nothing perfect, but bringing in a better hope [did], by which we draw near to God. 20 And none of this happened without an oath, 21 For indeed, they were made priests without an oath, but this one with an oath by him who said to him, "The Lord swore and will not repent, 'You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.'"
    • A vow, a formal, legal affirmation to keep a promise: Matthew 5:33 WEL 33 "Again you have heard it said by those in the past, 'you must not make a solemn promise but must keep your promise to the Lord concerning your vows.'
  • A godly servant will keep faith and perform what was required. Hebrews 3:14 NLT For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Genesis 24:12-15 NKJV Then he said, "O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. "Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. "Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, 'Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink'--let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master." And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder.

The servant prays for wisdom. Here, he asks for a sign. Remember this is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is what he did. We are not to seek signs.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 WEL For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom, 23 But we preach Christ crucified. To the Jews [this is] a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness
  • Mark 8:12 NLT When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, "Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign."
The test for her comes Rebekah. The servant sticks to his plan and watches.

We learn
  • To pray for wisdom: James 1:5 WEL If any of you lack wisdom, then ask the God, who gives to all profusely and doesn't scold, and it will be given to him.
  • Let us not be foolish: Proverbs 10:21 NET The teaching of the righteous feeds many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.

Genesis 24:16-21 NKJV Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her and said, "Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher." So she said, "Drink, my lord." Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink. And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking." Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.

The servant observes closely.
John Trapp in his commentary writes on verse 21: Wondering at her.] At her courtesy; but more at God’s good providence, and so sweet a return of his prayers. The Greek hath it, He considered her, and held his peace.

We learn to observe and wait for God’s will to be done. Sometimes the answer comes quickly and sometimes later, but it will come.

Genesis 24:26-28 NKJV Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the LORD. And he said, "Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren." So the young woman ran and told her mother's household these things.

The servant is thankful and worships Yahweh.

We learn to do the same.

Genesis 24:55-56 NKJV But her brother and her mother said, "Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go." And he said to them, "Do not hinder me, since the LORD has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master."

The servant is successful and wants to hasten home to his master as he has been told.
The servant also wants to follow Abraham’s wishes so does not decide to enjoy himself with a few days of feasting.

We learn to complete our promise.

Genesis 24:57-58 NKJV So they said, "We will call the young woman and ask her personally." Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go."

Rebekah confirms her will to go and fulfill God’s wishes.

We learn to agree with God’s will. Note, it must not be an experience we trust in but evidence. The evidence was in what Eliezer said and in the riches of his gifts.

Genesis 24:66 NKJV And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.

The servant gives his report of all that happened.

We learn to give an accounting.

In summary,
  • The servant was sent on a mission.
  • The servant clarifies what his master wants.
  • The servant gave his word, his promise.
  • The servant prays for wisdom.
  • The servant tests what is happening to see if it fulfills the facts.
  • The servant observed and waited for all to happen.
  • The servant is thankful.
  • The servant worships.
  • The servant tells the truth.
  • The servant does not keep the riches for himself.
  • The servant hastes to complete his mission.
  • The servant gives his report. He gives an accounting of how he fulfilled the mission.

We are servants of God.
Let us in thoughts, desires, words, and deeds be good servants of Jesus Christ.