Archive for February, 2011

February 11.11 ethot

The Song of Songs 4:8 (1-16) “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, may you come with me from Lebanon.

In the culture of that day it was understood that the new couple was establishing a new relationship, a new home. Each was leaving behind the past and ready to establish something new. In this new relationship their focus would no longer be on their parents or their friends. There focus would now be on each other.

I thought that it was kind of interesting that although studies show women use up to five times more words than men to communicate a thought, here it was quite the opposite. Maybe she was hungrier than he for the relationship to get physical.

One thing I think we should take away from this (among others) is the importance of constant and deliberate communication between each other. Don’t let your relationship wear down to a few grunts and gesture, as if you’re talking at each other. Don’t ever get yourself into that frame of mind that thinks you already know everything about your spouse there is to know. Treat every conversation as an opportunity to discover or verify something new.

Initiative involves taking on the responsibility for the physical and spiritual encouragement of those entrusted to our care.

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February 10.11 ethot

The Song of Songs 3:6 (1-11) “What is this coming up from the wilderness…

In this chapter the Shulammite has a dream where she can’t find her husband. When she finally does she won’t let him go until she can present him to her mother, v. 4. I guess this might be a description of pre-wedding jitters. But there was no need to worry because the king was on his way and could be seen from far away.

What vs. 6-11 describes is the coming of the king for his bride. The marriage customs of that day were to first have the families agree to the marriage and pay the dowry. The second step was for the guy to go and prepare to support his soon to be family. When he was ready he would come to her at night in a procession with his friends. The final step was the dinner, which would go on for a few days and in which the marriage was consummated.

This made me think of our Lord, His soon return and how the church today has been experiencing pre-wedding jitters. We are waiting for the return of our groom who has been preparing a place for us (John 14:2-4). When He is done He will return to take us up to Himself (the Rapture).

Just like the Shulammite didn’t have to worry, because Solomon would never miss this date, the church today shouldn’t worry, because the dowry he paid (His own blood) guarantees His return. And, on that day we will find ourselves at that wedding feast, safe and secure (Revelation 19:9).

Security involves learning to enjoy what we have today without letting us forget the focus or our real joy, who is still to come.

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February 9.11 ethot

The Song of Songs 2:15 (1-17) “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.”

A number of times in this chapter the writer refers to Solomon and the Shulammite as spring fragrances. That is that they are not only attractive but doing something to be attractive to each other.

During any courtship attention between the couple is heightened. It is a practice that should never end, but deepen, as you look to be pleasing to each other. As the relationship mature there will be times when dressing down is fine, but there should always be that desire not to offend each other.

As the couple are focusing more and more on each other they need to be aware that they attracting the attention of others as well, v. 15. Some who are not so nice but attractive are intent on having their own fun can create problems. Whether they are intentional or not it becomes important to take great care not to get involved in the inappropriate.

Like a good vineyard a courtship should have a fence.

Cautiousness involves learning to recognize and avoid those intent on destroying right relationships.

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February 8.11 ethot

The Song of Songs 1:2 (1-31) “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.

As the title implies, this book is a song written by Solomon. There are three main voices in the song: Solomon (1:1), the Shulammite (6:13) and the daughters of Jerusalem (1:5).

No one actually knows who the “daughters of Jerusalem” are. Some say they are just the women of the city, other say they are the kings harem (6:8). In chapter 6:8 Solomon describes that harem of sixty queens, eighty concubines and as many servants as they needed. My impression of this harem is that it is a left over of his father David, but now a responsibility of the son. He probably is not having sex with any of them. But this doesn’t mean the young man (early in his kingship) is not interested.

The Shulammite is a young woman that Solomon encounters in one of his inspection tours of the lands under his care as king. Her family owns vineyards and as the only daughter her brothers weren’t always friendly. I like to think she challenged them to a competition she rigged to win and embarrassed them publicly (they probably deserved it). So, their punishment of her was that she had to tend their areas of the vineyard. This made her very tanned. The women Solomon knew were all homebodies and not tanned, so the Shulammite stood out.

It’s funny that this study should fall in the month of February, the Valentine month. This is a time when married couples should refocus their attentions on each other and avoid the things that make us forget who we are and the commitments we’ve made.

Joyfulness involves looking past present difficulties to what God might be doing.

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February 7.11 ethot

Proverbs 31:23 (10-31) “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.

In v. 11 the writer tells us that the husband, in this case, trusts his wife completely. She has apparently shown that her goals and his goals are the same or that she has understood her role as wife, and this is because others can see the difference in him and they know who it is, v. 12.

Because she has, her husband is well known at his job. She has understood her role as his helper, Genesis 2:18. The wife (not just any woman) is to understand what her husband’s ministry or work is and find ways to be a helper so he can accomplish his God given goals. If she tries to compete with him there will be no satisfaction on either side, only resentment and a lack of trust, v. 11.

This is why it is so important for couples not to let themselves be carried away by the emotion of the moment. Guys who marry the ravishing beauty because they can are just looking for a piece of jewelry to wear. She means little else because she is just a thing, an object in his sight.

Determination involves directing all our energies to complete the mission we’ve been assigned.

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February 4.11 ethot

Proverbs 31:30 (10-31) “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

It’s interesting that this book ends basically on the same note it began, that is as a discussion on how to fear God. Actually, the word that is used is Lord. Although God is Lord (the one in charge, the owner of it all) whether you choose to accept it or not, the term Lord is used better in the sense of having accepted Him as such over your own life.

The phrase “fear of the Lord” can mean as some think, to have awe, respect and reverence for the One I feel is in charge. Fear can also mean to be afraid of being punished, Matthew 10:28.

I think that it’s significant that in trying to explain this “fear of the Lord” concept the writer decided to use a wife (not just a woman). In his example the wife could react to the fact that her husband spends all his time away from the house handling other peoples problems. Instead she sees an opportunity to take advantage of her freedom and meet the needs of every person in her household including the servants.

Yet her motivation is not to look good in public or for her husband. She is merely trying to be pleasing to her Lord and Master, God!

Humility involves understanding how easy it is to deceive ourselves into thinking that there are things we do and don’t deserve.

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February 3.11 ethot

Proverbs 31:8 (1-9) “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate.

This verse sounds like a really strong political, human rights statement when seen alone. But when placed back in its context it’s kind of funny. I say this because the king’s mother is here warning her son against certain distractions from his official duties, namely women and alcoholic beverages.

Knowing that Israel would one day desire a king God had Moses include some restrictions on the king’s freedoms. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 tells us he was not to allow himself to be distracted by military strength, money and women. But, now the king’s mom suggests that instead of opening his mouth to drink he instead open his mouth to do his job.

When the Law was established the only ones restricted from drinking were the priests on their duty watch, Leviticus 10:8-11. Today Peter says that we are a “royal priesthood”, 1 Peter 2:9. In that sense, as believers we should consider carefully our habits. The priest, like the king, had to have not only a clear head for decision-making but they had to look and sound like they knew what they were doing. Unlike the priest the king was on duty all the time.

As believers today, when are we on duty?

Alertness involves being fully aware of the consequences of present actions, words, attitudes, and thoughts.

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February 2.11 ethot

Proverbs 30:32 (15-33) “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself or you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.

From verses 15 through 31 the writer recognizes the beauty, the wonder and the incomprehensibleness of things in nature and life. They are observations from afar a witness from one who understands that he can’t understand it all. There is some one who of course does understand it all, but the writer admits the he is not that one.

All of us are in this position (of witnesses of the incomprehensible) except when we are the receiver of such a compliment about our beauty or wonder. At that moment we feel above all that which is not understood as one who has understanding. The compliment puffs us up to be more than what we are into forgetting our place, 1 Corinthians 8:1b.

This is why the writer tells us to shut our mouths before we open them and we make ourselves out not to be so wonderful or beautiful and quit easy to comprehend. In an effort to defend yourself you’ll stir up more trouble than its all worth, v. 33; Proverbs 17:28.

Humility involves not letting your emotions and pride dictate your decisions.

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February 1.11 ethot

Proverbs 30:2 (1-14) “Surely I am more stupid than any man, and I do not have the understanding of a man.

At first glance you might think that this person (Agur) doesn’t have a very positive view of himself, but on closer inspection you’ll find the opposite.

What Agur (probably a dad) is doing is trying to get his sons (Ithiel and Ucal) to see the arrogance of those who think themselves wiser than God and every other man, v. 13. This person has lost respect for the ones who brought him into existence, his parents and God, vs. 11&12.

As God’s creation we should learn the fact that there are some things about God we will never understand, v. 4. We can only compare our experiences with the facts of God’s word and hope to get an inkling of why God created us in the first place or why He chose us and not another.

And, in all our theorizing we should be cautious not to put words in God’s mouth, because then you wouldn’t just be a fool, but a lying fool, v. 6.

Humility involves understanding how ease it is to fool myself into thinking I am God.

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