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May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.

Daily Devotion for July 25, 2014

<i>Gather Ye Rosebuds</i> by William Waterhouse, ca. 1909.
Gather Ye Rosebuds by William Waterhouse, ca. 1909.



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Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


For Perseverance Today

If things get tough today, Lord — and in all hard times — let me stay motivated and calm. Let me look at how far I have come rather than how far I still have to go. Let me continue counting my blessings, not what I've been missing. May every day bring new chances to grow, new beautiful things to see, new plans to do, and new goals to pursue, as every new day is Your miracle day.


Prayer to Cast Aside Bad Habits

Mighty Holy Spirit, face of the one true God, help me, for I have slipped into bad habits. Something in me defies my attempts to change, and I feel compelled to do that which I do not want to do. I feel weak and ashamed, and I turn to you for help. Help me, dear God. Help me to resist this temptation. Lend me your mighty power to cast it aside.

You have graciously promised that you would not let us be tempted beyond our ability, but instead, would provide an escape for any temptation we pray to resist. Holy Spirit, show me my escape from my bad habit. Let me resolve to work on it, to pray on it, to turn it into a habit of good; for I know how you love righteous conduct, and my love for you longs to please you. Work your power to help me please you, mighty God; for I know that with your help, I can overcome any evil. In Christ's name, I pray,



[My love for you longs to please you.]


The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

<i>Anticipation</i> by Jennie Kimbrough, ca. 2010.
Anticipation by Jennie Kimbrough, ca. 2010. A woman seems unsure of what the doves in the light signify, as she awaits them. Her red dress belies the inner hope of her white crinoline.
Blue Latin Cross

Song of Solomon 2:1-7, 10-15 (NKJV)

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

The Beloved

Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

The Shulamite

Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,
So is my beloved among the sons.
I sat down in his shade with great delight,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.

The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem

He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.
Sustain me with cakes of raisins,
Refresh me with apples,
For I am lovesick.

His left hand is under my head,
And his right hand embraces me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.

The Beloved’s Request - The Shulamite

My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
For lo, 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 puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”

Her Brothers

Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes.

Notes on the Scripture

The Song of Solomon is unlike his other credited writings or, for that matter, anything else one can find or would expect to find in the Bible. It is a dramatic love poem, spoken by three voices: a young unmarried woman, probably in her mid-teens, who works in the fields; a young handsome prince; and, occasionally, a chorus (somewhat akin to the chorus of a Greek drama) that plays different roles. The tone is saturated with naive romanticism and a subtle physicality. There is even some slightly erotic double-entendre, although mild by today's standards. It might be rated “PG-13”.

Shulamite Bride

The plot is not well-developed, but one gets a general impression of a powerful prince seeing a beautiful girl in the field. They fall in love, and must overcome obstacles to be married. But Song of Solomon is primarily lyrical, not dramatic: a hymn to the beauty and goodness of physical love, leading to and fulfilled within marriage.

Remembering when this was written — around 950 B.C. — the skill and subtlety of the poet are remarkable. The delicate nuance with which the poet evokes intense sensuous awareness, while avoiding any crudity, clearly shows through the translation.

Aside from the flood of amorous metaphor and imagery, there is thematic material. In the passage above, we see two comments on when a woman should give herself to love. A maiden should not awaken love “until it pleases”; when a girl is not in love or not ready for love, she should guard her innocence and her heart. When the time comes, however — when “the flowers appear on the earth and the time of singing has come” — she should not hesitatePoetry readers will remember Robert Herrick, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” the inspiration for the large painting by Waterhouse at the top of the page. .

The last paragraph is slightly humorous today; the brothers are on the watch for the “little foxes that steal grapes”, i.e., men who would falsely seduce their sister. They threaten any man who might court her, one obstacle which true love will overcome.

The girl is a Shulamite, and is meant to evoke Abishag, the most beautiful woman in Palestine. (1 Kings 1:1-4)

Theologically, the poem is important to counteract the prudishness that is so often found among Christians. We have said several times that everyone has parts of the Bible that they do not want to hear, and this is the part that Victorians would not have wanted to hear. The sensual enjoyment of physical love with one's spouse is God's will for us.

Many scholars have taken the book as a metaphor of God's love for Israel; this seems forced and far-fetched, considering the undeniable sensuousness of the metaphor, e.g., “Your two breasts are like two fawns,/ Twins of a gazelle,/ Which feed among the lilies.”

endless knot

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Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

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