Wednesday, August 30, 2006

His Banner Over Me Was Love

Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

If you ever went to Sunday School as a youngster, you have probably heard the little children's song based upon the above verse. Though I did not grow up in a Christian home, and I do not believe I went to any sound churches as a child (four years attending Sunday School in a Pentecostal church - I do not ever remember hearing the Gospel from them), I still had some exposure to songs such as this that were based on verses from the Bible or from Bible stories. I praise the Lord for this song and John 3:16 - because even as a lost youngster, I learned the truth that God was love, and that He loved me - and later as an adult, this fact was always in the back of my mind when I thought about God. I knew He cared about me in my darkest times.

Though many of us may have sung that song or read that verse, did we really know what it meant? Yes, the Lord has covered His children with His love, but what is a banner, and what are we rallying under as Christians?

A banner is a flag, a standard. In this case, God's Word says His flag over us is love. The flag the believer is to rally around is love! Not some ecumenical, lovey-dovey, wishy-washy, anything goes love - but love according to the Word of God: love for God first, then love for others. (See Matthew 22:37-40)

The banner the Lord has placed over us is love - is your life, your daily conduct, your attitude towards others, a reflection of that love?

After the tabernacle was completed, the Lord gathered the nation of Israel and divided them into their individual tribes, each tribe having its own standard. The order they were to march was designated by God Himself.

Numbers 2:2 Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines a standard as: "An ensign of war; a staff with a flag or colors. The troops repair to their standard." Ensign means: "The flag or banner of a military band; a banner of colors; a standard; a figured cloth or piece of silk, attached to a staff, and usually with figures, colors or arms thereon, borne by an officer at the head of a company, troop or other band." Repair means: "To go to; to betake one's self; to resort; as, to repair to a sanctuary for safety."

The Defined King James Bible defines ensign as: "Flag, banner, or standard, esp. a military one raised high as a rallying point."

From the above definitions, we can see that the standard was the flag each tribe (each division in the army comprising the nation of Israel) gathered around - it was what they resorted to as a sanctuary, a place of safety. Each standard had its own distinct figure or color. This flag was also what they marched under - the standard they raised, representing their position in the army.

Numbers 2:3 And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah.

The first standard we see listed in the Word of God is the standard of the tribe of Judah. From what I have read, the standard for the tribe of Judah was the lion. I have not been able to confirm that Scripturally - BUT we do know that the tribe the Messiah was to come from was the tribe of Judah, and this belief (in the coming Messiah) they were rallying under as a nation. And Jesus Christ, the Messiah foretold in the Word of God, did come in the fulness of time - and one day He is coming back again to reign: He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Genesis 49:8-10 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Are you rallying under the Lord Jesus Christ? Is the Lion of the tribe of Judah the banner you are holding high? Is He the ensign you are seeking and gathering around?

Look again at Numbers 2:2 Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house...

Every tribe, every family, was to be rallied under the banner representing their father's house. Are you gathered together with the house of God, representing your Heavenly Father's house? (See 1 Timothy 3:15 and Ephesians 3:14-15) Does the world (and even your enemies) clearly know which army you represent? Is it obvious to others that you have rallied under the banner of the cross?

Exodus 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Right about now I think it would be prudent to restate part of the definition of standard: "an ensign of war." Too often we forget that we are in a war - we entered into a spiritual battleground the moment we got saved! When we gather around the banner of the cross, we are declaring battle on falsehood, on false religion, on unrighteousness; we are declaring war on the world, the flesh, and the Devil. I think we as believers get sidetracked and even sideswiped by the Devil because we forget this fact! We forget there is a war going on - and we get a bit of shrapnel first - then we wake up! Then we put on the whole armour of God.

In the army of the Lord, we are fighting this old world by being salt and light in the midst of it (see Matthew 5:13-15 and Philippians 2:14:16) - creating a thirst, preserving our society and families, shining the light of the Word of God, exposing sin and error.

Isaiah 59:19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

In this world, we are one of the main ways the Lord uses to hold back sin (through living righteously and having an influence on our society and those we come in contact with, and by our petitions for the lost around us) - once the true church is raptured out, there will be such chaos that this world has never seen when evil is no longer held back like it has been (see 2 Thessalonians 2:7 and Genesis 6:3). Until then, the Lord has lifted US up to be a standard against the evil around us.

Isaiah 11:11-12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah 49:22-23 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

As a declaration to the nation of Israel, God has promised them that He would use the Gentiles to bring them back to their own land, and that He would set up a standard to the people. As a general application, are you rallying behind the nation of Israel? Too much of the world is opposed to them and more and more nations are fighting against them (whether physically or through the media). YET, we know the Lord has promised them the land of Palestine forever, and one day Jesus will come back and reign from Jerusalem. Are we gathering around the standard of the nation of Israel - or are we just letting them fight against this ungodly world alone? (This is not an endorsement of all that the nation of Israel has done, but it is an acceptation of God's promises which will one day be fulfilled.) His promise to bless those that bless the nation of Israel is still in His Word! Likewise also His promise to curse those who curse them!

Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Does the world know where you stand in relation to the nation of Israel and to their Promised Land?

Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

Isaiah 62:6-7, 10-12 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth... Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Are you lifting up a standard for the nation of Israel? I admit, I have not protested the iniquity against them as much as I should have in the past - but the more injustice, lies and slander I see in the media, the more I cry out and stand against their enemies!

Isaiah 62:10 is interesting: Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.

Just as those Isaiah was prophesying about were to prepare the way of the people, even so we too should be preparing the way for others to hear the Gospel.

Isaiah 40:3-4 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ's first coming - his preaching of the Gospel prepared the hearts of the nation of Israel for the reception of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. In some ways our task is similar: we are to make straight paths toward those who the Lord places in our way, so that they can hear and receive the Gospel of Christ. We should cast up (ie. build up) the highway of holiness, gather out the stones (the stumbling blocks - whatever is hindering the preaching or reception of the Gospel), and lift up a standard for the people to rally around. We should lift up Jesus Christ before the eyes of our friends, families, and neighbours.

John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Jesus had to be lifted up on the cross (ie. crucified) in order to draw all men unto Himself. Now we are to lift Him up (ie. exalt Him through our witness). As we do so, we are lifting up high the Gospel standard, and causing others to see it.

Galatians 3:1b ...before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you.

Webster's defines a standard-bearer as: "An officer of an army, company or troop, that bears a standard."

What standard are you bearing? What standard does your church rally under? What standard do you and your family rally under? Is it the Word of God? Too many throughout history have rallied behind a man, or a denomination - and when that man or denomination has contradicted the Word of God, they often took a stand for that man or denomination and against God's Word. Is your standard the Word of God? I am a Baptist by conviction because I believe that denomination is the closest historically to what the New Testament teaches a church should should be like (ie. in beliefs, practices, ordinances, etc.). If my local church ever stood against the Word of God, I would leave it and search for another faithful congregation that sought to teach and follow the Bible. My standard is the Word of God, and my Baptist church only inasmuch as it follows that standard. How about you?

Let's even make it more specific: do you rally under God's preserved Word - a Bible that you can hold in your hands today? Do you rally under the King James Bible, based on the preserved Hebrew Masoretic Text, and the Greek Textus Receptus? It is the only Bible in English today that is based solely on these texts - all other modern versions are based only partly on them and, are in fact, mostly based on other manuscripts that were edited or put together by heretics and unbelievers. Which Bible is your standard - your sole (or should that be "soul") authority?

Psalm 20:5 We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions.

Psalm 60:4 Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

I love the words to Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus (I encourage you to read all the stanzas to this hymn - though this link has slightly different lyrics than I am used to):

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Are you lifting up the cross of Christ? Are you rallying around the Gospel banner? Are you gathered in your Father's house where the standard is the Word of God? Lastly, is love the banner you are serving under?

August 30th/06
Jerry Bouey

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Genesis Series

Table Of Contents:
(List of all studies in this blog based on passages in Genesis)

References To Genesis In The Book Of Job

Genesis 1:1 & The Trinity - Chapter 1

Three Avenues Of Temptation - Chapter 3

A Picture In Genesis Five - Chapter 5

Genesis: God's Sovereignty - 6:19

Genesis: God Remembered - various passages

Genesis: Claiming The Promises - 13:14-17

Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part One - 15:1

Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part Two

Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part Three

Genesis 15 - Fear Not - Part Four

Genesis 15 - Thy Shield

Genesis 15 - Thy Exceeding Great Reward

Wrestling Until The Day Break - 32:24

When Life Doesn't Go As You Planned (Character Study on Joseph) Chapters 37-41, and 50

But God... - 39:20-21

Jesus, The Sinner's Surety - Chapters 43-44


Other Studies of mine based on Genesis:
(Not posted in this blog, but are located on Eagle's Wings Ministries)

The Story Of Three Gardens: The Garden Of Eden - Chapter 3
And I Will Give You Rest (The Rest Of Salvation) - Chapters 5-8
Abraham Offering Isaac - Chapter 22
Lessons From The Life Of Jacob: Jacob, The Plain Man - Chapter 25

Song Of Solomon Series

Table Of Contents:

Draw Me And We Will Run After Thee - 1:4 - The Lord must draw us to Himself first - both for salvation and for fellowship.

Beside The Shepherds' Tents - 1:7-8 - Do you fellowship where God's flock gathers, and is your shepherd one after God's own heart?

Lessons In The Valleys: The Lily Of The Valleys - 2:1-2 - Jesus is with us in all the valleys of life.

Of How Much More Value Are We? - 2:1-2, 16 - How much does God value His children?

Shadows And Wings - 2:3 - What does it mean to live under God's shadow, under the shelter of His wings?

His Banner Over Me Was Love - 2:4 - What banner are you rallying under?

How Much Do You Value God's Word? - 2:8-10 - Is hearing God's voice important to you?

Arise, And Come Away - 2:13-17 - The Lord is calling you away from the hustle and bustle of this world to have fellowship with Him.

The Shadows Flee Away - 2:17 and 4:6 - A look at the theme of God being our light and the darkness passing away.

Wrestling Until The Day Break - 2:17 and 4:6 - What are we wrestling against, and how long will this wrestling go on?

A Well Of Living Waters - 4:12, 15 - Is living water flowing out from you to others?


List of my other Studies or Poems based on passages from the Song of Solomon, but not posted in this blog:

Studies:

Is Your Armour On? - 5:1-6:3 - Are you neglecting part of your armour, and how will that affect your daily walk and fellowship with the Lord?

Poems:

The Shadows Flee Away - One day the trials will be over.

The Valleys Of Life - The various trials we go through as believers.

He Gathers His Lilies - When the Lord takes His children home.

The Valley Of Faith - Oh the savour of His name!

A Well Of Living Waters

Song of Solomon 4:15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

In the verse just quoted, Solomon (picturing Jesus) stated that the believer is like a fountain... like streams... like a well of living waters. What exactly does this mean? If we go to the New Testament book of John, we will see two passages that reveal the meaning of this and other similar Old Testament references:

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Salvation through faith in Christ, everlasting life - a well of water springing up from the believer's soul. When we place our complete confidence in Christ, our faith in Him alone for salvation, He quenches that thirst deep inside us that only He could ever fill. This thirst to know the True and Living God will be quenched when we come to the Saviour and receive Him through repentance and faith. According to John 4:14, the true believer will NEVER thirst again in the way they did before coming to Jesus Christ. The word used in the Greek for never is a double emphatic, and means "No Never!" "The Lord Jesus Christ is saying that when we come to Him for salvation, He will completely fill that void inside us and we will never, ever thirst again!" He is THE Fountain of Living Waters.

But the phrase is also used in reference to the well of water flowing up within the believer himself - ie. spiritual water flowing within and out of the believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in fellowship with his Lord:

John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

The Lord Jesus Christ promised here that the Holy Spirit - who would indwell all believers after Christ resurrected from the dead and ascended into Heaven - would give power to the life that is submitted to Him. He would create a spiritual fountain within each child of God that not only would quench their own thirst but would be able to flow out to others - a source of life and refreshment.

Barnes makes the following comment on rivers in verse 38: "This word is used to express abundance, or a full supply. It means here that those who are Christians shall diffuse large, and liberal, and constant blessings on their fellow-men; or, as Jesus immediately explains it, that they shall be the instruments by which the Holy Spirit shall be poured down on the world."

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say this about rivers of living water: "It refers primarily to the copiousness, but indirectly also to the diffusiveness, of this living water to the good of others." Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines copious as: "Abundant; plentiful; in great quantities; full; ample; furnishing full supplies"; and diffuse as: "To spread; to send out or extend in all directions; to disperse."

Living water is flowing water. If you look at the Hebrew words underlying the phrase "running water" (in Leviticus 14:5-6; 50-52; 15:13 and Numbers 19:17), you will notice that it means "living water"; ie. water that is always flowing, running freely, springing or gushing up, not stopped up or stagnant. Consider the Dead Sea - water is continually flowing into that Sea, but nothing ever flows out, and there is no life in that Sea!

The Lord wants the water of His Holy Spirit to be flowing through us daily as we serve Him! To be filled with His Spirit means to be controlled or influenced by Him, to be guided by His Word and led by His Spirit in our lives. When we are not quick to obey His prompting, we grieve or quench His work in us and through us and we become like a garden inclosed... a spring shut up, a fountain sealed (see Song of Solomon 4:12 - Is Your Armour On?), where the water is not flowing forth, but is drying up.

John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

I find it interesting that Jesus referred to the Old Testament Scriptures as testifying to what He was proclaiming on that great feast day. What may seem a little confusing is the fact that Jesus is not quoting one specific passage, but making a general summation. When we start to dig into the Old Testament a little further, we will find that this theme of living water (and other related terms) runs throughout various books.

As we have seen from the opening verse in this study, the Song of Solomon refers to a well of living waters. There are also various references throughout other OT books, but especially the book of Isaiah.

I remember going through a "dry period" last fall, after I came back from my Mom's memorial, I felt so drained spiritually, so dry inside - but I made a choice to keep my focus on the Lord and I can remember crying out to Him and pleading with Him to quench that thirst inside, that dryness that situations in my life had just made almost unbearable. Then I picked up my Bible and started reading the very next chapter from where I was currently reading, and came across these verses in answer to my prayer:

Isaiah 41:17-18 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

It was not a coincidence that the Holy Spirit led me to keep reading! As I meditated on what was presented in that passage, the thirst was quenched when I realized that the Lord was with me and still fulfilling His promises in His Word. He quenched that thirst by reminding me that my complete fulfillment and satisfaction in life was found only in Him. In our time of sweet fellowship, my Heavenly Father made my wilderness into a pool of water - He made a fountain in the midst of the valley of Baca (weeping) I was going through. Praise Him for His gentleness and compassion on this poor and needy soul - praise Him for providing that spiritual water when my soul was seeking it! Though I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me! (See Psalm 40:17)

Webster's gives this as one of his definitions of spring: "A source; that from which supplies are drawn. The real Christian has in his own breast a perpetual and inexhaustible spring of joy."

These spiritual fountains, springs, wells, watered gardens, etc. all picture the satisfaction we have when we are walking with Christ: joy, peace of mind, contentment, comfort, rest, refreshment.

Family Bible Notes states this in regards to John 4:13: "Earthly blessings, however numerous and great, cannot satisfy the desires of men. But the blessings of the Holy Spirit, which Christ gives to those who ask him, furnish and secure to them satisfying and eternal joys."

In commenting on John 4:13-14, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown make the following observations: "The contrast here is fundamental and all comprehensive. 'This water' plainly means 'this natural water and all satisfactions of a like earthly and perishable nature.' Coming to us from without, and reaching only the superficial parts of our nature, they are soon spent, and need to be anew supplied as much as if we had never experienced them before, while the deeper wants of our being are not reached by them at all; whereas the 'water' that Christ gives -- spiritual life -- is struck out of the very depths of our being, making the soul not a cistern, for holding water poured into it from without, but a fountain... springing, gushing, bubbling up and flowing forth within us, ever fresh, ever living. The indwelling of the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of Christ is the secret of this life with all its enduring energies and satisfactions, as is expressly said (John 7:37-39). 'Never thirsting,' then, means simply that such souls have the supplies at home."

Since then I have noticed other passages on the same theme. I will not quote the various references to Moses striking the rock and water flowing forth, though obviously that was a type of the fountains of living waters that would flow forth from believers (they are also a type of Christ - see The Rock Of Horeb).

Psalm 107:35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.

Isaiah 12:2-3 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 35:5-7 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

Isaiah 43:19-20 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Isaiah 44:3-4 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Jeremiah 31:12, 14 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

In verse 14, we see that the Lord will satisfy His people with Himself, with His goodness. The Hebrew word used here for satiate means: "to slake the thirst." Our Heavenly Father promises to slake His people's thirst - He will completely fill that spiritual thirst inside our souls with Himself!

Genesis 2:8-10 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

Just like a river went out of Eden (which means "Delight") to water the Garden that God had planted, even so those who walk in right fellowship with the Lord will spiritually be as a watered garden, with rivers of living water flowing within and out of them to others. In the passage above, we see the first reference in the Bible to a river and to the Garden of Delight it watered - this river was the source of the fruitfulness of the garden. Is your garden well-watered? Is it producing much fruit for the Lord?

As the Garden of Eden was created to be a paradise for man to delight in as he walked in fellowship with the Lord, having all his needs and (godly) desires met - all our delight is to be in the Lord, and He will meet all our needs! When we delight ourselves in Him first and foremost, our desires are fulfilled and satisfied, because they will be the desires He Himself gave us, and they will be according to His will. (See Proverbs 37:3-6)

There is an interesting contrast presented in the following passages - obviously it goes beyond their physical condition and also deals with their spiritual condition:

Isaiah 48:21-22 And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out. There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.

Those believers walking with the Lord Jesus Christ are no longer thirsting. They have drunk of the living waters of salvation, and Christ is fulfilling and satisfying their souls with His peace, joy, etc. However, the lost cannot find this peace - because they are trying to do so without the Prince of Peace! No peace with God will leave men with no peace within their hearts and minds.

Isaiah 57:18-21 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

Without peace with God and the rivers of living water flowing within, mankind is left as a troubled sea. The difference is profound: springs of living water that are flowing are not clogged with mire and dirt, but are flowing, running freely, unhindered and refreshing - however, a life that is filled with sin and rebellion is like a sea that has no rest, but is continually tossing and turning, churning within, continually casting up the muck and mire of sin, leaving the sinner without inward peace or spiritual rest.

Consider the following passages in regards to backsliders or those walking in rebellion to the Lord - when men are not right with God, they cannot find lasting satisfaction, their waters dry up, and they are left dry, barren, lifeless, empty.

Isaiah 1:30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.

Psalm 107:33-34 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

Isaiah 42:15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.

Notice the following passage is not spoken of in the past tense (though it is an indirect reference to the first plague of Egypt, it obviously goes far beyond that) - but as something God will still do:

Isaiah 50:2 Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.

Hosea 2:3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.

Hosea 13:15 Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.

The Scriptures give us a choice: abundant life in Christ or a dry, barren, empty life without Him as our Saviour. (See John 10:10) Are you drinking water from the Rock, satisfying yourself with the fountains of living waters that are found in the Saviour and in the victorious life He provides as you walk in fellowship with Him? Is the well springing up in your life?

Numbers 21:16-18 And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the LORD spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water. Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it: The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah.

Hm, this last passage is interesting! I would say it is a type. The people dug the well according to the direction of God's Word, and the water sprung up. Then they went to Mattanah - which means: "a present; specifically (in a good sense), a sacrificial offering." When the Lord has satisfied the longings in your heart and soul, do you give yourself back to Him as a sacrificial offering, a living sacrifice? (See Romans 12:1)

Psalms 36:8-9 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

August 29th/06 (Edited September 7th/06)
Jerry Bouey

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon

Revelation 12:11

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

1) They overcame him (the accuser of the brethren, the devil) by the blood of the Lamb - by being washed in Jesus' blood which He shed at Calvary for their sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5), and by being cleansed by His blood on a daily basis (1 John 1:7, 9).

2) And by the word of their testimony - These Christians were victorious because they were witnesses, they shared their testimonies with others! On the other side of the coin, this verse indicates that if we will not witness about the Lord Jesus Christ and the eternal salvation found only in Him, we will not be overcomers! (Note: this is referring to overcoming on a day by day basis - though born again believers are more than conquerors in Christ - we are overcomers through faith in Him according to Revelation 2-3 and 1 John 5:4-5 - we do not always walk in light of that victory. This is a key passage for showing us how we can obtain that victory on a daily basis, as we walk in right fellowship with the Lord.)

3) And they loved not their lives unto the death - They were more concerned with pleasing God than they were about being menpleasers; they were more concerned with being obedient and faithful to the Lord than they were about compromising to keep their lives. They would rather die than turn away from Jesus Christ, rather die than betray their Saviour. (See Matthew 16:24-26; Colossians 3:22-24) Their integrity and spiritual well-being was more important to them than their comfort and physical well-being. (See Daniel 3:16-18)

(Taken from Is Your Armour On?)

The Fountain Of Living Waters

Jeremiah 2:5-9 Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt? And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.

The Lord God led Israel out of Egypt, provided for them in the barren wilderness, and led them to the Promised Land - a land where He would provide all their needs for them and give them the victory, if they would only trust Him. Unfortunately, they walked after vanity; they turned to false Gods instead of the true and living God; they ran after the things of the world, instead of the things of God - the pleasures of sin for a season - things that could never truly satisfy their souls.

Jeremiah 2:11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:17-19 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

It is sad, when they had a refreshing, ever-flowing, never-ceasing fountain of living waters right in front of them, they turned to broken cisterns (stagnant, stale, limited water) - but not only that - their cisterns were broken. Even the waters that the world offered failed, were not flowing, ran dry! The cisterns of this world could never bring peace, contentment, joy, satisfaction - it was all vanity of vanities - empty, worthless, of no profit. One day, the temporary pleasures of the world will prove to be only empty cisterns that leave you dry, barren, lifeless, and without hope.

Jeremiah 2:32 Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.

It is sad when even God's people turn from the fountain of living waters to the broken cisterns of the world - oh, the deceitfulness of sin! Too often we forget the Lord in our daily lives, and strive to find pleasure and fulfillment in anything other than in Jesus Christ. And the stagnant water these broken cisterns contain will always run dry and leave you unfulfilled. Contentment is found only in Jesus.

Jeremiah 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.

Israel had forsaken their hope - their confident expectation for their future was not in the Lord. Too often Christians do the same - we let the world sidetrack us, and turn from the way. We live for the things of the world, rather than the things of God; we lay up our treasures here rather than in Heaven; we set our affections on the things of earth rather than the things above. It is no wonder that there is no water flowing in our deserts - we are barren, dry, languishing.

It is interesting that in Jeremiah 17:13, it says they that depart from me shall be written in the earth. Instead of being written in Heaven, too often the people of this world settle for living for only what they can see down here - they are written in the earth and they perish with it. But Jesus offers something better - He offers abundant life, life that can satisfy, and a name written in Heaven (in the Lamb's Book of Life).

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The Devil's plan for your life is to ruin it - but the Lord's plan for your life is to make it more abundant - in Him!

The things and pleasures of this world can never satisfy, can never bring lasting fulfillment - only God Himself can satisfy that longing He has placed for spiritual things in our souls - that thirsting we feel deep down inside. Only He can bring true fulfillment. The broken cisterns of the world only offer vanity, emptiness, despair, hopelessness. But the God of all hope offers far more.

As stated above, Jesus offers what this world never could: life, peace, hope, contentment, satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, and a purpose. And it is found only in Him - the fountain of living waters.

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

In talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to her that there was living water available for the asking. As the conversation went on, He explained to her how He was that source, that fountain.

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The broken cisterns of this world can never fulfill the emptiness or thirst in our lives, but after we have drunk of its pleasures, we will soon realize that we are still thirsty, still barren, dry, lifeless. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and only Saviour, the Messiah foretold all throughout the Old Testament, came and died for our sins upon the cross - died in our place, taking the punishment we deserve, was buried and rose again the third day. Sin has been paid for and salvation is a free gift. Why not turn from your sin today - it will never satisfy in the long run - and turn to the Saviour? Receive Him and drink of the fountain of living waters that will NEVER run dry.

Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Which will you settle for? The broken cisterns of the world, of sin, that can hold no water - or the ever-flowing water of life, the fountain of living waters, that are only found in the Saviour. Only Jesus can give you that abundant life. It is offered to the thirsty soul - to whosoever will.

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Are you willing? Are you thirsty? Take a drink and you need never thirst again.

It's Jesus

There's a refuge to be found in the midst of life's storms,
There's a peace so profound it will guard your heart from harm,
Where is this shelter under the everlasting arms?
It's Jesus.

There's only one Saviour who died to make men free,
One source of Living Water that flows abundantly,
One plan of salvation - Are you thirsty? Come and see.
It's Jesus.

There's one sinless Man whose life He gave,
Only one Man who arose victorious over the grave,
There's only one Saviour who can ever save,
It's Jesus.

There's one fountain of blood that can cleanse all sin,
Only one Spirit of Life that will dwell within,
True righteousness is found only in Him -
It's Jesus.

Revelation 21:6 And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Poem written October 22nd/03
Study written October 18th/05
Jerry Bouey

Lord willing, I will be building upon this theme in the next post:

Song of Solomon 4:15 ...a well of living waters...
A Well Of Living Waters (SOS series)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Beside The Shepherds' Tents

Song of Solomon 1:7-8 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.

I love how exact the Word of God is! Jesus is whom the true believer loveth. Ongoing, present tense - we love Him with our soul, not just mentally or on the surface. The true believer will keep loving their Saviour. If someone rejects the Saviour, saying, "I once knew Him, I once loved Him, I once believed in Him," they prove that they never knew Him in truth. The soul that has come to Jesus for salvation knows whom they have believed in - and still believe in!

1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (See also John 3:16, 18, 36; 5:24; Romans 1:16 and other passages.)

2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Where does the Chief Shepherd feed? Where does He fellowship with His undershepherds and with the sheep of His flock?

Beside the shepherds' tents, in the house of God, in the midst of His flock when they are gathered together.

Notice the Shulamite's desire is to be where the Shepherd (King Solomon) is. Shulamite is the feminine form of Solomon, both meaning "peaceful." This is similar in usage to the terms Christ and Christian. She is the bride espoused to King Solomon, picturing the believer espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ. Believer, is your desire to be where the Chief Shepherd is? Do you desire to be where His flock feeds, where He feeds among them? Do you long to be where His flock rests, where He leads and guides His sheep? Are you in a sound, Bible believing church that teaches and preaches the Word of God?

Webster's 1828 Dictionary gives this definition of Shepherd: "1. A man employed in tending, feeding and guarding sheep in the pasture... 3. The pastor of a parish, church or congregation; a minister of the gospel who superintends a church or parish, and gives instruction in spiritual things. God and Christ are in Scripture denominated Shepherds, as they lead, protect and govern their people, and provide for their welfare."

He also defines Pastor as: "1. A shepherd; one that has the care of flocks and herds. 2. A minister of the gospel who has the charge of a church and congregation, whose duty is to watch over the people of his charge, and instruct them in the sacred doctrines of the Christian religion."

The words Pastor and pasture both come from the same Latin root, meaning "to feed." A Pastor's ministry is also referred to as his pastorate, and is pastoral - ie. it is his job to spiritually feed his flock, and to care for their souls. For the record, the terms pastor, bishop, and elder are used interchangeably in the New Testament, and all refer to the same office in the church, and are merely different aspects of it. Pastor refers to leading and feeding the sheep (the flock of God, the believers under his care); bishop means "overseer" and refers to the pastor's job of watching over his flock; and elder refers to his wisdom in the Lord. From the following passages, we can see how these are all aspects of the same church office:

Acts 20:17-18, 28 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, ...Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Hebrews 13:7, 17 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation... Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Jeremiah 23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

Remember how when Jesus restored Peter after he had denied Christ, He exhorted him three times to feed His sheep and lambs (see John 21:15-17)? The lambs are the young believers and the sheep are the more mature in the flock - they both need to be fed. The younger believers need to be discipled and built up in the fundamentals of the faith and have their doctrinal foundation strengthened.

I love how Matthew Henry explains part of this passage: "The opinion she has of him as the good shepherd of the sheep; she doubts not but he feeds his flock and makes them rest at noon. Jesus Christ graciously provides both repast and repose for his sheep; they are not starved, but well fed, not scattered upon the mountains, but fed together, fed in green pastures and in the hot time of the day led by the still waters and made to lie down under a cool refreshing shade. Is it with God’s people a noon-time of outward troubles, inward conflicts? Christ has rest for them; he carries them in his arms, Isa. 40:11."

Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

I find this verse so comforting! Not only will the Lord gently lead and care for believers, He will gently lead those with young! Good news for parents who are concerned with the spiritual upbringing and development of their children.

Is your Shepherd/Pastor following THE Chief Shepherd, or is he turning aside by the flocks of his companions, leading his worldly flock into supposedly "greener pastures" away from the pure, still waters and green pastures of God's Word. It seems too many churches today would rather settle for the "purpose driven life" (created by man-pleasers) than be gently led by the Good Shepherd.

It is the hirelings and the strangers that don't lead the sheep according to the direction of God's Word, according to the guidance of the Good Shepherd:

John 10:1-5 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

John 10:11-14, 27-28 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Do you know the Good Shepherd, do you know His voice? Is your pastor leading you according to the Word of God, or according to his own philosophies and wild opinions? Is your pastor a true shepherd, a man of God, a man after God's own heart?

Though the context of the following verse is God's future promise to repentant Israel, as a principle, I believe this is the type of pastor He desires for all His people:

Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

The Lord leadeth His sheep...

Psalm 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Isaiah 48:17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

...the devil and his false "ministers of righteousness" are the ones attempting to drive them! (See 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

Jeremiah 23:1-2 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

Luke 8:29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)

The devil is a roaring lion, and those who follow his leading - rather than the Lord's - in shepherding their flocks, are like the roaring lion too!

Jeremiah 50:17 Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.

The shepherd is to be leading the flock. Leading implies going before and showing the way to the sheep following along after; however it is the butcher that drives the sheep - drives them to the slaughter!

Now read another verse from the same chapter of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.

Instead of leading and exhorting the people to draw nearer to the Lord, they were causing them to go further astray, turning them from the truth! Due to their false teachings, they had actually caused the people to forget their restingplace - caused them to forget the rest they had in their Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read the Lord's strong condemnation of those people-pleasing shepherds/pastors, that preach what itching ears want to hear:

Jeremiah 23:16-18, 21-22, 28-32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? ...I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. ...The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

Now contrast that with true shepherds, true men of God, who preach and teach the Word of God, all the counsel of God for His flock (see Acts 20:27-32):

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day... I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick... (See the rest of the chapter for further judgment against false shepherds.)

...go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.

Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Are you following the Shepherd? Is He leading you? Are you feeding yourself and your little lambs beside the shepherds' tents?

Feed my lambs...

August 24th/06
Jerry Bouey

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Draw Me And We Will Run After Thee

Lord willing, I plan on doing a series of devotions on the Song of Solomon. There is so much in this book, and everytime I come back to it, I understand a bit more of it, because I am more familiar with all the other passages the author (especially the Holy Spirit, the one who moved King Solomon to pen this song down) was referring to - of course you will find this is true with all other Bible study, but it is especially applicable when studying out portions of Scripture that use symbolism. If we let the Author show us from other passages of His Word what He means by each symbol (based on usage and context), then we have a better idea of what He means here as well. It is a wonderful picture of Christ and His bride, the church. This book might have originally been applied (by the earlier readers) to the relationship between the Heavenly Father and Israel, His spiritual wife, but the symbolism is even more exact and fitting to Christ and the New Testament church.

To make it easier for you to find other devotions and studies on certain themes in this blog, look at the bottom of each post, and you will see Labels that indicate the main themes for each study. If you click on the one you are interested in, you will find other studies on the same general themes - unfortunately, they just load up all on one page and do not give you the option to choose which study you want specifically, though you can skim through the List Of All Studies In 2006 to find the ones you are most interested in (Note: from this page, you will find links to other Table of Contents for each series, studies from 2007, etc.). If you hold down the shift key and left-click the mouse, you will open the link in a new window (this is a good shortcut to memorize as it will work on all your web browsing), and you will not have to keep hitting Back in your browser everytime you check a new link out, you can just X-out the window when you are finished viewing it. As I have marked my series on Genesis with that label, so too I will mark this series of devotionals with "Song Of Solomon" to make it easier to find the other ones that use portions of that book as a springboard for further study. Wrestling Until The Day Break marks the first study in this blog that refers specifically to this book. When I have put together several in this series, then I can add links to each post tying them together (like I did with the Genesis series).

Draw Me And We Will Run After Thee

Like any other part of the Word of God, when I come to the Song of Solomon and dig deeper, I am always learning new things, gleaning new things - but in this book, these new things that come to my attention always seem to stir my heart, quicken my devotion, and strengthen my walk with the Lord. As Matthew Henry states in his commentary on the Song of Solomon (I highly encourage you to especially study out his commentary on this book of the Bible, as it truly opens it up), "[W]hen the meaning is found out, it will be of admirable use to excite pious and devout affections in us; and the same truths which are plainly laid down in other scriptures when they are extracted out of this come to the soul with a more pleasing power. When we apply ourselves to the study of this book we must not only, with Moses and Joshua, put off our shoe from off our foot, and even forget that we have bodies, because the place where we stand is holy ground, but we must, with John, come up hither, must spread our wings, take a noble flight, and soar upwards, till by faith and holy love we enter into the holiest, for this is no other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven."

1:4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

There are two applications we can make from this first part of Scripture: the Lord drawing us to Him to be saved, and the Lord drawing us to Him for fellowship. Notice that it is God Himself which takes the first action.

1) Drawn to Christ for salvation.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This is probably the most well-known verse in this regard, however it is not indicating that God only draws a select few that He has pre-chosen or elected (as Calvinists would have us belief).

Yes, the Lord must draw us to Himself for salvation - but who does He draw?

John 12:31-33 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Cross-reference that with the following passage about Jesus dying for our sins - this is indicating His death on the cross, being lifted up and crucified:

John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Word of God states that if Jesus is crucified, all men will be drawn to Him. How will that drawing take place? Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Gospel:

John 16:7-14 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Before anyone can be saved, the Holy Spirit must first do His inward work of conviction of sin and enlightening man to understand the Gospel and the Scriptural testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, and the Gospel must be preached - or else how can they call upon the Saviour to be saved, if they have never heard of Him?

Romans 10:13-15 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

1 Peter 1:22-23 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

The agents of our salvation are the Holy Spirit and the Word of God working together - without either one we cannot be saved - and the medium of our salvation is our faith. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit must first do their work - we must be drawn first - then we respond by faith (ie. trusting and relying on God's Word about the Saviour and His gift of eternal life), or we harden our hearts and reject the message, like Pharaoh did.

John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (Throughout the Scriptures, water is often a symbol of the Word of God. See Ephesians 5:26)

Studying this theme out today, I found this passage quite interesting:

Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

The publicans and sinners - those who realized they were lost and in need of salvation - drew near to Jesus to hear Him, then Jesus goes on to tell those listening to His Word that He was seeking them first! (See all three parables - I will deal more with the Shepherd seeking the sheep in a future study in this series.)

Luke 15:3-7 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

He sought us first and then calls us to Himself:

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Draw the lost, Lord, to hear the saving message of salvation!

2) Drawn to Christ for fellowship.

In the Scriptures, eating together was symbolic of fellowshipping with one another, as they often shared their hearts and themselves with their meals.

Notice it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who is first calling us to fellowship:

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

In this Song, we also see Him doing likewise:

...the king hath brought me into his chambers...

Song of Solomon 2:3-4 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Psalms 45:15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace.

Song of Solomon 2:16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.

Notice in verse 2 of this chapter that the lilies are the believers - and here the Lord Jesus Christ is feeding - ie. fellowshipping - among them, fellowshipping in their midst.

Song of Solomon 6:2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. (For a little more commentary on comparing believers to lilies and the meaning of this verse, read He Gathers His Lilies.)

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

In a future study, I will also present more on this theme of the Lord seeking us for fellowship. Consider this study an introduction of sorts.

In the latter days, the Lord God is the one who will draw the leaders of His people back to Himself (the context of this chapter is referring to God working in the midst of the nation of Israel during the tribulation and turning their captivity again).

Jeremiah 30:18-22 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them. And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the LORD. And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

How does the Lord draw us?

With Lovingkindness:

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

With Bands of Love:

Hosea 11:4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Draw us, Lord, and we will run after Thee!

August 24th/06
Jerry Bouey

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wrestling Until The Day Break

Genesis 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

This is one of the passages that has had the most impact on me a little over one and 1/2 years ago, when I preached a series of messages on the life of this patriarch, Jacob. Genesis chapter 28 records his encounter with the Lord God, his moment of truly turning to the Lord in salvation - but chapter 32 records the point in his life where he surrendered himself to God's will, after a night of wrestling. When all his strength was removed, he realized who he was wrestling with and therefore would not let go, until God - the pre-incarnate Christ appearing as a Man - gave His blessing to Jacob (ie. the promise that he would be successful in his upcoming meeting with his brother, Esau). That encounter, that striving with God, changed his life, both physically and spiritually. It resulted in God giving him a new name, a name based on his growing faith - that name was Israel, A Prince or Contender With God.

Genesis 32:25-31 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

From the life of Jacob, we can see how he wrestled with men (Esau and Laban), and how he wrestled with God. But there was someone else he wrestled with for the rest of his life - himself. These wrestlings went on until the day the Lord called him home. As time went on, with God's strength and working in his life, I am sure he prevailed more and more over himself - as we find him increasingly being called Israel in moments of faith. This characteristic of faith predominated as his life wore on.

I want to bring several applications out of these thoughts and passages for us to glean from.

Who is the believer wrestling with until the day break? Who are we wrestling with until the Lord Jesus Christ returns (or until He takes us home to live with Him in Heaven)?

1) With Men.

From the time of his birth, Jacob was wrestling with men - first his brother in the womb, and later throughout their adulthood, then with his uncle Laban. In the end, the Lord used these encounters to show Jacob what he was really like: for so long a supplanter, scheming to get his way - only to have the tables turned on him for those twenty years he lived with his uncle. He realized that what he had sown (ie. deception and manipulation), he would also reap.

How many of Jacob's problems would have been removed or lessened if he remembered that his wrestlings were not with men...

Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

No doubt men will attempt to strive with us, but we should not be wrestling with them, but wrestling spiritually with the demonic powers influencing or tempting them.

The word for wrestle comes from a Greek word meaning "to throw (in various applications, more or less violent or intense)." Spiritual warfare will involve striving against Satan and his wiles, wrestling with the thoughts of temptation that he seeks to use to draw us away from our steadfastness, wrestling with the evil intent of men - but not wrestling with men themselves. We are to strive to live peaceably with all men (as much as lieth in us), but not to strive with men (see Romans 12:18).

I want to bring another passage to your attention right now, that is a passage that deals with Jesus and what He came to do:

Song of Solomon 4:6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

If you study out the context of this verse, you will realize that it is King Solomon, the Beloved, that is making this statement. As a picture of Christ and His church, this part of the inspired Song reflects Christ's view from the point these words were spoken (somewhere close to 950 B.C., approximately). From then on, from His first coming, He would be going to the mountain of myrrh - which represents suffering and death. He would first come as the Suffering Servant, bearing the sins of men and dying in our place, suffering on the cross and shedding His blood to purchase our redemption. That was something He must do before the day break, before He could reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The second thing was to go to the hill of frankincense. All through the OT and even in the NT book of Revelation, (frank)incense typically represents prayer. After Christ's death, burial and resurrection, He ascended into Heaven to be our Mediator, our Advocate, our High Priest, continually offering prayer on our behalf, continually standing at the right hand of God the Father and making intercession for His brethren. These two things He promised to do before the day break - ie. before His return in glory, when He will rule from Jerusalem and the shadows of this darkened world will flee away. (One glorious day - I can hardly wait!)

What was Jesus' response to the wrestlings of men when He was among us on earth, during His years of public ministry, as the Man of Sorrows?

No matter the trials, no matter the schemings of evil men, He trusted in His Heavenly Father to work it all out according to His plan:

1 Peter 2:21-23 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Wrestle against spiritual forces of wickedness, but don't wrestle against men...

1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Wrestle for them...

2) With God.

In Genesis 32, we see Jacob wrestling with God until the breaking of the day. At first he was wrestling based on his own strength and his own wits - as he had done throughout his life - but then God took away that strength, and he realized the only thing left for him to do was to cling to the Lord and not let go! Just cling to the Lord in prayer, wrestling with God to bless him.

That is what we need to do as well - not strive with God to get our will done, but striving in prayer for our needs, petitioning for the needs of others, and striving with God for Him to change us. Ultimately, that was the best result of Jacob's wrestlings with the Lord. Yes, God blessed him also - BUT God changed him first.

Knowing the trials that Jesus had before Him, what was His response to them?

John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

No matter what, our Saviour and great example chose to do the will of His Father. As should all God's children. (If you are not saved, then you are not His child - His will first involves coming to Him for salvation from your sins. Then you are in a position to seek and do His will for your daily life.)

Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane did not change His situation, but it gave Him the grace and strength to endure God's will for His life - which was for our Saviour to go to the cross and die for our sins. There was no other way to save fallen man.

What is God's will for each of us? We can find His general will for all His children in the Word of God - and His specific will for each of us, as we walk daily with our Heavenly Father. See Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 5:15-17.

That will involves conforming us to the image of His Son, making us fruitful in our service to Him, wrestling with us until we come to the place where He can do His will, not just through us, but in us. That wrestling will go on until the day break and the shadows flee away - until He returns in the sky for His own at the rapture (or until we die and go to be with Him in Heaven).

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Oh, Lord, that you would change me - change each one here reading this, wrestle with us, until we are conformed to the image of Christ! Wrestle with us, overcoming our own selfish, self-centered wills, and making us more like you, more devoted to your will - UNTIL THE DAY BREAK, and you take us home!

While the Scriptures do not teach that Job personally knew Jacob, I believe he was a contemporary of his and was familiar with his story of wrestling with the angel, in light of his following statement:

Job 31:35-37 Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book. Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me. I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him.

Are we wrestling with God in prayer - letting Him change us? Are we wrestling with Him for the souls of those around us? Please read the following excellent devotional, You Can't Have Spirituality on the Cheap. I don't want to copy what Brother Tim has written, but as he has basically stated, Effectual fervent prayer for others involves labour on our part. We must wrestle in prayer. Too often we want the easy way - and then we wonder why the Lord isn't using us and why we don't see Him working through us as we would so desire Him to do.

3) With Ourselves.

The third area Jacob no doubt had to wrestle in was in his battle with himself, with his carnal nature. At times he failed, and as time went on, he had greater victory, until at the end of his life we can see more victories than failures. That is the same for each of us that are saved - we all have a carnal nature, and we all are battling with it day by day. We must wrestle with ourselves and die to ourselves daily.

As I was meditating on this part of the study last night, the Lord brought to mind the Apostle Paul's comments:

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I know I have switched from a wrestling image to a running image - but so much of the athletic training overlaps, especially when we consider that all these are just different aspects of the same spiritual picture. Paul says the believer is to strive for the mastery and be temperate (self-controlled) in all things. The word for striveth is agonizomai (from which we get our word agonize) and means "to struggle, literally (to compete for a prize), figuratively (to contend with an adversary), or genitive case (to endeavor to accomplish something)."

The word strive is also used in the following verse:

2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

Here the word used is athleo (where we get athlete from), and means "(a contest in the public lists); to contend in the competitive games." To wrestle against the devil, to wrestle with God, and to wrestle against ourselves will involve some effort. It will cost us something - there is no such thing as instant spirituality. If it took God a whole life to make a Jacob He could use for His glory, it is going to take time for Him to work on us - not because of any limitation on His part, but because of pride, weakness, and sinfulness on ours!

Remember the exhortation that we find in Hebrews 12, and let us learn from Jesus' example here too (not that He needed to die to self - He never sinned - but we can learn from His example to always do the will of the Father and to always strive against sin, no matter what trials or sufferings may come our way as a result of them):

Hebrews 12:1-3 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

And when we fail, let us remember to bring our lives back into subjection to the will of God and the Word of God, and to plead for His mercy and grace, claiming His promise of forgiveness and cleansing.

Song of Solomon 2:17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Bether means "division." It is the believer's prayer here that his Lord would continually come over the divisions our sin causes in our fellowship with Him, that He would have mercy upon us and wipe it away - until the day break; because once the day breaks, we will have our new glorified bodies and our sin natures will be forever removed! Oh, until the day break! Lord, make haste and return!

Song of Solomon 8:14 Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

Revelation 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Amen!

August 22nd/06
Jerry Bouey

For more studies in Genesis (with Genesis as the springboard):

Genesis

For a list of studies that use the Song of Solomon as the springboard:

Song Of Solomon