Rise Up, My Love (210): Tending our Shepherds

sheep-in-cotswold-englandSong of Solomon 6:11 “I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.” So, the bride concerned herself with the possibilities for new fruit from the valley below, with the condition of the vine already established in the garden, and finally, with the budding pomegranates. What might the pomegranates represent? The pomegranates were considered the choicest fruit. Many scholars deride meditations which “spiritualize” everything, and certainly the meditations of one heart can only bring to light certain facets of the truth…not the whole…but perhaps just a tiny ray, the way shining a light on a diamond may shoot out a sparkle of blue or green to the watchful eye.

Earlier in this study, I mentioned reading one commentator who suggested that pomegranates might represent minds full of beautifully ordered thoughts about Christ and His Word. I don’t know if that’s right, but it certainly is one fitting possibility for this passage. What else might might be a fitting interpretation? The bride, eager to please her King, goes into the garden to see what the possibilities are for new fruit even beyond that which has already been brought into the garden and cultivated (unbelievers), but she is also careful to consider the fruit within the garden walls (believers), and even concerns herself with the choicest plants within the garden. What are those choicest fruits?  shepherd-in-tunisiaTo me, they are the special servants of God. I wonder, are we concerned for the needs of those who are God’s special, full time laborers? Those who spend their lives being concerned for our needs…toiling in our Lord’s vineyard day in and day out? Are we remembering to pray for them? Are we going out of our way to check on them and see what they need? Are we encouraging them, both through our speech (calls, letters, e-mails…) and our actions? Are we letting them know how much we appreciate all that they do? Are we blessing them with financial gifts as well? I remember attending a special prayer service once with a woman who confided that during the six years her husband was in the pastorate, their family had needed to be on welfare for three of those years because they literally were not paid enough to feed, clothe, and house their young family. Don’t think your pastor is overpaid! Check into it; maybe you can be the catalyst to see that your minister’s salary is at least equal to the average income of those in his flock.
ram-close-to-fenceFrankly, it’s my impression that only the wolves in sheep’s clothing are well paid, while the faithful workmen are thinking more of the needs of their flock and living on less than I’d think reasonable. What about the day to day hospitality and friendship which are like oil poured out to anoint the soul? When was the last time you invited your minister’s family over for dinner? When was the last time you hosted the missionaries who spoke at your church? When was the last time you made a point of thanking your pastor for his message, or at least some helpful insight that he shared?  discontented-black-sheepIf you find yourself disillusioned with your minister (or his wife), perhaps your relationship has deteriorated the way marriages often do as we enter into the “grind” years of learning how to love despite failure. At a time when my husband and I were quite discouraged with our marriage, we were challenged to try to find just one positive thing about our mate and praise that one good quality…as a daily exercise, each day thinking of something different to appreciate. At first I was so bitter that it was hard to think of anything positive, but gradually, as I began to pray about it, I began to look more on the bright side, and eventually my attitudes began to change. I realized how crabby and ungrateful I’d become, and how critical and unloving I was. We both began trying to love and encourage one another through praising that which was good, and eventually our sincere praise reinvigorated our relationship like water on a thirsty plant. Earnest prayer and sincere praise can transform a relationship! If you’re feeling critical and disgruntled with your pastor (or his family), please try this method of increasing your love for him, and your prayer and praise will be a healing balm to his soul.  petting-zoo-at-john-ball-parkSo, the beloved bride was concerned for every aspect of her beloved’s work, and so should we be. If we truly love our Lord, we will have hearts to care even for the pomegranates in our heavenly husband’s orchard! Dear Lord, as we see how carefully Solomon’s bride attended to every aspect of her husband’s work, please inspire and enable us to be equally attentive to every aspect of your ministry here on earth. Amen.sheep-in-meadow-cotwolds-england

One response to “Rise Up, My Love (210): Tending our Shepherds

  1. Charylene Powers

    My favorite thought – “earnest prayer and sincere praise can transform a (all) relationships.” Thank you for this thought provoking post.

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