Category Archives: Rise Up My Love

Commentary on the Song of Solomon

Rise Up, My Love (253): Ever Wondered What Mandrakes Are?

Song of Solomon 7:13 “The mandrakes give a smell.” What in the world are mandrakes? They are only mentioned six times in Scripture: once in this verse and five times in Genesis 30:14-16, where Rachel bargains with her sister Leah, exchanging the privilege of sleeping with their husband Jacob for the mandrakes that Leah’s son Reuben found in the field. Why all the fuss about mandrakes, and what are they?

For a starter, it’s inconceivable to me that a woman would exchange a night of physical intimacy with her husband for anything! I believe God intended marital expression to be sacred and beyond price, as intimated in chapter 8: “If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned.” How would you feel if your spouse “hired” you out for a bunch of whatevers?

That preposterous and degrading deal aside (an insight into the petty selfishness of our human nature, since we’ve all fallen prey to the temptation to exchange our souls for some trite pleasure from time to time…), let’s go back to the use of the term “mandrake” in Solomon’s song. The word translated “mandrake” is the Hebrew duda’im. It is consistently translated as “love apple” in the The Interlinear Bible and as something which induces love in Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Hebrew and English Lexicon (1).

In the final analysis, no one knows for sure what these “love apples” were, but the top two choices for “preferred guess” are either what we commonly call “may apples” today, or the Mandragora. May apples are common throughout temperate regions. In fact, we have colonies of them in our woods. In the spring each plant sprouts into a leafy one-foot umbrella with a single white blossom sheltered underneath, which becomes a yellowish, edible fruit about the size of a nutmeg in late May or June. The flowers have a very mild but pleasing scent, although the children and I have never found it perceptible from the path…only by studied trial. Also, may apples are edible but not especially flavorful, certainly nothing exotic or gourmet like the morel mushrooms that also sprout up in our woods about that time! It’s inconceivable to me that Rachel would have found anything in May apples compellingly attractive enough to tempt her to sell her husband’s affection!

On the other hand, the genus Mandragora has six species still common to the Mediterranean region which were used in antiquity as addictive aphrodisiacs. The Mandragora is a poisonous, perennial member of the potato family (Solanceae) (2).  It has tuberous roots that look almost like clusters of large grapes, and according to the World Book Encyclopedia(3) , these roots were often used as “narcotics, anesthetics, and in so-called love potions.” It is said that these mandrakes had a “very distinct and agreeable odor” and that “among the Arabs it was called both ‘the servant of love’ and the ruffah eshaitain or ‘Satan’s apples’ (4).”

It is conceivable to me that such a potent and powerfully addictive plant could arouse the passionate demands demonstrated in Rachel. In the Song of Solomon, there is no hint of evil or inordinate passion. The verse only mentions, “The mandrakes give a smell,” and perhaps the proper interpretive amplification of this comment might be, “It is the time for sharing love. Can’t you tell? Even the air is filled with the scent of love!” This is a good thing, and love should be everywhere about us. That is the bright and positive side of a good relationship.

On the dark side, perhaps this verse should cause us to reflect for a minute on our desires. Is there anything in our life that drives us…that controls our behavior…or is threatening to do so? Is there anything so powerful in our lives that we would choose to pursue it over pursuing time with our Lord and our spouse? Any person, any pass time, any passion? I find myself from time to time feeling the heavy hand of temptation luring me toward some lust. It can be something as simple but almost universal as the temptation to overeat. It can be the subtle pleasure of spending money on myself for something I want but don’t need. It can be the idle enjoyment of a wasted hour when there was much work to be done. It can be the deadly draw toward fascination with any man who is not my husband. The world, my flesh, and the devil conspire to surround me with temptations and lusts that are as powerfully addictive and attractive as the ancient mandrakes.

I wonder, are we being tempted by any mandrakes in our lives today? Don’t be driven to trade your spouse’s affection for a handful of “mandrakes,” whatever they are. What attractive scent is arousing passion in you? Food? Money? Leisure? Sex? Don’t trade your soul or your spouse’s love for a pot of poisonous (but narcotic) pottage! If there is good, find it, and let it arouse right desires. Eating is good; just don’t overeat. Money is good; just don’t overindulge. Leisure is good; just use it to restore rather than debilitate. Sex is good; just make sure that it’s with your mate! When the scent of mandrakes in your life is arousing you, learn to say, “Rise up, my love, and come away with me! Let me give you my love, and all the good things I’ve prepared for you!” Live for your Lord, and if you’re married, live joyfully with your spouse. (1) Brown, Francis, D.D., D. Litt. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1997, 188 (cf. pg. 188,“love-producing…as exciting sexual desire”).
(2) The Encyclopedia Americana.  Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc., 1995, 227.
(3) The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book—Childcraft International, Inc., 1980, 103.
(4) Paige Patterson, Song of Solomon (Chicago:  Moody, 1986), 111.
(Photos from Wikipedia)

Rise Up, My Love (252): Add Some Dazzle to Your Calendar

Song of Solomon 7:12, “There will I give thee my loves.” Let’s take a few minutes to think about one of the best things a wife can do for her husband in a very practical way to show her love for him. It’s the concept of planning “mini honeymoons,” and it’s been one of the most transforming discoveries of my marriage…drawn from the inspiring example of Solomon’s wife. So, what’s a mini honeymoon, and how does it work?

A mini honeymoon is a time set apart for the wife to whisk her husband away from his normal responsibilities so she can focus on loving him. It can be as short as a twenty-four hour period or as long as a long weekend, depending on what will maximize your husband’s pleasure without causing him undo stress over time or financial concerns. The first and most important aspect of the mini honeymoon is the wife’s attitude. She needs to be committed to doing this not for her own pleasure, but for her husband’s, as her gift to him, thinking of what will best meet his needs and delight his heart.

It is a time apart for the husband to “taste and see” that his wife is good…for them to reconnect and bond…for the husband to enjoy his wife—body, soul, and spirit—and to receive love from her. “There will I give thee my loves.” So, there’s nothing in it for the wives? Oh, yes, there certainly is, although I hope that’s not our motive or focus. As wives, we will be richly rewarded over time by the revitalization of our marriage. I have found (and believe it will also be true for you) a new energy and loyalty in my spouse when I consciously take steps to “give him her [my] loves.”   And, the wife can usually begin by picking the special place for the honeymoon retreat, because the good news is that (at least this is true in my marriage, so hopefully it will be true in yours as well) a husband will go happily most anywhere to spend the night with the woman he loves. (You may have to surprise him or talk him into it the first time, but he’ll probably be asking, “When can we do this again??” before you return if it turns out well, because everyone loves being loved!)

So, to start with, pick any lovely place (relatively close to home) where the scenery is refreshing and the dinner will be romantic…some place that will make you both feel relaxed and open…some place where there’s nothing to make your husband think about other people or work-related pressures, and some place that makes you breathe in deeply and sigh with delight. Have you got such a place in mind? If so, start saving up to pay for it. If not, start asking around for suggestions.

My husband doesn’t usually like us to have to drive more than an hour or two; yours may not care, but try to be sensitive to the amount of time transportation will take. You need to be far enough away from home so that you feel “away,” but close enough so that the travel doesn’t rob you of too much time or make the driver tense. Once you’ve picked your place, find a free time in your husband’s schedule. I have often had to consult with a boss or secretary on this one, but I’ve been amazed at how willing people usually are to help out if given enough lead time.

For surprise getaways, I’ve found coworkers more than happy to help, even taking delight in making the schedule look especially difficult for the time when your dear husband is really going to be “sprung” from duty. (That is never my idea…but often theirs!) Once you have the place and the time, start preparing for the occasion. Notice how Solomon’s wife invited him to be a “fruit inspector.”

This will require a big commitment from you, because your husband will be checking out your fruitfulness! Are you bearing the fruits of love in your life? Are your thoughts in order concerning your husband? If he should “taste and see” the thoughts in your mind, will they be like the refreshing bursts of sweetness found in a pomegranate? How about the discipline of getting back into physical shape (preaching to myself on this one particularly!)? If you want him to be crazy about you the way he was when you were first married…how about trying to look something like you did back then? (I didn’t say we can really look like we did twenty or forty years ago…but we can at least try to look pretty by eating wisely, exercising properly, and dressing neatly.)

Is this too scary? Does it sound too hard? Impossible? If money is the biggest issue, find a friend who will watch your kids for a night and just creatively dress up your house. You could make funny little signs with crayons on sheets of white paper. That doesn’t cost much. Remember, it’s not about money; it’s about loving your mate! Or, perhaps you are saying to yourself, “I haven’t got a chance! I’ve gotten fat, and I feel ugly. All my thoughts are unhappy thoughts and I don’t even feel like I love my husband. In fact, why should I want to do anything for him? He’s a jerk.”

Well, if you’re reading this devotional commentary, you must have—at the very least—either some deep love for the Lord or your husband. If love for your husband is lacking, always remember that the burning core of our lives and motivation is our passion for the Lord. Start by doing what you do for the Lord’s sake. He instructs us to love others with a pure and fervent heart (I Peter 1:22)…and that includes loving our husband! This is a way of loving our husband, even if he seems totally unlovable.

Take the burden on your own shoulders of learning how to love. Do everything as if he were the most wonderful man in the world…as if he were Christ. What would you do for Jesus? Love your husband in that way. Prepare for your honeymoon with that much prayerful ingenuity. Take a few props…some pleasant-smelling lotion for a good massage, some bubbles for the bath tub, an appealing new nightgown (okay, so maybe new lounge pants and tee shirt if you’re a Millennial)…whatever you think would make him feel especially loved and desired.

Make a very conscious attempt to “dazzle” and “fascinate” your mate! (By the way, the husband can do all these same things for his wife; remember, at the beginning of the Song, it was the husband doing all the wooing. Wives will forever love being wooed!) Well, maybe you’re an old hand at mini vacations, but if not, I hope I’ve offered enough suggestions to get your mind turning. Let your own creativity and what you know of your husband’s tastes spark your imagination as you prayerfully plan a mini-honeymoon to live out this verse: “There will I give thee my loves.”

Rise Up, My Love (251): Pomegranate-colored Glasses

“Let us see…whether the tender grapes appear, and the pomegranates bud forth” (Song of Songs 7:12). In this verse, the bride is urging her husband to come and see how things are going, but really, she already knows! We can tell this because in the next verse she describes what they will find, even revealing that she has already stored up some special treats to give him. So…why is she entreating him to come out with her? I think she is asking her husband to come out and “check up” because she is prepared and eager to prove her love for him. She wants to surprise him with what she’s done to please him. Frankly, it sounds like she’s planned a “mini honeymoon trip!”

Let’s discuss first the most important, spiritual ramifications, but then afterward let’s consider a practical way of living out this concept as an expression of wives loving their husbands today. What are the fruits which the bride entreats her husband to inspect?   “Let us see…whether the tender grapes appear, and the pomegranates bud forth.” The fruit of the vine we’ve already discussed at length in this book. This is the fruit that develops in our lives and character as we abide in his Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and self-control…fruit which enables us to have the meek and quiet spirit necessary to properly nurture new spiritual babes that are birthed into this world.

The Lord assured us: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth much fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16). It is our privilege and delight as believers to abide in the Vine and experience the abundant life that he has planned for us…a life of fruitfulness, contentment, and blessing…a life of becoming like Christ and bringing others to Christ…a life of asking for and receiving fruit that will remain through all eternity.

And what of the budding pomegranates? As we’ve discovered from earlier research, the pomegranate was considered the choicest of fruit, and meditative commentators suggest that the succulence hidden in the labyrinth of ruby red fruits is like minds filled with orderly rows of precious truths about Christ. Whatever else the Lord may have in mind…certainly if our lives are overflowing with fruit and our minds are filled with Christ—what could be any more a delight to the heart of God?

Think about the individual seed cells in a pomegranate. Each seed is enveloped in a crystal clear, ruby red liquid bursting with sweetness. If we could see all of life through such a filter (if thoughts of the crystal-pure, blood-red love of Christ could so filter our vision)…well, that would be seeing life through rose-colored glasses, now wouldn’t it? This, I believe with all my heart, is precisely what the Lord desires for us.

As Madame Guyon said while languishing in a French prison for writing a spiritual commentary of The Song of Solomon some four hundred years ago, the stones in her prison walls seemed like precious jewels, so sweet was her fellowship with Christ! Now there was a woman who saw life through the rose-colored glasses of Christ’s love…whose mind was like a pomegranate…who truly lived out what she learned from her meditations. What an inspiration and example for the rest of us! So, the bride urges her husband to come and inspect the progress of springtime renewal in his land…and Spirit-time renaissance in his wife. “There will I give thee my loves.” There will I give you all that I’ve prepared for you, and thereby you will know just how indescribably precious you have become to me. Ah, Lord God, may our lives be so with you today!

 

Rise Up, My Love (250): What is the Vine?

Song of Solomon 7:12 “Let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth.” This is the third sequence of excursions (mission trips, if you will!) coupled with expressions of possession. First, the groom invited; second, the bride went out on her own; third, the wife invited.

The number three is often called the “perfect” number and is significant in the Bible as representing fullness or completion, so perhaps this last couplet reveals the blossomed attitudes of mature love. In the springtime of their love, the husband invited (2:10-12), and the bride apparently accompanied him, though somewhat timidly (2:14), her joy coming from the knowledge that she possessed her husband and was possessed by him (2:16). As their love matured, it became even more important to the bride that her husband possessed her than that she possessed him (6:3), and her response was to follow his example in going out to tend his gardens and gather fruit (6:2,11).

Finally, in this last couplet, the bride finds complete satisfaction in being possessed and desired by her husband (7:10), and she invites him to go out with her…almost a complete reversal in role and action from the beginning of the book. From being wooed to wooing, from needing to be coaxed to initiating service; from exalting over her own acquisition…to thrilling over being possessed and desired— what a transformation in the bride’s attitudes!

I wonder, in our relationship with Christ…where are we? Are we asking the Lord to take us out into the fields? Are we totally surrendered to him…so much so that our joy and glory is in being his possession, his willing servant…his treasure? Oh, to find our greatest satisfaction in being fully surrendered to our heavenly husband (and, for those of us who are wives, to our earthly husband as well!).

The next question is: Spiritually, what is the vine? Jesus said, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). In what way can we see if the vine is flourishing then? Doesn’t Christ always flourish? Just as a man and a woman become “one flesh” when they are joined in marriage, so Christ and his bride—made up of the individual believers in the universal church—are “one flesh” in a great spiritual mystery.

So, how does the vine flourish? The bride elaborates: “whether the tender grape appear.” If the vine is bearing fruit, it is flourishing. How does the vine bear fruit? Jesus taught, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

So, again…how does the vine flourish? The vine flourishes “if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you…if ye keep my commandments…that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:7,10,12). Jesus, our heavenly groom, calls us to abide in him, his Word, and his love, and he promises that in so doing we shall “bring forth much fruit.” Are we abiding in him? Are we producing the fruits of obedience and love in our lives?

(The photo was taken in Italy this spring; it’s the only time I’ve ever seen a pomegranate tree budding right next to a grape vine, but I thought to myself, “How perfect!” [to illustrate this verse!])

 

Rise Up, My Love (249): Rescue

Song of Solomon 7:12 Perhaps you’ve heard about the man who dreamed he saw a beautiful grassy field full of flowers where men and women and children were all playing and laughing. It was a perfect summer day, full of sunshine and warmth. Some of the men were playing ball with their sons, and the women and their daughters were sitting in circles here and there on the grass making daisy chains to wear in their hair. It reminded the man of the wonderful fellowship that Christians enjoy together, and he felt a warm glow inside him.

But suddenly, it was as if he were lifted up into the air so that he could gain a greater perspective. He realized that not 200 feet away from the group, just over the top of a grassy knoll and down into a little valley, there was a deadly precipice, and that a huge number of filthy, wretched people, dressed in rags and blindfolded, were stumbling about, moving in the general direction of the cliff. Every second or two one of these poor souls would fall over the edge and let out a bloodcurdling scream, which made the other blind people freeze in their places for a few seconds.

However, the terrible crying seemed to have no perceptible effect on the happy families who were enjoying each other’s company just over the hill, even though sobbing could be clearly heard. Sometimes one of the blind people would stumble and fall and knock another blind person over the cliff, or, as they began to fall, they would clutch at someone nearby and drag that person over the edge too, all the while crying out for help.

Finally, there was an especially agonizing cry, and one teenager did respond. He was playing ball with his father and two friends, and it was his turn to bat, but he dropped his bat and went racing over the top of the grassy knoll to see what was going on. He was horrified at the amazing sight of the seemingly numberless throngs of people cascading over the edge of the cliff with a roar as loud as the thundering of Niagara Falls. He tried to stop the terrible tragedy, but the edge of the cliff was so vast, and the number of people was so great, that he couldn’t begin to rescue everyone alone.

In desperation he cried out to his friends to come and help him. His father and the two boys came to the top of the knoll and looked down, but they just stared with a sense of helpless disbelief and didn’t even try to come. “Help me!” cried the boy again. “No!” called one, “It’s hopeless. Why even try?” “No!” replied another. “It must be their own faults; leave them alone.” “Come back,” cried his father. “You’ll never succeed, and you’ll just get yourself killed trying to help.”

Do you feel the stab of pain that pierced that young man’s heart? Where is compassion? Where is love? Are we all so self-centered that we can’t be bothered to go into our Father’s vineyard and help to reap the harvest of lost and dying souls who are crying out in their blindness and fright? Isn’t it worth giving our lives to save some? Isn’t that what Jesus did? Isn’t our willingness to suffer for the sake of the gospel a measure of our love and devotion to Christ?

Ah, beloved, the wife was responding to the need. Let us be like the faithful wife and enjoin our heavenly Savior to “let us get up early to the vineyards.”

“…pain is quiet, and love.
And even childbirth pains
Are soundless in themselves
So came our Lord,
Amid the pain, the ache, the dirt, the hate,
To tell of love.
And as He lived in love, giving it,
Knew the pain as well.” —Ellen Weldon in Essays on Love

Rise Up, My Love (248): Are We Willing Workers?

Song of Solomon 7:12 “Let us get up early to the vineyards.” First, we see that the bride desires to begin immediately…to be up and away early in the morning. Second, let’s consider where she wants to go, i.e. the vineyards. We learn in chapter 8:11-12 that Solomon had vineyard in Baalhamon and that his wife also had a vineyard, perhaps at Baalhamon or nearby.

The word Baalhamon means “possessor of abundance,” and although there is no known location for such a place, it is generally held that either symbolically or in reality, it refers to a place where the fruits were exceptionally fine. The wife’s invitation in 7:12 does not mention any location by name; she just says “the vineyards,” as if her husband will know exactly what she’s talking about. Perhaps she meant their mutual vineyards at Baalhamon, or perhaps she was speaking generically of the entire nation’s vineyards, but in either case she was definitely thinking of vineyards for which she felt they bore some responsibility, and she was eager to know if they were prospering.  Vineyards were very important in Israel, and there are several passages in Scripture which parallel “working in the vineyards” with laboring spiritually to produce a harvest of souls. In Matthew 20:1 we read, “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.” This is a parable where it is clearly stated that Jesus is speaking about God’s spiritual “kingdom”… and what did the man do? He “rose up early” like the bride in order to tend his “vineyard.” This is an example for us to follow. We too, like the bride and the diligent husbandman, should be willing to make the sacrifices necessary in order to get up and get going early to tend the Lord’s business!

Then, there is the parable in Matthew 21 about the man who asked both his sons to work in his vineyard, but only one went. What was our Lord teaching us through that story? He was teaching us that the God who said, “Look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35) has also called us to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations…to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Our Lord’s heart cry is for us to go, go, go and preach the gospel, making disciples of all who are willing…to work in his vineyards! Are we going? Are we sharing at home, at school, at work…wherever we go?  As Jesus taught us: “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).Not long ago someone reminded me that in the parable about the sower, the sower wasn’t criticized for scattering seed on rocky soil, he was commended for scattering the seed liberally everywhere. It wasn’t his job to drill tiny holes only in fertile rows, but to scatter the seed! We have the “seed” (the Word of Life), and God wants us to share it with everyone. What they do with it is their choice, but everyone deserves a chance to hear the gospel. Don’t be afraid of being rejected, rejoice in that there is good news of great joy for anyone who has ears to hear!

Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)

(Grape vines photos are from Italy; the wheat and hay fields from Washington.)

Rise Up, My Love (247): Up Early

Song of Solomon 7:12 “Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.” Have you ever had orange juice that was fresh-squeezed from the trees outside your door? I have on a few very rare occasions. The first time was at a bed and breakfast overlooking the pounding Pacific coast. That breakfast, with its array of home made delights, will ever live in my memory! This verse, with its promise of sweetness at the end of labor, makes me think of such a feast. Let’s look at each phrase and squeeze out the bursting goodness, as if we’re making our own refreshing glass of orange juice.

“Let us get up…” You can’t “get up” unless you’ve been lying down. The couple had been enjoying the communion of love and rest, but the wife now understands that relaxation and refreshment are for the purpose of restoring energy for labor. Jesus went apart to pray, but always with the purpose of strengthening himself for the stresses and strains of physical ministry and spiritual warfare.

As frail humans, it is often said that we must come apart sometimes, or we will fall apart! When our youngest son, Joel, was a child, he had rechargeable batteries for his little hand-held computer games. One night he was so tired that he sighed, “I wish I could get plugged in and be recharged too.”

“Let us get up…” We’ve been recharged by drinking from the wells of living love and a restful season of sleep…now let us get up and go! Getting up is ever hard work; it’s an uphill battle! How easy it would be to pull a dark cover of excuses over our heads, shut off the alarm clock of the Holy Spirit’s urging, and roll over for another round of spiritual lethargy. How easy when our senses are dull, but not when our senses are sharp! The bride’s senses are tingling with the sensations of love, joy, and peace, and she is exhilarated and ready to go…not just sometime, but— “Let us get up early!”

It was early in the morning when Abraham rose up for his ultimately difficult job of sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22:3). It was early in the morning when Jacob took a stone pillow and built his first altar to the Lord (Genesis 28:18). It was early in the morning when Moses went before Pharaoh (Exodus 8:20) and when he climbed Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:4). It was early in the morning when Joshua and the children of Israel camped at Shittim before passing over the mighty Jordan River (Joshua 3:1). It was early when Samuel’s parents worshiped the Lord (I Samuel 1:9)…early when Saul was anointed and sent away (I Samuel 9:6)…early when Job prayed for his children (Job 1:5)…when David went to the battlefield and slew the fearful giant Goliath (I Samuel 17:20)…, and when Hezekiah led all the people in a great revival and restored worship in the temple (2 Chronicles 29:20).  Much of the most earnest work—the most difficult jobs—are accomplished early in the morning. Solomon’s father, King David, cried, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). “Oh satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). Indeed, it was King Solomon who penned the response of wisdom: “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me”(Proverbs 8:17).

I wonder, could Solomon have had such a thought on his mind as he heard his beloved bride exclaim, “Let us get up early to the vineyards!” Did he indeed think to himself, “I love her, and now she loves me… and I love her even more for loving me. I sought her, and now she is seeking me…and I will let her learn more of me because she wants so desperately to be a part of everything I am and do.”

I wonder, do we seek the Lord early and desperately…our souls thirsting for him as the deer pants for the water brook? Are we willing—even so eager that we do the inviting—to rise up early and be about our bridegroom’s business? In the New Testament, there is one last ultimately significant occurrence of someone rising early in the morning: our Lord Jesus Christ at his resurrection! Mark 16:9-10 relates, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.”

Jesus was up and about his Father’s business early in the morning, and what was he doing? Tenderly comforting and strengthening his own; working in his Father’s vineyard. Oh, Lord, please give us such passion that we wake up with joy in our hearts, a spring in our step, and a song of praise on our lips…eager to be about our beloved’s business!

(Not that you’re interested, but the first photo was taken at sunrise just outside my window through the woods a few years ago, and I took the other on a foggy morning along the Danube River.)