Rise Up, My Love (177): Gold and Beryl

Topaz National Natural History Museum. Washington D.C.Song of Solomon 5:14 “His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl…” The word for beryl comes from the Hebrew tarsis. No definitive identification of this jewel is possible, although commentators commonly agree that “tarsis” probably meant a stone from the city of Tarshish or Tartessus…names for a city of ancient Spain. It is translated in the NIV as “chrysolite,” in the New English Bible as “topaz,” and in the Jerusalem Bible as “jewels of Tarshish.”  Beryl. National Natural History Museum. Washington D.C.Through study, I learned that beryl is a clear/transparent, extremely hard crystal, although none of the commentaries I read ventured a guess into any spiritual significance. As most varieties of beryl are shades of yellow, green, or blue, it was hard at first to even imagine what the bride was referring to in a physical sense. Beryl. Morganite. National Natural History MuseumHowever, after studying all the mineral options, I discovered that a rare pinkish variety of beryl does exist, known as “rose morganite.” The only translation that hints at this is Moffat’s: “His fingers are golden tapers tipped with topaz pink.” (Yes, there is also a rare variety of topaz that is pinkish-red.) In a physical sense, this is the most understandable translation: Solomon’s fingers looked like golden cylinders exquisitely set at the ends with clear, hard, pinkish finger nails that looked as beautiful as jewels.  Blue Beryl National Natural History Museum. Washington D.C.Was any spiritual significance intended? The word beryl is only used eight times in Scripture. In Exodus 28:20 and 39:13, beryl is listed as the first jewel in the fourth row of jewels that adorned the breastplate of the high priest’s robe. Beryl is mentioned in Revelation 21:20 as one of the twelve jewels adorning the foundation of the New Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 28:13 beryl was listed as one of the precious stones covering the King of Tyre (thought by most to represent Satan). From these references, beryl was clearly considered to be among the most beautiful and costly gems known to man at that time.  Blue and Pink Beryl National Natural History Museum. Washington D.C.In Ezekiel 1:16 and 10:9, Ezekiel has a vision of living, moving wheels that were the color of a beryl stone, and in Daniel 10:6, this description is offered of “a certain man” (almost universally considered to be a theophany, or pre-incarnate appearance of Christ): “His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”   Morganite Beryl National Natural History Museum. Washington D.C.Beryl then, throughout Scripture, is used to designate a gem of great beauty and exquisite color…color repeatedly associated with the finest skin tones of living beings. Perhaps it was a burnished gold with a tinge of pink…kissed by the sun and blushing pink…the glowing, reddish-bronzed tan of a man who’d been working outside. Whatever it was, it was the picture of brilliant health and beauty.   Green Beryl National Natural History Museum. Washington D.C.We are still left with the question: is there spiritual significance in this description? One devotional writer suggested that the bride was describing beryl rings adorning Solomon’s hands, and discussed the significance of rings as tokens of commitment and love. Although this is a lovely thought, it is inconsistent with the overall purpose and linguistic style of the text. One of the greatest beauties of the book is the emphasis on the physical bodies of the lovers…not their adornments, but themselves. The bride and groom are not focused on the bangles and beads (or gems) of outer appearance…they are taken with the flesh and blood of eyes and lips, of cheeks and hair. God does not look on the outward appearance, but rather on the heart. He sees beneath the adornments of church service and charitable activity and praises instead the spiritual character and faithfulness of the person. He wants us, not our good works. He loves the shekinah glory shining out from the inside of the temple more than the wreath of flowers hanging over the door.   Gold specimens. National Natural History Museum. Washington D.C.I think if there is one spiritual comfort to be gleaned from this description, it is the thought that God’s hands—as representative of His purposes toward us—are as pure, and precious, and unchanging as gold, and as magnificent and beautiful as the precious gemstone beryl. He holds us in hands of exquisite strength and beauty!

(I took these photos last week at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.)

 

Rise Up, My Love (176): Hand-Made Beauty; Home-made Love

Ring and Hands                        Song of Solomon 5:14 “His hands are as gold rings.” Ring spinningGod’s hands are ever moving with the strength of heavenly purpose to make us something beautiful, a vessel “fit for use.” Holding NewbornNever doubt, but be confident “of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).  Christmas CookiesHave you ever meditated on the significance of being made by the hand of God? Handmade, homemade things are always the best. Have you ever wanted to give a very special gift to someone? How about something yummy to eat for the neighbor who just had a baby? Last night (when I wrote this years ago) our family took a little Christian storybook and a batch of cookies to our next door neighbor, who just had a brand new baby named Conrad. He weighed eleven pounds, four ounces at birth. Now that’s some baby! At any rate, when the children and I began discussing what to take in the way of goodies, the vote was pretty much unanimous: cookies. Why? Because that’s everybody’s favorite! So, I rushed right out to the store and bought some cookies…

No, we couldn’t take store bought cookies to the neighbor…they had to be home made, because something made by hand just has that extra loving touch!   🙂Angels in clouds watching sun rise over Jerusalem Psalm 91:11When God created the world, he didn’t run out to the store of heaven looking for blue light specials. He didn’t call on Archangel Michael to dream up creation! Aerial View of Tunisia            God undertook the task himself. He formed the sea and the land. High Above our World“He made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16). Hand made…the best…made with all the infinite wisdom and creativity of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God. He made us, and he put us in his hand.  Child smilingNever doubt his love, my beloved! His hands formed us, and his hands hold us. In fact, the Lord says, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion of the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49: 15-16). Will the Lord forget us? Never! We’re engraved right into the palm of his hands. Just think of it! He sees us every time he starts to do something…we are always on his mind because he sees us on his hands! Sunrise over EuropeCan we fall out…or climb out…of his hand? Never! Remember, he holds the whole world in his hand, so how can we run away…where would we go to be out of his reach? “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and the right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:9-10).  Sunrise from AirOh blessed, mighty hands of God that keep us safe forever. We may suffer excruciating pain in this life, but never except by his permission for our good (Romans 8:28). We may chaff and rebel, but his love and keeping power are eternal: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).Airplane in Sun

 

Rise Up, My Love (175): Do You Believe in a Love ’em and Leave ’em Creator?

Praying HandsSong of Solomon 5:14 “His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl…” Moffat translates this passage: “His fingers are golden tapers tipped with topaz pink.” The Hebrew word for “rings” comes from a root meaning “folding” or “pivoting.” His fingers were constantly in motion, holding and enfolding, caressing and cherishing her. Gold speaks of heaven…of strength and firmness of purpose…of perfection in His ability to bring to pass the consummation and fulfillment of God’s heavenly plans in her life. “Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand”(Psalm 89:13).Chicago“He’s got the whole world in his hands,” as the old spiritual goes. The mighty hands of God…so great, so good, so wonderful. Truly, he does hold us in his hand: “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:7). Not only does he hold us in his hand, but he does indeed hold the whole world in his hand: “In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.” (Psalm 95:4)  Alaskan MountainsGod not only holds us,  He created us: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands” (Psalm 102:25). “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:5). “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together” (Isaiah 48:13). “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments” (Psalm 119:73). The infinite, beautiful hands of God!  Denali in DistanceDo you believe in a higher being? Have you ever been tempted to believe the deistic interpretation of creation… that God is an indifferent Creator who set the world in motion and has since left it to operate strictly by the laws of nature as he instituted them from the inception of creation? Have you ever felt that God has left you and does not see you?Creación_de_Adán_(Miguel_Ángel)Let’s address those nagging fears! Think about yourself, and that may give you a little hint about God’s love. God made us by hand, and that makes us very special to him! Have you ever noticed how sentimental you are about handmade things? It’s hard to throw away a tattered Christmas ornament created by a beloved child, isn’t it? But, we wouldn’t think twice about tossing out a store-bought bulb that’s become discolored or broken. What’s the difference? The handmade object is unique and cannot be replaced. That’s just a small glimpse into the way God feels about us! Each of us is entirely unique…a special creation hand made by God’s own design. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). What a comforting promise! No deistic god is he; God never was nor ever will be a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” Creator.God's Beautiful Creation