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 (100): For Better and Worse, in Suffering and Joy

Rainbowed Mountains copySong 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.” All through the night, while sprightly shadows dance with joy in the moonlight, the bridegroom will delight in the pleasures of his wife. All through the night, until the sun rises in burning glory, driving away the blissful shadows of restful communion and calling all men and women of earth to rise up and work…until then the bridegroom will be like a deer upon the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense.

But, what are the mountain of myrrh and hill of frankincense? Myrrh speaks of grief and mourning; frankincense speaks of joy and praise. Is Solomon truly declaring that he will spend the night making a pilgrimage away from his beloved to seek some special mountain top experience—perhaps Mt. Moriah—as some suggest?

In the context, to suppose King Solomon is speaking of a literal mountain seems ludicrous. Do scholars become so literal in their thinking that they miss the most obvious metaphors? In chapter one, the bride declares her husband to be like a “bundle of myrrh” to “lie betwixt her breasts all night” (1:13). In chapter two, the bridegroom declares his wife to be a “lily among thorns” (2:2), and in verse sixteen we find him “feeding among the lilies,” invited by his wife to be like a young stag upon the mountains “until the day break, and the shadows flee away” (3:17). Can we ignore all this beautifully delicate imagery of union and communion to suppose in chapter four that the husband is leaving his bride to seek myrrh and frankincense on some far distant mountain?

What a great tragedy it would be to misunderstand our Lord’s declaration in this verse. Our King Solomon—the Lord Jesus Christ—after praising the graces he finds in us—makes a declaration of his love and desire for nuptial communion with us throughout the long night ahead! He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will not travel to a distant Mt. Moriah to worship God alone. He is God! He is the one who comes perfumed with clouds of myrrh and frankincense (3:6), and he has made us to be his mountain of myrrh. We are the mountain of his suffering, grief, and death. We—his people who sing his praises—are his hill of   frankincense, the joy and rejoicing of his heart. He chose us as his bride. His death claimed us as his mountain of suffering and death; his resurrection transformed us into his hill of life and joy. Holding us in his embrace has perfumed us with the incense of heaven! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Oh blissful thought of heavenly love; oh, precious joy of living hearts and wondrous example of the mystery of love. How should a man love his wife? As Christ loved the church, bearing the weight of her sins on his shoulders as his mountain of suffering and death. Accepting her joy and praise as his hill of rejoicing and life. Taking pleasure in her, body, soul, and spirit…her mountains and hills…her fragrant incense…all through the night, until the shadows flee before the sun and it is time to rise up and work again. A man so occupied at night will be a man refreshed and prepared to meet the battles of the new day!