Today our passages are Song of Songs 5:1–8:14; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15; Psalm 51:1-19; and Proverbs 22:24-25. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Song of Solomon 5-8:14 (The Message)
Song of Solomon 5
The Man1 I went to my garden, dear friend, best lover! breathed the sweet fragrance.
I ate the fruit and honey,
I drank the nectar and wine. Celebrate with me, friends!
Raise your glasses—"To life! To love!"
The Woman2 I was sound asleep, but in my dreams I was wide awake.
Oh, listen! It's the sound of my lover knocking, calling!
The Man"Let me in, dear companion, dearest friend,
my dove, consummate lover!
I'm soaked with the dampness of the night,
drenched with dew, shivering and cold."
The Woman3 "But I'm in my nightgown—do you expect me to get dressed?
I'm bathed and in bed—do you want me to get dirty?"
4-7 But my lover wouldn't take no for an answer,
and the longer he knocked, the more excited I became.
I got up to open the door to my lover,
sweetly ready to receive him,
Desiring and expectant
as I turned the door handle.
But when I opened the door he was gone.
My loved one had tired of waiting and left.
And I died inside—oh, I felt so bad!
I ran out looking for him
But he was nowhere to be found.
I called into the darkness—but no answer.
The night watchmen found me
as they patrolled the streets of the city.
They slapped and beat and bruised me,
ripping off my clothes,
who were supposed to be guarding the city.
8 I beg you, sisters in Jerusalem—
if you find my lover,
Please tell him I want him,
that I'm heartsick with love for him.
The Chorus9 What's so great about your lover, fair lady?
What's so special about him that you beg for our help?
The Woman10-16 My dear lover glows with health—
He's one in a million.
There's no one quite like him!
My golden one, pure and untarnished,
with raven black curls tumbling across his shoulders.
His eyes are like doves, soft and bright,
but deep-set, brimming with meaning, like wells of water.
His face is rugged, his beard smells like sage,
His voice, his words, warm and reassuring.
Fine muscles ripple beneath his skin,
quiet and beautiful.
His torso is the work of a sculptor,
hard and smooth as ivory.
He stands tall, like a cedar,
strong and deep-rooted,
A rugged mountain of a man,
aromatic with wood and stone.
His words are kisses, his kisses words.
Everything about him delights me, thrills me
through and through! That's my lover, that's my man,
dear Jerusalem sisters.
Song of Solomon 6
The Chorus1 So where has this love of yours gone, fair one?
Where on earth can he be?
Can we help you look for him?
The Woman2-3 Never mind. My lover is already on his way to his garden,
to browse among the flowers, touching the colors and forms.
I am my lover's and my lover is mine.
He caresses the sweet-smelling flowers.
The Man4-7 Dear, dear friend and lover,
you're as beautiful as Tirzah, city of delights,
Lovely as Jerusalem, city of dreams,
the ravishing visions of my ecstasy.
Your beauty is too much for me—I'm in over my head.
I'm not used to this! I can't take it in.
Your hair flows and shimmers
like a flock of goats in the distance
streaming down a hillside in the sunshine.
Your smile is generous and full—
expressive and strong and clean.
Your veiled cheeks
are soft and radiant.
8-9 There's no one like her on earth,
never has been, never will be.
She's a woman beyond compare.
My dove is perfection,
Pure and innocent as the day she was born,
and cradled in joy by her mother.
Everyone who came by to see her
exclaimed and admired her—
All the fathers and mothers, the neighbors and friends,
blessed and praised her:
10 "Has anyone ever seen anything like this—
dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant,
ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars?"
11-12 One day I went strolling through the orchard,
looking for signs of spring,
Looking for buds about to burst into flower,
anticipating readiness, ripeness.
Before I knew it my heart was raptured,
carried away by lofty thoughts!
13 Dance, dance, dear Shulammite, Angel-Princess!
Dance, and we'll feast our eyes on your grace!
Everyone wants to see the Shulammite dance
her victory dances of love and peace.
Song of Solomon 7
Your limbs are lithe and elegant,
the work of a master artist.
Your body is a chalice,
Your skin is silken and tawny
like a field of wheat touched by the breeze.
Your breasts are like fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is carved ivory, curved and slender.
Your eyes are wells of light, deep with mystery.
Your profile turns all heads,
The feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges
—stirrings of desire, longings for the heights—
Remind me of you,
and I'm spoiled for anyone else!
Your beauty, within and without, is absolute,
dear lover, close companion.
You are tall and supple, like the palm tree,
and your full breasts are like sweet clusters of dates.
I say, "I'm going to climb that palm tree!
I'm going to caress its fruit!"
Oh yes! Your breasts
will be clusters of sweet fruit to me,
Your breath clean and cool like fresh mint,
your tongue and lips like the best wine.
The Woman9-12 Yes, and yours are, too—my love's kisses
flow from his lips to mine.
I am my lover's.
I'm all he wants. I'm all the world to him!
Come, dear lover—
let's tramp through the countryside.
Let's sleep at some wayside inn,
then rise early and listen to bird-song.
Let's look for wildflowers in bloom,
blackberry bushes blossoming white,
Fruit trees festooned
with cascading flowers.
And there I'll give myself to you,
my love to your love!
13 Love-apples drench us with fragrance,
fertility surrounds, suffuses us,
Fruits fresh and preserved
that I've kept and saved just for you, my love.
Song of Solomon 8
Playing outside in the street,
kissing in plain view of everyone,
and no one thinking anything of it.
I'd take you by the hand and bring you home
where I was raised by my mother.
You'd drink my wine
and kiss my cheeks.
3-4 Imagine! His left hand cradling my head,
his right arm around my waist!
Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem:
Don't excite love, don't stir it up,
until the time is ripe—and you're ready.
The Chorus5 Who is this I see coming up from the country,
arm in arm with her lover?
The ManI found you under the apricot tree,
and woke you up to love.
Your mother went into labor under that tree,
and under that very tree she bore you.
The Woman6-8 Hang my locket around your neck,
wear my ring on your finger.
Love is invincible facing danger and death.
Passion laughs at the terrors of hell.
The fire of love stops at nothing—
it sweeps everything before it.
Flood waters can't drown love,
torrents of rain can't put it out.
Love can't be bought, love can't be sold—
it's not to be found in the marketplace.
My brothers used to worry about me:
8-9 "Our little sister has no breasts.
What shall we do with our little sister
when men come asking for her?
She's a virgin and vulnerable,
and we'll protect her.
If they think she's a wall, we'll top it with barbed wire.
If they think she's a door, we'll barricade it."
10 Dear brothers, I'm a walled-in virgin still,
but my breasts are full—
And when my lover sees me,
he knows he'll soon be satisfied.
The Man11-12 King Solomon may have vast vineyards
in lush, fertile country,
Where he hires others to work the ground.
People pay anything to get in on that bounty.
But my vineyard is all mine,
and I'm keeping it to myself.
You can have your vast vineyards, Solomon,
you and your greedy guests!
13 Oh, lady of the gardens,
my friends are with me listening.
Let me hear your voice!
The Woman14 Run to me, dear lover.
Come like a gazelle.
Leap like a wild stag
on the spice mountains.
2 Corinthians 9:1-15 (The Message)
2 Corinthians 91-2If I wrote any more on this relief offering for the poor Christians, I'd be repeating myself. I know you're on board and ready to go. I've been bragging about you all through Macedonia province, telling them, "Achaia province has been ready to go on this since last year." Your enthusiasm by now has spread to most of them. 3-5Now I'm sending the brothers to make sure you're ready, as I said you would be, so my bragging won't turn out to be just so much hot air. If some Macedonians and I happened to drop in on you and found you weren't prepared, we'd all be pretty red-faced—you and us—for acting so sure of ourselves. So to make sure there will be no slipup, I've recruited these brothers as an advance team to get you and your promised offering all ready before I get there. I want you to have all the time you need to make this offering in your own way. I don't want anything forced or hurried at the last minute.
6-7Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
8-11God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
12-15Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they'll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!
Psalm 51:1-19 (The Message)
Psalm 511-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I've been;
my sins are staring me down.
4-6 You're the One I've violated, and you've seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I've been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you're after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean,
scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don't look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don't throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I'll let loose with your praise.
16-17 Going through the motions doesn't please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don't for a moment escape God's notice.
18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem's broken-down walls.
Then you'll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!
Proverbs 22:24-25 (The Message)
224-25 Don't hang out with angry people;
don't keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
don't get infected.
Verse for the Day
Thought for the Day
Italian poet, novelist, literary critic and translator, Cesare Pavese wrote, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”