Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"For us..."

I have been on a particular journey over the last 3 or 4 years. My brother Lee Behnken has taken on as a "Holy Hobby" the study and reading of The Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon. I have joined him in that journey, and have found it to be one of the most beautiful, enlightening, mysterious, books in the Bible. I won't say that I read it every day, but I do find my way there at least once a week, usually more. It is indeed the Song of all Songs. In some of my reading time this morning I discovered that in the first century, Jewish authorities almost excluded it from the Holy Scripture. It was the famous Rabbi Akiba that insisted, "the Song of Songs is the most sacred of them all." That is an extreme statement to make about a book that was at one time forbidden for some young Jewish men to read. However, as I continue to read and study this book, the depths that I plumb appear limitless. I know that God's word is alive, and all Scripture functions in a similar way, and the Holy Spirit reveals to us new truths when we are mature enough to handle them. But, there are some truths about God's love for us that are deep and rich with meaning embedded in this most holy of songs. I love Him even more because I believe He is revealing more and more of His love for The Church, but also this amazing love that He has for even a wretched low-life like me.

So, today I'm looking at Song of Songs (SOS) 2:15; "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom." I have to confess, I never got this one at all. In fact, I probably blew past it more than a few times and didn't pay any attention to it. The Song is an allegory. It is filled with symbols and images that at face value, appear strange, and don't make a lot of sense. There is something inside of me that really enjoys stories, songs, allegories and colloquialisms. My grandpa Hall was a man who grew up in Appalachia, and he had a nickname for everybody and most things. He nicknamed me SAM; I think that has something to do with my initials. He spoke of "snipes" and "pig-tails" on ice cream cones. I love to listen to the Reds on the radio for some of the same reasons. When Marty Brenneman calls a "rocket" to left field, or a line drive down the third base line that "undresses" the third baseman, that peeks my imagination and usually makes me smile.

Most of the commentary I've read on these verses agree that the "foxes" are representative of sins. So, in essence He (being Christ) is asking Her (being the Church) to seize these sins, deal with them, because they will eventually destroy the vineyard. I think that particular truth will be a blog post all it's own some time soon. What strikes me are the two small pronouns, "us" and "our." He, (my Savior) is exhorting me to deal with sin in my life. It's important for me to deal with all sin in my life for "us." That would be His relationship with me and me with Him. It feels like the lover of my soul looking me square in the eye and lovingly letting me know, you've got to clean this stuff up. It's like He's saying, "I know nobody else but you and I know about this, but for the sake of 'us,' you need to deal with this." He calls me to Himself, and as I move closer and closer in an intimate relationship, the light of His presence will force sin out of the dark and into the light, and I must deal with it. To grow in intimacy, it must be dealt with, repented of, turned from, cleansed, and restored.

Later in that verse He refers to "our vineyards that are in bloom." My opinion is that we could justify vineyard as a metaphor for ministry, it could also be argued, "our relationship." In my mind, it is hard to really separate one from the other. With that thought in mind there is an amazing truth that God wants us to see. He, the Creator of the Universe; the Great I Am; The Alpha and Omega; The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; The God of Israel, wants to do ministry with me! He wants to do it with you too! He says, "our vineyards that are in bloom." It is a ministry that He has in mind for each of us, it is something he does in and through us and with us. Let us not be mistaken though, it is His deal, the vineyard is already in bloom because He's already done the work. It is what He has for us and offers to us to join Him in. Did you know that He has that for you? Part of the prosperity He has in store for you is the vineyard He is longing to give you.

I will choose to walk in intimacy with Him! And when He points out the "little foxes" in my life, I resolve to do the hard and sometimes painful work of getting rid of them. I'll do it for "US" and the sake of "OUR" vineyard.

1 comment:

Beth said...

"He refers to "our vineyards that are in bloom." My opinion is that we could justify vineyard as a metaphor for ministry, it could also be argued, "our relationship." In my mind, it is hard to really separate one from the other."

I agree, your ministry and your relationship with Christ cannot be separated . . . your ministry and your relationship with others is intertwined as well . . .