As we make our way through The Whole Story, we have now arrived at the final book in the Wisdom of Israel, the Song of Songs.
We have defined wisdom in these five books—Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, and now the Song of Songs—as applied skill and competence in our living. And this kind of wise living is only possible if we recognize that God has hardwired wisdom into the world, that there is an inner logic to the way everything works, and the only way we will discover how to live according to the inner logic and the way he has hardwired it is by listening to, obeying, and following the Creator and Designer of it all.
Furthermore, we have to do this in every single area of our living. We must find the path of wisdom, leaving no area of life untouched.
I was read this comment on our culture this past week:
“In the name of advertising and entertainment, human bodies become commodities and people become products. Ironically, true romance and intimacy vanish in an age when everything becomes sensual.”
True romance and intimacy vanish.
What I grieve for our culture, and my neighbors, and my family members, and our children, and the generations to follow is the loss of beauty that is bound up in true romance: desire-satisfying, soul-feeding, thirst-quenching, pleasure-producing, God-glorifying, self-sacrificing, other-focused—TRUE—physical and relational intimacy.
That kind of romance is truly beautiful. And in a world engorged on sensuality, we have lost our ability to taste and see true beauty.
Which is why—now more than ever—we need the Song of Songs. For in the Song, the God of the Bible, in the Bible, confronts our culture and shows us where we have been wrong. He presents to us a picture of true beauty.
Friends, by God’s grace, he gave me the eyes to see and the ears to hear and the heart to feel—more than on any previous reading—the sheer beauty of the Song. Here we find two people enraptured with each other. Here we find two people satisfied by each other. We find joy, and delight, and pleasure, and laughter, and ecstasy, and celebration. We find vulnerability and safety, security and affirmation, gratitude and self-sacrifice, humility and leadership. Here we find the power and importance of the private and intimate, and the critical role of public displays and communal accountability and affirmation.
The Song holds up the beauty and meaning of a love relationship and a celebration of the marriage covenant that is spiritual, emotional, physical, vivid, highly charged, and erotic. And it is held up as a contrast to what our culture is holding out to us, and particularly our young people, in books, movies, and social media.
It is highly charged, without being tawdry.
It is frank and forthright, without being sophomoric.
It is erotic, without being graphic.
Friends, for a culture—outside and inside of the church—desperate, and longing for physical and relational intimacy, the Song of Songs is a major pathway of wisdom to living this aspect of a good life. It is so helpful that I have never been as tempted as I have this week to stop The Whole Story and stay in the Song for the next ten weeks. We need it that badly.
But, I kept it to one sermon, which you can listen to here. And if you’d like to study it further, I commend the Song of Songs page over at the Bible Project. I hope that you find the sermon thought-provoking, and that it creates conversations with not-yet-believers and other Jesus-followers, as we continue to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, together.
One final reminder—if you’d like to be ready for this coming Sunday at Calvary, please read the book of Jeremiah, as we dive back into the prophetic works of the Old Testament.
Seeking the Beautiful,
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.
Day Thirteen: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
One of the key assumptions we’ve been working with as we make our way through the wisdom literature is that God has hardwired wisdom into the way creation (and the creatures within it…us) operates. It was there at the beginning. It’s the inner logic of everything, and the secret code for how it works. (see Proverbs 8:22-31)
Day Eleven: A Pig Is Still A Pig
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, English Standard Version) “Well…I never!” she replied to the King. Reading this proverb, it seems highly probable to me, given the stories of King Solomon and all the women in his life (1 Kings 11:3), that this was probably a proverb born from experience. He comes along a beautiful woman, of high social standing, of influence and power; but in his interactions with her, he begins to see her true self shining through all her external adornments. She has no discretion—she is a woman of loose and dissolute conversation, her mind and conscience are defiled. There’s a beauty for the eye, but the corruption of her character slowly transforms how Solomon sees her, and no amount of jewelry will cover that up.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.