OT: Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14
Well, we wrap up Song of Solomon today. It was short...and weird.
I'm not much into poetry to start with, and it just seemed like there was too big of a time divide between the poem and me for me to really appreciate it on its own terms. For one thing, the imagery didn't really resonate with me. All the comparisons to animals and pillars and jewels just didn't hit their mark, in my mind. Not that it's not a good poem--it was just hard for me to get into it.
I did like some of the broader ideas. I liked the celebration of love, and expressly of love in the physical sense. Christians sometimes have an ambivalent relationship toward sex. It's easy to focus on the immoral aspects of it to the point where we forget that it is a creation of God, and a gift from Him to His children. So I like how the Bible has a whole book to celebrate the beauty of it.
NT: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Paul continues to hit the Corinthians up for money:).
Just kidding. I mean, that's what he is doing, but I always feel sorry for people trying to raise funds b/c it is hard not to come off wrong. When I worked for an inner city ministry in Nashville, one of my jobs was to call churches in the area and ask them if our director could come speak at their church. It was for a good cause, but I always came off feeling like a...a used car salesman, or something.
Anyway, I like some of the stuff he says on giving in verses 6-11. First, he offers as a general principle that, "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously" (6). This principle of "give and it will be given to you" is found throughout the Bible, OT and NT. And I know that, to the degree that I have followed it, I have found it to be true in my own life.
I also like Paul's emphasis on attitude: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (7). In other words, forced charity is no charity at all. Scripture makes it clear that righteous and moral behavior should come from the heart, and not just from a set of outward rules.
My friend, Courtney, loves 1 Peter 1:3, which starts, "his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. 2 Corinthians 9:8 is kind of a companion verse: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, have in all that you need, you will abound in every good work." I love the idea that God gives us the resources to do all the things we need to do. As one whose "to do" list is growing daily more full of worthy things that need to be done, I take comfort in the idea that God's ability and grace can make up for my shortcomings.
The famous psalm written after David's sin with Bathsheba. Always good to read.
A reminder that we become like the people with which we associate.