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Young Man

I have entered my garden, my treasure,[a] my bride!
    I gather myrrh with my spices
and eat honeycomb with my honey.
    I drink wine with my milk.

Young Women of Jerusalem

Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink!
    Yes, drink deeply of your love!

Young Woman

I slept, but my heart was awake,
    when I heard my lover knocking and calling:
“Open to me, my treasure, my darling,
    my dove, my perfect one.
My head is drenched with dew,
    my hair with the dampness of the night.”

But I responded,
“I have taken off my robe.
    Should I get dressed again?
I have washed my feet.
    Should I get them soiled?”

My lover tried to unlatch the door,
    and my heart thrilled within me.
I jumped up to open the door for my love,
    and my hands dripped with perfume.
My fingers dripped with lovely myrrh
    as I pulled back the bolt.
I opened to my lover,
    but he was gone!
    My heart sank.
I searched for him
    but could not find him anywhere.
I called to him,
    but there was no reply.
The night watchmen found me
    as they made their rounds.
They beat and bruised me
    and stripped off my veil,
    those watchmen on the walls.

Make this promise, O women of Jerusalem—
    If you find my lover,
    tell him I am weak with love.

Young Women of Jerusalem

Why is your lover better than all others,
    O woman of rare beauty?
What makes your lover so special
    that we must promise this?

Young Woman

10 My lover is dark and dazzling,
    better than ten thousand others!
11 His head is finest gold,
    his wavy hair is black as a raven.
12 His eyes sparkle like doves
    beside springs of water;
they are set like jewels
    washed in milk.
13 His cheeks are like gardens of spices
    giving off fragrance.
His lips are like lilies,
    perfumed with myrrh.
14 His arms are like rounded bars of gold,
    set with beryl.
His body is like bright ivory,
    glowing with lapis lazuli.
15 His legs are like marble pillars
    set in sockets of finest gold.
His posture is stately,
    like the noble cedars of Lebanon.
16 His mouth is sweetness itself;
    he is desirable in every way.
Such, O women of Jerusalem,
    is my lover, my friend.

Young Women of Jerusalem

Where has your lover gone,
    O woman of rare beauty?
Which way did he turn
    so we can help you find him?

Young Woman

My lover has gone down to his garden,
    to his spice beds,
to browse in the gardens
    and gather the lilies.
I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine.
    He browses among the lilies.

Young Man

You are beautiful, my darling,
    like the lovely city of Tirzah.
Yes, as beautiful as Jerusalem,
    as majestic as an army with billowing banners.
Turn your eyes away,
    for they overpower me.
Your hair falls in waves,
    like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are as white as sheep
    that are freshly washed.
Your smile is flawless,
    each tooth matched with its twin.[b]
Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates
    behind your veil.

Even among sixty queens
    and eighty concubines
    and countless young women,
I would still choose my dove, my perfect one—
    the favorite of her mother,
    dearly loved by the one who bore her.
The young women see her and praise her;
    even queens and royal concubines sing her praises:
10 “Who is this, arising like the dawn,
    as fair as the moon,
as bright as the sun,
    as majestic as an army with billowing banners?”

Young Woman

11 I went down to the grove of walnut trees
    and out to the valley to see the new spring growth,
to see whether the grapevines had budded
    or the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 Before I realized it,
    my strong desires had taken me to the chariot of a noble man.[c]

Young Women of Jerusalem

13 [d]Return, return to us, O maid of Shulam.
    Come back, come back, that we may see you again.

Young Man

Why do you stare at this young woman of Shulam,
    as she moves so gracefully between two lines of dancers?[e]

[f]How beautiful are your sandaled feet,
    O queenly maiden.
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
    the work of a skilled craftsman.
Your navel is perfectly formed
    like a goblet filled with mixed wine.
Between your thighs lies a mound of wheat
    bordered with lilies.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
    twin fawns of a gazelle.
Your neck is as beautiful as an ivory tower.
Your eyes are like the sparkling pools in Heshbon
    by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is as fine as the tower of Lebanon
    overlooking Damascus.
Your head is as majestic as Mount Carmel,
    and the sheen of your hair radiates royalty.
    The king is held captive by its tresses.
Oh, how beautiful you are!
    How pleasing, my love, how full of delights!
You are slender like a palm tree,
    and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree
    and take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like grape clusters,
    and the fragrance of your breath like apples.
May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine—

Young Woman

Yes, wine that goes down smoothly for my lover,
    flowing gently over lips and teeth.[g]
10 I am my lover’s,
    and he claims me as his own.
11 Come, my love, let us go out to the fields
    and spend the night among the wildflowers.[h]
12 Let us get up early and go to the vineyards
    to see if the grapevines have budded,
if the blossoms have opened,
    and if the pomegranates have bloomed.
    There I will give you my love.
13 There the mandrakes give off their fragrance,
    and the finest fruits are at our door,
new delights as well as old,
    which I have saved for you, my lover.

Young Woman

Oh, I wish you were my brother,
    who nursed at my mother’s breasts.
Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching,
    and no one would criticize me.
I would bring you to my childhood home,
    and there you would teach me.[i]
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
    my sweet pomegranate wine.
Your left arm would be under my head,
    and your right arm would embrace me.

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem,
    not to awaken love until the time is right.[j]

Young Women of Jerusalem

Who is this sweeping in from the desert,
    leaning on her lover?

Young Woman

I aroused you under the apple tree,
    where your mother gave you birth,
    where in great pain she delivered you.
Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy[k] as enduring as the grave.[l]
Love flashes like fire,
    the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
    nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
    with all his wealth,
    his offer would be utterly scorned.

The Young Woman’s Brothers

We have a little sister
    too young to have breasts.
What will we do for our sister
    if someone asks to marry her?
If she is a virgin, like a wall,
    we will protect her with a silver tower.
But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door,
    we will block her door with a cedar bar.

Young Woman

10 I was a virgin, like a wall;
    now my breasts are like towers.
When my lover looks at me,
    he is delighted with what he sees.

11 Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-hamon,
    which he leases out to tenant farmers.
Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver
    for harvesting its fruit.
12 But my vineyard is mine to give,
    and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver.
But I will give two hundred pieces
    to those who care for its vines.

Young Man

13 O my darling, lingering in the gardens,
    your companions are fortunate to hear your voice.
    Let me hear it, too!

Young Woman

14 Come away, my love! Be like a gazelle
    or a young stag on the mountains of spices.

Footnotes

  1. 5:1 Hebrew my sister; also in 5:2.
  2. 6:6 Hebrew Not one is missing; each has a twin.
  3. 6:12 Or to the royal chariots of my people, or to the chariots of Amminadab. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  4. 6:13a Verse 6:13 is numbered 7:1 in Hebrew text.
  5. 6:13b Or as you would at the movements of two armies? or as you would at the dance of Mahanaim? The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  6. 7:1 Verses 7:1-13 are numbered 7:2-14 in Hebrew text.
  7. 7:9 As in Greek and Syriac versions and Latin Vulgate; Hebrew reads over lips of sleepers.
  8. 7:11 Or in the villages.
  9. 8:2 Or there she will teach me.
  10. 8:4 Or not to awaken love until it is ready.
  11. 8:6a Or its passion.
  12. 8:6b Hebrew as Sheol.

The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem

I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.[a] For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece[b] were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.

But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”[c] And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”[d]

10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity[e] in you.

11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem[f] will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift[g] too wonderful for words!

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Footnotes

  1. 9:1 Greek about the offering for God’s holy people.
  2. 9:2 Greek in Achaia, the southern region of the Greek peninsula. Macedonia was in the northern region of Greece.
  3. 9:7 See footnote on Prov 22:8.
  4. 9:9 Ps 112:9.
  5. 9:10 Greek righteousness.
  6. 9:12 Greek of God’s holy people.
  7. 9:15 Greek his gift.

Psalm 51

For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.[a]
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,[b]
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
18 Look with favor on Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
    with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
    Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

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Footnotes

  1. 51:4 Greek version reads and you will win your case in court. Compare Rom 3:4.
  2. 51:6 Or from the heart; Hebrew reads in the inward parts.
  3. 51:7 Hebrew Purify me with the hyssop branch.
  4. 51:11 Or your spirit of holiness.

24 Don’t befriend angry people
    or associate with hot-tempered people,
25 or you will learn to be like them
    and endanger your soul.

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