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Song of Solomon 1-3The Message (MSG)

The Song—best of all songs—Solomon’s song!

The Woman

2-3 Kiss me—full on the mouth!
    Yes! For your love is better than wine,
    headier than your aromatic oils.
The syllables of your name murmur like a meadow brook.
    No wonder everyone loves to say your name!

Take me away with you! Let’s run off together!
    An elopement with my King-Lover!
We’ll celebrate, we’ll sing,
    we’ll make great music.
Yes! For your love is better than vintage wine.
    Everyone loves you—of course! And why not?

5-6 I am weathered but still elegant,
    oh, dear sisters in Jerusalem,
Weather-darkened like Kedar desert tents,
    time-softened like Solomon’s Temple hangings.
Don’t look down on me because I’m dark,
    darkened by the sun’s harsh rays.
My brothers ridiculed me and sent me to work in the fields.
    They made me care for the face of the earth,
    but I had no time to care for my own face.

Tell me where you’re working
    —I love you so much—
Tell me where you’re tending your flocks,
    where you let them rest at noontime.
Why should I be the one left out,
    outside the orbit of your tender care?

The Man

If you can’t find me, loveliest of all women,
    it’s all right. Stay with your flocks.
Lead your lambs to good pasture.
    Stay with your shepherd neighbors.

9-11 You remind me of Pharaoh’s
    well-groomed and satiny mares.
Pendant earrings line the elegance of your cheeks;
    strands of jewels illumine the curve of your throat.
I’m making jewelry for you, gold and silver jewelry
    that will mark and accent your beauty.

The Woman

12-14 When my King-Lover lay down beside me,
    my fragrance filled the room.
His head resting between my breasts—
    the head of my lover was a sachet of sweet myrrh.
My beloved is a bouquet of wildflowers
    picked just for me from the fields of Engedi.

The Man

15 Oh, my dear friend! You’re so beautiful!
    And your eyes so beautiful—like doves!

The Woman

16-17 And you, my dear lover—you’re so handsome!
    And the bed we share is like a forest glen.
We enjoy a canopy of cedars
    enclosed by cypresses, fragrant and green.

I’m just a wildflower picked from the plains of Sharon,
    a lotus blossom from the valley pools.

The Man

A lotus blossoming in a swamp of weeds—
    that’s my dear friend among the girls in the village.

The Woman

3-4 As an apricot tree stands out in the forest,
    my lover stands above the young men in town.
All I want is to sit in his shade,
    to taste and savor his delicious love.
He took me home with him for a festive meal,
    but his eyes feasted on me!

5-6 Oh! Give me something refreshing to eat—and quickly!
    Apricots, raisins—anything. I’m about to faint with love!
His left hand cradles my head,
    and his right arm encircles my waist!

Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles, yes, by all the wild deer:
Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up,
    until the time is ripe—and you’re ready.

8-10 Look! Listen! There’s my lover!
    Do you see him coming?
Vaulting the mountains,
    leaping the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle, graceful;
    like a young stag, virile.
Look at him there, on tiptoe at the gate,
    all ears, all eyes—ready!
My lover has arrived
    and he’s speaking to me!

The Man

10-14 Get up, my dear friend,
    fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over;
    the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
    The whole world’s a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
    with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
    and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Oh, get up, dear friend,
    my fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Come, my shy and modest dove—
    leave your seclusion, come out in the open.
Let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice.
For your voice is soothing
    and your face is ravishing.

The Woman

15 Then you must protect me from the foxes,
    foxes on the prowl,
Foxes who would like nothing better
    than to get into our flowering garden.

16-17 My lover is mine, and I am his.
    Nightly he strolls in our garden,
Delighting in the flowers
    until dawn breathes its light and night slips away.

Turn to me, dear lover.
    Come like a gazelle.
Leap like a wild stag
    on delectable mountains!

1-4 Restless in bed and sleepless through the night,
    I longed for my lover.
    I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful.
So I got up, went out and roved the city,
    hunting through streets and down alleys.
I wanted my lover in the worst way!
    I looked high and low, and didn’t find him.
And then the night watchmen found me
    as they patrolled the darkened city.
    “Have you seen my dear lost love?” I asked.
No sooner had I left them than I found him,
    found my dear lost love.
I threw my arms around him and held him tight,
    wouldn’t let him go until I had him home again,
    safe at home beside the fire.

Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles, yes, by all the wild deer:
Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up,
    until the time is ripe—and you’re ready.

6-10 What’s this I see, approaching from the desert,
    raising clouds of dust,
Filling the air with sweet smells
    and pungent aromatics?
Look! It’s Solomon’s carriage,
    carried and guarded by sixty soldiers,
    sixty of Israel’s finest,
All of them armed to the teeth,
    trained for battle,
    ready for anything, anytime.
King Solomon once had a carriage built
    from fine-grained Lebanon cedar.
He had it framed with silver and roofed with gold.
    The cushions were covered with a purple fabric,
    the interior lined with tooled leather.

11 Come and look, sisters in Jerusalem.
    Oh, sisters of Zion, don’t miss this!
My King-Lover,
    dressed and garlanded for his wedding,
    his heart full, bursting with joy!

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Galatians 2The Message (MSG)

What Is Central?

1-5 Fourteen years after that first visit, Barnabas and I went up to Jerusalem and took Titus with us. I went to clarify with them what had been revealed to me. At that time I placed before them exactly what I was preaching to the non-Jews. I did this in private with the leaders, those held in esteem by the church, so that our concern would not become a controversial public issue, marred by ethnic tensions, exposing my years of work to denigration and endangering my present ministry. Significantly, Titus, non-Jewish though he was, was not required to be circumcised. While we were in conference we were infiltrated by spies pretending to be Christians, who slipped in to find out just how free true Christians are. Their ulterior motive was to reduce us to their brand of servitude. We didn’t give them the time of day. We were determined to preserve the truth of the Message for you.

6-10 As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn’t concern me. God isn’t impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. And of course these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching. It was soon evident that God had entrusted me with the same message to the non-Jews as Peter had been preaching to the Jews. Recognizing that my calling had been given by God, James, Peter, and John—the pillars of the church—shook hands with me and Barnabas, assigning us to a ministry to the non-Jews, while they continued to be responsible for reaching out to the Jews. The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor, and I was already eager to do that.

11-13 Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.

14 But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up to Peter in front of them all: “If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you’re not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your old Jerusalem cronies?”

15-16 We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over “non-Jewish sinners.” We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.

17-18 Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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