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Song of Solomon 4-5The Message (MSG)

The Man

1-5 You’re so beautiful, my darling,
    so beautiful, and your dove eyes are veiled
By your hair as it flows and shimmers,
    like a flock of goats in the distance
    streaming down a hillside in the sunshine.
Your smile is generous and full—
    expressive and strong and clean.
Your lips are jewel red,
    your mouth elegant and inviting,
    your veiled cheeks soft and radiant.
The smooth, lithe lines of your neck
    command notice—all heads turn in awe and admiration!
Your breasts are like fawns,
    twins of a gazelle, grazing among the first spring flowers.

6-7 The sweet, fragrant curves of your body,
    the soft, spiced contours of your flesh
Invite me, and I come. I stay
    until dawn breathes its light and night slips away.
You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love,
    beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.

8-15 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride.
    Leave Lebanon behind, and come.
Leave your high mountain hideaway.
    Abandon your wilderness seclusion,
Where you keep company with lions
    and panthers guard your safety.
You’ve captured my heart, dear friend.
    You looked at me, and I fell in love.
    One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!
How beautiful your love, dear, dear friend—
    far more pleasing than a fine, rare wine,
    your fragrance more exotic than select spices.
The kisses of your lips are honey, my love,
    every syllable you speak a delicacy to savor.
Your clothes smell like the wild outdoors,
    the ozone scent of high mountains.
Dear lover and friend, you’re a secret garden,
    a private and pure fountain.
Body and soul, you are paradise,
    a whole orchard of succulent fruits—
Ripe apricots and peaches,
    oranges and pears;
Nut trees and cinnamon,
    and all scented woods;
Mint and lavender,
    and all herbs aromatic;
A garden fountain, sparkling and splashing,
    fed by spring waters from the Lebanon mountains.

The Woman

16 Wake up, North Wind,
    get moving, South Wind!
Breathe on my garden,
    fill the air with spice fragrance.

Oh, let my lover enter his garden!
    Yes, let him eat the fine, ripe fruits.

The Man

I went to my garden, dear friend, best lover!
    breathed the sweet fragrance.
I ate the fruit and honey,
    I drank the nectar and wine.

Celebrate with me, friends!
    Raise your glasses—“To life! To love!”

The Woman

I was sound asleep, but in my dreams I was wide awake.
    Oh, listen! It’s the sound of my lover knocking, calling!

The Man

“Let me in, dear companion, dearest friend,
    my dove, consummate lover!
I’m soaked with the dampness of the night,
    drenched with dew, shivering and cold.”

The Woman

“But I’m in my nightgown—do you expect me to get dressed?
    I’m bathed and in bed—do you want me to get dirty?”

4-7 But my lover wouldn’t take no for an answer,
    and the longer he knocked, the more excited I became.
I got up to open the door to my lover,
    sweetly ready to receive him,
Desiring and expectant
    as I turned the door handle.
But when I opened the door he was gone.
    My loved one had tired of waiting and left.
And I died inside—oh, I felt so bad!
    I ran out looking for him
But he was nowhere to be found.
    I called into the darkness—but no answer.
The night watchmen found me
    as they patrolled the streets of the city.
They slapped and beat and bruised me,
    ripping off my clothes,
These watchmen,
    who were supposed to be guarding the city.

I beg you, sisters in Jerusalem—
    if you find my lover,
Please tell him I want him,
    that I’m heartsick with love for him.

The Chorus

What’s so great about your lover, fair lady?
What’s so special about him that you beg for our help?

The Woman

10-16 My dear lover glows with health—
    red-blooded, radiant!
He’s one in a million.
    There’s no one quite like him!
My golden one, pure and untarnished,
    with raven black curls tumbling across his shoulders.
His eyes are like doves, soft and bright,
    but deep-set, brimming with meaning, like wells of water.
His face is rugged, his beard smells like sage,
    His voice, his words, warm and reassuring.
Fine muscles ripple beneath his skin,
    quiet and beautiful.
His torso is the work of a sculptor,
    hard and smooth as ivory.
He stands tall, like a cedar,
    strong and deep-rooted,
A rugged mountain of a man,
    aromatic with wood and stone.
His words are kisses, his kisses words.
    Everything about him delights me, thrills me
        through and through!

That’s my lover, that’s my man,
    dear Jerusalem sisters.

The Message (MSG)

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

Galatians 3The Message (MSG)

Trust in Christ, Not the Law

You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

2-4 Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

5-6 Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.

7-8 Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed in you.”

9-10 So those now who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith—this is no new doctrine! And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: “Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law.”

11-12 The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that’s the real life.” Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”

13-14 Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.

15-18 Friends, let me give you an example from everyday affairs of the free life I am talking about. Once a person’s will has been ratified, no one else can annul it or add to it. Now, the promises were made to Abraham and to his descendant. You will observe that Scripture, in the careful language of a legal document, does not say “to descendants,” referring to everybody in general, but “to your descendant” (the noun, note, is singular), referring to Christ. This is the way I interpret this: A will, earlier ratified by God, is not annulled by an addendum attached 430 years later, thereby negating the promise of the will. No, this addendum, with its instructions and regulations, has nothing to do with the promised inheritance in the will.

18-20 What is the point, then, of the law, the attached addendum? It was a thoughtful addition to the original covenant promises made to Abraham. The purpose of the law was to keep a sinful people in the way of salvation until Christ (the descendant) came, inheriting the promises and distributing them to us. Obviously this law was not a firsthand encounter with God. It was arranged by angelic messengers through a middleman, Moses. But if there is a middleman as there was at Sinai, then the people are not dealing directly with God, are they? But the original promise is the direct blessing of God, received by faith.

21-22 If such is the case, is the law, then, an anti-promise, a negation of God’s will for us? Not at all. Its purpose was to make obvious to everyone that we are, in ourselves, out of right relationship with God, and therefore to show us the futility of devising some religious system for getting by our own efforts what we can only get by waiting in faith for God to complete his promise. For if any kind of rule-keeping had power to create life in us, we would certainly have gotten it by this time.

23-24 Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.

25-27 But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.

In Christ’s Family

28-29 In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

The Message (MSG)

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

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