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Song of Solomon 5The Message (MSG)

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

Song of Solomon 6The Message (MSG)

The Chorus

So where has this love of yours gone,
    fair one?
Where on earth can he be?
    Can we help you look for him?

The Woman

2-3 Never mind. My lover is already on his way to his garden,
    to browse among the flowers, touching the colors and forms.
I am my lover’s and my lover is mine.
    He caresses the sweet-smelling flowers.

The Man

4-7 Dear, dear friend and lover,
    you’re as beautiful as Tirzah, city of delights,
Lovely as Jerusalem, city of dreams,
    the ravishing visions of my ecstasy.
Your beauty is too much for me—I’m in over my head.
    I’m not used to this! I can’t take it in.
Your hair 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 veiled cheeks
    are soft and radiant.

8-9 There’s no one like her on earth,
    never has been, never will be.
She’s a woman beyond compare.
    My dove is perfection,
Pure and innocent as the day she was born,
    and cradled in joy by her mother.
Everyone who came by to see her
    exclaimed and admired her—
All the fathers and mothers, the neighbors and friends,
    blessed and praised her:

10 “Has anyone ever seen anything like this—
    dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant,
    ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars?”

11-12 One day I went strolling through the orchard,
    looking for signs of spring,
Looking for buds about to burst into flower,
    anticipating readiness, ripeness.
Before I knew it my heart was raptured,
    carried away by lofty thoughts!

13 Dance, dance, dear Shulammite, Angel-Princess!
    Dance, and we’ll feast our eyes on your grace!
Everyone wants to see the Shulammite dance
    her victory dances of love and peace.

The Message (MSG)

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

Song of Solomon 7The Message (MSG)

1-9 Shapely and graceful your sandaled feet,
    and queenly your movement—
Your limbs are lithe and elegant,
    the work of a master artist.
Your body is a chalice,
    wine-filled.
Your skin is silken and tawny
    like a field of wheat touched by the breeze.
Your breasts are like fawns,
    twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is carved ivory, curved and slender.
    Your eyes are wells of light, deep with mystery.
    Quintessentially feminine!
Your profile turns all heads,
    commanding attention.
The feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges
    —stirrings of desire, longings for the heights—
Remind me of you,
    and I’m spoiled for anyone else!
Your beauty, within and without, is absolute,
    dear lover, close companion.
You are tall and supple, like the palm tree,
    and your full breasts are like sweet clusters of dates.
I say, “I’m going to climb that palm tree!
    I’m going to caress its fruit!”
Oh yes! Your breasts
    will be clusters of sweet fruit to me,
Your breath clean and cool like fresh mint,
    your tongue and lips like the best wine.

The Woman

9-12 Yes, and yours are, too—my love’s kisses
    flow from his lips to mine.
I am my lover’s.
    I’m all he wants. I’m all the world to him!
Come, dear lover—
    let’s tramp through the countryside.
Let’s sleep at some wayside inn,
    then rise early and listen to bird-song.
Let’s look for wildflowers in bloom,
    blackberry bushes blossoming white,
Fruit trees festooned
    with cascading flowers.
And there I’ll give myself to you,
    my love to your love!

13 Love-apples drench us with fragrance,
    fertility surrounds, suffuses us,
Fruits fresh and preserved
    that I’ve kept and saved just for you, my love.

The Message (MSG)

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

Song of Solomon 8The Message (MSG)

1-2 I wish you’d been my twin brother,
    sharing with me the breasts of my mother,
Playing outside in the street,
    kissing in plain view of everyone,
    and no one thinking anything of it.
I’d take you by the hand and bring you home
    where I was raised by my mother.
You’d drink my wine
    and kiss my cheeks.

3-4 Imagine! His left hand cradling my head,
    his right arm around my waist!
Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem:
    Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up,
    until the time is ripe—and you’re ready.

The Chorus

Who is this I see coming up from the country,
    arm in arm with her lover?

The Man

I found you under the apricot tree,
    and woke you up to love.
Your mother went into labor under that tree,
    and under that very tree she bore you.

The Woman

6-8 Hang my locket around your neck,
    wear my ring on your finger.
Love is invincible facing danger and death.
    Passion laughs at the terrors of hell.
The fire of love stops at nothing—
    it sweeps everything before it.
Flood waters can’t drown love,
    torrents of rain can’t put it out.
Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold—
    it’s not to be found in the marketplace.
My brothers used to worry about me:

8-9 “Our little sister has no breasts.
    What shall we do with our little sister
    when men come asking for her?
She’s a virgin and vulnerable,
    and we’ll protect her.
If they think she’s a wall, we’ll top it with barbed wire.
    If they think she’s a door, we’ll barricade it.”

10 Dear brothers, I’m a walled-in virgin still,
    but my breasts are full—
And when my lover sees me,
    he knows he’ll soon be satisfied.

The Man

11-12 King Solomon may have vast vineyards
    in lush, fertile country,
Where he hires others to work the ground.
    People pay anything to get in on that bounty.
But my vineyard is all mine,
    and I’m keeping it to myself.
You can have your vast vineyards, Solomon,
    you and your greedy guests!

13 Oh, lady of the gardens,
    my friends are with me listening.
    Let me hear your voice!

The Woman

14 Run to me, dear lover.
    Come like a gazelle.
Leap like a wild stag
    on the spice mountains.

The Message (MSG)

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

Philippians 1The Message (MSG)

1-2 Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the followers of Jesus in Philippi, pastors and ministers included. We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.

A Love That Will Grow

3-6 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

7-8 It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!

9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

They Can’t Imprison the Message

12-14 I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.

15-17 It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.

18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!

And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.

22-26 As long as I’m alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We’ll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.

27-30 Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God. There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. You’re involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through, on which you are now getting an updated report in this letter.

The Message (MSG)

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

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