4 Listen, my dearest darling,
you are so beautiful—you are beauty itself to me!
Your eyes are
like gentle doves behind your veil.
What devotion I see each time I gaze upon you.
You are like a sacrifice ready to be offered.[a]
2 When I look at you,
I see how you have taken my fruit and tasted my word.
Your life has become clean and pure,
like a lamb washed and newly shorn.
You now show grace and balance with truth on display.
3 Your lips are as lovely as Rahab’s scarlet ribbon,[b]
speaking mercy, speaking grace.
The words of your mouth are as refreshing as an oasis.
What pleasure you bring to me!
I see your blushing cheeks
opened like the halves of a pomegranate,[c]
showing through your veil of tender meekness.
4 When I look at you,
I see your inner strength, so stately and strong.
You are as secure as David’s fortress.
Your virtues and grace cause a thousand famous soldiers
to surrender to your beauty.
5 Your pure faith and love rest over your heart
as you nurture those who are yet infants.
6 I’ve made up my mind.
Until the darkness disappears and the dawn has fully come,
in spite of shadows and fears,
I will go to the mountaintop with you—
the mountain of suffering love[d]
and the hill of burning incense.
Yes, I will be your bride.[e]
7 Every part of you is so beautiful, my darling.
Perfect is your beauty, without flaw within.
8 Now you are ready, my bride,
to come with me as we climb the highest peaks together.
Come with me through the archway of trust.[f]
We will look[g] down
from the crest of the glistening mounts
and from the summit of our sublime sanctuary,
from the lion’s den and the leopard’s lair.
9 For you reach into my heart.
With one flash of your eyes I am undone by your love,
my beloved, my equal,[h] my bride.
You leave me breathless—
I am overcome
by merely a glance from your worshiping eyes,
for you have stolen my heart.[i]
I am held hostage by your love
and by the graces of righteousness shining upon you.[j]
10 How satisfying to me, my equal, my bride.
Your love is my finest wine—intoxicating and thrilling.
And your sweet, perfumed praises—so exotic, so pleasing.
11 Your loving words are like the honeycomb to me;
your tongue releases milk and honey,
for I find the promised land flowing within you.[k]
The fragrance of your worshiping love
surrounds you with scented robes of white.[l]
12 My darling bride, my private paradise,
fastened to my heart.
A secret spring that no one else can have are you—
my bubbling fountain hidden from public view.
What a perfect partner to me now that I have you.
13–14 Your inward life is now sprouting, bringing forth fruit.
What a beautiful paradise unfolds within you.[m]
When I’m near you, I smell aromas of the finest spice,
for many clusters of my exquisite fruit
now grow within your inner garden.
Here are the nine:
pomegranates[n] of passion,
henna[o] from heaven,
spikenard[p] so sweet,
fragrant calamus[r] from the cross,
branches of scented woods,[t]
myrrh, like tears from a tree,[u]
and aloe as eagles ascending.[v]
15 You are a fountain of gardens.[w]
A well of living water springs up from within you,
like a mountain brook flowing into my heart![x]
The Shulamite Bride
16 Awake, O north[y] wind!
Awake, O south wind!
Breathe on my garden with your Spirit-Wind.
Stir up the sweet spice of your life within me.
Spare nothing as you make me your fruitful garden.
Hold nothing back until I release your fragrance.
Come walk with me as you walked
with Adam in your paradise garden.[z]
Come taste the fruits of your life in me.
5 I have gathered from your heart,
my equal, my bride,
I have gathered from my garden
all my sacred spices—even my myrrh.
I have tasted and enjoyed my wine within you.
I have tasted with pleasure my pure milk, my honeycomb,
which you yield to me.
I delight in gathering my sacred spice,
all the fruits of my life I have
gathered from within you, my paradise garden.
Come, all my friends—
feast upon my bride, all you revelers of my palace.
Feast on her, my lovers!
Drink and drink, and drink again,
until you can take no more.
Drink the wine of her love.
Take all you desire, you priests.
My life within her will become your feast.[aa]
The Shulamite Bride
2 After this I let my devotion slumber,
but my heart for him stayed awake.
I had a dream.
I dreamed of my beloved—
he was coming to me in the darkness of night.
The melody of the man I love awakened me.
I heard his knock at my heart’s door
as he pleaded with me:
Arise, my love.
Open your heart, my darling, deeper still to me.
Will you receive me this dark night?
There is no one else but you, my friend, my equal.
I need you this night to arise and come be with me.
You are my pure, loyal dove, a perfect partner for me.
My flawless one, will you arise?
For my heaviness and tears are more than I can bear.
I have spent myself for you throughout the dark night.[ab]
The Sleeping Bride
3 I have already laid aside my own garments for you.
How could I take them up again
since I’ve yielded my righteousness to yours?[ac]
You have cleansed my life and taken me so far.
Isn’t that enough?
4 My beloved reached into me to unlock my heart.
The core of my very being trembled at his touch.
How my soul melted when he spoke to me!
5 My spirit arose to open for more of his touch.
As I surrendered to him, I began to sense his fragrance—
the fragrance of his suffering love!
It was the sense of myrrh flowing all through me!
6 I opened my soul to my beloved, but suddenly he was gone!
And my heart was torn out in longing for him.
I sought his presence, his fragrance,
but could not find him anywhere.
I called out for him, yet he did not answer me.
I will arise and search for him until I find him.
7 As I walked throughout the city in search of him,
the overseers stopped me as they made their rounds.
They beat me and bruised me until I could take no more.
They wounded me deeply
and removed my covering from me.
8 Nevertheless, make me this promise, you brides-to-be:
if you find my beloved one,
please tell him I endured all travails for him.
I’ve been pierced through by love,[ad]
and I will not be turned aside!
Jerusalem Maidens, Brides-to-Be
9 What love is this?
How could you continue to care so deeply for him?
Isn’t there another who could steal away your heart?
We see now your beauty, more beautiful than all the others.
What makes your beloved better than any other?
What is it about him
that makes you ask us to promise you this?
The Shulamite Bride
10 He alone is my beloved.
He shines in dazzling splendor yet is still so approachable—
without equal as he stands above all others,
outstanding among ten thousand![ae]
11 The way he leads me is divine.
His leadership—so pure and dignified
as he wears his crown of gold.
Upon this crown are letters of black written
on a background of glory.[af]
12 He sees everything with pure understanding.
How beautiful his insights—without distortion.
His eyes rest upon the fullness of the river of revelation,
flowing so clean and pure.
13 Looking at his gentle face, I see such fullness of emotion.
Like a lovely garden where fragrant spices grow[ag]—
what a man!
No one speaks words so anointed as this one[ah]—
words that both pierce and heal,
words like lilies dripping with myrrh.
14 See how his hands hold unlimited power!
But he never uses it in anger,
for he is always holy, displaying his glory.
His innermost place is a work of art—
so beautiful and bright.
How magnificent and noble is this one—
covered in majesty!
15 He’s steadfast in all he does.
His ways are the ways of righteousness,
based on truth and holiness.
None can rival him,
but all will be amazed by him.[ai]
16 Most sweet are his kisses, even his whispers of love.
He is delightful in every way
and perfect from every viewpoint.
If you ask me why I love him so, O brides-to-be,
it’s because there is none like him to me.
Everything about him fills me with holy desire!
And now he is my beloved—my friend forever.
Faith Brings Freedom
3 What has happened to you foolish Galatians? Who has put you under an evil spell?[a] Did God not open your eyes to see the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion? Was he not revealed to you as the crucified one?[b]
2 So answer me this: Did the Holy Spirit come to you as a reward for keeping Jewish laws? No, you received him as a gift because you believed in the Messiah. 3 Your new life began when the Holy Spirit gave you a new birth. Why then would you so foolishly turn from living in the Spirit by trying to finish by your own works?[c]
4 Have you endured so many trials and persecutions for nothing?
5 Let me ask you again: What does the lavish supply of the Holy Spirit in your life and the miracles of God’s tremendous power have to do with you keeping religious laws? The Holy Spirit is poured out upon us through the revelation and power of faith!
6 Abraham, our father of faith, believed God, and the substance of his faith released God’s righteousness to him.[d] 7 So the true children of Abraham have the same faith as their father! 8 And the Scripture prophesied that on the basis of faith God would declare gentiles to be righteous. God announced the good news ahead of time to Abraham:
“Through your example of faith, all the nations will be blessed!”[e]
9 And so the blessing of Abraham’s faith is now our blessing too! 10 But if you rely on works of keeping the law for salvation, you live under the law’s curse. For it is clearly written:
“Utterly cursed is everyone who fails to practice every detail and requirement that is written in this law!”[f]
11 It is obvious that no one achieves the righteousness of God by attempting to keep the law, for it is written:
“The one who is in a right relationship with God will live by faith!”[g]
12 But keeping the law does not require faith, but self-effort. For the law teaches,
“If you practice the principles of law, you must follow all of them.”[h]
13 Yet, Christ paid the full price to set us free from the curse of the law. He absorbed the curse completely as he became a curse in our place. For it is written:
“Everyone who is hung upon a tree is cursed.”[i]
14 Jesus Christ dissolved the curse from our lives, so that in him all the blessings of Abraham can be poured out upon gentiles. And now through faith we receive the promised Holy Spirit who lives in us.
The Law versus God’s Promises
15 Beloved friends, let me use an illustration that we can all understand. Technically, when a contract is signed, it can’t be changed after it has been put into effect; it’s too late to alter the agreement.[j]
16 Remember the royal proclamation[k] God spoke over Abraham and to Abraham’s child? God said that his promises were made to pass on to Abraham’s “Child,”[l] not children. And who is this “Child?” It’s the Son of promise, Christ himself!
17–18 This means that the covenant between God and Abraham was fulfilled in Messiah and cannot be altered. Yet the written law was not even given to Moses until 430 years after God had “signed” his contract with Abraham! The law, then, doesn’t supersede the promise[m] since the royal proclamation was given before the law.[n]
If that were the case, it would have nullified what God said to Abraham. We receive all the promises because of the Promised One—not because we keep the law!
19 Why then was the law given at all? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the “Seed,” the child who was promised. When God gave the law, he gave it first to angels; they gave it to Moses, his mediator, who then gave it to the people. 20 Now, a mediator does not represent just one party alone, but God fulfilled it all by himself![o]
21 Since that’s true, should we consider the written law to be contrary to the promise of new life? How absurd![p] Truly, if there was a law that we could keep which would give us new life, then our salvation would have come by law-keeping. 22 But the Scriptures make it clear that the whole world is imprisoned by sin! This was so the promise would be given through faith to people who believe in Jesus Christ.
God’s Sons Inherit the Promises
23 So until the revelation of faith for salvation was released, the law was a jailer, holding us as prisoners under lock and key until the “faith,” which was destined to be revealed, would set us free. 24 The law was our guardian until Christ came so that we would be saved by faith. 25 But now that faith has come[q] we are no longer under the guardian of the law.
26 You have all become true children of God by faith in Jesus Christ! 27 Faith immersed you into Christ, and now you are covered and clothed with his life. 28 And we no longer see each other in our former state—Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor,[r] male or female—because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ.
29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are now Abraham’s “child” and a true heir of all his blessings because of the promise God made to Abraham!