"Thou art all fair, my love."
Song of Solomon 4:7
The Lord's admiration of his Church is very wonderful, and his description of her beauty is very glowing. She is not merely fair, but "all fair." He views her in himself, washed in his sin-atoning blood and clothed in his meritorious righteousness, and he considers her to be full of comeliness and beauty. No wonder that such is the case, since it is but his own perfect excellency that he admires; for the holiness, glory, and perfection of his Church are his own glorious garments on the back of his own well-beloved spouse. She is not simply pure, or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely and fair! She has actual merit! Her deformities of sin are removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her. Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when they become "accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:6). Nor is the Church barely lovely, she is superlatively so. Her Lord styles her "Thou fairest among women." She has a real worth and excellence which cannot be rivalled by all the nobility and royalty of the world. If Jesus could exchange his elect bride for all the queens and empresses of earth, or even for the angels in heaven, he would not, for he puts her first and foremost--"fairest among women." Like the moon she far outshines the stars. Nor is this an opinion which he is ashamed of, for he invites all men to hear it. He sets a "behold" before it, a special note of exclamation, inviting and arresting attention. "Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair" (Song of Sol. 4:1). His opinion he publishes abroad even now, and one day from the throne of his glory he will avow the truth of it before the assembled universe. "Come, ye blessed of my Father" (Matt. 25:34), will be his solemn affirmation of the loveliness of his elect.
"Behold, all is vanity."
Nothing can satisfy the entire man but the Lord's love and the Lord's own self. Saints have tried to anchor in other roadsteads, but they have been driven out of such fatal refuges. Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all, and to do for us what we must not dare to do for ourselves. Here is his testimony in his own words: "So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun." "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." What! the whole of it vanity? O favoured monarch, is there nothing in all thy wealth? Nothing in that wide dominion reaching from the river even to the sea? Nothing in Palmyra's glorious palaces? Nothing in the house of the forest of Lebanon? In all thy music and dancing, and wine and luxury, is there nothing? "Nothing," he says, "but weariness of spirit." This was his verdict when he had trodden the whole round of pleasure. To embrace our Lord Jesus, to dwell in his love, and be fully assured of union with him--this is all in all. Dear reader, you need not try other forms of life in order to see whether they are better than the Christian's: if you roam the world around, you will see no sights like a sight of the Saviour's face; if you could have all the comforts of life, if you lost your Saviour, you would be wretched; but if you win Christ, then should you rot in a dungeon, you would find it a paradise; should you live in obscurity, or die with famine, you will yet be satisfied with favour and full of the goodness of the Lord.
Today's reading: Ezekiel 42-44, 1 John 1 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 42-44
The Rooms for the Priests
1 Then the man led me northward into the outer court and brought me to the rooms opposite the temple courtyard and opposite the outer wall on the north side. 2 The building whose door faced north was a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. 3 Both in the section twenty cubits from the inner court and in the section opposite the pavement of the outer court, gallery faced gallery at the three levels. 4 In front of the rooms was an inner passageway ten cubits wide and a hundred cubits long. Their doors were on the north. 5 Now the upper rooms were narrower, for the galleries took more space from them than from the rooms on the lower and middle floors of the building. 6 The rooms on the top floor had no pillars, as the courts had; so they were smaller in floor space than those on the lower and middle floors. 7 There was an outer wall parallel to the rooms and the outer court; it extended in front of the rooms for fifty cubits. 8 While the row of rooms on the side next to the outer court was fifty cubits long, the row on the side nearest the sanctuary was a hundred cubits long. 9 The lower rooms had an entrance on the east side as one enters them from the outer court....
Today's New Testament reading: 1 John 1
The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
- The son of David’s half-sister Abigail whom Absalom made captain of his rebel army (2 Sam. 17:25; 19:13; 20 ). Amasa was completely defeated by his cousin Joab in the forest of Ephraim (2 Sam. 18:6-8). David not only forgave Amasa but gave him Joab’s place (2 Sam. 19:13). Joab treacherously slew him (2 Sam. 20:9-12).
- The name of an Ephraimite who with others resisted the bringing into Samaria the Jews Ahaz had made prisoners ( 2 Chron. 28:12).
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." - Luke 2:13-14
Peace is a noble aspiration at any time. In times of war or in times of harmony. When you find yourself at odds with someone, or when you are feeling pretty good about your relationships. When you feel in harmony with God, or when you feel a discord. It is always important to pursue peace.
Peace is so much more than the absence of conflict. Maybe you can lay your head on your pillow tonight and thank God that you experienced no conflict, but that is not the same thing as experiencing peace. If a husband and wife get tired of shouting at each other and both slip into an icy indifference, that is not peace.
In Hebrew, the word for "peace" is shalom, a well wishing that says it all: may you be healthy, whole and complete. May you know where you fit in the universe, and may you find tranquility there. Augustine said that peace is "the tranquility of order." When you know where you fit into God's world-that you are higher than the animals, but less than God-that is the sense of order that brings tranquility.
Therefore, we pray for peace at Christmas. We pray that both others and we discover the Christmas shalom-the confidence that when God's favor, his undeserved grace, rests on us, we will know a peace that goes beyond understanding. The peace gifted to us because Christ came into the world and put things in order, beginning with his birth, and completed in his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection.
Prayer for today: Dear God, let your favor rest on me, and let me stand in the peace that Christ has made possible.