Galatians, chapters 1-3

“All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. […] You are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
~Galatians 3:27,28

We are all equally valuable within the congregation, regardless of our gender, ethnicity, social class, or whatever we identified as before becoming Christians.
Jesus gave his life for us each as individuals.
That is why we strive to give up our old divisive attitudes and humbly learn to see all our brothers and sisters with honor and appreciation (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:24)

Matthew, chapters 1-3

“But after (Joseph) had thought these things over, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared to him in a dream […].”

~Matthew 1:20

How excited Joseph must have been to see his fiance Mary after her three-month trip away from home.
But when Mary told him she was four months pregnant, he must have felt heartbroken and confused. (Matt. 1:18,19; Luke 1:56)

Still, Joseph lovingly considered Mary’s dire circumstances before his feelings.
Thus, he came to the conclusion that he should dissolve their pending marriage in secret.
Otherwise he would have exposed Mary to the fatal punishment dictated by Mosaic Law for adulterers. (De. 5:18; 22:23,24)

When life doesn’t turn out the way we planned it, we do well to follow Joseph’s example and think things through, instead of acting impulsively.
Jehovah God watches over us, ready to guide the meek in the right direction. (Isa. 57:15)

Song of Songs 

“Hurry, my dear one,
And be swift like a gazelle
Or a young stag
Upon the mountains of spices.”
~Song of Songs 8:14

The Song of Songs is a love story written by an unrequited king infatuated with an engaged country girl.
It was obviously intended to be performed.
This is my conclusion due to the complexity of reading the verses straight from the page.
It is a true story involving several people.
Here I will relate the story in simplest of terms in chronological order:
The country girl from Shunem meets a handsome shepherd boy.
He visits her at home and calls at her through the lattices, inviting her to come explore the spring valley with him.
Her brothers have asked her to guard the vineyards and she has been negligent.
They worry about her chastity and whether she will become a woman who is marriage material.
Now she is not given permission to go with the shepherd boy, but sent to scatter foxes
(Ca. 1:6; 2:9-15; 8:8,9)
This evidently throws her into the proximity of King Solomon’s camp.
At the time, he has 60 queens, 80 concubines and many young women.
The Shulammite girl is beautiful and is involuntarily taken into his camp.
She tells the other women there that she wishes to run away to her shepherd.
They tell her to follow his tracks.
The King promises to give her fine jewelry, but the Shulammite girl keeps the shepherd boy close to her heart. (Ca. 1:13)
The shepherd boy sneaks into the camp and showers her in compliments.
The girl confesses she’d rather be lying down in the forest with him. (Ca. Chapter 1)
She tells the other women what their courtship is like, that she is lovesick, and insists they not push her to like King Solomon. (Ca. 2:5,7)
Meanwhile, the shepherd boy is working “among the lilies.”
She wishes he would quickly return to her at day’s end. (Ca. Chapter 2).
At night, she dreams that she is roaming the city looking for him.
She finds him and takes him into her mother’s bedroom.
The next day, the women of Jerusalem see the Shulammite girl being brought into Jerusalem with the King’s procession. (Ca. Chapter 3)
The shepherd boy has followed the procession into the city.
He finds her and again flatters her.
The Shulammite asks him to take her back to her mountain in the evening, when it has grown breezy and shadows cannot follow them. (Ca. 4:6)
He tells her he will take her to several beautiful mountains.
At this point, he calls her his bride and compares her to a locked garden.
He beckons the wind as if to hurry the night on.
She consents to his proposal by inviting him into her “garden.” (Ca. 4:12,16).
The couple engages in public displays of affection which are witnessed by some of the women in Jerusalem.
Back in the rooms by the King’s palace, she tells the girls about her nightmares.
She dreams she looks for the shepherd boy on the streets and is struck by the guards.
They ask her how he is any better than other guys.
She replies: “His mouth is sweetness itself, And everything about him is desirable.” (Ca. Chapter 5)
The girls say they’ll help her find him, but she says he is out shepherding.
The king tries to hit on her again and says that she is the favorite (in Hebrew, literally “the pure one”) of her mother and that she is as pure as sunlight. (Ca. 6:9,10)
Instead of procuring the king during the day, she wanders down to one of his gardens and before she knows it, starts leaving the premises.
The king orders her to return.
She asks what he sees in her.
He seizes the opportunity to hit on her again, this time more explicitly. (Ca. 7:8)
The Shulammite girl, who has developed into a woman, can only think of her shepherd.
She imagines herself with him in a garden, pleasure just at their doors.
In her mind, she tells him, “The new as well as the old […] I have kept in store for you.” (Ca. 7:13).
She tells the girls in the king’s court that if the shepherd were like her brother, she could be seen with him publicly or bring him into her mother’s bedroom, like in her first dream.
Again, she insists they not try to arouse feelings in her toward King Solomon. (Ca. 8:1-4).
Finally, the king releases her,
She is seen by her brothers walking back into town, as she leans on her beloved.
Talking to him, she makes reference to having met him under an apple tree and she poetically describes her conclusions on the enduring love she has for him.
She assures her brothers that she is chaste and at peace. (Ca. 8:10)
Unswayed, she has flat out rejected King Solomon’s monetary gifts and will content herself with her own vineyard.
The song ends by alluding to a prior scene in which the shepherd sought to hear the girl’s voice in the garden.
Except this time, instead of asking him to wait til nightfall, she urges him to hurry to her.
The Song teaches us to reflect on the value of enduring love between a man and a woman, as well as the qualities that make a person merit such love.

“For love is as strong as death is, And exclusive devotion is as unyielding as the Grave. Its flames are a blazing fire, the flame of Jah. Surging waters cannot extinguish love, Nor can rivers wash it away. If a man would offer all the wealth of his house for love, It would be utterly despised.”
~Ca. 8:6,7

Ruth, chapters 1-4

“I will do for you everything that you say, for everyone in the city knows that you are an excellent woman. While it is true that I am a repurchaser, there is a repurchaser more closely related than I am. Stay here tonight, and if he will repurchase you in the morning, fine! Let him repurchase you. But if he does not want to repurchase you, I will then repurchase you myself, as surely as Jehovah lives.”
~Ruth 3:11-13

By the time the widowed Ruth approached her benefactor, Boaz to request he perform brother-in-law marriage with her, it is obvious he had already given the matter significant thought.

Through his reply, one can infer that he had taken enough notice of Ruth to ask others about her personality and reputation, and he had also taken into account her personal circumstances (Ruth 3:17).

He did not, however, rush into a relationship with Ruth, since he recognized that there was another man who legally had first choice regarding marrying Ruth and acquiring her first husband’s inheritance (Ruth 4:3-6).

Boaz, despite his power and feelings, did not overstep this law.

He took into account God’s instructions regarding the marital arrangement, setting a fine example for us, demonstrating that true love is based on principles.

Genesis, chapters 29-31

Genesis 29:18~

Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel, so he said: “I am willing to serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”

This is a point a couple friends of mine made:

Young people shouldn’t be in a hurry to start dating or to find “the right person” because true love is patient and if two people really love each other, it doesn’t matter how long it takes them to wind up together, they are willing to wait.

Genesis 29:32~

So Le′ah became pregnant and gave birth to a son and named him Reu′ben, for she said: “It is because Jehovah has looked upon my affliction, for now my husband will begin to love me.”

And so the race for who could bare the most children begun, for somehow Jacob, who had originally set out to marry Rachel, wound up with 4 wives.

(If you are unfamiliar with the story, what happened is that Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah. He signed up to work another 7 years to get permission to marry Rachel. Rachel was barren and so she gave him her servant to have kids in lieu of her. Leah didn’t want to be left behind so she also gave Jacob her own servant. {Gen. 29:25-27; Gen. 30:3,4; Gen. 30:9}).

The point I want to highlight is that even today, women seem to be under this false illusion that if they have a man’s child or children, he will automatically love her, as if there were something someone could do to project love out of someone else.

In this case I am referring to romantic love.

But, as we saw from the first passage, love is something that flows naturally from one’s self. It cannot be forced or shut off or transferred into a third person.

A lot of women today, especially in my own Latin culture, get themselves pregnant hoping this way their boyfriends will want to marry them.

That is not how love or marriage works. These relationships tend to fall apart within the first ten years leaving deep emotional and financial scars.

On an opposite note, Genesis 30, verses 1 and 2, read:

When Rachel saw that she had borne no children to Jacob, she became jealous of her sister and began to say to Jacob: “Give me children or else I will die.”  At this Jacob’s anger flared up against Rachel, and he said: “Am I in the place of God, who has prevented you from having children?”

Even when you are deeply in love with someone, this doesn’t mean you will be in perfect synchronization or pure bliss, or that you will never need to confront their flaws.

On occasion it will be entirely normal to “flare up in anger” and argue, because we are all imperfect and different.

That doesn’t nullify or subtract from true love in any way. True love endures and becomes more refined.

The moral of all this:

One wife is more than enough. 😉

Jacob meets Rachel for the first time

Jacob meets Rachel for the first time