1 This is the greatest song Solomon ever wrote. A Shulammite woman says to King Solomon, 2 "I long for your lips to kiss me! Your love makes me happier than wine does. 3 The lotion you have on pleases me. Your name is like perfume that is poured out. No wonder the young women love you! 4 Take me away with you. Let us hurry! King Solomon, bring me into your palace." The other women say, "King Solomon, you fill us with joy. You make us happy. We praise your love more than we praise wine." The woman says to the king, "It is right for them to love you! 5 "Women of Jerusalem, my skin is dark but lovely. It is dark like the tents in Kedar. It's like the curtains of Solomon's tent. 6 Don't stare at me because I'm dark. The sun has made my skin look like this. My brothers burned with anger against me. They made me take care of the vineyards. I haven't even taken care of my own vineyard. 7 "King Solomon, I love you. So tell me where you take care of your flock. Tell me where you rest your sheep at noon. Why should I have to act like a prostitute near the flocks of your friends?" The other women say, 8 "You are the most beautiful woman of all. Don't you know where to find the king? Follow the tracks the sheep make. Take care of your young goats near the tents of the shepherds." King Solomon says to the Shulammite woman, 9 "You are my love. You are like a mare that pulls one of Pharaoh's chariots. 10 Your earrings make your cheeks even more beautiful. Your strings of jewels make your neck even more lovely." The other women say to her, 11 "We will make gold earrings for you. We'll decorate them with silver." The woman says, 12 "The king was at his table. My perfume gave off a sweet smell. 13 The one who loves me is like a small bag of myrrh resting between my breasts. 14 He is like henna flowers from the vineyards of En Gedi." The king says, 15 "You are so beautiful, my love! So beautiful! Your eyes are like doves." The woman says, 16 "You are so handsome, my love! So charming! The green field is our bed. 17 Cedar trees above us are the beams of our house. Fir trees overhead are its rafters.
1 "I am like a rose on the coast of Sharon. I'm like a lily in the valleys." The king says, 2 "My love, among the young women you are like a lily among thorns." The woman says, 3 "My love, among the young men you are like an apple tree among the trees of the forest. I'm happy to sit in your shade. Your fruit tastes so sweet to me. 4 You have taken me to the dinner hall. Your banner of love is lifted high above me. 5 Give me some raisins to make me strong. Give me some apples to make me feel like new again. Our love has made me weak. 6 Your left arm is under my head. Your right arm is around me. 7 Women of Jerusalem, take an oath and make me a promise. Let the antelopes and the does serve as witnesses. Don't stir up love. Don't wake it up until it's ready. 8 "Listen! I hear my love! Look! Here he comes! He's leaping across the mountains. He's coming over the hills. 9 The one who loves me is like an antelope or a young deer. Look! There he stands behind our wall. He's gazing through the window. He's peering through the screen. 10 He said to me, 'Rise up, my love. Come with me, my beautiful one. 11 Look! The winter is past. The rains are over and gone. 12 Flowers are appearing on the earth. The season for singing has come. The cooing of doves is heard in our land. 13 The fig trees are producing their early fruit. The flowers on the vines are giving off their sweet smell. Rise up and come, my love. Come with me, my beautiful one.' " The king says, 14 "You are like a dove in an opening in the rocks. You are like a dove in a hiding place on a mountainside. Show me your face. Let me hear your voice. Your voice is so sweet. Your face is so lovely. 15 Catch the foxes for us. Catch the little foxes. They destroy our vineyards. The vineyards are in bloom." The woman says, 16 "My love belongs to me, and I belong to him. Like an antelope, he eats among the lilies. 17 Until the day begins and the shadows fade away, turn to me, my love. Be like an antelope or like a young deer on the rocky hills.
1 "All night long on my bed I searched for the one my heart loves. I looked for him but didn't find him. 2 I will get up. I'll go around in the city. I'll look through all of its streets. I'll search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but didn't find him. 3 Those on guard duty found me as they were walking around in the city. 'Have you seen the one my heart loves?' I asked. 4 As soon as I had passed by them I found the one my heart loves. I threw my arms around him. I didn't let him go until I had brought him to my mother's house. I took him to my mother's room. 5 Women of Jerusalem, take an oath and make me a promise. Let the antelopes and the does serve as witnesses. Don't stir up love. Don't wake it up until it's ready." The other women say, 6 "Who is this man coming up from the desert like a column of smoke? He smells like myrrh and incense made from all of the spices of the trader. 7 Look! There's Solomon's movable throne. Sixty soldiers accompany it. They have been chosen from the best warriors in Israel. 8 All of them are wearing swords. They have fought many battles. Each one has his sword at his side. Each is prepared for the terrors of the night. 9 King Solomon made the movable throne for himself. He made it out of wood from Lebanon. 10 He formed its posts out of silver. He made its base out of gold. Its seat was covered with purple cloth. It was decorated inside with loving care by the women of Jerusalem. 11 Women of Zion, come out. Look at King Solomon wearing his crown. His mother placed it on him. She did it on his wedding day. His heart was full of joy."
1 Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem. This time I went with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went because God showed me what he wanted me to do. I told the people there the good news that I preach among those who aren't Jews. But I spoke in private to those who seemed to be leaders. I was afraid that I was running or had run my race for nothing. 3 Titus was with me. He was a Greek. But even he was not forced to be circumcised. 4 That matter came up because some who pretended to be believers had slipped in among us. They wanted to find out about the freedom we have because we belong to Christ Jesus. They wanted to make us slaves again. 5 We didn't give in to them for a moment. We wanted the truth of the good news to remain with you. 6 Some people in Jerusalem seemed to be important. It makes no difference to me what they were. God does not judge by what he sees on the outside. Those people added nothing to my message. 7 In fact, it was just the opposite. They saw that I had been trusted with the task of preaching the good news just as Peter had been. My task was to preach to the non-Jews. Peter's task was to preach to the Jews. 8 God was working through Peter as an apostle to the Jews. He was also working through me as an apostle to the non-Jews. 9 James, Peter and John are considered to be pillars in the church. They recognized the special grace that was given to me. So they shook my hand and the hand of Barnabas. They wanted to show they accepted us. They agreed that we should go to the non-Jews. They would go to the Jews. 10 They asked only one thing. They wanted us to continue to remember poor people. That was what I really wanted to do anyway. 11 When Peter came to Antioch, I told him to his face that I was against what he was doing. He was clearly wrong. 12 He used to eat with those who weren't Jews. But certain men came from the group that was led by James. When they arrived, Peter began to draw back. He separated himself from the non-Jews. He was afraid of the circumcision group. 13 Peter's actions were not honest. The other Jews joined him. Even Barnabas was led down the wrong path. 14 I saw what they were doing. It was not in line with the truth of the good news. So I spoke to Peter in front of them all. "You are a Jew," I said. "But you live like one who is not. So why do you force non-Jews to follow Jewish ways?" 15 We are Jews by birth. We are not "non-Jewish sinners." 16 We know that no one is made right with God by obeying the law. It is by believing in Jesus Christ. So we too have put our faith in Christ Jesus. That is so we can be made right with God by believing in Christ, not by obeying the law. No one can be made right with God by obeying the law. 17 We are trying to be made right with God through Christ. But it is clear that we are sinners. So does that mean that Christ causes us to sin? Certainly not! 18 Suppose I build again what I had destroyed. Then I prove that I break the Law. 19 Because of the law, I died as far as the law is concerned. I died so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. I don't live any longer. Christ lives in me. My faith in the Son of God helps me to live my life in my body. He loved me. He gave himself for me. 21 I do not get rid of the grace of God. What if a person could become right with God by obeying the law? Then Christ died for nothing!