1 This is Solomon’s song of songs, more wonderful than any other. 2 Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine. 3 How fragrant your cologne; your name is like its spreading fragrance. No wonder all the young women love you! 4 Take me with you; come, let’s run! The king has brought me into his bedroom. Young Women of Jerusalem How happy we are for you, O king. We praise your love even more than wine. Young Woman How right they are to adore you. 5 I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem— dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents. 6 Don’t stare at me because I am dark— the sun has darkened my skin. My brothers were angry with me; they forced me to care for their vineyards, so I couldn’t care for myself—my own vineyard. 7 Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today? Where will you rest your sheep at noon? For why should I wander like a prostitute among your friends and their flocks? 8 If you don’t know, O most beautiful woman, follow the trail of my flock, and graze your young goats by the shepherds’ tents. 9 You are as exciting, my darling, as a mare among Pharaoh’s stallions. 10 How lovely are your cheeks; your earrings set them afire! How lovely is your neck, enhanced by a string of jewels. 11 We will make for you earrings of gold and beads of silver. 12 The king is lying on his couch, enchanted by the fragrance of my perfume. 13 My lover is like a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts. 14 He is like a bouquet of sweet henna blossoms from the vineyards of En-gedi. 15 How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves. 16 You are so handsome, my love, pleasing beyond words! The soft grass is our bed; 17 fragrant cedar branches are the beams of our house, and pleasant smelling firs are the rafters.
1 I am the spring crocus blooming on the Sharon Plain, the lily of the valley. 2 Like a lily among thistles is my darling among young women. 3 Like the finest apple tree in the orchard is my lover among other young men. I sit in his delightful shade and taste his delicious fruit. 4 He escorts me to the banquet hall; it’s obvious how much he loves me. 5 Strengthen me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, for I am weak with love. 6 His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. 7 Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right. 8 Ah, I hear my lover coming! He is leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. 9 My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he is behind the wall, looking through the window, peering into the room. 10 My lover said to me, “Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one! 11 Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. 12 The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air. 13 The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming. Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!” 14 My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely. 15 Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming! 16 My lover is mine, and I am his. He browses among the lilies. 17 Before the dawn breezes blow and the night shadows flee, return to me, my love, like a gazelle or a young stag on the rugged mountains.
1 One night as I lay in bed, I yearned for my lover. I yearned for him, but he did not come. 2 So I said to myself, “I will get up and roam the city, searching in all its streets and squares. I will search for the one I love.” So I searched everywhere but did not find him. 3 The watchmen stopped me as they made their rounds, and I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?” 4 Then scarcely had I left them when I found my love! I caught and held him tightly, then I brought him to my mother’s house, into my mother’s bed, where I had been conceived. 5 Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right. 6 Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice? 7 Look, it is Solomon’s carriage, surrounded by sixty heroic men, the best of Israel’s soldiers. 8 They are all skilled swordsmen, experienced warriors. Each wears a sword on his thigh, ready to defend the king against an attack in the night. 9 King Solomon’s carriage is built of wood imported from Lebanon. 10 Its posts are silver, its canopy gold; its cushions are purple. It was decorated with love by the young women of Jerusalem. 11 Come out to see King Solomon, young women of Jerusalem. He wears the crown his mother gave him on his wedding day, his most joyous day.
1 Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. 2 I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing. 3 And they supported me and did not even demand that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile. 4 Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really —who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. 5 But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you. 6 And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.) 7 Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. 8 For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles. 9 In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. 10 Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do. 11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? 15 “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. 16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” 17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.