1 Where has your lover gone, O woman of rare beauty? Which way did he turn so we can help you find him? 2 My lover has gone down to his garden, to his spice beds, to browse in the gardens and gather the lilies. 3 I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine. He browses among the lilies. 4 You are beautiful, my darling, like the lovely city of Tirzah. Yes, as beautiful as Jerusalem, as majestic as an army with billowing banners. 5 Turn your eyes away, for they overpower me. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead. 6 Your teeth are as white as sheep that are freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin. 7 Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates behind your veil. 8 Even among sixty queens and eighty concubines and countless young women, 9 I would still choose my dove, my perfect one— the favorite of her mother, dearly loved by the one who bore her. The young women see her and praise her; even queens and royal concubines sing her praises: 10 “Who is this, arising like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun, as majestic as an army with billowing banners?” 11 I went down to the grove of walnut trees and out to the valley to see the new spring growth, to see whether the grapevines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom. 12 Before I realized it, my strong desires had taken me to the chariot of a noble man. 13 Return, return to us, O maid of Shulam. Come back, come back, that we may see you again. Young Man Why do you stare at this young woman of Shulam, as she moves so gracefully between two lines of dancers?
1 How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O queenly maiden. Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a skilled craftsman. 2 Your navel is perfectly formed like a goblet filled with mixed wine. Between your thighs lies a mound of wheat bordered with lilies. 3 Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle. 4 Your neck is as beautiful as an ivory tower. Your eyes are like the sparkling pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is as fine as the tower of Lebanon overlooking Damascus. 5 Your head is as majestic as Mount Carmel, and the sheen of your hair radiates royalty. The king is held captive by its tresses. 6 Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights! 7 You are slender like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit. 8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like grape clusters, and the fragrance of your breath like apples. 9 May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine— Young Woman Yes, wine that goes down smoothly for my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth. 10 I am my lover’s, and he claims me as his own. 11 Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers. 12 Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love. 13 There the mandrakes give off their fragrance, and the finest fruits are at our door, new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover.
1 Oh, I wish you were my brother, who nursed at my mother’s breasts. Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching, and no one would criticize me. 2 I would bring you to my childhood home, and there you would teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, my sweet pomegranate wine. 3 Your left arm would be under my head, and your right arm would embrace me. 4 Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. 5 Who is this sweeping in from the desert, leaning on her lover? Young Woman I aroused you under the apple tree, where your mother gave you birth, where in great pain she delivered you. 6 Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned. 8 We have a little sister too young to have breasts. What will we do for our sister if someone asks to marry her? 9 If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower. But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar. 10 I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees. 11 Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-hamon, which he leases out to tenant farmers. Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver for harvesting its fruit. 12 But my vineyard is mine to give, and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver. But I will give two hundred pieces to those who care for its vines. 13 O my darling, lingering in the gardens, your companions are fortunate to hear your voice. Let me hear it, too! 14 Come away, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
1 Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2 They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. 3 And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world. 4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. 8 Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. 9 So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? 10 You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. 11 I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing. 12 Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws. You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you. 13 Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News. 14 But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then? I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible. 16 Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth? 17 Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention only to them. 18 If someone is eager to do good things for you, that’s all right; but let them do it all the time, not just when I’m with you. 19 Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives. 20 I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance I don’t know how else to help you. 21 Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? 22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. 23 The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. 24 These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. 25 And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. 26 But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. 27 As Isaiah said, “Rejoice, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into a joyful shout, you who have never been in labor! For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband!” 28 And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. 29 But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit. 30 But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.