Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"On Fire": Are You Praiseworthy? (12/16/09)

"My dove, my perfect one, is the only one, the only one of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her. The daughters saw her and called her blessed, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her."---Song of Solomon 6:9 (NKJV)

Praiseworthy Synonyms: admirable, attractive, choice, commendable, creditable, deserving, due, excellent, exquisite, greatest, honorable, keen, meritable, rare, righteous, select, stellar, valuable, wonderful, worthy

Whom he loves, he rebukes, right (Hebrews 12:6)? Yeah. It’s gonna be one of those. Kinda like when you got a spanking as a child (those of us who did-Proverbs 22:15) and went to bed afterwards. The discipline sucked, but the sleep…the rest that you got afterwards was nothing short of divine.

Anyway, yesterday, I was spending some time on the lead verse. Not sure why really. It’s just the place that the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) had me on that day. I even joked on my Facebook status that to be the kind of woman that the queens and the concubines praised…oh, the Shulamite had to be one heck of a woman! But then I really thought about it. She really did to be at a place where even the women who competed with her position had to acknowledge that she was deserving of it.

It got me to thinking about other times when women---or more specifically, as it relates to this message, WIVES---were praised in the Word of God. There’s Proverbs 31(NKJV) that speaks of it within several verses:

Verse 28: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

Verse 30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Verse 31: “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Then I thought about how many props El Elyon, the Most High God, gives to a virtuous wife (Proverbs 31:10) and Philippians 4:8 came to mind:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Which indirectly led me to John 12:43 (NKJV): “…for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let me backtrack just a bit. Ironically, it’s in the movie, “The Runaway Bride” that Richard Gere’s character asks his first/ex wife after much self-reflection, “I just didn’t see you, did I?” and she responded with “No. No you didn’t it.” I’ve never been married, but oh, I’ve certainly “played house” (it’s not a game) and been in relationships with men who didn’t see me; not all of me, anyway. It’s worse than death. A woman is made to be seen. More specifically, a woman who desires to be a wife, is supposed to be seen (and praised) by her husband. You’ll see my point in just a second.

Ironically again, as it relates to this message, the very first marriage recorded (and the only time that perfection in a relationship was displayed) was in the Garden of Eden…and it appeared that Adam *definitely* saw the Woman; his wife:

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said:

‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’”---Genesis 2:21-23 (NKJV)

OK. Most of you all know that my world changed when I caught the word “brought” in verse 22 many months ago. I love (love, love) that Adam didn’t go “find” her in the way the Christian movement pushes Proverbs 18:22. Quite frankly, “find” is a word that I really wish people would spend more time mediating on. Yes, Solomon was given permission to write it (2 Timothy 3:16), but it wasn’t a command, so much as a contemplation. And again, find? Oh, check out the definition of the word sometime. Yes, Jacob “found” Rachel by working hard for her (although I personally believe some of that was reaping due to stealing Esau’s birthright); but Boaz also “found” Ruth by “coming upon her accidentally”, first while she was gleaming in his field and secondly when she came to him in the middle of the night. And the latter couple is in the direct bloodline of Christ.

Oh, but brought? Brought is more purposeful…more deliberate and when the Creator took the rib from Adam, made the Woman and then BROUGHT her to him, no one can convince me that there was not some sacred time spent between El Roi, the God Who Sees, and the Woman beforehand. She had to have had her own special relationship with her Father because…well, look at who the serpent came after first. Adam’s help (Genesis 2:18) was Satan’s (real) threat. Therefore, when I revisited these verses last night, something hit me differently: How did Adam know that the Woman came from him? After all, while she was being made, he was asleep. Not just sleep, but in a deep sleep.

I mean, I doubt there was pain when he awakened. There was no sin introduced into their psyches yet. Something tells me there wasn’t even a scar. I’m sure their skin was flawless. So how did Adam know all that went on while he was in an unconscious state? Do you know what I think? I think it’s because HE SAW HER.

Let’s go back to Philippians 4:8 for just a moment. It says that whatever is pure…and lovely…and of virtue, that is what deserves praise. Just in the Woman being brought to Adam, his wife and gift from Jehovah Jireh (the God Who Provides), because of his relationship with Adonai, I’m sure that he could discern that she was a purposed blessing for him. A man who is in communication with the Godhead knows when something is being given to him for his benefit (I hope you really caught that). Yet, I still couldn’t seem to get past the kind of praise that she received. He didn’t speak to how fine she was (and we know she was) or even her characteristics. He spoke to how she was made and to this day, at least in the physical way, I’ve never heard of another created in that way. El-Berith, the God of Covenant, put Adam to sleep, took a rib, fashioned the Woman and then brought her back to him. It doesn’t say that there were any formal introductions made. As a matter of fact, after she was brought, the story is recorded (in the New Century Version) with an “And then the man said…” as if that was the very next thing that took place.

I kept thinking about it. Why was that getting to me so? And then I thought about a friend of mine that is single, desires to be married and whose middle name means praiseworthy. And this is where it gets good. Palet, the Hebrew word for “Deliverer”, told me something in my prayer time about my friend. That she was dissatisfied in her current (dating) situation because she wasn’t being seen. Even her name spoke to the fact that she was worthy of being revered as honorable and rare. The words this particular male was using were not praise. Compliments? Sure. But not PRAISE. Not God-ordained affirmation. He wasn’t speaking words that let her know that he saw her; that he acknowledged where she came from…that she was sent from God and meant for him.

Like Adam did with the Woman.

When I tell you that sent lightning bolts surging through my human trinity, I…tell…you…what! For whatever reason (and I have my suspicions), the Godhead (Genesis 1:26-27) saw fit that the first woman be made in a certain way, and being that the Word speaks of wives being praised, the more I ponder on it, the more I believe that the declaration of who the Woman was, wasn’t for Adam’s sake and certainly not for God’s. It was for the Woman. She needed to hear that he knew who she was. She wasn’t just “some woman”…she was his woman and he so much discerned it that he could tell her all that happened…even while he was asleep. Even though she quite possibly didn’t think he knew.

That sent my spirit to leaping for joy. For every single woman on this planet who is either married or desires to be, I believe the Godhead is giving me permission to tell you that not only do you deserve praise for who you are, but that your covenant partner should be able to do so in a way that lets you know that you are not just a good woman (we are all made in the image of God…that makes us good), but when it comes to the role that you play in his life, he will find the words that will let you know you are HIS WOMAN; that you are rare…and righteous…and worthy. That you are custom-designed for him. That what he says couldn’t apply to any other woman because you came to him, you were brought to him in a way that no other woman has been or could be. He couldn’t duplicate the praise if he tried.

Now that’s the good news. Here’s the spanking.

A lot of us are spending so much time berating men for what they’re doing/not doing, that we haven’t even taken a real personal assessment of if we even are worthy of the praise we arrogantly assume we’re so deserving of. Yes, it’s an automatic that you are a good thing because when God made man, he saw that man was good (Genesis 1:24), but to be the right thing for your mate? Um, that takes a bit more work…ON YOUR PART. Especially in the days and times that we’re living in. Remember that the story of Adam and the Woman was before sin was introduced into the world. Now the flesh and spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) battle it out on a daily basis. Some of us are so busy desiring the praise of men by appeasing their flesh/carnality, that we have put the praise of God---this desire for excellence and high merit---aside. And because flesh bears the fruit of death (Romans 7:5), no wonder we keep hitting dead ends. We want a man to praise us for our honesty when we tell “white lies” (which is a lie). We want a man to praise us for our quiet and gentle spirit when we nag incessantly. We want a man to praise us for being virtuous when…well. Either you’re pregnant or you ain’t. There’s no “kinda”. This applies to virtue, too.

What Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the God of Righteousness, has been sharing with me as of late is that it’s only in humbling myself to the refining process that I can be promoted, transitioned, exalted to another position. There’s a lot that comes with helping another person. There’s a lot that comes with becoming someone who is worthy of praise. It’s not something to be assumed. It’s something to be earned. And really, who can rationally (and sanely) say they are “excellent” and so the hold up is not them, but someone else? A man who fears God deals with all of reality, right (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message)? Right! Yeah…I’m sure it’s safe to say that we all have a lot of work to do.

Which gives me mad respect for the Shulamite woman. Among queens and concubines, she was still viewed as creditable and because of that, she was also praised for being the only one. THE ONLY ONE. There were lots of women, but there was something signature about her that made her stand out as the only. It’s not our job, or God’s desire, for us to have to compete or coerce. But it is his expectation that we will want to prepare ourselves to be praiseworthy and if we’re really committed to that, there really won’t be any time left to be concerned about what our “Adam” is doing/not doing. Praise should come from his mouth about who we are; not ours (Proverbs 27:2). And in that arena, history has proven that this is one area where he does *not* need our help.

A wife deserves praise.

Her Creator said so.

Don’t worry, when the time is right, he’ll see you.

And he’ll tell you in a way that (initially) ONLY YOU, his Woman, will know it.

©Shellie R. Warren/2009

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