Song of Songs 4: This chapter is of the man celebrating the woman’s beauty. First half is pretty descriptive, focusing on her eyes, teeth, lips, cheeks, neck, and breasts. The second half continues with the man expressing his love for her as well as celebrating her beauty. At one point he refers to her as “my sister, my bride.” Now, according to the notes, the use of the word sister “is common in ancient Near Eastern love poetry. It doesn’t imply that the lovers are genetically related but is symbolic of their closeness” (p. 1081 OT). I wonder how Biblical literalists deal with instances like this?
The man continues with lots of descriptive poetry, comparing her to a beautiful garden. The woman interrupts him at the end of this chapter by saying “LEt my love come to his garden; let him eat its luscious fruit!” Um…ok.
Song of Songs 5: Chapter starts where the last one ended; the man accepts the woman’s invitation. It appears that this may have been a dream as she says that she woke up to someone knocking at the door. She spends most of this chapter describing how she longs for him but then he disappears. She is attacked by the defenders of the city because she is out and about in the city. The chapter ends with her describing him in similar fashion to how he described her in chapter 4.
Song of Songs 6: More of the man heaping praise on the woman. It’s interesting and colorful.
Matthew 3: Enter John the Baptist. John willing received “ordinary” people who came to him for baptism. They confessed their sins and he baptized them in the Jordan River. But John challenges the Pharisees and Sadducees. He calls them out saying that they haven’t truly changed their hearts and continue in their wicked ways. The chapter ends with the baptism of Jesus.
This chapter also includes another sidebar, this time about the Kingdom of Heaven:
Matthew 4: Jesus fasts for 40 days and 40 nights and is tempted by the devil in the beginning of this chapter. Jesus fends off the temptations. Jesus then moves to Galilee following this time frame and after he hears that John was arrested. The chapter ends with Jesus calling his first disciples. He first sees two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew. They immediately leave their fishing nets and follow him. He then calls on the brothers James and John, who were helping their father. They immediately leave and follow Jesus.
I’ve added another version of the NRSV to my list of Bibles I’m using for this study, the Access Bible. It has a bunch of notes and extra tidbits in it. I liked this one about the Gospels in Matthew 4 on page 1672: