Pouch of Myrrh

 myrrh.jpg

Myrrh for a pouch…

My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh which lies all night between my breasts. –Song of Songs 1:13

A few years ago, I wept through a message, delivered at my home church, by Gary Wiens on the above Scripture. I am still moved to tears when I remember his beautiful, life-giving words about the love between the Bride and the Bridegroom. 

The scripture refers to a “pouch of myrrh.” In my postmodern, post-Christian world, myrrh is nothing more than an exotic incense. Centuries ago, the ancients highly valued myrrh. Often it was worth more than its weight in gold. Myrrh has been used medically, as a perfume or incense, and as an embalming ointment. In some cultures, myrrh became synonymous with the word perfume.

The dark brown, sticky resin comes from the Commiphora Myrrh tree grown in Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. Its scent when burned is sharp, bitter and sweet at once.

Myrrh is best remember as one of the gifts of the Magi’s at the birth of Jesus. The other two gifts given: gold and frankincense represented royalty and divinity, but the pricey gift of myrrh symbolized and prophetically pointed to the death and burial of Jesus.

Myrrh was also mixed in the holy anointing oil in the tabernacle of Moses. The Eastern Orthodox church uses it still today.

At the death of Jesus, Nicodemous purchased 75 pounds of myrrh to anoint His body for burial. This is such an extravagant and tender gift from one who had secretly believed in Him–that is until Jesus’ death. Then Nicodemos showed his love openly by purchasing a magnanimous offering for His beloved.

I understand that amount of myrrh could have buried many bodies…

With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). 

This very brief overview of myrrh enlightens our eyes and hearts to the power and depth of the meaning it bears in Scripture.

But back to the message from Gary Wiens… The greatest love story ever told is about the Bridegroom, the Son of God, and the Bride, the Church who has been purified by His blood. The Bridegroom romances and wins the Bride by His selflessness and offering of love to the point of death.

I love the scripture, “Not that we loved Him, but he loved us and gave Himself…” Before we fall in love with Jesus, we may actually hate the things of God. But He wins and changes us by loving us first, and then reveals just how deep and wide that love is… that He would die a brutal death to purify us, because He cannot be married to an unclean bride.

When we fall in love with Him, we are aware of His suffering for us; and then it becomes the backbone of our love relationship.

But there is more…

There is a pouch of myrrh between the breasts of the Bride. As the Bridegroom lies His head upon her chest, the myrrh is crushed and the fragrance spreads… The bittersweet scent is pressed between them and released as they hold each other through the night. This pouch represents the Bride’s suffering for the Bridegroom as well. The bittersweetness and reality of death rests between them in their intimacy.

It means the Bridegroom has died for the Bride, but it means that she will die for Him as well. The Bride carries the ointment of death and burial upon her heart.

Love is not love unless both lovers are willing to lay down their lives for each other.  Love is not just about the Bridegroom giving and suffering, but the Bride reponding with willingness to suffer…

This is what it means for the Bride to “take up her cross daily and follow Jesus.” The dying. The sweet intensity of love and the bitterness of death are mingled together in their intimacy.

Here on Valentine’s Day the world is thinking about love, about being loved and giving love. Its symbols are chocolates, flowers, candy, cards, and diamonds that are said to last forever…

I think this story shows the highest symbol of love–the pouch of myrrh that is crushed upon embrace–the willingness to lay down our lives for Love.

For better understanding on what it means for some “to lose their lives for His sake,” take a look at “Fox’s Book of Martyrs.”


8 thoughts on “Pouch of Myrrh

  1. BEAUTIFUL!!! WHAT A PRECIOUS GIFT YOU ARE TO THE BODY!!! IT WAS A TIMELY
    REMINDER TO ME OF HIS LOVE FOR ME!
    BLESSINGS!
    LINDA

  2. Linda,

    I am so glad you are encouraged and reminded that the Lord is your Valentine, your Husband, your great strength and Love…

    Bless you today, Linda!

    Bonnie

  3. Before I knew Him my sufferings in the world had no meaning and no life- but with the fellowship of His sufferings my suffering began to mean something. He redefined them through His own and the transforming power of His death and subsequent life infused my own.

    What a mystery, and I still dont understand it! But it is something that I long to know more about with Him. I would even gladly suffer more to be in that ‘fellowship of His sufferings’ and somehow conformed to His likeness. It is truly a dumbfounding gift and mercy, and totally beyond me, and even just getting a glimpse of His love through this facet makes me weep and cry out in joy at the same time. It feels like I cannot even communicate and put into words the impact of this reality!

    Who can describe His embrace?

    We live in an inside-out upside-down kind of Kingdom. The things that bound us and brought about death and weakness and meaninglessness before knowing Him become life and strength and meaning when we know Him. How strange, yet so very cool, is that?

    This is definately not your typical candy-coated Western Valentine’s discussion 🙂

  4. Bonnie,
    How beautiful —your thoughts about myrrh and the bride and bride groom. I loved it. I remember one time God showed me that the scripture says “Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of His saints.” Our dying to self and the flesh is just as precious to Jesus as the physical death. Because “Tempted in all points like as we–” He has compassion for what is costs us to die to self. Thank you for the great valentine. Love, Mom

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