Ivory Palaces

The word IVORY is found some 13 times in the Bible (KJV).  The source of ivory is the tusk of elephants.  It has been an important item of trade for many centuries (2 Chr 9:21; Rev 18:11-13).  This kind of trade is now mostly illegal because the vast numbers of elephants that have been slaughtered to procure it have come close to depleting the species.  In the days of King Solomon ivory was one of the precious items brought in by his ships (1 Kgs 10:22).  Ivory was one of the indicators of Solomon’s tremendous wealth that the Queen of Sheba once came to investigate (1 Kgs 10:1-13).  The prophet Amos refers to ivory twice in the Book of Amos to demonstrate the great wealth of the people of Israel, to illustrate their lack of interest in spiritual concerns, and to warn of judgment against them (Amos 3:15; 6:4).

An especially interesting use of the word “ivory” is found in Psalm 45:8, where these words are found… “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.” This text surely is a reference to the Messiah to come.  The Hebrews writer clearly makes use of this text as a description of Jesus Christ (Heb 1:8).

Based upon this Psalm, also, is the song, “Ivory Palaces,” from the pen of Henry Barraclough.  This song is wonderfully rich in meaning and emotion.  As we sing it, we are awed with the beauty of our Savior and the magnitude of his love for us.

How can such a song be sung without our devotion and dedication to the Lord being augmented?  The only way that could possibly be done is if we sing without regard to Paul’s instruction of 1 Corinthians 14:15… “What is it then?  I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” It is obviously true that this passage is in the context of instruction regarding the proper way to exercise supernatural gifts, however, surely the principle applies to our singing in worship assemblies of today as well.  After all, our Lord did emphasize the same point when He spoke out against the “vain repetitions” (Mt 6:7) of the scribes and Pharisees.  It is really important that we give our full attention as we sing in the worship assemblies.  We teach and admonish one another with the words we sing and they are very important (Col 3:16).  Our worship must be rendered in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24) in order to be well pleasing to the Lord.  The words of this song, “Ivory Palaces,” are especially expressive of thoughts that can make us stronger and more faithful.  Please consider them carefully…

     My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
     And myrrh their texture fills;
     Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine
     With joy my being thrills.

     His life had also its sorrows sore,
     For aloes had a part;
     And when I think of the cross He bore,
     My eyes with teardrops start.

     In garments glorious He will come,
     To open wide the door;
     And I shall enter my heavenly home,
     To dwell for evermore.

     Chorus:
     Out of the ivory palaces,
     Into a world of woe,
     Only His great eternal love
     Made my Savior go.

When we contemplate the IVORY PALACES from which our Lord descended to this “world of woe” and that the reason He did so was “Only His great eternal love,” how can we do anything but love back such a Savior as this?  The love of Jesus, demonstrated at Calvary, needs to be appreciated and considered very thoughtfully by each and every one of us.  As these thoughts strengthen us let us see the value of letting others know of this wonderful Savior.

–David Lemmons

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