Recently, I’ve become obsessed by the scent of lavender. So much so that I’ve recently attended a festival devoted to the plant and now have far too many products in my arsenal. I love the nearly intoxicating scent and found a passion in trying to create the perfect lavender lemonade which I’m sipping as I type.
The hummingbirds regularly buzz by the lavender plant outside my office window. I can see them drink up the nectar every morning flitting about with a happily intense persistence. Do you ever wonder why God created certain plants or flowers? That got me wondering!
Learning Lavender –
Lavender is mentioned in the Bible under the pseudonym spikenard. (I know, I prefer the name lavender, too) Although there is some controversy on the exact origins, we can still learn something from the mention of the spikenard plant in the quintessential Old Testament romance dance Song of Solomon. Solomon, the lover, speaks “While the king was at his table, my perfume gave forth its’ fragrance” (v1:12). An intoxicating scent this lavender. Enough to set a king on fire!
Holman Bible Dictionary defines spikenard as “a very expensive spice used in making perfume.” There are also ties to Syrian origins of the lavender, or nard, plant in Greek writings from which we can deduce that the plan was present in the Mediterranean region. It has been used for antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and according to legend it is meant to soothe and relax. I can attest to that as I add a few drops of the oil into my bath.
The essential oil was extracted from the buds of the plants and was then stored in alabaster boxes in which they were kept for special occasions; Blossom elixir.
We are provides with another poignant reference to spikenard in the New Testament. Mark 14:3 recounts, “While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.” (NASB)
We are reminded that Mary used this expensive perfume to anoint Jesus at the home of Lazarus in Bethany as well. “Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 (NASB)
The Bible gives us two examples where this spikenard, this expensive lavender perfume, was used to anoint Jesus. It was poured over him as a sort of offering, to denote him as an honored guest. It would have been a very costly offering for someone in Biblical times. Solomon uses talk of lavender to express his love as a garden in bloom. The women poured out the nectar of the blossoms as an act of devotion.
It is a beautiful reminder of how God’s word uses the world around us to illustrate points. God is love. God is the Creator of the world. I am guilty of moving through my day and taking simple things for granted. Here is a beautiful plant outside my window that has been there for years waiting to teach me this lesson. Lavender. While I certainly balked at the $20 price tag on the 10ml bottle (sans alabaster…) the bottle I just purchased (as the clerk cited “it’s organic” as though that should make all the difference in the world!) at the lavender festival, it was not a month’s wages as it would have been for Mary or the unnamed woman.
Lavender provoked inquiry of self. Am I pouring out my best for Christ? Am I storing up my best for honored guests? Or do I hoard that for my own selfish desires?
Jesus recognized the sacrifice of these two women as acts of devotion. What acts of devotion are you equipped to pour out to God? What nard equivalent is in your arsenal and are you prepared to pour it out in affection and commitment to your Savior? Literal or figurative is no matter, let the reminder stand.
Literally Lavender –
Think about pouring out a little lavender to your next guest of honor…..
6 organic lemons
1 cup organic sugar (or ¾ cup agave nectar)
6 cups of filtered water
2 teaspoons of organic culinary-grade lavender buds
Directions: Peel the rind from lemons with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife and place the strips in a glass bowl. Add the sweetener and allow this to sit for a time, at least an hour. Boil the filtered water and add to the bowl. Add in the lavender buds. Cover the bowl with a plate and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes. Then juice the lemons and add it into the bow. Remove the rind and lavender and strain the liquid. Allow it to cool slightly and then put it in the container of choice and chill in the refrigerator. When the guests arrive, add some ice and maybe a lavender stalk for garnish. Intoxicating! Makes about 6 cups