|Posted by Lorraine Serra on January 27, 2016 at 1:35 PM|
Black and white, dark and light, stained and clean, dull and bright, focused and confused.
Opposites. We often see these as distinctly separate. One or the other. Either or, not both simultaneously. However, when applied to the human heart, the human spirit, the human personality, I think it's fair to say that indeed we are a little bit of both at the same time!
Are we all two-faced or double-minded? Are we schizo? Can we become more single-minded and consistent? How can we have an undivided heart? Let's find out.
Solomon, in his wisdom, addresses this dichotomy in his poem as the Shulamite woman suddenly comes under the scrutiny and judgment of the daughters of Jerusalem. In verse 5 she is, all at once, defensive. I was surprised by this unexpected shift and searched for the deeper significance of her words. The wisdom of Solomon indeed goes beyond the surface!
The poem offers help to us as spouses, as individuals, and as the church. Let's take a brief look at some of the symbolism.
“I am dark, but also lovely....like the tents of Kedar, and like the curtains of Solomon.”verse 5
In response to the harsh glances of the other women, the Shulamite explains that her skin has become dark, sunburned and worn from working in the vineyards. Why would this matter? Well, there is the underlying question of how this simple girl was chosen by the Prince to be his bride! There is the sense that she isn't worthy! I'll bet there is even a sense of jealousy.
Evidently, becoming the family vine dresser was a result of an angry moment among her siblings. We don't know what the problem was on the surface, but it is clear that she has had a tough time. She has suffered greatly, both physically and emotionally.
The scholars I researched indicate that she compares her skin color to that of the black sheep skins used by nomads in a region called Kedar, symbolic of a rough and dirty lifestyle. It may also be Solomon's commentary on the Jewish nation's wandering in the desert for 40 years because of their stubborn hearts. By describing herself in this way, she is admitting a humbled status.
But, at the same time, she quickly emphasizes that she is lovely like the fine, rich tapestries and curtains hanging in Solomon's temple. She recognizes her dual status: humbled, yet chosen.
Can it be that Solomon is painting a picture, once again, of the relationship Israel has with her God? Throughout her history, the people have often rebelled against their first love, their Creator, and suffered much as a result of their choice. Yet, that blackness of suffering, sin and disobedience, is covered over again by the matchless beauty of Divine, relentless, forgiving love. Israel was humbled in the desert, yet remains God's chosen people.
She may have scars within of guilt and remorse, but God sees her as still valuable. He graciously adorns her in royal robes, giving her a position as His own.
Wow. What a picture! Can you apply this in your life? I think it is amazing how the Gospel of Grace through Jesus Christ is woven throughout scripture. We, as believers, have our scars, our guilt. We know that we have had dark moments within that have separated us from the God who loves us. It has been our choice. And we have experienced consequences.
Yet, when we confess that we have “not kept our own vineyard” (verse 6), that is to say, we have not spent time digging into the good soil of God's Word and Presence, pulling out the weeds of discontent and rebellion, our repentance results in receiving the royal robes of Christ's perfect love and righteousness. Joy explodes.
We are not condemned. We are loved. We are not fined. Our debt has been paid by Jesus.
Though we deserve abandonment and suffering as a result of our rebellion, we receive forgiveness, open arms, and the invitation to become the Bride of Christ. The simple peasant girl has been chosen by the Prince. And so have we.
This may just be the foundation of every fairy tale ever written! But, this is no fairy tale. This is the Gospel. It is powerful to realize that the church, despite her blackest moments in history, is ever invited to be restored to her King. We are most valuable indeed. He will never let us go. Repentance leads to that renewed relationship with God. It is what gives us value, peace, joy and purpose.
Quite a lesson. How will this inspire us to develop an undivided heart and a single-minded devotion to our spouse, our loved ones, our friends? I encourage you to meditate on just how precious you are to your Prince of Peace. Then, let that love overflow. This free ebook might help you go deeper. Until next time, walk as one chosen and be blessed!
Categories: Song of Solomon