God loves to “love on” His people. Jesus is “crazy in love” with His bride. And though, from time to time, we may not think we’re much to look at, yet we can praise the Lord that our beauty is in the eye of the Beholder!
Awareness of such “beholding” first started happening for me this morning as I read in Song of Solomon. Read the first part of chapter four and it doesn’t take a genius to see that the one referred to as “the Beloved” is head over heals for his bride to be. You read this and you know he is just nuts about her and can’t take his eyes off of her . . .
Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! . . . You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
(Song of Solomon 4:1a, 7 ESV)
Ok . . . come on now . . . there’s no flaw in her? Really?!? But that’s what he says. That’s what he sees.
In his sight, she is perfect! You need to get past him describing her hair being like a flock of goats . . . her teeth like a flock of shorn sheep . . . and her cheeks like halves of a pomegranate. All very attractive, I’m sure. But, regardless of the comparisons being somewhat culturally confusing for us, the picture is clear, he is enraptured with her. When he’s with her, he can’t take his eyes off of her. He is mad in love with his bride to be. So much in love that he doesn’t see her faults (and you gotta know there’s a wrinkle or two). So taken with her that any spot she may possess is overshadowed by his overriding love for her.
Now, I think we should understand the Song of Songs literally. There’s a lot to be learned and appreciated in it about the dynamics of God-ordained love between a man and a woman. But I also think there’s a degree to which we can read it allegorically. And as I read these verses this morning, I can’t help but hear the Savior extolling the beauty of His Church.
Behold, you are beautiful, My love, behold, you are beautiful! . . . there is no flaw in you.
No flaw. Without fault. Perfectly perfect. In Him, that’s true! We have been washed clean. The stain of sin has been removed by the blood of the Lamb.
In Christ we are the Bride. Beautiful to behold because of the grace-driven, life-giving, work of the Son of God. And so, we can know that we are “altogether beautiful” in the eyes of our Beholder. Reminded that “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” we can believe with all our heart that He is committed to presenting His bride to Himself “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
As such, we look adoringly towards our Beloved with a sense of anticipation of when we shall be together!
And then, my reading took me to 1Peter 3. And whaddya’ know? More talk of what the Beholder finds beautiful to behold.
Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing–but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
(1Peter 3:3-4 ESV)
Now, I know that specifically this is being addressed to wives, but let’s apply it to Christ’s bride in general. Here, the beauty which captures the Beholder’s eye is not hair like goats and teeth like sheep. No, what is of “surpassing value” in the sight of God here is the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. A meek and tranquil being emanating from a soul running deep with an appreciation of love known and grace shown. And thus. able to exude grace itself.
Oh, we can spend so much time primping and preening and getting it all looking just right on the outside and on the inside it’s a raging mess. But our God looks below the surface and past the façade and sees the hidden person and looks for that unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Oh, that the we as His bride would emit such beauty.
And so, as I consider that my beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, I am first humbled and blessed to know that He sees not what I used to be . . . and not so much even what I am. But He sees what I will be in Christ when His work of holiness is complete in my life.
But I also know that I can do some “adorning.” That by His grace and the transforming work of the Spirit I can purpose to put on that which is precious in His sight–a gentle and quiet spirit.
Lord, thanks for lovin’ on me this morning. I am not worthy of such divine love. Apart from Christ I know that there is no beauty in me. But, by Your grace, I am in Christ. I am the bride being prepared for the wedding feast. I am Your beloved. And You are mine.
To You be all the glory. Amen.