It is probably good for me to go ahead and confess that I have been negligent in my ministry concerning one specific book in the Bible: The Song of Solomon. Frankly, I have always been a little embarrassed by the content of this Old Testament book. I have no issues with reading it, learning from it or personally treasuring it as part of God’s inspired Word, yet, in twenty-two years of preaching, I have only taught from this book on two occasions that I can remember. Call me a puritanical Bible-belt evangelical, but I just have never forced myself to cross that bridge of standing in the pulpit and expounding passages that involve some of the most passionate verses in all the bible. Head-to-toe, the Song of Solomon is an intense literary treatise on love, lovers and love-making. Yet overriding all the references to eyes, teeth, hair, thighs, mouths and breasts, there is a powerful and constant metaphorical current which intends to remind the believer of the King’s passion towards the one He loves. You may not like the way it sounds but…Jesus is portrayed as the lover in this ancient book. And so are we.
“Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me.” – Song of Solomon 1:6
We often respond to King Jesus in the same way that the peasant woman responds to the king in the verse above. She is enthralled with the king – his beauty, his power and his glory. He is lavish in his expression of love back to her all throughout the book. To say that they are mutually infatuated would not be an overstatement. Yet the king is way out of her league and she knows it. As she becomes aware of his presence, her impulse is to say to him, “Stop looking at me.” She felt unlovely, and therefore unlovable. She mentions that she has been deeply tanned under the sun. In our day, tanned skin is something attractive, but in ancient Israel it would have been a mark of lower social classification. The darker the skin, the more likely it was that a person was a worker in the fields. What king would stoop to love a peasant? How could he ever have a heart for her when there must have been much fairer maidens who belonged in the palace? It is clear that she found him beautiful, but she struggled deeply to believe that he could look on her with that same sentiment. This woman, like many of us in the presence of our King, felt that if he looked too long at her, he would surely discern that she was unworthy of his love.
Fortunately for her, the king was relentless. Fortunately for us, so also is our King.
Jesus Christ loves you despite your darkness. You and I are not spotless. We are not, apart from immeasurable grace, worthy of the King who loves us. For some, a strong sense of shame motivates a pulling away from intimacy with the Lord. We beg Him not to gaze at us, lest he see what we always feel about ourselves. We hide our faces from Him as we stay in constant motion in some field, hoping that by all our hurrying and scurrying about, the King will not be able to bring us into a quiet face-to-face encounter where we are forced to realize that He can see everything about us. Abiding within us is the lingering dread that He might reject us if He knew all our pitiful thoughts, our growing doubts, our stubborn sins, or our secret fears. We say to Jesus, “I am dark, please do not gaze at me.”
But He loves us in a way that incomprehensible to us. The reality is that He sees our darkness and, truthfully, He sees it on a level that we cannot even see it. He is aware of it, but He is not regulated in the least by it. He is motivated toward us in a spiritual passion that is revealed though the metaphor of romance and lovemaking all throughout the book of Song of Solomon. Far from our relationship with Him merely being some clinical, forensic or judicial acceptance, King Jesus comes after us with unbridled passion and holy determination of a man who will fully have the woman who owns his heart. You may not be comfortable with this picture I am painting, but it makes it no less true.
Friend, you do not have to bleach yourself today. Spiritual scrubbing will not enhance your standing with the Groom. There is no need to try to cloak who you are. He is not going to leave you. He cannot stop loving you – He does not want to! The Savior is not an inspector with a steel pen on a marble-slab clipboard. The Savior is a deeply-in-love King who has chosen you. He has wooed you. He has pledged Himself to you and He is preparing a place for you for the moment of consummation when you will be His in the deepest spiritual intimacy that could ever be known. Your dark spots do not discourage Jesus. Those lingering patches of the soul which have not yet been smoothed do not impede His pursuit of you. You may impulsively drop your eyes in shame from His gaze from time to time, but when you raise them again, you will find that His own gaze upon you remains fixed. And His heart for you is fixed too.
True love refuses to look away.
He has not gone anywhere, nor will He.
Jesus loves the darkened one. And He cannot take His eyes off you.