The Shulamite: I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon.
(Song of Solomon 1:5)
The Beloved: If you do not know, O fairest among women, Follow in the footsteps of the flock, And feed your little goats Beside the shepherds’ tents. (Song of Solomon 1:8)
The Shulamite woman is so painfully aware of her darkness. Out of the overflow of her insecure heart, her mouth speaks – and she calls herself dark.
But look! Immediately, in the next passage, her Beloved affirms her by calling her the “fairest among women”. He counters her insecurities by speaking over her words of healing and life. He sees beauty in her even when she is unable to see it herself.
Instead of pointing out her obvious faults, he continues to affirm her throughout the remainder of the Song – prophetically calling forth the woman she was always meant to be. The love of this man aids in bringing wholeness and restoration to the Shulamite woman’s heart. He makes her feel safe by covering her weakness with his strength. His tender love brings healing to her heart. We see how this plays out in the remainder of the Song, with the Shulamite woman growing in confidence as she understands that his desire is for her, yes, even in her brokenness. She emerges from underneath her wall of fear and insecurity, and she grows into one mature in love, equally yoked with her Beloved.
The love of a man is life-bringing in a special way to a woman’s heart. It is able to unlock things inside a woman and cause her to blossom beautifully. If the imperfect love of fallen man can bring this about, how much more can the perfect love of God heal and restore our hearts!
When we begin to understand how God sees us, something will unlock inside us. He does not despise us in our darkness, and He does not shame our frail offerings of love. He loves the one who is broken and contrite in heart. He looks upon the (sincere) struggling believer with such tender eyes. The more we understand this the more confident we can be before Him.
What is it to be covered and protected? What does it feel like to be cherished, even in our weakness? What does it feel like to be loved unconditionally, and to be wanted even in our brokenness? What is it like to be pursued and to be seen as lovely and beautiful? So much healing comes. His love is able to do all these things and more.
No longer will our faces be clouded by shame. No longer will we beat ourselves up in insecurity. When we understand that His desire is for us, something will settle inside of our hearts. His love causes our hearts to be still, and finally, we can rest.
We can say confidently, “Dark am I, but I am lovely to Him.”