Submitted by Katy Collins
“I am dark, but lovely…do not look upon me, because I am dark…my own vineyard I have not kept.” (Song of Solomon 1:5,6)
I sin. I am dark. Like the Shulamite woman in this passage, I can say with confidence who I know I am. She was explaining to her beloved that her brothers had made her work outside in the field all day and the sun had tanned her skin, this was an unfavorable characteristic in that time and she was warning him about what he was getting- something less than desirable. She knew she was dark.
As do I. I’m not being unnecessarily hard on myself. No, dear friends, I’m being very real. I serve a perfect, holy God. In Leviticus we see just how holy God is in how the people of Israel had to relate to Him in order to be in His presence. God cannot look on sin and do nothing about it, for He alone is perfect in holiness. In the light of eyes like those, I see my failure, you bet. I see my sin.
I’m starting a women’s group this Thursday to have a place where women can go to seek freedom from pornography addiction and sexual impurity. Why would I start a group like that? Because I struggle with lust. Lust is not holy. I see my sin. Like the girl in this passage I too can say, “my own vineyard I have not kept” meaning I willingly choose to sin. It’s not forced on me. If “my vineyard” is my love relationship with Jesus, then I have chosen to not keep it at times. I have chosen to go to an emptiness promising to fill me and have come back more empty than before.
I am dark.
Perhaps you can see your sin too. Perhaps you are really aware of your shortcomings. And maybe, you like me, have a hard time not staying in despair and guilt over your sin. You see, the enemy is the same guy he’s always been and his tricks aren’t new. But he’s really good at wielding them. He lies to us and says that the sin will satisfy us. When we wake up to the fact that we have a gaping hole inside us and this sin (whatever it may be) is going right through that hole, not at all satisfying us, then he uses shame.
You’re so dirty. He says. No one is as awful as you. No one has seen what you’ve seen or done what you’ve done. And you call yourself a Christian. Yeah, right! God doesn’t love you. You are worthless and disgusting. These are the whispers we hear. Sometimes they even become shouts that drown out the Spirit in us beckoning us to step into freedom. We can see how dark we are. May I ask you, how does God see us?
“I am dark, but lovely…”
How can she say that she is lovely? Especially in the context of what I’m concluding here? How can Katy say that she is lovely, knowing the depths of the sin in her heart? The Shulamite knew she was dark. She looked at her own skin and saw the effects of the choices that had been made for her and that she had made. But then she utters the words, “but lovely.” How? This Shulamite farm girl knew that someone wanted her. This someone was king Solomon. A simple, farm girl was desired by the king. She had caught his eye and she knew of his love for her, so she could say, “I am lovely.”
In our sin, we are not made lovely because of anything we do. We can attempt to wash ourselves, but that is not what makes us lovely (sometimes in my darker moments of sexual impurity I would want to stand in the shower for hours to attempt to wash away my sin). There will be a day when we must clean ourselves and stand against the choices we’ve made, but first there’s a realization we must know. She was lovely because she was loved. We are lovely because we are loved by Love, Himself. The King desires us.
“Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house; so the King will greatly desire your beauty…” (Psalm 45:10-11a)
This psalm is urging us, as dark people, to forget what is behind us, even to forget what may or may not lay ahead and to come to the King. Then what does it say? That “the King will greatly desire your beauty.” You, reader, are dark. Yes. We all are. And if you’re like me, and the other contributors to this blog, you are very aware of the depth of your darkness. But… you are lovely. The King loves you and desires your beauty.
From the very beginning, God chose to love us with all that He is. As He formed Adam and Eve, God chose to pour out His love forever into their beings. We qualify for that too. Sadly, there are some who are rejecting God (even if it’s a quiet rejection). God loves His creation, His people, so very much and we are so very dark. Remember Leviticus? God cannot simply hang out with sin; He is holy. But He desires us and loves us, so something had to be done. For God to regain His precious creation to His side, to be with us, He had to make a way for this issue of sin to no longer hold us captive.
There is only One who has never sinned, though He walked entirely as a human. That Someone is Jesus Christ. Jesus willingly, with delight, stepped into our lives, stepped into our skin and walked through the trials and temptations and pain that we all face. Jesus was familiar with the lusts of the flesh, He too was tempted in all ways. Yet Jesus withstood. Where you and I fall into temptation and give in to sin, Jesus did not. He was beaten down by temptation, hunger, and all the weaknesses of His human frame, but He remained faithful to God. He continued to tend to His own vineyard- His relationship with God remained intimate. Therefore, He could be the final step in making our sin no longer chain us.
Jesus Christ was convicted though innocent, Creator yet let His creation spit on Him, cuss at Him and torture Him. He so loved you so much and wanted you to be His again, He went through all of that so He could crush sin. He died for you. This is love. This is what real love is.
This act of giving His life so that we could live gave Him the authority once again over death. In dying on the cross, as a perfectly sinless Man, Jesus took the power of sin away. Satan was king of this earth and ruled using sin and death. But because of what Jesus did, He took that power back and became the One, True King. Jesus is the King.
You, and I, are the Shulamite farm girl. And like her, we still have dark moments, dark days, darkness within us. She was able to say with truth that she was “dark, but lovely.” We are too. We are the farm girl. We are desired by the King.
“Listen…incline your ear…the King greatly desires your beauty…”
I am dark. But lovely. For I am loved by the King. I know my sin. And I don’t want my sin. I know that my Jesus has made me free. Though I stumble and fall, He loves me. He chose me. I am lovely to the King and the King greatly desires my beauty.