Beautiful Obscurity (Song 1:6 continued)

Jay Ferris had a striking analogy that was not always understood at first.

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“The Kingdom of God is like a drop dead gorgeous woman who walks into a room full of women – gender neutral.”
 

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The point was not that this woman is beautiful, and especially not that she is confident in her beauty, but rather the reaction of the other women to her.  He went on once to explain the “gender neutral” part.

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“A man generally has to either say something or do something to get the same effect.  And if a man either says something or does something that is prettier than what the other men in the room are saying or doing, it’s the same dynamic that goes on.  It’s seen best when Jesus came to Jerusalem.  All the experts who were experts before He got there wanted to kill Him.”

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I find this a very poignant image considering there was a houseful of women in King Solomon’s life when in relationship to the Shulamite; 140 plus to be exact,¹ and we know this number would grow. The Shulamite is “but one,”² however, and except to Solomon and a few who loved him, she does not appear to be well received everywhere in The Song, and personally, I believe she had to leave the court to finish singing in the wilderness. Simply by virtue of the stigma she carried, this woman who represents the Bride of Christ – both male and female – was an increasing challenge to the old paradigms of beauty, success, and love.  For the same reasons “she” remains a threat unto this day.
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The House Outside the House
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In the last post we experienced the judgment of the Shulamite by even her closest friends.  And how she simply agrees with her adversary.  “I am dark,” she says in Song 1:5.  Notice she does not say,I was dark,” but “I am dark.”  I think this is important.
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Now imagine this.  Immediately following this statement she turns around and pulls down a black woven tapestry from a clothesline.  It is one of the famous goat hair ones made by the Bedouin Kedarites.  She drapes it over her head and crouches down, as in a tent, and under this course cover of darkness she whispers to herself but also in the earshot of any listening friends, “and I am fitting for his home”…“even as the tents of Kedar,” verse 6.
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Although some translations have her calling herself ‘lovely,’ this is not accurate.  The Hebrew word the Shulamite chooses is not one of the commonly used ones for a pleasing outward appearance, but rather is nâ’veh and is always translated as something more along the lines of “proper, appropriate, etc.”  The KJV translates it best as “comely.”  I think a purified form of ‘homely” would be even better.  Take a look at the roots of the word she uses:
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[notice]nâ’âh A primitive root; properly to be at home, that is, (by implication) to be pleasant (or suitable)
nâveh  nâvâh at home; hence (by implication of satisfaction) lovely; also a home, of God (temple), men (residence), flocks (pasture), or wild animals (den): – comely, dwelling place, habitation, pleasant place, fold, stable[/notice]

 

Her Body, His Parable
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“The secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see’…” Luke 8:10
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I like to think that Solomon and the Shulamite understood some of the meaning to their relationship.  It was known at that time, for example, that the first tabernacle, a tent, was covered with goat skins.³  And then afterwards the “Holy of Holies” of Solomon’s temple was built to be completely darkIn fact, at the dedication of the temple it was written,
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“…when the priests came out of the holy place the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister –  for the glory of the Lord had filled the house.  Then said Solomon, ‘The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness. I have surely built You a house to dwell in…” 1 Kings 8:10-13
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Then later Paul expounds on this, going back to Genesis to make his point of what this is all about.
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“For God, who commanded, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We have this treasure in earthen vessels [jars of clay], that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves …Always carrying in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, that His life may also be manifest in our body.” 2 Cor. 4:6-10

 

A Total Eclipse
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For she who is forgiven much, loves much. – Luke 7:47
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It is something worth noting that elsewhere in The Song the Shulamite is said to be beautiful, and a Hebrew word more appropriate for a “bright” appearance is used.  But it is always the King who calls her this!  She does not call herself anything, and likewise, neither does the Bride of Christ.   Years in the wilderness has stripped from her all reliance in her flesh and the flesh of others.  Now when the Bride of Christ “walks into a room full of women” she brings darkness before she brings light.  By her very nature she eclipses the artificial and external light of law and ‘keeping appearances’ that others still rely on.  But if you look deeply into her eyes, you will see the true light of forever shining out of darkness.  It is the King’s estimation of her worth that you will see.  She received it as a gift from the Cross.
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Below is a song I thought of when writing this post.  It is an oldie from my era.:)  I hear in it the early faith struggle of the Bride, and the persistent call of the Bridegroom for her to turn around (repent) of everything she ever trusted in for light, and be in the darkness with Him.  There is a stanza in it that really resonated with me,
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There was once light in my life.
But now there is only love in the dark.
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The time is coming and now is, to abandon ourselves to both the reproach and the rewards of this most passionate love.
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1 Song 6:8 also see 2 Tim. 3:6  /  Song 6:9 /  3 Ex.36:14

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  1. True Treasure is expressed here…

    “The time is coming and now is, to abandon ourselves to both the reproach and the rewards of this most passionate love”

  2. “Now when the Bride of Christ “walks into a room full of women” she brings darkness before she brings light. By her very nature she eclipses the artificial and external light of law and ‘keeping appearances’ that others still rely on.”

    This is so beautiful Pam! The entire article is so rich! I’ll be dwelling on this for a while!

    1. Thank you Paul, and Jim. Bless you both.

  3. Bright eyes… ;) I see it now. Reading this gives me deep encouragement and hope. There’s so much to digest here. Hence my short comment in response… :)

    I love how you dig and I love what you unearth. But I bet the best of it is actually unsearchable!

    1. Frank Sinatra once prophesied something along those lines too: “The best is yet to come” :)

    • Marsela Sava on 12/19/2013 at 10:23 pm
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    Sister,

    This is so rich and beautiful! Made me cry.

    The Bride of Christ having discovered her blackness in the Light of Christ’s perfection, has no intention to draw attention upon herself. When the Shulumite speaks of herself to others, is only to say ” Look not upon me”, I’m not a pattern for others. As we think of our many failures under fiery trials, how often we have broken down in the presence of the opposition of others, how much we have slaved in the world’s vineyards, and how much we have neglected our own things, we are constrained to say like the Shulumite . And yet how often our words and ways betray the vanity of our hearts which practically says, “Look upon me”. The effort to attract to ourselves tells how little we have been in the chambers of the King.
    In His sight she is beautiful as a lily, but not a lily in some crowded city for the admiration of the world, but a lily for the Bridegroom’s delight in some secluded valley.
    Thanks for the song, I have heard it before, but never paid attention to the words. It spoke to my heart.

    1. Dear Marsela, I am so glad that it spoke to your heart. I am both encouraged and instructed by your comment. I never thought about the “Look not upon me” in the context you put it in. Wonderful insight!

  4. Pamela,

    This post is simply unforgettable! I’m so thankful for you and your writing:)

  5. This post says so much! Im loving how you set the stage, encourage us & invite us to dig deeper. His love overwhelms me & each successive post assures me that this is where i am to be right now. Pamela, He is using you to woo me to Him when what ive been doing is hiding from Him bc i felt sure He must be mistaken by lavishing such intense love on me. i wasn’t able to articulate this until these last 2 posts. Makes me want to run full force back into His loving arms. i guess i didnt even realize this was happening. So subtle… So thank you, you are such a jewel! This is precisely why we need each other.

    1. Amen, Shelby :-) To comprehend that God’s Kingdom is ONLY made up of those who have been forgiven much, is incredible! Love you.

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