August 09, 2020 | Books of the Bible | Proverbs by John Nyota
Song of Songs 1:5-6
I am very dark, but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
because the sun has looked upon me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
they made me keeper of the vineyards,
but my own vineyard I have not kept!
The Song of Songs, also known as Song of Solomon, is one of the wisdom literature books of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. It is a poem that celebrates romantic love and its physical expression in marriage in ancient Israel. One of the lessons from Songs is that sexual love should be celebrated and enjoyed within marriage. The book also warns that love is powerful and can easily consume us. Sexual love, even when enjoyed within the marriage relationship, is temporal, leaving a yearning for eternal fulfilling love. This ultimate satisfying eternal love is found in Christ—even death cannot destroy this love.
In this unit, the young girl begins by giving an apology regarding her appearance. She seems to be embarrassed that the other girls look at her in disdain because of her dark skin. This is because her culture, apparently, does not view dark skin as attractive.
The young girl then clearly explains why her skin is dark — she has been outside in the fields, working under the sun in the family vineyard. Unlike modern Caucasian culture, where tanned skin is regarded as attractive, in ancient near eastern agrarian societies, sunburned skin was considered ordinary and a sign that you belong to the peasant class. Tan women in such societies were common and therefore looked down upon as average.
However, the young girl insists that she is beautiful despite her dark skin. She says that the celebration of romantic love — especially appreciation of women — belongs to all social classes, not just the elite. This is also a protest against artificial, culturally-imposed standards of beauty. This should be even more evident among the Christian community, for the Bible teaches that we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:26-28).
- What is your attitude toward people in a different social class from you?
- Pray that we, as believers, would be a shining example of what true love is to the lost world around us.