After extolling all the lovable characteristics of the man she loves, Solomon’s lover appears to apologize for things about herself that might seem unattractive. In Song of Solomon 1:5, she says, “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.” It appears that her “darkness” is more a product of the sun than it is of her race. In contrast to the city girls of Jerusalem who live lives shielded from the sun, this girl is a country girl who is familiar with hard work and spends a lot of time outside. Palace princesses don’t spend a lot of time in the sun. She is a commoner. Maybe she is apologizing for her social status. Obviously, she’s not apologizing for her looks because she calls herself lovely. I think that she sees herself as “lovely” because her lover tells her that she is. Love is indeed blind. But love can change the way we see others and even the world. Hubbard writes, “The lover’s final delight in the one he has chosen matches the woman’s initial delight in being desired by him, despite her swarthy complexion. The joy of being cherished sparks an inner beauty that no cosmetic can imitate. That joy lends radiance to both persons in the Song.”[1]

Although it is surely a reference to human love for men and women for each other, one cannot miss the allusion to God’s love for sinners the same way. Many of the older commentators want to make the Song of Solomon strictly an allegory referring to God’s love for the church. I’m not sure you can do that, yet the comparisons are obvious. I wonder if Paul’s use of the idea can’t be found in his letters. Consider Ephesians 1:4 concerning God’s choosing us; he writes, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love. Some might argue that the last two words “in love” belong to what follows in verse 5, I can’t help but see it referring to God’s looking at us through the eyes of love and proclaiming we are blameless. The Bible makes it clear that we are sinners. We are not righteous or blameless, yet God bestows his love on us anyway. The last phrase, “in love,” might be translated as “by love” or “even “through love.” So God sees us as Saints. That’s a title given to all believers in the New Testament. The only possible way he can refer to us like that is that He is looking through the eyes of love when He looks at us. He loves us because we are “In Christ!.”

In our case, our “darkness” has to do with sin. I remember the wordless book that was used to teach children the gospel message at Martin Road Gospel Chapel when I first became a Christian. We would take our young boys to church, and they would learn a song based on the wordless book. It had different color pages. The colors were black, red, white, and gold. The song went like this:

Once my heart was black as sin,

Until the Savior came in.

His precious blood, I know.

Has washed it whiter than snow;

And in this world, I’m told

I’ll walk the streets of gold.

Oh, wonderful, wonderful day;

He washed my sins away.

 Living in this world under the sun, as Solomon writes about in the book of Ecclesiastes,  will indeed bring blackness to our hearts and souls. But God looks at us through the eyes of love. God “so loved” the world that He sent His son to pay the penalty for our sins and to reserve for us a place in heaven which he offers to each of us as a free gift. It’s a gift of God and received by faith alone.

[1] Hubbard, David A., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1991. Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. Vol. 16. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.