The Husband’s Standard of Beauty – Song of Songs 1
“5 Dark am I, yet lovely,
daughters of Jerusalem,
dark like the tents of Kedar,
like the tent curtains of Solomon.[c]
6 Do not stare at me because I am dark,
because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
and made me take care of the vineyards;
my own vineyard I had to neglect.
7 Tell me, you whom I love,
where you graze your flock
and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman
beside the flocks of your friends?” Song of Songs 1:5-7 NIV
Sun-tanned bodies are the in thing today, but that wasn’t the case in Solomon’s day. During that time, one of the most precious things to a woman was her skin. The lighter skinned a woman the sexier and more beautiful she was considered. Pale skin indicated wealth and position because those with darker skin were likely darker because they were laboring the sun as a lifestyle. Abishag (whom I refer to as the Shunamite) points out her dark (likely sunburned) skin which was a result of her being a woman who needed to work to support her family. Abishag was a woman who likely had her hair in a ponytail, calloused hands, sweat on her brow, and dirt under her fingernails. When she referred to the tents of Kedar in verse 5, Kedar was a tribe known for having dark black wool.
In these verses Abishag is saying that she’s lovely, but she has a physical drawback in her dark skin because she worked in the vineyards. She knows that she stood out compared to other women from the city because they did not have to venture out into the sun to work. She is telling her husband that she doesn’t look like the cultural standard of beauty. She tells her husband that she is insecure about her appearance. Abishag is telling Solomon that he won’t see her on the cover of magazines. She doesn’t look like Kim Kardashian or Angelina Jolie. She felt insecure about her appearance. She wished she could change the way she looked.
There is no mention of Abishag’s father, so it can be guessed that he died (or left the family). We also know that she came from a poor family and needed to work to support the family. She worked hard to the point that she says, “My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I had to neglect.” In other words, she was so busy helping others that she neglected herself and her own looks.
Wives, have you ever felt that way? Have you taken care of everyone else’s vineyards and neglected your own? Have you ever neglected yourself because you were so busy taking care of the needs of your husband, you kids, or maybe even your parents? That is what Abishag is saying. She cared for the others so much that she neglected caring for herself. If that is you, what are you doing about that now?
Husbands, can you support your wife in caring for her own vineyard? Can you support her in being sure that she is not neglecting herself, but is able to make time to care for how she looks and how she feels about herself?
Husbands and wives, try to look your best for your spouse. They deserve it. Take care of your body. Dress attractively. Shave. Take showers. I’m not saying that you need to look like, or even try to look like the person on the magazine at the grocery store, but I am saying, take the time and make the effort to eat right and to get some exercise. If you are the standard of beauty for your spouse, take care of yourself.
Here is an important word to husbands. Your wife needs to be your standard of beauty. Your standard of beauty is not the airbrushed lady on the cover of the magazine at the grocery store. Your standard of beauty is your wife… period. If your wife is tall, you are into tall. If your wife is short, you adore short. If your wife is skinny, you love skinny. If your wife is less skinny, you love less skinny. If your wife used to be skinny and is less skinny now, you used to be into skinny, but now you are way into less skinny.
Your wife is the one you find beauty in – not the woman on the tv show or movie; definitely not the woman in the porn video; not the woman on the magazine cover; not the woman who gives you attention at work – your wife! She is the most beautiful woman in the world to you. Learn to value your spouse. We will explore this further in the next devotion.
When his wife was insecure in her looks, Solomon didn’t send her to a counselor to seek help, he was relentless in giving her all the attention and affection she needed to overcome her insecurities. Husbands, do you give your wife the attention and affection she needs to overcome her insecurities? By the way, wives, do you relentlessly pour into your husband to help him overcome his insecurities too?
Holy Spirit renew my heart and strengthen my hands to add value to my wife. May she know that she is most important to me and the standard of beauty to me. Amen.