Rabbi Schneider - God's Cure for Shame
Last time I talked about the fact that in chapter 1, the Shulamite bride, who is the shadow a figure of you and I, the church, she's having an incredible experience, an incredible love encounter with the Lord but she begins to shrink back because she feels ashamed. Maybe you realize that, maybe you don't. But the truth is, is that we struggle with shame. Remember the first thing that Adam and Eve did after they sinned in the garden of Eden? What did they do? They ran from God and tried to cover themselves because they felt ashamed and afraid. You see, sin has caused us to feel ashamed. And when we feel shame, it's difficult for us to receive love, it's difficult for us to love ourselves fully, and it's difficult for us to receive the love of others fully.
So we find right in the middle of this love letter between the Shulamite bride is a shadow of you and I and King Solomon, who is the shadow of Jesus, that the whole issue of shame gets brought up. So she says here, "I am black," she said, "but lovely," in verse number 5. And then she goes on to say, "Do not stare at me..." In other words, she was feeling ashamed. She was feeling self-conscious. "Do not stare at me because I'm swarthy, for the sun has burned me". Why did the sun burn her? She said, "My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me a caretaker of the vineyards, but I have not taken care of my own vineyard".
In other words, she was made to do like a really minimum type of wage job. She was sent out to work in the sun all day. And it was obvious to everybody around her that she was like at the lower echelon of society. That's why she was all dark because she was doing the minimum wage job, having to work under the sun all day, which was not a job that other people wanted. But she had to do it. And so she was ashamed about herself. She was ashamed about her position in life. She was ashamed about the way other people saw her. And so she's struggling with this identity issue, and it's getting in the way of her being able to receive God's love. It's getting in the way of her being able to receive King Solomon's love.
And so she brings it to the surface. And I wonder right now if it would be a good idea for you and I to bring to the surface the fact that because of our low self-esteem that's ultimate due to sin, which produces shame and self-rejection, we're having a hard time receiving love. Perhaps you even recognize it in your former or even present relationships on the earth. You find it hard to let people love you. Some of you even sabotage relationships. You like somebody, you fall in love with somebody until they start loving you back, then all of a sudden, the thing goes south. Why? Because you can't receive love. It's due to shame and self-rejection. And the same concept can happen to us in our relationship with God. He wants to fully love us, but we won't let Him.
Remember, for example, when Yeshua washed the disciples' feet at Passover. He came to Peter, we call him Cephas in Hebrew, and when Jesus came to Peter, Peter said, "Don't touch me, Lord. You're not going to wash my feet. I'm unworthy. I'm sinful". And what did Jesus say? You see, what happened was Peter didn't feel worthy of receiving Jesus' love. Peter felt ashamed of himself. He felt sinful. He couldn't allow the Lord to minister to him and to serve him because of his own self-rejection, because of his own sense of filthiness. But Jesus said to him, "Unless you let Me wash your feet, you'll be able to have no part with Me". So, beloved, we need to recognize that shame, once we know Jesus, is foul. Self-rejection is foul. Low self-image that gets in the way of us being able to let ourselves be loved it's a foul spirit. We can't cuddle it. There's nothing right about it.
So Jesus right now, Yeshua right now, like the Shulamite bride, we call out to You. We admit our shame. And we ask You to wash us of it. Jesus, we asked You to wash us of our filth and our sense of shame. We ask You to wash us of our pride. We ask You to wash us of defilement. We want to be able, Lord Jesus, to let You love us. And so back to the text. She's in the middle of experiencing this great love relationship with the Lord. The king had brought her into his chamber in verse 4. The most ultimate expression of full bridal love that can be imagined, and here we are, and all of a sudden she's feeling shame. "The king has brought me into his chamber..." the bottom of verse 4. And then in verse 6, "Don't stare at me because I'm swarthy, for the sun has burned me..."
She was feeling ashamed. She's feeling unworthy, unable to receive love. But I want you to look down in verse 8, because King Jesus, personified here as King Solomon, talks back to her. And what does He say? He says, "If you yourself did not know, most beautiful among women..." In other words, she felt like she was ugly, but Yeshua said, "You're the most beautiful of all". Jesus said, "If you don't know most beautiful woman, you're not rejected by me. There's nothing to be ashamed of". He said, "You're the most beautiful amongst women".
So I want you to know you're beautiful to the Lord. You're beautiful to Jesus. He sees His beauty in you. In fact, Paul told us to pray, that we should pray to understand the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in us. In other words, there's something in us that's God's inheritance. And Paul told us who we should pray to understand the glory of what's inside us. That God sees something in us that is so beautiful and so glorious. If we could only see what's inside us, if we could only see what we're made of, if we could only see what God sees inside us. There is a treasure in you. There is no earthly expression of beauty that comes close to doing justice of who the real you is. The Bible calls it the hidden person of the heart.
Remember when Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse's sons as king, and Samuel thought that it was going to be the eldest, the big, strong, handsome one. So Samuel went up to anoint him and the Lord said, "No, it's not him". And Samuel kept on going down and going down through the sons and there was no one left. And Samuel said, "I don't understand it. I know the Lord sent me here to anoint one of your sons as king, but every time I go to lay my hands on one of your sons, I'm not getting a witness". Is there anybody else? And Jesse said, "Well, you know, the little David he's out in the... you know, he's out tending the sheep". Samuel says, "Well, go bring him here". Then little rowdy David comes. A little kid. Little boy. Nothing in his appearance that looked like he was gonna be king. He wasn't the big strong one. He wasn't the tall one.
Samuel goes and lays his hands on David and all of a sudden he goes, "This is the one". And the Lord says to the prophet Samuel, "Man, looks on the outside..." Man would have said it should have been the oldest brother, the big one, the strong one, the handsome one. But the Lord said, "No, I don't see what man sees. I'm not looking at the body. I'm not looking at the physical stature. I'm looking inside the body. I'm looking at the heart, what the physical eyes can't see". See, there's something in you that you can see with your eyes. It's so beautiful. It's more beautiful beloved than a sunset. It's more glorious than the stars. It's full of more color than the rainbow. It's more powerful than a stallion or a tiger or a lion. All the beauty of God that's revealed in the earth is not yet comparable to the glory that's inside you and I, because you and I are the pinnacle of God's creation. We're created in His own image, in His own likeness to know Him.
Once again, she's looking at her skin. She's looking at her outward appearance. But the Lord said, "Don't you know," He said, "how beautiful you are"? And I'm saying to you, beloved one, don't you know how beautiful you are to God? He's not looking at the wrinkles on your face. He's not looking at the limp in your walk. He's not looking at the blemish in your eye or the bags under your eyes. He's not looking at your hair or lack thereof. He's looking at you. The real you, the part of you where fingers can't go. And so she said, "I'm black and swarthy because I'm out all day. My mother they were angry at me, they put me outside and I'm ashamed of the way I look and who I am". And Jesus says to her, "Don't you know, most beautiful amongst women, how beautiful you are"?
So let me just read it one more time. She's feeling self-rejected. She says, "...I am black but lovely", she continues on in verse 6, "Do not stare at me because I'm swarthy, for the sun has burned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; and they may be caretakers of the vineyard, but I've not taken care of my own vineyard". And Yeshua answers back to her in verse 8, "If you yourself did not know..." In other words, don't you know, most beautiful amongst women? Don't you know how beautiful you are to me?
Now listen to this, as we look back at the text. She had just got done feeling this incredible experience with the Lord. And then her own self-rejection broke the fellowship. Her own self-rejection broke that sense of intimacy that she was feeling. And so she's calling out to the Lord. She wants to experience it again. She wants to feel the nearness again. How many of you go through that at times? We feel near to the Lord one day, and a few days goes by and God feels distant and far away. Right? We all have that happen to us. So the initial encounter has passed, she's no longer feeling that sense of being in the king's chambers. Now she's calling out to Him, "Where are you"? So she says here, "Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where do you pasture your flock, and where do you make it lie down at noon? For why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flock of your companions"?
So what she's actually saying is, where are you? And where are those that are close to you? I want to be with you and I want to be with the company of those that are closest to you. Listen again. "Where do you pasture your flock? Where are you with the ones that you love, those that are closest to you? And where do you make it lie down at noon? Where are those that you're taking care of? Where are they lying and resting in your presence"? Then she says, "For why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions"? In other words, in the ancient world, you put a veil over your face when you were with people other than your family that you didn't know well. And so she's saying, "Why should I have to be like someone with you that veils herself? Why do I have to be like someone that knows you from a distance? I want to be able to be part of your family. I want to be unveiled. I want to be with your flock, not next to your flock".
Jesus answers her. He says, "If you do not know, most beautiful one..." He tells her how to get close again. He gives her a prescription of what to do to feel the intimacy of fellowship once again. So he says, "First of all go for on the trail of the flock". In other words, don't try to pursue me alone. If you want to experience intimacy with me you have to walk with the rest of my sheep, you have to walk with the rest of your brothers and sisters. Go forth on the trail the flock. Go forth and gather with my people. The Bible tells us in the Book of Hebrews, "Don't forsake the gathering together of God's people as is the habit of some".
Now, if we want to truly experience Jesus, we have to gather together with others. This is why Yeshua said, "Where two or three are gathered together I am in the midst". God hasn't called us to be lone rangers. He's called us as a body. The Bible says when one member suffers, we all suffer. And when another member rejoices, we all rejoice. We're connected to each other. The scripture says, "Is the whole body a hand? Or is a whole body a foot or a head"? No, there's different parts of the body. And in order for us to be a whole body, the whole body, every single person needs to come together. And so if we want to feel close to God, we have to be in relationship and fellowship with the rest of the body. And there's too many people, especially now more than ever that they're trying to live the Christian life in isolationism. And that is not a prescription for feeling intimate with God. We need to pursue the Lord beloved, not only individually, but also in the company of the rest of His people.
So once again, she asked, "Where are you? How can I be amongst those that know you intimately"? And Jesus says to her, "Go forth on the trail of the flock". If you're not attending a congregation right now and there's not a reason for that... I mean, some people they can't attend services because they're bound at home due to health reasons. But if there's nothing that's keeping you from attending a congregation other than the fact that you're choosing not to do so, then you need to find, beloved, a congregation to become a part of. God has called us as a body to be in unity. Jesus' last prayer in John 17 is that His people would be one even as we are one. There is life, beloved brothers and sisters, in unity. But division brings death.
So number one, be connected with God's people. Be involved in service. Be part of the ministry. It might be something small. Who knows what it is? A little thing. Get involved serve. Then the Lord says to her, "...and pasture your young goats..." In other words, the Lord is telling her, Listen, to feel intimate with me, pour into somebody else's life that's less mature than you. He says, "First of all, get on the trail of the rest of the sheep," and then he says, "and pasture, your young goats". In other words, find somebody, my beloved friend, that you can minister to. Find somebody that you can pray for. Find somebody in the body of Messiah that you can love. Find somebody that you can disciple. Find somebody that you can pour into, somebody that perhaps you're going to invite to your home. Find somebody to bless. If you want to feel close to the Lord, beloved, you've got to serve.
So Jesus said, "...and pasture your young goats..." And then he says, "And do it by the tenths of the shepherds". There's such a spirit today of anti-authority. People don't want to come under the authority of anybody. And nobody's perfect. And this is the reason people have rejected authority because they've encountered authority figures in their life that have betrayed them, that have misused their authority. And unfortunately, we sometimes can allow us to make the mistake of rejecting all authority. But the truth is God has a kingdom. It's the kingdom of God. Any kingdom has authority in it, right? And so the Lord has called shepherds in His body. He's called apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
So the Lord is saying, "Get under the covering of my shepherds. Don't be a lone ranger. Don't reject the authority of those that I placed in authority in the kingdom". We need to find, beloved, a pastor that we can trust and love and respect and get under their covering. They're not going to be perfect. But you love them despite their imperfection and you respect the mantle or the authority of God on their life. And that will serve as a covering for you. So let's continue on. The Lord says, "If you want to walk close with me," he says, once again, "get on the trail of the sheep. Go forth on the trail of a flock, find somebody else to serve, pasture your young goats, pour into somebody and do it by the tents of the shepherds".
Now, as we continue, we're gonna go to verse 12. And she says, "While the king was at his table, my perfume gave forth its fragrance". What does it mean? When she sought after Jesus, when she ordered her life after Him, when she disciplined herself to care what He thought more than what man thought, she began to move into her fullness. She began to blossom and bloom. She came into herself. And when you make Jesus first in your life, you're going to come into your own. You're going to come in to your fullness and the true you, beloved one, is going to come forth and shine. Let's make it all about Jesus, and let's do it now.