CAMEOS OF CHRIST – WHITE AND RUDDY (Song of Solomon 5: 9, 10)
What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
There’s no doubt that, in the eyes of this fair woman, there was no one to compare with her beloved. She describes him as ‘the chiefest among ten thousand‘. That word for ‘chiefest‘ is used twice in the next chapter and is translated as ‘an army with banners‘. Like a flag raised on the top of a flagpole in the midst of a crowd of people, he stood out conspicuously. Her thoughts were similar to those of the Israelites who told king David: ‘thou art worth ten thousand of us‘ (2 Samuel 18: 3) – though her thought is not that he is the equal of ten thousand but greater than ten thousand.
When she says that her beloved is ‘white‘, it emphasises to us the perfection of his person and the loveliness of his features. When she says that he is ‘ruddy‘ she alludes to the healthiness of his appearance: rosy red and glowing. It is written about David that when he appeared before Samuel, for the first time, ‘he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to‘ (1 Samuel 16: 12) or ‘of a lovely countenance and beautiful appearance’ (Darby). Now, I believe that it is significant that the scriptures never give us a description of the physical appearance of the Lord Jesus – ‘the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart‘ (1 Samuel 16: 7) – but I have no doubt that the Lord Jesus was both morally and physically perfect, as expressed in the words of the hymn:
Without a trace of Adam’s sin / As Man unique in origin / All fair without all pure within / Our blessed Lord!
Isaiah tells us of His beautiful feet: ‘how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace‘ (Isaiah 52: 7); David writes of His ‘clean hands, and … pure heart‘ (Psalm 24: 4); Matthew records on the mount of transfiguration how ‘His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light‘ (Matthew 17: 2); and, the fair woman in the above verses concludes with these words: ‘He is altogether lovely‘ (Song 5: 16).
Yet not many appreciated His beauty. Isaiah records the confession of the nation of Israel at His second advent when, at His first coming they said ‘He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him‘ (Isaiah 53: 2). And that just reflects what John wrote: ‘He came unto His own, and His own received Him not‘ (John 1: 11).
But there is a day coming when His loveliness will be seen throughout Creation. In the words of the hymn: The beauty of the Saviour / Shall dazzle every eye / In the crowning day that’s coming / By and by.
Our beloved is, indeed, ‘white and ruddy‘.