The Shunammite woman who converses with Solomon in this book, Song of songs, is she an African or not? Does she have a dark skin? What does the Bible tell us and mean in the following passage? The Shunammite tells us that, dark am I, yet lovely!
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.
Song of Songs 1:6
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.
This is the story of the Shulammite (Song of songs 6:13) lady who is in love with Solomon. Elsewhere the Bible talks of Abishag the Shunammite, who we have also discussed in another article on this website, 1 Kings 1:3. The Bible also tells us of prophet Elisha’s interaction with the Shunammite woman, 2 Kings 4:12. Whether Shulammite and Shunammite are one and the same thing is an ongoing discussion. The Shulammite in the Song of Songs is presented as King Solomon’s true love, out of the seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The Shulammite speaks about her looks in this part of the passage. She says she is dark. She says she is black. But she warns from the beginning that though she is dark or black, she is beautiful. Dark am I, yet lovely!
There are those who believe that this reference to dark or black skin means that she is an African. They would insist that black is a reference to her skin color. Whether she is African or not the point made clear is that her skin color does not prevent her from being lovely. Lovely is not limited to a certain race or group of people. Lovely is universal. Wherever you are, whoever you are, you can be lovely if you choose to be. Dark am I, yet lovely!
Others are much more comfortable with black being a reference to the Sunlight tan on the skin of a non-black person. An effect of prolonged exposure to the Sun. Therefore no her skin color but damaged skin. Well, if that is the case, it means, even those with damaged skins and body parts can also be lovely. If she is dark because her skin is damaged, that damage has not removed her loveliness. Dark am I, yet lovely!
The text does refer to her exposure to the Sun. If this was a Suntan, it shouldn’t be something to worry about because Suntans are not permanent. But the tone of her expression is that this is something much more permanent. It could be her way of explaining to them why she is different in such a permanent way. But her key point is that, since the subject is love, her color doesn’t matter, she is still lovely. Dark am I, yet lovely!
Others strangely tell us that dark skin refers to the consequences of sin. She carries some guilt that is visible to all. Her guilt is not because she is not forgiven, but because her fellow women can’t forget. Well, if that is the case, it means, even though we carry consequences of sin after forgiveness, we can be lovely. Our past may be bad, but because of salvation, we can be lovely. Dark am I, yet lovely!
She speaks to the daughters of Jerusalem. She is responding to the daughters of Jerusalem. Maybe she was a victim of body shaming or racism. Maybe she was discriminated against because of her disability if this was a disability. Maybe the continuous reference to her dark past was the issue at hand. Whatever it is, she refuses to be slowed down and affected by their opinions. She dismisses whatever notion exists about her color and she says, I am still lovely. Dark am I, yet lovely!
We too need to rise above people’s noise that seeks to affect us one way or the other. We need to tell them that we are okay with our situation. Clearly, the Shunammite has accepted herself as she is. Throughout the book, she seeks more and more perfumes but never chemicals to change her skin color. She has accepted her skin color and is proud of it. Dark am I, yet lovely!
May God help us to realize that we can be dark and lovely. Dark by God’s design. Dark as a disability. Dark as a past we once had. Dark is the one thing that makes you different from others. Whatever dark applies to you, accept it, dark am I, yet lovely, In Jesus’ name, Amen!
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