By R.C. Chapman
“I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem; as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.” (Song of Solomon 1:5)
Lord! I am Thine—and in Thy blood I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of Thy grace! The name Thou givest me is new and woundrous—a child of adoption and grace am I, and friend and brother of my Lord! By the light of Thy grace I see that in me strange opposites do meet—beauty and deformity; all things good, all things evil—all things lovely, all things hateful.
Once, alas! I was in mind and heart altogether at enmity with Thee, and hating Thy name with yet greater malice than I bore to God’s holy law: now I know what once I was, not only by memory of the past, but I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind; and what is this law in my members but enmity of the flesh bound in chains of grace. As for this my former man, his name is Legion: he is one, yet many. Once I loved his abominations, caressed, admired them: and what conscience reproved, I could excuse, or hide, or justify. Now Thou hast given me a law of the mind, a new man, that sees and hates the old. And yet can I or any creature search out all the depths of sin that dwelleth in me? Ah, no! But, Lord, I give Thee thanks that I was crucified with Thee, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that I might no longer serve sin (Romans 6:6).
Thou knowest, Lord, I hate with perfect hatred this host of inward foes; they rise up against Thee, and I count them both Thine enemies and mine. Chiefly, Lord, I hate and dread the pride and spiritual wickedness of the flesh, its worship, faith, repentance, prayers, and praises. Oh, succor me! And behold the oppressions and treacheries of these foes within the city, which would bring me into captivity. And Thou dost hear me; for Thou knowest Thy servant cannot endure lukewarm heart nor proud spirit; and in his hours of temptation thou knowest his custom—he crieth aloud to Thee, and Thou dost sprinkle his heart with Thy blood, and loose his bonds by Thy peace.
Thou showest him the power of Thy resurrection, and givest him to know the fellowship of Thy sufferings; making him to hate and loathe the flesh, while he walks at liberty with Thee. And, Lord, while to myself I take shame, yet I say with good conscience, “Tis no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:17, 20). Morevoer, as I ponder the cunning and power of the foe, I say, “By grace I am saved” (Ephesians 2:5, 8). Thou, Lord, makest me to differ; of the same lump was I with the vessels of wrath.
Lord, Thou art my keeper, and therefore I am not consumed; and I rejoice and triumph, because while every thought and motion of the flesh is worthy of the curse, yet am I accepted and glorious in Thyself, my robe; my beauty is perfect in Thee, and Thy Spirit dwells within me, having fashioned me after Thine own image. Thou, the Holy One of Israel, callest me fair; the blackness of indwelling sin Thou hast no eyes to see. Lord, I will speak to the glory of Thy grace: “I am black, but comely—as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon” (Song of Solomon 1:5).
Excerpt from Meditations on the Song of Solomon, Kindle version, Loc.149