“When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.” Psalm 39:11
With the evolution of language, the meaning of the word “beauty” as used in Psalm 39 has become obsolete. For us, beauty has but one meaning – outward appearance. If we read the verse with that definition in mind it would be interpreted – when the Lord reveals our sin we see that we are nothing, we see how ugly we really are and all our self conceived beauty (self-pride or glory) is stripped away. Not a bad interpretation and one that certainly is true and has great application.
However, the word “beauty” is not referring to physical appearance. It is talking about the desire of our heart, the thing that we hold dear, treasure or value. If we use this definition the verse says – When the Lord reveals that our heart’s desire is misplaced, he makes the desirable thing undesirable and its joy is removed.
I like both interpretations. I know both to be true. I have known times when the Lord revealed my sin of self-pride and showed me just how ugly I really was. This was so humbling and so necessary. I needed to be put in my place so the beauty of the Lord could shine through me again. I have also known times when the Lord revealed to me that my heart’s affection or desire was set on something other than Him. I have known the “beauty” of that thing to disappear as I saw how temporal and how deceitful it really was.
Either way, we need the Lord to put us in our place and to reveal the true intent of our heart; to make us humble. Then, we can call out, as did the Psalmist in verse thirteen, “O spare me, that I may recover strength…” God always restores what he tears down. He makes us beautiful again.
Is there an ugliness about you that needs to be taken away? Is there an affection or desire that is misplaced and marring your life? Ask Him to reveal it…then deal with it!
“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:2
This usage of the word “beauty” implies splendour, glory, honour, and respect. It is used to describe holiness. Holiness is beautiful. Holiness is to be the manner in which we worship the Lord. Let’s develop this thought a bit further by a greater definition of holiness. Strong’s Concordance says, “set apart as dedicated to God, sacred, hallowed, dedicated, purified.”
So, if we put this all together we would understand that in order to truly worship the Lord and bring glory to his name, we must do so as purified and wholly dedicated persons. The beauty is not upon us, but upon the stance of holiness.
This is all too rare in our culture. We hold very few things with such high esteem and we do not readily see the value of a life wholly given to God. We tend to think that these people are weird or misfits or extremists! But God calls us to holiness and knows the real beauty of a life so dedicated.
A very basic illustration of the meaning “beauty of holiness” might be a long, successful marriage. The two have set themselves apart for each other. They have kept their vows and there is a certain beauty in their relationship that is sacred and holy. There is an honour and respect that they show each other and that others give to them because of their life-long commitment.
It would do us good to look at the holiness-quotient of our lives. Am I holy? Is my attempt at holiness producing beauty that brings worship to the Lord and is a glory to His name? Am I willing to give or give up what is necessary to accomplish this goal?
“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praise.”
Finally. A definition of beauty that is exactly what we understand it to be today. This usage simply means outward beauty. How sad that it is destroyed in only two words – “is vain”. Vain means something with no substance, emptiness meaningless and worthless. Wow. For all of the money and time and effort we spend each day trying to look a certain way or be accepted by others, it is meaningless, worthless and empty. Add to that that the meaning of favour is charm or grace (the moral quality of kindness displayed in a favourable disposition) and that even this is defined as deceitful (false) and we have a really sad description.
I don’t believe that the Lord is telling us to never comb our hair and wash our face, nor do I believe that he is saying that we should not use courtesy and social grace in our society, but I do believe he is telling us that these are not the be all and end all of our existence. If we focus only on the outward, we are wasting our time. Beauty is from within and we need to cultivate our hidden man more than our outward man.
Remember when Samuel came searching the sons of Jesse to find the new king of Israel? Samuel said, “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.” If we want the praise of God and the favour of men, we need to make sure our lives show the respect, care and attention due the Lord. This is much more than a daily surface repair, it is an attitude of a lifetime that is revealed by the beauty of the Lord in the life of a soul who has learned to fear and love God.
Are you relying on looks and social graces to get you through life? Are you tending your inner man with the same care and attention you give to your outward man?
“So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord: and worship thou him.” Psalm 45:11
Psalm 45 is a beautiful description of the daughter of the king. Beginning in verse 9 and going through the rest of the chapter the Psalmist reveals the character qualities of the daughter whose beauty is desired. It is interesting to note that not once is her physical appearance mentioned. All of the qualities have to do with integrity, honour and respect. Verses 13 and 14 mention her clothing. It is made with gold and fine needlework, which symbolizes a life well-woven with care and attention to detail.
If we take a look at verse ten we see that her beauty proceeds from a heart and ear that listen to the Lord and are set apart for Him. So, her beauty is one of relationship and character that is not necessarily based on her facial features.
I read once that God’s favourite place is with you. The king greatly desires to have fellowship with us. He wants us to be beautiful for Him and beautiful because of Him.
When we come before him, do we take time to “make an entrance”? Do we prepare our hearts and attitudes before coming to the King of Kings? Do our lives make us desirable to him? Are we weaving a life with care and attention to detail? So many questions….only you can answer.
“…he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” Isaiah 53:2
This usage of the word “beauty” means what is seen with the eye, the appearance or countenance. The word “form” means shape or good body and the word “comeliness” means glory or majesty of an object.
Isaiah 53 is a description of our Saviour. Here we understand that Jesus, as a physical man, did not necessarily have a great body, nor did he project great majesty as he walked about, nor did he have anything about his personage that would call attention to the fact of his presence. He was simply a man like so many others on the street.
I think this is great! Jesus was plain. Just like you and me. The Bible says he can understand all we go through and I think that even in this detail, God knew that so many of us walk through life unrecognized and plain. No one comes and offers us movie contracts or modelling opportunities. We just get up each day and straighten ourselves and do our thing.
Jesus did the same. He knew what His Father had planned and he went about doing God’s will. He didn’t do it with great fanfare, but just faithfully in obedience. He obeyed his parents and returned home to learn carpentry becoming known as the carpenter’s son. Then, when God moved him to public ministry, again, he simply did what God instructed and taught simple folk the great truths. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, the soldiers would not have picked him out without the aid of Judas.
Christ’s mission was much greater than mine, but he gave me an example of how to live my life. Live it simply. Simply obeying. Not looking for great fanfare or notoriety, but looking for that “Well done” that comes from a life simply led.
Do you see the beauty of simplicity? Of obedience? Of faithfulness?