Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. [Psalm 29:2 KJV]
The first of a new continuing Sunday series about Godly virtues
What do you believe is beautiful? Is beauty a judgment of the eye from one person to another? Is the beauty of a piece of music only realized by what is heard?
Beauty is often thought of as a matter of personal taste and opinion about someone or something which is seen or heard. Yet especially in the 21st Century, beauty appears to reflect popularity rather than individual tastes.
This idea of beauty is not exclusive to today. But at this time in history, beauty and popularity are linked in the cultural psyche like never before.
That notion of beauty is both false in its premise and shortsighted in its viewpoint. Beauty does not rest on any human opinion and goes far beyond human senses.
That factor has been tossed aside over the past fifty years or so, and true beauty is losing true meaning today.
Beauty Goes Beyond the Senses
A line from the classic movie “The Ten Commandments,” has Charleton Heston as Moses speaking to the Egyptian queen Nefretiri. She is trying to seduce him away from his faith in God with her physical enchantments.
Upon hearing that Moses also “is bound to a shepherd girl,” the queen compares her sensual attributes to those of that shepherd girl:
Are her lips dry and cracked from the sun? Or are they red and moist like a pomegranate? Is it the scent of myrrh in her hair? Or is it the odor of sheep!
In response to her flirtations, Moses replies,
There is a beauty beyond the senses Nefretiri. A beauty like the quiet of green valleys and still waters. A beauty of the spirit you cannot understand.
Society used to hold the view of Moses about beauty. Today, society holds the view of Nefretiri.
The beauty of sensuality which is truly only “skin deep.” True beauty is beyond the senses reaching the depth of the spirit within.
To recover such beauty, we must reach for the beauty of the spirit. The beauty we cannot understand in our natural being.
Why Beauty Is Not Understood
Beauty is not understood in our natural selves. At least, not in what science understands as natural. That is because beauty exists as a concept or an idea.
It is an invisible entity. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary online defines beauty as:
1: the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit
Beauty exists without being matter or energy. It cannot be measured as if it were a geometric form or a linear distance.
Therefore, beauty cannot be understood materially. It must be understood spiritually.
This doesn’t mean beauty cannot be appreciated naturally. Humans can and do learn to view and judge art and literature as ‘beautiful’ in a subjective sense.
The same is true about how we look at the “beauty” of an animal and yes, of another human being. It is interesting to note that only humans even realize such a thing as beauty exists.
Animals, even the most intelligent of animals, know nothing of beauty. But as culture and tastes change, so does the human judgment of what is beautiful.
A subjective, ever-changing concept of beauty will never recover true beauty because it cannot understand beauty spiritually.
Understanding Beauty Spiritually
One cannot recover something that someone else lost without understanding something about the object. If my friend loses his cell phone, I could not recover it for him unless I knew some specific details about it.
I need all of those details to be sure I recovered the phone that belonged to him. Without them, I may find a phone, but it won’t be the phone he lost.
The same thing is true on a much larger scale when it comes to beauty. The scale is larger because we cannot sense beauty, and everyone acknowledges that beauty exists.
Beauty in its truest form cannot be described in the same way a lost cell phone could. It also cannot be owned by a human like a cell phone.
Yet, I would submit that beauty does indeed have an owner. Beauty is ‘owned’ by the One who created beauty in the first place, the LORD God.
Society lost beauty because of losing contact with the owner. And, like everything that ends up lost, one must be in contact with the owner in order to recover it.
The Road to Recovering Beauty
The road to recovering beauty involves a transfer of faith from ourselves to the LORD. That is, we must lose faith in our own judgment of beauty and gain faith in the Divine beauty.
This is a simple proposition, however, it is far from an easy one. This is not easy because we are so influenced and bombarded with popular ideas of what and who is ‘beautiful.’
These depictions must be transcended to see that the first principle of recovering authentic beauty is to look toward the holiness of God.
The word translated “holiness” in Psalm 29:2 is Hebrew for “a sacred place or thing.”
It is anything which is specially set aside to be used for the purposes of God.
This is the key to both defining and recovering beauty. The beauty of holiness is the beauty of the purpose of God.
Recovering beauty for our lives in the 21st century means finding the presence and purpose of God in our lives. It means diving into the Divine wisdom of His Word and absorbing the meaning of beauty from the sacred pages.
It means finding the beauty of a sacred place in your life and mine where we call out to God and can know His grace and love. And it means embracing the sacred path of God’s purpose for each of us to know the beauty of such a life.
May the LORD grant us the wisdom and desire to recover beauty in the 21st century, and may the beauty of holiness become real in our hearts.
Sources: The Holy Bible, King James Version
Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Dictionary, 1906, Public Domain
Featured and top image courtesy of Rick’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset image 1 courtesy of Prayitno/Thank you for’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset image 2 courtesy of Alice Popkorn’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset image 3 courtesy of Alice Popkorn’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text