A Ghastly Bride, a Gazing Groom – Psalm 149
A while back, I was enthralled by a collection of wedding photographs that made the Internet rounds. Someone had compiled pictures of grooms seeing their brides for the first time, and the raw emotion captured in those photos was something to behold. In the pictures, the men clap their hands over their open mouths. They weep. They are unable to hide their awe and joy and amazement. Each man is captivated by the beauty of his bride, stunned that this incredible woman is actually his.
When a wedding processional begins, at that dramatic moment when the church doors open and all eyes turn toward the bride, I love to sneak a peek at the groom. I don’t want to miss his face when he drinks in the sight of his beloved, looking more beautiful than she ever has before.
And part of her beauty comes from being so loved, does it not? She has adorned herself with the finest dress she will ever wear; she has taken great care with her hair and makeup and accessories. But the extra beauty she possesses on her wedding day comes from the love that glows in her eyes, from her delight in her soon-to-be husband and her confidence in knowing he adores her.
As sweet as it is to see the way a man takes pleasure in his bride on their wedding day, I think this is a mere shadow of something even more breathtaking.
“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; He adorns the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4)
Imagine with me for a moment: What if the bride woke up on the morning of her wedding day covered in chicken pox? What if her hair hadn’t been washed in a month and most of her teeth had fallen out? What if, instead of a sparkling gown, she wore tattered rags, stained with dirt and sweat?
What if she reeked faintly of another man’s cologne—what if she still wore her costume from selling herself to hungry men the night before? What if, when she walked down the aisle, her stench caused the guests to shrink back, and the sight of her made them all recoil with revulsion?
And what if, standing at the front of the church, a gloriously handsome groom gazed on this ghastly bride with that same look of unadulterated pleasure, grinning as he wept?
But there’s more: Imagine the groom running down the aisle to meet this hideous bride at the back of the church. Imagine him carrying her to the front with the utmost tenderness. He doesn’t just cover her blemishes expertly with expensive, heavy makeup; he somehow, with a supernatural power, removes them altogether, so that she no longer has anything to hide—so that her own true skin is flawless.
Suddenly, horrifyingly, the blemishes begin to mar his own skin. And then, shocking all the guests, he removes her rags. He removes his own gleaming robe. He adorns the bride with the whitest, purest garment imaginable, and he covers himself with her filth. The dramatic moment is not the opening of the church doors at the arrival of a stunning bride. No, the spectacle to behold is the groom, hanging naked and bloody on a cross, humiliated in order to make the bride beautiful.
It was the very antithesis of beauty, a sight no one who loved Jesus could bear…yet it was the most beautiful portrayal of love the universe has ever known. The Lord who died there rose again, not in order to take vengeance on the ones whose crimes had put Him there—but to take pleasure in them. To love them. To adorn them with salvation, if only they would come to Him in their rags and humbly ask to be made beautiful, to reflect Him.
Our Bridegroom waits expectantly at the altar. It won’t be a dramatic reveal, where He has waited all day for the first glimpse of His beloved; instead, He has made us beautiful Himself. He has seen the unimaginable depths of our ugliness, and He has washed us and clothed us in His own righteousness. And His look of adoration and delight will be unmatched by any earthly groom.
“…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5)
Amy Kannel often suffers from spiritual amnesia, easily forgetting who Jesus is and what He has done for her—so she writes to remember His faithfulness and help others see Him as the Main Thing. She makes her home in the Nashville area and will be forever grateful to the South for introducing her to tomato pie. When she’s not writing, you might find Amy making said pie and other kitchen messes, singing to her three-year-old son, reading with her six-year-old son, or ballroom dancing in the living room with Mr. Wonderful. And if you’d told her ten years ago that she would even think of mentioning cooking in a bio, she would have declared you certifiably insane…which just goes to show that she serves a God who’s in the business of changing people. You can find more of Amy’s writing at Choosing Hallelujah.