What does the Bible say about beauty?While we have a tendency to think of beauty as a man-made concept, God affirms in His word that He is the creator of beauty. Genesis 2:9 records that "the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." God decided that trees would be "pleasant to the sight." In Jeremiah 3:19, God calls the Promised Land "a pleasant land, a heritage most beautiful of all nations." Psalm 48:2 says that Mount Zion is "beautiful in elevation." But it is not just beauty in creation God affirms. He says Ezekiel will be like one who sings "songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument," yet people will not accept his message (Ezekiel 33:32). So God considers music and artistic expression to be beautiful. In Matthew 26, a woman sacrifices an expensive ointment to anoint Jesus in preparation for His upcoming death and resurrection. Jesus declares her act of service and devotion as a "beautiful thing" she has done to Him (Matthew 26:10). God sees beauty in His creation, in art and music, and in acts of service. He delights in beauty; and because we are made in His image, He delights when we take pleasure in beautiful things as well.
In fact, Philippians 4:8 instructs us "whatever is lovely…if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." David reminds us in Psalm 27:4 the loveliest and most praise worthy thing upon which we can place our focus: "that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple." So while we can enjoy beauty in creation and in artistic expression, the most beautiful and desirable pursuit for humans should be seeking God's presence.
The question remains, however, is there a way to make ourselves beautiful and is that even a worthwhile pursuit? The book of Song of Songs certainly affirms that married couples should take pleasure in each other's beauty. In Song of Songs 1:15, the man says, "Behold, you are beautiful, my love." To which the woman replies, "Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful" (Song of Songs 1:16). The rest of the book outlines the pleasures they each take in one another's physical beauty and relational love toward one another.
While outward physical beauty can be admired and appreciated, Proverbs 31:30 warns, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain." James 1:11 affirms that "beauty perishes." As long as we live in a fallen world where our bodies age and decay, outward beauty will only be temporary. This fleeting nature of outward appearances is why Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:4: "let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." David claims in Psalm 131:2–3, "I have calmed and quieted my soul… O Israel, hope in the LORD." This inner beauty for both genders of a quiet spirit is attained through trusting and hoping in the Lord. In fact, Proverbs 31:30 that first warned that "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain" ends with "but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." A person who knows and trusts the Lord will allow the Holy Spirit to work within him/her creating the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control" (Galatians 5:22–23). These character traits in turn make a person more attractive to the people around him/her no matter his/her physical appearance. The fruit of the Spirit calls attention to the beauty of God, a beauty that never fades and for which we can continually give Him praise. Our pursuit should be a trusting relationship with the Lord that produces the fruit of the Spirit rather than pursuing temporary outward physical beauty. The inner beauty of a heart that knows and trusts the Lord is far greater than any outward beauty we might possess.
When God directed Samuel to anoint a new king for Israel from Jesse's sons, Samuel was taken with the appearance of Eliab. Apparently the man looked like a king to Samuel; he was "beautiful" in a cultural sense and outwardly appeared the part. "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart'" (1 Samuel 16:7). The son God had chosen was the youngest; this was so unexpected that the boy didn't at first appear in front of Samuel with the others but was instead tending the sheep. That boy was David, Israel's most cherished king to whom God promised an everlasting kingdom and through whose line Jesus Christ was born. God said, "I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will" (Acts 13:22). It was not David's physical beauty that made him remarkable, but his heart for God.
The beauty of a heart that seeks after God will never fade; it is true and worthwhile beauty. At the same time, there is much physical beauty in our world. Whether we see a beautiful sight in nature, hear beautiful sounds in music, or see a beautiful act of love, it is right for us to appreciate that beauty and praise God for creating it.
Does the Bible say anything about self-worth?
Does the Bible say anything about art?
What is the meaning of agape love?
What does the Bible teach about contentment?
Does the Bible say anything about flattery?