All glorious is the princess within her chamber;
her gown is interwoven with gold. — Psalm 45:13
As a society, we’ve become overly focused on exteriors. We tend to value people who look good, look powerful, or look wealthy. Not surprisingly, everyone wants to look good, powerful, and wealthy. As a result, many folks end up spending money they don’t have on things that they don’t really want or need in order to impress people who they don’t even like or know!
Does this sound familiar? We need to drive the right car to show people that we are the right kind of person. We have to dress a certain way to get people to pay attention to us. We’ve got to have the right gadgets and gizmos to show people that we’re OK.
This is true when it comes to spiritual matters as well. Some people feel they need to broadcast to the world about every good deed that they do or every penny that they’ve given to charity. Others will quote the Bible, not because it’s in their hearts, but because they want to impress other people.
In the Jewish morning prayer service, we have a blessing about learning the Bible “with the right intentions.” Why? Because at one point in history, people used to study the Torah for the wrong reasons – just to appear scholarly and impress others. One time a student bragged to his rabbi that he had just gone through and completed the entire Bible again. The rabbi replied, “That’s great, but how many times has the Bible gone through you?”
God isn’t interested in what’s going on the outside as much as He is concerned with what’s happening on the inside of us.
In Psalm 45 we read, “All glorious is the princess within her chamber.” Literally translated, this verse reads: “All the glory of the daughter of the King is on the inside.” This verse has become a foundational verse for the advocacy of modest dress in Judaism. A woman’s beauty shouldn’t be about what the world sees; her true beauty is on the inside. However, the broader message for men and women alike is that a true prince or princess is discrete and modest; the glory is on the inside.
Only the person who doesn’t feel he or she is worth much has to look like a million dollars. When we know that we are royalty – the son or daughter of the King – we don’t need to prove anything to anyone. We are free to keep our glory on the inside where it is seen only by God.
Today, try to live life “on the inside.” Be modest, be discrete, and be less concerned about pleasing others and more focused on pleasing God. The outer world is only temporary, but our inner world will last forever.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President