“This is the marvel of marvels that he called me ‘Beloved,’ me who am but as a dog.” – Emeth, The Last Battle
After Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River, a heavenly voice said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The same thing happened at his transfiguration (17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35, 2 Peter 1:17). Therefore, when God saves and calls us, “he made us accepted in the Beloved” – Jesus (Ephesians 1:6).
Without Christ, we are dogs. When David fled from King Saul, he asked, “After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue: a dead dog?” (1 Samuel 24:14). Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s lame son, felt the same way. After King David brought him to his house for Jonathan’s sake, Mephibosheth asked, “What is your servant that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” (2 Samuel 9:8) When the Syro-Phoenician woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter of a demon, he said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26). Although this sounds like an insult, since Jews saw Gentiles as dogs, Jesus was testing this woman’s faith. She told him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (15:27). So he healed her daughter.
These people felt worthless because, in Hebrew culture, dogs are unclean. To call someone else a dog was a reproach; to call oneself a dog meant humiliation (Easton). According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Persecutors are called ‘dogs’ (Ps. 22:16). Hazael’s words, ‘Thy servant which is but a dog’ (2 Kings 8:13), are spoken in mock humility – impossible that one so contemptible as he should attain to such power.” To be eaten or have one’s blood licked up by dogs, instead of a proper burial, also showed contempt (1 Kings 14:11, 21:19, 23, 22:38). God refused to let anyone bring “the price of a dog” into the tabernacle to fulfill a vow (Deuteronomy 23:18). Paul described false apostles as “dogs” (Philippians 3:2). “Dogs” such as sorcerers, sexually immoral people, murderers, idolaters, and liars are not allowed into heaven (Revelation 22:15). This is the reproachful and humiliating nature of the epithet. Unclean dogs are also how God sees us in our spiritual nakedness, people too sinful to approach the throne. We deserve death.
So why did angels call Daniel “greatly beloved” (9:23, 10:11, 19)? Song of Solomon celebrates the marriage between King Solomon and his bride. The name Solomon, from the Hebrew shalom, means “peaceful.” The bride is called a Shulamite, which also means “peaceful” (from the Hebrew shalam, to be safe). It is a pet name, so the king gave the bride his name. Yet the bride also calls the bridegroom “beloved” (1:13-14, 2:8-10, 16-17, 4:16, 5:2, 4-6, 8-10, 16, 6:1-3, 7:9-11, 8:5, 14). When Solomon was born, Nathan the prophet named him Jedidiah, which means “beloved of the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:25; cf Nehemiah 13:26). Allegorically, then, Jesus Christ is the beloved Bridegroom. In Christ, we are sons and daughters of God who are called by His name. So we are also “beloved” (Song of Solomon 5:1).
Jews read Song of Solomon each Passover to signify the relationship between God and Israel. Its fulfillment was Jesus’ death on a cross. Only through the cross are we “accepted in the beloved” and called “beloved” children of God. Truly we can say, “This is the marvel of marvels that he called me ‘Beloved,’ me who am but as a dog.”
Beautiful, that’s how Mercy saw me
Though I was broken and so lost
Mercy looked past all my faults
The justice of God saw what I had done
But Mercy saw me through the Son
Not what I was but what I could be
That’s how Mercy saw me
Not what I was but what I could be
That’s how Jesus saw me