DEVOTION: Guarding the Virtue of Others

    August 23, 2020 | Books of the Bible | Song of Songs by Jason Hall

    Song of Songs 8:8-9

    We have a little sister,
    and she has no breasts.
    What shall we do for our sister 
    on the day when she is spoken for? 

    If she is a wall,
    we will build on her a battlement of silver,
    but if she is a door,
    we will enclose her with boards of cedar.

    Members of a family protect and guard each other – there is shared responsibility. Contrary to Cain's cry in Gen. 4:9, we are indeed each other's keepers. This is especially true of God's people, the family of God, the church. Today, our focus verses teach us, amid a love poem, about the virtue of guarding one another's virtue.

    Within the poem's context, these two verses are spoken by the "others," or the chorus – the third major character in the Song outside of the man and the woman, whose relationship is at the heart of the poem. The "others" have appeared at key points throughout the Song, often responding to the woman, to provide encouragement. They are referred to in 5:8 as the "daughters of Jerusalem." Here, though, they don't seem to be commenting on the man or woman of the Song, but on another, unnamed young girl. What is their concern?

    Their concern seems to be for her chastity, or virginity. The rhetorical question of verse 8 is this: "What shall we do for our sister, on the day when she is spoken for?" In other words, the daughters of Jerusalem wonder what they can do now for their young sister, to be of service to her in the future, when she appears as a bride on her wedding day. The answer of verse 9, spoken in poetic language, is to help her preserve her virginity. The "battlements of silver" and "boards of cedar" refer to expensive, costly materials used to protect, guard, or restrict access. The meaning is clear: Our young sister's purity is precious, and it is our responsibility to protect her.

    I would say we have a similar responsibility within the body of Christ. This certainly means to help preserve the purity and holiness of the young people in our midst. Still, more broadly, it implies we have a responsibility to help maintain a culture of holiness and virtue within the body as a whole.


    Are you actively contributing to holiness within the body of Christ? How so? If not, what can change in your life?


    Lord, give me the wisdom to walk with holiness, eyes to see the beauty of holiness, and the humility to help others walk in holiness as well.