In the excerpt below from Song of Songs in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series, author Danny Akin discusses Song of Songs 8:8-12. Cultivating a love that is pure is, according to the author, one way the gospel shapes marriage in such a way that the love shared by husband and wife extends grace to both and reflects the love between Christ and His bride, the church.
Verses 8-12 are not easy to interpret. Good, godly Bible scholars admit their difficulty and also draw different conclusions. This is what I think is going on. Verses 8-12 probably should be understood as a flashback to Shulammite’s youth and her initial meeting of Solomon. She grew up in a family where her brothers had been hard on her (1:6), but they were also protective. They watched over her and gave attention to her moral development and maturity. Even at a young age when she was “a little sister” (ESV) who had “no breasts” they kept an eye out for her as they considered the time when she would give herself to a man in marriage. “If she is a wall” speaks of moral purity and sexual unavailability. If she demonstrates such character they will honor her as a tower of silver, “a silver parapet.” She would be given freedom and responsibility.
On the other hand, “if she is a door,” indicating moral and sexual vulnerability and weakness, they would enclose her and board her up in order to protect her. If she is irresponsible and reckless in her moral conduct and sexual behavior, they “will enclose [her] with cedar planks.” They will wisely, and of necessity, restrict her freedom and opportunities for sexual foolishness and misbehavior.
Saving yourself sexually for marriage and giving yourself as a virgin to your mate may be out of style and old-fashioned in our sex-crazed culture, but it honors the Lord who redeemed you and it will bless the mate you wed. It will not be easy, but it is worth the commitment. How do you reach this lofty goal?
A few ideas to consider:
- Remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that you have been bought at a price, the precious blood of Christ (1 Cor 6:19-20).
- Remember that you are to glorify God in everything that you do (1 Cor 10:31).
- Pursue holiness and purity (1 Pet 1:15-16).
- Avoid the places of temptation and run from them (1 Cor 6:18).
- Discipline your thought life by daily immersing yourself in God’s Word, seeking to develop the mind of Christ (Prov 23:7; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 2:16; Phil 2:5).
A final and important word on this point: it is never too late to pursue moral purity both before and in marriage. It is never too late to begin doing the right thing. In the gospel there is grace, forgiveness, and power. No sin, including sexual sin, is beyond the Savior’s redeeming and healing love.
About the Author:
Daniel L Akin is the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Arlington and is the author or editor of numerous books and Bible commentaries including A Theology for the Church and the New American Commentary on 1, 2, and 3 John.
About the Editors:
David Platt is pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He holds a Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of the best-selling book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.
Daniel L Akin is the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Arlington and is the author or editor of numerous books and Bible commentaries including Theology for the Church and the New American Commentary on 1, 2, and 3 John.
Tony Merida is lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He earned a Ph.D. in preaching from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and serves as Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His books include Faithful Preaching and Orphanology.