Mandrakes and Monogamy

Brian Mahon - 8/14/2022


Call to worship: Psalm 127

Text: The Song of Songs 7:11-8:7


Having made his invitation to intimacy, the bride now takes the initiative. She wants to take him on a walk to see if it's the season for love---and certain 'fertility fruits.' Once more, sex is more than a biological necessity. Ideally, it's the fruit of love, passing through pleasure to procreation. She promises to give him her love for it's own sake, but also with an eye to another miracle of their union: children. Doing as her mother taught her, she brings her husband home, and offers the juice of her pomegranate. It's a reign he gladly takes into his hands. For the third time, the bride adjures the virgins to patience in the exercise of passions. It's a morality (matrimony) issue. It's a maturity issue. And perhaps, it's also---becoming a mommy issue? Again ideally, sex has a righteous source (marital love) and a miraculous consequence (babies). The exercise isn't to be taken lightly, impatiently, or out of order. Thus, she returns again, in the most powerful part of The Song, to the matter of marital, monogamous, miraculous love. It's redemptive nature points us again to the love of God in Christ, a love without rival, beyond comparison.

Sermon Outline:

  1. The bride's invitation to the gifts of their love. (7:11-8:4)
  2. The bride's tribute to the gift of that love. (8:5-7)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read The Song of Songs 7:11-8:7.
  2. Does it seem out of place for a woman/wife to take the initiative in making love with her husband? Why might that be? Should it be? What does 7:11-8:5 have to say about it, particularly 7:11-13, 8:2, 8:5?
  3. In this section (7:11-8:5), how many implicit or explicit references to the goal and hope of child-bearing do you detect? How does this further 'complicate' but also sweeten and dignify sex in marriage? Is sex merely recreational? Whatever our culture says, should it be? Is it about more than personal pleasure? How does baby-making further express the unity of persons in marriage? How does it speak to the morality or immorality of certain sexualities or views of intimacy? How might a context of baby-making address the bride's final adjuration of the 'daughters'? How are mothers highlighted in this section? What responsibility do they have towards their daughters, or even, say, younger women in discipling relationships within the church?
  4. Why does the bride now offer her tribute to the love expressed throughout The Song? Any reason come to mind? What imagery does she use to get to the very heart of this Love in v. 5? What other passages in the Bible depict a coming up out of the wilderness? How does this suggest a Love at the mouth of this love?
  5. What does she charge her husband in 8:6? Why? What's meant by the figures of 'death' and 'the grave'? What's communicated in the imagery of love having flashes of the very flame of the Lord, a fire that no flood of water can quench? What's implied by the rivals to this flame? What's taught us by its victory, its permanence? Do we think of our covenant love as a flame shared from the eternal love of God? Let us not cheapen such a Gift! Let us not treat it as if it could ever have a price tag! Let's look to the Giver of it, and pray for it! How is Christ's love exalted here?
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