22: Work, rest and family (Song of Songs 7:11–12)

Scripture ReadingSong of Songs 7:11-12

The text of Song of Songs describes the marriage of a man and a woman and their coming together. Christian preachers and writers have tended to avoid the Song or to allegorize it out of concern that it is too racy for polite religious society.

But upon their marriage, the lovers create a household, the primary unit of economic activity in the ancient world. Passion between spouses is a glue holding the household together through the prosperity, adversity, joy and stress that characterize a family’s life and work.

Throughout these verses, we see imagery drawn from the landscape of Israel and its agriculture. The joy of the man and woman’s love is intimately connected to the world of their work. They express their happiness with images drawn from what they see in their gardens and flocks.

Before the Industrial Revolution, most people worked with family members in the households where they lived. This is still true in much of the world. The Song paints an idyllic view of this arrangement. The reality of household-based labor has been marred by poverty, grinding toil, humiliation, bonded service and slavery, and abusive relationships. Yet the Song expresses our desire — and God’s design — that our work be woven into the tapestry of our relationships, beginning with family.

How can you find a rhythm of work, rest, and family life?

Prayer: Jesus, be with me in my work, my leisure, and my relationships. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Passion, Family, and Work (Song of Songs 3:1-8:5) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.

Author: Theology of Work Project

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