Song of the Vineyard

KEY VERSE: “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” —Jeremiah 2:21


THIS prophecy follows the same theme as that of the preceding chapter. It is a general reproof of the Israelites for their wickedness, but it exceeds the previous chapter in the severity of the sentence. The prophecy is in the form of a song and apparently was written with the idea that the prophet would sing it to his listeners. In Isaiah 5:1, the prophet states that he is singing on behalf of his beloved and his vineyard. The beloved, of course, is the Lord. He states that the vineyard was located in a “very fruitful hill.” It is interesting to note that in the Hebrew this phrase is translated, “the horn of the son of oil.” The thought is that the situation of Canaan was superior for the growing of a vineyard, and the horn is a symbol of strength or fecund condition of the soil. The ‘son of oil’ is a Hebraism denoting fertility. Olive oil was one of the most valued products of the Promised Land, and therefore represented the most valued possession the Lord could give the Israelites, the oracles of God. “What advantage then hath the Jew, or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”—Rom. 3:1,2

In Isaiah 5:2, the prophet describes the preparation and care the Lord gave to his vineyard. He gathered out all of the stones and planted the choicest vine. And in anticipation of a fruitful crop, he built a tower in the midst and made a winepress in it. But after all the preparations, when the fruit came, it was not the expected good grapes that it bore, but wild grapes.

In the third and fourth verses, the Lord pleads with Israel for an accounting and wants to know what he could have done in the vineyard that was not done, in order that it might have brought forth good fruit. “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”

Verse seven is the Lord’s indictment of the nation of Israel. “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry [the cry of the wronged, Rotherham].” Because of this the judgment was set, “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.”—Isa. 5:13

In the ensuing verses the Lord is more specific concerning the sins of Israel, and in them we may find possible applications in our Christian life. In verse eighteen he compares their preoccupation with iniquity as those who “draw iniquity with cords of vanity.” The illustration apparently is that of a rope maker who winds and twists the fiber into ever-longer lengths—always adding additional material. The application would be to those who by a long progression in iniquity, and a continued accumulation of sin, arrive at length to the highest degree of wickedness.

In verse twenty we read, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” The Jewish leaders employed sophistical reasonings to confound the distinctions between good and evil, truth and falsehood, and perverted the language to give their actions disarming names. (Mark 7:8-13) In our day some may say that it is of no consequence what doctrines we believe, or that the conjectures of presumptuous reasoners are of the same importance as the established Word of truth. This is erroneous reasoning and will lead to disaster.

Isaiah 5:21 states, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” The Apostle Paul spoke of the Jews as those who were “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10:3) This was the principal reason for the downfall of the Jewish nation. Pride can find expression in many different ways in our lives and if not checked can be the cause of our downfall also.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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