The Song of the Vineyard
1 I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.
3 “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could have been done for my vineyard
than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
why did it yield only bad?
5 Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.
6 I will make it a wasteland,
neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”
7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are the garden of his delight.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
Isaiah uses yet another analogy to try to exhort Israel to repentence: the vineyard. This particular analogy holds some specific characteristics that we should be aware of:
First, notice the character of love embedded in this passage. It is a love song that describes God’s relationship with his people. You see the care that is placed into the vineyard, the choicest vines and the watchtower and the winepress, the fertile soil. This is an important starting point because it sets up the context of God’s interaction with us, that primarily, it is a loving relationship.
Second, notice the “judgment” that God places upon this vineyard – destroying its protective hedge, its wall, and allowing everything to grow there unchecked. This is no accident, for this is what we read throughout Scripture, that God’s judgment upon us is not God hammering us over the head…it is God leaving us alone. And what we should realize is that nothing is worse than God abandoning us to our own designs.
Lastly, the “vineyard” implies fruit. That is what a vineyard is for, right? So what is the fruit that God desired from his vineyard? Righteousness and justice. God desires righteousness and justice from his people, and his heart breaks when we abandon these pursuits. As Christians, and as a church, must learn what it means to bear this fruit, to constantly and actively righteousness and justice.
1. We read a lot about judgment in Isaiah…and love. What does it mean that God has “loving judgment”? What does it look like, opposed to plain old judgment?
2. Let’s say you could do anything you wanted, without any consequence. What would you find yourself doing, good things… or harmful things?
3. Think about your life, your city and neighborhood, your family, your workplace – what does it mean to pursue righteousness and justice there?