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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Isaiah 5

Verses 1-2

Isaiah 5:1-2

I. "He looked that it should bring forth grapes." This is surely not unreasonable. It is exactly what you and I should do. It will not be denied by anybody that we are receiving the highest advantages that ever fell to the lot of the world. God might challenge us to say what He has left undone. We live (1) in the day of full revelation, (2) under the highest civilisation. "It brought forth wild grapes," and yet everything was done for it that could be done. The possibility of a man going down to darkness through the very light of the sanctuary, the possibility of taking the rain and dew and light of heaven and transforming them into poison, and offering a bitter disappointment to the heart of God, is a fearful thought.

II. Notice what becomes of the vineyard. "I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down." And if God do so with the vineyard which He planted in the ancient time, what shall He say to the clouds, what shall he say to the earth, what shall He say to all the influences of our life, when we have taken counsel together and slain His Son, and steeped the vineyard in the blood of His well-beloved?

Parker, Penny Pulpit, No. 384.

References: Isaiah 5:1-7 . Homilist, Excelsior Series, vol. v., p. 107. Isaiah 5:1-30 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 276.

Verse 2

Isaiah 5:2

To us God says, as to Israel of old, "What more could I do to My vineyard that I have not done? Why, then, when I looked for grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?"

Is not this indictment true? No true patriot, much less Christian, can look without grave anxiety on the tastes and tendencies of the times in which we live. Wild grapes, offensive to God, mischievous to others, and ruinous to us, are being produced on every hand. The husbandman describes some of them.

I. The excessive greed of gain the oppressive selfishness that tramples under foot the claims of brotherhood and the rights of men.

II. The crying sin of intemperance.

III. The headstrong rush after pleasure; the follies and frivolities of the tens of thousands whose whole time and tastes and talents are wickedly laid at the shrine of sensual delights.

IV. Sensuality in its grosser and fouler shapes.

V. Infidelity. "Woe unto them that regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operations of His hands."

VI. Fraud, falsehood, and dishonesty. "Woe to them that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter," etc.

Such are some of the elements of moral mischief which threaten the ruin of our beloved land. If England lives on, and grows in lustre as she lives, it must be because the King Immanuel is undisputed monarch of the national heart, uncontrolled director of the national policy and the national will.

J. Jackson Wray, Light from the Old Lamp, p. 241.

I. Consider the distinguishing features which, in God's allegory, separate the grape from the wild grape. (1) The good grape is not in a state of nature; the wild grape is. Either it has had no culture, or it has not responded to its culture. Therefore it is wild. The secret of its state lies in that one word "wild." (2) The wild grape does not grow or ripen into use. It springs, it hangs on the bough, and it falls, for itself. No man is the better for it. None gather strength or refreshment or delight there. (3) The wild grape has not the sweetness of the true. It is harsh and sour, because (4) the wild grape has never been grafted.

II. The first thing of all, without which everything else in religion is only a blank, is, and must be, a real living union with the Lord Jesus Christ. By that union, the life which was unchanged, selfish, tasteless or bitter, and without Christ, becomes a new, expansive, loving, Christlike life, and the wild grape in the desert is turned into the true grape of paradise.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 95.

Verse 4

Isaiah 5:4

I. The first way of putting, or rather of vindicating, the question of our text is when we contend that Atheism has a far better apology for resisting the evidences of a God which are spread over creation, than worldly-mindedness for manifesting insensibility to redemption through Christ. Atheism may ask for a wider sphere of expatiation and for a more glowing stamp of divinity, for it falls within our power to conceive a richer manifestation of the Invisible Godhead. But the worldly-minded cannot ask for a more touching proof of the love of the Almighty, or for a more bounteous provision for human necessities, or for more moving motives to repentance and obedience. What has been done for the vineyard, regard being had to the augustness of the Being who did it, proclaims us ruined if we bring not forth such fruits as God requires at our hands.

II. We may affirm that as much has been done as could have been done for the vineyard, regard being had to the completeness and fulness of the work, as well as the greatness of its Author. Has not much been done for the vineyard, since redemption thus meets the every necessity of the guilty, the helpless, and the wretched for creatures whom it found in the lowest degradation, and leaves them not till it elevates them to the noblest exaltation?

III. Much of what has been done for the vineyard consists in the greatness of the reward which the Gospel proposes to righteousness, and the greatness of the punishment which it denounces on impenitence. It was not redemption from mere temporary evil that Jesus Christ effected. The consequences of transgression spread themselves through eternity; and the Saviour, when He bowed His head and said, "It is finished," had provided for the removal of these consequences in all the immenseness, whether of their magnitude or their duration. Much, exceeding much, has been done by God for the vineyard, seeing that He has opened before us prospects for eternity, than which imagination can conceive none more brilliant if we close with the proffers, and none more appalling if we refuse.

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1796.

References: Isaiah 5:4 . C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons Chiefly Practical p. 219. Isaiah 5:6 . Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes to Malachi, p. 219. Isaiah 5:9 . W. V. Robinson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 148. Isaiah 5:18 , Isaiah 5:19 . R. W. Evans, Parochial Sermons, vol. i., p. 82.

Verse 20

Isaiah 5:20

I. The sin against which I would warn you is the sin of disregarding, and even of in the least degree underrating, the eternal distinctions of right and wrong; it is, in one word, the sin of viewing things in their wrong aspects, or of calling things by their wrong names. To talk otherwise than sadly and seriously of sin is sin.

II. The cause of the sin is a faint appreciation of moral evil; a tampering with it, a destruction of that healthy instinct which revolts at it. It is the very nature of sin, that the more we know of it the less we know it; the more we are familiar with it the less do we understand its vileness.

III. The punishment of this sin is nothing less than the failure of all life the waste, the loss, the shipwreck of the human soul the sapping of every moral force and every vital instinct. And this is death. This is the worst woe that can befall finally those who have learnt to call things by their wrong names to call evil good, and good evil.

F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 129.

References: Isaiah 5:20 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 36; F. W. Farrar, Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 178.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 5". "Sermon Bible Commentary".