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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Isaiah 5

 

 

Verses 1-7

Isaiah 5:1. Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

You and I, dear friends, are placed in a position where we have very choice opportunities of glorifying our God, we are like “a vineyard in a very fruitful hill,” most favourably placed for fruitfulness. The Well-beloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: —

Isaiah 5:2. And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

Is that my case? Is it your case, dear friend? Has even our religion been a false thing? Has it been like wild grapes or poisonous berries? Have we been at times right only by accident, and have we never carefully and sedulously sought to serve our Lord, or to bring forth fruit to his praise? O Lord, thou knowest!

Isaiah 5:3-6. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 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? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my 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 I will lay it waste:

There is no destruction like that which comes when God destroys the fruitless vineyard. When a human enemy or the wild boar out of the wood lays it waste, it may be restored again, but if, in righteous wrath, the Divine Owner of the vineyard himself lays it waste, what hope remains for it? “It shall be trodden down; and I will lay it waste:” —

Isaiah 5:6-7. It shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For 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.

This passage has a special reference to God’s ancient people, and one cannot read it without noting how literally this terrible threatening has been fulfilled.

This exposition consisted of readings from SOLOMON’S Song of Solomon 8:11-14; Isaiah 5:1-7; and Luke 13:6-9.


Verses 1-19

Isaiah 5:1. Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My Well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

The Song of the Vineyard is by no means a joyful song. It is, indeed quite the reverse. It is pitched in the minor key and has a painful theme. This suffices to prove that all our hymns need not consist, as some affirm, of direct praise to God. Such a notion is not according to Scripture, for many of the Psalms are not of that character. There are songs that can be sung to the edification of one another, and that is, in part, the design of sacred song. We speak to ourselves, as well as to God, in Psalm and hymns and spiritual songs. “My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill.” The members of the Church of God are placed in a position where they have very choice opportunities of glorifying God; they are like a vineyard in a very fruitful hill, most favourably placed for fruitfulness.

Isaiah 5:2. And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

The vineyard was well chosen as to situation, the vine was carefully selected. Everything was done, by walling it, to protect it from intruders. Every preparation wag made for the gathering in of the fruits. The winepress was there; yet, when the time came for grapes sweet and luscious, it brought forth wild grapes. You know what that means. Has it been so with us? Have we rewarded the Wellbeloved thus ungratefully for all his pains? Have we given him hardness of heart, instead of repentance, unbelief, instead of faith; indifference, instead of love; idleness, instead of holy industry; impurity, instead of holiness? Is that my case? Is it your case, dear friends? Has even our religion been a false thing? Has it been like wild grapes or poisonous berries? Have we been at times right only by accident, and have we never carefully and sedulously sought to serve our Lord, or to bring forth fruit to his praise? O Lord, thou knowest! Let us judge ourselves in this matter that we be not judged.

Isaiah 5:3-4. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 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?

O you that profess to be his people, what more could Christ have done for you? What more could the Holy Spirit have done? What richer promises, what wiser precepts, what kinder providences, what more gracious patience? “Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” Whence came this? The stock was good, the husbandry was wise. Whence came these wild grapes?

Isaiah 5:5-6. And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my 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 I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

“I will tell you what I will do.” He does not wait till the men of Judah have given their verdict. There was no need of any. The case was all too sadly clear. “I will take away the hedge thereof. and break down the wall thereof.” Those providences which guard men from sin shall be removed. You shall be allowed to sin if you like — and as you like. Your will shall have its freedom to the full. “And it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste.” There is no destruction like that which comes when God destroys the fruitless vineyard. When a human enemy or the wild boar out of the wood lays it waste, it may be restored again, but if in righteous wrath, the Divine Owner of the vineyard himself lays it waste, what hope remains for it? What fearful words, “It shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste.” “It shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briars and thorns.” Nothing happens worse to a church or to a man than to be altogether without affliction, — no pruning, no digging, no restraints, no prickings of conscience, no smitings with rod. “I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” That is the worst of all!

Isaiah 5:7. For 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.

Oh, when those who profess to be God’s people live ungodly, dishonest, unchaste, ungracious lives, God is greatly grieved. His anger burns against such a church and against such a people. And well it may. “He looked for judgment,” for they professed to be taught of God; “but behold oppression.” He looked “for righteousness,” for they said they were righteous; “but behold a cry.” The passage has a special reference to God’s ancient people, and one cannot read it without noting how literally this terrible threatening has been fulfilled.

Isaiah 5:8-10. Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!

In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah. When men are covetous after the things of this world, God has a way of making them to be filled with disappointment and with bitterness. Woe unto any man who has any god but the living God, or who lives for any object but to glorify the Creator. Upon such a man woes shall come innumerable.

Isaiah 5:11-12. Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.

The covetous man was intoxicated with greed. Here is a man intoxicated with strong drink. It is never too early, it is never too late, for men to drink who once are carried away with this passion. They rise up early; they continue until night; and then, when they are inflamed with lust, all sorts of evil pleasures are sought after, and Satan leads them captive at his will. Woe unto such! Now, it was because there were covetous men who were idolaters, because there were luxuriously living men who were drunkards, who had crept into Jerusalem and lived there, and spread evils among the people — it was for this that God declared that he would lay his vineyard waste. Are there none such in the Church of God today? Ah, me! I fear there are professors who do not let it be known openly, but who in secret follow after these things.

Isaiah 5:13-14. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

What a wonderful description that is of the Church of God when it goes wrong, when there is evil in it. Then evil multiplies itself greatly in the earth, and hell has to be made bigger, as it were. As one old preacher said, “They go to hell in droves.” There is none to stay them. When the Church itself goes wrong, then the world is like that herd of swine that ran violently down a steep place to perish in the waters. Down, down they go! Oh, dreadful sight! Oh, terrible doom that falls upon the ungodly! Would God the Church were well awake to see the danger of mankind, and that she so lived that God could bless her to the salvation of men.

Isaiah 5:15-16. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: But the LORD of host shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.

For whoever may stain himself with sin, God will not. We may think lightly of sin, but he never does. We may be so foolish as to tolerate iniquity in ourselves and wink at it in others, but God will not do so. Even when sin was laid on Christ he smote him to the death. Though he was not guilty of any sin, yet, when our sin lay there, God turned away his face from his Son, and he died; and, if he spared not sin in his Son, think you he will spare it in us? Ah, no! He is a just God, and he will clear his hands of any complicity with iniquity. The sixteenth verse is the song of Hannah, that greatest of ancient poetesses. It is the song of Mary, who copied it from Hannah, “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.”

Isaiah 5:17. Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.

It is ever so. There is always room for the tender, and the gentle, and the weak, when God smites the haughty and the strong.

Isaiah 5:18. Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:

“Woe unto them.” When we get a woe in this Book of Blessings it is sent as a warning, that we may escape from woe. God’s woes are better than the devil’s welcomes. God always means man’s good, and only sets ill before him that he may turn from the dangers of a mistaken way, and so may escape the ill which lies at the end of it. Mayhap “Woe, woe, woe,” though it should sound with a dreadful din in our ear, may be the means of leading us to seek and find our Saviour, and then throughout eternity no woe shall ever come near to us. “That draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope.” This is a very singular passage. It is not very easy to understand it at first sight. Here are some who are said to draw sin “with cords of vanity,” which are slender enough, and yet they also draw it “as with a cart rope,” which is thick enough. They are harnessed to sin, and the traces appear to be fragile, insignificant, and soon broken. You can hardly touch them, for they are a mere sham, a fiction —vanity. What can be thinner and weaker than cobweb-cords of vanity? Yet when you attempt to break or remove them, they turn out to be cart ropes or wagon traces, fitted to bear the pull of horse or bullock. Motives which have no logical forge, and would not bind a reasonable man for a moment, are, nevertheless, quite sufficient to hold the most of men in bondage. Such a slave is man to iniquity, that unworthy motives and indefensible reasons which appear no stronger than little cords nevertheless hold him as with bonds of steel, and he is fastened to the loaded wagon of his iniquity as a horse is fastened by a cart rope.

Isaiah 5:19. That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!

Blaspheming God, and rushing on the bosses of his buckler, defying him to smite them. And all this came from dallying with sin, from drawing iniquity with cords of vanity Beware of the eggs of the cockatrice. Remember how drops wear stones, and little strokes fell great oaks. Do not play with a cobra, even if it be but a foot long. Keep from the edge of the precipice. Fly from the lion ere he springs upon you. Do not forge for yourself a net of iron, nor become the builder of your own prison-house. May the Holy Ghost deliver you. May you touch the Cross, and find in it the power which will loose you and let you go.

This exposition consisted of readings from Isaiah 5:1-19, and Psalms 121:1-7.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 5:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/isaiah-5.html. 2011.


Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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