1Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
2He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
3And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and people of Judah,
judge between me
and my vineyard.
4What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?
5And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
6I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.
7For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice,
but saw bloodshed;
but heard a cry!
Today’s reading is titled “The Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard.” As I read the passage, I tried to put a tune to the verses because many of the scholars who wrote about this indicated that it was probably a sung passage. We are drawn into the love that the owner of the vineyard has for his crop. He clears the land of stones and plants only the best vines. He lovingly cares for his vineyard and yet, despite his love, the vineyard yields only wild grapes, bitter, sour, and not fit to consume.
We learn that God is the owner of the vineyard and the people of Judah, who have not obeyed God’s laws, are the vineyard. God will destroy the hedge, break down the wall, and bring a drought. God is angered by the corrupt people.
“What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?” (5:4). This verse spoke strongly to me. Haven’t we all at one time or another put all our efforts into a task? We plan, we care for, we nurture and work diligently to achieve a task, and yet it doesn’t bring us the wonderful end result that we were hoping for. I can think of so many instances in my life when this has happened. There are work projects, family relationships, well-meaning attempts to start something new. The list is extensive. And when things don’t turn out as I had hoped, I frequently ask, “What else could have I have done?”
As part of the vineyard of God, we are to remain part of the branches of God’s vineyard. Going off on our own, straying from God’s Word, isn’t what God wants us to do. God has shown us his love, has cared for us, and blessed us beyond our understanding.
Loving God, you have provided us with your nurturing care. You share your word with us and teach us to love one another, yet we stray. Help us remain the branches of your vine, in your vineyard of love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Written by Sue Hamilton—Director of Music Ministries