New American Standard Bible
5 Let me sing now for my beloved A song of my beloved about His vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 2 He dug it all around, cleared it of stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it, And also carved out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.
3 “And now, you inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? 5 So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. 6 I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned nor hoed, But briars and thorns will come up. I will also command the clouds not to rain on it.”
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of armies is the house of Israel, And the people of Judah are His delightful plant. So He waited for justice, but behold, there was bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
The Lord loved Israel. He chose them from all the nations of the earth. This song that is sung about the vineyard is about the nation of Israel and its treatment of God. The my beloved here is God Almighty and the vineyard is the apple of His eye: Israel. The Lord brought Israel out of bondage. The Lord blessed Israel and provided for her every need. Israel had done nothing to deserve the grace of Almighty God, but God choose to pour out His love and affection on Israel.
The Lord prepared a promise land for Israel. The Lord moved out the nations of the land and as Israel trusted the Lord, they were victorious. It was God who cleared the area of enemies and stones. It was the Lord who planted the choicest of vine. The quality of a vineyard was based upon the grape that was produced. Quality grapes produced quality wine. To have quality grapes the seeds planted would have to be of the highest quality. Here God is stating that He has given His very best. He has reserved nothing but given Israel everything she needs to thrive and bring glory to His name.
The Lord placed a watch tower in it and also a wine vat. All that would be needed for this nation to thrive was made available. God provided every resource and God provided the needed protection. When we look at Israel wandering through the desert, we see that God continually provided for them even though they continually complained and fought against the purposes of God. Even though they continued in their unbelief, the Lord in His grace and His mercy provided all that was needed.
The Lord now puts Himself on trial. Before God is going to bring correction and judgement, He states “what more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?”. God had given Israel all that it needed. God established a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had rescued Israel out of slavery. God had put within His law His expectations and if the people would live according to the covenant than God would greatly bless them in every way.
God’s expectation is that Israel would produce fruit in keeping with righteousness. God is holy and therefore His people are called to be holy. But instead of producing good grapes and good fruit, wild grapes were produced. Israel as a nation gave themselves over to wickedness and sin. Though God sent prophet after prophet to call Israel back to faithfulness to the Lord, sadly their words were often rejected.
Because Israel rejected the word of the Lord and refused to live according to God and His ways the Lord would remove His protection from His people. God would use the surrounding pagan nations to bring discipline to Israel. If Israel lived in accordance with God’s covenant the Lord blessed them as a nation and protected them on every side. But here the Lord would break down the hedge and its wall. The hedge and wall were meant to protect the vineyard from thieves and robbers. The protection of the Lord guarded Israel from the threats of the surrounding nations. But when Israel gave into temptation and chased after other gods it opened the door for the Lord to remove His protection and to use the suffering of invading nations to bring correction and discipline.
God would send Israel into exile. It would lay waste the land and the nation. God removed Israel from the land because they were not faithful. If we are in relationship with the Living God, the Lord has called us to walk in obedience. The Lord has called us to walk in accordance with His ways. Jesus said those who love me will obey my commands. Here the Lord speaks of the vineyard being decimated after the hedge and the wall are removed. When God lifted His hand of protection the Babylonians came in and Israel was placed in exile. The Lord is the one who controls the rain. He is the one who brings forth life. Because of their disobedience and rebellion, the Lord would hold back the rain not with the purpose of destroying Israel, but with the purpose of bringing her to a place of repentance.
Isaiah gives us the explanation of the vineyard song. The vineyard is the nation of Israel and the men of Judah are the pleasant planting of the Lord. God desired for them to produced justice and righteousness. They lived in covenant relationship with the Living God and because of this their lives should have been a reflection of His character and nature. But instead, what God found was bloodshed and distress. The innocent was taken advantage of and the people of Judah engaged in worship of false gods and practices that were wicked. The Lord presents this before bringing judgement. When we examine how many words the prophets spoke time and again and how many times Israel rejected the word of the Lord, we see the grace and mercy of God. It is far greater and deeper than we understand. God’s desire is for people to come to repentance because if they continue in their sin and rebellion, He must rightly deal with them.