Isaiah 5:3
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
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(3) And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem.—“The song of the vineyard” comes to an end and becomes the text of a discourse in which Jehovah, as the “Beloved” of the song, speaks through the prophet. Those to whom the parable applies are invited, as David was by Nathan, to pass an unconscious judgment on themselves. (Comp. Matthew 21:40-41, as an instance of the same method.)

Isaiah 5:3-4. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, &c. — God is here introduced as calling upon the guilty themselves to pass sentence, or judgment, in the case, and leaving it to them; because, without downright madness, they could do no other than condemn themselves; who, when they had received so many benefits from God, had been so ungrateful to him. What could have been done, &c. — What work is there belonging to the office of an owner or keeper of a vineyard, which I have neglected? Wherefore — brought it forth wild grapes — How unworthy a conduct and inexcusable a crime is it, that you not only have been unfruitful in good works, but have brought forth, in abundance, the fruits of wickedness!

Who can read these words without being moved at the justness as well as the tenderness of the reproach; which is equally applicable now to professing Christians in general, as it was to the Jews at that time? What is it that God has not done for us? What good thing has he withheld from us? How many invaluable blessings has he bestowed upon us in our creation and preservation! And how many still more inestimable in our redemption!

What more could have been done for us than he has done? Wherefore then, when he looketh for grapes, does he only find wild grapes, or rather poisonous berries? When he looketh for a tribute of grateful praise, does he find ingratitude, forgetfulness of his mercies, and disobedience to his commands?

5:1-7 Christ is God's beloved Son, and our beloved Saviour. The care of the Lord over the church of Israel, is described by the management of a vineyard. The advantages of our situation will be brought into the account another day. He planted it with the choicest vines; gave them a most excellent law, instituted proper ordinances. The temple was a tower, where God gave tokens of his presence. He set up his altar, to which the sacrifices should be brought; all the means of grace are denoted thereby. God expects fruit from those that enjoy privileges. Good purposes and good beginnings are good things, but not enough; there must be vineyard fruit; thoughts and affections, words and actions, agreeable to the Spirit. It brought forth bad fruit. Wild grapes are the fruits of the corrupt nature. Where grace does not work, corruption will. But the wickedness of those that profess religion, and enjoy the means of grace, must be upon the sinners themselves. They shall no longer be a peculiar people. When errors and vice go without check or control, the vineyard is unpruned; then it will soon be grown over with thorns. This is often shown in the departure of God's Spirit from those who have long striven against him, and the removal of his gospel from places which have long been a reproach to it. The explanation is given. It is sad with a soul, when, instead of the grapes of humility, meekness, love, patience, and contempt of the world, for which God looks, there are the wild grapes of pride, passion, discontent, and malice, and contempt of God; instead of the grapes of praying and praising, the wild grapes of cursing and swearing. Let us bring forth fruit with patience, that in the end we may obtain everlasting life.And now ... - This is an appeal which God makes to the Jews themselves, in regard to the justice and propriety of what he was about to do. A similar appeal he makes in Micah 6:3 : 'O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me.' He intended to "punish" them Isaiah 5:5-6, and he appeals to them for the justice of it. He would do to them as they would do to a vineyard that had been carefully prepared and guarded, and which yet was valueless. A similar appeal he makes in Isaiah 1:18; and our Saviour made an application remarkably similar in his parable of the vineyard, Matthew 21:40-43. It is not improbable that he had his eye on this very place in Isaiah; and it is, therefore, the more remarkable that the Jews did not understand the bearing of his discourse. 3. And now, &c.—appeal of God to themselves, as in Isa 1:18; Mic 6:3. So Jesus Christ, in Mt 21:40, 41, alluding in the very form of expression to this, makes them pass sentence on themselves. God condemns sinners "out of their own mouth" (De 32:6; Job 15:6; Lu 19:22; Ro 3:4). I dare make you judges in your own cause, it is so plain and reasonable.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah,.... All and everyone of them, who were parties concerned in this matter, and are designed by the vineyard, for whom so much had been done, and so little fruit brought forth by them, or rather so much bad fruit:

judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard; between God and themselves; they are made judges in their own cause; the case was so clear and evident, that God is as it were willing the affair should be decided by their own judgment and verdict: so the Targum,

"judge now judgment between me and my people.''

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, {f} between me and my vineyard.

(f) He makes them judges in their own cause, for as much as it was evident that they were the cause of their own ruin.

3. (Four lines.) The beginning of a new stanza is marked by the “And now” as in Isaiah 5:5.

betwixt me and my vineyard] The change of person here is the first hint of a deeper meaning under the words of the song.

Verse 3. - The prophet's "song" here ends, and Jehovah himself takes the word. As if the story told in the parable had been a fact, he calls on the men of Judah and Jerusalem to "judge between him and his vineyard." Compare Nathan's appeal to David by the parable of the ewe lamb (2 Samuel 12:1-4). Isaiah 5:3The song of the beloved who was so sorely deceived terminates here. The prophet recited it, not his beloved himself; but as they were both of one heart and one soul, the prophet proceeds thus in Isaiah 5:3 and Isaiah 5:4 : "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard! What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore did I hope that it would bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes?" The fact that the prophet speaks as if he were the beloved himself, shows at once who the beloved must be. The beloved of the prophet and the lover of the prophet (yâdid and dōd) were Jehovah, with whom he was so united by a union mystica exalted above all earthly love, that, like the angel of Jehovah in the early histories, he could speak as if he were Jehovah Himself (see especially Zechariah 2:12-13). To any one with spiritual intuition, therefore, the parabolical meaning and object of the song would be at once apparent; and even the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah (yoosheeb and iish are used collectively, as in Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 9:8; Isaiah 22:21, cf., Isaiah 20:6) were not so stupefied by sin, that they could not perceive to what the prophet was leading. It was for them to decide where the guilt of this unnatural issue lay - that is to say, of this thorough contradiction between the "doing" of the vineyard and the "doing" of the Lord; that instead of the grapes he hoped for, it brought forth wild grapes. (On the expression "what could have been done," quid faciendum est, mah-la'asoth, see at Habakkuk 1:17, Ges. 132, Anm. 1.) Instead of למה (למּה) we have the more suitable term מדּוּע, the latter being used in relation to the actual cause (Causa efficiens), the former in relation to the object (Causa finalis). The parallel to the second part, viz., Isaiah 50:2, resembles the passage before us, not only in the use of this particular word, but also in the fact that there, as well as here, it relates to both clauses, and more especially to the latter of the two. We find the same paratactic construction in connection with other conjunctions (cf., Isaiah 12:1; Isaiah 65:12). They were called upon to decide and answer as to this what and wherefore; but they were silent, just because they could clearly see that they would have to condemn themselves (as David condemned himself in connection with Nathan's parable, 2 Samuel 12:5). The Lord of the vineyard, therefore, begins to speak. He, its accuser, will now also be its judge.
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