A Love Song
Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He 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; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And 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. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; 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 are His pleasant planting; and He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!
"Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard." That's a strange beginning for this poem about God's disobedient people. It doesn't sound like a love song, at least to me. It sounds like a song of disappointment and heartbreak. It sounds like a song of judgment—a final warning to the people who have repaid God evil for good, in spite of all His care. How is this a love song?
And yet—look at how the song describes God's work. When He is planting the vineyard, He is very active: He digs out the stones; He plants the vines; He builds the watchtower and the winepress. God shows His love through activity.
But then the vineyard produces nothing but sour, wild grapes—and God condemns it. But look at the way He does it! He doesn't say, "I will rip up the vines." No, He says only, "I will remove its hedge," that is, its protection. He doesn't say, "I will burn it to the ground." No, He says instead, "I will not hoe it or prune it, and I will not send rain." In this song, at least, God is not actively doing anything to destroy the vineyard itself. He is only stopping things—stopping His protection and care-taking, and letting nature take its course. Why so hands-off? I can't help wondering if that's because He still loves it, and He can't bear to do it active harm.
It is a love song, after all—the song of a grieving but loving God, who still wants His people to return to Him, against all odds. It is the song of a God who is not finished with His disobedient people—who still loves them, and who has plans to redeem them.
Look at the first verse again. "Let me sing for my beloved"—who is the Beloved? Ephesians 1:6 calls Jesus by this name. And what did Jesus do with His disobedient people? He took God's judgment upon Himself, when He died and rose again for us. Because He loved us, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Through Jesus, God has re-created His vineyard—has turned our sour grapes into the good wine of His kingdom. And so the love song has a happy ending after all—because of Jesus.
Lord, give me a heart that loves You, and produces good fruit for You. Amen.
Dr. Kari Vo
1. Do you like to garden? Why or why not?Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
2. When have you been surprised by a bad result when you expected a good one?
3. In what specific area or event of your life have you seen God turn evil into good?
Do you like to garden? Why or why not?