Isaiah 5:3
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between 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). "And it will come to pass, whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem, holy will he be called, all who are written down for life in Jerusalem." The leading emphasis of the whole v. rests upon kadosh (holy). Whereas formerly in Jerusalem persons had been distinguished according to their rank and condition, without any regard to their moral worth (Isaiah 3:1-3, Isaiah 3:10-11; cf., Isaiah 32:5); so the name kadosh (holy) would now be the one chief name of honour, and would be given to every individual, inasmuch as the national calling of Israel would now be realized in the persons of all (Exodus 19:6, etc.). Consequently the expression "he shall be called" is not exactly equivalent to "he shall be," but rather presupposes the latter, as in Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 61:6; Isaiah 62:4. The term kadosh denotes that which is withdrawn from the world, or separated from it. The church of the saints or holy ones, which now inhabits Jerusalem, is what has been left from the smelting; and their holiness is the result of washing. הנוּתר is interchanged with נהנּשׁאר. The latter, as Papenheim has shown in his Hebrew synonyms, involves the idea of intention, viz., "that which has been left behind;" the former merely expresses the fact, viz., that which remains. The character of this "remnant of grace," and the number of members of which it would consist, are shown in the apposition contained in Isaiah 4:3. This apposition means something more than those who are entered as living in Jerusalem, i.e., the population of Jerusalem as entered in the city register (Hofmann); for the verb with Lamed does not mean merely to enter as a certain thing, but (like the same verb with the accusative in Jeremiah 22:30) to enter as intended for a certain purpose. The expression להיּים may either be taken as a noun, viz., "to life" (Daniel 12:2), or as an adjective, "to the living" (a meaning which is quite as tenable; cf., Psalm 69:29; 1 Samuel 25:29). In either case the notion of predestination is implied, and the assumption of the existence of a divine "book of life" (Exodus 32:32-33; Daniel 12:1; cf., Psalm 139:16); so that the idea is the same as that of Acts 13:48 : "As many as were ordained to eternal life." The reference here is to persons who were entered in the book of God, on account of the good kernel of faith within them, as those who should become partakers of the life in the new Jerusalem, and should therefore be spared in the midst of the judgment of sifting in accordance with this divine purpose of grace. For it was only through the judgment setting this kernel of faith at liberty, that such a holy community as is described in the protasis which comes afterwards, as in Psalm 63:6-7, could possibly arise.
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