You have brought a vine out of Egypt: you have cast out the heathen, and planted it.…
These verses may be taken -
I. AS A SYMBOLIC HISTORY OF ISRAEL.
1. For God's people were as a vine. Designed for fruit; carefully tended; highly esteemed; thoroughly cleansed; diligently guarded.
2. Israel had been brought out of Egypt.
3. The nations of Canaan were driven out.
4. Israel became a settled nation.
6. Populous. "Filled the land;" coveting the hills and the plains.
7. Dominion increasing, from the Mediterranean in the west to the Euphrates in the east. Then, at the time when this psalm was written:
8. A great change had come. Fierce foes, as Assyria and Babylon; and wild-boast-like enemies, Edom, Amman, Moab, and others, all made havoc of Israel, uprooting and devouring. But all this led Israel, as God purposed it should, to turn again unto him in penitence, faith, prayer, and reconsecration (ver. 18). But also -
II. AS AN ALLEGORY OF THE CHRISTIAN SOUL.
1. In prosperity. For it, too, is God's vine. Redeemed from the slavery and wretchedness and sin of the Egypt-like world. The heathen, the terrible spiritual enemies, God drove out, and saved his people from their sins; planted the soul in the kingdom of grace; made it happy in God, so that it took "deep root." And that grace of God governed the whole being, "filled the land," so that, as Paul, he could say, "I live, yet not I, but," etc. The Divine life in him attained to noble proportions, in height, in breadth (ver. 10). And became victorious over many, and possessor of wide and beneficent power (ver. 11). All this tells of the soul happy and strong, and abiding and useful in God. Blessed condition.
2. In adversity. (Ver. 12.) We are told (2 Chronicles 32:31) how God left Hezekiah. That was an instance of God breaking down the "hedges." It was done "to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart." This God often does. At other times in anger, to punish, as with Israel. Yet again to teach the soul its dependence upon God. What are these hedges? Holy habits, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul, means of grace. Sin forfeits all these, breaks through holy habit, drives away the Spirit, sterilizes all means of grace. It is not God who breaks down the hedges, but our sin - our forgetfulness of God, our disobedience, our pride. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed," etc. And then what is told of here is sure to follow (vers. 12, 13). Any passer by is able to pluck away her strength, to rob the soul of some of its power. The soul gives in to them, does what they say. And some foul, fierce, strong, wild-boar-like sin will get itself entrance into the soul, and, oh] the wasting that there is then! what rooting up and devouring of all good! and lesser creatures, but of like nature, rush in and do similar work. O my soul, keep near thy God, lest thy hedges be broken down!
3. In recovery. Thank God, the allegory does not close with the misery we have just contemplated; but we see recovery beginning. For there is (ver. 14) earnest crying to God; pleading of the ancient covenant (ver. 15). God himself planted the vine and loved it. Confession of utter misery (ver. 16) and helplessness and guilt; for their misery is because of God's rebuke. Pleading again God's former love, so great, so precious, how he made Israel "strong for thyself;" protesting (ver. 18) that they will no more go back from God; and interceding for that again turning to God, and that consciousness of his favour which would ensure that they would go back no more. These are the steps of the upward ascent, even out of the depths. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.