I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
I. A PICTURE OF INDOLENCE. (Vers. 30, 31.) The vineyard in the East corresponds to the garden, orchard, or small farm in the West. In the parable it is overgrown with nettles and thorns. The stone fence is crumbling for want of repair. We may contrast the picture in Isaiah 5:1, sqq., of what a vineyard ought to be. The way in which God tilled the chosen people is the way in which he would have each of us attend to the garden of the soul.
II. THE SIGHT CARRIES A LESSON AND A WARNING. (Vers. 32-34) Let us attend to the parables of Nature. The eye is the great critical organ, and we never want lessons if we use it. The lesson here is - the effect has a cause - the wildness of Nature betrays the sin of man. Neglect marks itself on her truthful face. The sluggard's soul is revealed in her aspect not less than in the unkempt hair and squalid face of the human being. Here is the "vile sin of self-neglect," which involves all other neglect, clearly mirrored. In such spectacles and in the gloomier ones of malarious swamps, once smiling fields, God writes his judgment on the broad earth's face against the crime of sloth. The warning is against poverty and want, which stride on with noiseless footsteps, rushing in at last with sudden surprise upon dreaming self-indulgence, like an armed robber. Sudden seeming woes are long preparing, and no curse "causeless comes."
III. THE MORAL APPLICATION.
1. The analogy of Nature and the human spirit. Both are of God. Both contain principles of life, beauty, and use. Both need cultivation in order to their perfection. In both sloth and neglect are punished by loss and ruin.
2. The personal moral duty. To "awake from sleep," to "stir up the gift within us," to "work out our salvation," to be good husbandmen, good and faithful servants in this garden of the Lord - the soul. If not faithful here, how can it be expected that we shall be faithful in spheres more remote? - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;