Bitter Experiences as Divine Chastisements
Psalm 80:12, 13
Why have you then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?…

The wild boar is a creature which abounds in all parts of Asia Minor, and it is the farmer's greatest plague. It is specially mischievous in vineyards - what with eating and trampling underfoot, it will destroy a vast quantity of grapes in a single night. Homer writes of

"A monstrous boar,
That levell'd harvests and whole forests tore?
The bitter experiences of the vineyard are of three kinds.

1. The vineyard loses its fence (ver. 12).

2. The beasts make it a ruin (ver. 13).

3. Found in hopeless condition, it is at last cut down and burnt.

So Israel began its national woes when it lost the Divine Guard and Defence. Its enemies then gained their power and opportunity. Illustrate from the supreme anxiety of Moses, because Jehovah threatened no longer to lead and guide the people; also, from Joshua's trouble, when Israel lost its Divine fence before Ai. See the consequences of the withdrawal of God's protection from the first king, Saul. It may be said that circumstances sufficiently account for the national calamities that befell Israel; but it is of supreme importance that we see deeper than the movement of circumstances, and trace the working of him who moves the circumstances. Withdrawing his special defence, and leaving a man to himself and to his circumstances, is the severest form of Divine chastisement, because it implies that God is grieved. The man or the nation has not only done wrong, he has done wrong in such a way as to offend or insult God. There is no chastisement so hard as being "left to our own devices." It involves our supreme humiliation. We then find ourselves out, and learn that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;" and we find our perils out. The child that loses its mother has to learn from what varied forms of danger its mother preserved it; and we find out what God's "compassing our path and lying down" means, when God, grieved with us, withdraws into a cloud. When God held aloof from Israel, Assyria came in on the vineyard, like a wild boar, and Babylon like a bear, trampling and destroying. In this, however, we are but to see God's sternest form of chastisement, not vindictiveness, not mere punishing for the sake of upholding authority, but chastisement with a view to correction. Grace withdrawn that grace may come to be sought and valued. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?

WEB: Why have you broken down its walls, so that all those who pass by the way pluck it?

One Antidote for Many Ills
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