The Saddest Song of All

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 29

UnknownSongs communicate values, ideologies, love, humor, grief, and in Isaiah’s case, woes—woes regarding Israel. Using the analogy of a vineyard, Isaiah describes the LORD’s love for Israel and their response to His love.
The LORD has situated His vineyard on a fertile hillside, where He has dug it and cleared it of stones. He has hedged it about and built a watchtower in its midst. He has cut out a winepress in expectation of a great harvest. They vineyard has every advantage for success, “What more could have been done to my vineyard that I have not done in it?” (Is. 5:4).

Sadly, the vineyard never yields the expected harvest, “He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry for help” (5:7). God then removes the hedge, breaks down the wall, withdraws the rain, and makes the vineyard a wasteland.

The Song of the Vineyard contains six woes that have preceded Israel’s calamity:

  • Their construction of great houses and fine mansions (5:8-10).
  • Their endless drinking and partying, “those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them! (5:11).
  • Their refusal to believe that they will be destroyed, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, that we may know it” (5:18-19).
  • Their redefinition of good and evil, “who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (5:20).
  • Their exaltation of human wisdom, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (5:21).
  • Their abuse of justice, “who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man” (5:23).

These six woes are symptomatic of Israel’s departure from Bible literacy; “they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (5:24). Therefore, the LORD whistles and beckons pagan kings and armies to invade and destroy the vineyard that He had planted.

Sad song. Real situation. What happened to Israel could happen to anyone and to any nation.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Isaiah 1:21-5:30):
How are the women of Jerusalem described? What does this reveal about prosperity and its dangers?
What has Judah failed to learn about themselves and God from the captivity of Israel?