by Ruth Olsen
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I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard (Isaiah 5:1).
This song begins with so much hope and expectation of good things from the choicest vines. But the fruit that grew was not pleasant, indeed, repulsive! The song is interpreted in verse 7 (NRSV):
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice, but saw bloodshed;
righteousness, but heard a cry [of distress]!
The NIV Study Bible footnote says a powerful play on words that makes the point: the words for ‘justice’ and ‘bloodshed’ are slightly different but sound alike, as do those for ‘righteousness’ and ‘distress’. The following verses (verses 8–23) then spell out a series of six woes. The Lord looked for justice and righteousness, facets of his character (verse 16) that he imparts and plants in his people. But they chose to feed on things of self rather than of the Lord, and their lives bore that fruit. Let the reader understand, for lack of understanding can lead us astray (verse 13).
We know from elsewhere in Scripture that the Lord first provides for us what he then asks of us. He gives his Son for us and to us. He desires for us to take him at his word and put it into practice so that we may learn the difference between what he provides and our own futile efforts that end up leading us astray. He pours out his love for humankind and all of creation in and through Jesus, and he says, ‘Love one another’. He gives us his peace and says, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled…[nor] afraid’ (John 14:27). By taking him at his word, we discover his peace sustaining us.
As we saw in yesterday’s reading, our life, as branches, comes from the vine, Jesus. Let’s soak in his love and learn of him, yielding to him and his Spirit working in us to bring forth fruit that blesses others.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name [Psalm 86:11]. Amen.