In that day sing ye unto her, a vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. — Isaiah 27:2-3
A lot of care goes into growing a vineyard. As a child, I watched my father begin working with the vines as soon as the frost was off of the ground. It was a small vineyard that yielded enough grapes to eat, sell, and make grape juice.
My father loved growing grapes. I remember he would initially let the vines climb vertically, and then would train them to grow horizontally, like an arbor. This provided shade as well as a healthy snack in the summer. Sometimes he transplanted vines he already had, and at other times he would plant different varieties. One time he came home with some sweet, juicy, amber-green seedless grapes that he let us taste. Of course, we wanted him to plant that variety, and he did.
I can tell you that having a vineyard was a lot of work! I watched my dad dig large holes and plant those vines. Then he stretched two horizontal wires between the posts to support the vines. As the young vines grew, he tied them to the stakes and later to the two wires. He pruned all the shoots that grew below the first wire, except two, and all the shoots that grew in between the wires, except the two that were trained to go off on the top wire. He often told us that if he heavily pruned the shoots, we would have the best grapes in the fall.
My father also was very observant of the weather during the flowering period. Anything other than balmy, rain-free conditions had the potential of ruining the crop of grapes. He watered the vines on a daily basis, and was very careful to not over water or underwater his crop. These vines consumed many after-work hours, as my father tried to keep the vines healthy and free of disease.
Before long, we would see the small clusters form, and we could hardly wait until they were ready to pick. We watched the clusters carefully and sometimes placed a net over them so the birds would not eat them before we had a chance. As much as we enjoyed the green, juicy grapes, the vibrantly colored purple ones seemed to yield the best tasting grape juice.
The focus verse speaks of a vineyard of red wine. This is prophetical in nature and refers to God’s vineyard, the Children of Israel, yielding the very best fruit. The color of the wine was directly correlated to its value — the redder, the better. In verse 3, God takes on the job of making that happen. He promises to water the vineyard and be the Keeper of it day and night, so no one would “hurt it.” This illustrates God’s special care in nurturing His chosen people. He took interest in their success and the results, desiring that they be the very best. There will be great reason to rejoice and sing in that day, for God’s vineyard will blossom and fill the earth with its fruit.
There is also great reason for us to rejoice today. If we have been born again, we have become part of God’s vineyard. He has taken interest in our spiritual growth and will cause just the right circumstances to happen in our lives to make us succeed. Though sometimes He may choose to “prune” us heavily through the trials that come our way, He does it with purpose and skill. We can be sure that we’ll have reason to rejoice at harvest time, if we have allowed the Master vinedresser full control of our lives.
Verse 1 speaks of God punishing the “leviathan.” The word leviathan is used five times in the Bible, and it refers to an aquatic animal. It is unclear whether the author refers to an animal from the crocodile, snake, or whale family. In this chapter, it is also referred to as “the piercing serpent,” “crooked serpent,” and the “dragon that is in the sea.”
In the same day that God will destroy the leviathan, there will be reason to sing. The singing refers to “responsive” singing, in the form of a dialogue. Ancient Hebrews commonly divided song into distinct portions — one choir sang one part of the song, while the other responded alternately.
The song was to be about the fact that God’s people were a “vineyard of red wine.” Vineyards are first talked about in Genesis 9:20, where the Bible mentions that Noah planted a vineyard. After that, they are mentioned frequently in both the Old and the New Testaments. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that the Jews cultivated grapes extensively. We know that other nations did as well, for when Moses sent out the spies, they came back with a cluster of grapes so large that they had to carry it on a rod.
It is common practice to plant a vineyard on a hill. Because nearby trees can produce shade, deplete the soil of the needed moisture, and attract birds, rodents, deer, and other animals, the vineyard location is usually separate from any flora and fauna. Vines also have extensive root systems that can reach more than 30 feet, so the soil needs to be fairly fertile and also it needs to be able to drain thoroughly to produce the best grapes.
Another important factor is the climate. Slopes that face south extend the season, therefore yielding more fruit. North-facing slopes shorten the season. Therefore, sunlight is critical for fruit-bearing vines.
In verse four, God speaks of burning the briers and the thorns that set against Him. Briars are very prickly, woody vines growing in tangled masses. They have round stems with shiny leathery leaves and small greenish flowers followed by clusters of inedible shiny black berries. Most likely it resembled a vineyard, but wild and in disarray.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
D. Prophecies related to the world
2. The praise for deliverance and blessing
c. The praise for Israel’s preservation (27:1-13)
(1) The judgment on Satan (27:1)
(2) The protection of Israel (27:2-6)
(3) The purging of Israel (27:7-11)
(4) The regathering of Israel (27:12-13)
We are all branches of a great vineyard. We can all be fruit-bearing if we are connected to “the Vine,” Christ Jesus.