Be sure to read the first two articles in this series. Very good stuff here!
Clearly, Isaiah was familiar with Psalm 80. We’ll refer to verses 8–19.
You removed a vine from Egypt;
You drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground before it,
And it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shadow,
And the cedars of God with its boughs.
11 It was sending out its branches to the sea
And its shoots to the River.
12 Why have You broken down its hedges,
So that all who pass that way pick its fruit?
13 A boar from the forest eats it away
And whatever moves in the field feeds on it.
O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech You;
Look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine,
15 Even the shoot which Your right hand has planted,
And on the son whom You have strengthened for Yourself.
16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
18 Then we shall not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
19 O Yahweh God of hosts, restore us;
Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
Many elements of this song are strikingly similar to Isaiah’s “beloved” vineyard-owner; while a few in each stand alone. Among the similarities are these: in each God was establishing a vineyard; in each the ground was properly and thoroughly prepared and in each the vine was planted. These are positive likenesses. Negative parallels also exist: in each the hedge was removed and in each the vineyard was laid waste or consumed.
Isaiah certainly wanted his audience to connect these dots. So Asaph’s other nuances in Psalm 80 should be included in any discussion of Isaiah’s Vineyard Song. Here’s a quick sketch of Asaph’s content:
- We’ve already noted the vineyard planting parallels. We should, however, add two details from the Psalm. We learn that the “vine” was removed from Egypt in v. 8. We also see the initial result of Yahweh’s planting in v. 10. It overshadowed the surrounding “mountains” and “cedars.”
- Trouble crept in by v. 11. Yahweh’s vineyard was sending branches and shoots to the sea (gentile world), even to the River (probably the Euphrates).
- In response, Yahweh removed His protection (as seen in vv. 12–13 & 16)
- This prompted a plea for restoration (vv. 14–15, 17–19). Consider these important details:
- First, look with pity upon what You have planted, as upon a son You’ve trained
- Then, strengthen the Man of Your right hand
- So, revive us & restore us
- We will be saved
- Thus, we will never turn back from You; but will call upon Your name (cf. Joel 232)
Psalm 80 is undeniably Messianic. It describes how Yahweh abandoned Judah as a worthless vineyard. It shows hearts that yearn for deliverance back into relationship with God. It grants the reality of a Coming One who would revive and restore Yahweh’s sons. Psalm 80 is also undeniably the root of Isaiah’s song in chapter 5. Thus, we do well to see beyond the destruction Isaiah announces and look all the way to the restoration Asaph promised.
Of course, Isaiah soon takes us to this very restoration: no later than chapter 9. In fact, we’ve already seen wisps of it in chapters 2–4. We’ll just keep on building and expanding the concept as we progress.
In chapter 5 Isaiah portrayed Yahweh’s family as a vineyard. The good fruit of righteous attitudes and actions (which Yahweh rightly expected), failed. Horrible, bitter fruit usurped its rightful place, forcing Yahweh to abandon His vineyard.
That is as far as Isaiah took the song; but by referring to Psalm 80 we know that Yahweh intended to restore His vineyard later on. We will closely follow the details of this restoration as we continue through Isaiah.