A Love Song Gone Wrong (in Isaiah 5)

If tidbits were Timbits then this Sermon tidbit would be a foot across! So I have decided to break it into two and share the tibit in bits today. So here is the first of two tidbitbits –

Imagine a man starts to write a song for his wife:

She left her home town for me,
She left her own dreams for me,
Would leave all in a single heart-beat,
Yes, she gave up so much,
So I could feel such,
Love kept and played on repeat,

So far, so good if you like Country . . .next stanza:

She has given me her time,
For me mountains did climb,
With a love that truly is neat,
Can love in a man stir,
love worthy of her?
That’ll make up for his stinky feet.

Upon moving to the chorus, the writer of the song realises he has a problem, and I’m not referring to his feet. The lack of a band to perform the song, and a recording contract to record it are not the problem either. These are rather blessings. No the problem is this: in thinking about the love his wife has for him, it becomes apparent that he has not measured up in his love for his wife. She has loved him and cared for him. He has been a fool.

Isaiah 5 starts out as a beautiful love song:

Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
(Isaiah 5:1,2a NRSV)

In a very few lines the song has conveyed an incredible depth and commitment of love through the imagery of a vine. For a vine-grower to plant a vineyard properly, it could take up to three years as the ground is prepared, as the vines mature, and as proper defences against animals and thieves are built up. The beloved has invested a lot into this relationship. However the song goes on and goes wrong quickly:

he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
(Isaiah 5:2b NRSV)

One possible translation of ‘wild grapes’ is ‘stinky grapes,’ that is, not only are these grapes not worth eating, you don’t even want to be near them! The song writer realises that the vineyard has not been worthy of farmer. Since the vine grower is God, and the vineyard is His people (see v7) the song writer realises that though the love of God is deep and persistent, His people have not measured up at all. The song writer started out to sing a love song, but ended up with a lament.

Do we ever in our hymns to and about our Lord find ourselves tripping over the words? In our experience of worship, do we also experience our sinfulness? When we sing words like “To God be the glory, great things he has done” do we find our minds and hearts seared with the great things we have undone or left undone? If that has never happened to you then perhaps a) the greatness of God and the greatness of His love has not hit home, or b) the depth of your sin has not hit home, or c) your love for Him really is as great as His love is for you. I don’t know about you, but in my experience it is never c.

How might a love song between you and our Lord play out?


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