A Vineyard Ravaged
(7) God of hosts, restore us. Cause your face to shine (upon us) that we may be saved. (8) You brought a vine out of Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it. (9) You cleared the ground for it. It took deep root and filled the land. (10) The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. (11) It sent out its branches to the sea, its shoots to the river. (12) Why then have you broken down its walls so that all passing by pluck its fruit? (13) The boar from the forest ravages it, and the creatures in the field feed on it.
In this brief segment, two phrases from the first six verses of the psalm are repeated both in verse 7: “God of hosts” echoing “Yahweh, God of hosts” (vs. 4) and “cause your face to shine upon us that we may be saved,” using the same words found in the psalmist’s earlier prayer (vs. 3). While there are no other word repetitions in this segment containing the extended metaphor of the vine and the vineyard, an important synonym should be noted. Two different Hebrew words, both translated “branches” in English and another Hebrew word translated “shoots,” describe how the vine flourished and spread (vss. 10 & 11). Also, four vivid images picture Israel’s devastation: broken down walls, fruit plucked, ravaged by a boar, and field creatures feeding on it (vss. 12 & 13).
Petition for the nation’s restoration in view of her
- past prosperity (metaphor of a flourishing vine) (7-11)
- present plight (metaphor of a vineyard ravaged) (12 & 13)
God’s past blessings give us reason to hope that he will someday restore us from our present distress to the place of prosperity.
In both the Old and New Testaments, God is metaphorically portrayed as a vineyard owner looking for a good harvest of grapes. Isaiah's “song of the vineyard" (Is. 5:1-7) ends in tragedy when the vineyard fails to produce a good crop of grapes and the disappointed owner decides to uproot what he had planted. Jesus used this same figure of speech in his parable of the vineyard owner and the evil tenants who eventually kill the son in order to wrest the vineyard from its rightful owner (Mk. 12:1-11). In his Upper Room Discourse, Jesus introduced his teaching on "abide in me" with a similar metaphor: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (Jn. 15:1).
While Israel, because of persistent sinfulness, never became the fruitful vineyard Yahweh desired, God’s purposes will not be thwarted. Under the reign of Messiah, the chosen people will fulfill God’s long established purposes when the Son returns to establish his rule over the earth. This will take place in the Millennial Kingdom, described in Revelation 19, a thousand year reign of peace and prosperity. What a delight it will be when Abraham’s offspring finally produce an abundant harvest to the glory of Yahweh, the harvest he has been desiring for centuries!