Devotional Readings, M'Cheyne Bible Reading Notes

Isaiah 27 – A vineyard of red wine.

Isa 27:1  In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

Isa 27:2  In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.

Isa 27:3  I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.

It might be interesting to just read old John Gill’s commentary on these verses. It is a bit long though.

Isaiah 27:1

In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword,…. Meaning either the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, quick and powerful, and sharper than a twoedged sword, Eph 6:17 or else some sore judgment of God: some understand it of the Medes and Persians, by whom the Lord would destroy the Babylonish monarchy; or rather it is the great power of God, or his judiciary sentence, and the execution of it, the same with the twoedged sword, which proceeds out of the mouth of the Word of God, by which the antichristian kings and their armies will be slain, Rev 19:15,

shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent (i), even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea; by which are meant, not literally creatures so called, though the Talmud (k) interprets them of the whales, the leviathan male and female; but mystically earthly princes and potentates, for their great power and authority, their cruelty and voraciousness, their craft and cunning; so the Targum and Aben Ezra interpret them of the kings of the earth; and are to be understood either of distinct persons, or countries they rule over: some think three are pointed at, as the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Edomites, or Romans, so Jarchi; or the Greeks, Turks, and Indians, as Kimchi. The Targum is,

“he shall punish the king who is magnified as Pharaoh the first, and the king that is exalted as Sennacherib the second, and shall slay the king that is strong as the dragon (or whale) that is in the sea.”

Some are of opinion that only one person or kingdom is here meant, either the king of Egypt, compared to such a sea monster, because of the river Nile, that watered his country; see Eze 29:3 others, the king of Babylon, which city was situated by the river Euphrates, and is described as dwelling on many waters, Jer 51:13 and others the king of Tyre, which was situated in the sea; it seems most likely that all tyrannical oppressors and cruel persecutors of the church are intended, who shall be destroyed; and particularly Rome Pagan, signified by a red dragon, Rev 12:3 and Rome Papal, by a beast the dragon gave his power to, which rose out of the sea, and by another out of the earth, which spoke like a dragon, Rev 13:1 both the eastern and western antichrists may be included; the eastern antichrist, the Turk, whose dominions are large, like the waters of the sea; and the western antichrist, the whore of Rome, described as sitting on many waters, Rev 17:1 both which are comparable to serpents and dragons for their cruelty and poison; moreover, Satan, at the head of all these, called the dragon, the old serpent, and devil, must be taken into the account, who is the last enemy that will be destroyed; he will be taken and bound a thousand years, and then, being loosed, will be retaken, and cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet be, Rev 20:1. Kimchi thinks this prophecy belongs to the times of Gog and Magog.

(i) Or boom, or bar-serpent, “serpentem vectem”, V. L. and Montanus; the same, as the Bishop of Bergen thinks, with the “soeormen”, or sea snake, which often lies stretched out before a creek, like a boom, to block up the passage; and is soon bent, in a curve, in folds, and is soon again in a straight line, like a pole or beam; see his History of Norway, p. 206, 207. (k) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 74. 2.

Isaiah 27:2

In that day sing ye unto her,…. The congregation of Israel, as the Targum; or rather the church of Christ; for after, and upon the destruction of his and her enemies, there will be great rejoicing and singing alternately, and by responses, as the word signifies; see Rev 15:1. Gussetius (l) renders it, “afflict her”; as if spoken by the Lord to the enemies to do their worst to her, and he would take care of her, that it shall be in vain, and to no purpose, since he would keep her:

A vineyard of red wine; as the people of the Jews are compared to one, Isa 5:1 so is the church of Christ under the Gospel dispensation; see Son 8:11 a vineyard is a spot of ground separated from others, and the church and people of God are separated from the rest of the world by electing, redeeming, and calling grace; a vineyard is a place set with various vines, so is the church; there is Christ the true vine, the principal one, which stands in the first place, Joh 15:1 and there are particular congregated churches, which belong to the vineyard, the general or catholic church, Son 2:13 and there are particular believers that may be so called, Son 6:11 moreover, sometimes in vineyards other trees are planted besides vines, as barren fig trees, Luk 13:6 and so there are in the visible church of God nominal believers, carnal professors, trees without fruit; there are no true vines but such as are ingrafted and planted in Christ, and who, through union to him, and abiding in him, bring forth fruit; a vineyard is the property of some one person, as this is of Christ, whose it is by his own choice, by his Father’s gift, by inheritance, by purchase, as well as it is of his planting, and under his care; vineyards are valuable, pleasant, and profitable, but exposed to beasts of prey, and therefore to be fenced and guarded; all which may be applied to the church of Christ, which shall, in the latter day especially, be very fruitful, and answer to this character given her in this song, a vineyard “of red wine”; the allusion is to such a vineyard, in which vines grow, that bring forth grapes, productive of the best wine, as the red was reckoned in the eastern countries; see Gen 49:12 and so Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; this is a vineyard very different from that in Isa 5:5 and from the vine of Israel, Hos 10:1 the fruit of it, signified by “red wine”, may intend the graces of the Spirit, which like grapes, the fruit of the vine, grow in clusters; where one is, all of them are, and come from Christ, the vine, from whom all the fruit of divine grace is found: and which receive their tincture from the blood of Christ, their vigour and their usefulness; and may be said, like wine, to cheer the heart of God and man, Jdg 9:13 grace when in exercise is delightful to God and Christ, Son 4:9 and gives pleasure to other saints, Psa 34:1 and as the fruit of the vine must be squeezed ere the liquor can be had, so the graces of the Spirit are tried by afflictive dispensations of Providence, by which the preciousness and usefulness of them are made known; moreover, the fruits of righteousness, or good works, may be also intended, by which the graces of faith and repentance are evidenced, and which, when performed aright, are acceptable to God through Christ, and profitable to men; and for these fruits of grace and good works the church will be famous in the latter day.

(l) Comment. Ebr. p. 622.

Isaiah 27:3

I the Lord do keep it,…. The vineyard, the church, not only by his ministers, called the keepers of it, Son 8:12 but by himself, by his own power; for unless he keeps it, who is Israel’s keeper, the watchmen wake in vain; he keeps his church and people from sin, that it does not reign over them; and from Satan’s temptations, that they are not destroyed by them; and from the malice of the world, and the poison of false teachers, that they are not ruined thereby; and from a final and total falling away; the Lord’s preservation of his church and people will be very manifest in the latter day:

I will water it every moment; both more immediately with the dews of his grace, and the discoveries of his love; that being like dew, it comes from above, is according to the sovereign will of God, without the desert of man falls in the night, silently, gently, and insensibly, and greatly refreshes and makes fruitful, Hos 14:5 and more immediately by the ministry of the word and ordinances, by his ministers, the preachers of the Gospel, who water as well as plant, 1Co 3:6 these are the clouds he sends about to let down the rain of the Gospel upon his church and people, by which they are revived, refreshed, and made fruitful, Isa 5:6 and this being done “every moment”, shows, as the care of God, and his constant regard to his people, so that without the frequent communications of his grace, and the constant ministration of his word and ordinances, they would wither and become fruitless; but, by means of these, they are as a watered garden, whose springs fail not, Isa 58:11,

lest any hurt it; as would Satan, who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; and the men of the world, who are the boar out of the wood, and the wild beast out of the field, that would waste and destroy the vineyard; and false teachers, who are the foxes that would spoil the vines, 1Pe 5:8 but, to prevent any such hurt and damage, the Lord undertakes to keep the church, his vineyard, himself, which he repeats with some addition, to declare the certainty of it; or, “lest he visit it” (m); that is, an enemy, as some (n) supply it; lest he should break down the hedge, and push into it, and waste it; or Jehovah himself, that is, as Gussetius (o) interprets it, while Jehovah the Father, Isa 27:1, is striking leviathan, or inflicting his judgments upon his enemies, Jehovah the Son promises to take care of his vineyard, the church, that the visitation does not affect them, and they are not hurt by it, but are safe and secure from it; which is a much better sense than that of Kimchi mentioned by him, I will water it every moment, “that not one leaf of it should fail”; the same is observed by Ben Melech, as the sense given by Donesh Ben Labrat:

I will keep it night and day; that is, continually, for he never slumbers nor sleeps; he has kept, and will keep, his church and people, through all the vicissitudes of night and day, of adversity and prosperity, they come into: how great is the condescension of the Lord to take upon him the irrigation and preservation of his people! how dear and precious must they be to him! and what a privilege is it to be in such a plantation as this, watered and defended by the Lord himself!

(m) פן יפקוד עליה “ne forte visitet eum”, Munster, Pagninus, Tigurine version. (n) So Munster, Pagninus, Vatablus, and Ben Melech. (o) Comment. Ebr. p. 668, 669.

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