Isaiah 5 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Isaiah 5)

Verse 1

[1] Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

Now — I will record it to he a witness for God, and against you, as Moses did his song, Deuteronomy 31:19; 32:1.

To — To the Lord of the vineyard.

Of my beloved — Not devised by me, but inspired by God.

Vineyard — His church.

Hill — Hills being places most commodious for vines.

Verse 2

[2] And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

He gathered — He removed all hindrances, and gave them all the means of fruitfulness.

A tower — For the residence of the keepers.

Verse 6

[6] And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

Nor digged — Vine-dressers use to dig up and open the earth about the roots of the vines. The meaning is, I will remove my ministers, who used great care and diligence to make you fruitful.

Thorns — I will give you up to your own lusts.

No rain — I will deprive you of all my blessings.

Verse 7

[7] For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Pleasant — In whom God formerly delighted.

A cry — From the oppressed, crying to men for help, and to God for vengeance.

Verse 8

[8] Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!

Alone — That they alone may be the lords and owners, and all others only their tenants and servants.

Verse 9

[9] In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.

In mine ears — I heard God speak what I am about to utter.

Verse 10

[10] Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.

One bath — Of wine. The bath contained about eight gallons. Thus an acre did not yield one gallon.

An ephah — Which was of the same quantity with the bath, only the bath was the measure of liquid things, the ephah of dry things; and a ephah was the tenth part of an homer. So instead of the increase which that fruitful land commonly yielded, they should loose nine parts of their seed.

Verse 12

[12] And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.

The harp — They give up themselves wholly to luxury.

The work — What God hath lately done, and is yet doing, and about to do among them; his grievous judgments, partly inflicted, and partly threatened, which required another course of life.

Verse 13

[13] Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.

No knowledge — No serious consideration of God's works, and of their own duty and danger.

Honourable men — Who thought themselves quite out of the reach of famine.

Verse 14

[14] Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

And he — That spends all his days in mirth and jollity.

Verse 15

[15] And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:

The mighty — All of them, both high and low, shall be brought to destruction.

Verse 16

[16] But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.

Exalted — By the execution of this just judgment.

Sanctified — Shall appear to be an holy God, by his righteous judgments.

Verse 17

[17] Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.

Then — When God shall have finished that work of judgment.

The lambs — The poor and harmless people, who shall be left in the land when the rich are carried into captivity.

Manner — Or, by their fold, as this word is manifestly used, Micah 2:12, the only place of scripture, except this, in which this word is found.

Waste places — The lands left by their owners.

Fat ones — Of the rich and great men.

Strangers — The poor Israelites, who were left to be vine-dressers and husbandmen, 2 Kings 25:12, who are called strangers, because they were so, in reference to that hand, not being the proper owners of it.

Verse 18

[18] Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:

That draw — That are not only drawn to sin by the allurements of the world; but are active and illustrious in drawing sin to themselves.

Cords — Or, with cords of lying, as the last word frequently signifies, with vain and deceitful arguments and pretences, whereby sinners generally draw themselves to sin.

A rope — With all their might, as beasts commonly do that draw carts with ropes.

Verse 19

[19] That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!

Let him — God, in whose name thou and other prophets are always threatening us. This was the plain language of their actions; they lived as if they were of this opinion.

The Holy One — They scornfully repeated the title usually given by the prophets to God.

Verse 20

[20] Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

To them — That take away the difference between good and evil; that justify wicked men and things, and condemn piety, or righteous persons.

Verse 22

[22] Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

To mingle — To drink: the antecedent being put for the consequent: for they mingled it in order to drinking.

Verse 23

[23] Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

Take away — Pronounce sentence against him.

Verse 24

[24] Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Rottenness — They shall be like a tree which not only withers in its branches, but dies and rots at the roots, therefore is past recovery.

Dust — Shall be resolved into dust, and yield no fruit.

Verse 26

[26] And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:

An ensign — To call them together for his service.

From far — To the Chaldeans; for even Babylon is called a far country, chap. 39:3. And he saith nations, because the Chaldean army was made up of several nations.

Will hiss — Or, will whistle unto, or for them: will gather them together by his word. as shepherds gather their sheep. He intimates how easily and speedily God can do this work.

From the ends — Which is not to be understood strictly, but with a latitude, from very remote places.

Verse 27

[27] None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:

Nor sleep — They shall all be watchful and diligent to take all opportunities of executing my judgments.

Nor latchet — I will take all impediments out of their way.

Verse 28

[28] Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:

Bent — Who are every way furnished and ready for my work, waiting only for my command.

Flint — Because they shall not be broken or battered by the length or stonyness and ruggedness of the way.

Whirlwind — For the swiftness of their march, and for the force and violence of their chariots in battle.

Verse 29

[29] Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.

Roar — Which signifies both their cruelty, and their eagerness to devour the prey.

Verse 30

[30] And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.

Sorrow — Darkness; that is, sorrow; the latter word explains the former.

The heavens — When they look up to the heavens, as men in distress usually do, they see no light there.