Just as the shepherd's flock in the previous chapter, the picture of the vine has been used in many places in the Bible, used by our savior in fact, and is a good way of describing what has happened and what will happen to Israel. This account suggests that it was brought out of Egypt, land cleared aside and planted. The vine elsewhere is also pruned and trimmed by a husbandman to produce it's greatest fruit and gentile believers are being grafted into it. It may feel to them like they are being ransacked but, in the bigger picture they are being seasoned and groomed into something grand.
Other gods, the plague of Israel. Why was it so easy for them to slip back into this? After all the reproofs, the bondage and countless turning back. It would be wise for us to consider this answer. It may not be as simple as finding the right god and sticking to it. It could be that we use gods to serve us which the false gods are very willing to do. It could be that we feel better being fulfilled and exalted than being brought low and humbled. It could be that we believe the here and now and not the future, that our hearts are never satisfied, that we are driven by lust and fear. There are processes and separations being used by the Lord to make us what we will one day be. It is easier though for us to think that we are now what we will be. Such are our presumptuous sins. Such is the shame of what this life should have been.
The poor and the needy are a constant theme in our reading. There are a great many reasons one might be poor and needy or fatherless and afflicted. I have known people that I have tried to help that even with my extra resources that just don't know any other way. In some respects it seems as if this exhortation is more about working to keep the wicked off their backs. By accepting the persons of the wicked, by not realizing who they are and what they are doing and calling them out we are dealing unjustly with poor and needy. An entire and large sub economy is built around serving the poor either as false recipients or providers that have little to do with actually helping the poor. The system grows exponentially but the truly needy are ill served. Our good intentions are used by the wicked to serve their darker purposes.
Even in that day there was a substantial and unified conspiracy against the presence of Israel. On one level it appears to be political but, from this author's vantage point it appears to be a spiritual warfare. Given that the promised Messiah was to come from Judah, given that all nations would one day worship in a New Jerusalem, given that God's name would dwell in Zion, given that all nations would blessed that bless Israel, the Devil I am sure makes it his object to tear at Israel. After nearly two thousand years of dispersed absence we are back to the same thing. It takes on political consequence but, have no doubt that it is spiritual in nature.
It is often calculated that a compassionate God is not a God of judgement. Here we see a soul longing/fainting for the courts of the Lord. What is it that makes His courts desirable? Judgement is what is most needed in order for true compassion to stand out and take hold. It is because judgement is missing that our position is as it is. We have delegated judgment to ourselves but fail to pursue it. We do what is right in our own eyes and the world becomes a hateful desperate place because of it. Better is a day in His courts than a thousand with the wicked indeed!
Judgment/Compassion. Have you ever worked for a company that was failing miserably? The employees/customers were pulling it apart at the seems? When a new manager comes in the first thing for him/her to do is to right the ship, and to do this he/she must pronounce judgment. The judgment is even handed; "it is my way or the highway". As hard as these transformations are, I cannot tell you the relief these judgments have especially to the loyal and invested and badly abused workers. To see a company go from a delinquent detention center to a fully functioning productive enterprise is perhaps the best compassion available. This is more like God's judgments; they are only harsh to those who deserve them.
I wonder how much of the anger of God read about here is His anger and how much is either our sense of shame or rebelliousness. We often transfer the blame or misinterpret the real situation; which may make Him all the more angry. We have to be careful not to present ourselves as being ready for being turned if only God were not still so mad. If God is angry there will be good cause. If He is still distant then perhaps we are not fully ready to be turned and revived. With God, mercy and truth are always met together, it is never a point that we wish He would return to.
An interesting thought here that the heart would be in need of being united as if scattered or dispersed. It is fairly evident in the case of a corporate body like a congregation that the collective hearts are prone to this. It very well could be the case in the individual as well. To be united to fear His name might imply that the opposite of this fear may be caused by the scattered heart. God is highly praised in this in that He works towards the obedient man and against the those violent who have not set "Thee" before them.
2012 - pBiblx2 Field Wise Bible System Version 2.0.9d - GPL3