A Love Song Gone Sour
1 I will sing to my love –
a song to my lover about his vineyard.
My love had a vineyard
on a fertile hill.
2 He built a hedge around it, removed its stones,
and planted a vine.
He built a tower in the middle of it,
and constructed a wine-press.
He waited for it to produce edible grapes,
but it produced sour ones instead.
3 So now, residents of Jerusalem,
people of Judah,
you decide between me and my vineyard!
4 What more can I do for my vineyard
beyond what I have already done?
When I waited for it to produce edible grapes,
why did it produce sour ones instead?
5 Now I will inform you
what I am about to do to my vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and turn it into pasture,
I will break its wall and allow animals to graze there.
6 I will make it a wasteland;
no one will prune its vines or hoe its ground,
and thorns and briers will grow there.
I will order the clouds
not to drop any rain on it.
7 Indeed Israel is the vineyard of the Lord who commands armies,
the people of Judah are the cultivated place in which he took delight.
He waited for justice, but look what he got – disobedience!
He waited for fairness, but look what he got – cries for help!
Disaster is Coming
8 Those who accumulate houses are as good as dead,
those who also accumulate landed property
until there is no land left,
and you are the only landowners remaining within the land.
9 The Lord who commands armies told me this:
“Many houses will certainly become desolate,
large, impressive houses will have no one living in them.
10 Indeed, a large vineyard will produce just a few gallons,
and enough seed to yield several bushels will produce less than a bushel.”
11 Those who get up early to drink beer are as good as dead,
those who keep drinking long after dark
until they are intoxicated with wine.
12 They have stringed instruments, tambourines, flutes,
and wine at their parties.
So they do not recognize what the Lord is doing,
they do not perceive what he is bringing about.
13 Therefore my people will be deported
because of their lack of understanding.
Their leaders will have nothing to eat,
their masses will have nothing to drink.
14 So Death will open up its throat,
and open wide its mouth;
Zion’s dignitaries and masses will descend into it,
including those who revel and celebrate within her.
15 Men will be humiliated,
they will be brought low;
the proud will be brought low.
16 The Lord who commands armies will be exalted when he punishes,
the sovereign God’s authority will be recognized when he judges.
17 Lambs will graze as if in their pastures,
amid the ruins the rich sojourners will graze.
18 Those who pull evil along using cords of emptiness are as good as dead,
who pull sin as with cart ropes.
19 They say, “Let him hurry, let him act quickly,
so we can see;
let the plan of the Holy One of Israel take shape and come to pass,
then we will know it!”
20 Those who call evil good and good evil are as good as dead,
who turn darkness into light and light into darkness,
who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.
21 Those who think they are wise are as good as dead,
those who think they possess understanding.
22 Those who are champions at drinking wine are as good as dead,
who display great courage when mixing strong drinks.
23 They pronounce the guilty innocent for a payoff,
they ignore the just cause of the innocent.
24 Therefore, as flaming fire devours straw,
and dry grass disintegrates in the flames,
so their root will rot,
and their flower will blow away like dust.
For they have rejected the law of the Lord who commands armies,
they have spurned the commands of the Holy One of Israel.
25 So the Lord is furious with his people;
he lifts his hand and strikes them.
The mountains shake,
and corpses lie like manure in the middle of the streets.
Despite all this, his anger does not subside,
and his hand is ready to strike again.
26 He lifts a signal flag for a distant nation,
he whistles for it to come from the far regions of the earth.
Look, they come quickly and swiftly.
27 None tire or stumble,
they don’t stop to nap or sleep.
They don’t loosen their belts,
or unstrap their sandals to rest.
28 Their arrows are sharpened,
and all their bows are prepared.
The hooves of their horses are hard as flint,
and their chariot wheels are like a wind-storm.
29 Their roar is like a lion’s;
they roar like young lions.
They growl and seize their prey;
they drag it away and no one can come to the rescue.
30 At that time they will growl over their prey,
it will sound like sea waves crashing against rocks.
One will look out over the land and see the darkness of disaster,
clouds will turn the light into darkness.