Sept. 29: Ps. 80 & Gal. 5

Iain D Campbell

The Vine and its Fruit

Psalm 80 contains a beautiful image of God's work of redemption. Israel is compared to a vine, growing in Egypt, but transplanted and settled in a different soil. God's work of grace was the work of a master vinedresser: God is pictured as preparing the ground for the vine, and planting it in conditions in which its roots could take hold, and its fruit could appear.

The blessings which flowed from this work were remarkable: the vine overshadowed the mountains and its branches had the strength and appearance of mighty cedars (Psalm 80:10). This was the doing of the Lord, and it was wonderful.

In the context of the Psalm, of course, Asaph laments the current condition of the vine, broken down and wasted. The Psalm reflects a situation in which God's people must once again look to their Saviour for restoration and for growth.

The image is one which appears elsewhere in God's word. Isaiah describes the house of Israel as God's vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7), from which he expected a good harvest. Instead, it brought forth wild and unhealthy grapes. Jeremiah too accuses God's choice vine of become degenerate and wild (Jeremiah 2:21). Jesus stands in contrast to Israel: he is the true vine (John 15:1), and his people are the planting of the Lord.

How do we recognize God's true vine? Only by the fruit that it bears. This comes out in another of today's passages: Galatians 5:16ff, which highlights the fruit of the Spirit. This is the evidence of God's work of grace: the appearance in human life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). If God has uprooted us from the native soil of our sin and estrangement, and planted us in his own house (Psalm 92:12ff), our fruit will be from him (Hosea 14:8). His work in us will transform us so that we too will become like the true vine, more and more like Jesus Christ.