‘I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.’
‘I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns.’
Well, a proverb is a parable – it’s an earthly picture. We can easily imagine in our minds what is described here in earthly terms. Perhaps if we were experts in viticulture we would be surprised, dismayed, to pass by such a vineyard that had become such a picture of neglect. But of course this is a parable, a proverb, and it’s a picture of something spiritual – something with a far deeper meaning.
And so I want to look at it this evening because it speaks to us each about the needs of our souls, and it will I hope point us at least to our need to turn to the Lord and seek from him for those deep needs that we have. So the first thing we see here is a picture of great potential. A field, a vineyard, something that had great potential for fruitfulness, to bring a financial return and great benefit to its owner. And our lives are the same – they are of great potential (not in the sense that we measure, in earthly terms, but to bring fruit to the Lord). Our lives and souls were given by God, our creator. We were made in His image as rational, moral beings. We were given at creation, before Adam fell into sin, that capacity to know and serve the Lord and delight in him. It was intended, you could say, that the human race at creation were created by God like a vineyard, to bring forth fruit to their creator. And each of our lives, in that sense, [is] a picture of great potential..