Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Seize the Little Foxes That Spoil the Vines!

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This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation - "Seize the Little Foxes That Spoil the Vines!"

Song of Solomon 2:15 - “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”

 

It is springtime; not only now in Michigan, but also in this passage of God’s Word. “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over, and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land” (vs. 11,12). I love Spring! Sitting the other morning on my front lawn, I saw a fox walk out of the woods with its prey in its mouth. A beautiful, sly creature, it crept across the lawn, looked around, and then continued on its way.

Why is God’s Word warning us to “take up the fox that spoil the vines”? What does that have to do with the love poem of the Song of Songs? Solomon is comparing his love and devotion for the Shulamite woman to his love and care of his vineyard. A lot of planning, work, and tender care is expended in the marriage relationship, and so also in the care of a vineyard. These both are earthly things that God has created to be a picture of his relationship to his church in Jesus Christ.

Often the church is compared to a vineyard. Just a couple of examples from the Old and New Testament are Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matt. 21:33ff. God expects the fruit of judgment, righteousness, and thankfulness from his church. In Old Testament Israel, instead of grapes there were only wild grapes. In the Matthew 21 passage, the Old Testament prophets as husbandmen did not bring to God the fruit of the land. And when he sends his own son, the Pharisees kill him.

Now in our text, the bridegroom says, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vine.” The vine is the church. Little foxes spoil the vines, especially the vines that are blossoming with buds. What are these foxes? Most commentators see these foxes as false teachers who undermine the fruitfulness of the church. We read in Ezekiel 13:4, “O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the desert.” This most likely refers to jackals, scavengers; the simile stresses the selfish, greedy, and callous nature of the false prophets. Yes, false teachers and doctrines are indeed a tool of Satan to bring destruction and disarray in God’s vineyard. But the text speaks of “little foxes.” It is springtime, and there are these cute young little foxes. How fun to watch them dart around and roll in the grass. Surely, little foxes cannot be so dangerous. Little foxes are symbolic, representing all that would spoil and damage the church, so that they do not bring forth the fruit that is expected. The power of darkness wants to destroy the work of God in his vineyard. While the church will not be destroyed, it can be damaged by the little foxes.

Do you see in the church how pride could be such a little fox? How can you put your finger on it? It is not a censurable sin. How about a critical attitude, is that so bad? Let us go on to see and recognize other little foxes: covetous thoughts, slander, bitterness, envy, wrath, a combative attitude, too high an opinion of self or one’s own thoughts, condemning others, self-love, personal agendas, or anything that disrupts the unity of the church. How the devil delights to take these sins to bring saint against saint, church against church. Is sabbath desecration or the entertainment that you watch or listen to leading you to distance your self from the fellowship of the church? While in our homes in the past months, one could listen to a sermon with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cinnamon roll in the other. How easy it was. Now that we can finally return to worship in church, will it seem to some that the leeks and garlic of Egypt are preferable?

The calling of Christ to us is to seize those foxes in our lives and in our families. Maybe it is friends that are leading us astray. We must cast out of our homes, lives, and churches whatever hinders the fruit that we are to bear.

What do we do to one another in the church, and especially to the blossoming vines, the young children? Do we speak evil of other church members or voice church disagreements that we might have in front of our impressionable children? How little foxes can damage the roots of the vines or knock the blossoms off from the vine! What a terrible witness we can be at a time when we are trying to evangelize and bring others to Christ!

The words, “Take us” in our passage is one word in the Hebrew which means to seize, to catch, to take up, trap those little foxes and remove them from the vineyard. Around the outside edge of the vineyard would be hedges to keep others from intruding or harming the vineyard. In the center of the vineyard would be a tower with a watchman inside to guard the vineyard. Are we being watchful? What things are bringing ruin and being destructive for Christ’s vineyard? As the husbandman must care for the vineyard lest the weeds take over, so we also need to weed out, seize, grab, and catch these little foxes that spoil the vineyard. These little foxes can be so elusive and so stubborn, not easy to catch and remove. May the elders in the church be diligent watchmen in removing the little foxes that disrupt the life of the church.

Diligent prayer, a searching of the Word of God, and a searching of our own hearts and lives are necessary. Cast out whatever hinders us from being a well-tended vineyard that produces the abundant fruit of thanksgiving. There will be grapes to harvest in the way of repentance and God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of one another. Oh, that is easy to say, but it is so hard to do! How we need to fly to Jesus Christ our Savior! How we need to mortify our flesh, putting off all these: “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” How desperately we need humility and the denying of self. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Col. 2 12-15).

 

Last modified on 08 June 2020
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Spriensma, Audred T.

Rev. Audred Spriensma (Wife: Alva)

Ordained: January 1981

Pastorates: Atwood, MI CRC - 1981; Bethany, S.Holland, IL CRC - 1984; Grandville, MI - 1992; Missionary to the Philippines - 2002; Kalamazoo, MI - 2007; Byron Center, MI - 2010; Home missionary (Byron Center PRC), 2017

Website: www.prca.org/missions/domestic

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