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Verse 7. The dresser of his vineyard. The man whose duty it was to trim the vines and take care of his vineyard.

These three years. These words are not to be referred to the time which Christ had been preaching the gospel, as if he meant to specify the exact period. They mean, as applicable to the vineyard, that the owner had been a long time expecting fruit on the tree. For three successive years he had been disappointed. In his view it was long enough to show that the tree was barren and would yield no fruit, and that therefore it should be cut down.

Why cumbereth it the ground? The word cumber here means to render barren or sterile. By taking up the juices of the earth, this useless tree rendered the ground sterile, and prevented the growth of the neighbouring vines. It was not merely useless, but was doing mischief, which may be said of all sinners and all hypocritical professors of religion. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, vol. i. p. 539) says of the barren fig-tree:


"There are many such trees now; and if the ground is

not properly cultivated, especially when the trees

are young—as the one of the parable was, for only

three years are mentioned-they do not bear at all;

and even when full grown they quickly fail, and

wither away if neglected. Those who expect to gather

good crops of well-favoured figs are particularly

attentive to their culture—not only plough and dig

about them frequently, and manure them plentifully, but

they carefully gather out the stones from the orchards,

contrary to their general slovenly habits."


This parable is to be taken in connection with what goes before, and with our Saviour's calling the Jewish nation to repentance. It was spoken to illustrate the dealings of God with them, and their own wickedness under all his kindness, and we may understand the different parts of the parable as designed to represent—

1st. God, by the man who owned the vineyard.

2nd. The vineyard as the Jewish people.

3rd. The coming of the owner for fruit, the desire of God that they should produce good works.

4th. The barrenness of the tree, the wickedness of the people.

5th. The dresser was perhaps intended to denote the Saviour and the other messengers of God, pleading that God would spare the Jews, and save them from their enemies that stood ready to destroy them, as soon as God should permit.

6th. His waiting denotes the delay of vengeance, to give them an opportunity of repentance. And,

7th. The remark of the dresser that he might then cut it down, denotes the acquiescence of all in the belief that such a judgment would be just.

We may also remark that God treats sinners in this manner now; that he spares them long; that he gives them opportunities of repentance; that many live but to cumber the ground; that they are not only useless to the church, but pernicious to the world; that in due time, when they are fairly tried, they shall be cut down; and that the universe will bow to the awful decree of God, and say that their damnation is just.

{f} "cut it down" Ex 32:10

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