Song of Solomon 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines [have] tender grapes.
Oh those little foxes that spoil the vines and destroy the tender grapes! Oh those little foxes that spoil and destroy the work of the Lord; that spoil and destroy the work of the Lordís church, even before the fruit of our labors ripen unto the harvest! Cursed be those pesky little foxes that dig under and gnaw through the hedges of the vineyard, and sneak in by night, and tear and chew at the vines and the tender grapes until there is nothing left but stubble and waste.
How do these pesky varmints get into the vineyard? How do they get past the watchmen and the caretakers of the vineyard? Beloved, we who are members of the Lordís vineyard, which is His local New Testament Church, are the watchmen and caretakers of His vineyard. He has saved us and placed us in His vineyard, and made us to be His caretakers and His watchmen. If we donít do our job, the little foxes will surely break in and destroy the vineyard, and spoil all the fruits of our labors. If we donít take great care, and if we donítí watch and pray, and defend and fight for the cause of the vineyard, then we have failed in our work that the Lord gave us to do.
This morning we want to notice five points from our text. These points are 1) Who is meant by ďusĒ in our text? 2) What is the nature of a fox? 3) What are some of the little foxes that our text refers to? 4) What is meant by ďtake us the foxesĒ? and 5) What are the tender grapes?
1. First, who is meant by ďusĒ in our text?
Song of Solomon 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines [have] tender grapes.
The Song of Solomon is a book written about the Lord and His church. Few people today would deny this, regardless of what their beliefs are about the church. †
Most theologians believe that the bride is speaking concerning herself, and therefore this would be the words of the church to herself. But regardless of who is speaking, whether the bridegroom or the bride, it is evident that the ďusĒ in our text refers to the church and to her responsibility to guard and protect all that is within her hedges and walls. She is to guard and protect the trellises, and the vines and branches, and all the tender fruit, to keep them from being spoiled and destroyed by the foxes, and all the other vermin and fouls whose nature it is to destroy the Lordís work.
We who are members of one of the Lordís Churches are the ďusĒ in our text, who are members of a church of His planting. We are the ones who are to be the caretakers, and the watchmen over the Lordís vineyard. The pastor is especially to be a watchman and caretaker of the vineyard, so donít be upset when he preaches against sin, and against carnality in the church! But we all are to guard and protect the vineyard against the little foxes. We all are to guard and protect the vines and the tender grapes from the enemies of the Lordís church, and the enemies of the Lordís work in the community.
Beloved, do we see this as our responsibility and our place? Do we care about the Lordís Church today to guard it and protect it? Do we love the Lordís vineyard enough to protect it, and care for it, and prosper it with our God given talents? Do we love our church, Calvary Baptist Church? Beloved, I believe that we should love our church, and the Head and Founder of our church, Who is our Lord Jesus, more than we love anything else in this life. This is our church. We ought to love it as we love our own selves. We ought to be jealous over it with a godly jealousy. And we ought to be zealous over it with a godly zeal. May God help us to love our church, even as Christ loved it and gave Himself for it!!!
2. What is the nature of a fox?
Before we identify some of the little foxes this morning, we want to study the nature of a fox:
1. First, foxes are mostly nocturnal creatures, or that is, they are creatures of the night.
As creatures of the night these little foxes do their evil work in darkness. In the darkest watches of the night when no one sees and when the caretakers are drowsy with sleep, the foxes quietly gnaw their way through the hedges and dig their way under the walls of the vineyard. Spiritually speaking, darkness is a type of evil, and wickedness, and of sin and corruption. The devil is called the prince of darkness, and the whole world lies in spiritual darkness. These little foxes come from out of the darkness of spiritual wickedness to do their evil and sinful work in the Lordís vineyard. They donít do their work in the light of day, because the light exposes them for what they are, you see.
2. Secondly, the little foxes are sly, cunning, and crafty little creatures.
Foxes are very sneaky and quiet, and very cunning. How often do you ever see a fox? Not very often, but they are there. In the spiritual world, foxes are also very sneaky and quiet and cunning. They are very deceitful and perverse. They slip into the vineyard ever so quietly. They sneak in as quiet as mice so as not to be noticed. They steal into the vineyard as innocent little lambs and as angels of light, but inwardly they have an ill work planned to destroy the vineyard and all of its works and its tender grapes.
3. Thirdly, foxes are wild and vile by nature.
Foxes cannot be tamed or domesticated. You canít make a house pet out of a fox. They are cute and fuzzy when they are small, but they grow up to be wild animals, and will surely show their true nature. Spiritually speaking, you canít tame those little foxes that come into the vineyard from the kingdom of darkness. They might seem cute and harmless when they are small, but they will surely grow up to show their true destructive nature. You canít give place to a fox. You will never tame him or reform him. As the old saying goes, ďa fox is a fox, is a fox is a foxĒ; or was that ďhorse is a horse is a horseĒ- Oh well, it is certainly true of a fox! And the little foxes are even more dangerous, as our text points out, because they are very small, and they creep in unawares and unbeknownst to the watchmen and caretakers of the vineyard. Often times, by the time they are spotted and identified, they have worked much havoc, and done much damage, and have grown into big full grown foxes!
4. Fourthly, foxes come in different kinds and colors.
There are the gray, red, silver, and white foxes. In the spiritual realm foxes come in even more sizes and colors than in the natural realm. There are perhaps hundreds of species of foxes in the spirit world. They are so many in kind and color that it is sometimes difficult to identify them, and to tell them from some good creature. It takes a well learned caretaker in the science of foxology, to identify a fox and to label him for what he is, and to know how to extinguish him from the vineyard.
5. Fifthly, foxes are a kind of a dog.
The dog family is known to be scavengers, and predators, and pests, and nuisances. They are very unclean beasts, and in the Scriptures they are symbolic of the Gentiles and other unclean enemies of God and His people. Likewise the little foxes are vile and unclean creatures that would attempt to spoil and defile the clean and holy character of the vineyard. They corrupt the vines and the grapes, making them unclean and unholy, and worthless to any spiritual good. Foxes, like dogs and all other bruit beasts, are also carnal in nature, and sensual, and appeal to the flesh. They donít mind the things of the Spirit of God. They appeal to the fleshly nature of the old man and his works and deeds. They donít appeal to the new man, because the new man in every true believer is contrary to those vile foxes, and will not be influenced or corrupted by them.
6. Sixthly, foxes are expected to be found in vineyards.†††††
It is a foxes nature to be found in the same land where vineyards are planted. The two naturally co-exist. Where a vineyard is found, the little foxes will be found trying to get in and spoil the vineyards. The very land and ground where the vineyard exists, is the very same land and ground where the little foxes have their habitat. So where the vineyard is, the little foxes are sure to be found. Therefore it takes a continuous effort and watchfulness, and maintenance by the watchmen and caretakers of the vineyard to insure that the foxes donít get in.
There are far too many species of these foxes to begin to name or discuss them all this morning. We will just notice some of the most common and most destructive ones.
1. The fox of pride- This fox thinks himself to be better, or smarter, or prettier, or more spiritual, and more important than everyone else. He is very high and lifted up in his own eyes. He is not easy to see because he disguises himself under a cloak of great humility. But this fox always goes before destruction and his haughty spirit always leads men to a great fall (Prov. 16:18). We mention the fox of pride first because all foxes have pride fox blood in them, and he is the great leader of all the other foxes!
2. The fox of vain glory- This fox wants to be seen of men; he sounds a trumpet before him, and before all the wonderful works that he does. To keep from being noticed, he hides himself under the guise of being very spiritual, and very pious and religious. Everyone is well convinced of his spirituality. No one dares to doubt his false spirituality or his evil motives.
3. The fox of selfishness- This fox always wants his way, and he gets angry when he doesnít get it! The Bible teaches that no man is to seek his own, but rather we are to seek the welfare and well being of others (1 Cor. 10:24); but old selfish fox cares not for what the Bible has to say. He is determined, in the face of all that is right and all that is Scriptural, to have his own way, no matter if it is good for others or not!
4. The fox of envy - This fox is envious of everyone. He wishes that he knew as much as brother wise man, and that he could preach like brother eloquent. He wants so bad to sing like sister mocking bird. He desires more than anything the wealth of brother money bags- but if only he could be as handsome as brother fair and ruddy.
5. The fox of strife- This fox is close akin to old selfish fox and envy fox, and his design is to cause strife, and discord, and division between all the brethren of the vineyard. Old strife fox doesnít care if the vineyard and the tender grapes are destroyed as a result of his evil work. In fact, this is what he wants more than anything else! He desires to see the church split and torn into little pieces, and wonít be happy until he has his evil way.
6. The fox of malice- This fox also has selfish and envious fox blood in him, and he is very devilish. He deliberately devises evil imaginations and schemes of malice in his heart, and purposely endeavors to destroy the tender vines and grapes of the vineyard. He sees the church going forward and good things beginning to happen, and so he goes about spreading his venomous poison to kill off all the new growth. His best poison is the poison of negativity. He uses his negative spirit, and negative attitude, and negative actions, and negative words to poison the entire vineyard. With his negativity he poisons new and weaker members and hinders them from becoming established in the vineyard. He discourages the old members by dousing cold water on their zeal and their hopes for the growth of their church. He turns away visitors and prospective members by making negative remarks about the church or the preacher.
7. The fox of anger- This fox often goes around stewing and steaming and boiling for a long time before he shows himself, but when he blows his top, look out!!! He can blow the branches and the vines and the grapes clean out of the vineyard in just a moments time. Oh, what damage and destruction old anger fox causes to the Lordís vineyard!
8. The fox of unforgiveness- This fox will not follow the Biblical principal and method for reconciling offences found in Matthew 18 and other places in the Scriptures. He goes around with a chip on his shoulder, and wonít make things right with a brother. He also encourages all the other foxes to help him in his evil cause. He is like a malignancy that grows and spreads until the entire vineyard is consumed away to nothing.
9. The offended fox- This fox is all the time offended about something. If someone doesnít shake his hand, or greet him cheerfully, he is offended. If the preacher preaches on his toes just a little bit, he gets offended. It doesnít seem to matter how people treat him he gets offended. You try to always treat him with all love and respect as a brother in the Lord, and go out of your way to always invite him and make him a part of every activity in the church, but still he finds something to get offended about. †
10. The fox of false doctrine- This fox doesnít agree with the preacher, or with the church, and especially he doesnít agree with God and the Bible, but he prefers to hear old wives fables, and to talk about endless genealogies and doctrines of men and of devils that donít profit the soul. He wonít hear what the man of God has to say, nor will he reason or be taught out of the Scriptures. He is already convinced of his beliefs. He already knows all that he wants to know. He cannot and will not learn anything from the Bible. At the same time he likes to teach and to share his false doctrines with others, and corrupt them with his evil teachings. Of course he does this privately, so as not to be discovered. This fox is very dangerous, and must be extinguished and cast out of the vineyard.
You might be thinking that I am talking about you this morning. Well, thatís good if you are, because I am talking about you. Iím talking about everyone of us this morning. Yes, Iím talking about me this morning, too. Beloved, everyone of us have all of these little foxes lurking around in our subconscious, in our old Adamic nature. And there are many other foxes that we could have mentioned such as unfaithful fox, judgmental fox, and cowardly fox, but we donít have the time for all of these morning. Maybe you can think of some more foxes that I have not mentioned.
4. Fourthly, as watchmen and caretakers of the vineyard we are to ďtake us the foxesĒ?
What is meant to take us the little foxes? This means to trap them and destroy them, and run them out of the vineyard. We want to notice some pointers to help us ďtake the foxes, even the little foxesĒ. By these we will be able to rid the vineyard of foxes and guard the hedges from foxes digging back through.
Sometimes we see them in the vineyard where other church members dwell; they give themselves away by either their speech or their actions, which contradict the teachings of the Word of God. Most often, however, we see them close to home in the vineyard where we live.
The best way to identify little foxes is to shine the light of the Word of God on them. The Word of God can identify every species of fox. It will distinguish between a fox and a harmless and good creature, as the Bible is discerner of the very heart of the vineyard and everything that may be found inside it. Nothing can be hid from it!
Some people want to have pet foxes and they donít want to admit that their fox is a fox. But we must call a fox what it is or heíll cause us much grief and great damage to the vineyard.
All foxes are no good varmints. We must have no sympathy for any fox, as foxes will play on our sympathy.
Donít give a fox even an inch of space in the vineyard, he will take more than a mile, as the saying goes.
You cannot catch a fox with carnal weapons, as these will only damage the vineyard, and foxes are too cunning for them. But the Word of God must also be used to trap the foxes and slay them. The two-edged sword of the Spirit penetrates deep into the heart of the fox and destroys it. And foxes will flee at the very sight of Godís Holy Word. They cannot stand before it, nor fight against it.
One of the best ways to guard against foxes and prevent them from getting in is to hate them with a godly hatred.
Love will motivate us to keep foxes out of the vineyard, and from getting back in.
One of the best ways to identify foxes and their evil work and to keep them out of the vineyard is to be well trained and versed in the Bible, which is our greatest offensive against foxes.
Prayer will keep our fellowship with the Lord of the vineyard at its best. The Lord will help us to see the foxes in our own lives, and help us to rid our own hearts of these vermin before they get so much as a foot into the vineyard.
5. What are the vines and the tender grapes that the foxes destroy?
The vines are the fruitful works and ministries of the church and of individual members. Some of these works include the evangelistic works of the church, and our labors of love for the other members of the vineyard. Or these vines may be the individual members themselves that are fruitful in the Lordís work.
The tender grapes are all the good fruit of our church. The tender grapes include new converts, visitors to our church, and prospective members.
Beloved, we donít want the little foxes to spoil the vines or the tender grapes. Too much labor goes into these to let those little foxes spoil them.
Where do you fit in to our text this morning?
-Are you a watchman and caretaker of the vineyard? If so, are you doing your job?
-Are you a fruitful vine? If not, we need to examine our lives to find out why not.
-Are you a tender grape; that is newly saved person, or a visitor, or prospective member?
-Why not take your God given place in the Lordís vineyard?
-Are you not yet a vine or a tender grape? Are you not yet saved this morning?
††††††††††† -Explain the gospel.