Take us the foxes
Of which there were great numbers in Judea; see ( Judges 15:4 ) ; these words are directed not to angels, nor to civil magistrates, but to ministers of the word; but whether the words of Christ, or the church, is not easy to determine; some think they are the words of the church, who had hitherto been relating what Christ said to her, and who, having neglected her vineyard, ( Song of Solomon 1:6 ) ; and now stirred up by Christ to a greater care of it, expresses her concern for its flourishing; and therefore calls upon her attendants and companions, to assist in taking and destroying those which were harmful to it: but rather they seem to be the words of Christ continued; since they not only show the care of his vines, the churches; but express power and authority over those they are spoken to: and perhaps they may be the words of them both jointly; since the church, with Christ, and under him, has a right to stir up her officers to do their work, and fulfil their ministry, they have received of Christ for her service. By foxes may be meant false teachers, to whom the false prophets of old were compared, ( Ezekiel 13:3 Ezekiel 13:4 ) ; foxes are crafty and subtle creatures, malignant and mischievous, hungry and voracious, full of deceit and dissimulation, are of an ill smell, and abominably filthy; so false teachers walk in craftiness, use good words and fair speeches, and thereby deceive the hearts of the simple; their doctrines are pernicious, their heresies damnable, and they bring destruction on themselves and others; they are hungry after worldly substance, are greedy of it, and can never have enough; devour widows' houses, and make merchandise of men, to enrich themselves; they put on sheep's clothing, transform themselves into angels of light, mimic the voice of Gospel ministers, use their phrases and expressions, that they may not be easily discovered; and are abominable in their principles and practices, and to be shunned by all good men. Now ministers of the Gospel are ordered to take these, to detect them, and refute their errors, and reprove them sharply for them; and, after proper steps taken, to reject them, to cast them out of the vineyards, the churches, and keep them out. Even the little foxes;
heresies and heretics are to be nipped in the bud, before they increase to more ungodliness; otherwise errors, which may seem small at first, soon grow larger and spread themselves, and become fatal to the churches: that spoil the vines;
as foxes do, by gnawing the branches, biting the bark, making bare the roots, devouring the ripe grapes, and infecting all with their noxious teeth and vicious breath F24: so false teachers make divisions and schisms in churches; disturb their peace; unsettle some, and subvert others; sap the foundation of religion, and corrupt the word of God; and therefore by all means to be taken, and the sooner the better; for our vines [have] tender grapes:
or "flowers"; (See Gill on Song of Solomon 2:13). The "vines" are the churches; the "tender grapes", or "flowers", young converts, which Christ has a particular regard unto, ( Isaiah 40:11 ) ( 42:3 ) ; and these, having but a small degree of knowledge, are more easily imposed upon and seduced by false teachers; and therefore, for their sakes, should be carefully watched, and vigorously opposed, since otherwise a promising vintage is in danger of being spoiled. Christ, in this address, intimates, that not only he and the church, but, he ministers also, had an interest in the vines and tender grapes, as they have; see ( Song of Solomon 8:11 Song of Solomon 8:12 ) ; and therefore should be the more concerned for their welfare; hence he calls them "ours"; interest carries a powerful argument in it.
F24 Vid. Theocrit. Idyll. 1. v. 48, 49. & Idyll. 5. v. 112, 113. So soldiers are compared to foxes, because they eat the grapes in the countries they come into, Aristoph. Equites, Act 3. Sc. 1. p. 350.