HOSEA CHAPTER 14.
A Final Exhortation to Return, with a Promise of Redemption.
After having shown the apostate Israelites in various ways in what their guilt consisted, the Lord here once more appeals to them to return to Him in true repentance, since He desires to show them His mercy in full measure. V. 1. O Israel, return unto the Lord, thy God, to the God of the Messianic covenant; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity, but there is still a possibility of returning. V. 2. Take with you words, expressed in prayers of forgiveness, and turn to the Lord; say unto Him, in a full and frank confession of sins, Take away all iniquity, forgiving the transgression with its guilt, and receive us graciously, receiving the one good thing which they have to offer; so will we render the calves of our lips, literally, "and we will render as bullocks our lips," namely, the confession of guilt and the promise to amend their ways. V. 3. Asshur, the world-power upon which they had relied till then, shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses, depending upon their cavalry, their army; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, the idols which they had molded and fashioned. Ye are our gods, this being an open confession of the vanity of their idolatrous practices; for in Thee, in the true God alone, the fatherless findeth mercy. Cp. Ex. 22, 22; Deut. 10, 18. In the entire prayer of repentance the trust in the mercy of the Lord is evident. The Lord's answer, therefore, is a wonderful promise of mercy. V. 4. I will heal their backsliding, all the calamities brought upon them by their unfaithfulness to the Lord; I will love them freely, with the fullness of His abundant love and mercy; for Mine anger is turned away from him, having readily been withdrawn at the evidence of real sorrow which their prayer showed. V. 5. I will be as the dew unto Israel, refreshing and strengthening; he shall grow as the lily, known for its fruitfulness, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon, the mountains having their foundations in the innermost recesses of the earth. V. 6. His branches shall spread, as he nourishes and develops with vigorous life, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, with its evergreen leaves and rich-gleaming fruit, and his smell as Lebanon, with its cedars and aromatic shrubs. So the attributes of firmness, of fruitfulness, of beauty and glory, and of amiability and loveliness are ascribed to the repentant people once more received into the grace of God. V. 7. They that dwell under His shadow, the members of Israel as they have turned to the Lord in repentance, shall return, they shall revive as the corn, rather, shall produce grain once more, be a soil fruitful in good works, and grow as the vine, the scent thereof shall be as the vine of Lebanon, which was known of old for its excellent flavor. V. 8. Ephraim shall say, in addressing the Lord, What have I to do any more with idols? Or the sentence may be considered as an appeal to Ephraim to renounce all idolatry. I have heard him and observed him, Jehovah regarding His people with favor; I am like a green fir-tree, a cypress, symbol of everlasting life; from Me is thy fruit found, it is the Lord's strength which nourishes the bodily and spiritual strength of His people. V. 9. Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? namely, all that the prophet has written by way of warning, rebuke, admonition, and correction; prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the Lord, particularly in the manner in which He deals with His children on earth, are right, and the just shall walk in them, finding their delight in doing the Lord's will; but the transgressors shall fall therein. Cp. Deut. 32, 4. The preaching of truth is to some a savor of life unto life, to others a savor of death unto death. Cp. Deut. 30, 19.20; 1 Cor. 1, 18.