The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Hosea 14

Hos 14:1

Hos 14: "In beauty of expression these final words of Hosea rank with the memorable chapters of the OT. Like the rainbow after a storm, they promise Israel's final restoration. Here is the full flowering of God's unfailing love for his faithless people, the triumph of his grace, the assurance of his healing -- all described in imagery that reveals the loving heart of God" (Wood, cited in Const).

"As the prophecy comes to an end, [1] a response to the divine invitation is heard: vv 1-3. Then comes [2] Yahweh's acceptance of His people in love: vv 4-8, followed by [3] A general summary and exhortation to faithfulness: v 9.

"After all the strain and difficulties that faced this courageous prophet, the voice of Yahweh's mercy was a most encouraging and satisfying experience. He repeated Elijah's appeal (Jer 3:19-20; cp Hos 2:1-7). The nation, previously involved in the wickedness of idolatry, respond with an acknowledgement that they will no longer seek them (v 8). There is a full and final renunciation of idolatry. Ephraim speaks of himself as a 'green fir tree' (v 8), the evergreen that does not change. But he also sees himself as the 'roots of Lebanon' (v 6), and any who have seen how the mountain itself rises from great roots, cast out across the land like those of some giant oak, will appreciate the metaphor. Thus the standing appeal is there: 'Who is wise...?' It requires the exercise of humility to heed the divine appeals, reproofs, warnings and exhortations of this book. They were reflected by the Jews and Gentiles of Paul's day, hence his comments in 1Co 1:20 is based on this statement" (GEM).

Vv 1,2: The correspondence of offering and praise, song: Psa 50:13,14; 51:15-17; 69:30,31; 141:2; 40:6-10; Jer 33:11.

RETURN, O ISRAEL, TO THE LORD YOUR GOD. YOUR SINS HAVE BEEN YOUR DOWNFALL: Cp this v, along with v 2, with the prodigal son: Luke 15:18 (also cp Isa 55:6,7). We know from Israel's history that Hosea's generation of Israelites did not repent, but still God's invitation was open and genuine.

Hos 14:2

THAT WE MAY OFFER THE FRUIT OF OUR LIPS: Lit "the CALVES of our lips" (as AV). "The MsTx reads 'bulls', but the LXX reflects 'fruit' ('that we may offer the fruit of [our] lips [as sacrifices to you].' Although the Gr expression in Heb 13:15 ('karpon ceileon', 'the fruit of lips') reflects this LXX phrase, the MsTx makes good sense as it stands; NT usage of the LXX should not be decisive in resolving OT textual problems" (NETn). Cp "calves" here with the "calf-idols" of Hos 13:2. More generally, cp Psa 69:30,31 and 1Pe 2:5,9.

The basic teaching is that lips giving praise to God are the best of all "sacrifices"!

Hos 14:3

WAR-HORSES: Prob another allusion to Egypt, famous in the ANE for its horses.

Hos 14:4

I WILL... LOVE THEM FREELY: That is, despite their sins and shortcomings, without reciprocal payment or service, solely on the basis of their faith and turning to Him. "Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Rom 3:24). "His glorious grace, which He has freely given us" (Eph 1:6). "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph 2:8,9).

Hos 14:5

I WILL BE LIKE THE DEW TO ISRAEL: Considering the nature of the climate of Israel, dew can be a great blessing, providing a significant portion of the moisture needed to the soil. Cp Pro 19:12.

HE WILL BLOSSOM LIKE A LILY: Instead of being dry and withered (Hos 13:15), Israel would blossom like the prolific spring lily (or crocus: Song 2:2).

LIKE A CEDAR OF LEBANON HE WILL SEND DOWN HIS ROOTS: They would become as beautiful as an olive tree -- not only attractive but the source of beneficial products (Psa 52:8; Jer 11:16). Israel would take root and grow strong, like a cedar of Lebanon (cp Song 4:11).

Hos 14:7

MEN WILL DWELL AGAIN IN HIS SHADE: Israel will once again be a blessing to other nations (cp Isa 19:23-25), as God Himself has been a blessing: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psa 91:1,2).

HE WILL FLOURISH LIKE THE GRAIN: The Israelites would again grow grain, a mark of covenant blessing (cf Hos 2:21-23; Deut 28:4,8,11; 30:9; Amos 9:13-15).

HE WILL BLOSSOM LIKE A VINE: The nation would be like a fruitful vine that produced the best wine, no longer like a scraggly vine in the wilderness (Hos 10:1).

HIS FAME WILL BE LIKE THE WINE FROM LEBANON: Their fame (Heb "zikro", "his remembrance") will spread abroad like the fame of Lebanese wine.

Hos 14:8

EPHRAIM, WHAT MORE HAVE I TO DO WITH IDOLS?: Ephraim would repudiate her dealings with idols (cf Hos 2:8; 4:17; 8:4-6).

I WILL ANSWER HIM AND CARE FOR HIM: Consequently, the LORD would respond with a commitment to care for her. Formerly He lay in wait (Heb "shur") for Israel like a leopard ready to pounce on her in judgment (Hos 13:7), but now He would care (Heb "shur") for her!

YOUR FRUITFULNESS COMES FROM ME: "Our fruit is found from our God as to union. The fruit of the branch is directly traceable to the root. Sever the connection, the branch dies, and no fruit is produced. By virtue of our union with Christ we bring forth fruit. Every bunch of grapes have been first in the root, it has passed through the stem, and flowed through the sap vessels, and fashioned itself externally into fruit, but it was first in the stem; so also every good work was first in Christ, and then is brought forth in us.

"Our fruit comes from God as to spiritual providence. When the dew-drops fall from heaven, when the cloud looks down from on high, and is about to distil its liquid treasure, when the bright sun swells the berries of the cluster, each heavenly boon may whisper to the tree and say, 'From me is thy fruit found.' The fruit owes much to the root -- that is essential to fruitfulness -- but it owes very much also to external influences. How much we owe to God's grace-providence! in which He provides us constantly with quickening, teaching, consolation, strength, or whatever else we want. To this we owe our all of usefulness or virtue.

"Our fruit comes from God as to wise husbandry. The gardener's sharp-edged knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree, by thinning the clusters, and by cutting off superfluous shoots. So is it with that pruning which the Lord gives to thee. 'My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit' [Joh 15:1,2]. Since our God is the author of our spiritual graces, let us give to Him all the glory of our salvation" (CHS).

Hos 14:9

WHO IS WISE? HE WILL REALIZE THESE THINGS: "Paul's application of this to the transformation of the faithful in Christ from mortality to immortality gives it a far deeper significance than just the political resurrection of Israel to which it primarily applies. We are taught by this, as we are so often taught elsewhere, that as Hosea was an allegory to Israel, so Israel is an allegory to us. Therein lies the great significance of the final words of the prophecy... Who IS wise? God said sadly through Hosea -- 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge' (Hos 4:6).

"How much do we care about knowing these things? How much real, sincere effort have we put in this past week to learn and understand the lessons of God's Word through which we have been passing in our daily readings? To what extent have we meditated upon it and prayed for understanding? Let us face these questions honestly. Are we truly ANXIOUS and concerned to learn more and more about God and His Word?

"It is so easy to just go through the motions and think we are in the Truth, without ever having the real love of and yearning toward the knowledge of God which is essential to salvation. This is what marks off the true disciple from the common run of mankind. These divine words are life. They are essential meat and drink. In them alone is the power of love and of holiness and godliness and of overcoming the flesh" (GVG).

Previous Index