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Bible Commentaries

Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible

Hosea 6

Verse 3

Ho 6:3

"His going forth is prepared as the morning." Ho 6:3

It is to the living soul walking in darkness, and unable to find God, that this text speaks—"His going forth is prepared as the morning." There is an appointed time for the Lord to go forth and this is sweetly compared to the rising of the sun. Does not "the dayspring know his place?" (Job 38:12.) Does not the sun rise every day according to the appointed minute? Is he ever before his time, or ever after his time? Did the free will of the creature ever hurry or retard his rising for a single second? Thus it is with the going forth of the Lord for the salvation of his people, the going forth of the Lord in the revelation of his presence and his power, the going forth of the Lord from the place where he has for a while hidden himself, to come down with light and life into the soul. All his glorious goings forth are as much prepared, and the moment is as much appointed, as the time is fixed every morning for the sun to rise.

But what is the state of things naturally before the sun rises? Does not midnight precede the dawn, does not darkness come before light? And when it is midnight naturally, can we bid the sun arise and disperse the darkness? Is there not, as the Psalmist says, a waiting for the morning, naturally? "My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning." Is not the invalid tossing on his restless couch, waiting for the morning? Is not the shipwrecked mariner driven on the rocks, waiting anxiously for the morning, to know what is his prospect of safety, what friendly sail may be in sight? Is not the man benighted on the hills waiting for the morning, that the sun may arise, and he find his way homeward? But with all their waiting they cannot bid the sun arise; they must wait until the appointed time.

So the going forth of the Sun of righteousness, the appearance of Christ in the heart, the sweet revelation of the Son of God, the lifting up of the light of his blessed countenance, is "prepared as the morning"—as fixed, as appointed in the mind of God as the morning to come in its season; but no more to be hurried than the sun is to be hurried up the sky. Aye, and it is as much an impossibility for us to bring the Lord into our souls before the appointed time, or keep him there when he has come, as for us to play the part of Joshua, and say, "Sun, stand still upon Gibeon, and you, moon, in the valley of Ajalon."

But "his going forth is prepared as the morning," and when he goes forth, he goes forth "conquering and to conquer," mounted on the white horse spoken of in Revelation. He goes forth to conquer our enemies, to overcome our temptations, to lay our souls at his footstool, to arise like the sun in his strength, and to come into the heart with healing in his wings.

"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord." Ho 6:3

We gather from these words that there is such a thing in soul experience as "a following on to know the Lord;" and indeed there is no obtaining the blessings which are laid up for the righteous, unless there is this following on. "To know the Lord" is the desire of every living soul; that is, to know him by his own divine manifestations, by the gracious revelation of his grace, his love, his presence, and his glory.

But the expression, "follow on," implies that there are many difficulties, obstacles, and hindrances in a man’s way, which keep him back from "knowing the Lord." Now the work of the Spirit in his soul is to carry him on in spite of all these obstacles. Nature, and all the work of nature, and all the power of Satan working on nature, is to draw the man back; but the work of the Spirit on the soul is to lead him forward, to keep alive in him the fear of God, to strengthen him from time to time with strength in his inner man, to give him those enlargements, to drop in those hopes, to communicate that inward grace, and to gird up the loins of his mind, so that in spite of sense, reason, and nature, he is compelled to follow on.

Sometimes he seems driven, and sometimes drawn, sometimes led, and sometimes carried, but in one way or another the Spirit of God so works upon him that, though he scarcely knows how, he still "follows on." His very burdens make him groan for deliverance; his very temptations cause him to cry for help; the very difficulty and ruggedness of the road make him want to be carried every step; the very intricacy of the path compels him to cry out for a guide; so that the Lord the Spirit working in the midst of, and under, and through every difficulty and discouragement, still bears him through, and carries him on; and thus brings him through every trial and trouble and temptation and obstacle, until he sets him before the Lord in glory.

It is astonishing to me how our souls are kept alive. I believe a living man is a marvel to himself. Carried on, and yet so secretly; worked upon, and yet so mysteriously; and yet led on, guided, and supported through so many difficulties and obstacles, that he is a miracle of mercy, and, as the Apostle says, "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men;" the world wondering, the angels admiring, and men standing astonished, how the quickened soul is carried on amid all its difficulties, obstacles, trials, and temptations; and yet in spite of all "following on."

But "following on" for what? "To know the Lord," as the sum and substance of all religion, as the very marrow of vital godliness; to know Jesus, so as by faith to enter into his beauty and loveliness, and feel ourselves one spirit with him, according to those words, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."

"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord."—Ho 6:3

"To know the Lord" is to know experimentally and spiritually the power of Jesus’ blood and righteousness; to know our eternal union with him; to know him so as to be led by the Spirit into soul communion with him, that we may talk with him as a man talks with his friend; to know him so that the secrets of his heart should be revealed to us, and we enter by faith into the length and breadth and depth and height of the love of Christ which passes knowledge; to know him so as to drink into his spirit, and to have his image stamped by the Holy Spirit upon our souls; to know him as coming down into our hearts out of his glorious sanctuary, filling our souls with his presence and his love; to know him as formed in us the hope of glory, making our bodies his temple, dwelling in us, breathing himself into us, speaking in us, moving as it were every affection of our heart and every faculty of our soul. Thus to know the Lord is the sum and substance of vital godliness.

And, as "to know the Lord," implies, as well as comprehends, the knowledge of Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons and Unity of Essence, well may we say that, to know Jehovah the Father in his eternal love, to know Jehovah the Son in his redeeming blood, and to know Jehovah the Spirit in his divine operations and blessed teaching, is the foretaste of bliss below; and to know and see God as he is, is the consummation of bliss above.

Verse 4

Ho 6:4

"O Ephraim, what shall I do unto you?" Ho 6:4

Most of the Lord’s people have some peculiar thing that they want to have granted. Most living souls have some peculiar temptation from which they want to be delivered. If some of the Lord’s family could sum up all their desires in one petition, it would be to have the pardon of their sins sealed upon the conscience. If others of God’s people could crowd up in one sentence all the wants of their soul, it would be to be brought into the enjoyment of gospel liberty. If others could condense in one short prayer the chief desire of their heart, it would be to be delivered from some powerful temptation, or be preserved from some peculiar besetting sin. And if others could get into one request the longings that heave in their bosom, it would be to be relieved from some special trial or trouble that at times seems as though it would weigh them down to the dust.

When the Lord, then, does but enable them to come before him and tell him what is working in their hearts, it is as though he said, ’Be not afraid to tell me—I know it already—I have the power to grant your request—I have the will to bestow the desired answer. "What shall I do unto you?" Tell me what it is!’ The Lord encourages and enables every one that he thus draws near to himself to tell him what he most needs; and when he is enabled to lay it before his throne, it is half answered. The needed blessing is on its way—like Gabriel, it has left the palace, and is speeding its course to the soul.

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Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Hosea 6". Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible.