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Hos 14:1 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
Ver. 1. O Israel, return unto the Lord ] Usque ad Dominum, all the way to God, as far as to the Lord: give not the half, but the whole turn; and take it for a mercy that you are yet called upon to return, and may be received; "that yet there is hope in Israel concerning this thing," Ezra 10:2 . All the former part of the prophecy had been mostly denunciations; this last chapter is wholly consolatory; the Sun of Righteousness loves not to set in a cloud.
Return unto the Lord thy God ] He is yet thy God: no such argument for our turning to God as his turning to us, Zechariah 1:3 . See the note there. Tantum velis et Deus tibi praeoccurret. If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat, &c. The father’s plenty brought home the prodigal; he had but a purpose to return, and his father met him, Isaiah 65:24 . See Joe 2:12-13 Isa 55:6-7 Jeremiah 31:18 Hos 3:5 Acts 2:38 . This is the use we should make of mercy. Say not, He is my God, therefore I may presume upon him; but, he is mine, therefore I must return unto him. Argue from mercy to duty, and not to liberty, for that is the devil’s logic, which the apostle holds unreasonable, yea, to a good heart impossible, Romans 6:1-2 . His mercy is bounded with his truth, with which it therefore goes commonly coupled in Scripture. It is a sanctuary for the penitent, but not for the presumptuous.
For thou hast fallen by thine iniquity ] i.e. "Consumption is decreed, yet a remnant reserved," Isaiah 10:22-23 . Thou hast fallen into great calamity, and that by thine iniquity, which puts a sting into thy misery. This it is fit thou shouldst be sensible of; for conviction is the first step to conversion. But if thou art fallen, wilt thou there lie and not rise again by repentance, and return to him that smiteth thee? wilt thou not submit to his justice, and implore his mercy? Here, then, is another motive to conversion; as indeed this verse abounds with arguments to that purpose, Pareus well observeth. First, thou art a prince of God, who hath greatly graced thee above all people: return to him therefore. 2. Thou hast run away from him by thine iniquity; and turned upon him the back, and not the face: return therefore. 3. He is the author of thy being and well-being. 4. He is God, to whom thou must either turn or burn for ever: aut poenitendum, aut pereundum; he can fetch in his rebels. 5. He is thy God in covenant with thee, and will accept of pence for pounds, desires for deeds, sincerity for perfection. 6. Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity; and yet wilt fall farther, and never rise again, as Amos 8:14 , if thou stop not, step not back by repentance, and stir up thyself to take hold of God.
Hos 14:2 Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive [us] graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
Ver. 2. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord ] Confess your sins, beg pardon, and promise amendment. Sue to God to give you those words that he bids you take: go to him in his own words, put his promises in suit; crave the help of his Holy Spirit, without which what can we do? Romans 8:26 . Say to God, as Job 37:19 , "Teach us what we shall say unto thee: for we cannot order our words, by reason of darkness." David promiseth not only to pray, but to marshal up his prayers, to put them in good array, so the word signifieth, Psalms 5:3 , "In the morning will I direct my prayer," order it in the best manner: his words should be nec lecta, nec neglecta, neither curious nor careless, but such as are humble, earnest, and direct to the point, avoiding vain babblings. Here is a form prescribed in the text (forms of prayer therefore are not so unlawful as some conceive them), words put into their mouths (as the phrase is, 2Sa 14:3 ), that they might not miss. Men must as well look to their words as to their feet, when they come before God; and see that their affections in prayer be not without answerable expressions. Take with you such words as may testify that ye turn heartily to the Lord, and not from the teeth outward, as they in the Psalmist, Psalms 78:36-37 . Turn before ye begin to pray; for God heareth not sinners, since their incense smells of their hand that offereth it, Isaiah 1:13 .
Say unto him ] Mentally and vocally; with spirit and speech. True it is, that prayer is not the labour of the lips, but the travail of the heart; and God hath promised to answer his people before they call, Isaiah 65:24 . By calling upon his name we neither inform him of what he knoweth not, nor move him to show us more mercy than he intendeth. But yet prayers are necessary, as means which God will have used, that we may receive what he of free mercy giveth. Besides, it prepareth us holily to enjoy the things received; and makes us ready, either to wait for them, or to want them; and to be content that he may be glorified, though we be not gratified. And although God knoweth our thoughts, and understands the mind of the spirit, as being the searcher of hearts, Romans 8:27 , yet he calls for the calves of our lips, the service of our tongues, James 3:9 , guiding them now and then in a wonderful manner, far beyond all natural apprehension: and strangely enabling his praying servants, who do also find no small benefit by this practice of pouring out their hearts before him, both of the preventing of distractions, and kindling affections, and discerning their profiting in holy desires; for the more worthy effect followeth where more fervent affection went before.
Take away all iniquity ] Few words, but full of matter: O quam multa, quam paucis! (Cicero, de Bruti epistola). What a short but pithy prayer is this! Such was that of the publican, Luke 18:13 ; that of our Saviour in his agony, when yet he is said to pray more fervently; that also which he taught us to pray, Matthew 6:7-8 , &c., set in fiat opposition to Paganish battologies. This in the text is not much unlike that perfect pattern; for here they are taught to beg, Ut auferantur sua maleficia, conferantur Dei beneficia, Take away all evil, and give good; and then to restipulate thanks, "So will we render," &c. Take away from us, as an unsupportable burden, such as we cannot stand under, all iniquity, stain and sting, crime and curse, power and punishment, that there be no later reckonings; cross out the black lines of our sins with the red lines of thy Son’s blood, that Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world by his merit and Spirit, by his value and virtue; that true scape goat, that carrieth the sins of his people into the wilderness, Joh 1:29 Hebrews 9:28 .
And receive us graciously ] Heb. Receive good, that is (as some interpret it), Accept, out of thy fatherly favour, the true witnesses and effects of our thorough conversion. But better they that thus sense it, Take good, to wit, to bestow upon us, as Psa 68:19 cf. Ephesians 4:8 . And it is not improbable (saith Dr Reynolds) that the prophet here secretly leadeth us to Christ the Mediator, who first receiveth gifts from his Father, and then poureth out them forth upon his Church, Acts 2:33 .
So will we render the calves of our lips ] Thy benefits shall not be cast away upon unthankful persons; but we will present unto thee a sacrifice that will please thee better than an ox or bullock, that hath horns and hoofs, Psalms 69:31 . This cannot be done but by a sound convert; for the leper’s lips must be covered according to the law; and the sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord. To the wicked God saith, "What hast thou to do to take my name into thy mouth," &c.; he liketh not a good motion from an ill mouth, as that state in the story: The lip of excellence becometh not a fool, Pro 17:7 no more than lying doth a worthy man that is renowned for his wisdom. It well becometh the saints to be thankful, to cover God’s altar with the calves of their lips. This expression implieth (saith one) that God’s people should not offer their thankfulness to God of that which cost them nothing; but bring, 1. A calf; do something to farther God’s worship, or relieve the necessities of others. 2. It must be a dead calf, that is, it must proceed from humble and mortified minds. 3. A sacrificed calf: where is required, 1. An altar; our praises must be tendered in the mediation of Christ; 2. Fire; for the bare throwing out of words, though in the name of Christ, will not serve without feeling, ardency, and zeal. 3. We must lay our hands on the head of the calf; that is, in all humility, confess our unworthiness of the blessings we give thanks for, as being less than the least, Genesis 32:10 .
Hos 14:3 Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, [Ye are] our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.
Ver. 3. Asshur shall not save us, &c. ] q.d. He cannot if he would; he shall not if he could. The two great sins of this people were creature confidence and idolatry; both these they do here renounce and abandon. The best repentance, saith Luther, is a reformed life. It is true, say they, we have gone to the Assyrian (wherein we have dealt as the silly bird flying to the snare, or as fishes, which, to avoid the pole wherewith the water is troubled, swim into the net); we have taken our horses instead of our prayers, and gone about to find out good; have been so foolish as to think that dumb idols, that cannot help themselves, should help us. But now we are otherwise resolved, experientia edocti et poenitentia ducti; we find at length (that which we should have believed sooner, without trying conclusions) that men of high degree are but a lie, that horses are but a vanity, that an idol is nothing, and can give nothing: that power belongeth unto thee, none else can do it; that mercy belongeth unto thee, none else will do it: therefore since in thee only the fatherless, that is, the friendless and shiftless, find mercy, O be thou pleased to do us good.
For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy ] The poor pupil, the forlorn orphan, that is left to the wide world, and lost in himself, cries out, Lord, I am hell, but thou art heaven, &c. I am an abject, oh make me an object of thy pity. Jeremiah 39:17 , "Because they call thee an outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after, therefore I will restore health unto thee." Miseria res digna misericordia (Ruperti Imp. symb.). The proud Assyrian, and other enemies, would be apt to insult over Israel, as afterwards Cicero did; the Jewish nation, saith he, show how God regards them, that have been so often overcome by Pompey, Crassus, &c. But let God’s people be but fatherless enough, let them withdraw their confidence from men and means, and cast it wholly upon God, making him their tutor and protector, and they shall be both preserved and provided for. Deo confisi nunquam confusi. Have confidence in God and you will never be disappointed, I will not leave you orphans, saith Christ, John 14:18 . Hence the Church resteth on God, in the fail of other comforts, Psalms 10:14 ; Psalms 10:17-18 ; Psalms 27:10 Hab 3:17 Psalms 102:13 . The prayer of the destitute he regards. The Hebrew word signifieth a poor worthless shrub in the wilderness, trod upon by beasts, unregarded.
Hos 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
Ver. 4. I will heal their backslidings ] Relapses, we know, are dangerous, and apostasy little less than incurable, 2Pe 2:20-21 Hebrews 6:6 . Bishop Latimer, in a sermon before King Edward VI, tells of one notorious backslider that repented; but beware of this sin, saith he, for I have known no more but one that did so. To fall forward is nothing so dangerous as to fall backward, with old Eli. Hence Paul so thundereth against the Galatians, and Peter against apostatizing libertines, 2 Peter 2:22 ; but if Jehovah the physician (as he is called, Exo 15:26 ) undertake the cure, and say, I will heal their backslidings, what can hinder? Christ, in the Gospel, cured the most desperate diseases; such as all the physicians in the country might have cast their caps at, Matthew 4:23-24 ; Matthew 8:16 . Omnipotenti medico nullus insanabilis occurrit morbus (Isidor.). He refused none that came to him, Matthew 12:15 , no, not his enemies, as Malchus. Will he then reject his Ephraim, a child, bemoaning himself, though not a pleasant child, a towardly son, Jeremiah 31:18 ; Jeremiah 31:20 , a backslider indeed, but such a one, as crieth now, that God bindeth him, Job 36:13 . No sooner doth God cry, "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings, I will love you freely"; but Ephraim, melted with such a love, replieth, "Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God," Jeremiah 3:22 . O most happy compliance! See the like Zechariah 13:9 . See Trapp on " Zec 13:9 " "They shall return even to the Lord" (from whom they had deeply revolted), "and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them," Isaiah 19:22 . They had begged of him to take away all iniquity, Hosea 14:2 ; and he here (in answer) promiseth to heal their backslidings, that compound of all iniquities, that falling sickness, that often hales hell at the heels of it, Hebrews 10:38 .
I will love them freely ] Ephraim might remember, and Satan would be sure to suggest, that the prophet had said before, "Ephraim is smitten or wounded, My God will cast them away, or hate them, Mine anger is kindled against them," Hosea 8:5 ; Hosea 9:16-17 . Here, therefore, upon their repentance, all this is graciously taken off in one breath, and Satan silenced. Be it that they are backslidden and sore wounded by their fall; I will heal their backslidings, and make their broken bones to rejoice. Be it that there is nothing at all in them that is laudable, or loveworthy, yet I will love them freely, ex mero motu, of mine own free, absolute, and independent grace and favour, out of pure and unexcited love, without any the least respect to their merit, which in nothing better than hell. Be it that they have bitterly provoked me to anger, and (as angry people use to do) I have both threatened them and punished them; yet now mine anger is turned away from them; I am fully reconciled unto them in Christ, will clear up my countenance toward them, and remove mine heavy judgments from them. God’s favour is no empty favour. It is like the winter sun, that casts a goodly countenance when it shineth, but gives little heat or comfort. If he love a man freely, and out of the good pleasure of his will, εν δυδοκια , cum spontaneitate (as he doth all his, Ephesians 2:8 , making them accepted in the beloved, Eph 1:6 ), such a man may promise himself all the blessings of this and a better life. Excellent is that of Bernard; He that sent his Son for thee, poured his Spirit into thee, promised to clear up his countenance upon thee, what can he deny thee? Qui misit unigenitum, immisit spiritum, promisit vultum, quid tandem tibi negaturus est? He that inviteth thee to feed upon the fatted calf, will not only take away all iniquity, but give good. That was the second petition they preferred, and they have it answered in the next verse, ad cardinem desiderii; God not only grants their prayer, but fulfils their counsel, Psalms 20:4 .
Hos 14:5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
Ver. 5. I will be as the dew unto Israel ] I will give good in abundance; and this is sweetly set forth in a sevenfold metaphor, all answering to the name of Ephraim (which signifieth fruitful) and to the ancient promises made unto him; and all again opposite to the many contrary curses, threatened in the former parts of the prophecy, under metaphors of a contrary importance, as Pareus and (out of him) Tarnovius have well observed. As first of solid and fruit causing dew, in opposition to that vanishing and barren dew, Hosea 6:4 ; Hosea 13:3 ; secondly, of the flourishing lily, contrary to those nettles, thorns, and thistles, Hosea 9:16 ; Hosea 10:8 ; thirdly, of the well-rooted and durable trees of Libanus, contrary to dry roots, Hosea 9:16 ; fourthly, of spreading and growing branches, instead of branches consumed, Hosea 11:6 ; Hosea 9:16 ; Hosea 10:8 ; fifthly, of trees yielding pleasant shade and repose, contrary to Hosea 9:3 ; Hosea 9:6 ; sixthly, of corn to satisfy hunger, contrary to Hosea 8:7 ; lastly, of a vine bringing forth excellent wine, contrary to Hosea 9:16 ; Hosea 10:1 . And all these fruits the fruits of Lebanon, a most fertile mountain, the valleys whereof were most rich grounds for pasture, grain, and vineyards.
As the dew unto Israel, he shall blossom as the lily ] Quot verba, tot lumina, imo flumina orationis. This prophet aboundeth with similitudes, as is before noted. see Hos 12:10 See Trapp on " Hos 12:10 " He beginneth here with a simile drawn from the dew of heaven; a mercy very much set by, in those hotter countries especially, where from May to October they had no rain. The Chaldee paraphrase and Hebrew doctors understand this text concerning Christ and his benefit. Truly he is good to Israel, to the pure in heart, Psalms 73:1 . Peace and mercy, sanctity and safety, all spiritual benedictions in heavenly things in Christ, shall be upon the Israel of God, Galatians 6:16 Ephesians 1:3 . What the dew is to the herbs, fields, fruits, that is Christ to his Israel. 1. The dew comes when the air is clear; so doth Christ by his blessing, when the light of his countenance is lifted up upon us, 2. As the dew refresheth and cherisheth the dry and fady fields (hence it is called the dew of herbs, Isaiah 26:19 , which thereby recover life and beauty), so doth Christ our hearts, scorched with the sense of sin; and fear of wrath. 3. As the dew allayeth great heats, and moisteneth and mollifieth the earth, that it may fructify; so Christ cooleth the devil’s fiery darts, and filleth his people with the fruits of righteousness (Aristot. lib. 1, Meteor. cap. 10; Plin. lib. 2, cap. 60, et lib. 18, cap. 29). "He is unto them as a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest," Isaiah 18:4 , and maketh their souls as so many watered gardens, Jeremiah 31:12 Jeremiah 31:4 . As the dew falls in a narrow compass, without noise, and is felt only by those (in the force of it) on whom it descends; so the grace of Christ watereth his faithful only; secretly and sweetly insinuating into their hearts: the stranger meddleth not with their comforts. See John 14:17 . The cock on the dunghill knows them not.
He shall grow as the lily ] Which hath its name in the Hebrew from its six leaves, and serves here and elsewhere to set forth the great comeliness, sweet odours, and true humility of the Church: for the lily grows in valleys, Song of Solomon 2:1 ; as Theophylact upon this text notes, sweet it is but not great, εχει την ευωδιαν μεγεθος ουκ εχει , and the more it blossometh the more it shooteth upwards, to teach us heavenly mindedness. It is also of a perfect whiteness, to remind us of innocence. "Her Nazarites were purer than snow, whiter than milk," Lamentations 4:7 . Lastly, Lilio nihil est foecundius, saith Pliny, nothing is more fruitful than the lily; et lachryma sua seritur, saith the same author, it is sown in its own tears. Weeping Christians grow exceedingly.
And cast forth his roots as Lebanon ] i.e. as the cedars of Lebanon, as the Chaldee Paraphrast interpreteth it; or as the frankincense tree, which taketh very deep rooting, so Cyril senseth it. The lily (with its six white leaves, and seven golden coloured grains within it) soon fadeth, and loseth both beauty and sweetness; but so doth not Christ and his people. He can as well die at the right hand of his Father as in the hearts of his elect, where he dwells by faith, Romans 6:10 , whereby they are "rooted and grounded in love, strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man," Ephesians 3:16-17 , so that the gates of hell cannot prevail against them. Immota manet, is the Church’s motto; Nec fluctu, nec flatu movetur, It is not moved by wind or waves, which is the Venetian motto. "They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever," Psalms 125:1 . Winds and storms move neither Libanus nor the well-rooted cedars thereof: which the more they are assaulted the better they are rooted. So fareth it with the saints. Plato compareth man to a tree inverted. The Scripture often compareth a good man to a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that taketh root downward, and beareth fruit upward, 2 Kings 19:30 .
- “ quae quantum vertice ad auras,
Aethereas, tantum radice ad tartara tendit. ”
Let us cast forth our roots as Lebanon; stand fast rooted in the truth, being "stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord," and with full purpose of heart cleaving close unto him, 1 Corinthians 15:58 , being established by his grace, Colossians 1:11 Hebrews 12:28 ; Hebrews 13:9 . In the civil law, till a tree hath taken root it doth not belong to the soil whereon it is planted. It is not enough to be in the Church, except, like the cedars of Lebanon, we cast forth our roots, and are so planted, that we flourish in the courts of our God, and bring forth fruit in our old age, Psalms 92:12-14 .
Hos 14:6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
Ver. 6. His branches shall spread ] Heb. shall walk, or expatiate; shall reach out, and stretch themselves all abroad: so shall the Church be propagated all the earth over; she shall flourish as the palm tree, which though it have many weights hung on the top, and many snakes hissing at the root, yet it still saith, Nec premor, nec perimor, I am insuperable: "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever," Psalms 52:8 .
And his beauty shall be as the olive tree ] That goodly tree, Leviticus 23:40 , that retaineth her greenness in the depth of winter; yea, in that universal deluge, Noah’s dove met with an olive leaf. "The Lord hath called thy name," saith the prophet to the Church, Jeremiah 11:16 , "a green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit." The cypress is fair, but not fruitful; the fig tree fruitful, but not fair and flourishing. But the olive tree is both fair and fruitful; her fruit also is of singular use to mankind, both for food and medicine and light for the lamp, Exodus 29:20 Leviticus 6:15-16 . In one respect it is an emblem of peace, it maketh the face shine, Psalms 104:15 ; and in the other, it is an emblem of grace and spiritual gifts, 1 John 2:20 , of increasing with the increase of God, by the Spirit, and of reigning with him in eternal glory.
And his smell as Lebanon ] Whereby is meant the sweet savour of the gospel, which spreadeth itself abroad in the ministry of the word, and in the lives of believers, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 , who besides their continual offering up to God spiritual incense and services in prayers, thanksgivings, alms, and good works, they perfume the very air they breathe upon by their gracious and savoury communication, Ephesians 4:29 ; yea, the very company they come into: as a man cannot come where sweet spices and odours are beaten to the smell but he shall carry away the scent thereof in his clothes. When the Spirit of Christ blows upon them, and grace is poured into their hearts, then their lips drop sweet-smelling myrrh, Song of Solomon 5:13 ; Song of Solomon 4:16 , then also their "good name is better than a precious ointment," Ecclesiastes 7:1 ; see the note there; when the wicked stink alive and dead, Nihil nisi foetidum et foedum exhalavit (Rivet.).
Hos 14:7 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive [as] the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof [shall be] as the wine of Lebanon.
Ver. 7. They that dwell under his shadow shall return ] Or, shall sit still, shall be at rest. The Chaldee hath it, They shall dwell in the shadow of his Christ. See a like promise of reconcillation and protection, Isaiah 4:6 ; Isa 25:4 Psalms 35:8 . The refuge and refreshment of the Church is wholly from Christ; under the shadow of whose divine grace she resteth in her members, shaded and sheltered under the hollow of his hand, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall, Isaiah 25:4 , when indignation is kindled, Isaiah 26:20 , and when the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the land for their iniquity; then shall true converts have a chamber of rest, a Pella provided for them; or, at least, be able to sing David’s requiem, return to thy rest, O my soul, hover and cover under God’s wing, run to his name as a tower, and be safe. Why art thou case down? trust in God, trust in an angry God, in a killing God, as Job, believe him upon his bare word; and that against sense, in things invisible; and against reason, in things incredible. This is faith’s triumph, and this is the saint’s safety.
They shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine ] The Seventy and Latin render it, They shall live with corn; that is, they shall have great plenty of all things necessary, as Psalms 87:1-7 ; Psalms 144:13 . But the other reading is better; They shall revive as the corn, which suffering much from frost, hail, snow, tempest, lieth for dead, as it were, in winter; but at the return of the sun in springtide reviveth, and yieldeth a great increase, John 12:24 1 Corinthians 15:36-38 . In like sort the vine, when pruned and lopped, spreads again, and is the more fruitful; so those that are viti verae inserti, set into the true vine, though lopped and harrowed with sore and sharp afflictions, yet can truly and triumphantly say, "As dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed," 2 Corinthians 6:9 . Their bodies also by death are not so much rotted as refined, and shall be conformed to Christ’s most glorious body the standard, Philippians 3:21 .
And the scent thereof as the wine of Lebanon ] Which was noted for the best, as Kimchi proves, and Athenaeus confirmeth. Among the Jews at this day the women, when they speak of their dead husbands, say, His scent, or his memorial, is as the wine of Lebanon.
Hos 14:8 Ephraim [shall say], What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard [him], and observed him: I [am] like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.
Ver. 8. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do, &c. ] Heb. Ephraim, what have I to do, &c. This some make to be the speech of God to Ephraim; as if Ephraim here were the vocative case and God were brought in abhorring the notion of parting stakes with idols, of sharing his glory with another. But because this God never did (for what communion hath light with darkness, Christ with Belial?) and because the Chaldee Paraphrast, and from him the best interpreters, supply "shall say," I take this latter to be the better translation. Here, then, God promiseth, first, what Ephraim shall do, or rather, what he by his grace will cause him to do; he shall utterly abominate and abandon his idols, whereunto his heart had been joined, or glued, Hosea 4:17 ; secondly, what he will thereupon do for Ephraim; what special favour he will show him, and what a gracious compensation he will make him: "I have heard him, and observed him," &c. Ephraim, now grown penitent, shall say (see the like ellipsis supplied, Isa 5:9 ), with utmost indignation and aversion, with greatest heat of anger and height of hatred, shall he utter it. See the like 2 Samuel 16:10 2 Kings 3:13 Matthew 8:29 .
What have I to do any more with idols ] Or sorrows, or bugs, those Balaam’s blocks, those images and monuments of idolatry, those images of jealousy, that provoke to jealousy, Ezekiel 8:3 , those dunghill deities, that can produce no good, hear no prayers, work no deliverance, bring nothing but evil and auguish to us. What, then, should we rather do, than pollute those images that we had perfumed, cast them away with detestation, as a menstruous cloth, and say unto them, Get ye hence? Isaiah 30:22 . Then will God soon say, I have heard him thus bemoaning and befooling himself, Jeremiah 31:18 . God hath a quick ear in such a case; he hath also an eye open to the supplications of his servants, in all that they call upon him for, as Solomon telleth us, 1 Kings 8:52 .
I have observed him ] Or fixed mine eyes upon him, with a most vigilant care and critical inspection. It would be wide with God’s Ephraims, and they would want many things, if he should not see as well as hear, if he should not seriously and solicitously consider and care for them, above all that they ask or think, Ephesians 3:20 , and without any monitor, aid and accommodate them. He is many times better to them than their prayers; for what reason? "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, as well as his ears are open to their cry," Psalms 34:15 . The Vulgate Latin rendereth it, Dirigam eum, I will direct him, as a tutor and guardian doth his pupil, his orphan, see Hosea 14:8 . He will also protect him, that nothing may be wanting to his happiness.
I am like a green fir tree ] Green all the year about, and of so large branches, and broad leaves thick set, that neither sun nor rain can easily come at the wearied passenger, reposing himself under them. And whereas Ephraim might say, Here is repose, but where shall I have repast? it is added;
In me is thy fruit found ] q.d. The fir tree is indeed green and shady, but also barren; it bears no fruit, either ad esum, or ad usum to eat or to use. It boweth itself down to the earth, so that a man may easily lay hold upon the branches, saith Rabbi David and other Hebrews. But what shall he get by that more than a green bower, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat? &c. As an ancient, speaking of Ahab, describeth him sitting in his ivory palace in Samaria, in the time of the three years’ famine: He had everything else, but wanted bread; so Ephraim here hath shade, but can he live by that? what shall he do for food? He shall not want for that, saith God all-sufficient; for
From me is thy fruit found ] Praesto est (so some render it), here it is ready, and mouth meet; yea, satis est (so others render it), it is enough of it, satisfactory, and proportionable to thy necessity. Yea, I would thou shouldest know that what fruit soever thou hast, or shalt bear as an olive or vine, Hosea 14:6-7 , it is found in me, proceeds in me; the root of the matter is in me, as Job speaketh in another case. Sine Deo omnis copia est egestas (Bern.). Without God, all plenty is poverty.
Hos 14:9 Who [is] wise, and he shall understand these [things]? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD [are] right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
Ver. 9. Who is wise and he shall understand these things ] A pathetic perclose, whereby the prophet (orator-like) would leave a sting in the hearts of his hearers, and so seal up, and set on all that he had said before, conclusio gnomica, exclamatio emphatica.
Who is wise? ] q.d. I could wish there were more; but I see there are not many. Store there are of fools, Stultorum plena aunt omnia, such dust-heaps there are in every corner to be found, not a few that either know not the will of God, or stumble at it. "But who hath known the mind of the Lord?" 1 Corinthians 2:16 . "Who among you will give ear to this? Who hath believed our report? or to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Who is the wise man, that may understand this?" Isaiah 42:23 ; Isa 53:1 Jeremiah 9:12 . Lucerna accensa hominem quaerebat Aesopus. Jeremiah was bidden run to and fro to find a man that sought the truth, v. 1. Rari quippe boni (Juven. Sat. 13). Not many wise, wise, I mean, to salvation, 2 Timothy 3:15 , that make sure work for their souls, and draw their wisdom from God’s holy word, from the mine of the mystery of Christ, Psalms 119:98-99 . All others are "foolish people, sottish children; they have no understanding," Jeremiah 4:22 , be they never so shrewd and of deep reach for the world, be they never so wise in their generation. The fox is so in his; and the devil in his, for when he was but young he outwitted our first parents, 2 Corinthians 11:3 , who yet were no babes, simple and weak in understanding, as the Socinians affirm them to have been or else they would not (say they) have so sinned. A fond conceit, and without footing in God’s holy word, where we find that they were created in God’s image, which consisteth in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, as saith the apostle, Ephesians 4:24 .
And he shall understand these things ] "Which none of the princes of this world know," 1 Corinthians 2:8 , because their learning hangs in their light; and, like moles, they dig dexterously under-ground, but are blind above-ground. Sapiens est cui res sapiunt prout sunt, saith Bernard. He is the wise man that savoureth things as they are. And herein lieth the whole wisdom of a man, saith Lactantius, ut Deum cognoscat, et colat, that he know and worship God aright, that with a practical judgment he ponder the words and ways of God, in order to salvation. This is that wisdom that dwelleth with prudence, Proverbs 8:12 . Aristotle, in many places of his works, distinguisheth between wisdom and prudence. Wisdom he maketh to be a right apprehending of truths in general; prudence, an applying them to particular cases and uses. But Socrates said, that there was no such difference; since he that knoweth good things to do them, and evil things to avoid them, is to be held a wise man, and none else. They may seem here to be put for one and the same; since the wise man is said not to know, but to understand, judge, and ponder, and the prudent to know; teaching us, that God calls for a prudent wisdom, and a wise prudence, directing the soul to aa orderly carriage, and a holy care, that godliness (which is the only wisdom) may run through our whole lives, as the woof doth through the web.
For the ways of the Lord are right ] Understand it not so much of the ways of predestination, providence, &c., wherein God walks towards us (which yet are all right and equal), as of those ways of his will, word, and worship, wherein he requireth us to walk towards him. These are called the way of God, Matthew 22:16 , and the way of salvation, Acts 16:17 , and the way of truth, 2 Peter 2:2 , and the right way, 2 Peter 2:15 , and the way of righteousness, 2 Peter 2:21 . Right these ways are called, or straight. First, because they are conformed to the will of a righteous God, which is the mensura mensurans, the first rule of right, the standard, Non solum recta, sed et regula. Secondly, because the matter of it is holy, and just, and good, a doctrine of righteousness, that teacheth us to give God his due, and men theirs. It is also put for every purpose, Psa 19:7-8 Proverbs 30:5 . Of the Book of Psalms, Athanasius hath observed, that they are so penned that every man may well think they speak de se, in re sun, of himself, and to his own particular necessities. Thirdly, because it rectifieth us, and transformeth us into the same image; it maketh such as deliver up themselves thereunto to walk as patterns of the rule, as a transcript of the word, that dwelleth richly in them, and worketh effectually, as a seed of immortality. Fourthly, because it carrieth us on in a straight line unto a right end without crooking or compassing about, Psalms 19:8 ; Psalms 25:4 ; Psalms 125:5 . Has vias qui terit, non terit. Pray therefore as David did, Psalms 18:29 , lest breaking out into byways (all which are highways to hell), or but stepping over the hedge, to avoid a piece of foul way, we brush and bruise ourselves to get in again, break our bones with David.
And the just shall walk in them ] Such as are just with a double righteousness, imputed and imparted; that of justification, and this of sanctification: these will choose the way of truth, Psalms 119:39 ; Psalms 25:12 , and be willing to walk honestly, Hebrews 13:18 , orderly, and by rule, Galatians 5:25 , accurately, and to the utmost, Ephesians 5:15 , directly and distinctly, eyeing the mark, and propounding to themselves the highest pitch, and the best patterns ( στοιχεινακριβως ): often comparing themselves with the rule, laying their lives by the line, and reforming their outstrays, Psalms 119:59-60 , making it the main of their endeavour, that all their deeds may be wrought in God, John 3:21 . Lo, this is the just man’s practice; and it is here propounded for a precedent.
But the transgressors shall fall therein ] They perish from the way, Psalms 2:12 ; they stumble at the Word and fall into perdition, as the Chaldee here hath it; and so show themselves to be transgressors, traitors, rebels, yea, reprobates. See 1 Peter 2:8 , they "stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed." Oh, fearful! "A bridge is made" (saith a reverend divine) "to give us a safe passage over a river, but he who stumbleth on the bridge is in danger to fall into the river. The Word is given us as a means to carry us over hell to heaven; but he who stumbleth and quarrelleth at this means shall fall in thither, from whence otherwise he had been delivered by it." Neither may we think the worse of the Word for this accidental effect of it upon transgressors; since the fault is merely in themselves: as when a lame man stumbleth in a plain path, the fault is not in the way, but in the foot. Blear eyes cannot abide the light; nor children endure honey when they have sore mouths. The same sun makes flowers smell sweet, but carrions stink loathsomely. Moses saved the Israelite, killed the Egyptian; and Abigail’s voice pacified David, but made Nabal’s heart died within him as a stone. Oecumenius telleth us that the fragrance of precious ointments is wholesome for doves, but kills the beetle, columbam vegetat, scarabaeum necat. And Aristotle affirmeth, that oil of roses is deadly to vultures, who hunt after only dead men’s carcases. Christ himself, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, was set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign to be spoken against, Luke 2:34 , for a butt mark, against whom his enemies should shoot the shaft of their gainsayings. To the Jews he became a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness, 1 Corinthians 1:23 . Let them alone (saith he, concerning the Pharisees, who were offended at his sayings, Mat 15:14 ). Let them stumble and fall, and be broken, and snared, and taken, Isaiah 8:15 . Christ in his ordinances is to reprobates a rock of offence, 2 Peter 2:8 , but such a rock as that, Judges 6:21 , out of which goeth fire and consumeth them. "For if any love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he is Anathema Maranatha," 1 Corinthians 16:22 . "Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?" Jeremiah 8:9 .
“ Linea ducta mihi est, gratia, Christe, tibi. ”
“By the plumline it has been leading to me, oh Christ by grace to thee”
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 14". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent