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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Hosea 14





An exhortation to repentance. A promise of God's blessing.

Before Christ 725.

Verse 2

Hosea 14:2. Take with you words Take with you leaders. Houbigant; who renders the latter part of the verse, That we may receive good things, and may render the fruits of our lips. See Hebrews 13:15. The calves of our lips, may signify those praises which are to be in the stead of sacrifices; of calves and of goats.

Verse 4

Hosea 14:4. Freely Are good works then nothing, you will say? "Is there no place at all for them in the doctrine of repentance? I answer, that hitherto the discourse hath been about remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. These are entirely gratuitous, and not of our merit, but simply of the inexhaustible goodness and compassion of God. Therefore, when we speak of the remission of sins, it is right to be silent about our own works; which, because they are done without the Holy Spirit, although with regard to civil society they may not be bad, yet cannot be called good, and ought not; because of the unclean heart, from which they proceed. But when through faith we have received remission of sins, and, together with that, the gift of the Holy Ghost; forthwith from the heart, as from a pure fountain, come forth works also good, and well-pleasing to God," &c. See Luther's Commentary upon this chapter.

Verse 5-6

Hosea 14:5-6. I will be as the dew, &c.— These verses contain gracious promises of God's favour upon Israel's conversion, represented by different metaphors. In the fifth verse, it is described by that refreshment, which copious dews give to the grass in the heat of summer. If we consider the nature of the climate, and the necessity of dews in so hot a country, not only to refresh, but likewise to preserve life; if we consider also the beauty of the oriental lilies, the fragrance of the cedars which grow upon Lebanon, the beauteous appearance which the spreading olive-trees afforded, the exhilarating coolness caused by the shade of such trees, and the aromatic smell exhaled by the cedars; we shall then partly understand the force of the metaphors here employed by the prophet; but their full energy no one can conceive, till he both feels the want and enjoys the advantage of the particulars referred to, in that climate wherein the prophet wrote. See Bishop Lowth's 12th and 19th Prelection, and Genesis 27:28. Instead of, His branches shall spread, in Hosea 14:6. Houbigant reads, His suckers shall go forth.

Verse 7

Hosea 14:7. They that dwell under his shadow shall return, &c.— They shall return and dwell under his shadow; they shall sprout out again as the corn, and bloom as the vine: he shall be praised as the wine of Lebanon, or "as the most exquisite wine which was offered at the altar." Under his shadow means the shadow of JEHOVAH.

Verse 8

Hosea 14:8. I have heard him, &c.— I will hear him; I will exalt him on high, like a green fir-tree: thy fruits shall spring forth from me. Houbigant.

Verse 9

Hosea 14:9. Who is wise, &c.— Many interpreters are of opinion, that the prophet here hints at the obscurity of his prophesy: as much as to say, "Behold, I have set before you what is dark and difficult, surrounded with obscurity: who will have penetration sufficient to enter into and develope the mystery?" See Calmet, and Bishop Reynolds's Sermons on this chapter; where the reader will find a variety of useful and improving remarks.

Transgressors It should be rendered revolters. פשׁעים poshiim. This word expresses a degree and enormity of disobedience far beyond any thing contained in the notion of "transgressors, prevaricators," or any other denomination of guilt, by which the word is rendered in our English Bible. It denotes rebels, in the highest sense of the word; and, in a religious sense, such as wilfully, with premeditation, disobey God from hatred of his authority. It is bold avowed rebellion, or revolt, disowning the authority of the sovereign, and having for its end the overthrow of his sovereignty. But it will be said, Who ever was so mad, as to avow or entertain a design or hope of overthrowing the sovereignty of God? I say, numbers in all ages of the world. Atheists, deists, idolaters, and secular powers that persecute revealed religion. Many of these, indeed, retain the name of a god, or gods, as signifying, in their conceptions, an animus mundi, or physical powers in the different parts of the material world. But they all disown and oppose the God of the Old Testament, and the New; the God of Jews, and of Christians. And they endeavour what they can to overthrow his authority, by uniting their efforts (in vain, but much in earnest) for the extirpation of the Christian religion. If those, who, in the present day, are the most forward, and most powerful, in this work of impiety, affect a partiality for the Jews; it is because they hope to draw them in, to take part in the demolition of Christianity; and, when that is effected, they expect to find in Judaism an easy conquest. Whether any part, or what part, of the Jews may be drawn into this snare of hell, we presume not to predict. We hope that the great majority of that race will have too much discretion to be duped. This at least we know, that ultimately the whole race of Israel, of the natural Israel, will return and seek Jehovah their God, and the David their king. They shall return, and, sitting under his shadow, they will flourish. The head of the faction leagued against us and them, against our God and theirs, is the devil. If I am not much mistaken, he is more than once named in Scripture פשׁע posheang, The Rebel, The Apostate. And the same participle in the plural, which is the word here, denotes the followers of that chief, rebels, revolters. See Bishop Horsley. This ninth verse, the close of Hosea's written prophesies, much resembles those grave moral sayings, with which the Greek dramas are usually closed by the chorus; but for the weightiness of the matter, and the simplicity, brevity, and solemnity of easy unaffected diction, it is not to be equalled by any thing that the Attic muse, in her soberest mood, produced.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, A door of hope is here opened for God's believing people. He is not inexorable, if we will return: he waiteth to be gracious.

1. They are called upon and enjoined to come to him. O Israel, return unto the Lord, who is still ready to receive the perishing but returning sinner, to pardon and save him; and, though so long rejected, will not in that case refuse to be called thy God: for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity, which then, now, and ever, was, is, and will be, the cause of all our miseries; but when we see, feel, and lament it, and turn to God, then shall not iniquity be our destruction.

2. Words are suggested to them, suitable to their state and condition. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto him, Take away all iniquity, this being the first great want of the penitent sinner's soul. His guilt lies upon him as a heavy burden, which he longs to have removed; his corruptions thrust sore at him, and he is without power of himself to help himself: earnestly, therefore, he prays for a sense of God's pardoning love, to deliver him from the condemnation of sin, of all sin, as blotted out through the blood of Jesus; and for power against iniquity, against every iniquity, that it may be mortified and conquered by divine grace: and receive us graciously; for we have no desert to plead, but the very reverse: or receive good; accept us and our services as well-pleasing in Christ Jesus: or give good, every blessing which we need, and the ability for that goodness which thou dost enjoin; for from him alone cometh every good and perfect gift: so will we render the calves of our lips, those sacrifices of praise which shall please the Lord better than a bullock that hath horns and hoofs. Asshur shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses, seeking to Assyria or Egypt for help; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods, their idols being renounced and abhorred; and thus the returning sinner, who in simplicity approaches a pardoning God, feels his heart constrained to part with every idol; to renounce his most easily besetting sin; to disclaim all dependence upon his own doings and duties, and every trust upon creature help, that he may solely rest on the blood, the infinite merit, and the Spirit of a Redeemer, and expect his whole salvation from the rich and unmerited grace of God. For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. It is God's great honour and glory, that he doth not despise nor reject the prayer of the poor destitute penitent: nay, though our distresses arise from our own folly and perverseness, he will not therefore cast us out, if we penitently apply to him for mercy; but the more magnify the wonders of his mercy in the depths of our misery, and in the views of our utter unworthiness.

2nd, Great and precious are the promises recorded in this chapter, in answer to the prayer of real penitence. God assures the penitent,

1. Of the removal of that wrath which they dreaded: mine anger is turned away from him. There is no wrath in God against the sinner who returns to him through Jesus Christ, and pleads the full atonement and infinite merit of his divine Substitute.

2. I will love them freely. Sin, the cause of his displeasure, being now through the Redeemer forgiven and blotted out, he can, consistently with his own glory, love them; and he will do it freely, not in consideration of any desert in his believing people, for they have none; but according to his own rich mercy and amazing love.

3. I will heal their backsliding; recover his returning people from their sinful departures, apply the suitable medicines of grace to their wounds, and deliver them from the power of all that iniquity against which they pray.

4. He will quicken, comfort, stablish, strengthen, settle them. I will be as the dew unto Israel, refreshing the parched ground; and so do his Word and Spirit revive the drooping heart of the poor dejected sinner. He shall grow as the lily, in the beauty of a gracious profession, and the unsullied exemplariness of a good conversation; and cast forth his roots as Lebanon, firm rooted on the rock Christ, enabled to withstand every stormy blast of temptation and the united force of earth and hell. Thus in the faithful believer the purity of the lily and the strength of the cedar are united. His branches shall spread, the gospel-church being enlarged with converts, and each believing soul increasing in the knowledge and love of God; and, abounding in every good word and work, his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, whose leaves are ever green; so pleasing in the beauty of holiness shall God's people appear; and his smell as Lebanon, the graces that he exercises, and the acceptable sacrifices that he offers, fragrant as the odoriferous trees which grew on that famed mountain. They that dwell under his shadow shall return, under the shadow of Jesus, which covers the genuine believer from the scorching heat of a fiery law, and refreshes the soul of the weary; and to him shall they confidently fly for shelter and consolation; they shall revive as the corn, which in the spring vegetates strongly after the nipping blasts of winter's cold; so the saints of God rise from their afflictions and temptations, fairer and stronger than before; and grow as the vine, supported by the divine power, and fruitful in all good works, to the praise and glory of God; and the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon, diffusing their fragrance, and by their examples and gracious discourse serving as cordials to revive the dejected and disconsolate.

3rdly, We have,

1. Penitent Ephraim's final determination. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? with abhorrence casting them away, and purposing in the strength of divine grace to return to them no more. Thus does the converted soul renounce, with detestation, its once most beloved sins; not that we can fulfil the least of these resolutions in our own natural strength, but by the grace of God, and by his love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us. No. It is God who promises, that he will enable penitent returning Ephraim to speak thus; and he will give him the ability to perform his resolutions.

2. God's gracious regard towards him. I have heard him, and observed him; heard his prayers, and seen his tears, and noted all the gracious purposes which his heart has formed; for God delights to behold the returning prodigal, and looks with tenderest compassion and warmest affection on him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, ready to answer and relieve all his complaints.

3. The Lord will bless, protect, and save him. I am like a green fir-tree. Under the shadow of Jesus, his believing people sit with delight, safe from the sultry beams of day, and protected from storm and rain, from every spiritual enemy, and from the power of evil: from me is thy fruit found; all our spiritual blessings being derived from him, and all our fruits of grace springing from the supplies ministered by him the living root, are therefore to be ascribed entirely to his praise and glory.

4. The prophet closes with recommending these words to our most serious attention: Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? such will be inquisitive into the mind of God, and searching the scriptures daily, shall be enlightened with the knowledge of the truth: for the ways of the Lord are right, all his dispensations of providence and grace being consonant to the strictest rules of eternal justice; and the more they are truly understood, the more shall we acknowledge them to be so; and the just shall walk in them; obedient to his will, submissive to his providences; but the transgressors shall fall therein; the same word, which is a savour of life unto life to some, will prove the savour of death unto death to others, through their disobedience to God's word, or their abuse of the most glorious truths contained therein; the same doctrines of gospel-grace affording the sweetest consolations, and suggesting to the faithful the strongest arguments for all holy conversation, while the hypocrite and apostate suck from them deadly poison, and make that which should have been for their help an occasion of falling.


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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hosea 14:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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