Hosea 14




The history of Israel is basically the history of mankind – a history of sin

and of salvation, of ruin and of recovery, of the backsliding of man and

the mercy of God!


The condition of the Hebrew people as set forth by the Prophet Hosea is

one that often repeats itself in the experiences — some of them sad enough —

of everyday life. How many have fallen by iniquity around us! How many are

falling by iniquity at our very doors, on this side and on that! How many have

we known to begin life well, but they fell by iniquity! The wrecks of the fallen

are strewn on the right hand and on the left. Some fall by drunkenness, some

by lewdness, some by want of rectitude and right principle, some by what the

world calls unsteadiness. If the sword slays its thousands, iniquity slays its tens

of thousands.


We should pity the fallen.  We are to try and lift them up, to pray for the

backslider, and seek to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness,

considering ourselves, “lest thou also be tempted” – Galatians 6:1


The Bible warns “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall  -

I Corinthians 10:12 – “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the

error of the wicked, fall from you own stedfastness” – II Peter 3:17


God wounds in order to make whole, when He convinces of sin, His

object is to lead us to the Savior, Jesus Christ, and comfort us


v. 1 – The previous thirteen chapters of this book abounds with denunciations

            of punishment.  This closing chapter superabounds with promises of

            pardon.   “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God” - The invitation to

            return implies previous departure, or distance, or wandering from God. The

            return to which they are invited is expressed, not by la,, to or towards, but

            by r[, quite up to, or as far as right home; the penitent, therefore, is not

            merely to turn his  mind or his face toward God, but to turn his face and

            his feet home to God; he is not to go half the way and then turn aside, or

            part of the way and then turn back, but the whole way; in other words, his

            repentance is to be complete and entire, wanting nothing - “It is good

            for me to draw near to God.” (Psalm 73:28) -  As punishment was

            threatened in case of obstinate impenitence, so mercy is promised on

            condition of thorough repentance.



for thou has fallen by thine iniquity” - ka-shalta is properly “thou hast

stumbled,” “made a false step,” many and grievous were the calamities into which

by their fall they had been precipitated; neither were any to blame but

themselves their iniquity or their folly was the cause, nor was there any one

to lift them up, now that they lay prostrate, save Jehovah.


Consequences of the fall are seen in posterity. When we read the

records of the ancient nations of heathendom, even the most enlightened

and polished, we cannot fail to be convinced of the deep degradation into

which man by iniquity had fallen. In Egypt, the cradle of civilization, men

worshipped animals and plants, and even reptiles. In Greece, with all its

boasted intellectual superiority, aesthetic tastes, and fine arts, men

worshipped a host of false gods, deified men, and even impersonations of

the lowest passions and worst vices that agitate the human heart; while of

Athens itself it was said that you could as easily find a god as a man in that

celebrated city in Rome men multiplied gods, for, in addition to the

national divinities, they readily admitted into their pantheon the gods,

however monstrous and motley.  In America, men worship self, sex,

materialism, money, pleasure and since we are free, any type of god

which we have the freedom to express?  Rejoice, O young man, in

thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and


THINE EYES:  but know thou, that for ALL THESE THINGS



All Israel is invited to repentance, that he who has been debilitated, or has fallen

headlong in his iniquities, may return to the physician and recover health, or that

 he who had fallen headlong may begin to stand.” The penitent is to direct his

thoughts to Jehovah; to Him as Center he is attracted, and in Him he finds

his place of rest; nor is there ether means of recovery or source of help.


In this invitation the vilest are subjects of this invitation; the oldest, the worst,

the most wicked, are comprehended; they are offered present pardon, they are

assured of instant forgiveness, and all without money and without price: “The

Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let

him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life

freely.”  Revelation 22:17 - Oh, then, since God is waiting and willing to be

gracious, let not the sinner ignore that goodness, nor regard it with insensibility,

 nor trample underfoot His great mercy, nor treat His gracious overtures as the

idle wind that passeth by; but allow himself to be led by the goodness of God to



despiseth thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering;

not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” – Romans






“He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who

hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the BLOOD OF

THE COVENANT, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath



v. 2 – “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord” - the words

referred to are such as express prayer for pardon and confession of sin —

the audible sound of the heart’s desires. There is an allusion, perhaps, to

the requirement of the Law: “None shall appear before me empty.” (Exodus

34:20) – Not outward sacrifices, but words of confession, were the offering to

be presented. Thus Cyril eloquently explains it: “Ye shall propitiate the Deity,

not by making offerings of riches, not by dedicating gold, not by honoring

Him with silver vessels, not gladdening Him by sacrifices of oxen, not by

slaughtering of birds; but ye shall give Him discourses and wish to praise

the Lord of the universe.” To the same purport is the exposition of Aben Ezra:

“He desires not from you, when ye go to seek His favor, treasures or burnt

offerings, only words with which ye are to confess;” so also Kimchi: “He

does not require of you on your return to Him silver or gold or offering, which the

Israelites lavished at great expense on their idols, but good works with which ye

are to confess your iniquities.”



Say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and  receive us graciously”


It is iniquity that has wrought our ruin, it is sin that is the source of all our

sorrows; take it away, for by it we have fallen. Take it all away — the guilt

of it, the defilement of it, the dominion of it, the love of it, and the practice

of it. Take it all away and forever!


The calves, even the lips, are the thank offerings and service of the lips in

general; nor do these differ aught from the fruit of the lips. Thanksgiving,

praise, prayer, self-dedication, and self-surrender are all expressed by the

lips, and are thus their offerings or their fruit.


“So will we render the calves of our lips” – the best animals for thank

offerings were young oxen, but the lips, that is, the utterances of the lips,

consisting of prayers or praises, or both, are to take the place of the animal

sacrifices offered in thanksgiving. Thus the psalmist says, “I will praise the

Name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This

also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and

hoofs.” – (Psalm 69:30-31) The Septuagint, reading yr]p] instead of μyr]p;, renders

by karpo<n cei>lewn, to which the inspired author of Hebrews alludes, “By Him

therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the

fruit of our lips, giving thanks [margin, ‘confessing’] to His Name;” –

(Hebrews 13:15)  or perhaps the reference in Hebrews is to Isaiah 57:19 –

“I create the fruit of the lips. Further, as words of confession in v. 2 take

the place of sacrifices of sin offerings, so here words of thanksgiving replace

sacrifices of thanksgiving.


THE CONCLUSION: - v. 3 – “Asshur shall not save us” - Here was a

renunciation of all hope of safety from the world powers - both Assyria and Egypt.

They would never again have recourse to Assyria for help, nor to Egypt for horses;

nor confide in their own unaided power or prowess; while this renunciation of

worldly power and carnal confidences implied, as its opposite, unfaltering faith in

the protecting power and saving strength of Jehovah. All this was much, and

yet more was required; next to such renunciation of merely human aid, as

indicated, and its contrary, the recognition of Divine assistance, comes the

absolute and complete abandonment of their national and besetting sin of

idolatry. They have so far come to themselves and received the right use of

reason as to confess that the manufacture of man’s hands cannot be man’s

god, thus giving up with feelings of contempt and disgust the groveling sin

of idolatry with its attendant vices. Still more, they are penetrated with the

conviction that man without God is a poor fatherless creature, in no better,

if not in a worse, condition than that of a weak orphan child. They have the

consolation at the same time that for all such, on their return to Him, the

father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) and the God of the orphan has bowels

of tenderest compassion.  It is when we feel our condition in this world to be one

of orphanage, of weakness, destitution, desolateness, and distress, that we repose

trustfully and securely in the Divine mercy and gracious fatherhood of God.

To the presumed prayer of the penitent an answer overflowing with mercy is

promised at once, and by God Himself in the next section.


Compare Jesus’ account of the Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-32


(I recommend  highly Luke 15 – Dwight L. Moody Sermon – The Prodigal Son –

this web site – the reader will be rewarded for the effort it takes – CY – 2009)


vs. 4-7 – “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for

mine anger is turned away from him” -  The penitential prayer put in the

mouth of the people receives in this verse a gracious response; words of

contrite confession are echoed back in accents of compassion and

consolation. When thus penitent and prayerful they returned to the Lord,

He promises them favor as well as forgiveness, so as to heal the moral

malady under which they had long labored, remedy the evil effects of their

apostasy, and withhold the stripes he was going to inflict. Meshubhatham

(backsliding) means turning away from God, defection, rebellion, idolatry,

and other sins. The disease would be healed, and its consequences averted.


BACKSLIDING is in the Soul what DISEASE is in the Body.




God promises:

  • to heal their backsliding
  • to love them freely
  • to turn His anger from them
  • to be as dew unto Israel – the Source of fruitfulness
  • that Israel will blossom as the lily


He shall grow (margin, blossom) as the lily. This comparison

suggests many qualities, any one of which may characterize, or all of which

may combine in, the spiritual growth thus pictured. There is the purity of

the lily, the beauty of the lily, the fecundity of the lily, the perfume of the

lily, the rapidity of its growth, the stately slightness of its stem. We may

combine the rapidity of its growth; its fecundity, with regard to which

Pliny informs us that a single root produces fifty bulbs; its beauty, to which

our Lord refers in contrast with the glory of Solomon (Matthew 6:28-30).

But its root is weak, and He, on that account perhaps, subjoins: “And cast forth

(margin, strike) his roots as Lebanon” - Whether it mean that the roots are as

the trees of Lebanon or the mountain of Lebanon itself, the thought expressed by

this comparison is stability. “As the trees of Lebanon,” says Jerome, “which

strike their roots as far down into the depths as they lift their heads up into

the air, so that they can be shaken by no storm, but by their stable

massiveness maintain their position.” His branches shall spread; margin,

go; rather, go on. This feature in the representation denotes enlargement or

expansion. The tender branches (suckers) spreading out in all directions

very aptly set forth the multiplication of Israel or their growth and increase

numerically. But branches straggling, crooked, and ill-shaped would rather

be a blemish than a beauty. It is, therefore, added: “His beauty shall be as

the olive tree” -  The olive has been called the crown of the fruit trees of

Palestine, but besides, its fruitage so plentiful and useful, the splendor of its

green, and the enduring freshness of its foliage, make it a vivid picture of

that beauty of holiness or spiritual graces which it is here employed to

represent. There is still an additional element of interest pertaining to this

goodly tree, namely, “And his smell as Lebanon”.  This signifies the

fragrance of this beautiful tree of righteousness. The smell of Lebanon is

referred to in Song of Solomon 4:11, “And the smell of thy garments is

like the smell of Lebanon.” What with its cedars, and spices, and fruit, and

flowers, and aromatic shrubs, and fragrant vines, Lebanon must perfume

the air with the most delightful odors. Thus acceptable to God and pleasing

to man shall Israel become. The commentators quote with commendation

Rosenmüller’s explanation of the individual features of this inimitable

picture: “The rooting indicates stability; the spreading of the branches,

propagation and the multitude of inhabitants; the splendor of the olive,

beauty and glory, and that constant and lasting; the fragrance, hilarity and

loveliness. The simile changes into the metaphor; Israel, from being

likened to a tree, becomes the tree.



But what enhances the beauty and the blessedness is the circumstance that

the persons to whom these facts and figures have reference are those very

persons who had erred and strayed from the Lord their God - even Israel who

had fallen by their iniquity, Israel who had sadly backslidden, Israel who had

grievously provoked the just anger of the Almighty; but Israel repenting and

returning, praying and pleading, giving up their false refuges and casting aside

their false gods. Oh how cheering and encouraging that God welcomes His

erring children to return! Like the father in the parable, He runs to meet the

prodigal, He casts the arms of His love around Him; He receives the penitent

to His fond embrace, laying aside the wrath that had been provoked; He

bestows the love that had been undeserved; He forgives the sins that had

been committed; He foregoes the punishment that had been incurred; and,

physician-like, He heals the backslidings great and manifold.


The psalmist compares brotherly love and union and peace to dew.  “As

the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains

of Zion:  for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for

evermorePsalm 133:3 – (I remember reading this back in the 1950’s –

our Sunday School teacher, Ward Correll, at Oak Hill Baptist Church in

Somerset, KY would ask each week how many chapters of the Bible we read. 

I would read this and other Psalms to make the count higher – it is read

in a different light now but “Thanks be to God, His word “shall not return

unto Him void but will accomplish what He sent it for”  - Isaiah 55:11 –

CY – 2009)


Dew has a fertilizing and fructifying property. Hence the dew is

indispensable to germination and growth. Without it the husbandman

would labor in vain and spend his strength for naught. He might

industriously break up the fallow ground and carefully scatter the seed, but

without the moisture of rain or dew the seed sown would neither bud nor

grow; so in spiritual husbandry, men may plough and sow, but without the

dew of Divine grace there will be no increase. How different when the dew

of God’s grace is abundantly bestowed.  Then hard hearts are softened,

stubborn wills renewed, invitations of the gospel accepted, the warnings of

the Divine Word touch the conscience, its instructions impress the heart,

awakenings take place in Churches, revivals occur throughout the land.

Nay, more, the weakest means become effectual, the simplest

instrumentalities powerful; while in individual life the weak Christian is

strengthened, the weary is refreshed, the fainting revived, the unlovely

spiritually beautified, and the spiritual fruitfulness or virtues of all

developed or revived.





Beware that the heart becomes so hardened by the deceitfulness of

sin, the conscience so seared by iniquity, and the WHOLE MAN SO

ALIENATED from the life of God that there is NO DISPOSITION



v. 8 – “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?”

This is full, final, and for over a renunciation of idolatry on the part of

Israel. I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree.

From me is thy fruit found.” This is God’s promise, that His eye is fixed

on Israel in order to look after him, care for him, and provide for him, and

to protect and prosper him; while the figure of a green fir tree is the pledge

of shelter and security. But, though the fir tree is evergreen, it is fruitless;

and therefore it is added that God will prove the Source of fruitfulness, and

supply all that his people shall or can ever need.


v. 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.”

This verse demands attention to all the prophet has written, whether for

warning, or reproof, or correction in righteousness, or encouragement to

piety and virtue, and evidently alludes to Deuteronomy 32:4. The ways

of the Lord are those He prescribes for them to walk in, as also the ways

He takes in guiding, guarding, and governing men. Like the dictates of the

Word, so the dispensations of His providence are to some the savor of life,

to others the savor of death;  (II Corinthians 2:14-16) therefore it is added

that, while the righteous walk therein, the wicked stumble in them (comp.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20).


I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before

you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou

and thy seed may live:That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that

thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is

thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land

which the LORD swear unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and

to Jacob, to give them.”  Deuteronomy 30:19-20


In my commentary I had written that I read a Spurgeon Sermon on Aug. 19,

2001  entitled “Filling the Empty Vessels” – I recommend (Philippians ch4 v19-

Spurgeon Sermon – Filling the Empty Vessels”– this web site – CY – 2009)









                                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES



first effect is growth as of the lily.


A.  The growth of the lily is rapid as it is beautiful. Here we may consider it

as an emblem of beauty. Thus our Lord says, “Consider the lilies of the

field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto

you, That oven Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

In a passage in Ezekiel God says to His people, “Thy renown went forth

among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my

comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.” The

comeliness to which the prophet refers is the comeliness of the soul. There

is nothing so beautiful as holiness; there is no ornament like piety. The

earth is beautiful when God adorns it with the bounties of His providence;

when He replenishes it with fruit and flower, with grass for the cattle and

herb for the service of man; when He carpets its surface with living green,

clothing the fields with verdure, and covering the hills with corn. There is

beauty in the over-canopying sky, in the bright orbs that sparkle like gems

in the firmament. There is beauty in the widespread world of waters, and in

the waves that dimple ocean’s cheek. There is beauty twinkling in every

star above us, sparkling in the dewdrops at our feet, and shining in every

shimmer of noonday splendor. All these testify how beautiful this world

once was, and how beautiful it would still be but for sin. There is beauty in

the human face divine: there is beauty in the face of fair woman, and beauty

of a rougher east in the countenance of man, and beauty, playful, cheerful

beauty, in the pretty countenance of childhood. But all the varied beauties

of a lovely world are not to be compared with the beauty of holiness. It is a

beauty that reflects God’s own image, and by which we resemble Christ.


                        “Come, then, O house of Jacob, come,

                                    To worship at his shrine;

                           And, walking in the light of God,

                                    With holy beauties shine.”


There may be beauty in the adorning of the person, in the plaiting of the

hair, the wearing of gold, and the putting on of apparel; but the true beauty

is the “hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible, even the

beauty of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great

price.”I Peter 3:4


B.  The next characteristic of this growth is stability. The growth of the lily

may be fair or fast, but it soon fades; it may be easily plucked up, and so

another figure is added to show the firmness of the believer. He is firmly

rooted as well as spiritually fair. Some colors are very beautiful and very

showy, but they are not fast colors; they soon fade, they soon lose their

vividness. Some plants are very beautiful in their bloom, but weak in their

root and soon uptorn. Not so the Christian. He casts forth his roots as

Lebanon — either as the mountain itself, one of earth’s deep foundations;

or as the forest trees, those cedars of God, deeply rooted therein. Thus,

with the flower of the lily, the believer has the root of the mountain or of

the cedar tree, over which the winds of heaven have swept for centuries.

He is fair as the one and firm as the other, for Christ dwells in his heart by

faith; he is rooted and grounded in love; he is rooted in Christ and

established in the faith, abounding therein with thanksgiving. He is,

moreover, “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the

Lord,” forasmuch as he knows that his labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

(I Corinthians 15:58) - Besides, as the root of trees draws up nourishment from

the ground, so the Christian derives nourishment and strength from Christ;

while the union is so close and so constant that nothing can separate him

from Christ, nothing can wrench him from that rock in which he is rooted,

nothing can detach him from the foundation on which he rests.  (Romans 8:



C.  The next characteristic is expansiveness, as expressed by the words,

“His branches shall spread.” While his roots spread far and sink deeply into

the soil, his branches spread. The application of this promise is to Israel

literally, and so to the Church in general, as well as to the individual

Christian. The Church of God is destined to grow to a great extent, and to

spread her branches widely on every side, sending out “her boughs into the

sea, and her branches unto the river,” and ultimately to fill the whole earth.

The Christian’s growth likewise is expansive. He grows inwardly in the

graces of the Spirit, outwardly in good works, upward in heavenly

mindedness, and downward in humility. He adds to his “faith virtue, and to

virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance

patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness,

and to brotherly kindness charity. These things are in him and abound, and

thus is neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of God and in the

doing of the Divine will.”  (II Peter 1:5-8) - Whatsoever things are true, honest,

just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy, he thinks on

and practices these things”.   Philippians 4:8 - His profiting appears to all, and

his holy demeanor is so manifested that he promotes the growth of grace in others,

and consequently the progress of the gospel in the world. He resembles the

shining light, which continues to spread more widely and to shine more

brightly until the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18)


D. The next element of this growth is permanence of beauty and abundance

of fruit. In addition to the beauty or glory of the lily, the stability of the

cedar rooted in Lebanon, or of Lebanon itself, the expansiveness of

numerous and magnificent branches, we have also the abiding beauty and

rich fruitage of the olive. The beauty of the lily is frail and its glory fading;

but the greenness of the olive is perpetual; and as abundance of branches

and plenty of leaves may make a show for a time, and suggest the idea of a

sort of empty ostentatiousness, the prophet gives a fresh touch to his

picture by adding the greenery of the olive, which is lasting, and the

fruitfulness of the olive, which is so profitable and for many purposes

serviceable — enlightenment, nourishment, and embellishment. Thus the

psalmist says, “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in

the mercy of God for ever and ever.”   (Psalm 52:8)  So also in Jeremiah 11:8

God calls His people a green olive tree, fair and of goodly fruit; such too is the

individual believer — planted in the garden of the Lord, watered by the

dew of heaven, his leaf is ever fresh and his fruit ever seasonable. Even in

the winter of adversity the leaf of the righteous is green; in the winter of

age they still bear fruit; in the wintry storms of the world their beauty

remains like that of the olive tree, ever green, ever fresh, and ever

flourishing. The beauty of an evergreen is enhanced, like most other things,

by contrast; it appears most when other shrubs and trees are stripped and

bared by the wintry blast; it is seen to most advantage when deadness and

desolation reign around. In like manner, when the storms of’ life, when the

decrepitude of age, when the languor of decay, has stripped the mere

worldly professor of the leaves of a merely assumed and temporary

profession, a profession without reality, then true Christians stand out in

striking contrast.


                        “Those that within the house of God

                                    Are planted by His grace,

                        They shall grow up and flourish all

                                    In our God’s holy place:

                        And in old age, when others fade,

                                    They fruit still forth shall bring:

                        They shall be fat and full of sap.

                                    And aye be flourishing.”


E.   By the smell of Lebanon is set forth the fragrance of holiness. There is

nothing so pleasing to God as holiness proceeding from faith in Christ and

love to God. The believers’ efforts in the cause of God have a rich

perfume; their zeal and devotedness are like ointment poured forth; their

spiritual sacrifices send forth the savor of a sweet smell. Thus the children

of God are trees of righteousness, God’s own planting, precious in His

sight, pleasant and pleasing to God, and to all who love God and are like

God. God compares his Church to a garden of spices: “A garden enclosed

is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants

are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphor, with

spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees

of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.”  (Song of

Solomon 4:12-14)






F.  The people or Church of God become a blessing to others, Not only are

they blessed themselves, but are made a blessing to others; they benefit all

around. Like the pebble dropped into a pool and sending out wavelets to

the furthest shore, so the people of God communicate benefits that, may

reach to the utmost bound of earth and to the very end of time. Such as are

converted through their influence, repenting of sin and returning to God,

will join themselves to God’s people and rest under the shadow of God’s

Church — shall be spiritually fruitful, reviving like the corn, of which a

grain when it dies in the earth brings forth many more; and prolific as the

vine, which, when pruned, produces many clusters, and each cluster many

grapes; while their persons and their services are fragrant and even

medicinal spiritually, as the scent of the far-famed wine of Lebanon

physically. So with the Church of the old dispensation; so with that of the

new; so with God’s Church still.  Amen



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