Hosea 6



vs. 1-3 - These three verses have, by the division into chapters, been

violently and improperly torn from the preceding chapter, to which they

naturally belong. Their connection with the foregoing sentiments is

indicated by the ancient versions — Chaldee and Septuagint, the LXX., for

example, inserting le>gontev, as if the reading had been rsoale: This


  • represents the Israelites exhorting one another in that good time which

      the prophet encourages them to expect.


  • But it may be regarded as the prophet’s own exhortation to the exiles;

      their affliction urging them to seek the Lord, and their encouragement

            consisting in the knowledge of His ability and willingness to heal the

            wounds which His own hand had inflicted.


v. 1 – “Come…..Return to the Lord” - In God’s dealings with mankind

we find:


  • reproofs for sin
  • threatenings of wrath,
  • invitations to repentance and
  • promises of mercy.


We are warned to flee from the wrath to come on the one hand, and urged to

return unto the Lord on the other.  It is our duty to exhort one another with

earnestness, and even affectionate persistence, to return to Him from whom

we have wandered, to seek Him whom we have slighted, and, like the prodigal

in the parable of Luke 15, to arise and go to our Father with confession of our

many wanderings of heart and life from the Living God.


“He hath torn and He will heal” – the destruction predicted in v. 14

            of the previous chapter has become an accomplished fact.


“He hath smitten, and He will bind us up” – Jehovah God is the Physician

here - Long before He had assured His people Israel of this, saying, “I am the

Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26); and again, “I kill, and I make alive;

I wound, and I heal” (Deuteronomy 32:39).


His method is to convince us in order that He may comfort us, to show us our

sin that He may lead us to the Savior, to show us our ruin and then apply the






v. 2 – “After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will

raise us up, and we shall live in His sight” -  The expression of time here

employed denotes a comparatively short period, and implies that Israel’s

revival would be speedily as well as certainly accomplished.


The important idea of this verse connects itself with the terms

corresponding to revival, resurrection, and restoration to the Divine favor

and protection. The drooping, declining, dying state of Israel would be

revived; their deathlike condition would undergo a resurrection process;

their disfavor would give way to Divine complacency; and all this, though

not immediately, yet in a comparatively short time. This appears to us the

import of the prophecy. Similar figurative language, and with like

significancy, is employed by Ezekiel (37.) in his vision of the valley and the

resurrection of its dry bones; as also by Isaiah , where the same or a

similar thought is presented in briefer, but still more beautiful, language:

“Thy (lead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.

Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of

herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” – Isaiah 26:19


Calvin, after giving what appeared to him “the simple and genuine sense” of the

passage as applying primarily to the Jews, as we have already seen, adds,

“I do not deny but that God has exhibited a remarkable and memorable

instance of what is here said in His Only Begotten Son. As often, then,

as delay begets weariness in us, let us flee to Christ; for, as it has been said,

His resurrection is a mirror of our life; for we see in that how God is wont

to deal with His own people: the Father did not restore life to Christ as soon

as He was taken down from the cross; He was deposited in the sepulcher, and

He lay there till the third day. When God, then, intends that we should languish

for a time, let us know that we are thus represented in Christ our Head, and hence

let us gather materials of confidence. We have, then, in Christ an illustrious proof

of this prophecy.” The political resurrection of Israel may dimly shadow forth, by

way of type, the resurrection of Messiah and the general resurrection of

which He is the Firstfruits.


v. 3 – “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord” -  This

is more accurately rendered by, let us therefore know, hunt after the

knowledge of Jehovah, urging to active and zealous effort and steady

perseverance in obtaining the knowledge of God — a knowledge theoretic,

but especially practical. Aben Ezra understands the exhortation of intellectual

knowledge: “To know Jehovah is the secret of all wisdom, and for this alone

was man created.


“His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as

the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” - Here we have two

beautiful figures — the morning dawn and the fertilizing rain. The going forth of

Jehovah is represented as the sun rising upon the earth, or rather as the

dawn which heralds the day. The advent of salvation to His people is

identified with, or symbolized by, His appearance. But the dawn of day only

brings the commencement of salvation; its complement is found in the

fruits and blessings of salvation.


v. 4 – “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?  O Judah, what shall I do

            unto thee?”  God makes a lamentation over His people, so

            deplorable had their condition become!


Thus our Lord wept over Jerusalem and the desparate state of its

doomed inhabitants!  Luke 19:41-44, Matthew 23:37-39


“For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early

dew it goeth away” -  A new section here commences. God, having tried

various expedients and many ways to restore Israel to faithfulness, finds all

those methods unavailing; and now He asks what further means of

reclamation He can resort to; what further punishment He is to inflict. Thus

in Isaiah 1:5, “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more

and more!” or what additional privileges can be vouchsafed? Thus in

Isaiah 5:4, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, than I

have not done in it?” The reason is then assigned for such questioning; it

was the brief duration of Israel’s piety. It was evanescent as the early cloud

which floats across a summer’s sky and which the sun soon scatters for

ever, or which pro-raises a refreshing shower, but which is exhaled by the

sun’s heat; it was transient as the dew which lies in pearly drops of beauty

upon the grass, but which the foot of the passing traveler brushes away in a

moment. The prophet had, in the opening verses, referred to real

repentance; but now, turning to Israel, he reminds them of their repentance

by way of contrast, showing them that it was neither of the consistency

nor permanent character required. Proofs of their deficiency lay on the

pages of their national history. Hezekiah had done “that which was right in

the sight of the Lord;” but his son and successor, Manasseh, “wrought

much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.”

Josiah, again, was eminent for piety, so that “like unto him was there no

king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his

soul, and with all his might;” but his successors degenerated, for it is

added, “neither after him arose there any like him.”


Thus He reproves them for the superficial and fleeting character of their



vs. 5-6  - The consequence of Israel’s unsteadiness and inconstancy is

here stated. Because of the fluctuating and formal nature of their

religiousness, God cut them down (instead of rearing them up) through His

prophets by fierce denunciations, and slew them (instead of reviving them)

by the Divine word. The judgment of Jehovah went forth as the lightning

flash or was as clear and conspicuous for justice as the light of day. Neither

could outward services expiate their sins, when the proper feelings and

meet fruits were absent


“I desired mercy (or, mercy I delight in)…and the knowledge of God more

than burnt offerings” - The former is the right state of the life, the latter

the correct condition of the heart; the former manifests itself in practice,

the latter embraces the proper feelings and affections; the former is seen in

works of charity and benevolence, the latter consists in right motives and the

right relation of the soul to God.


Our Lord cites the first clause of v. 6 twice - once against Pharisaic ceremonialism

(Matthew 9:13), and again against rigorous sabbatarianism (Matthew 12:7); while

there is an allusion to it in Mark 12:33, where love to God and to one’s neighbor is

declared to be better, or “more than, whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Sacrifices in themselves, and when offered at the proper time and place, and as the

expressions of penitent hearts and pure hands, were acceptable, and could not be

otherwise, for God Himself had appointed them. But soulless sacrifices offered

by men steeped in  sin were an abomination to the Lord; it was of such He said,

“I cannot away with” (Isaiah 1:13) - It is to such that the prophet refers here, as

is plain from the following verse.


v. 7 – “But they like men (margin, like Adam) have transgressed the

            covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me”




They like Adam have transgressed the covenant; this rendering,

supported by the Vulgate, Cyril, Luther, Rosenmüller, and Wunsche, is

decidedly preferable, and yields a suitable sense. God in His great goodness

had planted Adam in Paradise; but Adam violated the commandment which

prohibited his eating of the tree of knowledge, and thereby transgressed the

covenant of his God. Loss of fellowship with God and expulsion from

Eden were the penal consequences that immediately followed. Israel, like

Adam, had been settled by God in Palestine, the glory of all lands; but,

ungrateful for God’s great bounty and gracious gift, they broke the

covenant of their God, the condition of which, as in the case of the Adamic

covenant, was obedience. Thus the comparison projects the shadow of a

coming event when Israel would lose the land of promise. There is still the

word “there” to be accounted for. It cannot well be rendered “therein,” nor

taken as a particle of time equivalent to “the,” with Cyril and others. It is

local, and points to the place where their breach of covenant and

faithlessness had occurred. Yet this local sense is not necessarily so limited

as to be referred, with some, to Bethel, as the scene of their apostasy and

idolatry. “There, to Israel,” says Pusey, “was not only Bethel, or Dan, or

Gilgal, or Mizpah, or Gilead, or any or all of the places which God had

hallowed by His mercies and they had defiled. It was every high hill, each

idol-chapel, each field-altar, which they had multiplied to their idols. To the

sinners of Israel it was every spot of the Lord’s land which they had defiled

by their sin.” The word thus acquires a very suggestive significance,

reminding Israel of God’s goodness on the one hand, and of their own

sinfulness and ingratitude on the other.


vs. 8-9 – In these two verses the prophet adduces proof of that

faithlessness with which he had just charged Israel.Gilead is a city of

them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood” -  The latter clause is

more literally rendered, foot-printed or foot-tracked from blood.


“And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests

murder in the way by consent”  In the second clause we prefer decidedly

the translation which is intimated in the margin of the Authorized Version;

thus: Along the way they murder even go Shechem. The word derekh is an

adverbial accusative of place; and Sichem, the present Nablus, was situated

on Mount Ephraim between Ebal and Gerizim. It was a Levitical city and a

city of refuge; it thus lay on the west as Gilead on the east of Jordan, and

both cities, thus perhaps nearly parallel in place on opposite sides of the

river, were equal in crime and infamy. The prophet does not tell us who the

wayfarers were, or whither they were bound; he only intimates that they

fell victims to certain miscreant priests located in these quarters. As this

city lay on the main route from the north to Jerusalem, pilgrims to the

annual feasts passed along this way. The priests of the calf-worship, being

in general persons taken from the dregs of the people, waylaid those

pilgrims, whether for plunder, or through hostility to the purer worship still

maintained in the holy city, or from sheer cruelty.



v. 10 – “I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there

            is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled






v. 11 “Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee” - “a harvest is

            appointed  for thee.” The harvest is either recompense or retribution,

            and thus it is either good or evil, for as a man sows he reaps. The context

            shows that the reaping here is punishment.  Judah had sinned like Israel;

            (compare Jeremiah 3:6-11) and, in the case of both, a seed-time of sin

            produced a harvest of suffering and sorrow.


“when I returned (better, return, or, restore) the captivity of my people” –

The restoration here is His people’s well-being. The shebhuth is the misery of the

Hebrew people; the shubh shebhuth, recovery and restoration of them to their true

destiny. But this necessitates a previous purification by punishment: with this Judah,

as well as Israel, shall be visited. It is as though God said, “Let not Judah claim

superiority over Israel, nor expect to escape Divine judgment more than

Israel. Each reaps what he sows. When Israel has received the deserved

chastisement, Judah’s turn shall then come also. The “turning of captivity”

is a formula denoting the restoration of the lost fortune or well-being of a

people or person; thus Job 42:10, “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job.”



                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES


vs. 1-2 - Let us follow the example of the Psalmist - “O Lord, I beseech thee,

deliver my soul;”and as usual a reply and relief came. I was brought low,  

and He helped me;” He delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears,

and my feet from falling.” – (Psalm 116:4,6,8) Thus God deals with His people

still. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm

30:5) - For two days — a relatively brief period — the sleep or sorrow of death

may be upon us, but He will then restore us to life, revive and quicken us; and

on the third day, when we have been thus restored to animation and vigor, He

will raise us up.  The words of ver. 2 are, no doubt, applicable to the death and

resurrection of our Lord, and they have been so understood by many

Christians both in earlier and later times. “The resurrection of Christ, and our

resurrection in Him and in His resurrection, could not be more plainly foretold....

They could not understand then how He would do this.  The ‘after two days’

and ‘on the third day’ remained a mystery to be EXPLAINED BY THE EVENT!


v. 3 – “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord”



the great end of man’s being? What is the thing that chiefly concerns him?

To such questions various answers will be returned according to the tastes,

or habits, or capacity of the individual. Some will answer and say that life

itself, its preservation and well-being, is the great concern of man; or that

health — health of mind with health of body, a sound mind in a sound body

— is chiefly to be attended to. Others, again, will reply that the

advancement of one’s family or the increase of one’s fortune is the main

thing to be sought and attained. Whatever truth may be in any of these, it is

not the right answer. There is something higher and holier, nobler and

better, than any of the things specified. The glory of the Creator and the

good of the creature must be placed above everything else. But to glorify

the Creator, and thereby and therewith to attain to the good of the

creature, WE MUST KNOW GOD!


A.  Wherein does the knowledge of God consist? What do we mean by the

knowledge of God? It is to know God as He has made himself known, in

the two great volumes which He has spread out before us. The one is the

volume of His works, open to the eyes of all men; but that volume only

takes us a short way; we get the knowledge of His Godhead, or existence

as God, and of His power; we learn that there is an eternal Power that

called created things into being, and that that Power is neither blind

physical force nor the pantheistic spirit of the universe, but a Divine

Person; for “the invisible things of Him since the creation are clearly seen,

being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and

Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20) - The other volume

is His Word, in which He has fully revealed His will. From this volume we know


  • His various attributes and infinite perfections:
  • His holiness in hating sin
  • His justice in punishing it
  • His wisdom in devising the plan of salvation,
  • His love in sending His Son to work it out
  • His mercy in shedding down His Spirit to apply it.


But, over and above all this, the knowledge of God must be

personal, experimental, and practical. We need to know God as our God

through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD; we need to know by happy experience

His love to our souls; we need to know the duty which we are bound to render

to Him in gratitude for His amazing loving-kindness, and in love to Him who

first loved us.


B.  How is this knowledge attained? There must be diligent, prayerful study

of the Divine Word under the teaching of the Divine Spirit. The physician

never dreams of gaining a knowledge of his profession, and of qualifying

himself for the performance of its responsible duties, without years of

preparatory study in order to grasp its principles and master its details; nor

can he afford to abandon that study even after he has entered on the

practice of his professional labors — earnest thought and unwearying

diligence are still required. The merchant who would succeed in mercantile

life must devote much attention to the principles of commerce and the

various departments of trade; days of rail and nights of close application to

business are indispensable. The agriculturist, if he would attain to eminence

or even respectability in his calling, cannot expect to do so without suitable

training and diligent attention in order to acquaint himself with the proper

methods of tillage. Shall men willingly devote their noblest energies and

highest powers and best days to the occupations of time, and yet afford

only some brief intervals of leisure, or some spare hours, and very slight

attention to attain the knowledge of that God who is above them, and to

prepare for that eternity that is before them?




C. By what means do we gain increase of this knowledge? What promotes

our growth at once in grace and the knowledge of God? The answer is

before us. We are to follow on, hunt after, strive zealously to know the

Lord. There must be continued diligence, constant perseverance; there

must be devout and daily reading of God’s Word — some time every day

less or more should be given to the study of Holy Scripture; there must be

fervent prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit: for “the natural man

receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness unto him,

because they are spiritually discerned.” Have we already acquired some

knowledge of God, not merely out of the volume of creation, or by the

light of our own intellect, or from the teachings of others, but from this

Word of God, which is brimful of the knowledge of God; and do we know

God to be a just God and yet a Savior — our God and Father through

Jesus Christ our Lord? Then we must beware of becoming cold, or languid,

or lifeless. We must avoid everything and anything that would turn us

aside, or tempt us to prefer our secular business to salvation, or to set the

trifles of time in the place of the realities of eternity. But should coldness

creep over us, or should a spirit of slumber overtake us as the virgins in the

parable, or should our little progress in the Divine life and Divine things

discourage us, let us repair at once to the mercy-seat for Divine help and

grace; and the Spirit of truth will guide us into all truth. Let us ever bear in

mind that we must persevere to the end in order to be saved, that we must

be faithful unto death if we would obtain the crown of life, and that if, after

having put our hand to the plough, we turn back, the Lord will have no

pleasure in us. Follow on, then, as the runner in the race to win the prize,

as the warrior in the conflict to gain the victory, as the mariner steers his

homeward-veering bark to reach his native shore.




IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. The promised blessing is here

presented under two beautiful figures:


  • the returning light of morning,
  • and the refreshing rain.


There is freshness in the morning air, there is beauty in the morning

light, there is loveliness in natural scenery when the light of morning shines

on it.  We associate morning with the idea of refreshment and relief.

It may seem slow in coming, and long before it comes; or the weary watcher

may be many a time on the point of giving up in despair. But the return of

morning, after a night however long, or dark, or painful, or perilous, is certain

to take place; its return is prepared; it is a fixed ordinance of nature. So, to every

persevering seeker after the knowledge of God, the Lord’s going forth is

fixed and cannot fail; it is sure as the morning sunrise.  (a great encourage-

ment to me in my life has been Lamentations 3:22-23 – “It is of the Lord’s

mercies that we are not consumed, because HIS COMPASSIONS FAIL NOT.


– CY – 2009)


The Psalmist said “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that

watch for the morning” – Psalm 130:6


Thus in spiritual husbandry, the seed of Divine and saving knowledge has been

no sooner cast into the furrows than the rain-shower of Divine grace waters it,

so that it germinates and grows - blade and ear and ripened grain as in the natural

world; nor are showers of grace withheld before and up till the reaping-time, so

that even in old age there is abundant fruitfulness. “They shall still bring forth

fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing [margin, ‘green’] (Psalm

92:14); and when the time of the end comes and the harvest day arrives, they

resemble a shock of corn in its season, rich with golden grain, ripe and ready to

be gathered into the heavenly garner – “Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full

age, like as a shock of corn cometh in, in his season” – Job 5:26) . Thus shall it

fare with the soul that follows on to know and love the Lord. Sure as the dawn

brings on the day; sure as the sun goeth forth out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as

a strong man to run his race; sure as the alternation of day and night; sure as the

succession of the seasons; sure as the rain comes down from heaven, and returns

not thither again till it has moistened and fructified the earth; — God shall bless

that soul with light and life and love. Therefore let us know, let us follow on to

know the Lord; for it is good that a man quietly wait and patiently wait

for the salvation of God.” – (Lamentations 3:26).





A.   First of the consequences is denunciation of wrath, when God

denounced their destruction with severity by his messengers the prophets,

and the words of his mouth which constituted the message which they

delivered; while the justice of the judgments thus visited on them was

positively demonstrated and plainly proved, so that it was seen to be and

must have appeared even to the guilty sufferers clear as the light.


B.  The second consequence is degeneracy in religion. It had degenerated

into mere formalism. In place of mercy came sacrifices, and for the

knowledge of God burnt offerings were substituted. Outward observances

took the place of inward devotion. Instead of piety towards God and

charity to man, a tedious round of services was performed. Ritualism was

substituted for religion; ceremonialism for clean hands and a pure heart.

Obedience to the commandments of God, whether prescriptive or

prohibitory, was neglected; morality was dissociated from religion; mere

rites supplanted moral or religious duties.




C.  But a third consequence was declension of spiritual life in general; this

was additional evidence of the religious degeneracy just referred to.

Covenant-breaking and treacherous dealing are specified. Like the most

reckless of men, they were truce-breakers, bound by no compact, and

regardless of the truth of promises. Besides being thus practically

dishonest, they were altogether unreliable and faithless. Their sin in this

respect, though declared to be against God, involved a fortiori similar

conduct in relation to their fellow-men.


D.  Centers of Israel’s Guilt - Two places are specified as instances, and their

inhabitants singled out as specimens of the wickedness of the times  - Gilead

on the east and Shechem on the west of Jordan. If Gilead be a city –

Ramoth-gilead, perhaps — a city of refuge and a Levitical city, the sin of  its

inhabitants was something shocking. When men, who by profession should be

an example and pattern to others,descend to practices directly opposed to that

profession, and degrade themselves by criminal actions of the worst and

basest kind, religion is evil spoken of, a stumbling-block is cast in the way of

the weak, the Master Himself is stabbed in the house of his professed friends.

The people of  this highly favored place had set themselves to work iniquity, and

that of no ordinary kind; the blood of murdered innocence clave to their hands.

Shechem was even worse in this respect. In this other city of refuge the

privilege of asylum was profaned. Either guilty persons were admitted and

protected for a bribe, when they should have been delivered up to death;

or, in addition to thus screening the guilty, those who had committed

homicide unwittingly, but who were too poor to offer bribes, were

ruthlessly given up to the blood-avenger; or, worst of all and vilest of all,

the priests who had got settled in the place formed themselves into robber

gangs or common banditti to rob, and in case of resistance murder, the

travelers who were so luckless as to journey that way, or from a

bloodthirsty spirit of revenge they waylaid and assassinated the objects of

their displeasure. In one way or other blood was defiling the land and

crying to Heaven for vengeance. Long before a bloody deed had been done

in this very place, when Simeon and Levi in cruel wrathfulness put the

defenseless Shechemites to the sword; history in a still worse form now

repeated itself.  (see Genesis 34)


E.  Partners in Crime – (not faithfully following God continued)


(In the United States of America, there are two branches of religionist who

have been unfaithful – (1) so-called Christians and Secularists (lawyers,

politicians, ACLU members, college professors, and a general populace

“that loves to have it so” – Jeremiah 5:31, etc..  - I suggest taking

the following, which was written centuries ago, in that light – CY – 2009)




The proverbial expression of “Like priest, like people,” was fully verified in the case

before us. When priests perpetrated such atrocities, what could be expected from the

populace?  When religious teachers distinguished themselves as ringleaders in

wickedness, what could be hoped for among the less privileged of the

population? There was, in fact, a community in crime. In the house of

Israel, or main body of the people in the northern kingdom, there was

wickedness so horrible as to make one shudder or the hair stand on end.

However men might attempt concealment, God’s eye detected and

discovered their horrid iniquity, while His justice denounced vengeance

against it. Ephraim is again foremost and first in the present iniquity, as

previously in the idolatrous calf-worship and original revolt. Their

whoredom, whether literal or figurative, exercised a contaminating effect

on the rest of the ten tribes. How baneful the effects of evil influence! How

great the responsibility connected with the exercise of influence! Judah

also, from whom better was to be expected, with the ancient sanctuary

among them and a purer ritual, had been seduced to sin; the example and

influence of their brethren in the north had, no doubt, helped their

depravation, evil communications corrupting good manners. Be this as it

may, they had sown the wind and must in consequence reap the whirlwind.

As they had sown and what they had sown, they must by-and-by reap. The

general judgment is likened to harvest; so also are special judgments. The

Judahites who had been made captives by Israel had been set at liberty through

the interposition of the prophet Oded (2 Chronicles 28:8-15). God had spared

them then, but set them a harvest at another time; as it has been remarked,

“Preservations from present judgments, if a good use be not made of them,

are but reservations for greater judgments.”