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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary

Hosea 6

 

 

Verses 1-11

elete_me Hosea 6:1-11

3. REPENTANCE FALLS

Hosea 5:15 - Hosea 7:2

Seeing that their leaders are so helpless, and feeling their wounds, the people may themselves turn to God for healing, but that will be with a repentance so shallow as also to be futile. They have no conviction of sin, nor appreciation of how deeply their evils have eaten.

This too facile repentance is expressed in a prayer which the Christian Church has paraphrased into one of its most beautiful hymns of conversion. Yet the introduction to this prayer, and its own easy assurance of how soon God will heal the wounds He has made, as well as the impatience with which God receives it, oblige us to take the prayer in another sense than the hymn which has been derived from it. It offers but one more symptom of the optimism of this light-hearted people, whom no discipline and no judgment can impress with the reality of their incurable decay. They said of themselves, "The bricks are fallen, let us build with stones," and now they say just as easily and airily of their God, "He hath torn" only "that He may heal: "we are fallen, but" He will raise us up again in a day or two." At first it is still God who speaks.

"I am going My way, I am returning to My own place, until they feel their guilt and seek My face. When trouble comes upon them, they will soon enough seek Me, saying":-

"Come and let us return to Jehovah;

For He hath rent, that He may heal us,

And hath wounded, that He may bind us up.

He will bring us to life in a couple of days;

On the third day He will raise us up again,

That we may live in His presence."

"Let us know, let us follow up to know, Jehovah:

As soon as we seek Him, we shall find Him

And He shall come to us like the winter-rain,

Like the spring-rain, pouring on the land!"

But how is this fair prayer received by God? With incredulity, with impatience. What can I make of thee, Ephraim? what can I make of thee, Judah? since your love is like the morning cloud and like the dew so early gone. Their shallow hearts need deepening. Have they not been deepened enough? "Wherefore I have hewn" them "by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth, and My judgment goeth forth like the lightning. For real love have I desired, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings."

That the discourse comes back to the ritual is very intelligible. For what could make repentance stem so easy as the belief that forgiveness can be won by simply offering sacrifices? Then the prophet leaps upon what each new year of that anarchy revealed afresh-the profound sinfulness of the people.

"But they in human fashion have transgressed the covenant! There"-he will now point out the very spots-"have they betrayed Me! Gilead is a city of evil-doers: stamped with the bloody footprints; assassins in troops; a gang of priests murder on the way to Shechem. Yea, crime have they done. In the house of Israel I have seen horrors: there Ephraim hath played the harlot: Israel is defiled-Judah as well."

Truly the sinfulness of Israel is endless. Every effort to redeem them only discovers more of it. "When I would turn, when I would heal Israel, then the guilt of Ephraim displays itself and the evils of Samaria," these namely: "that they work fraud and the thief cometh in"-evidently a technical term for housebreaking -" while abroad a crew" of highwaymen foray. And they never think in their hearts that all their evil is recorded by Me. Now have their deeds encompassed them: they are constantly before

Evidently real repentance on the part of such a people is impossible. As Hosea said before, "Their deeds will not let them return." [Hosea 5:4]

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hosea 6:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/hosea-6.html.

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