Hosea 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.
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(2) Say unto him.—This putting of words into the lips of penitents and others is found in Psalm 66:3; Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 31:7. In the latter part of the verse render, Accept of good, and we will render as calves (or sacrificial offering) our lipsi.e., the words of true repentance which we take with us shall be our offerings in place of calves. (Comp. Psalm 51:17.)

14:1-3 Israel is exhorted to return unto Jehovah, from their sins and idols, by faith in his mercy, and grace through the promised Redeemer, and by diligently attending on his worship and service. Take away iniquity; lift it off as a burden we are ready to sink under, or as the stumbling-block we have often fallen over. Take it all away by a free and full forgiveness, for we cannot strike any of it off. Receive our prayer graciously. They do not say what good they seek, but refer it to God. It is not good of the world's showing, but good of God's giving. They were to consider their sins, their wants, and the remedy; and they were to take, not sacrifices, but words stating the desires of their hearts, and with them to address the Lord. The whole forms a clear description of the nature and tendency of a sinner's conversion to God through Jesus Christ. As we draw near to God by the prayer of faith, we should first beseech him to teach us what to ask. We must be earnest with him to take away all iniquity.Take with you words - He bills them not bring costly offerings, that they might regain His favor; not whole burnt-offerings of bullocks, goats or rams; with which, and with which alone, they had before gone to seek Him (see the note above at Hosea 5:6); not the silver and gold which they had lavished on their idols; but what seems the cheapest of all, which any may have, without cost to their substance; "words;" worthless, as mere words; precious when from the heart; words of confession and prayer, blending humility, repentance, confession, entreaty and praise of God. God seems to assign to them a form, with which they should approach Him. But with these words, they were also to turn inwardly "and turn unto the Lord," with your whole heart, and not your lips alone. "After ye shall be converted, confess before Him."

Take away all iniquity - (Literally and pleadingly, "Thou will take away all iniquity".) They had "fallen by their iniquities;" before they can rise again, the stumbling-blocks must be taken out of their way. They then, unable themselves to do it, must turn to God, with whom alone is power and mercy to do it, and say to Him, "Take away all iniquity," acknowledging that they had manifold iniquities, and praying Him to forgive all, "take away all. All iniquities!" "not only then the past, but what we tear for the future. Cleanse us from the past, keep us from the future. Give us righteousness, and preserve it to the end."

And receive us graciously - (Literally, "and receive good" ). When God has forgiven and taken away iniquity, He has removed all hindrance to the influx of His grace. There is no vacuum in His spiritual, anymore than in His natural, creation. When God's good Spirit is chased away, the evil spirits enter the house, which is "empty, swept, and garnished" Matthew 12:44, for them. When God has forgiven and taken away man's evil, He pours into him grace and all good. When then Israel and, in him, the penitent soul, is taught to say, "receive good," it can mean only, the good which Thou Thyself hast given; as David says, "of Thine own we have given Thee" 1 Chronicles 29:14. As God is said to "crown in us His own gifts;" ("His own gifts," but "in us" ;) so these pray to God to receive from them His own good, which they had from Him. For even the good, which God giveth to be in us, He accepteth in condescension and forgiving mercy, "Who crowneth thee in mercy and lovingkindness" Psalm 103:4.

They pray God to accept their service, forgiving their imperfection, and mercifully considering their frailty. For since "our righteousnesses are filthy rags," we ought ever humbly to entreat God, not to despise our dutifulness, for the imperfections, wanderings, and negligences mingled therewith. For exceedingly imperfect is it, especially if we consider the majesty of the Divine Nature, which should be served, were it possible, with infinite reverence." They plead to God, then, to accept what, although from Him they have it, yet through their imperfection, were, but for His goodness, unworthy of His acceptance. Still, since the glory of God is the end of all creation, by asking Him to accept it, they plead to Him, that this is the end for which He made and remade them, and placed the good in them, that it might redound to His glory. As, on the other hand, the Psalmist says, "What profit is there in my blood, if I go down into the pit" Psalm 30:9, as though his own perishing were a loss to God, his Creator, since thus there were one creature the less to praise Him. : "'Take from us all iniquity,' leave in us no weakness, none of our former decay, lest the evil root should send forth a new growth of evil; 'and receive good;' for unless Thou take away our evil, we can have no good to offer Thee, according to that, 'depart from evil, and do good.' Psalm 37:27."

So will we render the calves of our lips - Literally, "and we would fain repay, calves, our lips;" i. e., when God shall have "forgiven us all our iniquity," and "received" at our hands what, through His gift, we have to offer, the "good" which through His good Spirit we can do, then would we "offer" a perpetual thankoffering, "our lips." This should be the substitute for the thank-offerings of the law. As the Psalmist says, "I will praise the Name of God with a song, and magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord, better than a bullock that hath horns and hoofs" Psalm 69:30-31. They are to bind themselves to perpetual thanksgiving. As the morning and evening sacrifice were continual so was their new offering to be continual. But more. The material sacrifice, "the bullock," was offered, consumed, and passed away. Their "lips" were offered, and remained; a perpetual thank-offering, even a "living sacrifice," living on like the mercies for which they thanked; giving forth their "endless song" for never-ending mercies.

This too looks on to the Gospel, in which, here on earth, our unending thanksgiving is beginning, in which also it was the purpose of God to restore those of Ephraim who would return to Him. : "Here we see law extinguished, the Gospel established. For we see other rites, other gifts. So then the priesthood is also changed. For three sorts of sacrifices Were of old ordained by the law, with great state. Some signified the expiation of sin; some expressed the ardor of piety; some, thanksgiving. To those ancient signs and images, the truth of the Gospel, without figure corresponds. Prayer to God, 'to take away all iniquity,' contains a confession of sin, and expresses our faith, that we place our whole hope of recovering our lost purity and of obtaining salvation in the mercy of Christ. 'Receive good.' What other good can we offer, than detestation of our past sin, with burning desire of holiness? This is the burnt-offering. Lastly, 'we will repay the calves of our lips,' is the promise of that solemn vow, most acceptable to God, whereby we bind ourselves to keep in continual remembrance all the benefits of God, and to render ceaseless praise to the Lord who has bestowed on us such priceless gifts. For 'the calves of' the 'lips' are orisons well-pleasing unto God. Of which David says, 'Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings; then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.' (Psalm 51 ult.)."

2. Take with you words—instead of sacrifices, namely, the words of penitence here put in your mouths by God. "Words," in Hebrew, mean "realities," there being the same term for "words" and "things"; so God implies, He will not accept empty professions (Ps 78:36; Isa 29:13). He does not ask costly sacrifices, but words of heartfelt penitence.

receive us graciously—literally "(for) good."

calves of our lips—that is, instead of sacrifices of calves, which we cannot offer to Thee in exile, we present the praises of our lips. Thus the exile, wherein the temple service ceased, prepared the way for the gospel time when the types of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament being realized in Christ's perfect sacrifice once for all, "the sacrifice of praise to God continually that is the fruit of our lips" (Heb 13:14) takes their place in the New Testament.

Take with you words; bethink yourselves what words will best set out your sins, God’s patience towards you, and your present sorrow and repentance for sin; prepare yourselves to make confessions, petitions, vows, and praises to God; and turn; with words join deeds, let your hearts be in your words, turn, do not as the incorrigible hypocrite.

To the Lord: see Hosea 14:1.

Say unto him; pray, present your petitions to him who heareth prayer: here is no mention of sheep or oxen, or any legal sacrifices; true repentance is required, which is much better, faith and hope through the great Sacrifice, in virtue of which these converts expect the grace they need and seek.

Take away all iniquity: this petition for pardon of sin includes confession of it, sorrow for it, hope that God will of mere grace forgive it, and take away the guilt, prevent the punishment, and abolish the power of sin, not of some, but of all: sincere converts seek full justification, and full sanctification. Receive us into thy protection, guidance, and benediction, graciously; and this of thy mere grace and goodness; having taken away sin, take also graciously our persons, as reconciled and well-pleasing to thee.

So will we render the calves of our lips: this will qualify and encourage us to give the sacrifices which are to God much more pleasing than an ox that hath horns and hoofs, Psalm 69:31; with these calves of our lips we will give our hearts also, for those praises of the lips are fruits of what praise the heart of the convert first gives, and these here are signs of their heart given to God, that so they may be spiritual sacrifices, such as Psalm 50:23, or Hebrews 13:15.

Take with you words, and turn to the Lord,.... Not mere words without the heart, but such as come from it, and express the true sense of it; words of confession, as the Targum; by which sin is acknowledged, and repentance declared, and forgiveness asked. Kimchi's note is a very good one;

"he (that is, God) does not require of you, upon return, neither gold nor silver, nor burnt offerings, but good works; therewith confessing your sins with your whole hearts, and not with your lips only;''

and which best agrees with evangelical repentance and Gospel times, in which ceremonial sacrifices are no more; and not any words neither; not tautologies and multiplicity of words, or words of man's prescribing, but of the Lord's directing to and dictating; the taught words of the Holy Ghost, which he suggests and helps men to, who otherwise know not how to pray, or what to pray for; and these expressed under a sense of sin, and sorrow for it, and in the strength of faith, and are as follow:

say unto him, take away all iniquity; which is to be understood, not of the taking away of the being of sin; which, though very desirable, is not to be expected in this life: nor of the expiation of sin by the sacrifice of Christ, which is done already; he has taken the sins of his people from them to himself, and has bore them, and carried them away, and removed them out of the sight of divine justice, which is satisfied for them: nor of the taking away of the power and dominion of sin; which is done by the Spirit of God, and the efficacy of his grace on the hearts of converted persons: nor of an extinguishing all sense of sin in men; for none have a quicker sense of it than pardoned sinners, or are more humble on the account of it, or more loath it; but of the taking of it away from the conscience of a sensible truly penitent sinner or backslider, by a fresh application of pardoning grace and mercy: sin is a burden, a heavy one, when the guilt of it is charged and lies upon the conscience; pardon of sin applied is a lifting up, as the word here used signifies, a taking off of this burden from it, a causing it to pass away; which is done by the fresh sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, which purges the conscience from sin, and clears it from the guilt of it, and speaks peace and comfort; and which is the blessing here prayed for, and every backslider, sensible of his case, sees he stands in need of, and even to have "all" taken away; for, if but one sin remains, and the guilt of it continues, he can have no peace, nor stand up under it; but, when God forgives sin, he forgives "all" sin;

and receive us graciously; receive into grace and favour, that is, openly and manifestly; the free love and favour of God is always the same, but the manifestations of it are different; sometimes more or less, and sometimes scarce any, if any at all, and is the ease here; and therefore a petition is made for the remembrance of it, for a renewed discovery and application of it: or accept us in a gracious manner; acceptance with God is not on account of the merits of men, but his own grace and mercy; not through any works of righteousness done by them, which are impure and imperfect; but through Christ the Beloved, in whom God is well pleased with the persons, and services, and sacrifices of his people, and receives all for his sake, and which is here asked for; as well as that he would take them into his protection, and open affection. It is, in the original text, only, "receive good" (a); meaning either their good hearts, made so by the grace of God; their broken hearts and contrite spirits, which are sacrifices not despised by him, but acceptable to him through Christ: or their good words they were bid to take, and did take, nod use; their good prayers offered up through Christ, in his name, and in the exercise of faith, which are the Lord's delight: or their good works, done from a principle of love, in faith, to the glory of God, and with which sacrifices he is well pleased: or rather, as the same word signifies, to give as well as receive; see Psalm 68:18. It may be rendered, "give good" (b); take good, and give it to us, even all good things, temporal and spiritual, especially all spiritual blessings in Christ; all which good things come from God, and are his gifts; particularly the good Spirit of God, and his grace, which the Lord gives to them that ask; and all supplies of grace from Christ; and more especially, as some interpreters of note explain it, the righteousness of Christ imputed and applied; which goes along with pardoning grace, or the taking away of sin, Zechariah 3:4; and is the good, the better, the best robe; a gift, the gift of grace; a blessing received from the Lord, and to be asked for of him:

so will we render the calves of our lips; not calves, bullocks, and oxen, for sacrifice, as under the law; but the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving for pardoning grace, for a justifying righteousness, and for all good things: these are the fruit of the lips, as the apostle interprets it, Hebrews 13:15; and which are sacrifices more acceptable to God than calves of a year old, or an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs, Psalm 69:30. This shows that the text and context refer to Gospel times, to the times of the Messiah; in which the Jews themselves say all sacrifices will cease but the sacrifice of praise. The Targum is,

"turn to the worship of the Lord, and say, let it he with thee to forgive sins, and may we be received as good, and the words of our lips be accepted with thee as bullocks for good pleasure upon the altar.''

(a) "accipe bonum", Pagninus, Montanus: Munster, Cocceius, Schmidt, Burkius. (b) "Acceptum confer bonum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius.

Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, {b} Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our {c} lips.

(b) He shows them that they ought to confess their sins.

(c) Declaring that this is the true sacrifice that the faithful can offer, even thanks and praise; He 13:15.

2. Take with you words] It is one of the most undoubtedly ancient of the religious laws of the Pentateuch that ‘none shall appear before Jehovah empty’ (Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:20). What gift then will be most acceptable from the Israelites to their heavenly King? The answer that will naturally rise to the lips of a half-converted Israelite will be ‘sacrifice and burnt-offering’ (see note on Hosea 5:6); but the prophet in his present mood cherishes the belief that Israel’s repentance will after all not be as superficial as he once feared (contrast Hosea 5:6). He therefore urges his people, after the bitter lessons of experience, to take as their offering, not cattle, but penitent words spoken out of the abundance of the heart.

Take away all iniquity] Rather, Altogether forgive Iniquity. The form of the Hebrew is singular, but not unparalleled.

receive us graciously] Rather, accept the good; ‘for it is good to sing praises unto our God’ (Psalm 147:1).

render the calves of our lips] Or, ‘pay (as if with) bullocks (with) our lips.’ Thus the Israelites are converted at last to the principle of chap. 6 Hosea 14:6. It is a very strange expression, however, and Archbishop Newcome may be right in preferring the reading of the Septuagint (comp. Hebrews 13:15), pay the fruit of our lips, which is a choice Hebrew phrase (Isaiah 57:19). The ‘fruit’ is of course praise and thanksgiving, or vows of obedience (Psalm 50:13-14; Psalm 69:30-31).

Verse 2. - Take with you words, and turn to the Lord.

(1) Some render this clause. "Take with you [i.e. forget not, neglect not, but receive with obedient spirit] my words." This rendering is obviously erroneous.

(2) The correct translation is that of the Authorized Version, and 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." 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, appeasing him." 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. On turning to the Lord with their whole heart, not with their lips only, they are furnished with a form of sound words which God by his prophet puts into their mouth. Elsewhere a formula is prescribed, thus: "Publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel" (Jeremiah 31:7); compare also Isaiah 48:20; Psalm 16:3; 1 Chronicles 16:35. The position of כָל before the verb creates a difficulty and causes diversity of rendering; for example,

(1) besides the ordinary rendering, which takes kol as holding its peculiar position by an hypallage, there is a modification of it: "All take away of iniquity."

(2) Some supply mem, and translate accordingly: "From all take away iniquity." Kimchi explains it as a transposition: "All iniquity forgive," and compares Ezekiel 39:11; or, understanding le, "Forgive to every one iniquity." The object of the separation may be for greater emphasis. In like manner, the following clause is also subject to diversity of translation and interpretation. There is

(1) the rendering of the Authorized Version, which appears to supply le before tov: "Receive us for good," viz. in bonam partem, or graciously; or, "receive our prayer graciously."

(2) Another rendering or exposition is: "Take what is good (of thine own to bestow it on us);" thus in the sixty-eighth psalm at the nineteenth verse God is said to receive gifts among men, i.e. for distribution among men, and hence the apostle, in Ephesians 4:8, substitutes ἔδωκε for ἔλαβε, and thus expresses the sense. The literal sense

(3) is the correct sense, namely, "and receive good:" "And receive good," says Jerome, "for unless thou hadst borne away our evil things we could not possibly have any good thing to offer thee, according to that which is written, 'Cease from evil and do good.'" Thus also the words are translated and interpreted by Pusey: "When then Israel and, in him, the penitent soul, is taught to say, receive good, it can mean only the good which thou thyself hast given; as David says, ' Of thine own we have given thee;" while he adds in a note on these words, "No one would have doubted that קי ט means, 'receive good,' as just before, קי די means 'take words,' but for the seeming difficulty - What good had they?" So will we render the calves of our lips. This is more accurately rendered,

(1) "So will we render young bullocks, even our lips." The word shillem, to render, or repay, is almost technical in its application to thank offer-tugs or sacrifices in fulfillment of a vow; the best animals for thank offerings were parm, or 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."

(2) The Septuagint, reading פְרְי instead of פָרְים, renders by καρπὸν χείλεων, 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;" or perhaps the reference in Hebrews is to Isaiah 57:19, "I create the fruit of the lips." Further, as words of confession in ver. 2 take the place of sacrifices of sin offerings, so here words of thanksgiving replace sacrifices of thanksgiving. Hosea 14:2After the prophet has set before the sinful nation in various ways its own guilt, and the punishment that awaits it, viz., the destruction of the kingdom, he concludes his addresses with a call to thorough conversion to the Lord, and the promise that the Lord will bestow His grace once more upon those who turn to Him, and will bless them abundantly (Hosea 14:1-8). Hosea 14:1. (Heb. Bib. v. 2). "Return, O Israel, to Jehovah thy God; for thou hast stumbled through thy guilt. Hosea 14:2. Take with you words, and turn to Jehovah; say ye to Him, Forgive all guilt, and accept what is good, that we may offer our lips as bullocks. Hosea 14:3. Asshur will not help us: we will not ride upon horses, nor say 'Our God' any more to the manufacture of our own hands; for with Thee the orphan findeth compassion." There is no salvation for fallen man without return to God. It is therefore with a call to return to the Lord their God, that the prophet opens the announcement of the salvation with which the Lord will bless His people, whom He has brought to reflection by means of the judgment (cf. Deuteronomy 4:30; Deuteronomy 30:1.). שׁוּב עד יי, to return, to be converted to the Lord, denotes complete conversion; שׁוּב אל is, strictly speaking, simply to turn towards God, to direct heart and mind towards Him. By kâshaltâ sin is represented as a false step, which still leaves it possible to return; so that in a call to conversion it is very appropriately chosen. But if the conversion is to be of the right kind, it must begin with a prayer for the forgiveness of sin, and attest itself by the renunciation of earthly help and simple trust in the mercy of God. Israel is to draw near to God in this state of mind. "Take with you words," i.e., do not appear before the Lord empty (Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:20); but for this ye do not require outward sacrifices, but simply words, sc. those of confession of your guilt, as the Chaldee has correctly explained it. The correctness of this explanation is evident from the confession of sin which follows, with which they are to come before God. In כּל־תּשּׂא עון, the position of col at the head of the sentence may be accounted for from the emphasis that rests upon it, and the separation of ‛âvōn, from the fact that col was beginning to acquire more of the force of an adjective, like our all (thus 2 Samuel 1:9; Job 27:3 : cf. Ewald, 289, a; Ges. 114, 3, Anm. 1). Qach tōbh means neither "accept goodness," i.e., let goodness be shown thee (Hitzig), nor "take it as good," sc. that we pray (Grotius, Ros.); but in the closest connection with what proceeds: Accept the only good thing that we are able to bring, viz., the sacrifices of our lips. Jerome has given the correct interpretation, viz.: "For unless Thou hadst borne away our evil things, we could not possibly have the good thing which we offer Thee;" according to that which is written elsewhere (Psalm 37:27), "Turn from evil, and do good." שׂפתינוּ ... וּנשׁלּמה, literally, "we will repay (pay) as young oxen our lips," i.e., present the prayers of our lips as thank-offerings. The expression is to be explained from the fact that shillēm, to wipe off what is owing, to pay, is a technical term, applied to the sacrifice offered in fulfilment of a vow (Deuteronomy 23:22; Psalm 22:26; Psalm 50:14, etc.), and that pârı̄m, young oxen, were the best animals for thank-offerings (Exodus 24:5). As such thank-offerings, i.e., in the place of the best animal sacrifices, they would offer their lips, i.e., their prayers, to God (cf. Psalm 51:17-19; Psalm 69:31-32). In the Sept. rendering, ἀποδώσομεν καρπὸν χείλεων, to which there is an allusion in Hebrews 13:15, פּרים has been confounded with פּרי, as Jerome has already observed. but turning to God requires renunciation of the world, of its power, and of all idolatry. Rebellious Israel placed its reliance upon Assyria and Egypt (Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:9). It will do this no longer. The riding upon horses refers partly to the military force of Egypt (Isaiah 31:1), and partly to their own (Hosea 1:7; Isaiah 2:7). For the expression, "neither will we say to the work of our hands," compare Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 44:17. אשׁר בּך, not "Thou with whom," but "for with Thee" ('ăsher as in Deuteronomy 3:24). The thought, "with Thee the orphan findeth compassion," as God promises in His word (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18), serves not only as a reason for the resolution no longer to call the manufacture of their own hands God, but generally for the whole of the penitential prayer, which they are encouraged to offer by the compassionate nature of God. In response to such a penitential prayer, the Lord will heal all His people's wounds, and bestow upon them once more the fulness of the blessings of His grace. The prophet announces this in Isaiah 44:4-8 as the answer from the Lord.
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