Hosea 14:3
Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.
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(3) The three crying sins of Israel are here recounted: (1) Expected salvation from Assyria; (2) dependence on the world-power of Egypt, famed for war-horses and chariots; (3) ascription of Divine names and homage to wrought images of the Divine glory. God’s paternal love to the orphan, peculiarly applicable to Israel now, cast on a cold and fatherless world.

Hosea 14:3. Asshur shall not save us — We will not rely on Assyria for protection and help. The Israelites frequently sought the alliance of the Assyrians, and are often reproved by the prophets for so doing. We will not ride upon horses — We will not implore the help of Egypt, as we did formerly, nor depend on horses brought thence, or on any of our military preparations. It was chiefly on account of their cavalry that the Jews and Israelites courted the help of Egypt, having no cavalry of their own. This is the first part of the people’s repentance. It consists in their renouncing all dependance on foreign alliances, and on every arm of flesh. The second is, their renouncing every species of idolatry and image-worship, expressed in the next clause, Neither will we say, &c., to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods — This is often spoken of in the prophets, as an introduction to that state of the church which is to commence from the time of the conversion of the Jews: see notes on Hosea 2:17; and Isaiah 1:29. For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy — Thou art the helper of the weak and friendless; of us, who are unable to help ourselves, and are exposed to the injuries of others, having none to defend us. Observe, reader, God never fails to be the helper of all that are destitute of strength in themselves, and destitute of help from others: and who, being sensible of their helpless condition, look for it from God, who hath sufficient power, mercy, and wisdom to help.

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.Asshur shall not save us - After prayer for pardon and for acceptance of themselves, and thanksgiving for acceptance, comes the promise not to fall back into their former sins. Trust in man, in their own strength, in their idols, had been their besetting sins. Now, one by one, they disavow them.

First, they disclaim trust in man, and making "flesh their arm" Jeremiah 17:5. Their disclaimer of the help of the Assyrian, to whom they had so often betaken themselves against the will of God, contains, at once, that best earnest of true repentance, the renewal of the confession of past sins, and the promise to rely no more on any princes of this world, of whom he was then chief. The horse, in like way, is the symbol of any warlike strength of their own. As the Psalmist says, "Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God" Psalm 20:7; and, "a horse is a vain thing for safety, neither shall he deliver any by his great strength" Psalm 33:17; and Solomon, "The horse is prepared for the day of battle but salvation is of the Lord" Proverbs 21:31. War was almost the only end for which the horse was used among the Jews. If otherwise, it was a matter of great and royal pomp. It was part of a standing army. Their kings were especially forbidden to "multiply horses" Deuteronomy 17:16 to themselves. Solomon, indeed, in his prosperity, broke this, as well as other commands of God. The pious king Hezekiah, although possessed at one time of large treasure, so kept that command as to furnish matter of mockery to Rabshakeh, the blaspheming envoy of Assyria, that he had neither horses nor horsemen 2 Kings 18:23. The horses being procured from Egypt 1 Kings 10:28, the commerce gave fresh occasion for idolatry.

Neither will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ye are our gods - This is the third disavowal. Since it was folly and sin to trust in the creatures which God had made, apart from God, how much more, to trust in things which they themselves had made, instead of God, and offensive to God!

For in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy - (or, O Thou, in whom). He is indeed fatherless who hath not God for his Father. They confess then, that they were and deserved to be thus "fatherless" and helpless, a prey to every oppressor; but they appeal to God by the title which He had taken, "the Father of the fatherless" Psalm 68:5, that He would have mercy on them, who had no help but in Him. : "We promise this, they say, hoping in the help of Thy mercy, since it belongeth to Thee and is for Thy Glory to have mercy on the people which believeth in Thee, and to stretch forth Thine Hand, that they may be able to leave their wonted ills and amend their former ways."

3. Three besetting sins of Israel are here renounced, trust in Assyria, application to Egypt for its cavalry (forbidden, De 17:16; compare Ho 7:11; 11:5; 12:1; 2Ki 17:4; Ps 33:17; Isa 30:2, 16; 31:1), and idolatry.

fatherless—descriptive of the destitute state of Israel, when severed from God, their true Father. We shall henceforth trust in none but Thee, the only Father of the fatherless, and Helper of the destitute (Ps 10:14; 68:5); our nation has experienced Thee such in our helpless state in Egypt, and now in a like state again our only hope is Thy goodness.

Asshur shall not save us: it had been one great sin of Israel that they did trust to an arm of flesh; Asshur is particularly named, for that he was the last with whom they made a covenant fairly, or above-board, but any other foreign aids and friendships may be here understood. God promised his peculiar protection, and would have continued it if they had not cast him off, and trusted to man. We will not ride upon horses: another fault of theirs was, they multiplied horses, and trusted to their strength, which God forbade; this includes their home strength, and provision of all sorts.

Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: they had most brutishly thought their idols would be gods to help them; this is the particular confession of their great comprehensive sins, which brought on many others with them; now they renounce as well as confess them, and such renouncing is necessary, and grounded on hope of finding mercy, as appears by the reason they give of their renouncing these sins, and vain confidences in God, to whom they return, in him only there is help to be had.

The fatherless; all that are destitute of strength in themselves, and destitute of help from others; all that, being sensible of their own helpless condition, look for it from God, who hath power, mercy, and wisdom to hell) and relieve.

Findeth, obtaineth as often as he does rightly sue for,

mercy; both fountain and streams of goodness too, free grace and rich bounty.

Ashur shall not save us,.... This is still a continuation of the words repenting and returning Israel are directed to make use of before the Lord, declaring they would not do any more as they had done; to Assyria, or the kings of Assyria, as the Targum, for help, and desire assistance, and expect deliverance and salvation from thence; see Hosea 5:13;

we will not ride upon horses; to seek for help elsewhere; or go to Egypt for them, as they had done; or put their trust in them for safety, in a time of war; or think to make their escape by them when in danger; see Psalm 20:8;

neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ye are our gods; that is, say so to, or concerning, their idols, which were made by their hands, or by their orders, as they had formerly done to the golden calf in the wilderness, and to the calves at Dan and Bethel; see Exodus 32:4; now, by all these expressions is meant, that they would determine not to put any confidence in any creature, or in any creature performance; that they would not trust in their own merits, but in the mercy of God through Christ for the of their sins; nor in any works of righteousness for their justification before God, and acceptance with him; nor expect salvation in any other way than by the free grace of God, and his abundant mercy in Christ:

for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy; and in thee only; hereby declaring that the Lord was the only Saviour; that there was salvation in Christ, and in no other; and that they would have no other saviour but him; that they would look to the mercy of God proclaimed in him, and communicated from and through him, the mercy seat, and to his mercy alone for eternal life; in whom the most destitute persons, as the fatherless, who are destitute of friends, of help and assistance, of counsel and advice, find favour, kindness, and mercy, even such as are most hopeless and helpless; which is a great encouragement to look to the Lord, to trust in him, and hope in his mercy.

Asshur shall {d} not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

(d) We will forsake all vain confidence and pride.

3. Israel here renounces those sins against the theocracy of which Jehovah’s prophet had specially accused him, viz. trust in Assyria (Hosea 5:13, Hosea 7:11, Hosea 8:9) and reliance on horses and chariots (Hosea 1:7, Hosea 10:13, alluding no doubt to the Egyptian alliance, comp. Isaiah 30:16; Isaiah 31:1), and idolatry (Hosea 4:17, Hosea 8:4).

to the work of our hands] An early anticipation of the splendid morsels of irony, in which a later prophet lashes idolatry (see Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 54:17).

the fatherless] Israel’s condition is compared to that of an orphan (comp. the exquisite ὀρφανούς of John 14:18).

Verse 3. - Asshur shall not save us: we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. This was the practical side of Israel's repentance; this was bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. 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 thin 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 and the God of the orphan has bowels of tenderest compassion. To the presumed prayer of the penitent an answer overflowing with mercy is promised at once, and by God himself in the next section, consisting of - Hosea 14:3After 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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