Hosea 14:5
I will be as the dew to Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5, 6) As the Dew.—For this imagery see Psalm 130:3. Properly it is “a copious mist, shedding small invisible rain, that comes in rich abundance every night in the hot weather, when west or north-west winds blow, and which brings intense refreshment to all organised life” (Neil’s Palestine Explored, p. 136). The lily, which carpets the fields of Palestine (Matthew 6:29), has slender roots, which might easily be uptorn, but under God’s protection, even these are to strike downward like the roots of the cedars.[13] Branches are to grow like the banyan-tree, until one tree becomes a forest, and the beauty of the olive in its dancing radiance is to cover all, while the fragrance shall go abroad like the breezes from the forest of Lebanon.

[13] The lily of the Bible is identified by some with the Lilium chalcedonicum, or Scarlet Martagon, which grows profusely in the Levant, and is said to abound in Galilee in the months of April and May. Wetzstein, on the other hand, identifies it with a beautiful dark violet lily which grows in the large plain south-east of the Hauran range of mountains, and is called susân. The opinion of the Chaldee paraphrast and of Rabbinical writers, that the rose was really meant by the Hebrew, may safely be rejected.

Hosea

ISRAEL RETURNING

THE DEW AND THE PLANTS

Hosea 14:5 - Hosea 14:6
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Like his brethren, Hosea was a poet as well as a prophet. His little prophecy is full of similes and illustrations drawn from natural objects; scarcely any of them from cities or from the ways of men; almost all of them from Nature, as seen in the open country, which he evidently loved, and where he had looked upon things with a clear and meditative eye. This whole chapter is full of emblems drawn from the vegetable world. The lily, the cedar, the olive, are in my text. And there follow, in the subsequent verses, the corn, and the vine, and the green fir-tree.

The words which I have read, no doubt originally had simply a reference to the numerical increase of the people and their restoration to their land, but they may be taken by us quite fairly as having a very much deeper and more blessed reference than that. For they describe the uniform condition of all spiritual life and growth,’ I will be as the dew unto Israel’; and then they set forth some of the manifold aspects of that growth, and the consequences of receiving that heavenly dew, under the various metaphors to which I have referred. It is in that higher signification that I wish to look at them now.

I. The first thought that comes out of the words is that for all life and growth of the spirit there must be a bedewing from God.

‘I will be as the dew unto Israel.’ Now, scholars tell us that the kind of moisture that is meant in these words is not what we call dew, of which, as a matter of fact, there falls, in Palestine, little or none at the season of the year referred to in my text, but that the word really means the heavy night-clouds that come upon the wings of the south-west wind, to diffuse moisture and freshness over the parched plains, in the very height and fierceness of summer. The metaphor of my text becomes more beautiful and striking, if we note that, in the previous chapter, where the Prophet was in his threatening mood, he predicts that ‘an east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness’-the burning sirocco, with death upon its wings-’and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up.’ We have then to imagine the land gaping and parched, the hot air having, as with invisible tongue of flame, licked streams and pools dry, and having shrunken fountains and springs. Then, all at once there comes down upon the baking ground and on the faded, drooping flowers that lie languid and prostrate on the ground in the darkness, borne on the wings of the wind, from the depths of the great unfathomed sea, an unseen moisture. You cannot call it rain, so gently does it diffuse itself; it is liker a mist, but it brings life and freshness, and everything is changed. The dew, or the night mist, as it might more properly be rendered, was evidently a good deal in Hosea’s mind; you may remember that he uses the image again in a remarkably different aspect, where he speaks of men’s goodness as being like ‘a morning cloud, and the early dew that passes away.’

The natural object which yields the emblem was all inadequate to set forth the divine gift which is compared to it, because as soon as the sun has risen, with burning heat, it scatters the beneficent clouds, and the ‘sunbeams like swords’ threaten to slay the tender green shoots. But this mist from God that comes down to water the earth is never dried up. It is not transient. It may be ours, and live in our hearts. Dear brethren, the prose of this sweet old promise is ‘If I depart, I will send Him unto you.’ If we are Christian people, we have the perpetual dew of that divine Spirit, which falls on our leaves and penetrates to our roots, and communicates life, freshness, and power, and makes growth possible-more than possible, certain-for us. ‘I’-Myself through My Son, and in My Spirit-’I will be’-an unconditional assurance-’as the dew unto Israel.’

Yes! That promise is in its depth and fulness applicable only to the Christian Israel, and it remains true to-day and for ever. Do we see it fulfilled? One looks round upon our congregations, and into one’s own heart, and we behold the parable of Gideon’s fleece acted over again-some places soaked with the refreshing moisture, and some as hard as a rock and as dry as tinder and ready to catch fire from any spark from the devil’s forge and be consumed in the everlasting burnings some day. It will do us good to ask ourselves why it is that, with a promise like this for every Christian soul to build upon, there are so few Christian souls that have anything like realised its fulness and its depth. Let us be quite sure of this-God has nothing to do with the failure of His promise, and let us take all the blame to ourselves.

‘I will be as the dew unto Israel.’ Who was Israel? The man that wrestled all night in prayer with God, and took hold of the angel and prevailed and wept and made supplication to Him. So Hosea tells us; and as he says in the passage where he describes the Angel’s wrestling with Jacob at Peniel, ‘there He spake with us’-when He spake, He spake with him who first bore the name. Be you Israel, and God will surely be your dew; and life and growth will be possible. That is the first lesson of this great promise.

II. The second is, that a soul thus bedewed by God will spring into purity and beauty.

We go back to Hosea’s vegetable metaphors. ‘He shall grow as the lily’ is his first promise. If I were addressing a congregation of botanists, I should have something to say about what kind of a plant is meant, but that is quite beside the mark for my present purpose. It is sufficient to notice that in this metaphor the emphasis is laid upon the two attributes which I have named-beauty and purity. The figure teaches us that ugly Christianity is not Christ’s Christianity. Some of us older people remember that it used to be a favourite phrase to describe unattractive saints that they had ‘grace grafted on a crab stick.’ There are a great many Christian people whom one would compare to any other plant rather than a lily. Thorns and thistles and briers are a good deal more like what some of them appear to the world. But we are bound, if we are Christian people, by our obligations to God, and by our obligations to men, to try to make Christianity look as beautiful in people’s eyes as we can. That is what Paul said, ‘Adorn the teaching’; make it look well, inasmuch as it has made you look attractive to men’s eyes. Men have a fairly accurate notion of beauty and goodness, whether they have any goodness or any beauty in their own characters or not. Do you remember the words: ‘Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, whatsoever things are venerable . . . if there be any praise’-from men-’think on these things’? If we do not keep that as the guiding star of our lives, then we have failed in one very distinct duty of Christian people-namely, to grow more like a lily, and to be graceful in the lowest sense of that word, as well as grace full in the highest sense of it. We shall not be so in the lower, unless we are so in the higher. It may be a very modest kind of beauty, very humble, and not at all like the flaring reds and yellows of the gorgeous flowers that the world admires. These are often like a great sunflower, with a disc as big as a cheese. But the Christian beauty will be modest and unobtrusive and shy, like the violet half buried in the hedge-bank, and unnoticed by careless eyes, accustomed to see beauty only in gaudy, flaring blooms. But unless you, as a Christian, are in your character arrayed in the “beauty of holiness,’ and the holiness of beauty, you are not quite the Christian that Jesus Christ wants you to be; setting forth all the gracious and sweet and refining influences of the Gospel in your daily life and conduct. That is the second lesson of our text.

III. The third is, that a God-bedewed soul that has been made fair and pure by communion with God, ought also to be strong.

He “shall cast forth his roots like Lebanon.” Now I take it that simile does not refer to the roots of that giant range that slope away down under the depths of the Mediterranean. That is a beautiful emblem, but it is not in line with the other images in the context. As these are all dependent on the promise of the dew, and represent different phases of the results of its fulfilment, it is natural to expect thus much uniformity in their variety, that they shall all be drawn from plant-life. If so, we must suppose a condensed metaphor here, and take “Lebanon” to mean the forest which another prophet calls “the glory of Lebanon.” The characteristic tree in these, as we all know, was the cedar.

It is named in Hebrew by a word which is connected with that for “strength.” It stands as the very type and emblem of stability and vigour. Think of its firm roots by which it is anchored deep in the soil. Think of the shelves of massive dark foliage. Think of its unchanged steadfastness in storm. Think of its towering height; and thus arriving at the meaning of the emblem, let us translate it into practice in our own lives. “He shall cast forth his roots as Lebanon.” Beauty? Yes! Purity? Yes! And braided in with them, if I may so say, the strength which can say “No!” which can resist, which can persist, which can overcome; power drawn from communion with God. “Strength and beauty” should blend in the worshippers, as they do in the “sanctuary” in God Himself. There is nothing admirable in mere force; there is often something sickly and feeble, and therefore contemptible in mere beauty. Many of us will cultivate the complacent and the amiable sides of the Christian life, and be wanting in the manly “thews that throw the world,” and can fight to the death. But we have to try and bring these two excellences of character together, and it needs an immense deal of grace and wisdom and imitation of Jesus Christ, and a close clasp of His hand, to enable us to do that. Speak we of strength? He is the type of strength. Of beauty? He is the perfection of beauty. And it is only as we keep close to Him that our lives will be all fair with the reflected loveliness of His, and strong with the communicated power of His grace-“strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Brethren, if we are to set forth anything, in our daily lives, of this strength, remember that our lives must be rooted in, as well as bedewed by, God. Hosea’s emblems, beautiful and instructive as they are, do not reach to the deep truth set forth in still holier and sweeter words; “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.” The union of Christ and His people is closer than that between dew and plant. Our growth results from the communication of His own life to us. Therefore is the command stringent and obedience to it blessed, “Abide in Me, for apart from Me ye can do”-and are-“nothing.” Let us remember that the loftier the top of the tree and the wider the spread of its shelves of dark foliage, if it is steadfastly to stand, unmoved by the loud winds when they call, the deeper must its roots strike into the firm earth. If your life is to be a fair temple-palace worthy of God’s dwelling in, if it is to be impregnable to assault, there must be quite as much masonry underground as above, as is the case in great old buildings and palaces. And such a life must be a life “hid with Christ in God,” then it will be strong. When we strike our roots deep into Him, our branch also shall not wither, and our leaf shall be green, and all that we do shall prosper. The wicked are not so. They are like chaff-rootless, fruitless, lifeless, which the wind driveth away.

IV. Lastly, the God-bedewed soul, beautiful, pure, strong, will bear fruit.

That is the last lesson from these metaphors. “His beauty shall be as the olive-tree.” Anybody that has ever seen a grove of olives knows that their beauty is not such as strikes the eye. If it was not for the blue sky overhead, that rays down glorifying light, they would not be much to look at or talk about. The tree has a gnarled, grotesque trunk which divides into insignificant branches, bearing leaves mean in shape, harsh in texture, with a silvery underside. It gives but a quivering shade and has no massiveness, nor symmetry. Ay! but there are olives on the branches. And so the beauty of the humble tree is in what it grows for man’s good. After all, it is the outcome in fruitfulness which is the main thing about us. God’s meaning, in all His gifts of dew, and beauty, and purity, and strength, is that we should be of some use in the world.

The olive is crushed into oil, and the oil is used for smoothing and suppling joints and flesh, for nourishing and sustaining the body as food, for illuminating darkness as oil in the lamp. And these three things are the three things for which we Christian people have received all our dew, and all our beauty, and all our strength-that we may give other people light, that we may be the means of conveying to other people nourishment, that we may move gently in the world as lubricating, sweetening, soothing influences, and not irritating and provoking, and leading to strife and alienation. The question after all is, Does anybody gather fruit off us, and would anybody call us ‘trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified’? That is lesson four from this text. May we all open our hearts for the dew from heaven, and then use it to produce in ourselves beauty, purity, strength, and fruitfulness!Hosea 14:5-6. I will be as the dew unto Israel — These verses contain gracious promises of God’s favour, and of blessings upon Israel’s conversion, represented by different metaphors. These are first described by that refreshment which copious dews give to the grass in the heat of summer. And if we consider the nature of the climate, and the necessity of dews in so hot a country, not only to refresh, but likewise to preserve life; if we consider also the beauty of the oriental lilies, the fragrance of the cedars which grow upon Lebanon, the beauteous appearance which the spreading olive-trees afforded, the exhilarating coolness caused by the shade of such trees, and the aromatic smell exhaled by the cedars; we shall then partly understand the force of the metaphors here employed by the prophet; but their full energy no one can conceive, till he feels both the want, and enjoys the advantage of the particulars referred to, in that climate where the prophet wrote. See Bishop Lowth’s xiith and xixth Prelection. Mr. Harmer’s illustration of this passage will be acceptable to the reader. “The image in general,” says he, “made use of here by Hosea, is the change that takes place upon the descent of the dew of autumn on the before parched earth, where every thing appeared dead or dying; upon which they immediately become lively and delightful. Israel, by their sins, reduced themselves into a wretched, disgraceful state, like that of the earth, when no rain or dew has descended for a long time; but God promised he would heal their backslidings, and restore them to a flourishing state. The gentleman that visited the holy land in autumn 1774, found the dews very copious then, as well as the rain, and particularly observed, in journeying from Jerusalem, a very grateful scent arising from the aromatic herbs growing there, such as rosemary, wild thyme, balm, &c. If the fragrant herbs between Jerusalem and Joppa afforded such a grateful smell, as to engage this ingenious traveller to remark it in his journal, the scent of Lebanon must have been exquisite; for Mr. Maundrell found the great rupture in that mountain, in which Canobin is situated, had ‘both sides exceeding steep and high, clothed with fragrant green from top to bottom, and everywhere refreshed with fountains, falling down from the rocks, in pleasant cascades; the ingenious work of nature.’“ This sufficiently illustrates the clause, His smell, that is, his fragrance, shall be like that of Lebanon. To illustrate the clause, He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon, Mr. Harmer quotes a passage from Dr. Russell’s account of the natural history of Aleppo, vol. 1. c. 3: “After the first rains in the autumn, the fields everywhere throw out the autumnal lily daffodil; and the few plants which had stood the summer now grow with fresh vigour.” The other trees of Lebanon, as well as the cedars, are admired by travellers on account of their enormous size. So de la Roque, describing his ascending this mountain, says, the farther they advanced, the loftier were the trees, which, for the most part, were plane-trees, cypresses, and evergreen oaks. And Rauwolff, after mentioning several kinds of trees and herbs which he found there, goes on; But chiefly, and in the greatest number, were the maple-trees, which are large, high, and expand themselves very much with their branches: but, above all, the size of the cedar attracts admiration. “I measured,” says Maundrell, “one of the largest, and found it twelve yards six inches in girt, and yet sound; and thirty-seven yards in the spread of its boughs. At about five or six yards from the ground it was divided into five limbs, each of which was equal to a great tree.” The beauty of the olive-tree is frequently mentioned in Scripture, and has come under our observation before: see note on Psalm 128:3.14:4-8 Israel seeks God's face, and they shall not seek it in vain. His anger is turned from them. Whom God loves, he loves freely; not because they deserve it, but of his own good pleasure. God will be to them all they need. The graces of the Spirit are the hidden manna, hidden in the dew; the grace thus freely bestowed on them shall not be in vain. They shall grow upward, and be more flourishing; shall grow as the lily. The lily, when come to its height, is a lovely flower, Mt 6:28,29. They shall grow downward, and be more firm. With the flower of the lily shall be the strong root of the cedar of Lebanon. Spiritual growth consists most in the growth of the root, which is out of sight. They shall also spread as the vine, whose branches extend very widely. When believers abound in good works, then their branches spread. They shall be acceptable both to God and man. Holiness is the beauty of a soul. The church is compared to the vine and the olive, which bring forth useful fruits. God's promises pertain to those only that attend on his ordinances; not such as flee to this shadow only for shelter in a hot gleam, but all who dwell under it. When a man is brought to God, all who dwell under his shadow fare the better. The sanctifying fruits shall appear in his life. Thus believers grow up into the experience and fruitfulness of the gospel. Ephraim shall say, God will put it into his heart to say it, What have I to do any more with idols! God's promises to us are more our security and our strength for mortifying sin, than our promises to God. See the power of Divine grace. God will work such a change in him, that he shall loathe the idols as much as ever he loved them. See the benefit of sanctified afflictions. Ephraim smarted for his idolatry, and this is the fruit, even the taking away his sin, Isa 27:9. See the nature of repentance; it is a firm and fixed resolution to have no more to do with sin. The Lord meets penitents with mercy, as the father of the prodigal met his returning son. God will be to all true converts both a delight and a defence; they shall sit under his shadow with delight. And as the root of a tree; From me is thy fruit found: from Him we receive grace and strength to enable us to do our duty.I will be as the dew unto Israel - Before, He had said, "his spring shall become dry and his fountain shall be dried up" Hosea 13:15. Now again He enlarges the blessing; their supply shall be unfailing, for it shall be from God; yea, God Himself shall be that blessing; "I will be the dew; descending on the mown grass" Psalm 72:6, to quicken and refresh it; descending, Himself, into the dried and parched and sere hearts of men, as He saith, "We will come unto him and make Our abode in him" John 14:23. The grace of God, like the dew, is not given once for all, but is, day by day, waited for, and, day by day, renewed. Yet doth it not pass away, like the fitful goodness John 6:4 of God's former people, but turns into the growth and spiritual substance of those on whom it descends.

He shall grow as the lily - No one image can exhibit the manifold grace of God in those who are His own, or the fruits of that grace. So the prophet adds one image to another, each supplying a distinct likeness of a distinct grace or excellence. The "lily" is the emblem of the beauty and purity of the soul in grace; the "cedar" of Lebanon, of its strength and deep-rootedness, its immovableness and uprightness; the evergreen "olive tree" which "remaineth in its beauty both winter and summer," of the unvarying presence of Divine Grace, continually, supplying an eversustained freshness, and issuing in fruit; and the fragrance of the aromatic plants with which the lower parts of Mount Lebanon are decked, of its loveliness and sweetness; as a native explains this , "he takes a second comparison from Mount Lebanon for the abundance of aromatic things and odoriferous flowers."

Such are the myrtles and lavender and the odoriferous reed; from which "as you enter the valley" (between Lebanon and Anti-lebanon) "straightway the scent meets you." All these natural things are established and well-known symbols of things spiritual. The lily, so called in Hebrew from its dazzling whiteness, is, in the Canticles Sol 2:1-2, the emblem of souls in which Christ takes delight. The lily multiplies exceedingly : yet hath it a weak root and soon fadeth. The prophet, then, uniteth with these, plants of unfading green, and deep root. The seed which "had no root," our Lord says, "withered away" Matthew 13:6, as contrariwise, Paul speaks of these, who are "rooted and grounded in love" Ephesians 3:17, and of being "rooted and built up in Christ" Colossians 2:7. The widespreading branches are an emblem of the gradual growth and enlargement of the Church, as our Lord says, "It becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof" Matthew 13:32.

The symmetry of the tree and its outstretched arms express, at once, grace and protection. Of the "olive" the Psalmist says, "I am like a green olive tree in the house Of God" Psalm 52:8; and Jeremiah says, "The Lord called thy name a green olive tree, fair and of goodly fruit" Jeremiah 11:16; and of "fragrance" the spouse says in the Canticles, "because of the savor of Thy good ointments, Thy name is as ointment poured forth" Sol 1:3; and the Apostle says, "thanks be to God, which maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place" 2 Corinthians 2:14. Deeds of charity also are "an odor of good smell" Philippians 4:18; the prayers of the saints also are "sweet odors" Revelation 5:8. All these are the fruits of the Spirit of God who says, "I will be as the dew unto Israel." Such reunion of qualities, being beyond nature, suggests the more, that, that, wherein they are all combined, the future Israel, the Church, shall flourish with graces beyond nature, in their manifoldness, completeness, unfadingness.

5. as the dew—which falls copiously in the East, taking the place of the more frequent rains in other regions. God will not be "as the early dew that goeth away," but constant (Ho 6:3, 4; Job 29:19; Pr 19:12).

the lily—No plant is more productive than the lily, one root often producing fifty bulbs [Pliny, Natural History, 21.5]. The common lily is white, consisting of six leaves opening like bells. The royal lily grows to the height of three or four feet; Mt 6:29 alludes to the beauty of its flowers.

roots as Lebanon—that is, as the trees of Lebanon (especially the cedars), which cast down their roots as deeply as is their height upwards; so that they are immovable [Jerome], (Isa 10:34). Spiritual growth consists most in the growth of the root which is out of sight.

I, the Lord, who have pardoned, and am appeased,

will be as the dew, refresh and water, that they may grow, and that they may be fruitful and flourish, as the dew in those countries, where it was more abundant than with us, and for some months together supplied the want of rain; God will refresh and comfort, and make fruitful in good works, through his grace, such as return to him.

Israel; those that do unfeignedly, not hypocritically, confess, pray, and repent.

As the lily; which grows apace, is fragrant, beautiful, and delights in valleys, often grows among thorns; so the Israel of God among troubles in low state, yet comely, and fragrant to the Lord, and grows up in him speedily.

Lebanon, put for the trees of Lebanon; as those trees spread forth their roots, grow up to strength, are most beautiful, odoriferous, and durable, cedars in Lebanon are these trees; so shall the true Israel, converted backsliders, be blessed of God. So flourishing and happy shall the church be under Christ. I will be as the dew unto Israel,.... To spiritual Israel, to those that return to the Lord, take with them words, and pray unto him, whose backslidings are healed, and they are freely loved; otherwise it is said of apostate Israel or Ephraim, that they were "smitten, and their root dried up, and bore no fruit", Hosea 9:16. These words, and the whole, context, respect future times, as Kimchi observes; even the conversion of Israel in the latter day, when they shall partake of all the blessings of grace, signified by the metaphors used in this and the following verses. These words are a continuation of the answer to the petitions put into the mouths of converted ones, promising them many favours, expressed in figurative terms; and first by "the dew", which comes from heaven, is a great blessing of God, and is quickening, very refreshing and fruitful to the earth: and the Lord is that unto his people as the dew is to herbs, plants, and trees of the earth; he is like unto it in his free love and layout, and the discoveries of it to them; which, like the dew, is of and from himself alone; is an invaluable blessing; better than life itself; and is not only the cause of quickening dead sinners, but of reviving, cheering, and refreshing the drooping spirits of his people; and is abundance, never fails, but always continues, Proverbs 19:12; and so he is in the blessings of his grace, and the application of them; which are in heavenly places, in Christ, and come down from thence, and in great abundance, like the drops of dew; and fall silently, insensibly, and unawares, particularly regenerating grace; and are very cheering and exhilarating, as forgiveness of sin, a justifying righteousness, adoption, &c. Deuteronomy 33:13; and also in the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, which distil as dew; these are of God, and come down from heaven; seem little in themselves, but of great importance to the conversion of sinners, and comfort of saints; bring many blessings in them, and cause great joy and fruitfulness wherever they come with power, Deuteronomy 32:2. The Targum is,

"my Word shall be as dew to Israel;''

the essential Word of God, the Messiah; of whose incarnation of a virgin some interpret this; having, like the dew, no father but God, either in his divine or human nature; but rather it is to be understood of the blessings of grace he is to his people as Mediator; being to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and every other, even their all it, all:

he shall grow as the lily; to which the church and people of God are sometimes compared, especially for their beauty and comeliness in Christ, Solomon in all his glory not being arrayed like one of these; particularly for their unspotted purity, being clothed with fine linen, clean and white, the white raiment of Christ's righteousness, and having their garments washed and made white in his blood; see Sol 2:1; and here for its growth. The root of the lily lies buried in the earth a long time, when it seems as if it was dead; but on a sudden it springs out of the earth, and runs up to a great height, and becomes very flourishing; which is not owing to itself, it "toils not"; but to the dew of heaven: so God's elect in a state of nature are dead, but, being quickened by the grace of God, spring up on a sudden, and grow very fast; which is not owing to themselves, but to the dews of divine grace, the bright shining of the sun of righteousness upon them, and to the influences of the blessed Spirit; and so they grow up on high, into their Head Christ Jesus, and rise up in their affections, desires, faith and hope to heavenly things, to the high calling of God in Christ, and become fruitful in grace, and in good works. The Targum is,

"they shall shine as the lily;''

see Matthew 6:29;

and cast forth his roots as Lebanon; as the tree, or trees, of Lebanon, as the Targum; and so Kimchi, who adds, which are large, and their roots many; or as the roots of the trees of Lebanon, so Jarchi; like the cedars there, which, as the word here used signifies, "struck" (c) their roots firm in that mountain, and stood strong and stable, let what winds and tempests soever blow: thus, as in the following, what one metaphor is deficient in, another makes up. The lily has but a weak root, and is easily up; but the cedars in Lebanon had roots firm and strong, to which the saints are sometimes compared, as here; see Psalm 92:12; and this denotes their permanency and final perseverance; who are rooted in the love of God, which is like a root underground from all eternity, and sprouts forth in regeneration, and is the source of all grace; is itself immovable, and in it the people of God are secured, and can never be rooted out; and they may be said to "strike" their roots in it, as the phrase here, when they exercise: a strong faith in it, and are firmly persuaded of their interest in it; see Ephesians 3:17; they are also rooted in Christ, who is the root of Jesse, of David, and of all the saints; from whom they have their life, their nourishment and fruitfulness, and where they remain unmoved, and strike their roots in him, by renewed acts of faith on him, claiming their interest in him; and are herein so strongly rooted and grounded, that all the winds and storms of sin, Satan, and the world, cannot eradicate them; nay, as trees are more firmly rooted by being shaken, so are they; see Colossians 2:7. The Targum is,

"they shall dwell in the strength of their land, as a tree of Lebanon, which sends forth its branch.''

(c) "percutiet", Montanus, Tarnovius, Rivet, Cocceius; "figet", Calvin, Pareus; "defiget"; Zanchius; "et infiget", Schmidt; "incutiet", Drusius.

I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. their backsliding] i.e. the damage which their ‘backsliding’ has brought upon them.

love them freely] Or, ‘spontaneously’, i.e. without receiving any gifts but those mentioned in Hosea 14:2.

5–9. Jehovah, in answer, describes the blessings which He will give. The imagery reminds us of the Song of Songs; notice especially the references to the lily and to Lebanon."And so wilt thou stumble by day, and the prophet with thee will also stumble by night, and I will destroy thy mother." Kshal is not used here with reference to the sin, as Simson supposes, but for the punishment, and signifies to fall, in the sense of to perish, as in Hosea 14:2; Isaiah 31:3, etc. היּום is not to-day, or in the day when the punishment shall fall, but "by day," interdiu, on account of the antithesis לילה, as in Nehemiah 4:16. נביא, used without an article in the most indefinite generality, refers to false prophets - not of Baal, however, but of Jehovah as worshipped under the image of a calf - who practised prophesying as a trade, and judging from 1 Kings 22:6, were very numerous in the kingdom of Israel. The declaration that the people should fall by day and the prophets by night, does not warrant our interpreting the day and night allegorically, the former as the time when the way of right is visible, and the latter as the time when the way is hidden or obscured; but according to the parallelism of the clauses, it is to be understood as signifying that the people and the prophets would fall at all times, by night and by day. "There would be no time free from the slaughter, either of individuals in the nation at large, or of false prophets" (Rosenmller). In the second half of the verse, the destruction of the whole nation and kingdom is announced ('ēm is the whole nation, as in Hosea 2:2; Hebrews 4:1).
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