Hosea 14:7
They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) It would be more in accordance with the Hebrew idiom to render, The dwellers under its shadow shall once more cause the corn to grow. The word translated “scent” (margin, “memorial”) should be renown. The form of these promises is derived from the external signs of national prosperity. (Comp. Hosea 12:10.) But corn and wine are throughout the Scriptures the great symbols of spiritual refreshment, and are still the memorials of the supreme love of Him whose body was broken and whose blood was shed for us.

Hosea

ISRAEL RETURNING

Hosea 14:1 - Hosea 14:9
.

Hosea is eminently the prophet of divine love and of human repentance. Both streams of thought are at their fullest in this great chapter. In Hosea 14:1 - Hosea 14:3 the very essence of true return to God is set forth in the prayer which Israel is exhorted to offer, while in Hosea 14:4 - Hosea 14:8 the forgiving love of God and its blessed results are portrayed with equal poetical beauty and spiritual force. Hosea 14:9 closes the chapter and the book with a kind of epilogue.

I. The summons to repentance.

‘Israel,’ of course, here means the Northern Kingdom, with which Hosea’s prophecies are chiefly occupied. ‘Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity’-that is the lesson taught by all its history, and in a deeper sense it is the lesson of all experience. Sin brings ruin for nations and individuals, and the plain teachings of each man’s own life exhort each to ‘return unto the Lord.’ We have all proved the vanity and misery of departing from Him; surely, if we are not drawn by His love, we might be driven by our own unrest, to go back to God.

The Prophet anticipates the clear accents of the New Testament call to repentance in his expansion of what he meant by returning. He has nothing to say about sacrifices, nor about self-reliant efforts at moral improvement. ‘Take with you words,’ not ‘the blood of bulls and goats.’ Confession is better than sacrifice. What words are they which will avail? Hosea teaches the penitent’s prayer. It must begin with the petition for forgiveness, which implies recognition of the petitioner’s sin. The cry, ‘Take away all iniquity,’ does not specify sins, but masses the whole black catalogue into one word. However varied the forms of our transgressions, they are in principle one, and it is best to bind them all into one ugly heap, and lay it at God’s feet. We have to confess not only sins, but sin, and the taking away of it includes divine cleansing from its power, as well as divine forgiveness of its guilt. Hosea bids Israel ask that God would take away all iniquity; John pointed to ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ But beyond forgiveness and cleansing, the penitent heart will seek that God would ‘accept the good’ in it, which springs up by His grace, when the evil has been washed from it, like flowers that burst from soil off which the matted under-growth of poisonous jungle has been cleared. Mere negative absence of ‘evil’ is not all that we should desire or exhibit; there must be positive good; and however sinful may have been the past, we are not too bold when we ask and expect that we may be made able to produce ‘good,’ which shall be fragrant as sweet incense to God.

Petitions are followed by vows. On the one hand, the experience of forgiveness and cleansing will put a new song in our mouths, and instead of animal sacrifices, we shall render the praise which is better than ‘calves’ laid on the altar. Perhaps the Septuagint rendering of that difficult phrase ‘the calves of our lips,’ which is given in Hebrews 13:15, ‘the fruit of our lips,’ is preferable. In either case, the same thought appears-that the penitent’s experience of forgiving and restoring love makes ‘the tongue of the dumb sing,’ and it will bind men’s hearts more closely to God than anything besides can do, so that their old inclinations to false reliances and idolatries drop away from them. The old fable tells us that the storm made the traveller wrap his cloak closer round him, but the sunshine made him throw it off. Judgments often make men cling more closely to their sins, but forgiving mercy makes them ‘cast off the works of darkness.’ The men who had experienced that in God, the Israel, which by its sins had brought down the punishment of His repudiation of being its father {Hosea 1:9}, had found mercy, would no longer feel temptation to turn to Assyria for help, nor to seek protection from Egypt’s cavalry, nor to debase their manhood by calling stocks and stones, the work of their own hands, their gods. What earthly sweetness will tempt, or what earthly danger will affright, the heart that is feeling the bliss of union with God? Would Judas’s thirty pieces of silver attract the disciple reclining on Jesus’ bosom? We are most firmly bound to God, not by our resolves, but by our experience of His all-sufficient mercy. Fill the heart with that wine of the kingdom, and bitter or poisonous draughts will find no entrance into the cup.

II. God’s welcoming answer.

The very abruptness of its introduction, without any explanation as to the speaker, suggests how swiftly and joyfully the Father hastens to meet the returning prodigal while he is yet afar off. Like pent-up waters rushing forth as soon as a barrier is taken away, God’s love pours itself out immediately. His answer ever gives more than the penitent asks-robe and ring and shoes, and a feast to him who dared not expect more than a place among the hired servants. He gives not by drops, but in floods, answering the prayer for the taking away of iniquity by the promise to heal backsliding, going beyond desires and hopes in the gift of love which asks for no recompense, is drawn forth by no desert, but wells up from the depths of God’s heart, and strengthens the new, tremulous trust of the penitent by the assurance that every trace of anger is effaced from God’s heart.

The blessings consequent on the gift of God’s love are described in lovely imagery, drawn, like Hosea’s other abundant similes, from nature, and especially from trees and flowers. The source of all fruitfulness is a divine influence, which comes silently and refreshing as the ‘dew,’ or, rather, as the ‘night mist,’ a phenomenon occurring in Palestine in summer, and being, accurately, rolling masses of vapour brought from the Mediterranean, which counteract the dry heat and keep vegetation alive. The influences which refresh and fructify our souls must fall in many a silent hour of meditation and communion. They will effloresce into manifold shapes of beauty and fruitfulness, of which the Prophet signalises three. The lily may stand for beauty of purity, though botanists differ as to the particular flower meant. Christians should present to the world ‘whatsoever things are lovely,’ and see to it that their goodness is attractive. But the fragrant, pure lily has but shallow roots, and beauty is not all that a character needs in this world of struggle and effort. So there are to be both the lily’s blossom and roots like Lebanon. The image may refer to the firm buttresses of the widespread foot-hills, from which the sovereign summits of the great mountain range rise, or, as is rather suggested by the accompanying similes from the vegetable world, it may refer to the cedars growing there. Their roots are anchored deep and stretch far underground; therefore they rear towering heads, and spread broad shelves of dark foliage, safe from any blast. Our lives must be deep rooted in God if they are to be strong. Boots generally spread beneath the soil about as far as branches extend above it. There should be at least as much underground, ‘hid with Christ in God,’ as is visible to the world.

But beauty and strength are not all. So Hosea thinks of yet another of the characteristic growths of Palestine, the olive, which is not strikingly beautiful in form, with its strangely gnarled, contorted stem, its feeble branches, and its small, pointed, pale leaves, but has the beauty of fruitfulriess, and is green when other trees are bare. Such ‘beauty’ should be ours, and will be if the ‘dew’ falls on us.

In Hosea 14:7 there are difficulties, both as to the application of the ‘his,’ and as to the reading and rendering of some of the words. But the general drift is clear. It prolongs the tones of the foregoing verses, keeping to the same class of images, and expressing fruitfulness, abundant as the corn and precious as the grape, and fragrance like the ‘bouquet’ of the choicest wine.

Hosea 14:8 offers great difficulties on any interpretation. The supplement ‘shall say’ is questionable, and it is doubtful whether Ephraim is the speaker at all, and whether, if so, he speaks all the four clauses, and who speaks any or all of them, if not he. To the present writer, it seems best to take the supplement as right, and possible to regard the whole verse as spoken by Ephraim, though perhaps the last clause is meant to be God’s utterance. The meaning will then come out as follows. The penitent Israel again speaks, after the gracious promises preceding. The tribal name is, as usual in Hosea, equivalent to Israel, whose penitent cry we heard at the beginning of the passage. Now we hear his glad response to God’s abundant answer. ‘What have I to do any more with idols?’ He had vowed {Hosea 14:3} to have no more to do with them, and the resolve is deepened by the rich grace held forth to him. Hosea had lamented Ephraim’s mad adherence to ‘his idols’ {Hosea 4:17}, but now the union is dissolved, and by penitence and reception of God’s grace, he is joined to the Lord, and parted from them. His renunciation of idolatry is based, in the second clause, on his experience of what God can do, and on his having heard God’s gracious voice of pardon and promise. If a man hears God, he will not be drawn to worship at any idol’s shrine.

Further, in the third clause, Ephraim is joyfully conscious of the change that has passed on him, in accordance with the great promises just spoken, and with grateful astonishment that such verdure should have burst out from the dry and rotten stump of his own sinful nature, exclaims, ‘I am like a green fir-tree.’ That is another reason why he will have no more to do with idols. They could never have made his sapless nature break into leafage. But what of the fourth clause-’From Me is thy fruit found’? Can we understand that to mean that Ephraim still speaks, keeping up the image of the previous clause, and declaring that all the new fruitfulness which he finds in himself he recognises to be God’s, both in the sense that, in reality, it is produced by Him, and that it belongs to Him? He comes seeking fruit, and He finds it. All our good is His, and we shall be happy, productive, and wise, in proportion as we offer all our works to Him, and feel that, after all, they are not ours, but the works of that Spirit which dwells in penitent and believing hearts. Some have thought that this last clause must be taken as spoken by God; but, even if so taken, it conveys substantially the same thought as to the divine origin of man’s fruitfulness.

The last verse is rather a general reflection summing up the whole than an integral part of this wonderful representation of penitence, pardon, and fruitfulness. It declares the great truth that the knowledge of the pardoning mercy of God, and of the ways by which He weans men from sin and makes them fruitful of good, makes us truly wise. That knowledge is more than intellectual apprehension; it is experience. Providence has its mysteries, but they who keep near to God, and are ‘just’ because they do, will find the opportunity of free, unfettered activity in God’s ways, and transgressors will stumble therein. Therefore wisdom and safety lie in penitence and confession, which will ever be met by gracious pardon and showers of blessing that will cause our hearts, which sin has made desert, to rejoice and blossom like the rose.Hosea 14:7. They that dwell under his shadow shall return — “Not only was Israel to regain its former prosperity, but those smaller tribes of people that were connected with Israel, and shared in its depression, which are here described by dwelling under his shadow.” But many versions translate this clause, They shall return and dwell under his shadow. That is, they shall return to their own country, and rest safely under the protection of the Almighty. They shall revive as the corn — They shall arise out of their calamities: this is properly expressed by reviving as the corn, because the corn is buried, and lies as it were dead in the earth, till, after some time, it springs forth. And grow as the vine — Which in winter seems dead, but yet has life, sap, and a fructifying virtue in it. The reference here is to a vine that had been stripped of its leaves, and afterward flourishes again, recovering its lost verdure. A lively emblem this of the Jewish nation, arising from a state of great depression and affliction, and recovering its former prosperity and dignity. And a still more lively image of the revival and increase of true religion in the church of God, and of the graces and virtues of its members after a time of barrenness and unprofitableness. The scent thereof shall be as the vine of Lebanon — Their wisdom, holiness, and usefulness, their piety and virtue, shall diffuse an agreeable fragrance far and wide, and shall be acceptable both to God and man. Mr. Harmer produces several testimonies in proof of the excellence of the wine of Lebanon above all the wines of that part of the world: and indeed above those which have been most celebrated elsewhere.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.They that dwell under his shadow - that is, the shadow of the restored Israel, who had just been described under the image of a magnificent tree uniting in itself all perfections. : "They that are under the shadow of the Church are together under the shadow of Christ the Head thereof, and also of God the Father." The Jews, of old, explained it , "they shall dwell under the shadow of their Messias." These, he says, "shall return," i. e., they shall turn to be quite other than they had been, even back to Him, to whom they belonged, whose creatures they were, God. "They shall revive as the corn." The words may be differently rendered, in the same general meaning. The simple words, "They shall revive" (literally, "give life" to, or "preserve in life,") "corn," have been filled up differently. Some of old, (from where ours has been taken) understood it, "they shall revive" themselves, and so, "shall live" , and that either "as corn," (as it is said, "shall grow as the vine"); or "by corn" which is also very natural, since "bread is the staff of life," and our spiritual Bread is the support of our spiritual life.

Or lastly, (of which the grammar is easier, yet the idiom less natural) it as been rendered "they shall give life to corn," make corn to live, by cultivating it. In all ways the sense is perfect. If we render, "shall revive" as "corn," it means, being, as it were, dead, they shall net only live again with renewed life, but shall even increase. Corn first dies in its outward form, and so is multiplied; the fruit-bearing branches of the vine are pruned and cut, and so they bear richer fruit. So through suffering, chastisement, or the heavy hand of God or man, the Church, being purified, yields more abundant fruits of grace. Or if rendered, "shall make corn to grow," since the prophet, all around, is under figures of God's workings in nature, speaking of His workings of grace, then it is the same image, as when our Lord speaks of those "who receive the seed in an honest and true heart and bring forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" Matthew 13:23. Or if we were to render, "shall produce life through wheat," what were this, but that seed-corn, which, for us and for our salvation, was sown in the earth, and died, and "brought forth much fruit;" the Bread of life, of which our Lord says, "I am the Bread of life, whoso eateth of this bread shall live forever, and the bread which I will give is My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the world?" John 6:48, John 6:51.

The scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon - The grapes of Lebanon have been of the size of plums; its wine has been spoken of as the best in the East or even in the world . Formerly Israel was as a luxuriant, but empty, vine, bringing forth no fruit to God Hosea 10:1. God "looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes" Isaiah 5:2. Now its glory and luxuriance should not hinder its bearing fruit, and "that," the noblest of its kind. Rich and fragrant is the odor of graces, the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and not fleeting, but abiding.

7. They that used to dwell under Israel's shadow (but who shall have been forced to leave it), shall return, that is, be restored (Eze 35:9). Others take "His shadow" to mean Jehovah's (compare Ps 17:8; 91:1; Isa 4:6), which Ho 14:1, 2 ("return unto the Lord," &c.) favor. But the "his" in Ho 14:6 refers to Israel, and therefore must refer to the same here.

revive as … corn—As the corn long buried in the earth springs up, with an abundant produce, so shall they revive from their calamities, with a great increase of offspring (compare Joh 12:24).

scent thereof—that is, Israel's fame. Compare Ho 14:6, "His smell as Lebanon"; So 1:3: "Thy name is as ointment poured forth." The Septuagint favors the Margin, "memorial."

as the wine of Lebanon—which was most celebrated for its aroma, flavor, and medicinal restorative properties.

They that dwell under his shadow; as many as unite to the church, are members of it, shall dwell under these spreading trees: the churches planted and spreading shall be to new converts as such trees to fainting travellers, almost spent with toil and heat; they shall find rest in this shadow, which may refer to Christ and the church.

Shall return; revive and recover new strength and life; so do souls weary and heavy laden with sin and fears find comfort and life coming to Christ, conversing with such as have been eased and comforted by Christ in like manner formerly.

They shall revive as the corn, which dieth ere it liveth to bring forth fruit; so converts die indeed to sin that they may live to God, die to all legal righteousness that they may live on rich grace: or else it may refer to the increase of the church, which shall be as many stalks from one ear of wheat.

And grow as the vine; which in winter seems dead, is pruned, and promiseth little to the eye, but yet life, sap, and a fructifying virtue is in it, and it will spring and bring forth fruit; so the church of Christ is used, that it may bring forth fruit more abundantly, John 15:2.

The scent thereof, the savour of it to God and good men, shall be pleasing as the scent of the delicious wines of Lebanon, which are mentioned by profane authors with a great praise for their sweetness and deliciousness. They that dwell under his shadow shall return,.... Either under the shadow of Lebanon, as Japhet and Jarchi; the shadow of that mountain, or of the trees that grew upon it; or under the shadow of Israel, the church, to which young converts have recourse, and under which they sit with pleasure; or rather under the shadow of the Lord Israel was called to return unto, and now return, Hosea 14:1; as the Israelites will in the latter day. So the Targum,

"and they shall be gathered out of the midst of their captivity, they shall dwell under the shadow of their Messiah;''

thus truly gracious persons sit under the shadow of Christ, who come to themselves, and return unto the Lord; even under the shadow of his word and ordinances, where they desire to sit, and do sit with delight and pleasure, as well as in the greatest safety; and find it a very refreshing and comfortable shadow to them; even a shadow from the heat of avenging justice, a fiery law, the fiery darts of Satan, and the fury of the world; and, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, exceeding pleasing and cheering to weary travellers; see Sol 2:3 Isa 25:4;

they shall revive as the corn: which first dies, and then is quickened; or which, after a cold nipping winter, at spring revives again: thus do believers under the dews of divine grace, under the shadow of Christ, and the influences of his Spirit: or, "shall revive with corn" (e); by means of it; by which may be signified the corn of heaven, angels' food, the hidden manna, the Gospel of Christ, and Christ himself, the bread of life; by which the spirits of his people are revived, their souls upheld in life, and their graces quickened; which they find and eat, and it is the joy and rejoicing of their hearts:

and grow as the vine: which, though weak, and needs support, and its wood unprofitable; yet grows and spreads very much, and brings forth rich fruit in clusters: so the saints, though they are weak in themselves, and need divine supports, and when they have done all they can are unprofitable servants; yet through the power of divine grace, which is like the dew, they grow in every grace, and are filled with the blessings of it, and bring forth much fruit to the glory of God:

and the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon; like the wine of those vines which grow on Mount Lebanon, and judged to be the best. On Mount Lebanon, about the midway between the top and the bottom of it, there is now a convent called Canobine, situated in a very pleasant place; and Le Bruyn in his travels relates, that it is preferable to all other places on account of its wines, which are the richest and finest in the world; they are very sweet, of a red colour, and so oily that they stick to the glass. At Lebanon was a city called by the Greeks Ampeloessa, from the excellency of its wine, as Grotius from Pliny (f) observes. Gabriel Sionita (g) assures us, that even to this day the wines of Libanus are in good reputation. Kimchi relates from Asaph, a physician, that the wines of Lebanon, Hermon, and Carmel, and of the mountains of Israel and Jerusalem, and of the mountains of Samaria, and of the mountains of Caphtor Mizraim, were the best of wines, and exceeded all others for scent, taste, and medicine. Japhet interprets it, the smell of their vine afar off was as the wine of Lebanon; and so Kimchi, the smell of the wine of the vine, to which Israel is compared, is like the smell of the wine of Lebanon. This may denote the savouriness of truly converted gracious souls, of their graces, doctrines, life, and conversation. Some choose to render it, "their memory (h) shall be as the wine of Lebanon"; so the Targum interprets it of

"the memory of their goodness;''

the saints obtain a good report through faith, and have a good name, better than precious ointment; their memory is blessed; they, are had in everlasting remembrance; the memory of them is not only dear to the people of God in after ages; but the memory of their persons, and of their works, is exceeding grateful to God and Christ.

(e) , Sept. "vivent tritico", V. L. "vivificabunt frumento", Munster, Castalio; so Syr. & Ar. (f) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18. (g) Apud Calmet, Dictionary, on the word "Wine". (h) "memoria ejus", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Tarnovius, Cocceius, Castalio, Schmidt, Burkius.

They that dwell under his {f} shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.

(f) Whoever unites themselves to this people will be blessed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. They that dwell … as the corn] Rather, Once more shall they that dwell under his shadow bring corn to life (i.e. in prosaic language, cultivate corn). A contrast to the lamentation for the corn in Hosea 7:14. ‘His shadow’, i.e. Israel’s; Jehovah is presumably still the speaker. For the idea, comp. Jeremiah 31:5; Jeremiah 31:12.

grow [blossom] as the vine] There is a transition from the prosperity of the agriculture to that of the people who live by it, as in Psalm 72:16.

the sent thereof] Rather, his [i.e. Israel’s] renown (lit. his memorial or name). For the comparison which follows, comp. Song of Solomon 1:3, ‘Thy name is as ointment poured forth.’

as the wine of Lebanon] The vine is still largely cultivated in every part of Lebanon. But the finest grapes in Syria are those of Helbon, a village in the Antilibanus district, a little to the north of Damascus, precisely as in the days of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:18) and Nebuchadnezzar (Lenormant, Étude sur quelques parties des syllabaires cunéiformes Par. 1876, p. 123)."The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; their glory will I change into shame." כּרבּם, "according to their becoming great," does not refer to the increase of the population only (Hosea 9:11), but also to its growing into a powerful nation, to the increase of its wealth and prosperity, in consequence of which the population multiplied. The progressive increase of the greatness of the nation was only attended by increasing sin. As the nation attributed to its own idols the blessings upon which its prosperity was founded, and by which it was promoted (cf. Hosea 2:7), and looked upon them as the fruit and reward of its worship, it was strengthened in this delusion by increasing prosperity, and more and more estranged from the living God. The Lord would therefore turn the glory of Ephraim, i.e., its greatness or wealth, into shame. כּבודם is probably chosen on account of its assonance with כּרבּם. For the fact itself, compare Hosea 2:3, Hosea 2:9-11.
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