3:1-3 The dislike of men to true religion is because they love objects and forms, which allow them to indulge, instead of mortifying their lusts. How wonderful that a holy God should have good-will to those whose carnal mind is enmity against Him! Here is represented God's gracious dealings with the fallen race of mankind, that had gone from him. This is the covenant of grace he is willing to enter into with them, they must be to him a people, and he will be to them a God. They must accept the punishment of their sin, and must not return to folly. And it is a certain sign that our afflictions are means of good to us, when we are kept from being overcome by the temptations of an afflicted state.
Ho 3:1-5. Israel's Condition in Their Present Dispersion, Subsequent to Their Return from Babylon, Symbolized.
The prophet is to take back his wife, though unfaithful, as foretold in Ho 1:2. He purchases her from her paramour, stipulating she should wait for a long period before she should be restored to her conjugal rights. So Israel is to live for a long period without her ancient rites of religion, and yet be free from idolatry; then at last she shall acknowledge Messiah, and know Jehovah's goodness restored to her.
1. Go yet—"Go again," referring to Ho 1:2 [Henderson].
a woman—purposely indefinite, for thy wife, to express the separation in which Hosea had lived from Gomer for her unfaithfulness.
beloved of her friend—used for "her husband," on account of the estrangement between them. She was still beloved of her husband, though an adulteress; just as God still loved Israel, though idolatrous (Jer 3:20). Hosea is told, not as in Ho 1:2, "take a wife," but "love" her, that is, renew thy conjugal kindness to her.
who look to other gods—that is, have done so heretofore, but henceforth (from the return from Babylon) shall do so no more (Ho 3:4).
flagons of wine—rather, pressed cakes of dried grapes, such as were offered to idols (Jer 7:18) [Maurer].