The Epilogue
Hosea 14:9
Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right…

With this weighty sentence the prophet seals up the written record of his life-message. As the foregoing chapters express the essence of Hosea's public teaching during his prolonged ministry, this closing verse, in like manner, sets before us the quintessence of that written record. The conclusion "unspecializes the prophecy, as it were, and extracts the general moral lesson which underlies it all" (Cheyne). Two main points are suggested here for our consideration.

I. A SUMMARY OF THE PROPHET'S TEACHING. This is given in the second half of the verse. The Book of Hosea is full of precious instruction:

1. About God. That "the ways of Jehovah are right" is the sum of its theology. God's "ways are to be understood to mean his dealings with men as the supreme moral Governor. And the prophet's aim in these pages is akin to that which Milton announces in the beginning of his great epic, viz. to assert eternal Providence, and justify the ways of God to men."

(1) His ways in judgment are right. "These things" cannot but include all the lamentations and chidings and announcements of punishment with which the book is so largely occupied. Ephraim had sinned against the voice of God's Law, against the assurances of his love, and even against the pleadings of his mercy; so the Lord could not be "unrighteous in taking vengeance," however dreadful and prolonged that vengeance might be. Hosea's message, on its side of sternness, announced that "righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne." God's ways are right in his dealings with every ungodly nation, despite all the difficulty and mystery which may gather round them. And his ways are right in his dealings with each individual transgressor, albeit that the reasons of his procedure may be "past finding out." The rectitude of the Divine ways is attested by experience; for, although they prove stumbling-blocks to the ungodly, "the just walk in them," and by-and-by arrive at "a city of habitation." To his own people Jehovah is "just," and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.

(2) His ways in mercy are right. If there be any book of Old Testament Scripture which exhibits the Divine grace and compassion, that book is Hosea. The strain of it is not ethical alone; it is evangelical also. The prophet represents the love of God as the fundamental ground of God's relations to his ancient people. Hosea conceives of Jehovah as Israel's Husband (Hosea 2.) and Father (Hosea 11.). But, as the prophet was persuaded that it was not wrong for himself to continue to love Gomer, his adulterous wife, and to yearn for the well-being of her children, when they followed in her evil ways, - so Goal's dealings in mercy towards apostate Israel, and towards sinners of the Gentiles, are right also. "Oar book is, therefore, truly a classic for the right understanding of the Old Testament conception of God with its interaction of love and wrath, and of the nature of the Old Testament revelation concerning God. Only such a God who can be so angry and so loving, who in all his love so displays anger, and in all his anger so displays love, could give up his only begotten Son to the accursed death for the deliverance of rebellious man" (Lange). But the Book of Hosea is also full of teaching:

2. About men. It separates them into two classes, - "the just" or righteous, and "the transgressors;" those who "walk in" the Lord's ways, and those who "stumble thereon." In other words, this book deals with the great theme of spiritual apostasy and revival.

(1) Spiritual apostasy. There are always many "transgressors," who, like Ephraim, stumble and fall in the right ways of the Lord. And this book is written to warn men against becoming such. Hosea points out the earliest symptoms of backsliding; e.g. the "morning-cloud goodness" (Hosea 6:4); the "grey hairs" (Hosea 7:9); the "removing of the bound" (Hosea 5:10); the "forgetting of one's Maker" (Hosea 8:14); the "hiring of lovers" (Hosea 8:9), etc. He indicates its further manifestations; e.g. "counting God's Law a strange thing" (Hosea 8:12); "mixing among the people; "being like "a cake not turned" (Hosea 7:8); becoming "an empty vine" (Hosea 10:1); "sowing the wind" (Hosea 8:7); "sinning more and more" (Hosea 13:2), etc. And he warns against ultimate results; e.g. idols "broken in pieces" (Hosea 8:6); "the land mourning" (Hosea 4:3); "reaping the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7); "joined to idols" (Hosea 4:17); "cast away by God" (Hosea 9:17), etc.

(2) Spiritual revival. The prophet deals with this more pleasant side of his message in Hosea 2:14-23, 6:1-3, and especially in Hosea 14. (For an outline of his teaching regarding the rise, progress, and fruits of revival, see the three preceding homilies.)

II. THE MORAL QUALIFICATION NECESSARY IF WE WOULD PROFIT BY THIS TEACHING. The student of Hosea, who desires to get at the mind of the Spirit contained in these oracles, must be "wise" and "prudent." The "just" or pious man "walks in the Lord's ways;" and these ways require to be walked in to be understood. The "wisdom" which the prophet desiderates is not to be confounded with intellectual acuteness; it is a moral qualification. Here, as in the Book of Proverbs, and indeed throughout all Scripture, the "wise" are they whose souls have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and who have been brought into a right moral state in relation to Divine truth. The profound theology of Hosea, accordingly, will not be grasped by the man of merely intellectual discernment, or by any one who has only accumulated stores of human learning. Moral preparation is necessary in order to the reception and assimilation of spiritual truth. As the psalmist has it, "Light is sown for the righteous" (Psalm 97:11). Or, as the Lord Jesus expressed the same thought," If any man is willing to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God" (John 7:17). This experimental qualification is within every one's reach. The possession of it makes the simple-minded shepherd really wiser than the "undevout astronomer." Cowper's "cottager, who weaves at her own door," has it to the full; while "the brilliant Frenchman never knew" it. Only the right-hearted man will be habitually persuaded of the equity of the Divine government, both as regards judgment and mercy. Such a one has learned to "taste and see that the Lord is good." Correctness of conduct promotes correctness of creed, and helps to the proper understanding of God's ways. A man thinks rightly just to the extent of his living purely (Psalm 111:10). In our day, accordingly, one must be a believer in Christ and a follower of him if he would profit by the study of Hosea.


1. What a commentary upon this verse is the whole history, of the Hebrew nation, from the beginning until now!

2. Hosea's last word, like Holy Scripture everywhere, draws a sharp contrast between the righteous and the wicked.

3. Every man must make choice either of "walking in God's ways," or of "stumbling thereon."

4. The believer should derive comfort from this text in presence of the mysteries of Providence.

5. This final exhortation should come home to us with still greater power than it was fitted to do to Hosea's contemporaries; for, since he lived, the four great world-empires have successively fallen, the Jews remain scattered among the cities of the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ has been lifted up on the cross as an atonement for sin, and his gospel has been preached among the nations. - C.J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

WEB: Who is wise, that he may understand these things? Who is prudent, that he may know them? For the ways of Yahweh are right, and the righteous walk in them; But the rebellious stumble in them.

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