Hosea 14:1, 2
O Israel, return to the LORD your God; for you have fallen by your iniquity.…
It was the office of the prophet to be faithful at once with man and with God. He was bound not to flatter man, not to conceal or palliate human sins. At the same time, it was his to declare the whole counsel of God as the Ruler of all men, the Judge of the obdurate, the Healer of the penitent.
I. A REMINDER OF THE FALL. The Book of Hosea's prophecies is full of reproaches and expostulations addressed to backsliding, idolatrous Israel. The people are charged with iniquity, and they are put in mind of the "fall" into which their ungodliness has brought them. As surely as men wander from the ways of God into the ways of error, unrighteousness, and folly, so surely do they, sooner or later, meet with a fall. It is a plain truth that the godly stand upright. Under a Divine and righteous rule it cannot be well with those who neglect and despise the moral law. Our first parents "fell" by sin, and in this they furnished an exemplification of the consequences of disobedience as a lesson to their posterity.
II. AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO REPENTANCE. In the very language used in this expostulation and entreaty there is much to cheer and to justify the approach of the penitent sinner unto God.
1. There is the designation "Israel," the use of which seems a reminder of the Divine favor.
2. There is the appellation given to Jehovah - "the Lord thy God;" thine, even though thou hast shown thyself so insensible and so ungrateful.
3. There is the term which the counselor employs - "turn," "return," unto the Lord, implying that the right and proper path is Godward, that to have forsaken that path was deviation and error, that steps must be retraced. What stress is laid in Scripture upon sincere repentance and conversion - upon the turning of the soul unto him against whom sin has been committed, needs not to be shown; yet the sinful need that such directions should be repeated, both to preserve them from any other and any false way, and to encourage diffident and desponding souls in their access to God.
III. A DIRECTION TO CONFESSION AND ENTREATY. "Take with you words."
1. This is an encouragement to the expression and outpouring of the feelings of the heart. Mere words, that is, meaningless and insincere words, are vain; but words which are the utterance of a penitent and lowly soul, are acceptable.
2. Words should utter the self-abasement which is the sinner's proper attitude of heart before a righteous Lord. Confession is indispensable; for only the hardened and insensible can withhold it.
3. Words should plead for pardon and acceptance. The prophet himself puts such language into Israel's lips, and at the same time represents the willingness of an offended God graciously to hear and royally to answer.
APPLICATION. To show what light is furnished by the gospel of Christ to make evident alike the sinner's condition and also the grounds and assurance of Divine favor and forgiveness. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.