I will be as the dew to Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.…
The prospect of Israel's repentance and reformation fills the mind of the prophet with a happy exultation, and suggests imagery of the most beautiful and vivacious description. The poetical allusions crowd in upon his mind and flow from his pen with a harmonious prodigality. Reading this passage, we are transported in imagination into the scenes of verdure, fragrance, and fruitfulness, which furnished Hosea with the lively emblems of that national prosperity which he was inspired to anticipate with patriotic confidence and hope. There rise before our vision the cedar-glades of Lebanon, the flowery slopes of Carmel, the yellow corn-fields of Bethlehem, the gray and unchanging olive-yards of Judaea. All are too faint to depict the glorious vision - a vision which surely no material prosperity can realize, upon which no earthly day shall ever dawn.
I. THE SOURCE OF LIFE AND PROSPERITY. "I will be as the dew unto Israel." As the sweetly tempered elements are the source of life and growth, of beauty and fertility, in field and garden and forest; so only Heaven's favor, "the continual dew of God's blessing," can give rise to true national greatness, to the growth of a noble patriotism, a disinterested virtue, a general prevalence of piety. A blessed promise is this of showers of blessing, of heavenly nurture, of abundant grace.
II. THE SIGNS OF VITALITY AND PROSPERITY. We notice here figurative descriptions of:
1. Life. The several productions of the vegetable kingdom are laid, so to speak, under tribute, and are constrained to set forth the true and higher life of the individual man, and especially of society, of nations. The olive and the vine, the cedar tree and the luxuriant corn are all the signs of the vitality and prodigality of nature. Many and varied are the forms in which life manifests its presence and its activity. When nations rise from calamity and chastisement, when public spirit springs into being, when the arts and industries of society are vigorous and prosperous, when justice and mutual consideration prevail, when the poor are cared for, when piety assumes practical and beneficent forms, - there is life.
2. Growth. Steady and vigorous growth is the result of genial influences acting upon life. Declension is the precursor of death. As surely as the tree lives and thrives, it spreads; as surely as the seed is sown in a fruitful soil, the crop, by its abundance, rewards the laborer's toil. Emblematic of the extension of the people who are filled with a true national life, in whom the Spirit of God lives and moves, and in whose midst the Church is not a dead organism, but an organism which is the vesture and embodiment of a spiritual and imperishable life.
3. Beauty and attractiveness. The Author of nature, the Giver of life, has ordered that beauty and fragrance shall accompany the vital growth - that the cedar shall be stately and the olive evergreen, that the vine shall cling with grace around the elm, that the fragrance of the lily shall delight the sense, that the corn shall wave in beauty and rustle with music in the passing breeze. And the same Being appoints that, in the moral realm, true excellence and true attractiveness shall be conjoined. The beauty of holiness, the harmonies of praise, the fragrance of piety, are signs and ornaments of spiritual life. Where these graces abound, the world will feel the spiritual magnetism of the Church. "They shall come again who dwell under his shadow." - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.