COMMENTARY ON HOSEA
“ 2:14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 2:14-15)
The beneficent nature of the Lord is seen in His message to Israel. Although He would punish her for leaving Him, He would not abandon her altogether. In other places He reveals this consideration is not owing to Israel herself, but to His regard for His covenant with the “fathers,” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Lev 26:42; Psa 106:45; Rom 11:28). The covenant which so stirred the mercy of God was not the one made at Sinai, but the covenant of blessing made with Abraham (Gen 12:2; 22:17; Deut 8:18; Lk 1:72).
In this text we will see that certain Divine alternatives provide for the recovery of His people. This knowledge cannot be systematized and placed in a neat and convenient theological package. Handled incorrectly, it will actually contribute to slothfulness. Handled properly, however, it provides a most excellent hope for the recovery of the fallen.
We are being exposed to Divine manners, or ways. It is imperative that those who live for the Lord know of His ways, else life will become too confusing and difficult for them. This very text will provide confirmation of that requirement. As your heart takes hold of what is said here, faith and hope will be strengthened. The power of the enemy will be reduced, and confidence and courage will perceptibly increase.
“ 2:14a Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness . . . ”
THEREFORE. In this text, the word “therefore” stands between human dilemma and Divine activity. It postulates impotence and hopelessness on the part of man, and mercy and Omnipotence on the part of God. “Therefore” means things do not depend upon man and his ability, but upon God. It signifies that up to the “therefore,” every human resource ran out, and there was no hope of recovery. Hosea stated the background in these words: “And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand” (Hosea 2:10).
However, this is not the end of the matter! God is persistent in His quest to recover His people. While it is true that there is a point of no return, when cursing is inevitable, we must not be quick to assume such a point has been reached.
I WILL ALLURE HER. Every major translation uses the word “allure.” A few of the other translations use alternative words like “make her come,” BBE “lead,” NAB “win her back again,” NLT “speak coaxingly,” TNK and “enticing her.” YLT The word “allure” leans more toward persuading than deceiving. It carries the idea of convincing rather than tricking. It speaks of an appeal to reason, not to passion. It also carries the idea of inclination.
Ordinarily this word is used to depict enticement, or deception – as when a certain spirit told the Lord he would be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets, persuading him to go up to Ramothgilead, where God had determined he would fall (1 Kgs 12:21). This same use is found in the Lord’s words to Ezekiel concerning false prophets, “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet” (Ezek 14:9). Solomon used this word when he said to his son, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov 1:10).
In our text. the word is used differently – much like Solomon used the word elsewhere: “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded” (Prov 25:15). Jeremiah experienced this like of persuasive allurement, and confessed it to God. He spoke of God bringing him into the prophetic office without telling him all of the repercussions he would experience. “O LORD, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me” (Jer 20:7). Here, the word “deceive” is not used in an evil sense. It actually carries the same sense as our text – allurement. Notice that Jeremiah confesses this kind of persuasion confirms God superior strength.
In alluring Israel, God would work with her apart from her perception of that working. She would not know what was really happening. Her will would be affected, but she would not associate it with the Living God.
Jesus spoke of this kind of activity as God drawing people: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). He also spoke of it in relation to His own activity: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32). Hosea also spoke of the same Divine manner (drawing) in the eleventh chapter: “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love” (Hosea 11:4).
In this text, the word “allure” represents something that will surely happen. It does not speak of a Divine attempt, so to speak, that is subject to failure. The idea is that God will get them into the wilderness through His drawing power. The people themselves will not know what is happening, yet they will be persuaded to do what God has willed.
BRING HER INTO THE WILDERNESS. This is a high view of the difficulties God would bring upon Israel. What is here called “the wilderness” is actually Israel being reduced to a powerless and helpless state. God would bring them to a point where all of their resources failed – He would take away her corn, oil, and wine, destroy her vines and fig trees, and submit them to the beasts of the field (2:9-12).
This is a moral wilderness, likened to the vast wilderness through which Israel journeyed to the promised land. That wilderness was called a “great and terrible wilderness” (Deut 1:19), and one “wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water” (Deu 8:15). Israel was “allured” into that wilderness as well. There was no way they could get out of it for forty long years. No human wisdom or strength could extricate them from that vast and dry wilderness.
This allurement was actually a preparation to receive the mercy of God. What appeared to be the rejection of her lovers was actually God alluring her into a wilderness. In so doing, He was depriving her of all her resources so she would more readily return to Him: i.e., “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” (Hosea 2:7)
WHEN GOD SPEAKS COMFORTABLY
“ 14a . . . and speak comfortably unto her.” Other versions read, “speak comfort to her,” NKJV “speak kindly to her,” NASB “speak tenderly to her,” NIV and “speak to her heart.” DARBY
THERE IS A PLACE WHERE GOD CAN BE HEARD. God had to bring His people to a place where they could hear Him speak – where they could appreciate His “comfort,” or consolation. That place is one where God can speak to the inner man – to the heart. It is where the conscience is awakened, and sober thought supplants folly and lust. Hearing Him who speaks from heaven involves a degree of spiritual sensitivity. The attention of people must be turned away from distracting influences in order for them to hear the voice of the Lord in their hearts.
A SPEAKING GOD. God is a Speaker. He communicates with His people. Thus it is written, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints” (Psa 85:8). “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven” (Heb 12:25). When delivering God’s Word, the Prophets often said, “Thus speaketh the Lord” (Jer 28:2; 29:25; 30:2), or “Thus saith the Lord” (Isa 7:7; Ezek 2:4Amos 1:3). Scripture itself is referred to as a word that “proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4).
Our text refers to the effective communication of God – that is, what He speaks is actually realized. He will not merely speak to a hard-hearted and unresponsive people as He did at Sinai (Ex 32:9). Rather, He will allure the people into a place where they will listen intently to Him. An example of this kind of allurement is seen in Jonah the prophet. Working through a storm and a special fish, God brought Jonah to a place where his inner hearing was more sensitive: “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9).
SPEAKING COMFORTABLY. The idea here is that God will comfort into His people after He has humbled them, and through trials that drained them of their pride. He will take away all of the resources He had so freely given them, in order that they might more fully realize the consolation that comes from Him alone.
This Divine manner is declared elsewhere. In the beginning of Israel’s history the Lord said to them, “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal”(Deu 32:39). The meaning is that He raises those He has killed, and heals those He has wounded. Again it is written, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory” (1 Sam 2:8). Later in this book these words are found: “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).
Here is an example of God working all things together for the good of His people (Rom 8:28). In some cases, that working includes alluring His people into a place that is more conducive to good hearing.
What does it mean for God to “speak comfortably?” From one point of view – objectively – it includes tenderness, gentleness, and kindness on God’s part. He can speak in a way that causes men to tremble in fear (Ex 20:18-19). But He can also speak in a “still small voice” (1 Kgs 19:12) that drives debilitating fear away – “comfortably.” God can say to a man, “Behold, thou art but a dead man” (Gen 20:3). Or, He can say, “Fear not, for I am with thee” (Isa 43:5) – “comfortably.” This is a manner in which God can speak.
From another point of view – subjectively – the result of God speaking is the point. He not only speaks tenderly with loving-kindness, but it causes comfort and consolation in those who hear him. Comfort involves the subduing of fear, the alleviation of sorrow, and the binding up of hurts. The condition that necessitated comfort is either removed by that very comfort, or loses all of its distracting power. Comfort brings something as well. It brings encouragement, consolation, understanding, joy, and hope. It strengthens the heart, produces confidence, and promotes assurance.
When people are “comforted,” they knew they belong to God, that God is for them, and that He is over all. They are convinced their enemies are not invincible, their circumstance can be corrected, and their condition is better when they are with the Lord. When God speaks “comfortably” to His people, they want to hear more from Him, serve Him more fully, and be where He wants them to be. O, the blessedness of having God speak to us “comfortably” – but we must be in the right place and frame of mind for it to happen.
THE PLACE OF BLESSING
“ And I will give her her vineyards FROM THENCE, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing THERE, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”
When God speaks “comfortably” to His people, it is the prelude of greater blessing. Then, certain things will happen in the “wilderness,” into which the people were allured by God. There will be restoration and pervading joy.
“FROM THENCE,” AND “THERE.” The gifts that are now declared will, in a sense, be obtained from the place into which the people were wooed by God – “the wilderness.” The place of judgment will thus become the place of blessing. As the Lord said elsewhere, “and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:10).
This is waters breaking out in the wilderness, and the desert blossoming as a rose. As it is written, “for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Isa 35:6). And again, “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together” (Isa 41:19). And again, “ . . . I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen”(Isa 43:20). And again, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isa 35:1).
This is a Divine manner, and the contemplation of it brings great refreshment to the soul – especially if you are in a spiritual wilderness.
GIVE HER HER VINEYARDS. When God took His gifts away from Israel He referred to them as “My corn,” “My wine,” “My oil,” “My wool,” and “My flax” (2:8). Now He says, “I will; give her HER vineyards.” Another version reads, “give her back her vineyards.” NIV Previously He said, “I will destroy her vines and her figs” (2:12). Now that she is being comforted by Him, He gives them back to her. This is nothing less than the proof of God’s favor – an immediate pledge of even greater blessings to come.
These words are, in a sense, a figure of speech. They are not limited to agricultural considerations. They speak of prosperity and benefit, as depicted in the 104th Psalm. “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that He may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart” (Psa 104:15). In other words, the blessing of the Lord would again be upon His people.
A DOOR OF HOPE. This “door of hope” would be opened in “the valley of Achor.” This was formally known as a valley of judgment. Here is where Achan and his household were stoned and buried. The “silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold,” that he had coveted, were buried with him, together with “his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had” (Josh 7:24). After stoning and burning them with fire, it is written, “And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day” (Josh 7:26).
The name “Achor” means “troubled,” or “disturbance.” STRONG’S There, in that valley of unprecedented trouble, a door of hope would be opened! In a surrounding where all hope had been dissipated, a new and revitalizing hope arose!
Technically, Israel would return to the vineyards after she left the wilderness of affliction. However, she received the deed to them when she was yet in the wilderness – just as she received the deed to Canaan while yet in the Arabian desert. That deed was the “door of hope” opened to her. While yet barren and helpless, she received the promise of good things to come. While in a place where fruit could not grow, she was given the deed to her vineyards!
SHE WILL SING AGAIN. There, in the wilderness, the people would break out in song like they did when they were on the banks of the Red Sea (Ex 15:1,21). In Babylon they hung their harps on the willows and refused to sing (Psa 137:4). However, when the door of hope opened, so also did their mouths open in joyous melody.
Great hope has always produced great singing (1 Chron 6:32; 13:8; Neh 12:27; Psa 126:2; Isa 51:11). Nothing will relieve sorrow and a sense of helplessness like vivifying hope. Hope gives the people the wings of a dove to fly away and be at rest (Psa 55:6). If you want the people of God to sing, shine the diamond of hope until it radiates with the greatest luster. See if it will not produce singing, even when the people are in a desert.