Afterward shall the children of Israel return - Shall repent of their iniquities, and seek the Lord; lay aside their mock worship, and serve the true God in spirit and in truth.
And David their king - Or as the Targum, "They shall obey the Messiah, the Son of David their King;" and thus look believingly upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn. And then shall their long spiritual darkness and dismal captivity have an end; but not before. The Messiah, as David, is promised in Jeremiah 30:9; (note); Ezekiel 24:23; (note); Ezekiel 37:22-25; (note), and in this place of Hosea. Some think that the family of David is intended; but if we go to the rigour of the letter, the house of Israel was scarcely ever perfectly submissive to David. And we know that after the death of Solomon they never acknowledged the house of David till they were all carried away captive; and certainly never since. And to say that Zerubbabel is here meant, is not supportable, as the very short and imperfect obedience of the Jews to Zerubbabel can never comport with the high terms of this and similar prophecies. We are obliged, therefore, from the evidence of these prophecies, from the evidence of the above facts, from the evidence of the rabbins themselves, and from the evidence of the New Testament, to consider these texts as applying solely to Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who has been a light to lighten the Gentiles, and will yet be the glory of his people Israel. There is a strange propensity in some men to deny these evidences of Christianity, while they profess to believe its doctrines.
Afterward shall the children of Israel return - Elsewhere it is said more fully, “return to the Lord.” It expresses more than “turning” or even conversion to God. It is not conversion only, but reversion too, a turning “back from” the unbelief and sins, for which they had left God, and a return to Him whom they had forsaken.
And shall seek the Lord - This word, “seek,” expresses in Hebrew, from its intensive form, a diligent search; as used with regard to God, it signifies a religious search. It is not such seeking as our Lord speaks of, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled” John 6:26, or, “many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able” Luke 13:24, but that earnest seeking, to which He has promised, “Seek and ye shall find.” Before, she had diligently sought her false gods. Now, in the end she shall as diligently seek God and His grace, as she had heretofore sought her idols and her sins.
And David their King - David himself, after the flesh, this could not be. For he had long since been gathered to his fathers; nor was he to return to this earth. “David” then must be “the Son of David,” the same, of whom God says, “I will set up One Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David, and He shall be their Shepherd, and I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a Prince among them” Ezekiel 34:23-24. The same was to be a “witness, leader, commander to the people Isaiah 55:4; He who was to be “raised up to David Jeremiah 23:5-6, a righteous Branch,” and who was to “be called the Lord our Righteousness; David‘s Lord” Psalm 110:1, as well as “David‘s Son.” Whence the older Jews, of every school, Talmudic, mystical, Biblical, grammatical, explained this prophecy, of Christ. Thus their received paraphrase is: “Afterward the children of Israel shall repent, or turn by repentance, and shall seek the service of the Lord their God, and shall obey Messiah the Son of David, their King”.
And shall fear the Lord - Literally, “shall fear toward the Lord and toward His goodness.” It is not then a servile fear, not even, as elsewhere, a fear, which makes them shrink back from His awful Majesty. It is a fear, the most opposed to this; a fear, whereby “they shall flee to Him for help, from all that is to be feared;” a reverent holy awe, which should even impel them to Him; a fear of losing Him, which should make them hasten to Him.: “They shall fear, and wonder exceedingly, astonied at the greatness of God‘s dealing, or of their own joy.” Yet they should “hasten tremblingly,” as bearing in memory their past unfathfulness and ill deserts, and fearing to approach, but for the greater fear on turning away. Nor do they hasten with this reverent awe and awful joy to God only, but “to His Goodness also.” His Goodness draws them, and to it they betake themselves, away from all cause of fear, their sins, themselves, the Evil one. Yet even His Goodness is a source of awe. “His Goodness!” How much it contains. All whereby God is good in Himself, all whereby he is good to us. That whereby he is essentially good, or rather Goodness; that whereby He is good to us, as His creatures, its yet more as His sinfill, ungrateful, redeemed creatures, re-born to bear the Image of His Son. So then His Goodness overflows into beneficence, and condescension, and graciousness and mercy and forgiving love, and joy in imparting Himself, and complacence in the creatures which he has formed, and re-formed, redeemed and sanctified for His glory. Well may His creatures “tremble toward” it, with admiring wonder that all this can be made their‘s!
This was to take place “in the latter days.” These words, which are adopted in the New Testament, where Apostles say, “in the last days, in these last days” Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2, mean this, the last dispensation of God, in contrast with all which went before, the times of the Gospel. The prophecy has all along been fulfilled during this period to those, whether of the ten or of the two tribes, who have been converted to Christ, since God ended their temple-worship. It is fulfilled in every soul from among them, who now is “converted and lives.” There will be a more full fulfillment, of which Paul speaks, when the eyes of all Israel shall be opened to the deceivableness of the last antichrist; and Enoch and Elias, the two witnesses Revelation 11:3, shall have come to prepare our Lord‘s second Coming, and shall have keen slain, and, by God‘s converting grace, “all Israel shall be saved” Romans 11:26.
The prophecies of judgment delivered by Amos and Hosea were accompanied by predictions of future glory. To the ten tribes, long rebellious and impenitent, was given no promise of complete restoration to their former power in Palestine. Until the end of time, they were to be “wanderers among the nations.” But through Hosea was given a prophecy that set before them the privilege of having a part in the final restoration that is to be made to the people of God at the close of earth's history, when Christ shall appear as King of kings and Lord of lords. “Many days,” the prophet declared, the ten tribes were to abide “without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim.” “Afterward,” the prophet continued, “shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4, 5. PK 298.1
In symbolic language Hosea set before the ten tribes God's plan of restoring to every penitent soul who would unite with His church on earth, the blessings granted Israel in the days of their loyalty to Him in the Promised Land. Referring to Israel as one to whom He longed to show mercy, the Lord declared, “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 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. And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call Me Ishi [“My husband,” margin]; and shalt call Me no more Baali [“My lord,” margin]. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.” Hosea 2:14-17. PK 298.2Read in context »