James Smith, 1860
The Lord having chosen his people for himself — will bring them to know him, confide in him, and love him. So, when they have backslidden and wandered from him — he will employ means, that his banished ones be not expelled from him. Thus he brought Israel out of Egypt, and consecrated them to himself; and thus he led them out of Babylon, and again set them apart for his praise. These things were types, and show unto us, how the Lord deals with his people now, both at their first conversion, and at their restoration afterwards. How striking are the words of the Lord by his servant Hosea, on this point, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her;" or as the margin reads, "I will speak to her heart." Hosea 2:14. What will the Lord do?
"I will allure her." The eye and the heart of God, are upon his people — before they know it, and when they little think of it. He loves them with an everlasting love — therefore, he will draw, or allure them. He will draw them from their . . .
vain pursuits, and
He will secretly persuade them . . .
by a divine operation upon their minds;
or by disappointments, vexations, convictions, distress of soul, and bereavements;
or by discoveries of his glorious grace, the blessedness of his people, or the felicity of Heaven
— to leave the pleasures and pursuits that are carnal — and seek for himself, and spiritual things. He will entice her, or draw her, by the revelation, and exhibition, of Jesus — in his glory, beauty, and exact adaptation to her.
"I will bring her into the wilderness." Not an uninhabited spot — but what is elsewhere called "the wilderness of the people." So, that though surrounded by society, the soul feels ALONE — it has an inward persuasion, that it is an isolated being. The allured soul feels that no one is like it — no one ever had such feelings, such fears, such corruptions, such temptations, such doubts. Therefore as Jeremiah says, "Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust — there may yet be hope."
The believer, like a person in a wilderness, has a painful sense of BARRENNESS. Beneath, there is no green and pleasant verdure — but scorching sands; above, no shower bearing clouds — but a burning sky. All is barren, and tends to barrenness. So the soul finds it — the means of grace are barren; prayer, preaching, and conversation, all are barren. Even the Bible appears to be a barren book.
So the man feels exposed to DANGER — danger from Satan, sin, the world, and death. Danger from the law, and danger even from Christian friends.
There is also a painful sense of DESTITUTION, and the man becomes wearied, bewildered, and exhausted.
This wilderness is a place of INSTRUCTION, here the soul learns many a painful — but important lesson. Here it learns dependence on God, the emptiness and insufficiency of the creature, and the need of a divine agency to carry on the work. It learns that there is no bread but from Heaven, and what comes down appears to be small and unusual; so that with Israel, as we gather and feed on it, we are ready to cry, "Manna," what is it? what is it?
Here God works wonders, in preserving, supplying, correcting, restoring, and guiding. Here the bridegroom finds his bride, raises her to his side, allows her to lean upon him, holds secret, soul-sustaining communion with her, and conducts her to the promised land.
"I will speak to her heart."
He speaks a divorce from all creatures — that we may enjoy union to, and find happiness in himself alone.
He calls us away from centering in self — to fix our faith and affections on himself.
He speaks, so as to prevail with us to leave all others, and give ourselves up . . .
to be ruled by his will,
to feed at his table, and
to be satisfied with his goodness.
He speaks comfort, and speaks comfortably to us. By a Barnabas, or by the Comforter — he speaks, and, brings home a word of promise to the heart. This encourages faith, emboldens hope, and persuades the soul to close in with Christ. Or some sweet word flows into the mind, assuring us that he . . .
has pardoned our sins,
will take us as his own,
will guide us by his counsel, and
afterwards receive us to glory.
Reader, has the Lord ever allured you, and drawn you away into a wilderness, revealing himself to you? Has he ever spoken to your heart, words of peace and love? Jesus spoke to the heart of the poor woman, when he said, "Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven," and to the poor man, when he said, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace." Such pleasant words are as a honeycomb — sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Such good words will make the heart glad.
We must be weaned from the world, from the creatures, and be brought into secret, heart-affecting, soul transforming communion with God. We must therefore find the world a wilderness, a desert, a land of drought. We must turn from man to God, and in God as revealed in Jesus, find a friend that loves at all times, and be able to say, with the apostle, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
When the Lord has allured, and drawn his people away from all other to himself, when they have found it good to be alone with God, and when he has comforted their hearts — then he bestows upon them great and precious blessings. Thus the prophet represented the Lord as speaking, "There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) — a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of he youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt." Hosea. 2:15.
"I will give her back her vineyards." I will not only speak — but give. Vineyards were valuable property, delightful possessions; so the Lord will not only give enough for our subsistence — but abundance. Not only tastes of Canaan — but Canaan itself. That is, all the privileges and comforts of the gospel, which are like these gifts, proofs of reconciliation, and fruits of love. I will give her back her vineyards from thence. From that time, when I have brought her to be mine, only mine. From that place, the wilderness — where all was barren and unpromising. From that condition of loneliness and isolation. Vineyards from wildernesses.
"I will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) — a door of hope." This valley was naturally pleasant and secure. It took its name from Achor, who by his covetousness and theft, here troubled Israel. It means the valley of trouble, and this, says the Lord, shall be a door of hope. Trouble is often the means of good. Sanctified trouble always ends well. Achor was the first part of Canaan, which Israel possessed; trouble accompanied their entrance into the land. So often trouble attends the first joys of salvation; our first entrance into promised rest. But at the end of afflictions, stands the door of hope.
This door lets out our desires to God, and lets in covenant mercies from God. It keeps out many and great evils — as gloom, despondency, and despair. And it lets out God's saints into liberty, peace, union, possessions, and honors. In Joseph's prison — was a door of hope, through which he passed to be lord over all the land of Egypt. In Daniel's den of lions — was a door of hope which admitted him to the highest place in the kingdom. In the experience of David, many and varied as his troubles and afflictions were, there was a door of hope, which introduced him to the promised throne, and made him king over all Israel. So in your experience, believer, you have always found a door of hope at the end of your conflicts, trials, and troubles, through which, when you least expected it, you passed into the enjoyment of peace and liberty.
Our present mercies, are doors to admit us to new and greater mercies. The door may appear shut, all may seem dark and distressing — but Jesus carries the key, and will open the door, and introduce us to deliverance, just at the best moment. His key will open the most difficult lock with ease, and throw open the strongest door at his pleasure.
The Lord will not only give us vineyards, and set before us a door of hope — but he will give us mirth; "There she will sing."
Sing, where? At the door of hope, in the vineyards he gives us.
Sing, why? On account of our obtaining our freedom, and such glorious possessions."
Sing, how? As Israel did at the Red Sea, when Miriam took a timbrel, and all the women went after her in dances, singing, "Sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously."
Sing, for what? For wonders wrought, for faithfulness proved, for obedience crowned.
She shall be humbled there, as rich displays of grace always humble us. She shall answer there, as the people of old did saying, "All that the Lord has spoken to us — will we do." Signal deliverances lead to cheerful and prompt obedience.
Observe, believer, Our songs are generally preceded by sorrow. We sigh in the valley — before we sing on the mountain. Our groans are heard in the glen, before our anthems ascend from the rock. The Lord's people shall be enriched and happy. They may be poor enough for a time, and their sorrow may be great — but vineyards and songs, will be theirs before long.
Observe, inward joys should be expressed. If the Lord renders us happy — we should gratefully show it. The Lord loves to hear us praise him. The grateful Christian, will never be long at a loss for matter for a song. New mercies should remind us of former ones. Every new deliverance, should lead our thoughts back to our first and great deliverance: and from thence we should draw the conclusion of the apostle, "He who has delivered, does deliver, and in him I trust that he will yet deliver me."
If we have received a vineyard as our marriage dowry — we shall soon enter upon the possession of the glorious inheritance. If we sing the songs of deliverance in these lowlands now — we shall soon shout from the heights of Zion. If we enter the door of hope into the enjoyment of grace — we shall assuredly pass through the door of hope again, into the enjoyment of glory.
The Lord having allured his people, brought them away from all others, to feel alone with himself; having turned the shadow of death into morning, and given the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and put a new song into their mouths; God then takes them into the closest possible union with himself, and indulges them with the sweetest views of his love. Hence we read, "It shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call me Ishi, and shall call me no more Baali." Hosea 2:16.
There is a difference in the terms, though there is some similarity. Sarah called Abraham, "Baali, my Lord," though he was her husband, manifesting profound reverence as well as tender affection. "Baali," signifies, "my Lord," and conveys the idea of owner, and patron — implying inferiority, rule, subjection, and fear.
"Ishi," signifies "my man," signifying my husband, my strength, my protector — and implying, love, familiarity, and boldness. The contrast, therefore, is between lordly and loving.
"Baali," had become ambiguous, being applied to idols as
well as Jehovah; and it befit the servant, better than the bride;
therefore it must be dispensed with. But there are still some dry
professors, some backsliders, and some who live at a distance from God, who
prefer "Baali," to "Ishi;" they prefer . . .
distance to nearness,
reserve to familiarity, and
doubt to assurance.
But the Lord would have us know and enjoy his love to us; and see us come boldly to his throne, and feel confidence in his presence.
The relationship indicated, is the marriage relationship. It is the Lord saying, "I am married unto you!" "Your Maker is your husband, the Lord almighty is his name, and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called." It indicates, that we are God's portion — and that he is ours! That he has chosen us for his own — set his heart and his love upon us — and has brought us into nearness and union with himself — giving us a sweet assurance of his love, so that we can say, "My beloved is mine — and I am his!"
Not only so — but he brings us into a state of positive dependence upon him; so that as the wife, who brings no portion with her, is dependent upon her husband for all — so we must look to the Lord for all, and trust in him alone.
But we must not omit to observe, that the relation into which the Lord brings us is permanent and perpetual. He takes us as we are, and knowing all about us, to be his own, and his own forever; and we take him to be ours, and ours forever. He says, "I will be for you, and you shall be for me," and the union is formed for eternity, the relationship is entered into forever.
The privileges flowing out of this relationship,
are many, and very great. "You shall call me Ishi, my husband." This
intends that we shall acknowledge and treat him as such. We are to look to
him . . .
for counsel, in all our difficulties and perplexities;
for comfort in all seasons of sadness and sorrow;
for sympathy in all our sufferings and trials; and
for our maintenance, both as creatures and Christians.
We are to expect from him . . .
all that the wisest head can devise,
all that the kindest heart bestow,
all that the most experienced hand can perform,
all that the most eloquent tongue can express
all that the wealth of God can procure!
"You shall call me Ishi," that is —
you shall serve me from love, rather than fear;
you shall make me the object of confidence, rather than of dread;
you shall receive the spirit of adoption, rather than the spirit of bondage.
O what a privilege to be thus related to God, to be one with God! To be delivered from all terror, alarm, and dismay — and enjoy peace, confidence, and courage, in our approaches to him, and dealings with him. Blessed be God, for alluring us, and drawing us out of the world! Blessed be God, for our afflictions and trials! Blessed be God, for all the gifts of his grace. Blessed be God, for taking us into union with himself, in the person of his beloved Son!
Observe, God would have us look to him with love and
delight — not with fear and dread. Think of this, lost sinner. Think of
this, poor legalist. God does not want our works, or our sufferings — but
our persons, and our love. He wishes us to think kindly of him, and to set
our love upon him. We should view God in Christ, as . . .
And as our portion — we should live upon him,
as our strength — we should lean upon him, and
as our husband — we should abide in his presence, and enjoy constant fellowship and communion with him.
He will cleanse his people from all their idols, and take the name of Baali out of their mouth. Yes, every idol must fall, and Jesus must become the object of our supreme love, confidence, and adoration.
Let us, then, admire the love, tenderness, and
condescension of our God — let us submit to all his discipline and
dispensations, with meekness and humility — and let us seek grace, that
realizing our union with him, we may walk before him as befits the objects
of his highest love and sovereign grace. Let us be willing . . .
to be weaned from all others,
to endure the afflictions appointed for our good, and
to be shut up to God in Christ, for all our comfort, peace, and joy.
Gracious God, let us often experience your alluring influence — let us often find ourselves alone with you — let us in every trouble look unto the door of hope — let us often sing of your delivering mercy and grace — and let us realize that we are one with you, and that you are one with us, so that in all our approaches to you, and dealings with you — we may exercise love, confidence, and joy!