God’s people (Israel) who have gone awhoring from Him must take upon themselves the shame of their apostasy and submit to the punishment of their iniquity.
If God dealt with them according to the strict rigor of the law,
He would have no more to do with them,
but He will deal with them according to the multitude of His mercies, and not according to their iniquities. The remnant of Israel will yet seek the Lord and receive their King.
1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.
2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:
5 Afterward 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 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Hosea 3:1-5 – ”A Door of Hope.”
The prophet was bidden to make one further overture to his truant wife. She had been faithless, but the old love burnt in her husband’s soul, and he was prepared to buy her back to himself at half the price of a female slave (Exodus 21:32). His only stipulation was that she should abide with him for many days. This was to be a time of testing, with the assurance that, if she were penitent and faithful, she would be perfectly restored.
What a wonderful verse is 3! We are purchased to God by the death of his Son. He only asks us to be for himself and he promises to be for us. “The best of all,” cried the dying Wesley, “is that God is for us!” Shall we not close with the offer and give ourselves to him? (Meyer)
Hosea 3:5—Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God.
The unfaithful wife had left husband and children, and sunk into abject poverty and shameful disgrace; but Hosea is bidden to seek her again and bring her to his home. It was a wonderful act of condescending love on his part, to be willing to condone the past and take the poor stricken thing to his well-ordered dwelling. Nothing could have done it but the strong love which had followed her through all her wanderings, refusing to let her go. We cannot certainly affirm that Hosea’s love succeeded in making his Guinevere fair and lovely again; but we may cherish the hope that in this his compassionate love was recompensed.
Through the tragedy of the prophet’s domestic life, the people were called to see the mystery of the Divine faithful love. “The love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine” (v. 1). The people in their wandering and rebellion had been unfaithful to the marriage vow plighted at Sinai. They had gone after many lovers; but God’s redeeming love would not let them go. That love still follows them; and though they have been for so many centuries without king, prince, sacrifice, or temple, they shall doubtless return to God. And is not this marvelous Zionist movement one further step towards the ultimate recognition and reunion?
You, too, have been without king or priest; without tears of penitence, or smiles of conscious acceptance. But the love of God has never ceased to follow you. And now, in your abject need, He seeks you out, and says, “Be for Me only.” Will you not come back to the goodness of God in these your latter days? (Meyer)