1 O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have fallen by your iniquity.
2 Take with you words and turn to the LORD. Say to him, "Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, so that we will render as calves the offering of our lips.
3 Ashur shall not save us. We will not ride upon horses. We will no more say to the work of our hands, 'You are our gods.' For in you the fatherless finds mercy."
4 "I will heal their backsliding and I will love them freely, for my anger is turned away from him.
5 I will be as the dew to Israel. He shall grow as the lily and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
6 His branches shall spread. His beauty shall be as the olive-tree and his smell as Lebanon.
7 Those who dwell under his shadow shall return. They shall revive as the grain and grow as the vine. Its scent shall be as the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim shall say, 'What have I to do anymore with idols?' I have heard him and observed him. I am like a green fir-tree. Your fruit is found from me."
9 Who is wise, that he shall understand these things? Who is prudent, that he shall know them? For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them, but the transgressors shall fall in them.
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter concludes the book, with gracious promises to repenting sinners, to returning backsliders. It begins with an exhortation to Israel to return to the Lord, seeing he was their God, and they had fallen by sin from prosperity into adversity, temporal and spiritual (verse 1); and they are directed what to say to the Lord, upon their return to him, both by way of petition, and of promise and of resolution how to behave for the future, encouraged by his grace and mercy (verses 2-3); and they are told what the Lord, by way of answer, would say to them (verse 4); and what he would be to them; and what blessings of grace he would bestow on them; and in what flourishing and fruitful circumstances they should be (verses 5-8); and the chapter ends with a character of such that attend to and understand those things; and with a recommendation of the ways of the Lord, which are differently regarded by men (verse 9).
[v.2] - "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously" - The sign of a false conversion is when there is no confession of sin, which leads to a life void of repentance (see 1st John 1:9). "If a sinner desires to return into favor with God, and yet does not confess his guilt, he adopts a way the most strange. The very beginning must be a confession." —John Calvin
[v.3a] - "Ashur" - That is, the Assyrians.
[v.3b] - "We will not ride upon horses" - Reference, Isaiah 30:16.
[v.3c] - "For in you the fatherless finds mercy" - Reference, Psalm 10:14, 68:5, 146:9; Proverbs 23:10-11; John 14:18.
[v.9a] - "Who is wise, that he shall understand these things? Who is prudent, that he shall know them?" - Reference, Psalm 107:43; Proverbs 1:7; Daniel 12:10; Matthew 13:11-12; John 8:47, 18:37.
[v.9b] - "For the ways of the LORD are right" - Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 34:10-12; Psalm 19:7-8, 119:75; Zephaniah 3:5; Romans 7:12.
[v.9c] - "and the just shall walk in them, but the transgressors shall fall in them" - Job 17:9; Proverbs 10:29; Isaiah 8:13-15; Luke 7:23; John 3:19-20, 9:39, 15:24; Romans 9:32-33; 2nd Corinthians 2:15-16; 2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12; 2nd Peter 2:7-8.