1 Then the LORD said to me, "Go back, love a woman beloved by 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 for myself for fifteen pieces of silver and for a homer and a half of barley. 3 And I said to her, "You shall wait for me many days. You shall not play the harlot and you shall not be with another man. I will also be so to you." 4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without an image, without an ephod, and without teraphim. 5 Afterward, the children of Israel shall return, and seek the LORD their God and David their king, and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
In this chapter is an order to the prophet to love an adulterous woman beloved of her friend, and by this parable to express the love of God to Israel, and their ingratitude to him (Hosea 3:1), the prophet’s execution of that order, making a purchase of her, and a covenant with her, which set forth the captive, servile, mean, and abject state of that people (Hosea 3:2-3), which is explained of their being deprived for a long time of civil and ecclesiastic government (Hosea 3:4), and the chapter is concluded with a prophecy and promise of their conversion to Christ in the latter day (Hosea 3:5).
[v.1a] - "Go back, love a woman" - From John Gill's Exposition: "Not the prophet's wife, not Gomer, but some other feigned [i.e., not real] person." From John Calvin's Commentary: "There is no doubt but that God describes here the favor he promises to the Israelites in a type or vision: for they are too gross in their notions, who think that the Prophet married a woman who had been a harlot. It was then only a vision, as though God had set a picture before the eyes of the people, in which they might see their own conduct."
[v.1b] - "the love of the LORD" - From John Gill's Exposition: "Or such is the love of the Lord to them; for though they were guilty of idolatry, intemperance, and other immoralities, yet still he loved them, and formed designs of grace and goodness for them. And thus, though God does not love sinners as such; yet he loves them, though they are sinners, and when and while they are such; as appears by his choice of them, and covenant with them, by Christ's dying for them while sinners, and by his quickening them when dead in trespasses and sins."
[v.1c] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet now shows that God would so restore the people to favor, as not immediately to blot out every remembrance of his wrath, but that his purpose was to continue for a time some measure of his severity... When God humbles us by adversities, when he shows to us some tokens of severity or wrath, we cannot but instantly fail, were not this thought to occur to us, that God loves us, even when he is severe towards us, and that though he seems to cast us away, we are not yet altogether strangers, for he retains some affection even in the midst of his wrath; so that he is to us as a husband, though he admits us not immediately into conjugal honor, nor restores us to our former rank."
[v.2a] - From Robert Hawker's Commentary: "The Prophet's purchase has doubtless an allusion to the redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ. It was spoken of as a goodly price, the Redeemer was bought for, Zechariah 11:12. Here the Prophet gave but half that sum. But it is remarkable, that the price of retribution to a man-servant, or maid-servant, hurt by an ox was double this sum. Precious Jesus! was your precious blood so little set by! Exodus 21:32."
[v.2b] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet gives here for his wife fifteen [pieces of silver]; which seemed a contemptible gift. But then the Lord shows, that though he would but scantily support his people in exile, they would still be dear to him, as when a husband loves his wife though he does not indulge her, when that would be inexpedient: overmuch indulgence, as it is well known, has indeed often corrupted those who have gone astray."
[v.5a] - "the children of Israel shall return" - From John Gill's Exposition: "The ten tribes of Israel, and also the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which are included in the name of Israel, as Aben Ezra interprets it; and these are joined together in parallel places (see Jeremiah 30:3, 9, 50:4-5); for though they did not go into captivity together, yet their return and conversion will be at the same time; and they are all spoken of under the name of Israel by the Apostle Paul, when he foretells their conversion and salvation (Romans 11:26). The 'return' of them, here prophesied of, does not barely mean their return to their own land, which will be at this time (see Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 37:21-22; Amos 9:15), but their return to the Lord by repentance; when they shall repent of, and turn from, their sinful course of life, and particularly of their unbelief and rejection of the true Messiah, and embrace him; and of their traditions and false ways of worship, which they shall discard; and of their own righteousness they shall now renounce; and shall turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in him for righteousness, life, and salvation."
[v.5b] - "and seek the LORD their God, and David their king" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We must now of necessity come to Christ: for Israel could not seek their king, David, who had been long dead but were to seek that King whom God had promised from the posterity of David. This prophecy, then, no doubt extends to Christ and it is evident that the only hope of the people being gathered was this, that God had testified that he would give a Redeemer... This doctrine is especially useful to us; for it shows that God is not to be sought except in Christ the Mediator. Whoever, then, forsakes Christ, forsakes God himself; for as John says, 'He who has not the Son, has not the Father' (1st John 2:23). And the thing itself proves this; for God dwells in light inaccessible; how great, then is the distance between us and him? Except Christ, then, presents himself to us as a middle person, how can we come to God? But then only we begin really to seek God, when we turn our eyes to Christ, who willingly offers himself to us. This is the only way of seeking God aright."
[v.5c] - "and shall fear the LORD and his goodness" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "What the Prophet then means when he says, 'They shall then fear God,' is this, that they shall understand that they were miserable as long as they were alienated from him, and that true happiness is to submit to his authority. But further, this goodness is to be referred to Christ. And God's goodness, we know, is so exhibited to us in Christ, that not a particle of it is to be sought for anywhere else: for from this fountain must we draw whatever refers to our salvation and happiness of life. Let us then know that God cannot from the heart be worshiped by us, except when we behold him in the person of his Son, and know him to be a kind Father to us: hence John says, 'He who honors not the Son, honors not the Father' (John 5:23)."
[v.5d] - "in the latter days" - This may also be read as, "in the extremity of days." This is most likely referring to the time of the coming of Christ, for, as John Calvin says, "the Lord then performed more fully what he declares here by his Prophet."